(This is open for all to contribute to! But I thought a basic layout of the race might be in order to help present and future svirf's understand the race)
So you want to be a Svirfneblin!
Welcome to a world that is both harsh but rewarding! A well played Svirf can be a blast! But be warned: The race is still an ongoing project, with a great need for leveling areas and cities for svirf's to be built! But for those who stick around and give it a try? Well, lets just say you have to give it a chance and find out for yourselves!
The Svirfs have charisma so low that it would make Cthulhu cry! That's not to say you have to be ugly as two meters of unpainted fence post, but it also doesn't mean you're drop dead gorgeous. To other deep gnomes you might appear quite pretty! But to most of the creatures in existence, you are kind of gnarled and are a living boulder with eyes and a grumpy attitude.
Svirfneblin have no concept of time! They do not have calendars, no clocks (which even the Drow have), no written records or history of their people. If records are kept, it's by oral tradition that hand down the expectations of society and how to survive in the underdark. This also includes tales of Callarduran Smoothhands, patron of the Deep Gnomes, and how he brought them to the surface.
Speaking of stories, many deep gnomes are brought up to believe that the surface is an alien, horrid place that should be avoided at all costs. A great ruby rises over the sky and basks it in light, there's no place to hide, and there are colors the Svirfs could only imagine in a cavern so high that you can't see the top. First time my Svirf saw it, he vomited in revulsion. It should be noted that svirf rangers won't have an uncanny love for the forests of the surface, those things are foreign to them. The mushroom forests of the underdark are as close as they get to such things, but in the end they are scouts more than nature protecting folks.
The surface, as a standard, should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Sometimes you have to go up for spells and things you can't get below. A perfect example of this is joining the cave of colors illusionists guild to get more training than we have available. My advice is this: Get the stuff you need and haul your rear back to the underdark so fast that you leave a trail of dust. If you are loitering on the surface, you are likely in for a world of hurt from the staff for breaking the RP of the race. Not only that, if you are a worshiper of Callarduran you have to contend with the disapproval of your deity!
Lets talk about Callarduran for a moment! Brother Smoothhands, the Deep Brother, the Master of Stone, and the Lord of the Deepearth. These are all names he goes by (Besides brother smoothhands, that's more of an IC generated name for the deity from some of the faithful). His disciples hold great respect in deep gnome communities for keeping up morale, aiding in mining for gemstones, protecting mining expeditions, and creating new things. Drow and grey dwarves are his enemies, along with other evil creatures of the underdark, while neutral or good aligned underdark dieties he tends to hold some amount of peace with.
Lets look at the drow: They are tall, pointy eared gits who want to take your stuff and enslave your people! Nobody likes them! More often than not, a dead drow is the best drow, and many burrow wardens, clerics, deep shadows, ect.. are more than happy to put down a drow if a chance arises. That chance does include not revealing themselves or giving away their fellows. Deep gnomes typically survive by not being seen and keeping a low profile, but don't think they can't be scrappy if called for! It just takes the right motivation!
Deep Gnomes live in an odd society, with males being masters of things outside the home and females within. This is not to say there is inequality, it is a firm belief that work and labor be equal for everyone. There are prime examples of females who are miners, deep shadows, burrow wardens, ect. But for your usual citizen, that's the normal concept, and it's useful for keeping in mind when considering how your svirf fits into society. If you're a wizard who helps with the wards of the city? Then you are doing your equal part!
Deep gnomes, lacking a sense of time, don't work for shifts or any such thing. It's strictly a: I work until I'm tired, go to sleep, work when I feel like it again sort of thing. But those who do not pull their weight don't make enough to survive, thus it keeps the deep gnomes working.
Lastly, Deep Gnomes don't really talk about their cities to outsiders, even other gnomes. It's a safety issue. If knowledge of their settlements or their defenses gets out, it often leads to the city being in ruins before long. You might occasionally find a dwarf or some such who navigated the maze into blingdenstone to trade, but this is quite rare and most trading is done in neutral tunnels.
I hope this helps some of you! Feel free to contribute or correct what you see fit!
To share knowledge about the world and links to useful resources.
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