Shoosuvas were 6 ft (1.8 m) high, bestial quadrupeds that squatted hungrily as they stood. They resembled emaciated hyenodons, with the key differences being the series of bony ridges that went down their spines and their giant poisonous tail stingers. Their skin was mottled and their fur was patchy, a fact made more clear by the yellow, nauseating, phosphorescent light that was emitted by their bodies, similar in intensity to a light cantrip. The wicked light also highlighted their leprous throats, bloated eyes, and the jagged fangs that filled their slavering maws.
Shoosuva were intensely loyal to a particular gnoll cultist above all other gnolls. Their favorite food was rancid meat and personally enlisting one often entailed bribing it with carrion. Contrary to what their animalistic appearance suggested, shoosuva were fairly intelligent, especially by gnoll standards.
The hallmark ability of a shoosuva was their ability to inflict paralysis through the stingers on their tails, although it was once thought to be a byproduct of their bite. Those paralyzed would become incapable of movement beyond basic life functions, making them easy pickings for the shoosuva and nearby gnolls. Befitting their guardian role, shoosuva could not be magically manipulated using charm- or fear-based magics and several other mental powers. Like most demons, electricity, fire, poison, and ice magic was of limited use against them, as well as non-magical weaponry. Despite not being proper undead, they were still somewhat necromantic, although reports on the effect of turning and controlling them using clerical powers were nebulous. Another rumored ability within the shoosuva's arsenal was the power to command gnolls to do their bidding against their will and even at the cost of their own lives. This control was purported to extend to the end of their telepathic reach.
Savage in the face of danger, shoosuva went straight into the heat of battle unconcerned with being flanked. Their undead form made certain surprise tactics impossible and so they deliberately tried to be surrounded whenever possible so as to lash out at as many foes at once.
A shoosuva appeared before a gnoll war band under one of three conditions. The first was after a great victory by the gnoll war band. After the slaughter, a shoosuva would appear in a cloud of billowing, odorous smoke before an exalted individual, normally the strongest fang of Yeenoghu present, and bond to them. A shoosuva responded foremost to the commands of their respective shamans, over the orders of other witch doctors and even leaders. As such, those with shoosuva companions were second only to a flind leader in the loose war band hierarchy.
The second method was to attempt to summon a shoosuva directly. After reaching a sufficient level of physical fortitude and clerical power, a shaman would be mentally given instructions on how to call a shoosuva. This was done via a talisman made from the bones of another gnoll shaman or witch doctor that was carved into the shape of a hyena skull and thrown to the ground. Once this was done, the caster would utter Yeenoghu's name, causing the Prince of Gnolls to gate in a shoosuva to the summoner's location within a few seconds. Shoosuvas called this way remained until one hour elapsed or they were slain, both of which caused their spirits to return to the Abyss. Shoosuva called this way asked for rotten meat as a reward for service, assuming they were not killed, and failing to provide any resulted in a refusal to respond to further summoning by all shoosuva.
Finally, a shoosuva could be called to the Material Plane by any shaman or witch doctor of Yeenoghu in a request for assistance or advice. This method still required carrion and was far inferior to the secondary method. Even the most powerful of Yeenoghu's faithful had less than a 50% chance to succeed and the shoosuva summoned only remained for a few minutes if not seconds. If attacked or if their summoner was attacked in the short time while they were being questioned, a shoosuva would waste no time mauling the offender with whatever limited time it had. Shoosuva were foremost loyal to Yeenoghu and their advice and assistance extended only as far as what Yeenoghu allowed them to give.
Yeenoghu often involved himself in the lives of his followers through portents and signs, but he did not shy away from more direct methods of involvement when possible. Long ago, he crafted the shoosuva to serve as bodyguards and intermediaries for important shamans and promising cultists as well as to be his own personal protectors. The demonic undead were known as returners among the gnolls as they were thought to be the fiendish incarnations of Yeenoghu's greatest disciples. The shoosuvas were incredibly similar in many ways to the ghouls, Yeenoghu's other favorite undead, whose traits he bestowed upon them.
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- Roger E. Moore (July 1982). “Point of View: The humanoids – Goals and gods of the kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, & gnolls”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #63 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 25–32.
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- Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 136–137. ISBN 978-0786966011.
- Erik Mona ed. (July 2004). “Appendix 2: New Monsters”. Dungeon #112 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 102–104.
- Roger E. Moore (July 1982). “Point of View: The humanoids – Goals and gods of the kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, & gnolls”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #63 (TSR, Inc.), p. 31.
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