I'm playing a Gnoll Cleric who worships Erythnul in a D&D 3.5e game. Sadly one of my party members died in our last session (he's not a Gnoll). I would like to do something with his body (not just leave it where it fell).

What are the funerary rites of an Erythnulian Gnoll?

As a lore question, material from other editions is fine.


2 Answers 2


I can not say if there is any canon about the specific combination of gnoll and cleric of Erythnul. However, a Pathfinder third party publisher has a large page regarding gnolls, where they state the following (emphasis mine):

Gnolls treat their dead like they would any other dead creature and engage in cannibalism, but they may offer a brief ceremony for a revered member of the pack prior to devouring the fallen gnoll.

Additionally, if we look at the wiki on Erythnul it states that (emphasis mine):

In the least violent services to Erythnul, shrill reed instruments are played discordantly while gongs clash and drums pound. During major rites, a fire is built and victims are sacrificed. One famous rite is the "Bloody Howl," when soldiers captured from the previous battle are killed in order to bring Erythnul's favor just before the next one.

Prayers to Erythnul are customarily rhyming chants with gory subject matter.)

Combining the two, I can imagine 2 scenes (depending on what is available):

Scenario 1 (No prisoners):

You (as the cleric) would construct a funeral pyre and burn your party member (to perform something as close to the 'major rites' that one can get). You could then take part of the roasted party member and consume his flesh (to appease the Gnoll side of you).

Scenario 2 (Prisoners were taken at whatever incident killed your party member):

You would herd the prisoners into a small encirclement, where you would burn them alive, accompanied by either chanting or instruments (drum/gong). You would then at some point consume part of your party member before adding the remainder of his corpse to the burning area.

PS: I never realized how... 'savage' Gnolls can be before trying to answer this question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might also find the Formatting Help useful for turning those bare links into formatted word-links. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2015 at 17:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ As a gnoll anything they'd probably just eat it. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Sep 22, 2015 at 17:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Lore on Gnolls looks to be scant. The WoTC site has a Dragon Magazine (#367) article on gnolls, but it holds neither funeral nor burial info. Dragon #173 had an extensive article on Flinds, which included some Gnoll lore. No coverage of burials/funerals. 2e and 1e ... I found nothing. You seem to have found the best answer, besides "where's the Old Gnollpaso salsa to go with this meal?" \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2015 at 17:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Erythnul, however, apparently gets an extensive writeup in the Planescape supplement On Hallowed Ground (which I don't own). I was hoping this answer would maybe draw from that, too. Perhaps someone with that supplement could Comment...? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2015 at 23:38

Assuming you want to show respect for your fallen companion, I would suggest taking inspiration from the gnolls in Digger.

When one of the pack members is killed, a ceremony is held in her honor after she is avenged, in which her body is eaten by the tribe to ensure her strength returns to them. The hunter motifs and strong group-unity marred by constant infighting particularly echo the description of gnolls in D&D (compare "The Sociology of the Flind" from Dragon 173 (referring to AD&D gnolls) if possible. The adoption process in the strip parallels this fairly well).

The most relevant strip is this one, and the section of strips which form the whole of the ceremony start here.

The gist of the thing is that

  1. a tribe members must be avenged by tribe members
  2. dead tribe members are eaten by the tribe to ensure their strength remains in the tribe
  3. the liver is the most important part of the dead person, and the source of strength. It is shared by the eldest member of the tribe, the member's 'hunt-leader' and the member who avenged their death, at least in the case of a normal tribe member.
  4. leaving the dead to rot is disrespectful and a disgrace. The sort of thing you'd do to someone you really hated, just to show how much you hated them.

This answer addresses gnoll funeral rites, not the funeral rites of the God of Slaughter, but I think they are appropriate for your case nonetheless.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm fairly sure those are hyenas in Digger. Anthropomorphized, yes, but then, so is the protagonist. \$\endgroup\$
    – zwol
    Sep 23, 2015 at 0:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @zwol Well, yes, but they're still basically gnolls. They walk around on two legs wielding spears, they practice cannibalism and eat other sentients, they live in loosely organized tribes that engage in occasionally lethal infighting, they have excellent wilderness survival skills, etc, etc. The fit basically every part of the description of Gnoll society found in Dragon 173. I was going to say 'except the God of Undeath part' but, actually, they do that too (well, the other tribe does. still). Even the nomenclature is the same. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2015 at 3:56

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