Through the Dragon
Gnomes have always been an odd and curious race. Many scholars speculate that they are descended from a race of Fey that was either banished from the Feywild or left by choice. This theory is supported by their distinct coloring, their capricious nature, and their apparent link to both magic and nature. Gnome historical records have been frustratingly unhelpful on this matter, some confirming the theories while others vehemently deny it.
Their late entry into the landscape of Fallow is also supported by the unique nature of their homelands. Unlike the other local races, which each had their own distinct lands, gnomes appear to have settled into whatever crevices could be found. Making their homes in dense woods, steep mountain sides, deep canyons, and other such unique locations, old gnome cities remain some of the most beautiful works of ancient architecture. Most of the cities were abandoned at the time of the union, but some were converted into gnome hives.
A little over 100 years ago, a magical event occurred that changed the nature of the gnomish race. The vast majority (believed to be all by everyone except the interested or those who happen to know a free gnome) of gnomes in the world were united into a single group mind. The gnomes of the world, after the initial confusion of a new consciousness orienting itself, left their homes and cities in an orderly fashion and formed massive underground ‘gnome hives’, also referred to as ‘gnome hills’. The few non-gnomes who lived in cities converted into hives were politely but insistently asked to leave.
The cause of this event is unknown to the general populace, and the gnomes proclaim that they are ignorant as well. Most believe it to be some kind of magical experiment by a gnomish wizard.
The gnome hivemind has displayed powerful but limited magic. Since it appears individual members cannot learn magic independently from the hivemind, they have turned to technology to shore up that weakness. They will occasionally sell such things to the outside world.
It seems that some gnomes are, for whatever reason, immune to the hivemind effect. All gnomes who lived when the mind was created have since died, but occasionally a hive will produce a new free gnome. The hivemind seems to have no strong feelings about these aberrations one way or another, and usually leave them to be raised by a non-gnome family.
Free gnomes tend towards chaotic and irresponsible personalities. It is unclear how much of this results from their gnomish heritage, and how much from being born into a hive mind that would not take them.