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October 22, 2008, 8:18 pm

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The Trolls of Kuramen


Loathsome creatures born of magic gone hideously awry, the trolls of Kuramen are little more than ever-hungry masses of cancerous tissue.

Journal of Darrien Omsten, 14th day of the Beetle, Year 201 M.R.

I have finally tracked down the lair of the troll that I was told about by the green-feathered Aver I encountered last week. The troll is apparently not present, as the foul-smelling recess in the ground is devoid of anything but rubbish, bones, and noisome troll dung. I have heard rumors of these creatures, but in the name of the Lord of Knowledge I am seeking to confirm the rumors of their loathsome appearance and unnatural ability to recover from even the most grievous of wounds. Having heard that these beasts fear the flame, I have taken the time to rig a fire-ring trap around the beast’s den, to entrap it when it returns. I am now waiting in the boughs of a sturdy blood oak for the beast to make an appearance.

It is later in the day; the troll has returned, although I have yet to spring my trap. I must describe this foul thing; the sheer hideousness of it compels me to record it lest I doubt my own eyes. It follows the rough shape of the Mortal Races, with two limbs above and below, and a head of sorts, all attached to the bulky body. The resemblance to any of the true races ends there, I fear. The beast’s skin is a bright, putrescent green hue overall, with mottled patches both darker and lighter, but it is no smooth or scaled hide; growths with the appearance of horrid tumors swell from the skin, their surfaces mostly green but ranging into the pallid pink of an ill human, or veined with the myriad shades of the goblins. Worse are the crude growths that might be scales, were they not so massive and jutting that they can, in truth, only be called horns, thrusting out from the beast’s hide in strange places and bizarre angles. It walks as if its bones have been broken and left to heal without being set many a time, a misshapen and lumpy movement that belies how swiftly it covered the ground across the clearing to the den, dragging a mangled animal carcass behind it. From what I can see, it has three eyes, rather than the two of normal and wholesome races, but one is blind, milky in hue, while another blinks in the skull above it. It has no true nose, merely a foul opening in the face from which some ichor leaks, and the beast’s mouth is a horrid mismatching of crooked fangs and slaver when it looks up from tearing at the carcass. Sometimes it merely buries itself in the meat, and sometimes it uses the claws adorning what pass for hands to rip portions free, or to hold a bone while it gnaws at it. Soon I will trip my trap and try to inspect the beast more closely.

I fear this is the final entry I will ever make; curse me for a fool for ever daring to look for a troll! Forgive my shaky hand, reader; I am wracked by such pain that it makes it hard to focus at all. The beast was put off for a moment by the flames of my trap, but then bounded through it when it saw me moving in the tree, climbing swiftly by the claws it has on each limb. I was swiftly overwhelmed, for the creature seems not to feel pain, and even the goblin shockprod that served me against so many other beasts failed me; any wounds I dealt the monster healed as I watched, and even the limb I broke became whole again, although with a new crook to it. Eventually it bore me to the ground and broke my legs, then dragged me through the flames; I feared it would kill me, or begin to devour me still-living. Would that it had, now. The monster sits, replete with the meal from before, preventing me from escape even if my legs were whole; and soon there will be even less chance of escape for me, as I now know how these creatures spread.  It tore a strip of my leg open, and to my revulsion tore a piece of itself free and shoved it into my injury; the pain almost instantly became more than I could bear, and I realized that I could feel it, after a fashion - it had fused to my leg’s internal meat. Now it spreads with the same sick speed of the troll’s healing injuries, and much of my lower body is the same twisted and cancerous mess as the troll; I can only dimly feel those limbs, but I can track where this cancer grows by the searing pain within me. Soon, it will be spreading up from my chest into my neck and head, and I fear I will

(In a different hand)

This journal, filth-stained, was recovered from the lair of a pair of trolls in the Scarlet Grove by the guards of a steam-wagon train after killing the creatures and putting them to the torch. One of the creatures was clad in the tattered remnants of a traveling scholar’s garments, and one finger proved to have a signet ring of the High Temple of Muriken, Lord of Knowledge. It is surmised that this beast is the troll resulting from the journal’s author; may his soul rest, as his research has been recovered and archived properly. By the hand of Adael Gleser, 21st day of the Beetle, Year 203 M.R.

Additional Information

Kuramen’s trolls originated from a spell gone awry; a wizard, researching ways to improve the ability to heal, reached too far and attempted to tap the primal energy of the Great Mother, infusing herself in the backlash radius with so much raw vitality that her cellular regeneration went mad, a runaway cancer that overwhelmed her mind and original shape as one of the lizardfolk, with nothing but the sharp teeth and claws of her people left to indicate her origin.

-Trolls spread when scraps of their flesh are introduced into the flesh of other things, be they living or dead; a corpse will quickly become a live troll, while a living person will, over the course of a few days, be twisted into a monstrous parody of what they were; the basic shape will remain the same, but a troll is generally horrifically disfigured from the base stock. Damaged organs are healed, but malfunctioning ones are simply replaced; trolls with multiple eyes, most blinded in some fashion, are relatively common.
-Trolls have no centralized nervous system. The entire creature is self-sufficient and dimly aware on a cellular level; a troll’s heart, removed, will continue to beat until it runs out of energy to drive it, and decapitating a troll merely blinds the body and leaves you with a head flopping around and trying to bite you.
-Trolls are wary of flame, but do not fear it; fire and acid burns take longer to heal due to the scarring, but unless a troll is reduced to ash or sealed away to starve to death, no injuries are truly permanent.
-Trollish regeneration is such that broken bones will heal in whatever shape the break leaves them in; despite this, their constitution is such that the body adapts to these deformities, scarcely slowing them down. Likewise, often an injury will provoke strange new growths; many a troll has passable spines jutting upward from their scars.
-Trollish metabolisms are sickeningly fast; they require roughly their own weight in biomass, preferably meat, every few days; a troll deprived of this will begin to waste away with astonishing speed as the body devours itself. Most dead trolls are those which depleted the area of food and failed to move on in time, leaving a mummified and deformed skeleton with loosely sagging skin clinging to it. Most trolls will die of starvation within a week.
-Likewise, trolls require a tremendous about of fluid to sustain themselves; a troll without drinking water will die of dehydration within 48 hours in a hospitable climate. For this reason, few trolls ever wander into the world’s desert regions.

Dealing with Trolls
-The two best methods for dealing with a troll are to either be faster than it - capable with a good mount - or too tough for it to harm - such as the armored steam-wagon trains that wind between settlements. Most of these wagon trains have a few specially outfitted guards who wear steam-driven suits of heavy armor and bear weapons that can produce sufficiently hot flame to incinerate a troll.
-Piercing weapons are effectively useless against a troll; the wound often seal around the weapon, doing little more than weighting the creature down a bit. That said, some settlements have effectively defeated trolls by shooting them with so many arrows and quarrels that they can no long move, then leaving them to starve to death before retrieving their weapons.
-Bludgeoning weapons are effectively useless against a troll; even staving in their skulls has no real effect on these creatures behind probably blinding them until they regenerate. Sufficiently strong bludgeoning can do significant damage, of course, ripping loose the troll’s parts and pounding them into an organic mush; they can recover even from this state, however.
-Hacking and slashing weapons tend to be the most effective basic weaponry to use against a troll, as severing parts and leaving them too distant to reattach is one of the best ways to deplete a troll’s recuperative ability. Even this tends to be insufficient, however.
-Incineration and acid are, in truth, the most effective ways to kill a troll; even they cannot renegerate if reduced to ash or a structureless puddle of organic sludge.
-Intense cold can seriously harm a troll, disrupting the cellular structure as ice crystals form, but unless the creature starves in this state, it will recover as soon as it warms up again.
-Trollflesh will infest any organic substance if left in prolonged contact; some nations are known to keep a cative troll which they use to infuse wooden arrowheads with trollish flesh; even one of these arrows striking an enemy can be decimating, if not dealt with promptly, as the victim will begin to undergo the transformation into a troll, necessitating that they be killed before they decimate the ranks of the army they were formerly allied with.
-Rumors persist of alchemical solutions which can halt the spread of tollish cancer within a person, if taken regularly; those undergoing such a regimen do not gain the trollish regenerative ability, but retain their individuality and intelligence (unless the head has been consumed by the cancer, but then the beast isn’t bright enough to take the solutions in the first place).

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Comments ( 14 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
October 22, 2008, 21:01
Now those are foul creatures.
October 22, 2008, 21:26
Yes. Yes, they are. Nasty, foul, loathsome, vile things.
Siren no Orakio
October 22, 2008, 21:29
Bring me my tinning kit!
October 22, 2008, 22:35
Ahhh, good old Nethack.
Voted Ouroboros
October 23, 2008, 5:58
Very, very nice. I especially liked the part about infusing arrowheads with troll-flesh - a great inspiration piece, that!
Also (with my love for steam-punk) I thourgoughly enjoyed the steam-mecha train guards. Great imagination and impressive presentation. I cant *quite* go 5/5, but its not far off.

Keep up the good work.

October 23, 2008, 10:06
The steam-guards and the tinker-trains are some of those derivatives of Kuramen's "steampunk gone wrong" vibe. Kuramen is dangerous enough that most trade tends to be done via armed and armored caravan, and the very best of those are thaumatech-based, without any need for animals to pull the wagons along; instead, you get a line of armored wagons, each one venting plumes of steam as they roll along their set trails, each one usually packing at least one or two people who can operate the weaponry on the wagon itself, and maybe one in three or one in five having a guard outfitted with what amounts to a steam-powered exoskeleton. It's much safer to use the thaumatech to boil water than to drive the armor and wagons through straight thaumatech; sometimes even a single rune is sufficient, while driving the entire wagon or armor by itself would be at least a glyph, and more likely a full script, with all the hazards attendant to such 'dense' collections of energy.

The arrowheads are the result of a conversation with Siren about the trolls. He has informed me that my notion of cancer arrows is just rude. I agree with him, but the notion seems fairly inevitable. I could see something similar in the form of a siege engine that flings a load of organic garbage laced with some fragments of trollflesh; it would seem at first like a typical plague-spreading shot, until you had a troll or three drag themselves out of the heap and come after the inhabitants. I'm sure there are other similarly nasty uses for these monstrosities.

Kuramen is getting a lot more of my attention right now, as I intend to write a story in it come NaNoWriMo at the end of next week. I may post some of the component bits involved in it, like the thaumic meters, or the City Spirits - a kind of Small God that is effectively the living soul of a settlement or city district.
Voted EchoMirage
October 23, 2008, 10:09
Now this is a good post. The cancer/infection idea is the most unique of it all. Thoroughly enjoyable.
A plus for steampunk, too :D
October 23, 2008, 10:31
You always hear stories of trolls putting limbs back on, or about how a troll can grow a new limb/body/etc. This is just the extrapolation from that notion and filtered through the lens of Kuramen's steampunk-gone-wrong nature. Honestly, I woke up a few days ago with the rough idea in my head, no idea why it spawned, and haven't gotten it to leave me alone until I finished writing it down.

Frankly, these things would scare the hell out of me if they existed in our world.
Voted valadaar
October 23, 2008, 10:12
Very good - this is a great take on the old standby and makes it much more logical.
October 23, 2008, 10:32
Thank you. It's not much more than a logical extrapolation, I feel, using the rules of the Kuramen universe. (Can I really call it a universe, the way it's split between True and Far? Then there's the way it's starting to tie into the Realms I mentioned elsewhere, with Soreen and his Gloom...)
Voted Chaosmark
October 23, 2008, 22:40
Wow. Just, wow. This sort of abomination is exactly the sort of tough opponent that your PCs would love to hate.
October 23, 2008, 23:20
That they are. I didn't set out deciding to make something like that, but... They showed up and became such anyhow. Kuramen is a very strange and worrying kind of world.
Voted Phaidros
September 4, 2011, 6:21
These are some truly frightening beasts, you have taken the regenative abilities commonly associated with trolls to it logical extreme and created something worthy of several nightmares.
Voted caesar193
August 17, 2012, 12:22
Only Voted

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