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Author Topic: Trolls: Brainstorming  (Read 13337 times)
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Erian Melor
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« on: 13 September 2005, 19:09:00 »

Post any ideas/objections about Trolls here. I am currently developing them, so if you have any concerns: either post them or forever hold your peace. This is what Judith posted in the general Santharian discussion forum, enjoy:

Official Notification: Erian is approved to work on the Trolls.

Now, bearing in mind that this is only MY opinion, and everyone else will probably want a kick at this cat... (oops, sorry, bad ex-pression!)... everyone will want to spit in this soup pot... (ok, so that's not much better...) here goes with some answers.

1. How sentient are they?

I guess what you are really asking is 'how intelligent' are trolls? Going by looks and behavior, they are more than animals but less than humans. Some humans, anyhow... It would be nice to have something 'less sentient' than orcs but 'more sentient' than mermaids, and it looks like trolls are it.

As sentience can be defined by culture, you'd have to look at what aspects of their culture there are and how they are expressed. From what's on the site, it's very limited! For example, they rarely wear 'more than a simple loincloth' - and that won't be cloth because they absolutely will not have a herding / shearing / spinning / weaving level culture. If they can skin an animal - and crudely tan the result - that would probably be considered sophisticated in the troll community! It's hard to tell from the pictures, as they are mostly covered with their own hair...

2. Would they have an organized religion?

Organized? Heavens, no! Oh, sorry, forgive the pun there... Well, it's possible that they would have some crude conception of crime and punishment. But without a concept of 'good' behavior, can you really have an idea of 'bad'? Oooooh, there's an idea for our philosophers to jump on and start fighting over! And Talia may say this isn't her area of interest, but if you wave THAT question in front of her nose she just might surprise you... (evil grin)

3. Am I allowed to create trollish deities?

Like Ghnom and the rest, from David Edding's "The Elenium"?  Personally, I think he was showing off because he had to come up with some sort of power for Bhelliom ('the Sapphire Rose' itself)...

Again, that would have to wait on the answer to number two. They might 'believe', in a very primitive fashion, in a powerful, vengeful spirit or three which resides in the sun or the ice. It needn't even be a deity which rewards its followers, save by the absence of 'pain'/'discomfort'/bad weather/bad hunting, etc...

4. How many trolls are there in Caelereth, and how many of each species?

The site says, as I hope you already know: "Trolls can be found in a variety of environments, ranging from swamps and forests to mountains and frozen tundra. There exist several different species of trolls, the most common among them is the Cave Troll, followed by the Forest Troll, the Mountain Troll, the War Troll, the Stone Troll and finally the Snow Troll living mainly in the vast and fierce icelands of Cyhalloi....Trolls live in small nomadic communities (up to 30 members), depending on their species either in caves, in dark forests or in recedes at the eternal ice. Trolls will live an average of 250 to 300 years, but only very seldom give birth to more than three children in their long lifespan...."

Since they are such vicious things, you'd be best off to make them sparse and isolated, as the information already seems to suggest. I'd take a map of the continent and put small red circles in areas where there might be a 'TRUL-UT' - a troll community or clan of fifteen to thirty trolls. Obviously there won't be any in heavily populous or civilized areas. And there shouldn't be more than three or four circles of each type, either, methinks. You do the math - it's not my forte - just make sure they won't out-hunt the area you place them in!

5. Am I allowed to tweak their magical abilities?... I don't like that trollish shamans can raise the dead.

Me neither! I know there was a huge ruckus on the RPG board a while ago about resurrection. In my opinion those lines from the current entry should be completely deleted - it's an older entry and we have since come to more sophisticated conclusions about magic, balance of power, etc. etc. I would give a firm "NO!" to raising the dead.

In fact - and here's a nasty one for you - trolls shouldn't even HAVE magic, magic-users, or shamans (unlike goblins and orcs)! That would very clearly define their sentience level, wouldn't you say? But I'm open to argument if anyone has some good reasons FOR their ability to manipulate ouns....


Ok, that's plenty to start with. If I were you, I'd copy all of this and paste it into a new thread in the Races Forum, as you have been officially approved to go ahead with the Trolls. That gives you somewhere to begin your brainstorming. I'd also copy what exists about the Trolls and start making additions and changes, even in point form. Of course, keep your own copy in Word on your own computer (none of us trust EZboard after that last crash), but if you keep it posted to the Races Forum, we can work together as usual. Right, let's go!


I agree with Judith about the answer to number one, but what would the loincloth be made out of if not cloth? I don't exactly like the idea of naked Trolls roaming Caelereth. The entry also states that their culture varies depending upon the community. Since a community is up to thirty Trolls, I would like to change it so that their culture varies depending upon their clan.

As far as religion and deities are concerned, I was thinking that they would have a belief in one god. Sorta the whole Mother Earth idea, except they would have their own name for him/her. The religion would not be organized and would be more primal than anything else. There would be no other deities, as they place their faith solely in the earth.

I agree that Trolls should be sparse and isolated. I was thinking that there would be a clan for each species, and I would remove the word "species" from the Troll entry as I feel that this is a modern word. Each clan would have various communties spread through a certain territory. As far as territory is concerned: which mountains, swamps, forests, etc... could I use without stepping on anyone's toes? Most of the forests seem to be inhabited by elves, and they would not tolerate Trolls. The mountains would probably not be a problem, since dwarves would be living within the mountains and not on the slopes or in the caves. The only swamp I know of in Southern Sarvonia is the Silvermarshes. Would it harm the human, hobbit, and mullog populations to place Trolls there? Basically, I need an area of wilderness for each community, though it could be near a town. The facts that Trolls only have about three children in their lifespan and that they constantly fight leads me to believe that there are not many Trolls in Caelereth, perhaps even less Trolls exist than elves.

I actually agree that they should not have magic, as magic users tend to be more intelligent. I was thinking that instead of shamans, they could have elders (maybe a group of elders per community?) that would be respected for their age but lack magical abilities. Trolls are strong enough as it is with their healing abilities and natural armor. I see no reason to give them magic as well.

So, lets brainstorm! By the way, I would greatly appreciate help with a trollish language. It would not be as sophisticated as any of the other languages, but I need to name the clans and deity using their own language.


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Edited by: Erian Melor at: 9/13/05 16:49
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Bard Judith
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« Reply #1 on: 13 September 2005, 22:42:00 »

Oh goody, this is fun already!

DIALOG:

Point number one: NO naked trolls.  The mind boggles!

Fur, dear.  Deer hides, bear skins, the outsides of those little crunchy rodents that trolls like to snack on... it blends in with their hairy bodies and provides decent camouflage - insofar as you CAN be camouflaged when you are twice the size of a human...

----------------------------------------------------

Two:   Belief in a single Earth Spirit (probably male) sounds like a realistic idea.  I'd still consider making it an erratic, capricious deity whose acts seem as random as the weather (gee, you think?) so that their main focus in 'worship' would be to avert disasters and to propitiate this chaotic spirit.

----------------------------------------------------

Three: By 'clan for each species' you mean that there are only - what is it, five? - five clans?  A Mountain Clan, a Swamp Clan, etc.?    That would work - I prefer that nomenclature to 'species', certainly.  Although 'tribe' would also work and sound more primitive.   (I may be a bit prejudiced here as my Thergerim come in 'clans', so I'd rather you chose a unique grouping word for the Troll race....)

Don't forget that you can place trolls in other continents - they are obviously (see Isilhir's picture of them fighting Ulvur) on Cyhalloi, for example.  You don't need to crowd them all into Sarvonia.   And no, the Silvermarshes won't fit a troll clan.  The place just isn't big enough and it's too populated (the Mullogs and Caimans have the centre 'desolate' part to themselves, of course)    There are other marshes/swamps/wetlands even if they don't have entries yet!

------------------------------------------------

Four:  Thumbs-down on magic?  Sure, I'm with you on that.... but the old "Xanthian Rule" might well be applied here. (Sorry, Alysse, I'm talking about Piers Anthony's fantasy series, not your daughter!)  It runs something like this: "A creature can either DO magic or BE magic...."   Yeah, I know this isn't a Santharian Dream rule, but it does suggest an interesting concept for the race.   Perhaps trolls should BE magic - in the sense that they have almost 'super-human' healing abilities, for one.  Perhaps they also seem to be able to 'sense' their prey at a distance.  Just some ideas I'll throw out for comment!

Elders:  Don't know if trolls would respect age as much as they would strength.  The latter usually tends to dwindle with the former.  I suspect, like many animals, the strongest troll in the community rules by force of will/force of arm, and makes whatever decisions are to be made.  Hey, even horses and wolves work on this level, and I see trolls very much as 'pack'-centred in the same way.

--------------------------------------------

Five:  I meant to tell you I'll gladly provide a 'Troll-tongue' if you like - I had some concepts for "Trullish" already!   It doesn't need to have its own glossary in the Languages Editor as it won't be complex enough.  Rather,  it should be modeled after Mermish and Orcen, in that we simply give a short list of words and their Tharian equivalent.  Remember, as researchers we only have a limited way to acquire some of this information!  

You have two words of it already BTW :p

TRUL - Troll (the Tharian word was taken from the trolls' own name for themselves, which humans heard repeatedly on the first encounter.  The first encounter which any humans survived, that is....)

UT - Clan, Tribe, Group (whatever word you choose here, meaning the type of troll such as Mountain / Swamp / etc.)

Oh, and there are Compendium 'conventions' for writing and transcribing various languages into Tharian.  When writing Mermish, for example, scribes put a little 'wave-marking' between each word to signify that it IS Mermish:  "Alassi~hu~eeenwi!"

Styrash is full of special accent marks to show pronunciation, while ThergerimTaal has capitalization within words to mark phonemes (units of meaning).  I propose, since Trullish is a loud, grunted, coarse language, to capitalize every bloomin' word!   :evil

(giggles)  So?  Whaddaya think? :fish    or :loveeyes  ?

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ishmaelion
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« Reply #2 on: 14 September 2005, 01:14:00 »

Quote:
By the way, I would greatly appreciate help with a trollish language. It would not be as sophisticated as any of the other languages, but I need to name the clans and deity using their own language.


You can count me in:thumbup  I loved to work on the orcen language, perhaps I might be of use here? I'll think about the language and will look forward to your first ideas on it:thumbup  

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Marvin Cerambit
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« Reply #3 on: 14 September 2005, 02:25:00 »

1. How sentient are they?

Well, I would make them more sentient than ogres. You already have those as well, so no reason to make another race of big, stupid brutes me thinks. Maybe just make them primitive. They would be less sentient than orcs, humans and others, but still smart compared to ogres.

2. Would they have an organized religion?

Not organized, but they will probably all have a similar religion.

3. Am I allowed to create trollish deities?

Another possibility would be multiple gods that represent different parts of nature. Like the very first humans in RL had.

4. How many trolls are there in Caelereth, and how many of each species?

Well, one region you’ll have to add is the Tandala Highlands (see the Ban-Yuk Ogres)

5. Am I allowed to tweak their magical abilities?

I wouldn’t be against letting them keep their powerful magic.
Quote:
Troll's Magic
Trolls are not nearly as stupid, one-dimensionally orientated and brutish as some scholars would have you believe. Underestimating a troll's intellect has been the cause of many deaths when fighting them. Certain cultures of trolls have a magical tradition dating back for centuries at least. Troll magic is based on the channeling of life force from one object to another. In this context a powerful spell has been known to even leave the trollish caster dead. Due to this danger of applying their magical powers trolls with magical abilities normally work exclusively with supplier tasks such as healing or draining the life force from an opponent. In certain rare cases trolls have also been spotted to also raise different forms of undead creatures.

Raising undead creatures is something you could leave out, but I don’t see any reason why you would leave out the other things.

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« Reply #4 on: 14 September 2005, 05:28:00 »

*gives Judy a dirty look for laying out traps with religious flavoured baits*


Very primitive cultured DON'T have normally one deity, that is a next step, they adore from what they think they are dependent of (sun=warmth) , what they think is mysterious (moon), what they fear (ghosts= earth-unknown noises behind the next bush, wind- noises in the  trees, fire-crackling..)
A mother goddess (no abstract male god!), which grows all the food every year is  advanced to that concept, but could go hand in hand (symbol on earth often a very pregnant woman , often without head!)

I agree with Marvin above.Don't take away too much from the old entry, apart from raising the dead. Or with what Judy said:do magic or be a magic being. I could well imagine, that they have on top of their healing magic the ability to do magic out of themselves - without being aware of it, maybe prolong the burning of a fire, if there is not enough wood there - ust for the need to not freeze to death (if our basic magic system allows this), things they just do to survive without thinking about it.

Then: Don't mix up primitive with stupid. Primitve tribes with just some fur cloths and no proper hunting equipment (not more than a branch as staff) may well be intelligent in their own way.

It would be too long to expain it here, but if anyone has read the Ayla books of Jean M.Auel - ( books about the rise of the Homo sapiens in confrontation with the Neanderthal man)
I found following idea there very intriguing: They(the Neanderthal men) don't have a proper language if at all (no organs for it), but they have a tribal organisation  and shamans as their leader. The shaman doesn't connect the tribe with any gods, but with the spritis of their anchesters. They have access to all the experience of their anchesters in the own bloodline. But, the problem is, they rely on these old experiences and are therefore unable to evolve forward, to master new things.

We don't have to apply this to the trolls, but maybe you could take the one or other idea out of it. Maybe, for a change to the orcs and ogres - the leader of the trolls could be the one with the highest magic abilities -the one who can fix broken bones quickly - which is essentiel for such tribes. don'tmake them too stupid, make them mysterious!

*frees herself from this trap an runs away*


 

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« Reply #5 on: 14 September 2005, 05:38:00 »

@Talia
Quote:
It would be too long to expain it here, but if anyone has read the Ayla books of Jean M.Auel - ( books about the rise of the Homo sapiens in confrontation with the Neanderthal man)


I read the books, but one thing you said :

Quote:
They(the Neanderthal men) don't have a proper language if at all (no organs for it), but they have a tribal organisation and shamans as their leader.


In the books, the neanderthals do have a language, being one with gestures and body language. This language is instinctive, but I think every semi-entient being will have a language, being in speech, or in bodylanguage.

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« Reply #6 on: 14 September 2005, 06:29:00 »

Yes, I should not have said proper, but "vocal"??? Is this the right word? But you say it, that could be a language for troll! guestures and bodymovement

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« Reply #7 on: 14 September 2005, 06:44:00 »

Or, similar to the orcish language, a very limited vocabulary and the body languange filling the gaps.

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« Reply #8 on: 14 September 2005, 07:21:00 »

In history, the concept of one god did come after that of many, so I agree with Talia on that one. I would think that they would not have as many gods as humans and elves. Maybe they would only have 3-5 gods? They would be aspects of nature, in my opinion. Any suggestions on what the gods could be? I don't want their deities to be similar to those of elves and men.

I like the idea of innate magical abilities, perhaps the more gifted among them would be considered to be 'blessed by the gods'? Then these 'blessed by the gods' would be both powerful and mysterious due to their magical abilities, and they would rule each community through the awe and fear the other trolls have of them. There would be magical abilities that all trolls would have: such as healing, sensing prey, prolonging a fire. Those 'blessed by the gods' (perhaps they would have their own word for these?) would have the same abilities, yet they would have greater skill in them. Perhaps they would be able to sense prey that is a stral away and heal others as well as themselves?

Instead of clans, maybe they would have bands instead? (not to be confused with music) There would be six bands, one for each species, and each band would consist of several communities.

Could I alter their territory so that swamps are not mentioned? There is not a swamp troll, and I'd prefer to stick to the original six species.

As far as the language is concerned, I have no skill with languages so any suggestions are very welcome! Thanx, Judith for those two words. I would like to have a name for each band (species) of troll in the trollish tongue (i.e. the entry on stone trolls would have the trollish name and then the words "Stone Troll" in paraentheses). Perhaps there could also be a name for those 'blessed by the gods'? Also, I think the loinclothes (fashioned out of hides) would have their own trollish name. Maybe each gender would have a trollish name as well?

Oh yeah, Judith, it is definately :loveeyes  


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« Reply #9 on: 14 September 2005, 07:33:00 »

I read the books!

They were one inspiration for suggesting the gesture-based language of the orcs - which is still such a new concept that I would prefer the trolls to take a different direction.  The orcs have a more sophisticated culture and require more vocabulary (whether vocal or gestural) to explain and convey ideas.

And yes, good distinction from Talia:  primitive does not necessarily =  stupid!  A member of the early Oceania or Aboriginal cultures might be wearing no more than a string around his hips, have no fabric production, glass-blowing, metallurgy, etc - but still be able to navigate across trackless oceans, using string and stick 'sextants' and 'maps' -  or find food in seemingly barren deserts, keep an oral record of waterholes, and create vibrant and expressive art.

However - I think trolls are primitive BECAUSE they are stupid!   :lol    No offense to any trolls who may be reading this....

Sorry, let me be serious and clarify:  we are suggesting a lower level of 'sentience', which has the connotations of both intelligence and awareness.  This would seem to indicate that the race does not have the mental capacity for larger thoughts - in other words, they are intellectually and physically not able to progress beyond, say, the third rung of link=en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mas...y_of_needs]Maslow's hierarchy of needs[/link]    Note that religious belief is usually associated with the top level of transcendence, interestingly enough.  

Personal note:  In my experience, people who are struggling in the lower layers generally become more, not less needy, spiritually.  They are drawn closer to God or start thinking about the 'big issues' of life when hunger or other 'first needs' strike.  I'd disagree with Maslow in saying that every human has a need to answer the questions of life that is just as powerful as the other levels of need - rather than a hierarchy in which one level must be achieved before others are attained, I'd see this as a spiral.  One can deal with all the needs on a shallow basis, or delve deeper into each as one progresses emotionally/mentally/spiritually.  

The relevance of this to our discussion is that the trolls may well spend much of their time obtaining food and shelter, like most animals.  They may not have much of a sense of love and belonging, or a need for esteem.  But it will be there, just as a need for some 'higher power' (hate that phrase, but what else to say?) will be, no matter how simple.     The definition of their 'sentience', then,  will be an assessment of how shallow or how deeply they can move on that spiral.

Do they form personal bonds - one male and female coming together not only to mate, but to care for the resultant offspring of that union?   Are others in the group involved in that care?  Are the weak or wounded of the group ignored, or given at least minimal attention for their extra needs?  Do they have a sense of humour (based on the ability to predict and to feel surprise when those predictions are not met?)  

The difficulty here, of course, is that we may be taking our subconscious patterns from Terran neanderthals, or gorillas, but trolls are neither.  It requires some creative thought about the nature of intelligence, sentience, and culture to determine what this completely unique and alien race might be.  Spend some time with the pictures for a start, and try to imagine what thoughts might be behind those faces!  Should be interesting....


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« Reply #10 on: 14 September 2005, 09:06:00 »

Two notes:

Trolls are mammals, are they? Then this points to  a direction of relationship/bonds etc (mother/child, the need to bind a protector emotionally when heavy with a child and so on, male promiscuity, female fixation on one male, as long as he is strong?Even beasts care for each other if they live in a social pack.

Leadership can be build on authority and respect as well, don't has to be strength all time, especially not when magic abilities are in high esteem.

The paintings however show a different image - but the first impression can be wrong, you know ;)  

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« Reply #11 on: 14 September 2005, 11:29:00 »

hmm, the language will be interesting, making a form of communication without resorting to body-language or a very sophisticated form of grammar. I know of one RL language who has this in some measure. I'll try to find things about that language, forgot his name for now... Its principles are very simple. Per Example: If they want to say chicken, they say: kip; If they want to say chickens (plural) they say "kip kip" Verbs only have one form, like what we made in the orcish language.

Maybe the Trolls have a form of communication through growling. A warning, a command, etc. They would maybe be known by researchers, as they observed the trolls and their behaviour.

Just Suggestions:  

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« Reply #12 on: 14 September 2005, 13:05:00 »

Hmmm....I like the idea of a language composed of words, growls, and grunts. Maybe someone could develop it?

I have a question for everyone. Would it be possible to change an entry that is already on the site, one that mentions trolls? I've been using the search engine to find entries with references to them, but one entry is going directly against what I've got planned (the rest just gave me ideas:D ). The entry is the Tandalan Sheep. It mentions that the sheep are able to outrun trolls, yet the sheep are not extraordinarily fast. I believe that speed is the only way for trolls to be good hunters, as stealth clearly is not an option. Also, it states that the sheep are able to hide from trolls using snow, but I intend to make the sensing of prey one of the trolls' abilities. I understand that Norkin was working off an old entry when he wrote it, but his entry makes trolls sound downright dumb. I think the trolls are primitive, and not stupid. I also do not like the myth about manicores attacking trolls. I see no reason why trolls would believe that the sheep are picked up by manticores or why they would believe that the sheep were struck by lightning. It seems to have almost nothing to do with the sheep and only states the stupidity of trolls. The entry on trolls states that they rarely wear more than loincloths, yet in the entry on the sheep: trolls are said to wear the sheep's horns. I am fine with the horns, as I can work with it and maybe even include it in their culture. I do not like asking for another person's entry to be changed, but his entry contradicts the original entry on trolls and the revision I am doing of it. I understand that I have to work with entries already on the site, and I am fine with that. For example, Rayne has mentioned stone trolls in a couple of her entries. Each time she did so, it was an original idea about them and did not contradict the existing entry. Her entries even gave me ideas on the appearance and housing of stone trolls. So, is it possible to change an entry already on the site, and would it require Norkin's permission to do so?


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« Reply #13 on: 14 September 2005, 13:28:00 »

Asking Norkin is surely not a bad idea, and I hope he will agree, for it is a change in the trolls and not necessarily in the sheep.

A revision of a whole race, which grounds on the existing things, should not depend on a single entry. It doesn‘t hurt the sheep, if the trolls are faster. I haven‘t read the Tandala sheep, but what I see your reasons are valid. Maybe the member who approved the sheep didn‘t read the trolls too closely - everybody does mistakes, that is not a problem.
Though no entry should be judged by its importance - a well thought through concept of the trolls would be worth the altering of an existing entry, I think.

Let‘s talk it out, we all work at the same world, so there should be no problem in changing something, especially when the author is still here.  

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"For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path  that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking,  breathlessly. ~Don Juan"
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Shendar, Shen-D'auras


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« Reply #14 on: 14 September 2005, 13:31:00 »

Quote:
Trolls are the largest of the giant races and are feared for their frightening appearance. They stand at an average of three to five peds at the shoulder


Have you really imagined, HOW huge they are, if they are five peds?  

***Astropic of the day***
"For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path   that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly. ~Don Juan"

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"For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path  that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking,  breathlessly. ~Don Juan"
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