Gnomish troops

Gnomes receive gnomish followers and hire gnomish mercenaries. However, gnomish mercenaries don’t exist anywhere in the D@W system! I assume this is part of a nefarious plot by Alex to ensure that all gnomes are swiftly conquered and enslaved, like their halfling compatriots. However, in the interest of providing some house rules to allow their survival (and, uh, because my wife wants to play one), I was wondering what types of gnome troops should be available?

One approach is just to use dwarves, being of similar stature and ecology, but this feels a little unappealing because 1) dwarves are tough and heavily armored, and gnomes are lightweights, and 2) gnomes have a stack of quasi-magical enhancements that are core racial abilities. This makes it really hard to implement them as a mercenary category.

In general, I feel like they should use light troops (leather armor types), not be particularly equestrian (no horse-mounted troops), and have 6 uhp like men (since the Trickster uses 4-sided hit dice, comparable to a 0-level human). Any thoughts as to some uniquely gnomish units I could invent? Any ideas on implementing their toolkit of racial perks for units on the D@W:Battles scale?

I would say Gnomish Tricksters do not define ordinary gnomes, any more than a Mage or Witch define humans. I would look to the “monster” entry to define ordinary gnomes, and I’d say at D@W scale gnomes are very dwarf-like. In a pinch, I’d just re-skin dwarven troops. The next differentiation I’d consider is a different mix of available troop types, perhaps more crossbowmen and mounted crossbowmen? Next, you might actually build gnomish troops in D@W from the ground up, perhaps a unit of elite Gnomish Arbalestiers ?

I cannot speak for the Auran Empire, but I suspect gnomes there are not sufficiently numerous to field lots of different troop types. Maybe spear and shield, hammer and shield and crossbowmen?

Agreed. Gnomish Tricksters have Gnome Value 2, regular gnomes would have Gnome Value 0. Infravision and resistance to illusions would be their only relevant abilities/powers.

I would just use the gnome monster entry as the base, myself; although there’s some indication that “regular” demihumans are frequently 1st-level characters, so if gnomes were important enough in a campaign of mine, I’d probably build a “Gnomish Warden” class or something (a Vaultguard-equivalent, but maybe give them some kind of hiding ability). Arm them with leather armor, crossbows, and picks.

“Reskinned dwarves” is probably an easy way to implement gnomes, and maybe even an accurate way, but I wanted to get some flavor into the class that made it feel like something other than just dwarves by another name. None of the base gnomish abilities have much relevance for large scale battles, but I wanted them to at least have some kind of unique troops. Dwarves get the benefit of good saves, and elves get 1+1 HD. Gnomes don’t get either, or at least, the Trickster class doesn’t.

Actually, now that I look at their entry in the list of monsters I note that the Core rules give them “D1” saves, even though the Trickster isn’t getting any of the dwarven bonuses to saving throws. I’m not sure if that’s a special characteristic of Tricksters, or if the decision as to which saves gnomes should use was changed between Core and Companion. I think I like the idea of them using the dwarven saves, especially if they are restricted to the same limited set of allowed troops.

At the moment I’m also leaning toward giving them a distinctive cavalry unit as their unique perk, just like goblins get wolves, orcs get boars, and dwarves get mules. Badger-riders, mount up!

Infravision might actually qualify as a distinguishing ability, and make them the night-fighting specialists and ideal watchmen of the demihuman armies.

You’re right, I had been overlooking that! Even though other demi-humans in the core rules don’t get their traditional infravision, both gnomes and Thrassians do, and only gnomes get race-specific mercenaries. They’d make an effective counter to the “always attack by night” approach of goblins and other small raiders.

I also suspect that gnomes would be rather better at managing trained animal exotic troops, due to being able to speak with animals at will. I like the idea of gnomes using giant ferrets and weasels in place of war dogs; that seems like good gnome flavor. Plate-barded war-rabbit cataphracts might be taking it a bit too far…

We had a bladedancer with Beast Friendship who really wanted a trained war-giant-shrew in heavy barding… we ended up compromising on a giant hawk because it was going to be less trouble.