Sinister in appearance and reputation, the svirfneblin live where no other race would even consider: deep underground. Neighbors to some of the most terrible of the Old Ones’ spawn, these quiet and sneaky gnomes must do everything within their power and ingenuity to survive and, luck and skill willing, even thrive. Of a much more somber disposition than almost any other race, the svirfneblin toil and work, asking for no quarter among their enemies and giving none.
Svirfneblin Physiology Svirfneblin are slightly shorter than normal gnomes, standing a little below three and a half feet tall but otherwise built similarly to their cousins. Most of that build is muscle, however, as the svirfneblin are wiry, with somewhat gnarled limbs. Their skin has the coloration of rock, a grayish beige, in order to blend with their surroundings. Their eyes are of a pale muted color, ranging from gray to clear blue, creating a rather disquieting stare for some surface dwellers. Men are typically bald and women have thin and stringy gray hair. Their clothing is austere and utilitarian, with dark shades of brown or other earth tones prevailing. They adorn themselves with lovingly-crafted gems on special occasions, but such festivals are rare and unpredictable, so they like to keep their best clothes in tucked away in good care for the next festivity.
Psychology & Society Svirfneblin value hard work, and in their case, it is really hard. Their communities entrench themselves in deep and spacious caves that give them access to their precious mines, which form one of the pillars of their society. Mining is the undying passion of the svirfneblin, it is why they endure all the hardships of their subterranean existence and why they are willing to face some of the vilest enemies in the world.
Bent on survival, svirfneblin are nowhere near as sociable as the surface races and are definitely not as friendly. Nobody can blame them when their closest neighbors are more eager to eat them or enslave them. Insular by necessity, they view outsiders with distrust and wariness. Svirfneblin communities resemble city-states, for they are as large as many human cities and are ruled by a king and a queen.
Their spartan way of life divides labor between the sexes, with males in charge of all the mining activities and the community’s defense, and females in charge of managing supplies and tending to fungus crops, fishing and housekeeping. This is a division born of necessity, not prejudice; even the king and queen are subject to this aspect of svirfneblin culture, each sharing power in equal measure and responsible for their gender-assigned tasks.
The svirfneblin make their home in caverns deep underground, where no light can possibly reach. They use magic and craftsmanship to carve their cities out of the living rock and hide the caves and corridors that connect them to the rest of the underground complexes that harbor them. They have little or no contact with other svirfneblin communities because travel between them endangers both, risking exposing them to their countless enemies.
Enemies & Allies In the past, svirfneblin have not kept stable relations with any other race. However, this xenophobic mindset is quickly changing as the number of horrors continue to grow. Svirfneblin are accepting the fact that they need the aid of the surface dwellers before the fate of the dwarves befalls them as well.
Religion The svirfneblin have no religion of their own, or if they did have long forgotten the names of those deities. They are not sure if the rumors of the Old Ones being gods are true or not, but the mere possibility is enough to turn them away from traditional worship. Many svirfneblin do praise their ancestors and have festivals to honor the dead.
Svirfneblin Names Svirfneblin are given three names at birth. The first name is a formal name that other svirfneblin use out of respect when addressing each other. The second name is the hearth name, a name only used by friends and family. Second names are not gender specific. The last name is a family name shared among all siblings and immediate family members.
Male Names: Aðalberg, Bergúlfur, Friður, Gunnólfur, Járnlaugur, Kristleifur, Rögnvaldur, Styrbjörn, Vilbergur
Female Names: Aðalsteina, Dýrfinna, Eyfura, Gíslíana, Kolfreyja, Oliwia, Signhildur, Vigfríður
Hearth Names: Atla, Eir, Gefn, Hárr, Jtunn, Líf, Mjll, Rindr, Ukko
Family Names: Abildgaard, Bergensk, Ehrenskiöld, Hästehufvud, Knagenhjelm, Neergaard, Svanenskiold, Wadenstierna
Svirfneblin Adventurers Svirfneblin found alone, far from their communities, are explorers or emissaries, looking for new ways to battle the rising Old Ones’ legions and to make allies with the other races. Lone svirfneblin adventurers set out to hunt down and fight their race’s enemies, a task considered a great honor and a duty that is becoming ever more needed. They rarely venture above ground and most of the other races don’t know how to take these gruff creatures.
- Ability Score Racial Traits: –2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, –4 Charisma
- Size: Svirfneblin are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty to their CMB and CMD, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
- Type: Svirfneblin are Humanoid creatures with the gnome subtype.
- Languages: Svirfneblin begin play speaking Gnome and Common. Those with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following bonus languages: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Goblin, Orc, or Terran.
- Defensive Training: Svirfneblin gain a +2 dodge bonus to Armor Class.
- Spell Resistance: Svirfneblin have SR equal to 11 + class levels.
- Skilled: Svirfneblin gain a +2 racial bonus on Stealth checks while underground. They gain a +2 racial bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks and Perception checks.
- Visual Svirfneblin have darkvision 120 ft. and low-light vision.
- Stonecunning: Svirfneblin gain a +2 bonus on Perception checks to notice unusual stonework, such as traps and hidden doors located in stone walls or floors. They receive a check to notice such features whenever they pass within 10 feet of them, whether or not they are actively looking.
- Svirfneblin Magic: Svirfneblin add +1 to the DC of any illusion spells they cast. Svirfneblin also gain the following spell-like abilities: Constant—nondetection; 1/day— blindness/ deafness, blur, disguise self; caster level equals the svirfneblin’s class levels.
The following alternate racial traits may be selected instead of existing svirfneblin traits, with each trait selected taking the place of an existing one. You cannot gain traits in excess of your starting total (though some feats may allow you to select more). You can exchange one or several of your character’s normal racial traits, but of course, you cannot exchange the same racial trait more than once. Consult your GM before selecting any of these new options.
- Healthy: Svirfneblin gain a +4 bonus on Fortitude saves against disease and poison, including magical diseases. This racial trait replaces Spell Resistance.
- Stoneseer: Svirfneblin add +1 to the caster level of any spells with the earth descriptor they cast. Svirfneblin also gain the following spell-like abilities: Constant— nondetection; 1/day—magic stone, stone shape, stone tell; caster level equals the svirfneblin’s class levels. This racial trait replaces svirfneblin magic.
- Deep Warrior: Svirfneblin with this racial trait grew up facing the Old Ones and their spawn that live deep beneath the surface. They receive a +2 dodge bonus to AC against monsters of the aberration type and a +2 racial bonus on combat maneuver checks made to grapple such creatures (or to continue a grapple). This racial trait replaces defensive training.
- Surface Survivalist: Some svirfneblin have dwelt so long above ground that they have lost their ability to see at night. However, their adaptation to extreme environments allows them to treat wind conditions (when determining whether or not they are checked or blown away) and either hot or cold climates (choose one) as one step less severe. This racial trait replaces darkvision racial trait (the retain low-light vision however.)
The following favored class options are available to all characters of this race who have the listed favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the favored class reward.
- Alchemist: Add one extract formula from the alchemist’s list to the alchemist’s formula book. This formula must be at least one level below the highest formula level the alchemist can create.
- Barbarian: Add a +1/2 bonus to the barbarian’s trap sense.
- Bard: Add +1 to the bard’s total number of bardic performance rounds per day.
- Cavalier: Add +1 to the cavalier’s mounted base speed. In combat this has no effect unless the cavalier has selected this reward five times (or another increment of five). If the cavalier ever replaces his mount, the new mount gains this bonus to its speed.
- Cleric: Add +1/2 to the cleric’s channeled energy total when healing creatures of the animal, fey, and plant types.
- Druid: The druid gains energy resistance 1 against acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Each time the druid selects this reward, increase her resistance to one of these energy types by +1 (maximum 10 for any one type).
- Fighter: Add +1 to the Fighter’s CMD when resisting a dirty trick or steal attempt.
- Inquisitor: Add a +1 bonus on concentration checks when casting inquisitor spells.
- Monk: Add +1 to the monk’s Acrobatics check bonus gained by spending a point from his ki pool. A monk must be at least 5th level to select this benefit.
- Oracle: Add one spell known from the oracle spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the oracle can cast.
- Paladin: Add +1/2 hit point to the paladin’s lay on hands ability (whether using it to heal or harm).
- Ranger: Add DR 1/magic to the ranger’s animal companion. Each additional time the ranger selects this benefit, the DR/magic increases +1/2 (maximum DR 10/ magic). If the ranger ever replaces his animal companion, the new companion gains this DR.
- Rogue: The rogue gains a +1/2 bonus on Disable Device and Use Magic Device checks related to glyphs, symbols, scrolls, and other magical writings.
- Sorcerer: Select one bloodline power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the sorcerer’s Charisma modifier. The sorcerer adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that bloodline power.
- Summoner: Add +1 hit point to the summoner’s eidolon.
- Witch: The witch gains 1/6 of a new witch hex.
- Wizard: Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.
Shadows over Vathak, Copyright 2012, Fat Goblin Games. Jason Stoffa and Rick Hershey.