My name is Pearl Honeywine and I am studying gnoll habitat and society to better understand these creatures. Through my work, "Know Your Gnolls," I hope to increase the body of knowledge regarding these beasts and thereby also increase our ability to reduce their numbers.
"Know Your Gnolls," by Pearl Honeywine -- Being an exhaustive study into the habitat, social structure and culture of the gnolls of the Antonica region.
The gnolls of Antonica are descended from the gnolls of the Qeynos Hills and Blackburrow region of old Norrath. They look like upright canines, with an elongated snout, pointed ears high upon their heads. They are taller than the average human. It is impossible to distinguish between the male and female of the species at a distance. In order to understand the modern-day gnolls, one must first understand a bit of their history. By living amongst the gnolls, I have learned some of their secrets -- secrets which were hitherto unknown outside their tribes.
A gnoll clan is a ruling regional tribe of gnoll, for example the Sabertooth Clan. A gnoll clan is comprised of a number of gnoll packs. These are more akin to large family units. A gnoll pack shares characteristics ranging from fur patterns to intellect. The Sabertooth Clan is comprised of many packs. Rarely, some gnoll clans may be comprised of a single gnoll pack of immense size. It is widely believed that the gnoll clan of yore, the Splitpaw Clan, was one such clan of albino gnolls.
As many unwary travellers can attest, gnolls will attack anything on sight, provided they feel they have the upper hand. As pack creatures, if one attacks a lone gnoll, other gnolls in the vicinity may join the fray to assist. Therefore, it is important to first gauge the proximity of gnolls to one another before attacking, unless one is certain that one's weaponry, armor or enhancements are up to the challenge.
It is the pack mentality which makes the gnoll an occasionally formidable opponent. Several gnolls will band together and stake out territories to guard zealously, attacking all who come within range. The obvious exception the gnoll makes is toward anything larger than itself. Gnolls will gladly avoid anything that resembles either a hard battle or hard work. One might say the gnolls specialize in bullying and cowardice.
The Sabertooth Clan is comprised of many packs. Two gnoll packs within the Sabertooth Clan are the Darkpaw pack and the Timberclaw pack. A gnoll pack may specialize in a particular area such as foraging, pillaging, tunneling, etc. They are content to avoid other tribes to concentrate on maintaining their tribe's current territories. They will make an exception to band together against non-gnolls, even when such groupings include other species entirely, such as orcs, trolls and ogres.
The main advantage the gnolls have in battle are their sheer numbers. I have been unable to discover their breeding grounds, although it is believed to still be located within the dark confines of Blackburrow. No matter how often tribes are reduced, they are able to repopulate their territory rather speedily. By continuing to replenish their tribes' strength from a hidden, renewable resource, the gnolls are able to intimidate weaker species by overwhelming with strength in numbers rather than strategy.
This is not to imply that gnolls are unintelligent; they are cunning and sly creatures. While they place a higher value on hunters and warriors, there are gnoll shamans and mystics that practice arcane arts and rituals. These gnolls can still be formidable in battle by their strength, however it is their use of both offensive and defensive spells which can take down an enemy with an element of surprise.
No review of the gnolls is complete without mention of the most famous gnoll in history, Fippy Darkpaw, a member of the Sabertooth Clan of gnolls. Fippy Darkpaw specialized in planning elaborate attacks on the main gates of Qeynos during the Age of Turmoil. While his fate is unknown, his descendants formed the base of the numerous Darkpaw gnolls in Antonica.
Rumor has it that there is another Fippy Darkpaw, a gnoll of uncommon cunning and intelligence, who used his skills as a thief to steal a part of the Clock of Ak'Anon in Qeynos and render it inoperable. This mysterious Fippy still lives by his wits, they say, constantly on the move, observing non-gnolls and using the knowledge he gains against them. As he is swift and sneaky, it is difficult to say whether I have met him in disguise or if he exists at all. Personally, I do not believe such a clever gnoll could exist!
I hope this information provides you with enough basic information about gnolls that you will be able to learn more about them on your own. To capture the spirit of the gnoll, one must go into the various tribes and seek this information first-hand. Farewell, reader, and good luck in your quest to Know Your Gnolls!
Source: In-Game book called 'Know Your Gnolls', and http://lorenorrath.free.fr