Gnolls are anthropomorphic hyenas. They are typically tall and the males tend to be broad. Gnolls are not known for their compassion or a swelling of intelligence, instead relying on brute force and ferocity. Their fur is usually marked by rings or stripes, which they paint when they expect battle.
Because of their large feet, gnolls often adopt a wide stance. Coupled with their height, this allows them to wield a variety of different weaponry.
The average lifespan of a Gnoll is between forty-eight and sixty years of age. This is a rarity though, for the temperament of the race often leads to violent deaths.
Clothing and Adornment
The Gnolls do not care for flash, or uniform. Instead, they opt to don material that protects them moderately, while allowing the greatest motion for their weaponry. The race is prone to the acceptance of pain, thus they willingly wear heavier armors if able, including chainmail, which will tug at their fur and leave bare spots. However, it is just as typical to see them adorned in leather or cloth scraps, as their choices in weapons are more tantamount.
Despite their savage nature, Gnolls are oft to be found wearing a variety of jewelry. Most of it is primal, including necklaces of feathers, or teeth and other appendages of the enemies they’ve felled. It is also typical to see either gender wearing earrings.
Of all the regular clothes that the race wears, cloaks, capes and buckles are seen the most. They also often wrap their limbs in what look like bandages.
Relations to Other Races
Though they appear to be, and even may be distantly related to Kobolds, Gnolls tend to ignore the more orderly race. Their primary prey is any lone Kaja they could find, but if any other race happens to get in their way, they give them no quarter.
The larger groups of Gnolls are very violent, to the point where they even embrace it among their own culture. Infighting is quite common, especially when it comes to deciding on a pack’s long term goals.
Some are also very persistent. Fearless and hardy, larger Gnolls are fierce adversaries, and are not to be trifled with. If they enter into battle, it is rare for both sides to be left standing at the end. The dwarves have a saying about the Gnolls: “Bleed ‘em dry, or break their legs, but suffer not to leave them dregs.”
Still, among certain packs, they are known to feign injuries or death until they can either overtake their enemies or escape danger.
The race can also be quite loyal. It is not unheard of for the Gnolls to live among their companions for their entire lives, and often, if they are under agreement with their friends, they will enter the fray to physically defend even a foolish decision.
It is difficult to be ambushed by a Gnoll because of its very unique scent. A potent mix that has often been described as a skunk rolling in rotten eggs, many of the goodly races know to flee when the odor rises in the air.
On the other hand, when cognizant of their powerful smell, Gnolls can be quite devious. Because they often wear little to no footwear, they can sneak up unannounced and pickpocket among the best of the races of Tellest. Smaller gnolls are fleet of foot as well, and can rob a dwelling blind if its inhabitants are caught unaware.
Relationship and Family
Just as there is a duality in the demeanor of the different sized Gnolls, so there is regarding manners of mating.
For the larger subraces, it is typical for both genders to be promiscuous. Typically, it is a battle of strength that determines which male will end up with the most suitable female of a pack. This holds true even to those nomadic males that might tend to the area. In that circumstance, the males will rarely offer anything to the upbringing of the young.
Conversely, for the smaller tribes, it is more common for the Gnolls to be monogamous. In circumstances like this, the male will assist in raising the cubs, and will tend to remaining a part of its integrated populace for life.
All Gnolls live in packs, though the size is determined by the size of the breed. The larger, spotted Gnolls, like the Hydoran tribe, travel or live in reserved, conservative groups, while the smaller stripped variety, such as the ones from Cynos, commune within the same large den system.
If some kind of political need arises, the spotted Gnolls will convene in a kind of mobile council, where many of the roaming packs converge. In that instance, the decision is typically made by the victor of a brutal contest of strength.
Behavior toward Other Races
Many of the Gnolls actually promote grave robbing. However, it is considered taboo and highly unacceptable to steal from the dead of their own race. Thus, it falls to the other races to end up being pilfered from. This is highly typical of the more rustic races, including the Orcs, the Minotaurs and the Kaja. It has also caused some manner of strife between the Gnolls and the races that they find themselves allied with, especially the Lagano and the Goblins. The Gnolls can be stubborn about that desecration, but they believe it is their right, as it has been so engrained in their culture.
It is largely due to that culture clash that they have become so at odds with the Minotaurs. Because of the spiritual upbringing of the Minotaurs, the Gnolls disgraceful treatment of their dead is seen not only as sacrilegious, but an affront against Cebrum himself. This has led to tremendous battles between the two races.
Gnolls are also often at odds with the other, smaller anthropomorphic races. Kobolds and Kaja are continuously attacked without warning, as if they are being picked off for sport.
The Gnolls are a very vocal race. They chitter, they howl, they heckle, they grunt and they bark. They use their power of the verbose to aid them in their day to day activities, but they are also known as a very tale-driven community. Many of their legends and myths have been passed down aurally. Because of this, they rely very little on any kind of penmanship or marking system.
Their gift of speech has also led them to be quite fluent in many of the other racial tongues of Tellest. It is said that there can be no secrets held from a Gnoll, for they will always find a way to translate your words or your actions.
Despite the constant disinterring of graves that the Gnolls are responsible for, they are actually quite invested in their own manner of religion. Ironically, they believe they serve Cebrum’s will, while the Minotaurs despise the vile act.
Rather, the Gnolls embrace the futility of mortality, and the violent end that many of them (and their enemies) will go to. As such, they are seen as harbingers of death, even among their own people. If a member of their society becomes infirm or too old, they are culled without warning. The proverb “death is just outside your door,” is said to come from Gnoll culture. They will wait outside the dwelling of the weakened denizen, and strike them down as soon as they exit. Though this is a violent act, it is embraced among their society.
It is thought that the Gnolls were created by the gods at the same time as the Kobolds and Kaja. This existence was supposedly brought about because the gods had become crestfallen with the prime races, and wanted to prove that even a primal beast made in the semi-image of the gods could be more respectable, and be able to cohabitate. The Gnolls, of course, made this task seem wholly impossible.
Myths and Legends
In southern Iradel, on the continent of Saveon, there is a clan of nomadic Gnolls that dwell in the desert. Some believe that if they are not buried beneath a stone, they will rise from their graves, and seek out those in slumber, and will drink the blood from their throats. This myth has been substantiated for centuries by the frequent deaths where people have had their necks violently slashed in their sleep.
In Lustra, within one of the mountain ranges of Tisbon, there is said to be a tribe of Werehyenas. It is under constant debate whether or not in their humanoid form they take the shape of humans or gnolls. They retain a fairly low profile, so not much has been discovered of those people, thus it is impossible to verify the myth.
One of the legends that many of the gnolls tell is of Gabali, one of their heroes from Tycharma in Ravane. Supposedly, Gabali stole the sun from the sky, and blinded the champion of the Golden Hoof tribe of Minotaurs, allowing his people to escape from an expected genocide.
Because of their fairly primal roots, the gnolls do not actively seek to advance their technology. They do, however, employ tools, specifically when constructing their homes or desecrating a grave.
Due to their mostly mobile societies, agriculture has never truly been explored as a fundamental means of survival, even though the gnolls are omnivorous.
While the gnolls are particularly savage and vicious, they have not forsaken a more spiritual bond with the world. As such, it is not unheard of to find one that expresses shamanistic totems and magic. This earthen embrace typically soothes the soul of the characteristically primal race.
On the other side of the spectrum, the gnolls have been known to express interest in witchcraft. When exhuming bodies for their trinkets, some grave robbers have been known to take the corpses (or pieces of them) with them. Some use these various body parts for divination.
Unfortunately, some gnolls have been known to use the bodies to commune with, or animate the dead, and even consort with demons. Those that practice the darker arts are typically ostracized from their own communities.
Gnolls in combat are fairly unorganized. They rely mostly on their ferocity and determination. Typically, a military is unfounded, as they live in smaller packs. There are several recorded times throughout history where multiple packs have banded together, however.
Weapons and Tools
The larger gnolls favor crushing weapons such as maces and broad axes, having the strength to adequately wield them. Their smaller kin will typically use slashing weapons, like swords spears. Both sizes utilize polearms frequently.
Wars and Enemies
On Draconis, the gnolls have developed an empire in the country of Warus. It stretches from the southern swamp to the north, where the kobolds have kept them from the Raleighn border. Because of this rapid expansion, the gnolls are constantly at odds with the kobolds. They also relentlessly hunt the kaja that live in their territories.
In Tycharma on Ravane, the gnolls are still at odds with the Golden Hoof tribe. Because of the minotaurs’ inability to wipe the gnolls out centuries before, they have been able to repopulate, and are now a force to be reckoned with.