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Trade Tongue: ("Bêlekân")

Giganthropus troglis

Trolls are a species of sentient hominid. They originated in the extensive savanna outward of the Silver Wood, around the Yari. They are of the sole living species of the genus Giganthropus.


A significant number of trolls (0.4 million) still live on the Yari savanna, but the species also inhabits a number of other areas. Favored areas are those that are no more than lightly inhabited by other species, fairly open and warm, and have enough game to support a population. These include the areas in the savanna, grasslands and chaparral in either direction from the Yari (another 0.3 million), as well as around the Âderin and Kâlanan Rivers, and as far as the River Dherat (almost 1 million combined). Another 1.2 million trolls live as laborers in the cities of other species and cosmopoliatan regions, as second-class citizens at best, slaves at worst.

Physical Characteristics

Trolls are by far the largest of the hominids. They evolved on the Yari savanna in the presence of other very large animals, both their prey and their predators. Large bodies among savanna animals are driven by more available food than in the grasslands, but more space than in woodlands or forest, as well for storing food and water for the long dry season.

Trolls, though tall and immensely strong, are not overly bulky as this would lead to rapid over-heating on the savanna. Their proportions (height to width) are quite similar to the other savanna hominids, the humans.

Females range from 200 to 230 cm and 95 to 125 kg. Sexual dimorphism is more pronounced among trolls than any other hominid and, males average 30 cm taller and 65 kg heavier.

Troll skin ranges from tan to deep tan, and is slightly reddish, similar to dwarves, but slightly deeper colored. Eyes are typically dark brown to black, though some groups have individuals with lighter brown or hazel eyes. Hair is dark brown or black, with occaisional reddish tints. Hair is typically fairly coarse, and ranges from almost- to tightly-curled.

Life Cycle

As eurycephalines, trolls have very long gestation periods and young less altricial than dolicocephalines. Trolls have the longest gestation period of any hominid. Also troll mothers produce richer milk than any other hominid and young trolls grow extremely rapidly, reaching their 2-meter-plus adult height by 11 years. The intense nutritional needs of this rapid growth are the cause of their higher infant mortality rate than other eurycephalines; and also the much more tightly defined weaning age.

Gestation Period: 330 days

Skull Fusion: 3 years
See the Life Cycle Key for definitions of characteristics.

Average Infant Mortality: 1 per 10 live births

Weaning: 4-5 years, average 4.5 years

Physical Maturity: 14-16 years

Life Span: 90 years

Trolls are no more primitve than other hominids, rather they have a different balance of derived (or developed) traits compared to other hominids. The hominid standard has been to develop extreme neoteny (the retention of child-like traits, such as learning and play for example) and to also increase size a little. But trolls, driven by adaptation to the conditions of their homeland, have turned it around. They are still, without question, more neotenous than the ancestral hominids, but less so than any other modern hominid.

They have traded the development of neoteny for their rapid growth and great size. Thus the period of extreme behavioral plasticity that all hominids share is significantly shorter than in any other modern hominids; and, while their learning ability rises faster and peaks higher than, a dwarf's or human's, it also drops sooner and faster, and levels out lower. This gives them less ability to adapt to new situations after childhood, which contributes both to the tendency to arch-conservatism among troll cultures, and to their reputation among the Trade Culture as stupid savages.

History and Culture

When the humans, and shortly thereafter the dwarves, first came to the Yari savannas around -300 to -200 GR, the contact was traumatic for the trolls. The trolls struggled for several generations trying to reach an equlibirium. Then, just as they started to develop strategies for dealing with the influx of human and dwarven explorers, settlers, and merchants (including slave-traders), came the coup-de-grace.

The trolls were hit with first one, and then several more diseases that jumped from humans and dwarves to troll hosts. The troll populations, living in realtively small, spread out groups, were totally vulnerable to the virulent epidemics brewed in the large human and dwarven population centers. The troll population was decimated.

By the time the epedemics had run their course, the troll numbers were few, their culture largely vanished, and the most fertile areas of their land under ever increasing encroachment. And they had a strong resentment of the new-comers. Many trolls populations took up a life of nomadic hunting, and heavily supplemented by raiding villages and caravans. A large number of trolls continue in this life-style, notably those of the Garaban culture. Because of this trolls have never been fully accepted as members of Trade Culture.

Over the past thousand years this image of the trolls as wretched, savage raiders or stupid menials has become so ingrained in many that some cannot believe that the ancient ruins, such as those on the cliffs overlooking the Yari Gel, could have been fashioned by trolls.

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