Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pellatarrum: Trolls

For those who came in late: Pellatarrum is a D&D campaign world I am creating which has recurring themes of elementalism, zany pseudo-clockwork universes, and older races creating servitor races which rebel against them.

So the other day I was pondering Pellatarrum and I started thinking about Giants. I don't know if you guys have noticed but there's a strange divide between the giantish species: about half of them are elemental (Cloud, Fire, Frost, Stone) and half of them aren't. Storm Giants have strange dual affinities between air (lighting) and sea (water breathing), so they occupy a class by themselves.

The Hill Giant is basically a non-elemental hillbilly, but is still undeniably a giant. The Ogre, on the other hand, is either a very large and strong humanoid or a very small and weak giant, depending on how you want to cut things; I would err on the side of "large humanoid" because Ogres seem to lack many of the classic Giant traits of living in large homes and throwing large rocks. That would also let me lump them in with the other humanoid races that the Orcs created as servitors and cannon fodder during the Race Wars.

Then there are the Trolls, who break the rules. They don't look like giants ("A troll's rubbery hide is moss green... or putrid gray"), they don't act like giants (they attack with claws and teeth instead of clubs or other weapons; they eat anything and everything, and can be found in any climate and terrain) and they regenerate, which no other species of giant does, meaning their only true vulnerabilities are to acid and fire.

Now let me direct your attention to another kind of critter found in D&D. It too is green and nasty, devouring all flesh it can find, reproducing as it eats and vulnerable only to fire. I am of course talking about Green Slime.

I have a theory, which is this: Trolls are just mature versions of green slime. After reaching a critical mass, the slime gains rudimentary intelligence, its skin thickens as it shambles upright on a skeleton of fibers strengthened with mineral deposits from devoured victims, and shuffles forward to devour and reproduce in a more efficient manner. Therefore, any limbs that the Troll loses which are not subsequently reattached  quickly lose their cohesion and revert to puddles of green slime... and so the cycle continues.

Acid doesn't destroy Trolls the way fire does: instead, it just breaks down the substance that holds them together, reducing them to gooey puddles. (If I wanted to involve chemistry in this -- which would be counter to Pellatarrum's firm "Fuck Science!" ethos -- it would be that green slime is caustic, and therefore a base, and everyone who has taken high school chemistry knows that acid + base = salt + water + exothermic reaction).

Therefore, in Pellatarrum:
  • Trolls aren't Giants, they are Oozes. 
  • They don't speak Giantish because they aren't Giants; instead, they speak the languages of whatever they ate while they were in larval slime form (typically Orcs, Goblins, or Dwarves.) 
  • They will eat anything organic they can find (their digestive system is still highly omninivorous green slime, after all).
  • They will gnaw on metal or stone to supplement their bones, teeth and claws.
  • If you don't completely destroy them and all their body parts with fire or acid, they WILL come back, and in greater numbers. This makes them excellent horror monsters -- a bit like zombies, only they regenerate and multiply. 
  • Rangers aren't mocked for taking Oozes as a Favored Enemy any more. 


  1. LIES! All scandalous lies, I tell you!

    Seriously, very imaginative and fun. Not sure I'm going to adopt it, but it certainly does follow. And yeah, the endless, ever-growing horde of trolls sounds very creepy-cool.

    - Trollsmyth

  2. Two thought occurred to me after posting this:

    1. If you want to be TRULY evil, you can represent the slime innards of the Troll by having weapons that cut its flesh have to make some kind of saving throw or else be corroded as per the Green Slime rules.

    2. People are invariably going to ask what keeps the world from being overrun by hordes of Trolls. The main answer is food: these are Large-sized creatures and without proper nutrition the slime colonies can't gestate into the adult form. Trolls are great for taking out towns but due to dwindling resources as the horde grows, they are unable to properly rampage across the countryside.

    Instead, in the aftermath of a Troll invasion, I envision a formerly lush area reduced to denuded patches of earth and pitted metal and without any trace of living things. Instead, all you find are pits and puddles filled with slime colonies.

    All it would take would be for one hapless soul to fall in, and then a Troll would shamble out and into the countryside, to (slowly) begin the plague anew...

  3. That is very imaginative and draws a great link between two classic monsters.

    And it's darn sneaky to boot.

  4. YES. This is all a bit legendary, especially the image of the denuded landscape with some poor berk falling into a pit of slime and rising again. Amazing stuff.

    I always like reading Pellatarrum stuffs - you've put a lot of thought into the world without putting in so much thought that it becomes impenetrable and dull.

  5. So what causes them to grow that big shock of pink hair?

  6. I'd never realised exactly how detailed RPGs were until I made some friends who play them properly and found out about all the characteristics and variations that go into how the denizens are created and how they react to the world around them. Fascinating stuff.
    The level of detail and how organic you make it all seem really gives Pellatarrum a spark.

    (My verification word is: stspucku. St Spucku blesses you, my daughter, and prays for your immortal roll [St Spucku, patron saint of delicious pastries... and/or game dice].)

  7. This is the post that made me follow you. =) Gonna have to check out your older posts on this world of yours. Meantime I look forward to more.


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