Submitted by Dan on 26/05/2011 – 11:04
OK, I decided I’d better get this off my chest before I return to my multi-tome magnum opus on Gloranthan Criniculture. So if you were hoping for my views on Uroxi tonsures, well, you’re just gonna have to wait*.
Warning: This is my house campaign background and I’m troll obsessed.
I don’t do the Black Eater. Maybe it’s the name, but the whole story makes no sense to me, it lacks mythic resonance. Some second string darkness spirit, suddenly gets star billing and retcons a biological disaster? Who are you trying to kid. That just doesn’t work for this bear of little brain.
What it tells me is that what we know about trolls is tainted. Everything written about them is not written by them. None of it is. It is all slanted to tells us what humans think that trolls are like. And it is mostly wrong. Because they don’t trust nosy people with their cult secrets. Not any more. Not after the last time. If there is a Black Eater, we no longer know what its’ real myth is, if we ever did.
So then, what are trolls really like? They are Matriarchal. No surprise there. They don’t marry, as there is no need. Children are raised by their mothers, aunts and uncles. All children are nurtured. What humans think is marriage is actually adult adoption. It forges bonds between households. A mother offers her son (mostly) to another, knowing that he will be treated as a son by the other mother. His skills will often be needed by his new mothers’ household. The closest they get to “marriage” is if a lover petitions her beloveds’ mother to let him move in with her. This can be for life, or until they decide to split. This is a fairly rare event.
Movement between communities is commonplace. Trade is the glue, allowing passage of news between far flung groups, and the sharing of surplus. Beds are shared, maybe love is made, then the travellers move on.
This is how it has always been. This is the ideal.
But over the years, over the centuries, the Hurtplace has seeped in. It started with the Bright Eater, burning his way to the Underworld. His fierce light forced the people out of the Mother and up to into their personal hell, the World Above. It left them scarred, and broken. The First Curse: the curse of disparity. Uzuz originally meant female, Uzko male. The first curse meant they came to term earlier leaving the troll progeny smaller with a tendency towards more males. Possibly a ratio of 2 females to every 3 males. But they endured. They learnt new ways, fought to remove their enemies and made a place for themselves in the Hurtplace. They sought to put the world to rights and return the Bright Eater to his place in the over world. Come the compromise they found that this could not be, but they had made a home here and they adapted. They were open and happy people. Their close knit families and intergroup trusts had seen them through hard times. With the Dawn that was their undoing.
When the Only Old One took his place on the unity council, he told the story of the troll exodus. Being among friends he told the whole damn thing. He wasn’t to know it would be used against them. So when Nysalor reenacted Yelms’ descent to the underworld he knew exactly how to stop the trolls in their tracks.
The Second Curse, the Traitors Curse; the curse of enlo.
What does this mean to troll today? They are under immense social pressures. They expend a large amount of energy in attempting to breed true. The diversity of roles taken up by women has lessened leaving men to take up the slack. Men are given all responsibility for interaction with outsiders, but aren’t trusted with a lot of power. A large population of sexually frustrated males means that more fall into aberrant behaviour. After the Dawn, Zorak Zoran worship fell off hugely and why not? There was little Chaos at large, or wars to fight, there was much more important things to get involved in. But now large numbers of disenfranchised males are falling into his thrall. Zorak Zoran is not a pleasant cult. It was accepted during the Darkness as a necessary evil, but its’ tendency to antisocial behaviour puts it beyond the pale; its’ hierarchy does not answer to main society, and its’ glorification of fire, and the hideous burn scars of it’s adherents, is a constant fuck you to the Mothers. Trollball was introduced to try channel the natural aggression of testosterone fueled young males, and to a certain extent it works, but the chance to catch a womans eye by excelling drives many to an early grave. Life expectancy is low for males, mainly due to the low self-esteem from being male: to stand out you must either be beautiful, be very skilled or gain fame for raiding, hunting or killing. More outlying communities fair better, but sexual frustration is still a major issue.
Society has taken to removing trollkin at birth from their mothers. If children are lucky they will find a trollkin or Xiolar Umbar wet nurse. This has a terrible psychological effect for all concerned. This is a nurturing society that is split over the nature of enlo. Pragmatists say that enlo are just miscarried and unfit. Umbari say they are our children and should be cared for.
As for the post partum mothers, they have to be counselled, partially because of the stigma of kin birth, but mainly for the loss they have suffered. Having your children removed at birth is traumatic, no matter what you are culturally raised to believe. Some mothers, when they learn that they bear kin, abort to save shame or run away to raise them away from the strictures of family. White Eye** in the Rainbow mounds is an example of this kind of mother deciding to parent outside of the social norm. She is evidently mad, as she made a horrific personal physical sacrifice to gain the patronage of Zorak Zoran, so she can protect her children.
Anyway, enough of this. I started this wanting to discuss costuming and courting dances, but I’ve run out of time. You are just gonna have to come back and read them then.
* but it is coming, oh yes.
** Yes, I know she is supposed to be a he, but let’s be honest it would be hard to tell. Even if he is a he, he is still being a good uncle and looking after the kids.
Submitted by dan (not verified) on Sun, 29/05/2011 – 11:19.
Yes, I agree. I didn’t realise it until I read it, but they are very insular now about family stories and rituals. I don’t think they needed a truth rune though, they are of the darkness and the dark knows all secrets. Now though, who knows?
Submitted by danm (not verified) on Sun, 29/05/2011 – 07:32.
It might have been easy to miss, but Dan makes a critical point here that bears repeating:
> what we know about trolls is tainted.
> Everything written about them is not written by them. None of it is.
> It is all slanted to tell us what humans think that trolls are like.
> And it is mostly wrong.
The last line especially bears keeping in mind when dealing with Uz… These are not Orlanthi, shouting their accomplishments to anyone willing to listen. They are secretive, cliquish, and paranoid, and do NOT tell their important stories to outsiders… even other trolls. You are in the family or you are not. If you are not of the family, you are an enemy, and it is suicide to tell important secrets to our enemies.
Also keep in mind that the Truth rune is conspicuously lacking amongst the known troll cults. “Truth” is what Mom Sez, and a good son enforces and defends her prestige by defending her word against anyone who says otherwise. Truth is a terrifying and malicious power used by death gods and godlearners to defeat and humiliate Uz. A powerful story is always better than a “true” one from the Uz point of view.
Evan moreso than with humans the only way to ever really discover what Uz culture and mythology is “Really” like is to get together a Narrator and some Players and Find Out for yourselves.
Submitted by Eric Vanel (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 21:51.
you know how I love to read you about Trolls.
Thanks for this sharing of your Glorantha.
Submitted by Pete Repeat (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 14:25.
This is a wonderful post, thankyou.
I luv Uz too.
Submitted by Bohemond (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 02:05.
Excellent! Glorantha is at its best when the sociological implications of details are well-realized in a way that makes for fun play.
Submitted by Dan B (not verified) on Thu, 26/05/2011 – 20:30.
Yeah, I realise this now. Several people said this, but I just a bee in my bonnet.
I feel like such a foool 😉
Submitted by Peter Metcalfe (not verified) on Thu, 26/05/2011 – 18:56.
I don’t do the Black Eater
Neither does Greg. The Black Eater does not make an appearance in the Battle of Night and Day. Kyger Litor herself appears, devours Nysalor and promptly suffers the Curse of Kin. I presume the Battle of the Black Eater was probably some invasion of Dagori Inkarth (Where the Dark Eater is a prominent spirit) and Minaryth got lied to by his Uz sources.