Sunday, March 29, 2009


"There is no pain, there is no law!"
--Hyena-Swine, The Island of Dr.
I never was a big fan of gnolls. Although I could swear I remember reading somewhere that they were a cross between a gnome and a troll (apparently thanks to the same aphrodisiac that gave us the owlbear and the peryton), there was little else that made the gnoll interesting. Especially once my gaming group made the transition to AD&D, I found the monster itself rather "meh." While their Fiend Folio cousins, the flinds, did have the flind bar to give them enough pinache to make them worthy of inclusion in a game or two, the gnolls pretty much remained on the shelf.

But, then came the nineties remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau. While I sorely missed the House of Pain, I was one of the two people on planet Earth who liked the thing. One of my favorite characters was Hyena-Swine. Thanks to some great costuming and make-up work, he actor who portrayed him, the late Daniel Rigney, stole the show away from everyone, even Brando. That feral maniacal laugh gave me two things: 1) the willies and 2) a new found respect for the hyena.

I liked it so much that one of my favorite cards in my old M:tG "green weenies" deck was Gibbering Hyenas. Not because it was a great card, mind you. A 3/2 creature that cost G2 that's useless against black isn't anything to crow about. It's just that Moreau's Hyena was so badass I felt I had to throw them in somewhere.

So, when I returned to the notion of roleplaying and started browsing back issues of The Dragon, I ran across the Shoosuva, the gnoll undead guardian servant of Yeenoghu [sic?], the Demon Prince of Gnolls. The Shoosuva reminded me of the Amorak -- the wolf-like creatures on The Secret Saturdays "The Ice Caverns of Ellef Ringnes" that lived in arctic burial mounds. I liked the idea although I'd never really been a fan of gnolls, but then it hit me.


Ah-hah! "There is a great resemblance between gnolls and hyenas," so sayeth the AD&D Monster Manual. What better way to pay tribute to one of my favorite movie characters than the inclusion of a whole race of Moreauvian Hyena badasses. Finally, these guys had some personality.

Oh yeah, I ditched Yeenowhatsisname too. Since I'm a fan o' the Minions of Set, I thought it only right that the hyena-faced humanoids worship ancient Egypt's favorite hyena-faced deity.

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