Gnolls have slaughtered their way to gaming infamy, and they are a favorite of gamemasters (GMs) and players alike. This article can be used by GMs to round out this age-old monster, or players can use it to create new characters. The following gnoll variant is formatted for AGE—though you can convert the material to your preferred system easily enough—and is specific to the Midgard campaign world.
Gnoll Sand Dancer
Indigenous to the Sarklan Desert, where their tribe is called the Kum Firtinasi, Sand Dancers roam the vast empty, having adapted to harsh desert life. These nomads prey on traders and travelers by night, and they go wherever the slaughter takes them, pitching tents made of skin to shelter from hot days. Sometimes hired to protect caravans, Sand Dancers sport gray robes that make them difficult to spot, and they are adept at ambushes, utilizing dunes and dust storms to conceal their approach. It is said that Sand Dancers drain and drink a victim’s blood for moisture, and this rumor has spawned tales that the Sand Dancers are actually vampires. Sand Dancers are hygienic for gnolls, burying their scat in sand banks and taking dust baths that reduce their stink. Sand Dancers have an affinity for bastard swords and crossbows.
Last week, I had a survey that would pay off with this week’s article. Responses were consistent on wanting a CR 7–10 encounter, but there ended up being a tie between kobolds and bugbears for this week’s star! House rule: When there’s a tie between kobolds and something else, kobolds win. I can perhaps be persuaded to stat out our bugbear rivals in the comment section.
An encounter works best when you have more than one thing to think about. Since it’s kobolds, I had to do a trap. Since this is Kobold Press, of course we have a second trap to knock your unsuspecting player characters back into the first trap, and a vulnerable spellcaster plays the bait! Need I say more? Join me after the jump.
When I’m writing a screenplay, one of the first things I focus on is how my protagonist is going to change over the course of the story. This is the “character arc.” In Star Wars, for example, Lando begins as a self-centered, selfish rogue, but by the third movie he is volunteering to lead a desperate attack on the second Death Star. To do this in a roleplaying game, establish what your character is like right now. Even a vague idea, such as “human cleric,” gives you something to work with.
Your next step is to decide how you want the character to be later. It doesn’t have to be at the end of the campaign. That’s the beauty of character arcs. After you finish an arc, you can just begin another. In my cleric example, let’s decide he’ll eventually start worshiping another god. Knowing the start and the end of the arc allows you to figure out how to get there. But remember, with character arcs, the journey is the important thing, not the finish line.
Although people have come to the fantasy gaming hobby from a diversity of backgrounds, we share a number of common stories on how we were drawn into the genre and how these early influences shaped our expectations.
For many people, their introduction to fantasy came through literature, including the landmark works of J.R.R. Tolkien, the sword-and-sorcery tales of Fritz Leiber, and the Dying Earth series by Jack Vance, whose fiction had an immeasurable influence on the authors of the original D&D game. Still others were drawn to fantasy through movies such as Conan the Barbarian, Clash of the Titans, and even Labyrinth.
I am not one of these people.
My introduction to fantasy—when I was all of 9 years old—were the PC games Heretic, Hexen, and, of course, Quake.
Avarice, gluttony, and wrath. The seven sins dangerous enough to be called deadly are now collected under one set of covers, with all errata and some expanded text to make these Sin Monsters as complete and dangerous as they can be.
The Monsters of Sin Collection includes
21 new monsters thematically tied to one of the seven deadly sins,
7 templates to bring that sin out in monsters and NPCs,
complete notes on using sin in any fantasy world,
7 Embodiments of Sin to challenge the greatest heroes!
The Monsters of Sin Collection is suitable for multiple levels of play and can be used in any existing setting and campaign, or it can be combined to create a campaign of Sin. Go beyond ordinary monsters, and challenge your champions with threats to mind, body, and spirit! Available now from Kobold Press!