Some homebrew thoughts for Athasian gnolls.
Gnolls are among the most recent of the New Races to become relatively plentiful, having appeared in the desert wastes some 700 years ago. With the gnolls faring badly against the more numerous gith and belgoi, some gnolls fell into the hands of slavers, and were sold in the slave markets of the city states.
The slave owners soon found the gnolls to be fairly well-behaved slaves, as long as they were very well fed. The slave owners also found out that gnolls were lazy workers, lackluster in the fields, useless in any trade, and prone to rebel at disciplinary beatings or whippings. Not feeding gnoll slaves enough also guaranteed gnoll slave revolts. The jobs that gnolls tended to be good at are slave taskmaster and slave soldier, jobs that they performed with relish.
Over time it was deemed unnecessary to hold gnolls as slaves, although some gnolls are still under slavery. The gnolls worked better as ‘freemen’ than as slaves, as long as their pay also included ample food and water (and for this reason gnolls are paid less than other freemen). As noted, gnolls are employed as slave taskmasters and soldiers, and as mercenaries for the Sorcerer Kings.
A gnolls life revolves around food. A gnoll needs at least three full meals a day to feel contentment, although a gnoll doesn’t need that much food to survive. A gnoll denied food, or a hungry gnoll is potentially dangerous. More than one slaver that denied gnolls food ended up being eaten by the gnolls. Gnoll family life is centered around a gnoll’s immediate family. A brother, sister, mother, father, son and daughter are all important, but more distant relatives are not. The overriding duty of a gnoll family member is to make sure the other family members are well fed. Only to feed another family member would a gnoll be willing to forgo a meal.
Most gnolls are settled in the city states or villages, and few gnoll tribes roam the wastes. Those few tribes that do roam the wastes live a tenuous existence of food and water scarcity. When they are able, they will raid trade caravans (which are occasionally protected by mercenary gnolls). If the mercenary gnolls have been well fed they will protect the caravan, if not they may assist their fellow gnolls in looting the caravan.