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So I have a race of Gnomes, (think smaller, less hairy dwarfs) that live inside a hollow mountain in the center of a desert on my fictional planet. This planet has civilization but it is mostly confined to a few cities with very little in between. Harsh weather, brutal wildlife, and even worse raiders make travel dangerous and air travel nigh-impossible. Three large continents dominate the planet, with the Gnomes’ city sharing one continent with only one other large city, which happens to be the largest single human city on the planet and a coastal city as well.

The Gnomes are very advanced, and create some of the best technology and highest quality materials on the planet. As such, they enjoy a high standard of living and great wealth. Their mountain is the only major source of Gnomish civilization, and their total population is relatively low, maybe just a few million. They have indoor farms, and access to a large river, but they are still mostly confined to their mountain.

Here is my question. How will this city of Gnomes affect the world economy? Specifically, would this situation result in the Gnomes being able to do what they want without fear of reprisal due to the fact that they are so prosperous? There is a network of 7-10 massive human cities to trade with, along with 4 non-human cities and a non-human group that is mostly nomadic tribes. All these groups have access to similar technology levels, all of which are slightly below the Gnomes. I had already imagined that the human city that shares the continent with the Gnome city would have grown the largest and most powerful due to its constant trade with the Gnomes, and because it is a port city, which the Gnomes do not have. The technology level of the world is close to where we are. Some technologies are more advanced, but some are non existent such as internet and most air travel.

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closed as too broad by Aify, bilbo_pingouin, L.Dutch, Mołot, Rekesoft Feb 16 '18 at 9:31

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  • $\begingroup$ What's the general social and technological level of this world? "Dominating the world economy" means different things if we think of 21st century China or the Corded Ware culture at the beginning of the 3rd millenium BCE. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 15 '18 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ It allways amuses me that Gnomes in stories are normally one of two; Either they specialise in small and more delicate machinery, as they aren't as strong as the dwarfs, however are slightly better with thier hands and/or magic. Then there are ones who will have little to do with metal and focuses far more on earth and earth magic. Sometimes gnome is just a name for earth elemental spirits. $\endgroup$ – Necessity Feb 16 '18 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ In this case I imagined as a population of dwarves that got separated from the others, and over time got slightly smaller and less hairy because they were living in tight spaces. So technically still dwarves I guess but sort of an offshoot. $\endgroup$ – Nick Feb 16 '18 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Nick Yeah, in a evolution/adaption view point that makes sense. I think alot of the stories I read have gods in them and all races are normally more alligned to certain gods. You dont see much racial variation in those stories unless they move to another god, like is sometimes the explation for dark elves. $\endgroup$ – Necessity Feb 16 '18 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if there any racial tension between dwarves and gnomes? $\endgroup$ – Necessity Feb 16 '18 at 1:18
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If it is a medieval or close equivalent in culture and technology then yes, they will always have enemies. However, one of the fun perks of being the wealthy merchant class means that you don't have to fight your own battles, you can hire mercenaries for that. They can use that large river to send trade barges down to the major human settlements and trade hubs guarded by hired human warriors. Also, they can maintain security diplomatically as well. The human societies profit greatly from the resale value of the technological items they purchase from the gnomes, and anything that threatens their access to such trade threatens the economic well being of the kingdom. Several kingdoms might be pledged to agreements of mutual support guaranteeing that if anyone attacks the gnomes its a given that they also must fight at least one other major kingdom as well, if not a confederation of them. Perhaps, instead of mercenaries the kingdoms that the gnomes trade with donate a certain amount of manpower towards defending the gnomish city. In exchange for healthy paychecks and favorable trade discounts with the kingdoms that pledge the men the gnomes gain a standing army securing their holdings.

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If Bill Gates/Tim Cook turned off your devices and said to defend them, would you listen? You might say no, but think about what relies on technology. Defense systems, food production, any method of travel, anything you would need to live. So yes, to survive you would probably end up fighting for the Gnomes. Building on defense systems, if they took control of those... The Gnomes would never be attacked for all of these reasons. They essentially have a nuke (they might actually have a nuke anyway), and the worst that would happen would be a Cold War situation.

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