Height: 2’9″ (14’7″ as giants)
Lifespan: 300 years
Activity Cycle: Cathemeral
From mere feet under the earth to miles deep, gnomes are everywhere in Alfheim, but rarely seen. Gnomes can pass through the earth like it is water, rising and sinking at will, and so make their homes under it. Anything they hold comes with them just as easily until they release it. They are composed of the same stuff as the earth that they live under, with a core of stone and muscles of soil, and yet they are fully living beings who must live on food and water (although they have no need for air).
Most gnomes live no more than ten feet beneath the surface, taking ready advantage of the abundant life there. They will find the tunnels of small animals and set traps for them as well as striking at the roots of edible plants from below. Surface gnomes are often nomadic, cycling between a few favored hunting grounds, and their excellent memories allow them to always find their old stashes of tools and preserved foods they leave in each of their many homes. Others simply sink deeper and fall asleep for a time, something that can be kept up for centuries. An especially long sleep might reduce a gnome to just its head, forcing them to recover over time.
Deeper gnomes form two cultures, with those in areas that support it making farms of fungi or other sedentary organisms. These gnomes form loose communities, with individuals living near one another but never particularly close, as the species prefers some level of solitude. The other main culture of deep gnomes are hunters like their surface counterparts. They hunt more in the open caverns and tunnels than inside the stone, as less creatures burrow through the rock than they do the looser soil up top. They are particularly prone to using the gnome’s natural ability to pull soil and rock to themselves and briefly grow far larger, jumping from an ambush point to grow and swiftly kill the rare massive prey of the depths.
Gnomes are monogamous but tend to live separately, meeting up on regular schedules known by heart to the lovers. Their babies are born helpless, simply resembling grapelike clusters of gnome heads. They are left deep in the ground and visited by their parents bringing food and water until they finally grow bodies at about 20 years of age.