Thylison (5th Edition)
The Iron Gnomes live in a massive self contained city known as Holdfast, located beneath the Iron Peaks. The Iron Gnomes are the oldest known race in the region and consider themselves to be the marshals and protectors of the barrier between the Deep Refuge, the massive network of tunnels beneath the earth, and the surface world. The Iron Gnomes live in a meritocracy in which every member of society is expected to find the area in which they can contribute the most to the society, and spend their lives doing so. Any who are unable to contribute to the community are quickly ousted, either to the surface or to the deep.
As one of the oldest races in the region, the Iron Gnomes have a very simple dogma, believing that the world and all life within was created by the clashing of the four Primordials, ancient beings representing the four elements, and their servants. The Iron Gnomes tend to gravitate towards Earth and Fire, though they do recognize the necessity of Air and Water for survival and will give recognition to those elements as well.
Iron Gnome society is ruled by a strict heirarchy based solely on merit, in which every member is evaluated based on what they contribute to the whole. They believe every gnome is built with equal opportunity and in order to rise to a position of authority and power they must prove themselves worthy. Every year, on the anniversary of birth, each individual is called to stand before the entirety of the community to declare their contributions. If the community agrees that the individual has improved the value of the community, their station is elevated. If not, they remain the same, or if they have been found severely lacking, they are cast out.
Prior to encountering the Deep Dwarves the Iron Gnomes were prolific and expansionist, forming fortresses and outposts throughout the depths. Over time the birth rates among the Iron Gnomes began to decline and the numerous threats below began to exact a bigger toll on the gnomes. Being pushed further and further back and being forced to abandon settlement after settlement, the Iron Gnomes finally made the decision to consolidate within Holdfast. Now they cling desperately to this last bastion of their society, living in constant fear of losing this too. Holdfast is a self-sufficient city with cisterns being fed from above ground water run-off, carefully cultivated mushroom gardens and stockyards that house subterranean livestock. A large and slow moving river of magma runs through the outer portion of the keep providing heat and fire to fuel the forges.
The Iron Gnomes are extremely xenophobic and prefer to have no contact with the outside world, relying on their Deep Dwarves allies to export the mutually created goods to other trade parties. The Iron Gnomes are unparalleled in their ability to fuse the mundane arms and goods of the Deep Dwarves with powerful enchantments, which allows them to negotiate luxury items that they wouldn't otherwise have access to. The Iron Gnomes have also discovered the secrets of explosive powders and have begun experimenting with crafting explosive devices to try and turn the ongoing threat away from Holdfast.