Sunday, January 8, 2012
Traditional Gnomish Law
Gnomish society honors private property as well as public property, and given their philosophical bent, might best be described as libertarian. Law is not very strict, and is more thought of as custom.
Society as a whole is considered to own undeveloped resources such as forests, lakes, mountains and fields, and anyone is free to use them, but is expected to manage them wisely. For example, cutting down trees requires a Gnome to plant new trees to replace them, and such cutting must benefit the forest as well as the individual. Should a Gnome break with this custom, he will be chided gently to repent and do the right thing; failing to correct his behavior usually results in his being shunned by the community. Those who are shunned are literally ignored until they repent; and without the assistance of others, life becomes very difficult if not impossible.
Custom regarding relations among Gnomes is based on the same philosophy; what you add value to is yours; unless you choose to barter it, give it, or abandon it. The trees a Gnome has cut down are his (assuming he’s recompensed society appropriately); no Gnome will touch them unless given permission, or a year has passed, signaling abandonment.
Gnomes practice apprenticeships to learn useful trades, and until an apprentice is released by his master, he may not spread the techniques he has learned to any other.
Gnomes do not have capital punishment, but use shunning to ensure compliance with societal norms. While not strictly pacifists, gnomes will use weapons in self-defense, but will only attack first when gravely threatened. Prior to the peace treaty in Arden, the gnomes felt they would be destroyed if they gave quarter, and this was the bloodiest period in their known history.