Ak'Anon is an ancient city, built into the edge of the mountains long ago by the gnomes who call it home. Half fortress and half laboratory, the gnomes have been developing their clockwork machines and defenses here for generations, and show no signs of stopping. In ages past, the gnomes were so powerful as to defy the gods and build their own clockwork dragon to protect the city, but when it went rogue, it was either imprisoned far beneath the city or banished to another land. Eons have passed since, however, and the truth of the gnomes prior glory may never be known.
Note that the lettered areas lead to each other.
At zone to Steamfont (47, -35)
The gnomes have long made their dwellings in the Steamfont Mountains and, although they have not tamed that wild region, have established themselves as a strong force there. They run several large windmills in the mountains, generating power for some as-yet-unrevealed project, and the Observers have set up their observatories in the far reaches of the mountains.
Further afield lies the vast untamed expanse of Lesser Faydark and, hidden within, the lair of the evil vampire Mistmoore. The gnomes have a small presence in this forest, more to protect their communications with the elves and dwarves beyond than to stake a claim within the forest itself.
Traveling To and From Ak'Anon
Ak'Anon can be reached by travelling through the Steamfont Mountains, and lies nestled in a small valley in the southern edge of it. The ever-churning machines of the gnomes can be seen marking the outside of their city, and these may in fact be engines of war, although it is hard for those who aren't gnomes (and some who are) to tell.
To the west lies the narrow chasm that opens into Lesser Faydark. The small gnome outpost lies very near the opening on the other side, and a short distance to the northwest lies the entrance to Greater Faydark and the cities of the wood elves and high elves. Far to the west of Greater Faydark lies the underground home of the dwarves.
Ak'Anon reflects its inhabitants, unique and slightly reclusive, sticking to their own while, at the same time, forming a cohesive whole. The separate guild halls within the city lie far apart and in their own sections of the city itself, but there are several central hubs of activity within the city.
Prominent throughout the city is a large flowing river/lake that dominates every area. This water is pumped from deep below the mountains by massive machinery and allowed to flow throughout the city, providing power as it does so and precious water to all the various parts and shops throughout the city.
Far in the northern part of the city lies old caverns that have been taken over by the less desirable elements of the gnome society, where the necromancers and the other evil gnomes have taken up residence, as well as the undead that they have summoned to protect their home.
The gnomes lie scattered throughout their city, inhabiting their small sections of the city, typically distributed by their guild affiliation. The spellcasters spend their time researching in the Library Mechanamagica, the clerics worship in the Abbey of Deep Musing while the rogues hide out beneath it. The evil gnomes hide far to the north in a forgotten part of the city, where the water runs polluted by the city's machines, in a some old mines there. The warriors live close by their king, in barracks guarding the only land route in.
Scattered throughout the city lie guides, special clockworks designed to provide information to those who are lost within the winding corridors. Simply walking up to a guide and inquiring about the location of something will lead to directions to reach it.
Built as an extension to a huge abandoned mine complex, the city of Ak'Anon sprawls out with a huge cavern, which constantly echoes with the sound of mechanical devices ticking and whirring. Travelling within the city can be confusing for a visitor as the city shares the cavern with a huge lake that meanders through it that forces people to take long indirect routes. The Gnomes however have provided mechanical guides that stand around on the main paths and can lead the lost to their destinations.
Almost exclusively Gnomes.
Over 1000 years ago the Gnomes were slaves of the dark Elves, but were freed by the high Elves of Felwithe. The Gnomes dwelt for a time under the protection of the Elven empire, but found it hard to follow the Elven customs and laws. The Gnomes petitioned Lord Carandril of Kelethin for a homeland of their own and were granted the barren lands to the South. The Gnomes travelled into the mountains but were chased back to Kelethin by a plague dragon that had already claimed the land as his own. Furious that such a beast existed so close to their borders, the King sent his finest warrior Edril with the Gnomes to slay the beast.
The group tracked the dragon to a deep cavern in the mountains and Edril entered alone. Two days past and the Gnomes were beginning to dismay at ever seeing the Elven warrior again, when Edril finally reappeared, injured but dragging the head of the dragon behind him.
The Gnomes took possession of the dragon caverns and made their home. They named the city after their beloved monarch King Ak'Anon who lived for 200 years, and who led his people in the construction of the city with all its mechanical wonders.
Since then, Ak'Anon has been the centre of invention and science for all of Norrath. Even the Erudites, who see themselves as the premier scholars in the world, admit that the libraries of Ak'Anon come a close second to their own.
Culture and Society:
While Ak'Anon is a huge city built within a cavern under the Steamfont Mountains, the Gnomes themselves are not particularly subterranean dwellers. The city itself is mostly given over to factories, workshops and Guildhalls. Most Gnomes actually prefer to live in small houses around the Steamfont Mountains where they can satisfy their intense curiosity in relative peace and quiet (Ak'Anon being fairly noisy). They have a special love of astronomy and have built several large telescopes around Steamfont, which most Ak'Anon citizens will visit regularly.
Gnomes as general rule do not have much time for 'civic duties', as such trivial matters are a distraction from their more important work of tinkering together wonderful machines and gadgets. Trying to drag a Gnome away from his workbench to attend a social event is an exercise in futility. The Gnomes themselves realised that they could not have a functioning city with everyone so busy, so they constructed mechanical Gnomes and animals to take over the day to day running of Ak'Anon. Around the city you can see mechanical guides, shop keepers, cleaners and guards.
A Gnome family usually consists of no more than two children (any more would simply distract the parents from their tinkering). Gnomes are generally friendly and inquisitive which tends to make families very close and caring.
While the Gnomes may have turned the running of their city over to the mechanicals, they still realise that some form of control from them is required to make sure everything works as it's supposed to. To that end, the Gnomes founded guilds like any other race in order to deal with threats and interact with the other races.
The main seat of government is the known as the Eldritch Collective. The Gnomes are members of the enchanter, magician and wizard guilds. Two members of each of these guilds along with one guild master from the Warrior, Cleric and Paladin guilds sit on the Collective Council. One of these members will be voted in as the chairman for the group — acting as a first minister for the city. This position is only temporary and a new chairman is usually chosen every two years, although there is no rule against the current chairman being re-voted in again. Tobon Starpyre of the wizards' guild is the current chairman for the collective and has held the position for six years.
Protection of the city is left almost entirely in the hands of the warrior guild. The Gemchoppers are they're more commonly known in Ak'Anon also control all the defensive mechanical devices around the city. Any 'big folk' causing trouble in Ak'Anon will bring the wrath of these diminutive warriors down on them. As Gnomes usually reach knee high to other races be warned that they can hit you where it really hurts.
The health and well being of the citizens is left entirely to the clerics of Ak'Anon. They are a small but important guild providing the Gnomes with necessary skills in healing and treatment of injuries (mostly due to engineering experiments exploding).
While Gnomes are not generally inclined towards evil, some do follow Bertoxxulous the Plaguebringer. The followers of this god are necromancers and shadow knights who tend to be shunned by the rest of Gnome society and on occasion cast out. They rarely show their faces around the city, but dwell deep within the Mines of Malfunction away from prying eyes.
Gnome society also has one other group that does not have any power within the government but are aligned with the Clerics and Paladins. These are the rogues who live under the Abbey of Deep Musings. The followers of Bristlebane are possibly unique across the lands as they enjoy good standing within Ak'Anon and are well respected.
Government and Law:
Gnomes may be reknowned for creating wonderful machines and gadgets which keep Ak'Anon running, but perhaps the greatest expression of this peculiar arrangement is that the Gnome King is actually a mechanical device. King Ak'Anon who established the city centuries ago was no more immune to the pleasures of tinkering than any other Gnome. After being interrupted at his workbench once too often in order to greet yet another foreign minister and exchange pleasantries, he had thrown up his arms in disgust and had built a mechanical version of himself. His mechanical self was set up to deal with annoying emissaries and has a basic vocabulary consisting of "I hope you had a pleasant journey", "My, you are tall!" "Please pass my respects to your king", "Nice weather we're having" and various other inane statements. Most government officials can't tell the difference anyway so it works out quite well.
King Ak'Anon has now been dead for centuries, but the Gnomes saw no particular reason to replace his metal counterpart. All he needs is the occasional polish and oil job whenever visitors arrive.
Rumors regarding King Ak'Anon circulate however. Some say that he was involved in Necromancy, others say that his mind and spirit was infused into his mechanical counterpart. Visitors to the palace have noted strange symbols inscribed on the floors and walls of some inner chambers but so far it's nothing more than idle speculation on their origins.
Religion and Holidays:
For a long time religion did not have a large impact on the Gnomes themselves. That is not to say they ignored Brell Serilis, the Gnomes do have a few days dedicated to their God during the Summer solstice. During this time the Gnomes are supposed to put their tools down and their feet up. However, many Gnomes tended to ignore this and do their own thing.
However, over the last hundred years (not that long a time from a Gnomes perspective) religion has become more and more central to their existence. Many feel that this is due to the increase in the number of Fizzlethorpe Bristlebane and Bertoxxulous worshippers in Gnome society. The split in the spiritual center of Ak'Anon has polarised many into various factions and causes no small amount of friction — which has forced many to cling to their own chosen god with more vigour.
Other than the Summer Solstice holiday in honor of Brell, the Gnomes also have a fairly new holiday. Held in mid-October, this was the day that the final Steamfont Windmill was completed and King Ak'Anon (or his spokesperson) declared it as a national holiday.
Generally 'Windmill Day' sees the Gnomes having a party in and around the Windmills with various entertainments, included foot races from the Ak'Anon entrance to the windmills for the younger Gnomes. For the elder Gnomes, the race involves inventors using their contraptions instead of their feet. This is usually a bizarre sight for any foreign visitor as the Gnomes ride their mechanical horses, spiders, snakes, etc. towards the windmills.