Oh but they do - illusion magic.Weird question, but was it Margeret Weiss and Hickman who created the whole "gnomes and technology" thing? Because it occurs to me I don't see it anywhere before them. Really, aside from David the Gnome, I suppose it was an appropriate a thing as any to base Gnomes on since--otherwise--they don't have anything unqiue to call their own.
Other than that they were pretty much just smaller Dwarves with a different personality (having much the same bonuses in 1e and 2e - attack bonuses vs humanoids, AC bonus vs giants, etc). But, illusion magic - only Gnomes and Humans could be Illusionists (and in 2e in particular, the +1 Intelligence bonus made Gnome Illusionists fairly badass, actually. A Wizard with 19 Intelligence was nothing to sneeze at, even if Illusionist might not have been the most powerful Specialty Wizard out there (allthough moreso than Necromancer, Abjurer and Diviner I'd say ^_^). Of course in 1e level limits meant Gnomes wouldn't be very powerful at all, but well. Illusionist/Thief and Fighter/Illusionist are/were fairly badass combinations! Imagine a Gnome Fighter/Illusionist with Improved Invisibility and/or Blur and/or Mirror Image and/or...etc. (I'm fairly sure a Gnome Fighter/Illusionist with Improved Invisibility etc could take on a tribe of Ogres on his own, even mid-level. They won't hit anything!)
That said more could definitely have been made outta that.
I liked that class myself, it seems pretty badass in a way allthough most of its stuff boils down to "talks to animals" and "throws rocks at people" with a side order of "random nature magic" (why, WHY is *Entangle* the final spell ability learnt!? At that high level it's hardly even useful anymore except against the sort of opposition the Whistler'd take down in a couple rounds with rocks anyway!). I mean the rock throwing ability is actually good, darts were *great* weapons in 2e, *especially* against Wizards and Clerics (all it takes is *one* hit to destroy concentration, remember! And no Concentration skill!), so the Whistler is basically "the dude that ruins the spellcaster's day".Okay, this is the class which inspired me to want to do a book. It is a perfect example of why the brown-leather books occasionally approached greatness--because they're so damned WEIRD. There's a picture which accompanies this describing of someone shooting a bullet or something at the Halfling and he has whistled up an energy shield. Who came up with this? Why do Halflings, of all classes, whistle? Why does it give them superpowers?
Wow, this all over the place.
I'd probably tone the eco-hippie stuff down a notch or a million though. Halflings are down-to-earth farmers, they don't have a problem butchering, or killing predators. Well the way I see them anyway. They need their sausages and meat pies. I mean a vegetarian Halfling!? No way, man. No way. It's like a Dwarf who shaves or an Elf who thinks being an Elf isn't awesome.