Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena

Uncle Hyena's Gnoll Gnotes

(From the Trollhalla Kindred Contest)

Gnolls are anthropomorphic hyenas. Male Gnolls are a bit larger than human males, standing about 6 and a half feet tall and weighting some 200 pounds; Gnoll females, who are seldom seen far from Gnoll settlements, are more than 7 feet tall and weigh about 300 LEAN pounds.

Gnoll females run the show. When you say "Gnoll", Gnolls assume you mean a female. A male Gnoll is a Jack-gnoll, or just a Jack.

Gnolls worship two deities, Idris, a female Warrior who teaches courage, loyalty, and the joys of eating other sentients, and Plunkett, a male Trickster who teaches stealth, swindling, and survival at all costs. All Gnolls revere both deities, but females tend to focus on the Warrior, and males tend to focus on the Trickster.

Male Gnolls are banished forever from their birth villages on Beltane of their thirteenth year, when they are more or less full grown. No Gnoll village will allow them entry until they have survived at least another 13 years on their own, AND have amassed an appropriate bribe for the village mothers. The size of the bribe varies with the wealth of the village, but MUST include at least one emerald (though it may be VERY small).

The mortality rate for this process is in the vicinity of 95%. Most of the Gnolls that are encountered away from Gnoll settlements are wanderers trying to survive long enough to be eligible to find a home in a Gnoll village.

Male Gnolls are religiously obligated to gamble, and most of them are quite good at it. They tend to learn Three Card Monte (or the local equivalent, probably Cups and Peas) as soon as they learn to talk. They also learn the probability tables for dice games until they can recite them in their sleep. In many places, "To play dice with a Gnoll" is an idiom for, "To throw money away foolishly." Of course, Gnolls also practice techniques for luring people who should know better into playing dice with them anyway...

An interesting outgrowth of this is that, while most Gnolls are illiterate, most have a solid grounding in mathematics, and there is some demand (in certain circles) for Gnoll accountants. Most Gnolls who do such work eventually learn to read and write, but they tend to use pictograms to identify accounts anyway. This makes it that much harder for outsiders to decipher the books.

Female Gnolls are raised to be brave and to put the tribe above themselves, which is a good thing, because two out of three of them die in childbirth the first time around. This is a magical, even religious phenomenon, since Gnoll cubs are no bigger than human infants, and Gnoll females are nearly three times the size (weight) of human females. In fact, death during second or subsequent childbirths is all but unknown, and most Gnolls eventually have six to eight children.

Three times out of four, when the mother dies in childbirth, the infant dies as will, but the fourth time the child lives. Such "Damkiller" children have their ears notched to mark their status, and, once they are chased from the village at age 13 (and Damkiller females are chased out alongside the males), they are never again allowed into ANY Gnoll village. Most of the female Gnolls encountered in the wide world will have the notched ears of a Damkiller.

Female Gnolls see themselves has hunters and warriors, NOT as mothers, and they have as little to do with childcare as they possibly can. Infant Gnolls are weaned from mother's milk to a mixture of blood and milk from cattle in six to eight weeks.

Child care duties are split between the adult males of the village (those few who survive long enough to buy their way back in) and the elder Gnoll cubs, particularly the males. The adult male Gnolls also teach the young jacks the skills they will need to survive in the larger world when the time comes.
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