People of Glorantha - Trolls

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Created On 26 June 1999
Last Updated On 26 June 1999
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1999

See Also Overview/Peoples of Glorantha

This Gloranthan race is descended from the Seven Sacred Ancestors, more specifically Kyger Litor and six of her descendants. They were created when Kyger Litor joined with Grandfather Mortal to create children and are associated with the Darkness Rune, in the main.

The original trolls lived in Hell but most came to the Surface when Yelm died and invaded their Dark Realm, lighting it with his rays. Now, trolls can be found in many areas although they have been pushed back to wilderness and mountain wastes by the relentless advance of humans.

There are several subtypes of trolls - Mistress race (Uz Uz), Dark Trolls (Uzko), Great Trolls (Uzdo), Trollkin (Enlo), Snow Trolls, Hot Trolls, Cave Tolls, Giant Trolls and Sea Trolls. Each subtype will be described in some detail.

As with humans there is no such thing as a single troll culture. The trolls have several cultures depending on where they live and on their ancestry. However, they are only a few such cultures and because trolls follow the Kyger Litor Way these cultures share a surprising number of features.

Troll Types

Uz Uz (Mistress Race)

The trolls call themselves "Uz", Mistress race Trolls are "UzUz" so they are the most trollish of trolls. They are the original trolls, the Primal race. Many lived before Time and participated in the God Time events, although some were born during Time through HeroQuest and other elaborate rituals.

Uz Uz are tied closely to the Darkness Rune and have the best developed Darksense and worst sight of all trolls, many Uz Uz are nearly blind and can only make out the presence of light. All Uz Uz are highly magical and quickly become priests of many cults, shamans and sorcerers, many progressing through HeroQuests to become Heroes.

Uz Uz always breed true to the troll type they mate with, so Dark Troll matings produce Dark Trolls, Cave Troll matings produce Cave Trolls and so on, with the exceptions that Uz Uz cannot mate with true trollkin and matings with Uz Uz produce Dark Trolls ever since the Uz left Wonderhome.

The Uz Uz normally live in dark caverns deep within the earth where they perform their rituals and keep the world going and are very rarely seen outside their temples. When they are, people are afraid because something must be wrong.

All Troll cultures have Uz Uz except Sea Trolls and Hot Trolls.

Uzko (Dark Trolls)

These are the "normal" trolls. First born after Yelm came to Hell and the Uz came to the Surface, Dark Trolls are the result of Yelm's injuring of Korasting and hence are inferior to the Uz Uz but are bigger, stronger and healthier than normal humans. Their eyesight is reasonable but, like all trolls, they are monochromatic colour-blind, in other words they can only see black, white and shades of grey. (According to standard RuneQuest they can also see Red, but I cannot see any justification for this.) Some Uzko can see as well as humans although most trolls are long-sighted and find human texts, for instance, difficult to read. Uzko can use Darksense to navigate underground in darkness and are perfectly happy in dark caverns. Above ground they use Darksense for short and medium range sensing but have to rely on sight for long range vision.

Being tied to the Darkness Rune, Uzko can tolerate extremes of cold that would swiftly kill humans, although they are not nearly as tolerant as the Uz Uz. Uzko can tolerate heat extremes but suffer far more in extremely hot situations than humans, becoming fatigued and lethargic in hot climes.

Almost all Uzko worship Kyger Litor with many also worshipping other Darkness Deities.

Dark Trolls were the race affected by the Trollkin Curse and they bear the brunt of it. A troll bearing trollkin often undergoes a ritual of purification lasting a whole year. Trolls bearing many trollkin litters are seen as cursed or impure. Often trolls who HeroQuest are indeed cursed that they can only produce trollkin, which is a mighty and dreadful curse.

Uzdo (Great Trolls)

Uzdo were created by Cragspider when attempting to circumvent the Curse of Kin. She summoned Dehori and other Darkness spirits, possessing the bodies of normal trolls who mated under their influence thus ensuring that the resulting trolls were superior. However, Uzko were not the result but physically superior but mentally inferior Uzdo.

Even now, most Great Trolls serve in Cragspider's army and personal guards although many clans in Dagori Inkarth, the Shadowlands and Peloria now possess Great Troll slaves as warriors and guards. Almost all Great Trolls are slaves, owned by clans or individuals. Those who are free are generally mistrusted by other trolls as being dangerous and wild.

Great Trolls stand an average 2 metres in height and often reach 3 metres. They are far stronger and healthier than Uzko, ranking almost as impressive as the Uz Uz. Unfortunately they are relatively stupid with only a very few having normal troll or human intelligence. Many trolls treat them as clumsy pets.

Most Great Trolls worship Zorak Zoran although many also worship Kyger Litor. Some may also join other cults or worship Spirit Cults but few become shamans or priests. When they do they can be formidable.

Cave Trolls

Trolls often fought in the wars against Chaos during the God Time. During one of these battles, Pocharngo the Mutator transformed an army of trolls into a type tainted by Chaos - Cave Trolls.

Cave Trolls are almost as physically large and strong as Great Trolls but are far more stupid. Where they are found in normal troll culture they are treated as pets or animals, useful to learn a few tricks but that is about all. Despite trolls' hatred of Chaos, they do not kill Cave Trolls, feeling that they have been cursed by Chaos rather than being Chaotic themselves. Even trolls who follow the Storm Bull try to avoid finding Cave Trolls and prefer not to kill them when they do.

Being mutated Dark Trolls, Cave Trolls are affected by the Trollkin Curse. If two Cave Trolls mate, their offspring will be Cave Trolls or Trollkin with the occasional Dark Troll. A Cave Troll and Dark Troll mating would produce equal amounts of Cave and Dark Trolls with the standard chance of trollkin births.

Cave Trolls regenerate a small amount of damage each round, constantly healing small wounds. This makes them very useful in combat.

Most Cave Trolls are lay members of the Kyger Litor cult with a very few being initiates. They very rarely join other cults.

Trollkin (Enlo)

When the trolls turned against Nysalor in the First Age, Gbaji cursed them and used the Dark Eater to tear apart Korasting's womb. Since then, many trolls have given birth to trollkin. many attempts were made to break the curse, one of which resulted in the birth of litters of trollkin. Now, multiple births signify that the litter is of trollkin, even though this includes naturally occurring twins.

Trollkin are inferior to trolls in all respects. They are small, sickly, weak, stupid and not magically powerful. Their Darksense is vastly inferior to Dark Trolls but they often can see better, sometimes having as good sight as humans, occasionally being so sensitive to light that they cannot tolerate daylight. All trollkin born to a mother are slaves, some owned by the mother, the rest by the clan or by relatives. Trollkin are generally reared by other trollkin in special caves set aside for the purpose, they are kept away from the magical birthing chambers so as not to contaminate the Mothers. Since trollkin are often pregnant by their kind, there is always an abundance of wet nurses available to nurse the infants. Trollkin are raised by their own kind and are taught the skills they need to survive. Trollkin society is a parody of normal troll society with overseers acting like the Mothers, strutting guards who bully all around and the idea that trolls must breed to be good. This means that the life of a trollkin female is dour indeed, being kept almost permanently pregnant by the dominant Values and producing more trollkin for the clan.

When they are older, they are examined by the trolls to see what function they can serve. Trollkin are split into three types - Value, Worker and Food. Value Trollkin are gifted trollkin, often with special skills or a spell or two, valuable to the general troll culture. Worker trollkin are those able to perform useful tasks such as talking or being able to pick things up. Food trollkin are those too stupid or clumsy to do anything else but be fattened up and eaten by other trolls. It is possible for a trollkin to be adopted as a normal troll if he undergoes rebirth in a Kyger Litor ritual and is wrapped in a cocoon for a number of seasons. If the troll awakens then the ritual has been successful, if not then the cocoon is opened for a tasty feast. Only trollkin with troll spirits may be reborn in this way and this includes twins who almost always survive the rebirth.

Most trollkin are lay members of Kyger Litor or other Darkness cults with a very few being initiates if they are trusted Values. No trollkin in troll cultures can be a Priest of a cult, although this does happen occasionally in non-troll areas where the Trollkin are renegades.

Trollkin are born to many of the troll types but not to all. Hot Trolls and Sea Trolls have no trollkin, Snow Trolls do not appear to have trollkin but they may just be eaten or abandoned on the Glacier, Uz Uz cannot bear trollkin unless they have been cursed through HeroQuesting.

Trollkin are both a blessing and a curse on the troll race. They are a curse because they are twisted parodies of trolldom, evidence of their defeat by Gbaji. They are a blessing because they provide a natural workforce of slaves able to perform day to day tasks leaving normal trolls to perform important tasks; trollkin litters greatly improve the troll birth-rate which has otherwise steadily declined; trollkin make all other trolls feel superior which helps the species. In fact, if trollkin had never been produced the troll race would probably have nearly died out by now.

Hot Trolls

These live in the deserts and jungles of Pamaltela and are the result of a Mistress Race Founder being injured by Lodril's Spear. As such, they are not descended from Dark Trolls and are not affected by the Curse of Kin.

Since Lodril's Spear seared all Cold from them, Hot Trolls are very tolerant of heat but are intolerant of cold and are tied to the Shadow Rune rather than the Darkness Rune. This ensures that they can survive in the hot jungles and deserts of their homelands where other trolls would be suffering.

Hot Trolls have a culture that is similar to the Agimori of the Plains, but is trollish in nature. Their ruling cult is Mari not Kyger Litor, although the Hot Trolls honour Kyger Litor too. Hot Trolls tend to use spears and javelins rather than maces and slings and often use fire-based magics.

Sea Trolls

Created when an navy of troll ships attacked a Chaos navy and was transformed by Pocharngo the Mutator, Sea trolls are similar to Dark Trolls except that they regenerate like Cave Trolls, have webbed fingers and toes and can breathe both water and air. They are an aquatic species although they can survive on land if they must.

Sea Trolls live in cities carved from the seabed, often made of coral and other aquatic materials and have a culture that is vastly different to other trolls. They use tridents and darts as maces and slings are useless under water. They worship Kyger Litor and the Seven Sacred ancestors but also worship a variety of Sea Deities and Spirits. Many Sea Trolls co-operate with their land-based cousins and have made good allies for the Black Galleys in the past. Now that the Oceans are open again, Sea Trolls are making more pacts with their cousins and are starting to become important again.

Sea Trolls have no trollkin and do not care about the Trollkin Curse.

Snow Trolls

These live on Valind's Glacier or occasionally on the other Glaciers of Genertela. They are similar to Dark Trolls but have more blubber and seem to be more tolerant to cold and less tolerant to heat than Uzko.

Snow Trolls seem to have no trollkin, if they do then they may be eaten or abandoned on the Glacier as nobody has ever seen trollkin Snow Trolls.

They worship Kyger Litor, Himile, Valind, Zong and various other deities of the Glacier and of Darkness and Cold. Snow Trolls are fairly unknown outside the Glaciers and even those are treated either as enemies or dangerous people. Little is known of their long term plans , but it is rumoured that they have a vast army in hibernation beneath the ice and that Snow Trolls are chewing a vast trench across the Glacier to release a huge iceberg which will block Magasta's Pool.

Snow Trolls use maces and slings as well as spears and javelins. They are excellent hunters and have been known to attack whales and other sea creatures from boats. Their culture is probably a trollish form of that of the Eskimo.

Giant Trolls

These became extinct during the Gods War but have been known to plague HeroQuestors.

Giant Trolls are two or three times the size of the Uz Uz and are as intelligent as Uzko. They are formidable opponents in combat, often using a pair of troll mauls when fighting.

Giant Trolls usually worship Kyger Litor or Karrg, although a few worship Zorak Zoran. As they are encountered on HeroQuest they are Rune Levels of their cults and are particularly dangerous.

Cragspider is rumoured to have one or two Giant Trolls in her Castle and there may be a handful in the Castles of Lead in Genertela, but nobody has survived to tell.

Troll Culture

There are several broad cultures that Gloranthan trolls follow. These are Genertelan, Snow Trolls, Sea Trolls, Kingdom of Ignorance and Hot Trolls.

All troll cultures are shaped by the prime deities worshipped by the culture, so Muri are shaped by the Goddess Mura, Genertelans by the worship of Kyger Litor, Snow Trolls by Himile and Valind. Kyger Litor is worshipped by all trolls but is seen in different ways - amongst Hot Trolls she is a distant ancestor, in the Kingdom of Ignorance she is just an ancestor, among Genertelan Trolls she is their most important deity.

Snow, Hot and Sea Trolls are described above. I will sketch out the Genertelan and Kingdom of Ignorance cultures below.

Genertelan Trolls

This is the culture most often seen by outsiders in normal Gloranthan societies. It is spread throughout Genertela and is found in Jrustela and northern Pamaltela. Important areas are Dagori Inkarth, Shadow Plateau, Halikiv, Guhan, Jolp Mountains, Elder Wilds and Jrustela.

The Genertelan culture is based around the Kyger Litor cult. Trolls are organised into clans headed by a Priestess of Kyger Litor. Tribes may be formed from an alliance of clans, often where the clans are descended from a common ancestor, so Sazdorf is a tribe of 3 clans, Redstone has many clans. Tribes are normally headed by a High Priestess of Kyger Litor. Clans and Tribes have a Council made up of the Elders and Rune Masters of the Tribe or Clan, this council decides what happens in the tribe or clan, its word is law and it has the muscle to back its words. Most clans are made up of family units or bloodlines which are specialist in certain areas, so one family raises beetles, another works lead, another is a hunting family and another enslaves Fire spirits. This ensures the clan has a well-established skill base and that clan members know where demarcation lines are drawn, however if a family or bloodline dies out then the skills are lost to the clan, forcing clan members to go elsewhere for those skills.

Important deities worshipped by the Genertelan culture are Kyger Litor, Subere, Zorak Zoran, Karrg, Argan Argar, Zong, Xiola Umbar and Gorakiki. Some clans have worshippers of spirit cults and heroes who bring important skills and spells to the clan. Arkat is worshipped by a few trolls who can use sorcery, this is particularly in those troll areas of Ralios and the West.

Genertelan Culture is ruled by Councils. Each clan has its own council made up of the Rune Members and Elders of the clan. Tribes have councils made up of Clan leaders, important Elders and the ranking Rune Levels of the tribe. Troll Queendoms have councils made up from tribal leaders, the High Priestesses and High Priests of major cults in the area and any very important trolls. Above these are the Great Ones or Mistress Councils which are Councils made of the ranking Uz Uz in a region and are normally found deep below the Castles of Lead. It is thought that Cragspider is not privy to the Mistress Council of Dagori Inkarth even though she sits on the Dagori Inkarth Council. This system of Councils ensures that a single individual will never dominate troll politics but tends to keep troll politics conservative and backward-looking. Where an individual is innovative and tries to change troll culture, that individual must challenge the Councils or work with them. There are very few such cases, Arkat being one and Cragspider being another.

Typical Genertelan Culture is described in the Troll Pack supplements, so I will not rehash those here.

The Kingdom of Ignorance

In the Godtime, during the Darkness the trolls exited Wonderhome in a number of exoduses. One of these settled in the far North East in a land bordering what became Valind's Glacier and the Kralorelan Empire. There they met a blasted godling called Basko who had dared to challenge Yelm for leadership of the Empire. Basko, the Dark Sun, has shaped the form of troll culture in the Kingdom of Ignorance from that point on.

Due to the proximity of the Kralorelan Empire, the Kingdom of Ignorance has always been influenced by its Dragon worshipping neighbours. When the False Dragon Ring seized power in Kralorela many refugees fled into the Kingdom of Ignorance and conquered it, bringing it under the direct control of the Exarchs. With the fall of the False Dragon Ring, the Kingdom of Ignorance remained under the control of the Kralorelan Empire and is now a province of the Empire.

The Kingdom of Ignorance is an unusual troll culture in that trolls and humans live side by side in roughly equal numbers. They live in towns and cities, although the trolls tend to live below underground in basements and cellars if they can. They worship strange deities with Kyger Litor being relegated to a minor ancestor figure, although still heavily worshipped. They are ruled by an Exarch not a Queen or troll council. Unfortunately, little is known of the details of the Kingdom of Ignorance culture as outsiders rarely visit those blasted and hostile lands. Their cities are built around immense ziggurats and pyramids which act as their temples. They are a mirror or parody of Solar culture, and are patriarchal in nature.

The Kingdom of Ignorance is influenced by the worship of its deities. Basko the Dark Sun is the ruling deity and the trolls think of themselves as a darkness counterpart of the Dara Happan or Solar cultures. The Bloody Sun is also worshipped and has many people sacrificed to it through organised gladiatorial contests. Many other deities are worshipped as part of the Dark Sun Pantheon, many of which are unknown elsewhere. Other deities worshipped include Zorak Zoran, Valind and Himile. The trolls of the Kingdom of Ignorance have a reputation of being bloodthirsty with great gladiatorial games held to honour their Solar deities and the ritualistic devouring of the internal organs of their enemies.

Since the Kralori rule this land, it is quite possible for trolls to follow the draconic way. Therefore do not be surprised if the troll facing you is wielding a klanth and transforming into a dragonewt or even a dragon - such things are not unheard of.