There are not many who know the real history of the Trolls. Most beings think we are simply ravening beasts. Nothing could be further from the truth. We had our own culture before the Outsiders came–the Elves, the Dragons, the Dwarves, the Humans, and so many others. Let me show you just a tiny bit of what it means to be a true Rock Troll.
The Trolls are the original inhabitants of Trollworld–a silicon-based life-form that evolved on this world before it had an atmosphere. At that time there was an entire stony biosphere of creatures of all sizes and forms. The essence of Troll life is the magic that the world produces–a magic that animates stony flesh and lava-like blood.
Trolls were not originally humanoid in form. They were shape-changers who took whatever form they wished. Although they could alter their forms on demand, it was a very slow process for them–sometimes taking months or years to accomplish a radical change. In ancient times, you knew something was a Troll if it had eyes, ears, and a mouth that it used for talking. The stone-animals never grew smart enough to invent language.
Trolls took on a humanoid form during their wars with the Elves. Elves and Dragons were the first of the outside races to enter Trollworld through the dimensional gates and to remain there. Trolls admired Elves for their speed, flexibility, and creativeness. Some Trolls tried to emulate them, and those Trolls eventually took on bipedal form with two arms, two legs, a head that contained eyes and ears and mouth. They range in size from about six feet to sixty feet high weighing between 800 and 80,000 pounds. The larger ones are thousands of years old and seldom come to the surface except to stargaze on remote mountain peaks. Their coloring is often slaty gray, but may range from sandy red to cobalt blue. It is not uncommon for lichen to grow on the usually shadowed parts of a Troll’s body.
Unless a Troll is somehow killed, and it can be done, it lives forever–or at least for a very long time. Trolls regenerate lost parts of themselves and reproduce by either fission or fusion. There is no sex–such as humans know–among Rock Trolls. When two Trolls decide to have offspring they go to an active volcano and enter the tunnels around it until they are near enough to feel the heat. Then they very slowly merge into each other until only a single boulder-like being remains. After the two beings are thoroughly mixed, they absorb mass from the surrounding stone, and after months or years, slowly separate again, but this time into three or four separate beings. Two of the new beings approximate the original parents in their memories and capabilities. The third and sometimes fourth Trolls emerging from such a fusion are new creatures, with almost no memory of the past, and only rudimentary language and thinking skills.
Being creatures of living stone, Trolls take nourishment from mineral foods. Calcium is a special treat for them, and so they accidentally became eaters of Men, Elves, Animals. Dwarves are a special treat because they are carved from a light stone to begin with and then infused with the magic of life. Yum. The fleshy parts of such beings are disgusting, but the iron-rich blood and calcium bones are delicious. Although Trolls will eat almost any stone-like object, they cannot metabolize anything much denser than iron. Heavy metals such as gold, silver, uranium, and lead are indigestible. Thus, Trolls either bypass such minerals or excrete them along with the unusable organic substances that are frequently mixed with earth or stone.
A Troll’s internal organs are not much like a Man’s. They do have brains and stomachs and hearts and blood. There are several of each, and they are usually no bigger than a hand. The regenerative organ for a Troll is the heart, a small, intensely durable pump organ that keeps the Trolls hot acidic lava-like blood moving. There are at least four and may be dozens of hearts within a single Troll–approximately one for every 500 pounds of mass. If a Troll is dismembered, any chunk that contains a heart will eventually regenerate an entire Troll. This process can take years and is very slow.
Although Trollish growth and maturation is slow, Trolls are not slow and sluggish creatures. Their fiery blood provides enormous amounts of energy, and Trolls can move nearly as quickly as Men. And they hit a lot harder. A Troll in combat is an awesome fighting machine.
Most of the rock Trolls encountered near the surface of Trollworld are very young creatures–only children not more than a few hundred years old. They are often the regenerated fragments of a Troll slain and dismembered centuries before, finally coming to consciousness in some remote location knowing only that they must wander and eat. As they grow, more and more racial memories are recovered until they finally attain full sentience. Older Trolls tend to prefer underground locations, with the truly ancient, huge Trolls often miles deep below the surface.
Trolls enjoy the company of their own kind, and if they have sufficient nourishment available, they may meet in conclaves that last for years. Eventually they are driven apart by their need for food. Young Trolls sometimes band together in numbers up to 20 at a time to forage for more delicious foods like coal or calcium.
Why do Trolls still exist? Trolls might have vanished into the depths of the earth, where food would be plentiful, ages ago except that too much heat will melt and destroy even a Troll. There is also the intermittent craving to watch the stars. Most Trolls are natural astronomers and like nothing better than to sit upon a mountaintop watching the stars wheel around the pole and thinking deep Trollish thoughts.
Young Trolls sometimes associate with other races, especially those races that are willing to respect and feed them–races like the Uruks, Goblins, Ogres, and Giants. Young Trolls who are still trying to build their own identity generally crave power and respect. Lerotra’hh, the Death Goddess, has been especially successful at recruiting young Trolls into her various guard units and Death Hordes. Trolls are very smart and can learn quickly from other races–though few other races have any interest in teaching Trolls anything. They are also very arrogant. Immensely powerful in their own right, they look down on artificial power objects such as weapons or armor. Why wear steel when one’s own rocky carapace bounces most missile weapons with ease? Why use a sword when one’s fist is equally destructive? Why wear clothing when one’s own tough skin provides all the protection from the elements that one could ever need? Of course, there are exceptions. Trolls can use weapons if they wish, and those who perceive the weapon to be a status symbol frequently do so.
There is some confusion between Rock Trolls and the other types of Trolls on Trollworld. As nearly as can be determined, those Trolls that seem to be made of flesh and blood came into existence by somehow ingesting part of a Rock Troll. Any frament of a broken Troll that contains a heart will eventually regenerate into another Rock Troll, but if such a fragment becomes part of a fleshy creature, then its properties may be assimilated by the animal that ate it. In such cases a strange mutation takes place and a new sort of being emerges. Combine wolf and troll, and a Wolf Troll emerges. Combine ape and troll and you get the shambling hairy creatures often associated with the word troll. Combines crocodile and troll and get the deadly Swamp Troll. All of these hybrid forms–and there are many more that I haven’t mentioned–maintain the basic trollish ability of regeneration. When dismembered in combat, the parts sometimes regenerate into another complete individual. Thus, their numbers slowly increase over time. Among the most frightening of the trollish hybrids are the Human-Troll mixes. These combine the relatively high intelligence and the sexual drive of Humans with the size, ferocity, and regenerative power of Trolls.
Trolls and troll hybrids might have retaken this world by now if not for the enmity of certain other kindreds. The Dwarves pursue a policy of troll extermination. Yes, trolls can be slain if reduced to small enough pieces, or if they are burned to ashes. They can also be slain the true death by magic. In that regard, the Nagas have proven to be among the worst of troll foes.
Trolls remain a minority on their own world. Always feared, sometimes respected, they roam the wilder parts of the planet or take service with rulers like the Death Goddess. The young Trolls that populate the surface of Trollworld are intensely curious, and they embrace new experiences, especially if those new experiences lead to a crunchy calcium treat.
If you meet a Troll, be nice to it. Troll friends are good to have. Troll enemies are the substance of nightmares.
Note: the brown troll shown above is a render from the studio of Greywulff (Robin Stacey) and has been previously seen in an episode of the Dandelion saga.