Are Gnomes Heroes?

Are there any gnome heroes in World of Warcraft? I know there are a few notable gnome charaters, but do any of them qualify as true heroes? Do player gnomes even live up to the definition?

Let’s start with a solid definition of what it means to be a hero. I’m going to be using the Hero’s Journey as a template.

Heros-Journey

Let’s look at Mekkatorque and his progression through the Hero’s Journey.

1. Status Quo. Mekkatorque has been leader of gnomes for a long time.

2. Call to action. The Invation of Gnomeregan. The quite orderly city of Gnomeregan is invaded by troggs. Mekkatorque takes steps to defend it.

3. Refusal of the call. In most stories the hero doubts their own ability to rise to the challenge. Mekkatorque’s refusal is diffrent. He refuses to reach out to the Alliance for assistance.

4. The Mentor. The Fall of Gnomeregan. Gelbin’s ‘mentor’ is his advisor Sicco Thermaplugg. Thermaplugg takes action that forces Mekkatorque’s hand.

5. Crossing the threshold. Gnomeregan must be abandoned. The gnomes must leave their orderly society and forge a new existance on the foreign and wartorn surface.

6. Trials. War with the Horde flaires up, the Burnimg Crusade happens, and the war in Northrend. The players participate in these events, but Gelbin does not.

7: Approach. Operation: Gnomeregan. Moira takes the throne in Ironforge and evicts the gnomes. For the second time, Mekkatorque’s hand is forced.

8: Ordeal. Cut Short. Gelbin is trapped alone in his own office. He confronts his personal guilt for the tragedy, he must defeat 3 troggs unarmed, and finally look the gnome who betrayed him in the eyes. Gelbin’s ordeal here is primarily mental, finding the strength to accept and move past what has happened.

9: Reward: Gelbin founds New Tinker Town. His confrontation with Thermaplugg ended in a stalemate so Gnomeregan remains out of reach. Mekkatorque’s journey seems to have has stalled.

10: The road back. Gnomeregan is being cleansed. We know that some sectors have been reclaimed. The G-team and S.A.F.E. have agents all over the place restoring order and rebuilding.

11: Atonenment. Have the gnomes forgiven the High Tinker? No, and they can’t because they never blamed him. Perhaps if we see a gnome election in the future this stage could be satisfactorily resolved.

12: Return: This will be when Mekkatorque stands as High Tinker of Gnomeregan once again. A better, wiser ruler for the experiences he has had.

Clearly Mekkatorque has not finished this journey, but he acts like he has. His appearances in the Siege of Orgrimmar,  the Broken Shore, and at the Battle for Undercity are the actions of a transformed gnome. Clearly he has completed the journey. Unfortunatly for us it seems like much of his adventures happened off screen.

And what of player gnomes? Mekkatorque’s story is our story. The amount of that story that takes place off screen is a problem for us. A new gnome starts right at stage 5. We are immediately forced across the threshold in to our trials. Their is no status quo for gnomes. We never see who they are in the beginning so we have no idea how their adventures change them.

Idealy our starting zone would take us from steps 1-5. The worgen have an amazing starting zone that really informs the players who they are, who Genn is and what has called them out in to the wider world.

It is a shame that the gnome starting experiance doesn’t start before the invation of Gnomeregan. I hope that when gnomes get an allied race, their introduction will give them the background they need.

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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

Reasons to like Gnomes

Let’s be honest for a second.  Gnome fans are a vocal minority.  Gnomes are the least popular race in the game (second to goblins), BUT those fans are very invested in the lore seemingly more than any other.  This might be because gnomes are one of the least developed races in the game, and so we are starving for lore, or it could be that there is something about gnomes that really resonates with their fans.  A ‘relatable’ feeling that really gets gnome fans especially engrossed in their story.  What could that relatable thing be?

Appearance: At the surface level, some people relate to gnomes physically.  Either they see an aspect of their own physicality in gnomes, or they are attracted to them.  Besides the obvious (their height), gnomes are built very differently from other races. Representing lots of body types is good. Gnomes aren’t the super skinny like a lot of female characters are in fantasy art. Mostly gnomes seem to be considered cute, but I’ve also heard them described as, “plump in all the right places.”

Intelligence: All the lore descriptions of gnomes generously professes their genius. Some people would rather be smart than strong.  Outwitting your opponent instead of trying to beat them through attrition.  I think this might be the strongest aspect of gnomes and the reason most people are drawn to them.  I see a lot of Draenei fans also like gnomes , and intelligence is the strongest link between the two races. They don’t have that over the top muscular build that most races in Warcraft have either. Gnomes diminutive stature implies that they have non-physical edge to keep up with the larger races of Azeroth.

Care-free: Gnomes in Warcraft have a tragic backstory, but individually, they don’t seem to be dark or brooding.  There are a lot of sad stories in Warcraft, and sometimes you want a break from that.  Gnomes are often light hearted and upbeat.  They laugh a lot and don’t take themselves too seriously.  (Which is good because no one else seems to take them too seriously either.)  It’s nice to keep things upbeat.  There is a lot to appreciate about the dark and sad moments, but you don’t always want to ‘live’ there.  I think this is one of the reasons reclaiming Gnomeregan is such a big deal.  Gnome players would like to see this aspect of the lore brought more in line with gnomish personality.

Underdogs:  Who doesn’t enjoy an underdog?  Gnomes start at a level of disadvantage that few other race in Azeroth currently endure.  Their home is a toxic wasteland, their closest allies in Ironforge rescinded sanctuary and exiled them AGAIN.  Their first major attempt to reclaim their homeland after 10 years failed.  If you like having the odds stacked against you then gnome is the way to go.

Outsiders: It’s possible that the hate they get from other players drives a certain kind of person towards gnomes.   Loners that don’t like to socialize as much, or people that feel personally ostracized for one reason or another and relate to that.  Even the occasional agitator who enjoys annoying others, and rolls a gnome to gank horde and make them rage at getting killed by a pipsqueak.

Agnostic: In fantasy, there are tons of religions, and for the most part they all tend to be true in most regards. Gnomes on the other hand, did not believe in anything.  Despite the powers flexed by priests, druids, shamans, and paladins.  Gnome remain agnostic in their belief.  It’s something that you rarely see in a fantasy setting.  Atheists are a minority in most places, and so seeing some representation is unexpected and refreshing.  When they added priests, they managed to not abandon this aspect of the race. I have a lot of respect for that.

Gnomes seem to be filling a lot of niches that are traditionally ignored in fantasy and that’s great, I love it.  Transgender dragon?  Bring it on. Gnomeregan can be a home for anybody!

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Gnome in Hearthstone Part 3!

This again? Yes!  I gave you a break, after Part 1 and Part 2 were back to back, but now we are back and scrapping the bottom of the barrel like never before!  This week I’m hitting three themes at once! Summoning, Versatility and Resource Manipulation!.

Plenty of gnomes summon other minions.  This was started by Mekkatorque and the Dragonling Mechanic.  What’s really interesting to me about these is that most of them are NOT engineering devices.  It started what way, but Arcanosmith and Rattling Rascal are summoning magical  minions.  Blingaton brings weapons, and Thermaplugg summons gnomes.  So what does this tell us about gnomes?  I think that this is a representation of strategic thinking from gnomes. Having multiple units on the board increases your play options, and generally forces your opponent to spend more resources to clear the board.  Below are the 6 gnome cards that bring another card to play field with them.

The second trait is Versatility.  These gnomes have multiple basic abilities.  Charge, Taunt, Stealth, Lifesteal, Poisonous, Spell Damage and more!  This stacking of abilities plays into the concept of gnomes as strategists.  Having multiple abilities give these gnome a wider variety of scenarios that they are useful in.

The first sets of abilities we talked in parts 1 and 2 were about playing into the engineering specialization that gnomes are well known for.  These set don’t do that, they harken to the raw intelligence of them.  It’s not played up as much, but I am really happy to see it portrayed here.

Last of these we have 4 card that modify Mana Costs.  These clearly reflect the gnome racial ability Expansive Mind.  Like the cards above, they reflect the intellectual prowess of gnomes.  These are even more pure in their representation, because none of them call back to some form of engineering.  They are all mages that use their genius to maximize efficiency.  …  Except Millhouse.  GET IT TOGETHER MANASTORM!

Gnomes in Hearthstone part 2!

Last week we talked about the primary characteristic of gnomes in Hearthstone, drawing cards.  There is another mechanic that gnomes have a lot of, buffing and debuffing.  When I started reviewing the cards I was surprised by how many gnomes buff.  I thought that buffing was just such a generic ability (a lot of these cards are pirates) that it wasn’t really a big deal, bug then, I compared them to goblins, and goblins almost NEVER buff.  So what does this tell us about gnomes?

I think it ties back into gnomes being engineers.  Drawing cards is analogous to inventing new devices.  Buffing is improving and enhancing existing things (a very important and often overlooked aspect of engineering).  There were 13 draw cards and now we have 11 buff/debuff cards.

The subtle and flexible theming in Hearthstone is great.  It expands on the Warcraft lore in a freeform way that is really fun and interesting to see.

WeeSpellstopperUsherOfSoulsTwilightElderTinkertownTechnicianSmall-TimeBuccaneerShrinkmeisterShadyDealerPlagueScientistEnhance-oMechanoCogmasterBloodsailCultist

 

 

 

What are Gnomes in Hearthstone?

There are a lot of gnome minions in Hearthstone, 51 as of Frozen Throne.  In the 6 expansions that have released some patterns have emerged.  Gnomes primarily put cards in your hand, either directly like the Gnomish Inventor, or indirectly like Wilford Fizzlebang.

GnomishInventorWilfredFizzlebang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This seems to be the niche gnomes fill in Hearthstone as a whole.  I’m kinda sad that Northshire Cleric is not a gnome card since it is probably the most common Draw card used.  13 of the 51 Gnomes in the game put or, facilitate putting, cards in your hand.  In fact the “Spare Parts” mechanic added in the Goblins vs Gnomes expansion is NOT found on any of the goblin cards in that set.  This reinforces the gnome roll in gaining cards. I am most impressed with new Gnomeferatu card, which basically has you draw a card from your opponent’s deck and then discard it.  It’s exactly what you would expect from a gnome parasite.

ClockworkGnomeGnomeferatuGnomishExperimenterJeevesLootHoarderNetherspiteHistorianNoviceEngineerPolluted HoarderShallowGravediggerTinkertownTechnicianToshley

 

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.