Monster of the Week #17:
A Word on Trolls
Several words in fact, for the creatures commonly referred to as ‘Trolls’ are a complex and diverse bunch.
All too often tales conflate these creatures with ogres and giants, when in reality they share naught but the most distant of ancestors, and then only in uncorroborated speculation. Theories abound as to the origins of trolls. Some have posited that the race was first created or “elevated” by mighty wizards in distant antiquity (a notion which most trolls contest as false and downright insulting). Others, including many trolls, believe that the first of their kind (called the “First Breath” in the language of the elusive Wind clan) were born fully formed and sentient from the base elements of their ancestral domains.
Whatever their origins, trolls of all varieties have a deep and instinctive connection to currents of natural magic. This is not to say that they are sorcerers, for trolls of that sort are relatively uncommon. Their connection to magic runs much deeper, on a level where many are even unconscious of its existence, and yet it is as essential to them as the need for food and water. Trolls thrive on a connection to certain forms of natural magic—complex metaphysical qualities found in particular locations that define the essence of a place. They are drawn inexorably to such places and often make their dwellings there, as close to the wellsprings of these magical qualities as possible. The individual “tastes” of trolls seem to vary by species or clan. For example, trolls of the Stone clan prefer places of great age and permanence, where the essence of a place has remained unchanged for hundreds or thousands of years. Trolls of the Root clan are compelled to seek out beginnings and places of creation, whereas those of the River clan seek points of change or transition, and so often make their homes beneath bridges or by the banks of rivers.
Regarding the various varieties of trolls known to arcanozoologists, the word “clan” is the customary nomenclature, though it is widely acknowledged to be a misnomer. Most trolls are solitary creatures, and so the word “clan” would perhaps better be replaced with “species.” However, the term is derived from collective words in several of the trolls’ own languages (perhaps indicating a sense of brotherhood or unity among trolls of the same sort, or else referring to a time in ages forgotten where they did not lead such solitary lives). Therefore, by widespread and long use, it has become the generally-accepted term to refer to different species that fall under the umbrella term of “Troll.” Numerous troll clans are known to modern arcanozoologists, including Stone, Wind, Root, River, and Storm, with various legends and unconfirmed sightings hinting at the existence of many more.