- 1 Appearance
- 2 Characteristics
- 3 Society
- 4 Lands
- 5 Settlements
- 6 Power Groups
- 7 Beliefs
- 8 Personality
- 9 Behavior
- 10 Language
- 11 Roleplay tips
- 12 Creating new character on Arelith
- 13 External links
Gnolls have Hyenalike heads, and their long limbs possess lean strength. Gnolls are covered in course yellow or reddish-brown fur, and their feet and legs are structured more like a hyena's hind legs then a humanoids. Despite the somewhat awkward appearance of their legs and feet, gnolls walk as bipeds and are as agile and speedy as a normal human. The wild gnolls who prey upon civilized races use patchwork armor and rusted weapons that they've stolen from past kills. Tribes that have found some level of personal honor favor hide or leather armor similar to the Barbarian tribes of humans.
A gnoll is nocturnal carnivore, preferring intelligent creatures for food because they scream more. Gnolls tend to think with their stomachs, and any alliances they make (usually with bugbears, hobgoblins, ogres, orcs, or trolls) often fall apart when the gnolls get hungry. They dislike giants and most other humanoids, and they disdain manual labor.
Gnolls are considered adults at 14, and can possibly live until about 70-90. Their heights can go between 5'4"-7'2 for females or 5'6"-7'4" for males. ((OOC NOTE: these figures are shared for both Races of the Wild and Unapproachable East, with slight differences. (A few inches in height). Monster manual IV states that gnoll females are larger, and maximum gnoll age is 40, this seems to harken back to 2nd ed AD&D when their maximum age was about 35. However this is countered by multiple current canonical sources including unapproachable East (a forgotten realms sourcebook) and the novel The Harpers 07: Soldiers of Ice. Which incidentally solidifies Gorellik as a FR god.))
Most gnoll tribes wander the wilderness, the strongest warrior governing with a brutal adherence to the idea that the strong can take freely from the weak. A few gnoll tribes attempt to pull away from their savage past, but they are the rare exception rather then the rule.
Gnolls are most common in the Shaar and Thay regions. In Thay, there are enough gnolls for them to become common as police. Many above average gnolls have been brought to foreign lands as slaves and servants by Red Wizards.
Gnoll Settlements are rough and crude, rarely anything more than temporary shelters. Gnolls prefer underground lairs for longer stays, especially when a traveling group of gnolls must await new births. Large groups of gnolls often have several crude underground complexes between which they wander.
Gnolls have little in the way of power groups. Among tribes of evil gnolls, the strongest warriors rule by brute force. Occasionally, exceptionally powerful or persuasive priests of Yeenoghu will lead a tribe, usually by ensuring that the strongest warriors are devoted to the dark worship of the demon prince. Even the rare gnoll tribes that place a greater value on personal honor are led by the most physically powerful warrior.
The most worshiped gnoll 'god' is the demon lord Yeenoghu, who looks like a gaunt gnoll. Although most gnolls are not particularly reverent. Only occasionally making sacrifices if they are down on their luck. The deities of the Giants are also found venerated by gnoll tribes, usually in the form of a gnoll rather then their 'normal' form. The original patron of gnolls is Gorellik, god of hunting, hyenas and Hyenadons. He appears as a mottled white Hyenadon, and as he loses more and more power, he's become increasingly feral and malevolent. It should be noted that he is not, as many believe the creator of gnollkind. Gnolls lack a true creation myth and this is a critical reason why Gorellik fell from favor.
Recommended gods for gnoll clerics
- written by WereScrib
Note, Yeenoghu as a demon prince can grant spells to clerics in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Yeenoghu is not the creator of the gnolls, nor is it believed he is truly a god of gnolls in any formal fashion, instead 'hijacking' the race's worship when Gorellik faltered.
Gorellik is the oldest known god of gnollkind, and his recorded history dates back to the Days of Thunder, when the Creator Race Empire's still ruled Faerun, and humans were barbaric, primitive more ape-like beings than they are today. He is not the creator of the gnolls however, and this is partially the reason why his worship faltered.
The giant gods
After the fall from Gorellik, many gnolls turned towards the worship of the giant deities, although this was more common among the Flind controlled tribes and nations that did not buy into the chaotic and carnal teachings of Yeenoghu. Almost certainly the most commonly worshiped of these was Hiatea, a fertility goddess of protection and community, a perfect choice for veneration among female gnolls who had to spend most of their time rearing cubs.
Many Thayvian gnolls worship, or at least venerate Kossuth. Also, Thayvian gnolls are likely to also venerate Isis (Ishtar) or Hathor as fertility goddesses, although outright worship is uncommon.
While not commonly worshiped by gnolls, Chauntea is venerated by anyone working the land. Even farmers in the underdark, harvesting mushroom crops are paying reverence to Chauntea. So, if by some odd chance a gnoll actually is farming the land, which has happened in certain communities of non-evil gnolls; they probably venerate Chauntea.
Deep gnoll gods
And finally, the deep gnoll gods (Jyalkaath and Valyethra): These are only really known, or found in gnoll tribes controlled by Deep gnolls, also known as the "Reavers" or the "Harlokh". (As detailed in the Candlekeep Compendium)
Even those gnolls who have turned from the evil ways of their demon prince are less intelligent and less charismatic then the average human. Gnolls don't see this deficiency as a weakness, however, placing more value on physical abilities and natural cunning than on subtle thought or persuasive abilities. Gnolls also remain very suspicious of other races.
Gnolls are travelers, hunters, and scavengers; adventuring gnolls travel almost constantly. To a gnoll, sitting in one place isn't cowardly or illogical; it's simply unpleasant. Some Gnolls are drawn to the thrill and variety of the hunt, while others are motivated only by curiosity. As the pack of gnolls grows, the bond of the pack serves as a major impetus for travel-- the most adventurous gnolls pull the rest of the pack along on their hunts. Packs of evil gnolls are driven to travel by the will of their demon prince, and packs of Neutral gnolls travel to escape the influence of other gnoll packs and the wariness of human cities accustomed to fighting off their cruel and evil kin.
Gnolls who travel beyond the homeland of their tribes usually try to adopt the speaking habits of those around them, hoping to lessen other humanoid's sense of discomfort around them. Around their own kind, gnolls use their racial tongue and usually speak in the imperative, considering it polite to show strength by phrasing statements as commands rather then requests. ((I.E. "Tell me what this is now!" rather than "What's this?")) ((OOC Note: the Gnoll racial tongue has been referenced as a "growling yipping sound" by some sources, and by others as a "strange, primitive, yet musical sounding language" by others. As far as gnoll names, they seem to be flowing, yet growlly. "Arrna" "Derror" "Murrin". While their tribal names are compound words. "Bloodfang", "Flame-Paw" etc. However, in Thay, and probably other places, their names closer resemble Thayvian names, tweaked to be easier upon the gnollish tongue. ("Arrzima", "Zzarrzn" etc.) This is probably also true for gnollish slaves to drow, Calishites, or gnolls who are raised among civilized folk. Also in the novel Soldiers of Ice, it was implied that gnolls also have a "nickname" of sorts such as Word-Maker, Spear-Biter or Wind-Runner.))
There are few known Gnoll words, but a few:
Deep Gnoll (Or perhaps something more poetic, like, 'chosen gnoll'): Harlorkh
“What is Seen is Owned” (Gnoll social and religious law and philosophy): Rrachk-kiah
- written by coldend (Gr'owl)
- "I LIKE the fact that gnolls speak animal. It goes a long way to setting their place in the Arelith specific setting. They are feral, bestial, and amoral... at least they are amoral by the standards of other species.
- A Dwarf may wonder why other races get offended when they drunkenly insult everyone around and spit on the floor.
- An Elf may wonder why other races get offended when they only point out how inferior every other creature is.
- A Hin may wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to "personal property".
- A gnoll would wonder why the idea of eating a wounded member of your party has you all upset.
- To a gnoll, the group is everything no man is an island BUT often he is a meals-on-wheels buffet. This isn't ALWAYS evil (sometimes it is), it's just a natural animalistic way of viewing the world.
- Gnolls speaking Animal, ties them more closely TO animals. You don't call a bear "evil" and decide to eradicate the whole species just because some hippy videographer decides they are cuddly and ends up getting eaten. You don't call them "evil" because that is simply what they DO without any moral judgment on the matter at all.
- For gnolls to really be "the neutral race"... not puppies, not demons with fur... the association needs to be drawn that they ARE like wild animals. Not unthinking or unintelligent, but simply operating on such a vastly different set of values that human (or demi-human) ethics and morality do not apply."
Not like animals
- written by WereScrib"
"Gnolls are not animals. They are not 'wild and feral'. Truthfully, gnolls are one of the more civilized of the savage humanoids, less animalistic than even the orcs due to the simple fact they they adore doing nothing. They don't eat fallen adventurers because they're animalistic; they do so because they're hungry and lack much reverence. If eating fallen companions was animalistic, we'd see Troglodytes as the most animalistic creatures in D&D, as their society is based on eating.
The problem is they are, with all but the rarest exception; Lazy, greedy and egotistical cowards.
- Monster Manual: Gnolls live in tribes ruled by the strongest gnoll who would act as a chieftain. He keeps his position via intimidation and fear. Gnolls prefer to live in fortified settlements or underground complexes and they use slaves to do any work they want done.
- Unapproachable East: Gnolls are hateful, greedy and avaricious. They steal what they can because they're too lazy to build it themselves. The only thing that truly animates the average gnoll is the promise of easy loot and slaughter. Although he is likely to break away in the middle of combat simply to rape, chase down easy prey, or attempt to 'sneak' loot from the rest of the tribe unless a strong, charismatic leader commands him.
- Gnolls who aren't simply driven by material greed are generally more civilized, almost Flindish in behavior. They are usually quieter than other gnolls, less prone to loud words and they take pride in their natural strength.
- A particular passage of note: Gnolls are "Generally regarded as vicious thugs and brigands" A thug and brigand can only be a thug or a brigand if it is in some way civilized.
- The is no passage in this book that mentions them being like 'animals' in behavior in any way.
- Races of the Wild: (Note, races of the wild specifically deals with the rare non-evil gnoll tribe, so it is a bit more applicable) Truthfully, it mimics the society shown in Races of the Wild; although it's portrayal of non-evil gnolls is one that becomes even more civilized, crafting their own equipment, taking pride in not just raw strength but their personal code of honor. (Not to say they are lawful, barbarians have codes of honor, after all)
- Truthfully the book simply goes to say that non-evil gnolls usually begin to resemble barbaric human tribes, with harsh, but fair codes of justice and superstitious reverence for spirits of nature.
Seriously, nothing on gnolls I have ever read or heard from anything but a fan-based source describes them as animalistic at all.
Gnolls aren't cute and fluffy, true. Nor are they demons with fur, but they are definitely not animals either. There wasn't even a movement to organize their society like spotted hyenas until Monster Manual IV, and this still did not try to bring them into a more "animalistic" nature in behavior. Gary Gygax is even on record commenting on how "interesting" it was that the other designers of D&D took gnolls away from his original idea as female-led, anthropomorphic hyenas and turned them into a twist on most savage of humanoids. Really, gnolls are like the Raiders from Fallout. They're depraved, certainly. But not truly wild.
I would like to say however, that I don't believe your roleplay is wrong in any way Gr'owl. There has to be a variety of cultures that vary between tribes, as with any other civilized race. A prime example of this is the gnolls we currently have on the server, I'll use two examples:
- Snarlix is Thayvian. He's from a considerably more civilized area for gnolls to reside in, where gnolls are often used as border guards, footmen and police by their human masters. Gnolls are common in Thay, and as such there are abnormal amounts of uncommonly intelligent gnolls. He hates giants; probably due to the teachings of Yeenoghu cultists who led gnolls away from the Giantkin gods. He apparently grew up in a small 'pack', rather than a tribe, and he was exposed to the Monk fighting style and disciplined in it early in life.
- Surrah is from a holdout tribe that resided in the mountains, they were hunter-gatherers that would migrate between various tribehomes as food became scarce: They were still reverent of Gorelik and were destroyed by followers of Yeenoghu. Surrah is from an older tribe that primarily revered Gorelik as well as the gods of the giantkin. (some of them at least. And they all imagined the giant gods as gnolls, of course. They wouldn't have acknowledged them a giant as a god)"
Creating new character on Arelith
- Favored Class: Ranger
- STR +2, CON +2, INT -2, CHA -2
- Listen +2, Spot +2
- Damage Immunity: 5% Physical
- Bonus Feat: Power Attack
- Bonus Feat: Toughness
- Innate Ability: War Cry (Cooldown, gets shorter with level). The constitution modifier is used for DC purposes.
- Usually chaotic evil
- Arelith Alignment Restriction: Non-good
NWN appearance is not influenced by selection of head, skin, hair, or clothing.
Greenish-gray skin on a furry body. A head like a hyena's with a reddish gray to dirty yellow mane.
- Bonus language:
- Starting city: Andunor
- Non-Underdark race, As creatures that are often considered hostile by almost all traditional surface races they may fear being exposed, and certainly wouldn't approach a town, but nevertheless have no reason to fear sunlight, or to avoid claiming territory on the surface. May be marginally more welcome on the fringes of society.
- (Broken Link) pdf about Playing Gnolls by Keith Baker
- (Broken Link) Giarrok the Fire-Tongue by Steven E. Schend.
- "Some of the details of the gnolls life I think are important to Gnoll roleplay, it shows some of the clan attitudes, and the gnoll trait of cowardice/ego" WereScrib
Resources in books
- Harpers 07: Soldiers of Ice has a gnoll shaman as a main character, has some views into gnoll society, marriage and other issues.
- Races of the Wild: Has a section on roleplaying non-evil gnolls.
- Unnaproachable East: Has details on Eastern gnolls in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
- Monster Mythology: Details gnoll religion to an extent.
- Monster Manual IV: Information regarding what are apparently partially demon-blooded gnolls worshiping Yeenoghu.
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