Gnoll Week Preview: Unearthing Arcana

 Hi everyone! If you've been following my Twitter account @ZargoGames you probably saw that starting Monday, August 21, I will be celebrating Gnoll Week! To make Gnoll Week run smoother than Kobold Week did, I've decided to write as much of the week's content ahead of time, so as a special preview I'm showing one of the four reviews I've written for a special Unearthing Arcana. Enjoy this super-early preview!

(a full preview is available to all $1+ Patrons)

Racial Option: Gnolls (DMs Guild)

By ItsADnDMonsterNow (Kyle Pointer) LINK

Brief Summary: Create a playable gnoll race with three subraces while remaining as faithful to the current lore as possible.

Overview: The document is plain but very readable, so I consider that a positive. The formatting is great throughout the document. It opens with the author explaining his experience with playing gnolls in past editions and his desire to create playable gnolls for 5th. Then he provides a disclaimer that this has not been thoroughly playtested.

Past that there is a lengthy section that details the lore, ecology, and behavior of gnolls. This adheres strongly to the existing lore from the Monster Manual and Volo’s Guide but adds small touches that I appreciate. There’s a meaty list of sample names, great for people like me that have trouble coming up with names. Then finally there’s the traits section.

My problem with this is that it seems like gnolls are overloaded with traits. Individually, each trait is interesting and fits with gnolls well. However, the base gnoll feels like a full race on its own, but then it gets a choice of three subraces, each of which are also quite meaty. The core race contains a negative feature that penalizes the gnolls in certain roleplaying scenarios, but I don’t feel like this is enough to maintain balance. The subraces are distinct and flavorful. The mystic gives the gnoll innate magic, the scout makes the gnoll fast and skilled with ranged weapons, and the warrior makes the gnoll an all-around killing machine. The features work well with the flavor, but from just eyeballing it the race seems overpowered. Stripping out one or two features would probably bring the race more in line with the other races.

Verdict: A very well-written product that has a few balance issues that are easily addressable by a competent DM. Well worth the free price tag.

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