Trollin' on the River

Friday, February 19, 2010

We've had the cover for Pathfinder Adventure Path #32: "Rivers Run Red" (written by our own Rob McCreary) up for sometime now, but it bears another mention, as this cover sees the climax of a long and interesting evolution. It's little surprise that we were only three months into the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path—and Pathfinder's life in general—when it came time to order art for our first troll. How to handle this got a little tricky, though, as it's important to us that our creatures walk the line between familiarity and distinctiveness when it comes to earlier incarnations of the game. What we ended up with was the gnarled, lanky, long-nosed fellow from "The Hook Mountain Massacre". Neat! And totally a cool piece of art. But definitely nothing ground breaking.

Illustration by JZConcepts

Several months later, against all odds, we found ourselves ordering a cover for a Bestiary. Attempting to follow in the tradition of the "a whole bunch of monsters about to getcha!" covers from classic gaming bestiaries, we wanted a swarm of little monsters, one or two medium monsters, and a big monster. Creature ideas went around and around, then sketches did their circles, and what we ended up with was goblins, a maralith, and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT! OMG, that's a TROLL! Awesome! You don't get an incredible Wayne Reynolds cover and then say, "That looks amazing, but could we get this guy to look a little ganglier." This was our new look for the troll.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Flash forward a few more months and we're ordering Kingmaker covers. So we want a cool bandit and a sexy fey and a barbarian dude and a—hey, how 'bout a troll boss! Okay, that'd be cool. And thanks to Vincent Dutrait, here he is.

Illustration by Vincent Dutrait

So our trolls have come a long way over the course of the past few years, but without a doubt, things are settled now. And if that nasty claw-claw-bite wasn't enough to send your PCs running for their alchemist fire, just wait for "Rivers Run Red" to see all the nasty tricks Chief Hargulka has in store for the Stolen Lands.

Looking back, trolls actually had it pretty easy. You should have seen the backstage identity crisis the ogre had before its debut. But that's a story for another day…

F. Wesley Schneider
Managing Editor

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Demons Goblins JZConcepts Kingmaker Monsters Pathfinder Adventure Path Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Rise of the Runelords Trolls Vincent Dutrait Wayne Reynolds
Dark Archive

Troll be or not troll be, that is the question

All hail Chief Hargulka! Long may you live!**

I kind of like how the evolution of the troll reflects the evolution of the game we all play.

I like even more that there are several skulls on Chief Hargulka to give us an idea of how 'husky' the big boy is.

(Is that a Tatzlwyrm skull on his shoulder?)

**Until you are killed a thousand times by pcs the world over.


I love this blog! Troll forever!!


I'm lokking forward to the "sexy fey". Which cover will she be on? Or is it he?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Zen79 wrote:
I'm lokking forward to the "sexy fey". Which cover will she be on? Or is it he?

She should be on the final cover.


I was wondering why Paizo changed the troll look that they had in classic monster revisited. While Chief Hargulka and the Bestiary cover troll are awesome, and I'm all for muscular green humanoid trolls over pseudo-plant trolls, I got to say the illustration inside the bestiary could be better.

Scarab Sages

Every time I see the Bestiary cover I hear Sean Bean's exasperated voice in my head ... "They've got a cave troll with them..."

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Reptilian wrote:
I was wondering why Paizo changed the troll look that they had in classic monster revisited. While Chief Hargulka and the Bestiary cover troll are awesome, and I'm all for muscular green humanoid trolls over pseudo-plant trolls, I got to say the illustration inside the bestiary could be better.

We changed the look for a few reasons.

1) We all LOVED the big green monster Wayne created for the cover of the Bestiary, and troll was the absolute best fit.

2) When it comes to monsters that have a "classic" look in the game, we often strive to reinvent the look so that our version of a monster that's appeared in multiple editions of the game looks like the Pathfinder version, and not just the same-old.

3) I did not like the illustrations of trolls particularly much in Classic Monsters Revisited, and was glad to move in a new direction.


You could also put it down to that Trolls, like dogs come in all shapes and sizes without being separate species.

Sovereign Court

Chiefy here's nice and all, but it's not exactly a flattering pose... There's not a lot of contrast between his arm (which looks downright crocodilian) and his torso. I do appreciate the nod to nostaligia in his schnozz... still longer than average almost in his kisser.

I too am wondering what kind of dinosaur skull is on his shoulder!

--And the Vrockets Red Glare!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4

I'm noticing several Chiefs in this AP, they all seem pretty cool.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Scipion del Ferro wrote:
I'm noticing several Chiefs in this AP, they all seem pretty cool.

I'm waiting for a Goblin one on monday's blog :P

It's bee far too long since we've had goblin antics


While I like most of WAR's art, that troll on the cover of the Bestiary I did not like. This new version is much better, though I don't care for the teeth arrangement; which I blame on the WAR cover picture.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4

Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Scipion del Ferro wrote:
I'm noticing several Chiefs in this AP, they all seem pretty cool.

I'm waiting for a Goblin one on monday's blog :P

It's bee far too long since we've had goblin antics

Nope, no goblins in the River Kingdoms. I couldn't find the post for you but James said it's the wrong climate for them.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Goblins in Golarion tend to be found in temperate coastal areas. While a goblin would probably do pretty well in the River Kingdoms, there's just not a lot of them there, really.


Made a ranting post about this in the wrong place. Cooled down overnight. Came back to look at the art from a fresh perspective.

Nope. Still the stupidest troll I have ever seen, and not in a good way.

That jaw! The teeth don't mesh ANYWHERE! It's liable to bite its own tongue off every time it closes its mouth (which is, of course, not a big problem for your average troll), assuming it CAN close its mouth, which I don't think it can (which is a somewhat bigger problem).

I was so, so happy that the early Pathfinder illustrations actually looked like classic trolls, and now this... ;.;


I'm not a fan of this picture either. I actually had to stare at it to see his arm -- it blends in with his torso too much. Also, I am in agreement with Evil Midnight Lurker with regards to the teeth.

Ken

Contributor

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
It's liable to bite its own tongue off every time it closes its mouth...

Does that matter? I mean, even if you don't take the huge under bite you can see in other illos into account, it's tongue would just grow right back. :P

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4

The jaw disconcerts me too. I'd like to see a picture of them with their mouth closed, or a profile view even.

It'll seem odd if the only pictures of Pathfinder trolls are front facing snarls.

Contributor

Check out both the Bestiary interior piece (I believe - sorry, don't have my copy right here) and (definitely) Cities of Golarion.


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
It's liable to bite its own tongue off every time it closes its mouth...
Does that matter? I mean, even if you don't take the huge under bite you can see in other illos into account, it's tongue would just grow right back. :P

Hey, I did say that wouldn't be a big problem. :)

The underbite is the bigger problem for me -- why do these trolls even HAVE teeth? They can't bite anything BUT their tongues!


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Check out both the Bestiary interior piece (I believe - sorry, don't have my copy right here) and (definitely) Cities of Golarion.

*looks at the Bestiary interior piece*

*looks at the Bestiary cover*

*looks at the Bestiary interior piece*

...I don't see how you expect us to believe those are the same species. Even in a fantasy game.

Of the two, I have to say the interior piece has a slightly saner jaw arrangement. Slightly.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Initially, I was a little surprised by the reinterpretation of the Paizo Bestiary troll. But I quite like it now.

The jaw does almost look unhinged...and his massive teeth do look like they could bite his own tongue. But, in many ways I think that kind of makes for a more plausible interpretation of the brute.

After all, as ravenously hungry as they're depicted to be, it makes it so their massive maw could snap open in snake-like fashion to gorge itself. And, as others have pointed out, even if it had to pop its own bones out of joint to pull off that feat...or even if it did bite off its own tongue...regeneration puts it all back in order.

So, I'm cool with it.

Just my two-cents,
--Neil

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Check out both the Bestiary interior piece (I believe - sorry, don't have my copy right here) and (definitely) Cities of Golarion.

*looks at the Bestiary interior piece*

*looks at the Bestiary cover*

*looks at the Bestiary interior piece*

...I don't see how you expect us to believe those are the same species. Even in a fantasy game.

Of the two, I have to say the interior piece has a slightly saner jaw arrangement. Slightly.

We can't force all of our artists to use the same exact style; we wouldn't want to. Sorry our version of the troll isn't cutting it for you, but it's what we've settled on. Fortunately, there's 349 other monsters in the book to use if one like the troll looks silly.


I can totally see a troll's jaw unhinging a little, latching on, and then pulling back until the teeth "connect" for a solid bite. Doesn't really bother me at all.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Elephants manage to survive with even larger teeth. So do walruses. The trolls should be fine.


James Jacobs wrote:
Elephants manage to survive with even larger teeth. So do walruses.

Which is amazing considering they can't regenerate. ;)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4

James brings up a good point. I think elephants need to be removed, they clearly shouldn't and can't exist.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Scipion del Ferro wrote:
James brings up a good point. I think elephants need to be removed, they clearly shouldn't and can't exist.

They don't exist. They're all in your head.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

yoda8myhead wrote:
Scipion del Ferro wrote:
James brings up a good point. I think elephants need to be removed, they clearly shouldn't and can't exist.
They don't exist. They're all in your head.

No, Mark. Those are the pink elephants. The others? They're actually real. ;-)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

James Jacobs wrote:
Elephants manage to survive with even larger teeth. So do walruses. The trolls should be fine.

I'm sorely disappointed you didn't include sabertooth tigers among your examples. And here I thought you were this big fan of dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures. ;-)

Dark Archive

NSpicer wrote:
No, Mark. Those are the pink elephants. The others? They're actually real. ;-)

I actually host the Pink Elephant every Fridays.

Back on topic, is that a Tatzlwyrm skull on Chief Hargulka's shoulder?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

NSpicer wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Elephants manage to survive with even larger teeth. So do walruses. The trolls should be fine.
I'm sorely disappointed you didn't include sabertooth tigers among your examples. And here I thought you were this big fan of dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures. ;-)

Think it through. I'm arguing for how animals can function and live with big teeth.

Sabre-toothed tigers, being extinct, would shoot a big old hole in my argument.

SO! This topic never came up, okay! OKAY!?!? ;-)


To explain the extreme underbite of male trolls, you have to look at evolutionary theory.
It developed, of course, because of the extreme overbite of female trolls.
How else could they kiss each other?

Liberty's Edge

Zen79 wrote:

To explain the extreme underbite of male trolls, you have to look at evolutionary theory.

It developed, of course, because of the extreme overbite of female trolls.
How else could they kiss each other?

Eskimo kisses.

Oh, I think I'm going to be sick.


NSpicer wrote:
No, Mark. Those are the pink elephants. The others? They're actually real. ;-)

Don't scare me like that - for a minute I thought you were serious that elephants were real!

As for the troll... I think James' explanation above finally fixes it for me a bit. Saying "Troll" and showing me the picture, I shake my head a bit (or did). But the Paizo peeps, seeing an awesome monstrous thing like that... I can see saying, "gotta be a troll!".


Couldn't the stunnted upper jaw be the result of having it's snout partly looped off and the regeneration process hasn't compleated yet. Or perhasps it is the other way around. Repeaded dislocation, shattering, and outright removal of the lower jaw may lead to increased growth in the regenerated tissue. The more it gets cut off the bigger and longer it grow back :-D.

Liberty's Edge

I don't care for any of the troll images above. My iconic troll look I guess is best captured by the thing on the Guide to the River Kingdoms cover (which I assume is a Scrag).

The new guy looks too much like this to me.


Coridan wrote:

I don't care for any of the troll images above. My iconic troll look I guess is best captured by the thing on the Guide to the River Kingdoms cover (which I assume is a Scrag).

The new guy looks too much like this to me.

Nah Thats a Merrow on the RK cover

Paizo Employee Creative Director

We did indeed order the cover of "Guide to the River Kingdoms" to call for a scrag, but it did kinda end up looking not as much like a scrag as it might be a merrow (aquatic ogre). For now, I'm gonna say that's what it is; a merrow.


I'm fine with the troll change.

Back in 1979, this is probably what I thought a troll should look like. TSR sort of conditioned me to think of a troll as looking like a swamp hag out without a swamp.. all greeny and rubbery, and looking quite a bit like a plant man.

And 31 years later, I pretty much had adapted, and came to accept what has become the more traditional D&D interpretation of a troll.

I like this new troll. I'll adapt again.


See, I read the Three Billy Goats Gruff with woodcuts by Susan Blair in the first grade, and that's what I always thought a troll looked like. :)


Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
See, I read the Three Billy Goats Gruff with woodcuts by Susan Blair in the first grade, and that's what I always thought a troll looked like. :)

With the screwed up spiral eyes?

Yeah.. I remember that too!

Dark Archive

Scipion del Ferro wrote:
I'm noticing several Chiefs in this AP, they all seem pretty cool.

Well, this AP is about Kings and Lord High Marshals and whatnot, right? I mean, wouldn't it be a tad unfair if only the PCs had claim to titles and dominions?

Dark Archive

KnightErrantJR wrote:
I can totally see a troll's jaw unhinging a little, latching on, and then pulling back until the teeth "connect" for a solid bite. Doesn't really bother me at all.

+1. I love the new look! :)

Dark Archive

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
See, I read the Three Billy Goats Gruff with woodcuts by Susan Blair in the first grade, and that's what I always thought a troll looked like. :)

I remember an adventure where three poor billy goats were polymorphed into ogres and went on a food bindge in an equally poor little village.


Watcher wrote:
Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
See, I read the Three Billy Goats Gruff with woodcuts by Susan Blair in the first grade, and that's what I always thought a troll looked like. :)

With the screwed up spiral eyes?

Yeah.. I remember that too!

Yay!

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