Monstrous Lore: Neapolitan Gnolls

Sometimes reviled, but often envied, neapolitan gnolls are well known for their enticingly decadent lifestyles and outré appearances, and have carved a niche out for themselves in villages, towns and cities as unorthodox, foppish bohemians. These gnolls struggle with their supernatural hunger as much as any other, but have adapted a means of sublimating it into their eccentric, dandyish behaviour and satiating it with their hedonistic festivals. Neapolitan gnolls are also referred to as metropolitan gnolls, urbane gnolls, and burgher gnolls.

Urbane Libertines

Neapolitan gnolls are often well-known characters in the settlements they reside in — it’s difficult to ignore a 7-foot tall hyena-like creature decked in furs, draped in a harlequin-like patchwork poncho with fur dyed in various contrasting and conflicting colours. Though many citizens would claim that neapolitan gnolls are loud, outrageous, and shabby, many more would describe them as irrepressible, vivacious and stylish.

Excess defines much of the lifestyle of neapolitan gnolls, as it allows them to temporarily forget the never-ending hunger that courses through them daily. Crashing an artist’s salon and finding an audience that’s delighted by their high camp dramatics allows neapolitan gnolls to revel in dandyesque performances that takes their mind away from the call of Yeenoghu. Hosting an impromptu barbeque in a city park gives them an excuse to meet people and get caught up in other people’s lives for a while. Decorating a town with flowers, painted rocks and statues gives them the space to throw themselves into a project and get out of the sensations of their bodies, however briefly.

Similarly, neapolitan gnolls take a committed and passionate interest in their own self-image — which is understandable, considering many did not even have names while living in warbands. As such, it’s not uncommon to find neapolitan gnolls sitting in groups around settlements talking loudly and intensely about their newest likes and dislikes, the lofty dreams they’re pursuing, or radical changes to their appearances that have changed how they feel about themselves.

Many neapolitan gnolls use makeup, particularly powders and paints that allow them to dye their fur in various colours, blocks or patterns. Gnollish makeup is often bought from merchants in the city, or, in more rustic locales, may be created wholesale from ingredients like charcoal from a smithy, chalk from a quarry, or distilled from herbs and plants. Common trends include exaggerating the size or frequency of their spots or stripes, or changing the colour of them entirely; dyeing all of their fur a single pastel colour; or attempting to mimic the complexions and hair colour of the predominant demographics in their settlement.

Having been made aware that they must adapt to many societal expectations — particularly that of hygiene — many neapolitan gnolls douse their fur in perfumes and colognes that are often overpowering to any standing near them. The most popular perfumes are ones with sharp chemical tangs, floral scents, or inebriating musks: the perfumes with food-like scents only amplify a gnoll’s innate, constant hunger, and those that tend to wear these scents are those with vocations or professions that allow them to indulge in violence and gluttony more regularly, such as assassins, bounty-hunters, smugglers or thieves.

Neapolitan gnolls take the same exorbitant approach to their clothing. Owing to their large size and hunched anatomy, gnolls either have to buy their clothing from other gnolls talented with a needle and thread, or learn to make them themselves: however, many gnolls are only experienced in sewing together wounds or coverings for shelter. this often results in loud, avant-garde garments with patchy construction, problem patterns and eclectic design choices. Diamond-shaped harlequinesque designs in a mish-mash of technicolour are very common, as are voluminous cloaks and shrugs, ostentatious shoes designed for gnoll feet, oversized bracelets and necklaces made of found objects, and trailing coats made of numerous different types of animal skins. No matter where they go in the city, neapolitan gnolls are a sight to behold.

City Life

Most neapolitan gnolls are raised from birth in the city, owing to the fact that greater concentrations of gnolls and fewer deaths leads to a population boom in urban centers. However, some gnolls only become neopolitan later in life: the sole survivor of a gnoll warband who grows lonely and longs for like company, then moves to a village after learning of a gnoll enclave there. A member of a pack that tires of the nomadic lifestyle, and finds a seaside town with a small population of gnoll fishers, where he can work and put down roots. A weaker gnoll living under the constant fear of being culled by their warband, escaping to the gentler lifestyle and softer sensibilities of the gnollish quarter of a city.

Neapolitan gnolls build strong communities in cities: there is always space amongst a gnollish city enclave for new residents. Often, gnolls live in dilapidated housing that is nonetheless decorated with eclectic extravagance by its residents, but in more affluent cities, neapolitan gnolls may take up residency with artists or designers that are drawn to their unusual style. In most cases, gnolls live collectively: personal space is often fiercely contested and defended, but the living quarters are understood to be shared by friends and family. This results in hectic, often disorganised arrangements where gnolls will cohabitate for a few days or weeks, before carrying their possessions to a different friend, family member or partner’s living quarters.

There is space among these enclaves for all types of gnolls. Witherlings are held up as respected elders that have suffered enormously at the hands of a brutal world, and are universally assisted and supported by the community around them. While flinds are rare within neapolitan gnoll communities, they often become protectors and defenders of their people. Fangs of Yeenoghu are rarer still, but those few that are tend to become sages, storytellers and historians of the old ways, bringing tales to life with their highly dramatised, colourful recitations of bloody legends and hyperviolent exploits that thrill the audience.

Some gnolls that live in the city are quiet, sombre and live fairly mundane lives, but many gnolls remember their early years outside the settlement, where life was difficult, their kin were apathetic to them at best, and their overwhelming hunger was nearly impossible to sate. Those born within the settlement are attracted to the bohemian lifestyles of their peers, as the alternative — a quiet, sober existence — would make their hunger difficult to endure.

Fleshmeet

A significant event in all neapolitan gnolls’ lives is the Fleshmeet. Also known as Carnevale and Yeenoghu’s Feast, this event takes place at regular intervals during the calendar — usually on the full moon, at the end of a month, or at the change of the seasons, depending on the particular traditions of the gnolls in a given settlement. Over the course of two or three consecutive days and nights, the gnoll community comes together to enjoy raucous celebration, orgiastic hedonism, narcotic indulgence and gastronomical delight. While neapolitan gnolls pursue pleasure and decadence throughout the year, the Fleshmeet allows them to truly let go, indulge and blow off steam.

The Fleshmeet is a kind of organised chaos, and no two are completely alike, even within the same settlement. Across the days of the Fleshmeet, there is a cornucopia of different events to partake in, but by far the biggest part is in the eating: food, in particular meat, is continuously brought in to be enjoyed by anyone in attendance, with no payment required. Much of this food is prepared and donated by individual gnoll citizens and families, but the more well-off or well-connected gnolls in a city will also arrange for meat to be bought from local butchers, fishers and hunters to bolster the selection and provide for those unable to bring anything to the Fleshmeet. In more deprived areas, resourceful gnolls will raid the kitchens of aristocrats or arrange to steal livestock from the fields and pastures surrounding the settlement so that the community still has food for the celebration. Almost anyone is welcome at the Fleshmeet, even non-gnolls — and especially if they come bearing food.

The Fleshmeet also provides numerous other delights and distractions for those taking part. Some gnolls take to providing divinatory readings of the future for clients using the omens witnessed in entrails, gore and blood-splatter of a fresh kill, which is then consumed as part of the feast. Raucous dancing, howling and whooping is seen throughout the venue of the Fleshmeet, and it’s not uncommon to stumble upon gnolls coupling (or grouping) in opportune corners and rooms. Others may take to discreet locations and imbibe psychoactive herbal concoctions in groups that bring their energy-levels skyrocketing up and providing a sense of communality and empathy with their fellow celebrants. Some gnolls offer their skills in sewing, make-up, body-painting, fur-dying and perfumery to any in attendance, often for reduced prices. The Fleshmeet is an opportunity to indulge, and most gnolls make it their mission to make the current Fleshmeet even more debauched than any one previous.

Yeenoghu’s name is often invoked during the Fleshmeet, but not by everyone: while there are many neapolitan gnolls who have afforded their god a place in their lives (in some less bloodthirsty aspect than gnolls in the wilderness), there are many others who want nothing to do with their demonic heritage.

There are tales of more bloodthirsty neapolitan gnolls that bring unwitting citizens to the Fleshmeet, often by seducing them with tales of hedonistic debauchery and the promise of escape from their humdrum lives. While indulging in the revelry, those brought to the Fleshmeet are summarily devoured by the gnolls as part of their craven celebrations. However, these tales may be fabrications, either by xenophobic citizens who are fearful and suspicious of the gnolls they share their city with, or by those in power with the most to gain by their defamation and destruction.

In settlements and societies that would not permit the Fleshmeet to take place, it takes place anyway: instead of taking place in the streets, the Fleshmeet may be held deep in the city’s catacombs, behind the doors of homes in gnollish districts, or in the dark woods around the settlement. Many gnolls find the risk worthwhile, considering that, without the Fleshmeet, the would have to live with their constant, gnawing hunger.

The Fleshmeet is primarily a means of satisfying the gnollish hunger: they fill up on food, indulge their senses and spend the few days without a care — and, when the Fleshmeet is over, they are sated, if only for a week or two, whereupon they begin counting down the days til the next one.

Neapolitan Gnoll Names

Unlike gnolls that live in the wilderness, neapolitan gnolls adopt names readily. Those born in a settlement construct a name for themselves by combining local names or words with barks, growls, whoops and yelps from the gnollish language; those who come to the city later in life are often supported and encouraged by the gnolls living in the settlement to construct a name in the same way. Often this results in an eclectic mish-mash of styles and formats of names, which many neapolitan gnolls appreciate, as it lends an additional layer of self-identity for them to play with: in many cases, gnolls will happily choose names that are perceived to be of a different gender than their own.

Some example neapolitan gnoll names include Aarkady, Grrregor, Leesha, Littleyawn, Krshtopher, Shrrravati, Yeebrahim, and Yuffus.

Many gnolls cannot read or write, but the distinction between their names and a similar-sounding name from another culture is in the particular way a gnoll chooses to vocalise it: for example, when referring to a human named “Gregor”, a gnoll will purposely attempt to pronounce the name as human-like as possible. However, a gnoll choosing to name himself after “Gregor” may choose to include a low growl at the beginning, to make it more distinctive and set it apart from the human name.

Tags: , ,