Gnolls are based on hyenas, and like hyenas they are social and hunt in packs. Thus, when you find one gnoll you will find a large number of others. The gnoll camp in Elwynn forest thus contains a large number of the creatures, including their infamous leader and one other named gnoll. The other named gnoll is of course a rarespawn.
This post concerns Gruff Swiftbite.
Who is Gruff Swiftbite and where can I find him?
Gruff Swiftbite is a rare mob gnoll found in Elwynn Forest in the Eastern Kingdoms.
Gruff and his fellow gnolls are found in the westernmost edge of Elwynn Forest. The area is surrounded rivers to the west, south and east, and the road leading into Westfall runs directly to the north. Gruff can be found pacing around any of the small camps in the area, and is not easy to spot visually as he looks very similar to the normal gnolls.
If engaged, Gruff will simply wade into melee, swinging wildly at the opposition. He is little more than a slightly buffed version of the regular gnolls around him. Of course, the surroundings are a reason to be cautious, because the many many gnolls around (many of which patrol themselves), not to mention Hogger himself, may be drawn into the combat, which may be rather unpleasant for a low-level adventurer.
While Gruff is not terribly hard to defeat, nor very visually distinctive, he does have a unique drop (of uncommon quality no less, unusual for a starter zone rare). This drop is his pants (no pun intended), the boarhide leggings. This makes perfect sense, as Elwynn is the home of swine of many kinds and I can easily imagine Gruff and his fellow gnolls heading just over the river to poach some boars. Heck, with a little imagination I can even believe the creature is wearing the leggings.
Gruff also drops another item which actually explains a lot about the gnoll presence in Elwynn forest. This is the Gold Pickup Schedule, a quest-starting item which can drop from several different gnolls here, but Gruff has a high droprate for it. This quest reveals that the gnolls are working for the Defias Brotherhood and the local overseer, Morgan. As I mentioned earlier, the invisible network of criminals and dangerous monsters that involves the Defias Brotherhood is the focus of several starter zones, and this is just a small part of it.
As a result, I'd like to think that Gruff is one of the leaders of the Elwynn gnolls, serving under Hogger to perform some of the more menial duties that the other gnoll thinks is beneath him. Or maybe Gruff is the clever one, and thus entrusted with such delicate matters more readily by their Defias overseers.
The most amusing thing about Gruff, however, is that he shares his name with another rarespawn, immensely removed. This other Gruff (no surname) is a dinosaur in far-away Un'goro crater. As a result of this, for a long time the WoW item database confused the two creatures, and the Boarhide Leggings dropped from both. Getting a green item suited for a level 8 must have been something of a surprise after downing a level 57 elite. Fortunately (or unfortunately if this amuses you), this bug was fixed in patch 3.1.
With a neat little role to fill in the large story of the Defias infiltration, and close proximity to one of the most feared named mobs in the game, Gruff Swiftbite has a place in lore and in the game, however humble. The fact that he also provides a quest, an interesting feature for any rarespawn, is an added bonus.
Until next time, don't try to solo Hogger.