Lair of The Tark
Beyond gods is going to be my new project once Gnome is along enough that it doesn't need my complete attention.  Written here is the combined posts of what I've given on the forums already.  More will be added in time but for now this is what I have actually typed.

Due to weeblys blog stuff being incapable of showing up on a stream for gamechef I have moved my blog over to Wordpress.  I will be continuing this blog after the 30 day point but it will no longer be purely about gamechef related things.  In the meantime this one will be set aside.  The new blog can be found here.
Apprentice had a very simple system in which challenges were resolved.  The first step compared the relevant attribute to the task at hand to see if a roll was even required.  If not the player rolled a d6 to see if they could exceed the challenge number and move on or used a hand waving mechanism, "casting a spell", in order to bypass the challenge and continue with the game.

Gnome will use a similar system of roll and compare but the character will not have a hand waving mechanism nor a base number with which to bypass challenges completely.   Instead a gnome has a higher or lower base die with which to complete the challenge.  Higher dice represent a better base capability in that attribute while lower represented a weaker capability.

Since Gnome does not have a hand waving mechanism to make up for the lack of a way to boost ones stats a system had to be devised that could both give a character a measure of mechanical personality to go along wit the characters history and attitude. 

The system revolves around a series of Traits and Failings.  Traits are specific circumstances and actions that the gnome is exceptional at that gives a bonus dice with which they can roll.  This increases both the minimum and maximum number they can roll to defeat a challenge and move on.  Failings represent tasks and circumstances that the character cannot handle to the full potential of their attribute and have a penalty die to roll in addition to their attribute dice.  Now unlike apprentice where characters were limited by what stats they could derive from the points they spread in character creation, it is dice that determine a gnomes stats.  They are given a spread of dice that can be assigned to an attribute. Depending on the spread that a player chooses determines the number and ratio of Traits/Failings a character has.  Naturally characters who choose a high dice spread are going to have almost no traits but plenty of failings in exchange for overall power.  While those who choose a weak spread will have lots of options for traits while few failings to worry over.  The following table indicates the varieties of spreads available to characters in Gnome:
1d12,1d6,1d6,1d4||5 Traits, 1Failings

1d12,1d8,1d6,1d4||4 Traits, 1 Failings

1d12,1d10,1d6,1d4||4 Traits, 2 Failings

1d12,1d10,1d8,1d4||3 Traits, 2 Failings

1d12,1d10,1d8,1d6||3 Traits, 3 Failings

1d12,1d12,1d8,1d6||2 Traits, 3 Failings

1d12,1d12,1d10,1d6||2 Traits, 4 Failings

1d12,1d12,1d10,1d8||1 Traits, 4 Failings

1d12,1d12,1d10,1d10||4 Failings

1d12,1d12,1d12,1d10||5 Failings

1d12,1d12,1d12,1d12||6 Failings

Now each trait and failing selected by the player will have a rating assigned to them (1d4-1d10)  this rating determines the die rolled in addition to the attribute that will contribute or cause detriment to the roll.  This rating is determined by the specificness and rarity of the challenge or circumstance that comes up. Broader situations that can come up often are rated the lowest while specific and rare situations are given the highest rating.

For example if a player selects "good at fighting" for a trait then they would receive a very low rating as they would receive the bonus from that trait every time combat ensues.  However if the character selects "good at fighting rats while barehanded" then the player can expect to reap a much greater benefit from the specialization of the trait.  Now while there is always some concern considering min/maxing of traits and failings these aspects of the character are always chosen before the game begins and thus unless a character has specific knowledge as to the nature of the challenges and situations a GM has planned for the character such ideas are moot and a character who over specializes to gain the maximum numbers can easily find themselves with a pile of useless traits.  Traits and Failings are there to give mechanical personality to a character and give them a flavor to help them specialize and find a niche within the group.  Those that choose high numbers of broad traits will find that although they rarely roll low numbers they are really not much better off then a character who has opted to not bother with traits completely in favor of having a good number of high base attributes.

Gnome Attributes:
Characters in Gnome have four basic attributes from which there challenges are rolled.  These attributes are Athleticism, Cleverness, Toughness, and Shrewdness.

Athleticism represents a gnomes physical prowess.  The typical gnome can lift around five to seven times their own body and move at about forty body lengths a second.  So compared to humans gnomes are extremely athletic for their size.  While they can't ever hope to lift a human or outrun a cheetah it's not a question of capability but relativity of size.  A gnome the size of a human would mop the floor of any gold medalist in track and field.  That being said a group of gnomes or even a single gnome can take on creatures much bigger then themselves when necessary.   Athleticism is the dice rolled whenever a Gnome is actually physically challenged either through combat or physical exertion.

Cleverness represents a gnomes problem solving capability and knowledge base.  While it's easy to say that a Dweller gnome with access to human books and the ability to read human language is smarter then a Wild Gnome without access to either they can both be equally clever in their own ways.  Gnomes tend to think extremely quick thoughts compared to humans as a result of their drastically different metabolisms and short lives.  As such compared to a human a gnome might seem very quick witted. 

Toughness represents a gnomes physical fortitude and ability to handle tough situations.  Gnomes are by nature very tough nuts to crack.  Their stout bodies and sometimes cheery look hides thick cords of muscle and flexible, tough cartilage (gnomes do not have a true skeleton). Toughness also represents a gnomes psychological and mental fortitude.  Life is tough when it seems like the world considers you an interesting curiosity to capture and study or chew and digest.  It's easy to think that some gnomes are quite depressed and suicide a constant.  However gnomes are nothing else if not stubborn and willing to press on in even the most hopeless situations.  Toughness is the roll that comes up when a gnome faces a dire physical or mental challenge that can cause them harm.  So far I haven't really figured out yet how I want to derive damage (mental and physical) from these stats though I think some Combination of Toughness + Another attribute to build a sort of HP base (Mental, Physical, Emotional) or perhaps a death spiral system based on this combination.  We'll see.  Opinions are welcome here.

Shrewdness represents a characters instinctual ability or natural caution.  Shrewd gnomes can sense storms by the sweat in their palms, feel food in the way local birds are circling above, or no that humans are close by the shaking in the ground.  Shrewd gnomes are natural survivors and can sense things in another gnomes speech that gives way motives and treachery the other gnome might think that they're hiding.  Shrewdness is the attribute rolled when instinct, common sense, and wisdom will reveal things to the gnome that his cleverness might keep hidden.

Recently I was asked some very good questions by a commentor in my last post and I felt that it was necessary to answer these questions in a post where people might find it more convienient to see the answers.

I really like the setting, but what kinds of stories are the players likely to be telling in it (apart from Secrets of NIMH)? Are you thinking about gnome politics? Exploration? Defending their homes? Interacting with humans? Or will it be a kind of Gnome physics toolkit for the GM to do what they like with?

How about all of the above?  Essentially the players are people within the gnomish community, leaders, heroes, or simply concerned citizens with perhaps some luck and special talent that makes them specially qualified to deal with the current crisis or need.  It all depends on the flavor of game a GM wants.  Certain cultures are more predisposed to one set of stories then another but again a GM could easily adapt to fit their needs.  The Cloud People and Dwellers can just as easily work on exploration as interacting with humans while Wild Gnomes will be defending their homes from deforestation (a.l.a. a less musical and more hardcore Fern Gully)

Re: "Through the lens of history" does that mean you can play at any time in history? Is this going to impact how the game plays?

Yes and no.  The game itself is set in the year 2001 (so I can make a grab for the badge).  But I feel a need to give a brief overview of gnomish history and a few options or legends concerning or gnomes came into the world in order to give GM's enough material to play practically in any time with a little work.  Feasibly if I were doing this as a big project for a company that plans on paying me I would propose a Dark Age Gnome and Gnome Future book. :)

As far as impact it does have an impact on how cultures live.  Early humans might find it a little easier to deal with the fact that tiny men live in the world alongside their other superstitions.  While gnomes ina  futuristic setting might find that living with humans sudddenly becomes more difficult as they are forced to advance technologically.

Have you considered only giving a brief outline of each gnomish culture and letting the players fill in the gaps? It could really let the players feel invested in their little gnomes, involved a lot less writing and assumes the players will do less reading (which is generally a good thing).

I can see where this is coming from.  Too much info and a player might feel rather restricted in their characters.  Too little and I find players feel at a loss or tend to make characters that fail to match the vision a GM had in mind for the game thus creating a different kind of conflict.  I've always tried to write to find a sense of balance between the two in order to give enough information that a player unfamiliar with the game can have plenty of symmetry with other characters and the GM's vision in order to feasibly exist in the world without becoming too much of an outlier by pure accident.  Also I don't mind writing alot if that's what it takes to get the message across. :)

I still have had zero responses in regard to the things I asked for yesterday.  Please don't be afraid to work with me I have nothing typed right now, everything is notes in my notebook or ideas and pages floating in my head so that means everything is subject to change according to the whims of someonelse's good idea if they're willing to put in the work with me.
Well so far Gnome has at least one fan.  Probably fortunate someone had spoken up because I was considering dumping that idea for a game  of intrigue involving gods and their convoluted plots to stay alive and come on top.  The idea still intrigues me so I'll save it for later.  In the meantime I've made a rough outline on how gnome is going to play out in the pdf.  As time goes on I'll fill in more of the outline to give a better idea of how the game functions.  My only concern, and my usual concern when going into any project, is finding an artist with the right kind of quality and style for the game.  I lucked out last time with Pol in that he did very good work to specifications and for free.  Good art is important to my work as I tend to think very visually and intend to write to inspire.  A good piece of artwork doesn't just fill space and looks pretty.  Good art can amplify the inspirational power of the writing and thus they enhance one another.  This kind of visual/textual symbiosis is important in my opinion to rpgs.  By nature rpg works need to inspire their reader to make characters within the setting let alone bother playing the game.  Too often I look inside an rpg book and the art practically has no real relevance to the text.  Wizards is good at achieving this step, White Wolf is hit and miss depending on the work and illustrators involved.

Anyway if anyone feels like drawing a bunch of gnomes drop me a line in my email box.  Don't expect any money because theirs no money to be made.  However, it is a way to get your name out there and I tend to be very generous in regards to compliments and website whoring if I feel the work justifies getting someone else to pay you.

So, here's the outline:

1. What is a Gnome?
  • The Small, The Quick, The Brutal:  Physical description and explanation
  • Origins: Star Wanderers, Creationists, Humanism, Valhallans, Reincarnists
  • Through the lens of history: From the stone age to 2001
2. Character Creation.
  • Name, Concept, Personality
  • Attribute Combo (Essentially a stat is represented by a die, higher die are better then lower die, a player can select the combination of dice  to spread among his stats.  Higher combinations increase the number of Failings a Gnome must selects and decreases the number of traits he must select and vice versa.)
  • Traits and Failings
 3. The Small Life(Cultures)
  • Dwellers in the Ceiling(A day in the life, from baby to adult, government, culture, all entries in this cahpter will be in the same format for ease of writing and organization.)
  • Nomads
  • The Cloud People
  • Tunnelers
  • Wild Gnomes
4. Running Gnome
  • Challenge Resolution
  • Combat
  • Character Growth
  • GM Characters
  • Stuff and Things
  • Enemies and Allies
5. Sample Adventure and Sample Characters(I have no idea so far but I think I'm going  to just rip the plot out of Secret of NIMH and work from there.  There's plenty of intrigue and adventure in that book and the rats and mice beg to be gnomified.)

6. Glossary and Index:  Works this big need an index.

Also if you've come this far I've just realized that honestly, I don't mind working with other writers and considering my mad layout skillz (in other words my layouts will drive you mad in frustration) I'd love to have someone who knows what they're doing work on the layout.
Like humans Gnomes have a variety of cultures.  Mostly it depends on where the gnomes live that determines their attitudes towards humans, each other, and the world in general.  In Gnome their are five commonly encountered categories of gnome culture.

1. The Tunnelers:  As their name implies this variety of gnome tends to live underground.  Typically when a group of young gnomes decide that their warren is too crowded or too stale for their liking they set out and look for an abandoned burrow (rabbit warrens are prefered but if the surface is good enough even a snake hole will suffice) and settle in to carve new tunnels and rooms from the soil.  Tunnelers are by nature a stoic, quiet people that makes them seem cold or even completely devoid of emotion to other gnomes.   Truth be told they are a very thoughtful and philosophical people who enjoy quieter forms of entertainment.  From the safety of their underground homes they contemplate the deeper aspects of gnome life and ask the important questions: why are we here? Who or what got us here? And why did they make everyone else so comedically big?

2. The Wild Gnomes:  When explorers talk about pygmy cannibals living deep in the dark hearts of jungles it's likely they were not referring to the humans who rarely cannibalize if at all, and generally only short because that's just how genetic drift tends to work.  Likely they were reffering to the small, vicious people that are sometimes their neighbors, the wild gnomes.  Wild gnomes are not technically cannibals as humans and gnomes are two entirely different species.  Wild gnomes are tribal, superstitious and perhaps the  most different from the gnome cultures in that they do not scavenge from humans for the means to survive, except perhaps as food.

3. The Dwellers in the Walls:  This variety of gnome lives hidden from humans often disguising themselves as mice or rats when the need arises that a human encounter might occur.  Some popular fiction might have you believe these people live in human homes.  While the occasional small family or clan can be found in such places truly impressive gnome civilizations are found in places of human businesses.  A single grocery store could provide a comfortable home for thousands of gnomes.  There are even tales of entire gnomish empires rising and falling in gigantic human business dwellings called malls.  Here life is relatively easy unless you get into the twisted maze of gnomish politics.

4.  The Nomads:  Nomads are simply a catch all for gnomes on the move.  Gnomish life is brutal.  Often it comes that the gnomes are forced to move on.  Other times religion, a search for a promised land, propels these gnomes.  Still, there are gnomes who cannot fathom living in the same place for long and build an entire nomadic culture.

5.  The Cloud People:    Don't have much more then a neat concept.  Just gnomes who live on top skyscrapers and tame birds to travel between buildings.
So if you haven;t noticed I've decided to throw in my lot with the devil and leap into game chef.  I decided to do it with a game I call Gnome: A game of the little people.  Gnome is inspired by the works of Terry Pratchett specifically his Discworld books involving the Nac Mac Feegle and his bromeliad trilogy.  The life of a gnome is quick, brutal, and dangerous beyond compare.  When not hiding from slow, ponderous humans they fight for their daily survival in a world full of predators, natural disasters, and sometimes the treachery of their own kind.

Gnome is going to be a simple game similar to my earlier apprentice game with some differences mainly in how stats and challlenges are handles.  Each Gnome has four attributes, Courage, Cleverness, Toughness, and Shrewdness.  To each of these attributes the player assigns a rank die with the lowest being a 1d4 and the highest being a 1d12.
Pancreatitis isn't fun.  Imagine an organ that sits calmly next to your stomach doing little more then sending out enzymes and proteins and things that let you process things like sugar and fat.  Imagine this motherfucker down in the lower intestine.  Let's call this traitorous son of a bitch a gall bladder.  This little green guy has the unhappy job of making all the greasy, nasty, fatty, stuff you eat into something remotely usable by the human body.   Now imagine this little bastard decides to vomit tar on your pancreas, clogging up the tubes and giving you what is essentially a digestive heart attack.  Well, now imagine that after a third of your pancreas was murdered that something grows out of it the size of a volleyball.  Then you understand half the pain I'm going through.

Anyway, so I'm trying to decide whether or not to enter a big contest for amateur designers.  The main ingredient they want is Intrigue.  Not a bad start but then we look at the other ingredients.  Seabird?  Star?  Fleur-De-Lis?  Where to start?  How to start?  It's mind boggling.  It's also challenging.  Maybe that's why I'm intrigued.Don't hit me.  Anyway, something to think about.