D&D Basic Monsters: Gnoll

1 comment

First out of the larger humanoid races - the Gnoll.

The Gnoll is one of the iconoc humanoid races of D&D, easily recognised by their hyena-like head. They're often implicated with demoic worship, especially the demon lord Yeenoghu. Bothe gnolls and Yeenoghu trace their origins way back, both appearing in the original Monster Manual).

Tracing the roots of the Gnoll is somewhat difficult. Though the idea of a creature with a human body and head of a hyena might bring the Egyptian god Anubis to mind (with his human body and jacal head), there is little to link the gnolls to Egypitan mythology. Herodotous speak of dog-headed men living somewhere in the western parts of Africa, though he was probably referring to baboons.

The name (originaly spelled gnoles) seems to come from a short story by fantasy writer Lord Dunsany from 1912, who describe them as a bunch of loutish fellows, living in tall houses at the edege of the world. There is nothing in Dunsany's story to link their appearance to hyenas.

So in the end, the gnoll is probably a hybrid of some ancient elements, some newer elements and some original ideas from mr. Gygax and mr. Arneson.


1 comment :

  1. The OD&D gnoll was a hybrid gnome/troll, hence the name. I can't imagine what that was supposed to look like. I think the hyena men came in with the AD&D Monster Manual illustration.