Posted by: Alex | November 25, 2008

Guest Post — Theme Week Trolls: Regeneration and You!

[Blogatelle notes: Alex is back again! Today he’s talking about the peculiar biology of trolls.]

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about trolls (at least from a biological stand point), is their remarkable ability to heal at an accelerated rate. That even extends to regenerating lost limbs. And is so well-known, that alchemical mixtures designed to do the same, are named “troll’s blood potions”, despite not actually containing any troll blood whatsoever.

But what does this mean for you, as a role-player?

Well, it could mean quite a lot actually. Because first and foremost, the first question that comes to mind would be “How does one act, if one can recover from most damage near instantaneously?” and to answer such a question of course be hard for anyone in our world.

This is a famous question of the superhero genre, with two prominent examples being Wolverine, or more recently Heroes’s Claire Bennet. Of course, I am not saying trolls can heal at the same rate as those characters (though with the extent of their regenerative abilities being so vaguely described, one could argue they come quite close), but those two do give us a great perspective into how trolls may act.

As the Monster Manual put it, “They fight without fear, relying on their natural healing ability to keep them going.” And with that, I am sure we could all imagine a troll warrior running into the thick of it, with no fear whatsoever of his well being. Slashing away at his foes with both blade and claw until his rage has subsided and he is the only thing left standing.

Would this be a correct presumption? Yes and no.

Because while their healing ability gives them a great advantage and has surely encouraged their ferocity in battle, they still aren’t stupid. Nnor do they think themselves invincible by any means. By both knowing that their abilities have limits as (possibly) seen with Zul’jin and that they can be hindered by both fire magic and specifically designed weapons. As well as that they clearly don’t take injury too lightly or else, punishment amongst their kind would not consist of both ritual scarring and even dismemberment.

Of course on the other hand, even with all that it still should be pointed out that such a perspective would be most prominent amongst the older, more experienced of their kind. Younger warriors, while heeding the warning of their elders would surely (coupled with impetuous youth) test their limits; seeing how far they can take it, how much their bodies can take before they succumb to truly life threatening damage. Because after all, look at the kind of risks we take in our own lives (particularly when we are young) and that is without this ability. So you can imagine just how reckless a younger troll may be.

Another issue with this ability is pain. To quote Claire Bennet: “I feel pain; I just get over it quickly.” So how much pain do trolls experience. Much like Claire, trolls probably “get over it: quite quickly. After all, the pain we feel comes from the inherent injury and if that goes away more swiftly then the associated pain likely fades rapidly, and in all probability, to a much smaller degree of intensity. [Blogatelle notes: I don’t know. I could as easily imagine that trolls feel pain just fine; it goes away quickly, but it damn well hurts until then. To quote Victoria Ngengi: “The problem with hard skin is people think you don’t feel anything!”]

So how does one properly gauge the amount of pain they feel?

Luckily for us, Sean has gone over pain thresholds quite well, and with the scale he established. I think we could easily say that all trolls would be a 2 or at least somewhere between 2 and 3. With the battle hardened troll, falling somewhere between 1 and 2.

But now with this, the question is “How does feeling less pain affect a troll?” Well, unfortunately that is a bit hard to say as we have very little in terms of a real world perspective on the issue. But suffice to say, it will affect them in some manner, with likely some change in how they feel emotionally too. Physical pain is one of our first metaphors for emotional pain, after all. They might be simultaenously more primal and feral in their actions and more callous with others. Either way, this development explains some of their renowned savagery.

Either way with all that, you can see that their ability to regenerate is much more than a cool racial trait they have. And that is has served to give them not just a higher threshold for pain, but for fear itself. This has greatly shaped who they are as a species, and you should strive to capture this in your role-play.

Are you an impetuous youth, putting yourself in more and more dangerous situations until nearly dying? If you do nearly die, does this make you more cautious, or do you become even more reckless as you learn just how much you can survive? Or are you an old veteran, telling war stories of as losing a limb in battle, yet ripping apart a band of humans nonetheless? If you really want to go out there, are you the unfortunate subject of an experiment by those nosy gnomes who want to figure out just how you work; much like Sean expressed for the undead? There are endless ways this can be played.

It really is up to you to play with. With Blizzard’s vagueness on the limitations and extent to which the ability can go, you can have quite a bit of fun. Remember to be restrained; trolls do not have Wolverine or Claire level regeneration. Keep it somewhat realistic; within the limits of the racial trait itself. But have fun with it: Become one of those pains in the neck who keep coming back after you repeatedly hurt them; hey, it’s nice to have a reason to do this trope for once!

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