What would a fantasy world be without trolls to drive terror into the hearts of adventures at least once? Obviously, you can do this, but I was picking from the classics early on and trolls were top of the list. I wanted them to be one of the biggest threats that my heroes can run into. Nothing on the scale of dragons or demons, but they certainly take the top spot among the less magical beasts. For this, I went wild with the description and kept writing until I ran out of steam. Easiest to give an excerpt from Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower when they debuted:
“The forest tracker moves ahead of the other warriors to examine the troll and a lump forms in his throat as soon as he sets eyes on the monster. Standing over twelve feet tall with long, heavy arms that drag along the ground, the beast is a two-headed nightmare come to life. Luke notices that the troll’s eyes are nothing more than dark holes with pinpricks of yellow in their center. Rigid, twisted hairs stick out of its heads in every direction, resembling dead branches. The beast sniffs the air with its long, mosquito-like noses before walking on wide feet that give it a pounding stride. Sunlight glints off the curved claws that sparkle like diamonds.”
I later showed that there were “subtle vapors wafting off its lime skin”, which is a sign that they are weak against fire. I haven’t always kept the color consistent or mentioned, but I try to maintain this hulking, long-limbed beast consistent. There can be variations depending on the environment. The one above is found in forests, but you can have slight deviations when the trolls live in jungles, mountains, or deserts. The excerpt doesn’t mention that they can blend into their surrounding, but they typically materialize when they pounce. Burrowing, regeneration, and a numbing effect when they cut skin round out the alpha predator’s powers.
Trolls are incredibly hard to kill with magic since even regular fire can be put out before it kills. There are ways to weaken them though. Glands behind the eyes allow their chameleon abilities to work when they are moving. Destroying those will mean that the troll resembles heat haze similar to The Predator when it moves. A deep cut through the face can also limit their regeneration since the front of the brain is what controls the rapid rate. It could be beheaded while it repairs the brain damage, which is the only way it can get back to its full strength. The challenge is delivering the killing blow since trolls will retreat for a bit if they are severely injured. Due to not having any natural predators, they don’t realize when they are outmatched until they have been hurt. This is something that many adventurers use to their advantage because a shot through the eye can give them a chance to escape.
You rarely see trolls in groups since they are territorial. Mating pairs will stay together for a few months until the female gives birth. Then, the male leaves before she uses him as a regenerating food source. He isn’t killed, but he is repeatedly ‘harvested’ until the child is strong enough to fend for itself. There are some trolls that allow this to happen, but that is only in areas where food tends to be scarce. On islands, you can find troll colonies since there isn’t enough space for them to divide the area. Travelers avoid these places because any new type of food is attacked immediately by the swarm, which will become so frenzied that a quarter of the population will be eaten in the fray. You will find that the tropical species are more feral and primal.
I have toyed with some specialties too. The Sjotroll in Life & Times of Ichabod Brooks is supposed to the first attempt at making a troll. This is a legendary monster that is said to have been forged from the gods’ nightmares. There are supposed to be only 4 in existence with one on each of the mortal continents (Canst’s Fields, Ralian, Cerascent, and Shayde), but there could be more. There is a big ritual involving sacrifices and shamans to wake them, but not many know of it. All I will say is that this monster is gigantic and considered legendary for a reason. In the future, I’m hoping to introduce a species that is intelligent and tame, but it hasn’t worked out yet. Never seems to fit the series. I’ll keep trying though.