The Trolls of Oerth
Date: Thu, February 19, 2004
Topic: Peoples & Culture
This speculative article discusses an alternate origin of the troll race. Many people assume that trolls are mindless greenskinned carrot nosed monsters. These are not trolls they speak of, but rather a bastard race which is nothing like a true troll. Trolls have honor and are rumored to be one of the first races of Oerth. The people of the Sheldomar Valley know well this truth as some of their culture has mimicked the trolls own society. The following article will discuss the connection of the gnomish and trollish races as well as the dreaded spriggan. Although this article was written for a second edition game, you will find that it is a rules light article adaptable into campaigns of any edition.
The Trolls of Oerth
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The Trolls of Oerth
The Trolls of Oerth are quite different than the trolls made popular on other worlds. Oerth trolls stand between seven and a half to nine feet tall, with some variants here and there. Trolls are broad shouldered and husky resembling Ogres with goat-like horns attached to their heads. Unlike the ogres though trolls posses great knowledge and intellect with strength to match. It is said that the dwarven culture is slightly influenced by the trolls own culture. But it is ill advised to state this to the dwarven race. It seems that trolls and dwarves share similar types of dress, and much of the Sheldomar Valley has been influenced by both cultures. Most sages believe that the ancient Joten?s were actually the main influences on both dwarven and trollish culture?s. Both cultures have differences in beliefs and overall ideology, yet one can see the similarities in both cultures.
The trollish people have vast sources of knowledge, yet most trolls will tell you it doesn?t matter who was here first. What is important to the trolls is who will be here last. What is listed here is a trollish telling of the birth of Oerth and its races. Whether the following is true or not, none but the gods themselves could argue either, although elves and even gnomes may tell you differently.
In the beginning, their were three types of powerful being?s. Each of these being?s power was greater than any power ever seen in present times. One of these being?s were creatures of immense girth and length, scaly hides with long feathered features, it is rumored that just one of these creatures was the size of modern day Oerth, these creatures were called the Linnorm. Another race of similar girth had skin of silver-gray and hair the color of clouds, their features were of humanoid standards and they equaled the size of the Linnorm and were bitter enemies to them, these creatures were called the Joten. The last were being?s of different shapes and sizes, but all were powerful in their own right and they were bitterly hated by both the Linnorm and the Joten, for these creatures called themselves the Gods.
These being?s fought for eons, through out the cosmos; the gods gained the upper hand. When the gods had realized that they were the most knowledgeable and most powerful of these being?s they sought to make themselves king?s of the other two. Both the Linnorm and the Joten refused to bow to their authority, and so the Gods forced each of the Linnorm and Joten to a form with witch the gods could have dominion over, and so the stars, the sun and planets were born. Each of the Gods made one of these places there own personal home, but two of these places resisted the Gods still. It was a Linnorm known as Oeferous, and a Joten known as Thantion. The gods grew furious and sought to destroy these infidels, the gods succeeded or so they thought, the two dead bodies formed into one great planet which gave birth to trees, mountains, lakes, oceans, seas, and earth, and from this earth small and large animals were born. The Gods could invoke their influence but were greatly limited, and none could make this planet their home. After tireless centuries the Gods decided to leave this planet alone, it was named Oerth in honor of the two being?s who fought so long and were eventually pulled together.
Ages had past, and the world of Oerth changed very little, until one day a member of the Gods sought to take dominion of Oerth or join with it and rule from within. Oerth swallowed this God and its essence changed the world, for some of the trees could walk and some of the stones could too. Many of the Gods were in amusement and wonder of these being?s. They had no where near the power of the gods but they could call Oerth their home. Some gods decided to speak to these being?s and when they did these being?s spoke back, and so the Ents and Duhr were born named after the god who joined her essence with Oerth. The Ents and Duhr did as the gods told them and the gods were pleased for they had found being?s willing to recognize their greatness.
In the coming years many of the Gods contemplated, creating another being one unlike the Ents and Duhr, one in which they would be wholly responsible for creating. For centuries the Gods contemplated on how to create a new race, and how this race would be accepted by Oerth. Some gods had gone mad from this problem. Others grew envious of the races that already inhabited Oerth.
The Throlic and Geothum, gods both devised a way for a race to be born of Oerth. Yet owe fealty to them, or so they thought. Then a member from each of these houses sent a messenger of their own to search Oerth for the perfect vessel in which their race would be born. The Geothum choose to take an Ent and mate it with a Duhr the creature born would be molded in their likeness. The Throlic choose to take a Duhr and etched their likeness into this creature of the Oerth. Both houses were successful they each had created a race which they called their own.
The Gnomes and Trolls are born, upon their arrival on Oerth; the world awoke and let forth the spawn of hatred upon them. Giants and Dragons the spawn of both the Joten and Linnorm who formed Oerth arose upon the land. The Trolls fought off these beasts, without the aid of their gods many a dragon and giant were turned back. But the weakling gnomes refused to act without their gods? intervention. The Trolls would do all of the fighting while the gnomes tried to make peace with these creatures. The Trolls began to become annoyed with the lack of response from the gnomes, while the gnomes were annoyed at the constant success (not so much success as constant bloodshed) the Trolls would have against both giant and dragon kind. The Trollish people took dominion over the gnomes, stating that the gnomish people were too weak and easily intimidated by the giants and dragons to survive without are guidance.
The War of the Dishonor (First), the gnomes fought against their trollish liberators, and many a troll died at the hands of their new enemies the gnomes, giants and dragons. The trolls eventually gained the upper hand and agreed to allow the gnomes to fight alongside them as equals as long as they were willing to fight their true oppressors (giants & dragons). After a long time the gnomes agreed that we trolls were indeed correct in are way of thinking. For one of the gnomes finally found wisdom and realized that one of the so called gods, had spoke lies into their ears. The trolls agreed to smite this evil which prevented the gnomes from acting as honorable members of the moot.
The Birth of Urdlen, the lies that have been fed into the ears of the gnomes were spread by this creature. Urdlen was forced to reveal himself to the gnomish race by the trolls, and was found to be responsible for the wars on Oerth. Urdlen was a creature spawned of all the evil of the cosmos, his sole reason for existence was too twist and warp all the races of Oerth. The gods of both pantheons united against this evil, with the wit of Garl and the spear of Agith, the creature known as Urdlen was sealed into the center of Oerth, were his influence over the gnomish people was weakened greatly. The War of the first had ended, and the Gnomish and Trollish people went there separate ways, each claiming lands for themselves forgetting any past alliances they had made.
The rebirth of Urdlen, after his humiliation at the hands of Garl and his defeat at the hands of Agith, Urdlen decided to exact his revenge. Because he could not create his own race Urdlen used his magic?s and lies to twist the forms of trolls and gnomes. Urdlen created a crossbreed from his foul magic?s these creatures could assume both gnomish and trollish form, they became known as the spriggan. The Spriggan were agents for there dark lord , entering lands of both gnomes and trolls corrupting them and turning the gnomes and trolls once again against each other. Once again the trolls and gnomes warred against each other.
The second war was more telling then the first as the agents of the dark lord Urdlen, entrenched his will upon the gnomish and trollish people. The Spriggan had a flaw though they could only hold there forms for eight hours after which they would have to change into another. The Gods Baervan, and Lorthain came up with a contest for Urdlen, if one of his creatures could best their races in a riddle contest they would free him from his prison. Urdlen agreed and put his wisest of creatures to the test, go forth Rel?than Urdlen called. The armies of the troll?s and gnomes gathered, each sent forth there greatest riddle masters, to combat this creature called a Spriggan. This contest lasted for 13 days and 13 nights before it meet its end. The Spriggan and one troll known as Dorgath, and a gnome known as Feindura, were left, each had answered riddle?s that even the gods had struggled with, but Rel?than drew a riddle next: ?A worm swims in me. I prevent any from leaving. I am both open and closed, but never at the same time. Some revere me, others fear me. What am I?? Both Dorgath and Feindura pondered on the answer. Urdlen screamed with joy, I?ve won now release me from my prison. Urdlen screamed again why do you not release me I have won now let me free, my Spriggan defeated your trolls and gnomes now release me. Wait stated Dorgath we have not yet answered this simple riddle, Feindura I?ll give you the first opportunity to best this fool. Feindura answered wrong and stated it was dirt. Dorgath was shocked Feindura had nearly bested him once before it must be Urdlens influence over the gnomes working against Feindura. Dorgath laughed in the face of Urdlen, your tricks won?t affect me. The answer is grave which is were you will remain foul one. Now Rel?than or should I say Urdlen prepare for your demise. Dorgath drew forth his riddle. ?I?m am strong, I am weak; When I fall, I do not break; when I break, I do not fall; I am forever, and then not at all?. Rel?than gasped what false riddle is this claimed Urdlen there is no such thing. Oh but there is, and you have never known it Urdlen. Therefore you cannot answer my riddle. Urdlen pondered on this for hours pleading with his captures. But finally Urdlen?s time was up; the gods would not free him. Know this creature you will never defeat the trolls. Urdlen ordered his creature to stab Dorgath from behind and the greatest of all riddle masters was slain.
The war of the Spriggan begun, once again the trolls fought but this time the gnomes aided them, and drove the spriggan armies away. In the end many gnomes and trolls were dead both races retreated for a time as the wars had taken its toll upon their numbers. The gods claimed their must be a fault with their creations and abandoned the trolls and even the hapless gnomes. The gods have tried for eons to create a race such as the first two, but none could measure up to the trolls or even the gnomes.
The following is a listing of what appears to be the common everyday beliefs of the trollish race. Trolls believe that the gods left them when they proved to be a threat to their power. Gnomes were once as wise as the trolls and some still are but many still suffer from the influence of Urdlen. The other races are simple and weak. Only the ents, duhr, and gnomes deserve any respect from a troll warrior. The other races can gain the favor of a troll only by overcoming the limitations of their kind. A troll must always be honorable. A troll can do whatever he wants as long as he is willing to accept the consequences.
Female trolls are the rightful leaders of the moot. A female may choose any mate, but if she is not satisfied with her current mate she must find another one to defeat her current mate. If a mate of a female successfully defends his right to mate with her against a females chosen champion then he may continue with her for one more year before she can have another challenge for her again.
No troll shall take property which he has not rightfully won (many trolls raid villages and take goods, but a troll will never steal from someone). Ogres are hornless trolls who have lost their wits (many trolls are mistaken for Ogres and vice versa). Ogres must be taught the honor of their kind. Ogres are unable to learn the gift of runes but some may learn blood magic (In fact the ogre mages which have been claimed to be seen by other races are really troll mages). Blood magic is dangerous and only a troll has a chance of truly wielding its might. Runic magic was created by the Jotens and is carried on by the trollish race.
Responsibility and honor, to ones moot and himself is of the utmost importance. A troll must behave honorably by taking complete and final responsibility for their own life and destiny. No troll shall willingly do anything which will tarnish their personal view of honor (though many trolls rarely care whether others view their actions as honorable or dishonorable). No troll who gives his oath on any matter shall ever break it. No troll shall blame his situation on fate or circumstance, to do so is dishonorable.
Trolls exhibit fierce, aggressive personalities. Yet hold knowledge and wisdom in high regard. Despite their resemblance to ogres, trolls are easily distinguished by their horned heads and ridged knee, elbow, and spines. Trolls also tend to be better dressed than their ogre cousins. One staples of troll fashion is the garlith (what passes as a kilt in places such as Scotland and Ireland) a padded skirt often adorned in checkered colors of the moot (Dwarves and the men of the Sheldomar valley tend to dress in a similar fashion).
Trolls are fiercely loyal to their family or clan. Multiple clans who join together are considered a moot. This happens when each clan?s leader swears fealty to each others clan. Such unions rarely exist for long. Trolls often war among themselves when enemies are lacking for too long. But war amongst themselves is usually less lethal than war with other races, as trolls do not wish to contribute to the demise of their own race.
Trolls have customs that other races tend not to practice. First and foremost is the art of marriage. While it is true that the female has sole say in who she marries, such unions are only as permanent as a male can make them ( many females tend to choose another suitable mate to fight for their right in marriage, if the new suitor is triumphant then he has earned his right to mate with her). Another type of marriage that can be called for is a line marriage. A line marriage is when two families decided to become one. The dominate female of both families fight for the right of family name. The victor not only keeps the families name but chooses which of the former family members of the defeated family will join hers. This includes who will be whose husband and wife. This is one way for a family short on males to increase their families? number and protect their families? lineage.
While trolls hold combat close to their hearts, there are many other arts they find admirable in their lives. Trolls have a fondness for sculpturing, farming and painting. Trolls also enjoy crafting jewelry and weapons. Trolls find poetry and song to be of equal if not more important than physical prowess. Trolls tend to be capable fishermen and sailors as well.
While most races recognize that trolls are governed by their honor. You would be hard pressed to find some one other then a troll who can actually comprehend a troll?s sense of honor. The fact that trolls seem unwilling or uncooperative in explaining their idea of honor only complicates things further. Heck some trolls state that having to explain ones honor is like explaining why one is a troll. In fact if indeed their honor system could be explained only a troll would even be able to attempt to explain their view of honor.
In fact what a troll considers honor is actually a representation of both honor and pride. A troll?s honor combines recognition of abilities with a sense of dignity and self worth. A trolls honor is more than what they do, but also defines who they are, and what they can accomplish in their lives. Without honor one has nothing, not even death to comfort them. Trolls may have spoken another language long ago but have spoken Joten for as long as any can remember. In addition to Joten trolls often speak gnomish, elfish, dwarven, draconic, a mannish language, and the common tongue.
Trolls practice warfare often and it is a staple of their existence. Trolls have also studied the art of riddles which is dear to their hearts. In fact if an opponent of a troll wishes to challenge him to a battle of the wits, he best be prepared. For trolls take their knowledge of riddles as seriously as they do their honor. If an opponent manages to keep up to trollish standards he will indeed earn respect from that troll. If an opponent actually bests a troll by honorable means. That troll will often consider him an equal and hold him to the same standards of honor he has for other trolls.
Trolls are one of the first races of Oerth. As such trolls have many unique abilities that other races do not possess, and a few which are evident in some other races. Much like gnomes, there are different species of trolls though there abilities seem to remain the same per species.
Trolls can be found wearing garb made from wool?s and leather to furs and hides. Depending on what region they exist in. For the most part trolls prefer Highland regions near a source of water, though forested and underground regions are not unknown. Trolls prefer colder regions but can be found in warmer climates as well.
Trolls are a hardy race strong of body and of will as such all troll characters receive a +2 bonus to both their Strength and Constitution scores. Trolls value knowledge and see a being with knowledge as a wise individual, as such a troll character receives a +1 bonus to their Intelligence scores. Trolls are also a bulky race not given to gracefulness and receive a -1 penalty to their Dexterity scores. Trolls are also very overbearing and are regarded as bullies and braggarts by non-humanoids. As such humans and demi-humans find them to be a bit abrasive, this grants a troll character a -2 penalty on their Charisma scores.
Believe it or not trolls tend to adapt to their environment, as such some troll racial abilities are altered by their geographical location. We will discuss those abilities which pertain to all trolls regardless of their geographical location .
Damage Reduction: Trolls have rough leathery rigid skin which stretches over their heavily bone plated spines, elbows, and knees especially. As such slashing and bludgeoning weapons deal 3 points less damage to their bodies. This also decreases the chance of critically striking a troll with weapons of this type. Piercing weapons are much more effective against a trolls hide and appear to affect them normally.
Natural Armor: A trolls skin and bone density are so great that only the fiercest of blows can pierce their great hides. All trolls posses a natural armor class of 5.
Hardiness: Trolls have been gifted with the hardiness of the giant races. Thus all troll characters roll different hit dice then their human counterparts. Thus a troll barbarian rolls a d20 for hit points instead of a d12; a troll fighter rolls a d12 for hit points as would a troll shaman instead of a d10, a troll skald (bard) would roll a d8 for hit points, while a troll mage would roll a d6 for hit points.
Intimidation: Trolls use intimidation as often as they use their martial skills, as such trolls are immune to intimidation attempts by non-troll (giants and dragons can still intimidate them though, this ability makes them immune to the elvin skill of manifestation but a troll will be aware of the attempt). Trolls also gain the intimidate proficiency for free regardless of their class with a +1 bonus for every three levels a trolls gains, with a maximum bonus of +3. Though a troll character could easily add on to this ability, by devoting extra proficiency slots to this skill.
Natural Attacks: Trolls have large goat or ram like horns which protrude from their head as well as having protruding bony elbow and knee plates. Trolls also have protruding bony knuckles and deal real damage with these attacks to all races except dragons and giants which would treat these attacks as sub-dual. A trolls head butt can cause 1d6 points of damage double if charging, while their knee and elbow plates can deal 1d4 points of damage, while their powerful fists deliver 1d3 points of damage.
Adaptability: A trolls skin color often matches his environment as such trolls who live in forested areas tend to be green-skinned while those in mountainous regions tend to have brown to reddish brown features. Trolls who sail or boat do not become blue but those who dwell in the artic areas tend to turn a pale blue. This ability also tends to protect a troll from his environment giving him immunity to the weather he has grown accustomed too. While a highland troll may leave his land to live in an artic one his body will grow accustomed to the environment but his skin will not change color.
Knowledge: Trolls also may choose to take two free proficiencies one of which must be martial based if a weapon is not chosen; Spears and Axes are their favorites. The other proficiency must be knowledge based with Singing, Poetry, Sculpturing, Local and Ancient history being their preference.
NightVision/DarkVision: Trolls who dwell above ground have night vision up to 90?. While those that dwell underground develop dark vision up to 120?.
Burden: Trolls are less likely to be encumbered and receive a one category bonus to their encumbrance. What would be a light encumbrance for a human character of similar strength would be an unencumbered troll.
Troll Disadvantages: Trolls do not worship gods like other races and cannot become clerics. Even though there is a trollish pantheon it is often treated as more of a hero?s or villain?s gallery then an actually center of ecclesiastical guidance. Believe it or not there are trollish shaman?s and druids but they do not worship gods. Trolls are also dead set against stealing though taking is ok ( A troll feels that if you know he is taking something it is not stealing even if you don?t want him to take it). Therefore trolls cannot choose the thief profession. Trolls also take damage as large creatures and are susceptible to the greater damage some weapons cause to larger targets. A trolls intimidation often gets him into trouble with other races and in civilized lands. Thus it is not unknown for the local authorities to give a troll character a difficult time in their cities. But if a troll character is intimidating enough some of his dealing?s may be ignored in hope?s he?ll just leave. All troll?s regardless of alignment tend to have a high disregard for the Spriggan race as such both race?s often attack each other on site. Troll character?s must pay 2 times the experience to attain a level.
As previously stated female trolls are often leaders for their race. Their also tends to be a ratio of 1female troll to every three male trolls. As such many male trolls never mate with a troll female. Thus troll males look for females of other races to take their place, plus females of other races tend to be less aggressive leaving a male troll to be the dominate in the relationship or joining. Most trollborn are borne from troll raids on human and elvin cities and villages. Though dwarven pairing?s seem to be just as popular. Trolls often mate with ogre?s with a 75% chance of the child being a full blooded troll. With horns and all only 25% tend to become a pure breed ogre. Troll?s will mate with orcs and other goblin races as well with the majority becoming welcome member?s of the troll race while a rare few tend to be horned goblins or orcs.
Trollborn characters share a fraction of their troll parents abilities. Troll born characters receive a +1 bonus to their Strength and Constitution scores and a -2 penalty to their charisma scores. Trollborn characters lose the damage reduction ability and lose the natural attack ability as well. The natural armor class of a Trollborn is a 7 while they still benefit from the abilities of hardiness knowledge, night vision, and adaptability. Most trollborn characters tend to be as tall as other trolls and take damage as large creatures. Trollborn characters must pay 1.5 times the experience to attain a level. A rare few are diminutive in size and keep their horned heads they are explained below.
The trow can often be born from the pairing of a troll with a dwarven, goblin, or other diminutive race. These children are often seen as cursed and tend to be very dishonorable. Some resort to the worship of gods, while others tend to steal. The trow gain dark vision and can deal 1d4 points of damage with their horned heads. The trow tend to be less physically capable then other trolls, this race gains considerable knowledge and is often stealthier than other trolls. Trow do not share the abilities of damage reduction, natural armor, hardiness, and their natural attack is reduced to 1d4 for their horned heads only with a charge attack delivering double damage. The trow do not receive any other type of natural attack. Trow may choose up to four free proficiencies and no martial proficiency is required. Trow have a 1in 100 chance of developing Second Site (roll 1d100 to determine if a trow has this ability a result of 1 means the trow has been gifted with second site) this allows them to gain a +2 to all saves and knowledge based checks as they can look into the future though this vision tends to be cloudy. Trow take damage as medium sized creatures and are often between four to five feet tall. Trow also receive a +1 to their Intelligence and Dexterity scores, while they receive a -2 penalty to their Charisma scores.
Note: Both trow and trollborn may choose to become priests or thieves, though it is rare for a trollborn to choose either of these professions as he will be treated as an outcast. Trollborn can mate with other races with the child being born a member of the parent race. While pairings with other trollborn tend to bear trollborn children and a pairing with a troll will bear a troll child. All trow are luckily sterile, some tending to be born without a sexual identity. The troll pantheon does not grant spells or abilities to their people. Thus trow who become priests often worship dark being?s or gods of other races and tend to worship gods such as the Elder Elemental, Tharizdun, Nerull, and in some cases Urdlen; though they are not limited to these choices. In some cases trow can be found working with derro, goblins, xvarts, and in rarer cases spriggan. Trow pay 1.5 times the experience to attain a level.
As explained earlier the spriggan were created by the god Urdlen twisting the forms of gnomes and trolls into one being. This union is most unholy and the spriggan are despised by both trolls and gnomes. The spriggan have a permanent modifier to their Intelligence and Wisdom scores of +1and their Charisma score suffers a -2 penalty. When a spriggan is in it?s gnomish form he gains a +1 to his Dexterity score and a -1 to his Strength score. When a spriggan assumes his trollish form his Strength and Constitution is increased by +2, while his Dexterity score receives a -1 penalty.
Spriggan share many abilities with their troll and gnome counterparts. Some of these abilities are only available in one form and are lost when assuming the other form. The following are abilities the spriggan posses in either form. A gnomes Surprise bonus, Magical resistance, Blend in with terrain, and Gnomish Scent are always active as well as the troll abilities of Intimidation, Adaptability, Hardiness, Night Vision, and Burden. The trollish abilities of Natural Armor, Natural Attacks, Burden, and Damage Reduction are gained only in troll form and are lost in gnomish form. Spriggan gain the abilities move silently and back stab as a thief of equal level when in gnomish form only. Spriggan tend to keep a pack with clothes and weapons for both of their forms. While Spriggan can change form as often as they like they can only maintain one form for a maximum of eight hours straight, before reverting to their other form for at least two hours before they can change form again.
Spriggan tend to mimic gnomish and Trollish mannerisms but all worship Urdlen. Even if a spriggan could leave behind his evil nature he will never be accepted by the troll of gnomish races. Spriggan tend to travel in packs and often live in abandoned caves, ruins, or dismal burrows. While spriggan are capable of creating things they are often to filled with hatred to care for anything else but the total destruction of the gnomish and trollish races.
While in their trollish forms spriggan suffers the disadvantages of receiving damage as a large creature. Also if you choose to allow Spriggan characters in your campaign, they must pay 3 times the experience to attain a level.
Starting Hit Dice
The following list details the starting hit dice recommended for the above troll races.
Race Hit Die
The above list is a suggestive alternative and not necessary for your campaign.
Note: Trolls are often Chaotic Neutral with Neutral tendencies; trolls can be of any non lawful alignment because their belief system refers to honoring a trolls freedom of choices. Trollborn tend to be Chaotic Neutral with any alignment type possible. The Trow tend to be Neutral evil with any alignment possible but good alignments are less likely. The Spriggan tend to be Chaotic Evil with all alignment possibilities though lawful and good alignments are almost unheard of.