Gnolls are one of the younger races of Lordaeron. Indigenous to both the Alterac Mountains and the Redridge Range far to the south, these hyena-like humanoids are extremely aggressive and are often found quarreling amongst themselves. Though relatively intelligent compared to most beasts, they are not very bright by human standards.
They have been known to manipulate each other into fights over ridiculous things like "whose shadow is larger". It has often been stated that the gnolls would be quite a fearsome race, if they ever stopped tearing each other to pieces long enough to organize themselves into an army.
Gnolls are known for their beastly cunning, their ferocious tempers, and their penchant for infighting. Though more intelligent than beasts, they tend to lack the finer reasoning of other sentient races. They enjoy fighting — almost too much. Gnolls make their home in Lordaeron in the Alterac Mountains and the Redridge Mountains, but they have spread throughout Azeroth, even to Kalimdor, where they compete with other aggressive humanoids for hunting grounds.
Their tendency to challenge each other over petty matters (such as who is the tallest) prevents them from achieving any real unity and thus lessens their overall threat. This is fortunate, for their numbers are such that they could easily overrun other races of equivalent strengths. Occasionally, gnolls hire out as mercenaries, either as individuals or in small packs of two to five warriors.
Gnolls are hyena-like humanoids standing about 5 feet tall. Gnolls of the same tribe tend to share a similar appearance, with either a reddish-brown, black, greenish-gray, or yellow mane. Eyes range in color from pale blue to bloodshot red and are typically small and close-set in the head. In wet conditions, they give off a distinctive musky odor. As carnivores, gnolls consider all creatures as food, including members of their own race. Hunger, not gold or magic, is what motivates them.
They have no love for other races, preferring to eat rather than work with them. Any alliances made will last only as long as the gnolls are well fed or are cowed with displays of force. Gnolls, being lazy and feral, have little natural industry. They are capable of limited crafting, but no metal work. They do not mine or farm, relying instead on a nomadic existence and hunting.
Gnolls like to attack when they have the advantage of numbers, using group tactics and their physical strength to overwhelm and knock down their opponents. They show little discipline in battle unless they have a strong leader; at such times, they can maintain ranks and fight as a unit. While they do not usually prepare traps, gnolls do use ambushes and try to attack from a flanking position. They always take special care to seek the most favorable conditions possible (such as darkness, cover, or some other form of advantageous condition or terrain) when laying ambushes.
Gnolls are known for their habits as raiding marauders or hired soldiers. Though they have average intelligence, they are easily duped by promises of food or treasure.
Gnolls' main stomping grounds are the Eastern Kingdoms. Recently, they have also been seen in Kalimdor, though usually under the employ of one of the goblin cartels or pirate groups, although a few independent gnoll tribes have been seen in Feralas. A gnoll seer named Sayge travels with the Darkmoon Faire as well. He gives out fortunes and different buffs based on how you answer his questions.
Gnolls were first seen in Warcraft III. Thrall leaves his home after a dream tells him to meet with a stranger. He destroys a camp of gnolls, and levels up. The gnolls in question were most likely Mosshide gnolls, due to their location and coloration.
Gnoll society is organized entirely around might. The strongest and deadliest gnolls ascend in the tribal order to become the leaders, while the weaker gnolls soon become food for the rest. This lifestyle means the average gnoll tribe is always in a state of tension- the slightest sign of weakness in those leading can cause the tribe to turn upon itself in a frenzy of violence. It also prevents the gnolls from organizing for very long into anything more than a tribe. Gnoll society displays a limited specialization.
Brutes are the largest and nastiest gnolls, made stronger by their privileged position in the food chain. Gnoll assassins are noted for their intelligence and use complex weapons such as bows and poisons. Gnoll poachers act as scouts and hunters for the gnoll tribes and use weapons taken from prey. Gnoll wardens have developed a magical connection with nature and use their powers to keep the other gnolls in line.
Gnolls do well as hunters or warriors. Their inborn aggression and decidedly cruel nature drive them to pursue their quarry for the sheer pleasure of the capture and, usually, the kill. Gnoll spellcasters tend to be shaman with strong elemental and warlike tendencies. Occasionally a gnoll might join an adventuring party in pursuit of a common enemy. Sometimes a gnoll is ousted from gnoll society and must make his way in the world outside. Adventuring bands who value aggressive, persistent hunters and warriors may allow a gnoll to join them.
Gnoll characters may take up with either Alliance or Horde, depending on which group has been their primary enemy. (More often than not, though, they join the Horde.) A few operate independently, hiring themselves out as mercenaries to the highest payer. Gnolls are strong-limbed and fierce, but they are poor planners with little forethought and deficient leadership qualities. The Defias Brotherhood have been known to ally with Gnolls occasionally.
Gnolls are extremely violent creatures. They have been known to pick lethal fights with each other over such insane arguments such as who has the longer shadow. Many wonder how these pugnacious creatures ever stand each other long enough to breed. They only gather in large groups when the opportunity for battle or plunder arises. They make vicious, if unreliable mercenaries, as they will go anywhere they can be offered a good fight. It is believed by some that if the gnolls were ever to put aside their differences long enough to band together into a single group, they would make a formidable army.
Lazy and feral, gnolls prefer to pillage and steal what they want rather than working for it. The largest, strongest gnoll in a group is known as the Brute. He is the de facto leader of the tribe, and all others submit to him. Brutes are allowed to take the best loot from raids, leaving what they don't want for the others to fight over.
There is a possibility that gnolls eat other sapient races (see Little Timmy), although this could simply be slander on the part of other races and very few pieces of evidence have been presented to support this.
While most gnolls use melee or ranged weapons, some can use shamanistic or even warlock magic. Their favored weapons are maces (or other blunt weapons) and crossbows. They prefer blunt weapons because they break bones, as marrow is considered a delicacy, and because they are easy to make. When dealing with magic, gnolls prefer the nature and lightning schools. Smaller gnolls and runts are used as assassins and scouts because of their agility.
Gnolls are known to build small settlements with permanent structures (Gnoll Huts) and to mine gold. Gnolls have been seen using complex mining techniques such as railcarts and have been seen in extremely remote and dangerous locations mining gold. They have been sighted in the Jangolode Mine, allied with the Defias brotherhood.
Many gnolls can be seen wearing a round crest with a paw print in the middle. This symbol is seen in many tribes and its exact meaning is unknown to other races. Gnolls are known to wear leather and metal armour and always wear clothes.
Gnolls speak Low Common, though some speak with a broken Common. Gnolls learn the languages of those they interact with. These are the languages spoken by the races most likely to interact with gnolls: Common, Darnassian, Orcish, Thalassian, and Zandali.
The language Gnoll is a language known by the skeletal mage, Chauch-eta, however, it is apparently no longer spoken by gnolls or is another name for their dialect of Low Common. A few gnolls knew Common as a primary language , or least a broken Common. However, this appears to be uncommon in recent times.
- Found in: Ghostlands
- Levels: 12-14
- Types: Gnoll, Scavenger, Shaman
- Found in: Wetlands
- Levels: 15-27
- Types: Alpha, Brute, Fenrunner, Mistweaver, Mongrel, Mystic, Trapper
- Rare/Named Mosshides: Gnawbone (level 24, rare)
- Found in: Hillsbrad Foothills
- Levels: 25-28
- Types: Shaman
- Found in: Mulgore
- Levels: 2-8
- Types: Poacher, Skinner, Tanner
- Rare/Named Palemane: Snagglespear (level 9, rare)
- Found in: Redridge Mountains
- Levels: 36-44
- Types: Gnoll, Looter, Necromancer, Shaman
- Found in: Western Plaguelands
- Levels: 9-22
- Types: Alpha, Basher, Brute, Drudger, Mongrel, Mystic, Poacher, and Thrasher
- Rare/Named Redridge: Ardo Dirtpaw (levels 22-24, rare), Yowler (levels 21-25, quest), Ribchaser (levels 16-17, rare)
- Found in: Elwynn Forest, Westfall
- Levels: 3-20
- Types: Bandit, Brute, Herbalist, Miner, Mongrel, Mystic, Outrunner, Runt, Scout, Shaman, and Taskmaster
- Rare/Named Riverpaws: Hogger (level 11, elite), Gruff Swiftbite (level 12, rare), Sergeant Brashclaw (level 18, rare), Fedfennel (level 12, rare)
- Found in: Lordaeron
- Levels: 3-19
- Types: Bruiser, Brute, Gladerunner, Graverobber, Mongrel, Mystic, Plague Weaver, and Savage
- Rare/Named Rot Hides: Snarlmane (level 23, rare), Maggot Eye (level 10-11, quest)
- Found in: Redridge Mountains
- Levels: 18-26
- Types: Assassin, Brute, Darkweaver, Slayer, and Warrior
- Rare/Named Shadowhides: Rohh the Silent (level 26, rare), Lieutenant Fangore (levels 22-26, quest)
- Found in: Alterac Valley
- Levels: 47-59 (63-70 in the level 70 edition of Alterac Valley)
- Types: Alpha, Brute, Mystic, and Shaman
- Found in: Feralas
- Levels: 38-44
- Types: Alpha, Brute, Mongrel, Mystic, Reaver, Trapper
- Rare/Named Woodpaws: Miblon Snarltooth (level 50, quest, friendly)
- Main Trapping Grounds: Woodpaw Hills
It is unknown whether or not the Rot Hide gnolls were a tribe unto themselves or if "Rot Hide" is a template added to gnolls who become undead. It is possible that the Rot Hides are in fact Mudsnout gnolls that have fallen to the Plague.
The Mudsnouts seem to be the only tribe of gnolls native to Lordaeron, and the Plague would account for their low numbers (in addition to the fact that the Mudsnouts don't have a main village to call home, only a converted human farmstead).
Titles of gnolls
Gnoll origin is a mystery, though it is likely, (like the trolls) that they were formed from the life essence of Azeroth herself.