Gnoll Racial Build-Up (CC welcome)


Homebrew and House Rules


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I always loved the Gnoll, but didn,t really liked the Version in the Advanced Race Guide as it differed quite a bit from the Bestiary.

This built came out as an Advanced Race, but only by 2 points, thus making it not too overpowered and making it easily allowable in most game.

Gnoll

Type
Humanoid
Cost: 0

Size
Medium
Cost: 0
Notes: 5' x 5' - Reach of 5'

Base Speed
Normal
Cost: 0
Notes: 30' speed

Ability Score Modifier
Paragon
Cost: 1
Notes: +4 Str, -2 to Int, Wis and Cha

Language
Xenophobic
Cost: 0
Notes: 1) Gnoll;
2) With High intelligence: Common, Elven, Goblin, Orc.

Racial traits
Ability Score Trait
1) Advanced constitution
Cost: 4
Notes:+2 Con
2) Advanced wisdom
Cost: 4
Notes: +2 Wis (Counters the Paragon wisdom penalty)

Defensive Trait
Natural Armor
Cost: 1
Notes: +1 Natural Armor

Sense Trait
60' Darkvision
Cost 2

Total Cost: 12 - Advanced Race.

CC and suggestion welcomed.


After reviewing the material on gnolls, I've removed Elven and addes Abyssal as a possible language to learn as their primary Deity is a Demon lord/Lady..so it makes more sense.


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In the interest of making the gnoll a 10 RP race, I suggest lowering the investment in ability scores. Also, ability scores, dark vision, and natural armor make this a mechanically bland race. An ability such as carrion sense or a bonus to tracking could help. I like to imagine that the mightiest gnoll warriors are rangers. What would compliment that?

Liberty's Edge

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Do not use the Race Builder.

You know why? You can have an identical race by taking 'Specialized' (+2 Str, +2 Con, -2 Cha) rather than Paragon, and then taking Advanced Strength rather than the Advanced scores you have here. Except you only have -2 Cha, not -2 Int as well, and the race costs 8 points rather than 12.

It's an objectively better race in every way, and costs less points.

Trying to build a Gnoll is exactly what convinced me the Race Builder wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

Just use the stats you've got there (ie: the official Gnoll stats minus racial HD), and go to town without worrying about the Race Builder. the stats are fine and the Race Builder is worthless.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
In the interest of making the gnoll a 10 RP race, I suggest lowering the investment in ability scores. Also, ability scores, dark vision, and natural armor make this a mechanically bland race. An ability such as carrion sense or a bonus to tracking could help. I like to imagine that the mightiest gnoll warriors are rangers. What would compliment that?

While reading the various materialo on them a few thing came up:

1) Description of increase mobility/running like a hyena while on all four;
2) Matriarcal society;
3) Chef are often ranger;
4) lives in Desert or Arid plain;
5) They are described as lazy.

The first one could be granting them either mobility or a +10' speed while on all fours. This ability could have a reduced cost as it is circumstantial.

I was thinking maybe giving them a trait related to their environment...not sure which.

not too sure about the other 3 points. However, I like the idea of "Carrion Sense" it would fit thematically though.


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For the speed bonus give yhem the sprinter trait that catfolk have, +10 move when running, charging, or withdrawing. You could throw in a terrain specific survival bonus as well.


Java Man wrote:
For the speed bonus give yhem the sprinter trait that catfolk have, +10 move when running, charging, or withdrawing. You could throw in a terrain specific survival bonus as well.

That's a good idea. It's circumstantial enough and would make sense for them to drop on all four to run more confortably/faster. as their bipedal gait is described as kind of a hopping gait.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Don't use advanced traits if you want a balanced race.

Just give them +2 Str, +2 Con, -2 Cha, +1 natural armor, low-light vision, Xenophobic, a bite attack, and maybe a skill bonus in something fitting.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Trying to build a Gnoll is exactly what convinced me the Race Builder wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

Just use the stats you've got there (ie: the official Gnoll stats minus racial HD), and go to town without worrying about the Race Builder. the stats are fine and the Race Builder is worthless.

The race builder isn't bad. It's just not a substitute for good design skill.


Agreed. You can use it as a resource, or you can break it. Compare the cost of a +2 bonus to Climb to the cost of a climb speed. There are many examples though.

Liberty's Edge

Allow me to rephrase:

The Race Builder's costs have no basis in how useful the things they buy are. It is thus utterly pointless, and indeed a bad system. Anyone with a scrap of system knowledge can eyeball the current races and build races that are at least equally balanced with those built using the race builder.

Therefore, why use it? It serves no purpose.


My suggested technique for semi-guided race building is to work it as if picking alternate traits for an existing race.

Example of building gnolls by this method:

We start with a sort of similiar race that we think is balanced, I wil use the Nagaji.

Stat bonuses, we move these around to +2 str and con, -2 int. A slight bump in power as we have two phys bonus stats, we will keep that in mind.

Natural armor bonus, we keep this as is.

We want dark vision, we trade out the low light vision for this, now we have two debts to pay back.

So the Nagaji still has bonus to poison and mind affecting saves (good), a perception bonus (good) and a bomus to handle animal for reptiles only (iffy value).

We trade the resistance down to a bonus to save against ingested poison and disease from food (flavoful but kind of weak), this will pay some of our debt.

Next we trade out the skill bomuses for carrion scent, the power balance here is a bit hard to judge, but I like the fluff too much.

Ta da, a reasonably balanced gnoll!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Allow me to rephrase:

The Race Builder's costs have no basis in how useful the things they buy are. It is thus utterly pointless, and indeed a bad system. Anyone with a scrap of system knowledge can eyeball the current races and build races that are at least equally balanced with those built using the race builder.

Therefore, why use it? It serves no purpose.

I consider it incredibly foolish to completely throw out a useful tool just because you figured out a few flaws with it.

Liberty's Edge

Cyrad wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

Allow me to rephrase:

The Race Builder's costs have no basis in how useful the things they buy are. It is thus utterly pointless, and indeed a bad system. Anyone with a scrap of system knowledge can eyeball the current races and build races that are at least equally balanced with those built using the race builder.

Therefore, why use it? It serves no purpose.

I consider it incredibly foolish to completely throw out a useful tool just because you figured out a few flaws with it.

If it were only a few, I'd agree with you. But it's pervasive. Let's go by category (spoilered for space):

Spoiler:
Movement speed reduction? Gives way too few points, given that halflings can (and do) willingly give up two +2s to skills for the boost from 20 to 30.

Ability score modifiers? Profoundly mis-cost. Humans can trade their bonus Feat and extra skill point for a second +2. And do so willingly because that's great. It costs 2 race points (and a fraction of a Floating Feat + Skilled).

Xenophobic is an annoying and legitimate problem but it gives no points. Why not?

Advanced Traits are actually vaguely-relevantly costed, but make no sense with how basic traits are assigned.

Battle Hardened is profoundly mis-cost in every way (+1 CMD costs the same as +2 Str!). Dual Minded costs less than a pre-chosen Feat (Iron Will), despite being better in every way.

Skill Bonus and Static Bonus Feat (Skill Focus) cost identical amounts. Skill Bonus in Climb also costs the same as actually having a Climb Speed. Water Child costs double what an actual Swim Speed costs.

Enclave Protector and Svirfneblin Magic both grant constant nondetection (a 3rd level spell) for 2 points...the same as a +2 to a single skill or a pre-decided Feat, and grant a number of other abilities as well. For the same price, you can have Mirror Image 1/day, and for only 1 point, you can have Undetectable Alignment 1/day and never get detected as having an alignment at all!

The movement mod stuff is fine...unless you compare it to other categories. Then there are issues.

Celestial Crusader costs 7 points. You can get better bonuses against Evil Outsiders for a fraction of the cost with...almost anything, really. Wyrmscourged gives a similar bonus against dragons for only 3 points, and Hatred against Humanoids for 1 point.

Negative Energy Affinity, one of the most annoying down-sides in the game, is only a -1 point drawback.

So...that's almost every category that has several mis-priced items. Often by vast amounts, in terms of actual utility. That's...not a usable system with a few flaws. It's a broken system that does more harm than good.

Liberty's Edge

You might check out the recently-released Advanced Races Compendium from Kobold Press.

There is an entire chapter on playing a gnoll as a player race, including cultural background, racial feats, traits, spells, gear, magic items, archetypes and loads more!


Marc Radle wrote:

You might check out the recently-released Advanced Races Compendium from Kobold Press.

There is an entire chapter on playing a gnoll as a player race, including cultural background, racial feats, traits, spells, gear, magic items, archetypes and loads more!

That could be an option indeed. I'll go over the comments/suggestion offered over the weekend and see what can be done.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Advanced Races Compendium looks pretty good. I want to snag a copy of that sometime.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

I consider it incredibly foolish to completely throw out a useful tool just because you figured out a few flaws with it.

If it were only a few, I'd agree with you. But it's pervasive. Let's go by category (spoilered for space):

** spoiler omitted **

So...that's almost every category that has several mis-priced items. Often by vast amounts, in terms of actual utility. That's...not a usable system with a few flaws. It's a broken system that does more harm than good.

While I agree on some points and would argue against others (I could explain the costs of drawbacks in a PM), that doesn't indicate the entire system is worthless and/or unusual. The RP costs do not make up the entire system. The tiers are actually the most useful indicator of what abilities are appropriate for a player race. At the very least, the race builder makes a good racial trait catalog. But stamping the entire resource as worthless because one aspect of it is off strikes me as foolish.

And honestly, the worst I've ever seen come out of the race builder came from players/GMs who obviously never actually read the rules for how it works.


Guy could we drop it please.

If you wish to argue the value of the Race Builder please start a new thread as it is not helpful or constructive in my attempt to build a Gnoll PC race.

Thank you.

Liberty's Edge

Andre Roy wrote:

Guy could we drop it please.

If you wish to argue the value of the Race Builder please start a new thread as it is not helpful or constructive in my attempt to build a Gnoll PC race.

Thank you.

You got it.


Andre Roy wrote:


The first one could be granting them either mobility or a +10' speed while on all fours. This ability could have a reduced cost as it is circumstantial....However, I like the idea of "Carrion Sense" it would fit thematically though.

On the movement my GM game gave my Gnoll PC the "Run" feat as a racial bonus feat. Makes sense really to me.

Carrion sense follows reasoning, especially if you follow the old school Gnolls from 3.5. They were immune to digested poisons and diseases! They could eat anything organic and gain some sort of sustenance from it.
They were often accused of digging up graveyards during bad seasons!

I always felt however that gnolls should always have the option for the full Scent monster ability, either as an optional racial trait or a feat bonus like half-orcs get.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Andre Roy wrote:

Guy could we drop it please.

If you wish to argue the value of the Race Builder please start a new thread as it is not helpful or constructive in my attempt to build a Gnoll PC race.

Thank you.

Sure thing.

For the Gnoll race, my suggestion above still stands.

When designing a race, lore is more important than the statistics. So what you want in the race description depends heavily on how gnolls are presented in the campaign setting. Are they fierce hunters? Are they scavengers? Do they possess some technical knack or affinity for building stuff? Heck, in Golarion, there's many gnolls that engage in black market deals and some who became rich business men by investing in the slave trade.


Indeed and there's a lot of great suggestion to look into this weekend.

Personally I always liked the opportunitic/Scavanger aspect of the gnoll over most/all edition and might be leaning towards that line.


I agree with Cryad about the lore, but I caution about going overboard. A few paragraphs or up to a page is sufficient. More than that and the number of people who read it becomes less frequent (unless its just that well written ).

The next step, in my mind, is the bridge between lore and mechanics. Here are a few examples. One should support the other.
-The first example I like to use is the old school ability where halflings get a +1 with slings and rocks. It's nearly useless, but I feel every race should have one ability like this. Dwarves can appraise, etc.
-Then there are the useful ones. Dwarves gets an awesome bonus to poisons and spells. Elves get a bonus to perception and to overcome SR. Just mechanics, yes, but they fit the lore of the race. It's not just meaningless numeric bonuses.
-A race that screams only one class type, such as arcane caster, 2-handed weapon, or sneaky, is not great design. A player should be able to use the race more than once and build a different character each time. I feel this is why the core races all have one physical and one mental ability score bonus. Few people would play an orc spell caster, but dwarves can be durable and effective as a cleric or a fighter. An elf can can excel as a wizard or a rogue. (Using very broad examples here)


Carrion sense or a bonus to perception due to smell makes sense for Gnolls. As they are pretty much antho hyenas, dark vision and a tracking bonus would be mechanically and lore friendly.

I like Ciaran's idea of a basic ability for each race. Using the halfling example of +1 for slings, gnolls could have +1 for javelins or spears. Not earth shacking but supports the lore and mechanics of gnolls being being scavengers/hunters. Or a bonus to looting, a life time of scavenging is going to make it easier to spot valuable or useful items from a pile of junk.


I do like those ideas, definitely something to consider seriously.

The looting bonus is an interesting idea. Thank you all for the ideas.

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