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Version 0.28: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

This article covers the player species. For the monster, see Gnoll (monster). For a list of all monstrous gnolls, see List of gnolls.

Gnolls are a race of caniform humanoids originally hailing from the arid deserts and grasslands of the east. In recent history they have become unusually attracted to the Dungeon, establishing tribes around and even inside of it. Unfortunately their long stay in the Dungeon has exposed their somewhat fragile minds to excessive amounts of its magic.

On the one hand, their bizarrely altered brains now have incredible proficiency at learning every skill. On the other, these same alterations have rendered Gnolls incapable of selective learning. They learn all skills equally at the same time, so it's hard for them to learn more about any one thing.

In order to survive with this limitation, Gnolls use their universal knowledge to take advantage of every resource they find in the Dungeon. They also have powerful noses adapted to the Dungeon's scents, allowing them to easily locate where treasures lay hidden.

Innate Abilities

Gnolls have a base Strength of 7, Intelligence of 7 and Dexterity of 7 (before Background modifiers).

Preferred Backgrounds

Level Bonuses

Difficulty of Play


Gnolls are jacks of all trades, but masters of none. Using what the game provides you as far as items and spells is essential. On the other hand, you will always have skill for any good item you find, which makes skilling and gearing easier. Gnolls also have an easier time with triple school spells than most other races, as they train all three schools at once.

Notably, Gnoll's phenomenal +8 and +6 aptitudes mean that they start with inflated skill in whatever their background provides. While largely meaningless in the endgame, it does make their starts a lot easier.

Skill aptitudes

The higher the value, the better the aptitude.

Skill Aptitude Skill Aptitude Skill Aptitude
Attack Miscellaneous Magic
Fighting 8 Armour 8 Spellcasting 8
Short Blades 8 Dodging 8 Conjurations 6
Long Blades 8 Stealth 8 Hexes 6
Maces & Flails 8 Shields 8 Summonings 6
Axes 8 Necromancy 6
Polearms 8 Invocations 9 Translocations 6
Staves 8 Evocations 8 Transmutations 6
Unarmed Combat 8
Experience 0 Fire Magic 6
Throwing 8 Ice Magic 6
Slings 8 Air Magic 6
Bows 8 Earth Magic 6
Crossbows 8 Poison Magic 6


Given that a Gnoll's skills will be at around 16 once hitting character level 27, going for high-level spells will be a challenge, and min delay with heavier weapons will not be possible without boosts from Okawaru or Ashenzari. This leads to a hybrid character that should use every advantage they've got - from hexes, summons, and ranged combat - before engaging in melee.

Tips and Tricks

  • Okawaru is a popular god choice for gnolls because of weapon and armour gifts and skill boosts. Since gnolls can use every weapon equally well, Oka's gifts are easier to use and never require retraining if you get something absurdly powerful.
  • Cheibriadosʼ stat boosts enable a gnoll to comfortably use any item or spell the game throws at it, at the cost of slow movement speed. This speed penalty may be worth paying in exchange for being able to deal with practically any situation before it becomes dangerous.
  • Ashenzari's skill boosts can help bolster your average skill levels enough to make use of high-end items and spells.
  • Gnolls' ability to use anything and everything has the downside of making inventory management even more of an issue than for all other characters.

Weapon Choice

Gnolls have a unique dilemma - what exactly do I use? Here are a few points on melee weapons:

  • The main thing to keep in mind is attack delay - you almost always want to keep it below 1.0. Above that, and you risk normal speed enemies double-hitting you. You can press @ to see the delay with your current weapon.
  • Daggers are a useful swap-out when you want to stab, whether you're sneaking up on your foes or using Hexes or wands to give yourself opportunities.
  • Artefacts aren't necessarily better than a regular branded weapon, but they might come with a nice brand or some neat properties.
  • Gnolls more often than not prefer wearing some sort of shield. They already train the Shields skill, and two-handed weapons require high skill levels that Gnolls can't compete with. Bucklers and orbs are universally useful, while kite shields are good if you can cast necessary spells reliably in them.

Early Dungeon

  • Brands and enchantment are the main distinguishing factors throughout the early Dungeon. A dagger of venom on a Human is already strong enough to beat enemies on route to Lair, and a +9 randart freezing flail will probably be useful for longer.
  • Gnolls, thanks to their +8 aptitudes, will start with great skill in whatever weapon school they start with. Make sure to make use of that.
  • As hostile gnolls will happily demonstrate, Polearms are great to use in the beginning. The extra hit, as well as the low skill requirements of spears and tridents, are great perks in the early game.

Mid-game Options


  • Prior to 0.27, their base attributes were 10 Str / 10 Int / 10 Dex.
  • Gnolls were added in 0.21.
Simple Hill OrcMinotaurMerfolkGargoyleDraconianPalentongaTrollGhoulGnoll
Intermediate HumanKoboldDemonspawnDjinniSprigganTenguDeep ElfOgreDeep Dwarf
Advanced Vine StalkerVampireDemigodFormicidNagaOctopodeFelidBarachiMummy