Friday, September 14, 2012

Jotund Troll

Aw, yeah.  Now this is what I’m talking about.  You all know I love me some mythic Norse stuff, and it doesn’t get much more mythic than nine(!)-headed trolls.  When a party encounters a nine-headed troll, it is clear they are somewhere else—Jotunland, Faerie, the North Pole, it doesn’t matter.  Civilization is gone.  You are in the Land of Giants, and the next stranger you meet might be a god, a troll, a wolf the size of a hill, a linnorm, or worse.

Then again, as we discussed with centaurs, if you like a really cosmopolitan, monsters-are-people-too campaign, jotund trolls are a great way to keep players on their toes and hit home the wonder of your world.  PCs will be much less likely to start overturning tables in the pub when the bouncer gets nine attacks of opportunity a round…

Belgrub the Eater is a spiritual icon (deity is too strong a term) of the trolls, ogres, and hill giants of the Ironmaw Mountains.  When he hungers for metaphysical soulmeat, he blesses the tribes with the birth of jotund trolls.  Barely able to feed themselves in the best of seasons, the tribes inevitably form war parties to raid the soft “downlanders” in the valleys nearby, and the resulting bloodshed swells Belgrub’s demonic belly.

A party of explorers is deep into the mountains when a blizzard threatens.  Coming across a giant-sized, crude-but-comfortable home, they discover a jotund troll.  Sure that the eye of Wotan is on him, the “head” head offers them hospitality if they can solve a riddle.  That done, the party is safe from the storm…until nightfall.  Convinced Wotan is asleep, the other eight heads decide it is time for a meal, and hospitality be damned.

Nine Petes is (are?) the bouncer (brawler archetype; see Ultimate Combat) for the Hangman’s Lover, a bar in the blustery city of Newford whose high-vaulted ceilings allow him plenty of room to work.  Nine Petes tends to keep several particularly sturdy stools on hand, both because his heads can never pick just one seat and to use as clubs when the need arises.  Thankfully, he(/they) also only rarely swallows patrons whole anymore.  (There was an incident with a wayang he’d rather not discuss.)

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 272

Wotan is, of course, another name for Odin. 

And note how nicely the brawler archetype’s No Escape rule meshes with Nine Petes’s All-Seeing Attacks

I have always wanted to run a low-to-medium magic Viking-inspired campaign, especially with players who could take law and oaths seriously, like my grad school friends.  (My current gaming friends are equally fun but much more roguish.) 

I was already into Norse mythology, thanks to Gods & Heroes from Viking Mythology by Brian Branston and Giovanni Caselli (part of the World Mythology Series, which I cannot recommend highly enough), and then my ninth grade history teacher assigned us the Icelandic Njál’s Saga, which opened by eyes to the world of weregild, hospitality, and feuds.  If you can get past the first part, which reads like Viking stereo instructions, there is a campaign in there.

Speaking of which, did anyone out there ever read the 2e HR1 Viking Campaigns Sourcebook?  I hear it was good.  And Ken Rolston’s GAZ7 The Northern Reaches definitely brought the North alive for D&D fans.

Yesterday syringesin asked, “Any reason why you never post pictures of the monsters you profile?  Just curious.  Actually, I prefer your format as it is, without the pictures.” 

Honestly, I’d love to post pictures.  But I’m really committed to making this blog 100% original content.  And since I can’t draw and only rarely take photographs, what you see is what you get.  That said, if any of my readers out there are great artists and want to send fan art, I’ll eagerly post it and give you credit.

Trust me, I know being all-text limits this blog’s appeal for some people.  But there are enough great people curating and reblogging out there already.  So I just do my thing and hope the 120 or so of you out there who dig it keep digging it.  (You all, however, are encouraged to like and reblog me like a fiend.)

Got a question or comment?  Ask away!

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