“Afoo!” —all-purpose Gnoll interjection and expletive, exact meaning obscure due to censorship from most lexicons
Gnolls consider themselves the ultimate devourers, raiding civilized peoples for food and slaves. They say that the way to a gnoll’s heart is through his stomach, so the front of the torso is well protected by his hunched posture and the greatest thickness of his patchwork armor. (Some say the posture also shows how much more such a beast values his gut as compared to his head.) The legs are usually the least encumbered, allowing for greater mobility and the fact that they cannot wear most boots they loot from more productive races. Most gnolls wield simple skewers, while the more skilled prefer cleaver-swords, reasoning that they will often get a few tidbits even from a foe who escapes.
Their looting and slave-taking allow them to take on the methods of other races, with their own personalities giving them a different twist. Where an orc berserker is full of anger as he lashes out at the nearest and most dangerous foes, a gnoll’s “rage” causes her to cackle with glee, attacking wherever opportunities present themselves and even striking herself to maintain her fury long enough to search for more enemies. While a kobold artificer places her traps according to where she logically thinks they will have the greatest use, a gnoll trapper will rely more on his whimsy to put things where they would be unexpected and allows for humiliation and irritation in addition to raw damage (although dousing a survivor in stinking offal will also help the hyenas to track it better).
Gnolls are lazy bullies. Females tend to be larger and stronger, but this does not lead to a natural gender gap as in the societies of drow and orcs, as males often resort to being more cunning and careful, becoming rogues and spellcasters. Gnolls will outwardly grovel before anyone who can get to the top of the food chain with the least effort and risk, though delighting in any misfortune or weakness shown by their rivals.
Although small nomadic bands of gnolls can be found throughout Nolav, the greatest population once roamed what is now the Wake. When the extraplanar regime took over the Desert Capital, it strengthened its patrols throughout the land, driving many gnolls into the foothills of the Teeth. Over the years, the gnolls spread to cover all the mountains north of the rivers; in the last few years, they have even sacked Cliffton and the City of Hammers before launching an invasion of Altan. The gnolls who lived in the mountains for generations have very few cavalry and war machines, but are strong in numbers and ferocity.
According to the theories of the planeswalker Mése’ta, the gnolls are likely a product of the ravenous demons known as nabasu, those whose connection to the Material Plane also led them to evolve into oni, rakshasas, and barghests to dominate other mortal races. As a more primeval race, the gnolls still direct their prayers to the Abyss and their patron god, Yeenoghu. This leads them into alliances with aberrations and undead of decay and hunger, such as ghouls, otyughs, and vampire spawn. Rangers and druids gain power from their more animalistic nature, but Murond purged most of those who were too dogmatic to submit to the Abyssal leadership before launching his final assault on the dwarves.