Ore Gnomes or Svirfneblin as they like to call themselves, are a gnome subrace that live in the twisting tunnels of the world cavern and caverns beyond. They are often mistaken for goblin-kin at a first glace. While their surface cousins are known for their boundless optimism and cheerful mischief, the Ore Gnomes are serious and suspicious creatures. They survive in the world cavern by maintaining wariness of others and working hard to keep their underground society secret.
Although gnomes in general lack any kind of cohesive history, ore gnomes bring this cultural idiosyncrasy to its greatest extremes. ore gnomes lack not only a tradition of keeping records or writing biographies, but they also have never developed a calendar or a method by which to track the passing of time as the drow have. To a ore gnome the very concept of day or night is foreign, having never seen the light of the sun or the stars of a night sky.
Ore gnomes are wiry and lean with a body as hard as a slab of rock. Males are completely bald and beardless, while the females sport hair. Both sexes are covered with small patches of velvity fur which the drow value much like humans value minx pelts. Ranging from 3' to 3'6" (107 cm) in height and weighing between 40 and 45 lbs (20.4 kg), the ore gnomes are small enough to give them a size advantage when battling larger opponents. ore gnome complexions are sometimes described as "gnarled" and, like drow and duergar, are commonly darker in hue than their surface cousins, with most ore gnomes demonstrating brown or gray skin, with pale eyes, as well as gray hair if female. Ore gnomes do not live quite as long as their kin, with a life expectancy just under two centuries. Due to this and a number of cultural affectations, ore gnome children are considered adults at roughly twenty years of age.
Ore gnome are better adapted for underground living than either gem gnomes or deep dwarves with darkvision to help them see where there is no light. Similarly, ore gnomes have a dwarven-like affinity for stone and innately understand it on a level few other races can appreciate. ore gnomes also lack most gnomes' predilection for cantrip like abilities but can instead blind other beings, obscure their own presence, or shape-shift. ore gnomes also have a great deal of resistance to magic of any kind, and can go undetected as if they were using the nondetection spell, alongside their natural affinity for avoiding danger or hiding.
ore gnomes are a quiet but relatively kind people, who fatalistically expect little more from life than what they have. Keeping themselves to themselves, being cautious when contacting other races and eyeing strangers with suspicion, it is difficult to befriend a ore gnome, even if one is another ore gnome, but when taking considerable effort to befriend a Ore Gnome, one can find a loyal friend who will not easily misplace one's trust.
Introverted and hard-working, ore gnomes are wholly dedicated to any task they set themselves on, typically mining for males and housekeeping for females. Although outsiders find ore gnomes' overly serious attitude to make for sour company, those qualities make them tireless pursuers of excellence in their metalworkings and weapon forging. These attitudes are also justified in part by the harsh environs the ore gnomes inhabit, which require a degree of stoicism and quiet suffering in order to save the greatest number. Any sounds, including voices, can attract danger to ore gnome homes and for their own sakes ore gnomes have learned to keep a grim demeanor and low profile. Their seriousness and stoicism fades when admiring iron and gold which fascinates them so much.
Although far more serious than most gnomes, ore gnomes nonetheless exhibit the same insatiable curiosity and craftiness if put under the right circumstances. It is this trait, more than any other, which leads ore gnomes to abandon their cautious upbringing and explore the world around them. Some of these wandering ore gnomes turn upwards, investigating the surface world from which their ancestors came, particularly the case for ore gnome illusionists who hope to find further instruction in the Art that can be obtained in their reclusive homes. Others become prospectors, searching for new veins of gems or ore to mine.