Gnomes are the rarest, least well-known of the five member races of the Body Politic. Aside from what they are believed to physically look like, many folk understand next to nothing of gnomish culture and society, so reclusive and exclusive are the diminutive ones.
Even heartheans think gnomes are a bit on the small side; a tall gnome reaches skyward only 3 feet, while the average one stands about 2' 6". As for weight, it ranges from 40 to 60 pounds. Of course, gnomish character and proficiency far exceed their stature.
Gnomes rival the dwarves in two areas of craftsmanship: small, intricate objects, and mechanical devices. In goldsmithing and gemcutting, gnomish works are the best of any race. And no people comes close to matching the gnomes' skill at building crossbows, traps, secret doors, and other devices. As a result, all gnomes have great aptitude for gemcutting, goldsmith, and mechanician skills regardless of their individual profession.
This much constitutes the commonly-known information about gnomes. Certain sages have reputedly gleaned other facts about the wee folk; the most reliable bits of information are presented here.
Gnomes live in underground cities that, on their scale, are quite vast. Visitors to these burgs report that the residents have diverted underground streams to supply running water to every home and have channeled subterranean lava flows to provide warmth and natural light. Gnomish agriculture, while not as diverse as that of the surface world, reportedly exemplifies efficiency and brilliant symbiosis between crops. Phosphorescent mushrooms shed light for photosynthetic crops, while domesticated giant ants and rockworms till the soil and clear new homesteads.
As well as gnomes have adapted to underground life, they still yearn for the splendors of the surface world they inhabited before the coming of the Sidhe. (This is another story entirely, one the elves would tell quite differently.) To compensate for the drabness the underworld presents, gnomes have learned to become excellent enchanters and thaumaturgists, changing the appearance of their realms both through illusion and actual physical manipulation. All gnomes wizards are exceptionally adept at thaumaturgy spells. Due to their affinity for things mechanical, gnomes are exceedingly observant and facile in locating a trap or secret door. Gnomes also enjoy the benefit of seeing as well as dwarves in very dim light, but the small race has its shortcomings, too.
As for appearance, many people have never seen gnomes and often treat them suspiciously or worse upon encountering them. Second, gnomes are not known for their great altruism or compassion, thus they often seem callous and selfish to those who don't know them. Thirdly, gnomes tend to find fascination in any mechanical things they find while adventuring and stop to examine these devices for hours while their comrades wish to continue on.