The Blood of Giants: Half-trolls 

Giants vary in size from slightly larger than human-sized to mountainously colossal. The further back into antiquity one goes, the more enormous the race of giants are described as being. Those who were not imprisoned beneath the ground, or did not lay down and go to sleep to become part of the countryside, retreated to Færie as the magick of the ancient world faded and the boundaries of the world became pinned in place by the march of the mortal races, as life became more and more dense in manifestation.

The giants were once the smiths of the gods, creatures of a highly magickal heritage. The dvergar, who themselves came to dwell in the mortal world as the dwarfs, were the heirs of the greater part of their magical lore.

The trolls, along with the ogres and their cousins the drow, are the final heirs to the dwindled magical blood of the giants in the mortal world, all related somewhere back in the mists of time.

Like the half-elfs, these demi-humans are not truly a race unto themselves, but a blending of races that can vary quite widely in appearance.

Origins

The origins of half-trolls lie in the trolls themselves.

In the Beginning of Days, the borders between the Spheres (Nine Worlds to the Norse) into which all that is Spirit and all that is Flesh were divided were still amorphous, without defined boundaries, each flowing back and forth into one another. Gradually they separated, matter precipitating out of Spirit and the Mind of the All-Father. The world as it is now known was created by the gods in the place where Fire meets Ice, and was adrift between Spirit and the Flesh of the Mortal Coil for untold ages.

The many races of Spirit became accustomed to being able to shift from Spirit to Flesh and back again at will, so thin was the barrier between worlds, mingling freely and largely unknown with those of Flesh. This was simply the way of things. The elfs were one of the first races to descend from the heights of Light in Spirit through the border realms of Spirit that became known as Faerie and cross the Mortal Veil into Flesh.

Fire was brought to heel under the reign of Leo, among the Races of Man in the world of Flesh, the veriest medium by which matter of the world of Flesh was returned to Spirit.

Spirit and Flesh dwelt side by side through the reign of Taurus, under the rule of Bronze, and the Races of Men flourished.

But in the Age of Ares, the power of iron was discovered and did grow, inimical to creatures of Spirit.

The Races of Men prospered and grew so that they overwhelmed the homelands of the creatures of Spirit and set forth in great waves, migrating ever outwards, flooding the world. Bringing with them their iron, and later steel, they gradually pinned the mortal world in place. As time passed, especially as the power of the Light grew and spread to rival the scattered traditions of many gods, of gods almost without number, Spirit and Flesh drew further apart from one another. The majority of the Spirit creatures were not prepared for the harshness that the Mortal Coil took on under the rule of poisonous iron and the relentless march of the faith of the Light.

The threshold between Spirit and Flesh grew more distinct, more sharply defined. It took on characteristics of its own, becoming a border region in its own right lying between them which came to be known as “Færie.”

The peal of the churches’ great bronze bells chased the Spirits away into the incontinent mists, into the gray light of dawn and dusk or into the darkness of Night, all places where Faerie lay hidden. Rules for passing between the worlds made themselves known. Many of the spirits refused to surrender entirely their right and ability to walk in the world of Flesh as well as the spheres of Spirit and made their stand in those borderlands. These spirit folk gradually grew into solitary habits, haunting lonely places on the Mortal World, far from the habitations of human folk. These places were commonly dangerous in some way – sheer cliffs, in or by deep and/or swift waters, marshes and unstable boglands. As time passed, such beings were seen in the Mortal world more and more rarely, and eventually stopped visiting in any numbers even in those remote environs.

This is the age during which the races of Spirit became sundered. Many retreated into Færie, where they could still pass into the Spirit Spheres and/or the Mortal World of Flesh freely, as desired. Others chose to remain in the hardening Mortal World, refusing to be beaten back and, as a result, completed their descent into matter. Trollkind chose Faerie, like the alfar hosts.

The dwarfs/dvergar, based on the Norse svartalfar or “Black Elfs,” are the “cousins” of the ljosalfar, but they traditionally have little to do with one another.

English folktales surviving from the early modern period typically portray elfs as small, elusive people with mischievous personalities. They are not evil but might annoy humans or interfere in their affairs, especially if provoked. They are sometimes said to be invisible. In this tradition, elfs became more or less synonymous with the fairies that originated from native British mythology, the Welsh Ellyllon and Y Dynon Bach Têg, for example. For the purposes of the game, these are posited as relatives of the alfar or elfs that retreated to and dwell still in Faerie.

Half-trolls represent the result of an occasional occurrence amongst humans – raids of blood and rapine by fierce wandering rogues, or abduction for the purpose of taking a wife. Trolls are loathsome, wild and fearsome, marauding behemoths. Indeed, from the tales of trolls that have been passed down through the ages, stealing mortal human wives seems to be the only manner in which these brutes can reproduce in the mortal world.

The half-blood troll offspring, while fearsome and daunting to look on from the human point of view, are considered runts and weaklings among the full-blooded trolls, often exposed in the wilderness to die. Some of them are spirited away to more friendly environs, while others survive in spite of their vicious treatment.

The characters described here are those half-bloods who survived birth and were allowed or somehow otherwise managed to live. They lack the full attributes of their troll fathers due to having been denied the magickal ointments, abuse and preparations with which the babes are plied after birth and through childhood to make them grow up true to the father’s blood.

Description

Half-trolls are big, broad and tall due to the blood of their distant giant kin, although trolls are the taller and thicker of the two. Both are still significantly larger than humans. Half-trolls usually inherit the small, dark-colored beady eyes of the troll parent, or are at the very least rather squinty- or shifty-eyed. Another half-troll trait is some measure the troll’s prodigious nose and ears. The more trollish the apparent ancestry in appearance, the more feral or pointed the half-blood’s ears are. Due to the fact that their non-human heritage arises from quintessential creatures of the night, half-trolls have a very bad time enduring the sun, burning very easily. They have a taste for meat, more carnivore than omnivore, equipped with the sharp pointed teeth of the predator, the canine teeth exaggerated no matter how high their BTY. This trait is always passed down the generations along with the “taint” of giant blood. When the giant blood is less than half, this trait becomes recessive, manifesting in a hit-or-miss fashion.

Whether the troll parent had tusks and or horns, and whether or not the half-blood must eventually grow them as well is completely up to the player and GM to negotiate and determine. The tusks grow once the character has reached maturity, over the course of years, from the bottom jaw up and out at an angle as high as the bottom of the cheek bones, and down from the top as far down as the bottom of the jaw line or more, fearsome tusks. Horns might be curved or spiral like a bighorn sheep, at the GM’s discretion, or any other configuration that pleases him best or the player successfully negotiates.

Trolls are voracious predators, dedicated meat-eaters with a taste for human(-oid) flesh. When faced with an ogre, all creatures and beings understand what it means to BE the archetypal Prey under the gaze of the archetypal Predator. All animals respond to the presence of an ogre in that manner, the absence of lesser animals in the vicinity being a clue to any Huntsman or Woodsman that such a great predator is near. Any humanoid faced by a full-blooded troll is going to feel the “fight-or-flight” response in adrenaline rush and hammering heart, face flushed and sweating. The characters of that blood being played as PC’s come from among those who have escaped before they have eaten humanoid flesh, some time prior to puberty.

Half-trolls, heirs of giant blood, have a DV bonus equal to (HRT) to exercise any skill that involves contact with an animal, such as Husbandman, Beastmaster, Horseman, or the like (GM’s discretion), making those skills more difficult. This penalty is reduced by an above average SPT att. mod., as applicable.

Though the giants their forbears had a taste for human(-oid) flesh that runs true in all their dwindled kin, it is not so of these half-blooded characters. IF however, any half-blood of one of these giant-kin were somehow to taste such flesh or blood (even unknowingly), the magick in their blood would begin to awaken, to begin a transformation in body and spirit to full-blooded troll. The character begins to have a taste for human blood/flesh, BUT this is in NO way as strong as a craving. This transformation is what the elder races such as the elfs fear most from such half-blooded folk, however. The physical transformation to troll can only be completed through troll folk-magick, however. This is by no means an automatic process. The character must give in to it and must fuel the change by giving in to that blood-thirsty inclination.

The average life expectancy for a half-troll is 120 years. Characters with an above average CND can expect a longer life, barring any unforeseen injuries and/or accidents, a shorter span for those with below average CND.

Disposition & Abilities

The non-human heritage of half-trolls is one of creatures tied to the primordial shadows and darkness. The trolls encountered in the mortal world generally come out of Færie (from their realm of “Trollheim”) and, like the elfs, both happen to breed true with humans.

Indeed, in both elf and troll an occasional infusion of mortal blood bolsters the strength of the races that dwell in Spirit.

A solitary troll may take up residence in the mortal world, in a cave, or in a deep ravine under a wide and heavy bridge that affords plenty of deep, dark shadows for hiding during the day, particularly where they meet water (the element of Spirit), especially where they are considered dangerous, such as vine-draped cypress swamps strung with Spanish Moss, marshes, and upland bogs and fens. Because their tastes in habitat lie closely intertwined, the drow and the trolls often face off in the Mortal World in battles over these dreary stretches of wetland territory, and negotiate with the occasional Jenny Greenteeth or Meg Mucklebones of the dark and dangerous waters, often found in the lands they haunt. The knucker holes or mucker holes often associated with water-dragons are often the work of trolls, instead.

Trolls are creatures of the dark places of the earth; the lesser among them are pinned in place by the sun’s rays and held fast until the sun sets again if they are caught abroad at sunrise. The greatest of the true trolls are turned to stone by the sun’s rays.

Those most likely to take a captive wife are long-armed and powerful, covered with earth and moss, as they are twisted, greedy, and lecherous. Called “Night Trolls” or “Ramblers,” they wander the dark looking to commit bloody murder and mayhem or worse for sport. Creatures of cold, dark earth, they seek the warmth of humanity. Mortal women captured and transformed through abuse and strange ointments over time when a troll wants a captive to cook for him and take care of his domestic needs are called trollwives.

Lucky for the half-bloods this part of their magickal nature is NOT part of their heritage.

Half-trolls have an intolerance to the sun that adjusts the effective ambient temperature they feel upwards 10° for the purposes of determining the rate of sunburn and heat exhaustion, as well as being unable to tan to any point that would provide protection from sunburn.

In the same vein, half-trolls suffer Glare penalties in direct sunlight at double the rate levied against others. Half-trolls can see up to (AWA) feet in lighting conditions equal to the tenuous light of starlight, only incurring an AV penalty to skills and/or abilities that require the character’s sight at a rate of 1 point per foot beyond this distance they must see to exercise them.

In lighting conditions equal to the pale light shed by up to a 1/4-moon (waxing or waning, regardless), the halftroll may see up to (AWA) yards, only incurring an AV penalty at a rate of 1 point per yard beyond that distance to activities that require the character’s sharpest vision.

In lighting conditions equal to the pale light shed by a moon up to 3/4 (waxing or waning, regardless), the half-troll character may see up to (AWA) rods, only incurring an AV penalty of 1 point per rod to skills and/or abilities that require the character’s sharpest vision.

In lighting conditions equal to the light of a full moon, the half-troll character may see normally, as others do in ambient daylight.

The distances half-trolls may see in areas lit by man-made light (fire or magick) are extended beyond that allowed most of the other races to (2 x AWA) feet.

Point of View

Like the troll parent, the half-blood is prone to a rather sour and cynical disposition – not surprising considering they generally get kicked around and scorned for their repugnant heritage throughout their formative years.

They tend either toward the quiet or loud end of the spectrum in general personality, either quiet brooders who sit and think too much, to the point where they end up stewing and seething, or loud and full of brash boasting and swaggering braggadocio with a chip on their shoulders, always trying to prove themselves.

Half-troll emotions, on the other hand, may all run crude high and fast, then leave them in silent regret afterwards – those of them who bother with a conscience, anyway. Rash actions in fits of passion are not unusual, or anger that comes on quick and very violent, and is just as suddenly spent. They are commonly bitter and angry characters, jealous of the lot of everyone else in the world, from the lowly serf to the half-blood elfs, no matter how sad their lives can often be. From the point of view of the half-troll, at least the humans envy the elfin blood and the taste of magick and mystery they get to enjoy.

When the half-troll heritage/blood becomes known, the worst is most commonly expected, and immediately. Torn between their brooding and hostile, truculent and even violent nature from the troll blood and their passionate gregarious human blood, most that live to maturity end up as outcasts (if not actually outlaws), considering the harsh welcome to which they will have been treated from the start. It is not unusual for these half-bloods to grow up hating their troll blood and to have a will to do mayhem to every troll they can find.

It will be up to the player to decide how his half-blood character responds to any kindness shown him. It would be best if he at least allow the other PC’s get closer than most so long as they treat him well.

The half-trolls are presented for PC use only by dint of their mortal blood, which mellows their natures and makes them a more manageable size (STA). The full-blooded ogres and trolls are a bitter and nasty remnant of the ages through which they ruled, several thousands of years in the past. Full-blooded ogres and trolls among their own kind live very much to the standards of their ancient civilizations, which bear a great resemblance to those of the Celts, the trolls from the Bronze Age. Unfortunately, they regard ALL life as theirs for the taking, as their rightful food. That includes the other sentient races. They are bitter and resentful of the manner in which their races have dwindled in size and numbers with the passing centuries. The quickest way to move them to rage is to confront them with evidence of or members of the younger mortal races. This is why the descriptions of these creatures include such a dire adjustment to Encounter Reactions. 

Trolls are provided in the Bestiary solely to fill the role of foe, not as PC material, because as foes of the heroes is the traditional role in which they have been handed down to us by ancient literary tradition, and that is the basis for the medieval fantasy presented in RoM.

Basically considered unnatural creatures and abominations by nature among humans, those half-bloods that have survived have been rescued from the ogre or troll lairs, generally after they slaying of the birth parent. Thus, such characters should be rarer still than the very uncommon occurrence of those of the full ogre or troll blood in the mortal world in general. Of the two, ogres are somewhat more numerous, BUT both are rather rare nonetheless, having been hunted to extinction in all civilized lands, or as close as may be.

This being the case, you might consider severely limiting the number of such half-blood characters in your game, and take note of the special impact their race has upon their Fame & Reputation.