Gnoll Race Info
Gnolls are a race of hulking, humanoids that resemble hyenas in more than mere appearance; they show a striking affinity with the scavenging animals, to the point of keeping them as pets, and reflect many of the lesser creatures’ behaviors.
Gnolls are capable hunters, but are far happier to scavenge or steal a kill than to go out and track down prey. This laziness impels them to acquire slaves of whatever type is available, whom they force to dig warrens, gather supplies and water, and even hunt for their gnoll masters.
Creatures other than hyenas and other gnolls are either meat or slaves, depending upon the temperament of the tribe. Even a dead or fallen comrade is a fresh meal for a gnoll, who might honor a distinguished tribe member with a brief prayer, or thoroughly cook one that has died of a wasting disease, but otherwise view a dead gnoll as little different from any other creature. The more “civilized” gnolls do not eat their prisoners, but instead keep them as slaves, either to defend or improve their lair or to trade with other tribes or slaver bands.
Gnolls relish combat, but only when they have the obvious advantage of numbers. In other situations, they prefer to avoid combat except as a means of winning a kill from another hunter, or as a clever ambush to bring down a large meal. These hyena-men see no value in courage or valor, instead preferring to flee once it becomes clear that victory is not possible, noting that it is better to run with tail tucked away than to lose one’s tail entirely.
During combat, gnolls use a strange mixture of pack tactics and individual standoffs. If a gnoll feels that it is winning, it attempts to take down a weaker being rather than aiding its fellows. If the gnolls are struggling, they gang up on a powerful leader and try to take that creature down, in the hopes of forcing its allies to flee.
Random Gnoll Starting Ages
|8 years||+1d4 years (1 – 4 years)||+1d6 years (1 – 6 years)||+2d4 years (2 – 8 years)|
Random Gnoll Maturing Affects
|Young||Middle Age||Old||Venerable||Maximum Age|
|4||20 years||30 years||40 years||40 + 1d20 years|
Random Gnoll Height and Weight
|Gender||Base Height||Height Modifier||Base Weight||Weight Modifier|
|Female||5’ 3"||+2d10" (5’ 5" – 6’ 11")||150lb.||+2d10x5lb. (160 – 250lb.)||Male||5’ 6"||+2d10" (5’ 8" – 7’ 2")||170lb.||+2d10x5lb. (180 – 270lb.)|
Gnolls are impressively built creatures standing anywhere from 6 to 7 feet tall and typically weighing 250 pounds. They have coarse fur and coloration similar to that of either striped or spotted hyenas, depending on the gnoll tribe. Their legs have a hyena-like structure, with their high anklebones making their legs, which end in blunt, non-retractable claws, appear to have a weird bend. Gnolls’ upper body structures are similar to their apparent hyenidae relatives, which gives the bipedal gnolls a somewhat hunched appearance but also gives them their powerful build, which tapers down to their lithe lower bodies. Gnolls have forward-facing ears atop their heads and short, furry tails. A gnoll has sharp, piercing teeth that allow them to rip meat from the bone of their or other creatures’ kills, but their teeth and jaws are not strong enough to provide them a bite attack in combat. All gnolls have guttural voices when they normally speak, but, as gnolls become stressed or excited, their voices reach higher pitches and sound like manic laughter.
Gnolls wear whatever armor they scavenge, steal, or force slaves to fashion, so they often have mismatched pieces of varying quality they use for protection. Much like their armor, gnoll weapons are a mishmash of collected swords, spears, flails, and other weapons gnolls can easily wield.
Gnolls only lightly adorn themselves with jewelry and the like. They wear small earrings to differentiate themselves from other gnolls, but they do not wear anything overly large, as such objects could be a liability in a battle. The adults of certain tribes also brand themselves or use specific dyes from plants or berries to give their fur a peculiar shade. These adornments help identify their tribe members and outcasts— the latter’s brand being removed or obscured and/or their dye removed by shaving or painful abrasives.
Gnolls live in nomadic tribes that roam the land searching for the most favorable places to scavenge or hunt in warm plains or deserts.
Most tribes separate into at least two smaller bands of 10 to 100 adult members and their non-combatant entourage, including children (an additional 50% of the band’s numbers); 5-8 hyenas; and 10-20 slaves.
Tribes can often contain up to 200 adults and have more slaves and 4-7 hyaenodons, though a charismatic leader can pull more individuals under his or her sway. The more successful gnoll tribes often establish semi-permanent settlements after putting their slaves to work building warrens, homes, rolling buildings pulled by slaves, and other structures—not to mention gathering supplies and water, or even hunting for the lazy gnolls. Separate gnoll tribes may have rivalries, but they rarely attack one another, and a gnoll never takes another gnoll as a slave, so a victorious gnoll band just absorbs defeated gnolls into the band, or slays them if they would burden the victorious gnolls’ resources.
The pack, band, or tribe is the most important thing to gnolls, and anything threatening the gnoll unit meets with strong resistance or— against a superior foe—dispersal. This unity extends through all aspects of gnoll life, and breaking that unity in any way constitutes the greatest sin in gnoll culture. Thus, a gnoll who kills another gnoll or betrays a gnoll to a racial enemy faces the most severe punishment: exile (and branding or other marking to indicate that a gnoll is an outcast). Due to the gnolls’ strong aversion to hard work, a gnoll faces exile if the gnoll forces another gnoll to work, steals from another gnoll, or kills another gnoll’s slave.
When a lone gnoll arrives at a gnoll encampment or settlement, the gnolls there inspect the new arrival for any markings that might call the gnoll out as an outcast.
Most outcast gnolls find their way to large population centers, where they attempt to quell the loneliness of exile and team up with others who might be tolerant of them. Perhaps counter intuitively, outcast gnolls do not band together, because gnolls regard exile so strongly that they reject other outcast gnolls while maintaining a strange sense of denial about their own situations. Gnolls regard any group of non-gnolls they have joined as their new tribe and try to spend as much time as possible with their new tribes-mates.
While gnolls have no literature of their own and do not bother with books other than as a means to keep a fire going during a chilly night, they have storytelling traditions they pass down to young gnolls. These stories tell of great deeds performed by powerful gnolls, but they mostly serve to remind the gnolls about the importance of pack unity and the price for betraying the pack. Another common moral of gnoll stories is the importance of getting other creatures to do their work for them, and these stories point to the most successful gnolls whose laziness has rewarded them. For some gnoll tribes, the oral traditions stretch back dozens of generations, so they might contain information about local events from a century or two prior.
In larger gnoll enclaves where slaves do the vast majority of work, including hunting, gnolls have time to engage in leisure activities. Most of the time, these activities involve betting on slaves in gladiatorial games, but occasionally gnolls turn to artistic pursuits. A gnoll’s idea of art consists mostly of body modifications, such as cropping or otherwise sculpting the ears; piercing and adornment of the ears, nose, or other body parts; branding; and fur dying. Gnolls also engage in painting, but they do not have the patience to fully express their visions, so their paintings are crude affairs, typically dealing with successful hunts. Gnolls dislike anything involving crafting, such as sculpture or woodwork, since that requires an effort beyond their comfort and attention level.
Child-rearing is a communal affair, and sometimes gnolls entrust the care and feeding of gnoll young to slaves. When a young gnoll reaches the age of eight, the gnoll travels with the rest of the viable hunters on a hunt. The elder gnolls hang back during the hunt and allow the prospective adult to do most of the work; if the gnoll survives the hunt, the pack considers the gnoll a full-grown adult. Gnolls have short lives and die of old age in their forties (see the included Age charts), but the vast majority never makes it through their twenties.
Gnolls treat their dead like they would any other dead creature and engage in cannibalism, but they may offer a brief ceremony for a revered member of the pack prior to devouring the fallen gnoll.
Gnolls have no livestock, unless they belong to a large tribe, and they have slaves who can tend to cows or sheep. Even then, gnolls have no patience for husbandry, and they usually devour their herds before they can produce any young to keep them viable. Gnolls prize hyenas and take the animals as companions on their hunts; most gnoll settlements feature roaming hyenas. In a surprise departure from their normal aversion to work, gnolls will spend time training their hyenas, which they sometimes consider more important than rearing their young.
Gnolls, due to their scavenging and slaving activities, have difficulty gaining acceptance by most civilized races. Many people avoid known gnoll-infested areas, and many crusaders have taken it upon themselves to eradicate what they see as a blight on the land. City-dwelling gnoll outcasts are met with suspicion or outright disdain, and they find it difficult to gain sympathy, especially from those victimized by gnoll slavers. Some outcast gnolls actively reform their views in order to fit into their new societies, but they occasionally revert to old habits, especially in times of stress. A gnoll’s insistence on eating, rather than burying or burning, the dead is particularly off-putting to most civilized people.
Gnolls regard other races as competitors for resources and attack weak, unprotected settlements for their resources and for slaves. They give strong, well-protected communities a wide berth, but they ambush caravans or travelers to or from those areas.
Outcast gnolls temper their views of other races in their attempt to join a new “pack,” and they get along with humans, half-orcs, and the occasional gnome or halfling. These gnolls find elves and half-elves too frail and aloof, and must see evidence of those races’ battle prowess before giving the fragile ones any respect. Outcast gnolls have difficulty with dwarves, whom the gnolls view as too rigid in their lawfulness, but these gnolls respect a dwarf’s loyalty to his or her clan.
Gnolls are, with few exceptions, extremely selfish with respect to non-gnolls and tend toward evil. They also believe themselves beholden to no laws, except for whatever benefits their tribe most, making gnolls generally chaotic. Gnolls, when they choose to give honor to deities, worship gods and goddess who make their hunts easier, give them more bestial power, or control the weather. They actively distrust any follower of a deity who advocates hard work or toil as a means to prosperity.
Most gnolls who overcome their selfish natures with respect to other races prove to be valuable teammates in an adventuring party. Nearly all adventuring gnolls have been outcast from a gnoll band and seek out adventuring parties that give them a sense of belonging. Most gnolls come to understand they have to work and contribute to the party, but their laziness sometimes gets the better of them. Gnolls traditionally take on martial roles, with a strong preference for the ranger class, but they also make good barbarians and fighters. They are also drawn to divine magic and become clerics, druids, or (rarely) oracles; but they generally stay away from arcane magic, especially anything requiring them to read and study. Finally, gnolls have no aversion to sneaking around and using subterfuge, so they also make excellent rogues.
Male Names: Arrk, Gart, Grosh, Klarr, Mett, Parrn, Yarrig.
Female Names: Ayill, Geela, Neep, Nolf, Rill, Varl, Yeet.
- Ability Score Racial Traits: Gnolls are powerful physical specimens geared toward hunting and scavenging, though their mental faculties are not blunted but equivalent to many other races’. They gain +2 Strength, and +2 Constitution
- Type: Gnolls are humanoids with the canine subtype.
- Size: Gnolls are Medium creatures and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Base Speed: Gnolls have a base speed of 30 feet.
- Languages: Gnolls begin play speaking Gnoll. Gnolls with a high Intelligence score can choose from the following: Abyssal, Draconic, Goblin, Orc.
Defense Racial Traits
- Heat Acclimated: Gnolls are accustomed to the extreme temperatures of the plains and deserts they inhabit. Gnolls with this racial trait automatically succeed on Fortitude saves to avoid heat dangers for conditions up to and including severe heat.
- Natural Armor: Gnoll hides are remarkably tough, granting them a +2 natural armor bonus.
Feat and Skill Racial Traits
- Weapon Familiarity: Gnolls are always proficient with any flail, including the dire flail, and they treat any weapon with the word “gnoll” in its name as a martial weapon.
Movement Racial Traits
- Fast: Gnolls gain a +10 foot bonus to their base speed.
Offense Racial Traits
- Bite: Gnolls gain a natural bite attack, dealing 1d4 points of damage. The bite is a primary attack, or a secondary attack if the creature is wielding manufactured weapons.
Other Racial Traits
- Hyena Friend: Gnolls and hyenas have a mutual respect for one another, and some gnolls truly embrace the bond between the two creatures. Gnolls with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus on Handle Animal checks with hyenas, and Handle Animal is always a class skill for them.
Senses Racial Traits
- Darkvision 60 feet: Gnolls can see perfectly in the dark up to 60 feet.
The following racial traits are available in lieu of existing gnoll traits, or they include a balancing effect if no replacement trait is listed.
- Carrion Finder: Gnolls have a natural affinity for carrion, since they feed on that more than on fresh kills. Gnolls with this racial trait gain the scent ability, but only in regard to corpses and badly wounded creatures (those reduced to 1/4, or less, of their total hit points). This racial trait partially replaces darkvision, replacing it with low-light vision.
- Civilized: Outcast gnolls have learned to better integrate with society in an attempt to find a new pack. Gnolls with this racial trait gain a +2 bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks. This racial trait replaces weapon familiarity.
- Feral: Gnolls with this trait give in to their animal natures at the expense of their intellects. A gnoll with this racial trait always has Perception and Stealth as class skills, and a +2 to their Strength score. In return for this racial trait, the gnoll starts with a -2 penalty to Intelligence.
- Information Hunter: Outcast gnolls who live in large settlements have learned to apply their hunting and scavenging instincts to more esoteric pursuits. Gnolls with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy checks to gather information, and Knowledge (local) is always a class skill for them. This racial trait partially replaces darkvision, replacing it with low-light vision.
- Light Build: Some gnolls are light and proportionately weaker but more agile. These gnolls start with a +2 bonus to Dexterity. This racial trait replaces the +2 Strength bonus.
- Influential: Exceptionally clever gnolls take up the mantle of shaman for their tribes and use their gifts to more readily enslave gnoll captives. Gnolls with this racial trait gain a +2 bonus on Diplomacy checks and add +1 to the saving throw DCs for their spells of the enchantment school that they cast. This racial trait replaces weapon familiarity.
- Loper: Gnolls find success by moving faster than their kin, sometimes at the expense of the thick fur protecting them. Gnolls with this racial trait gain a +10 bonus to their base speed, and they gain an additional +10 foot racial bonus when using the charge, run, or withdraw actions. This racial trait replaces the natural armor racial trait.
- Savant: One out of every thousand gnoll births results in a hairless gnoll, which the gnoll tribe deems as a great portent for the tribe’s success. Gnolls with this racial trait start with +2 Strength, +2 Wisdom, and -2 Constitution, and they have a +1 racial bonus on all saving throws. This racial trait replaces the starting attribute bonuses, this may based upon DMs judgement, be allowed in addition to the normal attribute bonuses.
Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a favored class, gnolls have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon the character’s favored class.
The following options are available to gnolls who have the listed favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time the favored class reward is selected.
- Alchemist: Add +1/4 to the alchemist’s natural armor bonus when using his mutagen.
- Barbarian: Add +1 to the barbarian’s total number of rage rounds per day.
- Bard: Add +1/6 to the bonus provided by the bard’s inspire courage bardic performance.
- Cavalier: Add +1 hit point to the cavalier’s mount companion. If the cavalier ever replaces his mount, the new mount gains these bonus hit points.
- Cleric: Select one domain power granted at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the cleric’s Wisdom modifier. Add +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that domain power.
- Druid: Add +1 hit points to the druid’s animal companion. If the druid ever replaces his animal companion, the new animal companion gains these bonus hit points.
- Fighter: Add +1 to the fighter’s CMD when resisting a grapple or trip attempt.
- Gunslinger: Add +1/4 to the gunslinger’s grit points.
- Inquisitor: Add +1/2 to the inquisitor’s level for the purpose of determining the effects of one type of judgment.
- Magus: Add +1/5 to the magus’s level for the purpose of the magus’s armor proficiencies.
- Monk: Add +1 to the monk’s base speed. In combat this option has no effect unless the monk has selected it in an increment of five. This bonus stacks with the monk’s fast movement class feature and applies under the same conditions as that feature.
- Oracle: Add +1/2 to the oracle’s level for the purposes of determining the effects of one revelation.
- Paladin: Add +1/5 to the morale bonus on saving throws against fear effects from the paladin’s aura of courage.
- Ranger: Add +1/2 to the damage dealt by the ranger’s animal companion’s natural attacks.
- Rogue: Add a +1/2 bonus on Stealth checks.
- Sorcerer: Select one bloodline power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the sorcerer’s Charisma modifier. The sorcerer adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that bloodline power.
- Summoner: Add +1 hit point to the summoner’s eidolon.
- Witch: Add +1/4 natural armor bonus to the AC of the witch’s familiar.
- Wizard: Add +1/2 to the wizard’s effective class level for the purposes of determining his familiar’s natural armor adjustment, Intelligence, and special abilities.