Trolls

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johndh
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Trolls

Post by johndh »

This is a thread for tying up all the loose ends about trolls.

What we know so far:
Wiki
Trolls are ancient creatures, one of the oldest known races known to inhabit the Great Continent. They are large, slow, simple-minded, and live extremely long lives inside deep caves or atop high mountains. The most unique characteristic of trolls is an internal vitality that sustains and heals them from within. As a result they live very different lives from almost any known creature. Trolls have few real needs: they require little food or water, and thus they have little incentive to pursue much besides protection from those who are hostile towards them. This in turn means they rarely have to worry about anything and can spend much of their time sleeping or in contemplation. Trolls have a curious affinity with nature. They do not relate with living things like elves do, but instead with earth and stone. They are also somewhat curious of their surroundings and many younger whelps even enjoy traveling and seeing the world. As trolls grow older they tend to become increasingly passive, gradually losing interest in their environment and spending more of their time sleeping in a quiet, familiar corner of their home cave. This is until they finally pass away as their bodies themselves slowly turn into lifeless statues of stone.

Trolls are seen by many as being little more than a yet another race of savage monsters. This common misconception is in part perpetuated by orcs to persuade trolls to join their armies. Because they are rather simple and do not understand the ways of other races or sometimes can even tell them apart, it is usually easy for an orcish band to convince a group of trolls that by joining them they get to exact revenge on those that have before hunted them. These new recruits are then directed to attack whoever the orcs themselves are currently in conflict with, whether previously a foe of the trolls or not, accumulating even more enemies for the misled trolls. The most common enemy of trolls are dwarves, and the animosity between these two races is ancient.
What is still a mystery:

Anatomy: Trolls appear to have rocky skin, but what's underneath? Are they made of flesh and blood like humans, just with a rocky exoskeleton? Do they have regular animal skin with hard, rigid growths that makes it look like jagged stone? Do they just have rhinoceros-like plates? Are they really just living rock through-and-through? If so, how does that work? Keep in mind the wiki description of how they die of old age.

Regeneration: Trolls recover very quickly from injuries. How does this work?

Race relations: Everyone thinks trolls are stupid. Dwarves and trolls hate each others' guts. Why is that? Is it simple competition or something else?

Culture: What goes on in a troll settlement?

Some of the things that have come up on the forum as possible explanations and additional fluff, which I'd like to consolidate into a coherent thread so it can be discussed:

http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=31830
johndh wrote:Something more akin to hyperactive stem cells floating around in their blood stream would make more sense to me, or even symbiotic organisms that repair their bodies like nanites (hypothetically). Of course, these bionanites aggressively attack anything that isn't troll tissue. This gives them a quick recovery from poison (the bionanites simply metabolize it) and immunity to infectious disease (viruses and bacteria don't stand a chance). Also, getting a tranfusion from a troll is going to wreck your day in a hurry. Canon establishes that trolls don't need to eat much, which suggests a slow metabolism. However, rapid healing seems to contradict that. I would suggest that trolls do indeed eat a lot, but only after a fight. They can stay nearly dormant for long periods of time, eating very little, but they burn more energy in battle because they have to heal. After the battle, they've likely burned up all their fat reserves by regenerating so much. Two implications come to my mind when it comes to plot.

First, trolls like to be left alone. As we've seen, most encounters with them are not when the trolls are attacking, but rather just in the way (unless they're under the command of orcs). Trolls do some exploring when they're young, but once they've seen what they need to see, they'd rather sit in their caves and ponder the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. That's easy for them, but fighting is hard. They're good at fighting, but they would rather be left alone.

Second, dwarves hate trolls. We already knew that. However, we don't really know yet why they hate them so much. What I'm thinking is that whenever they fight, the trolls end up getting really hungry from healing all those bullet holes, and there's not much around but corpses. Hence, the surviving trolls eat the dead to replenish their own flesh, and when the dwarves later come upon the remains of the battle field, they find their brethren's empty armor and bones sucked dry of marrow. To the trolls, flesh is flesh. Whether it belonged to a goat, a rat, your enemy, or your brother, it's dead now, so why let it go to waste? Maybe they even see it as a way of honoring the dead by letting their bodies nourish the living, or maybe they believe that's the way to release the soul.

Regarding troll intelligence, I don't think they're stupid either, just misunderstood. They just different priorities and different knowledge than other races. They don't speak our languages very well, but maybe that's just because it's hard for them to learn it. Their language might have entirely different grammar from Wesnothian, and they leave out articles (a, an, the) and conjugate incorrectly because those are concepts that don't exist in Trollish. As far as technology goes, if you're eight feet tall, stronger than an ox, barely need to eat, and are nearly immune to death, what would you possibly need to invent? To me, trolls seem like philosophers, storytellers, and poets more than scientists and inventors. I'd imagine that even their fire magic is more a byproduct of spiritual exploration, rather than a goal in itself.
Simons Mith wrote:Trolls and drakes and woses are sufficiently similar to other Wesnoth races that they can become zombies. I think that does place some broad limits on how alien they can be.

Questions one might ask include - do they have blood? do they have bones? do they have brains? do they have sexes? are they magical? can they cast spells? do they eat? etc. For most Wesnoth races, those questions give a string of yeses exept for the magical? question. For trolls, drakes, woses, more of these questions may switch to noes, and that's when things become interesting.
Also, Stone Remembers by A-Red is recommended reading.
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homunculus
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Re: Trolls

Post by homunculus »

I didn't even know the wiki text is so cool.
Maybe it could be slightly shorter, though, if this 'sleeping' could be merged with 'contemplating the stones'.
Something like: 'When trolls get older, they spend their time sitting motionless in a quiet familiar cave, contemplating the stones, for a thousand years or more.'
Such thing would imho go well with some rocks having human-like shape or resembling some facial features (the brain is so well trained to recognize those shapes that it jumps at every opportunity).
As for trolls being considered stupid, that's easy imho.
All you need to do is switch off your cell phone and people will think you are stupid.
Actually I would rather appreciate it if they were a bit stupid, or slow-witted at least, even considering their incompetence in the matters of other races.
johndh wrote:Anatomy: Trolls appear to have rocky skin, but what's underneath? Are they made of flesh and blood like humans, just with a rocky exoskeleton? Do they have regular animal skin with hard, rigid growths that makes it look like jagged stone? Do they just have rhinoceros-like plates? Are they really just living rock through-and-through? If so, how does that work? Keep in mind the wiki description of how they die of old age.

Regeneration: Trolls recover very quickly from injuries. How does this work?
Rocky exoskeleton would not be extremely flexible, would it?
So it should be complicated and would end up like plate armor, or else it would need to consist of smaller stones attached to elastic skin where the joints are.
I do not think that having something like a snail shell would work, and making it elastic would imho defeat the purpose of making the trolls flesh inside in the first place.
Smaller stones attached to elastic skin might work, it could be some wart like growing things on the skin, or else rock debris could get glued to their skin and the skin would then merge with the small rocks creating such rough rocky skin surface.
But in that case I guess the vulnerability would not be to impact but to pierce instead.
And also, it would not explain the regeneration nor why the trolls need to eat so little.
At least, the explanations would get so long that it would be a torture to read them.
And, if they are flesh inside, I would expect we would be getting this kind of flaming or pun situations:
Newbie: How do the stone trolls move?
Veteran: They are not stone.

So, instead of that, I suggest the following:
They are indeed rock, through and through.
Or at least some glass type of thing that is not a real solid as it does not have a firm crystal structure, and glass is slowly flowing (volcanic glass is amorphous).
Somewhat like tar may appear solid and may crack if you hit it, but if it can flow somewhere, it will.
If there needs to be a Douglas Adams style distortion of space and time to satisfy the physics enthusiasts (I would prefer magic, though), I think it would be less evil than trying to impress people with the explanations about stone exoskeletons and about how all the fantasy stereotypes got it wrong.

To summarize this suggestion:
From troll point of view, the trolls are soft flexible flowing stone.
From human point of view trolls are solid stone that cracks when hit it with hammer.

Living stone with some flowing properties would also explain regeneration.
And the stone being "less alive" when it does not need to move, say, when sitting like a statue contemplating the stones, would explain how the trolls can survive long with very little food (because they are only as much alive as needed to contemplate the stones).
Maybe the trolls could even have such religion where the ideal achievement is to 'return to the stones'.
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WanderingHero
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Re: Trolls

Post by WanderingHero »

For the troll thing I think the answear is simple and mentioned in the wiki. Orcs player the trolls and orcs against each other, or Dawrves attacked trolls thinking they were monsters, and the trolls though back, sparking many long bloody wars throughout the ages.. and both of them are very long lived and likely prone to holding grudges.

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em3
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Re: Trolls

Post by em3 »

About animosity towards dwarfs... I think this is more of a territorial kind of thing. Or maybe the affiliation towards rocks makes trolls uneasy when dwarven people dig through stones? Kind of like orcs burning trees which disturbs elves?
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AI
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Re: Trolls

Post by AI »

em3 wrote:Or maybe the affiliation towards rocks makes trolls uneasy when dwarven people dig through stones? Kind of like orcs burning trees which disturbs elves?
This sounds like an interesting angle.

WanderingHero
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Re: Trolls

Post by WanderingHero »

Reading Em's post I think its a mixed of what I typed, and the fact both races are old, stubborn, prone to snap judgements, and slow to shift them.

Hence generations and generations of territorial wars slowly escalating, xenophobia, revenge from both sides and just an epic blood fued.

Though if anyone who actually worked on the Lore is reading, can we have a word of God type response?

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johndh
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Re: Trolls

Post by johndh »

Regarding the grudges, I'm just not buying it. :hmm: If it were a territory thing, then there would be as much dwarf-on-dwarf and troll-on-troll violence, but we don't see that so much. In UtBS, the dwarves are basically exterminating the trolls, so I think there has to be something more than "they're in the way". This is why I came up with the cannibalism idea; it gives trolls a reason to be downright despised by other races. Plus, it feeds into the whole "not evil, just misunderstood" thing. There's nothing fundamentally immoral about consuming a corpse, but it would be an abomination to many cultures worldwide, both on Earth and Irdya.
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Sgt. Groovy
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Re: Trolls

Post by Sgt. Groovy »

The Trolls, on the other hand, could have a spiritual relationship to metals and gemstones, and for them, Dwarves digging them for materialistic reasons would be a sacrilege.
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homunculus
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Re: Trolls

Post by homunculus »

johndh wrote:Regarding the grudges, I'm just not buying it. :hmm: If it were a territory thing, then there would be as much dwarf-on-dwarf and troll-on-troll violence, but we don't see that so much. In UtBS, the dwarves are basically exterminating the trolls, so I think there has to be something more than "they're in the way". This is why I came up with the cannibalism idea; it gives trolls a reason to be downright despised by other races. Plus, it feeds into the whole "not evil, just misunderstood" thing. There's nothing fundamentally immoral about consuming a corpse, but it would be an abomination to many cultures worldwide, both on Earth and Irdya.
Sunshine State, could it be North America?
If so, where are the buffalo?
And what percent of the indigenous people survived?

As for dwarf-on-dwarf violence there might be some moral concerns.
As far as I have studied history (not much), there were no moral concerns about killing Indians, especially if they were not christian.
I wonder what it was called, 'improving the land' maybe?

The trolls viewing dwarfs as a possible snack, hmm...
Dwarf: 'The trolls ate my mom and dad! And also, where the trolls live, there is good ore, we should claim that wilderness to the civilization.'
Troll: 'We are being misunderstood. Eating dwarfs is good for the environment.'

How much animosity would be needed?
I mean, could be more, but at some point it might be overdone.
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Telchin
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Re: Trolls

Post by Telchin »

My random thought on troll regeneration (feel free to ignore):
There is greek myth about giant Antaios who was son of mother earth and was invulnerable as long as he was touching the ground. Wesnoth trolls are somehow stone-like, so what if they also regenerate by somehow gaining energy from land. It may raise questions about how they regenerate on different terrains (I say WINR) , but also explain Troll Shaman's fireballs as channeling geothermal energy.

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Boldek
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Re: Trolls

Post by Boldek »

or it could be that troll vs dwarf animosity came form the age before dwarves came to the surface. maybe there was a time when trolls were more magical and intelligent then they are now. maybe there was some time in the past before dwarves had guns and runes, and got oppressed, even possibly enslaved by the trolls. it would explain the reason the trolls are supposed to be so "playing the bongas and singing: we are on with nature" people, and when they get the chance, they become greedy and cruel. that maybe when the dwarves beat the trolls, maybe they actually learned their rune craft from them, and the trolls just sort of degenerated into a very primitive culture. while dwarves are really a learning people, once the troll had their connection to faerie broken, they just didn't care to repair it. sort of like the dwarves after thursaganns death. it would explain that maybe the reason their random quirks like stone affinity and regeneration.
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Re: Trolls

Post by alluton »

yeah trolls may be already race that is going back to primitive after being great before other races come to great continent. Then all races fought against trolls eventually destroying their power and destroying trolls soveireignity and making them primitive race that has lost their magic and is just slowly dying for struggles agaisnt rising dwarfs killing them underground and elves and human hunting them on ground whit orcs recruiting them to die in their arms.
This post isnt very clear but i hope you got my point.
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Boldek
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Re: Trolls

Post by Boldek »

alluton wrote:yeah trolls may be already race that is going back to primitive after being great before other races come to great continent. Then all races fought against trolls eventually destroying their power and destroying trolls soveireignity and making them primitive race that has lost their magic and is just slowly dying for struggles agaisnt rising dwarfs killing them underground and elves and human hunting them on ground whit orcs recruiting them to die in their arms.
This post isnt very clear but i hope you got my point.
wow. I am actually beginning to sort of pity the trolls.
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tr0ll
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Re: Trolls

Post by tr0ll »

in The Sojournings of Grog, trolls make a fine accounting of themselves and i think deserve to be written a comeback role. too bad it is hundreds of years after the Fall :cry:
Perhaps the sun that fell or the awakening demons or invading alien/mech creatures can trigger or unearth something that starts the racial revival.

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Re: Trolls

Post by Dixie »

alluton wrote:yeah trolls may be already race that is going back to primitive after being great before other races come to great continent. Then all races fought against trolls eventually destroying their power and destroying trolls soveireignity and making them primitive race that has lost their magic and is just slowly dying for struggles agaisnt rising dwarfs killing them underground and elves and human hunting them on ground whit orcs recruiting them to die in their arms.
This post isnt very clear but i hope you got my point.
AFAIK, that is in no way cannon and is just the view vehiculated by the in-the-works troll faction (which is not cannon either, btw). (and no offense meant)

Personnally, I don't like it one bit, I think it's way too straightforward and simplistic, has no depth at all, etc. I prefer to see trolls as generally calm and ascetic creatures. Yes, they may have simplistic minds, but it doesn't mean they're just brutes devoid of any intelligence. Althougt they may be prone to blind rage. As far as I am concerned, trolls would never have gone out and sought conflict if it had been up to them and do not seek dominance in any form. Imo, it likely started with the dwarves, seeking or and gems and finding big monstrous-looking creatures (trolls) where those spots were. Dwarves being who they are, they fought them, hence a long tradition of conflict based on territory. With humans and elves, likely they just thought "monsters" when they saw them, and orcs must have enrolled them in their forces, convincing those simple minds easily, seeing how the trolls were already in conflict with the dwarves. The whole thing is possibly just a big misunderstanding.

To resume: imho, trolls are simple, peaceful creatures, but were drawn into a conflict bigger than them.
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