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The original gnoll (gnole)

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 4:39 pm
by Illuminatus
I came across this artist's rendition of the pre-D&D gnole and thought folks might enjoy it:

https://yog-blogsoth.blogspot.se/2016/08/gnole.html

The sketch is based on the few descriptive passages in Margaret St. Clair's short story "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles." (Gnoles were created by Lord Dunsany in the short story "How Nuth Would Have Practised His Art upon the Gnoles," but that story provides virtually nothing in the way of description.)

In its earliest DnD incarnation, the gnoll was considered a cross between a gnome and a troll. This is reasonably consistent with the "feel" of the Dunsany/St. Clair stories. (The gnoles are portrayed as evil, but in a sneaky, lurking way, not a savage, barbaric way. They live in houses and are capable of having civil interactions with a door-to-door salesman!) The gnoll became a savage, tribal hyena-man in AD&D. It sure has come a long way!

Re: The original gnoll (gnole)

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 5:20 pm
by willpell
I for one don't consider it acceptable to refer to the hyena-man as a gnoll; in my campaign I call them the Yeenagh, and I had begun working on homebrewing better crunch for them (I thought I had posted my progress here on the Piazza, but if so I can't find it). I'm the same way with Kobolds; the original mythic Kobold was a little brownie-like creature, and there was no mention of them being reptiles either in mythology or in early D&D. I like the mini-dragon trapsmith race which 3E D&D calls a Kobold, I just don't like them being actual Kobolds. Instances where they're called that can be dismissed as peasants not knowing their monster-science, but they should have a proper name (I picked "Zh'klet" or colloquially "chicklet").

Re: The original gnoll (gnole)

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 5:46 pm
by Illuminatus
willpell wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 5:20 pm
the original mythic Kobold was a little brownie-like creature, and there was no mention of them being reptiles either in mythology or in early D&D. I like the mini-dragon trapsmith race which 3E D&D calls a Kobold, I just don't like them being actual Kobolds.
It seems to me that the evolution of these monsters was driven by the Monster Manual artists more than Gygax or Arneson. A generation of people saw a picture of a scaly kobold, and thus the reptilian kobold was born...
willpell wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 5:20 pm
I for one don't consider it acceptable to refer to the hyena-man as a gnoll; in my campaign I call them the Yeenagh,
This reminds me of a player I knew in college who briefly played a gnoll PC. The character's name was a mishmash of sounds that humans could only approximate, beginning with a hocking-up of phlegm.

I internalized this idea, and years later when I DM'd an adventure with Kuo Toans I rendered their names and that of their goddess "Blibdoolpoolp" so that they sounded more like a string of bubbly sound effects than human phonemes.

Re: The original gnoll (gnole)

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 5:51 pm
by willpell
Illuminatus wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 5:46 pm
It seems to me that the evolution of these monsters was driven by the Monster Manual artists more than Gygax or Arneson. A generation of people saw a picture of a scaly kobold, and thus the reptilian kobold was born...
But the original version, while a little scaly, still definitely looked like a goblinoid (and in the first colored version was particularly a *red* goblinoid, which we didn't otherwise have). Granted, a goblin is still not a brownie, but the confusion is more understandable, as the fey types get mixed up a lot (but they're basically never noticeably reptilian-looking, unless they have the Half-Dragon template of course). It wasn't until 3E's art that they were confirmed as definitely Compsognathus-descended.
I internalized this idea, and years later when I DM'd an adventure with Kuo Toans I rendered their names and that of their goddess "Blibdoolpoolp" so that they sounded more like a string of bubbly sound effects than human phonemes.
Ugh, I refuse to use that goddess's name, or her in general. If forced to refer to her, I call her "Lobster Tits". They're called Deep Ones, and they worship Cthulhu (or Dagon, but I prefer to leave him out of D&D since he was worshipped in reality - granted, so is Cthulhu *now*, but by that logic you could call Twilight Sparkle a deity).

Re: The original gnoll (gnole)

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 6:37 pm
by Havard
willpell wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 5:20 pm
I for one don't consider it acceptable to refer to the hyena-man as a gnoll; in my campaign I call them the Yeenagh, and I had begun working on homebrewing better crunch for them (I thought I had posted my progress here on the Piazza, but if so I can't find it). I'm the same way with Kobolds; the original mythic Kobold was a little brownie-like creature, and there was no mention of them being reptiles either in mythology or in early D&D. I like the mini-dragon trapsmith race which 3E D&D calls a Kobold, I just don't like them being actual Kobolds. Instances where they're called that can be dismissed as peasants not knowing their monster-science, but they should have a proper name (I picked "Zh'klet" or colloquially "chicklet").
I like the name Yeenagh :)

-Havard

Re: The original gnoll (gnole)

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 6:45 pm
by willpell
Havard wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 6:37 pm
I like the name Yeenagh :)

-Havard
The only problem with it is that it suggests a connection with Yeenoghu, making it possible that non-Yeenoghuite hyenoids might object to self-identifying as Yeenagh. But this isn't really a problem in Whiteleaf, as there are basically no non-savage "gnolls", whether or not they worship the demon prince. The archetype of a "goodish" Gnoll barbarian only exists in my CW if a player specifically wants to be one, and if so, they'll be practically the only example (unlike with any number of other Drizz't-types which I have fully embraced, such as goblins, sahaguin, and the Drow themselves). This may change if I manage to get the homebrew made, but without that, there's simply not much reason to play a "gnoll" in 3E.