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Thread: My Attempt at a Gnoll Race
- Join Date
- Mar 2017
My Attempt at a Gnoll Race
I don't do much homebrew mainly because I'm a rules guy- I try to always play by them and enforce them even if not the DM. So my attempts at working outside the rules are scant at best.
That said, ever since a brief stint in Pathfinder when I was reincarnated as one I have enjoyed the Gnoll as a race and in 5e it's not a thing. Volo's was quite clear- you won't play a Gnoll. They're just too darn monstrous and channeling an evil hunger. I understand that angle, I even like it to a degree that the Gnoll isn't just a normal creature running around but are basically personified demon hunger influence from their Demon Lord and God. It sets the Gnoll apart from all the other races that are mean and nasty- Gnolls aren't even traditionally born they sort of just spawn. All good stuff- er evil stuff- but it prevents them from being PCs.
I can't have that. So with that in mind I'm going to attempt my first Race homebrew.
So what should a Gnoll have?
They're only concerned with hunger remember- even if you break free enough with whatever backstory element to act on your own this dominating NEED would be a defining part of your character and so you won't be adding racial points to Wisdom, Intelligence, or Charisma. That leaves Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. A Gnoll shouldn't overly care about preserving itself in my opinion so much as getting to its prey/enemy and beating on it and devouring it almost like a berserk Kirby. So Strength and Dexterity- leaning towards Strength.
So +2 Strength, +1 Dexterity
Gnolls won't inherently have proficiency with any weapon or armor save its Bite- which deals 1d6 + Strength as bludgeoning damage.
They should however have something for tracking down enemies. A Gnoll doesn't want to talk or investigate but hunt its target down and consume it. In this regard I would say it should be proficient in Athletics and Survival.
Here's where things get tricky as I utterly do not fully understand how to balance this sort of thing and I will admit that. However we're already given two traits from the Gnoll as an enemy- Rampage and Darkvision.
Rampage: When a Gnoll reduces an enemy to 0 hitpoints it can use it's Bonus Action to move up to half its movement speed and make a single Attack with its Bite.
Darkvision: 60 feet worth of dim = light and dark = dim.
Now while both of those are good- I feel like we can push just a little farther because our Gnoll isn't packing that much when you look at it. So one more Trait then- something to help flesh out the flesh-eating monster mentality they're channeling.
I have a few ideas but am unsure which works best- perhaps a Gnoll PC can choose one of them? Feedback on these would be appreciated as they're the most complex part of the idea.
1) Flesh Feast
Once per short rest a Gnoll can use an Action to tear at and consume parts of an unconscious, incapacitated, or dead enemy, restoring their Constitution modifier + half their total level in hit points. Does not work on Constructs, Plants, Undead, or anything else that isn't going to really be considered food to them.
2) Living Hunger
When the Gnoll is incapacitated and an enemy reaches 0 hit points within 15 feet of a Gnoll, it automatically stabilizes and regains 1 hit point at the start of its turn but must take its full movement and Action to attempt to reach the enemy and attack them. This trait cannot be used again until the Gnoll completes a short rest.
3) Pack Allegiance
A Gnoll is a part of the pack and the pack is part of the Gnoll. This pack mentality manifests as Advantage on saving throws against spell that force Gnolls to attack allies.
^Admittedly this was tacked on later and I don't entirely think it fits but it was suggested.
The basic idea is to play up the idea of a Gnoll being hunger incarnate- its entire racial kit is based around getting to something and destroying it and feasting upon it. On the specific scenario where you can chain something like Flesh Feast/Living Hunger with Rampage you're a wrecking crew running around eager to slaughter but your endless need for devouring others limits you to certain targets to get the most out of this.
Last edited by SociopathFriend; 2019-05-13 at 10:35 PM.It's time for a preemptive retaliatory strike.
- Join Date
- Feb 2019
Re: My Attempt at a Gnoll Race
With only a preliminary search of playable Gnolls, you're doing pretty well for a brand-spanking-new homebrewer.
*chant* One-of-us. One-of-us. One-of-us. One-of-us. One-of-us.
Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-05-15 at 04:11 AM.-- My Houserule Document --
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- Join Date
- Mar 2013
Re: My Attempt at a Gnoll Race
beef jerkytaking the first step.
The nice thing about later editions is that things like "max 9th level fighter" are so last millenia, and race isn't the most powerful feature of your character anymore. I will only add a few things which I think will be helpful:
1) You should add other features including height, weight, age, and alignment -- not so much for us, but for your players. Most of us already know, but we are happy to help proofread.
2) Cannibalism -- in my terminology that's "eating any sentient race, even one that's not you" -- is highly frowned upon by most civilized cultures. Even the drow don't do it often, and drow are evil enough to scare orcs and demons. A gnoll is going to have a hard time being in a party that doesn't consist of people open-minded in this respect, and a race feature that's blocked by your party is not the advantage it seems. Problem is, you have an excellent flavor going (no pun intended) and I don't want to spoil it. So perhaps a non-evil gnoll could have found a way to keep that hunger a bit more "fish are friends, not food"? Instead of eating the corpse, they could eat a meal's worth of food right after the battle for the same effect.
"Ah, the sweet taste of victory! Now with 20% more teriaki!"
"Um, would you like to borrow a napk--"
"You didn't take the Oath of Manners!"
It retains the same OM NOM NOM without skeezing out the paladin. And I don't see why they can't eat plant monsters.
3) The bonuses collectively feel a little weak. A "self-rez" is great, don't get me wrong, but if the party is successful it never gets used. Worse, if the party is ganging up on a single strong enemy (I don't know, a dragon in a dungeon maybe?) it doesn't do much at all. And spells/effects that turn PCs on their allies, while potentially devastating, are not super common. I'm going to suggest openly (and hope that other, smarter homebrewers join in when I'm wrong) these:
A) The "rise and shine" effect of Living Hunger could probably have a greater range and more triggers of its use. Perhaps when an ally hits 0 hit points, the gnoll could savagely maul the enemy that has blood all over it? That's still limited, I admit, but less so.
B) Pack Allegiance works on any Int, Wis or Cha saving throw that prevents the Gnoll from attacking its target, not just change the target. This would stop Charmed, but not Frightened, grapples, or webs.
Now even with the above, you're still behind the Half-Orc (can just choose not to be dropped to 0 in the first place) and Gnome (advantage on all Int, Wis and Cha magic saves), so I don't think the race is overtuned. You could probably safely add one more minor bonus, such as replacing "half your level" with "proficiency bonus" for the self-heal (spiking its usefulness to earlier levels), or "has proficiency in Survival".
This is the start of something good. Keep it up!