While it's almost completely unrelated to CRPGs, I thought some of you might get a kick out of this new feature on the Wizards of the Coast website that takes us through a reimagining-of-sorts for the classic hyena-inspired Gnoll. Here's to hoping we go up against a pack of these guys in a not-too-distant video game:
Then we mulled over a few of the comments mentioned above and came up with these considerations. That final artwork is very cool, indeed.
Chaotic evil and depraved. These guys aren't going to be warm and fuzzy. They are dark, corrupt, and villainous. So we have to push the design darker. One of the things that really jumped out at me was the idea of a hunched character. It has a nice corrupt and evil feel to it. Upright creatures always feel kind of noble almost good in nature. So, a couple of concepts lent themselves to continued exploration on this front. Then we just pushed them further.
Strong and dumb. Small beady eyes, lower foreheads, strong oversized hands, muscular build. All the physical characteristics support the idea of strong and dumb. Figuring out how to adapt these characteristics to a man/hyena mix is where the fun is. The hyena is a pretty strong and stocky creature to begin with, and integrating these elements with the human form was already working pretty well in the early concepting. At this point, it was simply a matter of playing up the features to try to make the design fit the story better. All the concepts hit on this strong and dumb idea okay, but some had more promise than others.
Hides and scavenged armor. Again, the concepts were tackling the armor aspect of gnolls pretty well. And again, I wanted to push the concept a little further. These guys were not crafters of armor rather they were (accumulators.) They pulled together bits and pieces that they could find on their victims, and they fashioned them into something useful. I wanted to see pieces of armor being used in uncommon ways: a bit of barding used here, some chainmail here, a bit of leather and cloth over here.
Agile. I bring agility up because I mentioned that the hyena was rather stocky and muscular. The hyena doesn't look necessarily fast or agile; it kind of looks like a little tank with teeth. So I wanted to push the design a bit so that these guys had a little more lean and lank to them especially in the arms and legs.