When mankind spread like a vermin across Calydorn, and the kingdoms of shadow fell before them, the Vanitans of shadow grew enraged and sought to create a new race which could out-breed them. Grimalda was the last child of Tenabraon and Umbranth, blessed with the entirety of their reproductive powers so that thereafter they could never conceive another godling. When Grimalda was born she was already pregnant and gave birth to a litter of a hundred Gnolls known as the progenitors. Within a single decade the population rose to 5,000, and since that time it has multiplied ten-thousand-fold.
Even today, Gnolls breed prodigiously, and this birth rate is the greatest guarantee of their survival for they lack the physical strength of Trolloth and the magic of the Shadow Trolls. These scrawny runts stand a mere 4 ft (130cm) tall, and are so far removed from their elemental shadow roots, that they can even catch normal human diseases. Gnolls are boisterous, manic and disorganized, relying on numbers and speed for survival. They behave with great brutality when they outnumber their foe, but in smaller numbers are more want to flee.
Left to their own devices, they employ sneaky tactics such as ambushes and traps, and make great use of ranged weapons wherever possible. Gnolls breed like rabbits and are a scourge on any land they inhabit. Even Trolloth and Shadow Trolls cull their numbers by throwing them at their enemies. Gnolls therefore form the expendable troops of the Troglodyte armies, and are kept as slaves. These communal creatures form into packs and live in extensive underground warrens which they call “The Underdirt”. They are hunter-gatherers, scavengers, carrion-eaters and pillagers upon land and water. So filthy and nauseating are they that hungry Gnolls will even eat the week-old rotten corpse. Gnolls are flighty, indecisive creatures with little self-control. This is perhaps caused by their shadows which often move independently in a random manner, preceding and often motivating the Gnolls to mirror them in their own actions.