Gnoll

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In Belegarth, gnolls are a monster race driven by an insatiable desire for carnage and the subjugation of all other species. Gnolls hold allegiance only to the dead and possess a reverence only for the slaughter of every living thing. Gnolls maintain a tenuous truce with all monsters that share their vision of a world shrouded in chaos. Although primitive and feral, their brutally efficient pack tactics and boundless cruelty represent an ever growing threat to all civilization.

Contents

Gnoll Origins (Lore)

In the beginning, there was nothing. With a bang, boom, and crash, the universe is made by an unnamed creator. By who, you ask? What does it matter, when there are riches to plunder and blood to spill? Still, the gods and goddesses never seem content with their own kingdoms, and must meddle in the affairs of ours. In this way, Marjack sought to demonstrate his power by creating something in his image: bugbears.

After proclaiming bugbears a complete success, Marjack sought to further demonstrate his power by creating something unlike himself: Ankha. She was tall and savagely beautiful, with arms as big as tree-trunks and a body as unyielding as a mountain.

So began Ankha’s story: she struggled to find her place in the world, and Marjack was always watching her. She knew this because it was an uncomfortable, burning sensation to be watched by a god. This created great resentment in Ankha, and pushed her to learn magics to both sustain herself and, one day, throw off the shackles of Marjack. This also bred an immediate resentment for bugbears, as they were bent unceasingly to Marjack’s will.

Ankha wasn’t the only creature to walk the land, however. Soon she encountered goblins. Soon after she was annoyed with scraping them off her feet and went to war with them. Marjack soon decided he would use Ankha to stamp out all goblins (because his favored race, bugbears, were getting pretty tired of them too), and sent his greatest champion, Zul-Han to guide her along this path. He did not appear in his true bugbear form, however; instead, he was disguised as a reflection of Ankha.

Together, the two brought great pain to the goblin horde, and Ankha learned the magics of war. The two also impressed many different species into their service. All who were defeated were given a choice: serve as fodder for the war, or die where they stood. During this time, Ankha also grew close with a creature Zul-Han collected as a spoil of war: hyenas. She loved them for their brutality, and how they would show no mercy to the goblins they eviscerated. She loved them for their strange looks and manner, which struck fear into their enemies. Most of all, she loved them for the way they laughed: at each other, at her, and most of all, at their captor: Zul-Han. They became her unflinching companions, and would fight by her side in even the most harrowing of battles; over the course of the war, they became her closest confidants. It didn’t hurt that, like her, they also hated bugbears.

Not all was going well with the war, however. As time marched on, Ankha became increasingly suspicious of Zul-Han’s motives. It started with small things: they never attacked bugbears, and Zul-Han talked to himself at night. The truth was revealed, however, when the glamour on Zul-Han was broken during a particularly intense battle. Ankha may not have noticed because she had her hands full with a few dozen goblins, but one of her hyenas started barking to alert her to a new threat. When she looked for a brief moment, she saw a bugbear where Zul-Han once stood. Though the illusion was quickly reinstated, the truth had been revealed.

From that moment forward, Ankha began planning. She knew she could not attack Zul-Han directly, so she decided subterfuge would be her blade. She had heard rumors of great goblin champions, warriors and shamans, who may be strong enough to kill a god’s champion. She decided this would be her plan of attack. It was easy to convince Zul-Han to attack such a goblin, too, since the goblin armies would be dealt a great blow if one of their champions were slain.

After a march of death and scorched earth, Ankha and Zul-Han drew out a goblin champion. Zul-Han and the goblin immediately began to battle; Zul-Han for the thrill and the goblin for revenge. Armies on both sides of the war were scattered or obliterated; only Zul-Han, the goblin, Ankha, and her hyena’s remained. With great magics filling the air, lightning began to strike all around them. Soon, virtually everything except the combatants were reduced to ash. Ankha could also see that without assistance, the goblin would be crushed. Zul-Han seemed to have a well of power much, much deeper than she imagined. Unwilling to relinquish her revenge, she charged him from behind jumping at his throat. A raw, primal scream emanated from every fiber of her being, but a bright flash tore through the sky and struck her before she reached Zul-Han.

Though she should have died in that moment, she didn’t. Her rage welled up deep within her heart wouldn’t let her die. Though the lightning strike had taken her mortal sight, being so close to death had given her the ability to see beyond the veil. She even saw the string that tied Zul-Han to this mortal plane. With renewed purpose, she attacked Zul-Han. Neither his neck nor his eyes were her target, however; instead, she tore at the line that linked him directly to Marjack. Zul-Han mostly ignored her, instead focusing on finishing the goblin. As he was about the deliver the final blow, however, Ankha yelled, “ma aldha kashah litkehsh?!” and severed the line from Zul-Han to Marjack, causing him to fall dead. Ankha held the tether to Marjack fast, however; she had plans for its power.

First, she used Marjack’s own magic to remove his mark from her. For at least a few moments, she would be totally free. Next, she fed Zul-Han’s remains to her hyenas, filling each bite with a little piece of Marjack’s power. Ankha knew this deed would not go unanswered, but she felt it was fitting. Soon after, the hyenas underwent a startling transformation: they stood on two feet, they started to speaking, and their stomachs growled with an insatiable hunger. Not long after, an unruly pack of gnolls burst forth from the site of the first feeding, ravaging all in their path. This gave Ankha great satisfaction, but it was short-lived. Soon after, Marjack appeared before her unearthly sight.

Marjack had no time for the gnolls, and considered them beneath his attention. Ankha, however, was a different story. She had to be punished, and killing her would be too easy. Instead, he gave her immortality and placed her on the hottest star in the galaxy. There, she would always writhe in the pain of his sight, the thing she had struggled so heartily to escape. Ankha was not content with this fate, however, and still had wrath smoldering in her heart. To this day, she whispers apocalyptic secret to all who would listen.

The goblin war was not over yet, though. It was not until nearly every inch of the earth was soaked in blood that the warring finally paused. The gods were now too attached to their races to see them destroyed, and decided, just this once, they would try a diplomatic solution. Each god would get to throw a stone, and their race would live wherever it landed. No gods or goddesses claimed the gnolls during this time, and as a result, they became nomads. This also gave the gnolls their own strange power, having no reliance on their own will. In time, the great gnoll horde split into the clans we know today. Their stories are still being written as we speak.

Now you know the truth of the origin of the gnoll. May all false versions and prophets meet a gruesome end.

Description

Gnolls are best described as filthy, sinister hyena-folk. They are relatively short when compared with other humanoids and very lanky. They assume an inhumanly slouched posture with shoulders arched forward and head held low to the ground and dress universally in baggy pants or skirts that extend below the knee. Garb is made in whatever fashion and with whatever material is available, resulting in a very sloppy, stitched together appearance.

When a gnoll celebrates their first birthday, it is customary for the gnoll to craft a distinctive leather collar representing the bond to their clan. The collar remains around the gnoll's neck, even in death (though the neck itself will be cannibalized). The collar is a sacred item and over a lifetime accumulates all manner of charms, bones, feathers, and various leathers and skins.

In addition to the collar, gnolls possess a bizarre fascination with any circular artifact, said to be related to religious stories. These items can include rings, belts, necklaces, bracelets and anything round in shape.

Gnolls live in small clans of five to ten individuals and are largely nomadic. Gnolls are primarily meat eaters, but will occasionally supplement their diet with whatever other foods can be scavenged. A large part of gnoll culture centers around the hunt and pursuit of any creature thought by gnolls to be weaker (particularly humans). Gnolls are notoriously bad artisans and scavengers by nature. All items in possession of a gnoll were at one time taken from somewhere else, so arms and armor are largely eclectic and mismatched, determined by what's available and a gnoll's personal taste.

Gnolls enjoy killing. When not killing, they enjoy fighting. When not fighting, they enjoy eating/sleeping/breeding. Every other aspect of gnoll culture is considered superficial. For a more in-depth description of the gnoll life cycle, from birth to death, check out the Gnoll Life Cycle.

Primary Gnoll Signifiers

Garb

Anything goes. Gnolls are scavengers and will wear whatever garb they can find. That said, gnolls have a preference for dark colors and earth tones, primarily browns, yellows, and greys. Gnolls are red/green colorblind, although these colors still sometimes pop up in garb because gnolls assume they are grey. Gnolls dress in layers to conceal their movement.

Collar

Every gnoll wears a collar. For ancient gnolls, the collar served as a means to protect one's neck from being bitten and/or attacked; for modern gnolls, it tends to function more as a status symbol: the bigger the collar, the better. Gnolls over a year old can attach scraps, charms, and event tokens to their collar. Younger gnolls wear plain, undecorated collars.

Warpaint

Black, white, and yellow are the most common war paint colors. Most gnolls wear two types of patterns on their face, one for their clan, which typically goes on their face, and one for themselves.

Secondary Gnoll Signifiers

Skirt

Gnolls often wear a skirt that extends below the knees, as well as sleeves that extend past the elbow. These break up the gnoll's outline, perfect for hunting.

Rings and Belts

Gnolls ritually collect and wear circular objects. Rings, belts, bracelets, necklaces are all prominently displayed.

Mane and Mange

Fur (faux and otherwise) are staples of the gnoll "kit," but a mane sewn down the back of a piece of garb (along the spine) can often elevate a gnoll's garb (and help differentiate them from other monsters)

Tail (Optional)

This is a matter of personal preference; wearing one is entirely optional.

Subraces

There are four subraces of gnolls; Striped, Spotted, Grassy, and Maanhaar. A clan will typically only have one type of these subspecies, though there are exceptions.

Striped

They dwell in mountains and often garb themselves in furs and pelts. Stripped gnolls are the largest gnoll subspecies on average, and given their preferred habitat, have a strong natural resistance to cold. Unlike most gnolls, striped gnolls typically face complete color blindness. Known Striped: Quinn

Spotted

The Spotted gnolls are known for detailed face paint and aggression. They are quick to anger and slow to forgive. They live on plains, raiding and scavenging settlements and travelers. Known Spotted: Raxis, Bellator, Dashi

Grassy

The Grassy gnolls are known for their laziness. The move so infrequently that grass grows in their fur. They are also known for their questionable hobbies, including some interesting horticulture practices. They dwell in or near wooded forests. Known Grassy: Daggar, Kel

Maanhaar

The Maanhaar gnolls are known for their large and unruly manes. They are similar to Spotted gnolls in that they also dwell on the plains and are known for aggression. A Maanhaar gnoll will fight anyone if it's over something they want. They are not known for fighting unless there is an end reward. The are also primarily nocturnal, snoozing in the warm sun during the day and preying on the sleeping at night. Known Maanhaar: Bitter, Nickel, Brynja

Allies/Enemies

Skaven
Because they share similar goals and attitudes, skaven and gnolls get along quite well.
Goblynz, Ogres, Hobgoblynz, Orkz
Gnolls respect the intelligence and cruelty exhibited by these races.
Trolls
Considered too stupid and narrow-minded to be a reliable ally or threat.
Lizardmen and Kobolds
Gnolls generally dislike and are slow to trust these cold blooded monsters.
Bugbears
Bugbears and gnolls are mortal enemies. Bugbears commonly kill gnolls for sport.
Civilized Humanoids
Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and their ilk are held with the highest disdain imaginable.

Clans

The vast majority of gnolls belong to a clan. The clan serves as an extended family for a gnoll, provided they pull their weight. Different clans have different customs and traditions that are dictated by their leader in combat, called a Krysh, or in some rare cases, a Fangomas (lorekeeper). To become the Krysh of a clan, a gnoll must go through the Krysh Trial. For more info on the origin of the gnoll clans, please see Gnoll Clan Origins.

Guttermaw Clan

Guttermaw have a reputation for talking trash. Guttermaw delight in the excesses of gnolldom. They take pride in wearing the ugliest clothing available to them, are constantly chewing on something, and are typically the loudest presence in a fight. They are recognized by a horizontal stripe from cheek to cheek over the nose. The Guttermaw clan are maanhaar gnolls. Current Krysh: Copper, the second Krysh of Guttermaw.

Black Blood Clan

The Black Blood Clans' goal is the complete eradication of the "pinkies". They are relentless, they are ruthless, and they enjoy every second of it. Members of the Black Blood Clan are known for demon worship. The Black Blood Clan are striped gnolls.

LongClaw Clan

LongClaws are known for their unusually long, and often sharpened claws. They dwell slightly farther north than most gnolls, in plains neighbored by a mountain range. This clan is nearly extinct due to a group of pinkie bastards who took it upon themselves to eradicate the clan that had terrorized the area for years. The remaining members can be identified by a horizontal stripe of warpaint across the forehead. The original LongClaw clan were spotted, though now that they are rebuilding, different subspecies are being welcomed.

RainRot Clan

Members of this clan are notorious for their filth and laziness. RainRot gnolls live in a vast swampy area, and can often be identified by the molds and fungi growing on their belongings or fur. RainRot gnolls are more complacent than most, but this is only out of complete aversion to anything that resembles work. Slavetaking is a common practice, to fill demand for heavy labor. The RainRot clan are primarily grassy gnolls, though have been joined by other subspecies as well. Warpaint (if bothered to be used at all) consists of a jagged horizontal line across the mouth and cheeks.

Clan of the Blind Star

Members of this clan are those who most clearly hear the voice of Ankha. They strive to preserve gnoll history and culture, and will mercilessly destroy anyone or anything that stands in opposition to that goal. Though gnolls as a whole tend to be atheists, members of the Clan of the Blind star still serve as spiritual and cultural leaders throughout gnolldom. It is not unusual for them to be warily welcomed by other gnoll clans, if only to avoid their ire and the possibility of one of their apocalyptic predictions actually coming true.

Religion

As it's commonly perceived as being purely aesthetic, many gnolls choose to forgo any religion, even going so far as to declare it delusional and a sign of weakness. Regardless, there are a growing number of religious gnolls who receive great power and wisdom from gods and powerful demons. Notable among these are the Blackblood clan, who practice demon worship, and the Blind Star clan, who worship the gnoll creator deity, Ankha.

Language

Gnolls speak many different languages but have for the most part adopted the common speech, with a few noticeable idiosyncrasies. Gnolls always refer to everything in it's singular form as gnolls are seemingly unable to perceive quantity. The only state of being to a gnoll is to "be." "Am," "is," "are," "was," "were," and "been," are all replaced with "be." Also, gnolls have a difficult time distinguishing the past, present and future. Most past and future events are referred to in the present tense. Gnolls do not typically use articles in their speech; words such as "a," "an," and "the."

There exist several hieroglyphic scripts that are unique to gnolls, but their meanings and designs are so obscure as to have little value.

An ancient gnoll war chant:

"Te Kurash tantel krysh

Te krynte tantel krysh"

Translates roughly to:

"I Make you bleed

I drink your blood"

Trivia

  • Gnolls are exceptional liars.
  • Never gamble against a gnoll, especially when bluffing is involved.
  • Gnolls are born in pairs. Though both are rare, a third cub is slightly more common than solo cubs.
  • Gnolls are born with their eyes open and with teeth, ready to tear prey and pinkies apart.
  • Tossk is most delicious when seasoned with salt and pepper, then cooked with plenty of butter.

A Word About Hyenas from Raxis

No, hyenas are not dogs. In the phylogenetic tree, hyenas the family Hyaenidae, which is part of the suborder Feliformia, which means "cat-like." So, in simpler terms, hyenas are more closely related to cats than dogs.

As for the female dominance thing, it's not officially a part of the lore. When I was doing research on actual hyenas, of the four subspecies, only the spotted variety have the pseudo-penis and the matriarchy. I didn't want to make leadership a gender exclusive thing, so I never made that official, but the pseudo-penis is ABSOLUTELY lore canon. For the time being, anyone can become a clan leader by completing the Krysh trial. Nickel brought it up to me when we were talking about his Krysh Trial, "don't you technically outrank me?" The answer is no. At the very least, the Krysh is the head of the clan and a great leader in battle. Historically, female gnolls tend to be a little more domineering in personality than male gnolls, so maybe there is something to that theory after all.

Known Gnolls

Gnolls are a comparatively young race. Gnolls from around the world are still disorganized.

Inactive / Retired Gnolls

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