Gnoll Ethnicity in Cerilia | World Anvil
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Gnolls are a brutal race of humanoids, one of the races of beast-men created by Azrai. They have humanoid bodies but the heads of hyenas, and shaggy hair covers their skin. Gnolls are notoriously undisciplined, and rarely respect any authority unless it is within arm's reach. Gnolls do not, by their nature waste time thinking about the future, and as a result it is rare for true leaders to emerge from amongst their numbers.   Bands of nomadic gnolls are a threat to much of Cerilia, although the more settled lands have little to fear from them. Only one gnoll realm exists, the Gnoll Fells of Vosgaard are home to tens of thousands of the beasts and a more anarchic land exists nowhere, even the realms of the orogs are safer (to those granted safe passage), while the goblin lands are positively bucolic by comparison.   Superstitious in the extreme, gnolls avoid magic like the plague. Gnoll priests are amongst the few gnolls that can compel obedience from their fellows unless physically present. They worship Yeenoghu. A few rare gnoll births result in Flinds, a stockier breed which almost inevitably reaches some sort of leadership position due to their greater intelligence.   Gnolls do not have agriculture, they forage or scavenge what they need, and frequently resort to cannibalism of other races and even gnolls of other tribes. Gnolls rarely make tools or weapons and therefore tend to use those they have stolen from more creative hard-working races.   Gnolls are hyena-headed, evil humanoids that wander in loose tribes. Most gnolls have dirty yellow or reddish-brown fur. A gnoll is a nocturnal carnivore, preferring intelligent creatures for food because they scream more. A gnoll is about 7-1/2 feet tall and weighs 300 pounds.


Major language groups and dialects


Culture and cultural heritage

In spite of the savage nature of the gnolls, there were some aspects to their culture that are not inherently repulsive. Gnolls have placed a very strong value on the family, for instance, respecting blood ties perhaps more than any other aspect of a relationship. Though gnolls within a pack will commonly fight with each other for dominance, these battles are quickly forgotten after their resolution, and in most situations, gnolls of the same bloodline are loyal friends and allies to one another. These bloodlines have almost always been traced maternally, through the female line.   This loyalty to family was particularly obvious during combat, either with rival gnoll packs or other races. Gnolls who fought side by side regularly threw away personal glory in order to help their brethren. Perhaps most surprisingly, when a gnoll has been separated from clan and family their instinctive need for such blood ties has lead them to form a surrogate "pack" from those whom they choose to befriend. To these unlikely allies, the gnoll has been as loyal and faithful as they would their own brothers or sisters, embracing the outsiders as if they were family.   The scavenging of wild gnolls rose to entirely new levels as well. While all gnolls had an innate tendency for collecting souvenirs and trophies, nomadic packs, particularly the savage ones who have had little contact with other races except during wartime, have found few other ways to acquire technology, having crafted few tools of their own. The result of this is that most gnolls relied on the other races as their source of wealth and technology. This extends to arms and weaponry, giving gnoll armour a unique aesthetic where each suit is typically made kit-bashed together from scavenged pieces of armour found either on victims or abandoned.   Though gnolls of all kinds had a strong loyalty towards family, they have not extended such courtesies to those outside their pack, and mainstream gnoll culture has had a much-deserved reputation for brutality. Most gnolls were nomadic, wandering from land to land and living off of raids on the local populations. Victims of these attacks can expect no mercy from their attackers and those who are not killed would be taken as slaves to be brutalized and abused both physically and mentally.

Shared customary codes and values

Many other races have found the gnoll psyche feral and aggressive, male and female equally, and the behavioural tendencies of the race have certainly given this impression. Gnolls started fighting among one another at a very early age and as soon as they can walk, many crawled into places away from the eyes of adults where they engage in vicious, often lethal battles.

Common Etiquette rules

A gnoll has been more likely to demand answers than it is to actually ask a question. Gnolls, however, did not see this as an act of hostility, but rather a basic demonstration of strength.

Major organizations

Gnolls were most often worshipers of the demon lord Yeenoghu, who some claim created them. Though some paid only nominal reverence, many gnolls were fanatically devoted to their dark overlord, his influence having been the primary cause of their savagery. Some gnolls believed it was their purpose as Yeenoghu's servants to cleanse the weak from the world, serving a higher purpose through the slaughter they had spread.   In spite of their devotion to Yeenoghu, few gnolls had any interest in ritual and there were few clerics or shamans to be found among the savage packs. Typically, gnolls saw their very brutality as a sign of their devotion to the demon lord, painting the eye of Yeenoghu onto their weapons and armor and howling his name as a war cry in battle.   Gnolls venerated Yeenoghu by celebrating their victories with demonic rituals and blood offerings. Occasionally, Yeenoghu rewarded such a celebrant by allowing the gnoll to be possessed by a demonic spirit, marking them as one of his chosen. Such gnolls were known as fangs of Yeenoghu. Hyenas that feasted upon the slain foe of one of the Fangs were transformed into full-grown gnolls, allowing fangs to quickly increase their population.   A few gnolls were led, however, by warlocks who made powerful pacts with the demonic servants of Yeenoghu and guided the packs they lead through frightful visions paid for with even more horrific rituals. The most terrible of these were the Corruption of the Soul Consumed, where living victims were eaten alive by female hyenas who were then swiftly impregnated with evistros or barlguras formed from the tormented souls of the dead, a conception that was followed by an even swifter birth.   Those gnolls who turned away from the worship of Yeenoghu often embraced no deity, seeing no clear difference between demons and gods. Sometimes these gnolls sought the patronage of fey spirits of the natural world, embracing the primal essence of nature. Others sought out the gods of other races.
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