These giants of the fae possess incredible strength and determination. Once they give their loyalty, nothing can sway them from those they have sworn to protect. Honor walks in their footsteps.
Path of Honor (The History of Trolldom)
As long as there have been mountains, there have been trolls. Known as giants, titans, and many other names, no culture does not mention them. Mortal traditions record them as benefactor and enemy and both are correct. The earliest oral traditions of the kith are known as The Chronicles of Leander, named for the one who first committed the epic to written form. The earliest myths and legends are told from this source. There are, however, many versions of this song with no one accepted as definitive. Nonetheless, it is from Leander that all histories of troll kind must begin. Firm knowledge of this past may aid in forestalling the coming Winter.
Origins of TrollsThere are many differing beliefs on the origin of the trolls. If one were talking of the other kith, this might come as no surprise, but many express surprise that the trolls have deep and strong differences of opinion on their origins. It is, perhaps, a testament to their generally patient nature that such deep divisions would go unnoticed by others. Though there are many subdivisions, there are four primary theories: the traditional, the Danaist, the egalitarian, and the Athenian.
- Danaists - Trolls who hold they were created by the mother of all fae, Dana, to protect all of her children, including the Tuatha de Danaan.
- Egalitarians - Trolls who believe they were created as equals to the sidhe.
- Athenians - Trolls who believe all fae sprang spontaneously from the dreams of humanity.
The Code of Dagda
According to the troll scholar Nestra, writing in about 1580, the Code of Dagda sets forth a set of ideals and proscriptions that speak to the romantic and dutiful hearts of all trolls, whether they are Seelie or Unseelie. Allegedly handed down from the goddess Dana herself, the Code sets a high and noble position for all trolls and, by implication, all else who may try follow it as well.
- For more information see the article Code of Dagda.
The Age of LegendsIn the ages when fae and human walked among one another, the world was a very different place. Some, such as Lord Maldur, will say it was better, but ambition and hatred caused as many ills then as now. There were many wild places, and the lands tamed by human or fae were rarer by far. Then, trolls traveled the world, leaving their mark in the legends of many cultures. The Odyssey speaks of the Cyclops and Laistrygonians, races of giants that dwelt in the Mediterranean. In the icy wilds of the north, historically home to a large Unseelie presence, giants and trolls were rivals and foes for what little the land offered. Jewish lore speaks of a race of giants living beside the newborn human race, as do the stories of the Indian peninsula, and ogres were mainstays in Germanic tales up until their documentation by the Grimms. In the Age of Legends, trolls knew more of the world than they did not.
It was events of this age that lead many to believe the trolls were the first nobility. As products of the dreams of humans, trolls and other kith lived in large holdings built around clan and service. As each kith bred true in those days, it was practically a given that holding would have been clan specific. Because of their might and size, troll halls were huge, awesome structures, with walls as thick as a man's chest and higher than twice his height. Whether in forests, the mountains, or on the shore, trolls claimed large areas. Life was not idyllic, for there were rampaging creatures and inter-fae skirmishes to deal with, but in comparative terms, this could easily be called a golden age.
The age was coming to a close, however. Humans began to gather into larger and larger enclaves, pushing the boundaries of trollish holdings. Skirmishes were fought, at times to bloody ends, but generally the trolls removed themselves into more distant lands. The world seemed a larger place at that time. Even if humans took the choice terrain for themselves, trolls were built for hardship and difficulty. Many times, terrible creatures had to be bested before they could claim new territory, but that was a good reason for adventurous giants to accept the relocation.
As humans gathered into greater groups, they began to organize themselves differently. Monarchies began to appear and quickly spread. The fae followed suit and the first to successfully mimic human leaders were the sidhe. Some will tell you the mortals mimicked the Shining Host but they are fools at best and bigoted liars at worst. All sources seem clear on this; there were no kings among the fae before there were among humans. A series of conflicts began, from skirmishes to wars, as the sidhe expanded their principalities. Expansionism was the rule, though even the sidhe were not so blind as to immediately assault troll holdings. The point of honor was lost on them; they turned instead to the communities and freeholds that were easier prey, consuming the lands of the other fae. Some fell easily, others fought long and hard, but the growing might of the sidhe was hard to oppose. Though some trolls entered into the conflict because of allegiance and obligation, the troll holdings were not assaulted until the sidhe had grown to such a size as to be able to challenge the giants on their home territory. (See The Chronicles of Leander)
Finally, the sidhe and their impressed subjects turned to the trolls. They had by no means conquered all the fae at this point, only enough to feel capable of a major assault. Troll holdings were seen as the largest stumbling block to imminent expansion and the most difficult foes. These expectations were met (and more) as trolls fought to defend their homes from the sidhe. Battles raged, so great and long they gave rise to the stories of war between the gods in human myths. It wasn't far from the truth. Great magics, fantastic allies, and the full forces of each side were brought to bear. The trolls held longer than expected and won great victories. But as human myths attest, the race of giants was eventually defeated and usurped into the new order. What the tales do not tell is that the victory wasn't entirely military in nature.
As troll holdings began to fall, the remaining trolls met in council. The exact words have been lost, but the results are known. The trolls approached the sidhe and spoke of arbitration. War had been costly to both sides and the sidhe were all too ready to talk. They were winning but the victories were costly and they could ill-afford many more such. The Tuatha de Danaan were still in the world at this time, though they had begun to withdraw, and no other was considered as judge in this matter. A reune was called and the nobles and remaining trolls met to discuss terms before a panel of the Tuatha. Secrecy was paramount and so great that no other commoner was allowed to attend, nor could even the most cunning sluagh pierce the wards put in place.
Though it was obvious they would eventually lose, the trolls set the agenda. The confessed admiration of the sidhe armies because they had never been bested so consistently. They granted they would eventually fall, but possessed the capacity to make sidhe victories each more painful than the last. Surrender was not an option. They were willing to fight to the last if necessary. Although some sidhe welcomed such an opportunity to remove such an impediment fully, wiser heads prevailed.
The trolls demanded to know more of the sidhe structure and plans. What would happen when expansion was no longer an issue? With gruff patience and growing respect, they listened to the sidhe spin tales of a stable society ruled by benevolent nobles. The trolls pressed them on the position of the conquered fae and individuals of the assimilated kith were brought in for questioning. The trolls listened to their accounts and learned that subjugation was neither the goal, nor in all cases, the result. The words of a majority of the kith supported the sidhe's benevolent goals as stated, though there were glaring exceptions. It is a matter of oral history that certain sidhe rulers were deposed following the reune; it seems clear that the trolls took note of what was said in the interviews.
Once certain of the sidhe intentions, the trolls were ready to discus terms. All nonessential fae were excluded, even servants. For nine days the two kith remained in close conference. If security was tight before, it was impenetrable now. All that could be discerned was that range and powerful magics became more and more involved as the talks proceeded. Within, powerful oaths were taken on all sides, enabled by the Tuatha de Danaan. Finally, on the tenth day, the doors opened. Troll and sidhe emerged and spoke of an end to hostilities. Trolls offered full support of the monarchical ideal so long as the sidhe followed the code of behavior that became the Escheat. In return, the sidhe granted the trolls special places within the aristocracy and vowed to strive to be as noble as their examples. The exact nature of the oaths sworn is known only by select trolls and sidhe, and neither side has divulged the information, nor seems willing (or able) to do so.
Speculation has run rampant that Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Yeti, etc... are some hermit-like trolls trying to live in the old ways. While it is true that the wilds of North America offer ample opportunity for a reclusive troll to live away from the Banality of the modern world, this doesn't explain some of the reports of eyewitnesses. The footprints and other physical evidence could easily be the work of feral trolls, but witnesses reporting eight-foot-tall animal men suggests some as yet unknown form of Gallain. If any trolls know for certain, they aren't talking.
The Bronze Age
Things didn't go as well as expected. The humans continued to spread, pushing the fae further into the wilds and the Dreaming. At the same time, struggles arose within the fae community. Many clustered under the banners of various kings while others saw those crowns as prizes to be won by guile or by force. Current struggles cannot compare. Imagine the Accordance War on multiple fronts with multiple rivals and you might get an understanding. Still, it was less terrible because one half of the fae were not intent on destroying the other. The wars were driven by personality, not issue.
The age progressed and the struggles worsened. Perhaps it was due to strife among the fae, perhaps it was due to the civilizing of humanity, but the fae began to have less and less traffic with the mortal world. This was the beginning of a dangerous trend as both fae and mortal turned their attention inward. There were still exceptions, though. Children were stolen, artists inspired, and the like, but open communication between the two groups slowed to a trickle before stopping all together.
Perhaps because of the distance between human and fae, perhaps because of natural forces, Arcadia grew more distant. Hindsight makes the disappearance of trods and withering freeholds clear warning signs of the coming Shattering. Sadly, all eyes were, instead, on the machinations of the Courts. Seelie and Unseelie warred openly, worsening the chaos. Trolls were as involved as any other kith as the rush for power as oaths of fealty dragged even the closest friends into conflict.
A famous such conflict was between the brothers Torvald and Bohr. Both trolls were in the service of an ambitious lord. Politicking led to marshaling forces and the two knew they would have to face each other in battle. When the day finally happened and the opposing armies gathered on opposing sides of the Glade of Tears, the brothers challenged each other. All gathered knew their love for each other and the powerful oaths that held them to service unto death. The field hushed as the two battled; minutes becoming hours as still they fought. Each knew they could not defeat the other and so decided to sacrifice themselves for the other. With a final cry in service to their lords, they lunged at the same moment, mortally skewering the other. As their blood spilled out, the armies withdrew, reminded of the kinship of all fae and with each lord regretting their actions that led to the noble death of the two heroes. Was it a futile gesture? Such actions are the very heart of what separates the trolls from the other kith.
Such actions held all the fae, trolls included, in rapt attention, so that the disappearance of a freehold here, the closing of a trod there, was seen as little more than an inconvenience or a mystery. At worst, the new scarcity of both fueled the flames of strife. It was not until much of the Glamour began to dissipate and to be replaced with cold Banality that the Shattering was recognized.
No one can say for certain were the blame for the Shattering lies, if indeed it falls to anyone. Reactionaries blame humanity because they withdrew from the fantastic and magical and turned to war and subjugation. Other voices point to the similar actions of the fae at that time. Whether is is a matter of fae indifference to the mortal world or that the fae reflected the coarsening dreams of humanity, history is irrefutable. Trods withered and vanished and the remaining ones became more and more dangerous. As Arcadia slipped further from the Earth-bound fae, those that remained struggled even harder to claim as much of what remained as possible.
It was a losing battle, despite valiant troll actions. It wasn't a military enemy, leaving the greatest protectors of the fae with a foe they could not face. Steel and muscle were useless in the face of Banality and withering Glamour. Still, the trolls did what they could to lessen the blows. Sadly, oaths of fealty often interfered with their greater duty to the fae at large and many met their ends in petty squabbles over Glamour resources.
The Shattering & InterregnumWith all trods but Silver's Gate destroyed, the sidhe made the cowardly decision to depart for Arcadia and abandoned the rest of the fae to the ravages of Banality. Many trolls argued long and hard against this but to no avail. Individual members of some houses, most notably Liam and a few from House Fiona, chose to stay behind, as did the entirety of House Scathach, and the trolls still honor their bravery. The rest would hear little debate. Their minds had been made up and they cloaked their cowardice in icy disdain and steely resolve. Against the howls of protest and entreaties to remain, the "Shining Host" abandoned their charges.
Like the other fae, the trolls took on the Changeling Way to survive. Many resisted, though, saying it was against their honor to hide from any foe, even Banality. Obviously, such fae have never been heard of since, though there are some rumors that some survive in the wild places of the world.
Mere survival was the only thing any individual could think of at first, unless they were lucky to be part of an enduring freehold. The Inquisition swept the lands like a sentient slave of Banality. Surviving records indicate the primary focus of these witch hunts were the Prodigals, most notably vampires, but fae suffered as well. Trolls would be tracked in their forest lodges and slain to a man. Structures were burned and the grounds sown with salt to drive away evil. Several legendary cures for witchery and demonic possession came from the persecution of the fae, especially Cold Iron. Many Prodigals escaped death because of this misconception. The fae were not so lucky. It was a dark time for all, and many Kithain slipped into the Mists, forgetting themselves altogether.
Still, it is difficult to commit genocide on a race in disguise and many survived. The actual number of those lost is impossible to calculate, though, as times were harsh and records scarce. Nockers and boggans adapted surprisingly well to the development of guilds and others fared as they could. Trolls, in particular, took to hunting and farming, for, while taming the wilds was distasteful, the cities were unbearable. Many found a wandering spirit and a new age of travel was born. In mortal seeming, trolls often served as scouts, caravan guards, and the like, scouring the world for others who had survived. Duty was and always will be in their blood; some sought human fealty to replace the lost in the Shattering. Many swore oaths of knighthood or served as warriors to one human lord or another.
At first, it seemed like all the kith went in their own directions for a time, separated by fear and mistrust. Eventually, though, like sought like and when one changeling found another, it was a joyous time. Traditionally dour trolls wept openly to be reunited with even a sluagh. When traveling circus motleys formed, trolls were the strongmen and the guards. Among their fellow freaks, the trolls found something of what had been lost.
Slowly, some normalcy returned to the freeholds. Those rare few held exclusively by trolls fared a little better than others because they had generations of tradition to support them. Though technically conquered by the sidhe in the Age of Legends, they still retained much of the old ways. Seelie lodges, and some Unseelie ones, took in all wayward changelings as the found them. Again, in difficult times, it was the trolls who acted nobly. The Code of Dagda is clear and even the loosest interpreters could see that with so much devastation, the loss of even one fae was too many. The cooperation of the Seelie and Unseelie trolls, particularly the Brotherhood of Thor, laid the foundation for the Concord because squabbling between the courts would have been suicide for all. (This is sin as a great sin on their part by returned nobility.)
The inquisition finally burned itself out (at least in the public eye), and life for the kithain achieved a harsh but stable level. Bound by a sense of duty, trolls filled the roles of leadership the cowardly sidhe vacated. Few complained and most found them to be less imperious and more open as leaders. Perhaps to reclaim former glory, or as a reflection of human society, the system of nobles and vassalage rose again. This time, though, unsurprisingly, it was the trolls in charge, almost universally. This wasn't a power play or a popularity contest, but a gradual development that spread as news of stability did. Those who opposed troll rule were tolerated as long as they didn't take up arms against their fellow fae. When they did, they were put down with quick and uncharacteristic brutality. Despite such early outbursts, life without the settled down to something like normal, whatever the nay-sayers say.
Industrial Revolution & Expansion
Accepting, for the moment, the need to live in the shadow of humanity, the fae followed the trends of humanity, though to a lesser degree. Life in factory cities of the Industrial Revolution was too horrible to be contemplated and too crowded by far. Better to live the life of a country bumpkin, close to nature and far from prying eyes and the machines and institutes of reason. As colonialism spurred humanity to expand with little regard for the consequences, trolls stayed one step ahead. Many European trolls endured boat passages to join their brethren in the Americas. Unfortunately, wherever they fled to escape humanity's encroachment, they were soon displaced in the rush to Progress. Hard steel and firm hearts availed little against trains and factories.
20th Century & Civil RightsUp until the first half of the 20th century, trolls successfully managed to avoid the trap of the cities. However, with unprecedented urban growth, many had to finally take that first tenuous step into the dragon's maw. A variety of factors played into this: mortal obligations, oaths to others, and a concern for the harm others could do if left without watchful supervision of guardians. Parks became very important to the city-bound and they could often be found on boards of directors, charity committees, and volunteer cleanup and patrol crews. Still, there was plenty of unpopulated land for those who could not stomach the cold, rational cities. The earliest ranger jobs fell to trolls and they continue to be heavily represented in that field.
With the social unrest of the civil rights movement, many trolls could not resist the call to do something about such injustice. This was particularly true of those trolls born into African American families as racial problems affected fae as they did humans, though to a lesser degree. Sadly, not all trolls were on the side of social change; all changelings have mortal upbringing before their Chrysalises, and some ideas of the time were hard to shake. Even the most reactionary racism among the trolls, however, could not help but be diminished by the knowledge of and contact with the remaining races of the fae. It would be inaccurate to say that all acted nobly and used violence only as a last resort, for many Unseelie and no few Seelie felt the need to take matters into their own hand. In their defense, though, it is worth noting that even at the height of social unrest and riot, they were, as a whole, significantly less violent than their human counterparts.
A troll of particular note from this time is Father James.
If the era of civil rights was chaotic, it was nothing compared to the maelstrom of confusion that arose with the reopening of the trods in 1969. No sooner had Neil Armstrong spoken his famous words than reports of befuddled sidhe appearing from closed trods began trickling in. Soon, those trickles became a torrent and the fleeing nobility returned to a world much changed.
The initial opinion of the trolls was split, though a slight majority favored a wait-and-see attitude. Reactions to the returned nobles varied from troll to troll, with some ignoring them, others being openly hostile, and still others offering to aid their disoriented and lost kin. To the surprise of few, the sidhe wanted to reestablish and reclaim what they had abandoned in the face of Banality. Perhaps they thought they could hide their cowardice with presumption and arrogance. Still, the majority of trolls waited because they remembered the results of the ancient reune with the sidhe, as well as the oaths taken by both parties.
Sadly, many fae did not relish losing what they had paid so dearly for in the absence of the cowardly sidhe. Freedom had become a watchword in mortal society as well as among the commoners. They would not willingly submit to the chains of slavery. The trolls had led in the absence of nobles and were looked to again to preserve what had been established. Out of obligation, a sense of justice, and memories of the flight of the sidhe, the trolls slowly began to side with the rebels. Many held that compromise was not only possible but best for both sides. Against the heated arguments of growing extremism, these trolls attempted to point out the good the returning trolls had already done. Freeholds though lost for eternity were being reestablished and already the craftsmen of the Dreaming were creating wondrous new palaces to replace those which had been lost. Such voices were quickly lost, though, and the trolls were pushed ever closer to siding with their charges, the commoners.
The Beltaine Massacre"... and, though I must confess to having been quite opposed initially to your suggestions on governance, time has dulled the edge of my reactions. I have looked upon the records of our absence, and found your deeds and the deeds of your kith to have been as admirable as was possible in our absence. Surviving, indeed, has become a necessary virtue, but the time for makeshift court and make-do tactics are behind us. As you came to me bearing the olive branch, so now do I come to you with the same, and in the spirit of peace and righteousness. If you and your brethren would join with me and mine this Beltaine Eve, we would once again forge the strongest bonds between troll and sidhe, noble and commoner..." Unknown sidhe noble, just before the Beltaine Massacre.
With the rhetoric on either side growing more extreme, violent clashes between noble and commoner became more frequent. Many trolls resigned themselves to the inevitable and prepared for war. Some had already been pulled into skirmishes and, though it pained them, had almost invariably sided with the commoners. It was a pleasant surprise to be invited to a parley on Beltaine Eve. With great relief and optimism, the commoner nobles (the majority of whom were trolls) set out to recast the state of fae society. Unfortunately for all, true peace was never the intended goal fo the treacherous sidhe. Only the peace of being victors by default. The results of the Night of Iron Knives are a matter of common knowledge; not a single commoner left the hall of parley alive. Trolls insist that, even though unprepared for conflict, their kith mates made a noble accounting of themselves and did not meet their ends without taking a few nobles with them. Though there are no witnesses to validate the claims, no one doubts the truth. With this deceitful and ignoble act, the honorless sidhe brought conflict out into the open.
The Accordance War
Many commoners thought their victory was certain, as they easily outnumbered the sidhe. Troll generals and historians, though, knew better than to expect an easy win. They had worked for and with the sidhe for ages, and knew their battle acumen well. The sidhe were led by Lord Dafyll, a hero and general of legendary renown. The commoners had only confidence in their own leader, General Lyros. Ostensibly the commander for the Eastland Troll Army, Lyros set the agenda and battle plans for much of the commoner army. So great was his reputation and the respect given him that even redcaps and nockers took his suggestions as irrefutable orders.
Troll societies and fellowships were invaluable to the campaign. The Rovers served as the most trustworthy and reliable couriers and scouts; the Brotherhood of Thor coordinated assaults and troop movements between their leaders, usually generals in charge of motley troops; the Keepers were consulted on sidhe tactics; the Fellowship of the Hearth moved supplies to the fronts; and the Fellowship of the Mountain coordinated the mightiest of commoner magics against the nobles. It was, all in all, an amazing organizational effort and would have proved sufficient had they faced an army of similar composition and abilities. The sidhe, though, had conquered commoners in the past and continued to prove capable of doing so. With treasures thought lost in the Shattering, they moved with lightning speed and precision against the commoners.
The Battle of Central Park
See the larger article The Battle of Central Park.
The Battle of Greenwich
See the larger article The Battle of Greenwich.
The Reune of PeaceThe rise of High King David has been well documented and all accounts agree on the major details. The trolls were skeptical of a second call to reune as they were betrayed once before. David's reputation, though, of battling his own nobles to hold them from genocide and tyranny, gave them pause. The final incentive to peace was David agreeing to meet in a place of their choosing and at their convenience. Fully armed and expecting deception, the trolls went to the table and found David to be a child of the modern age. Before even the nockers could speak of demands, he revealed his plans for the Parliament of Dreams. Many of his own party were openly displeased but did not contradict their liege. While the trolls were still recovering from this pronouncement, he also stated that the ranks of the nobility would be open to kith other than the sidhe and that merit would have place under his rule. There were details to be ironed out, of course, but David impressed the trolls, who withdrew to consider the offer among themselves.
But David had not made his truest and final offer. He had learned of the nobility and honor of the trolls from is mentor, True Thomas, and had learned as well something of the first, legendary reune between troll and sidhe. Despite the lies spread in sidhe halls about the trolls, he respected the guardians and oathkeepers. Trusting only his sister to carry the message, he sent Lady Morwen to the Brotherhood of Thor with an invitation to a second reune between their two kith. The Brotherhood was impressed with him so far and agreed to spread the word to the most powerful of their kith. In great secrecy, the two sides met. What transpired is as tightly held a secret as the first reune, but the result is common knowledge. All war crimes were waived, many were returned the titles they held before the Resurgence, and the trolls pledged their loyalty and fealty to High King David and all who followed him.
This apparent capitulation caused a great deal of grumbling on many sides. The sidhe were angry because they wanted to blame and prosecute General Lyros for the death of Lord Dafyll and the massacre following his death. The commoners were bitter because they felt they had been shut out of a private and sweet deal, abandoned to weakness by those who had been their strength and leaders. Both sides accused their own of capitulation and being the lapdog of the other, though they did so privately and in whispers. Those foolish enough to publicly state such views were met with harsh words and challenges... challenges they did not win.
The Present Day
High King David has so far proven to be a noble ruler who attends to the letter and spirit of his words. It should come as no surprise that most trolls still support him... even an Unseelie troll needs a base from which to build. There are dissenters, of course, but they are exceptions to the rule. On matters of specifics, there will always be dissent, but David listens to his advisors and looks to trolls for advice. The continued presence of General Lyros in the Parliament of Dreams and the appointment of Duke Topaz as ruler of the most troubled kingdom in Concordia, are testaments to the value and regard the High King has for trolls.
Despite his goodwill, however, there is still trouble between the sidhe and trolls; the Beltaine Blade still exists as a political force. Should any troll ever discover even one of their members, drastic action will follow. Duke Dray is easily the most public of all who hate the trolls and the rancor is mutual. Though many suspect him of being a member of the Blade, it has not been proved and moving against so powerful a politician is inadvisable. The largest political danger at the moment to all trolls is a collection of orders and initiatives collectively known as the Troll Reclamation Proclamation, a series of documents which would steal control of freeholds from trolls and give it them back to the sidhe. Such attempts in the Parliament prove that danger still comes in many forms and peace is far from assured.
Dreams of Nobility (Society)
Trolls are a mystery to most fae, though a mystery that doesn't draw attention to itself the way the sluagh and boggans do. Few look beyond the image of strength, honor, and nobility usually associated with the trolls. Even Unseelie trolls are known to keep their words and oaths religiously, though they can be creative in their interpretation of their oaths. Trolls are seen as steady, unwavering, honest, loyal, and unmatched in battle. But the depths of emotion that lurk behind their sometimes placid exteriors, or the many troll artists and poets, go unguessed and unimagined. If still waters run deep, then the emotions of trolls run as deep as the fjords and lochs of the lands they come from.
Within Fae SocietySeelie or Unseelie, more trolls are knights than any other kith, save the sidhe. Unlike the sidhe, though, this is a title many trolls hold for life. This is neither lack of ambition nor a servant mentality but simple practicality. From the troll perspective, oaths are taken very seriously. Not only will a dishonorable troll lose their might should they renege on an oath, but duty is ingrained in them from the first moment of their Saining; a mark of honor among Seelie and Unseelie alike. A troll who refuses to enter into any oaths is quickly disabused of such a notion by their fellows. As the oaths one must take increase with each rank of promotion, honoring each one diligently would become a full-time job, leading to the inability to fulfill the responsibilities of the post.
For the sidhe, trolls as both the largest asset and largest potential bane to their rule. Trolls carry a great deal of weight with both the commoners and the nobles, often acting as a pressure valve between the two. Commoners can complain to the trolls and rest assured they will look into the alleged abuses when they say they will. Similarly, nobles can act as they must, even harshly, and trust the trolls will understand their justice. With troll support, most nobles can count on stability. Trolls do, however, take their role and the roles of others very seriously. If a troll offers criticism to a noble, they would be well-advised to listen well. If one troll has taken it upon themself to speak up, many others already share the sentiment. A noble ignores troll advise at their own peril. Fae history records clear examples of the results of such acts, and kingdoms have been split assunder with the repercussions.
If a noble is acting according to the standards the trolls hold for them, none are more pleasant than these giants. In peacetime and at court, they are indeed gentle, if distant. The great care through which they move through a too-small and too-fragile world carries over into their speech and manners. Words are usually chosen carefully, even in the heat of passion. Painstakingly formal, trolls address all by title and insist on similar consideration for themselves. They extend every courtesy as a matter of course; it isn't a game but a daily reality. Despite their etiquette, though, most trolls do poorly in court games. They dislike multiplicitous speech, as fitting for their trusting and open natures. Similarly, they do not engage in the great maneuverings of courtly love, seeing it as a serious matter and not to be trifled with. Because of this, many a bored noble will target trolls for romantic conquest; they are trophies of great value in the competitions of love. Many have learned the hard way, though, that a troll with bruised feelings, or worse, one who feels used, is more trouble than any notoriety gained by the conquest is worth. Nevertheless, foolish and jaded nobles continue to prey on the emotions of trolls to whet their palates.
Oaths & OathbreakingTrolls take oaths more seriously than any other kith. Duty is what it means to be a troll and they are quite aware of it. Larger and stronger than others, they learn early on that such strength is not to be abused; objects and other fae break far too easily, and the latter are difficult to repair. In light of this, oaths are control. This goes beyond their Frailty, though. While an oathbreaker will lose their might, that is the least of their worries. Trolls self-police and oathbreaking is an offense that crosses the boundaries between Seelie and Unseelie. For the Seelie, oaths are a duty and a privilege. For the Unseelie, they are a measure of strength and personal might; only the strongest and most powerful can honor multiple oaths. Most will seek to right their wrongs themselves; a recalcitrant troll will be visited by their fellows who will urge them to resume their vows. Troll society will not sanction an oathbreaker, and the least one can expect is to be reviled and exile from their kind at worst if it persists. If words do not suffice, actions usually do. In rare instances, violence may be used to "convince" the offender to reform. If death has ever resulted from such "instruction," the trolls are typically close-mouthed about it.
The reputation of trolls is based largely on the Seelie members of the kith. Honor, duty, strength, and obligation are the lifeblood of such giants and death would be preferable to relinquishing these attributes for many. If they are to be the pillars of fae society and protectors of all kith, there is little wonder that such trolls turn to the past for wisdom. At any given moment, there are more Seelie than Unseelie trolls, though the gap is narrower in modern times. Many fae, including the trolls themselves, see trolls as living embodiments of the Seelie Code.
- Death Before Dishonor: This proscription is the most obvious for Seelie trolls. Oaths are central to who and what they are, with strong punishments for those who waver. Fae blood is not to be squandered, though. By way of precedent of Ottmar Oceanheart, atonement is an acceptable alternative to death, but only as long as the dishonorable troll takes no glory or aggrandizement from their acts. The righting of a wrong committed is rarely something to be celebrated. Of all the rules of the Seelie Code, Seelie trolls take this one most seriously.
- Love Conquers All: Most people think of the sidhe when they think of love, or maybe a tragic relationship between commoner and noble. Trolls rarely, if ever, come to mind. In their own minds, though, the giants have hearts as large and powerful as the rest of their bodies. The few instances of trolls finding true and lasting love outside of their kith are circulated as definitive proof of the truthfulness of the Seelie position.
- Beauty is Life: The Seelie giants, beauty is nothing more than the physical embodiment of love. As secret romantics, this is more a truth than a duty. Though it cannot be captured or possessed, it can most certainly be nurtured and protected. Among Seelie trolls, there is little more noble and honorable than protecting beauty.
- Never Forget a Debt: Like begets like, the trolls say. Though most look at this positively, there is a dark overtone as well. All kinds of acts are repaid, not out of duty but out of fairness. One who would offer friendship is imminently deserving of its return. Similarly, one who offers scorn or enmity should expect no less. Fairness, even inflexible fairness, is so often associated with trolls that most find it inconceivable to think otherwise.
Unseelie TrollsWhen most changelings think of Unseelie trolls, they think of a seven-foot-tall, mighty-hewed monstrosity bent on taking whatever they want, as violently as possible. While it's a compelling and terrifying image, it is not true for the majority of Unseelie trolls. In fact, most fae would be hard-pressed to identify Unseelie ogres from Seelie giants. While their are marked differences, members of the kith have more in common than not, regardless of Court. Yes, the Unseelie ogre is more impulsive, violent, and selfish, but this is in relative terms. Most trolls are closed-mouthed and stolid, making it difficult to judge their allegiance by words.
But there are differences. All trolls are bound by the Code of Dagda, but interpretation varies widely. All trolls honor oaths, but Unseelie do not take them if it is not in their best interests. Their mighty strength is not flaunted but this is a matter of pride rather than restraint.
Perhaps the most unusual, and potentially frightening, thing about Unseelie ogres is that they are practically indistinguishable from their Seelie siblings.
- Change is Good: This is self-evident to Unseelie trolls. If not for change, who would have taken over leadership and protection when the sidhe fled? Since the Shattering, all changelings live at least part of their lives in human form and you can't deny that humans are all about change. Axes and swords are nice, but they don't stand up too well against shotguns and pistols. Unseelie trolls see it as a simple choice: change with the times or be buried by them.
- Glamour is Free: The Dreaming is real, or at least it was. However, it seems weaker than Banality and abandoned all fae, as the sidhe did. In a kith known for strength, is it any wonder the Dreaming is disdained among its Unseelie members? With the leaving of the Dreaming, ogres cast off the traditions and rules of Glamour as well. The world has become a different place where old rules no longer apply. True, they are less rapacious than many Unseelie fae, but this is more about common sense than ethical restraint. Shortsighted greed kills the goose that lays the golden egg while enlightened self-interest takes from it as long as it lives.
- Honor is a Lie: This tenet seems at odds with the very meaning of trolldom. Are not all trolls bound by their oaths? Ultimately, ogres differ from giants in the reasons they take oaths. Even the most selfish of Unseelie trolls is bound by their Frailty, yet none will willingly take an oath that is not in their best interest, and oaths taken under duress are not binding. The appearance of honor is one thing; the reality is very different. Obligation and duty are meaningless to ogres. Pride and reputation fill those voids instead.
- Passion Before Duty: Passion is not a trait usually associated with trolls, yet it is nothing they fear. For Unseelie trolls, passion is the only true voice of the self. Duty comes from without and is usually associated with giving something to another. Passion has to do only with the self. Tame by comparison to other Unseelie fae, ogres are veritable party animals when compared to their Seelie counterparts.
Trolls on the BattlefieldSimply put, trolls are valuable because they are the mightiest of warriors. More often than not they serve as a deterrent... only a fool risks meeting even one in single combat unless the odds are stacked in their favor. With their prowess, trolls act as a check on the power of the nobility as well as on the amounted mass of the commoners. Nobles will go to great lengths to see that trolls support them in their actions because an army of dissatisfied giants is tantamount to certain insurrection. Likewise, the commoners will do little more than grumble about the nobles should they have the support of the trolls. No motley is a match for sidhe and troll working together.
Should the presence of a troll fail as a violence deterrent, there are protocols that they insist upon in the battlefield. Once all chance of parley is lost, trolls demand the opportunity to challenge any and all trolls on the opposing side to single combat. Over the centuries, this has come to be accepted as one of the realities of fae warfare; no troll who wishes to retain that name will refuse such a challenge. This is the only fair and just thing to do, in their perspective. Using their might against other kith while there are trolls still standing is more than unjust; it is unthinkable. This is right out of the Code of Dagda. Unseelie trolls, too, hold one another to this rule, though they disguise the concept of fairness in terms of courage and strength; you can't be proud of victory over a weaker foe. It is a sad testament to the loyalty of trolls that, should friends or family members find themselves on opposing sides, they will invariably challenge one another first, invoking the names of Torvald and Bohr as they make their challenge. To kill a kinsman in such a manner is tragic, but not dishonorable. In such circumstances, though the most honorable outcome is mutually killing each other.
Only after all trolls challenges have been dealt with will the grand melee commence. If one side's trolls achieve an overwhelming victory, it is not uncommon for the loosing army to remove themselves from the field altogether. On the other hand, great victories have been one in the name of fallen trolls as the invocation of their names by sidhe generals inspires a ferocity in the rank and file difficult to come by otherwise. Of course, if it is discovered that the lord abused the symbolic value of trolls, such manipulators will find themselves surrounded by their own army. At least they will be deposed; at worst, slain.
This troll code of combat, once an unquestioned reality, has begun to fall out of use. Armies no longer meet in open fields to settle their grievances as the world is a different place now, and the powers of Banality prevent such obvious displays of Glamour. Since the Accordance War, no major battle of historic degree have taken place. In their stead, violence is settled in dark alleys, nighttime parks, and other sites away from mortal eyes.
In mortal life, trolls prefer honest work where their skills can be put to good use. Athletics and police work are common, as are farming and forestry.
Trolls are large, ranging from seven to nine feet tall, with thick bones and weightlifters' muscles. Seelie giants carry an air of nobility. Though many favor a nordic look, they tend to have slaty blue skin and thick black hair. All trolls have icy blue or pale green eyes. They have large, powerful jaws, wolflike teeth, and small ridged horns on their foreheads.
- Childlings: Childlings grow up fast. They learn that the ways of children are weak and they take an honorable duty at an early age. Childhood is something best left behind. Stoicism is embraced.
- Wilders: Wilders test their strength and abilities to the limit. Great adversity inspires them to great tasks. They are incredibly modest about their accomplishments, though, and are always struggling to out-do themselves.
- Grumps: Grumps are slower than their younger siblings but possess superhuman strength. After a career of service, they choose one person or place to protect until death. No force on Earth can move a graybeard troll who has made up their mind about something.
Birthrights & Frailty
- Affinity: Fae
- Titan's Power: Wilders gain an additional Bruised Health Level and an additional dot of Strength during character creation, even if this raises the Trait above 5. Grumps get two extra dots in Strength and two additional Bruised Levels (for a total of 9 Health levels). Grumps, though, also add a +1 difficulty to all Dexterity-based rolls. This extra strength does not function in the presence of mortals to the unenchanted unless the troll has called upon the Wyrd.
- Stubbornness: Nothing can interfere with a troll's devotion to duty. When in the service of a cause, they get an extra two dice to any Willpower roll to resist temptation or distraction. This Birthright is always in effect.
- No troll can botch an Athletics of Alertness roll.
- Bond of Duty: Any troll who dares to renege on a sworn contract or oath becomes sickly and looses their Titan's Power. Only by atoning for the lapse of trust can they regain their strength. Usually this involves fulfilling a new oath. Seelie trolls never lie to fae they are protecting; Unseelie ogres uphold their bond of duty, but usually prefer to support more disreputable fae. This trust must extend both ways; if a troll's trust is betrayed, they will be filled with anger and must roll Willpower, difficulty 8, to avoid becoming violent. Their stoicism belies great rage, perhaps one that has been with them since the Earth was young.
Perspectives on the OthersSweeping generalizations often do a disservice to those described, but there are certain views and beliefs common to most trolls. Below are brief sketches to illustrate the troll perspective on various other groups of the World of Darkness, but it would be unwise to assume all trolls share these opinions. Though known for cool heads, they are a stubborn bunch and trying to stamp them all with the same mold is a doomed endeavor. Obviously, the views of Seelie and Unseelie trolls differ significantly, if not totally, and even this is not a given; a given Seelie may think the same as the Unseelie of the kith about certain groups.
Seelie trolls see boggans as truly admirable fae. Their diligence and their pride in their work are exemplary. Their concern for the needy is well known and a standard itinerant trolls strive for. They are the perfect example of commoner fae who know their place and are content with it. Their propensity for gossip, though, is worrisome to trolls who prefer to mind their own business and are uncomfortable knowing intimate details of others' affairs.
Unseelie value boggan handiwork greatly, particularly their arms and armor, but will not allow themselves to be the subjects of rumors or, worse yet, whispered truths. Seelie boggans are no better than difficult servants who deserve their low position in society. Unseelie boggans are valuable rogues, provided they know when to keep their mouths shut.
Eshu receive a mild disdain from trolls that really disguises envy. The duty and obligation of nobility, even Unseelie nobility, is burdensome at times. For this reason, the wanderers and tale-spinners are valued by the trolls. Many are surprised by the latitude given to eshu by trolls, but this has its limits. Even the most Seelie eshu comes dangerously close to what others consider Unseelie and the trolls are no exception. If they mind their manners and their betters, the eshu are warmly welcomed among Seelie trolls.
Unseelie trolls also have mild contempt for the wanders, but for different reasons. Their wild and reckless ways are admired to a point, but their wandering prevents them from establishing anything of lasting importance. Unseelie eshu are seen as the essence of the Unseelie Code, but do little to advance the cause or to weaken the Seelie, except by minor or haphazard acts. Unseelie ogres give them some grudging respect but don't mind pushing them aside when work needs to be done.
Unseelie ogres are fond of nockers, particularly their crafts. A sort of gruff truce exists between the two kith in the Unseelie Court. Trolls tolerate them and defend them against those whom their tongues have angered but in return they expect the nockers to practice their craft first and foremost for their "bodyguards," as well as turn their complaints and criticism against other targets. When a nocker oversteps these bounds, or cannot resist critiquing an Unseelie troll, they are quickly reminded of the unspoken truce by the strong and sometimes brutal ogres. The two kith grumble against each other but complement one another as well.
Of all the kith, Seelie trolls dislike only redcaps more than the pooka. While eshu are seen as wandering adventurers, pooka are seen as brats and annoyances at best. The worst of them are seen as the worst of liars and thieves. Trolls are not reluctant to point this out to others, a fact which, combined with their dour natures, makes them ideal targets for pooka pranks. This, perhaps, is the cause of the friction between the two kith; no one likes to be the continual butt of the joke. Unlike the sidhe, trolls have no mystical protection against embarrassment. Still, wise pooka will be careful not to push a troll too far. It's a mistake few make twice.
If possible, Unseelie trolls are even more outspoken against and intolerant of pooka. Of course, this merely goads the pooka into more elaborate and intricate pranks against them, but they are always certain to be well out of reach when the trap is sprung. Particularly devious pooka will set a prank in motion before an extended journey, a fact not lost on the trolls. Unseelie pranks can be quite dangerous so ogres often engage in preemptive intimidation against the pooka. This usually ends up in an overt suspension of jokes that covers a covert scheming for ever greater and more embarrassing tricks. Woe to the pooka who gets caught after such a prank.
Unseelie trolls know the benefit of having thugs and barbarians on their side and value redcaps for the terror they inspire. This doesn't mean they are above thrashing one who is too annoying or has the temerity to challenge an order. Even among the Unseelie, it usually falls to the ogres to quell bands of redcaps; Unseelie isn't necessarily synonymous with crudity and thugdom. While battles between Seelie giants and redcaps are usually chimerical, and so not fatal, Unseelie tend to fight more grimly, usually resulting in the hasty retreat of surviving redcaps after a sufficient number of their companions have been slain by the ogres.
Trolls have little public use for satyrs and look upon them with distaste borne of etiquette and propriety. Like many fae, though, they will privately seek out the goats for their wisdom and the occasional wild tryst. Satyrs accept this with knowing smiles and continue to sing the praises of the trolls, understanding that her simple ways are an aspect of their nobility, and would have it no other way. Trolls are embarrassed by the proximity of the goats; it reminds then of the base needs and desires even they possess. used to self-control, Seelie giants do not like to be reminded of the passionate beast beneath the surface, especially in public. Privately, though, the two kith make the most physically compatible couples: the strength and size of the giant is matched by the stamina and exuberance of the goat. The end result is, invariably, that the tryst not be spoken of to anyone by the satyr. For the most part, the satyrs keep their end of the bargain.
Unseelie ogres share much the same opinion. The largest difference is that when the Unseelie succumb to passion's call, they succumb with a gusto that easily matches the goats. Broken bones on either side are not uncommon but neither kith finds this to be an impediment. Satyrs are a necessary link to the ogre's wild nature but sometimes an unwelcome reminder, especially when work needs to be done. Still, Unseelie satyrs are drawn to the raw power of trolls like a moth to a flame, though they tend to fare better than the moths.
Unseelie ogres share the relationship but to a slightly different extent. A Seelie will caution an unwise ruler and remove them when words won't work, replacing them with another noble. They will only take the role on if there is no one else worthy to do the job. Unseelie trolls, though, will caution the sidhe only once and thereafter make plans to remove them. Should the usurpation prove successful, the ogre has little compunction against holding the position as long as they are capable. If the sidhe had been competent, such actions wouldn't have been necessary.
Nobility has its limits; limits reached with the sluagh. Trolls are little better than the rest of the fae when it comes to judging the underfolk. Unsettling appearance and secretive ways lead readily to disgust. In some measure, the distrust is well earned, but for the trade in secrets and blackmail, rather than appearance. To a straightforward troll, trafficking in secrets is a terrible offense. Blackmail is worse, ranking up with assault. Should a troll be blackmailed by a sluagh, the crawler best make certain they are well beyond the reach of the offended party; troll retribution is rarely pleasant. However, several trolls have entered sluagh mazes in pursuit of their wrongdoers, never to return. (Sluagh would say no such mazes exist.) There is uneasy peace between the two kith, and even under the most urgent circumstances, Seelie giants are reluctant to use sluagh secrets.
Unseelie trolls are more pragmatic with the information trade, especially regarding enemies. Despite sluagh utility, however, the ogres do not trust them. All too often they have been victims of secret commerce, whether at the hands of an enemy or outright extortion. Secretive sluagh society, combined with the general inaccessibility of their homes, makes even the ogres uncomfortable; one can never be sure what they are up to. If boggan tales can be believed, it is horrible beyond comprehension. Fortunately for the crawlers, most trolls tend to regard such outlandish tales as nothing more than sour grapes on the part fo the boggans (sluagh information is generally more accurate than boggan gossip). Nevertheless, the mightiest unseelie troll is cautious in the dark, unknown places.
Troll views of the Gallain and Prodigals can vary even more widely between individuals and courts. What follows, based on notes from Oranthus the Scribe, depicts a more Seelie perspective. Unseelie trolls have been typically (and somewhat strangely) silent on the matter.
These Gallain are mysterious in the extreme. As strange as the nymphs are, they are infinitely closer than the Inanimae. Little is known of them, though the numbers of foobars seems to be increasing in recent years. Tales persist of winged golems involved with the vampires. If you encounter an Inanimae, treat them with respect and try to make contact. Trolls can ill-afford to dismiss any of their relatives in this long Autumn.
Trolls try to avoid the unnatural chasms of the cities that vampires call home; fighting their shadow wars in the alleys. Trolls take care in any dealings with the bloodsuckers and try not to become entangled in their struggles. They recognize a great war is raging between factions of the creatures and feel it wiser to sit that one out. They are wary of those they meet, though if they must deal with them, they prefer the ones called Gangrel, who share the trolls' natural ways.
The shapeshifters are obviously related to the pooka, though both refuse to see the similarities. Like the fae, they are divided into kith. The Fianna and Children of Gaia have been troll allies in the past. At least one race bears strong resemblance to the Nunnehi; taking their side in attacks. Trolls are wary of werewolves, especially angry ones.
These mortals possess powers similar to faerie Arts and are intoxicated with them. Mages are unpredictable and seem to little understand their abilities. Unfortunately they have reaped the negative benefits of fae blood as well, and war among themselves as the fae have done and continue to do.
Whether spirits of the dead or fae unbound to either animal, mortal, or object, trolls know little about wraiths. The sidhe fear them, though, and call them banshees. Maybe they know something trolls don't.
Within Troll SocietyTrolls live in what has become a closed society. Many feel something approaching a sense of embarrassment and vulnerability in revealing themselves. They are expected to be pillars of strength and foundation of society; a role most take very seriously. This makes it difficult to show weakness. Who would believe such fae weep at the yearly death of flowers or struggle with the ballad form as much as sword forms? Trolls feel the weight of their world firmly on their shoulders and believe (often incorrectly) that such displays would weaken their reputation and so society. It becomes easier to relax in their own company where such assumptions are less strong and they can be themselves.
It is not that they prevent others from seeing their ways and manners, rather that these ways go unnoticed by most. The pace of troll society can't compete with the ways of the sidhe so few bother to learn its rhythms. Most fae see trolls as they perceive themselves and few look beyond that. Trolls are as multifaceted and individualistic as any, however. Force of arms is a duty, not a way of life. This surprises those who wander into a troll freehold expecting a martial camp. Yes, weapons and banners are prominent, but so are objets d'arte, flowers, and other things one would expect in a home or common hangout. Instead of voices recounting battles or barking drills, one hears easy laughter and song.
Troll FreeholdsTrolls prefer to gather among their own. Any freehold held primarily by them is called a lodge and will reflect their proportions. For more information, see the larger article Lodge (CTD).
Fellowships form the tripartite foundation of all troll lodges. They are, in essence, three bureaus or staffs that every lodge will possess. For more information see the larger article Fellowship (CTD).
The Heart of TrollsWhen one thinks of the lovers and romantics of the fae, one usually thinks of sidhe and their excellence in Courtly Love or the satyrs and their physical excess and tendency to throw away caution in the pursuit of pleasure. Trolls tend to be excluded from the list of lovers, being seen as sentinels or soldiers only. Like all fae, though, they have a deep romantic streak; they are just reluctant to express it.
Love for trolls tends toward pining and proving one's worthy via deed. The curse of Ottmar Oceanheart is constantly reenacted, for even the trolls are not immune to the beauty of the sidhe. It is only in love that trolls feel inferior to the Dream Lords, but will strongly deny it, even to the point of violence. In a sense, they are correct, for trolls take love much more seriously than most fae, as their unwillingness to play at courtly love proves. Love, true love, is a matter so serious and mysterious that no price is too high and all slights to it must be avenged. A lovelorn troll who is convinced that their beloved has been insulted is a terrifying sight as pent-up passion is released for all to see. Usually a public apology is enough; this is about honor, not vengeance.
Love with mortals, at times an irresistible urge, is strongly cautioned against. This prohibition is more meaningful to other fae, for trolls are more closed off from mortals than their cousins. The only stories of love between troll and mortals are with kinain and these are said to be loving, if a bit more tumultuous than most. It is said a troll can only find true happiness with another of their kind and this is usually true. But you can't chose who you fall in love with and when it happens, you can't fight it. Suffering in silence is something trolls excel at. Their silence at court may be social awkwardness but may also mask a yearning heart.
As has been said previously, troll society is clannish. Since the Shattering, though, the bonds of family are more a matter of chance than assurance, and adoption can only do so much. To fill this void in communal life, individual societies have arisen. Built on common need, ground, or ideals, these societies lie somewhere between social groups and feudal bonds. It is not uncommon for all members of a given society to be heavily oathbound to their goal or outlook. Below are a list of the most common societies but regional variations are not unusual.
- The Oathbound
- The Brotherhood of Thor
- The Society of Veterans
- The Knights of the Way
- The Protectorate
- The Keepers of the Scales
- Krolt Breathstealer
- Ottmar Oceanheart
- Torvald and Bohr
- Duke Topaz
- Father James
- General Lyros
- Red Rory and Moira the Mountain
- Alyss the Norn
- The Dred Menace
- Ynyra ferch Nissian
- Tommy Sinclair
- Malakson Halvdan Brightskull
- Toren na Gulon
- Leif Eyecatcher
- Michael Delshire
- Douglas Biggins
- Peter Oslo
- Argo and Mauler
- Diana Blandel
- Michael Cole
- Leo Gallagher
- Thomas Tully
- Edgar Whitestone
- Lawrence Ormond
- Asa Anderson
- Ulric One-Arm
- Billy Mjolner
- Lord Grodolf
- Isabel Blanding
- Sir Hugin
- Garyn Garfield
Tools of the Warrior
Trollish WeaponsSee larger article Trollish Weapons
- Northern Axe
- Hill Axe
- CTD. Kithbook: Trolls.
- CTD. Changeling: The Dreaming Second Edition, pp. 104-105.
- CTD. Changeling Players Guide, pp. 96-99.