A Gnoll Matriarch Defender
For ages, the Gnoll has been viewed as a threat to developing civilization. Tales of savage beasts with hyena heads mauling travelers and attacking city walls have struck fear into even the most trained of soldiers. Their origins are equally mysterious, shrouding them in further mystery and fear. However, as information spreads and reality dispels mythology, many people driven by old ways began to witness that Gnolls aren’t inherently evil. Despite their bestial appearance and instincts, they’re more than capable of rationality and guidance.
Wild Hunters, Clever Survivalists
Despite many misconceptions and stereotypes, tales of gnolls being able to take down incredible prey as well as stories of them enduring brutal deserts and unforgiving wastelands contain more than enough proof. For this reason, more accepting lands view the gnoll as a testament to the tenacity of the wild. Within their own lands, Gnolls forge resourceful societies capable of repurposing much of what they come across, due to harsh lessons learned in barren wastes. Also, many Gnollish culture have gained infamy for creating little of their own; relying on the ideas and supplies of others. This has also lead to the troubling assumption that gnollish travelers are actually raiders looking to jump the unlucky wandering that crosses their path. Being both scavengers and hunters, they’re able to adapt to any land ripe with hunting game or the barest of dead lands. Such experiences have hardened them as both nomads and settlers. Besides their impressive endurance, they’re viewed as incredible hunters more than able to thwart the mightiest of beasts. While this leads to misconceptions of them being savage brutes who care for little more than brutality and bloodshed, they often save “The Hunt” for when they’re certain they’ll need the resources. While they find little wrong with hunting other humanoids, this is often for the sake of meals rather than pure sport. However, some populations have made a sport of hunting anyone who comes too close to secretive grounds. Granted, they usually post significant warnings first.
Strangers in a Strange Land
No one is sure of where Gnolls came from, and to be honest, neither do the Gnolls! Some have rumors that they’re the creations of mad cultists and druids, crossbreeding hyenas and humanoids. Some suggest they’re the spawns of demonic plane-jumping conquerors, set out to hunt all in the name of Yeenoghu. Maybe they are the result of a mad Bouda Witch corrupting the nearby lands. Perhaps they’re just beings exposed to the arcane forces of the Plane of the Wyld, forcefully morphed into bipedal hyena creatures. No matter the truth, Gnolls take pride in what they are and will defend their existence till the end. Outside of their own tribes and settlements, they are the epitome of outsider though. While many beastly folk are infamous for coming across as uncivilized and feral, gnolls face this situation far more often. Their tendency to feast upon carrion, as well as their bone chilling cackle sound is off putting to those outside of their circles. Their animalistic instincts have also had tendencies to kick in at bad moments. While many traditions and actions are socially acceptable at home, they are likely taboo elsewhere. Horror tales of a gnoll making its way into a funerary service, only to feast upon the corpse have become drunken racist jokes at bars. Other rumors of gnolls mating or hunting in open streets have only further hindered their social status. One famous tale that circulates through Gnoll-kind involves a wandering starved outcast gorging himself on the foods of a bazaar, before guards arrived and slew him with extreme prejudice. This story is often toted as propaganda by those who seek to enforce xenophobia within Gnollish society.
But, this doesn’t mean that gnolls are savages without culture or morality. Gnoll society is typically matriarchal in nature, with a high queen who proves herself through rigorous challenges. To the outside eye, most gnolls look the same due to lack of dimorphism of their hyena ancestors. Despite a matriarchal society, male gnolls do not suffer from discrimination like with the Drow. However, important choices tend to be favored by females of each clan. Many societies not dictated or ruled by sex/gender tend to view gnolls as a curiosity or are outright hostile towards their approach for many a reason. Some view them as inherently sexist or biased in nature, whether or not these claims are actually true. However, many gnolls from other material planes tote a much darker side. Names such as Lamashtu and Yeenoghu imply an abyssal origin for countless legions. These gnolls are creatures of chaos and evil, derived from both hyena and demonic bloodlines. Their values lie within savagery, butchery and dark tributes to their demonic masters. While it is uncommon for gnolls to become adventurers, it is even rarer for demonic gnolls to explore with creatures outside of their kind.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Gnolls! I figure I’d give them some vanilla fluff to make them feel a little closer to actual hyenas rather than stick to the generic D&D lore. Of course, they wouldn’t be gnolls unless I threw a bone here or there (haha.) With that, enjoy my take on the race (including an inside joke toward the bottom.) No matter, here’s another entry in support of the RPG Blog Carnival, particular the Homebrew Holiday Gifts theme for the month of December!