Rock Gnome Playable Race Guide in D&D 5e

Learn all about Rock Gnomes

Gnomes are short, inquisitive folk that are native to the Feywild. They’re often bearded but slimmer than dwarves and much more excitable. Rock Gnomes are particularly fond of technology and with an insatiable zeal for life and discovery, love nothing more than to tinker with some new contraption making them natural artificers.

Rock Gnomes often find their homes under the ground where they often also find their work; mining, smelting, inventing and all sorts of other industrious endeavours tend to preoccupy Rock Gnomes.

Rock 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 Rock Gnome of your own.

What are Rock Gnomes?

Rock 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 their endless obsession to discover everything, they’ve even spread among the stars and can be found in Wildspace and beyond, tinkering with Spelljammer ships and even building Autognomes, another of D&D 5e’s more recent playable races.

Rock Gnomes typically live in small towns of about 500 other Rock Gnomes, often making their homes in burrows underground. These burrows are typically protected from unwanted guests through the use of illusion spells meaning if a Rock Gnome doesn’t want to be found, there’s a good chance you won’t find them.

Rock 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 tinkering, and Rock Gnomes are particularly renowned for their tinkering tendencies.

While many Rock Gnomes live with other Rock Gnomes, they’re desire for discovery leads many Rock Gnomes to strike out away from their communities and into the wider world and mingle gladly with the other races of D&D. Rock Gnomes are generally appreciated with their uses clear to most other races whether that be as a tutor for a wealthy family, a miner in an ore-rich region, a builder or any of the other many endeavours Rock Gnomes excel at. The main challenge is keeping a Rock Gnome focused on the task at hand.

How to play as a Rock Gnome

While most Rock Gnomes are curious and excitable, this allows for a range of personality types. Even with these common traits, not all Rock Gnomes will think and act the same either, your Rock 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 Rock Gnome character:

  • What are you curious about? – While most Rock Gnomes are curious fellows, they’re often curious about different things. Are you curious about nature, technology or human behaviour? Maybe all of it. What you’re curious about may determine how you act when you encounter different things.
  • Social creatures – Rock 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 Rock Gnomes are very curious, they’re not idiots and know their limitations. Rock 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 Rock Gnome protect themself against the dangers of the world?

Rock gnome features in 5e

Ability Scores+2 Intelligence; +1 Constitution
Creature TypeHumanoid
LanguagesCommon and Gnomish
TraitsSmall, Darkvision, Gnome Cunning, Artificer’s Lore, Tinker
Book found inPlayer’s Handbook

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

Rock 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.

Artificer’s Lore – Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to magical, alchemical, or technological items, you can add twice your proficiency bonus instead of any other proficiency bonus that may apply.

Tinker – You have proficiency with artisan tools (tinker’s tools). Using those tools, you can spend 1 hour and 10 gp worth of materials to construct a Tiny clockwork device (AC 5, 1 hp). The device ceases to function after 24 hours (unless you spend 1 hour repairing it to keep the device functioning), or when you use your action to dismantle it; at that time, you can reclaim the materials used to create it. You can have up to three such devices active at a time. When you create a device, choose one of the following options:

  • Clockwork Toy – This toy is a clockwork animal, monster, or person, such as a frog, mouse, bird, dragon, or soldier. When placed on the ground, the toy moves 5 feet across the ground on each of your turns in a random direction. It makes noises as appropriate to the creature it represents.
  • Fire Starter – The device produces a miniature flame, which you can use to light a candle, torch, or campfire. Using the device requires your action.
  • Music Box – When opened, this music box plays a single song at a moderate volume. The box stops playing when it reaches the song’s end or when it is closed.
  • At your DM’s discretion, you may make other objects with effects similar in power to these. The Prestidigitation cantrip is a good baseline for such effects.

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.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: