Gnomes in the First War

Was your gnome around during the first war?  If so they were probably in Gnomeregan or maybe Dalaran, they may have been aware of the conflict or completely oblivious until the news of Stormwind’s destruction.

If you want a gnome that participated in the first war, consider Sunnyglade.  The town of Sunnyglade was destroyed in Warcraft 1. Only one building was left standing, a mage tower that the orc warlocks needed. That tower is (most likely) now the Tower of Azora, populated almost exclusively by gnomes.  Despite the fact that it is a mage tower, it has been stated that most of the gnomes are not mages, so a gnome of any class could be from here.

Let’s take a step back, look at some simplified high level stuff, and maybe put on a tin foil hat.

When the human kingdoms were taught magic by the high elves, the mages left Strom and went north to found the city of Dalaran. The people that formed Stormwind left Strom and headed south.  This might not seem like a big deal, but this southward journey is when the humans came to really know dwarves*.  See that asterisk on dwarves?  Anytime you have dwarves you have *(and gnomes).

I propose that human mages did not travel south to Stromwind, but along the way a group of gnomes joined up with those humans and accompanied them on their travels.  These gnomes went on to teach the southern humans their techniques of arcane magic.

In founding the town of Sunnyglade, the gnomes and humans created a place dedicated to higher learning.  With a reputation as a center of knowledge, the Horde decides to target it because they want more information about human magic.

The town is raised except for the tower, which is looted.  The inhabitants that don’t flee or escape are captured by the horde, but soon liberated by the armies of Stormwind.

Because their is little to no information surviving about the town, there’s a lot of room for players to write themselves in.

WarCraft-Orcs&Humans-Orcs-Scenario6-Sunnyglade

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The Last Gnome of Uldaman

The sounds of her footsteps echoed in the large empty halls of Uldaman.  Her last mechagnome compatriot had succumb to the curse of the flesh and passed away almost a decade ago. She’d not expected to last this long on her own. In spite of her isolation, she did not feel alone. The earthen here, asleep, but alive, and the keepers. Even though they all slept, she still felt that they were with her.

She patrolled the halls, everyday maintaining the same maintenance protocols, another day, no news or updates. She rounded a corner, and suddenly halted. There stood another gnome. Not just any gnome. It was herself.  Shocked, she couldn’t react for a moment.  The other gnome with her face was looked up from a glowing pocket watch. “Oh there you are!  I came to watch but I think I am here too…” the doppelganger spoke quick and vanished quicker. Gone.

Over the next few days she continued her rounds, but she’d been shaken. The appearance of that strange other gnome. Had her brain begun to fail her so badly?  An unease crept into her mind. Perhaps something was wrong, that could explain the phenomenon she’d encountered. She began to expand her maintenance routines. Something had to be wrong somewhere. Everyday, instead of doing the same checks, her inspections would push deeper. There had to be an explanation.

Slowly her investigations began to reveal something. The earthen were not as well preserved as they should have been. The curse of flesh was corrupting them more than should be possible in their slumber. What could be the cause? She ran weeks of in depth diagnostics. Her routine of the same thing every day melted away. Now everyday was something different. Chasing after a ghost in the machine that had caused the disruption.

Finally she found it. Low power? It couldn’t be low power. The arcane matrix that sustained this facility was powered by directly from the leylines of Azeroth. This site had been chosen because it was a nexus where they could tap into the energies of the entire planet. There was no way this could be happening.

At a lack for answers, she did something she hadn’t done in centuries. She walked to the entrance and took the elevator up to the surface. She’d not seen the sky in so long. It took her eyes a while to adjust, but then she saw it. When Uldaman had been constructed, the area and been lush and forested. Her eyes were not met with the landscape she remembered, it had been transformed into a baked barren wasteland. Her heart fell. The layline must have shifted, or the collectors had been compromised somehow, or… who could know?  Instead of taking energy from the whole of the world, it was draining it from just the local area. It was more than the land could sustain.  There machines had soaked all the life energy here, killing almost everything, and having done so, it was now run dry.  The facility had ruined the entire area, and for what?  Now there was nothing left to sustain the beings inside it was designed to save.

This meant so many things. The gnomes that had left so long ago had surely perished. She and the earthen would be next as this land would not be able to support them much longer. She took the elevator down and began running through the halls.  She had to get the keepers to awaken. They would know what to do. They would have to…

*SLAM*

She crashed into something, no someone.  Her double had returned.

“Ow, sorry. I didn’t mean to get in your way. I think I’m much closer to when I need to be, oops! Here let me help you up. I’m not supposed to interfere, but since I already knocked you down.” It didn’t quite sound like her. Of course, it had been along time since she’d said anything so she wasn’t sure. “Please continue what you’re doing. I am close now to…” the other gnome turned a dial on her pocket watch and disappeared again.

She stood there stunned for a moment. That had to have happened. It was physical, she’d touched it, but what was it?  Why did it look just like her?  She pushed those questions out of her mind.  They were a distraction.  There was a real pressing problem that she had to address.  The keepers were needed.

 

Why? They had locked themselves in their vaults, WHY? For days she tried to open them with no progress. Now she just sat in front of the door. Maintenance didn’t matter. The facility was failing, there was nothing to do to stop it. The magnitude of the failure was more than could possibly be reversed. For days she didn’t move, until the other appeared again. “the incident, that I think I can collect the information I need. You probably have a millions questions.  I’m not supposed to say much, but I know you are an archivist. you could say we both have an interest in preserving history. Sorry I look just like you. We’re supposed to approximate the average appearance of the locals, but you’re the only one here.” the other gnome then giggled, and then flushed, “I’m not laughing at you being alone, or the way that you look, I actually quick like it.” She held out her arms admiring herself. “hang on, this isn’t the right room.” She pulled out the pocket watch and disappeared again.

Alone again. She stood up, and began to walk slowly. For the first time since she could remember she was going nowhere. Everything was so wrong. The need to do something was driving her forward, but the lack of information left her directionless. More information, that’s what she needed. She went back to the deep diagnostics she’d done and began to pour over them. There had to be some useful information in there, something that would give her a clue to answer.

Days were spent, she reviewed every scrap of information in the archives, she looked at measurements from the facilities matrix. Nothing. Nothing that could revert what had happened. Something occurred to her. She when back to the records from when the rebel gnomes had left. Something one of them had said was in the archives. “We spend all our time preserving the past, when do we begin to build a future?

She new what she would have to do. She went to the facilities main interface station. She pulled up the status information. Some of the earthen were in much better shape than the others.  She would divert the power from those that were in the worst shape and use it to awaken the others.  They had the best chance to survive in the badlands the area around them had become. The others might awaken from their slumber when the machines powered off, but they had already changed so much, it might be a mercy if they never awoke.

Finally she had set-up the sequences. The last thing to do was to activate. She hesitated. The facility was the only thing keeping her alive at this point. Awakening the earthen would result in a complete shut down. Looking down on her hands. Slowly she pressed them together. They were so different now from the strong metallic bronze hands she had been created with. That seemed like millennia ago. All the others had passed on. She new that it would only be a matter of time for herself as well. She silently cursed that they had not discovered the flaws earlier, soon enough to do something about it. The past was as ever set in stone though. It was not their place to deal in ‘what ifs’. Directly manufacturing her own destruction was counter to everything in her, but at this stage her own end was already assured. Theirs was not. Finally she took a deep breath and began the sequence.

Almost immediately after she began to feel the energy drain out of her body. Listing to the sounds of activity echo through those halls that had been silent for so long was like a breath of fresh air. She laid back and closed her eyes only to be surprised by a flash. That other gnome had returned. It was still rambling on as it had every time she had seen it. She could only make out a few of the words she was saying, “…Your name… please… just tell me your name…”

No name came forth. Her eyelids were impossibly heavy and closed again on their own accord.  She felt a hand lightly rest on her shoulder, and as all sensation faded away she hear one last thing from her strange guest, “…If I can’t tell the world your name; I can at least show them your face.”

Discsofnorgannon

What Gnomes Want

I put up this poll the other day.  I am afraid I phrased it very poorly due to the limitations of Twitter.

History of the race was clear enough.  We have deep history stories about elves and dwarves, but not much about gnomes.

When I say Gnomeregan’s Status, I feel like that was a lot more narrow than what it could have been.  What gnomes really want to see is a normal functioning gnome society.  All the gnome outposts, including New Tinkertown are places that have been throw together in a hurry by refugees.  We want to see what gnomes look like at their best, when they’ve had time to apply themselves and build a stable society.

Gnome adventures means gnome heroes.  We need more gnomes that gnome player can comfortably emulate.  An example of what a paragon of gnomish-ness looks like when filter through the lens of class, spec, or any profession OTHER THAN engineering.  Gnomes that remind us that even though we don’t have a city, we do still fit in on Azeroth.

Gnome Beliefs

Gnomes are not superstitious.  In a world with arcane magic, divine power, and interdimensional beings, these things are as natural as gravity, magnets, and electricity.  Gnomeregan lacks the mythological origin stories that other cultures use to inform themselves who they are.  For gnomes <unknown> is a valid answer until some mechanism that explains a phenomenon is demonstrated.

Gnome Philosophy struggles with different questions than other cultures.  This is primarily due to the fact gnomes want to understand how things work so that those properties can be harnessed to some effect.  Do origins matter?  Dwarves are very concerned with their origins, but gnomes are not, because that information does not provide much insight about how things currently function.  This peels back a layer and lets us see deeper into gnome philosophy.  “How” is a much more important question to gnomes than “Why” is.

Physics, medicine, and chemistry and the very common and well developed schools of thought in Gnomeregan.  They are things things that can be measured and applied in the physical world.  The tricky things that gnomes grapple with are morality, aesthetics, and the nature of existence.  Things that are innately abstract and don’t have obvious immediate application languish on the margins of gnomish disciplines.  Their philosophy is less about acquiring wisdom for understanding and more about attaining knowledge to achieve goals.

MekkatorqueandSuit2There is a Micro and Macro aspect to gnome individualism.  On the micro level is an individual gnome, made of of all of his or her physical parts, education, experiences, and expertise.  All these parts come together to form a complex being that can accomplish amazing feats.  Alone a gnome can create amazing things.  These creations are then seen as an extension of the self though intellect and craftsmanship.

Every individual gnome is expected to bring their best to any situation.  Any job that is necessary is important. This leads into their macro views.  Just like each gnome is made of smaller parts themselves, on the macro scale, each gnome is a small piece of a larger community.  This is one of the reasons gnomes don’t make many demands of the Alliance.  In their expandable views of the self, any success of the Alliance is a success for gnomes as a part of the Alliance.

Gnomish thought-leaders come in all types.  Gnomes that take on the roles of priest are not leading fields outside their role, however, they are important sounding boards for all gnomes no matter what the disciple.  If a gnome gets too involved in their own personal goals, it’s the job of a gnome philosopher to remind them that they have responsibilities and that their actions have impacts beyond themselves.  On the same note, they also guide gnomes that have lost focus and overextend themselves.

When soliciting feedback on ideas it’s also important to get multiple perspectives.  There are gnomes that specialize in positive encouragement.  Acting as a confidants, these optimists believe that there is a good idea at the core of any concept, and that it must be nurtured to realize it’s maximum potential.  Other gnomes are skeptical, asking many questions about how the idea is going to be brought to fruition.  It’s not that they are trying to discourage new ideas.  Instead they want to make sure that the idea has been considered in depth before resources are spent trying to make it happen.  Finally there are nay-saying cynics.  Gnomes that offer this kind of feedback tend to focus more on the applications of ideas and the motivations for implementing them more than the feasibility of the idea itself.

Gnomeregan credits a lot of it’s strength to the fact that all citizens have a door that is always open, a gnome to talk to about any idea and work through and explore the merits and drawbacks of all potential ideas.

Breaking Mekkatorque

Sicco Thermaplugg marched towards Gelbin Mekkatorque’s office.  He carried reports from the field, mostly bad news.  There was determination in his walk.  He had something new to show Mekkatorque today, not that it would make a difference, but it would be an opening the Mekgineer needed to get the High Tinker to listen.

There was a banging on his door, Mekkatorque sighed.  The months of fighting troggs had taken a toll, and he was exhausted.  Thermaplugg opened the door without waiting to be invited in, per usual.

“I have the latest numbers.” Thermaplugg dropped a pile of rolled up papers on the desk.  “It’s not good news.  I did want to talk to you about…” as Sicco spoke Gelbin closed his eyes, ‘Here it comes again‘, he thought, ‘that horror show Sicco had been pushing for months‘, but to his surprize, Sicco’s next words were not what he expected, “…something new.”

Thermaplugg unrolled a large schematic.  “What is it?” Gelbin asked. On the table lay a schematic for a battle armor suit, a huge one. Sicco watched the High Tinker’s face light up, clearly he’d gotten Gelbin’s attention.

The Mekgineer continued, “We haven’t updated the mecha-marine units since the war with the orcs.  They didn’t see much action, so there was not much field test data to work with. I call this rig the ‘Gnome Pounder’.  This new design gives them sufficient power to outclass the largest troggs we have encountered and is still maneuverable enough to pass through the tunnels easily.”

It was a breath of fresh air for Gelbin.  Thermaplugg had always squirmed in his position as the Mekgineer General of the Mecha-Marines.  Could this be a sign that Sicco was done with his endless attempts at one upmanship and finally getting down to the business of his position?

Sicco continued pointing at the schematics and explaining, “I had originally wanted to put a canon on it here, but the recoil was too much and I had to go with a pulverizing arm.”  Sicco turned to face Mekkatorque with a self satisfied smirk on his face.  There was hope in Gelbin’s eyes, exactly what Sicco wanted. “There is just one problem.”

Gelbin felt the brakes clamp down on his enthusiasm. “What’s that?”

Sicco took a deep breath, “We can’t build it.”

“Why not?” Gelbin insisted surprised. His eyes scanned the schematics for something he had missed. “This all seems good Sicco, there is nothing here outside our ability to fabricate…”

“There wouldn’t be, if we had free access to the engineering bay.  With the lock down in place there’s no way to get there from here without a fight.  We’ve slowed down the troggs, but we’ve also cut ourselves off from our resources.”

The excitement on Mekkatorque’s face began to fade.  He knew it was true.  Gnomeregan was built it be incredibly easy to transverse, but once the invasion had begun, the lock down protocol had changed all that.  It had been designed to keep the citizens sequestered while threats were pushed out of the city.  Turning the city into a maze of disjointed rooms and winding passages with ‘defendable’ entrances and exits.

“The engineering bay is in the lowest section of the city.” Sicco stated plainly.

Gelbin turned to look at him with a questioning look on his face that quickly fell into a scowl, ‘here it comes‘ he thought, but this time he was more than just annoyed.  “You are not going to strip my bolts with this again, are you!?  I can’t agree to that atrocity you’ve been planning.  Did you draw up these plans JUST to get me to listen to THIS again!?” Frustration bubbled up out of Mekkatorque’s voice.

Sicco had counted on getting Mekkatorque riled up, but now to see Gelbin like this it occurred to him that he had never seen the High Tinker like this before.  It was a touch fascinating and terrifying.  He really had know idea what this gnome, famous for his cool head and reliability, would do next.  Thermaplugg pushed forward.

“How many gnomes have to die for you Mekkatorque?” Sicco pointed at the reports he had brought in. “You’ve seen the same numbers I have.  This is getting worse, not better.  We used the old kobold shield wall strategies and they failed, because the troggs are too strong.  We used the tanks we built for pushing back the trolls and THEY failed, because they were too big to function under the surface.  We are learning, but not fast enough.  This isn’t a lab, we don;t have time for experimentation.  The consequences are real!”

Mekkatorque began to crack, “Do you think I don’t see that?  I know each time we are forced to change strategies we lose more ground…”

“And we lose more gnomes! Yet you refused to evacuate the city.” Thermaplugg shot back, “Now we have gnomes trapped behind enemy lines.  At our current rate of iteration and development, how many more failures before we get the upper hand?  How many gnome lives are spent while you sit around trying to figure something out?”

Mekkatorque rebuffed, “Every gnome I send out there has a fighting chance of coming home. If we do what you suggest, their blood will be on our hands, MY hands.  Blast it, even the troggs don’t deserve the a cruel death you have concocted.  It’s not a defense, it’s an extermination.”

“You’re worried about the well being of the troggs now!?” Sicco recoiled.

“That’s not what I mean and you know it Sicco.” Gelbin said with a sober tone.

It was true, but Sicco pressed the point anyway, “Ten percent.”

Gelbin finally replied after a pause, “Ten percent what?”

“Casualties to the gnome martial service under my plan.  You may say that those lives would be on your hands if you do this, but I’ve seen these numbers.” Sicco picked up one of the scrolls of the table.  “You’re looking at twice, maybe triple that from any of these alternate solutions.  THOSE are the gnomes whose blood you need to think about.  Gnomes who in the end could be ALIVE because of the decision you make.  Face reality Gelbin.  These aren’t our old enemies, kobolds, trolls, even orcs.  These creatures don’t want our resources.  They are frenzied killing machines.  They will not stop until we are wiped out.  We can’t drive them back into the tunnels they can from and seal them up, we have to eradicate them before they eradicate us.”

Sicco watched Gelbin silently for a long time.  His face was unreadable.  Sicco’s heart was racing, sure this was his last chance to present this idea and keep his position as Mekkatorque’s advisor.

“Bring me the plans and formulas for the irradiator.”  Gelbin finally said; his tone betrayed no emotion. “And start setting up what you need.  Once I give the final approval I want it ready to go.” He turned to look away from Sicco, “Time wasted is lives lost.”

“Right away, Sir.” Sicco surprised himself, he never called Mekkatorque Sir, not in all the years they had worked together had he done so. “Most of it is already set-up. My mephitichemists have been collecting the materials and brewing the fuel.  We just need to cut into the main…” Gelbin held up a hand to stop Sicco.

“Just… bring me the plans and put the devices in place.  You are dismissed.”

Sicco quickly hurried to the door, but paused at the threshold. His face somber he turned back towards the High Tinker, “Gelbin.  I know this was hard for you.  It’s the best thing for Gnomeregan.  We are going to save a lot of lives.”  Mekkatorque kept his back towards him.

Thermaplugg stepped out of the room. Once he heard the door close, his face pinched in to an insidious smile as he hurried down the hall. He had done it. Despite always being one step behind Mekkatorque, he was finally going to get his way.

Faceoff

Gnomish Sciomancers

Most gnomes don’t think much about the afterlife.  Attempts to contact and study those that have passed on generally yields inconclusive results, with one exception: Ghosts.

Ghost are real, as is the shadowlands.  They can be interacted with and examined through sciomancy.  At one time this lead to the formation of a group of gnomes who believed becoming a ghost was the only hope of an afterlife. (If not the ONLY hope, at least it was preferable to reintegration with the environment or oblivion.)  These gnomes became Sciomancers of the highest caliber.  Able to contact and control the spirits of the dead, and even enter the shadowlands.

While Gnomeregan had no official laws against Necromancy or Shadow magic at the time, the group was still looked down upon and outcast.  Most of these Scimomancers went north to Lordaeron to study at the school that became Scholomance, and were lost to the scourge.

Sciomancer2

Inferred Gnome Lore from Warcraft 2 Tinfoil Hat

Because gnome lore in World of Warcraft is… light.  There is a lot of room for head canon.  When coming up with my head canon I try to look back at what is there and infer as much as possible for the source material before I start creating things from whole cloth.  What can be inferred about gnomes from Warcraft 2 lore and game mechanics?

THumanInventorhere are two gnome units and one gnome building in Warcraft 2, the Gnomish Flying Machine, the Gnomish Submarine and the Gnomish Inventor.  The first to become available is the Gnomish Flying Machine.  It’s built at the Gnomish Inventor building. The submarine is built at the shipyard, just like all Alliance boats, but requires the Gnomish Inventor to be present.

WFlyhen World of Warcraft launched in 2004 there were really only 2 gnome characters of any note, Mekkatorque and Thermaplugg.  It’s suggested in the lore that Mekkatorque has been High Tinker since before the Second War. Therefore I feel like it’s safe to assume that he lead the gnomish forces in that conflict, making Gelbin Mekkatorque THE Gnomish Inventor.

WHumanFlyinge see in concept art for Heroes of the Storm that Mekkatorque is a pilot of a Gnomish Flying machine.  This makes sense, his most famous inventions are forms of transportation, the Mechanostrider and the Deeprun Tram.  So his role as a pilot would not contradict anything we see him do in game.  It is further supported more by the suit of power armor he pilots on the Broken Shore in Legion.  Mekkatorque seems as comfortable behind a control panel as he does with a melee weapon.

IWC2HumanSubmarinef we assume that Mekkatorque lead the Gnomish Air Force during the Second war, I think it’s safe to assume that Thermaplugg was Admiral of the Gnomish Navy.  Thermaplugg would not have been on the same level as Mekkatorque. He would have been under the command of Grand Admiral Proudmoore from Kil Tiras.  The lore descriptions of how the subs were used in Warcraft 2 imply that the gnome submarines were under Proudmoore’s command.

I would love to see a remastered Warcraft 2 RTS that featured Mekkatorque as a hero Flying Machine unit, and Thermaplugg as a hero Submarine unit.

IHumanGryphonf we look further at the game mechanics to give lore hints, we find something else.  There are two dwarven units in the game too.  The Gryphon Rider, which is a Wildhammer dwarf, and the Demolishion Squad, from underground Kaz’Modan.  The thing is, the Dwarves of Ironforge are the second unit you get from the Gnomish Inventor.

IDwarfdemo think that while the Wildhammers were going all in with the Alliance Forces, Ironforge was holding back, and the Ironforge dwarves that did participate were under the command of Mekkatorque.

WHumanAviaryildhammers are said in the lore to be separate and distrusting of the other dwarves.  They even have their own building for their unit.  But the Ironforge dwarves come from the Gnomish Inventor.  It supports the idea of the strained relationship between Wildhammers and Bronzebeards.

If Ironforge feels about the same way towards Wildhammers as Wildhammers feel about them.  I could see Magni not wanting to commit to the Alliance fully because the Wildhammers were featuring such a predominate role in it’s formation.  Is it really a stretch to think that Magni would want to keep the Wildhammers, and by extension the Alliance, at arms length?  Here is this large organization forming, that includes both friendly trading partners and old rivals.  He can’t snub them by refusing to join, and the threat too Azeroth as a whole is large to be ignored.  So rather than put Ironforge dwarves at risk of having to take orders from Wildhammers, he asks Mekkatorque to take the role leading Ironforge and Gnomeregan’s combined forces.  That way he can send aids to his allies, and defend Azeroth, without having to buddy up to the Wildhammers.

All that political and military entanglement of Ironforge and Gnomeregan could lead to Gnomeregan catching the attention of the Dark Irons… but that’s a path we can go down later.

I have not had a chance to read Chronicles Volume 2 yet, but from what I have heard there is not a lot of development of either Gnomeregan or Ironforge from the Warcraft 2 era.  I really wish that some distance would be put between the Gnomes and Dwarves in Warcraft.  They can be friends with being shoehorned in to the same niche in the lore.  At this point they remain inexorably tied to one another.  I hope that they will continue to work on making each more unique by diversifying their kits in different directions.