The Dry Season
The Gnomes of Anarchy
The gnomes of the islands have no history of kings or queens, and no history of elected representation, either. Spread out across the arid steppes of the southwestern islands, their communities have always been small and have a long tradition of growing and contracting based on the resources available to them. The very largest gnome communities barely qualify as cities based on elven or orcish definitions, and even some human strongholds are larger.
Community resources are held in common. Food, cloth, water and other essentials are distributed based on need, while other items are traded between individual gnomes or distributed by community decision. They have little need to trade with non-gnomes, and when they do, usually trade magical goods and services for what they need – their is little enough metal available for weapons and magic in gnome lands, and certainly not enough for currency.
The absence of hierarchy in gnome communities can make life difficult for foreign travelers or adventurers, who will rarely find a community leader of any sort to deal with directly. Those communities which have regular dealings with outsiders may have someone chosen to deal with such matters, but most of the time any dealings with foreigners and discussions on whether or not to deal with – and how to pay – adventurers are a matter of communal debate.
The only exception to these matters are the compounds of the ‘greater gnomes’. These powerfully augmented gnomes have even smaller communities, and their resources are usually provided entirely by magic, but they do have clear hierarchies among their number, and even some hierarchy among the different orders and compounds. They have made no attempts, however, to seize any kind of control over other gnomes or their communities – though nobody is entirely clear whether it is ideology or merely caution that restrains them.