Gnolls (Escarnum)

This is a variant of the gnoll race originally published in the Monster Manual.

Before humans came to Alm, the lands were ruled - if it could be called as such - by countless beast-kin tribes of all races. The most powerful of these were the gnolls, whose inherent abilities and great number allowed them to dominate many of the lesser races through sheer force. When the humans arrived, the gnolls greeted them with tremendous scorn, viewing them as weaklings only fit to serve as a new food source. Cruel and vicious, they tormented the humans as they attempted to establish settlements, and would likely have wiped them out entirely had they not found allies in races such as the shifters and the felbraug. Gnoll tribes were responsible for countless human casualties in the establishing war.

Although they failed to keep the humans from prospering on Alm, gnolls remain predators on humans and their allies. Fuelled by their own bestial strength and the cruel nature developed by centuries of evolution amongst the beast-kin races, gnolls roam the wilds in search of sentient prey they can manage to kill. These savages know little of mercy and honour, and nothing of kindness or compassion.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however - some, who have banded together in rough tribes that traverse the plains and forests, and begun to learn the value of personal honour. Some even approach the harsh but ultimately fair codes that tribes of barbaric shifters often adopt. Geared toward survival rather than the cruelty of their kin, these tribes walk with weapons in hand; they know that even as the civilised races hate and fear their people, so too do other tribes of evil gnolls - as well as most of the other beast-kin races - seek to strike them down.


Gnolls are, by evolution, a savage people with a racial philosophy of violence and bloodshed. Even those gnolls who have turned away from their bloody brethren retain a great many of these traits; they tend to act on instinct, have short tempers and strong wills, and are eager to prove their prowess in physical competition. They are less intelligent and less charismatic than the average human. They don't see this deficiency as a weakness, however, placing more value on physical might and natural cunning than on subtle thought and persuasive ability.

Physical Description

Gnolls are tall, anthropomorphic humanoids who strongly resemble hyaenas, the animals from whom they long ago evolved. They have hyaena-like heads and are covered in coarse fur that ranges from yellowish to grey to reddish-brown. Their long limbs which possess a lean, wiry strength, and their legs are structured more like an animal's than those of a humanoid. Despite the somewhat awkward appearance of their legs and feet, gnolls walk as bipeds and are every bit as agile and speedy as a normal human.

The wild gnolls who prey on the civilised races use patchwork armour and rusted weapons that they've stolen from past kills. Tribes that have found a sense of morality instead favour hide or leather armour, similar to what might be worn by barbaric humans or shifter tribes.


All in all, gnolls have made themselves enemies of most civilised races. However, while most of their people remain mired in the cruelty of their own history, some tribes of gnolls seek to cast off this savagery and make well with the other races. These gnolls stand at a critical juncture; either they will succeed in allying with the civilised races and shake off the burden of their heritage, or they will fail, and their tribes will slip back into evil and brutality.


Most gnolls tend strongly toward chaotic and evil alignments; their culture espouses a mindset of self-interest, competition for personal power and success, and views qualities such as altruism with scorn. Those who seek alliance with the civilised races have a more morally-neutral outlook, bread from realism and cautiousness, but still tend toward the chaotic.


Gnolls are the only beast-kin race to hold their own kingdom, the savage land of Beasthome. There are few structured civilisations within this land, however; gnolls prefer a mobile lifestyle, and most are nomadic, regularly travelling beyond their borders as raiding parties. Likewise, those who live outside of Beasthome usually roam in pack-like groups, moving about according to their hunting needs.


The gnollish language is a guttural affair including much grunting and growling, as well as the use of scent and hackles for emphasis. Up until very recently, gnolls had no written language, most tribes considering writing to corrupt the truth of the words. However, in recent years, certain tribes have inconspicuously begun to construct such a language, feeling it might be more useful than dangerous.


Gnollish names are given in their native tongue, and as such are largely unpronounceable to other races. Gnolls like to make their names known to those they kill, however, so most know the translation of their names in common. Such names tend to be compound words revolving around killing and hunting, chosen to strike fear into the hearts of enemies.

Example names

Bladeborn, Bloodburn, Bloodfang, Bonesaw, Deathscar, Denmother, Flameheart, Godhand, Ironfist, Longtooth, Thunderstrike, Warbound.


Gnoll adventurers are usually of the rare kind - those who seek to rise above the savagery of the people and find out what the "weaker" races have to offer. While some return to their tribes thinking less of the civilised races, others find true respect for the other denizens of Alm, setting themselves apart as true "noble savages".

Game Rule Information

Gnoll Racial Traits

  • +4 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma. Gnolls are powerful but brutish creatures.
  • Medium-size: As Medium creatures, gnolls have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Speed: Gnoll base speed is 30 feet.
  • Racial Hit Dice: A gnoll begins with two levels of monstrous humanoid, which provide 2d8 Hit Dice and a base attack bonus of +2. While this would normally also provide base saving throw bonuses of Fort +0, Ref +3, and Will +3, a gnoll instead receives base saving throw bonuses of Fort +3, Ref +0, and Will +3.
  • Racial Skills: A gnoll's monstrous humanoid levels grant her skill points equal to (2 + the gnoll's Int modifier) x 5. Her class skills for these levels are athletics and wild lore. In addition, an gnoll's reputation for savagery grants her a +4 racial bonus on negotiate checks made to intimidate a subject, and her animal-like senses grant her a +2 bonus on perception checks made to detect scents.
  • Darkvision: Gnolls can see in the dark up to 30 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and a gnoll can function just fine with no light at all.
  • Natural Armour: A gnoll's tough hide gives her a +2 natural armour bonus to AC.
  • Ferocity: A gnoll is such a tenacious combatant that she continues to fight without penalty even while disabled or dying.
  • Languages: Bestial.
  • Favoured Class: Barbarian. Gnolls make brutally effective warriors, and their tribal lifestyle inclines them toward the most savage of mélee classes.

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