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

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.

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

The Friction Cult

“The Friction Devotion” is a small cult started by a gnome rogue turned priest named Dinomoda Skipssmas.  She taught that existence is a struggle of friction and viscosity: too much and everything grinds to a halt, too little and everything falls apart.  The light is an expression of heat, stasis, and order, while shadow is contraction, flow, and freedom.

The group quickly found a niche focusing on reducing friction, because so many gnome inventions are built around wheels and parts with a fixed point of rotation.  Early on they developed new formulas for shadow oils, and a HEAT Power Word that would stop machines that started running out of control. Unfortunately the shadow oils did not prove to be cost effective for there intended purposes, and inventors were unhappy with the results of using the HEAT Power Word on their devices because it frequently warped, melted, or fused parts.  One inventor was quoted to say that it would have been better if they had “..smashed the whole thing with hammer, at least I’d have some salvageable scraps!”

The group experienced a schism after one of their high ranking member, Faxflex Clutchwydth, purportedly produced a mathematical formula showing that their ultimate goal, to produce a friction-less substance, was impossible.  The teachings of Dinomoda Skipssmas were updated by her followers to suggest that finding something perfectly friction-less was an ideal and not meant to be taken as a literal goal.  Despite this update, there is still a small fundamentalist group working toward this ‘idealistic’ goal.

The majority of Friction Devotion members that remain continue to search for more efficient lubricants, and their configurations for braking systems are still taught in every level of gnomish schools.

frictioncult2

Head Canon: Observers

I’ve touched on this hypothesis before. Now I’m going to update it slightly with some information from the quest “Seeking the Soulstones” and Warcraft Chronicles Vol. 1

We know that the Titans use “Titan Orbs” to collect and store information.  These orbs are mechanical, and found in many places that Mechagnomes are found.  They are entities, more like creatures than objects.  They move and perform functions autonomously.

Perhaps in the distant past the Titans would send a few dozen of these orbs out to different star systems to see if there were any planets there.  If any planets were directed, the Orbs take samples of the magic energy found there, and return to the titans.

This functionality would be in line with what we know about how Titans operated. For example, we know that the Titans imbued the ered’ruin with an attraction to fel magics so that they could seek it out and destroy it.

Doomguard says: …before Sargeras freed us, we were the Titan’s hounds. Forever enslaved to police the use of arcane magics.
Doomguard says: Sacrificial magic was considered the greatest violation of life and we were attuned to instantly punish those who delved into such… delicious sorcery.

In the case of these orbs they would be designed to seek out all forms of magic, and record where they were found.

So then, what happens to these orbs when they land on a planet that is infested with the Old Gods?  I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see them being afflicted with the curse of the flesh.

There are physical similarities.  Round bodies is obvious, but what if the ‘cage’ part of the orb was degraded and became the tentacles that hang down below the Observers?  On the central part with the filigree, there are large white glowing spots; what if these became the multiple eyes of the observers?

I think they have enough in common in both form and function to have a strong case for them to be the same thing.  Less extreme metamorphosis has been seen the the World of Warcraft before.

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Running Mate Announcement

My campaign has been quietly working behind the scenes for a couple months now, and we are ready for a big announcement!  After careful consideration of many fine and talented gnomes, I have come to a final decision about my running mate.

Gearmaster_Mechazod_HSI am proud to welcome Gearmaster Mechazod to the ticket!  Mechazod brings tens of thousands of years of experience to the team, both dealing with everything from mundane maintenance matters and incredibly important cosmic scale matters that are beyond mortal comprehension.  We are very lucky to have him here with us*.

I’m sure you will all agree that he is the perfect complement to what we have going, and our vision for Gnomeregan’s future!

*Mechazod is currently working remotely from Northrend.