Posted by: Sean | December 2, 2008

Belated Theme Week Troll: The Troll Play File

Defining the trolls is a trickier proposition than it first appears; as I have noted before, who are they? However, for the purposes of this discussion, it’s no contest: I’m going with the books. The trolls are a savage tribe who have barely rehabilitated into the Horde, and are slowly (very slowly) shifting from a savage voodoo society into a more civilised shamanistic one.

None the less, my default assumption here is that standard tribal logic will hold for them: I against my brother, my brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against the world. Back when I did the human play file, I made the mistake of confusing homogeneity for loyalty, a way of thinking the humans don’t buy into. The trolls definitely do.
The Horde
Blood Elves: The elves. While the Darkspear tribe were never directly part of the Troll Wars, the trolls and the elves have had a rivalry going back millennia. There simply isn’t room to avoid the issue. Troll children would have grown up with stories about how the foolish elves summoned the burning legion, about the strange and forbidden secrets they plumbed. Even though the blood elves aren’t the night elves, it’s not enough.

As such, the trolls simply can’t understand the inclusion of the elves in the Horde. The Horde wasn’t in a position of weakness, as it was when the Forsaken joined. And what did the elves ever do for the orcs, for the trolls and the tauren, huh? Those people earned their place in the horde. Trolls look at blood elves as dangerous, imposters, and pretenders. They believe all the stories about how they’re playing the Horde, looking to take over. There is no trust, and could easily develop true hostility; you should feel free as a troll to challenge an elf to a duel over the smallest of infractions. Beating up an elf ain’t no sin.

“You bein’ naive, mon. These elves, they ain’t got no wisdom. They ain’t got no restraint. If they be ‘cured’ now, they be sick again soon. And then where they go for they fix? Bad mojo, mon. Bad mojo.”

Orcs: Brothers in arms! Saviours! Occasional pains in the ass! The average troll looks at the orcs as an honorary tribe member; if there’s any race that’s earned it, it’s them. Hell, they seriously look up to the orcs in many ways, and are trying to emulate them. But they’re such a group of speech-givers! Despite the similarly bestial visages, the two races have very different views of combat. Orcs are soldiers. They may be bloodthirsty and furious in battle, but they are not pointless bloodletters. They fight for a cause. Trolls, meanwhile, fight for the tribe. They’re berserkers. They’re usually less idealistic, more pragmatic. A fight’s a fight. Yousa people gonna die so oursa people don’t.

Orcs are good friends of the trolls, and the two races get along well. But the trolls occasionally just want to muffle the noisy bastards, and they may well get into arguments over war conduct; where an orc may see a strategy as needed to avoid killing innocents, the trolls may see it as handcuffing themselves.

“Listen, you da good chief now. We know you da good chief and you lead us to many a victory. But going up through the mountains to avoid the village of humans below ain’t makin’ no sense. The humans in the citadel and the humans in the village, they be both our enemies, and the village ain’t worth squat. We go through the village, scream a lot, and if they foolish enough to stay they deserve to be dead.”

Tauren: To the trollish mind, there ain’t nothing wrong with the tauren being part of the Horde. They earned it! When the Horde landed on Kalimdor, the trolls and orcs needed help, and the tauren needed help. Both sides provided it for the other, and the alliance made sense. But spirits alive, man, could these guys be just a bit more urgent? To the troll mindset of tribal aggression, the tauren’s slow anger seems nonsensical. They fight good, they kick butt, so why not get into battle? If you’re going to lose a battle, that’s when you delay until you find a point you’ll win. Trolls generally think tauren are good people, and they certainly know more about the lands they live in than either the orcs or the trolls. (Mind you, the whole Cenarion Circle thing is a bit worrisome. How can you defend any alliance with the Night Elves?) But they wish the tauren would get involved more.

“C’mon! We got ’em on the run, mon! Why we not strikin’ final blow, huh? Ain’t gonna be no peace settlement. Ain’t gonna be no treaty. Is gonna be us smashin’ em up and then we say what the settlement be!”

Undead: The undead exist somewhere between the blood elves and the tauren for the trolls. Yeah, they earned their place. They’ll admit to that. The Horde was small and needed support, the Forsaken provided it. That ain’t that different from the tauren, right? Two sides need help, two sides give help. The trolls don’t mind that sort of logic.

But the tauren, at least, breathe.

In short, all the sins of the blood elves apply to the Forsaken too. They don’t trust the undead one bit, because they don’t seem to be layin’ their cards on the table, and don’t prefer a fair-up fight. (The trolls, it should be noted, have no problems with avoiding a fair-up fight either, a sneaky ambush is as good as a frontal assault to them; better if it works better. But they know to distrust an enemy avoiding a fair-up fight for just that reason.) Like the blood elves, they suspect the undead aren’t playing honest with the Horde. But they’ve at least earned their place. That’s enough to stop a troll from randomly beating one up for the hell of it.

“Don’t trust her, mon! Who knows what she got in her hands? Check her hands! … Check for other hands! Who says she only have two? She a corpse! She may have any number of other people’s hands!”

The Alliance
Draenei: It’s awfully tempted to leave this entry as just, “The new guys you gotta kill” and leave it at that. Actually, I’m gonna run with that and leave it.

OK, just kidding. The relationship here is awfully tenuous, though; the trolls have basically no history with the draenei whatsoever. However, there are a few possibilities. A lot of trolls are going to associate them with humans and dwarves (due to the paladin link) and describe them as, “The big blue Light-bubbles.” This group is likely to see them as part of the dwarvish-human alliance, and presume them to have a soldier’s mindset. (Which is not really accurate.) Or they may look at the visual appearance and (if they know about the location of the Exodar) the geographical proximity to the night elves. In which case, the old racist sentiments may sneak in about these guys, too. Frankly, it’s too early in their relationship to give any rough pointers as to the basic dynamic between the two races.

So I’m sticking with, “They’re the new guys you gotta kill. And they’re big and blue.”

“They da new guys you gotta kill, mon. They big and blue.”

Dwarves & Gnomes: OK, here’s some races with more history. The Darkspear tribe have a little experience with the dwarves and gnomes, even before the current age, but even then, they’re likely to associate one with the other. There are probably a decently large number of trolls out there who have an odd respect for the dwarves and gnomes. They’re stoic, brave fighters who are damned hard to rattle, and they have weird machines that can turn the tide in a battle it looked like they’d lose. This still means you gotta kill them faster, is all, but you could expect to hear a troll speak admiringly of a race with that much cunning and courage combined.

“Da shorties you gotta watch out for, mon. You take a bite out of their friend, they just get mad. They don’t get scared at all, they just get mad. You know why? Cause they got a death ray in their pockets, y’hear.”

Humans: By contrast, the trolls have a little respect but a lot of contempt for the humans. Keep in mind that a troll thinks of Alliance races primarily in terms of how they fight. Gnomes bring a degree of wildness and unpredictability to a fight, which makes them hard to judge. The dwarves get confused with the gnomes. But the humans, well, they’re just seen as a bit predictable and, therefore, easy to ambush or trick. There’s no question that humans are worthy enemies, and they know the orcs seem to have a lot of respect for them as foes, which goes a way. But still, when faced with a human, the average troll thinks, “I can trick this fool.” Sometimes they’re right. Sometimes they’re not.

“We got the humans on us? OK, watch this, I do this last time. Shoot me with an arrow. I can take it. I heal up right as they find me, and then I attack ’em. Scares the wits out of them, heh heh heh. Then you lot ambush ’em.”

Night Elves: I say again, the rivalry between the trolls and the elves is absolutely ancient, literally going back to before the world was split apart as it is now. The trolls blame the elves for splitting the continents apart, bringing the burning legion to Azeroth, and while it was the forest trolls, not the jungle trolls who fought the high elves in the Troll Wars, you have to think the stories got told and heard by the jungle trolls too. In short, there’s an ancient hatred between these two races that few races on Azeroth can match. Trolls will target night elves above other targets, they will take pleasure in killing them, and in short, they’ll be really freaking terrifying when facing them.

“Now, you pointy eared moon freak! I’ma gonna splits you from ear to ear, and watch you bleed.”

Viewing the Classes

Death Knight: Remember what I said at the start? Trolls value loyalty, and unlike the humans, they don’t tend to offer much in the way of redemption. It’s the tribal mindset: Everything that is not forbidden is mandatory, and vice versa. They don’t tolerate the other well; and death knights? Are plenty other.
Druid: Druids are also very ‘otherish’ and that’s something the trolls have a lot of trouble with. Trolls get priests (they have them) and they get shamans (they have them) but they don’t really get druids, which is another way of looking at religion entirely. Add in the weirdness of shapeshifting, and the discomfort level goes up again. (Seriously, stop and think about it for a second. Druids are weird.) But unlike death knights, they’re also nominally loyal. That earns them a pass, but your average troll is still likely to get icked by them a little.
Hunter: Troll hunters are a valued part of their society. As a tribal society, hunting is an essential part of keeping their people healthy, and good hunters are well-respected. Curiously, troll hunters should in theory be pretty decent at stuff like spear-fishing, too; as an island people, the water provides a lot of their food, in all likelihood.
Mages: Trolls have a very long and distrustful relationship with magic. The initial conflict with the elves was over the magic within the Well of Eternity. Magic has always been a strong cause of defeat for various trollish tribes, if not the Darkspear. So why do they have mage as one of their classes? I confess to having no idea. Anyone out there know?
Paladin: Let’s recap: Paladins are a group of humans (enemies), dwarves (enemies), draenei (enemies) and blood elves (not technically enemies). They have a low opinion of paladins.
Priest: Priests are, to the trolls, a calling in a very literal sense. You don’t choose to become a priest, it’s a fate you realise, to be the servant of the loa. For them, the Light, Elune, and so forth are really just more of the same. This doesn’t mean rival priests get respect for filling that role, it means they’re enemies of the trolls’ loa. As such, a troll has a great respect for their own priests and a furious anger at other races’ priests… even blood elf or undead priests.
Rogue: In many ways, a rogue to the trolls is just a clever warrior. Trolls value cunning and trickery in warfare, and rogues are the masters of it. Trollish rogues are less likely to be sneaky assassins than they are ambushers, planners of dirty, low warfare. Assassination is a tactic, certainly, but it probably precedes an invasion.
Shaman: The shamans are a curious people in the Darkspear tribe. While the trolls look up to the orcs, there’s no denying that being a shaman right now means you’re really cutting edge. Most shamans among the trolls are very young, and possibly a little rebellious.
Warlocks: The orcs despise warlocks. Despise them. The trolls also hate warlocks, but… they’d have to admit, troll history has an awful lot of worship of beings who may as well be demons. The Darkspear regret this, and thus have a grudge against warlocks that goes double. There’s a reason there’s an option to play an orc warlock, but none for a troll.
Warrior: Troll warriors are bloody frightening. Take a fury that would stop an orc still, and match it with a serious lack of fear regarding injury.Troll warriors are expected to be horrifying, gibbering lunatics. Most oblige cheerfully, and are thus a formidable force on the battlefield.


  1. “So why do they have mage as one of their classes? I confess to having no idea. Anyone out there know?”

    My guess would be that Blizzard didn’t like the idea of only one Horde race having access to the class, and orc and tauren mages would make even less sense.

  2. “We go through the village, scream a lot, and if they foolish enough to stay they deserve to be dead.”

    “The big blue Light-bubbles.”

    Funny stuff.. 😀

    “My guess would be that Blizzard didn’t like the idea of only one Horde race having access to the class, and orc and tauren mages would make even less sense.”

    Ya that probably is the reason as they like to be equal as possible.

    The other may be that Horde saw the need for mages, as each side see’s the need for warlocks and as a result, the trolls were charged with undertaking the craft as they already had vaguely similar practices anyways and the orc’s & tauren simple refusal to do such.

  3. Oh, it’s absolutely the game balance idea. Both factions got two mage races. (Gnomes and Humans vs. Trolls and Undead.)

    What I don’t get is the lore justification. Surely there could be one. Did they take it from the Well of Eternity while they controlled it? Stole it from the Night Elves later? Got it from Hakkar? What?

  4. Why Trolls can be mages, I RP a Troll mage, and from my understanding of both the lore and my in-game experiences it can be justified through the simple concept of Voodoo.

    The Loa are the spirits Trolls worship, the Loa provide certain Trolls(Shadow Hunters) With certain powers, these powers are very similar to a Shamans(Hex, Healing Wave, and Lighting), a Druid’s(Healing, Shapeshifting but into a snake), and a Priest’s(Healing, Shackle Undead)….

    However, this is only the spells and abilities that are mentioned in previous lore, I think it would be safe to say that a some of the “Voodoo” Could be similar to that of a mages. And in fact when I think of a Witchdoctor I think of either a shadow priest(more likely) or a mage(still a possibility).

    The important thing to remember is that while game-wise all class are created equal, this isn’t the case lore wise, a Troll’s version of a mage would be a Tribal Leader, Vision Seeker, something of that nature, while a human’s mage is simply someone who controls the arcane. Just like the reason Shamans can summon wolves. That is a gameplay mechanic that is available to all shamans, but lore-wise the only people it would make sense for is Frostwolf orcs.

    “You be understandin now?”

  5. @ Wes

    Yes, that is good explanation. Because really in their worship of the Loa, they do such a varied amount of things that could be looked at as other practices and in-game they are represented as such. So to me, the trolls just call what they do different with their worship in the Loa. With their worship in the Loa being an umbrella term that covers all their practices that be considered shamanistic, priestly or mage-like.

    And yes, lore wise classes are very different for each race. Priests for example, be very different across races. Night elves, undead, blood elves and trolls being the more obvious with the rest generally being the same. Which is why its a shame that priest racial abilities were removed, as it was all that showed the distinction amongst each race.

  6. Having been around for at least sixteen thousand years, I think it’s safe to say that Trolls probably integrated the arcane into their repertoire at some point in that span.

    Since the Darkspear trolls seem to be the only subgroup of the species that have mages among their ranks, it’s possible that after being driven out of Stranglethorn generations prior to the First War, they started exploring new paths of power, either to separate themselves from the other tribes, or to harness greater power in a way that would let them go back to their ancestral homelands and wreak serious havoc.

    Another possibility is that, based on the greater proximity to the former Well of Eternity, some of the Darkspear may have simply found one particular “loa” more readily available and begun to extract the arcane out of traditional voodoo with deadly efficiency.

    As a troll mage, it’s really frustrating sometimes to try and establish a backstory for my character, and even more difficult to really get a foothold on where the Darkspear stand in terms of the Horde.

  7. “Add in the weirdness of shapeshifting, and the discomfort level goes up again.”

    Since I actually don’t know much about the lore, maybe someone could help me out here. But seeing as many troll tribes have animals as symbols of strength, and even undergo rituals to either transform themselves or use this strength, would that not be a common ground or point of understanding druids ?

  8. “So why do they have mage as one of their classes?”

    From what we understand, the trolls saw how powerful the elvish magic was in how it demolished their tribes, so they adapted to use the power of the elves against them. Thus began the tradition of troll magi.

  9. Abijah nailed it.

  10. Eh, I think troll magic began long before Elvish magic did. The Zandalarian Empire fought back the Aqir years before Night Elves appeared in Kalimdor. Just because their culture never conglomerated to the Order of Tirisfal or Dalaran, doesn’t mean they don’t have a magical discipline of their own.

    Like was mentioned, the discipline of the Mage probably didn’t differentiate itself from other magic-using classes until much later. But a Troll Mage in their culture is probably one of severe extremes. A traditional Gurubashi Mage is hir people’s bringer of destruction to their enemy, as well as village jester.

    Human, Gnome, Elvish, Undead, and possibly Draenei mages all have a very studious attitude and care with regard to the destructive capacity of a Mage, a Troll’s schooling is more colloquial, experimental, and disastrous.

  11. I think all magic (mojo) based abilities in wow are viewed as voodoo to the average troll, including things like alchemy and enchanting. What i wanna know is where are my flying bat mounts, and to a much greater lore aspect; throwing as a hunter. . . I also think that druidism can be a form of voodoo to most trolls since like tumble pointed out above most other tribes employ some form of it. With regards to the pain thing, im sure trolls while frothing at the mouth berserk definatly feel pain, but they use it just to get madder. I know the times ive been hurt while angry it really just makes me madder. As far as wolf summoning and things like that i think blizz should just make it so troll summon something else, same ability, but maybe ghost spiders? same with most other abilities like poly and i do think it would be neat to have troll druids that shift in to snakes instead of cats and i dont know wind serpents instead of boomkins and soemthing like a bog lord instead of a tree.

  12. To me, troll mages are more elemental. I mean sure it was most likely given to them as a mechanic, but still a troll hydromancer isn’t a far fetch. Or a fire “mage”. arcane makes no sense here heh.

    But remember they’re priests, just like humans or night elves when you talk mechanics. however lore wise they’re absolutely not the same. So the same argument can be made for elemental-based mages here I think.

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