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Ok so I'm confused.
November 22, 2012
1:01 pm
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What is this site? I'm just asking because gnolls have always been my favorite D&D monster (now a playable race in D&D 4E (yay!)) . Does this have something to do with the anthropomorphic hyena golls of D&D or am I completely off.

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November 22, 2012
6:47 pm
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Gnollrunner:

Yes, it's about hyena-people -- specifically, the spotted hyena-people, Homo crocuta.  I've had the rare privilege to know some of them, so I wrote a book called The Gnoll Credo.  It's the first book (and still the only book) about gnolls.

If you want to know more about all the "other stuff" that's here, read my FAQ.  The connection between gnolls and the "other stuff" will be obvious once you've read the Credo. 

JS

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November 22, 2012
9:41 pm
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Well I read the freebee part of the credo and looked around a bit and as near as I can tell you are creating some real life philosophy centering on diet and based on a monster first appearing (at least as a Hyena man) in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual  (1st Edition) .......

 "I've had the rare privilege to know some of them"

Yeah OK ...... and I bet they had the eye of Yeenoghu painted on their shields. Next time you see them tell them I said hi......

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November 23, 2012
3:45 pm
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Gnollrunner:

TGC isn't about diet.  It's Gryka's biography, or what I know of it.  Any philosophy it contains is my effort to come to terms with what I learned from her.

Keep in mind that the world of TGC is not the D&D world: it contains no magic, and its creatures must survive on their own merits.  As such, its gnolls aren't the gratuitously bloodthirsty demon-worshippers depicted in D&D manuals.  They're much more like spotted hyenas, in both behavior and social organization. 

Here's a brief history of the concept of the gnoll (originally spelled "gnole").

JS

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November 23, 2012
5:31 pm
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Actually your gnolls seem very similar to the latest D&D gnolls; in fact so similar that I was guessing you had read Dragon 367.  Not all D&D gnolls are gratuitously bloodthirsty these days. There are the butcher’s brood gnolls and then there are the soul of the hyena gnolls which do have dealings with humans but are still rather curt when speaking.  In your book you have Gryka saying: Aidan O’Rourke. What do you want, while Dragon 376 says: Instead of “Can I help you?” the gnoll says “Tell me what you want!”.  Notice the similarity?

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November 25, 2012
6:26 pm
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Gnollrunner:

I've indeed seen that article, but not until after I'd written the first draft.  There are similarities -- but there are many more differences, because the gnolls I know are much closer to Crocuta crocuta than to the D&D conception of a creature with demonic blood and its consequent internal conflicts.  

In summary, if you're looking for a book that explores the world of D&D gnolls, you'll be disappointed.  (Though that could be an excellent book, it's not the one I wrote.)  I think my publisher's description summarizes TGC well:

"Against all advice, an unsuspecting ethnologist (Aidan O’Rourke) travels to the frontier of human civilization to study gnolls—a tall, fearsome race of feral hyena-people best known for uncompromising savagery in battle and a propensity to eat their victims. Expecting yet another simple and brutal primitive tribe, he finds instead a complex society of matriarchal, pack-hunting predators with a stark and beautifully bleak philosophy of existence.

Gryka, the gnolls’ charismatic liaison to humans, quickly draws Aidan out of his scholarly detachment, and into her violent yet compelling life. And as Aidan’s extraordinary adventures with a fierce, joyous, and hilariously blunt carnivore transform into a complex and intense relationship, Aidan becomes entangled in the gnolls’ transition from their purely animal past to a difficult and uncertain future among humans who would gladly kill them all if they could—culminating in a violent confrontation between the two worlds."

Further reading:

http://www.gnolls.org/forums/talk/a-hyena-question/

http://www.gnolls.org/forums/talk/bestiary/

JS

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November 26, 2012
3:51 pm
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Ok well I guess I should check out the rest of your book. I know a bit about spotted hyenas. I went on a safari once and did some reading first. We actually saw quite a few.  On one occasion one came walking by our truck while we relaxing and having a drink and the conversation went like: "Hey there's a hyena","Yup that's hyena". "What's it carrying?". Hyena comes closer. "Look it's got a gnu's head!", someone drunk guy says: "Gnu's not unix", "Well if that one ever was unix, It anin't any more", about three people laugh while everyone else looks around confused.

 

In any case, if you like striped hyena's too evidently they make good pets and get pretty tame. I see pups for sale online sometimes. There's also a video I saw about a Syrian family with hyena's sitting around on the sofa with kids walking about. I haven't been able to find it again however.

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November 26, 2012
8:27 pm
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Gnollrunner:

I'm jealous!  Though I've seen live spotted hyenas, I've never been to Africa to see them in the wild.  But even from the captive examples and the videos, it's clear that they're extremely intelligent, inquisitive animals.  At the wildlife park, most of the carnivores just slept the whole day...but the spotted hyenas were up and about, checking out all the visitors (paying particular attention to the children, which they clearly understood would be slower and easier to catch), begging for (and getting) neck-scratches from the keepers, and generally being interested in anyone who paid attention to them.

The striped hyena video you're thinking of can be found here.  And I've read several accounts of people who keep spotted hyenas as pets: apparently they're also quite tameable, though due to their inquisitive/destructive nature and great strength, nearly impossible to keep.

JS

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January 20, 2013
8:12 pm
Gnoll
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January 5, 2013
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I was on safari in Tanzania in 2011 and saw quite a few hyenas.  I saw one battle that took place across a road right in front of our stopped jeep.  A mother cheetah and her two juvenile cubs were fighting over an antelope carcass against a whole pack of hyenas.  The hyenas won, needless to say.  The little kitties were hissing mad but the hyenas just ran off laughing.

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January 28, 2013
9:54 pm
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Paleobird:

It's tough being a cheetah: something like 90% of their kills are appropriated in part or in whole by other predators, usually lions or hyenas (though sometimes leopards).

Ironically, the larger the predator, the more often it engages in "aggressive scavenging" (i.e. stealing kills) vs. hunting.  If you're a lion, it's much easier to chase away a cheetah than it is to catch a Thompson's gazelle yourself!  And, in fact, lions hunt perhaps 40% of their food (the rest is scavenged, usually from hyenas).  Hyenas hunt 60-90%, depending on region: in the Ngorongoro Crater, lions are essentially parasitic on hyenas!  Cheetahs and wild dogs hunt basically 100% of their own game, because they can't chase off anyone else (except, perhaps, the odd caracal).

JS

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February 19, 2013
3:17 pm
Gnoll
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January 5, 2013
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Th Ngorongoro Crater was awesome in the truest sense of the word.  Did you know that there the elephants live to be much older than elsewhere?  This is due to the mineral content of the soil and water.  Elephants get six sets on teeth throughout the course of their life (like we get two) but each set only lasts 8-10 years.  When the last set falls out, the elephant starves to death.  In the Ngorongoro, each set of elephant teeth lasts for 15-18 years making for some really elderly but still healthy elephants.

Also the lions there have a beautiful rich chocolatey brown color to their manes unlike the standard blond lion color.  I was told by my guide that the lady lions find this shade very attractive.

Probably should fact check things that guides say.

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February 19, 2013
5:37 pm
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Paleobird:

No, I didn't know that about elephants in the Ngorongoro.  (I've never been to sub-Saharan Africa.)

"I was told by my guide that the lady lions find this shade very attractive.  Probably should fact check things that guides say."

Ha!  I've seen a "Barbary lion" (which may or may not actually be descended from them) in a wildlife preserve with a very dark mane...except the shading is more black, not brownish.  The mane also extended all the way under the belly, not just around the neck.  I think it looks quite nice...but I'm neither female nor a lion.

JS

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