Of Kings and Men
“Hundreds of years ago, in the dark reaches of the Mountains of Heiros, a small tribe of First Men had discovered a dark goddess named Roda when she had visited them in their dreams. She was said to have the head of mad hound, a furred body that seemed like some horrifying union between man and beast, great talons were her hands and her eyes burned with hatred.
To their elders she whispered of dark rituals that would free them from the barren mountains and let them take to the field in the plains and grasslands of the Southlands and conquer the many other tribes of the First Men and take their fertile land and cattle.
They resisted these dark temptations until they were driven to almost madness. Then, they finally gave in, sacrificing cow, man, woman and child to the Goddess in abundance so that she might bless them with her promised gifts.
However, they did not know that this was but a ruse to bring Roda’s disgusting creations into the world. All the tribesmen began to take ill and soon they began to change, consumed by hunger and raw anger. From their skin burst forth filthy dog hair, their faces began to resemble hounds, they became taller, more sinewy, their minds dimmed and they began to ferociously fight amongst themselves, until only a tenth of the tribe had survived.
From there, we lose track of Gnoll history. As gnolls are not fond of writing or keeping an oral tradition, many of their tales regarding what happened after are foggy at best. Some say that they hid in the tunnels beneath the mountains, learning to survive in nature, as they no longer had the abilities to build or carve. Some say that at first the gnolls had been sophisticated and carved the face of their Goddess in the mountains as a tribute to her, but then grew dimmer and dimmer with each generation, until the only feral beasts we know them as today were left.
What is known for sure is that during the Dark Ages, they had begun to rapidly expand in every direction, soon becoming overlords of the mountains and then creating a disorganised realm that stretched from the orcish border at edge of the Bay of Hanged Men to the banks of the River Jilos.
It is known that they had taken to slavery at this time, a practice most men still hate them for and they are reluctant to give up entirely, and enslaved the burgeoning civilizations of the Dwarves and Elves and even some tribes of the First Men. They used these slaves to build Gnoll cities – foul-smelling, ugly mounds of cloth and leather hovels, stone forges, wooden towers and the most rudimentary of stores and granaries where gnolls exchanged their spoils from battle for meat that their human slaves provided.
The gnolls fought in many wars against mankind, contributing to the hatred the civilized races had cultivated for the misshapen dog-men, and lost every one. They were eventually conquered and nearly destroyed by Clan Wochs as the Clans expanded into the Heiros Mountains.
Since then, the gnolls have lived in the slums of human settlements or in small patch-work townships built just outside a city’s drainage gate, surrounded by thick, smooth-surfaced walls that are patrolled by guardsmen at all times of day. The gnolls themsleves are used for many things – entertainment (Gnolls do make excellent fighters), primitive labour such as waste collection or cargo hauling, and some nobles have taken to employing Gnolls as servants. As they are nearly constantly hungry, it is customary to pay a Gnoll in meat and to add small, soft meat chunks if he has children.
Surprisingly, Gnolls are very familial creatures, concerned with the livelihood of their litters and wives. It is assumed that for this reason they have not yet revolted.
Few Gnolls ever leave their home-town and venture into the world beyond. While it is relatively common to see Gnolls in cities, and rather uncommon to spot them moving from town to town, seeing one wielding a weapon and clad in their customary patchwork armour made of thin metal sheets, leather and ringmail is a rare sight indeed.
In addition, we must address the myth that many believe Gnolls are mere beasts. This has not been the case in our studies. Gnolls have been shown to be, on average, as cunning as humans and, while they lack in intelligence mostly due to their distaste for learning or superfluous knowledge, they can certainly reach, or even surpass, average human levels of intelligence."
Playing a Gnoll
- Strength +2, Dexterity +4, -2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
- Medium Size: Gnolls suffer no penalties nor gain bonuses based on their size.
- Base Land Speed 40ft.
- Darkvision out to 60ft.
- +1 Natural Armour bonus. Gnolls have tough, leathery hide instead of skin.
- +2 Racial Bonus to Handle Animal, Ride, Knowledge (Nature), Climb, Jump and Survival.
- Gnolls take a -1 penalty to the amount of skill points they gain at every level and a -4 to skill points at first level.
- Gnolls take a -2 to all profession checks and all craft checks.
- Gnolls may make two natural claw attacks instead of wielding a weapon. Each attack deals 1d4 points of damage each.
- Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A gnoll is automatically proficient with simple weapons, the battleaxe, the gnoll warspear, the gnoll pigsticker, the gnoll hunting spear, the gnoll warblade, the shortbow, light armor, and shields.
- Favored Class: Ranger. A Gnoll’s Ranger levels do not count for the purposes of determining multiclass XP penalty.
Level Adjustment: +1.