Gnoll Species in Urban Arcana | World Anvil


Gnolls are a humanoid race that most closely resemble human-hyena hybrids. They are known for their savage culture and warlike ways. They are considered one of the most savage of races that few others will align themselves with due to fear and distain.
Gnolls are driven by bloodlust. What sways them from their savagery are signs. They see signs from Yeenoghu everywhere, even in blood splatter. A gnoll acting oddly is probably following its interpretation of a sign.
— Elminster

Gnoll Quirks

3d6 Quirk
3 I am always hungry. I take every opportunity to enjoy a meal.
4 I am deeply fascinated by the morbid and grotesque.
5 I am highly protective of my friends and innately distrustful of everyone else.
6 I love to compete. I regularly try to match myself against my allies.
7 I carry a bundle of fur, a section of hide, or an old bone that I smell, taste, or speak to for guidance.
8 I think ruthless violence is a great suggestion in any discussion.
9 The conduct of civilized folk baffles me.
10 I am unafraid to express my sentiments, though I seldom use my words to do so.
11 I display no reservations about disemboweling intelligent creatures.
12 I delight in the fear and misfortune of my adversaries.
13 I don't bother with pleasantries, instead offering grunts, snorts, or the scarce, growled remark.
14 I have adopted a number of abnormal superstitions from my clan's shaman.
15 It's in my nature to wander. I don't make a habit of remaining in one place for too long.
16 I sometimes chew on things out of curiosity or boredom.
17 I am always collecting trophies and mementos.
18 My forceful presence could scare a dragon out of its scales.

Ability Score Increase.

Your Dexterity and Strengthscores each increase by 1.


Being highly opportunistic, most gnolls are chaotic by nature. Furthermore, their fiendish ancestry and common disregard for other humanoids lead many gnolls to be innately evil, but those who reject the worship of Yeenoghu might have reasons to take up other alignments.


Base walking speed is 30 feet.


Their bite is a natural weapon, which they can use to make unarmed strikes. If they hit with it, they deal piercing damage equal to 1d4 + their Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.


You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.


They can speak, read, and write Common. They can also speak Gnoll, though it lacks a script or written form. Gnolls employ their own oral language made up of unique whoops, growls, and other sounds combined with certain morphemes derived from Abyssal. Though some gnoll clans may adopt languages with written components, most preserve their ideas through craftwork and oral tradition.


Due to the rifts that commonly exist between gnoll clans, they often vary widely in their traits. The following are available as sub race options: Blackfang, Mosshide, Riverpaw, Stoneclaw, and Grimfur. Choose one of these clans for your gnoll character.

Clan Blackfang

Mighty and merciless, the gnolls of Clan Blackfang embrace their ancestral ferocity, readily wielding it against their foes.

Ability Score Increase.

Your Strength score increases by 1.

Gnoll Weapon Training.

You have proficiency with the spear, glaive, flail, and whip.


Immediately after you reduce a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack on your turn, you can use a bonus action to move up to half of your speed and make an additional attack with your bite or with a melee weapon.

Clan Mosshide

As skilled ambushers and pack hunters, the gnolls of Clan Mosshide are remarkably quick to fell their prey.

Ability Score Increase.

Your Dexterity score increases by 1.

Go for the Throat.

Once per turn, when you score a critical hit against a creature with an attack made using a finesse weapon, a ranged weapon, or their bite, they can roll ad6 and add the result to the extra damage of the critical hit.

Clan RiverpawClan Riverpaw

Bearing such powerful spiritual connections to the natural world that they count wild beasts among their packs, the gnolls of Clan Riverpaw are among the few known to venerate druids, sages, and oracles.

Ability Score Increase.

Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Gorellik's Gift.

You have an innate intuition towards beasts and have advantage on ability checks made to influence them. Additionally, predatory beasts- such as hyenas, cats, or eagles- can understand your speech.


You gain proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Perception, and Survival.

Clan Stoneclaw

Swift and sturdy, the gnolls of Clan Stoneclaw charge brazenly into their adversaries, striving to outrun and outmaneuver any who would become their quarry.

Ability Score Increase.

Your Constitution score increasesby 1.

Sudden Rush.

On your first turn of each combat, you gain 20 feet of additional movement and attacks of opportunity against you are made at disadvantage. Your speed must be above 0 to gain these benefits. You can also activate this trait by using a bonus action on a subsequent turn, but can do so no more than once per combat.

Clan Grimfur

Touched by the wicked goddess of darkness, Refnara the Moon-Biter, the pallid gnolls of Clan Grimfur crave moonless nights and the cruel thrill of striking fear into their prey.

Ability Score Increase.

Your Charisma score increases by 1.

Break the Craven.

Creatures take an additional 1d6 damage when hit by your opportunity attacks.

Piercing Howl

As an action on your turn, you can let out a terrifying howl, forcing each creature of your choice within 30feet of you to make a Wisdom saving throw. The DC of this saving throw is 8 + your Charisma modifier + your proficiency bonus. Targets that can't hear you automatically succeed on this saving throw. On a failed save, a target becomes frightened of you for 1minute. A frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. Once you use this trait, you can't use it again until you complete a long rest.

Superior Darkvision.

Your darkvision has a range of 120feet, instead of 60.

Sunlight Sensitivity.

You have disadvantage on attack rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of the attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Gnoll Racial Feats

As a gnoll, you can take any of the following feats in place of an Ability Score Improvement.

Animal Awareness

Prerequisite: Wisdom 13 or higher You have proven to be exceptionally aware of your animalistic senses. You gain the following benefits:
  • Increase your Wisdom score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception), Wisdom(Survival), and Intelligence (Investigation) checks that involve hearing or smell, such as those made to notice the movement of an unseen creature, track something that bears a scent, or discern the age of an organic substance.

Beast of Butchery

You fight without mercy, making quick work of your prey in their moments of weakness. You gain the following benefits:
  • Creatures within your reach provoke opportunity attacks from you when they attempt to stand from being prone.
  • When attacking a creature that is paralyzed, prone, or unconscious, you gain the benefits of attacking from within 5 feet even when making the attack from beyond this range.
  • Whenever you score a critical hit against a creature, you gain advantage on your next attack against it. This benefit lasts until the start of your next turn.

Carrion Eater

For you, hunger is not just a base desire, but a means of attaining strength. You gain the following benefits:
  • Increase your Constitution score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You have advantage on ability checks made to harvest creatures, as well as Wisdom (Medicine) and Wisdom(Perception) checks relating to corpses.
  • You can feast on organic creatures to gain their vitality. If you consume the liver, heart, or other vital organs of a creature with a challenge rating of 1 or higher that has died within the past 8 hours, you gain a number of temporary hit points equal to your level. These temporary hit points persist when you finish a long rest, and, while you have them, you also have advantage on ability checks and saving throws made using the creature's highest ability score. If the creature's challenge rating is equal to or higher than your character level, the number of temporary hit points gained increases to 2 × your character level and you can immediately reduce your level of exhaustion by 1. Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you complete a long rest. If you use this feature again, you lose any remaining benefits from your previous uses of it.

Packwarden Magick

Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell As a packwarden, you've learned how best to use magic to empower your packmates. You gain the following benefits:
  • Increase your Charisma, Wisdom, or Intelligence score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • Whenever you cast a spell that is capable of targeting multiple allied creatures at any level, you can choose one additional allied creature to target with that spell.
  • Furthermore, whenever you cast a cantrip on an ally, you can target up to two additional allies within that cantrip.
  • You learn one cantrip of your choice from the cleric spell list that has a range of touch. Your spellcasting ability for it is the ability increased by this feat.


Your bite is deadly, and you are eager to prove it. You gain the following benefits:
  • Increase your Constitution, Dexterity, or Strength scoreby 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • The damage die of your bite increases to a d6. You can use Dexterity or Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your bite attack.
  • Instead of making an ability check when attempting to break free of a grapple on your turn, you can use your action to make a bite attack against the creature grappling you, contesting the creature's grapple DC with your attack roll. If you successfully break the grapple this way, the creature also suffers the normal effects of the attack.
  • You have advantage on the first bite attack you make each turn against a creature that you are grappling or being grappled by.

Basic Information


Gnolls are extremely tall, with the average member of the race standing between 7′0″‒7′6″ tall. Though gnolls are relatively lean for their height, weighing in usually between 280‒320 pounds, they cut an impressive visage. In part because of their height and lean musculature, gnolls are very quick compared with many other races such as humans. Gnoll skin is greenish-gray, and their furry hide a light or dark brown hue, sometimes marked with spots or stripes. Many gnolls also have a dirty yellow to a reddish-gray crest-like mane that stands on end when they were angry.   It is believed that gnolls have traces of demonic blood, which may be evidenced by unusual features found among some of the gnoll bloodlines. These may include talons, gleaming red eyes, or black fur with fiery orange spots.   Female gnolls are indistinguishable from males. Generally, they are the larger of the two, in spite of a reputation for being shorter. In fact, so similar are male and female gnolls in appearance that they are often mistaken for one another. The only reliable way to tell the difference, other than through a close physical examination, is if a female is pregnant or openly nursing.   Gnolls have relatively short torsos and are fairly massive and wolf-like in build, but have shorter legs and their backs slope noticeably downward towards their rumps. Gnolls have one more pair of ribs than humans do, giving them a more barrel shape to their chest. Their necks are thick and short. In general, this gives them a top heavy appearance. It is the female of the species that outweighs and dominates the male.   Their pelage is sparse and coarse with poorly developed or absent underfur. Most have a rich mane of long hair running from the neck or from the head. They have striped or spotted coats. Each clan is known for sporting different fur colorations and patterns. Blackfang Clan is known for having light brown or yellow fur with black on the muzzle, ears, tail, hands and feet. Mosshide Clan is known to have light to dark brown fur without any markings. Riverpaw Clan is known to have light brown, tan or yellow fur with dark brown or black spots. Stoneclaw Clan is known for having light brown or tan fur with a mixture of spots and stripes in black or dark brown. They are also noted to have a more pronounced mane which tends to run the full length of their back and tends to be much longer then other Clans. Grimfur Clan are known for having longer fur that is dark brown with shorter fur on their limbs that is light brown and has dark brown stripes.

Genetics and Reproduction

In gnoll clans the females dictate the who, where and when of copulation. Gnolls do not mate for life. Usually, a female will take a mate for a single mating season and then with the next mating season will choose a different mate. However, they might choose the same mate repeatedly if the pool of males to choose from is limited. Female gnolls are more likely to select and mate with a male that is of low social rank as these are the immigrant males and mating with them helps diversify the gene pool. A female will not mate again until she has fully raised her cub or it has died. Because of this, each female only has two or three cubs in their life time. Siblings are separated by at least eight years.   Females are pregnant for four months. First time mothers have a 10% death rate while giving birth due to their unique anatomy. Like the hyena they resemble, the females have a pseudo-penis. With later pregnancies, the death rate during birth falls to only 2%. First time mothers often loose their cubs to miscarriage (15%) or during childbirth (25%). With later pregnancies, this rate drops dramatically with only a 1% miscarriage rate and 5% death rate during child birth. Because of this, having children is viewed equivalent to going into battle. Surviving the birthing with the cub also surviving is viewed as highly as being successful in battle. They only ever have a single cub at a time. Gnoll cubs emerge with eyes open, muscles coordinated and teeth already pierced through their gums and eager to bite. These cubs are well tended to and often receive care from other females in the clan. The cubs are cared for as children within the clan until they reach reproductive maturity.

Growth Rate & Stages

Gnolls have had a very short lifespan when compared with other sapient humanoids, living only 30 or so years on average. They rarely ever live beyond 40 years. Gnolls do not, however, age particularly dramatically except at the beginning and end of their lifespans. They mature to adulthood at a remarkable speed, reaching reproductive age at 8. At the age of around 28, most gnolls experience another rapid change. This rapid decline in their old age usually leads them to their death by the age of 30. There are an exceptional few who reach old age late or who have an unusually long aging time, but none have been known to live beyond 40.   Once a cub reaches reproductive maturity, they are expected to take on adult roles and are no longer treated like a child within the clan. Most males will leave their birth clan and migrate to another clan where they become the lowest in the social rank but the most likely to be mated with. Females usually remain in their birth clan for life where they retain the social rank of their family. Th few males that remain with their birth clans for life retain the social rank of their birth mothers and are unlikely to ever become fathers.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Though they are not obligate carnivores, it is not uncommon for gnolls to subsist solely on meat. Like the hyenas they resemble, gnolls possess strong jaws and powerful appetites, and are capable of consuming almost every part of their prey, including teeth and bones. They can safely consume raw or rotten food and have advantage on saving throws against disease and ingested poisons.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Gnolls have a matriarchal social structure. Relationships between female gnolls in a clan are also hierarchical and are typically stable for many years. Offspring inherit a social rank below their mothers. Thus, clans are made up of multiple female-led lineages, or multiple “matrilineal kin groups”. These kin groups are organized by how the oldest females relate to each other. Though rare, a high-ranking matrilineal kin group may be toppled if a coalition of lower-ranking groups challenges the smaller, higher-ranking group. It is more likely that a lower-ranking group would leave the clan and establish a new sister clan that is likely to maintain a friendly relationship with their mother clan.   Female gnolls lend their social rank to their mates whom they tend to stay connected with for the duration of the time they are raising their cub. If they then choose a different mate or decide to be unmated for a time, their previous mate looses the lent social rank. However, they do not return to their previous rank but rather drop to being a rank below that of their cub if it is a female or equal to their cub if it is a male. Because female gnolls usually choose males of the lowest social rank for mating, this elevation of their rank makes it less likely that they will be mated with again.   Though gnolls develop long-lasting relationships with their clan mates, clan members spend most of their time alone or in smaller groups. However, they come together to help each other hunt large prey and defend their kills from other races or clans. After working together to bring down a large prey, gnolls then enter what looks like a competitive eating contest. Gnolls eat rapidly, taking in as many calories as possible. During feeding, higher ranking females, their cubs, and adult offspring have first dibs, showing where social dominance hierarchies are most important: access to food.   Higher-ranking female gnolls start breeding earlier, live longer, and produce more surviving cubs. Their longer lifespan and larger kin group makes for a larger social web. They have more kin members to rely on, and thus, have better social support. It is this social support that ensures their high rank. When a female faces a challenge, she calls upon her social group to help her over come that challenge. Thus, having a larger family equates to having more power.   Female gnolls stay in their birth clan and produce offspring there, while males must break their social network to reproduce. Social rank determines food access, giving higher ranking gnolls more calories and increasing their fitness. Increased fitness allows higher-ranking females to have longer lives and produce more surviving cubs, surrounding them with a larger kin group. A larger kin group provides those gnolls more social support. Social support helps gnolls win challenges with other gnolls, solidifying social hierarchies.   Gnolls have placed a very strong value on the family, respecting blood ties perhaps more than any other aspect of a relationship. Though gnolls within a clan 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.   This loyalty to family is particularly obvious during combat, either with rival gnoll packs or other races. Gnolls who fight side by side regularly throw 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 clan 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.   Fierce and feral, gnolls are true creatures of the wild; they oft prove uninterested in conquest and very seldom seek fortune or glory. Instead, gnolls are driven by instinct and impulse; they revel in the thrill of the hunt and often take great pride in their predatory nature. They tend to seek out means of proving their abilities to their allies and, being boastful scavengers, often commemorate these pursuits by claiming trophies, be they simple mementos or the bones of their foes.   Owing to their animal ancestry, gnolls inherently favor wild, wayfaring lifestyles. Some practice related trades- such as leatherworking and herbalism- or take up animal husbandry, training pack animals and taming dangerous beasts. Though most gnolls seldom approach anyone outside of their clans, some more enterprising hunters might be willing to offer their services to local people as trappers or trackers.   Gnolls have found an affinity for hyenas and giant hyenas, who many see as their brethren and whom they have kept as pets or for hunting. Other then these, they generally do not keep animals as pets. They generally find this to be displeasing, considering it a form of imprisonment that isn't tolerated. This view is largely from having been kept as pets themselves. Since hyenas are seen as being of their own kind, it is only natural and appropriate that they would be brought into their homes. However, these hyenas are not raised as property, but as the lowest ranked members of the clan. As such, they are given the choice as to who they interact with and whom they assist with hunting. Regardless of which gnolls they favor, hyenas cannot rise within the social ranks unless they have been magically awakened and performed notable deeds.   Due to their excitable, dominant, and impulsive nature, the gnolls are commonly known for their shameless lack of civility. They tend to be blatantly direct in their speech, seldom wasting time with spoken pleasantries or other such courtesies. Though gnolls are instinctively social creatures, and can prove quick to follow the leads set by their allies, their often-assertive attitudes can make even their most well-intentioned words come across as uncouth and menacing.


Those gnolls that successfully live within cities are referred to as being domesticated and are generally looked down on by the Riverpaw Clan and those who live Solitary (outside a gnoll clan) in the rural areas. Those gnolls that are domesticated are almost always males as they are the less aggressive of the genders and are much more likely to leave their clan. They are also much more likely to be Mundane born rather then a gnoll that was brought from the Shadow Realm through a Rift.    These gnolls will integrate themselves into a powerful city element such as a gang or a wealthy family. They will serve as loyal body guards in return for social protections. Whom ever they integrate with is seen as their clan and their loyalty to that group is the same as any gnoll has for their clan. Just like all male gnolls, they respond well to dominating females and are most likely to attach their loyalties to such females. They will faun upon this female, protect her fiercely with their life and obey her blindly. Once this loyalty has been established, it is nearly impossible to break.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

There are those within the Shadow Kind who value the strength and loyalty of the gnolls so much that they have begun to exploit those characteristics. Drow females have been known to kidnap or buy male gnoll cubs which they raise to be their personal body guards. Since they come to adulthood quickly and remain fiercely loyal, the Drow have found them to be worth the investment. They make wonderful pets.   This has created a black market and slave trade within the Shadow Kind under world. The Drow, mostly within Port Orchard, pay well to own a gnoll pet. And there are those within Seattle who are willing to take the risks to earn that kind of money. Most of these individuals are not associated with any of the Shadow Kind organizations, but are those that are new to the Mundane World and looking for a way to get the buying power they need to get themselves established in this new world.   The Cthulhu is not above getting involved with such a market. Their organization has been mostly opportunistic. They will take advantage of a lost cub or one that has come through a rift by selling them into the Drow pet trade. But they are not known to raid the Riverpaw Clan for cubs nor engage in breeding programs. Generally speaking, Qhall is not willing to risk a conflict with the Riverpaw Clan and thus will only dabble in this trade.   However, Ebonie Wiggins has made this her primary income and has used this as a means to provide The Shadow Investigations Unit Research Department with valuable data on the gnolls. She has developed a gnoll breeding program that is housed within Shadow Containment. Many male cubs are sold into the Drow pet trade for profit while the remaining gnolls are researched.   This is one of the more rare races to survive within the Mundane world. There is only one known clan of gnolls. Usually, the gnolls are too aggressive and violent when they come through the rift to be allowed to live. Because of this, the Shadow Investigation Unit is quick to kill gnolls on sight with the assumption that they are all aggressive killers. This and the Drow pet trade has lead some of the other Shadow Kind to make efforts to protect newly arriving gnolls and to try to assist them with finding their way to the protection of the Riverpaw Clan. It is uncommon for a gnoll to survive outside the protection of the Riverpaw Clan, but it has been known to happen. In these instances the gnoll has been able to find a proxy clan or group to bind their loyalty to. Many Shadow Kind welcome such solitary gnolls for the powerful protection and loyalty they offer.

Facial characteristics

Their skulls superficially resemble those of large canids, but are much larger and heavier, with shorter facial portions. Their ears are large and have simple basal ridges. Their tongues are rough like those of cats. The gnoll is renowned for its strong bite proportional to its size. It is able to break bones with its bite.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

The only known clan within the Mundane World lives within the Tiger Mountain State Forest. Gnolls generally do not do well within city limits due to their aggressive natures resulting in gaining the attention of authorities. Thus, even the solitary gnolls tend to live in rural and remote areas where they are less like to come into conflict with others. When living within a city, it is only by joining the ranks of a powerful group that can protect them from the authorities when their behaviors inevitably attract too much attention.

Average Intelligence

While gnolls are known for their strength and agility, they also boast cunning. They are social creatures that live within a complex hierarchy. In combat and hunting, they attack as a group with strategy. They value survival over success and thus are often viewed as cowards or being unwilling to commit.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Being moderately nocturnal, they have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. They can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. They can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

A gnoll's name is usually inspired by their appearance, behavior, or some other aspect of their early life. Gnoll cubs are frequently raised communally, customarily by their clan's females, and typically named some time after their first season of childhood. Like most words in the Gnoll language, their names are often short and guttural.

Male Names:

Arri, Arym, Braunr, Dagnyr, Drakar, Fangar,Ferrik, Garr, Garm, Garrun, Gnarl, Gorik, Greszik, Grahl,Grym, Hakryn, Herne, Ishkr, Kaal, Mognyr, Ragnr, Rekk,Rholk, Ruenr, Runik, Skarn, Thrakk, Thrnn, Vargr, Varri,Vaszi, Vekryn, Zaryn

Female Names:

Asza, Arra, Brauna, Dagna, Dagrun, Drakka,Durna, Ferra, Gaara, Gnara, Gorza, Grakka, Gresza,Grymda, Gudrun, Ishka, Keska, Kaia, Krsha, Kylma, Mala,Mrna, Mrsha, Nevara, Othna, Reeva, Runa, Saga, Sahla,Shara, Sovra, Vakra, Yrra, Zudya

Clan Names:

Bladescar, Bloodmane, Cairnbriar, Crushpaw,Darkmoon, Drakeblight, Dreadhowl, Duskfall, Dustspear,Emberfang, Feralheart, Flamecrest, Frostbane, Gorepelt,Graveden, Greymist, Knifegut, Mistveil, Nightsong,Pridefury, Rageborn, Razorfang, Rockjaw, Rotbreath,Shadetotem, Splittooth, Stormsnarl, Thornhide, Tidemaw

Honorific Titles:

Clankeeper, Claw or Fang of ,Denmother or -Mother, Huntmaster, Matriarch, Packlord, Packwarden, Shaman   examples:
  • Packlord Grakka, the Matriarch of Clan Dreadhowl
  • Packwarden Braunr, the Claw of Grakka
  • Dreadhowl-Mother Vakra, Denmother

Average Technological Level

All gnolls have an innate tendency for collecting souvenirs and trophies. In general, they have few other ways to acquire technology, having crafted few tools of their own. The result of this is that most gnolls rely on the other races as their source of wealth and technology. This extends to arms and weaponry, giving gnoll armor a unique aesthetic where each suit is typically made kitbashed together from scavenged pieces of armor found either on victims or abandoned.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

All Gnolls known Gnoll. Many known common.


By their history of demon-worship, the Gnoll dialect is partially derived from Abyssal. Many gnolls are quick to learn it as a secondary language.


The rare gnoll pack that seeks to make allies might decide to form a tenuous union with a clan of goblinoids, each group's respective warlord finding a similar penchant for authority and effective leadership.


Any gnolls who bear a deep reverence for the untamed wilderness of the world might find common ground with certain communities of wood elves, and choose to cooperate with them under limited conditions. Likewise, an elf village could seek a defensive pact with those gnoll rangers who hunt within their lands.


A rare few believe that Gorellik was once a lesser-known deity among the giant pantheon. As such, shamans who worship the ancient god of beasts may be taught the language of Jotun.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

There are few who view cannibalism- ritualistic or otherwise-as anything but unholy barbarism. Likewise, the vivisection and consumption of the deceased might bear little to no chance of being regarded as a respectable tradition among most civilized folk. But to many a gnoll, consuming a creature's innards and making keepsakes of its remains are the utter most sacred forms of respect that can be given to the dead.   Whether the ritual consumption of vital organs arose from the worship of Yeenoghu or conversely strengthened the demon lord's reign over the gnolls is unknown, but the fact remains that nearly any gnoll elder will passionately proclaim that the liver is the center of one's strength, and- more shockingly- a source of power to be shared with one's kin upon death. In many clans, the dead are ceremoniously butchered by shamans, their spiritual leaders distributing parts of the body- such as claws, fangs, or fur- among the deceased's Clan mates. This is done in accordance with both the nature of the individual's death and the significance of those relationships they shared with their kin.   Nonetheless, gnolls who hold a deeper respect for these traditions typically abhor cannibalizing any part of the honored dead, save for one important exception- the liver. Most often in these cases, the liver is granted to the next of kin to be consumed before the whole clan, so that the power of the fallen may be shared with those who endure. Likewise, ribs and other bones are often kept and made into crafts, the belief being that it is from tooth and bone that one draws their emotions, their instincts, and their wisdom.     Ancestor worship is fairly common among the gnolls, and gnollish practices of divination frequently involve the use of bones or segments of hide that have been passed down through generations. Traditionally, these elements might be gathered not only from revered forebears but also from companion animals and other creatures that had been cherished by a gnoll in their lifetime. So while others may regard a gnoll's morbid mementos with deathly fear, to the gnoll, an ancestor's bones can serve as a reminder of life. And from these memories, a grisly fount of spiritual courage.


The gnolls of the Butcher's Brood are fanatically devoted to their demon prince; they believe that his blood flows through their veins and that their devotion justifies every terrible atrocity they commit. For the Children of Yeenoghu, cruelty and bloodshed are a source of joy and a reason for living.   And just as tieflings bear the marks of devils, so too does every gnoll descended from an ancestry tainted by Yeenoghu. Though not all gnolls may venerate the Beast of Butchery, age-old ties to the demon lord have cursed their bloodlines with ferocity, and sullied their traditions with brutality. As such, very few would dispute the idea that the gnolls were born from Yeenoghu himself. Some, however, assert that the Demon Prince usurped the gnolls' true gods. Legends of this lost pantheon include such divines as the moon goddess Refnara, a clever deity of darkness and fear, and the hyenine god of nature Gorellik, a reputed champion of hunters and the fabled patriarch of predatory beasts, the latter also regarded by some as the legitimate patron of the gnolls.   While the Children of Yeenoghu would seek nothing less than the utter destruction of the mortal realm, not all gnolls follow this path. Some clans embrace the worship of the divine, while others see the gods as being no different from demons. The gnolls may be aggressive scavengers and brutish opportunists, or reclusive outlanders who find strength in their inherent ties with nature. But no matter their faith or customs, each and every gnoll ultimately strives to lend themselves to the greater strength of the clan.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

The uncommon gnoll clans that see fit to coexist with their neighbors are nevertheless likely to remain wholly aloof; the gnolls seldom mingle with other humanoids any more than necessary and, in such engagements, often prove reluctant to show much in the way of hospitality. Many gnolls are notably unsettled by strange folk, and those who show anything less than antagonism towards outsiders are likely to do so with contempt, suspicion, or- at best- cautious curiosity.     In addition, a majority of gnoll clans are instinctively hostile to each other due to their competitive nature. This aggression can extend to all other gnolls, making it highly difficult or even dangerous for a lone wanderer to seek out a new clan.
Demonic, Feliform
Geographic Distribution
Related Organizations


Please Login in order to comment!