In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, svirfneblin (/svɜːrfˈnɛblɪn/ svirf-NEB-lin), or deep gnomes, are a sub-race of gnome.
The svirfneblin (deep gnomes) first appears in first edition in the adventure modules D2 Shrine of the Kuo-Toa (1978), and D3 Vault of the Drow (1978), and then in the original Fiend Folio (1981). The deep gnome was presented as a player character race in Unearthed Arcana (1985).
The svirfneblin appeared in second edition for the Forgotten Realms setting in the Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix (1989), and reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993). The svirfneblin is presented as a playable character race in The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings (1993), and is later presented as a playable character race again in Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995).
The svirfneblin appeared in the third edition under the "gnome" entry in the Monster Manual (2000), and in the 3.5 revised Monster Manual (2003). The deep gnome is presented as a player character race for the Forgotten Realms setting in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001), and in Races of Faerûn (2003). The svirfneblin appeared as a player character race in Underdark (2003). The lesser deep gnome appeared as a player character race in Player's Guide to Faerûn (2004).
The svirfneblin only appeared in one single sourcebook for the fourth edition of the game; Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook (2012).
The svirfneblin first appeared in the fifth edition of the game as a reference in the Player's Handbook (2014), and is fully detailed in the Monster Manual (2014), where it is presented as a NPC or hostile creature. They were also presented as a player character race in the Elemental Evil Player's Companion (2015), including expanded information about their culture and characteristics. This information was later reprinted in the Sword Coast Adveturer's Guide.
Svirfneblin have the ability to listen to earth and stone (but not to speak to it, as do the pech). Additionally, the deep gnomes have a very basic form of telepathy with one another, allowing them to exchange general ideas (for example, alerting comrades to danger).
Svirfneblin live underground, usually in the Underdark.
Svirfneblin closely resemble their surface-dwelling brethren, save for their paler complexions and the fact that they have little or no hair.
Svirfneblin are usually of neutral alignment.
Contrary to many other racial varieties who were forced to retreat to the Underdark due to some violent conflict in the past (like the drow elves), the deep gnomes were led underground peacefully by their patron god, Callarduran Smoothhands. Most svirfneblin venerate the aforementioned deity primarily, and also the patron deity of all gnomes, Garl Glittergold.
In the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, the svirfneblin of the Underdark used to have a stronghold in the Northdark area, a city called Blingdenstone, but were forced to flee out of fear and good sense when their worst enemies, the drow (of Menzoberranzan) marched upon the Dwarven colony of Mithral Hall (however, only a small force actually entered Blingdenstone, and then left after discovering it was uninhabited). A large force then marched after the Drow, determined to help the Dwarves defeat their long hated enemies. After a massive battle and many Svirfneblin deaths, the city was reclaimed after the drow march was defeated by Clan Battlehammer and their allies, and a treaty was enacted between Battlehammer and Deep gnomes that would stand for millennia.Oppen, Eric. "The Folk of the Underworld." Dragon #131 (TSR, 1988).
Salvatore, R.A., Homeland & Exile of The Dark Elf Trilogy