I'm told that two particular races, gnomes and half-orcs were deliberately excluded as player races from D&D's 4th Edition at launch. I understand the certain 'controversy' regarding half-orcs (not saying I agree with it), But I've yet to hear of anyone having a problem with gnomes- what was the reasoning behind this?

Note: This is explicitly a request for developer rationale, with citations, not other people's opinions on why gnomes were not in the PHB1.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it explicitly asks for designer reasons - which have been declared off-topic for this site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tiggerous
    Feb 13, 2019 at 13:59

1 Answer 1


The answer you are looking for is in the 372th issue of the Dragon magazine, namely the article "The Gnome, The Bad and The Ugly."

It is an article by James Wyatt, where he explains like this:

First he points out how cute and adorable gnomes are and the issues related to creating "badass gnome" as he had troubles playing such gnome in DnD and WoW respectively.

Basically, I was having fun playing up the comical aspects of the gnome race in WoW, and I had a sudden insight into the lasting appeal of the gnome race that had escaped me for so long. Gnomes are cute, and gnomes are funny, and sometimes that’s okay.

He expands this point right after by describing the creation process of gnome race for 4th edition.

In late 2006, the world design team for 4th Edition discussed gnomes and came up with a story we were pretty enamored with. It gave them a dark past as ally-slaves to the fomorians, a new look that had more in common with the ugly but good-hearted fairy folk you see in folklore than with any past representation of gnomes in D&D, and a new social role as itinerant tinkers. In other words, it swam seriously upstream from the cute and funny gnomes of past editions of D&D and of World of Warcraft.

This is reaction of Bill Slavicsek regarding this vision:

“Gnomes, while still in discussion, might just embrace the funny and cute and come up with something playable that allows people to imagine gnomes in ways they certainly seem to want to. We should stop trying to swim upstream to create a cool, dark, heroic gnome and instead turn our powers to making a cool, funny, heroic gnome.”

And James wraps up with the following words:

That said, in putting together the first Player’s Handbook, we wanted to assemble a collection of races that represented the diverse population of the D&D world and appealed to a broad cross-section of the D&D audience. We felt, and I still think rightly, that the gnome would have a better place in Player’s Handbook 2, where it could expand the game rather than defining its initial parameters.

He further expands the need for gnomes for the Monster Manual and the workaround, but that is not relevant for your question.

To sum it up, gnomes were omitted from PHB1 because they were supposed to be a world expanding race rather than world defining one.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So...gnomes just arent important anymore is what he is saying. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mayshar
    Apr 7, 2016 at 20:40

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