Forest Gnome Playable Race Guide in D&D 5e

From lore and descriptions to traits and abilities, learn all about Forest Gnomes in D&D 5e

Gnomes are short, inquisitive folk that are native to the Feywild. They’re often bearded but slimmer than dwarves and much more excitable. Forest Gnomes are a little less hardy than their Rock Gnome cousins and more fond of nature and magic than the technology the Rock Gnomes are obsessed with.

Forest Gnomes often find their homes in forests (surprisingly) though they’re versatile enough to make their home wherever they like but prefer to be among nature. As students of magic and especially illusion, Forest Gnomes will typically protect their homes from intruders through the use of illusory spells making them very difficult to find.

Forest Gnomes have been a playable race in D&D 5e since its inception and are featured in the Player’s Handbook. Our guide will tell you everything you need to know so you can play as a Forest Gnome of your own.

What are Forest Gnomes?

Forest Gnomes originally came from the Feywild but have since spread out across the Forgotten Realms and far beyond and are common throughout all settings in D&D. You’re most likely to find Forest Gnomes living among nature, particularly in forests. Their small sense and natural affinity towards illusions often makes them difficult to find if they don’t want to be. Having said this, Forest Gnomes are sociable creatures and are just as likely to talk your ear off as they are to hide in their burrow home.

Forest Gnomes typically live in small towns of about 500 other Forest Gnomes, often making their homes in burrows underground. An insatiable curiosity though, means that Forest Gnomes are common (or at least not unusual) in most places throughout the multiverse.

Forest Gnomes tend to be short, about 3-3.5 ft tall so tend to be about the height of a child and similar to a Halfling or a Kender. Unlike Halflings or Kender though, Gnomes have more mature looking features with beards and wrinkles marking their faces. What they do share with Halflings, Kender and even children, is a natural curiosity and energy. This tends to be channeled into magic, especially illusions which fascinate Forest Gnomes and they enjoy using to their advantage. Forest Gnomes live longer than humans, though not as long as a lot of other fey creatures like elves. A typical Forest Gnome will live for several hundred years, which is not nearly long enough to discover everything they want to discover.

Forest Gnomes are generally appreciated with their uses clear to most other races whether that be as a tutor for a wealthy family, a wizard to protect a family home or just a willing worker as Forest Gnomes are typically enthusiastic folk, even when it comes to the most menial tasks. The main challenge is keeping a Forest Gnome focused on the task at hand.

How to play as a Forest Gnome

While most Forest Gnomes are curious and excitable, this allows for a range of personality types. Even with these common traits, not all Forest Gnomes will think and act the same either. Your Forest Gnome might be an outlier and not share these traits with their kin.

Your heritage and culture though is likely to affect who you are and the following can be important considerations when creating your Forest Gnome character:

  • What are you curious about? – While most Forest Gnomes are curious fellows, they’re often curious about different things. Are you curious about nature, magic or human behaviour? Maybe all of it or something else entirely. What you’re curious about may determine how you act when you encounter different things.
  • Social creatures – Forest Gnomes are highly sociable and want to find out everything they can, including about people. While this does make them friendly (normally), other races can find their behaviour to be incessant. How does this manifest though? Do you ask a lot of questions for example? Be careful though that you don’t irritate the other players when manifesting these traits.
  • Small creatures in a big world – While Forest Gnomes are very curious, they’re not idiots and know their limitations. Forest Gnomes are aware that they are smaller than most other races and must take precautions to protect themselves (such as using illusions to hide where they live). How does your Forest Gnome protect themself against the dangers of the world?

Forest gnome features in 5e

Ability Scores+2 Intelligence; +1 Dexterity
Creature TypeHumanoid
LanguagesCommon and Gnomish
TraitsSmall, Darkvision, Gnome Cunning, Natural Illusionist, Speak with Small Beasts
Book found inPlayer’s Handbook

If you want to play as a Forest Gnome, your character will have the following traits and abilities:

Forest gnome traits

Darkvision – Accustomed to life underground, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Gnome Cunning – You have advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saves against magic.

Natural Illusionist – You know the Minor Illusion cantrip. Intelligence is your spellcasting modifier for it.

Speak with Small Beasts – Through sound and gestures, you may communicate simple ideas with Small or smaller beasts.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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