Last Updated on November 9, 2023
Gnoll Stat Block
Medium Humanoid (Gnoll), Chaotic Evil
- Armor Class: 15 (hide armor, shield)
- Hit Points: 22 (5d8)
- Speed: 30 ft.
- STR 14 (+2), DEX 12 (+1), CON 11 (+0), INT 6 (-2), WIS 10 (+0), CHA 7 (-2)
- Senses: Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 10
- Languages: Gnoll
- Challenge: 1/2 (100 XP)
- Proficiency Bonus: +2
Rampage. When the gnoll reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack on its turn, the gnoll can take a bonus action to move up to half its speed and make a bite attack.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.
Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage, or 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.
What Is a Gnoll?
Gnolls are a race of hyena-like humanoids. The first gnolls were transformed by demonic magic to be followers of Yeenoghu, and the race today continues to worship the Demon Lord of savagery. They are a truly dangerous enemy to come across as their only goals are to slaughter and shed blood in Yeenoghu’s name.
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Suggested Encounters for Gnolls
- Suggested Party Size: 3-4
Suggested Party Level: 3-4
Quick Tactics for Gnolls
- Surprising their prey
- Laying crude traps beforehand
- Savage, uncoordinated attacks
Gnolls are ambush predators with an insatiable amount of blood lust. They’ll find weak targets and take them out first so they can overwhelm anyone who looks strong. More than anything, they will be vicious attackers that have no problem completely ganging up on one target and then moving on.
In-Depth Look at Gnolls
Describing gnolls as humanoid hyenas is fairly accurate, but trust me, there’s no humanity in these creatures. They are little more than standing hyenas with an ability to speak and hold weapons. In fact, their bestial ancestors might be a bit more forgiving.
Gnolls: Brutal Savages
Unlike most of the generic low-CR enemies in D&D, gnolls actually stand at an average of 7 feet tall and are incredibly lean and muscular.
Compared to the diminutive builds of kobolds and goblins, gnolls are actually imposing creatures, but their monstrous attributes don’t stop at the physical.
Gnolls are, first and foremost, vicious savages. If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it’s that a gnoll would sooner slaughter its entire family than take a day off from violence.
The exact origin of gnolls isn’t very clear, although it’s widely believed that Yeenoghu created them and that this is where their pension for murder began.
After all, Yeenoghu himself is a sort of hyena-like humanoid who holds dominion over savage violence. It makes sense that he would create followers in his image and set them to do his bidding in the mortal world.
This theory is further backed up by the knowledge that Yeenoghu himself does not have the strength to actually pass between planes into the mortal world. Instead, he must rely on the devotion of his followers to gain strength and cleanse the world of the weak.
When inserting gnolls into your game, you can let go of the storytelling reins a bit. Save the well-thought-out motivations for liches and cultists; gnolls are just happy to get some killing in.
Running Gnolls in 5e Combat
The savagery of gnolls makes a direct translation to their performance in combat. They’re here to kill, and they’ll achieve that humble goal by any means necessary.
While they aren’t tactical masterminds, they will employ ambush tactics if they don’t have the strength to overpower their foes in a fair fight.
There are a few ways to introduce gnolls into an adventure, and we’ll touch on how each of these methods affects the combat potential of this race.
Random Encounters With Gnolls
Perhaps the most common place you’ll see gnolls is in a random encounter. They make for a fun delineation from the big three (goblins, kobolds, and cultists) and can provide a varying level of difficulty due to their loose definition of a “pack.”
Gnolls are ambush hunters for the most part and can easily be hiding in *insert terrain here* just waiting for a group of three to four adventurers to come stumbling by.
If your heroes have been tasked with the safe transport of some object or person, gnolls are a great random encounter to try tripping them up.
If you’re using only the normal CR ½ stat block for the basic gnoll, combat will be uninspired, and that’s fine. These basic gnolls just attack whatever’s in front of them, possibly ganging up on a larger foe if there’s a clearly imposing barbarian in the midst.
Add some other gnoll varieties into the mix, and you can employ basic tactics, but you should still be favoring the most violent decision over the most tactical decision. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, and if you did, be sure to check out our article on gnolls as a playable race. As always, happy adventuring.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.