So, going down the list of humanoids, I encountered mermen. That's probably something worth thinking about, right? I'm not going to do anything too revolutionary with mermen; but it's worth recording which archetype I'm going with: The ocean contains monstrous fish-men with huge milky eyes and horrible gurgles. Most tribes live fairly placid hunter-gatherer existences, eating raw fish and trying to avoid the ocean's megapredators. When a group comes into contact with humans, one of two things happens:
The fishmen become scavengers and opportunistic thieves. Worked metal, wood, and cooked food are all available exclusively on the surface, and so at night they inflate their sacs to the fullest and creep onto land for a few hours, hoping to grab something of value. If they encounter a land-dweller, both sides typically react with intense violence driven by fear, and both are aware of this, and so take pains to avoid encounters. Many coastal towns have strong locks and aboslutely no night life by custom, although naturally, there are always a few who don't believe the myth, and most of them never bump into a fishman at night.
Sometimes, however, a coastal village is visited by a congregation of Deep Ones, fishmen who have migrated from the ocean's depths for a singular purpose. First, they exterminate or recruit the local fishmen into their cult. Then they tell the humans of the great beast-gods that lurk in the depths, of the terror that they could bring, but also, of the possible rewards. The Deep Ones ply the surface-dwellers with promises of beneficial magic, as well as treasure dredged from wrecked ships. Often, the treasure includes anything the local fishmen had stolen over the years- long lost heirlooms returned at last.
TLDR: Innsmouth fishmen. Done.
Gnolls: Gnolls are hyena people. Hyenas are actually pretty intense, right? I know exactly two things about them: They're best known for maniacal laughter, and although they have many dog-like aspects, they're actually part of the feline family. They're a cat's best impression of a dog.
That's pretty metal. I think gnolls deserve to be metal. I think my gnolls are desert-dwelling speed freaks. It's been less than eight years since I saw the new Mad Max movie, so I'm still pretty jazzed about it. What goes fast in the desert, though? I can think of three things.
1. Cool hovery land-ships. Magic!
2. Camels, I guess?
Well, two of those are pretty easy to do. What about the land boats, though? What kind of pricing are we looking at for those? Well, what if we do it as an automaton?
Let's say we want something like a small sailing ship. So 600 stone capacity, and 45' per round movement speed.
Automatons have a default 60' exploration speed, which means 20' per round movement. We spend one special ability to double that! Now we're at 40' per round. Good enough! This puts it on par with a slow horse's combat speed, which is good. How do you have an exciting boarding action if it's too much faster than horses? I'll make a note though that we can always double it again.
So far, 1 special ability. Now we need the 600 stone capacity. HD 6 and two doublings will get us a 720 stone capacity. Total cost 27,000 and can be commissioned from a 3rd level mechanist. That places it as well within a Duke's purchasing power, and even a Count could afford one by saving up for a few months.
Admittedly, we do have the issue that it can technically only carry one passenger, and it'd be prohibitively expensive to increase passenger status to the size of a full ship. I'm not sure why passenger carrying is so expensive. Probably to prevent things like this from breaking economics. Maybe I'll just not worry about the economics of it. Maybe I'll use the prohibitively expensive values and say that most of them are in service for many decades, so they have time to make back the cost.
The important thing is that desert princes commision these things for trade, and sometimes gnolls steal them, leading to fantastic war rigs.
Speaking which, desert princes! I'm thinking of having the gnolls live on a southern continent that is mostly desert, but boasts successful and wealthy kingdoms. The gnoll-filled desert seperates them, so they rarely go to war with each other directly, preferring to compete via trade and hiring mercenary armies.