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The Blackfang gnolls first appeared as one of the antagonist groups in the Thunderspire Labyrinth adventure. Here we get stats for Blackfang-specific variants which combined with the MV could allow you to run that adventure with updated stats.

Region: The Old Hills

The Old Hills take up part of the central and northeast regions of the Vale, and have this name because they were the first area settled by the Nerathi. Its main “points of light” are the dwarf hold of Hammerfast at its center and the human settlement of Nenlast way up in the northeast corner. The Fiveleague House inn near Hammerfast is a popular rest stop for travelers.

Also in this area is Thunderspire, a tall isolated mountain whose peaks are eternally shrouded in storms. It contains the entrance to a vast series of underground ruins that used to belong to the ancient minotaur empire of Saruun Khel. Go through that portal and a little ways into the underground, and you’ll find the Seven-Pillared Hall, a community run by the Mages of Saruun, a cabal who’s interested in profiting from trade between the people of the surface and the Underdark. They enforce diplomatic neutrality within the Hall, but there’s enough intrigue and backstabbing down here that it doesn’t quite count as a “point of light”.

The Hall is described in detail in the Thunderspire Labyrinth adventure. This book assumes it hasn’t happened yet.

The Lore

The Blackfang are a tribe of Yeenoghu-worshipping gnolls who live in the Old Hills area of the Vale. They get this name from their distinctive fangs, which are black and much longer than what is typical for gnolls. They frequently attack travelers going through the area, with the aim of capturing people to enslave and/or eat.

Even Hammerfast fears them, because it’s already lost too many warriors trying to hunt them down. The Blackfang lair in complex tunnel warrens under the Old Hills and avoid traveling overland whenever they can, preferring to use the ancient tunnels of Saruun Khel to move about and to only emerge just before they strike.

Recently, Blackfang expeditions into the Saruun Khel ruins uncovered an ancient temple known as the Well of Demons. The Well was dedicated to Baphomet, but the Blackfang chieftain Maldrick Scarmaker locked himself inside in order to rededicate it to Yeennoghu. While he’s in there, the Blackfang are effectively leaderless and much less organized. However, it seems Scarmaker is close to finishing his task, as the Well has started spitting forth demonic spirits that possess certain members of the Blackfang. They call this the Butcher’s Blessing, and it basically makes them into demons, giving them mutations like wings and barbed tails. These “blessed” gnolls now seek to consume the souls of their victims, and not just their flesh.

Stopping the depredations of the Blackfang could be a good hook for the Thunderspire Labyrinth adventure, which is itself quite sandboxy.

The Numbers

The Blackfang are gnolls, so they’re Medium Natural Humanoids and their signature ability is Pack Attack, giving them a +5 damage bonus against targets adjacent to two or more of their allies. We see several group-specific stat blocks below, and they combine well with the more generic gnoll stats presented in other books.

Blackfang Feaster

This one bites, and it doesn’t brush its teeth. Feasters are Level 6 Brutes with 89 HP and Speed 7. Their basic attack is a Ravening Bite that deals poison damage and slows (save ends). Against bloodied creatures they can skip straight to the Devour part, dealing heavy physical damage and knocking prone on a hit.

Simple but effective, particularly if you take Pack Attack into account.

Blackfang Gravedigger

Gravediggers illustrate the Blackfang preference for underground travel and tactics. They’re Level 5 Lurkers with 48 HP. Their ground speed is 6 with Earth Walk, and they have a burrow speed of 2.

Their basic attack is a bite, which they can use as part of a Snatch From Below maneuver. To use this, they must be burrowing and have no creature grabbed. It lets them burst up from the ground and make a bite attack ignoring cover and concealment. On a hit, they grab the target (escape DC 15), restraining it and inflicting 5 ongoing damage until the grab ends.

They pair well with enemies that can keep the other PCs’ attention elsewhere while they gnaw on a squishy victim.

Blackfang Howler

Howlers fight with whips and can imbue their howls with a bit of fear magic. They’re Level 7 Skirmishers with 77 HP and speed 7. Instead of moving normally, they can choose to Skulk, shifting up to 4 squares. This makes them hard to pin down.

The Whip is reach 2 and can be used in a Whip Trip maneuver, which deals a bit less damage than a basic attack and knocks the target prone. Their Howl of Dread is a minor action that attacks a Close Burst 3 and immobilizes on a hit. It recharges when they are first bloodied.

Blackfang Render

Renders specialize in fighting with their claws. They’re Level 8 Soldiers with 87 HP and Speed 7. Their Claws damage and mark for a turn on a hit. They can also use their Feral Grasp to deal light physical damage and grab a target (escape DC 16). Once they have grabbed someone, they can use Blinding Fury on the victim as a minor action, an attack dealing light physical damage and blinding (save ends) on a hit.

They have no specific abilities to punish someone who ignores the mark, so the default -2 attack penalty against other targets is the only deterrent there.

Blackfang Hyena Pack

A pack of hyenas! This is a Large Swarm made up of Medium creatures. It’s a Level 6 Brute with 85 HP. It has all the swarm traits: resistant to melee and ranged attacks, vulnerable to close and area attacks, can occupy other’s spaces and counts as difficult terrain for them, can squeeze into any opening wide enough for a single Medium creature.

The pack’s Swarm Attack aura (1) deals 5 damage to enemies caught inside, or 10 if there are at least two allies adjacent to the enemy. Their basic attack is a Bite that damages and immobilizes (save ends). The condition also ends if the pack is no longer adjacent to the target.

Maldrick Scarmaker

Copyright 2011 Wizards of the Coast.

The leader of the Blackfang, fully enjoying the Butcher’s Blessing. PCs will likely fight him inside the Well of Demons. If the GM decides to advance time and say he succeeded in rededicating the temple, he could also be found at the head of a raiding party alongside his honor guard. The book also suggests using this stat block for his replacement if the group has already run through Thunderspire Labyrinth, but personally I’m not a fan of keeping the status quo the same in this way.

Anyway, Maldrick as presented here is Level 8 Elite Artillery with 148 HP. He’s more or less equivalent to a warlock, and though his powers have familiar names they’re all demonic in origin. He wields a mace as a weapon and a rod as an implement. The mace can make decent basic attacks, but like any warlock Maldrick will probably want to stay back and spam Eldritch Blast. He can also cast Dire Radiance to deal radiant damage and prevent enemies from closing (they take 10 extra radiant damage if they move closer to him in their next turn).

Once per encounter he can cast an Infernal Moon Curse at one or two creatures, dealing heavy poison damage and keeping them immobilized 5 feet off the ground for a turn. On a miss, this still deals half damage.

Like a PC warlock, Maldrick can use a minor action to place a Curse on an enemy, making all of this implement attacks deal 1d6 extra damage against it for a turn. This stacks with Pack Attack, obviously. If an enemy enters a square adjacent to him, he can use his Spined Tail to make an opportunity attack against them.

Final Impression

My final impression is the usual: a sarcastic “yay, more gnolls”. They are very useful if you intend to run Thunderspire Labyrinth with updated rules.

If you have already run that adventure, these stats can still work to represent Blackfang remnants, or gnolls from other tribes when combined with the more generic stat blocks. I’d probably say that after Maldrick’s death at the hands of the PCs, the remaining Blackfangs splinter into several mutually hostile bands led by “blessed” gnolls who used to be his lieutenants.