A Brief Natural History of Trolls
Attempting any type of comprehensive study of Trolls is doomed to mediocrity due to a general lack of knowledge. I have dedicated many years to poring over the scattered fragments of previous research, and listening to the endless tales of adventurers and story-tellers. I have wandered much of the known world and personally witnessed 12 different troll sub-species. I have lost 4 companions in my journeys. And yet, after all this, much remains a mystery. I fully intend to author a detailed monograph in the near future, but feel that it is best to present to you an overview of my work at this time. - Elemir Ostegren W.
[editors note- Elemir died shortly after finishing this document from wounds received from his travels. We wish him peace.]
Troll History: The origin of trolls has never been firmly established. They don?t have a discernible oral history, and have never developed a written language. It is acknowledged that trolls have been present in Dural for countless ages, and have diversified into all of the worlds habitats, from the driest deserts to the coldest mountain peaks. This can be attributed to their remarkable, and horribly inaccurate, regeneration capabilities. It is common knowledge that a troll will regrow lost limbs and even organs. However, it is not unlikely that the new body part will differ significantly from the original.
General Characteristics: Individual trolls vary greatly from any standard you might describe them with, although the different types of trolls maintain some general characteristics. In the most general, trolls are ridiculously strong, surprisingly agile and very fast over short distances. They are stupendously stupid and considered horribly ugly by all other intelligent races. They will eat anything that moves, to sustain their remarkable metabolism (already mentioned) and large size.
Troll society: Troll society is not quite an oxymoron. Female trolls give birth to one, and rarely, two young; because trolls grow to maturity frighteningly quickly, troll children spend only 2 or 3 years at home before growing large enough to threaten the parent. Some troll sub-species are found in groups (more on this below), and large gatherings have been spotted. While generally these large gatherings are to wage war, there is a fairly credible report of a peaceful meeting of over 350 forest trolls. Trolls communicate verbally; their languages are loud, harsh and simple. However, many trolls carry fetishes and grigris. This indicates some form of spiritualism. I have seen rough symbols sketched in the earth where a plains troupe had rested for the night. There are even a few instances of suspected magic-using trolls, but I haven't found any definite examples of this and am personally quite skeptical.
Common Troll types: The most commonly encountered trolls fall into the following types: mountain, forest, river, desert, and plains.
- Mountain trolls are the largest known and have developed extremely thick skin to combat the unspeakable cold of mountain winters. Most have white and grayish skin and have thick hair on their heads, backs and feet. They tend to live in small groups, probably to share warmth (and ensure readily available food if the hunting turns bad). Mountain trolls usually live in deep caves, where they store any food left over from the falls hunting and looting. In their visits down to the wintering grounds of the mountain sheep, their main food source, they have been know to enter settlements to the detriment of the inhabitants.
- River trolls are the second largest common type. They have developed incredible strength in their hands and feet to enable them to grip onto slick rock while being pummeled by raging rivers as they fish. They are dark, rubbery skinned, hairless, and often coated with slick moss and algae. They prefer to be solitary.
- Forest trolls are noticeably smaller than mountain and river trolls. They are, however, more agile. While they den in the hollows under rotting trees, forest trolls have been seen lurking in the branches waiting for prey. These creatures can usually be recognized by their dark green skin, dark hair and mossy smell. Most who notice this final trait do not survive the knowledge, however.
- Plains trolls are the most social of their race. They are rare, but when encountered are usually in troupes of 6 or more. They have greater endurance than other types which they use for hunting down large herbivores (and anything else they encounter). The plains troll is relatively small, is lightly colored and very fleet. They are also generally considered the most intelligent, having developed group hunting tactics and the ability to communicate with signals.
- Desert trolls are the smallest of the common troll sub-species. Their light skin is thick and leathery, and completely hairless. They are entirely nocturnal and spend the days in shallow pits they dig for themselves just before sunrise. Little is know about their social habits, as they are very rare.