Level Up (A5E) Gnolls (and other evil things)

Is there any possibility of making it where the Gnolls are not the newest Orcs/Goblins in terms of "it's okay to genocide them!"?

Like, PCs may need things to fight, but I'm always bothered when an entry is basically "yes, they can be good but they'll never escape this [insert thing making their culture murder]".

I mean, just once I'd like to see matrilineal non-evil Gnolls with a more complicated relationship with folks.

It's like this with Chromatic Dragons too. Like maybe take a leaf from Eberron's pages with things?
 

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I don't know if there are plans for other gnoll material in Level Up, but in the ZEITGEIST setting, no, they're very much not cannon fodder.

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I don't know if there are plans for other gnoll material in Level Up, but in the ZEITGEIST setting, no, they're very much not cannon fodder.
I mean, different settings having different things is fine, but I really wish people were a bit more hesitant when it came to living beings effectively being "okay to kill" because of whatever reasons. And I know some people will point out they're literally possessed by a demon, but if anything that makes this sort of thing worse since it's a violation of their free will.
 

Is there any possibility of making it where the Gnolls are not the newest Orcs/Goblins in terms of "it's okay to genocide them!"?
That's entirely up to first the DM and then the players: the DM to take a more Eberron-approach to monstrous races, the players to not immediately genocide gnolls on sight even if the DM has made it clear that no race, in his/her campaign, is inherently evil.
(This does require significantly altering the canon for gnolls, but who cares? If it's your table, do what's fun for you.)

If you aren't referring to your table and just care about published content, RangerWickett's post about Zeitgeist makes it clear that the setting takes an Eberron-approach to monstrous races. The Monstrous Menagerie pretty clearly leans into the inherently evil nature of gnolls though, so you're 1 for 2 as far as Level Up's published (and soon-to-be published) content is concerned.
 

That's entirely up to first the DM and then the players: the DM to take a more Eberron-approach to monstrous races, the players to not immediately genocide gnolls on sight even if the DM has made it clear that no race, in his/her campaign, is inherently evil.
(This does require significantly altering the canon for gnolls, but who cares? If it's your table, do what's fun for you.)

If you aren't referring to your table and just care about published content, RangerWickett's post about Zeitgeist makes it clear that the setting takes an Eberron-approach to monstrous races. The Monstrous Menagerie pretty clearly leans into the inherently evil nature of gnolls though, so you're 1 for 2 as far as Level Up's published (and soon-to-be published) content is concerned.
I know, but I find reading this stuff more and more creepy. Like, if they're really trying to get away from the racist things don't start with them being evil. It even mentions that other humanoids can participate in the rite, so maybe make it an additional cultural variation at the end of the MM and, you know, not the first thing people are likely to know about them?
 

It sounds like you really like gnolls! I'd recommend just not playing them that way at your table, then, since I doubt the Monstrous Menagerie is ever getting a rewrite—and since the player options for gnolls, at least as presented in Zeitgeist, step away from the inherent evil anyway.

That said, I think it makes sense for the Monstrous Menagerie to lean into the evil—or at least reason to be combative and violent, something to fight—of most creatures within it. After all, it's a collection of stat blocks that will mostly be used for combat, so the focus is on reasons why we'd fight those things. Most adventuring parties being good—or at least neutral—they are much more likely to fight an evil band of marauding gnolls (or orcs, or goblins, or sahuagin, etc) than a good convent of gnoll nuns just looking to hug some people. I also think it makes sense for character options in a book like Zeitgeist to lean into the duality of any character option, because that prevents players from being pigeonholed (rather, feeling pigeonholed, since players should always make things their own anyway) when making their characters.
 

It sounds like you really like gnolls! I'd recommend just not playing them that way at your table, then, since I doubt the Monstrous Menagerie is ever getting a rewrite—and since the player options for gnolls, at least as presented in Zeitgeist, step away from the inherent evil anyway.

That said, I think it makes sense for the Monstrous Menagerie to lean into the evil—or at least reason to be combative and violent, something to fight—of most creatures within it. After all, it's a collection of stat blocks that will mostly be used for combat, so the focus is on reasons why we'd fight those things. Most adventuring parties being good—or at least neutral—they are much more likely to fight an evil band of marauding gnolls (or orcs, or goblins, or sahuagin, etc) than a good convent of gnoll nuns just looking to hug some people. I also think it makes sense for character options in a book like Zeitgeist to lean into the duality of any character option, because that prevents players from being pigeonholed (rather, feeling pigeonholed, since players should always make things their own anyway) when making their characters.
D&D tends to lack playable canine races for some reason, and I do like canines (yes, I know hyenas are not canine). Also I read the comic strip Digger and got a lot of ideas for gnolls from there.

It'd make sense if all the creatures in the MM were evil, but they aren't. Zeitgeist is very nice, but I kind of wish it were also present in the MM as well. Even though it's fiction, I end up feeling something is wrong if a party of adventurers is justified in smashing a clutch of Red Dragon eggs because the babies would only ever turn out evil anyway (and thus their species deserves extinction).
 

It'd make sense if all the creatures in the MM were evil, but they aren't. Zeitgeist is very nice, but I kind of wish it were also present in the MM as well.
While I won’t pretend that I’ve read through every entry very thoroughly in the MM, it is my perception that most monster entries give good reasons for the PCs to fight them, whether or not that reason is related to alignment. Either way, maybe you’ll get lucky next edition - orcs have been slowly turned into largely good (or net-neutral) creatures over time, as have goblins, and more monstrous races get added to that list as they get larger followings of players that want to see them officially accepted. Maybe Level Up 2.0 will be the gnolls’ time to shine.

As for players like me, I’m mostly playing DnD for the combat, with a little bit of role playing to keep things fresh, so it’s nice to have convenient monsters that are always safe to fight. Real life is too complicated as it is; I like keeping my RPGs simple to play.
 


dave2008

Legend
I mean, different settings having different things is fine, but I really wish people were a bit more hesitant when it came to living beings effectively being "okay to kill" because of whatever reasons. And I know some people will point out they're literally possessed by a demon, but if anything that makes this sort of thing worse since it's a violation of their free will.
What are you asking for exactly? It appears the very first response gave you exactly what you wanted, and then you go and dismiss it without really any acknowledgement. Are you really really looking for solutions or just complaining?
 
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Retreater

Legend
Here's my take. I think having some group of enemies that can be killed without question is an important part of many types of campaigns. They could be oozes, undead, demons, devils, etc. But something where not every encounter has to be a philosophical argument, which likely triggers IRL arguments between players. I've seen gaming groups collapse over these discussions.
 


FatPandaMonk

Villager
Here's my take. I think having some group of enemies that can be killed without question is an important part of many types of campaigns. They could be oozes, undead, demons, devils, etc. But something where not every encounter has to be a philosophical argument, which likely triggers IRL arguments between players. I've seen gaming groups collapse over these discussions.
I have been in a group that had this happen. Every encounter was a debate. We maybe had six games before it fell apart. In those games almost nothing ever happened we were so bogged down with moral debates.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Adventurer
I have been in a group that had this happen. Every encounter was a debate. We maybe had six games before it fell apart. In those games almost nothing ever happened we were so bogged down with moral debates.
There's definitely an issue of taste within this: I probably won't blink if presented with mindless opponents like the usual zombie/skeleton. Maybe I wouldn't think too hard about fiends. But for my tastes, sapient mortals are just uncomfortable.
 


Retreater

Legend
There's definitely an issue of taste within this: I probably won't blink if presented with mindless opponents like the usual zombie/skeleton. Maybe I wouldn't think too hard about fiends. But for my tastes, sapient mortals are just uncomfortable.
Do you play video games? Skyrim? Call of Duty? Uncharted? Assassin's Creed?
All of these have sentient opponents you can kill.
 


TheSword

Legend
Let’s be honest, hyena’s have had a bad rep since the Lion King. You’re gonna have to take that up with Mufassa, for banishing them to the place you must never go!

Seriously though. This is a group problem not a game problem.

- If you’re the DM just play gnolls how you want to play them. It is 100% in your control.

- If you’re a player and your group wants more nuanced stories that involve more than killing the monsters then speak to the DM and explain how you feel.

- If you’re a player and you’re the only one who wants this, and everyone else is happy going Vermintide on their asses then I’m afraid you persuade them, suck it up, or find a new group.

Changing a line of text in the MM won’t change any of that. It certainly won’t force anybody to change the game in any way they don’t want to.

incidentally, it’s not racist to kill intelligent hyena people if those hyena people don’t represent or remind people of real world folks. For a good example of what I’m talking about here compare gnolls - the cannibalistic, demon worshiping, slave trading hyena people to the examples in the thread about red and yellow orcs.
There is allowed to be some nuance in this debate. We can draw a distinctions between some creatures that shouldn’t be auto evil or have been handled pretty egregiously and some where it’s acceptable. I believe there is a sensibly moderate position to take.

One thing you can do, is not play with a DM that thinks it’s fun to put gnoll children or red dragon hatchlings in their adventure to tie you up in emotional/moral knots. Always remember that a DM has intentionally selected these things when they are present. They have also selected the framing when they present them to you. Published 5e adventures almost never include monstrous children unless it’s a cute fuzzy owlbear to adopt!

NB Incidentally I got a reply notification but a person can’t read a response if they’re blocked before they can read it 🤷🏻‍♂️
 
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So people who have a problem shouldn't play D&D 5e?

Because that's essentially what anyone who says "It's a group problem" is saying.
I think it means that people who have an issue with this should discuss it amongst themselves and find a way to play that works for them, making whatever changes they need to feel comfortable, as opposed to insisting that the company that produces the game change it to suit their needs.
 

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