What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

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What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

Postby Angel Tarragon » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:15 pm

I've never been huge into Dragonlance, I used to have passingly familiarity with it, but when my RPG and AD&D 2E collection got purged by the parentals over their fear of how I might have been influenced, out went my Dragonlance collection. I have gotten over that incident and forgiven them, even bought some Dragonlance material after they lifted the RPG ban on the house. I've read a few of the setting books and looked at the tinker gnomes...I don't get it. What makes them so special? What's makes so unique?
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Re: What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

Postby Havard » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:37 pm

They are awesome :)

Also, they make things. With bells. and shining lights. and levers and pulleys. Not very practical, but ingenious.

And they have super long names.

I love them :)

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Re: What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

Postby Sturm » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:13 am

Love them too.
They are basically comic relief as kenders are. This is part of Dragonlance.
People who prefer very realistic/grim or dark fantasy may not appreciate this, but it is a fundamental part of Krynn.
That's also related to Fizban/Paladine and his role on the novel. It is pretty significant that the good/light god only speaks openly to kender and gnomes.
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Re: What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

Postby Falconer » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:16 pm

Luckily, they are easily ignored.
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Re: What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

Postby Big Mac » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:12 am

Angel Tarragon wrote:I've read a few of the setting books and looked at the tinker gnomes...I don't get it. What makes them so special? What's makes so unique?


Dragonlance is old now, and lots of other settings have been able to come along and learn from it's lessons, either stealing it's best ideas or ignoring it's least effective ideas. But if you take yourself back, to the time before Dragonlance existed you have something quite interesting going on. Just look at the top of the Campaign Worlds forum. The subforums at the top are in chronological order and the only ones above Dragonlance are Blackmoor, Greyhawk and Mystara.

  • Blackmoor was pretty much shut-down because of internal politics between TSR and Dave Arneson. It's got it's good qualities and I'm not going to go into them, but for the TSR designers in the early AD&D era, it just was not an option.
  • Greyhawk is Gary Gygax's baby, in a similar way to the way that Blackmoor was Dave Arneson's baby.
  • Mystara (then the Known World) was the Classic D&D setting.
  • Then you have Dragonlance.

Looking at it that way, Dragonlance might be the forth D&D campaign setting, but it was actually only the second AD&D campaign setting. So the Dragonlance designers pretty much had to invent the idea of things not being part of Greyhawk.

Most other AD&D settings used rock gnomes. They became the trope or stereotype for gnomes. But Dragonlance did something different with its gnomes.

There is only one other campaign setting that uses tinker gnomes and that is Spelljammer. And in Spelljammer the tinker gnomes are said to have travelled into Wildspace from Krynn. (So they are officially Dragonlance tinker gnomes in space.)

That's what makes them unique (and a bit special) from an out of character point of view.

From an in-character point of view, you basically have a bunch of obsessed inventors that live in Mount Nevermind. Like Falconer said, they are easily ignored, if you don't want to use them. But there are a few Dragonlance stories that show tinker gnomes as hard working boffins who are dedicated to what they do.

World of Warcraft later did a fairly similar thing with their gnomes. As did Forgotten Realms, with the gnomes of Lantan.
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Re: What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

Postby Angel Tarragon » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:43 am

Wow, that really breaks down Big Mac! very insightful indeed and helps me to have a deeper appreciation for them!
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Re: What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

Postby Havard » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:37 am

Although I love the humor used in Margaret Weis' writing, I do agree that it might not be suited for every campaign group. D&D is different from reading a novel. I think it should be possible to run Tinker Gnomes more or less as Gnomes from other settings. I think they can have their technological projects and have social skills recognizable in a modern day geek, but if you want them to be a playable race they should probably be presented as 3 dimensional individuals rather than racial stereotypes.

Anyway, the level of humor will depend on the gaming group, but I think this could be a way to take this.

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Re: What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

Postby Vlark » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:02 pm

Basically, tinker gnomes were steampunk before steampunk was a thing.
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Re: What is the appeal of Tinker Gnomes?

Postby night_druid » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:54 pm

Think of tinker gnomes as a race of Doc Browns, that semi-sane yet genius inventor trope that creates all manner of wild, audacious, and sometimes dangerous (to the user) devices that have no right to work yet...do. They hail from a period of time in the game when it was not uncommon for adventurers to meet John Wayne, Captain Kirk, Spock, and John Carter in the dungeon, sometimes even in the same room. They probably work better as NPCs than PCs, as wacky inventions are rather difficult for a DM to control and keep from running amok, as truly they should cause more trouble than they are truly worth (players wouldn't put up with it for very long if the gnomes' inventions kept exploding on them and not killing those pesky goblins). A tinker gnome should send PCs upon their adventure, when the gnome attaches a flux capacitor to the inn and sends the entire inn back to the Age of the Dinosaurs. Or forward where the party must fend off a race of highly advanced cockroaches. Or sends them to the moon on a solar powered rocket engine. And maybe show up at the end of the adventure to give the PCs a ride back to their home and proper time.
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