Last Updated: August 28, 2023
Golarion’s gnomes are the first take on gnomes that I’ve ever seen that wasn’t just halflings with goofy hats and maybe a love for illusions. While they still love both goofy hats and illusions, gnomes in Pathfinder have a distinct connection to the First World and to primal magic, which gives their Ancestry options some wonderflul and unique options.
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
Gnome Racial Traits
- : Average racial hit points, and a Constitution boost helps, too.
- : Small. Medium and small size have few functional differences in Pathfinder 2e.
- : 25 ft. is standard.
- : Constitution and Charisma is great for any Charisma-based spellcaster (Bard, Sorcerer, etc.), and the Free Ability Boost can go into Dexterity to make the Gnome a good option for many martial classes. The Strength flaw limits some of your martial options, but for Charisma-dependent classes (Bard, Sorcerer, etc.) Strength is usually a dump stat.
- : Racial language plus Common is standard.
- : Low-light vision.
- Chameleon GnomeCRB: Somehow this works while covered in clothing head to toe. As a GM I might allow players to use a disguise kit or a Survival check to camouflage themselves to get the same bonus. But if your GM won’t allow that, the +2 bonus to Stealth is nice.
- Fey-Touched GnomeCRB: Cantrips are fantastic, but unless you’re a Charisma-based spellcaster, you want to avoid anything that requires an attack or a saving throw. Utility options and defensive options are ideal for most spellcasters.
- Sensate GnomeCRB: Even as an imprecise sense, Scent is a spectacular way to combat hidden and invisible enemies.
- Umbral GnomeCRB: Darkvision is really good.
- Vivacious GnomeCG: Negative damage is uncommon, as is the Doomed condition. This will be frequently useful in campaigns which feature undead heavily, but otherwise will rarely have an impact.
- Wellspring Gnome: Basically the same as Fey-Touched, but the cantrip can be from any spell list except Primal.
- Animal AccompliceCRB: Familiars are really useful, and even if you use it for nothing else ,you can use its abilities for things like extra Focus points, extra Infused Reagents, and as an extra set of eyes for Perception. For more help with familiars, see my Practical Guide to Familiars.
- Burrow ElocutionistCRB: Very situational.
- Empathetic PleaAPG: Absolutely spectacular for any Face build. However, it becomes less effective as fights progress and you take actions which other creatures might percieve as “hostile”. The term “hostile” isn’t clearly defined here, but as a GM I would rule that anything which adversely affects a creature or which assists another creature in doing something harmful to the creature (such as buffing an ally who is attacking an enemy creature) would count as hostile. So standing in the back and casting buffs and healing spells wouldn’t be a loophole to abuse this feat.
- Fey FellowshipCRB: Very situational unless you’re playing in a campaign which takes place in the First World.
- First World MagicCRB: Cantrips are fantastic, but unless you’re a Charisma-based spellcaster, you want to avoid anything that requires an attack or a saving throw. Utility options and defensive options are ideal for most spellcasters.
- Gnome ObsessionCRB: Lore skills are extremely situational by nature, and picking one that will apply consistently is almost impossible. The concept of the feat is fine; the issue is how lore skills work in play.
- Gnome PolyglotCG: Passable for a Face, but language barriers can be overcome with spells.
- Gnome Weapon FamiliarityCRB: The Gnome Hooked Hammer is better than most Simple weapons, so getting it as a Simple weapon is tempting for any gnome limited to Simple weapons. The Gnome Flickmace is so good that Paizo had to nerf it in the 4th printing of the Core Rulebook, and it’s still fantastic. Glaives and Kukris are fine, too, but your proficiency with them won’t increase beyond Trained unless you already get proficiency with them or you take Gnome Weapon Expertise.
- Grim InsightCG: Situational. Fear effects are reasonably common, but not so ubiquitous that this will see frequent use. I would only consider this on a character which depends heavily on targets being flat-footed, like a rogue.
- Illusion SenseCRB: Very situational. The ability to automatically disbelieve illusions without interacting with them is helpful, but illusions occur so infrequently that it’s hard to justify the feat.
- Inventive OffensiveCG: The effect only lasts until you hit and deal damage, but if you lead with a special attack like Shove or Disarm, you can keep using the added trait until you decide to make a regular Strike. I would only use this outside of combat because the Action cost is so high, but it does it offer some fun tactical options early in an encounter.
- Life-Giving MagicCG: This works with cantrips. Grab Shield, and for one Action you can boost your AC and get 1-round temporary hit points whenever you want. It does eat your Reaction, though, so if you have an important Reaction like Attack of Opportunity, this may not be a good option. The best users are Charisma-based spellcasters who might rely on innate cantrips as a go-to offensive option.
- Razzle-DazzleAPG: Blinded and Dazzle are great debuffs, and it’s available from a variety of sources. Better still, this is a Free Action. Unfortunately, it only extends the duration for one target creature, but that can still be a huge impact, especially in fights with a small number of big antagonists.
- Theoretical AcumenCG: This would be really fun on a Thaumaturge or a Monster Warden Ranger, but once per simply isn’t good enough to justify a feat.
- Unexpected ShiftCG: DC 16 means that this has a 1 in 4 chance to succeed, which isn’t fantastic, but Resistance to any source of damage is amazing. Over the course of your career, this will almost certainly apply enough times to feel meaningful. If it does succeed, you’re Dazzled, which means that other creatures are Concealed to you. Consider taking Blind-Fight to remove the Flat Check to target Concealed creatures unless you also plan to take Fortuitous Shift.
- Vibrant DisplayCG: Situationally useful for builds that depend heavily on Feint, but it’s rare that feinting multiple adjacent foes is helpful.
- Animal ElocutionistCRB: Tempting for a Druid, but I don’t know if anyone else would care. Speak With Animals is a 2nd-level spell exclusive to the Primal spell list, which is nice, but it’s an extremely situational spell. You can’t count on animals being present for you to speak with, you can’t count on them having something useful to say, and you can’t necessarily use this to calm hostile animals because Make an Impression takes a full minute. You also need a total of 2 feats to get to this point, which is hard to justify for such a situational ability. Buy a scroll or a wand.
- Eclectic ObsessionCG: This is probably the best way to use Lore skills in the entire game.
- Energized FontCRB: Animal Accomplice gets you a familiar which can replicate this effect and continue to be a useful for other things, but if you’re built around using Focus Spells heavily, you want every bit of extra Focus you can get.
- Gnome Weapon InnovatorCRB: Critical specialization effects are fantastic, and not all martial classes get them.
- Intuitive IllusionsCG: Once per day, only works with illusions, and you need two feats to get here. Unless you’re absolutely, completely focused on illusion spells, this isn’t worth the feat.
- Natural IllusionistCG: Your choice of three illusion spells, and they’re automatically heightened as you gain levels. It’s only once per day, but between the three spells it’s versatile enough to see frequent use.
- Project PersonaCRB: Too situational.
- Cautious CuriosityAPG: Misdirection is very situational, but Silence is great both for hindering enemy spellcasters and for helping you and your allies to remain undetected while sneaking around. Still, it’s a 2nd-level spell. Consider a wand instead.
- First World AdeptCRB: Both spells are really good, but they’ve also been available for 6 levels. Consider a wand instead.
- Fortuitous ShiftCG: Increase the chance of success from 1 in 4 to 1 in 2 and remove the drawback for success.
- Life LeapAPG: A great way to get into position to flank a creature, which can often require a costly series of Steps to do without provoking Reactions. If you’re not built for melee, you can also use this to jump through allies’ spaces in order to get behind a more durable ally.
- Vivacious ConduitCRB: This could be a lot of hit points once your Constitution is high. If you’re at 18 Constitution by the time you take this, you’re healing 16 hit points every time that you rest for 10 minutes. There doesn’t appear to be a limit on how often you can use this, so if you have time, you can just sit around and return to full hit points. Of course, by this level you should have ample healing resources, so this is hardly essential. If your party relies heavily on Medicine for hit point restoration, you might use this to make that time more effective, but since Treat Wounds doesn’t have a limitation on how often it can be used there’s little reason to take this when you could just spend more time being subjected to Treat Wounds. Amusingly, there isn’t a floor on the hit points, so by a pedantic, RAW reading of the rules you can kill yourself if you go to sleep with a negative Constitution modifier.
- Gnome Weapon ExpertiseCRB: If you’re using one of the affected weapons, you need to be advancing your proficiency normally, or you’ve gone through a huge chunk of your career without advancing beyond Trained.
- Instinctive ObfuscationCRB: Mirror Image is a good defensive option, and the ability to use it as a Reaction even once per day is a great defensive option on any character. Sure, you only get two images, but that’s still two attacks negated. This isn’t as consistently useful as Sudden Shift/Fortuitious Shift, but it also completel negates an attack rather than just mitigating it.