Yeenoghu (pronounced: /jiˈnɑːghuː/ yee-NAG-hoo listen or: /jiˈnoʊguː/ yee-NO-goo) was a demon lord and the chief being worshiped by gnolls. Dedicated only to destruction, the Ruler of Ruin sought the collapse of civilization and he would brutally butcher all that stood between him and his rabid slaughter.
Yeenoghu appeared as a gnoll-like creature, 12‒14 ft (3.7‒4.3 m) tall with a grinning skull-like face and a leering pair of burning emerald or amber eyes atop his seemingly emaciated form. A mangy, yellow crest of fur reached from his head to mid-back, with the only hair on his body being small scabby patches. The rest of his body was pale and gray, his leathery hide contrasting with his taut mane and a crest of blackened spines within it. His canine chest was armored with a patchwork of discarded shields and breastplates held together with weighty chains, and decorated with the flayed skin of his enemies. He wielded a three-headed flail in his paws.
Yeenoghu's desires were savage in nature, wanting slaughter and destruction above all else. He took great pleasure in inflicting terror and sorrow before his victims' deaths, destroying treasured possessions and crushing their hopes. He despised civilization and if he were to conquer other realms, abyssal or otherwise, he would not attempt to rebuild their former structures.
To the Beast of Butchery, the gnolls were both his instruments and children, whom he sought to use to bring his ideal world to fruition. Such a world would be one of endless combat and brutality, where gnolls ruled supreme and all other creatures would be either slaves or food. Ultimately when the mortal world possessed one final champion he would challenge them to battle, slay them, and preside victoriously in his version of paradise; a wasteland of decaying corpses, in an absolutely ruined world.
Despite his savage nature, Yeenoghu was not stupid, being capable of subtlety and trickery, but merely choosing not to use it in most circumstances. He actively encouraged the arrival of new races into his followers, recognizing the lack of his people's unity. Counting among the Lord of Savagery's favorite demons were barlguras, dretches, hezrous, manes, and especially maw demons and Shoosuvas, all appreciated for their bestial natures. With any entity that did not serve him he would not waste any time on discourse, leaping boldly into battle unless he became bored.
Despite being a relatively powerful tanar'ri lord, Yeenoghu was not in the same league as entities like Orcus or Demogorgon, either in terms of strength or influence. He was incapable of arriving on the Material Plane of his own accord and required his fanatics to summon him in order to spread his taint.
Despite this, he was both capable of and willing to influence the Material Plane in order to further his agenda. He was remarkable among demon lords for his active influence on the Material Plane, mostly in the form of various types of omens. He would use various dreams, visions, and signs to guide his people, although his wavering commitment to specific groups at once and use of so many different methods could raise many false flags. Signs were noticed in blood trails, laughter without sources, winds, mental messages, and various other objects.
Once Yeenoghu was allowed entry to the mortal realm, he typically went on a rampage destroying any civilizations he encountered. Along his path of destruction, hyenas tended to follow, devouring the corpses of those that he killed until becoming bloated and immobile. Hyenas who consumed corpses killed by Yeenoghu might be transformed into numerous demonic forms, the most common of which were gnolls, followed by leucrotta.
Yeenoghu had the ability to grant his followers the ability to replicate this ability through rituals, giving his devoted the power to bestow corpses with abyssal energy and transform hyenas that consumed them. The powers granted to his followers also included raising fallen gnolls as skeletal witherling servants, and granting enchanted flails to his powerful flind champions. Even his non-gnoll followers would take on gnoll-like aspects, becoming brutal, hunched, and sharp-fanged. He also created the shoosuva in order to protect his most powerful champions, who appeared when a gnoll clan achieved a great victory.
When put in direct combat situations, Yeenoghu did not bother with subtle tactics, instead wading directly into battle and hurling derogatory epithets at his enemies, although he might first attempt to pump himself up. The insults he hurled at his opponents were rumored to be dangerous curses he used to weaken his enemies. He showed heavy resistance to electricity, fire, and frost, and complete immunity to poisons and non-magical weaponry.
Despite being able to conjure his mighty flail at will, he was just as likely to wade into battle with nothing but his fearsome fangs. He was well known for the use of fear and invisibility magic, as well as bestial transformations. His strong sense of smell and sharp perception made him an expert and dangerous tracker. If placed in serious danger, he could teleport away in order to plot another day and later amass a force necessary to take revenge.
At his leisure, Yeenoghu could summon to his hand the three-headed magical flail known as the Butcher. It was constructed from the thighbone and torn flesh of an ancient god he slew, with three chains ending in rusty barbed heads. Those hit with more than one head of the flail could suffer from mental confusion and paralysis and it bled ichor when used in battle. Only when the Beast of Butchery held his flail would the powers of the three heads manifest. He could also will the chain to fly independently into battle while he himself tore his enemies to shreds.
Yeenoghu referred to his layer of the Abyss simply as his realm, but to others it was known as the Seeping Woods or Death Dells. The plane was covered in barren hills, great ravines, wide savannas with poisonous and parasite-filled waters, and sickly yellow forests. It served as his own personal hunting grounds, where he played with mortals in cruel hunting games. There were nearly no structures in his realm, it being entirely devoid of civilization.
Six miles from Yeenoghu's lair all predators became wasteful and savage, killing far more than required and leaving it to rot in careless displays of wastefulness. Within a mile of Yeenoghu's personal lair was a dangerous region influenced by his dark powers. Iron spikes grew out from the ground and stone, which Yeenoghu used to impale his victims, and intelligent beings that spent an hour within this region might grow increasingly deranged. The longer sentient beings remained in this region the more gnoll-like they became with mental changes including increased rage, aching blood-lust, hatred of civilization, the need to collect trophies from bodies, and a fondness for the flesh of intelligent beings.
Within the smoke-filled halls of his lair he sat upon a throne of dismembered limbs of those who'd angered him. His lair was populated with gnolls, hyenas, and ghouls. It was a place of blood and death from which he could exert a certain level of control. He could cause iron spikes to rise from the ground and impale those underneath them, as well as fill gnolls and hyenas with a bloodthirsty rage. The lair itself was a giant mobile fortress-city, pulled by legions of slaves and demonic creatures on hundreds of stone wheels. If Yeenoghu was to perish, the effects of his power on the local region would eventually fade in less than ten days.
Yeenoghu once took over the layer above his own, known by most as the White Kingdom. After conquering it, however, he did not possess the resources required to hold dominion over it, forcing him to retreat back to his home layer. Despite leaving it, he still technically ruled it through his vassal Doresain, the King of Ghouls.
The Gnoll Lord spent most of his time either guiding his gnoll children to victory through his mysterious omens, tormenting and hunting lesser demons and mortals for his amusement, and plotting against upcoming abyssal powers to prevent them from gaining influence. He also planned for future invasions of other layers of the Abyss, targeting weaker entities to conquer.
Yeenoghu was the patron of all gnolls, having earlier displaced Gorellik, and commanded the servitude of ghouls through the subjugation of the demonic King of Ghouls, Doresain, a former ally of Orcus, who failed to strike back at Yeenoghu for the acquisition of one of his subjects. Yeenoghu was also the master of a massive mudskipper-like demon known as Crokek'toeck. The unique demon's near bottomless gullet and immunity to the mind-altering effects of the Styx made it Yeenoghu's go-to pet for transporting himself and other demons across the Blood River. Despite disliking the gods of the giant pantheon and forbidding gnoll and giant interaction, he admired their immense strength and power.
Yeenoghu had a continuous feud with Baphomet, and both demons pulled no punches when dealing with one another. The feud had lasted so long that neither demon lord could remember what originally started the battle. Along with Baphomet, Yeenoghu loathed Malcanthet, the queen of the succubi, because the Queen destroyed a number of Yeenoghu's material plane cultists, the Maure Family.
Yeenoghu's worshipers mostly consisted of gnolls, although he accepted servants from all races, known as Fangs. Yeenoghu possessed a personal honor guard of sixty-six gnolls that he could summon onto the battlefield to aid him, although this small legion was primarily for show. The Claws of Fury were his elite combat force, comprised of extremely capable gnoll warriors. He was also capable of calling upon various demons to serve his goals including the shoosuva and leucrotta creatures completely loyal to his wishes. Yeenoghu also had ghoul worshipers in part because of the consumption of intelligent beings was part of his doctrine and also because of his subjugation of the Ghoul King.
It is His blessing.
It is our call to bring death.
The second gift is death.
Death proves our strength.
Death purges our fear.
The third gift is fear.
We fear that we will fail him.
We fear the onset of hunger.
It was the duty of Yeenoghu's faithful to oppose the hordes of Gorellik and the entities of giant pantheons. His servants were commanded to conduct live sacrifices in wilderness regions upon stone altars. Dress code of his shamans involved dark brown robes with manged yellow fur outlines. These clothes were not allowed to be cleaned, resulting in an incredible stench hanging off his worshipers. Yeenoghu implanted a constant nagging need for intelligent flesh in the minds of his creations and devoted, as only through its consumption could he find complacency for his hunger. Thus, the devouring of human flesh was also an important ritual within his cults. Many gnolls also participated in other rituals involving self-mutilation and various acts of depravity.
Rumors and Legends
Yeenoghu was not the creator of the gnoll race. He may have been a mortal gnoll that rose to the status of demon lord, or simply a powerful, bestial demon who saw kinship with them. Despite not being the creator of the gnolls, Yeenoghu still had the mysterious ability to create them from hyenas. It was widely believed that after subjugating most of Gorellik's followers he managed to kill him and consume his body, giving him the power to create new gnolls. Because of the gnoll's lack of care for their history and the absence of a creator myth Yeenoghu dominated the gnoll race as their supposed original creator.
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