Allow Gnoll?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Hey guys. I have a player that's wanting to play the Gnoll race, which I'm not concerned about rp or flavor wise,but some of the players are concerned about it mechanically, thinking it's too strong. The reason I'm asking the other players about it is I originally told them that they had to go with core classes. The gnoll is a new player to the group, and I figured if all the others were okay with it, I'd allow him to play gnoll.

What are your guys' opinions on this and arguments for or against gnoll.


Gnolls don't have an ability score penalty for their race. However they don't get a whole lot. They can't speak common so your player will need to invest in an Int modifier or a point in linguistics. +2 natural armor and darkvision aren't too bad. Good but by far not game breaking.

Of course this is the ARG gnoll, which is just a footnote in the race building section.

So all and all, I'd allow it. +2 Str, +2 Con, no negative, and +2 Natural Armor plays into a pretty good front-liner. The cost of course, no common so he's gotta invest in communication. Assuming you're using point buy for ability scores, it balances out.


Finally a reason for someone to use the flindbar.


Scourge of Qeynos. The OG of the 10 min adventure day.


its fine, gnolls only get +2str +2 con +2 natural armor and dark vision, they also don't start out the game with common so they need to put a point into linguistics if they want to communicate with the party, so while nice for classes like fighter or barbarian its not to great for much else and most core races get much better things like a +2 to any score or a bonus feat or a massive bonus vs magical saves


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Powerwise, it's like Isaac Zephyr said. Gamewise, you've made a ruling and now you have a player trying to break it right off the bat. Understandably, it's probably not malicious, but because they're new. Being new, however, they probably shouldn't be (the only one) playing an uncommon race. You said you aren't worried RP wise about a gnoll in the party, so apparently you aren't going to worry about a gnoll walking through town or being treated suspiciously, so ultimately, why bother?

If it's just to cater to one player, that's fine but it sets a bad precedent without them earning the chance. You'd almost be better off letting them play a core race and having them raised by gnolls or thinking they're a (possibly cursed) gnoll.


The best way to resolve this is ask the group first. Even one objection solves the issue, since you said at the start what you wanted.


If their goal is to make a melee character, it's a great leg up on doing such a thing. A two handed weapon user at levels 1 through 4 dominates things pretty hard, as casters haven't quite come into their own yet (nor has anyone else). So early on it could feel like such a character is really dominating combat.

Once casters reach 3rd level spells and beyond, the gnoll's strength, con, natural armor, and darkvision wont matter too much compared to what casters can do. That being said, if there is another melee character, they're probably going to feel like they got a bad deal comparatively.

Either way, as a GM I'm not a fan of allowing monstrous races if the first place and would tell the player to choose a different race because a gnoll wouldn't be allowed into town in the first place to ever meet up with the party. And the party would have no reason to trust them or accept them into the group.


While the ARG gnoll gets some nice stuff, you also have to see what it does not get: A bonus feat, a save bonus (beside the indirect +1 Fortitude from +2 Con) or a skill bonus (+2 is nice at lowest levels - when skills matter most). And the only gnoll only feat (that I know) is Snapping Jaws - to get a bite attack, slightly better than the half-orc one.


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This is also a question of fairness.
It seems a bit harsh to restrict most of your players to core races and allow one player to break that restriction. I would have issues with that even if I didn't feel the gnoll itself were overpowered (I agree with most here, it's a little to the upper end of powerful on a melee class, but not game-breakingly so).

If you allow the gnoll, you pretty much have to open up other races to the rest of the group if they wish, or you risk them resenting the new player - more so if they dominate (which they may at the early levels as highlighted by Claxon). They will be unlikely to give it the chance to get to the levels where it becomes irrelevant. It is a good enough reason to say no to the new player.


I would not call the gnoll out of the ARG overpowered at all. If anything it is weaker than the core races. Sure it makes a good barbarian or fighter but that is about it. The downsides of the race more than make up for its strengths. If the player chooses a barbarian the other players may not even notice the difference. Everything the gnoll will get is something a barbarian is already going to be good at.

What the race does not do is to cover any of the weakness of the class. A dwarf barbarian gets Hardy which helps to shore up the barbarians weak will save. It also gets a lot of other abilities compared to the gnoll. A elf wizard gets proficiency in several marital weapons including bows. Considering the elven wizard will probably have a decent DEX this gives him a decent way to attack when he is out of spells.

As to being fair to the other players that is another question entirely. In honesty the fair thing would be to not allow the new player to play a gnoll. What you could do is to reskin the half-orc to a half-gnoll. Have him swap out a couple of the racial traits for alternative traits. For example orc weapon familiarity could be replaced with chain fighter, Orc ferocity could be replaced with toothy. Change Orc blood to Gnoll blood and have his starting languages be common and gnoll.


To be fair to everyone else, the answer should be a flat No.

You could actually play to the Gnolls weaknesses and start him as a Wildborne Barbarian, who is illiterate... illiteracy is a function of that archetype. This helps hide a lot of what could be considered unfair, because as others have said, what the gnoll gets, barbarians are expected to have.


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When I was a kid there were only 6 non-human races and they couldn't advance beyond single digit levels. And we walked to our games. In the freezing snow. Uphill. Both ways.


There are some serious problems if you role-play how NPCs would respond to a gnoll. At least in most traditional fantasy settings, he might not be allowed through the town gate or into inns and shops. Many/most “civilized” humanoids would see a humanoid monster, and one more dangerous than goblins and kobolds. The mechanical benefits have a cost in that sense. I have played some monstrous humanoids in the past, and they were not treated the same as the core races. It’s your setting though, so anything is possible.


If you have any small races in the party already, you can disguise the illiterate Wildborne Barbarian Gnoll as a mount for the small person. He has to sleep in the stables, but he probably doesn't care, and neither will anyone else as long as he doesn't eat the horses. People have all sorts of strange beasts as mounts, an illiterate Gnoll would be seen as no different in such circumstances.

In combat he turns into the raging terror everyone knows Gnolls to be.

But he looks relatively tame with a halfling on his back.


Gnolls are not an overpowered race. They make excellent melee combatants, but outside that role, they just don't shine. The gnoll player will dominate combat at lower levels, but once the party hits level four or five, they're going to catch up and possibly surpass the gnoll. If your player is new and has their heart set on a gnoll, then let them play their gnoll.


Strong for what it's strong at, and not much else. It's better than a dual-talent human so long as the human picks Strength and Constitution--it trades the ability to speak Common for the ability to speak gnoll, and it gets darkvision and natural armor on top of that. It's worse than an aasimar in most ways, but aasimar are arguably broken compared to core races. Allowing a gnoll probably won't break your game.

How would NPCs in your setting react to a gnoll PC?


blahpers wrote:

Strong for what it's strong at, and not much else. It's better than a dual-talent human so long as the human picks Strength and Constitution--it trades the ability to speak Common for the ability to speak gnoll, and it gets darkvision and natural armor on top of that. It's worse than an aasimar in most ways, but aasimar are arguably broken compared to core races. Allowing a gnoll probably won't break your game.

How would NPCs in your setting react to a gnoll PC?

Yeah, even though the race in itself is not game breaking, I have a difficult time imagining the character not being slain on sight/lynched depending on whether it's the local military/constabulary, or the populace... gnolls really have an evil reputation.


Klorox wrote:
Yeah, even though the race in itself is not game breaking, I have a difficult time imagining the character not being slain on sight/lynched depending on whether it's the local military/constabulary, or the populace... gnolls really have an evil reputation.

Kind of like Goblins.

*ducks*


are goblins often used as an addition to a standard group, or are they used for all monster campaigns?


Klorox wrote:
are goblins often used as an addition to a standard group, or are they used for all monster campaigns?

a little of both i reckon


weird... given that goblins are a bunch of destructive, thieving pyromaniacs, I don't see anybody wanting to get nearer than bowshot range from them...


They will be a core race in the Pathfinder 2E Playtest.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

One alternative if you are worried about mechanical balance is allow him to play a Gnoll, but use the stats/abilities of a Half-Orc instead of the Gnoll race (with maybe a few minor changes such as weapon familiarity). He would look like a gnoll, have the background of a gnoll, but mechanics wise he would be functioning under the restrictions the rest of the players are.


John Mechalas wrote:
They will be a core race in the Pathfinder 2E Playtest.

will orcs, kobolds and hobgoblins be included in the core races too?

those sure tend to be more personable than gnolls or goblins.


Klorox wrote:
John Mechalas wrote:
They will be a core race in the Pathfinder 2E Playtest.

will orcs, kobolds and hobgoblins be included in the core races too?

those sure tend to be more personable than gnolls or goblins.

Nope, just goblins. You can read the blog post about the reasoning (would link, but on mobile atm and lazy).

I find Drow are also pretty high on the list of none-too-keen races people like to play.


well, drow... are one of my favorite races, even if I've only played 2 in my 37 years of gaming


Klorox wrote:
well, drow... are one of my favorite races, even if I've only played 2 in my 37 years of gaming

I agree. One of my three favourite characters I've made of all time is a drow. Meek little drow bard, played up the fact everyone hated her for what she was and wore a full hajib and veil. Of course she was 5e, I then reused the idea for Pathfinder and made her a Vigilante's social identity, though she's very different from my meek little bard.


well, my first was an AD&D, houseruled Magic User/Assassin, he could stand the sun because he was only half drow (the other half being grey elf), he was the bastard of a noblewoman and an abducted slave girl got an education so he would help in raiding the surface world for more slaves... escaped and became an adventurer instead...

the other was a noble kid without the whatfor to become a great warrior or wizard, so he turned to warlock pact for power, except it was with graz'zt which made him a pariah in drow society... he later converted to worshipping Eilistraee and had his warlock's "contract" bought several times by various powerful supernatural entities... all the while trying to prevent a mass demonic invasion of the Underdark and possibly the surface world.


The goblins in New 'n' Pathy! are . . . different. As in "change the Charisma penalty to a bonus" different. Can't complain about it, though--they locked the thread.


what's that, the goblins have changed majorly from one edition to the next? enough that they stop being the monsters everybody loves to hate and get a seat among the core races... too far out mon.


I have enjoyed playing a few “monster” races in the past, but it is a bit odd to me that multiple should become core races. Eh. I’m interested to see what becomes of it.

Maybe this is a long term effect of the two sides in WoW.


thing is, this is PF, not WoW... I must admit I was delighted when D&D4 made a minotaur PC race (playing the monster just did not do it in 3.xx, even with the Savage Species suggestions)... if the game was really WoW RPG, I'd clap, nay, EXPECT, two player handbooks, one for the Alliance, one for the Horde... but this is not it, and seriously, playing a race of complete psychoparths seems to me an error akin to the kender... even the orc could be a mistake, depending on whether you regard them as inherently evil and destructive, or as just another warrior folk...

The Exchange

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old gamer rant

I can remember long ago, when Druids were a monster (and Orcs and goblins and Gnolls and... other creatures) that worked with or where EVIL, and therefore where killed on sight. Anyone actually working with them was an EVIL creature and Paladins and Right Minded Persons would fight them... and the world was a simpler place.

Then we let a few of them into polite society - after all they are NEUTRAL (a new alignment), so we let them into "civilization" and Players could actually create Druid PCs and all was Good with the world and life was simpler... After all, we still have evil Orcs and Goblins and... stuff to fight!

Then we let a few of them Half-Orcs into polite society, into "civilization" and Players could actually create Half-Orc PCs.

But that was OK, after all, Goblins and Gnolls were still EVIL and "Paladins and Right Minded Persons would fight them... and the world was a simpler place".

Next thing you know, we'll be letting Players create Goblin PCs and we'll have to let them into polite society, into "civilization" and Players will actually create ... wait... wow...

old guy wheels his chair back to his room to ponder the simpler days gone by...


[conspiracy]
They are replacing humans as a playable race. Humans are now considered the monsters (obviously home games can do what they want, ala eeevil humano-centric play.)
I suspect this has been kept under wraps because some of their customer base might be biased.
[/conspiracy]


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Gnoll (out of the ARG) will give a short term mechanical advantage for a front liner, but eventually wash out.

Now, if the new person actually wants to play a Bestiary gnoll, the answer should be no.

Though if you do allow the new guy a gnoll, you should probably open up the oddball race options to the rest of the group. Restricting them all to core races and then letting the new guy ignore that rule is just kind of rude.


Bill Nye 924 wrote:

Hey guys. I have a player that's wanting to play the Gnoll race, which I'm not concerned about rp or flavor wise,but some of the players are concerned about it mechanically, thinking it's too strong. The reason I'm asking the other players about it is I originally told them that they had to go with core classes. The gnoll is a new player to the group, and I figured if all the others were okay with it, I'd allow him to play gnoll.

What are your guys' opinions on this and arguments for or against gnoll.

If you mean 'core races' then no - you cannot allow the Gnoll because you already told the other players it was core races only. If you mean 'core classes' then there's not going to be much of an issue except what's mentioned above. You could even homebrew a variety of Gnolls that would fit into your setting. Gnolls are only 6 RP which is less than a Half-Orc (8).


The $1M question is which gnoll? The 6 RP one in ARG, or the 2 HD one in Bestiary? The ARG one is short on RP and a weak race. The other one will have an advantage at low levels.

All that aside, unless the rest of the group agreed, you’re throwing out your restrictions for this one player. That can cause problems in groups.

“So, you guys are Core only, but my girlfriend can play a dragon with no restrictions...”

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