Last year, we produced no less than ten player character races in Exotic Encounters. We were pretty proud of ourselves, but in retrospect, I feel like we may have gone too broad with our races, and not gone deep enough. So this year, we’re aiming to make fewer races, but we’re going to give them a greater helping of support. One way we’re doing that, is by giving each race its own entire theme week, which is a major part of why Exotic Encounters has moved to Mondays.
Today, I have the pleasure of presenting you with a new player character race for anyone who’s ever wanted to play a troll. No, you don’t get constant regeneration, and it’s not horribly game-breaking, but we think it captures the feel of a troll, and it does give you a lesser, regeneration-like ability. But rather than have me pick the whole thing apart, why not take a look for yourselves? And don’t forget to come back tomorrow for a special racial archetype just for members of this race.
The unnatural offspring of humans (or, more rarely, elves or dwarves) and trolls, these half-breeds are generally reviled by both of their parent societies: full-blooded trolls consider them weak and pathetic, and generally abuse these “lesser” kin, whereas more civilized races find the features of troll-kin to be twisted and hideous, and must struggle to deal with their excessively savage instincts. Most troll-kin manage to carve out a niche in one of their two parents’ cultures, but a few, whether they simply cannot find acceptance, or because they refuse to compromise their nature, strike out to find a place somewhere between these two extremes.
Physical Description: As a mixture of troll and human blood, troll-kin bear some features from each of their parent races. Their arms and legs are generally somewhat longer and more slender than a human’s, and are comprised of shifting, ropy muscles. Their skin ranges from human-like tones, only slightly more pallid, grey, and waxy than their parent’s skin might have been, to a sickly pale green, and everywhere in between. Most troll-kin have mottled skin, which looks like a kind of patchwork of several different shades in this spectrum.
Troll-kin generally have oversized, bulbous noses, with huge, flaring nostrils. Those living among trolls often have their noses horribly bashed in or disfigured by their kin, who do so as a reminder that the troll-kin are not true trolls, but are “small noses,” like their human parent. Troll-kin generally have small, beady black eyes and stringy black hair, which is typically too sparse to be styled in any way that would be remotely attractive to human society.
Troll-kin have a reputation for smelling horrible, in human society, at least, and most are quick to chalk this up to their feral nature and a lack of proper hygiene. While these claims generally have at least some truth to them, even the most fastidiously clean troll-kin will still bear a strong odor, for they naturally produce a pungent musk, although their scent is remarkably less powerful than that of a full-blooded troll (for their part, most trolls consider the troll-kin’s relative lack of scent to be a sign of weakness and infertility).
Society: For the most part, troll-kin do not have any society of their own. Though there are rare exceptions, they are generally born from violence, as a troll mates with an unwilling member of another species. Unlike many races born of conflict in this way, a troll-kin is actually more likely to have a troll mother than a troll father, because while both genders of trolls engage in this sort of activity, they often kill and/or devour the parent not long after, meaning that human mothers of troll-kin rarely survive long enough to give birth. There are exceptions, of course, where a human mother is able to escape or is rescued before she is devoured, and it is generally in these cases that a troll-kin comes to be raised in human society.
There are other circumstances that can lead a troll-kin to human society, however. Although very uncommon, there have been cases where a human and a troll have fallen in love and borne children, and in these cases, the child is far more likely to be raised amongst humans than amongst trolls. More commonly, the troll-kin child is simply abandoned in the wilderness by its troll parent (for trolls place very little value, if any, on half-breed children), and is lucky enough to be found by a sentient and compassionate creature who sees that it has a good home.
Troll-kin rarely do well in human society. Their hideous appearances set them at a marked disadvantage, and most of those who see them assume the worst about them. Unfortunately, many of these assumptions have a grain of truth to them, and troll-kin living in civilized societies are constantly struggling to repress their more wild and feral urges, especially their cravings for raw meat (especially that of sentient creatures). Troll-kin’s short tempers are often exacerbated by the cruel treatment they receive, and even those who are well-raised may still be unable to exist peacefully within human society.
However difficult the life of a troll-kin in human society may be, it is far preferable to life amongst the trolls. In this society where the strong rule and the weak are preyed upon, troll-kin are at a marked disadvantage. Assuming that they survive into adolescence (for their troll parent rarely bothers to ensure that they are well fed or cared for, and occasionally they may even be viewed as a convenient snack by other trolls), a troll-kin can expect to spend its life at the bottom of the social totem pole. Many trolls take great delight in continually wounding the troll-kin in new and unusual ways, and then remarking on how he is unable to heal the scars that are left by this torture.
Although some troll-kin are able to scrape by living in the world of one of their parents, very few troll-kin ever do so comfortably, or well. Many are driven out, one way or another, and become outcasts, wanderers, or adventurers.
Relations: Troll-kin tend to get along poorly with members of both races whose heritage they share, and the childhood traumas common to troll-kin lives typically serve to fan the flames of their troll blood’s already strong tendencies towards violence and anger. Many toll-kin grow hateful and resentful of the world around them, causing them to get on poorly with members of every race. Some troll-kin, especially those raised in civilization, under the eye of caring guardians, can avoid this fate, and become relatively well-adjusted members of society, but even then, they are generally scorned for their appearance and heritage, and only the most exceptional troll-kin are able to achieve any real measure of acceptance in society at large.
When driven into isolation, some troll-kin form loose alliances and bands with other monstrous outcasts. They tend to get along especially well with hags and their ilk, and sometimes take up with orcs, gnolls, goblins, and other monstrous humanoids.
Alignment and Religion: For the most part, troll-kin follow the same religious beliefs and teachings as the society in which they are raised. While they have tendencies towards chaotic and evil alignments, and are often plagued by strong sadistic impulses, troll-kin can be of any alignment, and it is not uncommon for troll-kin, especially those raised in human society, to strongly reject their trollish heritage and develop strongly lawful good tendencies as a means to compensate.
Adventurers: Those troll-kin who live the most successful lives tend to become adventurers. In addition to providing a constructive outlet for all of their violent urges, the adventuring profession greatly values the strength and vitality that a troll-kin can provide. It also tends to keep the troll-kin just far enough away from most civilized society to prevent him from having to deal with the sorts of frictions that seem to be attracted to troll-kin in such settings, while still allowing him to occasionally enjoy the benefits of civilization (the fact that successful adventurers can become fabulously wealthy also assists in finding a place in society). Troll-kin fighters, barbarians, and the like are highly prized by many adventuring outfits and mercenary companies. Troll-kin tend to gravitate towards martial classes, especially barbarian.
Male Names: Brargr, Dargo, Krohg, Mordak, Raszt, Shad, Torg, Ungtar, Varst, Zok
Female Names: Bjarna, Drava, Farda, Halda, Kesst, Nusha, Smora, Tharm, Undja, Volga
Standard Racial Traits
Ability Score Racial Traits: Troll-kin are strong and tough, but are hideous and simple creatures. They gain +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, and -2 Charisma.
Type: Troll-kin are humanoids with the giant subtype.
Size: Troll-kin are Medium creatures, and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Base Speed: Troll-kin have a base speed of 30 feet.
Languages: Troll-kin begin play speaking Common and Giant. Troll-kin with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following languages: Abyssal, Aklo, Gnoll, Goblin, Infernal, Orc, Terran, or Undercommon.
Defensive Racial Traits
Iron Stomach (Ex): Troll-kin’s stomachs are capable of digesting just about anything, granting them a +4 racial bonus on saving throws made to resist ingested poisons and diseases.
Offensive Racial Traits
Berserk (Ex): Once per day, as a swift action, a troll-kin can call upon inner reserves of feral rage and ferocity, unleashing the full power of his trollish heritage upon his foes. While using this ability, the troll-kin gains a +2 morale bonus to his Strength and Constitution scores, his natural armor bonus to AC increases by +2, and he gains an amount of fast healing equal to his Constitution modifier (including the morale bonus granted by this ability). These benefits last for 1 minute.
Skill and Feat Racial Traits
Frightening Visage: Troll-kin’s faces are twisted and distorted, giving them an intimidating façade. Troll-kin receive a +2 racial bonus on Intimidate checks, and always treat Intimidate as a class skill.
Senses Racial Traits
Darkvision: Troll-kin can see perfectly in the dark up to 60 feet.
Low-Light Vision: Troll-kin can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Scent: Troll-kin have a heightened sense of smell, and can detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. This functions as the scent universal monster ability, except that the troll-kin must spend a move action to activate the ability, and must spend a move action each round to maintain the effect.
Miscellaneous Racial Traits
Incredible Metabolism (Ex): Troll-kin share their trollish parents’ incredible appetite, and by consuming vast quantities of food, can restore their body more quickly. If a troll-kin consumes at least three times the normal amount of food for a Medium-sized creature in a single day, he regains twice the normal benefits for resting that night (typically this is 2 hit points per Hit Dice, and 2 points of ability score damage, if any).
Stunted Age (Ex): Though they do not possess the full regenerative capabilities of trolls, troll-kin’s bodies are extremely resilient to the effects of aging. A troll-kin does not gain any benefits or penalties for aging beyond middle age (the benefits and penalties of middle age apply normally). A troll-kin does not have a maximum age, and troll-kin that do not die of unnatural means can theoretically live forever.