Balto is a spellcaster, although you might think from his name that he's a miner. We know he's a spellcaster because he's making the infamous "devil's horns" with his fingers to cast a spell. To be fair, there aren't too many gestures that are obviously spellcasting gestures. Judging by his somewhat regal attire he's probably an illusionist.
Gnome illusionists go all the way back to their debut in the first Blackmoor supplement:
Throughout D&D history, up to and including the third edition Player's Handbook, spellcaster gnomes were either illusionists or had illusionist as their favored class. However, in Dungeons & Dragons v.3.5, gnomes' favored class has been changed to bard, as the favored class of "illusionist" was a subset of the wizard class. The wizard favored class was also already used by elves. In D&D v.3.5, gnomes are inventors and alchemists who love pranks and excel at engineering. The tinker gnomes of Dragonlance are mechanically skilled, though their devices are quite prone to backfiring. It has been suggested that gnomes be given the Eberron class artificer as a favored class, due to their technical aptitude.
Balto is likely inspired by Nebin, the iconic gnome illusionist who appeared in Dungeons & Dragons 3.0. Nebin didn't really seem very illusionist-y to begin with, as he ran around with a spiked club. There wasn't a lot of mirth in him (no matter how many goofy poses of him jauntily twirling his spiked club there are). He was replaced by Gimble, the gnome bard in 3.5, as gnomes became a more bard-friendly race. And by replaced of course I mean dead, as he was eventually killed in Dungeonscape, tossed ignominiously off a bridge by a gargoyle of all things.
Balto may or may not have a circlet on his head. Unfortunately in Bonesium some of the detail is lost on a sculpt like this. Still, that doesn't detract from the fact that there aren't many spellcasting gnome sculpts and Sandra Garrity's sculpt does an excellent job. You can purchase this miniature at Amazon.
Want more? Subscribe to this column; follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar. Become an Examiner and get paid to write today!