Gnoll: Although these guys haven’t changed very much at all statistically, just about everything else in their entry is new. We learn that they live in loosely organised bands that occasionally form together to fight a common foe. They have leaders and chieftains with extra hit points, and also travel with their females and young (meaning that they procreate in the usual fashion). There’s no mention of them being a cross between gnomes and trolls here, as there was in OD&D. Gnolls are said to use trolls and hyenadons as guards. As weapons they favour battle axes, morning stars and two-handed swords. Although strong, they’re lazy. They only live for about 35 years. And most importantly, we get the first physical description of them as hyena-headed humanoids.
I’m still going with the gnome/troll hybrid idea in my game, as nothing given here contradicts it. I suppose that was the ancient origin of the race, and they were able to breed true despite their artificial beginnings.
Gnome: Again, while gnomes are unchanged statistically they receive a whole lot more detail than they had in OD&D. There’s a long breakdown of the NPC types that will accompany large bands, and it should be noted here that gnomes can become Fighters or Clerics. Gnomes typically use short swords, clubs and spears, and the description of their armour as leather covered in rings or studs is the first mention in the game of studded leather, or possibly ring mail. Their lairs are now often guarded by badgers, giant badgers, or wolverines. They still get pretty much the same special abilities as dwarves. There are also rumours of gnome magic-users, which I guess foreshadows their ability to become illusionists. They have brown skin, white hair, and live to about 600.
That gnomes are described here as having PC classes is pretty significant. They haven't yet been presented as a PC race in D&D to this point, and this is the first inkling that they'll get the full treatment in the AD&D Player's Handbook.
Giant Goat: So far, Giant Goats have only appeared in the wilderness encounter tables from Supplement III. They get stats here for the first time, and their main thing is that they deal a lot of damage, even more so when they charge. They can be tamed in rare cases and used as steeds, which is pretty cool. I kind of like the idea of having bugbears ride around on these things, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for any races that are said to hang out with giant goats. When I get to the inevitable goat-headed humanoids, I'll probably have them mounted on the giant goats.
Goblin: Like all the humanoids, goblins get a lot more detail than they did in OD&D. There’s the usual description of leaders and chieftains, but the assertion in OD&D that every goblin tribe has a king is unfortunately not present. They are said to ride huge wolves, though, which is always something I’ve loved about goblins. They have females and young, which distances them from their fairy tale origins significantly, I feel. We learn that they are decent miners, and can note unusual construction 25% of the time, like dwarves. Their skin ranges from yellow to red, and they only live for about 50 years.
So in the early stages of my campaign, every goblin tribe’s leader will be claiming to be king of the goblin race. By this point, it seems that won’t be the case, so I guess one of them won out. An article in an issue of The Dragon had an off-hand mention of the Goblin Wars, so I’m going to tie these together. The Goblin Wars, fought between many different tribes of goblins, started decades before the beginning of the campaign, and will end with a single goblin king at around the point I incorporate the Monster Manual.