FuBar sings the song of the history of his people

by mshrm

I had a chance to spend some time with FuBar’s player, and he told me how he sees the history of FuBar’s people. It’s the way that FuBar learned it, through the oral traditions of the sewer trolls. The problem with their oral tradition is, they’re not a really long-lived race. (Note that DF ignores age-related traits — indeed, aging itself — so the average lifespan of a sewer troll doesn’t change their point total one way or the other, any more than elves pay for their immortality.) Where a human would say “in my grandfather’s day”, a sewer troll would say “over six generations ago”. The elf would probably say “just the other day, Legolas, before the continents broke apart, this all used to be old-growth forest…” or some such.

So. It may not be true, but this is what FuBar believes.

Long, long ago, the dwarves were building their empire, expanding both up and down from the middle layers of the earth where they originated. They were already at war with the goblinoids when they first burst out onto the surface world. It had been their practice, in common with many of the subterranean races, to enslave their prisoners of war. Thus, there was a sizable underclass of goblin slaves in the dwarven empire.

The mountains where the dwarves broke out were mainly inhabited by small tribes of goblinoids and wildmen, with the occasional lone elf. The tallest and coldest mountain peaks, though, were the sole domain of the mountain trolls. At this time, the mountain trolls were the only trolls. These are the big, bad, half-mad, regenerating trolls, the kind known and loved by fire-bearing adventurers everywhere.

The dwarves were growing weary of some of the troubles that came with keeping goblin slaves. It was necessary to feed them, for one thing. The rigors of slavery and the hazards of the mines took a toll on them. It was necessary to constantly capture more goblinoids, just to make up the losses. Furthermore, many of the survivors became ill and sickly, requiring even more replacements.

At the same time, the dwarven culture was really feeling its oats. They were in an expansionist phase, exploring areas they had never before encountered, including the surface world. Their armies seemed unstoppable. Their wizards and sages were learning the secrets of the universe. They felt that any feat was within their grasp, or would be, just as soon as they turned their minds towards it.

So, it was decided that the dwarves would create their own slave race, to replace the unruly, smelly goblinoids. For raw material, they captured mountain trolls. Using lost magics, they twisted the monstrous humanoids into a new form. The new trolls were smaller, more clever, and more docile. They retained the constitution and regenerative powers of their primitive ancestors, which would prepare them to endure the hardships of the slave pits. They were less prone to disease than the goblins. Best of all, their digestive system combined the grace and charm of an angry crocodile with the sensitivity of a garbage scow; they could survive, even thrive, eating whatever moldy old trash you threw their way.

In short, the dwarves bred the sewer trolls from scratch.

As it turned out, though, the sewer trolls weren’t quite as docile as expected. They were enslaved for, in their words, “generation after generation”, but they kept up a quiet resistance. There are hundreds of stories of this or that troll who pulled a trick on their dwarven masters, or led other trolls to freedom. A few managed to escape, both to the surface world and into the unexplored depths of the earth. In one of their crowning achievements during those days, the trolls created their own acrobatic style of unarmed fighting crossed with dungeon parkour, the so-called “dance of my people”, and kept it a secret from their overlords while practicing it in plain sight, claiming it was just a silly, comedic dance.

In time, the dwarven empire fell. When this happened, the sewer troll slaves didn’t wait around to take notes; they left without taking time to pack a bag. There are a few stories of troll rebellions, but surprisingly few. For the most part, the stories say that the dwarves were (finally!) smacked with some ill-defined but well-deserved divine retribution, and while they were distracted with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the trolls slipped out a side door.

This is how the language of the trolls, Trollbrew, came to share a written form with the Dwarvish language. To start with, the troll slaves spoke the language of their masters. Over time, especially among the escaped slaves, the spoken form of the language changed and merged with various goblinoid tongues, becoming the troll’s current patois. The written form was more stable, often being literally carved in stone.