Let me start with a warning. What we did, what we do, should not be attempted by the inexperienced, the feint of heart, or as my colleague once said, the sane. We're Troll-Hunters, though we do not seek out the creatures in order to slag them, but rather to study their misunderstood nature and ways. We at the Troll-Hunters Illuminated Society are explorers and naturalists, foremost. We bear the troll race no ill-will, only deep respect, and would seek to remind the reader, that their numbers in fact, are not what they once were, despite what some adventuring bands may tell you. Trolls are becoming significantly rarer in the wild.
You should further know that we at T.H.I.S are not entirely suicidal and take great care and all caution when tracking or staking out trolls in their habitats, and upon those rare occasions, when we are forced to deal with them in a direct manner. This is a good time to mention as well, that indeed, trolls often quickly lose patience with our scholarly pursuits of studying their ecology and documenting their habits. Lacking civility altogether, the trolls will sometimes stop what they're doing and turn on us with intent to destroy, disembowel and dismember, in whichever order. It happens that we lose a member in the field. There is no way around it. Running from a troll that has decided to eat you after all, is hopeless. They are relentless when roused, and nearly indestructible. Let us just say that numerous magical wards and certain proprietary items in our possession, somewhat dilute the dangers of our chosen pursuit.
That being said, it is only fair that I further warn readers and those who may be contemplating joining our ranks, that our field operatives survive two to three years in the wilds on the average before expiring. It should be noted, that the average drops significantly if one removes all the time it takes an operative to find a troll in the first place. The average creeps back up slightly, if one excludes the deaths and accidents which result from other dangers in the swamps and fens, aside from trolls.
Alas, we cannot help ourselves. We love these wanton engines of destruction. Just like the foolhardy naturalists of the Dead Diver's Society, who study the fearsome white-bellied sharks of Wallowon Bay, and are dwindling in number faster than the sharks themselves as the japes go, so we too are fascinated by our quarry, and take the constant mortal danger we face, in stride.
Below, as a reference for the reader, are some of the recovered field notes of Serebricus Ohell, beloved member of T.H.I.S, who famously studied a clutch of peculiar trolls in that great expanse of marsh known as the Murgh. Serebricus Ohell was not recovered.
A note on names: Serebricus Ohell derived Warp'raa from something sounding like Vrrrprra, Gozh'ga from Gjzhhozhgaa, Umook from Mmm'ommmuk and Droog from Drrgk.
A note on Serebricus Ohell: Unlike other T.H.I.S. members, Ohell much less cared for ecology and hard science, and much more for random observations of interest...to him.
Plothook: The PCs happen to find themelves in the Murgh on other business, and are not quite of a 'level' to mix it up with four trolls. However, they possess the field notes, and have some clue as to the four individuals written of therein. Do they dare an attack?
Warp'raa the Great Slayer, the Troll-King
The Troll-King is a king in name only. In reality, he is simply the toughest of the four trolls in his pack, leading their raids across the boundless expanses of the Murgh. He is known as being completely indestructible, and owes this impregnability to an erstwhile warlock-hermit of the swamp, who ensorcelled the troll's very flesh with powerful wards of protection against all fire and acid. In return, the troll-king slew the warlock, to ensure that the man would not 'enhance' any other trolls. Trolls are nothing if not treacherous.
None of this have I witnessed for myself, but rather this is hear-say and local legend. The queer black runes branded in Warp'raa's greenish flesh suggest that these rumors may be true.
Warp'raa takes the well-known fearlessness of the trollish race to new heights. He just keeps coming at foes, and even if eventually chopped to pieces, each individual piece will continue the good fight. Dousing him in acid or setting him aflame does nothing to his magicked meat. And since not much else can kill a troll, the troll-king thrives. Or so they say.
Physically, Warp'raa is truly imposing. Ten feet in height though stooped and hunchbacked, his strength and ferocity left me in awe. I've witnessed him uproot sturdy willows, effortlessly throw an unfortunate elven ranger at least sixty feet into the air, and crack a charging water-buffalo's skull with a single strike.
Warp'raa also challenges the old rule of never defecating where one eats. He is constantly emptying his bowels and rarely walks off to do so. The troll lair is awash in troll guano, waist-deep to a dwarf, and Warp'raa seems to enjoy the mess.
On rare occasions I have spied Warp'raa mating with Gozh'ga, being one of the few members of T.H.I.S to have witnessed troll mating in the wild! Watching their love-making changed me forever and I will say no more of this. I will never unsee it. The gestation cycle for trolls I've learned at least, is surprisingly short.
Many times over Gozh'ga has spewed forth newborn trolls, only to have Warp'raa swallow them whole, minutes after their birth. Perhaps this is why the trolls are not fecund. They could easily make armies if only they stopped all that cannibalism!
Whenever Warp'raa eats a newborn, the clan gathers around, gesticulating toward the skies wildly, then proceed to dig great holes, for no apparent reason. After this, Warp'raa will roll himself around in a bed of moss and howl. What these trolls are trying to accomplish is beyond me.
Umook the Sculptor
Though the trolls of the Murgh have no word for sculptor in their primal tongue, I call this specimen by that name, due to his singularly peculiar and gruesome hobby. Umook will tear, rip, rearrange, and forcibly reattach the limbs, heads, and extremities and build mongrel statues and constructs, from the flesh and bones of the troll pack's victims. No one can guess why he does this, least of all Umook I imagine, but I have observed on several occasions Umook practicing his macabre art-work with his bloody raw materials. The grotesque mockeries he constructs do not stand vigil long, as the trolls quickly devour the sculptures, while Umook gibbers and drools, clawing at the earth, either bemoaning his fate, calling out to some loathsome troll deity, or both.
Umook is fond of flowers. He can often be observed inhaling the vapors and pollen, face-down in a patch of poppies or ten-step pansies. I have yet to ascertain why he does this. Nor can I begin to guess why once every half-moon, a small swarm of rhinocerous beetles approaches the troll, lingers about him, then goes off again into the swamp, as if with instructions from Umook in tow.
Gozh'ga is a she-troll. I know because she is bigger than the other two, and often berates and belittles Umook and Droog whenever they attempt to mate with her, or eat her food. She is a wrinkled behemoth of a troll with empty, worm-ridden eye sockets.
What she lacks in sight, she makes up for with her wart-ridden nose. Her sense of smell is extraordinary. I was present when she once sniffed at the air suddenly and excitedly, then proceeded to sketch crude human-like figures in the dirt, indicating travelers and pointing in a direction. The trolls seemed excited.
*Three* full days later an unfortunate band of adventurers stumbled upon the troll lair. The trolls were ready for them, and the awful screams that night, did not last long. Not only had Gozh'ga sensed the group many miles away, but she seemed to know that they were traveling in this exact direction. There was no reason to start the hunt.
Once Gozh'ga had eyes, but as I watched from a bluff spell-bound one night, she plucked them out one after the other and ate them, much to the delight of Umook and Droog, who leapt up and down, like two idiots at their first fare.
Several weeks later, something interesting occurred. I was watching the troll relieve herself one morning, riveted to the scene, when suddenly to my horror, two bulbous, gloopy eyes sprouted, one ripping through the flesh of each cheek of her desiccated backside. These are truly remarkable creatures.
I sometimes call him 'Droog the Last' because he always is. The runt of the foursome, Droog is often submissive to the other three. Last to attack during the hunt, last to feed back at the troll lair. He is easily recognizable by his two extended members(!) which I have never witnessed in flaccid states. I have colleagues that would no doubt jape at being envious of Droog's predicament, but I digress. Why Gozh'ga refuses to mate with Droog despite his twin ever-ready phalluses, remains a mystery.
Droog seems to prefer eating animals to humanoids. The other three trolls are the opposite, they will listlessly chew on snakes and hedgehogs, but positively animate whenever two-legged prey appears on the menu. At these times Droog looks almost sullen, and withdraws to his pit gnawing on his own arm. Droog will sometimes try to keep food alive for a while, and play with prey like a cat. It almost seems as if he is desirous of acquiring a pet. I watched him once drag a dwarf around by the neck on a chain for three weeks everywhere he went, though he forgot to feed him, until Warp'raa at last, came over, ripped the dwarf's head off and ate it. Droog ate the rest, whimpering solemnly.
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? Responses (13)-13
Looks interesting, but sadly I am feint of heart, inexperienced and sane. So Troll hunting is none of my business.
Wow. At first I thought this would go in societies because that part was so interesting, but now I think it might go into NPCs because each of them are so interesting. I can think of other fun plots for THIS:
A group makes a suicide pact but wants their deaths to look like accidents. They joined THIS, but five years later one has still not been eaten. Does he have some natural immunity to trolls?
What is all this proprietary gear mentioned? Is there more of it, and does it need testers?
The trolls seem to have fled in a panic. Where are they going? Whatever they are running from, you should be running faster.
that last plot hook tittilates me :) What could be so bad-assed that the trolls are running? :)
I like it, and now a word from that voice in my head that can't stop using big words.
iIn regards to the sensationalist claptrap of the, so called, Troll-Hunters Illuminated Society, a group whose members have proven themselves to posses the skills necessary in the stalking of Trolls, yet are found sorely lacking in the will required to actually follow through with the actual act of slaying the aforementioned, mask their pusillanimity in the naturalist's concern for the welfare of creatures that were, according to our forebears, once more numerous, though how far one can trust the recollections of any man, no matter how much that individual tries to avoid embellishment, when his own brain is as likely to affirm beliefs held in the core of his being as it is to frankly share with him accurate histories. While I must thank the writers for sharing the information in regards to the location of this band of Troll, I find it deplorable that a group that calls itself Troll-Slayers would claim the 'Enlightened' position that the life of a group of animals that have been proven to be unable to count past three are worth more than the lives of all the sentients, some of with the authors admitted to seeing killed and eaten during their observatory period, who will surely fall victim to these beasts is an unconscionable crime, one which I will seek to immediately rectify upon my return to the region. /i
Heh, wise Gyma has touched upon the crux of what I was going for...Some combination of the banal, apologetic, self-important, desentisized news reporting on mass beheadings, Sharkweek jumping the shark ('Oy, watch as I swim with these misunderstood, gentle giants---Gaaaaaack---Dead.), Gorillas in the Mist ('Wow, he just sits there. Amazing! Wait, look, he just picked his ass with his finger and tasted it! I think he liked it. What incredible creatures, I'm in awe!), ecological ultra-liberal-terrorists, and the reality tv trainwreck.
An amusing account of the Troll behavior and adds needed depth to the creatures.
I like this!
The frame story itself is mildly irreverent, and has that whimsical attitude which I definitely associate with old-school gaming, but I must say, those trolls are excellent, and definitely the highlight of the piece.
Makes me want to make these trolls for D&D 3.0 (3.5) using the Humanoid Handbook... and then run a game with them desecrating the kingdom.
T.H.I.S. has spirit akin to the naturalists of Edwardian and Victorian England but the write ups have shades of Diane Fossey.
I admire a departure from the listing of facts (juicy details in your words) format and the inclusion of a narrative perspective.
I think it's quirks like this that really add life to a setting. It's not something you'd think of when you're plotting up a city or country, but of -course- there are wackos who take far too much interest in the big nasties everyone knows to stay away from, and not merely out of powerlust...
Plus, anything that makes actual characters out of those typical brainless people-eaters is a plus in my book. One of my favorite NPCs from my old game was an ogre mage named Torugg who was a sophisticated, if twisted fellow. Operated as a merchant/go-between for intelligent monsters of the region, lived in a mansion, was actively interested in science. Far cry from what people would expect when they think 'ogre'.
Thanks and well said.
Loved the tone of this although personally not that taken with the topic of trolls themselves