Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Gnolls: Followers of the Phallus

In the dark of a catacombs in deepest night one might hear them: laughing wildly, raucously, yellow eyes flashing in the night, teeth cracking and grinding the bones of the dead. The gnolls have gathered for a feast of bones, and only the stalwart or the foolhardy can hear their weird laughter without the catch of terror in his heart.

(those who hear the "laughter" of gnolls must make a morale check, results appropriate to the situation--i.e. panic and flee if in combat, or become shaken and suffering -1 to all rolls, etc.)

Slaughtered animals lie in the fields, killed for sport and stinking of blood, but otherwise untouched; meanwhile, the gnolls that hunted, killed, and ignored them gather now in the graveyards of other races, digging up bodies long dead to crush the bones of corpses between their teeth. Laughing and hyena-headed, gnolls are creatures of perversity, servants of Evil who make a mockery of every philosophy and religion.

My first D&D book was the 2e Monstrous Manual, whence
this image is take; it's still my favorite depiction of a gnoll


As scavengers, gnolls prefer to eat that which is already dead. They kill for sport, but prefer to eat that which is long dead, or which is killed by the hands of another. To this end, they prefer corpses dug up from necropolises and graveyards (which they can easily crush between their teeth, and which provide the added pleasure of enraging certain sects who believe that the buried dead are sacrosant); OR to eat of flesh killed by the hands of the slaves they keep--and because a slave killed it, the gnoll is glad to "scavenge" it by bullying the slave into surrendering the kill.

Gnolls draw dicks on everything ... and then build dick-idols!
Gnolls' obsession with phalluses is well recorded. Certain scholars identify their main deity as Priapus, god of fertility and sexuality, traditionally depicted with an enormous erection; but this identification is weak at best, as the erection-wielding deity of the gnolls is generally androgynous, or perhaps indeed a goddess with an enormous phallus--or literally just an enormous phallus without other context, probably carved of appropriately-shaped hardwood. Not that identification of a gnoll's sex is easy--many sources attest that every single gnoll is male and that the specie's propagation is a mystery, while other scholars argue that female gnolls are actually possessed of a huge clitoral pseudo-penis, generally functional as both a male and female organ.

On the left, a hyena penis; on the right, a hyena female's pseudo-penis
Because every member (ahem) of the species possesses a significant erectile organ, the gnolls' obsession with phallic art is perhaps understandable. Wherever gnolls gather, phallic graffiti will adorn the walls, and altars will be raised before idols either bearing huge erections, or seeming merely to be erect phalluses themselves. Native gnollish religious rites involve feast-orgies in which the strong bully the weak into feeding and sexually pleasuring them; and among those tribes which have large contingents of Lawful or Good slaves, gnolls tend to take a perverse pleasure in mocking the rites of those religions, especially by dressing up a donkey in a priest's robes (calling it a "priest-ass" if they have any sense of the Common language and the nature of puns), and forcing all to do obeisance to it as it brays the eternal "Yee-AH! Yee-Ah!" (check out Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra for the joke ...)

Seeing this mockery of Lawful and Good religious rites, presided over by an ass, the gnolls fall among themselves laughing horribly into the night. They demand ever more elaborate "rites" and protestations of faith from the slaves/prisoners they wish to abuse by forcing them to take part in these abominations of religious ritual; whether the "rites" end up killing the slave(s), or the gnolls find the joke good enough to spare their slave(s) for the night is up to the whim of the gnolls and whether they can control themselves amidst their fits of laughter. (Once the mockery gets going and the gnolls begin really to laugh themselves wild, they should make a saving throw against paralysis at +2 each round to act; otherwise they continue to laugh uproariously, pounding the ground in their perverse mirth, though still able to defend themselves ably if attacked).

1 comment: