Troll Hills

Once, I thought this name was rather poetic. I had no idea it was a warning. Still, the name is easier to say than “Aaah! It’s going to eat me!”

No less accurate, however…

— Stefanos Vel-Barboza, Seskyalii alchemist
The Troll Hills is both much less, and more, than what most would assume of this hilly location. It lies south of the Aquitaine and Thistletop Keep area, but north of Dublinshire. Several miles long, the area primarily exists in what can be loosely considered the Freecities League territory along the Warden Road.
But in fact, only the central and western portion of the Troll Hills enjoys those borders. The eastern side does not. In fact, the east of Troll Hills remains steeped in a low boil of drama between Kara Korum and Merovia who both contest that portion of the hills. This strive remains confined to the area around Fangwood Keep to the far east of the hills.
To date, any claim to the Troll Hills lingers around the edge. None have ventured to occupy, or even hint, at ownership of the interior. This is due in no small part to the history of the hills, its most famous former occupant, and the ‘creatures’ that call it home.


Ancient Crags and Primeval Forests

This area is a collection of hills that were once tall mesas and other rock formations worn down over the ages by elements of weather and loose magics. The result is a collection of jumbled cleft outcroppings that support two ancient stands of forest and a modest natural spring.
The spring, called Telinbor, flows up from an underground river at the highest point in the hills and wanders along three tributaries. Two of these flow down and into the thick dark forest of Vitari Wood. The third travels west to Westeir Forest.
Water from this spring is clear and unusually cold, as if from a mountain-fed source. Some wizards have written that the heart of the spring has a faint aura of elemental magic. This has led to much speculation that there is an enchanted item somewhere beneath the waters of Telinbor or that the spring’s actual source is a rift to the elemental plane of water.
Of the two stands of forest, Vitari Wood and the Westeir Forest, Vitari in the East of the hills, is the larger of the two. But druids agree that both were once a single forest in the distant past.
These two forests are quite old and are home to many of the same types of plants and animals. The difference lies in the sense of each place.
Centuries past, a dark shadow wormed its way into Vitari Wood, soaking into the forest’s heart. Brambles became more tangled, trees twisted and their branches loomed overhead. Eventually, the location became home to a collection of malevolent inhabitants, such as the infamous Sanev the Spider Hag.
The hills themselves retain their craggy nature. But most are overgrown with a thick carpet of melgrass and banip bellbush. This has given the entire location a soft, gentle appearance.
Never judge a book, person, or hills by first glance…
— Stefanos Vel-Barboza, Seskyalii alchemist


Untapped Abundance

This region has long been a pristine location. One that many have tried to tap into for its natural abundance of timber, herbs, minerals, and other resources. Wild ginger, banip bellbush, Strongheart timber, copper, and even potentially pure elemental water are in abundance. But the local wildlife, and plant life, have been a stalwart defender of the hills.
Many creatures call the Troll Hills home from rabbits, birds, fish, bears, to a wide variety of insects. But there are far more dangerous plants and animals as well. Bog Panthers are known to keep dens near the Telinbor Lake. Naturally, the lake attracts a high number of Rock Tortoises as well.
In the Vitari Wood that fills the southeast of the Troll Hills, Spider Wasps and Owlbears are quite common. Neither appreciate intruders on their particular hunting grounds. The former have long been attributed to the days when Sanev the Spider Hag called these woods home.
Last would be the creature that gives the hills its name. The infamous Troll. These hills host the largest number of the ferocious murder moss than any other realm. They are the undisputed top predator of the Troll Hills, and one that other animals and plants give a wide berth.
I’ve heard more than one ranger comment to me that ‘the hills are alive’, when talking about the Troll Hills…
— Stefanos Vel-Barboza, Seskyalii alchemist


History is often told by the victor. In this case, the Troll Hills were the clear winner, and the history is told in the bones of the ruins. When you’re able to reach them…
— Stefanos Vel-Barboza, Seskyalii alchemist
There has been a reference to the Troll Hills for as long as there have been records of history. The location has been referenced in countless skaldic poems, songs, stories, and journals throughout the ages. Even the oldest records that mention the war between the Ancients and the Foul Host contain a reference to the Troll Hills.
Most of this interest is because of the location. As it is central to the Longgrass Plains, it quickly became a landmark for trade routes or traveling armies.
The first explorer to accurately, and successfully, map the Troll Hills was Thromrir Bitterston. A dwarf from the Steelforge Clan in the Northiron Mountains, he had a deep interest in geography and cartography. Through Thromrir, that many of the old stories of Sanev and her realm in the Vitari Wood are from his travels.
After Thromrir Bitterston, came the Runelord Order. During their rise, the order was keen to locate and exploit places of magical power across the realms. The Troll Hills was one because of the natural spring of Telinbor Lake. They founded the dark stone fortress of Quanatha in the north of Troll Hills for their dark alchemy and magical experiments.
The Runelord Order did attempt to push deeper into the Troll Hills to claim Telinbor Lake for themselves. But they ran afoul of the ancient Fey, Sanev, in Vitari Wood. The conflict between the two was explosive. In the end, the Runelord Order and Sanev vanished from the Troll Hills. But many suggest that the latter is not entirely gone.
The most recent to enter the history of the Troll Hills is Fangwood Keep to the east. The keep was originally built during the rise of the Kingdom of Angesh. They maintained it as an outpost to monitor through the area.
But, when Angesh fell to the Orisnuc forces led by Arslan Khan, ownership of the keep became contested between the fragments of the old Angesh kingdom and the new KaraKorum Empire. The peace settlement between the two dictates that each will alternate occupying Fangwood Keep for a season at a time. So far, this has worked, but as tensions rise, one or the other may refuse to concede the strategic location.
Alternative Name(s)
Spider Rock Hills, Kylori Spil'taa
Rolling Hills
Location under
Characters in Location
Troll Hills on a warm day
Troll Hills by CB Ash

Ruins and Other Phenomena

Creatures and nature aside, the Troll Hills is a rich source of history. Some are quite haunted, though.

Well, most are haunted or just downright trapped to death

— Stefanos Vel-Barboza, Seskyalii alchemist
The Troll Hills is an area steeped in history. Ruins, standing stones, ancient fortresses in woods that may be drenched in a necromantic shadow. There are many ancient sites and locations tucked in far corners.
In the north lies the dark fortress of Quanatha. This fortress of black stone and corrupted Strongheart timber played host to several of the Runelord Order. Similar to Emar Dorsat, Quanatha was a place of experiments in dark magic and alchemy. Some suggest the infamous owlbear, and worse, are a product of this place.
This location is one of the few here that attract explorers, skalds, and all sorts of adventurers. It’s the rumors and myths of fabulous items of value, enchanted weapons, and other objects of great lore that bring them there. Some often actually survive the attempt to visit Quanatha, which keeps the stories alive.
Which are, in their own right, cautionary tales…
— Stefanos Vel-Barboza, Seskyalii alchemist
To the southwest are the standing stones of Oltep. Unlike any other location, Oltep defies explanation. The standing stones shape and circular positioning suggest they may have been a framework of a massive, ancient structure.
But some wizards and skalds that have studied the place say the standing stones might have been used as a religious site. Certainly it is older than even the Ancients or the Foul Host. What no one has yet to identify, not even through magic or rituals, is who were the builders?
Then there is the Desperi Caerin. This dread location was the former black spike stone fortress once owned by the mysterious Sanev the Spider Hag. Sanev occupied this place some time before the Runelord Order. A powerful Outland Fey, she corrupted the entire Vitari Wood to suit her nefarious passions.
Even now, with her gone, Desperi Caerin and the wood itself are in a perpetual gloom. But the lure of treasure and her personal collection of rare items still draw adventurers today. It also provides ample work for Falcon’s Rangers in rescuing the half-dead survivors.

Species | Jan 7, 2024

A curious creature, if 'creature' is the correct word for aggressive, bipedal, and predatory moss. They are also, oddly enough, the most successful predator in any territory that a troll or trolls call home.

Articles under Troll Hills

Cover image: by CB Ash


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Dec 11, 2021 08:44

That opening quote really sells it! Watch out, the trolls will getcha :D   Maybe also have a blocklink to your trolls article? It was also super fun and more people should see it!

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 11, 2021 10:42 by C. B. Ash

You know, I had not even thought of that! That is a great idea! Thanks, Q! :D   And oh yes, you have to keep your eye out for the murder moss! :D

Dec 11, 2021 10:53 by C. B. Ash

Block link back to my adorable murder moss added! :D (though Stefanos would question the use of the word 'adorable')

Dec 29, 2021 14:12 by jyliet of the house

what a delightful article! how amazing that such a dangerous place would be a landmark for travel. hopefully not too many people got curious along the way.

Dec 29, 2021 14:30 by C. B. Ash

Thank you! And well... as for how the Troll Hills of *all* places became a landmark?   I'll let Stefanos explain it. He does a far better job than I do.  

How did it become a travel landmark?

Oh, well, you know how it is. Mark something on map saying ‘Oh, by Grandfather Gren’s roots! Do not go here!’… then before you can say ‘Timir’s Your Uncle’, there’s a Copan Shire halfling wind wagon careening for the place.

And of course, the crew is yelling ‘Quick! Get in! If we hurry, we’ll make it by the dead of midnight!

Which, as anyone knows, leads to more of their drinking songs and stories…

The rest, as the saying goes, is history...

Dec 31, 2021 19:53

I do recall that Miro Teague once served a meal at the Guild House that was developed by that wind wagon crew.   I did not partake.

Dec 31, 2021 20:08 by C. B. Ash

Very, very wise!

Jan 9, 2022 20:50 by Michael Chandra

Who wants to die a horrible death treasure-hunting an evil creature's lair?? o,o

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
Jan 9, 2022 21:12 by C. B. Ash

I have five PCs in my current campaign already raising their hands right now! :D

Jan 14, 2022 05:52 by Kwyn Marie

I like the scrolls. I tried scrolls in one of my worlds, and I never got them to look quite right. These fit well into your overall look.

Jan 14, 2022 11:52 by C. B. Ash

Thank you very much! :D   To be honest, I think it took me 6 tries to get all that scroll work looking 'just right'.

Jan 28, 2022 03:49 by Starfarer Theta

Coming around here again to say that I really like how you've managed to tell so much about a place and its history in a single article. Well done!

Jan 28, 2022 12:38 by C. B. Ash

Thank you, Theta! Once I started, I realized a place like this really needed to have a deep lore behind it... other than just having a lot of murder moss roaming around! :D

Feb 13, 2022 23:29 by Darren McHaffie

Enjoyed reading that. Good sharp historical points to it all.

Feb 14, 2022 13:17 by C. B. Ash

Thank you! I really enjoyed building the lore for this place. Hopefully my players will enjoy it, too! :D   ... ok, maybe they won't enjoy the wandering murder moss Trolls quite so much in them there hills ... but hopefully the rest!

Feb 14, 2022 16:55 by Darren McHaffie

Ther's trolls in thos' 'ills!!!!