The Slayer's Guide to Gnolls
Reviewed by Nicholas H.M. Caldwell ©:2002
Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion
Slayer's Guide to Gnolls is the second
outing for Mongoose Publishing's Slayer's Guide series for the d20
System. Each Guide focuses on a specific monster race with details on
their beliefs, society, and battle techniques; adding and expanding the
material found within the Monster Manual entries without
contradicting any of that canonical material. There are also five short
independent fiction pieces scattered through the book, which provide
further ideas on gnolls, their habits, and motivations.
are hyena-like humanoids, exceedingly cruel and vicious carnivores who
enjoy killing and eating members of other sentient races. This Slayer's
Guide looks first at the physiology of gnolls, especially their senses
and diet, which will provide devious GMs with additional opportunities to
make gnoll attacks even more devastating. Their weakness is described in
the Mindset section, namely complete selfishness and dedication only to
their own personal survival.
a brief foray into typical gnoll habitats and lair structures, the
Guide looks at gnollish society in terms of its pack structure and
the eternal struggle for dominance by adult males. The reliance
of gnolls on captured slaves for menial labor and a ready food supply
should chill PCs. Such societal aspects, including their fraught
and temporary alliances with other races, are consistent with and
give the impression of being natural consequences of physiology
and psychology. Gnoll religion, its clerical adherents, and the
evil gnoll druids are also described.
danger with any humanoid race is that while the GM appreciates the new
depth given to the race, old habits die hard and a pack of the brutes will
simply be dropped into a dungeon chamber or a wilderness area to attack
the unfortunate PCs. The "Methods of Warfare" seeks to prevent
this by exploring gnoll martial gear and tactics for ambushes, lair
defenses and occasional open warfare. GMs who utilize this section will
give their PCs a real challenge. A couple of pages worth of scenario hooks
will provide GMs with some inspiration for using gnolls in a campaign.
Players with a flair for the different may find the page on role-playing
gnolls as PCs useful.
last section of the Guide is a full-blown gnoll lair with history, maps,
and game statistics for the pack leader and typical gnolls. Dealing with
the perils posed by the Edendale lair should keep even an experienced
medium-level party busy for a few sessions.
32 pages, of which two are sacrificed to the Open Gaming and d20 Licenses
(the latter needlessly), The Slayer's Guide to Gnolls is a
slim and relatively expensive d20 System supplement. It is well written
and its mix of coherent source material, practical gamesmastering advice,
and scenarios will appeal to many hard-pressed D&D GMs.
Would I buy it? (Or indeed any of the other Slayer's Guides?)
No, the price/page count ratio is wrong for me. However the quality is
good enough to convince me to look seriously at Mongoose Publishing's more
Note: The Slayer's Guide to Gnolls is published by Mongoose
Publishing who can be found at http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.