Legends of Belariath

Trolls

Trolls are one of the more misunderstood races in the realm of Belariath. They are great lumbering brutes, hulking much like ogres. However, what a troll lacks in comparison to an ogreís only slightly greater strength, they make up for in intelligence. Trolls have pointed and often floppy ears, long oft-crooked or bulbous noses, and squinting eyes beneath heavy brows that make them very sensitive to bright light. Given their naturally dark toned skin, resembling either the gray or black of mountain stone, the green of deepest swamplands, or the brown of earth and mud, one can almost assume trolls are a nocturnal race. A troll will use the night and the shadows to sneak into unsuspecting camps and steal people right from their beds to drag back to their caves or abodes, there to ravish them in more ways than one.

Character Creation

Starter Classes: Warrior, Shaman, Entertainer, Artisan, Layman

Advanced Classes: Warlord, Warrior Mage, Earth Mage

Starting Stats:

STR INT AGI RES STA SPL LFE
Basic Stats 6 1 1 2 8 2 8

Background

Any bard can tell you what a Troll is for some coin. Fables told by elders tell of Trolls being as squat and round as tree stumps, full of trickery and malice. Other fairy tales may sow dreams of monsters that eat stone, hollowing out the very hills as dens. There are songs sung of maidens plucked from their horse drawn carts and dragged into the dank, inky blackness beneath low hanging bridges, the stuff that spawns nightmares. Children once lost tell their parents of a '"big`un" that led them by the hand through a black labyrinth of forest and all the way home again. The bleached bones of children who didn't come home, their marrow sucked out through tiny holes, would tell otherwise.

The cleverest bards can braid elaborate sonnets using these strings of well-known fiction, pawning ideas they believe to be only fantasy for a few pretty coins. Oh, how they would silence if they knew that almost every fable was based in truth. I can tell you what a Troll is, and it won't cost you a thing...

Let me begin right off by explaining that the smaller breeds of Troll kind are gone. Maybe not physically wiped from the scornful face of Belariath, but from its memory; yet another diluted branch that hath fallen from the great bough that all Trolls stem from.

The comforting stories that parents tell of tiny guardians that scuttle about the rooftops, watching over their darling childís sleepy head, have no merit. Such claptrap foolishness was spun from myths that are long best left dead. Soothing words that might have rung true do not any longer.

Why, you may ask, am I saying such stories are foolish and unrealistic? Because the Trolls of that era were small, rotund, quarter breeds without an ounce of magic in them. Thatís what they were! Inflated hybrids that became recluses of the forest, which is no life for any respectable creature. These gnomish abominations were protectors of the wood and fond of life. The fact that one of these ďbrowniesĒ is part Sylvan Elf, Wild Elf, Nymph, and Troll is a secret that the fairer races stoutly deny. I call them brownies because they were brown. For more reasons then I would recount, they are gone now, as are most of their cousins Ė the Ďsmall folkí.

The namesake of the Troll livelihood is its adaptation. No single race has been able to branch and re-branch like that of the Troll, which is why an average Troll is one of a hundred things. Through unfortunate cases of crossbreeding and generations of selective isolation, many sorts of Trolls crop over many regions, and each can differ from the others greatly.

Trolls are an old and stubborn race. Many disagree with the former. Indeed, it is a hard theory to sell to a people who trace their religious fervor and principal to the selfish belief of superiority via racial longevity. But who cares? Iíll believe what I see, as most everyone does. The accepted belief among most of Troll kindís older members is that of our one similar and familiar root Ė The Great Troll. This is not a single idol or a cluster of Gods, like the mighty titans of Minotaur legend. The Great Troll is the first brood, the grand most and the first of all Troll kind. The depth of those origins cannot be guessed at by the wisest and eldest of Troll abbots of all Belariath.

ďThe Great Trolls were,Ē claims a detached verse muttered by the few studious Shaman who can fully grasp its meaning. In both mind and body, the most lackluster of this once proud, ambiguous race would outshine any living Troll in these sallow times. Every predominantly prime strength that the Trolls of Belariath harbor today could be found in the blood of their ancestors of yesteryear. The Great Trolls birthed the giant, the cunning, the cruel, the unworthy, the foul, the fearless, the wandering, the skilled, the pious, the daring, the beautiful, the articulate, and the mighty amongst our poorly disseminated race. Every breed can, in some way, be traced to them. Like the ancestral figures of a few other populations, the Great Troll has fallen through the glaring black patch where written history has refused to provide Troll kind with recognition. This is a fact.

What other races know about Trolls is sometimes greater then what a few Trolls know about themselves, and that is a very dangerous predicament. This small summary is meant to inform those of us who can read, understand, and apply the coming facts for survival and personal gain. The rest of the under-educated masses can do the same.

What a Troll is - Beliefs

Religion does not take precedence in our minds as it does the other denizens of Belariath.Where most other races are bred to cater rights of passage and bow to holy individuals, Trolls feel the fulfillment of natural order. The thriving factions of Troll kind would be more beast then sentient being if it were not for the redeeming anchor that has held us to civilization, if you believe in that sort of thing. The worship of tomes and totems alike is sometimes the only thing that holds a Troll village or tribe together in times of strife. Swamp Trolls, more then any other subspecies, uphold strict religious practices.

Since there is no policing body or assemblage with a long enough reach to bully any group of Troll into a belief, many keep their own Gods. Within the mountain ranges, each den is allowed to have its own idol.

Rock Trolls could worship whole mountains and Swamp Trolls may put heaps of steaming slug shit on top of their heads. I really donít know much about them. There are packs of Common Trolls who worship co-mingled Dark Elf Gods, Goddesses, and antediluvian Troll kind heroes in the same evening. Among the guardians of the mountain passes, there is even less restriction to how one can worship.

Each house shares a unique spin on divinity within its allegiance or bloodline, their faith as inconstant as droughts and wartime.

Beneath the names and shapes given to the numerous deities are our fundamentals, such as history. Some Trolls educate themselves to trace their family trees to the forefathers of the race. If this research is completed in the span of ones lifetime, that scholar is forever honored. This is the service that the tattered Troll church ideally helps to provides. The sages of our kind, broken veterans of hard times or lifelong bookworms, focus themselves into their work. They typically spend their lives in dark, hollowed vaults that contain old script, parchment, artifacts, and crude tapestries from olden days. These crypts of dead knowledge can take up enough space to fill a yard or a hillside, like underground junkyards assembled by many generations.The artifactsí caretakers, normally too unfit or unstable for anything other then slothful research and teaching, babble their learning to any who might listen and sometimes take apprentices.

We have nothing that resembles a library. The heaps of ancient reading are too unorganized for anyone but their makers to sort through. But it is from these holes in the ground that the base of Troll history is taught from. Fitting, isnít it? So when the other races are told whom they should worship, then why, and for how long, we Trolls are often told to praise the God who fits the moment. Faith is too finicky a quality to give all of it to one patriarch or matriarch.

Kirva is the most common goddess spoken from a Troll's lips. For whatever reason, she seems to be the most forgiving of the gods of their undesirable traits. Arachnophilia does not cross the racial border and Kirva is commonly viewed as the emotional embodiment ofHatred and not a physical. Shrines andvisages have adopted Troll qualities and values in most regards.

Gods of faith and justiceare adopted chiefly by Rock Trolls. Taken originally from the Fair Elves, these deities are worshipped in nearly identical fashion. The answer to the question 'why?' can only be guessed at, unless you are a Rock Troll.

Dragon worship occurs when a clever reptile holds too much sway over too many generations. Even the most reclusive of Dragon kind are discovered at one point or another, and due to the Troll's meandering nature, the two find themselves in awkward predicaments. MountainTrolls have encountered dozens of Dragons, either sleeping in their dens or wandering the canyons. Unfriendly reputations are wildly understated. When Trolls and Dragons are forced to coexist in one another's territories, the arrangement is usually stable. This changes over time, and many tribes and clans convert to worshipping the Dragons they share lands with, often devoting themselves religiously to their power.

What a Troll is - Regeneration

An old and long dead friend of mine once lost his nose to a hungry crocodile. We all knew he deserved it. The boy leaned in too close over Aunt Urmaís well, and snip-snap, his nose was gone. We all laughed about it but he was to have the last laugh all his own. That nose grew back three months later, slightly smaller but otherwise a perfect copy of his last, no doubt still giving some reptile heartburn.

The tales told among fellow Trolls sometimes say of heroes that grow back arms, legs, and even heads Ė for as long as the heart still beats, the soul will rebuild. No such examples serve Troll kind in modern day. I think itís impossible that those figures ever existed at all to the degree and reverence given their memory.

The ability of regeneration is thought to be in the blood. Trolls are often hunted and killed by groups of unwise Shaman in the hopes of culturing the trait in physical form. I imagine anyone who believes in transferring tissue growth in a bottle would pay a hefty sum. There havenít been any succeeding trials at making ďEssence of TrollĒ to my knowledge.

Effects caused by the sun are healed over the course of a night, sometimes more. Cuts and bruises often develop into nicks and sores after a nap or two in the dark.

Natural herbs and remedies can be exponentially affected by regeneration, to an unbelievable degree. Deep wounds, most burns, and certain magical ailments can only be cured by boosts from arcane therapy with ease. Sicknesses and surface wounds can be cured completely and thoroughly through combinations of simple herbs and potions and rest.

The strength of flesh rejuvenation can change from clan to clan, and even parent to child. Swamp Trolls are most gifted, on average, and Rock Trolls the least.

What a Troll is - Fire

Trolls disdain fire. Some scholars say it is their primal nature that fears the unnatural flame. I doubt that. A better explanation would be that fire poses a larger threat to Troll flesh then most things. Fire is common, especially in encampments and villages where the inhabitants are mostly Troll kind. I, surely, have never lit myself on fire and watched my arm sizzle and char into oblivion. However, death or torture by immolation is venerated above most all other forms of punishment in the mountain ranges because of the wounds Ė permanent and often fatal.

Burn wounds do not heal, defying the ages old testament of legendary Troll regeneration. The most assured way of destroying a thing is to cremate it. But the mark of fire to a Troll is a lasting one. A scorch must be mended by unnatural or magical means, or the wound will outlive the Troll. I am unsure of whether or not this is true with every single breed.

The sun equates to a slow burn to Trolls, like being smoldered in hot ash over the course of several hours. It often takes a lifetime to get over this sickness by normal means. A Trollís life is a nocturnal one, where waking in the daytime means either dusk has come late or there is a meal to be had.

The sun afflicts all parts of a Trollís health, and induces large amounts of fatigue without a strong tolerance of it. For the young or particularly disadvantaged, skin may peel, burn, smoke, and fall away. They may become flash blinded by any shiny object, and by looking at the sky. They could find themselves exhausted, or worse, if they forget to pace every step they take. The sun can affect the mind and the senses like no other poison, but like all poisons, the body strengthens from it with measured doses only.

The mysteries of the effects of flame are hard for some to agree to because it completely opposes the aforementioned Troll trait: Regeneration. It is thought by this observer that a kind of regenerative property is active in every breed. It is not an easy trait to snuff. From within my own family and clan, where infighting can become common, foes and factions often maim, gouge, destroy, and inflict grievous harm to one another, but rarely die. In all my life, I have never witnessed a limb sprout out of a severed joint nor an eye re-grow from an empty socket.

What a Troll is - Cannibalism

Another parable that puts loathing and fear into the hearts of many is that of Troll cannibalism. The idea that Trolls are eaters of intelligent flesh, while being the truth, does not meet the definition of the cannibal and so I must disclaim it. Trolls will rarely eat one another. Only Swamp Trolls are rumored amongst Troll kind itself to gorge on the meat of their kin.

Everything between the skin and the bones of all the other races can be considered part of a meal. No race is omitted to the dinner table of any of the Troll breeds, but my own tribe temporarily decreed Goblins and wild Elves as forbidden when the members of those races threatened to detour their trade caravans around our mountain ranges, effectively destroying a valuable source of commerce. Since the factions have both since dropped from all trading with us completely, the Elves of the wilds and those worthless green Bixies are back on the menus and plates.

Goblins make for excellent trail-mix.

Much of Troll kindís culture can be found around the hearth. Myth states that the fetish of head hunting, eating people for food, began a great many generations ago during a time of terrible strife. Most of our race was destroyed after the fall of Great Trolls and before the dissension of the breeds. The united race of Trolls left over began the tradition of eating captives, often alive, and setting one of them free to return to their original forces, leaving a path for clever Troll scouts to follow. Whether or not this tactic was effective is unknown, as we lost the war, soundly.

Thatís the stem of our craving, passed by tradition and by blood, to honor the past and stuff ourselves. There will never be any Nymph or Cat People shortages, but grain and livestock can be snuffed out in a single season. So why not sup amongst what is plentiful?

What a Troll is - Common Trolls

The Common Troll consists of breeds that have no name, and choose no specific environ or habitat to claim as their own. Their features would be the most mild or unvarying compared to those of their cousins. I havenít much to say about them, but let me say it regardless.

They typically rove in bands, or pairs where Trolls are less numerous. A Common Troll is much more versatile than its cousin. They are naturally smaller in stature, though slightly more nimble, but share none of the redeeming traits or abilities we Trolls are proud of. Their noses and eyes are smaller than is normal, and thusly their powers of sight and smell are diminished.

Because of their less ghastly appearance, the Common Troll is less likely to be poached or killed. They feel less pain in the sun, and donít suffer the side effects of the exposure as all other Trolls do, disregarding Rock Trolls who are the exception.

The Common Trolls are either a watered down mix of all the breeds, or a separate one that might be old lineage to an ancestral breed, proof of one of the branching mentioned earlier on.

Due to their nomadic ways and compatibility with the rest of the world, the Common Trolls are active barter traders. The merchant lifestyle can be picked over the hunter-gatherer one for good reason, but Iíve never once heard a tale of a successful Troll merchant king. Iíd have trouble believing it.

As the Common Troll is most easily adaptable to average environments, so are their minds. The nomads can be swayed from young, impressionable times into any walk of life with any disposition. Namely, evil has become a staple of the Common Trollís loosely defined society. Foulness has tainted them more so than any other breed in the recent generations.

They are, as their false name suggests, the most common Troll. There are uncounted numbers of them of all shapes and most sizes. Goblin/Troll crossbreeds are not to be trusted by anyone.

What a Troll is - Swamp Trolls

Swamp Trolls are my least favored of the entire Troll family.

These Trolls and another kind of Troll, that lives over half of its life submerged in water, are synonymous, and as close to kin as they can become. Both revolt and disgust me. The widely known Swamp Trolls are land dwellers who spend their growing lives in the dank and bereavement of the worst bogs in Belariath or around them. I donít know why. It is obvious that these environments of rot have lent their mysterious powers to the Swamp Troll blood.

The other type of Swamp Troll is the water loving variety; they almost never leave it. Donít expect me to recount any personal knowledge about them. Iíve only met a dead one, once. Iíll never forget the smell.

Both breeds stink of year-old fish if they forget to scrub and bath with pumice before associating with the rest of us, which they never do. Of their senses, I can only guess. I have seen nictitating eyelids functioning beneath their normal ones. Their noses are usually less pronounced and even missing on some of the secluded clans, or so Iíve been told. Other rumors tell that Swamp Trolls have grown wilted, misshapen protrusions that lack the cartilage to be considered a real nose. This might be some sort of curse for being creatures of decay and water. Others believe, as I do, that if these lumpy ďnosesĒ exist, that they are for smelling things underwater. Ears have receded most of all, and many on these Trolls resemble hooded drums like those of a fish, only roofed with hard cartilage.

Skin coloration is very random from parent to child but always dense and leathery. Body structure and temperament varies in the same way.

Tissue regeneration is vastly increased in some of the lineages, and leads to unusually long life times and power. On the other hand, their weakness towards fire is also increased. A Swamp Troll at the age of 400 years may implode in the rays of the sun, but thatís only a fantasy of mine. I have no way of measuring these things except per story.

Of the land dwelling Swamp Trolls I have met, there were never any unnatural deformities, which would be in contrary to their regenerative quality. Most have been sages or dark magic wielders. The proximity they share with the heart of the swamp has saturated them with wisps of its power. They understand rot, re-growth, and the sudden destruction that befalls all living things to a degree that towers most Trollís learning. They cannot, however, enjoy the warmth of a hearth, nor will they get very near to one. I am not sure whether or not they believe the rumor of their flame disadvantage as much as they do their regenerative powers, but they act as if they do.

Also important to note is that the Swamp Troll is the most likely breed of us all to go head hunting for other Trolls. I avoid swamps when ever possible, as does every Troll from my clan. Many traveling kin share these wary tales and can relate them easily Ė some with scars, some with dead companions. This Troll can only guess as to why the rotting lurkers hunt and kill and eat those who trespass their pockets of land.

What a Troll is - Rock Trolls

The most noble and simple of the known breeds of Trolls are the Rock Trolls. They are, in all ways, elementary creatures that serve their environment to better suit themselves. Rarely is one born with a sour or evil temperament, unlike all other denizens of Troll kind.

Typical Rock Trolls are massive. A few disseminated families are as small as 7 feet in height. The average can be anywhere from 7 to 15 feet in height. Tales hint of a few MUCH biggerÖ truly, Rock Trolls are the biggest of our kind. They are naturally the strongest and toughest as well, due to their size and the stone-like consistency of their bodies.

Their namesake is from the rocky texture of their skin, which acts as a natural armor. Their senses are adept, especially the nose.

The structure of a Rock Trollís body is dependent on nothing. They bear some resemblance to their parents, but over the course of a lifetime, many traits can become dominant that determine shape and height, seemingly at random. Birth markings and strong personality similarities and mannerisms are hereditary among Rock Trolls.

Resistance to the sun is the strongest gift given to these, our mammoth brethren. Their skin is impervious to many things, and the sun is listed among them. A Rock Troll can walk about in the day for prolonged periods of time from the day of its conception with no worry whatsoever. Their eyes stay sharp in the clearest of noon skies, and their ears donít brown in the heat.

They possess the least intelligence of all breeds of Troll. Their brainpower is dispersed into controlling the gentle movements of their immensity, and not in higher functions. I have never met a Rock Troll who could both read and write, although I am sure there are some who can.

Sometimes, in a clutch of Trolls, there is a bad seed. My meaning is more literal then the old adage. The legendary attribute of the Rock Troll is their calm, judicious, albeit sometimes skewed outlook in all things. But this is not always true. Wicked or nefarious Rock Trolls are, frankly, the worst. Through all of my days I have never met one, and that is their danger. No Troll would impose judgment for evil deeds on a traveling, stony brother who may just be wandering through a province. It would be too farfetched to think a creature, passive about their brethren in all situations but wartime, would pillage, rape, and kill for the joy of it. One would deduce a party of Goblins, or dark eyed Common Trolls have done wrong. But in truth, a single gargantuan of stone can do as much destruction with their fists, and more harm to the unsupportive with their cleverness, than any other single Troll.

The foulness of some lumbering giants is speculative and disbelieved. Never turn your back on one unless theyíve already had the opportunity to kill you MANY times and passed it by. With experience can come the slack of comfort, which is the one opportunity they ask for.

What a Troll is - Mountain Trolls

My people.

Long ago, our ancestors ran from the affairs of the plains and into the hideaway of the mountains, and it is here where we remain.

Over the decades and centuries, elders say we have changed very little. Elongated arms were already a curiosity of that single fleeing tribe, our grandsires, when they climbed the summits and refined the valleys. But who can tell? Our bodies grew slightly larger for living in the thinner air and grueling labor of stonework (Real stonework, as in carving mountainside [A] into monument [B]), and our lungs powerful and productive.

The collaboration of villages and tribes once lived far west, our faces towards the ocean but backs leaning on hill face. Slowly, with great reluctance and effort, the massive herd migrated back over the mountains, tilling and working as they went. The reasons are not fully known, but it is thought that the people began to dwindle in the climate as the ocean side had little nourishment for them, and within generations of erecting establishments, they began to fall. Poverty and starvation. All of that stuff.

It would certainly make sense, because we have the same problem now. There are four strong settlements and a fifth one that is dwindling. Many, many years ago, my parents counted eleven prosperous villages in the dead center of the mountaintops and valleys. Some were left behind and other became dust.

The last five are stretching out, thinning, as they send merchants and lore tellers into the civilized lands to bring back what they can.

The last five villages are called Gunush, Verkba, Lorl, KefíNekfa, and the weakest, Huir. I was born in that last one. The villages rule over provinces and stretches of mountains that may be unexplored or potentially worthless, but who is there to contest the deed? The villages are never greedy over land Ė between one another. Travelers who use our passes are subject to our will, if we can find them. Even we donít know every passage and trade route and patrolling it all would be impossible. But when a journeyer is found, they are taxed. If they cannot pay with something, they often become permanent property of the Troll band that finds them until they outlive their usage. Then their bodies help fertilize our ravines.

Because of the descent into the mountains, we lack the stereotypical hard flesh of almost all Trolls, as our hides are leathery and little more. Our regeneration and tolerance to the sun are both adept.

A small notable feature of the Mountain Troll is the tail. We all have them.

What a Troll is - Snow Trolls

Those of our kind who have adapted to artic climates. I don't know what and I don't know how. They are a mystery and not worth an expedition trying to find.

Stories claim that Snow Trolls are giants and furred with the faces of boars and padded feet and claws like a bear.They sometimes ambush parties trudging through the white wastes, as is their common method of hunting, and numbers of travelers are felled with a single sweep of a paw-like hand and devoured on the spot.

Others say that they watched as boulders of packed snow rained from above and crushed many of companions. The weight of the giant snowballs was so tremendous that there was no way to dig to those trapped beneath them, if they were still alive. As they walked away from the confusing foray, they turned and saw massive stooping figures like giants, but draped in dark skins and hideous to glance at, lifting the boulders and slinging the bodies of their comrades over their shoulders before disappearing into the dusk with them.

The fabled creatures in this case must have had overwhelming numbers or size, or the fleeing travelers were too weak to attempt a rescue.

There are no pleasant tales of Snow Trolls. Itís probably best that it remain that way.

What a Troll is - Forest Trolls

The Forest of Trollshaw is notable for its particularly rich and mystical history, but most notable for its namesake. A special breed of Troll resides here. The Sylvan Elves of this region call them ďTorog,Ē and they call themselves nothing. They are an odd parody to the Treents that were slain there long ago and whose sap-blood flows in the forestís streams, because they have replaced them.

The Torogs of Trollshaw Forest are more territorial then other Trolls. The forest is their home and they owe the trees their very existence. This is uncommon and strange. They are willowy man-beasts, exceedingly tall and thin, as if shedding the bulk they were gifted with. What other properties they have borrowed from their natural element is unknown, or unsaid. The only other race in Belariath that interacts with the Forest Troll regularly are Sylvan Elves, who may pass through their forest without being harassed or followed, unless a Troll is in search of good company. Nymphs and other Tathren share an unspoken pact with these tree giants. Others rarely pass through the populated woods. Only offenders are waylaid or killed by Forest Trolls. Their bodies, despite their weakened stature, are not meek. Their build makes them formidable in combat and ideal for travel among dense wood. No one has made claims that Forest Trolls are any more or less pleasant then the rest of their kind, but they are, reputedly, patient and reasonable. They are also the most alien of Troll kind and recluse from its own.

What a Troll is - Miscellaneous

- Sun Sickness. It accompanies mental or physical shock. Any progress a Troll has made towards resisting the effects of direct sunlight are reversed for a short time. Most are taken quite by surprise when they come down with this mysterious disease and its real causes are unknown. Itís perfectly possible to die from this illness if the victim doesnít take great care. The symptoms are softened by anything with Black Root in it, which is actually yellow. The sickness cannot be induced or enforced into another, because few people know how it begins or what it is.

- Trollhunds are a certain breed of bloodhound meant for the tracking, hunting, or trapping of Trolls. They are especially sensitive to their scents and uncommonly valorous when facing a Troll, often more brave then their Human masters.

- Trolls, when given ample opportunity, will horde gold like no other creature, second to Dragons. Trolls have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that any manner of thing can be collected. They are not nearly as picky as Dragons and Trolls adept at the snatch-and-run method have built impressive collections over the course of years. The den of a Troll with taste, however, can hold enough riches to entice the shrewdest of Dragons to theft.

- Ogre and Troll were friends at one time. This isnít true anymore. History is unclear of who turned whose back first, and then who plunged the knife into their exploited flank, but relationships have long since ended. The same cannot be said for Goblins. Many longstanding relations have been forged between these peoples, although the Trolls dwelling near the mountaintops have broken such ties.

Roquai