Gnoll

Gnoll

Description

Bestial and bloodthirsty, gnolls are a savage race of hyena folk considered a blight upon the face of the earth by other races. The typical gnoll has few redeeming virtues. He is a cruel, hateful bully, quick to rob from or torment those weaker than himself, and just as quick to grovel in the presence of those stronger. Lazy and ill-tempered, he prefers to steal what he needs and murder anyone who objects. Only the promise of loot and easy slaughter can stir him to real effort, and even then he is likely to abandon ongoing tasks to indulge his larcenous instincts unless a strong leader cows him into obediance.

While most of their people remain mired in the cruelty of their demon prince, a few tribes of gnolls seek to pull themselves out of savagery. These tribes walk with weapons in hand, knowing that the civilized races hate and fear their people and that other tribes of evil gnolls already seek to strike them down.

Fueled by their own bestial strength and the cruel will of the demon prince Yeenoghu, most gnolls roam the wild in search of sentient prey. These savages know little of mercy and honor, and nothing of kindness or compassion. The exceptions to this rule, who have banded together in rough tribes that roam the plains and forests, have begun to learn the value of personal honor. Some even approach the harsh but ultimately fair codes that tribes of barbaric humans often adopt. Geared more toward survival than the cruelty of their kin, these gnolls stand at a critical juncture: Either they will succeed in allying with the civilized races and pull some of their people away from the cruel worship of Yeenoghu—or they will fail, and their tribes will slip back into evil and brutality.

Gnolls have hyenalike heads, and their long limbs possess a lean strength. Gnolls are covered in coarse yellow or reddish-brown fur, and their feet and legs are structured more like a hyena’s hind legs than those of other 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 on the 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.

Racial Traits

Gnolls have the following racial traits:

  • +4 Strength, +2 Constitution, –2 Intelligence, –2 Charisma. Gnolls are tough and strong, but are not especially bright or personable.
  • Medium-sized.
  • A gnoll's base land speed is 30 feet.
  • Darkvision out to 60 feet.
  • +1 natural armor bonus
  • Weapon Familiarity: Gnolls treat battleaxes and shortbows as simple weapons. No gnoll grows to adulthood without learning something about fighting.
  • Automatic Languages: Gnoll. Bonus Languages: Common, Draconic, Elven, Goblin, Orc.
  • Favored Class: Ranger.
  • Racial Classes: A gnoll has 3 levels of their racial class. A gnoll character receives the maximum hit points for his first racial Hit Die, and rolls his other racial Hit Dice normally. He rolls all Hit Dice from class levels and does not automatically get maximum hit points on his first class level Hit Die.

Abilities

Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
+4 0 +2 -2 0 -2

Age

Starting Age Aging Effects
Adulthood Short Medium Long Middle Age Old Venerable Maximum
14 +1d4 +1d6 +2d6 35 53 70 +2d10

Height and Weight

Gender Base Height Height Mod Base Weight Weight Mod
Male 5' 4" +2d12 200 lb x2d4
Female 5' 2" +2d12 180 lb x2d4

Gnoll Racial Class

Gnolls are physically powerful humanoids with hyenalike heads. Gnolls have 3 racial Hit Dice, making a regular gnoll the equivalent of a 3rd-level character. If you want to start playing a gnoll at 1st level, you can use the monster class described below.

Characters using the gnoll racial class start with the following racial traits. Note that these are not identical to the regular gnoll’s full suite of racial traits because the gnoll’s ability scores and racial Hit Dice increase with level.

Beginning Racial Traits

  • Starting Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Str, –2 Int, -2 Cha.
  • Medium Size.
  • A gnoll’s base land speed is 30 feet.
  • Darkvision out to 60 feet.
  • Automatic Language: Gnoll. Bonus Languages: Common, Draconic, Elven, Goblin, Orc.
  • Favored Class: Ranger.

Racial Class Skills: The gnoll’s racial class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Listen (Wis), and Spot (Wis).

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Gnolls are proficient with all simple weapons, martial weapons, light armor and shields.

Natural Armour: A gnoll’s gains Natural Armour +1 at 3rd level.

Level Hit Dice Base Attack Fort Ref Will Skill Points Special
1st 1d8 +0 +2 +0 +0 (2 + Int mod)×4
2nd 2d8 +1 +3 +0 +0 2 + Int mod Con +2
3rd 3d8 +2 +3 +1 +1 2 + Int mod Str +2; Natural Armour +1

Gnoll Society

Most gnoll tribes wander the wilderness, the strongest warrior governing with a brutal adherence to the idea that the strong can freely take from the weak. A few gnoll tribes attempt to pull away from their savage past, but they are the rare exception rather than the rule.

Lands: Driven into the mountain foothills and deep forests by the armies of human nations and their allies, gnolls live in scattered wilderness areas much like those preferred by tribes of barbaric humans. Competing against humans, orcs, giants, and more exotic species is the norm for gnolls in these wilderness areas, and the gnolls occasionally form alliances with other evil humanoids. In rare cases, large groups of gnolls gather above or below ground. These settlements serve only as a common crossroads for more nomadic gnolls - those who leave to continue wandering are balanced against new tribes arriving to trade or swear fealty to a powerful leader.

As some gnolls turn away from the worship of the dread prince Yeenoghu, however, gnolls grow more and more scattered rather than less so. Driven away from their kin by the wrath of Yeenoghu’s priests, yet still subject to the suspicions of the civilized races, these gnolls wander far and wide in a near-permanent nomadic state.

Settlements: 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. While these caves might not even be large enough to house the entire group of gnolls, they provide the group’s strongest warriors a place to sleep in relative safety. Weaker members of the tribe must make do with the less trustworthy shelters they can set up outside of the cave complex.

Power Groups: 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 those rare gnoll tribes that place a greater value on personal honor are led by the most physically powerful warrior. Because of this, when a gnoll adventures with members of other races, he will sometimes expect to lead if he is the strongest, regardless of the difficulties he faces when traveling within the members of other races and regardless of other group members’ more developed social skills.

Beliefs: Most gnolls pay homage to Yeenoghu, demon prince of gnolls. Yeenoghu’s cruel and selfish beliefs inspire gnoll priests to keep their people firmly on the path of evil. Those few gnolls who have managed to pull away from the dark cult at the center of their people’s existence often revere Obad-Hai or turn away from religion altogether.

Relations: Few races regard gnolls as anything other than feral creatures who pose a menace to peaceful life. Because of the prevalence of evil gnolls, this assumption isn’t far from the truth, and player character gnolls should find it difficult to move unescorted through a human city.

Gnoll Characters

Gnoll characters balance the challenges of roleplaying contrary to a race’s normal image with the novelty of playing a monstrous race. The gnoll race provides an opportunity to play a strong and powerful warrior character struggling not only against physical foes but also against the opinions of other races. As a gnoll character grows to trust his fellow adventurers, new roleplaying opportunities arise as bonds of friendship overcome suspicion, and the other characters grow to respect the gnoll’s values as well as his physical abilities. The other PCs might even play a role in helping the gnoll character’s tribe of neutral or honorable gnolls build the first few trusting relationships with other races.

Adventuring Gnolls: Gnolls adventure to see the world, to rise above the savagery of their people, and to find what civilization has to offer. While some return to their tribes thinking less of the civilized races because of their experiences as adventurers, others find wealth, power, or prestige far beyond the normal images of gnoll warriors.

Character Development: Gnolls are most effective when they take levels in barbarian, ranger, or another martially focused class. Focusing on melee combat allows gnoll characters to capitalize on their high Strength scores and their natural armor. As your character gains levels, feats such as Power Attack and Cleave help accentuate his physical prowess.

Character Names: Gnoll names often sound like growls to members of other races, featuring multiple “r” sounds. Gnoll tribal names, although not widely shared with other creatures, are usually compound words, as in the following examples.
Male Names: Derror, Grerr, Remmar, Thurrg.
Female Names: Arrna, Mirrin, Ryssa, Thrrae.
Tribal Names: Bloodfist, Greatfang, Speardeath, Thunderdance.

Roleplaying A Gnoll

Cruelty and viciousness remain the defining traits of most gnolls, but a few tribes have managed to pull away from this bestial outlook and the worship of the demon prince Yeenoghu that usually accompanies and engenders this behavior. Although far from altruistic, these gnolls temper the viciousness of their kind with a rough sense of honor and an unwavering bond with their chosen companions.

Personality: Even those gnolls who have turned from the evil ways of their demon prince are less intelligent and less charismatic than 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, especially humans and their allies, with whom they have had generations of conflict and strife.

Roleplaying Application: You should be suspicious of others’ motives until they give you reason to trust them. If you can, devote a few skill points to Sense Motive, and emphasize its use in roleplaying encounters. Your suspicions rest on the firm foundation of your people’s long conflicts with the civilized races, and such mistrust and conflict cannot be erased easily or quickly. Humans, elves, dwarves, and members of their allied races are likely to use the past behavior of your people as a reason to betray you. After someone earns your trust completely, however, he or she becomes like a brother or sister to you, and the few powerful emotional bonds that you form with others shape your life and your outlook. Once you name someone a packbrother, he forever has your trust.

Behavior: 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 simply by the thrill and variety of the hunt, while others are motivated only by curiosity. As a 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.

Roleplaying Application: You should often urge your adventuring companions to contemplate long, overland journeys. In light of this, make sure that you can carry everything you own. If you can’t carry something with you personally, make sure you have a trusted mount or beast of burden to carry it for you. In general, a few high-quality possessions are much more valuable to you than numerous goods or more visible wealth. You might emphasize your love of travel by encouraging your group to stay outdoors rather than at an inn. Focus on adventuring opportunities that will take you on long journeys rather than those in your immediate area.

Language: 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 than requests.

Roleplaying Application: It is a sign of weakness to ask for things, so don’t do it often. You understand that others don’t speak in commands the way your people do, but sometimes you slip into old habits. Those who ask too often or who phrase everything as a question are unworthy of respect, for they are weak.

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