Wandering Monsters: Orcs and Gnolls

Wandering Monsters: Orcs and Gnolls
James Wyatt

In a recent Rule-of-Three article, Rodney Thompson talked a little bit about our approach to monster design. That column was well-timed, because we’re starting a big push on monsters right now. The D&D Story Team is leading the charge on this effort for the moment, and this column is a place for us to share what we’re thinking so that we can solicit your input.


Talk about this article here.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Reposting my comments on the article page.

The description of orcs sounds too much like the ape-like orcs of 3rd edition which I hated (and I don't mean that in a good way).  I want more Tolkienesque orcs.  I want them to be a bit more sophisticated, wearing more than hides and primitive armors.  They should be skilled, being capable of making or building things, but prefering to plunder instead.  I also don't like the near animal intelligence the article describes.  I want orcs that are unpredictable because they aren't dumb brutes. 

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Reposting my comments on the article page.

The description of orcs sounds too much like the ape-like orcs of 3rd edition which I hated (and I don't mean that in a good way).  I want more Tolkienesque orcs.  I want them to be a bit more sophisticated, wearing more than hides and primitive armors.  They should be skilled, being capable of making or building things, but prefering to plunder instead.  I also don't like the near animal intelligence the article describes.  I want orcs that are unpredictable because they aren't dumb brutes. 

In the D&D'verse that are the goblins (goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears). It should be noted that orcs in Lord of the Rings are also called goblins and show the same variation in appearances and skill as the goblinoid race in D&D.

I don't like the ape-like savages of D&D either, but I feel there are way too many different humanoid species anyway, so I usually just stick with goblinoids, giants and gnolls when it comes to monstrous humanoids ;)
Repost of my comment:

Although it is informative, the article missing the most important parts: Battle tactics. The article is a little too light on this.

I don't like gnolls as cowardly. If they are going to make gnolls into humanoid spotted hyenas,then they have to cut that cowardly bit out and make them as ferocious and aggressive as the leapard-chasing hyena of the wild. Gnolls should be seen as oppurtunists like many predatory pack animals. They should be known for ambushes, attacking the weak and tired,and standing the ground when not outnumbered. I suggest a quick read on hyenas.

Or I should watch less nature shows about carnivores. So many wildebeest, so little time.

Additions:

I think the key aspect of gnolls is that they are sick and depraved. They value blood and gore like we do gold. So cowardice just makes little sense. They are more like Firefly's Reavers except the females are in charge and there is no overheated shape ships.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Reposting my comments on the article page.

The description of orcs sounds too much like the ape-like orcs of 3rd edition which I hated (and I don't mean that in a good way).  I want more Tolkienesque orcs.  I want them to be a bit more sophisticated, wearing more than hides and primitive armors.  They should be skilled, being capable of making or building things, but prefering to plunder instead.  I also don't like the near animal intelligence the article describes.  I want orcs that are unpredictable because they aren't dumb brutes. 



Yeah, I know what you mean. They got both close, but not quite right. The Orcs should be using peicemeal armor and scavenged weapons and the Gnolls need to use primitive weapons and hide armor.

Really they need to paint the Orcs as a fallen race of elves or something...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Really they need to paint the Orcs as a fallen race of elves or something...



I don't think they need to go that far in copying Tolkien, but having them look like barely sentient mountain gorillas isn't the right path either.  I didn't even mind the pig-men of 1e as much as I hate the apes.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

In the D&D'verse that are the goblins (goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears). It should be noted that orcs in Lord of the Rings are also called goblins and show the same variation in appearances and skill as the goblinoid race in D&D.


To follow up on that point, if the goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears of the D&D world are more like the goblins, orcs, and Uruk-Hai of Tolkien's world then I'm a lot more accepting of the D&D orc as a dumb brutish monster. I begin to see them as more like the subhumans in the movie Fire and Ice.

I do like the description of the gnolls. The "cowardly" thing does work for me on some level - in that the follow up was that they flee from a fight that turns against them - which I think falls more in line with the "opportunistic" approach that others have commented on. Perhaps just a poor choice of words in the article. But the depraved, demon-worshipping aspect of gnolls is good, it's something to differentiate them a little bit.

And yes, I too would have liked to see a little more battle tactics.
What's the matter, you dissentious rogues, That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion Make yourselves scabs?
I don't think they need to go that far in copying Tolkien, but having them look like barely sentient mountain gorillas isn't the right path either.  I didn't even mind the pig-men of 1e as much as I hate the apes.



Gamorreans!

I'd like to see orcs presented with an actual culture, not stupid ape guys who just happen to find enough outlying farms to raid to make it through winter. Martial prowess should be very important but so should cunning, for only those who are strong and smart will live long enough to become a leader in a chaotic evil society. Piecemeal armor and scavenged weapons don't bug me as much. Trophies from fallen foes and all that.

EDIT: So after reading what I wrote again, I realize what I want in D&D is WH40K orks. Fighty and Cunnin' or Cunnin' and Fighty.
Repost of my comment: Although it is informative, the article missing the most important parts: Battle tactics. The article is a little too light on this. I don't like gnolls as cowardly. If they are going to make gnolls into humanoid spotted hyenas,then they have to cut that cowardly bit out and make them as ferocious and aggressive as the leapard-chasing hyena of the wild. Gnolls should be seen as oppurtunists like many predatory pack animals. They should be known for ambushes, attacking the weak and tired,and standing the ground when not outnumbered. I suggest a quick read on hyenas. Or I should watch less nature shows about carnivores. So many wildebeest, so little time. Additions: I think the key aspect of gnolls is that they are sick and depraved. They value blood and gore like we do gold. So cowardice just makes little sense. They are more like Firefly's Reavers except the females are in charge and there is no overheated shape ships.



Reposting my comments on the article page.

The description of orcs sounds too much like the ape-like orcs of 3rd edition which I hated (and I don't mean that in a good way).  I want more Tolkienesque orcs.  I want them to be a bit more sophisticated, wearing more than hides and primitive armors.  They should be skilled, being capable of making or building things, but prefering to plunder instead.  I also don't like the near animal intelligence the article describes.  I want orcs that are unpredictable because they aren't dumb brutes. 



Yeah, I know what you mean. They got both close, but not quite right. The Orcs should be using peicemeal armor and scavenged weapons and the Gnolls need to use primitive weapons and hide armor.

Really they need to paint the Orcs as a fallen race of elves or something...



In the D&D'verse that are the goblins (goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears). It should be noted that orcs in Lord of the Rings are also called goblins and show the same variation in appearances and skill as the goblinoid race in D&D.


To follow up on that point, if the goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears of the D&D world are more like the goblins, orcs, and Uruk-Hai of Tolkien's world then I'm a lot more accepting of the D&D orc as a dumb brutish monster. I begin to see them as more like the subhumans in the movie Fire and Ice.

I do like the description of the gnolls. The "cowardly" thing does work for me on some level - in that the follow up was that they flee from a fight that turns against them - which I think falls more in line with the "opportunistic" approach that others have commented on. Perhaps just a poor choice of words in the article. But the depraved, demon-worshipping aspect of gnolls is good, it's something to differentiate them a little bit.

And yes, I too would have liked to see a little more battle tactics.



OK, tower of quotes but basically, this covers my position (Gnolls are not cowardly, their smart.).!!!!

Orcs as subhuman idiots, not to fond of that either, ferocious and brutal, yes, incapable of functioning without something to steal, Inconceivable!
As long as they don't return to the pig-orc look of the 1980s, I'm fine.

I also prefer to see my orcs with a healthier dose of classic Tolkien, but I'll accept the "ape-man" look.  I've always imagined orcs as being some evolutionary offshoot from or h. erectus with overdeveloped lower canines and goblins as some sort of particularly vile version of h. floresiensis.  I don't care for the modern Warhammer/Warcraft style, hulking bodybuilder orcs.  Even big orcs in Tolkien's work are described as "almost man-high."  Thus, they shouldn't be bigger than humans, and I'd rather they didn't have a bonus to Strength.  But if they wind up with one, it's not going to drive me away from D&D Next.

But please, no pig-orcs.  Ick.

If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.

Even big orcs in Tolkien's work are described as "almost man-high."  Thus, they shouldn't be bigger than humans, and I'd rather they didn't have a bonus to Strength.  But if they wind up with one, it's not going to drive me away from D&D Next.



I think from a scholarly standpoint this was due to being bow-legged, and having stooped posture.  Tolkien's elves tended to be tall especially the Noldor.  I think Orcs even if based on Tolkien could be pretty tall since they were corrupted elves, but not freakish.  I think Peter Jackson got it about right in his movies, and WotC seemed to be going in the same direction generally when they got to later miniature sets like Dungeons of Dread, Dangerous Delves and especially Lords of Madness.  The Orc Archer, and Orc Warchief figures are two of my favorite orc models ever.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I don't mind "cowardly" gnolls, most successful predators are necessarily cowardly. I do however dislike the "stupid" orc, for various reasons. 

 
But please, no pig-orcs.  Ick.



I know I called them pig-men too, but upon further reflection I think the art in the 1e MM was intended to represent an orc similar to this...

The Siege 

Greg and Tim Hildebrandt's depiction of the siege of Minas Tirith.  While also oddly not strictly cannonical to Tolkien, I don't have a problem with these orcs.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I like what was presented in the article, but I have no disrespect for the ideas mentioned here either.

I don't mind the lower intelligence for orcs.  It doesn't mean they are all rocking a 3, it just means on average they are 8s and you'd be hard pressed to see a 16.  I also like how this opens the door for the orc-breeding program.  "Need smart orcs.  Go take smart human to movies.  Get dinner, maybe    3rd base!"

Perhaps to give them a bit more Orkiness, you could play off their "fecund" quality a bit more.  Perhaps orcs are like a humanoid blight in that they attempt to completely take over any area they spill into, not just raid. 

They might not be able to achieve the same greatness of a human settlement, but when they invade, they'll stick around and use the buildings and repair them as best they can, (poorly).   You can also link that to the orc/elf/dwarf hate triangle, because orcs can't just breed into dwarves and elves, so they have to wipe them out the old fashioned way.

I like the Gnolls as is.  "Cowardly" fits just about any pack animal that's not a dog and by itself and outgunned.  It should be a rare Gnoll who plants a stake in the ground which he is tied to and takes on all comers.  (in fact, they usually are some rare champion of some sort)

EDIT: So after reading what I wrote again, I realize what I want in D&D is WH40K orks. Fighty and Cunnin' or Cunnin' and Fighty.

In all honesty, I find the Warhammer orcs (whether 40K or fantasy) a little bit too focussed on comic relief for my taste (even more so when you consider that their RPGs are depicted as grim and gritty horror games) ;) Anyway, the fact is that only two humanoid races are discussed here, and you cannot look at these in a vacuum. Cunning, fighty, strong war-like is how hobgoblins (and goblins and bugbears to a lesser extend) are described in the D&D'verse at least since 3e. In that regards, D&D orcs have as much to do with LotRs orcs as D&D trolls have to do with LotRs trolls - that is to say nothing beyond the same name.

I like the Gnolls as is.  "Cowardly" fits just about any pack animal that's not a dog and by itself and outgunned.  It should be a rare Gnoll who plants a stake in the ground which he is tied to and takes on all comers.  (in fact, they usually are some rare champion of some sort)




I agree here, and think that is what they meant (though I agree it was worded poorly).  Gnolls are not insane like reavers, but more just past feral.  They show no fear when buoyed by their pack (chasing down leopards and such), but on their own or when outnumbered would not risk a confrontation.  I also don't think they would run in an event where tehy outnumbered the enemy, but were outmatched in skill, since it wouldn't register to them to be the case until the numbers had been evened out a bit more.
Susan Summerson from the Hell breaks loose Flavorful Voting Game http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/29076567/Hell_breaking_loose:_an_Avacyn_Restored_voting_game?pg=1 Click here for more Forum Games:
Show
Susan Summerson also appeared in the Innistrad Mafia Game http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/28609371/Innistrad_Mafia?pg=1 Writer of Nally Bear from The Gathering Flavorful Voting Game: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/28846821/The_Gathering:_M12_flavorful_voting_game?pg=1 Writer of Phyrex the Myr from Phyrexia Reborn: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/27993097/Phyrexia_Reborn:_A_Flavorful_Voting_Game?pg=1 Writer of Tinker the Myr from Legacy of Karn: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/26647005/Karns_Legacy_(A_flavorful_voting_game) Writer of Crusader Tolkana, who has appeared in: Eldrazi Awaken: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/24071149/Eldrazi_Awaken:_A_flavorful_voting_game?pg=1 Colors of Magic: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/25352501/Colors_of_Magic:_a_flavor_game?pg=1 Guildwars III: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/26082093/Guildwars_III:_Shattered_Pact_(A_flavorful_voting_game)?pg=1 Writer of Isaic from Treasures of Zendikar http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/22819881/Treasures_of_Zendikar?post_id=402182877#402182877
The problem is the mention of cowardice.

Gnolls are not cowards like Goblins and Kobolds are cowards. Neither are they fight to the death types like Minotaur and Orcs.

Gnolls are normal. They run when they are at heavy disadvantage and will never let an advantage pass by. The last living Gnoll in the fight will run but would not be itching to book it when 2 guys drop like Goblins and Kobolds do.

Unless they are making Gnolls based off brown and striped hyenas which are scavenging punks. Spotted hyenas are brave until adult male lions show up.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

at least since 3e.



That's not very long at all.  Everything before that was pretty heavily influenced by Tolkien orcs.

A little bit about goblins, hobgoblins and orcs in Tolkien...


 

Goblins

The race of Orcs




A name almost synonymous with Orcs. There is some debate about how closely the the two terms are related to one another, and indeed it could be argued that they both effectively relate to the same thing.


The following quote from the foreword to The Hobbit sheds some light on this: "[The word 'Orc'] occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kinds.)' The fact that the larger kinds are given their own special word might suggest that goblins tend to be smaller Orcs, but the evidence on this point is inconclusive.


The word 'goblin' is also used occasionally and indiscriminately in The Lord of the Rings; it never occurs in the The Silmarillion.


From this we can see that D&D goblinoids are indeed influenced by Tolkien.  I would much rather we stick to the majority of the D&D cannon than the brief 3e/3.5e flirtation with silverback orcs. 


Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I don't like gnolls as cowardly. If they are going to make gnolls into humanoid spotted hyenas, then they have to cut that cowardly bit out and make them as ferocious and aggressive as the leapard-chasing hyena of the wild. Gnolls should be seen as oppurtunists like many predatory pack animals. They should be known for ambushes, attacking the weak and tired, and standing the ground when not outnumbered. I suggest a quick read on hyenas.

Still, reallife hyenas come across as craven and skittish. While they do sometimes take on a lion or such, normally they spring away out of reach, while continuing to circle the carcass that theyr after. Hyenas as opportunists sounds right.

The problem is the mention of cowardice. Gnolls are not cowards like Goblins and Kobolds are cowards. Neither are they fight to the death types like Minotaur and Orcs. Gnolls are normal. They run when they are at heavy disadvantage and will never let an advantage pass by. The last living Gnoll in the fight will run but would not be itching to book it when 2 guys drop like Goblins and Kobolds do. Unless they are making Gnolls based off brown and striped hyenas which are scavenging punks. Spotted hyenas are brave until adult male lions show up.


Myself, I would put Gnolls somewhere between your "normal", and the example of Kobolds and Goblins. The latter flee when they're outnumbered in any way, and prefer to wait until they outnumber their foes before engaging in the first place. Gnolls, in my world, aren't that bad, as they will continue to fight on even after their numbers begin to drop, but they will flee if defeat is inevitable. A Gnoll on its own, or traveling with one or two of its kind, will avoid combat with any large group of enemies. If they spot a lone target, though...
I don't like gnolls as cowardly. If they are going to make gnolls into humanoid spotted hyenas, then they have to cut that cowardly bit out and make them as ferocious and aggressive as the leapard-chasing hyena of the wild. Gnolls should be seen as oppurtunists like many predatory pack animals. They should be known for ambushes, attacking the weak and tired, and standing the ground when not outnumbered. I suggest a quick read on hyenas.

Still, reallife hyenas come across as craven and skittish. While they do sometimes take on a lion or such, normally they spring away out of reach, while continuing to circle the carcass that theyr after. Hyenas as opportunists sounds right.



"Opportunistic" seems like a much better word for how I envision them. Thank you.
In the D&D'verse that are the goblins (goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears). It should be noted that orcs in Lord of the Rings are also called goblins and show the same variation in appearances and skill as the goblinoid race in D&D.


To follow up on that point, if the goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears of the D&D world are more like the goblins, orcs, and Uruk-Hai of Tolkien's world then I'm a lot more accepting of the D&D orc as a dumb brutish monster.



Excatly. You hit the nail on the head here.

Also, one important element some one pointed out in the comments session, is to highlight orcs as brute military force regimented from more inteligent beings like evil wizards and the like. In this case it could be hobgoblins as well.

If they are going to make gnolls into humanoid spotted hyenas,then they have to cut that cowardly bit out and make them as ferocious and aggressive as the leapard-chasing hyena of the wild. Gnolls should be seen as oppurtunists like many predatory pack animals. They should be known for ambushes, attacking the weak and tired,and standing the ground when not outnumbered.



In other words, they should be known for their cowardice.  All of the bolded parts are cowardly. 

Fighting in the open, attacking the strong, and standing your ground when you ARE outnumbered is brave.



Unless they are making Gnolls based off brown and striped hyenas which are scavenging punks. Spotted hyenas are brave until adult male lions show up.

Hyenas are an interesting animal. Its worth modeling a monster more closely to them. Sort of like the Werewolf monster to reallife wolves.

Weren't Flynns a more lawful, bolder, stronger, wolfier versioni of Gnolls?  I think they completely ditched the idea of the Flynn in 4th, or just maybe refered to special Gnolls as Flynns.
If they are going to make gnolls into humanoid spotted hyenas,then they have to cut that cowardly bit out and make them as ferocious and aggressive as the leapard-chasing hyena of the wild. Gnolls should be seen as oppurtunists like many predatory pack animals. They should be known for ambushes, attacking the weak and tired,and standing the ground when not outnumbered.



In other words, they should be known for their cowardice.  All of the bolded parts are cowardly. 

Fighting in the open, attacking the strong, and standing your ground when you ARE outnumbered is brave.

Those descriptions seem cowardly, at least in a qualified sense of opportunistic attacks.

Weren't Flynns a more lawful, bolder, stronger, wolfier versioni of Gnolls?  I think they completely ditched the idea of the Flynn in 4th, or just maybe refered to special Gnolls as Flynns.



Flinds, and yes I think they were ditched in 4e.  They originally appeared in the 1e Fiend Folio I believe.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Weren't Flynns a more lawful, bolder, stronger, wolfier versioni of Gnolls?  I think they completely ditched the idea of the Flynn in 4th, or just maybe refered to special Gnolls as Flynns.


Flind, and yes they were a more powerful race of gnolls. They didn't show up in 4e, mainly I think because they were pretty obscure without much to separate them from typical gnolls other than having skills with over-sized metal nunchaku.
THE ORCS ARE READY TO SHOW OFF THEIR ORKINESS BY RAMAGING ALL OVER THIS THREAD!
HERE COME THE ORCS! PREPARE TO BE KILLED ORKISHLY!!!
THE ORCS ARE READY TO SHOW OFF THEIR ORKINESS BY RAMAGING ALL OVER THIS THREAD!
HERE COME THE ORCS! PREPARE TO BE KILLED ORKISHLY!!!



Win.
There is a false dichotomy when it comes to D&D monster bravery. It assumes you are a fight-to-the-death berserker or a cheating dirty coward.

There is really more of a sliding scale. Orcs and Hobgoblins are closer to the FTTD side while Goblins and Kobolds are on the Dirty Coward side. Gnolls are somewhere in the middle.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

THE ORCS ARE READY TO SHOW OFF THEIR ORKINESS BY RAMAGING ALL OVER THIS THREAD!
HERE COME THE ORCS! PREPARE TO BE KILLED ORKISHLY!!!


To Helm's Deep!
Amateurs!

There is only one orc....and it starts with


WAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

Seriously, though, I'd say that for orcs, the article more or less fits the bill. If I want organized orcs, it only takes one smart guy to become the Orc King. A good example of this are the 4e orc queens Msuga & Rohka. They are both intelligent (more so than the average orc), and the low intellect of normal orcs makes this attribute stand out. Or I could just reflavor the orcs themselves, or even use Hobgoblins.
I like the fact that James Wyatt included examples of orcs and gnolls that would need unique stats. Orogs, Chosen Orcs, Champions, Ogrillons, and Half-Orcs would need different stats. For Gnolls, there are Demons, Hyenas, Demonic Champions, and Favored Priests. This allows for more variety in encounters.
I like the fact that James Wyatt included examples of orcs and gnolls that would need unique stats. Orogs, Chosen Orcs, Champions, Ogrillons, and Half-Orcs would need different stats. For Gnolls, there are Demons, Hyenas, Demonic Champions, and Favored Priests. This allows for more variety in encounters.



Add a decent PC template and less work for me!

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

These are the tactics I say these monsters using:

Orcs are obsessed with personal glory, so they group around one or two "tough guy" PCs, like fighters and paladins, and fight over who gets the kill. (no actual friendly fire, but they all try to kill the same person. I may even roleplay some bickering between individuals, if any of the PCs speak Orcish.) Orcs also hate elves, and will attack them too, letting their hatred override the urge to attain glory. (Actually, an orc that slays an elf may gain more glory than one who killed an enemy champion.) Orcs aren't very intelligent, on average, so they only use rudimentary tactics, such as ambushing enemies, or cornering single foes. Sometimes, an orc will show somewhat greater intelligence (usually a chieftain), and commands his warriors in battle.

Gnolls, despite being bloodthirsty and depraved, are smart enough not to pick a fight they can't win. They prefer to outnumber their foes before attacking. In combat, gnolls fight to win, attacking all foes evenly. Some gnolls practice archery, and can become deadly bowmen. Gnolls employ hit-and-run tactics, jumping in and out of combat, with wounded members waiting on the edge of combat for an opportunity to strike. Gnolls will eagerly attack anyone who becomes wounded, and avoid powerful foes that could prove too much to handle alone. Against armored foes (like fighters), gnolls team up ruthlessly, keeping out of the reach of such a foe's weapon as best they can. If a band of gnolls find themselves outnumbered and/or outgunned, they will flee immediately, leaving behind any who are too badly wounded to keep up. Sometimes gnolls take survivors to use as sacrifices.
Not a fan of the assumption that Orcs are Chaotic Evil. Also, they are described as TOO dumb and uncivilized, IMO, sounding more like Ogres.

Gnolls are okay, but actually sound a little generic, except for the Hyena part
For goblinoids here's what I'd like

Tolkienesque- goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears   (urukhai maybe).  The orcs and urukhai from the movies are PERFECT imo to depect these.  Militaristic, vicious, evil great.



 Orcs should be more fairly similar to Wow (I know some of you will hate that but the lore fits in with what I'd like to see).  Barbaric, chaotic and fairly primitive technologically compared to humans, dwarves and gnomes but not complete idiots.  Also have a tendency to be influenced by darker gods/demons but by no means always chaotic evil.

Gnolls- I've always wanted to see hyenadon riding mongol gnolls.  Demon worhsipping SoB's who are here as a plague and want nothing more than to wash over the world in a flood of destruction. (yeah I know thats not what the REAL mongols were like but thats the general depiction)
 
Monsters are designed as Dungeon Fodder.  The other stuff is typically leafthrough items.

I watched a game where there were no common races available.  PCs were made up of the usual monster humanoids.  They didn't live in cities, then lived in enclaves. 

After a while, the PCs began to oddly act like citizens of a gang filled city.

Then after a while, the PCs began to oddly change into law abiding citizens kicking out and eating up all that got in their way.  Then they made up some strange monetary model based off of beetle skins.  Then they overthrough the monarchy, set up a senate, and began pressuring nearby kingdoms as a huge organized body.

and so on and so on.

EDIT:  Hyenadon riding Gnolls!  I am gonna use that one

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

If they are going to make gnolls into humanoid spotted hyenas,then they have to cut that cowardly bit out and make them as ferocious and aggressive as the leapard-chasing hyena of the wild. Gnolls should be seen as oppurtunists like many predatory pack animals. They should be known for ambushes, attacking the weak and tired,and standing the ground when not outnumbered.



In other words, they should be known for their cowardice.  All of the bolded parts are cowardly. 

Fighting in the open, attacking the strong, and standing your ground when you ARE outnumbered is brave.

Those descriptions seem cowardly, at least in a qualified sense of opportunistic attacks.




A human acting like that would be labeled a coward and a bully, not an opportunist. 
Sign In to post comments