Posted by: Sean | November 20, 2008

Theme Week Troll: Play it nasty.

So you’re gonna be a troll, and you’ve decided to make him nasty. Great! In all honesty, this is my favourite take on trolls. While funny can be fun, nasty gives you chills. So let’s talk about how to make a troll nasty.

The first thing that you have to do is resist the urge to get all nasty right off the bat. Even when at their most nasty, trolls aren’t overt. Leave the over threat and evil to the Forsaken; you’re going to get underneath people’s skin. And to do that, you first of all need to get on their side. Laugh with them! Be a nice guy. Trolls can and are generous, cheerful types. Give gifts regularly. Your character should be basically friendly.


But somewhere in your makeup you have to start sowing the seeds of doubt. Somewhere you have to give off little senses that you’re not quite right.

Maybe it’s the sexism. You treat all the men in your guild/party/circle of friends well, but you treat the women with unabashed contempt, ordering them to do minor things and getting angry when they refuse. Maybe it’s the racism, and you tend to treat elvish foes (or, voodoo forbid) elvish allies with unbridled aggression. Maybe you just lick your lips sometimes at a corpse. No matter which way you play it, you need the rest of your group to know that you’re a horrible brutish beast who could do something truly shocking, and at the same time forget that you’re a horrible brutish beast who could do something truly shocking.

Then you need to do something truly shocking.

If you’ve played up the cannibalism angle, then after defeating a foe, start carving him up and then take a huge bite out of him. Don’t skimp on the details. Note the blood, the viscera. Express your clear delight at the taste, and comment so. Cackle. Revel in it. Offer others some, but don’t do it in a friendly way. Insist.

If you’ve played up the racist angle, then somewhere along the line, while facing an elven foe (ideally an NPC one) start toying with him. Laugh in his face, and if you’re really safe, unequip your weapon. Use emotes to indicate that you’re gouging his eyes, you’re breaking fingers, and essentially torturing him to death on the battlefield. And don’t stop there. When they do die, note via emote that they’re still alive, something along the lines of, ” * Tekoja looks at the bloodied elf as he coughs his last breaths, mortally wounded. * Tekoja reaches down, and jams his knife into the elf’s shoulder, hears the screams, then twists the blade.” Go above and beyond. Go way over the top. Describe your face, alive with glee as you do it.

Most disturbingly, if you played up the sexism angle, you could definitely create an assault scenario. Obviously, you’d want to co-ordinate this out of character with her player first. While a sexual assault is obvious, a physical assault could be just as disturbing and a bit more acceptable to your fellow players; anything that involves your character showing his dominance, humiliating his victim and otherwise being a total fucking monster will do the job. Make condescending remarks about her beauty, suggest that you’ll fix that problem with your claws.

All of this is, of course, exceedingly brutal. (I believe it is the first time I’ve ever sworn on this ‘blog, and there’s a reason.) It is not nice role-play in the slightest; rather it is disgusting and horrifying.

Which is why the third step is crucial. It should, done right, not just bring you back into the team but cement forever your horrifying reputation. You need to casually and swiftly stop acting that way.

Just act a corpse? Never mention it again, even drop the casual licking of the lips for a while. Just tortured an elf to death? Ask your team leader how you can help out preparing for the next fight, and pretend the whole thing never happened. Just beat one of your own party half to death because she’s female? Shrug at any mention of it like it’s no big deal, and if they still take offence, offer to take them out for drinks to make up for offending them. (Because that is clearly the sin here, not the assault.)

If you do this right, you force the group off-balance. You’re brought back in. It even makes sense for them to do so. How the hell do you sensibly react to that?

And then, a little while later, you lick your lips at a corpse again.

This time, it’s even more disturbing. The memories linger on.



  1. This was awesome. The thing about trolls that I’ve always liked about them, and that makes them truly fun for me to play, is that they really think differently from any other race. They’re alien, even among their allies. They fit in, but they don’t. The suggestions you have just to drop it after doing something horrific are the most important part, in my opinion, because any character can be made to act like a monster. It takes some forethought to play a character who is a monster by -nature-, without even making a conscious choice, and that’s very frightening because it’s so difficult to understand.

    Even “good” trolls can have a real nasty streak, I think. My hunter usually works well with other races, has some elven friends, and is strongly opposed to “evil” as she understands it as a concept. On the other hand, she’s a real horrorshow in battle (especially against rival troll tribes), and she brushes off her friends’ reactions as typically narrow-minded and expected of their race. And hey, cannibalism? Totally a casualty of having been misunderstood when viewed out of context.

    I’ll know I’ll be linking this the next time I discuss trolls with anyone. Great article.

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