Saturday 26 October 2019

Satanic Panic's Great Gnolls

No trace of hyena DNA here.
One little bit of detail that made me raise an eyebrow when first reading the Monsters & Treasures booklet of Original Dungeons & Dragons was the description of gnolls: "A cross between Gnomes and Trolls (. . . perhaps, Lord Dunsany did not really make it all that clear) with +2 morale.".[1] After knowing them as hyena men for years I found this paragraph more than amusing, especially with the included illustration, which shows them as some crouching goblinoid.

Since the release of the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual the hyena-headed humanoid became the widespread design for gnolls, and I recall very few examples that deviated from them. One of them was Citadel's FTG Fantasy Tribes Gnolls line, where similar to OD&D's Monsters & Treasures the gnolls were big goblinoids. The line was later renamed to FTG Fantasy Tribes Goblins, and finally became C12 Great Goblins.

This April Satanic Panic Miniatures ran a Kickstarter campaign to release its Great Gnoll line - a bunch of multi-part old-school miniatures inspired by the classic gnolls/great goblins. The campaign was successful, and the figurines are available for sale on the SPM website. A few months ago during a sale I bought two sets, which collected dust until two weeks ago. Despite my aversion towards multi-part miniatures, I had a lot of fun already with these little bastards, and I'm nowhere near finished! I spent a copious amount of time figuring out how to combine the various parts, gluing them together, coming up with the color schemes, et cetera. Alas this project is on hold now, for I ran out of bases, which probably won't arrive in the next two weeks (thanks Brexit).

Crossbow gnoll looks so excited to get primed,
 longsword gnoll not so much.
The minis have separate heads, torsoes, shields, and weapons. While the bodies within a set are identical, the heads are all distinct and characterful - my favorite being the one with the chubby cheeks and buck teeth. For some strange reason there are only three shields for four minis, but the weapons more than compensate for that, because there is a crapton of them. Preparing the great gnolls wasn't hard. There were plenty of flashes to cut down, but none of them were problematic, and the seamlines were few and far between. Be careful with the weapons though! They are a bit fragile, I managed to break a sword while trying to force it into a great gnoll's hand. The "great" part in their name is no joke, they are pretty tall for goblinoids - they are a bit shorter  than my Frostgrave characters, and taller than my Heartbreaker Kev Adams orcs.

Not sure what these charming fellows will be at my table. I might introduce them as "true" gnolls into Old School Essentials, or use them as great goblins in Zweihänder. It's also possible I'll use them as hobgoblins until I find better minis for that - although SPM has some intriguing plans for them too. Speaking of which, SPM has another Kickstarter campaign running as I post this to produce a bunch of multi-part great gnoll boar riders. There are only a few days left, and it's almost funded. If you are not interested in mounted units or you want some footmen too, you can add the original infantry packs and their C variants to the pledge.

A finished great gnoll in classic D&D hobgoblin colours.

[1] Interestingly the Lord Dunsany story the author refers to is How Nuth Would Have Practised His Art upon the Gnoles from Book of Wonders, and doesn't have any description of its titular gnoles. In Margaret St. Clair's The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles one of they are likened to an artichoke, and have tentacles instead of arms.