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A gnoll is a type of monster that appears in many variants of NetHack, with their implementation varying widely depending on the variant in question. In almost all instances, they are related in some significant manner to Yeenoghu, who is considered the demon lord of gnolls: in vanilla NetHack, his encyclopedia entry state that he still exists despite his followers being "wiped off the face of the earth".

Gnolls first appear in the Lethe patch designed for NetHack 3.3.1.

List of gnolls by variant

Below is a list of each implementation of the gnolls as a distinct group of monsters, the variants they appear in, and the common characteristics that they share amongst each other.


The first implementation of gnolls as monsters occurs in SLASH'EM, and these gnolls also appear in SlashTHEM. All gnolls in SLASH'EM are a part of the gnome monster class, as in the Lethe patch: they do not use their own monster flags or any similar flags to distinguish them from gnomes, instead simply lacking the gnome monster attribute - this means that gnomish characters do not take cannibalism penalties for eating gnoll meat, though their corpses are poisonous.

Gnolls are omnivorous humanoids that can hide themselves, possess infravision, can see invisible, and will seek out gold, gems and various other items to pick up - they may also turn traitor while tame. Many of the stronger gnolls generate with orcish armor, as well as strong body armor (despite being large and unable to wear it). A comment in monst.c indicates that SLASH'EM gnolls were part of the humanoid monster class in SLASH and other versions prior to incorporating the Lethe patch. While Yeenoghu is not a gnoll monster himself, many of the basic gnolls generate within his lair at level creation. The gnoll monsters of SLASH'EM are:


The implementation of gnolls in dNetHack is also used in notdNetHack. These gnolls are entirely different from the ones used in SLASH'EM and other variants - they are scattered across a few monster classes, and are defined by the is_gnoll pointer in mondata.h. As Yeenoghu is considered the demon prince of gnolls, many are found in the dun savanna of his lair in Gehennom. The gnoll monsters of dNetHack are:


Unlike most other variants, the implementation of gnolls in SpliceHack gives them their own monster class and an accompanying glyph, 9 - SpliceHack also makes gnolls medium-sized so that they can wear the armor they generate with. The monsters themselves are otherwise identical to those in SLASH'EM, with the exception of the newly-added marrashi. The gnoll monsters of SpliceHack are:


The implementation of gnolls in EvilHack is also distinct from other variants, and defines them by a shared attribute flag. All of the live gnolls are part of the humanoid monster class (incidentally the same as in of SLASH), and have an undead form that is unique among zombies for the ability to induce withering. The gnoll monsters of EvilHack are:


The implementation of gnolls in GnollHack naturally gives them more of a focus than other variants - in addition to an attribute flag different from the type used in EvilHack, the gnoll monster class replaces the gnome class, which is bundled into the gremlin monster class, and the gnome starting race is also removed in favor of a playable gnoll race. The gnoll monsters of GnollHack are:


The implementation of gnolls in Hack'EM combines the versions of the monsters from SLASH'EM with the ones introduced in SpliceHack and EvilHack, while also using EvilHack's attribute flag for gnolls and giving them poison resistance as that variant does - Hack'EM also tones down the strength of body armor that gnolls can start with, makes them medium-sized so they can wear said body armor, and adjusts the monsters' starting inventory based on some other variants. The gnoll monsters of Hack'EM are:


The Lean, High House Of The Gnoles as illustrated by Sidney Sime.
A gnoll as depicted in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e by Sam Wood.

The gnoll is a creature that appears in various types of fantasy media, and is generally portrayed as a human-hyena hybrid or a form of humanoid hyena. The term originates from 1912 short story collection The Book of Wonder by Lord Dunsany, with one short story titled "How Nuth Would Have Practised His Art upon the Gnoles". The short story is based on an illustration by Sidney Sime, which he normally created to accompany Dunsany's collections - in the case of The Book of Wonder, the illustrations were done first for 12 of the 14 stories, and Dusanay wrote short stories to accompany them.

In this short story, the titular burglar relays a tale of him and an apprentice traveling to an ancient house of gnoles isolated within an unwelcoming and faraway forest, plotting to steal a couple of gems from the hoard of emeralds that lay within, but upon reaching the ladder that leads into the house, Tonker gets cold feet and tries to escape - unfortunately, the gnoles were surveying the pair the whole time from within hollowed tree trunks: they snatch up Tonker before he can get away, and carry him off to an unspeakable fate. The gnoles are portrayed as seclusive and dangerous creatures, with a physical description now that themselves are not directly described in the story, Sime's illustration depicts vaguely humanoid beings that are pitch-dark in color, with one carrying a sword in hand.

The gnoll of Dungeons & Dragons is introduced in the first boxed set of the game, and is described in Book 2: Monsters and Treasure as "A cross between Gnomes and Trolls (...perhaps, Lord Sunsany did not really make it all that clear)". These early gnolls were stated to be similar to hobgoblins with +2 morale, while a gnoll king and his bodyguard fought similar to trolls without regenerative power. This may serve as the basis for gnolls being part of the gnome monster class in SLASH'EM and other derived variants.

The 1st Monster Manual for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and all subsequent material describe gnolls as aggressive desert-dwelling nomads that resemble humanoid hyenas, and actively raid and plunder other settlements; it also introduces Yeenoghu, the demon god of gnolls who many of them serve and worship. Though all gnolls track bloodlines maternally, some gnoll societies are patriarchal and led by the biggest and strongest of the tribe, who acts as chieftain; some chieftains keep harems, with these harem-wives being the strongest fighters among the group after the chieftain themselves.

Gnolls are generally known to live in warm plains, though they were highly adaptable and could be found living in most regions, sometimes even underground; they were less common in arid and arctic regions. Gnolls are often depicted as savage warmongers driven by primal instinct and the thrill of the hunt: they begin fighting among one another at a very early age, and are more likely to demand answers than to ask questions, which gnolls see as a basic demonstration of strength, rather than an act of hostility. The scavenging of gnolls are both a tendency towards collecting souvenirs and trophies and a means of tracking foes, as well as a primary method of access to technology from other cultures - gnoll armor is very commonly kitbashed together from scavenged pieces of armor.

Though gnolls have a well-established reputation for brutality and bloodlust, they also have a strong emphasis on blood ties and family, even if this friendliness is not extended across packs and bloodlines. This tendency in particular is strong enough that a gnoll separated from their clan and family will be driven to form a surrogate "pack" from those whom they choose to befriend, and is as loyal and faithful to these unlikely allies as they would be to their own siblings. Similarly, not all gnolls have a disposition towards evil, much less slaughter and slaving, though most gnolls are still quick to anger and prefer the company of their own, and many other beings will find certain gnoll practices such as scavenging and carrion-eating quite alien; gnolls will also peacefully interact with and may even rarely befriend other chaotic beings, such as bugbears, hobgoblins, ogres, orcs, and even trolls. Gnolls of all kinds also have an affinity for hyenas and hyaenodons, and many keep them as pets or as hunting animals.

Encyclopedia entry


These bipedal hyenas serve Yeenoghu, and are almost unmatched
in combat.

EvilHack / Hack'EM

We are born and we die.
No one cares, no one remembers,
and it doesn't matter.
This is why we laugh.
[ The Gnoll Credo, by J. Stanton ]