As the Hin plow their fields, as the Elves tend the forests, and as the newly-emerged Dwarves build their first above-ground defenses, another race goes quietly unseen and virtually unknown by the races of Millenia. The Clans of the Gnomes live a peaceful existence among the massive roots of old-growth trees and in the caves of the rocky hills surrounding Millenia’s mountain ranges. The Elves know of the Gnomes, but the two races keep separate, as the haughty Elves with their exuberance make the Gnome families uncomfortable. Gnomes prefer quiet, to hide from the more savage humanoids that inhabit the land.
Most Forest Gnome families are tied to a Clan, and each clan consists of about two dozen extended families. Each of these families are usually, but not always, tied together through marriage or some other circumstance. Each Clan tends to live in large area that almost never has anyone from another clan living in it. However, the Rock Gnome Clans lead very different social lives. There are only a few Rock Gnome townships, and each is built into the side of a different mountain or hillside. These townships consist of Gnome families and individuals often without any ties to each other at all. The population of a Rock Gnome township work together as a whole, much as a Human village might, to ensure all are safe and sound.
That’s not to say that a Gnome cannot fight to protect herself and her loved ones; in fact there are many Gnomes with martial prowess and the bravery and skill to keep the Clans safe. How they differ from most of the other races is that those with the power to fight focus only on defense and on the protection of the Clans. You will rarely see a Gnome explorer with weapons and armor. Most Gnomes who do explore the world do it out of a sense of curiosity and a sense of duty to know the natural world in as much detail as possible.
Of course, no stereotype ever holds true, and that goes for the Gnomes as well. The clans who live in the forest are much more solitary than the Gnome families who inhabit the caves of the rocky hills. In fact, the first peoples to encounter the Dwarves as they began to explore the land above were Rock Gnomes who lived on the mountainsides. If the Dwarves even know that there are cousins to these Gnomes that live in the forests, they probably have yet to meet any.
Occasionally, Elf craftsmen meet with the Forest Gnomes to trade for the exquisite natural art the Gnomes are best known for. Elves who use magic often find this art a benefit when used as material components, or even just as inspiration. Some of the most intricate and beautiful miniature sculptures (usually figurines of animals or spirits) have come from Gnome hands. It must also be noticed that the Rock Gnomes are also quite skilled at earthworks due to their preference for underground living. They may not have the ability to make vast underground structures like the Dwarves, but the dwellings they create are ornate, beautiful, and extremely hardy.