Dragon's-Eye View: Da Ga-Noll

Dragon's-Eye View:
Da Ga-Noll
by Jon Schindehette
 
So, you want to see a gnoll, don’t you? These guys have probably caused your characters some grief in the past. And, since you’ve read James Wyatt’s Wandering Monsters column (or will soon), you might want to see the visualsthat Jon Schindehette can provide. Come take a look at where the gnoll was and where it might be going—with your feedback, of course!
 
Talk about this column here.

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I'm going to have to say that the art was amazing.

Great work WotC

Make all of the art that good and you've sold me on art alone.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

Overall, good art from what I've seen.  The image they posted is great.  I'd prefer gnoll armor being more hodge podge and frantic.

An undead spectre occasionally returning to remind the fandom of its grim existence.

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
The art was great, for some reason I couldn't post my comment on what I would change though...
The only thing I want in there that isn't is some blood. A little bloodied fur here, some dried blood there maybe, just some.
But, it's one picture and it looked great so I can't complain keep it up WotC!

PS I hope we get art posts like this for a lot of the monsters that get talked about. Just sayin'. 
You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!
I've always really liked Hyenas and Gnolls for a reason I can't quite explain.  They're one of my favorite non-humans in D&D, and I'd totally be interested in PCing one.

That said, while the art is pretty great (especially sketches A and B), I'm not a fan of a few of their base assumptions:

1) I don't like gnolls being "chaotic evil and depraved."  I like them being a "barbarian people," sure, but I'd call that more savage than depraved.  I don't mind most of them being evil, necessarily, but I've never liked the demon worshipping thing.

2) I don't like them being "strong and dumb." Well, ok, strong is fine, but dumb is not.  They should be quite cunning hunters, I think.  

3) I find it odd that Gnolls have traditionally lacked a Bite attack, when Hyenas are actually most known for their crazy powerful bites.  I mean, they categorize hyenas into the dog-like species (currently only the Aardwolf) and the "bone-crushing" species (Spotted, Striped, and Brown).  So, yeah, I think they need a proportionally larger mouth and bite attacks.  

And yeah, not related to the art, but a Hyena's unnerving vocalizations should come into play somehow--making them unCharismatic really confused me.
I've always really liked Hyenas and Gnolls for a reason I can't quite explain.  They're one of my favorite non-humans in D&D, and I'd totally be interested in PCing one.

That said, while the art is pretty great (especially sketches A and B), I'm not a fan of a few of their base assumptions:

1) I don't like gnolls being "chaotic evil and depraved."  I like them being a "barbarian people," sure, but I'd call that more savage than depraved.  I don't mind most of them being evil, necessarily, but I've never liked the demon worshipping thing.

2) I don't like them being "strong and dumb." Well, ok, strong is fine, but dumb is not.  They should be quite cunning hunters, I think.  

3) I find it odd that Gnolls have traditionally lacked a Bite attack, when Hyenas are actually most known for their crazy powerful bites.  I mean, they categorize hyenas into the dog-like species (currently only the Aarwolf) and the "bone-crushing" species (Spotted, Striped, and Brown).  So, yeah, I think they need a proportionally larger mouth and bite attacks.  

And yeah, not related to the art, but a Hyena's unnerving vocalizations should come into play somehow--making them unCharismatic really confused me. 



1.  It is easy for them to revere the hyena demon prince pretty easily though.  But, it should be an option.

2.  Yes!  Hyenas are pretty clever animals.

3.  Their bite is incredible!  D&D Next should reflect upon this somehow.

4.  Uncharismatic?  Yeah, that is kinda silly.  I suppose there is more than one way to handle, "Not born to be leaders" outside of charisma.  After all, said vocalizations are pretty awesome.

An undead spectre occasionally returning to remind the fandom of its grim existence.

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
Well considering they went with "utterly depraved sub-human(oid) demon worshippers" route, the other characterizations- like lack of charisma- make some sense. Personally, I like making them a bit more sadistic, as D&D has traditionally had a glut of animal folk that are more less culturally human tribesmen who tend towards Neutral alignment.

  But I agree with  thestoryteller about trying to get something out of the hyena's infamous bite and distincitve sound.  The "laugh" alone is probably the hyena's most distinguishing characteristic in its various fictional depicitions.
There were PC options for bite attacks with feats if I recall in 4th (Swift Bite?) but they were pretty lackluster.

Gnolls are not dumb (thier skills in mimicry are well known) nor are they stupid (a far different calmuny (sp?)). Cunning, yes, Savage, yes, Vicous, yes, Sadistic, yes, hell for monsters I'll settle for Always Chaotic Evil, but not stupid. They have never been portrayed as dumb or stupid.

Not good leaders? Really? Gnoll Pack leaders have been some of the best generic npc leaders ever.


Read your own archives, find the Ecology of the Flind Article.


And the second row of pictures sucked (the skinny twisted lumpy things).
There were PC options for bite attacks with feats if I recall in 4th (Swift Bite?) but they were pretty lackluster.

Gnolls are not dumb (thier skills in mimicry are well known) nor are they stupid (a far different calmuny (sp?)). Cunning, yes, Savage, yes, Vicous, yes, Sadistic, yes, hell for monsters I'll settle for Always Chaotic Evil, but not stupid. They have never been portrayed as dumb or stupid.

Not good leaders? Really? Gnoll Pack leaders have been some of the best generic npc leaders ever.


Read your own archives, find the Ecology of the Flind Article.


And the second row of pictures sucked (the skinny twisted lumpy things).



  I think they want Gnoll "intelligence" to be less along the lines of "Let's ask the Gnoll his educated opinion.", and more like, "Oh shi-, theyre learning!" 

  Like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park, the Apes in Congo, or the Xenomorphs in the Alien series.  Part of what's so scary about them is how smart they are, but they are still far from being considered the intellectual peer of your average human.
Well, I'm not suggesting Professor GRagh'nor, of the University of Znir is an expert in all forms of elven philosophy (or should that be Orcish, my Eberron lore is not what it should be and I don't have my books or Insider right now?) capable of discoursing with the greatest thinkers on the subject in the Ivory Halls of Academia, but damn, my first LFR character, Lawrent the gnoll gigilo was a hell of a lot of fun. And that took charisma to pull off.

Ah, I remember back when I first posted this thread: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...(PEACH)?post_id=334216062#334216062

Durpan? is that the Forgotten Realms monster nation? *edit* Darfur? *Further Edit* Durpar, that was it.

I'm going to have to say that the art was amazing. Great work WotC Make all of the art that good and you've sold me on art alone.


Seconded!


3) I find it odd that Gnolls have traditionally lacked a Bite attack, when Hyenas are actually most known for their crazy powerful bites.  I mean, they categorize hyenas into the dog-like species (currently only the Aarwolf) and the "bone-crushing" species (Spotted, Striped, and Brown).  So, yeah, I think they need a proportionally larger mouth and bite attacks.


I agree with this comment. It makes sense for them to have a bite attack, and this would help distinguish them mechanically from orcs, ogres, hobgoblins and other humanoid monsters.

No blood on armor, claws, or feet? No shortbow? No laughing smile? The gnoll is more of a one handed weapon and bow kind of monster with their strength and dexterity. More like concept B. The braids are weird too. But otherwise it looks great.

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!

Yeenoghu is one of my favorite characters in the DnD mythos, so I like their demon worshiping. It gives a better story reason for their depravity.

I don't know if their laughing should necessarily be a special ability (this all too frequently means spell like, or combat mechanic) but a new section of notes in monster entries that hasn't been discussed that I've seen are some "setting the stage" ideas. After the stat block and ecology description it could say "DM's should emphasize the eerie laugh of a hyena being heard all around them as the heroes realize they are surrounded" or something like that. 
I like the artwork overall, but I would like them to look slightly less dumb. I've never considered Gnolls dumb, so the idea that they are is strange to me. This guy looks like he would be lucky if he remembered which victim he left his spear in, much less handle ambushes of outlying trade routes and organizing demon-blood fueled orgies of violence and sacrifice.
Reposting my comments to Jon

Jon,

I really like what you and the creative team have done with the gnoll with two pretty minor exceptions.  Looking at the hyena reference picture above I think you didn't get the facial coloring right.  I would like to see that part match the reference more.  Also, I'm not thrilled with the hair braids.  I don't get the idea that gnolls would be too interested in spending time braiding their hair.  Other than that I think it is spot on. 

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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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.

Regarding Gnoll intelligence: remember that being a cunning and skilled hunter does not equal intelligence.  On earth, the wolf is a cunning and skilled hunter, despite being less intelligent by far than a human.  But all our intelligence isn't going to help if a pack of wolves is hunting us, especially if they are even smarter (gnolls are surely smarter than wolves) and can use weapons, set traps, etc. 

The point is that when you think of gnolls, you don't think "Very smart monsters".  Cunning and skilled hunters, yes.  Highly intelligent, no?

But the key thing for everyone to remember is that you can change stuff to fit your own ideals.  If you don't want gnolls to be evil, don't make them evil.  If you don't want them to be demon worshipers, don't make them demon worshipers. 

Personally, I love the current depiction, both story-wise and art-wise.  As I said in my comments in the article, all I would add would be: demonic tattoos, scars (not battle scars, but deliberate scars as body art, and in demonic patterns), and blood used as war paint.
The art outlooks are some of the best bits about the 5e development process.  I love seeing other artists' processes, and these images are just wonderful.  great stuff.
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Regarding Gnoll intelligence: remember that being a cunning and skilled hunter does not equal intelligence.  On earth, the wolf is a cunning and skilled hunter, despite being less intelligent by far than a human.  But all our intelligence isn't going to help if a pack of wolves is hunting us, especially if they are even smarter (gnolls are surely smarter than wolves) and can use weapons, set traps, etc. 

The point is that when you think of gnolls, you don't think "Very smart monsters".  Cunning and skilled hunters, yes.  Highly intelligent, no?

But the key thing for everyone to remember is that you can change stuff to fit your own ideals.  If you don't want gnolls to be evil, don't make them evil.  If you don't want them to be demon worshipers, don't make them demon worshipers. 

Personally, I love the current depiction, both story-wise and art-wise.  As I said in my comments in the article, all I would add would be: demonic tattoos, scars (not battle scars, but deliberate scars as body art, and in demonic patterns), and blood used as war paint.



Who says animals are less intelligent than humans? From my research they just have different goals. They don't have the goal of improving themselves or building huge cities or dominating the planet or making war. Their goals are eat, sleep, have fun and breed. I'd say they are going about it pretty darn efficiently...
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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.
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Don't like the face on the pic. Not enough fur on the legs and arms.
It needs more spikes.  I prefered the art for C&D off the list.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Great piece of art, the braided hair look weird on a Gnoll though (it must be the first i see with these) but its really well done. Lots of details from the blind eye to the chipped ear, patched armor and rudimentary weaponry. Big thumb up to whomever did this piece 


Id like to know the name of the artist that did it.
I did not like that C&D art.  Looks like a Scooby Doo villain to me.  But aesthetics are subjective. 
I did not like that C&D art.  Looks like a Scooby Doo villain to me.  But aesthetics are subjective. 



I don't either, I mean I like the face, (like a lot of people I don't like the braids, really gnolls just need the mane down the back for long hair), but the body is wrong to me, too stocky, gnolls should be lean in my book.
To each their own.  I like the final concept they made.  I don't really like the other ones...  But hey, at least it's not like the one from Unapproachable East (Yes, you counted six right there.  If you saw it, you'd know what I mean).

Also, not to be random, but we talk about art and gnolls, yet no love for "gnoll pimp"?

An undead spectre occasionally returning to remind the fandom of its grim existence.

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
To repost my comment: where are the gruesome trophies? ;) Other than that, it looks great.
Overall, I like the concept.  However, I don't think the end result is 'Hyena' enough.  The snout seems too short, and the fur too dull.  Frankly, I don't think it's different enough from a werewolf, even though that was one of your key points.  I think perhaps the best way to utilize the laugh would be a racial bonus to intimidating, possibly by a greater amount than their cha would penalize them.
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Well, I'm not suggesting Professor GRagh'nor, of the University of Znir is an expert in all forms of elven philosophy (or should that be Orcish, my Eberron lore is not what it should be and I don't have my books or Insider right now?) capable of discoursing with the greatest thinkers on the subject in the Ivory Halls of Academia, but damn, my first LFR character, Lawrent the gnoll gigilo was a hell of a lot of fun. And that took charisma to pull off.

Ah, I remember back when I first posted this thread: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...(PEACH)?post_id=334216062#334216062

Durpan? is that the Forgotten Realms monster nation? *edit* Darfur? *Further Edit* Durpar, that was it.



  The entire concept of the dapper Gnoll pretty much stems from that one image in d20 Modern.  In pretty much no edition of D&D has the Gnoll been presented as anything resembling charasmatic. They even got Charisma penalties in 3E.  If anything, that particular image was likely trying to invoke the irony for humorous effect. Not too much unlike the Warforged pimp image that pops up frequently on the internet.

  So your Gnoll gigolo concept is just as valid/invalid as it ever was.

  But I want to understand what people mean when they say Gnolls are "smart".  Do they need an average or above average intelligence kill.  Do we see them fulfilling the same archetypes that we typically associate with smart (or at least, not so dumb) humans? 
But I want to understand what people mean when they say Gnolls are "smart".  Do they need an average or above average intelligence kill.  Do we see them fulfilling the same archetypes that we typically associate with smart (or at least, not so dumb) humans? 

I just sub out "smart" with "clever" or "cunning." 

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

This kinda makes me wonder how the PC stats for Gnolls are going to work, since Mearls did say on his Twitter that there would be player character stats for the Minotaur, so I'd assume they're going to have them for all the monstrous races.
I just sub out "smart" with "clever" or "cunning."


I always associated that with Wisdom.  Intelligence to me means the ability to reason.  Gnoll cunning seems much more instinctive and primal.
While I REALLY enjoy the art... I have to say that I really dislike their fluff. 

But it's a general dislike that I have for all D&D races.

Now - this is a monster race - and as such, I can modify it however I choose (have a brilliant gnoll for example) - but when the race is eventually made available to players (if ever - and it should) - it will of course get the requisite bonuses to two very specific stats (or a this/that option like in later 4th).

NOTE: reverting monstrous races back into adventurer fodder (oh, they're chaotic evil and savage - sweet - no moral dilema then in being savage and chaotic evil raiders of their home) really does kill their chances of being successful player races.

Races should be made as "skins" - and there should be a "racial origin builder" built into Next Core. Maybe I want a wise fat gnoll? Or a bony - sickly gnoll with a wicked intelligence?

As for monsters - I'd just like their fluff description to pay "some" lip service to the idea that while this is certainly the majority of gnolls.. perhaps there have been exception.  I know I can change it - I do however believe it's important for WoTC to tell people to change it up - so others might know that as well. 

Note: I'd really like examples of "Monster in History" - maybe one or two "Epic" versions of every monster.

Hashura the gnoll warlord - Prince of the Gnawed Crown - slayer of Voivode Elgandan and sacker of a dozen cities. Reknowned for his charisma - and the great pack of gnolls that rallied to his cause.

OR

Ishgnarl the gnoll necromancer - reknowned physician and vizier to Sultan Vas'nur In Allyn Bhyn'gassa - savior of the Brass City during the worm-bite plague.
I'd assume they're going to have them for all the monstrous races.



I don't think that is a safe assumption at all.  Since D&D Next seems to be using the 4e return to entirely different statistical representations for PC and NPCs/Monsters I would assume that you will only see monsterous races written up for use as PC that we have already seen in previous editions of the game.  I assume this only becuase Mike Mearls did say that all previous class and race options would eventually be present in Next.  Writing up all of the monsters as PC races, or even just all of the humanoid monsters is a gargantuan task that I suspect would have little monetary payoff for WotC.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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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 actually think it should be less "Gnolls are inherently less intellgent" than "Most gnolls use intelligence as their 'dump stat' because their society doesn't value brains," with most of the smarter gnolls being the ones who up and left the society and the most likely ones to become PCs. But that's just me.

And Gnolls were usable as PCs in 4e, so Kalex's point is moot.
And Gnolls were usable as PCs in 4e, so Kalex's point is moot.





My point is that if existed before as a PC race we would see it in next.  So I was saying yes there would be gnoll PCs.  What I was refuting was your assertion that ALL monsters would be available as PCs. 

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.

What I was refuting was your assertion that ALL monsters would be available as PCs. 

Well there goes my hope of Gelatenous Cube Ninja.....[/jk]

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

And Gnolls were usable as PCs in 4e, so Kalex's point is moot.





My point is that if existed before as a PC race we would see it in next.  So I was saying yes there would be gnoll PCs.  What I was refuting was your assertion that ALL monsters would be available as PCs. 



Ah, my mistake. But I still wish they'd do a Myconid-based PC race, and I would love to see Ettercaps as a PC race, maybe uplifted to civilization ala My Fair Lady by the elves to spite the Drow.

What I was refuting was your assertion that ALL monsters would be available as PCs. 

Well there goes my hope of Gelatenous Cube Ninja.....[/jk]




My Shrieker Fungus Bard, noooooooo!

But on a serious note, I like this presentation of the gnoll. And I think the intelligence thing needs to be taken in context. There are some monsters that are really smart - some devils, for example. Gnolls aren't INT 2 stupid, but compared to other monsters and the party, yeah, I see them as lower INT brutes.
What's the matter, you dissentious rogues, That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion Make yourselves scabs?
I'll accept that being cunning isn't "Intelligence," but then I just wish they didn't use the word "dumb" as the word for lacking Intelligence.  Perhaps "unintelligent," "instinctual," or talking about how they don't prioritize education or something.  I mean, I don't ever see the word "dumb" and think "cunning."
i like the dead eye, but it needs WAYYY more matted hair, and what...is that a...hair braid?

back to the ol drawing board
It's pigtails! She's a girl!
Yeah, the pigtails/braids were a little much.
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