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Gnoll

Gnolls are a tribal society. They value strength and power, and worship the Beast of Three. Savage and loyal, they can be viciously fanatical in service to their deity and in protecting their kin. Their life is one of constant change and every day is spent focused on survival. Clans form around powerful war chieftains and as a tribe they work together to ensure their continued existence. Nomadic in nature, the gnoll clans follow the seasonal rains as they cycle through the dry plains lands, each chief claiming the territory they need to support their clan. While conflict inevitably arises, trade among the clans is still common and indeed necessary to make the best use of the localized natural resources in each territory.

Brawny Bonecrushers

Long-jawed, muscular humanoids covered in fur, gnolls might be mistaken for lycanthropes at first glance.

They are however neither shapechangers nor tainted by any curse. Their thick, overdeveloped necks and dark, blunt muzzles are their most recognizable features, but their strong, bone-crushing jaws and teeth are what truly set them apart, allowing their race to thrive in a land full of predators. Most gnolls have a base fur color ranging from light tan to dark brown, though the occasional albino is born every few generations.

The subraces of gnolls are differentiated by the markings on their fur and their overall size: the nyaung’au are larger with spotted fur, the smaller shundwa having dark striping in their coats.

Depending on their tribe gnolls may keep their manes short and spiked, in tight and ordered braids, long and unkempt ponytails, or simply leave it wild and free, but there is little difference in style between males and females. Even their choice of clothing—usually a loincloth along with leather wrist and ankle wraps—suffices regardless of gender. In battle pack warriors adorn themselves with feathers, bones, and woven grass, painting symbols of war on their faces and bodies.

Strength in Struggle

From birth, gnolls are taught the way of Karm’ra: the path of balance and survival.

Their traditions hold that when the world was young, the Beast of Three had a choice to reign over the lush verdant forests, the vast ocean deeps, or the dry arid savannah.

Yet Karm’ra recognized the value of struggling against opposition, knowing that when managed successfully any hardships and stress produce the strongest and most resilient harvests.

Gnolls are considered adults by age 15 and can live up to 80 or 90 years although actual life expectancy is much lower—some die before or soon after reaching adulthood and old age is a rarity, but such is life within a nomadic wartribe. There is no strict succession by bloodline for warchief.

This is determined by ritual challenge.

While some tribes and clans are more typically matriarchal or patriarchal in nature, any individual strong enough to both beat out the competition and defeat the current leader in single combat can claim the title.

Tribal Ties

Gnolls are semi-nomadic. They live in mud hut villages for much of the year, but during the rainy season they— along with nearly every other denizen of the region—converge on the nearest deluge to partake of its life-giving waters. Often this means temporarily occupying dwellings built in the giant baobab trees. It is only more recently that some members of Clan Karm’ra remain year round in these treehouses, alongside their manticore clan members.

The core familial unit among gnolls is the pack. Packs live, hunt, and migrate with their tribe, led by their warchief; some are smaller, independent entities, most belonging to one of the main clans. Although the merging of three distinct tribes into Clan Karm’ra under the leadership of a manticore was initially a cause of great concern for the other clans, it soon became clear that Merthykhuwar was not looking to expand and conquer. For the time being at least his position of dominance in one region seems sufficient. However not every gnoll trusts that Merthykhuwar has their kind’s best interests at heart—in fact, the other wild manticores are still mortal enemies.

All gnolls learn the basics of warfare at an early age but not all go on to pursue the pack warrior lifestyle. Some specialize in working the land, producing a harvest despite the nearly year-round drought.

Those gifted with the spirit walk the shaman’s path. Then there are the explorers that leave pack, tribe, and clan behind to wander.

Some choose such a life, eager to see what challenges in the wider world might make them 39 stronger. Others are elected by their warchief to seek outsider knowledge that might benefit the tribe. A few are even pariahs of gnoll society, outcasts in exile whether forced or self-imposed. The one thing all these wanderers share is a longing to one day return to their homeland—when the time is right.

Names

Gnoll names, like their language in general, consist of rumbling consonants with staccato accents. Those that wander may choose to translate their given names into the Common tongue.

Male Names: Cr’ckk (Spirited Laugh), Hou’at (Eyes of Night), Taox (Hunter’s Path)

Female Names: T’lani (Favored One), Rou-eh (Bright Arrow), Chitaal (Desert Sunset)

Clan Names: K’ra, Wou-tah, Hakk’an

Live And Let Leave

Gnolls are at once both a highly territorial and socially responsible people. After all, survival is harsh and it values strength above all else, making respecting the balance in nature a way of life. They have little pity for the weak and less patience for those that disregard the path of Karm’ra. Gnolls are content however to merely drive intruders out, and even allow outsiders to take their chances crossing the grasslands as long as they are only passing through (usually merchant caravans).

Humans. Humans are soft and water-heavy, most as helpless as newborn pups. The exception to the rule are the hearty, dark-skinned folk who have managed to make a home for themselves in . Though they are just average hunters and blind as moles when night falls, they are good with tools and trade with them can be quite lucrative.

Elves. Deceptively slender, elves are not as fragile as they look. Seen as oddities, they are not to be trusted due to their ways with dark magics. Instead of calling upon the spirit of the beast, they reach into the void for unnatural arcane energies—they are still worthy enemies, and it is considered a high honor to defeat the slender folk in battle.

Catfolk. Haughty and self-important, the catfolk look down on the other races as lessers but gnolls know them for who they really are: craven cowards. Catfolk prefer deception, treachery, and ambushes to a straight fight. They are dangerous foes and ever to be watched, but offer no real threat in the larger scheme of things.

Traits

Your gnoll character has an assortment of inborn abilities, bestial talents and quirks inherited from your grinning ancestors.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength increases by 2.

Age. Gnolls live about as long as humans.

Alignment. Gnolls tend towards chaos.

Size. Gnolls are larger on average than humans, but with their hunched posture do not stand much taller. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Feral Inheritance. Your teeth are natural weapons which you are proficient with. On a hit, you deal piercing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier.

Rampage. When you reduce a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack on your turn, you can take a bonus action to move up to half your speed and make a bite attack.

Feral Tendencies. If you make a habit of using your bite attack, you may be subject to episodes of feral behavior. When you roll a natural 1 on a bite attack you enter a feral frenzy.

While frenzied, on each of your turns you make one attack on the nearest creature you can see.

If this creature is an ally, you can use your reaction to make a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw to resist the urge to target them and attack the nearest enemy instead. This state lasts for 1 minute. Your feral tendency chance returns to 0% after a short rest.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Gnoll. Gnoll is a guttural language filled with barks, growls, and yips.

Subrace

Most gnolls of the Xerica are born nyang’au, marked by their spotted fur. Occasionally a gnoll is born shundwa, with striped fur instead.

Spotted (Nyang’au)

As nyang’au, your natural physicality is prized by gnoll society, a boon in surviving the harsh conditions of the Xerica.

Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.

Gnoll Toughness. Your hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level.

Striped (Shundwa)

As shundwa, your mystical connection to the Karm’ra is looked upon with a mixture of fear, awe, and at times mistrust.

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Cantrip. You know one cantrip of your choice from the druid spell list. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for it.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Vast Kaviya Campaign Setting © 2019 Mike Myler, published under license by Legendary Games; Authors Mike Myler, Andrew Engelbrite, Will Gawned, Alec Kaknes, Anthony Alipio, Sharene Gilchrist, Matteo Piovanelli, Jesse Jordan, GM Lent, Brian Istenes, and Jeremy Esch.