Creature Feature – Trolls

Welcome to Mundia. Visitors from Earth might initially find the landscape and the inhabitants familiar in appearance, but beneath that impression of familiarity lies a very different world. The presence of vaetra, a manipulable force generated by all living things and stored within the bones of the world, has shaped the flora and fauna of Mundia in myriad ways.

This post is the first in a series that describes the unique creatures that populate Mundia. You will encounter these creatures as you follow swordsman Jaylan Forester and Sulana Delano the Sword Sorceress on their adventures throughout the Vaetra Chronicles series.

I introduce trolls in Vaetra Unveiled, the first book of the Vaetra Chronicles series (to be released in Spring 2012). Sulana and her team of agents encounter a troll and must defend themselves when it attacks. The scene demonstrates how a troll can be a powerful and difficult adversary.

Physical Characteristics

Trolls have the overall body shape of an ape, with long forelegs and short rear legs, but they have a long-muzzled head like a bear. A fully-grown female can reach five feet at the shoulder and weigh 800 pounds. Males are somewhat smaller, weighing closer to 600 pounds at full maturity. They generally move around on all fours, but they will often rise up on their hind legs when attacking or hunting.

Trolls are covered with wiry fur that ranges in color from light brown to black, medium brown being the most common shade. The hide on their back and sides is thick and hard, but it is comparatively soft on their underside.

In addition to a mouth full of sharp teeth that include inches-long canines, trolls are armed with sharply-clawed front and rear paws. When they attack, they rake and grapple with their front paws and then try to bite their victim; both claws and bite can inflict terrible wounds. 

The best way to fight trolls is from a distance with range weapons, such as bows and crossbows. Unarmed, a human stands virtually no chance against a troll attack. Fortunately, trolls generally avoid human habitations, but they will attack people who invade their territory.

Luckily, trolls are not terribly fast. An athletic, unencumbered human can usually outrun them. Unluckily, most humans who encounter trolls are not athletic and unencumbered.

Range and Behavior

Trolls are omnivores. They eat just about anything in the forest that is edible or that they can catch.

Trolls prefer isolated mountain lairs, and they tend to be loners. One rarely sees more than one animal together unless they have gathered at a particularly good food source (like at a river when the salmon are running). However, when a male and female troll mate, they stay together until their young are large enough to fend for themselves (2 to 3 years). Trolls normally have one offspring, although twins occur occasionally. When twins are born, they are always identical.

Female trolls leave their mother’s range and establish their own territory at age 3. Males are nomads, but they will remain in a partner female’s territory for about two years after mating. If mating does not produce a pregnancy after a couple of months, the female will run the male off or may even try to kill him.

Vaetric Manifestations

Trolls have the natural ability to channel vaetra in two ways. The first is that they can infuse their roar with intense fear, which causes their prey to freeze in place. The range of this affect is approximately thirty yards. This ability most likely evolved because trolls are slower than deer and moose, their favorite prey. Their second vaetric enhancement is that they are fire resistant, an adaptation that presumably came about so they could escape forest fires.

Prey animals rarely acquire a resistance to a troll’s roar, but humans can. The first time a person encounters a troll, the roar affects the victim for several potentially lethal seconds, but humans can usually shake off the affects more quickly upon subsequent exposure. In spite of this benefit, repeated exposure to a troll’s roar is not recommended.

It is important to note that horses are highly susceptible to a troll’s roar. The roar can freeze a horse for up to two minutes, more than long enough for the troll to attack and kill the helpless animal.


Trolls came about because I wanted a powerful monster adversary for the characters in Vaetra Unveiled to fight. The goal of including such an encounter in the book was to show how the team of agents fight together and to reveal more of Sulana’s skills as a sorceress.

Although the term “troll” is obviously borrowed from classic legend and myth, I wanted the monster to be something that was more animal-like, as opposed to a sentient creature. As with all of my fantastical creatures, I’m trying to make them something that might reasonably evolve in the fantasy environment that hosts them. The fact that Mundia includes vaetra (magic) lets me to be more creative in interpreting what “environmental factors” might come into play.

I hope you enjoyed my first Creature Feature. What are your favorite creatures in fantasy novels? Do you prefer the big nasties, or the cute fuzzies? Tell me in the comments!


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  1. I enjoyed this creature feature and seeing your take on Trolls. I have trolls in one of my stories, but they are sentient and can use glamour.

    I prefer the big baddies over cute. To me, they are more fun :).

  2. This was interesting. I like that you’ve made them a bit different. Looking forward to hearing about some of your other creatures 🙂

  3. Isis: Thanks for coming by! Have you done a similar post on your trolls? I’d love to know more about them. The creatures that fantasy writers create are always one of the most interesting things to me. I too get more excited about the big baddies, although cute is okay when it is a companion of the main character.

    Sarah: I’m glad you liked them. I wish I could draw an illustration, but alas, every animal I draw ends up looking like a pig. But stay tuned! My next Creature Feature will probably be the weekend of October 29th.