...as a bit of a guide to introducing ourselves. That last line really struck me. Like, how do you answer those questions in-voice? Especially the first one? So after writing it all up like a normal, sane person would, last night just before I went to sleep the... well, the fourth paragraph of this, really, the one where she starts off about being "attractive for a Troll", put itself together in my head and then I couldn't sleep until I wrote out her half. So apologies if it's just incoherent drowsy delusions, but here goes!1) What does your character look like?
2) Your Discipline (Nethermancer, Elementalist, Thief, etc) is more than your job, it is the way you look at life. That's in part why it gives you magical abilities. How does your discipline affect how your character approaches life?
3) On a related note, each day your character spends 30 minutes on their Karma Ritual. It is a way to connect to the deeper magic of your discipline and lets you completely refill your karma pool each day. Everyone's is different, but related to your discipline. The example for the Thief in the book is that they meditate on self-reliance, then uses one of their talents, such as Stealthy Stride or Picking Pockets. What is your karma ritual like?
4) What part of Barsaive are you from? What is your family situation like? You can message me directly if you want help with this, but it doesn't have to be a massive essay.
You can answer these questions in your character's voice, or in generalities.
An Evening With An Outcast
Series I: Balshiva
Greetings. My Name is Sindarian Feliana, Troubadour in the Verstalian style. If you are not familiar with this vein, we are scholars more than tale-tellers, but our research is conducted in the field - not through books, but by exploring, interviewing, experiencing, and recording. I would like to submit for the record this interview conducted in a series documenting the unique nature of those who have been dismissed from Troll society, a matter that bears considerably more weight in their culture than any other. Just as the no'a'g'ral (I recommend the writings of Neirona Blackhand) are so deeply adopted into their clan that they are considered to be Trolls, the Outcasts are so thoroughly rejected that they are considered to be not.
To interview such a one is not an easy thing. They are difficult to find, and when one does... it is not a simple conversation. This one was recommended to me as "comparably easygoing", though that is not, quite frankly, the word I would use for her. The following transcript is verbatim, taken down with a Recording Quill. Alas, they are intended for dictation, not interviewing, and can only transcribe the last person to touch them. I have conducted interviews with subjects taking turns tapping the quill, but when conversing with a Troll I find it best not to ask for much more than their indulgence.
Me? First off, who wants to know? No good reason anybody should be asking about me. But I suppose I've no good reason not to answer, so sure, have a seat. My Name's Balshiva. Yeah, just Balshiva. Balshiva Kava'astol if you must, and of course I know what that means(1). No, I didn't expect you would and no, I'm not going to explain it to you. You asked your question; shut up and listen to the answer.
I've been told I'm "attractive for a Troll," by a stupid human boy. That was about three seconds before he went through the window. What he meant was that my trolthelia isn't very pronounced and softer folk like softer skin. If he could've said that, his nose wouldn't be so crooked now. Anyhow, my eyes are green, and I've always rather liked how dark they are. My hair's black and pretty thick, and hey! Pay attention here. Be sure to tell whoever you're taking your notes for how I keep the left half shaved down. Know why I do that? Yeah, you better. It's to show off this - where my horn used to be. Too easy to think they're just lost in my hair if I let it grow out, and I'm having none of that. They're shorn off, polished down, and cored, and they're never coming back.(2)
What kind of question is that? Of course there's a story. There's a story to everything. Aren't you supposed to be some kind of Troubadour? Nobody ever taught you that? Where was I? Oh, right, I do have these rather glorious tusks. Sure, some people have bigger, but mine are pretty perfect for my face. I'm a bit short, barely eight foot, but I'd say the best word for my build is "toned," and I've got legs for... look, if I were telling you that story, I'd be telling it, wouldn't I? Pestering me about it isn't going to change that. You asked me to describe myself and I am. You going to interrupt again?
OK then. Yes, this is what I wear. I know it's not much. This armor I wear, that's six different skins right now, and of course I killed them all myself. When pieces wear off, I replace them, and I remember what gave it to me. Creature, animal, pesky Namegiver who asks too many questions -- a life's a life, and when I take one, I respect that. No, not Horrors! Obviously. But I can't say I've killed one of those yet. Did I mention too many questions? Great. Just making sure we're on the same page, so to speak, so if you suddenly decide to go flying through any windows there's no confusion as to why. Yes, windows are my preferred route. There's just no stopping you, is there? I can respect that. To a point.
Apart from that, though, I'm not too much for clothes. I wear 'em, of course, out of respect, but frankly, I've got nothing to be ashamed of, and I don't need fancy fabrics to dress this up.(3) Might be nice to try some someday, just for fun, but it's not something I've thought much about. I do wear these bones in my ears - these or one of three other pairs. My favorites are actually some espagra teeth, but I didn't kill that one myself. They're a gift.
So there you go. That's me. Don't know why you had to ask me to describe myself when you're sitting right there with eyes still in your head, but it's your silver. Something a little deeper? Ah, yeah, I see what you mean. I don't know, it's getting pretty... another round? I suppose I could stay a bit longer.(4)
OK, I can see you looking. Ask. It's alright, you can say it. No, I don't carry a sword. Or a bow, axe, spear, mace... look, I'm not going to sit here listing everything I don't carry. I actually do keep a couple bolas, but I don't use them much. You want to guess? Go for it. Mm, no. Closer, but no. Look, I don't cast spells. Seriously? You see any animals around here? The only way I know how to master a beast is to pound it into submission. I'm not entirely proud of that fact, actually, so maybe don't push too hard there. I'm a Gauntlet. No, not like the glove. OK, kind of like the glove? That's probably part of where the Name comes from. I never noticed that before. But no, it's more like the test. Not too surprised you haven't met one before. There aren't many of us.(5)
Here, it's a little like this. Try to imagine that Elementalist you were asking about, right? Now imagine she really sits down and just... lets it all in. Stops trying to shape it into things to suit her, and lets it shape her into... no, that's not right. Well, it's not wrong, but you're not going to get it right. OK, you've heard of Jaspree, right? Of course you have. But there's something older than her - the land itself, the water that flows across it, the wood that holds it together, the fire that turns it all over for the next cycle. All that... that's not a part of me. I'm a part of that. A really small part, like a speck of a speck in a blink, but at the same time, it IS a part of me.
OK, OK, try it this way. You know where the Name Troll comes from? What I call myself?(6) Trua'a'ul, or in Throalic, The Dual People. To be Trua'a'ul is to experience calm in violence, passion in contemplation, ecstasy in fury. It's not the same, but it's kind of a start. To be a Gauntlet is to accept that all of that, everything that makes up our short little lives, is all the same thing, and in the big picture none of it matters, and yet it's also all that matters, and still to live that alongside... alongside...
You know what? Nevermind. You can't afford enough mead to keep me here long enough to explain this in any way you're going to understand. That's not just your failing. I'm not the best with people and words and I know it. And it's... you kind of have to feel it to really get it. Just, put down I'm a Gauntlet. If whoever sent you wants to know what that means, tell 'em I hit things. Hard. You don't need to understand why. Just know that hitting me first is a mistake. I don't fall down.
My Karma Ritual? That's getting a little personal, don't you think? No, I really don't believe it'll help get you any closer to what it means to be a Gauntlet. A bottle of... listen, if you think I'm just fishing for free drinks this conversation is over. Yeah, they make for pleasant company, but I can't help notice you're not partaking much. You want to get personal, we drink together. Yes, your treat. I'm not the one who wants to have this conversation, now am I? All right, then. I'm pouring. Keep up.
I try to catch it at the break of dawn, but that's just nice if I can do it. I like that first touch of warmth. Whenever I get to it, I mix up some dirt and water and I smear it over myself, everywhere I can - arms, chest, belly, legs, if I can really just cover myself that's fantastic. But just my face is fine, and sometimes more than that would be stupid. I don't fear much, but I'm not stupid. If you're trying to understand what being a Gauntlet means, though, you should probably know that's just me. My path to being started with my Era'ka, so I always start with mud. No, I won't. I'm sure you can find someone else to explain that to you. Ask someone with horns. They'll enjoy it.(7)
Anyway, then I sit. No, contemplate isn't the right word at all. I'm not contemplating anything. I feel it. I let it flow through me, everything around. I sink into it. I embrace how much More it is, and my place within it. I accept that that doesn't mean I don't matter. I let my inner fire build, and while it does, the mud dries out. By the end of the ritual, it's brittle, flakes, the water already given back, the earth ready to return to the wood. I give one good flex-and-spin and it all poofs off like dust. Honestly, if you could, I'd say you should try it sometimes - leaves me cleaner than a bath. Actually, I think it's part of why my skin stays so soft. I mean, it's nothing to do with the trolthelia, clearly, but just the general softness. Hands to yourself there, boy; I know how I feel. I don't need you to tell me.
And that's it. Then I'm done. Told you it wouldn't help. I don't think it's even much like most Gauntlets, except for the important part, which probably isn't even what you'll remember. That's the same for all of us. But you're starting to list a bit to the side there. You should be getting to bed.
One last question? Sure, I'm in a pretty good mood. Go ahead.
Ah. No. No, "Where are you from" is not a question you ask an er'ka'a'kul.(8) There is no answer that doesn't end with you in a pile of broken glass and shattered dreams. Whatever dreams involved keeping your nose intact, I suppose, I don't pretend to know what your dreams are. I told you you could ask, so I'll let it go, but... ahh, there we go, and not a moment too soon. Here, I'll just finish this paragraph up for you. You got through your whole cup before passing out. I'm impressed. Thanks for the bottle.
(1) I confess I did not, and in asking about it later I nearly died. Twice. It bears a dangerous similarity to kera'astol, which turned out to mean "berserker". Approaching the matter more carefully and seeking after its parts, kava means "mud", and astol relates to the fundamental truth of a thing. Roughly speaking, then, I believe it translates to The Truth Of Mud. Is the play on kera'astol intentional? It would be a dangerous game, but yes, I strongly suspect that it is.
(2) Though she is my first interview, I have observed other Outcasts, and I must note that her horns are indeed the most thoroughly removed that I have seen. Usually they are shorn off an inch or two from the skull. Balshiva's have been ground down to be flush with her skin.
(3) Something about this struck me, though I did not immediately realize why. Nudity is taboo in most cultures, after all, but later I recalled being warned against even asking about it among the Ustrecht clans - even the friendlier ones. Evidently a colleague was researching such matters across races, in alphabetical order, and I am told he disappeared soon after submitting his paper on "Orgies Among Orks." Lowland Trolls have since confirmed that it is an especially touchy topic, not to be discussed or even acknowledged, as it is almost inherently a violation of an individual's honor. Therefor not only her seeming lack of concern for it, but the very casualness with which she throws it out, is remarkable, particularly given my doubtless flawed understanding that individual honor is all that an Outcast retains. But it was remarkable in a way that I was not, this particular evening, prepared to give my life for. It may have some bearing on my topic, but I am not here for prurient satisfaction.
(4) Much as I might care to pretend I "lured her back" with the offer of more alcohol, it was fairly clear to me that her entire interpretation of my initial request that she describe herself, focusing so fully on her physical appearance that, indeed, I could quite see for myself, was to ensure at least two rounds before she had to answer any real questions. But I had come to meet a Troll in a tavern. I was prepared with an open tab.
(5) The question of her Discipline had indeed been bothering me all evening, I confess. I had been assured she was an Adept, but could find none of the usual trappings. I have never heard of a Gauntlet before or since, and I have added it to my list of possible future topics to research. Perhaps if I can follow Balshiva's story a little further, I may be able to learn a bit more about both.
(6) It was at the time too great a tangent, but this oddity I recognized immediately. Outcasts, as I noted in my preamble, are, by tradition, not Trolls. At all. Prior to embarking upon my formal study I did speak to a few, and they universally referred to Trolls as "other", referring to what "they" do, never "we". The singular pronoun here most assuredly calls for follow up. I only hope I can find a way to traverse it free of defenestration.
(7) She was right about this. It is, of course, the Kava/Outcast/Mud slang, and it was following up on this thread that finally led me to the meaning underlying her Name. When the Troll I was talking to learned that I was asking in regards to an Outcast who incorporated it into their Karma Ritual, he laughed so hard he fell out of his chair, and allowed that technically, I had won the drinking contest.
(8) I knew this. I knew this and it came out anyway. I can blame the alcohol, I suppose, but it was a foolish question and quite honestly, I'm grateful she forgave it. It was the beginning of a prepared list of common end-of-interview getting-to-know-you kinds of questions; where are you from? How is your family life? Are they supportive of your adventuring career? That kind of thing. Stupid irrelevant questions here. Could it be said she is from Ustrecht? Debatably. Her body was certainly born there, somewhere, but is "she" the same self now? I'm sure I can't say, though I do hope to learn more in future talks. And of course an Outcast has no family. I'm relieved I passed out before that foolishness was able to slip through my drunken lips. Regardless, I am going to have to work on my tolerance if I'm going to continue this line of inquiry. I wonder if there's a blood charm that can help process alcohol?