They were formidable even before they learned how to use weapons.
Nahactl, the Wanderer
Mountain trolls are among the largest of the troll races; the others being marine trolls, forest trolls, and the hyperborean ice trolls. Barrel chested and bow-legged, the trolls in general present a rather comical appearance. They lack a certain grace held by other dangerous races such as the dark fae, dragons, and the like. Their arms are quite long, and most of the time trolls are content to move about on four limbs. While capable of standing and walking on their legs alone, they tend to be a good deal slower.
The trollish nose is large, and their ability to track by scent is only surpassed by bloodhounds and other scent hounds. Their ears are also large, giving them a greater range of hearing, mostly into the lower frequencies of sound. Troll eyes tend to be beady and small, and most trolls are rather myopic and can discern little other than movement and color at long distances.
Unlike most popular illustrations in the various bestiaries, trolls are covered with copious amounts of hair. Not quite like an animal's coat, most of this hair grows from the back, belly, the lower legs and the forearms. Younger trolls tend to have thick and wild manes of hair that creep down their necks. Females have a finer version of this mane and elder males tend to go bald or gray in their early thirties.
Trolls are an intelligent species that have developed rudimentary language, tool use, and a few elements of social structures. While there is certainly no threat of a Trollish nation, troll blacksmiths or troll magi, the race has learned the basics of shaping stone into weapons for hunting. They also have a strong but very primitive sort of magic that is instinctively used by the rare Trollish Shamans. The tool users tend to gravitate towards leadership positions while those who have learned to speak to the sky and the stones become shamans and are as likely to be outcaste from their social group as becoming leaders or advisors.
The standard social unit of the mountain troll is the troop. Generally consisting of an alpha male troll and a harem of female trolls numbering between 2 and seven members. There are also generally young equal to the total number of adults in the troop. Females remain with the troop until they find suitable mates, though a degree of inbreeding occurs between some father-daughter members. Males, once they reach sexual maturity are forced to either defeat the leader of a troop for his females, or leave the troop on his own.
Three factors will remove a troll from a social grouping. The first reason is that the troll, now advanced in years is no longer able to defend his claim to a troop of females and associated stomping grounds. These graybeard trolls tend to be large and vicious in their old age, but are too slow to fight off younger and more aggressive trolls. A newly come of age male troll is forced from the troop often wanders for a while as a solitary troll. Most of these will either join an all male bachelor troop or will manage to gain a female and start his own troop. While a solitary troll of this sort is considered less dangerous than a troop troll, the bachelor pack of trolls is a violent force that breaks trees, maraud and pillage and most often fall into servitude with evil warlords and other dominating types.
The final reason a troll becomes solitary is that the troll in question has an innate magical ability. Most often based around an element, generally water, fire or stone, these troll shamans tend to keep spirits as companions and are among the most intelligent of the trollish race. Given enough time, these trolls can learn the basics of the common tongue.
There are a small number of trolls who by virtue of their strength and cunning take up the role of being Troll Chieftans. It generally takes an outside threat that pressures a trollish population to spur the 'election' of a chieftan. The process of election is much like the bravado and brutish bellowing and chest beating of the mating season. Those who are not bluffed by demonstrations of strength face off in grappling and throwing matches. In the end, the smartest and fiercest trolls tend to win out.
A chieftan is able to access a sort of racial and communal magic. As bastions of strength, a troll chieftan by his presence alone can lend strength to the trolls that follow under his command. This combined with the rapid healing of trolls makes for a formidable foe that even better equipped enemies have a hard time facing.
Trolls, much to the chagrin of wizards and magi, are an innately magical species. The best known of their powers, and most exaggerated, is that of Trollish regeneration. Myths tell that if a troll's head is cut off, the head will grow another body and the body, another head. While the bestial trolls are certainly able to regrow lost fingers, even limbs over enough time, they are still quite mortal. The regeneration is quick and leaves little in the way of scars. It is also tied strongly into the natural elemental affinities of water and stone.
Trollish strength is another thing of legend. While giants are known for throwing boulders and ogres routinely use trees as clubs, none can match the relentless might of the trolls. This strength is most obvious during lifting or sustained holds as the force exerted grows the longer they maintain it. Thus there is some truth to tales of ogres lifting castle gates, pulling down stone towers, and crushing the life from the throats of young and arrogant dragons. It should be noted that before applying sustained force, a troll is generally no stronger than it's appearance would suggest.
Finally, there is a strong antipathy between Trolls and simulacra built and used by artificers. As such, trolls have an almost intuitive sense of weak points in golems, clockwork creations and other artifacts and artifact creatures. This grants no special immunity to the weapons of such creatures, but most have since learned that using golems and such against trolls is a measure of desperation and futility.
THe trollish mind is relatively simple and their though processes are not convoluted. This sraight forward mode of thinking has both limitations and certain advantages. The main advantage to this mode is that illusions tend to not be very effective against trolls. They generally get twice the bonus to notice or disbelieve illusions. The disadvantages are much more severe. Without abstract though, trolls are notorious for almost non-existant long term planning and their actions are seldom done with thoughs of consequences or repercussions. Magics that control the mind are very effective against trolls, which has the tendancy of making trolls as slaves very popular among the magi who are likely to keep monsters in their retinue.
The Wizard's Troll - The PCs are hired by a wizard to capture a troll for him. They are given a suitable one shot magic item to place the beast under their control to have it docile for delivery. Much like great white hunters, the PCs have to find a troll and subdue it long enough to use the item, and then return through the countryside with a feared and brutish monster...why does the wizard want one of these things for anyway?
Not Registered Yet? No problem.
Do you want Strolenati super powers? Registering. That's how you get super powers! These are just a couple powers you receive with more to come as you participate.
- Upvote and give XP to encourage useful comments.
- Work on submissions in private or flag them for assistance.
- Earn XP and gain levels that give you more site abilities (super powers).
- You should register. All your friends are doing it!
? Responses (8)
I find myself in pleasured agreement of pretty much anything you have written down here! I was not surprised, meaning that it all just made sense, and fell neatly together - their social structure, innate magic, even that old regeneration trick are great. A great description of those 'dumb brutes', and the pitfalls that await anyone willing to mess with them, they are more like forces of nature taken mortal shape.
Oh, and the Trolls Minds paragraph needs a little check. Speaking of that, their tendency to fall under control of mages deserves an exception... and the rare shaman trolls would just fit the bill. (Which could make a rather messy end for the plot hook. ;) ) Or you could make those loners more likely to break out of control when they sense a female.
Excellent work! Do link this to the New Take On codex!
5/5 for this new look on the old Troll race.
A very good treatment of the classic troll.
The apelike social structure gives me visions of a 'Jane Goodall' type trying to study the "Trolls in the Mist...*
The occasional legends of "Troll Blooded" families that circulate among the hill folk would tend to support the theory that this has been tried, with predictably horrifying results.
More alarming are the whispered rumours of the "Truul Dverg", darkness-loving and reclusive dwarves that carry trollish blood. These twisted amalgams are reputed to scuttle and lurk in burrows and caverns dug deep beneath the earth. If the tales are true, these creatures combine the worst traits of both species, possessing bestial savagery driven by avaricious cunning.
I know certain gene-twisting baddies who would find this critter to be excellent fresh genes...
Still interesting. (But why is it a scroll?)
I intend to later on flesh out the forest and marine trolls that are about 90% the same as the Mountain trolls and really wouldnt require a full submission of their own.