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Autor Thema: Incorporating Half-trolls  (Gelesen 947 mal)

Helper01

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Incorporating Half-trolls
« am: 16. Okt 2021, 00:01 »
Similar to the topic I brought up for Isengard concerning the missing half-orcs and goblin-men, I find that Mordor missing half-trolls to be a bit lacking for filling out some of the further details of Mordor from the books. They were incorporated during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields as strange beings from Harad that are also called "troll-men." So I get a distinct impression that they were very sizable, brutish beings that maybe looked like men.
  But they also make me think the role they played for vanilla Goblins in ROTWK. I actually think that version reflected them quite well, as I inferred them to be in the books: Heavy troops that could not be trampled. I'm still kinda figuring the Edain mod out, so forgive me if I've overlooked units for Mordor that are like this, but I honestly don't remember anything like them in the mod.
  Perhaps they could be used as a replacement for other units that might not serve a good function to the Edain team? Or perhaps they could be a special unit power as a reinforcement from Harad, instead, given the Haradrim play such a role? Or a different spellbook power altogether? That, like the Haradrim, they could be a permanent summon?
  I honestly don't have too much else to add other than inviting ideas from everyone for these mysterious creatures.

Only True Witchking

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #1 am: 16. Okt 2021, 00:30 »
"Out of Far Harad black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues."

This is the only mention of half-trolls in The Lord of the Rings; during the Battle on the Pelennor-Fields.
The men in question clearly are not half-trolls, as we can see from the word "like" - no one I've met so far would describe a lion as "a lion like a lion with a mane and sand-coloured fur".

Therefore, we also do not know what - and if - half-trolls actually are. They could be something that does exist somewhere and is drawn upon in order to describe these men, or they could simply be what one might think these men could be when looking at them - half-troll, half-man -, even though they are in fact entirely man.

Therefore, I think Edain should stay away as far as possible from half-trolls or "troll-men", as their existence is doubtful at best and there is no other information about them anywhere.

Now, if future versions of the mod (perhaps with a Men of the East faction) include large men with black skin from Far Harad under a "normal" unit name, I'd have no trouble with that, but they - despite their somewhat terrifying appearance - should imo just work like any other infantry unit, as they are merely humans. We don't even know whether they are larger or stronger than Aragorn or not.

-OTWK

PS: Random fact/thought: The half-trolls (or, in Edain 3.8.1, Uruks) of the Goblins have the interesting side-effect that because they can't be trampled, their spears are often very ineffecive against cavalry, meaning they can't protect infantry or archers nearly as well as other spearmen.
“In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl. A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all fled before his face."

Helper01

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #2 am: 16. Okt 2021, 07:08 »
There is at least one further mention of them, about two pages later than the passage you mentioned, when it describes the knights of Dol Amroth routing "troll-men" and others.
  Your thoughts are fair and understandable; but I'm not sure lack of information on something should discourage the modders from using their imagination with these beings anymore than the mysterious mention of "were-worms," "stone giants," or other obscure passages like these should discourage imagination. Certainly not to the degree of "staying as far away as possible" from them!  There's plenty of room for interpretation, especially in a game like the Edain mod which expanded greatly upon mysterious passages with the Angmar faction alone, based on the Appendices and other sources, even including non-Tolkien authored sources.
  Furthermore, we know Sauron was long involved with cross-breeding. It's certainly within likelihood he did something with the men of Harad and trolls.
  I think, in the end, there's more evidence to support this interpretation than some might believe. At the very least encouragement to use the imagination!
  Good thoughts, mate! Thanks for the reply. :)

Watcher

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #3 am: 16. Okt 2021, 09:13 »
I agree with OnlytrueWitchKing that, if they are ever added, Half-Trolls become part of a "Evil-Men" faction (again, if its ever added). But I'd like to see them keep their original design; maybe with a bit more "Harad" influence.

If nothing else, they could be added as creeps, much like the corsair, in some Harad maps.
"The pool is up to the west-gate..."

Only True Witchking

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #4 am: 16. Okt 2021, 11:36 »
"East rode the knights of Dol Amroth driving the enemy before them: troll-men and Variags and orcs that hated the sunlight…"

I did actually forget about that quote, you're right!

Although technically it doesn't mention half-trolls, so "this is the only mention of half-trolls in The Lord of the Rings" is correct :P

I agree that these "troll-men" are certainly the same as the men with black skin described earlier, however, I stand by the fact that these are men, not some kind of half-breed - for several reasons, one being the linguistics ("men like half-trolls" are not "half-trolls") and another one being biology.

Not only does the image of a troll and human reproducing have more things wrong with it than one can count (size??), but Tolkien also stated once that humans and elves can have children because they are of the same race:

"Elves and Men are evidently in biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring [...]"

- Letter 153

Which is indeed how biology works.

Meanwhile trolls are some kind of "counterfeit" of ents, and not only do we not know if they can even have children themselves, but even if they can I don't think a human and such a thing could have children even without the size difference.

So in the end, troll-men and half-trolls are not only different things, the former are also definitely attested to (as they appear on the battle-field), while the latter can quite safely be cast into the realm of myth.
As for evidence; there is enough evidence - provided above - to support this argument, no evidence at all that the "troll-men" are actually half-trolls (as all evidence is against that) and very little evidence for the existence of half-trolls in general (namely one descriptor in a sentence).

So my position hasn't changed much - men from harad, possibly called troll-men, that have a fiendish appearance for Gondorian eyes due to their height and black skin, are fine, half-trolls are nonsense.

-OTWK

PS: Stone giants and were-worms are not comparable; and only were-worms are a good comparison to half-trolls. Stone giants are like the "troll-men", or like Dunlendings, Olog-hai or Mauhur: They make an appearance in the story, albeit a short one.
Were-worms, however, are mentioned only once, by someone who has at best heard a legend tell of them and lives countless miles away from the place where they supposedly live - so pretty similar to half-trolls.
“In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl. A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all fled before his face."

Helper01

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #5 am: 17. Okt 2021, 03:13 »
I believe that there's still more than enough room for using the imagination to interpret what these beings were and thus are not so strictly limited to being a kind of man of Far Harad.
  Precedent for this can be found in other games based upon the books. I know a couple of old tabletop rpg's seemed to have gone in this direction, too, and seemed to be fairly viable in their interpretations.
  Furthermore, even the New Line films themselves seemed to support some sort of similar idea! Or at least the folks who did the trading card game based off the films. They did a half-troll card that has an actor in prosthetics to look quite like a troll crossed with a human. Pretty striking.
  As for the passages from the books, I think it's telling that they are even brought up at all, the emphasis being that they are clearly something very different and very threatening, albeit mysterious. Perhaps something even the people reporting on it didn't fully understand, thus warranting a report.
  As for cross-breeding, we don't precisely know where the trolls really came from. Their origins are quite mysterious, indeed. Tolkien himself expressed uncertainty about the trolls in his letters--even in the one you cited! And seemed to be a bit critical of his own writing of them. Besides this, Tolkien is more speculating on his own creation as opposed to expressing anything certain in said letter. It's one of the many joys of Tolkien that he would do this, often saying how he would be unsure of this or that but that he believed one thing or another, not much different than any other audience member, sometimes. He's commented now and then as feeling like he was more reporting on the world than creating it. And trolls seem to be no exception.
  Given the number of different kinds of trolls that we know of, such as cave-trolls, mountain-trolls, snow-trolls, and so on, many of which are no more than mere names no different in mystery to half-trolls and troll-men, I'd say it seems more certain than not that there was some serious cross-breeding going on across Middle-earth. Given their uncertain origin, again it's left up to the imagination to understand where certain breeds may have come from. Treebeard believed one thing, but he can't know everything. The Elves the same. Men also. And since what we are given is provided from limited perspectives in a very specific context, such as from a historian's perspective long after the fact (such as in the Appendices when talking about the origins of trolls in the First Age), what we have is that much more uncertain historically, steeped more in legend and myth.
  Thus, it's entirely possible trolls, or at least some trolls, may have been corrupted men bred with something else or many things over many thousands of years. Different breeds could easily be different in sizes, too. You speak of biology, which is fair. But let's not overlook sorcery, either. That's probably the more critical aspect of all this to analyze. We don't really know the possibilities of sorcery. Given it's mysterious nature, it seems like it can transform even Elves into something wholly corrupt and unlike its original form, if the legends are true. Biology appears to have been irrevocably changed, if so.
  And if not strictly trolls crossed with men, who's to say orcs were not made to become trolls somehow, ala the speculation about the Olog-hai? We know for sure that orcs were cross-bred with men to create the Uruks and half-orcs and goblin-men. The rest seems easy to believe as at least a possibility in that world.
  Middle-earth is an incredible world for the imagination, and one which Tolkien was keenly aware of for the preservation of the mysterious. The Edain mod has done an incredible job of portraying this, and which would be well served that much more in utilizing something like troll-men, half-trolls, goblin-men and half-orcs no less than stone-giants, were-worms, and the many other hyphenated categories strewn about the legendarium! A mere name, even without a specific story, is often more than enough to inspire an incredible creation.
 

Helper01

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #6 am: 17. Okt 2021, 03:24 »
An additional observation I overlooked. As I said, sorcery plays an integral part in this topic, and not strictly biology. Hence we get some other mysterious passages strewn across the legendarium of animals seemingly crossed with people, such as were-wolves, and skinchangers like Beorn. While sorcery strictly so-called may not have played a part in the latter, magic, closely linked with sorcery, certainly does. And if magic can combine man and beast in such ways, I see no reason why trolls and men should be any different, even if trolls are actually strictly heightened beasts as some speculate.

Helper01

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #7 am: 17. Okt 2021, 03:33 »
A further observation can be made in that Tolkien knew legends and myths inside and out. Whether this directly affects his own creations is speculative in many areas, and possibly irrelevant in others, but it bears mentioning that Tolkien was not above borrowing directly from some of them. And in many of these, men and animals often were "put together," as it were, in the sense of cross-breeding, even. Furthermore, men and spiritual beings, like demons and angels and gods, etc, were often brought together as one. (Consider the story in The Silmarillion of Melian and Thingol.) These are all important elements to closely consider when dealing with the fantastic and disturbing in Middle-earth, and trolls and their various sub-breeds are no exception.

Only True Witchking

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #8 am: 17. Okt 2021, 15:37 »
I'll try to make my point here without reiterating too much of what I've already said, therefore this is going to be written sort of like a bulletpoint list.

Post 1:

Other interpretations can safely be disregarded in my opinion - not only because they are non-canon and often simply bad, but also because Edain should go its own way and not copy what others have done before.

I'm not sure where the speculation that Olog-hai are orcs comes from, I don't recall hearing that before.

Any origin of Trolls won't shrink them, however.

The rest is largely irrelevant or has been dealt with in my other posts.

Post 2:
What do Were-wolves have to do with this? They are oversized wolves with nothing humanoid about them (unless you count the ability to speak), and are also "spirits" (similar to or part of the Ainur).

Beorn is clearly a man, with a certain gift or ability of turning into the shape of a bear, but I don't think one of his ancestors got it on with a bear. It's also not unprecedented that normal humans gain the ability to turn into an animal, see Elwing.

And, now I have to repeat something, the arguably most important point - that half-trolls do not feature in the story besides one off-hand mention - is not adressed here.

Post 3 is mostly irrelevant - there's also Goats that revive each time you eat them in Norse myths, but they still don't fit into middle-earth just because of that.
Melian and Thingol are an elf and a Maia in elven-shape marrying, their daughter naturally is an elf. Also not sure how that relates to trolls and men.
The argument "one thing exists so another vaguely similar thing (and "similar" is a stretch) is more likely to exist" doesn't work.

Finally, returning to Post 1:
"I believe that there's still more than enough room for using the imagination to interpret what these beings were and thus are not so strictly limited to being a kind of man of Far Harad"

That is wrong. They are men, as the text literally states.
Unless the Easterlings with Axes ("countless companies of Men of a new sort that we have not met before. Not tall, but broad and grim, bearded like dwarves, wielding great axes.") are dwarves just because their beards are similar, Aragorn is a Sea-king of old due to appearing as tall as them and Helm Hammerhand is a Snow-troll as he "would go out by himself, clad in white, and stalk like a snow-troll into the camps of his enemies"

--
I remain utterly unconvinced.
-OTWK
“In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl. A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all fled before his face."

Helper01

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #9 am: 18. Okt 2021, 16:46 »
Same here, mate! I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this topic. Much more could be argued on my end, but I'll choose instead to leave my points where they are. I will however add a couple brief thoughts worth mentioning.
  I think a lot of misunderstandings have taken part in this discussion, for which I don't have the time to clarify at this moment. Of course the passage about Hammerhand being like a snow-troll doesn't make him one! Etc. I can only say I wasn't trying to say such comparisons make something into the thing they're being compared to, and I'll leave it at that.
  Also, I guess my point hasn't been to convince, but to explore possibilities by looking at evidences in the text. Using one's imagination based off brief passages without much detail is something the folks at Edain seem to have done amazingly well, and is in a long tradition of doing so. They inspire such work in others, such as you and myself, so I hope that this discussion bears some fruit towards that end!
  As such, I will reemphasize that it bears mentioning that sorcery and magic still clearly play a part in transforming biology if a man can change into an animal and back again! Who's to say this didn't happen with trolls at some point in the past? We've only ever seen trolls a handful of times many thousands of years after their creation. Anything could have happened with such a strain.
  Trolls could easily be some offshoot of men, long since corrupted. Not necessarily beasts having bred with men in the distant past, but they could be strictly men gone horribly wrong, but with countless generations' worth of them roaming and multiplying. All the various breeds mentioned in the text indicate they have quite the genetic strain, indeed. Who knows, maybe they started to devolve down the line to become more like men again in various areas no one in the West knows much about, such as Far Harad.
  Or it's possible some men even learned sorcery to "skin-change" and become something like trolls. They'd still be men, much like Beorn, but having this ability. This may be a very viable possibility, indeed.
  Even just looking at the two passages about half-trolls and troll-men, strictly, if these men of Far Harad are like half-trolls, but themselves are just brutish-looking men, the text seems plain that such things as half-trolls likely must exist to have such a comparison made in the first place, whatever they may actually be. Much like "he's like a roaring lion" or some such: There has to be a lion in existence to make such a comparison, obviously.  That they're later not even restated to be "like half-trolls" but are instead called "troll-men" only seems to emphasize the comparison, not take away from it. That they're mentioned in a list of men seems to be leaning towards how different they are to men, not how similar they are. That these guys get not one but two mentions in this way seems to indicate they're something quite different, indeed, worthy of mention in the annals of the War of the Ring in which many different kinds of men played a part--but none of which, so far as I know, are described in terms "like half-trolls" or "troll-men."





I'd like to shift gears here a little, as I think I can see where this conversation could inevitably lead, so I'd prefer to be a little more productive. I can concede that you could be correct about these men of Far Harad. I don't agree, but I also see more than one possibility as being viable at the same time, too. I don't think many are mutually exclusive.
  That being said, what do you think half-trolls are, irrespective of the men of Far Harad that are being compared to them?

I want to open this discussion up to more ideas from other folks, too! Anyone else have some thoughts on these particular passages? What do you guys think half-trolls and troll-men might be? Do you think they were actual creatures in Middle-earth or something else?
  Also, what's your position about them being included in Edain? Do you think Edain would be a great place to explore such things a bit? Is there precedent for Edain already having explored the more obscure in really cool, creative ways? If so, what are some of your favorites and how could Edain incorporate half-trolls and troll-men in similar fashion? Stats and abilities could be cool to explore too!



Another cool idea I have. Maybe Sauron used sorcery on some men to try to make them more like trolls in some way? Not breeding them with beasts or anything, but to try to "beef them up," so to speak, while still being men but more and more like trolls. Do things to their physique, harden their skins, corrupt their minds to be more brutish, etc.
  Do you guys know of any examples similar to this that were ever described in the books? The only thing I can think of right off hand would be the contrast to this, Gollum, in which he was greatly diminished in stature but his physique was transformed by the power of the sorcery of the One Ring; his eyes changed; he had long life; etc.
  Could sorcery go the other way to increase the stature of people and make them more like beasts?
« Letzte Änderung: 18. Okt 2021, 18:09 von FG15 »

FG15

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #10 am: 18. Okt 2021, 18:08 »
Please avoid double posts. Those are against the forum rules.

Nevertheless, a really interesting discussion.

Helper01

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Re: Incorporating Half-trolls
« Antwort #11 am: 18. Okt 2021, 23:25 »
The double-post thing being yet another good reason to shift gears a bit!

Devs, I'm especially curious to get your take on what half-trolls/troll-men could be. Even if you guys aren't interested in pursuing their inclusion in the mod, you have incredible creativity and a way with feeling out Middle-earth. It'd be great to pick your brains on this one!