The Dragonlance Nexus

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Gnomorrah, Gnomish City-State of

by Carteeg Struve

Capital: Gnomorrah
Population: 80,472 (Gnome 97%, Dwarf 2%, Human 1%)
Government: Republic
Religions: minor - Melik Suud (Reorx) and Nekkarb (Shinare)
Languages: Gnomish, Common, Dwarven
Trade: Bureaucracy, Machines, Paper, Siege Weapons, Steam Powered Ships
Legions: Gnomorrah Regiments, The Mountain Naval Force.
Alignment: LG, LN, LE

Gnomorrah (No-more'-ah) is a small gnomish nation, in terms of land size, located in the northern part of FyxZharar. A single stretch of valley cuts southward twenty miles through the northern edge of the Thunderhead Mountains near the Guiteger border. Throughout this valley, and on and in the immediately surrounding mountains, settlements cover almost every inch of space.

The gnome civilization has existed here for many, many hundreds of years. Although a few gnomes involve themselves in technological engineering, primarily in steam powered mechanics, a vast majority are much more interested in social engineering, law, and record. Gnomorrah was built as a haven for record, bureaucracy, law, and technological experimentation.

Life and Society

A vast majority of those who live within Gnomorrah are very focused on their individual professions. Whether someone is a gnome or from another race, anyone who isn't a workaholic will be hard pressed to make any type of life for themselves here.

Most are obsessed with record keeping, legal interpretation and improvement, and general social engineering. The goal of many is to eventually create a utopia for all races, involving a perfect governmental system running the society, a perfect language for communication without misinterpretation, a perfect record of procedure for all things that can be done in life, and thus perfect peace. Unfortunately, very few agree on what is required for such a society.

A small part of the population is also involved in technological advancement. It is believed that a small ship of unknown origin was carried across the oceans to Adlatum on the Great Wave. The ten gnomes aboard survived and merged in with Mentoi society. Their technological knowledge was combined with Mentoi precision, and several devices operating on steam-driven power were constructed. Today, several devices make life easier for those living in Gnomorrah, even though only a limited few understand the complicated controls used to run them. Included are railway cars, automated lifts, and garbage disposal units.


Many gnomes have either a detached sense of the world they chronicle or they are so fixated on their roles as advisors, diplomats, arbitrators, politicians, and such that religion does not enter into their lives, except for maybe doing work for or with any church.

The exceptions are the church of Melik Suud (Reorx) and Nekkarb (Shinare). In the past, Suud had been honored as the founder of their race and thus the Chief Executive Founder of the Mentoi society. However beyond that he faith does not add much for the development and maintaining of society. In that, the honoring of him is only to honor, and not worship.

The gnomes have similarly honored Nekkarb for her faith's teachings in communication and business management. However Nekkarb's church does support communication, trade, and other methods of negotiation. For this, Nekkarb had established a majority hold of the pious within the Mentoi society.

With Gnomorrah so closely linked to politics throughout the Midlands, gnomes and Midland humans use the same names for the gods and share many of the same legends.


"There will come a time when mortals will have uncovered and explained all mysteries the universe can possibly present. The last to be solved will be the understanding of gnomish bureaucracy." This quote from Etlarnic scholar Shera Rosio is not far from the truth. The operation of the Gnomorrah government is so complicated that no one outside of the gnomish race can follow how it works. The government's structure also appears to be changed constantly as theories on how to improve it are always put into effect, experimented with, monitored, analyzed, removed, changed, upgraded, undone due to political backstabbing, and revamped again.

The most consistent parts of the government are the High Legislative (First Rank) Body of Legality, the High Legislative (Second Rank) Body of Legality, the various Lesser Legislative Bodies, and the Chief General Executive of Gnomorrah. The total number of legislative bodies (high, lesser, and other) varies frequently along with the number of representatives in each body. The Chief General Executive is the official leader of Gnomorrah, however the other branches of the government have several methods to override decisions through a very lucrative and lengthy process.


Gnomorrah has never had a strong military presence until Lord Montegron of the Midland Sovereignties sent reinforcements to protect his interests in the region, but there are several small units made up of Gnomorran citizens. The various Gnomorrah Regiments are spread throughout the valley and mountains, acting also as a policing force.

The one military branch Montegron is trying to have disbanded is the Mountain Naval Force. Seen by many as unnecessary, the navy was constructed for the off chance that a Second Drowning would permanently sink the lands underwater. Since Gnomorrah was actually founded by gnomes on a beached ship, a proud tradition has attached itself to the navy. A half-dozen sizable steam powered ships are located near the highest peaks of Gnomorrah and are kept in pristine condition in case the dreaded day comes.

Magic and Mysticism

There is not much use for magic of any sort in Gnomorrah, however there are some who study magic in its various incarnations as a separate branch of science. There have been a couple of times in history in which magic was made illegal during some social experiments, but these bans rarely lasted long.

Major Geographical Features and Locations

The Gnomorrah nation is comprised of a single long valley stretching north to south from the northern edge of the Thunderhead Mountain chain along with the immediately surrounding ranges. Lakes and rivers flow through much of the valley, and gas vents naturally heat many ponds. These vents are what inspired the steam powered technology after the initial gnomes settled here.

Regional History

As the waves pulled back from Drowning, many things had been driven hundreds and thousands of miles from where they originated. One was a ship of gnomish design that was thrown north and then dragged back south into the Thunderhead Mountains. The dozen surviving gnomes were not Mentoi, and with their badly damaged ship stranded in mountains they began construction on new homes.

Using their skills, they designed methods of gathering steam from pools of water heated by underground vents and using the steam to power other devices, most of which made from parts of the cannibalized ship. During this time, many travelers were building homes in the newly re-established FyxZharar. Mentoi met these strange gnomes and investigated their world, for they had never seen its like before. So these gnomes were watched, and their technological skills were analyzed. A damaged valve one day resulted in an explosive rupture, killing nearly all of the ship's survivors, but a few of the Mentoi took to applying their own skills in steam-powered engines, and the settlement's future was forever changed.

The city-state grew as most gnomes found the settlement of Gnomorrah and chose to reside there. An official government was formed in 4 AD to begin the job of a state-wide census, making it easier for those who arrive to see if loved ones had survived and made it to Gnomorrah. The census sheet was the first record kept, and the original tabulation for the year is on display in the State Archives office.

As more and more people arrived, the bureaucracy blossomed. The government grew, and so did the need for paper. Factories were built to process wood and other materials in order to help in the expanding economy. Even today, the paper mills generate the greatest amount of income for the region.

In the later years, foreign rulers slowly learned of the meticulous work in the theory of law and advancements of record keeping in Gnomorrah. Representatives from these countries were sent in hopes of establishing good relations, and most were successful. In the Midlands, it became common practice for a king, queen, premier, or other executive to hire Mentoi as an advisers, scribes, court historians, legal advisers, arbiters, and even politicians. Although some rulers needed to learn how to deal with the Mentoi's odd behaviors at times, their ability to remember minute details of the law and figure out how to manipulate the system into producing a most desirable result made an occasional frustration seem vastly trivial. As such, many governments keep close tabs on the up and coming professionals coming out of the Gnomorran schools, hoping to use new talents to their advantage. At the same time, this allowed gnomes with various theories on social engineering to influence policy in foreign lands and examine results on larger scales throughout the Midlands and beyond.

The technological advancement of Gnomorrah was much slower. Those Mentoi who analyzed the devices used by the city's founders found many unstable faults. After the initial explosion that almost destroyed the colony right after its creation, three Mentoi gnomes turned all of the devices off and began to rework the principles applied to make the engines work. The science was rebuilt from almost scratch, but after generations, a more stable steam engine was designed and constructed. In the centuries that followed, the technological advancement of Gnomorrah has been very slow but very steady. Sizable drills have been used to dig into the mountainsides to expand the city. Tracked cars are used for faster transportation as well as the movement of heavy loads. Also, the heating of houses and the powering of mills are now done with the technology left behind by the city founders. Unfortunately for non-gnomes, the controls used to operate the machines were made for those with Mentoi minds. This leaves anyone of another race baffled by the insanely complicated controls that any Mentoi can figure out with relative ease. Some do struggle to learn, but very few have ever succeeded.

Detailing the full history and inner working of Gnomorrah would be a vastly time-consuming undertaking, but one period sticks out as the greatest threat to Gnomorrah's survival – the Gnomorran Civil War.

In the late months of 368 AD, Gnomorrah's newly installed Chief General Executive Panoryesh came at odds with the High Legislative (First Rank) Body of Legality on a wide variety of issues many of which involved his ability to deal with foreign powers without having to bring every and all agreements or even suggestions back to the highest ranking legislative body within the nation. Specifically, he was getting frustrated at always having to do it, and always having his initial agreements reworded, reorganized, rewritten, and sometimes re-thrown out. Unfortunately for Executive Panoryesh, the legality of such matters was clear (for a gnome anyway), and unless the High Legislative (First Rank) Body of Legality, or three of the other ranked High Legislative Bodies along with approval from all six of the Middle Legislative Bodies, volunteered to change the laws they themselves supported, Panoryesh's desire for ease of control would remain a dream.

Over the next several months Panoryesh hunted through the law books, court rulings and even traffic ordinances trying to find a method to subvert the stranglehold his opponents had on the government. He finally found it in the form of a small loophole describing the rules in which the populations of the Legislatures were determined. The short of the legalese came to the following details: (1) a new representative could be appointed if a current representative was dead, incapacitated, or sick; (2) the appointment would be voted on by the legislature in which the seat in question presides; and (3) if the legislature cannot make a quorum of 50% of its members, the appointment will be decided on by the Chief General Executive.

Executive Panoryesh proceeded to use an executive privilege to keep all windows and doors open within the government halls (by law the highest ranking member of the government gets to control the steam powered humidifier and any other climate controlling device, of which the windows and doors qualified). Over the following winter months, most of the Legislatures got sick while Panoryesh made sure to have a private cleric nearby to keep himself healthy. Once all of the Bodies were over half sick with colds and flu, Panoryesh declared to several of the courts that he was going to appoint a replacement government seat-by-seat with gnomes from lesser-powered Bodies who supported his efforts.

These details are an oversimplification of the laws and do not give a perfectly accurate description of the situation, but for the sanity of anyone trying to understand gnomish law, it does give a general approximation with the benefit of actually comprehending anything.

The current Legislatures attempted to block the attempt, but the courts sided with Panoryesh due to the wording of the laws. However one member of the High Legislature (Second Rank) Body of Legality, Hayglmarch, noted that according to the wording of the laws, a member of the Bodies could only be removed from his/her seat if they were "deathly ill." The courts, to Panoryesh's annoyance, agreed.

As such, by mid-369 AD, two entirely legal governments took form within Gnomorrah: one comprised of Panoryesh's appointments, and the other being the original members who did not vacate their seats. The Civil War had begun.

The Civil War was at first not one fought with weapons. The two governments began to battle for control and jurisdictions by passing law after law against the will of the other. Much to Panoryesh's annoyance, the newly installed Bodies were so busy in legal combat with the original Bodies, they never had time to pass the change of rules needed to give him control over foreign affairs and diplomacy. Instead chaos irrupted.

Both sides passed bills, laws, and proclamations as each government tried its best to out-legislate the other and gain control. Meanwhile, the people were caught in conflicting laws, impossible procedures, and no way to act or not act without violating even the slightest ordinance. Due to the nature of gnomish society, law enforcement was forced to carry out all laws regardless of which side gave the orders. Things descended even more when both sets of Bodies began manipulating the committee that controlled the Gnomish Dictionary Standards. The definitions of words were changed in attempts to make the laws passed by the enemy Bodies mean something completely different than intended. Eventually laws passed that altered the Gnomish Dictionary Standards themselves began to mean something different than were intended, and laws began to be passed which in the end meant something different than what either side wished.

Society began to crumble. The gnomes themselves could not make heads or tails of their own system, and physical altercations became commonplace. Most of the war had taken place on paper, but by 374 AD the number of deaths attributed to the war reached 9,000.

The war hit a climax during the latter end of 374 AD. After Executive Panoryesh was arrested for jaywalking in his own home, he broke out of prison easily (since locking cell doors was illegal after dinner hour). In a moment of insanity, he broke into the Records Hall and begun to burn all legal documents passed from 369 to 374 AD. Unfortunately his attempts to destroy only those records failed. The entire building caught fire and many of the documents were lost, along with Panoryesh.

All of the documents however had copies stored in multiple locations throughout the nation, but Panoryesh's death served as a wake-up call to those in the two governments. Over the period of six months, the two sets of Bodies met and began to work together to find ways to sort out the laws and even the language. Due to gnomish culture, the concept of simply ignoring the laws passed during the war was both alien and barbaric to them. Instead, the slow process of untangling the mess was begun. Officially the war was over.

It would be decades before everything would be straightened out. Many gnomes today still believe that more damage was done to Gnomorrah, and thus the world, during the Civil War than had been done later during the Days of Darkness.

The rise of Montegron's unified Midland Sovereignties after the Starfall had an overall positive impact on Gnomorrah. The added layer of government on top of the pre-existing nation government increased the need for paper and paper-related products along with those versed in legal and social studies both in Karsuhon and abroad. Much more recently Montegron also began funding to the technological engineers, hiring them to build siege weapons and other machines to use against the Tashrama in the coming war. Just recently, three steam-powered ships were constructed and transported to the Sargassi Sea for launch. Most of the operators on these ships are gnomes, but humans and dwarves make up most of the command staff and the military personnel. This period of time has so far tripled the economy in Gnomorrah, and so long as Heriacious' forces don't penetrate into the city-state and kill everyone, it may signal the coming of a Golden Age for Gnomorrah.

Current Events

  • There is a mild pollution problem growing in the area. The paper mill factories take up a sizable portion of the manufacturing business in the city-state, and the factories tend to constantly emit black smoke up into the sky. The Astronomical Society has lodged a complaint against the nearby factories and is threatening to take their business elsewhere if something is not done.

  • Chief General Executive Advaford's (LN male Mentoi expert 9) mother was dying from a hereditary illness that often strikes the elderly members of the family, but a mid-ranking priest of the Tashrama healed her. Sovereignty officials are claiming the priest made her sick to begin with, but evidence seems to point to the contrary. Considering Advaford's support for the war machine has brought untold riches to his people, he secretly is having people investigate the priest. The priest was arrested by Sovereignty guards but has recently escaped.

Major Settlements

Gnomorrah (Megalopolis 70,324): For almost four centuries, the nation of Gnomorrah and the city of Gnomorrah were synonymous. Once other settlements were founded outside of Gnomorrah but under Gnomorran law, the city became the capital to itself as a nation. Surprisingly for a hyper-bureaucracy, there is no city government. The national government runs all layers. Since the population of the city is almost 90% of the country, many still speak of the city and the state in the same terms.

The city includes all areas within the valley, the sides of the mountains facing the valley, and any settlements constructed under the mountains. Many of the oldest structures, including the main hall where the Legislative Bodies are, appear as large stone and metal structures on the mountainsides, but they also extend deep into the mountains for added security for both personnel and preserved records.

Steeleera (Small Town 1,325): Only after the Starfall did smaller settlements under the Gnomorran government come into being just outside of the valley. The town has a relatively even mix of dwarves, humans, and gnomes. Steeleera was constructed by the wealthy half-gnome Steeleera Smythree who wished to have a small settlement isolated from the rest of Gnomorrah in which she could conduct her social experiments at her whim with minimal oversight from legislatures. The highest legislative bodies granted permission and watched with interest.

Human and dwarven volunteers built the town on the far side of one of the mountains forming the valley, and Smythree is allowed (within reason) to alter the laws and social mixing within the small town at her leisure in order to analyze and record her results at a rate much faster than other places where such experiments occur. The town has been in operation for twenty years, and Steeleera's publications in the Gnomorran Journal of Societal Research are some of the most read and dissected in the Midlands.

Citizens within the town are not forced to remain under the odd executive authority the town has, and all understand the additional trials involved in living in Steeleera. Those who tired of the experiment are free to leave, and other volunteers are often brought in upon Smythree's request.

Jamra (Village 542): The newest settlement of note in Gnomorrah is Jamra, a tiny schooling village made up primarily of students and staff. Those few gnomes who have the talent and skill to construct steam-powered engines and the machinery that implements that technology have found dwarves, humans, and others willing to learn how to construct, maintain, and use that knowledge. This village is located just past the southern tip of Gnomorrah's main city and was put together at the request of several non-gnomish citizens of FyxZharar who had experienced gnomish technology and desired to learn its secrets. Lord Montegron funded the construction of the town personally and hopes to see the school-town grow.