Yetis, Trolls & Cranium Rats

The world holds many sapient species. Even on the three human-dominated continents, numerous rival species exist. This article gives a brief description of three of them: yetis, trolls and cranium rats.

Yeti:

Yetis are large, furred humanoids, about 2.5 meters tall on average, that live in the forests and mountains of Altazia, Hsan and Miasina. The fur is commonly a shade of brown, though some of the tribes are black or white instead. They are clearly some sort of ape, albeit one that is every bit as smart as humans. Despite having greater physical strength and intelligence that compares favorably to those of a human, conflicts between humans and yetis have nearly always gone badly for the yetis in the past, and they have been driven deep into their forests and mountain homes by human encroachment. This is largely because yetis seem incapable of organizing themselves into social units larger than tribes of about 200 individuals – different tribes do not trade between each other, or even interact much with one another, instead fighting each other and vying for territory with one another just as fiercely as they do against humans. The situation has only gone worse as time went by, as humans have advanced both magically and technologically, while most yetis still exist as a stone-age culture. Some yeti tribes do have impressive magic, but the impact of this is limited, as these tribes do not trade their insights with other yeti tribes.

There are also persistent rumors of hidden cities in the deep wilderness, populated by yetis that are far more technologically and magically advanced than their common brethren. These rumors remain just that for now, but they occur with sufficient regularity that most scholars think there may be something to them.

Trolls:

Making sweeping statements about trolls as a whole is somewhat tricky, as the species is very diverse. There are many troll subspecies scattered throughout the entire world, surviving in all manner of environments, and most regions have their own regional variety. The reasons for this dizzying variety of different trolls in the world is unclear, but it is clear that the species as a whole is far more prone to mutation than most other creatures.

That said, all trolls have some things in common. They are all very tall humanoids (ranging from 1.8 to 3 meters in size, depending on the subspecies and individual) with sharp teeth, clawed digits, and lean, muscular bodies. Trolls never seem to get fat, no matter how much they gorge themselves on food, and most experts agree their metabolisms are probably set up in such a way as to disallow it. Coloration spans all the colors of the rainbow – green, blue, red, purple, pink, even metallic silver trolls have been spotted in the wild. Most species have very prominent noses, as well as a keen sense of smell. Finally, every troll species possesses the signature regeneration ability that gives them their feared and coveted powers of self-healing. So long as their tissue is not chemically altered (such as being burned by fire or dissolved in acid), they can regenerate wounds with startling quickness, to the point where they can reattach severed limbs by pressing them against the appropriate stump and holding it there for half a minute or so.

Although their regeneration is their most famous ability, a troll’s body is very remarkable in general. Most poisons are ineffective against trolls, and they appear to be immune to all but the most magical of illnesses. Additionally, they have an iron stomach that can digest just about anything and derive nutrients from it… although they greatly prefer meat when they can get it, and behave like carnivores most of the time. Finally, all trolls are supernaturally strong and tough, even accounting for their great physical size.

Although trolls are sapient, all known subspecies are quite dim. Stories of them being outwitted by small children exist in nearly all cultures. Most are also high solitary, only tolerating others of their kind during mating. Even the most social of troll subspecies only exist in small family units that never number more than 15 or so individuals – the alpha pair of such groups will not tolerate additions to the group that aren’t their own children, so any of their progeny that wants a family of their own must leave the group.

Trolls have no compunction about eating sapient prey, and regularly feed on humans in areas where their territories meet. As such, humans mercilessly hunt trolls back, usually with the intent of turning their blood and flesh into powerful healing potions. Sometimes, trolls are captured and enslaved instead. Trolls make awful laborers, however, being too dim to understand complicated instruction and prone to violent tantrums if left unattended for even a second – instead, these trolls slaves are usually used as slave soldiers, by giving them armor and melee weapons and sending in front of the real army to soak up blows. These ‘war trolls’ are generally viewed very dimly by most people, especially if used anywhere near populated areas – war trolls have even less concern for civilians than regular soldiers. The practice of employing war trolls has been banned throughout most of Altazia, but is still employed by some anyway. Ulquaan Ibasa is notable for their extensive use of troll slaves in their armies.

Trolls are all shockingly primitive for a sapient species – they employ virtually no technology in their daily lives, and they are not known to employ any form of magic other than their innate abilities. They sometimes appropriate human tools for their own use, but these tend not to last long – few tools take a troll’s strength into account when it comes to their tolerances, and trolls are not known for their restraint.

Cranium Rats:

Cranium rats are hive mind organisms consisting of a swarm of normal-sized rats, which have a somewhat unique appearance – the top of their heads appear to have been sawed off, exposing the brain to open air. In reality, the brains are not nearly as exposed as they appear – there is a tough transparent film covering the brain matter, stopping dirt and such from entering the brain easily.

All individual cranium rats are telepathically connected into a single shared consciousness. The more rats there are in a swarm, the more intelligent the shared hive mind becomes. There is a limit, however, and a swarm that gets too big will eventually splinter into two or more smaller swarms, each with their own hive mind. It is rumored that bigger swarms are frighteningly intelligent, far outstripping the thinking power of a single human being, but this is hard to confirm – cranium rat hive minds are very alien in their thinking, and find humans just as bizarre, making communication difficult. Regardless, the average swarm is clearly comparable to a human in intelligence.

Cranium rat swarms are powerful mind mages, and can easily survive the loss of as much as half of their component rats. This, coupled with their ability to spread their rats over large areas, makes eradicating them difficult. Fortunately, cranium rats don’t have any special animosity towards humanity – though not exactly friendly, the swarms are content to live and let live most of the time. The swarms also largely view each other largely as competition, so it’s rare to see two or more swarms cooperating on a single goal.

Aranea and cranium rats covet similar territories, and both specialize in mind magic. This has led to frequent clashes between the two species, which have been steadily going worse for the cranium rats as time goes by. This is partially because araneas have gotten proficient in structured magic as well as their innate psychic powers, but also because the aranea have been far more adept into recruiting human mages to help them against the cranium rats. As a consequence, some swarms have actually begun to share information between each other and coordinate their anti-aranean activities.

It’s not quite a society yet, but it might be a beginning of one.

21 thoughts on “Yetis, Trolls & Cranium Rats

  1. > rare to see two or more swarms cooperating

    Except that Zorian identified (and eliminated) *four*. Something special going on…

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  2. While this would require extraordinary circumstances to occur, could a human learn yeti magic? A yeti learn human magic? Is it like dragons where magically the races are just too different, or do they think so differently that what is easy for one impossibly difficult for other, or some other reason for impossibility, or is this exchange feasible albeit unlikely?

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  3. Speaking of trolls and cranium rats, this makes me think of the dungeon, which makes me think zorian ought to explore some of the dungeon below Koth. I feel zorian should try to analyse and copy the cranium rat hive mind. Maybe it can be done. If he could join his mind with just a single cranium rat, that would already be a huge accomplishment. There might be some requirement for the minds to be extremely similar, but if that is the case then he could try and rework it to use with his simulcarums!

    He won’t know if it’s possible till he tries. The risk of kidnapping and mind controlling two cranium rats to observe their mental link has very small reprocussion potential considering how the swarms so quickly detatch as a defense mechanism.

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  4. compro calçados no atacado e revendo para minhas clientes porta a porta,e se tiver restrição no cpf é possível?,a prefeitura aprovaria com o endereço da minha casa moro em apdrgamento,obritaaa desde ja.

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  5. I feel like combining Salamander and Troll would make a powerful regeneration potion and pethaps with a few more ingredients could even give a permanent regeneration ability. Or maybe it would cause the rapid growth of tumors. . . I bet Silverlake would know more about this. She has probably reaserched trolls as potion ingredients in her joipurney to immortality.

    I feell like the anti-ageing potion probably involved dragon material since their bodies do not deteriorate with age.

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  6. I wonder whether unscrupulous necromancers have performed experiments like Sudomir’s creation of the silver wolf, to staple the soul of a more intelligent and social species onto a troll. Cranium troll hive mind when?

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    • Many necromancers are very fond of unscrupulous experiments like that, since they want to unveil the mysteries of the soul. Most end in various horrific failures, and even good results are difficult to consistently reproduce, since souls are enigmatic and interact with things in very unpredictable ways.

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  7. You have said there are many more sapient races in the world than the ones you have shown, even ones living in the ocean. Do you have any more fleshed out/are any more relevant to the world at large, or are they just largely irrelevant?

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    • Yes, I have more of them. I haven’t sat down and wrote down an article about them. The most important/fleshed out ones are Murgur, Mlok, Nantek, and Nosikan. The first three live in Blantyrre and the last one in Miasina.

      Murgur are blue-skinned humanoids with an elephantine trunk on their face. They spreak in a a deep, vibrating rumble and build elaborate mountain strongholds. Their architecture is impressive, but they are a rather primitive people all things considered. Very isolationistic and conceited, they consider most outsiders to be uncivilized savages. They have little contact with humans, as they mostly live in the mountains in the interior and didn’t have terribly good relationships with lizardmen, who control the coasts. Now that lizardmen are getting more magically and technologically advanced due to trade with humans, murgur strongholds are increasingly getting the short end of the stick in their dealings with lizardmen and their societies are going through large upheavals.

      Mlok are basically sapient tree frogs with more dexterous hands. Excellent climbers and capable of changing color to match their environment. Very primitive technologically. Notorious among the lizardmen for birthing large number of young during times of plenty, which often creates many desperate mlok when said times of plenty pass. Like the murgur, they have been getting pushed back by the lizardmen lately. They have a decent amount of contact with humans, but their sensitive skin and tree-borne lifestyle make it hard to adopt the sort of lifestyle necessary to utilize human technology and magic-teaching methods.

      Nantek are a strange type of large butterfly that are sapient in their chrysalis stage… and only in their chrysalis stage. Said chrysalises are psychic, and use telepathy to control caterpillars of their own species as workers and warriors. They also have strangely advanced knowledge of their own biochemistry and lifecycle, and often warp their caterpillar workers into specialized worker forms to tackle difficult problems. They live only in the deepest parts of Blantyrre and are considered wise and mysterious by the other races, who fear their psychic powers but also often desire their knowledge and advice on various matters.

      Nosikan are strange creatures reminiscent of a cross between an armadillo and a pill bug. They are fairly mammalian, but with way too many legs. They build elaborate underground complexes that house thousands of Nosikan, usually repurposing the local section of the dungeon the way humans do and then building more of their own constructions on top of that. They are extremely social and talkative, and hate silence and being alone to a huge degree – they always want to be surrounded by others, and practically never shut up. They also have a keen sense for social dynamics, even those of other species, and a strangely complex vocal box that can produce virtually any sound-based language they are expose to. Although friendly and chatty, they are no pushovers and wars against them tend to be costly – Nosikan underground complexes are hard to invade, and their forces are known to have move and strike with impeccable coordination and unity.

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      • Those definitely are some cool ideas. I think I like the bufferflies the most, it’s a shame we didn’t them. Zorian would’ve deifnitely fit in, what with how often he controls monsters. But I guess the Aranea took their role in the story. Although if I were them, I think it’d be pretty terrifying to know that once I reach adulthood, I’ll lose my sapience. I guess in their culture it’s probably seen as death?

        Something I noticed for all races though: were the humans the only race the Gods gave spell components to? Besides dragons, it seems like pretty much none of them got their own magic system. Well, Aranea I guess, but they adapted the human one. Were humans just the absolute divine favourites?

        It’s also interesting how of all these sapient races, humans are the only ones with advanced technology. For some, it’s definitely the lack of hands hindering them, but the humanoid ones got no excuse. I wonder if it had anything to do with the first Ikosian Emperor using the Sovereign Gate to kickstart human progress into high gear. Although I guess even thousands of years ago, those city states were probably more advanced than many races now.

        As for the Nosikans: an entire race of Novelties? How terrifying.

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      • >But I guess the Aranea took their role in the story.

        Yes. That and they’re kind of inconveniently placed and could only come into play very late in the story, if at all. I wasn’t really thinking of how they would fit into Zorian’s story when I was making them.

        >Although if I were them, I think it’d be pretty terrifying to know that once I reach adulthood, I’ll lose my sapience. I guess in their culture it’s probably seen as death?

        It’s complex. They see it as both death and ‘second birth’. They attach a lot of spiritual/religious significance to this transformation, and the argument about what exactly this means for the previous individual can get pretty intense, but the general consensus is that, although the mind of the chrysalis dies in the transformation, some semblance of the person they were still continues on into the adulthood.

        But yes, they think it’s pretty terrifying to know that, too.

        >Something I noticed for all races though: were the humans the only race the Gods gave spell components to?

        No. Previous articles mention that both lizardmen and yetis have their own magic, and the same is true for most others. It’s just that these other races don’t have the extensive system of mages sharing their discoveries with each other, super-charging the sophistication of their magical culture the way that humans do. They have individual priests and shamans who guard their secrets jealously and share them only to their chosen successors or in their inner circle of confidants.

        Then again, this was the same system most humans used until the Ikosians came.

        So year, the other races have their magic, but it looks very underwhelming compared to human magic of the modern era.

        >As for the Nosikans: an entire race of Novelties? How terrifying.

        Though there are some similarities, Novelty isn’t quite like them. She’s talkative and nosy, but not nearly as social and terrified of loneliness as they are. She’d been seen as an individualistic freak by the Nosikans, far too prone to tinkering with solitary activities when she could be connecting more with her friends and community more. Her curiosity about stuff like human magic and tools, and her general enthusiasm would also not necessarily resonate with the Nosikans. They’re very nosy and curious about relationships between people and groups, but most of them wouldn’t be as generally curious as Novelty is, or as excitable in their interactions. In fact, many humans consider them to be quite scheming and manipulative beneath their friendly and talkative exterior – probably a consequence of them easily grasping the power dynamics between various individuals and feeling to shame in taking advantage of that.

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  8. I assume that Yetis and Trolls live roughly as long as humans do, but what is the lifespan of a cranium rat hivemind? Does it even have a lifespan, or could it live forever if its swarm didn’t die out?

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