Why do trolls regenerate?

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Martin Persson

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The trolls in Norse mythology did not regenerate but more or less every troll in fantasy litterature, rolplaying games and computer games do. I am not looking for a physiological or evolutionary explanation, I can make up that myself, but from where the idea originated.
 

megan_d

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Huh. I don't think I've ever heard of regenerating trolls before. Which I guess means I'll be no help?
 

KimJo

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Trolls on these forums sometimes regenerate...

I think most monsters and characters in computer games can regenerate; otherwise the players would run out of things to kill.

A quick web search only turns up references to trolls regenerating in computer games and role-playing games; I can't find any references to them regenerating in literature, though that doesn't mean there aren't any. (Did I mention it was a *quick* search?) I would guess that the idea originated in role-playing games, but I don't know for sure.

That probably isn't much help either...Sorry.
 

areteus

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I think it was purely to give trolls something to distinguish them from other monsters that were very similar...
 

amyashley

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When I researched folklore on trolls, I never ran into this. It must be a gaming thing and thus not a very good idea to use in writing unless you want to target the gaming and D&D audience.

Much of troll mythology comes from Nordic legend. They are an insular folk, sometimes considered peaceful and sometimes darker intentioned. Stealth is reputed to be their greatest asset.
 

feather

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In the Norwegian fairy tales, trolls never regenerate. When they cut open their stomachs, they die. When they turn into stone, they remain stone. Might be different in other Scandinavian countries, but personally I've never heard about it before.

ETA: If you're interested in learning about old-time trolls, researching Jotner/Jötunns, Norwegian troll, and Swedish jætte or jätte might be good places to start. I have a blog post here with some quick and dirty info, if you're interested.
 
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Question

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I've never read about regenerating trolls either. I'm guessing its down to one of these reasons:
1. Supes generally have super-fast healing, like vamps/werewolves/etc.
2. Trolls are supposed to be big and bulky so it makes sense that they'd be able to soak up a lot of damage in a game. As D&D probably gives its creatures different abilities I'm assuming that regeneration -- in line with lots of health -- makes them a pain in the ass to kill?

I think 2 is more likely. Either way, troll folklore seems to focus a lot on their hate for Christians, or their tendency to eat people, or the fact that they're ugly, and a few other things that aren't coming to mind straight away. If you want trolls to regenerate quickly then you'll probably have to whip up a bit of mythology yourself :)
 

Adam

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I read about it in the Salavatore novels, but they're Wizards of the Lost Coast books (D+D based). I have to admit that I really like the idea, though. :)

Enemies that are very difficult to kill are always fun. Kinda like that one huge bad guy in action movies that seems to feel no pain. :D
 

amyashley

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feather, good links. :)

I'm very confused about the combination of gaming and fiction writing. Is this fanfic or fantasy to be published and put on the shelves?

question, not all supernaturals are quick healing. It really depends on the book and the author's interpretation.

Also, trolls are not always large, at least not according to legend. Some can be quite small, and it's been debated that they retain a static size.

At any rate, this again runs into the same issue that a thread did last week. If you choose to write about a creature that is established in floklore and legend, you are relatively obligated to research it yourself, which shouldn't be asking people their opinions unless they are experts. Experts do not include Dungeon Masters and guild members on WOW. Once you've researched, you can either ditch all the info, use all the info, or pick and choose. You can mingle it with whatever your mind can imagine, and as long as YOUR BOOK has integrity, it's fine. These are fantasy creatures, and thus there are not rules about them. It is bendable.

-vampires do not need to drink blood.
-trolls do not need to be big and ugly.
-werewolves don't need to turn fuzzy.

And so on. If you can imagine it and reason it out, it can work. I can probably find and cite examples of all of the above. In fact, I can cite and example of the second one that pertains to this particular discussion whose author netted a fabulously lucrative book contract just a few months ago.

Amanda Hocking ring a bell?
 

AceTachyon

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I'm very confused about the combination of gaming and fiction writing. Is this fanfic or fantasy to be published and put on the shelves?
Are you talking about the Dungeons and Dragons/Forgotten Realms/Eberron/Dragonlance/Battletech/Shadowrun novels?

Those are all written as work-for-hire.

As amadan pointed out earlier, the regenerating trolls came from Poul Anderson's novel and were popularized by Dungeons and Dragons.
 

areteus

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I'm very confused about the combination of gaming and fiction writing. Is this fanfic or fantasy to be published and put on the shelves?

There is a lot of fantasy fiction based on games out there. Pretty much every gaming franchise - from AD&D (pretty much all the settings) to computer games like Diablo and Resident Evil have had novel series out set in their worlds. Not always the best writing but they exist. If you know enough about a setting and can write well, I think you can make a reasonable living if you manage to get past the company's slush pile and into print.

As well as that, there are some who find roleplaying to be helpful in many aspects of writing. World building especially is a skill I have learnt by practising it while roleplaying. This, of course, assumes that one is creating your own unique world while playing and not using an existing one that a company has published already...

I've found that some of the things in old AD&D to be completely inaccurate compared to the myths they were based on (though I think AD&D was more based on Tolkien's trolls from the Hobbit rather than the myth directly - Tolkien, of course, probably derived some of his ideas from the myths). A few other things I considered to be complete nonsense in AD&D I have later found to be actually (and surprisingly) true. The use of maces by clerics being one (based on the ludicrous assumption that maces do not draw blood when clearly they do and clerics are not supposed to draw blood...). I found out a few years ago that this was actually the case in the Catholic church among some orders of Church knights and the no blood thing was why church trained physicians could not bleed someone, they had to have an assistant do it for them.

So, basing writing on games is not so unusual... and the information provided by game supplements are of varying accuracy :) Having known some friends who contributed to some game supplements and what they specialist knowledge is, I can say that some of them are very accurate.
 

amyashley

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I understand the gaming connected fiction, Ace, and the stuff Adam linked to. I was referring to the...I don't know what to call it. The stuff you find on Amazon for free-99cents about half-orcs. The not-so-good stuff with not-so-much of a plot and not-so-much of a character. I'm all for all the rest and fully support all of my indie author pals. It's the odd hybrid things that are like a long conversation of a dice-roll that turned into a book and shouldn't have.


I also still don't know what the original poster wants: info on trolls as they first appeared in legends, info on trolls as they were adapted in fiction, or info on trolls as they were later adapted in gaming.

And I'm still very wary of any of us acting like any of it is truth, because one idea is no better than any other and all of these creatures are fictional at their core- made up, so any answers are just conjecture.

I'll bow out gracefully. It's obviously a topic that gets me hot and I've nothing of value to contribute on the subject of gaming as I'm not a gamer myself.

Sorry if I blew a fuse and mussed the room up. :(
 

AceTachyon

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I was referring to the...I don't know what to call it. The stuff you find on Amazon for free-99cents about half-orcs. The not-so-good stuff with not-so-much of a plot and not-so-much of a character. I'm all for all the rest and fully support all of my indie author pals. It's the odd hybrid things that are like a long conversation of a dice-roll that turned into a book and shouldn't have.
I try not to make mine dice-roll-conversations-turned-into-a-book books/stories. :D

And I'm pretty certain the OP was answered early on.
 

areteus

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Oh, that sort of stuff happens because gamers are sometimes writers too and they don't understand that something that was cool in thier game may not be cool in a novel :)

There is also a hell of a lot of bad fantasy around which is not connected to gaming... and bit of it is actually published...

I don't think anyone was saying anything definitive. Most posts I have read on this are looking at possibilities and suggesting places for the OP to look for ideas. He was asking whether the idea of regenerating trolls from games had any basis in myth and the majority seem to say no because the trolls in nordic myth were nothing like the trolls in AD&D (which most gaming trolls seem to derive from).
 

efkelley

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Trolls regenerate because the internet is a never-ending font of vitriol. Them trolls do loooove that vitriol.

Also, because Gygax wrote it that way.
 

GeorgeK

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Gygax was just copying Poul Anderson...

among others

Actually I think it would be an interesting plot/ploy when the two gamers (Punchy and Stabby) get sucked into fantasy land and they are supposed to get information from an unwilling troll and Stabby gashes the troll in the neck.

Punchy, "What'd you do that for?"

"He'll regenerate. I'm just interrogating him.

"Then why is he still bleeding and making that gurgling sound?"

"They did say he was a troll right?"

"Dude, he looks dead."

"He'll get better, watch."

"I am watching. You killed him, Stabby."

"Oops"
 

Snick

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You might want to go with the actual Trolls. They were the people of the Arctic before the Eskimos. It appears that they were not up to the competition for resource. The last of tem died on an island in Hudson's Bay. Their culture was known as the Dorset culture. There isn't a huge amount online about them, but enough to make some thing up.
 

blacbird

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I didn't know trolls did that. I always thought of them as big strong mean stupid sumbitches who lived in caves or under bridges and ate people they didn't like, which was pretty much everybody. I think you play too many RPGs.

caw
 

Mann Crux

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feather, good links. :)

I'm very confused about the combination of gaming and fiction writing. Is this fanfic or fantasy to be published and put on the shelves?

Could be either. It could even be a piece in it's own right. China Mieville's work is littered with stuff that pays homage to or is directly influenced by gaming, particularly DnD if I remember correctly. I think the appeal lies in the fact not only does it offer a rich and existing mythology to draw from and make your own, but given the fantasy fanbase it's more than likely that potential readers will be able to recognise the inspiration behind certain ideas, which is always nice.


I didn't know trolls did that. I always thought of them as big strong mean stupid sumbitches who lived in caves or under bridges and ate people they didn't like, which was pretty much everybody. I think you play too many RPGs.

caw

You trying to say dat all trolls are fick or sumt'ing? You don't know what der goohuloog you're talkin' about! Dis type o' rampant trollophobia is wot's ruinin' society dese days. I'm reportin' dis to da Silicon Anti-Defamation League!

:D
 
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