• Kent Slocum

A Little Troll History

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

The Fantasy-Era LEGO Kingdom was originally settled by Vikings, who braved the wild seas and ferocious beasts to populate a green, lush valley surrounded by craggy mountain peaks. The fierce Vikings befriended the Dwarves and drove the mythical creatures into extinction or hiding. Once they were no longer threatened by terrible beasts, the Vikings (and their advanced weaponry) faded into legend over the years as their descendants developed a peaceful and prosperous (though uneventful and unadventurous) economy of humble, hardworking villagers governed by a wise and just King. Once the dwarves no longer need to spend all their time forging armor and weaponry for the humans, they began mining in earnest. Soon, their abundance of precious stones made the kingdom wealthy and prosperous--too wealthy and prosperous.

The kingdom experienced several periods of upheaval over multiple generations, during which the land was ruled by a number of bickering factions (Black Falcons, Woodsmen, Knights of Morcia, etc.), each of which built castles, recruited knights, and constructed fortifications to defend themselves against the threats of their power-hungry opponents. The dwarves, who cared very little about which faction was in power above-ground, supplied much of the armor and weaponry for the kingdom, as well as the rare metals necessary to fund the wars. After all, "the dwarfs are for the dwarfs," as C.S. Lewis so elegantly put it in The Last Battle.

By the end of the most recent conflict (the division between Lord Vladek and King Matthias, the kingdom had developed a system of catapults (simple to design, quick to construct, straightforward to fire, and a limitless, though costly, supply of stone boulders), crossbows, swords, and spears as their primary weapons. Thick stone walls and shiny suits of armor provided a level of protection along the kingdom's mountainous and coastal borders. Unfortunately, the relatively minor conflicts that occurred for a short period after King Matthias' triumphant victory made people forget about the sorcery which had played a powerful role in many of the previous wars.

Unbeknownst to most, a disgruntled wizard of Lord Vladek's was hard at work, casting spells to find the last of the Great Beasts, which had been driven into hiding by the Vikings of long ago.  The sorcerer was able to bring three dragons out of the mountains, but one escaped to the valley before he subdued the other two. While the King's current wizard helped train knights on the Green Dragon, the dark magic of the sorcerer resurrected a rag-tag legion of Vladek's formerly-dead followers.

The bones from the graves of the scorpion knights were transformed into cruel and heartless skeletons. If humans were never much good at waking up in the morning, skeletons were even worse. They preferred to attack in the dead of night, striving to kidnap royalty and hold the kingdom for ransom. Very soon, the kingdom had its hands full with the deadly invasion of undead invaders over land, in the sky, and along the coast. At the same time, however, a far worse threat was gathering over the ocean's horizon.

Led by their intrepid and magnanimous (though demanding) Commander, the nomadic trolls were sailing steadily across the sea in a vast fleet of diverse ships to plunder the prosperous kingdom. In addition to being far better prepared and mechanically inclined than the skeletons, the Trolls had a much different objective. They did not directly seek revenge or control upon the unwitting humans. Instead, they sought to satisfy their insatiable hunger for tasty fowl by attacking the farms in the unprotected outlands.  They had once gotten a taste of chicken and turkey from the crew of wayward Vikings, but they now needed to replenish their flock for a growing population (without a rooster, their supply of chickens had gradually dwindled). However, this involved overcoming both the coastal and inland defenses set up by the kingdom's hapless (though brave) defenders. For this purpose, the Troll Commander and his Captains had outfitted each type of ship in their fleet with weapons adopted from, yet vastly superior to, the old Viking technology.

Because they never settled in one place for long, the Trolls had to constantly defend themselves against the threat of wild serpents and flying beasts as they ventured onto unknown shores. They also had to fish in order to supplement their meager diet. Therefore, their arsenal consisted of nets, spears, pots, cages, winches, grappling hooks, pulleys, knives, and blades of all types.

     The first type of Troll warship (called "Stern Wheelers," because they carried one disassembled Battle Wheel in the back), slowly crossed the seas under the power of two adjustable sails. These crowded ships each carried backup ammunition (Technic competition cannon arrows with rubber tips) for their Battle Wheel, as well as "landing gear" (deployable ramps) at the front of the ship to aid in debarking.

In addition to their two anchors, these ships had two mast-mounted cranes to assist in loading and unloading the two flick-fire missile carts (more missiles packed in crates on board). Two smaller winches were installed on the two "towboats" on board: rowboats equipped to pull the larger boat into position, as well as perform a variety of other tasks. For this purpose, the larger ships always had places to which hooks could be attached.

    The second type of ship (called "Stop, Drop, and Roll" because the ship was designed to swing around upon reaching the shore and grind to a halt, allowing the ramps to be lowered in order to permit the vehicles carried aboard to roll directly onto land, even in the heat of battle) held one Siege Tower (parked in the back of the ship) and one Assault Wagon (parked in the front), along with two Giant Trolls (a strong species needed for land propulsion of the Assault Wagon and Siege Tower). Although these ships traveled under sail-power like the Battle Wheel carriers, this kind did not feature forward-facing rams. This was because the "business end" of the ship was the rear, where the landing platforms were located.  The anchors and sails were mounted close to the stern in order to permit the ship to make tighter turns when swinging around as it approached the shoreline. However, this configuration also served another crucial purpose.

     The Siege Tower provided the perfect vantage point from which the ship's captain could direct the Assault Wagon's modified rapid-fire missile launcher, which could fire harpoons at the vicious sea serpents that threatened the fleet. The Assault Wagon's two alternating ammunition magazines were positioned directly beneath the Siege Tower's slide-out boarding platform, which permitted straight-forward reload. When the Assault Wagon was being loaded onto the ship, the revolving hoist (with hook mounting points, not built-in chains) that normally lifted the anchors out of the water instead pulled hooks with chains attached to the Assault Wagon, winching it aboard. The chains could then be used to pull the Siege Tower aboard as well.

     Only ships of the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" type could turn sharply enough to permit the harpoons to hit the fast-moving sea serpents. When on shore, the Assault Wagon's impressive firepower could be used offensively, battering the shoreline with different types and sizes of missiles. Clips with large missiles (such as grappling hooks or bludgeons) could only work one-at-a-time, so a placeholder was inserted to keep the clips steady as their magazines were depleted.

     In general, the Trolls preferred missile-launchers to catapults because they were more precise, required less reloading, fired faster, and used smaller and lighter projectiles (key to reducing weight and conserving space on board ship). However, they exclusively used harpoons, spears, grappling hooks, and a dangerous species of Globlins since they were the lightest type of projectile, and the other alternative (flaming torches) could not be used on board ship for obvious safety reasons.

     The most serious danger that faced the fleet was not sea serpents, starvation, or storms. Their worst enemy was fire. With their fleet made and sewn almost entirely of wood, the Trolls knew that even a tiny spark could quickly consume an entire ship. In addition, the Trolls waterproofed their ships with flammable pitch and propelled their fleet with wooden oars and sails sewn from cotton cloth. As a result, the Trolls set severe limits on the use of artificial lighting. Rejecting open flame when at sea, they instead used enclosed and insulated lanterns. Each ship carried at least one large reservoir of water (used to collect rainwater and later purified to drink) and sufficient buckets and barrels with which to douse any flames that may threaten the structure (some were also equipped with crates of sand to smother flames). When sending signals to other boats, the Trolls used cages of lightning-bugs, manipulating the speed of the fireflies' twinkling to transmit crude messages back and forth. In this way, they avoided raising the suspicion of observant enemies. The Trolls had never learned of gunpowder and explosives, so they did not carry these flammable, yet useful, substances on board any of their ships.

    In addition to these precautions, the Trolls kept their untrained young off the main ships altogether. The Troll youth dwelt on board smaller, swifter craft with a single sail and no oars (but with a rudder). The primary objectives of the smaller frigate were to keep the youth busy, to train them for sailing the larger ships, to keep them out of the way, to carry messages between ships (for a fee--they earned “allowance” this way, which could be spent to purchase upgrades from the supply Commissioner), to assist in putting out fires, and to re-broadcast lightning bug signals.

     The third type of ship (called "Supply Vessels," a wordplay on their intended purpose) served as the main pantry and armory for the mobile armada, carrying a full complement of supplies necessary for supporting life at sea and battle on land.  There were hundreds of items on board stacked dangerously high, including racks of armor, shelves of swords, crates of bananas, boxes of bread, folded tents, plenty of cookware, barrels of fresh water, piles of hard-boiled eggs, and much-appreciated hammocks for hanging from the masts. In order to unload all of this equipment, these ships carried a huge mobile winch-powered crane (called "The Coop Crusher").

      This versatile crane had three primary purposes. To begin with, the massive crane had enough reach (counterbalanced by heavy wrecking balls) in order to lift the Battle Wheels off their ships. This involved an advanced compound pulley system. Secondly, the crane was mounted on treads, so that it could also be moved onto land and swing the wrecking balls to smash open chicken coops. Finally, the crane served as the ship's main mast, supporting two sets of sails (four sails total), which could be locked into place when not powering the winching mechanism.

Instead of being heavily armed for its own defense, the "Supply Vessel" type of ship carried four emergency escape craft, which helped with unloading and loading. Quick-release rope bridges (which could be rolled up when not in use) provided a method of linking up with other ships for resupply.

    The fourth type of ship in the Trolls' nomadic fleet was also the most heavily protected. Called "Poultry Protectors," these ships were closely guarded and strongly fortified, designed to carry the Trolls' most prized possessions--chickens, eggs, and turkey drumsticks. An upper deck held mounted metal rail, allowing simple railcars to dump their plunder through the appropriate trapdoors into the correct (locked) food storage units below. Up above, a row of 360-degree fully-adjustable cannons guarded against aerial attack. Instead of relying on the whims of the wind, these boats were powered entirely by a massive galley of rowers on the lower deck (rowing to the beat of a giant troll's drum). As if the security provided by a team of highly-trained warriors wasn't already enough, the ships carried a catamaran (two canoes lashed together for stability) to help with escape maneuvers.

     The fifth and last type of ship in the fleet was called the "Commander Lander." In many ways, the Commander Lander was much like the other ships in the fleet. It had a Captain, sails, and a pair of anchors. However, unlike the other ships in the fleet, this type carried the Fleet Commander. The Fleet Commander held a very critical and esteemed position. Besides plotting the fleet's course and distributing maps to all of the ship captains, he planned battle tactics and made food ration decisions. Because he served as the highest-ranking authority in the Troll society, the Fleet Commander had the finest accommodations.

His large, spacious cabin was luxurious, especially when compared to the limited amount of space available on board the other ships. In the Commander's Quarters, there was an extensive library of books and maps. Two easels held maps for study, and a desk permitted writing, sending, and reading correspondence sent between the ships. His triple-plumed quill pen (along with his magnificent globe) was on top of his chest of drawers, which held blueprints and scissors. He had a fine bed (with crimson curtains for privacy) in which to sleep, shutters over the windows that provided beautiful views of the sea, and a private sink and toilet. He enjoyed watermelon, tarts, and cookies for dinner, followed by a bottle of apple cider drunk out of a green goblet. His entire suite was well-lit by a chandelier hung from the ceiling, as he was the only Troll permitted (or trusted) to use fire on board a ship.

     His navigation desk, however, was standard for all of the ship captains. It held a sea-chart, an astrolabe, a compass, a writing quill, an envelope, and a candle to see by. When the Commander needed to stretch his legs, he would mount the staircase and lean over the railing of the upper deck, shaded from the sun's burning rays by an adjustable canopy. From here, he could provide instructions to the Captain and crewmen below.

     The Fleet Commander took particular pride in personally naming each of the ships in his fleet. Having been well-educated in Viking myths, he named them after characters of ancient legend:  Sisyphus, Collosus, Persepheus, Artemis, and Herodius.

     After nearly two months, the entire fleet converged upon a remote stretch of coastline, which had recently been battered by the Skeleton Army. The battle-hardened Dragon Knights prepared to defend their shores from the Trolls, setting up a defensive position inside Whitecap Fortress. Led by Baron von Beare, the Dragon Knights were confident in their victory. They had a massive fortress, a dangerous coastline, and a thick, dark confusing forest behind them. They were also expect handlers of dangerous and deadly creatures, having subdued a variety of winged beasts, bears, rats, spiders, and scorpions. While the Dragon Knights dug in for a long fight, the Trolls began battering the fortress with a hail of missiles, attempting to wear down their enemy's resolve. However, the Dragon Knights had a secret weapon: fire. Remembering that fire was successful at burning down the Skeleton Army's ships, the Dragon Knights unleashed their fire-breathing dragon while focusing powerful beams of reflected sunlight onto the Trolls' lead ship. Although the Trolls were able to shoot down the Dragon with nets and harpoons, they only inflicted superficial damage to the fortress's lookout towers. Meanwhile, the conflagration onboard the lead vessels caused them to retreat out to sea. Unfortunately, the Troll were forced to scuttle their two most badly-damaged ships, as they were already taking on more water than was safe.

They skirted the Dragon Army's forces and instead dropped their two anchors apiece just off the rocky beach a few leagues north. Moored together for protection, the Troll army nursed their wounds, repaired their ships, and formulated a strategy while waiting to see if their arrival had been detected. Emboldened by the lack of a defensive response from the Dragon Knights (who thought the Trolls had left, and were unable to make sure of this, as their Dragon had been captured by the Trolls), the ship-cranes lifted prefabricated tower segments into the water to serve as a makeshift wharf. Built-in metal rail permitted railcars to load further segments onto land.  Five sections were stacked on top of each other, creating towers that were then securely anchored to the ground via many chains with grappling hooks and stakes. Once assembled, the towers permitted larger equipment to be lifted onto shore via aerial ziplines. The metal rails also allowed the towers to support a crude elevator, which lifted heavy missile launchers to the top to protect the vulnerable fleet. The Trolls then used the towers for assembling and boarding large vehicles like the Siege Towers and the Battle Wheels.

     While each war machine was carefully inspected for necessary repairs and outfitted with ample tents, sufficient cookware (pots, frying pans, and plates), and plenty of empty crates, the Troll's hot-air balloon began preparing to search for unprotected farms. Firmly anchored to the bow of the Commander Lander ship, the balloon (which used its large sails to propel the ship forward) strained at its moorings as the Trolls used candles to heat up the air in its canvas bag. Finally, the balloon's Captain gave the command to begin unwinding the cables, causing the balloon to rise slowly into the sky. Once they reached the correct altitude, the hooks were released, and the balloons drifted silently over the wide expanse of thick forest, steered by the large sails mounted on either side. The balloon’s winches carried crates of food, which would eventually be consumed and discarded as ballast to maintain altitude. To supplement their meager supplies, the balloonists also had two fishing poles with which to lower grappling hooks to the ground and snatch fruit or catch fish.

     The balloonists were gone for a very long time. Just when the Trolls had almost decided to begin the invasion without them, the balloonists returned. They lowered their anchors from their winches and snagged on the re-entry net suspended below. By the time they were winched back down to the Commander Lander, most of the towers were already disassembled and loaded onto the war machines. The Trolls aboard reported great acreages of farmland that lay beyond the great forest and a large mountain range. Having reviewed the maps sketched by the balloonists, the Commander issued a blast on a great horn, and the Troll army surged forward, following their leader's directions. The fleet was left behind, guarded and maintained by the women and children (teenagers had shorter legs and had to do the chores, babies were micro-figures and had to be watched constantly in order to keep them out of mischief). However, the Troll army had no idea that the Dragon Knights had spotted the hot-air balloon, and had been preparing a nasty surprise for the Trolls in the Dark Forest.

    The rocky coastline quickly gave way to a never-ending forest stretching all the way to the horizon. As the giant machines pushed into unfamiliar foliage, the Trolls were forced to chop down the trees in their path, using the timber to construct a rudimentary rail line behind them, permitting them to quickly resupply their advancing front lines. However, the Trolls were nervous. They were seafarers, not foresters, and this forest was foreboding. It was then that the Dragon Knights launched an ambush upon the Trolls. Wild animals began attacking the war machines, forcing the Giant Trolls to abandon their job of pushing and pulling the caravan in order to fight off the beasts. In the ensuing chaos, several Trolls were captured, causing the Trolls to launch a full-scale siege against the Dragon Knights. Now that the Dragon Knights and Trolls were on a level playing field, the Trolls' brute strength and advanced weaponry overpower the Dragon Knights. The Trolls were forced to hold the Dragon Knights as handcuffed prisoners, in order to prevent them from escaping and warning the rest of the kingdom of the Troll army's imminent approach. Just when the forest was beginning to play with the Troll's minds, they reached the base of a massive mountain range.

As the Trolls began looking for the mountain pass that the balloonists had marked on the map, the dwarves grew concerned that neither the skeletons nor the Trolls needed their services, as they did not desire precious metals and could forge their own weapons. With the humans gone, who would buy the dwarves' stone for construction of massive land-based fortifications? Unwilling to allow either party to win the war against the human kingdom, the dwarves launched a multi-pronged offensive that weakened the Trolls. Since the dwarves used explosives in their daily occupation (in order to blow up rock to find and extract precious metals), they had a practically limitless supply of dynamite to fling and boulders to hurl at the Trolls and skeletons. As it turned out, stone was surprisingly effective at crushing both wooden equipment and skeletal bones. One of the Troll Battle Wheels suffered an especially crippling bit of damage as it was struck by an explosive charge, so the Trolls had to use a few giant trolls to support the vehicle as they made their way out of the mountains and onto a vast plain of green, rolling hills.

The vast plain was periodically punctuated by tall watchtowers, constructed by the kingdom's defenders to watch out for invaders. Although guards stationed on top of the towers had trained eagles which could see for miles on clear days, Lord Barry's Royal Blue forces were not using eagle-eyed scouts as the Trolls camped around an old mill that had fallen into disuse. Under the Commander's direction, the Trolls detached the water wheel and used it to repair their Battle Wheel's serious damage. Next, they encountered a peaceful farm and began to overrun it.

     The majority of the Trolls' plunder consisted of live chickens. These were carefully sent to the specially-equipped cargo ships via trains of troll-powered handcars, where well-constructed hanging coops with perches provided excellent care to their prized plunder. Since turkeys required more space than chickens to roam (and space is in short supply on board the ships), they were butchered at the farm and their meat was transported to the ships to be smoked, salted, and cured. Grain, fresh fruit, vegetables, and other food staples were also snatched up and carried back to the ships.

     However, the Trolls did not take any captives or otherwise harm the people they encountered; after all, the hulking battle-ready Giant Trolls were enough to frighten the farmers into sullen submission.  They did, however, carry hundreds of handcuffs, which were used to pacify peasants, subdue soldiers, and arrest attackers.

     Eventually, the squawking, clucking, and growling reached the ears of the ever-attentive eagles of the Royal Blue guards. Even as the Royal Blue guards sounded a warning across the countryside,  the Trolls continued their march forward, inexorably crushing the already-weakened human opposition. Unaware of the Trolls' true motives, the Crimson-Red Soldiers tasked with protecting the King began preparing to defend the kingdom's bustling capital against the unexpected invasion. However, the Trolls never arrived. Instead, they finished wiping out all of the edibles in the surrounding farms before vanishing into the forest at the base of the mountains. The guards had rushed to protect the towns and villages, leaving the farms unprotected and vulnerable.

     Now that they had obtained all the meat they could eat and plenty of live poultry, the Trolls turned away from the farmlands and set their sights on the sea once again.

     Back on board the boats, the chickens were busily laying eggs (white hens laid white eggs, and brown hens laid blue-tinted eggs). These eggs were diligently collected in baskets and then fed to the hungry sailors. In general, the Trolls ate a well-balanced diet. For protein, they certainly consumed plenty of meat (sausages and turkey drumsticks), but they also enjoyed hard-boiled and scrambled eggs. For natural sugar and fiber, they enjoyed fruit such as cherries, apples, and bananas. For carbohydrates, they gobbled down croissants, baguettes, and hot dog buns. On Saturdays, they received a dessert at the end of the evening meal--a chocolate-chip cookie!  In order to save on space, everyone ate off of frying pans instead of large plates. They did, however, enjoy the luxury of forks, knives, and goblets (of cider). In order to avoid scurvy, the sailors all drank a box of concentrated citrus juice weekly. The women also drank milk, in order to get enough calcium.

     All was not resolved, however. The Knights of the kingdom had realized the Trolls' true objective. Since voluntarily killing their livestock and burning their crops to prevent the Trolls' return was not a viable option, they instead developed a plan to drive them off that struck at the Trolls' greatest weakness: fire. The humans use open flame constantly because of the abundance of flammable material (such as wood from the forest) and have relatively non-flammable b buildings and fortifications made of stone they had purchased from the dwarves. Because stone is expensive to use as a weapon, their primary weapons are flaming arrows flung from catapults. Faced with wild creatures, boulders, dynamite, and flaming arrows raining down on them, the Trolls were eventually forced to weigh anchor and sail back across the sea.