Gnolls have not been popular subjects in the DRAGONLANCE Saga. Whereas goblins, kender, elves, and ogres have taken the spotlight more than once, gnolls have been mostly ignored. However, the Fifth Age is a new era in the DRAGONLANCE Saga. Centaurs, a race never before officially presented as a Hero Race for the DRAGONLANCE Saga, have even been upgraded for the Fifth Age. Therefore, gnolls should also be elevated in status.
Gnolls were created by the Graygem along with the various other “hostile inhumans,” such as goblins, sligs, and minotaurs. They wander throughout the plains of Ansalon in nomadic packs, not unlike plainsmen. Usually, gnolls rely on a pack mentality and use strength in numbers in order to fight. Gnolls are fierce and competitive. They tend to be isolationists when around non-gnolls, but they have been known to form bonds between a select few. Gnolls will lie, cheat, steal, and flatter, but they have battle honor. While seemingly not as intelligent as other races, they make up for it in ferociousness.
With the release of The Silver Stair by Jean Rabe, gnolls have entered the spotlight. Orvago, the gnoll of the story who aids Goldmoon on her quest to found the Citadel of Light, plays a crucial role in the novel.
Gnolls resemble a cross between a man and a hyena. A dog-like muzzle dominates a gnolls’s face and greenish gray fur covers a gnoll’s body. Gnolls typically stand between seven and eight feet tall with eyes ranging from black to brown in color. Gnolls stand erect on two legs and sport claws that can manipulate objects as well as any human.
Gnolls tend to be overly aggressive and seemingly barbaric. Simple in the eyes of humans, gnolls are extremely cunning and make deadly enemies. Many gnolls display a tendency towards cowardice and evil, but like any race, gnolls are capable of honor and decency. The civilized world scares most gnolls that see it for the first time, and many gnolls find the smooth plains more comforting than the busy city life.
Gnolls live a rugged, harsh life. To reflect this, they need a minimum of 5 in all Physical scores. Gnolls are not known for their high intelligence, so gnoll heroes have a maximum Reason score of 6.
Gnolls are untrained in the various weapons of the civilized world, so a gnoll may not have code higher than “C” in any Physical ability except one. This one Physical ability has a maximum code of “B.” Gnolls are also untrained in the sorcerous arts, so a gnolls have a maximum Reason and Spirit code of “B.”
Gnolls are expert trackers. Any tracking action warrent an automatic trump bonus no matter what the suit of the action card is. Gnolls are also ferocious fighters and have many natural weapons. Gnolls may fight with their claws, which do +4 damage. Gnolls also have a natural armor that gives them a Defense rating of -3. This Defense rating is nullified if the gnoll wears armor. Gnolls are such ferocious fighters that when a gnoll attacks with its natural weapons, their claws, the action warrants a trump bonus no matter what the suit of the action card is.
Because of their fierce reputation, gnolls never enjoy company with non-gnolls. As a result, Presence actions with non-gnolls never receive a trump bonus. Also, gnolls have an ingrained fear of sorcery. Resisting sorcery is one degree harder for a gnoll hero.
Half-ogres are the offspring of ogres, and humans. Their potential is often overlooked. Half-ogres are creatures with a strength that rivals that of the minotaurs. They are usually savages, wandering the world alone, shunned by humans and ogres alike. They belong to neither their civilized human brothers, or their savage, ogre kin.
Half-ogres resemble tall, powerfully built, brutish humans. To often have others judged them by their looks rather than their hearts. They usually have black or dark brown hair. Their eyes are brown, black, and sometimes grey-ish blue. They range from six to eight feet tall, and weigh between two hundred to three hundred pounds.
Half-ogres wear very little, often walking around in only a loincloth. They prefer clubs or axes to swords. They tend to favor thrown weapons over missile ones.
Elves treat half-ogres as savages beneath their notice. They consider half-ogres to be savage, emotional, and evil creatures. Humans are more understanding, but civilized humans look upon them with disdain. Barbarians are quicker to accept them. Dwarves, gnomes, and particularly kender are fascinated with them. Centaurs and minotaurs admire half-ogres for their massive strength, and combat prowess.
Because of their powerful physiques, half-ogre players need a Strength and Endurance score of at least 8. Half-ogres are trained in the arts of war, so they need a code of “A” in at least one of those abilities. Finally, half-ogre heroes may never have a Presence score over 5. Because the human/ogre blood in a half-ogre, half-ogre heroes find it hard to learn mysticism or sorcery. Therefore, they have a maximum Spirit and Reason code of “B”.
Half-ogres have within them an indomitable spirit that can imbue them with a terrible rage. When a half-ogre hero’s hand is reduced to zero cards through melee combat, the player must flip over the top card of the Fate deck. If the card is a Shields card, then the player may opt to draw three cards and continue the battle. Once the battle ends, the hero falls unconscious. Should this second hand be reduced to zero, the hero dies.
Because of the turbulent mix of human and ogre blood within them, half-ogre heroes find it challenging to learn mysticism or sorcery. Therefore, half-ogres may never achieve greater than a “B” code in either Spirit or Reason.
Although elves call themselves the “firstborn” of Krynn, they are wrong. Ogres were the first to awaken. They were created during the Age of Starbirth to embody all that is Evil. However, a group of ogres broke free from their evil ways, and while their cousins grew ugly and dumb, they retained their beauty, intellect, and magic. They called themselves the Irda.
The main populace of Irda were destroyed just before the Chaos war. However, there are still Irda on Ansalon. There are may also be other Irda settlements on unknown isles, or among the Dragon Isles.
Right now, no one knows of the existence of Irda. All of them have either withdrawn from Ansalon, or are in disguise. Most Irda don’t even let their closest friends know their secrets.
Irda stand about six feet tall and are slender. Every race will acknowledge that the Irda have a cold beauty to them. They have pointed ears like elves, and they have eyes of silver. Their skin color ranges from midnight blue to deep, sea green. Most Irda have black hair, but white or silver hair isn’t uncommon.
Irda dress in simple clothing, but they do favor silk. They all move with a delicate grace, and they never eat meat. They also will not don garments made of wool, leather, or any product from animals.
Irda are considered to have an arrogance that rivals that of the elves. They feel that the world does not welcome them anymore. They consider human and demihumans to be fragile, flighty, and hopelessly enslaved by their emotions. Therefore, they usually ignore all other races unless it is impossible, and tend to mock their weaknesses.
The Irda don’t really know what happened to their people prior the Chaos war. They have heard the “stories” of their people releasing Chaos, but they refuse to believe in it. They think that the other races released Chaos, and are responsible for the deaths of many Irda. Irda also believe that the people of Ansalon created that story like they created the stories about them stealing babies and granting wishes. Therefore, whenever anyone mentions anything about the Irda causing the second Cataclysm, they get angry.
To qualify as an Irda, a hero must have a minimum score of 7 in Agility, Reason, Dexterity, and Spirit. In addition, Irda have a maximum score of 8 in Strength, and a maximum of 7 in Endurance.
Irda don’t train in the arts of war. They just aren’t taught to be warriors. To reflect this, Irda have a maximum ability code of “C” in Endurance, Strength, and Agility. Irda are creatures of magic, and all Irda are taught sorcery at an early age. To reflect this, and Irda hero must have a Reason score of at least “B”.
Irda all have an innate ability to use the sphere of Alteration. So even if they have a Spirit code of “D”, they can still use Alteration. If they have a Spirit code of “A” or “B”, they still get the sphere of Alteration without using any of their sphere slots.
Also, Irda are expert spellcasters. Therefore Irda with Reason codes of “B” can learn two schools of sorcery, while Irda with Reason codes of “A” can learn four schools of sorcery. They also get an automatic trump for any non-damaging spell they cast.
Irda are clumsy with the weapons of man. Therefore, they never receive a trump bonus when using non-Irda weapons. In addition to the non-trump, Irda receive a -3 bonus to using any edged weapon that is heavier than light.
Irda, if they aren’t disguised, receive a -8 bonus to any Presence action when dealing with non-Irda. This is because the people of Ansalon blame them for the loss of the Gods, and countless lives. Because of their haughty nature, Irda don’t gain trump bonuses for any non-Irda Presence when disguised.