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Version 0.31: 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

  • Distributed Training: Gnolls' experience is split equally to all skills.
    • Note that if you sacrifice a skill to Ru, your other skills won't get a bigger share of the XP. In other words, all skills will get 1/29ths of your XP no matter what,
  • Fangs 1: Gnolls can make an auxiliary bite attack.
  • Strong Nose: Gnolls can sense the location of nearby items on the floor.

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. This is even more true than with Humans; while a Human can (and likely will) specialize in a few specific skills, a Gnoll is forced to have every skill at once. 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 nominal +8 and +6 aptitudes mean that they start with inflated skill in whatever their background provides. For example, a Gnoll Conjurer starts with 7 Conjurations skill rather than the usual 4. 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
Dodging 8
Maces & Flails 8 Shields 8 Conjurations 6
Axes 8 Stealth 8 Hexes 6
Polearms 8 Summonings 6
Staves 8 Invocations 9 Necromancy 6
Unarmed Combat 8 Evocations 8 Translocations 6
Throwing 8 Shapeshifting 7 Alchemy 6
Fire Magic 6
Short Blades 8 Ice Magic 6
Long Blades 8 Air Magic 6
Ranged Weapons 8 Experience 0 Earth 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 a manual or divine skill boosts. This leads to a hybrid character that should use every advantage they've got - from hexes, summons, and ranged combat - before engaging in melee.

A Gnoll's ability to use anything and everything has the downside of making inventory management even more of an issue than for all other characters.

God Choice

  • Okawaru is a popular god choice for Gnolls, largely due to Heroism's skill boosts. And since Gnolls can use every weapon equally well, Oka's gifts are easier to use, never requiring retraining if you get something absurdly powerful. However, the loss of allies is rougher than most other species.
  • Cheibriadosʼ stat boosts enable a Gnoll to comfortably use just about any item or spell the game throws at them, 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 skill levels enough to make use of high-end items and spells. Curses force much stricter weapon choice than Gnolls would normally want -- but a single good weapon remains capable of killing things, if not the best. Non-encumbering armour (the majority of slots) can be cursed without restricting your weapon or spell options.

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 largely want to keep it at or 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 demand 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.
  • 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.
  • Gnolls, thanks to their +8 aptitudes, will start with great skill in whatever weapon school they start with. Make sure to use that.

Later Options


In terms of skill training, Gnolls train their +8 skills as if a Human were training a single skill at 13.8%. They train their +6 skills as if a Human were training a single skill at 9.75%.

This can be rearranged. A Gnoll's +8 aptitude is equal to training a single skill at a -11.43 aptitude, two skills at a -7.43 aptitude, four skills at a -3.43 aptitude, and so on. The +6 aptitudes are equal to a single skill at a -13.43 aptitude, two skills at a -9.43 aptitude, and so on.


  • Prior to 0.27, Gnoll base attributes were 10 Str / 10 Int / 10 Dex.
  • Gnolls were added in 0.21.
  • Gnolls went through several developmental iterations. They were intially called Bultungin: eastern caniforms that started with unrestricted skilling and +4 aptitudes, but they rapidly declined to -6 as you actually got skill. The second iteration had +3 aptitudes, but their base attributes couldn't be changed by any means (not even by background).
Simple Hill OrcMinotaurMerfolkGargoyleDraconianTrollDeep ElfArmataurGnoll
Intermediate HumanKoboldDemonspawnDjinniSprigganGhoulTenguOniBarachi
Advanced Vine StalkerVampireDemigodFormicidNagaOctopodeFelidMummy