The gnome hat sprig has been a part of gnomish culture ever there first were gnomes. Sprigs are living, often clustered leaves or flowers of vary is size and shape and substance, that spring from the pointy hat-crowns of the most prominent gnomes in gnomish society.
As a part of a gnome’s raiment, the sprig has always been a subtle indicator of a gnome’s status amongst both their folk and in the forests of Eem. A gnome with a sprig is often quite powerful, just in their heart, and as warm as a summer morning. So one can quickly deduce that there are very few gnomes without sprigs and amongst those they are almost entirely children that haven’t lived long enough to grow one.
To Goblins a gnomish hat sprig signals extreme peril, as of course gnomes with these decorations are considered as repugnant and terrifying as the undead, and ten times as dangerous. This is of course a cultural bias and ever-expanding superstition etched into Goblin culture by generations of uncomfortable encounters in the forest of Dingledell, as well as perpetuated by countless retellings of stories featuring gnomish boogey men, like the Last Rainbow Brigade.
Folk traveling through the woods will often play a game wherein children try to spot a gnome’s hat and sprig. The game first originated in the early part of the Dungeon Era, in a time when forests were most dangerous, thick with thieves and boggarts and wugs. Folk encouraged games to keep their children from being frightened, for everyone knows that where there is a gnome, the nights don’t bump and the paths are always safe.