Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls
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Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls
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02-27-2013 12:12 AM
Post: #1
Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



Till Offline
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I've started reading the background book to learn more about the Troglodytes and especially the shadowtrolls. I've wondered about the ingame capabilities of the shadowtrolls.

It is mentioned that they wrap themselves in rags and rusty armor to interact with the other races. Since fighting usually is a brutal thing I wondered what capabilities shadowtrolls would have if they don't stick to this polite gesture. Does the clothing hamper them in any way? Would they be more frightfull? Somwhere I've read that they wear those helmets to conceal the horrible visage. Is the dark dust cloud in the picture on page 147 a shadowtroll without clothing?

The text also mentions their half substantial form. So I would assume since they do have a form if you beat the crap out of them and they fall down they are really dead. Purged from existence and don't have a special ability of reapearing somewhere?
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02-27-2013 01:36 AM
Post: #2
RE: Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



Raoul Offline
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Well, I'll try to sum up some things, even if I need to simplify it a bit:

Shadow Trolls are an elemental race originating from the elemental Plane of Shadow. They consist of the shadows of other beings, animated by their Vanitan gods with elemental spirits. Due to this animation of shadows (not of flesh like with most other elemental races) you could describe their nature as somewhat between elementals and spectres.

There are different branches of Shadow Trolls, depending on the nature of the creature(s) whose shadow was/were used as the substance of the Shadow Troll. Longshadows, the most common kind of Shadow Troll, consist of a quite balanced mix of shadows from different kinds of beings, whereas Lighteaters use the shadows of beings belonging to the element fire (eg Firedrakes).

So as members of a rather special elemental race they are no mortals, but indeed they can die and are not immortal in an invulnarable or ever-resurrecting way!
Shadow-Trolls even have to feed, and they do this by sucking the life-force out of the shadow of other creatures. And they need to rest periodically to not lose their grip on the material plane.
They even have their own way of reproduction, although that has nothing to do with the mating of most other species. Instead, they can hibernate and split a part from their inner spirit to create some "clone-like" offspring.

To a mortal, they - even without armor - appear simply as a flickering shadow, their silhouette sometimes clearer, sometimes obscure. The dust cloud in the left background on page 147 is just a dust cloud - the "tail" of the shadow troll whispering into the ear of the Trolloth noble gives you a good idea of their "natural" appearance.
So wearing rags and armor gives them more substance for the mortal eye (and even for the eyes of their Trolloth companions). But these things don't hinder them in any way, not even to fadeshift or to flicker into an ethereal state.

Btw, to a member of an elemental race, their shadow form has some resemblance of the opposing element. A Firedrake sees them as wet and watery, while a Niad sees a dark flame around them.

They have no real consistend visage, but they can materialize some kind of face (compare the rapacious "face" the Lighteater materializes on the artwork).
The reason why their gaze is feared the most, is because it is said that to look into the face of a Shadow Troll means to look into the deepest shadows of your own soul...

Hope this answers part of your questions. Smile

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02-27-2013 01:03 PM
Post: #3
RE: Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



Till Offline
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Thank you for answering so far. Maybe I'm overthinking it because I'm too much of a RPG gamer, but now I'm curious. I'm even tempted to write a background story for the Obsidian Nightmare that will lead my troops.

The fear of the visage of the shadowtrolls seem to be a myth or maybe only true for some special kinds of shadowtroll. Else they would use that to frighten their enemies in meele. Wouldn't they?

The necessity to feed seems to be a special condition of the material plane, correct? Because I would be surprised if there would be enough non-shadow creatures on the shadow plane to feed the native shadow elementals. Would be the same monster-in-the-dungeon-that-feeds-on-adventurers-paradox. Or do the shadow elementals on the plane of shadows do have a way to feed on the live force without consuming the source on the material plane?

According to their way of reproduction I'm confused. So they reproduce in a way like amoebas do segmentation, kind of cloning. But the kind of elemental depends on the shadow of the living being used for this self-cloning? Is there meant whose shadows the shadowtroll did consume most of the time beforehand?

This is especially interesting because of the posibility to transform mortal souls (spiritual, non-physical entity) into elementals (usually entities of flesh and blood) whose shadow can then be used to create shadow-elementals. Or can shadow elementals directly be created from a mortal soul?

The humans are regarded as mortals. So is it safe to assume that the other sentinent beings (animals and monsters most surely doesn't get considered) are immortal in the sense of not dying to old age? So the e.g. the dwarfes who are the earth elementals, or the Trolloth who had also been there before the "creation of mortals". Is this also true for Gnolls who had been created afterwards?

If a shadowtroll got beaten to death I would assume that his half ethereal body is still there. And if it doesn't get buried, cremated in a way I would assume that they make for quite an interesting raw material for crafting. Especially the reaver I think wouldn't shy away from that. Or does something happen that prevents this.
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02-27-2013 01:57 PM
Post: #4
RE: Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



Raoul Offline
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You're welcome to write background stories. I do the same Smile
Besides, who knows: at some point we might suddenly get a Godslayer RPG, and then there will be vast amounts of fluff about all the things yet untold. Big Grin

However, I try to answer some things, again in short:

If a Shadow Troll dies, the shadow "corpse" fades away over time, leaving only rags and stuff behind. A Reaver would not have much fun with it.

The term Mortals is used for Humans and Ogres. While the other sentient races are not Mortals in this sense, not all of them live endlessly (respectivley die only by violence). However there are "immortals" like the Aetherions, and even members of the elder races can at least get really really (really) old (seemingly immortal to mortals). Beastspawn on the other hand are not considered Mortals, but don't live very long (mostly due to a savage death, granted). Gnolls are something else, they are a (somewhat flawed) special breed thrown in as fast-reproducing "arrow fodder" to counter the spread of Mortals, and they have proven to be far from immortal.

Well, the reproduction of the Shadow Trolls is quite an engima. Yes, they do something like "segmentation", and the new shadow troll created this way is of the same shadow-essence as its "parent". Thus, a Lighteater creates a Lighteater, and so on. The shadow-essence (also used for reproduction) does not depend on the diet of the shadow troll in case, but of the shadow substance used during its initial creation (by Tenebraon).

The Psychomorphosis Rite of turning mortal souls into elemental spirits is completely unrelated to this way of reproduction. A Mortal soul would directly be turned into a elemental spirit of shadow.

Indeed, feeding is made necessary by the presence on the material plane. They need to rest and feed to not lose their strength and their grip onto the material plane. A shadow troll not feeding and resting for years would just fade away, like a shadow in the rising sun.

Well, the fear of the Shadow Trolls is quite real (though it might not all have to do with their visages). Longshadows might not be too different from others of the countless dangers of Calydorn, but the sight of a Lighteater or even a Nightmare can turn a man into a screaming bundle. Smile

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02-28-2013 01:19 PM
Post: #5
RE: Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



David Offline
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99% of what Raoul exoplained is exactly right.

To clarify a couple of your questions about the Mythology:
At the beginning of the Elemental Age there were elemental races which entered the Material Plane and they were indeed deathless. They were however not so effective interacting with the forces and creatures of the Material Plane because the consisted almost exclusively of one element.

Later elemental races incorporated the Secret of Flesh which they gained from the Dhannya - Mother of the Cosmos. Because the typical elemental races of the present (includes Dwarves and Trolloth and Gnolls) are part flesh, they are definitely not deathless. They have long life-spans of a few hundred years mostly (Gnolls much less because they are more flesh than elemental shadow).

Shadow Trolls are an exception. They were pure elemental creatures (like the above-mentioned early elemental creatures), who were swept into the Material Plane during a cataclysm when the element of Darkness came into being. Over the centuries their nature has become more fixed within the reality of the Material Plane. For this reason, Shadow Trolls are deathless in terms of aging, but if their substance is sufficiently damaged, they will lose their grip in the Material Plane and fade back into the Plane of Shadow.

Regarding the reproduction, under certain rare circumstances, a shadow may cast a shadow of itself, and thereby create a less substantial version or child of itself which may grow strong into a full Shadow Troll. Otherwise creation of Shadow Trolls takes place only in the Plane of Shadow.

Mythology commonly known on Calydorn says that Mortals undergoing the mystic psychomorphosis rite (converting their Mortal soul into an elemental spirit) retain their normal physical form. Upon death, they become essentially the same kind of lifeform as a Shadow Troll. The only difference is that most Shadow Trolls are formed (as Raoul mentioned) as a shadow of another elemental creature (fire, air, earth, ice), whereas these Shadow spirits created from Mortal souls are something else....

The dubious practice of Psychomorphosis is relatively new in the cosmos and the elemental spirits created this way have been little studied. Partly because this transformation ritual is considered a heretical abomination by most Mortals and Elemental Creatures - a sort of evil, black-magic. Only a few extreme cultures have widely permitted or encouraged it in the past. Notably the Theocracy of the Sacred Flame which during the Halcyon Age was a world-spanning religion of sun-worship, bent on converting all Mortals to elemental fire spirits. The result was cosmic elemental imbalance and catastrophe. It was Sun-Dance Prophet Morguri, (who founded the Theocracy of the Sacred Flame) who first discovered the process of Psychomorphosis.

Shortly after the destruction of the Theocracy, during the Dark Age, some Troglodyte nations engaged in a crusade to forcibly convert Mortals to elemental Shadow souls in the belief that this could help prevent a future similar imbalance as happened with Fire (since Shadow is the elemental force of cosmic balance).

Now today the Stygian Races of Darkness have begun converting Mortal souls into elemental spirits of Darkness...

No one knows what the result will be, but it surely cannot be a good thing.... :-)
(This post was last modified: 02-28-2013 05:02 PM by David.)
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02-28-2013 01:43 PM
Post: #6
RE: Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



Raoul Offline
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Darkness is anathema to Shadow and thus shall be cast out of the cosmos!
A true Troglodyte follows the path of Twilight Purity. Smile

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03-04-2013 11:35 PM
Post: #7
RE: Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



Till Offline
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So no reaver assasin commandos wrapped in shadowtroll-skin-cloaks. Good to know. Now I can sleep again. ^^

OK, this is all really nice to know and I think a big picture is forming slowly.

So the title mortals refers to humans and ogres, although nearly all creatures are mortal creatures. There are only some rare exceptions for really supernatural fantasy beings like e.g. the "true elemtal" creatures. But from all those mortal creatures only humans and ogres which are referred to as mortals have the capability to transform their soul into an elemental being. This allows many speculations about what Asrae, who created the 2 mortal races, intended with this special feature. Or how this special feature is to be regarded from the other races. Where they designed to be fast breeding embryos for the elemental races? Is there a greater fate destined to be fullfilled by the humans and ogres for which they need to grow over their mortal bodies? I really love the potential of this.

So converting mortal souls into elementals is a bad thing because of multiple reasons. Well the main reason ingame would most probably be that the ruler who decided it to be evil couldn't adapt to this potential, was afraid of loosing control and power and therefore declared it evil. But still noone knows yet exactly what is happening if a mortal soul is converted and second it threatens the elemental balance if mortal souls are conferted to elementals.
Luckily the last point can get ignored if shadowtrolls are created, because shadow is by definition the balanced element and more of something balanced should only strengthen the balance. This means there shouldn't be a darker material plane if there were an abundance of shadowtrolls. At least in theory because this was never tested.

On the other hand the mere presence of shadowtrolls on the material plane is something creation never intended. Only because of an accident, caused by the desperate actions of Umbranth to create the Black Maw and let him devour Sindaron which leat to a cataclysm and the creation of darkness, there are shadowtrolls on the material plane. And those shadowtrollss are confronted with needs not known to them before. They need to devour the life force of other sentinent beings through their shadows to stay alive. No more leaning back and enjoying the beauty of creation for an aeon. Every day struggle to get fed, every day struggle to stay alive. There have to be some (even shadowtrolls themself) that see that as a mistake. Some that regard the presence of a shadowtroll on the material plane which therefore has to kill to remain in existence is an error by itself. Especially because the way back to the shadow plane is so easy as to vanish, to not devour life force. Luckily one can help that by beating the crap out of them. "Those selfish bastards killed my child only because they don't want to go back from where they came. The so called guardians of elemental balance must be evil. Lets all slaughter them and restore the cosmic order." rant from a random person.

Lots of potential for ideologies, for different ways of thinking. Maybe its not even clear to the shadowtrolls that they will pass to the shadow plane after vanishing. After all is there direct contact to the plane of shadows or did someone come back to the material plane after vanishing? Is there really a confirmation for that ingame? And if it is clear to them, how does the shadowtrolls justify their need to kill for the sake of staying on a plane Tenebraon never intended for them to be on? Love it. So many potential for torn apart personalities, wicked pseudo religious sects, and social tension. Really love it.

Sadly Davids post confused me about the reproduction cycles of the shadowtrolls so I sum it up again the way I understood it. I thought that Tenebraon initially created the basic shadowtroll types and that the shadows used during this creation defined the base type (Lighteater or Longshadow atm.) of shadowtroll. Then during "lifetime" a shadowtroll can follow the path of twilight to get enlightned and become another more exalted type of shadowtroll like the Obsidian Nightmare. (If the base type is still of interest on the Path of Twilight is still unclear.) Now if a shadowtroll segmentates it creates a new shadowtroll of the same type. So a Lighteater that segmentates creates a Lighteater, a Longshadow a Longshadow and an Obsidian Nightmare an Obsidian Nightmare. But the segmentation rate/outcome is not dependend on the number or the type of consumed shadows from living creatures, right?
I just try to clarify this because being able to increase the number/quality of soldiers is a huge power factor. And having a slow growing powerfull species that can use the birth rates of faster paced species sounds like a war winner on a strategic level. (Thats why its easily understandable that the Theocracy of the Flame was so powerful.) On the tabletop, especially on the skirmish level, it obviously has no influence. But since shadowtrolls can't follow the path of darkness itself I try to think of a darker way to interpret the Path of Twilight and this possibly opens the door for me. ^^ Even though some other Troglodytes might regard that as heresy.

So David stated that shadowtrolls if their substance is severly damaged will fade back to the Plane of Shadows. Is there a way to summon them back?

One other question that urges me to ask is. The shadowtrolls in the core rulebook are not trained warrios, right? Lighteater and Longshadow is a clasification of race not training and an Obsidian Nightmare is a religiously exalted shadowtroll. They are that powerfull because they are from a powerful race but basically they are civilians which also reflects nicely in their low LEAD and MEL. Is it planned that there are also trained and equipped fighters/assasins/scouts under the shadowtrolls?

And just another question. The Stygian races are the children of Umbranth. Can one expect to see them in the tabletop? If so as own force or as part of the Troglodytes?
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03-05-2013 09:21 PM
Post: #8
RE: Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



David Offline
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So the title mortals refers to humans and ogres, although nearly all creatures are mortal creatures. There are only some rare exceptions for really supernatural fantasy beings like e.g. the "true elemtal" creatures. But from all those mortal creatures only humans and ogres which are referred to as mortals have the capability to transform their soul into an elemental being. This allows many speculations about what Asrae, who created the 2 mortal races, intended with this special feature. Or how this special feature is to be regarded from the other races. Where they designed to be fast breeding embryos for the elemental races? Is there a greater fate destined to be fullfilled by the humans and ogres for which they need to grow over their mortal bodies? I really love the potential of this.

Yes, although most living entities in the cosmos die, the term "Mortals" refers to Ogres and Humans, and the cross breed of the two (Gargants). However, many other races also clump Banebrood in with Mortals since they were originally Mortals who were exposed to the warping Baneplague.

The races can be roughly divided into:
Mortals - created by the Asrae from the same stuff from which they are formed. They were late-comers into the cosmos.
Elemental Races (Dwarves, Troglodytes, Sylphs, Niads etc), all of which were created by the "Old Gods" or "Vanitans".
Immortals (Primarily Aetherions and fairies, etc, all of which originated in the Aethernatos Planes)
Elder Races - Bipedal animals with sentience, supposedly created by Dhannya, the mother of the cosmos.
Stygian Races - The spawn of the Shadow Goddess Umbranth who later rejected Shadow and embraced Darkness.

The creation of Mortals was not an easy task for the Asrae, and they had no know-how to do this naturally, in fact they had to steal the information by travelling back in time to a point when Dhannya was vulnerable. Perhaps the Asrae intended for the Mortal Races to have this potential for Psycho-morphosis into elemental spirits. Or perhaps this was secretly intended by Dhannya and the Asrae were duped. Or perhaps it is just a natural byproduct of the nature of Mortal souls or the nature of the cosmos. At this point it is conjecture but perhaps we will reveal some of these sescrets in future stories.


So converting mortal souls into elementals is a bad thing because of multiple reasons. Well the main reason ingame would most probably be that the ruler who decided it to be evil couldn't adapt to this potential, was afraid of loosing control and power and therefore declared it evil. But still noone knows yet exactly what is happening if a mortal soul is converted and second it threatens the elemental balance if mortal souls are conferted to elementals.
Luckily the last point can get ignored if shadowtrolls are created, because shadow is by definition the balanced element and more of something balanced should only strengthen the balance. This means there shouldn't be a darker material plane if there were an abundance of shadowtrolls. At least in theory because this was never tested.

Yes in theory you are correct. Shadow is the balancer, and Shadow does tend to grow as any of the other 4 primary elements grows. In essence each of the four elements casts a shadow of itself onto the Plane of shadow, and naturally strengthens the element of shadow as it does so.
The majority of the selemental struggle is conducted directly between the elemental 4 diametrically opposed planes of fire, earth, air and ice. the Plane of shadow is in contact with all four and wages constant war.
They do not all do this consciously in an altruistic crusade; instead, warfare is a natural part of the Troglodyte psyche, and so they perform this role naturally by attacking any percieved threat.

Unfortunately, the Material Plane at the centre is a special case. Here the elements co-exist much more easily, and creation of elemental creatures on the Material Plane is difficult. elementals can be conjured through powerful rituals, but Shadow Trolls cannot just wander from the Plane of Shadow into the Material Plane whenever they want. In fact it was an unforseen accident which swept most Shadow Trolls onto the Material Plane when the element of Darkness was born.
So maintaining balance on the Material Plane are the regular Troglodytes, and when some group of fanatics initiates a worldwide crusade to transform Mortals into a particular type of elemental spirit (As happened with the theocracy of the Sacred Flame), the Troglodytes can be easily overpowered.

Adding even greater difficulty is the rising power of Darkness. Shadow cannot exist within complete Darkness and Darkness casts no shadow, so the growth of the eleemntal Plane of Darkness does not generate a counter-growth in the Plane of Shadow. And so, the rise of Darkness is going pretty much unchacked except for the recent wars being waged by the Troglodytes upon the Material Plane. As if their tasks was not hard enough, a good portion of Troglodytes were seduced by Darkness and embraced the new element. Meanwhile Mortals are continuously encroaching on their acestral lands and tying up resources in wars against their civilizations.

No wonder then that Troglodytes view Mortals as a huge threat and work to wipe them out.



On the other hand the mere presence of shadowtrolls on the material plane is something creation never intended. Only because of an accident, caused by the desperate actions of Umbranth to create the Black Maw and let him devour Sindaron which leat to a cataclysm and the creation of darkness, there are shadowtrolls on the material plane. And those shadowtrollss are confronted with needs not known to them before. They need to devour the life force of other sentinent beings through their shadows to stay alive. No more leaning back and enjoying the beauty of creation for an aeon. Every day struggle to get fed, every day struggle to stay alive. There have to be some (even shadowtrolls themself) that see that as a mistake. Some that regard the presence of a shadowtroll on the material plane which therefore has to kill to remain in existence is an error by itself. Especially because the way back to the shadow plane is so easy as to vanish, to not devour life force. Luckily one can help that by beating the crap out of them. "Those selfish bastards killed my child only because they don't want to go back from where they came. The so called guardians of elemental balance must be evil. Lets all slaughter them and restore the cosmic order." rant from a random person.

Exactly

Lots of potential for ideologies, for different ways of thinking. Maybe its not even clear to the shadowtrolls that they will pass to the shadow plane after vanishing. After all is there direct contact to the plane of shadows or did someone come back to the material plane after vanishing? Is there really a confirmation for that ingame? And if it is clear to them, how does the shadowtrolls justify their need to kill for the sake of staying on a plane Tenebraon never intended for them to be on? Love it. So many potential for torn apart personalities, wicked pseudo religious sects, and social tension. Really love it.
Some believe that return to their plane of origin is certain and guaranteed. Others believe that this is only possible when they are far advanced along their particular Path of Purity (an esoteric religion practiced by all elemental races encouraging them to shed their material essence and return to elemental purity). Others believe that praying to the Vanitans can accomplish return, while others believe that return to their plane is just a fairy-tale sold by religious zealots to gain converts. And Many are probably undecided.

Sadly Davids post confused me about the reproduction cycles of the shadowtrolls so I sum it up again the way I understood it. I thought that Tenebraon initially created the basic shadowtroll types and that the shadows used during this creation defined the base type (Lighteater or Longshadow atm.) of shadowtroll. Then during "lifetime" a shadowtroll can follow the path of twilight to get enlightned and become another more exalted type of shadowtroll like the Obsidian Nightmare. (If the base type is still of interest on the Path of Twilight is still unclear.) Now if a shadowtroll segmentates it creates a new shadowtroll of the same type. So a Lighteater that segmentates creates a Lighteater, a Longshadow a Longshadow and an Obsidian Nightmare an Obsidian Nightmare. But the segmentation rate/outcome is not dependend on the number or the type of consumed shadows from living creatures, right?

Yes pretty much correct.
You classify them, but in fact they are all essentially shades of the same thing. The offspring created is infact some kind of a shadow Troll or an Obsidian nightmare would be the same. It would be like the child of a king and the child of a farmer are essentially still the same.
Lighteaters are a different case, they are some truly primal form of Shadow feared even by Shadow Trolls, and I doubt that they would be able to produce a shadow of themselves in the same way as other Shadow Trolls, instead, that shadow would just meld back into the Lighteater.


I just try to clarify this because being able to increase the number/quality of soldiers is a huge power factor. And having a slow growing powerfull species that can use the birth rates of faster paced species sounds like a war winner on a strategic level. (Thats why its easily understandable that the Theocracy of the Flame was so powerful.) On the tabletop, especially on the skirmish level, it obviously has no influence. But since shadowtrolls can't follow the path of darkness itself I try to think of a darker way to interpret the Path of Twilight and this possibly opens the door for me. ^^ Even though some other Troglodytes might regard that as heresy.

Troglodytes have very different and violently opposed opinions about these topics and your concept is most definiteyl a valid one. Shadow Trolls form offspring extremely rarely, and in so doing they lose something of themselves, so even they miniscule growth of their kind in this way cannot much help them. Their true power lies in managing and expanding the power of the other Troglodytes - the Trolloth and Gnolls.
So David stated that shadowtrolls if their substance is severly damaged will fade back to the Plane of Shadows. Is there a way to summon them back?

One other question that urges me to ask is. The shadowtrolls in the core rulebook are not trained warrios, right? Lighteater and Longshadow is a clasification of race not training and an Obsidian Nightmare is a religiously exalted shadowtroll. They are that powerfull because they are from a powerful race but basically they are civilians which also reflects nicely in their low LEAD and MEL. Is it planned that there are also trained and equipped fighters/assasins/scouts under the shadowtrolls?

Yes your interpretation is correct, and Yes there's lots of such nastiness planned!

And just another question. The Stygian races are the children of Umbranth. Can one expect to see them in the tabletop? If so as own force or as part of the Troglodytes?

According to the background, the majority of the Stygian races embraced Darkness. They guys are certainly a very strong contender for a future faction. If/when we do release them, we would probably ofcus on the darkness worshippers because this gives them a unique character and background separate to the Trogs faction.
(This post was last modified: 03-05-2013 09:30 PM by David.)
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03-05-2013 09:37 PM
Post: #9
RE: Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



Raoul Offline
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I like Stygians in both ways: enslaved or dead... Tongue

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03-10-2013 07:14 AM
Post: #10
RE: Fluff: The nature of the shadowtrolls



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I just want to say that I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread. I'm wondering exactly how magic works in the world. It seems like each faction has their own style of magic, and clearly there are some very advanced magical techniques available to some cultures. However, how exactly does magic work? Is it predominantly elemental based? Does mortal magic work differently from the magic of the Troglodytes or other non-mortal races? If so, why? What creates this difference?

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