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Hollow Moon Cultures: The Marsh of Putrescence (troglodytes)by Sharon Dornhoff and Geoff Gander
Technology: Iron Age (imported metalwork only; some stone construction, subsistence agriculture)
Lifestyle: Clannish, territorial rustics with an age-old chip on their shoulders, prideful and suspicious of outsiders
Population: ~100,000 troglodytes in scattered villages and a few border strongholds
Mystaran Origin: First wave - Brasol Range of Davania, c. 12,500 BC;
Second wave - Northwestern Davanian plains, c. 7,000 BC
Real-life inspiration: Stereotypical "hillbillies" and assorted back-country regions of the
eastern USA, c. 1870
Wedged between the pteryx-ruled Apennines to the southeast, the desolate Mare Imbrium crystalbarren to the west, and the low Caucasus Mounts - home of the Modrigswerg - to the northeast*, the treacherous Marsh of Putrescence offers the only viable trade-route from the Great Spindrift Sea to the moulder dwarves' domain, save crossing the open, frigid crystal. Since the decimation of Imbrium's cryions by the Hollow Moon's most recent pteryx "culling operation", those who would procure the northland dwarves' precious gemstones and magical wares have little choice but to do business with the troglodytes of the Marsh: a somewhat backward and fractious, yet spirited lot, many of whom have seized upon their newfound economic importance to advance their position in a world which has long disdained them.
(* - On an IRL moon-map, the troglodytes' Marsh covers the large rectangular area between Mt. Huygens in the Apennine range, the two tiny craters Feuillee and Beer on the fringe of Mare Imbrium, the northernmost rays of the deep crater Aristillus, and Cape Fresnal at the northeastern tip of the Apennines. Thus it encompasses three major craters (Autolycus, Aristillus and Archimedes), as well as some broken upland patches, a stretch of the Great Spindrift's shoreline, and - of course! - Palus Putredinis.)
The new caravan-routes across the Marsh of Putrescence provide a good overview of the troglodyte homeland, for they pass through all but the deepest, muckiest portion of the Marshlands, skirting the worst of this poorly-drained region's unpredictable terrain. After landing at the ramshackle docks of a coastal troglodyte fishing-village, goods are ferried/portaged inland across the tidal saltmarshes of the Marsh's southern corner. Inundated by the Great Spindrift during high tides, and undercut by runnels and shallow lagoons of brackish, seaweed-choked brine, the rest of the month, this portion of the trogs' lands is unsuitable for agriculture; its inhabitants are largely dependent on fishing, the saltmarsh's abundant crabs and clams, and the sale of potash (from burned kelp) and water-resistant woodwork (mostly whittled from mangrove roots) for their livelihood. Much of the coastal landscape consists of muddy gullies and beds of coarse salt-grass, while tangled clusters of stunted mangroves encircle the more permanent, seawater-filled sinkholes and lagoons, reaching their many-branched runners far out into the saltwater. Coastal troglodytes' homes are built on stout pilings to keep them above the tidewaters, and are constructed from weathered pine or driftwood, with large porches to provide some dry work-space outdoors during the high tides' floods. Most coast-troggish houses also have a rowboat or two tethered to their pilings, which the occupants use for transport when it's flooded, and leave beached on the sandy ground when it's not.
North of the saltmarsh, beyond the tide-line, sandhills crowned with scrubby evergreen bushes or still-coarser dune grasses take over, rising in low parallel ridges for the next several miles, and forming an ever-shifting boundary of dunes between the troglodytes' lands and the crystalbarrens. Despite the Marsh's name, this borderland is actually quite dry, due to its sandy, fast-draining soil and the chill, arid gusts which blow off Mare Imbrium. Beyond these windswept sandhills, tightly-spaced, black-needled scrub pines take over, anchoring dunes with their roots and forming a twelve-thousand-acre forest - largely trackless, and dotted with good water holes, not-so-good patches of "sugar sand" that trap wagon wheels easily, and clapboard shacks of troglodyte farmer/trappers who'll only put up with visitors who can stomach their home-brewed applejack ;-) - stretching north toward the great freshwater lake in the Archimedes caldera. Locals here grow root crops and maize; the latter is of a hybrid strain, hardy though much less productive, bred from imported margasta crops and one of the Marsh's native saltgrasses. They also hunt the pine-woods' abundant wildlife, keep domestic goats and peccaries, pick berries in the forest, and sell their own woodwork, dune-grass basketry, and throat-searing alcohol to passing caravans. Pine-trog clans whose territory abuts the lake also hunt night herons, rails or other wading-birds for their feathers - valuable commodities, in the bird-poor HM setting - and set fish-traps and lines for the many lazy catfish (some of them giants), armoured lake sturgeons, and giant waterbugs which prowl its crystal-clear waters.
East of Lake Archimedes, this sandy ground gives way to richer soils, fertile grass-topped hills, and valleys blanketed in blue spruce, larch and scattered, dark-dwarfed hardwoods ... poplars, or undersized beeches and sugar maples, mostly. Extreme lowlands are still swampy, with cypress-stands and willows clumped in and around the ankle-deep water which fills the valleys' sinkholes; but the high ground is relatively solid and easy to get around on. Most of the troglodytes in these hills are ranchers, raising both conventional cattle for beef and leather - as reptiles they have no taste for dairy products, though a few produce tangy cheeses for sale to the Modrigswerg - and the tremendous marsh snails of the region's central bogs, which serve both for meat and as beasts of burden. Such "up-country" trogs also harvest their own root-crops, vegetables, and grain from cultivated plots on the hilltops, as well as patches of tobacco that the moulder dwarves will pay top prices for; often, outland merchants travel this far with goods useful to the upcountry troglodytes, then barter those wares for tobacco, which the Modrigswerg'll buy from the outlanders in turn. Houses of troglodytes in this area tend to be larger and sturdier than elsewhere, local clans favouring either one-family log cabins shingled with clapboard, or multi-family lodges with big fieldstone chimneys and a massive, A-frame construction. A few outbuildings, corn-cribs, paddocks, and snail-wallows, all hemmed in by waist-high fieldstone fences (used for cover against rival clans' raids and snipers) round out the typical hill-troglodyte family farm. Upcountry trogs usually keep themselves and their farms to the high ground, as the cypress bogs are home to dangerous wildlife and a wide variety of Lowlife-type monsters; since there aren't many landmarks and the bogs' trees all look alike, they're also a great place to get lost.
Beyond these hill-clans' territories, caravans pass between the Marsh's two semi-active volcanoes, Aristillus and Autolycus - also called the "Blue Smokies", as they belch forth a deep, blue-tinted vapour during Fire Times - at which stage the ground turns soggy and un-farmable again, thanks to the many hot-springs and noxious, sulphur-tainted geysers that bubble up along the paired volcanoes' basalt slopes. Cypress takes over entirely from the up-country trees, and the waters these evergreens grow in are stained as brown as tea, from the decaying branches which litter the bottoms of their rancid pools; where water is sufficiently fast-flowing to remain clear, reeds and bog-plants predominate. The last of the clans encountered on the journey across the Marshlands aren't farmers, but hunters of small game (mostly swamp deer, opossums, raccoons, fur-bearers like muskrats or otters, giant frogs, and giant aquatic insects), and gatherers of wild rice, skunk cabbage, cattails and other edible wetland plants. These trogs know that their twin volcanoes - which have had a long history of causing destructive tremors - will eventually wreck anything they bother to build well, so just erect tottering, improvised rain-shelters out of weather-beaten boards, layered cypress boughs, giant snail shells, or whatever else they can find in the Marsh or scrounge. Whenever a Fire Time rolls around, they camp out-of-doors so the roof won't collapse on their heads. Indeed, many of the younger, unmarried troglodytes in this region are such devotees of the outdoor life, they don't even own houses, but curl up in whatever sheltered nook they happen to come across when they're sleepy. The Blue Smokies' clans occasionally trade furs to passing merchants, or sell rare minerals they've dredged from hot-springs to Modrigswerg for use in alchemy and magic-item preparation ... but most would rather make a killing from "tolls" charged - at crossbow-point if necessary - to those caravans who've made it this far. :-D
All this movement from one clan's turf to another, and one terrain to another, would be unnecessary if the caravans could just make a beeline through the heart of the Marsh. Unfortunately, this isn't an option. That portion of the troglodytes' homeland is held by trogs with a different historical origin - and even a different physical appearance! - from the clans who are hospitable enough to admit and assist traders. In fact, while the outer fringes of the Marsh of Putrescence are held by the "Longlegs" - descendants of the second wave of troglodytes to arrive on Matera, whose ancestors have long had to deal with other lunar races on more-or-less equal terms - the interior is home to the so-called "Shovelfaces": clans whose ancestry dates back to the arrival of the pteryx in the Hollow Moon; and who've been infected with their pterosauroid "employers'" utter disdain for the lives and capabilities of non-reptilian races ... not to mention a hefty dose of embittered, down-home, backwoods isolationism, having lost much of their previous range to the Longlegs. Shovelfaces bear no love for the second-wave clans, let alone non-troglodytes, and will attack those who trespass upon the territories they stubbornly cling to. Just to complicate matters, there's a "buffer zone" of mixed-blood clans between the territories of these two troglodyte 'ethnic groups': clans who, while lacking any connections with the pteryx, are every bit as isolationist as the Shovelfaces ... though they are more likely to warn intruders to get their scaleless arses off their land, or else (!), than to simply open fire on sight.
The dark heart of the Marsh of Putrescence, where the Shovelfaces and "mixed-blood" clans reside, is a stagnant, putrid, virtually un-navigable bog full of leeches, mosquitoes, water moccasins, alligators and other cuddly swamp-creatures. With no daylight to burn away the stinking marsh-gas vapours or dissipate the clouds of pestiferous insects, it makes Darokin's Malpheggi Swamp look like a vacation spot. Twisted willows, stunted cranberry trees, and vine-strangled cypress copses sprout on hummocks of land, become temporary homes for bat-flocks or multituberculate varmints, then get draped in Spanish moss and weird, luminescent fungi as they age; eventually they die, as these infestations choke out the meagre HM sunlight, and rot away where they stand. Decaying logs drift aimlessly in the water, among the irascible old swamp-gators who are imitating them. Giant snapping turtles or caecilias are common encounters, for anyone foolhardy enough to trudge into their murky, sluggish pools; and the few patches of open stream or reed-choked mudbank which are exposed to the sky only provide venues for giant owls to drop down from above, snatching up whatever prey dares emerge from the cover of the trees. A wide range of carnivorous plants, including many monstrous ones, thrive in these moist acidic conditions, and the latter are sometimes deliberately planted in strategic positions by the mixed-blood clans, the better to protect their territorial boundaries.
Like the coastal clans, the unfriendly troglodytes of the Deep Marsh build their homes on top of pilings - dead tree-trunks usually, although clans with good connections to the Apennines sometimes wrangle the city-trogs' help in erecting stone supports - but they prefer to construct larger platforms shared by an entire village, such that clan-members' clapboard shacks are lined up, all in a row, atop one long wooden pier. Deep-marsh clans don't usually raise any livestock but marsh snails for meat, although some dig flooded "leech-pits"* in which to rear these tasty troglodyte snacks by the bucketfuls. Clans and families stake claims on particular patches of wild rice, cattails, and other marshland edibles, defending these resources from non-kin; but due to the lack of arable ground in their territory, deep-marsh trogs generally can't cultivate crops, save for a few herbs and medicinal plants which they only need a flowerpot's worth of, and can therefore raise in window-boxes. A number of trading-posts - not just shacks on platforms, but real stone buildings with solid foundations - exist in the Deep Marsh, staffed by Apennine trogs, who barter pteryx metalwork, textiles, and other manufactured goods to the Shovelfaces in exchange for raw marshland resources (wood, furs, rare plants, etc) and recruit new workers for the pterosauroids as they are needed. At its northeastern fringe, Deep Marsh swampland butts up against the Apennines' plateau, where heavy stone doors barred with metal and well-warded with magic give selective access - to those lucky few Shovelfaces hired each year, and to the Apennine traders themselves - to the vast subterranean labour-complexes of the pteryx's chosen servants.
(* - Captive outlanders dunked into the pits will be just the thing, to fatten up them leeches for dinner...! ;-D)
Weather in the Marsh of Putrescence is wet, wet, wet. Much like the Ur-tribelands, the troglodytes' homeland gets its moisture from volcanic steam, which in this case blows off the Apennine peaks to irrigate the wetlands. Unlike the Ur-Carnifex lands' weather, precipitation in the Marsh tends to fall in huge, torrential downpours that last for hours on end. These drenchings strike every three or four (Mystaran) days - over and above the ones which also occur at Storm Times - whenever the Apennine steam builds up into a sufficiently-thick cloudbank, and the frigid high-altitude winds off Mare Imbrium slam into it. Most of this water either settles into the poorly-drained areas of the Marsh, where it stagnates, or seeps back to the Great Spindrift from the western sandhills' water table; a smaller amount collects in Lake Archimedes and replenishes the hot-springs of the Blue Smokies. During Storm Times, the rainfall is just as drenching, but thunder and lightning also tear across the sky, hailstones born of Mare Imbrium's cold rattle off the roofs of trog shacks, and an occasional tornado touches down on some unlucky clan's property, to sweep away homes, crops, livestock and lives. Fire Times aren't much of a bother to the Marsh's inhabitants, except for the Blue Smokies' clans who often lose their ramshackle homes to ground-tremors. The Smokies, as already mentioned, are semi-active volcanoes - Aristillus erupts once every d12 Materan years, and Autolycus every 2d20; this only happens at a severe Fire Time - but they tend to expel only gases from their peaks rather than lava ... though there have been incidents where toxic fumaroles billowed forth from Autolycus' peak, to drift down its slopes and poison whole villages of troglodytes whose shamans had neglected to pray for their Immortal patrons' warnings.
Aside from their Marsh, the Longleg troglodytes established a stronghold on the rocky outcrop of Spitzbergen, just beyond the dune-line on the Mare Imbrium crystalbarren, some four hundred Materan years ago. Originally a defence against the iceriggers of that Mare's cryions - who didn't much like having trogs as neighbours - this well-constructed stone fortress has lost its strategic importance since the Imbrium mnelds' decimation, and is now manned only by a token force drawn from various clans whose lands border the open crystal. A few smaller forts also mark the Longlegs' borders with the Modrigswerg lands and the Deep Marsh clans' territories, but the Shovelfaces haven't built any of their own: they've got the pteryx to run crying to, if foreigners or their outer-Marsh rivals ever invade them in force.
Appearance and Dress
Troglodytes are bipedal lizard-kin, with a short tail and distinctive "combs" on their head and arms. Two distinctive "ethnic groups"* of these creatures exist on Matera: the squat Shovelfaces and the sinuous Longlegs. The Shovelfaces have a slouched posture, broad shoulders, and a waddling gait that's much faster than it looks, ranging in height from 5 to 6 feet. Longlegs stand upright; they stride along in the manner of humans - albeit with a serpentine smoothness to their movements - and grow from 6 to 7 feet tall. Materan trogs of mixed descent might exhibit either physique, with both squat and upright individuals cropping up within mixed-blood families; a few mixed-blood trogs split the difference between their ancestors, and are lithe and slouched or hefty and erect. Female troglodytes average a couple inches shorter and a dozen pounds lighter than their male counterparts, but otherwise share the same external physique.
(* - The Shovelfaces are based upon the illustration of a troglodyte in the Basic "Red Book", whereas the Longlegs were inspired by the troggies from the "Tower of Doom" Mystara arcade game. The less said about the dorky "iguana-with-a-rooster-comb" trog that's depicted in the Monstrous Manual, the better! ;-))
Troglodytes of both sexes are built much like a human male, apart from the presence of a thick, 2' long, non-prehensile tail at the base of the spine. Troggish hands and feet are likewise remarkably human-like in appearance, with five digits in proportions typical of humans, and lack the webbing common to many reptilian bipeds, though they are clawed. Halfway between a troglodyte's elbow and wrist, on the back of each arm, a fin-like crest or comb runs up the forearm, over the tip of the elbow, and up the limb; this crest stands as tall as the trog's little finger is long, and ends a couple of inches below its shoulder. In male trogs, arm- and head-crests are supported by quills that stand up straight when the troglodyte is angry or excited and lie flat when he's scared or depressed, thus erecting or lowering the fin-like protrusions in a form of unconscious body language. Shovelfaces' quills lie flush with the crest, whereas Longlegs' tend to grow out past the "fin" as they get older, their sharp tips protruding like a stickleback fish's. Female troglodytes' crests lack the erectile quills of males, so don't rise or fold up with their mood-swings, and are fringed and fleshy like that of a Chinese water dragon*; in aged females, the fringe grows so long and flabby that the entire crest sags. Troglodyte children's combs are quite stubby at birth, growing longer as they mature.
(* - By this, I mean the IRL lizard, not some obscure critter from Oriental Adventures! I skimmed a few websites full of lizard-owners' pet photos, and the ones on the Chinese Water Dragon Homepage - no kidding, it really exists - had the nicest-looking crests. :-))
The heads of troglodytes are unmistakably reptilian in appearance, dominated by a flattened snout and blunt, lipless muzzle, and with a sagittal crest/comb that's half-again as tall as their arm-crests. Were it not for these shared features, one might think the two troggish "ethnic groups" were different species: their facial proportions are nothing like one another's. Shovelface skulls are far broader at the bottom than at the top, flaring out widely behind the jaw, which gives them a slightly fish-faced appearance. Their snouts are rather broad and spade-shaped - hence, their (derogatory) name - with a pronounced underbite, whereas Longlegs' muzzles are more squared-off and flat. Longlegs' heads lack the Shovelfaces' flared-out "fish face" profile, being more like those of lizard men. Both ethnic groups' eyes are extremely large and round, with a clear nicitating membrane to shield their corneas from the creatures' own acrid stench-vapours. Troglodyte eyelids are big and thickly padded, like a toad's; when they blink, the whole eyeball sinks to the back of its socket, also like that of a frog or toad. Barely-visible tympanic membranes on each side of the head serve as ears, and small slit-like nostrils lie near the tip of the snout. Like many other reptiles that rely heavily on odour to perceive their surroundings, troglodytes have slender, forked tongues that constantly flick in and out of their mouths, the better to catch minute traces of aroma. Their teeth are conical, but blunt - Matera's trogs are omnivores, and never sharpen their teeth into weapons as their degenerate, cave-bound cousins on Mystara do - and are replaced, a few at a time, throughout a troglodyte's life. Along the upper jaw's edge, where a mammal's upper lip would be, three pairs of facial "pits" like those of a viper allow troglodytes to "see" infrared light within a 90' range; unlike demihumans', troggish "heat vision" remains possible even if the trog's eyes are closed, damaged, or blinded by a Light spell.
Troglodytes' skins are covered with tiny, flat scales, which are smooth and sleek in most places, but rough (for traction) on their palms and soles. Each Materan trog's hide is mottled with irregular splotches and speckles, in a pattern that's unique to each individual, and that remains unchanged even if the troglodyte ages or moults his/her scales. (This mottling is how non-troglodytes - unable to distinguish between the HM lizard-kin by smell - recognise specific individual trogs.) Except for the occasional albino*, all troglodytes have the inborn ability to change the pigmentation of their skins at will, turning their scales either black-on-grey, off-white-on-white, brown-on-tan, sandy-on-ivory, olive-on-green, or dark grey-on-light grey**. The trog's unique pattern of mottling remains evident despite all of these colour-changes, as the dark-coloured areas always appear in the same places. Like camouflage clothing, their mottled markings helps trogs to blend into rock faces, swampland, sand dunes, and so forth, by breaking up their profiles against rough stone, vegetation, or other natural backgrounds. Troglodytes have white teeth, pale pink gums, and black tongues, and their eye colour ranges from scarlet to lemon, with vertically-slitted pupils. Rarely, blue- or green-eyed troglodytes are born into the Longleg clans. The combs on a trog's arms and head are always the lighter shade of whichever two colours it happens to be at the moment; troglodytes' crests (but not their bodies) can also turn baby blue as an indication of relaxed contentment, or pink if they're expressing a romantic interest.
(* - Albino troglodytes sport pasty white scales, and pink eyes with deep red pupils. This genetic quirk is most often found among mixed-blood clans which live in the deepest, darkest backwaters of the Marsh of Putrescence, as an unfortunate by-product of isolation and inbreeding. Because they can't change their colours to blend into their surroundings, albinos are considered "handicapped" by other troglodytes, and are treated much like human beings would treat someone with a clubfoot or hunchback. As they are severely disadvantaged when ambushing enemies or wild game, very few albino males attain high status within their clans ... although those who are smart or wise enough to do so often become shamans or wokani, as an alternative means of earning their clans' respect.)
(** - Since giant chameleons can surprise their opponents on a 1-5, and troglodytes only do so on a 1-4, Geoff and I agreed they shouldn't be able to turn every possible colour. The trogs whom PCs might've encountered on "dungeon crawls", back on Mystara, blend into the uncut stone walls of the caverns they inhabit; in the Marsh of Putrescence, lunar trogs will change their pigments to match the surrounding terrain.)
Troglodytes, unlike most reptiles, are nearly helpless at birth; while they do not nurse, a troggish infant must be fed soft foods, kept warm, and otherwise cared for much like a human baby. They grow very quickly, however, and are generally able to walk and feed themselves within eight months of emerging from the egg. Troglodyte eggs are the size of a grapefruit, and are a mottled grey-brown in colour. As they approach the ends of their lives, aging troglodytes often suffer a patchy loss of scales on their backs and shoulders. This unattractive condition, which typically sets in at about 43 Mystaran years of age (they're not a long-lived race), is one of the only signs that a troglodyte is getting old; barring injury, they remain vigorous and fit until the end. It's rare for a troglodyte to see age 50; most of their elderly die sudden, natural deaths before then.
Given a choice, troglodytes don't usually wear clothing, as it obstructs their inborn camouflage and their physiology allows them to withstand considerable temperature variations. They often wear belts, bandoliers, or body-harnesses, however, which are used to hold pouches, weapons, tools and the like. Thanks to the Marsh's frequent downpours, Matera's trogs have become very good at crafting leather belts, sheaths and carrying-cases that are watertight and durable; if they have to carry larger items in the rain, they'll don leather rain capes to keep their burdens dry. Fur-lined, waterproof boots are sometimes worn, but only if contact with the ground is hazardous - e.g. on the crystalbarrens - or when wading through bogs that are infested with leeches. Guerrilla-fighting troglodytes spurn armour in favour of mobility and camouflage, but when faced with a pitched battle, Marshlander warbands are seldom seen without body armour (assuming the warriors can afford it) or shields of some kind, all of which are painted with the markings and symbols of the warband's clan.
The exceptions to this relative lack of clothing are shamans, wokani, and troglodyte kings. Among most troglodyte clans, spellcasters are distinguished from their kin by their loose, flowing robes, often made from simple, brightly-dyed linens and decorated with mystic sigils. Only spellcasters are permitted to wear such clothing, and the customary penalty for breaking this unwritten rule is exile for life. Shamans are distinguishable from wokani in that they also wear the holy symbol of their patron Immortal, often made from precious wood or metal, around their necks; they also tend to "dress up" their robes as flamboyantly as possible, with feathers, metal ornaments, small gems, and other flashy trappings, the better to stand out and grab the attention of their flocks.
Trog wokani, OTOH, don't worry much about appearances, such that their unadorned robes are often threadbare and in need of mending (though they do, at least, keep them clean). A troglodyte wokan will often carry small bags of herbs on his or her belt, to aid in spellcasting, and always a finely-carved wooden staff. Such staves serve as a focus for spellcasting, as well as a spellbook - the spells themselves are carved in tiny, faintly-glowing runes along the staff's surface - and no self-respecting troglodyte wokan would be seen without one. By custom, wokani must craft their own staves, using only the best wood and performing the proper rituals in the process. If a wokan were to lose his or her staff, the spellcaster will do everything possible to recover it; if the staff is destroyed, the wokan must craft a new one. Losing a staff does not mean spellcasting powers are lost; it is the same as losing a spellbook, nothing more.
Troglodyte leaders (whether clan heads or kings), in accordance with their elevated status, wear loincloths of finely-woven linen, and wristbands of expertly-carved wood. These wristbands - which range in appearance from crude bracers inscribed with runes, to ornamental bracelets whittled into a delicate lattice of flowing shapes, marshland vegetation, and scenes from the clan's history - are a "symbol of office" analogous to a human ruler's crown or coronet, and are passed down to one's heirs ... or acquired by a usurper, as the case may be. According to troglodyte clan law, a deceased clan-head's heir must grow big enough to wear these bands, without them being loose or falling off, before he or she can inherit his or her parent's position.
In clans of long standing, a leader's wristbands may be imbued with magic properties, as successive generations of shamans and wokani have cast their blessings upon the wearer for continued prowess and health. Such enchanted wristbands work in a similar fashion to regular magic items such as rings; for example, one clan might be headed by a powerful troglodyte whose wristbands function as a ring of fire resistance. As a general rule, these enchantments are of a protective nature, which in part explains some of the troglodyte folk tales about legendary kings or clan leaders who seemed impervious to such things as fire or arrows, or who could literally walk on water. As a rule, a king's wristbands will have more powerful enchantments than those of a mere clan leader, since multiple clans' spellcasters have been called upon to endow them with power ... one possible reason why a troglodyte king's tenure is so prone to being prematurely ended. ;-)
One thing almost all troglodytes like to wear, no matter what their station, is jewellery. Such ornamentation is the quickest, and easiest, means of communicating one's status and personal wealth to another; thus, unless they're out hunting or about to launch an ambush, these proud reptiles deck themselves out with the finest adornments, trinkets and do-dads they can acquire. Troggish jewellery exhibits nearly as much variation as is found among humans, with rings, necklaces, bracelets or anklets, arm bands, ornate weapon-hilts, and decorated belts or body-harnesses being much sought-after and admired among the Marshlanders. Clan members who can't afford the genuine article will make do with costume jewellery, wooden or shell ornaments they've fashioned at home, or polished bits of metal they've bored holes through and hung as pendants. Not only is such adornment a means for troglodytes to show everyone else how well-off they are - or at least fake it :-) - but it also conveys a sense of his or her personal achievement, with each bauble or item representing an important stage in a troglodyte's life, when that item was obtained. This sentimental value is ultimately more important to its owner than the item's monetary worth, and if such an item (even a worthless one) is stolen from a troglodyte, he or she will often go to astonishing lengths to reclaim it: in losing such a memento, part of the trog's life has been stolen, too *.
(* - Players of troglodyte PCs should be encouraged to seek out mementos of their accomplishments throughout their adventuring careers, and keep note of them somewhere on their character sheets. Such items are considered treasure, but may not be sold ... it would be like selling one's university diploma, in modern terms! This way, a player can regale his or her companions with past exploits and accomplishments, and show off the trinkets as "proof" of his or her adventurous deeds.)
As everyone knows - or, at least, learns upon meeting them - troglodytes aren't the most fragrant of creatures. Even if they're not actively secreting the foul-smelling oil with which they nauseate their enemies, every trog has a rank, musty-mildew odour that can't be washed away entirely, like something that's been left too long in a damp basement. This normal, everyday smell of a troglodyte isn't potent enough to impose "to hit" penalties on anyone, but it's definitely unpleasant to non-troglodytes who come within 10', and who aren't upwind of them; if a troglodyte remains in a confined space for more than a couple of turns, his or her odour will permeate it, and linger for 1d6 hours after the trog departs. Creatures for whom smell is a secondary sense double the range and duration for noticing a troglodyte's usual aroma, and those for whom it's a primary sense quadruple them. Thus, a pisacha (or another troglodyte ... but they don't mind the odour a bit! ;-D) will still find a room fragrant, 4d6 hours after a troglodyte exits it.
When troglodytes do release their stench-oil, it's simultaneously secreted from pores in both wrists, under the jaw, behind the knees, and on either side of the groin. The exact odour of trog-oil varies a good deal from one clan to the next, with the particular battle-scent of each clan serving as a sort of "tribal standard" around which the clan's warriors can rally. Some suitably-nauseating possible stenches for troglodyte clans include: rotting seaweed, stagnant bog-water, skunk, overripe fruit, spoiled meat, animal manure, spoiled fish*, vomit, rotten eggs, or reeking garbage. They can't replicate the aroma of decaying corpses, burnt materials, or weird alchemical compounds - their "range" is limited to scents which are common in nature - nor those of other D&D creatures with scent-based special attacks.
(* - This is the odour which troglodytes in service to the pteryx are trained to emit, in lieu of their clans' battle-scent. While fish-gone-bad is as effective against (demi)humans or humanoids as any other stench, it's one that the pteryx - who evolved from seagull-like fishers and beach-scavengers - can tolerate far better than the others.)
Troglodytes' voices, like those of other lizard-kin, tend to be sibilant and hissing, which makes human languages a bit tricky for them to speak properly. They're much better than lizard men at reproducing guttural, gulping sounds, like hard "g's and "b's"; if lizard men sound like snakes when they speak, troglodytes sound a bit like bullfrogs or alligators.
Materan troglodytes, like their savage cousins on Mystara, are reputed to be cunning, ill-mannered, and very suspicious of others ... even their own kind! In fact, most HM Marshlanders automatically presume any humans, elves, or other "unscaled" beings who approach their wetlands to be trespassers: interlopers whose kind once stole their race's ancestral lands, and who will seize what-little land yet remains to the troglodytes if given half a chance. The recent history of Matera has often seen the HM troglodytes come out the losers in conflicts over territory, such that they have been forced back into their original range within Marsh of Putrescence (which no one else wants), whereas they'd once founded kingdoms and colonies throughout the Nearside's hospitable regions. While the troglodytes of Matera aren't necessarily evil, and don't hate others personally without a good reason, they can easily carry a grudge - be it against individuals, rival troggish clans, or races/nations of outsiders - for an entire lifetime, and pass such enmities down across the generations within their proud and tight-knit clans. Given the setbacks they've suffered, in the centuries since non-reptiles began arriving on Matera, most troglodyte clans hold grudges against the majority of unscaled HM races ... although "alien" visitors from Mystara, who've never crossed the trogs or their ancestors and aren't allied to their enemies, will be given a fair chance to prove themselves trustworthy, before being booted out of the Marsh or peppered with crossbow bolts.
The fact that most other HM races think of troglodytes as uncultured yokels, ignorant of metalworking and too lazy or slow-witted to build a true civilisation of their own, doesn't help. The contempt which trogs have endured from other Materans leads to resentful overcompensation on their part, such that no troglodyte will pass up a chance to belittle the achievements of other species - saying that the other races were "helped", or that the troglodytes "didn't see the need" to advance, when faced with outsiders' technologies or similar accomplishments - or to beat them at their own game, thus belying others' low expectations for them. Although the details of their history are forgotten, Marshlanders' oral traditions hold that their kind once ruled vast swaths of territory and ventured with impunity over much of Matera, claiming all that they saw as their own; in their view, the mammalian races of Matera are upstarts: latecomers who stole the troglodytes' position as the dominant Nearside culture away from them, and now lounge about contentedly on the remnants of past troggish achievements, deigning to throw their predecessors a proverbial bone from time to time, yet not acknowledging that, were it not for the "stupid, shiftless, untrustworthy scalies", there would not have been much in the way of lunar civilisation when they arrived. Small wonder, that trogs should count it a victory every time they best an outsider, be it in combat, haggling, or a scathing exchange of insults!
There was a time when this resentment towards the mammalian races was acted out much more overtly and violently, not long after the "younger" races began arriving in force. During that time, as every troglodyte child knows, many of the most powerful clans and kingdoms put aside their differences to resist these strange, foreign-scented invaders, and strove to wipe out every "infestation" they could find. Even the smallest hamlet was considered too much of a threat to ignore, for these newcomers viewed the trogs as monsters - dangerous creatures to be killed on sight - more often than not. But though some respites were won, the "endless tide of mammalian invasions", as troggish folklore describes them, could not be held back by a determined few. Worse yet, treachery and sabotage within their own ranks - instigated by the Shovelfaces' deceitful ancestors, according to Longleg talespinners; provoked by Longlegs' disloyalty and cowardice, if you ask a Shovelface - left their old domains vulnerable to incursions by the unscaled. These grim historical developments have led to a sort of "siege mentality" among the present-day troglodytes: having been dispossessed of most of their lands, and forced to forever remember the glory they once had (as opposed to living it) by the SoR, many are embittered by what they see around them, and take what petty revenge they can, when the opportunity presents itself to trouble or embarrass those who'd displaced them. Today, confined to the Marsh of Putrescence - where the Shovelface/Longleg feud still drags on - or eking out humble livings within the cities of outsiders, most troglodytes have more or less resigned themselves to their fall from prominence, although the firebrands and idealists among them yet preach a faded dream of retaking what was once theirs. Realism generally prevails over rhetoric, among the HM trogs - they are, first and foremost, a down-to-earth, pragmatic bunch, and they know they'd get creamed if they took on the other races en masse - so it'd take more than speeches to bring these wishful thinkers' dreams into fruition.
Despite their long list of grievances, which the typical troglodyte can recite by memory, against most other HM races, there are plenty of instances where such cultural attitudes are not predominant. For example, troglodyte enclaves in the various cities of Matera have prospered by putting old grievances aside - at least, so far as physical violence is concerned - and adapting their enmities to winning out against competitors in their new surroundings. In acting out their old grudges in the fields of commerce, they've won a secure place for themselves within the HM economy, forming a vital component of Matera's transport and leatherwork industries. On an individual level, strong personal friendships have formed between troglodytes and their "enemies"... particularly if the trog in question falls into the debt of an outsider (e.g. if his or her life is saved by one), and must thereby abandon all grudges against the non-troglodyte, for the sake of honour.
Honour and racial pride are important to the troglodytes, as befits their self-proclaimed legacy as a once-mighty race. A key aspect of troglodyte culture is its emphasis on achievement, which is expressed through the open, boastful display of treasures and keepsakes. The better to live up to the memory of their ancestors' greatness, most trogs feel obligated to accomplish as much as possible during their lives, whether this is done by amassing wealth, territory, political influence, magical skill or another thing entirely. Even the lowliest troglodyte of the most isolated, backwater mixed-blood clan possesses this drive for advancement ... most often, at the expense of rival clans. Along with their phenomenal capacity to hold a grudge, this is one reason why troggish clan-rivalries are so very deeply entrenched: within the confines of the Marsh of Putrescence, one clan can usually only advance itself to the detriment of another, which then tries to compensate by overpowering a third clan, and so forth. In the cities of Matera, this inter-clan rivalry is largely absent, as troglodytes in the outsiders' domain feel united against the non-trogs and start off on a relatively equal footing. Instead, the drive to advance oneself manifests itself in "beating the foreigner at his own game" - that is, becoming successful in the cities - both materially and politically.
While the Marsh of Putrescence covers a large geographic area (large for Matera, that is! ;-D), its proportion of truly arable land is small. Thus, trog-clans are highly territorial, even - indeed especially - toward their own kind. A troglodyte family's cave, homestead, or village is almost considered to be sacred ground, such that other troglodytes are often badly beaten, and occasionally even killed, simply for trespassing on someone else's turf. Needless to say, troglodytes are very clannish, living in extended families of up to twenty adult individuals, all sharing the same patch of land and dividing up the tasks of hunting, farming, and raising the young. Families are then grouped by blood-ties and marriage into larger clans, each of which may contain from five to twenty families. For the average troglodyte, one's family group and one's clan are the most important people in his or her life; no troglodyte with any honour would refuse to help his or her own family or clan, or hesitate to rush to its defence. A troglodyte's first loyalty is to his or her immediate family, and to blood relatives before in-laws. Where loyalties conflict, a trog's duty to his or her family will almost always win out over duty to a spouse's relatives or to the larger clan. Woe unto the fool who considers harming a member of a troglodyte's family, for if any blood-kin finds out who is to blame, that person is as good as dead: blood-feuds are an old and honourable, if grisly tradition among Matera's troglodyte clans, and unlike the Ur-Carnifex (from whom they may have adopted these feuding customs) they do not accept weregild as recompense for slain kin. The only circumstance in which troggish vendettas may be put aside, albeit temporarily, is when a common threat arises. If this happens, clans band together - however reluctantly - to combat whatever peril has been loosed upon them, and then resume their infighting once all is settled.
Troglodyte families are extremely close-knit and affectionate, providing an essential glue that holds their society together. Troggish family groups are big and communal, and their members all share a distinctive "clan-scent" which is easily recognised by other trogs. All the young are raised together, treating all of the adults in the family with as much trust and respect as their birth-parents. While young trogs receive a strict upbringing, virtually every troglodyte youngster will be the "special favourite" of one older relative or another, such that each has a particular caregiver/mentor, seasoned by the years and experienced in the way of the world - e.g. "Grandpappy Slass", "Old Auntie Hrussh" - to turn to for advice, education, support, and pampering. Troglodyte children are taught almost from birth to be extremely proud of their race and its lost heritage, and to be willing to give everything for their clan, just as their blood kin would do the same for them. Once they reach adolescence, many young trogs spend their time off from chores with youngsters from neighbouring families in the clan; most will ultimately marry clanmates from nearby families, thus strengthening the blood ties between the households. As a result, troglodyte clans are interdependent, with each family ready to help out others within the same clan.* During their childhood, troglodytes also learn of the grievances their race has against outsiders, as well as the detailed basis for any and all grudges held by their clan against rival clans; most young trogs feel a roiling, bitter anger at these offences, which only maturity can put into perspective. Just as young troglodytes play with those of their own clan, they often bully, or get bullied by, youngsters from rival clans, in the event that they encounter one another.
(* - For PC troglodytes, after adventuring for an extended period of time with a group of "foreigners", the adventuring party itself will probably become a surrogate family of sorts. When this happens, most troglodytes would be willing to lay down their lives if necessary for their adopted "brothers" and "sisters", and they will expect the same selfless loyalty in return. Though they are branded by many Materan races as untrustworthy and devious, tales of brave troglodyte warriors sacrificing their own lives so their travelling companions may survive another day nonetheless exist.)
Clans of troglodytes are led by a nominal head - usually a male, though clan-heads' widows may rule if no suitable male is available; widows have also served as regents until their sons grew to an age where they might lead the clan - whose position is passed down from father to son. Since male troglodytes join their wives' families after marriage, a male heir must wed into one of the other families within his own clan, or else forfeit the position of clan-head. Beyond the family and the clan, troglodytes have little political unity as a race unless there is a powerful figure to bind them together, or if there is a great threat they must unite to overcome. Even if old feuds and grudges don't set them at odds with one another, each clan has its own interests and priorities, often making consensus impossible; many troglodyte clan-heads are also very strong-willed and stubborn - petty, backwoods autocrats used to having their own way - which breeds even more conflict between their clashing personalities, and contention between the clans they lead. Not all clan-heads are necessarily warriors: while the typical troglodyte clan-head might be a fit, middle-aged male warrior, a troggish clan can potentially be led by anything from a crippled mercenary returned from the outside world; to a wise old shamaness who reigns supreme from behind a weak-willed figurehead; to a callow youth who's only just grown to fit the wristbands of leadership; to a madly-cackling wokan whom everyone is terrified of; to some fat, belching slob who couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag, and who relies on a pack of dim-witted, muscle-bound sons and nephews to enforce his dictates. With such variation in leadership and leaders' personal motivations, from clan to clan, it's remarkable that any of them do get along civilly!
This picture of fractiousness and disunity changes, if a troglodyte king is involved. Traditionally, the realms from which the trogs were banished in ages past are said to have been ruled by kings; and the Marshlanders retain a sentimental, romanticised admiration for kingship which can override their contentiousness, should a suitable candidate capture their imaginations. A troglodyte king can be any charismatic warrior of recognised skill, whose personality and prowess in battle are sufficient to force the oft-feuding clans to put aside their differences for a common goal. (Unfortunately, such kings' goals are seldom more noble or far-sighted than building up their own power or destroying the forces of a rival king.) Usually, an ambitious would-be king marries into the ruling family within his own clan, then assumes leadership through inheritance or usurpation and uses the clan's strength to intimidate weaker clan-heads into swearing allegiance to him, adding their clans' forces to his own. A "king" need not necessarily be a troglodyte, however; anyone, of any race, who can show a clan (or clans) that his or her prowess is sufficient to destroy them can potentially browbeat clan-heads into compliance*. This is based on the fact that the one thing troglodytes respect and fear most is raw, destructive power. This respect for power comes at a price, however. Troglodyte clans will respect kings only so long as it is obviously in their interests to obey them. Once a king begins to falter, or otherwise show weaknesses, someone is bound to challenge him or her to a duel - probably at the covert instigation of resentful clan-heads whom the king had subjugated - often with fatal results.
(* - This awe of power is much of the reason why the pteryx have earned such fanatical devotion from the Shovelfaces, and why the Longlegs - though they'd gladly wipe out their shorter, fish-faced relations - haven't ever had the nerve to invade the Deep Marsh, and exterminate the clans they believe once betrayed them to outsiders. As I've said, trogs are realists at heart who recognise they're not invincible, and the sheer power they've seen the pterosauroids unleash, either as their assistants (Shovelfaces) or as neutral observers of their culling operations (Longlegs), scares them spitless! On a more conventional note, other races whose power significantly exceeds their own have also succeeded in attaining "kingship" over HM trog clans; most recently, a formidable minotaur warrior who'd fled Labrys under suspicion of murder took over a dozen clans in the pine-forest region, and launched numerous successful raids against passing snail-caravans, before he was finally assassinated by rival clans' warriors for the bounty on his head.)
Despite this high level of fractiousness, however, there remain certain traditions among the troglodytes, that prevent bloody civil wars from breaking out every other week. The first of these customs are the annual "Pairing Ceremonies", which are held in a secret location that is sacred to their people. The actual date of this event changes from year to year, and is determined by a presiding council of shamans at the close of the festivities the previous year, in accordance with the wills of the Immortals. When a troglodyte reaches the age of 14 (Mystaran) years, he or she is considered old enough to be paired with a life-mate. In times past, before the current rift between Longleg and Shovelface, every trog-clan in the Marsh would attend these ceremonies; nowadays, the two ethnic groups of trogs hold their festivals of courtship at different times during the year, while the mixed-blood clans - unwelcomed by either group, as reminders of the "bad old days" of intermarriage between themselves and their old enemies; mixed clans make due with private (or "crossbow" ;-D) weddings or simple cohabitation - are excluded entirely. Clans who attend may travel for weeks in great processions, gathering up their essential belongings and their eligible youth* as they go, in a great train of singing, chattering, excited troglodytes who march behind their clans' shamans; at regular intervals, the travellers cease their chatter to cry out praises to their Immortals as their spiritual leaders consecrate the path before them. The hidden location of the Pairing Ceremonies is among the holiest sites of all trog-kind; none, not even PC troglodytes, will willingly divulge its locale or even describe it to outsiders, unless there is a very pressing need to do so (for example, if a friend's life depended on it).
(* - Widowed troglodytes in search of a new mate don't have to participate in the Pairing Ceremonies; but they, too, must do so if they wish to court a spouse who's never been married before. Only if a widowed male and widowed female desire to wed each other is this formality dispensed with. Weddings between widowed troglodytes are quiet, private events, officiated by two shamans: one chosen by the bride and the other by the groom.)
The Pairing Ceremonies themselves are a series of contests of skill - archery, wrestling, footraces, swordplay, acrobatic feats and other contests - which are performed by young male attendees of all clans, observed by the unmarried females, and overseen by a council of shamans who ensure that no cheating takes place. Once all of the eligible males have performed, the females make their choices as to whom they would like as a husband. No male can honourably refuse such a selection; he would bring shame on his clan in doing so, a disgrace that could only be undone by self-imposed exile from the Marshlands. In cases where multiple females choose the same male, the females must then perform the same contests, after which the male chooses which he would like as his wife. Unlike the males, females do have the right of refusal, without bringing any dishonour to their clans ... although there is often considerable pressure not to exercise this right, for the sake of sealing an alliance with another family or clan.* The few unlucky youths who don't get picked - whether due to poor performance, a shortage of members of the opposite sex, or simple homeliness - are free to try again in future years ... although it's not mandatory that they return, year after year, if they still haven't been picked and would find further attempts humiliating.
(* - Naturally, while the Pairing Ceremonies are theoretically the sole place where young trogs choose their mates, plenty of youthful troglodyte sweethearts actually conspire to pair up before the actual Ceremonies take place. If a young couple is determined to be together, they need only agree to select one another regardless of performance in the contests, and their bond is secure ... barring a failure of either to attend the Ceremonies, as when lovestruck daughters are locked up at home "with the flu" by their parents until their beaus - unpopular with the rest of the family - have been safely snagged by another female. Conversely, couples who are less than certain of one another's affections may find they've risked too much, when the actual Pairing Ceremonies arrive: more than one besotted young male troglodyte has deliberately thrown all his contests, in hopes his lady-love might select him uncontested and at once ... only to have her fall head over heels for the big, scaly hunk who's winning all the contests, leaving him with a pitiful performance in the competition as well as a broken heart! :-D)
After all of the selections have been made, the festivities commence - an eighth-month of singing, music, feasting upon barbecued meats and vegetables*, the telling of tall tales (as beloved by troglodytes as by halflings) and relaxing - and culminate in a mass wedding ceremony for the newly-paired young couples. This celebration provides an excuse for clans to set aside their differences and enjoy themselves, as well as forge ties with other clans and families they've bonded with through these new marriages (which are for life; troglodyte society does not recognise the concept of divorce). Although drunken disputes, outbursts by sour youths who aren't thrilled with the females who've claimed them, and "accidents" involving members of rival clans do arise from time to time, the attending shamans are usually quick to resolve these situations before they get out of hand. Once the festivities are over, and the shamans have declared when the next Pairing Ceremonies will take place, the clans disperse, each newlywed male accompanying his wife's family to the couple's new home.
(* - Unlike the Ur-Carnifex, troglodytes can and do eat vegetable matter. The Marsh produces many varieties of roots and tubers, as well as the odd patch of wild rice; those clans who practice farming add scrubby varieties of maize (used to make bread), yams, cranberries, and other produce to their diet. Their preference is still for stewed or barbecued meats, however, along with the occasional fish fry or clambake. Troglodyte females are remarkably good cooks, especially when cooking for a crowd; with their large households, it's not unusual for a troggish chef to start out with a whole, dressed deer-carcass, and end up with an entire picnic-table laden with delicious venison roasts, pies, stews, soups, gravies and chitlins. :-D)
The second tradition which helps defuse tensions among the troglodytes are the frequent sporting events, group hunts, and mock battles staged between clans ... a custom they borrowed from the Dubi, in ages long past, when Ur-tribes still existed outside the Jura Plateau. Troglodyte sports are often violent, but seldom fatal, and they go a long way to letting these rough-and-tumble folks - especially young males with too much youthful energy - blow off steam and show off their muscles, without causing too much damage to one another. Sports range from rugby-like ball games (using the inflated, medicine ball-sized leathery bladder of a marsh snail) to precise contests of skill such as archery-tournaments. Group hunts are also popular competitions of a sort: two or more clans enter a specified area, and hunt down as many of a given animal as possible within a limited amount of time, using only those weapons specified beforehand. Especially thrilling (and highly dangerous) are the occasional marsh snail hunts, in which one enraged marsh snail is harried through the treacherous cypress-bogs by select warriors from each participating clan, armed with only a bare minimum of weapons. The clan that kills the snail first wins the competition, and afterwards everyone feasts on roasted snail-meat. Finally, mock battles are often employed to defuse tensions between clans who aren't quite on the brink of an open feud, as yet, with a minimum of bloodshed. Armed with reeds filled with a paste of foul, decaying marsh-plankton, opposing teams will stage battles against each other for a set time duration. When a combatant is hit by a reed, malodorous paste splatters all over the target, marking that troglodyte as "dead" and unable to continue fighting. The clan with the most "surviving" combatants wins the dispute, with the losing side paying out or performing whatever compensation is deemed necessary.
Perhaps because of this mock battle-training - which clans also practice heavily among themselves, in rehearsal for "real" mock-fighting with rival clans - troglodytes are well known (perhaps infamous) for their discipline and steely nerves in battle. When attacking a foe in the open, troglodyte soldiers will march in orderly rows towards the enemy, rarely showing a lack of resolve; when striking from cover, they launch their first volleys of crossbow bolts in silence, then commence whooping and yelling high-spirited war cries, the better to intimidate their foes as well as encourage and inspire one another. Making good use of shields and field tactics, with strategically-placed crossbowmen raining quarrels down upon their enemies' flanks, and casting off armour to "vanish" via camouflage if retreat should become necessary, troglodyte armies have been known to decimate larger and better-armed forces on their own terrain, and can hold their own against all but the most professional troops when fighting outside the Marshlands. Even when they use their chameleon-like ability to change their colour, troglodytes will not ambush a foe in a random or haphazard fashion; to an observer, it would seem like an planned, methodical operation, with each warrior covering any comrades' weak spots and carrying out his or her function in a precise fashion.
While they do use their military tactics to defend themselves from dangerous swamp-beasts or the occasional Quarikka raid, troglodytes within the Marsh's boundaries most often turn their fighting skill against each other. Although there are many common elements of troglodyte culture, each clan has its own unique traditions, outlook, and relationship with its neighbours: adjacent trog-clans may be close allies who stand together against hostile ones (common for small clans), friendly rivals (with whom brawls are frequent, yet not too serious; HM troglodytes, young males especially, are physically demonstrative sorts fond of "noogies" and rambunctious roughhousing: they enjoy a good tussle :-D), or bitter enemies locked in blood-feuds that can only end in the losing clan's extinction or emigration. Often, the relationship between neighbouring clans depends on nothing more than how well their respective clan-heads get along with one another, on a personal basis: are they best buds, bitter enemies, indifferent, or what...? Something as simple as a brief argument between clan-heads may incite real trouble, in the form of vandalism or fighting on the part of young hotheads within their clans; most clan-heads' control over their subordinates is limited - their authority isn't backed up by relics, as in demihuman clans, but is imposed by tradition and sheer force of personality - so opportunities for squabbling aren't hard to come by, even if leaders of neighbouring clans are the best of friends! Luckily, such outbreaks of petty unrest seldom involve bloodshed; troggish tempers burn hot, but not long, and a leeriness of inciting blood-feuds ensures that most "clan wars" end in nothing but a few bloody snouts - or a quick dunking in the nearest privy ;-) - for the losers.
Beyond these small-scale spats between their own clans, Matera's troglodytes tend to hold radically divergent views on their relationship with other races, depending on their ethnic heritage - Longleg, Shovelface, or mixed-blood - and how badly they believe outsiders' metal goods are needed. While most trogs nurse age-old grudges against non-troglodytes, at least nominally, there's one grim reality even the most insular clans have to face up to: because of their odd form of infravision*, they are singularly ill-equipped to perform the one craft - the forging of metals - which is most essential to building and maintaining a strong civilisation! This is how come Materan troglodytes often go to work for outsiders, despite mutual distaste, as paid labour in service to others is often the only means by which they can acquire forged-metal utensils or weapons. (It's also how come the degenerate troglodyte savages of Mystara's subterranean realms are usually limited to flaked-stone weapons, stealing whatever metal arms they can from other races; check out Dragon Magazine's "The Ecology of the Troglodyte", for details on this quandary that sets back trogs' technology.) Of the three troglodyte sub-groups, Longlegs favour the less stuck-up mammalian races - particularly Modrigswerg and Cynidiceans - as their metal-suppliers; Shovelfaces, as descendants of the "first wave", prefer the pteryx with whom their ancestors came to the Hollow Moon; and the mixed-blood troglodytes, resenting all outsiders' incursions into the Marshland and prizing their independence, prefer to make do as best they can without metals, or to obtain them from other trogs by barter or theft.
(* - Because they detect infrared with facial pits, instead of via their retinas, troglodytes' thermographic senses don't automatically "turn off" in the presence of visible light, the way the infravision of demihumans or most monsters can. Thus, it's impossible for a trog to look closely at red-hot metals, or the forge-fires, smelters and other high-temperature apparati necessary for smithcraft, without being painfully "blinded" by the intense heat radiating from these materials. Races such as dwarves have no such difficulties, as their infravision automatically shuts itself off in an illuminated setting; thus, they need only light up their smithies with candles or torches, in order to work blindingly-hot metals without hindrance. Troglodytes within the Apennines are issued special "heat-dampener" snout-covers by their pteryx employers, to wear for protection in the presence of great heat, but these protective devices are uncomfortable - it's like having wads of cotton shoved up one's nose all the time - and unpopular with the guards who use them.)
Adventuring troglodytes today are most likely to be Longlegs, as these are the trogs who associate the most often, and most amicably, with outsiders. Eager to raise themselves out of the muck, after ugly disputes with the Shovelfaces cut off their access to previous (Apennine) sources of metal and manufactured goods, Longleg clan heads of centuries past agreed to permit caravan traffic through their land, on the periphery of the Marsh, in order that they might obtain outsiders' metalwork and other fancy wares (e.g. glass, fired pottery) which their heat-sensitivity prevents them from manufacturing for themselves. In return, the troglodytes offer high-quality leather goods, woodcarvings, foodstuffs, liquors, and their services as mercenaries or teamsters. Until recently, the Modrigswerg were the Longlegs' only regular trade-partners, as the cryions of Mare Imbrium provided an easier avenue for Midlanders' own contact with the moulder dwarves; few merchants bothered to approach the troglodytes - whose crafts-goods weren't considered all that valuable, in themselves, and who couldn't usually afford to buy most imported items - via the sea. But the severe decimation of Imbrium's bat-folk by the pteryx, two centuries past, and the resultant closure of the crystalbarrens' trade-route to the Modrigswergs' domain, brought about an explosion of overland trade across the Marsh of Putrescence ... trade, by which the troglodytes have benefited immensely.
Since that time, the standard of living among Longleg clans whose territories encompass the trade-routes has risen dramatically - most Longlegs of fighting age can now afford a crossbow and sword, and many farming clans have a real metal plough to share among the families; an increasing percentage of homes are constructed with nails, rather than wooden pegs, and metal tools have almost entirely supplanted stone ones - and troggish leatherwork, available in many markets, has become renowned throughout the Nearside for its great durability and water-resistance. Even if another, less-soggy trade route to the moulder dwarves opens up, it's likely that outsiders' commerce with the Longlegs would continue, albeit on a smaller scale. Nevertheless, those troglodytes who help maintain the security of the caravan routes have become enamoured of their new, comfortable way of life - paid for by the merchants who use the overland route - and would probably resist the establishment of competing trade-routes as aggressively as they now keep caravans' passage through the Marsh free from interruptions. (Would-be blazers of caravan routes, consider yourselves warned! ;-D) But for now, relations between the Longleg clans and outside merchants - especially those in the trade-cities' newest outpost on Wallace Island, not far offshore from the coast-trogs' fishing villages - couldn't be better. Proud of their important role in maintaining commerce between the moulder dwarves and the outside world, these troglodytes take their duties seriously, defending caravans from monsters and Shovelface raids as faithfully as any Darokinian road-patrol.
While most Longlegs' personal involvement with outsiders ends at the edge of the Marsh, an increasing number of younger trogs - lured by the obvious wealth of the passing merchants, and bored with life on their farms or in their villages - have gone so far as to depart their homeland in search of a better life. Arriving in the various cities of Matera, starry-eyed over the tall buildings (sometimes as much as four stories...! :-D) and elated at the thought of life in the "big city", they often come to bad ends, since inexperience in urban life leaves such yokels vulnerable to shady dealings and exploitation. Quite a few get stuck in dead-end jobs as construction workers or other fields of manual labour, or serve as muscle for criminal enterprises. (Big, tough, poker-faced troglodytes can be very effective at convincing people not to welsh on a loan, and some trogs get a big kick out of beating up on foreigners while collecting a nice salary; an occasional "stink threat" - i.e. give us the money or your store smells like rotten eggs for a week - can also be useful in racketeering schemes.) The fact that many trogs get lured into criminal enterprises, albeit seldom in a position of influence - while their camouflage might seem ideal for thieving, troglodytes can't "blend in" with non-natural surroundings worth beans, so other races' stealth-talents invariably prevail in urban settings - only lowers their race's status further, and makes them objects of suspicion and mistrust, in the eyes of Matera's non-trogs. Still, a lizard-kin's gotta eat ... and some troggish gangsters eat very well, indeed: Matera's crime syndicates know talent when they find it.
On the bright side, several Longleg families have successfully emigrated to other races' domains - usually after being driven out by feuds or breaking ranks over some dispute with their clan-head - and earned themselves a legitimate place within the HM economy. Initially regarded as a cheap, disposable source of temporary labour, those troglodyte families who've emigrated successfully surprised their non-trog employers, by quickly learning the ways of commerce and adapting successfully. Some of the Nearside's larger, more racially-diverse cities have "Trogtowns" in which urban troglodytes run their own businesses and maintain their own customs - modified somewhat by the proximity of their neighbours - often in the same end of town (i.e. downwind) as tanneries, livestock pens, caravanseries and the like. This actually serves the troglodytes' needs as much as it does, the other races' olfactory qualms, as leatherwork and heavy haulage are two areas in which urban trogs excel; often, they hold virtual monopolies as leathercrafters, teamsters and scouts for caravans*, guards-for-hire or heavy haulers and shippers**. Needless to say, urban troglodytes also have a stranglehold on any dealings with their marsh-dwelling cousins, often serving as middlemen and translators in any negotiations which may be required; a very few of these negotiators have picked up the rudiments of Cacklogallinian merchant-magic from the bird-folk of Wallace Island, and their services are much more costly than the norm for troggish "brokers" and translators. Though they're adapted, the city-dwelling Longleg families haven't forgotten their roots, and if these "urban trogs" contact new arrivals from the Marsh before the cities' darker elements snap them up as recruits, they sympathetically help the newcomers integrate themselves into city life.
(* - Naturally, troglodyte scouts are especially useful for those caravans going to or from the Modrigswerg holdings, access to which is through their old homeland in the Marsh. Due to the troglodytes' intimate familiarity with the region, caravans employing them may, at the DM's discretion, have their movement rates enhanced by up to 10% when passing through. Rumours that unscrupulous urban troglodytes cut secret deals with their marsh-dwelling cousins to sabotage the road-bed, thus increasing both the need for the scouts' guidance in finding alternate routes, and the number of days' service for which the scouts and drovers must be paid, are of course slanderous and untrue: trust us. ;-D)
(** - The pack animal of choice for troglodytes operating in the Marsh of Putrescence, or in sufficiently wet places elsewhere on the Nearside, are marsh snails. Though these giant molluscs are obviously slow, their great tenacity and incredible carrying capacity makes it worthwhile to employ them, thanks to the immense quantity of goods which may be shipped; only the marsh snails' intolerance of dry conditions, and the fact that they leave unsightly trails of slime behind them wherever they go, prevents their use within cities or in arid environs. It's quite a sight to see ... a long train of heavily-laden snails lumbering from their wallows just outside of a town - each with a troggish drover perched atop a riding-platform, lightly tapping its eyestalks with goads to steer it - embarking on a short, but profitable jaunt to the next urban centre, with several tons of bulk goods piled atop each colossal shell. :-D)
Due to their success in entrenching themselves in the cities, urban troglodytes feel they are restoring some of their race's ancient glory, after a fashion: every time a troglodyte launches a successful new business venture, or beats out the competition for a job, they score a "victory" for their race, by proving to the stuck-up outsiders that trogs can play the urban games of merchandising, profiteering, and self-betterment every bit as well as anyone. Among the urban troglodytes, members of their community who've established very profitable businesses, or who control a large percentage of the local market, are considered heroes and distinguished authority-figures on par with the Marsh-dwellers' clan-heads, deserving of others' emulation and respect. Nevertheless, despite the fact that "city trogs" have become so urbanised, some of their basic cultural attributes remain unchanged: they still enjoy the occasional brawl or hunting-competition, interspersed with contests of a more urban nature (e.g. trying to sell the most leather goods in one week); they still send their youth back to the Marsh for the Pairing Ceremonies, where their fancy jewellery and sophisticated manners win them many admirers; and they can still rattle off reams of past offences committed against their ancestors, by other races ... although these "ancient enmities" have become so muted, after such close and mutually-profitable contact with their "hereditary foes", that city trogs are more likely to use them as an pretence for teasing or friendly mock-extortion - "Yer ssort've abused and degraded mah kinfolk, for centuries; the leasst yah kin do is pay for the dag-blasted drinks for once, yah cheapskate furball...!" :-) - than for violence.
In the view of Longleg troglodytes, traffic with outsiders is the wave of the future, which troglodytes should catch before it passes them by. Power is no longer determined solely by the size of one's armies (although this still helps); one's skill in cutting deals and in acquiring wealth go a long way to making one truly powerful, and to improving the lives of one's long-impoverished kinfolk. Much as they regret this fact at times, the Longlegs accept that the Matera of the future will be run largely by mammalian races, and the older races must either adapt to their ways or be condemned to obscurity. As a result, they see their mixed-blood cousins in the Marsh as being "behind the times", in refusing to open their eyes to the opportunities that are available in the wider world... and the Shovelfaces, as dangerous retrogressives and saboteurs, whose support of the pteryx threatens to turn the other lunar races against all trogs (!!!), each and every time a "culling operation" is assisted by the first-wavers. The Longlegs consider theirs to be a great success story - proof that troglodytes can make a place for themselves, without having to withdraw in isolation - and they do everything they possibly can to disassociate themselves from their Shovelface enemies (who, with their senseless and murderous antagonism to outsiders, are out to spoil everything), in the eyes of others. If this means actively fighting the first-wavers at every opportunity, and keeping them pinned within the Deep Marsh, so much the better: they hate the Shovelfaces with a vengeance, for having betrayed them in the old days of the long-ago troglodyte kingdoms; and for turning against them and trying to deprive them of pteryxian metals, in more recent times.
The Shovelfaces - seething in centuries-old resentment over the past victories of other races, who drove the troglodytes back into the Marshlands; and badly infected with the pteryx's conceit that most non-reptiles' lives aren't worth diddly, after assisting in the pterosauroids' "pest control" and collecting expeditions for millennia* - want nothing to do with the outside world; and they despise how the Longlegs have invited mammalian "furriners" into the lizard-kin homeland. Thanks to their centuries of isolation within the Deep Marsh, Shovelfaces have developed a badly-distorted view of history: they believe that Matera's other races copied their various technologies and cultures from troglodytes, being too stupid or devoid of creativity to develop their own; nothing the "vermin" races might have to offer them, therefore, could possibly be any real improvement upon that which trogs already possess! In Shovelfaces' eyes, letting non-trogs into the Marshlands is a formula for disaster, since such travellers must surely come to covet the troglodytes' beautiful marshlands, and eventually try to seize their homeland from them - just as the old troggish kingdoms were stolen away - if not repelled by force**. Whenever they get the chance to slip past the vigilant Longlegs, Shovelface clans raid caravans and small settlements on the borders of the Marshlands, exacting what they see as punishment for past injustices, while reminding the "furriners" that they're tough enough to defend what's theirs. If the Longlegs or the raided villages' occupants retaliate against such attacks, they scurry back to the Deep Marsh, and the implied shelter offered by the pteryx's foreboding proximity. In hard times, many Shovelface troglodytes petition the Apennine traders in hopes of finding work, preferring the company and patronage of the enigmatic pterosaur folk - whose power, and advanced culture and technologies, the "first wave" trogs have a near-religious awe of - to selling out their heritage to foul foreign ways in exchange for a coddled, overly-pampered life.
(* - Unlike their pteryx employers, Shovelface troglodytes are well aware that "vermin" races are intelligent beings, with all the self-awareness and reason and emotional depths which they, themselves, possess. They just don't give a damn. The Shovelfaces loathe the mammalian races for having driven troglodytes back into the Marsh, over the last two-and-a-half millennia, and so willingly and happily mistreat them - often, far more than is strictly necessary - when they're working for the pteryx.)
(** - Most deep-marsh troglodyte families are notoriously - even desperately - poor, in comparison to their fast-rising Longleg rivals: they honestly can't afford to forfeit even a single square yard of land, lest their hunting/foraging-grounds be shrunk too small to feed them all. Even for relatively well-off clans, the Deep Marsh's food resources are sparse, and mortality rates among the very young and elderly can become chillingly high in times of hardship; thus, Shovelfaces' paranoia about "furriners" stealing their land isn't entirely inexplicable.)
While jobs amongst the pteryx are notoriously difficult to earn, the few dozen openings each year are swiftly filled by ambitious Shovelfaces who believe, with or without cause, that something greater than bog-slogging lies in their futures; or by displaced families who've lost out to stronger clans in territorial feuds, and must escape the Deep Marsh or starve. Such recruits invariably end up wondering why they'd been in such an all-fired hurry to sign up, a few weeks after their arrival in the mountains, for they find themselves on the bottom of the pecking order within the ranks of pteryx "employees" ... and may well remain there for generations, barring an exceptional talent or some great deed of personal distinction. The Apennine troglodytes have had their own distinct culture, within the pteryx's suspended cities and the associated trog-warrens, for millennia - a tradition dating back, unbroken, from the arrival of the "first wave" trogs on Matera in 12,500 BC, alongside their pteryx employers - and aren't the least bit enthusiastic about letting "mud-footed" yokels from the backwaters into their company. Those troglodytes who are born into the pteryx's service realise that they're stuck doing unglamorous grunt-work, and that they're never going to rank very highly in the eyes of their "bosses", no matter how good a job they do or how many "vermin"* they manage to capture or kill. Nevertheless, this realisation doesn't stop them from feeling privileged in comparison to those Shovelfaces still living in the Deep Marsh, looking down their snouts at them whenever they go back to sell pteryx goods, or subjecting incoming recruits to "hazing" and petty, humiliating harassment. To the established Apennine servant-caste, the marsh-dwelling troglodytes - Shovelface, mixed-blood or Longleg - are uncouth primitives, with the urban troglodytes - who've gone so far as to embrace the ways of "vermin" races - constituting the lowest and most-corrupted of the lot. Some even refuse to acknowledge those Longlegs who live in the company of non-reptiles as troglodytes, at all! Certainly, if a Longleg PC tries to defend "vermin" companions from a pteryx-sponsored collecting team, those Shovelfaces who are collecting the specimens will cut such a "traitor to the race" down, without hesitation or remorse.
(* - Shovelface trogs, whether Marsh-born or Apennine, fare poorly as adventurers in the outside world ... not least, because other Materans know that the squat, spade-snouted variety of troglodyte assists the pteryx in their "culling operations", and are therefore inclined to lynch such trogs on sight! Shovelfaces should not be allowed as player characters - at least within the Hollow Moon setting; if you want to send one to Mystara for an adventure, that might work okay - for this reason. If they are allowed, any special equipment or magical items obtained from pteryx are unavailable to Shovelface PCs.)
Last, and usually least, there are the mixed-blood clans, who are caught in the middle between the Longlegs' and Shovelfaces' tempers and hostilities. "Mixed" clans are made up of troglodytes - mainly hybrids of Longleg and Shovelface, but also misfits, outcasts, lone survivors of failed clans, and outlaws on the run - who aren't accepted or welcomed by the more powerful, prestigious clans of Longlegs or Shovelfaces. Lacking the long histories of "pureblood" clans, since few can trace their roots back more than a couple of generations, and feeling justifiably snubbed by both "pureblood" groups, the mixed-blood clans are the most genuinely-insular of all troglodytes, doing business with neither the outland-races nor the pteryx. They are excluded from the purebloods' Pairing Ceremonies and competitions, speak an even more rustic and countrified dialect of Troglodyte than those of the Longlegs or Shovelfaces, and seldom possess any metal tools or weapons at all, save what-little they manage to barter from pureblood smugglers or steal - by stealth more often than force - from pureblood clans. Occasional mixed-blood trogs become adventurers*, leaving the Deep Marsh's outskirts to seek their fortunes. Often they do this in hopes of sending gifts home to assist their struggling families, rather than out of any personal desire to become rich and powerful. Fame is another craving that lures some of the mixed-blood trogs into the outer world ... although most would find this a lot less desirable, if they actually achieved it: these particular trogs are a simple, self-conscious folk at heart - easily embarrassed by other HM races' gaudy social displays or overly-refined mannerisms - and even less prepared for life in the "big city" than their Longleg cousins. Most are a bit ashamed of their origins, albeit loathe to admit as much, and will unconsciously defer to "pureblood" trogs' pushiness, except when the immediate security of their families or territory is concerned.
(* - Because the mixed-blood clans aren't all that keen on outsiders' ways - and because their clans are usually smaller than the "pureblood" ones, seldom encompassing more than seven or eight family groups, so can afford to lose fewer members - mixed-blooded troglodytes who desert the Marsh for the wider world often end up ostracised by their kin ... never mind that helping their families was a prime motivation, for leaving in the first place! Having little in this world to sustain them but their pride, the mixed-blood clans are extremely reluctant to acknowledge such would-be adventurers' financial support is necessary or even desirable, and will remain resentful for years that any of their young members should abandon their heritage, and place within the clan, in favour of "taking furriners' money fer fightin' furriners' wars". Earning back a place within one's clan is extraordinarily difficult, under such circumstances - monetary gifts won't cut it, though saving the lives of imperilled clanmates at a great risk to one's own might - and many mixed-blood trogs never return to the Marsh, joining up with the urban Longlegs or remaining loners in the outsiders' realms, instead.)
For all that they're humbler than "purebloods", mixed-blood trogs aren't pushovers or wimps: they'll defend what is theirs ferociously if they think there's a reasonable chance of winning, and make a fighting retreat that's as costly to the enemy as possible, if they're left with no choice but to withdraw. But their reduced circumstances gives them a more fatalistic outlook than other troglodytes, such that they see no burning need to avenge deeds that took place centuries before their birth; in a sense, they are the most reasonable of the Marshlanders, in that they're neither gung-ho overachievers like the Longlegs nor hateful isolationists like the Shovelfaces. They are proud of their independence from outsiders' aid - mammalian or pteryx - and don't feel the benefits outside contact might provide are worth the loss of self-sufficiency and freedom such dependency would entail, no matter how useful metal tools might be in theory. More than anything else, the mixed clans of the Marsh of Putrescence wish to be left alone. If the Longlegs and Shovelfaces think differently, so be it: that's their business, not the mixed clans' ... and if "purebloods" happen to end up paying a hefty price someday, for "selling out" troggish traditions and trafficking with non-troglodytes, the mixed-blood clans plan to be right there to say "we told you so". So just keep those caravans and pteryx trading-posts off the mixed-bloods' territory, thank you kindly, and don't take offence when they boot trespassers off their land the minute they catch 'em. :-)
Unlike many other races of Matera, the troglodytes do not have a chief patron Immortal. As a legacy of age-old enslavement to the Greater Carnifex and Sickly Lords - races whose worship of the capricious/alien Outer Beings, and horrific rites of placation toward those unearthly entities, would have left any race leery of "offending the gods" - the Marsh's inhabitants have a deep-seated, almost instinctive dread of giving insult to any Immortal-calibre being, whether good, evil or indifferent to their welfare. Troglodytes are reluctant to place too much faith in any single source of divine power, regarding the Immortals as fickle, unreliable sorts who might not deign to help them in times of need; conversely, they hesitate to give offence to any Immortal, no matter how obscure he or she might be, as they consider such powers touchy and quick to punish minor breeches of etiquette. Thus, Matera's troglodytes pray to any Immortal who might possibly hear them - and quite a few who don't even exist - virtually all the time, just in case divine ears should be listening. Your average trog-on-the-street might pray to half a dozen Immortals who reflect his or her personal interests and vocation, on a daily basis; to another thirty or forty, under appropriate circumstances (e.g. praying to Terra to protect one's newly-laid egg); and to every blasted Immortal he or she can think of, should certain death seem imminent. ("Oh, Mighty Ka-Ordana-Great-One-Nyx-Yehm-Thor [gasp!], oh spare this humble oggum, great Protius-Hel-Khoronus-Nephthisi-Gorm-Asterius...!")
Because troglodytes are so very open to Immortals' preachings, it's all but guaranteed that any Immortal who's bothered to notice their existence can win at least a few troggish converts, with a minimum of effort*. Even the most obscure Immortals of Pandius are bound to receive troglodytes' prayers, from time to time, although not all of them go so far as to recruit shamans in the Marsh. Troggish shamans tend to be "fire and brimstone" sorts, preaching horrific doom for the sinner more often than redemption for the worthy, as this plays off their followers' fears to great effect; those who serve more benign patrons can sometimes keep up with the brimstone-spitters via boisterous singing and fervent displays of celebration, but they're definitely at a disadvantage when it comes to making an impression on their flocks. Nearly all troglodyte shamans believe that their Immortal is, naturally, the best one - though other Immortals are glorious and mighty as well, they hasten to add! - and they vie for a larger share of their clans' worshippers with other shamans ... even though they hesitate to actually bad-mouth their rivals' patrons. On festive days, it's not unusual for shamans to have shouting matches as they lead group prayers, each trying to drown out the words of competitors with "holy rolls" in praise of their own Immortals' virtues. Competition among HM troglodyte shamans - especially those whose respective Immortal patrons are at odds - often leads them to plot ways to embarrass or discredit their rivals, thus proving themselves to be better shamans, who worship a better Immortal. Due to their reluctance to actually offend a rival's Immortal - as opposed to insulting another shaman personally; if it's the shaman's personal habits or character that are the target, no blow is too low ;-) - such disputes rarely become violent ... though it has been known to happen.
(* - Demogorgon and Ixion are the chief exceptions: the former, because she despises the troglodytes as yet another living legacy of the Greater Carnifex, so wouldn't accept their worship even if they offered it; the latter, because he's virtually unheard-of in the sunless Hollow Moon. Longlegs also spurn the faith of Adhuza M'Thaz, due to historical enmity with the Satrapies' Enlightened: the Magi of Adhuza are the one sect of clergy whom the Longleg clans will attack on sight rather than listen to.)
Interestingly, because the troglodytes are quick to embrace any Immortal they've not yet heard of, upon learning of his or her existence - a fact other Materans only discovered, after the opening of the Longlegs' trade-routes - the Marsh of Putrescence has recently become the destination of choice for a number of missionaries from other regions, eager to "enlighten" the troglodytes as to their own patrons' teachings and importance. While the Longleg trogs are amused by these proselytisers' overtures, and eagerly incorporate "imported" Immortals into their long roster of patrons, they aren't at all receptive to - or patient with - visitors who insist they forsake their previous Immortals in favour of new ones. An outlander missionary who accepts the trogs' native polytheism will find many converts, even if he or she is embarrassingly ill-equipped for the marshlands, talks down to them as if they were bumpkins, and otherwise makes a fool of his/her self; one who's polite and polished and swamp-wise as can be, and dazzles them with charisma, will still be picking him/her self out of a mudhole before long, if he or she speaks disparagingly of other Immortals whom the troglodytes revere. :-)
Troglodyte names, like those of other lizard-kin, are often short and sibilant, often using sounds such as "ssh", "s", "h", "f", or "z"; they also make use of gutturals - hard "g", "b", "d" - which ordinary lizard men aren't in the habit of employing. Gender is indicated with either "s"-sounds, for males, or "ssh"-sounds for females*. Some sample troglodyte male names are Slarrg, Hraas, Dhess, Halss, and Sliss; sample female names are Sshfarr, Zohssh, Fessh, Sshulb, and Baggssh.
(* - Masculine and feminine forms of names are readily interchangeable, merely by switching "s" for "ssh" or vice versa. The feminine for "Dhess" is Dhessh; the masculine for "Sshfarr" is Sfarr. Every troggish name needs at least one s/ssh sound.)
Among their own kind, troglodytes neither use nor need spoken clan-names: one's scent, distinctive and unique to each clan, is easily recognised as a declaration of one's clan affiliation. Among foreigners, those clans which deal peaceably with outsiders - i.e. the Longlegs, plus those mixed-blood clans who must occasionally order stray outsiders off their property - have found it necessary to invent verbal surnames, the better to indicate their clan of origin for nose-blind races. For Shovelfaces, who never deal with outsiders except on hostile terms and couldn't care less whether non-trogs know which clan they're from, it's not an issue. (Their pteryx "bosses", of course, are mute and don't understand speech anyway.)
Of these cobbled-together surnames, most Longlegs designate their clans in geographic and/or descriptive terms, using whatever non-troglodyte language they're employing to communicate with outsiders. This produces such colourful and distinctive - albeit rather "soggy" - clan-names as Boghollow, Slugwater, Paddlecrick, Leechwell, Deepwallow, Mudback, Gatorbellow, or Logtangle*. The more insular mixed-blood clans use similar descriptive/geographic names, but they render them in their own language (see below), as they're less familiar with foreign tongues, e.g. a surname meaning "hot place", referring to a hot-spring on the clan's territory, becomes "Ishgressh", in rustic Troglodyte dialect.
(* - Any name that would fit nicely into the old "Pogo" comic strip is ideal, for Longleg clan-names. So are nearly any of the halflings' clan-names from Gaz8, once you replace their "cute and cuddly" elements with something that's suitably swampy/muddy. :-D)
Ironically, though many Materan trogs find the name "troglodyte" to be demeaning, on par with "brute-man" for HW Neanderthals - so much so that, while the Longlegs have more or less resigned themselves to the moniker, mixed-bloods and Shovelfaces have been known to riddle careless speakers with crossbow bolts for this insult! - their own name for their race, the "oggum" (OG-gum), is itself a derivative of the Carnifex word "okham", meaning slave, beast or animal. In ancient times, the Greater Carnifex created the first-wave troglodytes as a slave race, giving them this name to designate their lowly status. The fact Matera's troglodytes brashly call themselves by this name, remaining clueless as to its offensive implications, only goes to show how much of their own history they have forgotten.
Roles and Genders
To outsiders, Matera's troglodytes appear to be a male-dominated society. It's the males who take the lead in negotiations with outsiders, who hunt game in the Marsh and corral wild marsh-snails for domestication, and who defend the territories and honour of their clans. Titular leadership of a troglodyte clan is almost always held by a male ... although widows or (rarely) daughters may inherit a clan-head's position, if the previous head has no male heirs, or if the male heir is judged unworthy of leadership - too young, foolish, irascible, a drunkard, etc - by a large majority of clan-members. Certainly, visiting PCs who venture into the Marsh of Putrescence will first be confronted by all-male bands of border-guards, and the spokestrog who enquires as to why they're trespassing on clan turf will be the biggest, most physically-imposing male within such a band. Male youngsters roughhouse more boisterously, male shamans preach their "holy rolls" more loudly, and male trogs in general tend to grab the spotlight with their boasting and posturing, while their sisters, wives and mothers remain subdued and in the background. Troglodyte males are renowned for their overprotectiveness of their mates and female siblings, and won't hesitate to pound on anyone - troglodyte or otherwise - who behaves insultingly or forwardly to either ("I seen how you was lookin' at mah sistah, you low-down dirty...!"). Virtually all of Matera's troggish adventurers or mercenaries are males; the few female exceptions are usually snipers or spellcasters, who refrain from melee while supporting their male comrades-at-arms with ranged attacks or spells. In the cities of outsiders, male troglodytes take the lead in trade-negotiations and salestrogship. During feuds or warfare, it's the clan-heads and their chosen (male) officers who give the orders, and everyone else in the clan - male and female, young and old, warriors and spellcasters - must obey.
However, inside their own communities and beyond the sight of "furriners", a second look reveals that it's females who usually call the shots, within the troglodyte clans' internal politics and in routine family life. Although dangerous occupations and contact with outsiders are the responsibility of males - hence the need for males as clan-heads, whose duties often involve warfare and other perilous tasks - female troglodytes attend to those day-to-day matters that ensure a clan's prosperity and future: tending fields, rearing livestock, preserving food, stocking supplies, rearing and instructing children*, crafting trade-goods and utensils. Female trogs advise their clan-heads in any decisions which would significantly impact their clans' future, and may even countermand his will, if all the adult females agree that their clan-head's making a horrible mistake. Among urban troglodytes, it's females who craft leather items, rear pack-snails for the males to haul goods with, and staff and manage workshops for other family industries. In short, female troglodytes safeguard the economic security of their families and clans, while the males safeguard them from external threats: females are the clan's builders and thinkers; males are its soldiers and sentinels. Troglodyte females do fight alongside their mates, albeit only when their clans' territories are threatened with invasion; a small, but significant number of females also accompany their males to meet with visitors - usually under the pretence of serving food or of tending the males' weapons and equipment - the better to discreetly spy upon such strangers, and report back to their sisters within the clan. Inside the home, a troglodyte female's choices prevail over her spouse's; outside of the clan's own territory, where danger (males' business) may threaten at every turn, her husband's decisions are final. Overall, each gender is expected to pursue jobs which are "normal" for their sex - males fight, hunt and confront outsiders; females are farmers, craftstrogs and long-term planners - but neither sex is seen as "superior" to the other ... rather, each is superior in its own role, and had best stick to that role to ensure that their clan will prosper. Should it come down to the wire, males are ultimately the more-expendable clan members - a female trog can automatically select a new mate at the Pairing Ceremonies, but her clan-brothers have no such guarantee - so are expected to lay down their lives in defence of the females and young.
(* - Troglodytes are egg-layers, with young married couples producing a brood of four to six eggs every second or third Materan year. Large broods are considered desirable by the Marshlanders, who lose many offspring to childhood ailments or "dud" eggs ... although troglodytes in the cities of outsiders have begun having second thoughts, about having as many kids as possible. Troglodyte eggs are traditionally brooded inside loose mounds of composting organic matter - leaves, reeds, mosses and humus; plus a few herbal "secret ingredients" which are passed down from mother to daughter, and help instil the unborn young with their clan's distinctive scent - that keep the eggs warm and moist, without cutting off the developing embryos' oxygen. Only about two-thirds of troglodyte eggs are actually viable; those which fail to hatch are buried in unmarked graves far from their parents' dwellings, preferably at a crossroads, so their deceased children's envious spirits won't return to steal away the breath from those siblings lucky enough to have been born. ***insert spooky music here***)
How did this separation of gender-roles arise...? In truth, the original social structure of Mystara's troglodytes was a matriarchal one, as is seen in most other lizard-kin today (e.g. Malpheggi, cayma, gurrash). Inheritance of property and clan membership was through the female line, and leadership was vested in councils of female heads of household; this is where troggish customs of female choice in Pairing Ceremonies, and of females' dominion over home life, had their start. However, upon arriving in the Hollow Moon, contact with the highly aggressive Ur-tribes - who respected only male warriors or commanders, and did unspeakable things to any female troglodyte warriors captured in battle; the Ebelamgas kept to rocky highlands far from the Marsh, so weren't encountered until later - forced first the Shovelfaces, then the Longlegs to designate male clan-heads as their nominal leaders, and to discontinue females' participation in military affairs or diplomacy.
Males thus - by default, not dominance - became the hunters, defenders, and outside representatives of HM troggish communities, the better not to offend their ferocious neighbours' sensibilities. This mollified the Kasepauk and other Ur-Carnifex misogynists: to all appearances, the lizard-kin newcomers were doing things "the right way" now, with males in command of the important stuff like warfare, and females stuck with all the boring housekeeping and farm work. Yet female troglodytes retained their considerable behind-the-scenes economic influence (which the primitive Ur-tribes were too crude to recognise as such), and authority over the private lives of their households (which the carnosaur-folk never witnessed). Even after the Ur-tribes' extirpation from most of the Nearside, males remained the HM troglodytes' soldiers and risk-takers out of habit; when the Spell of Remembrance* was established, a century later, this division of labours became permanent.
(* - Female troglodyte PCs don't have to pay any experience penalty for violating their cultural tenets, if they take up adventuring. They do have to pay it, if they set out to act like outright, front-line hack-and-slashers - brute-force melee is "male's work", in HM troggish society - but if they routinely hang back and snipe at their opponents or use their colour-changing powers to ambush them, resorting to melee only if there's no chance to be sneaky, then they're not penalised: guerrilla warfare is the one style of combat which female trogs are trained in, for last-ditch defence on their clan's own turf. (And why play a troglodyte PC, in the first place - male or female - if you're not going to play a sneaky one...? :-D))
Among those Apennine troglodytes who have served the pteryx for generations, such gender distinctions have either broken down in the absence of military threats, or else never existed in the first place. In imitation of their masters, they distinguish males from females only in matters of courtship and marriage, never in profession or social station. New recruits off the Marsh often find it shocking to see male troglodytes tending eggs or females in the armour of bodyguards, but snide remarks or overt gawking at Apennine trogs whose gender-roles "just ain't right" is a clear invitation to get trounced ... be it by female guards out to break ignorant mud-foots' preconceptions, or male house-tenders looking to defend their virility from jokes about their "girlish" line of work.
The Hollow Moon's troglodytes speak their own language, which they call "garessheg": a derivation of the ancient Carnifex phrase "kaleth sek", which means "our language". The Troglodyte language is, in fact, a distorted descendent of the Greater Carnifex tongue; its syntax is very different from that of their long-forgotten masters' speech, but much of the old vocabulary remains*. Unlike dinosaur-derived Carnifexian races, troglodytes have great difficulty pronouncing the sounds "k", "th", "p", and long "i": these sounds are slurred/distorted into "g", "ssh", "b", and "ah", in the HM trogs' dialects. A similar distortion of these sounds occurs, when trogs first try to speak other races' languages with outsiders - most adult Longlegs these days speak at least one foreign tongue, usually Cacklogallinian or a human one; Shovelfaces only speak Troglodyte plus the gestural language of pteryx, and mixed-bloods seldom know anything but their racial language - unless a troglodyte is exceptionally well trained (skill of 15+) in the non-reptilian tongue he or she uses. Many troglodytes are too proud to speak aloud, in front of "furriners", until they've mastered these tricky phonemes, not wishing to sound ignorant or silly ("Go gatch a fissh to goog for subber.") to those who - so the trogs assume - already think poorly of them. That doesn't mean they don't grasp what others are saying....
(* - Check out Geoff's list of Carnifex vocabulary for examples. Remember to "slur" the sounds - "k's to "g's, etc - to better illustrate the troglodytes' more frog-like vocalisations. The list might prove especially useful for designing surnames of "mixed-blood" clans, whose members may need to identify themselves to non-trogs, yet can't usually speak the languages of outsiders well enough to translate their chosen clan-name.)
Having been at odds on-and-off for so many generations, the dialects of Shovelface and Longleg have diverged over the centuries; likewise, mixed-blood clans' insularity leads to local quirks of vocabulary and dialogue, even as they split the difference between the pureblood clans' ways of speaking. On top of that, urban Longlegs and Shovelfaces in the Apennines have developed their own modes of speech, which are even less like those of the opposing ethnic group! While these differences aren't substantial enough to warrant calling them five different languages, troglodytes from each of the five possible origins - urban Longleg, Marsh Longleg, mixed-blood, Marsh Shovelface, Apennine Shovelface - need to pass an Intelligence check (at a +2 penalty, for each degree of separation in dialect*), to communicate anything more than basic information to trogs from a different background. If desired, a troglodyte can sacrifice a single language-slot to master all five Troglodyte dialects, and eliminate this penalty.
(* - For example, Hless from the Deep Marsh is leading other Shovelfaces in a raid on a foreign caravan. He and his clanmates capture several Marsh-dwelling Longlegs, plus a Longleg snail-drover who was born in the Wallace Island trading-colony. There are two degrees of separation between Hless' own dialect and that of the Marsh-dwellers, but three degrees between Hless and the "city boy". The Shovelface leader tries to interrogate his prisoners as to when, exactly, the next caravan will pass through this area and how many Longleg guards will escort it. Hless' Intelligence is 13, and he rolls a 9. Hless can just barely get the gist of his questions across to the Marsh-born captives (roll of 9, +4 for 2 degrees of separation = 13), but the urban drover (9, +6 for 3 degrees of separation = 15) can't unravel his deep-marshland idioms and accent. To successfully answer Hless' questions, the Marshland prisoners will have to pass Intelligence checks of their own.)
On its own, the spoken troggish language is extremely basic, with neither verb-tenses nor cues to distinguish between subjects and predicates. Sadly, many Materan outsiders mistake this linguistic simplicity for "proof" that troglodytes are stupid (they're not) or incapable of complex communication. They're missing half the story, in assuming this: troglodytes also produce odours - detectable as nothing more than a musty dampness, to humans' inferior sense of smell; and distinguishable, word-by-word, only to races (e.g. lupins) for whom olfaction is at least a secondary sense - from their various scent-glands, when conversing with their own kind. These scented secretions can illustrate a speaker's emotions, or replicate the actual aromas of food, animals, water, plants, troglodytes of particular clans, or specific patches of the Marsh*. Such odours, released in concert with verbal speech, complement and give context to troglodytes' spoken words: for statements about the past, they'll give off "stale" scents; for the subjects of sentences, they'll give off a whiff that resembles the object/person/place they're referring to; for urgent statements, they'll "punctuate" them with odours of excitement or demand. Races which can't make out the scents of a troggish conversation**, thus get a false impression that Troglodyte is a "crude" or "primitive" language without advanced syntax ... and troglodytes, when they first try to pick up a foreign tongue, get terribly confused by the alien idea of conjugating spoken verbs, so mix up the tenses of their sentences horribly ("Ah gatched me a fish, googed an' eat him, and Ah's sshrowin' its bones to mah snail.") and wind up sounding even more ignorant, poor guys. :-(
(* - It's these scents, that replicate objects' or individuals' odours, which the pteryx have mistaken for troglodyte "telepathy". Have a Shovelface look at an object; then take him or her into the next room, hide the object, and bring in another trog who'll "telepathically" identify what the first one saw. The fact that the first trog (who's wise to the pteryx's games) leaves olfactory information for the second, in the form of residual odours which linger in the room, hasn't yet occurred to the pterosauroids. A good deal for the troggies, since it means they get to retain "sentient being" status in pteryx eyes, huh...? ;-D)
(** - Non-trogs who try to speak Troglodyte can convey only the most basic information, as they can neither replicate nor follow the olfactory side of the conversation. (Know what? That means they sound just as dumb, to the troggies, as troglodytes sound when they're struggling to master verbal-only languages! ;-D) To illustrate this, DMs should limit (demi)humans' communication in Troglodyte to words of one or two syllables, sentences of three words or less, and non-verbal "caveman"-style grunts and gestures ... preferably acted out, in-character, by your players. Needless to say, very few Materans learn to speak Troglodyte, as it's not much use to anyone without its scent-elements.)
Normal troggish speech-scents don't last very long, dissipating within a few seconds in windy areas or after several minutes in still air. Longer-lasting secreted trog-odours - including those which they release in battle, to nauseate and weaken non-reptilian foes - aren't nearly so specific, but can endure for 5-8 hours airborne under windless conditions, or 2-5 Mystaran days if deliberately rubbed onto the surfaces of objects. These so-called "heavy" scents only convey the most basic emotions and ideas, such as "danger", or "my territory"; these instinctive, gut-level olfactory cues are understandable to any HM trog, no matter which dialect he or she speaks ... and might even, at the DM's discretion, have meaning to the cave-dwelling troglodyte savages still living on Mystara! Often Matera's trog-clans post such olfactory "signs" on their fences and boundary-markers, as additional reminders for rival clans to keep well off their territory. Leaving and interpreting these scent-messages is a normal part of the Troglodyte language, separate from literacy or training, so every HM troglodyte can communicate in this fashion, without expending a skill slot. A non-trog who wants to "read" scent-messages must have smell as a secondary or primary sense, in which case he or she can apply skill slots towards that ability as a form of Signalling skill. Leaving scent-messages of their own is impossible for non-trogs, barring magical means of replicating troglodytes' odours.
Because smell is nearly as important as sight to troglodytes, they use scents in describing things or people they've encountered ("He was [blood-and-spittle] furious!"), as well as to give directions ("Go past the [stale-sulphur-water-and-skunk-cabbage] pond and up the [dried-saltgrass-with-chalky-soil] hill...."). Outsiders frequently have to remind helpful Longlegs of their own noses' limitations, when asking the best route to the next caravan stop. Materan troglodytes have as many words for odours as Mystaran painters have for colours, and there are several subtly-different verbs meaning "to smell" in the troggish vocabulary.
There is no recognised written form of the troglodyte language ... although some of the clans mule-headedly insist that one did exist, in the days of the great, long-lost troglodyte kingdoms outside the Marsh's boundary. (Since these are the same Shovelface clans who insist other races "stole" all their civilised ways from troglodytes, this notion isn't taken seriously by Materan scholars.) Troggish wokani do employ a unique, runic script when carving their staff-spellbooks; but this is more like a professional cipher - derived from mystical/ritual symbols - than a full-fledged system of writing. Whether or not the troglodytes ever had a written language of their own, they now use other races' writing systems - either the Cynidicean or Cacklogallinian alphabets, for the Longlegs and (rare) literate mixed-bloods; simplified pteryx pictographs, for Shovelfaces - when recording information too complex for scent-messages. Scent-speech elements of a conversation are shown, in written Troglodyte, by jotting short words (like "stale", "excited" and so on), or abbreviated stress-marks, beneath those verbal words they'd normally accompany.
Literacy was virtually nil amongst the Marshlanders, before the trade-routes opened up, but those Longleg clans who have benefited from traffic through their lands are becoming more educated, such that most can rustle up somebody who can read - perhaps a retired mercenary trained in the outside world, or an urban leatherworker dropping by from the "big city" for a visit - in a pinch. Urban troglodytes are far more likely to be literate, as reading is considered a useful competitive "edge" by which to beat non-trogs at the game of business; city-trogs in "Trogtowns" post signs in both local languages and Troglodyte. Apennine troglodytes will be literate in Pteryx if their jobs require them to be, and their Shovelface cousins in the Deep Marsh try to emulate them, thus; but the rigours of eking out a living in their unforgiving habitat - not to mention the sheer difficulty of mastering the pterosauroids' pictographs (13+ Int minimum) - keeps such literacy very rare, among marsh-dwelling Shovelface clans. Mixed-blood clans can't be bothered with lazy, sit-around-doing-nothing activities like reading; as they see it, they've gotten by without a written language so far, and have no need to change their ways just because the Longlegs have. A few outcast Longlegs who join mixed clans after being expelled from their own - the standard troglodyte punishment for major offences against one's clanmates; capital punishment is unthinkable, inside trog-clans - are literate, but this is far from the norm.
One thing the Troglodyte language is widely renowned for, even by those who think it "primitive", is the variety and coyness of its cusses. Because they're so leery of offending the Immortals, troglodytes don't quiiiite have the nerve to take Immortals' names in vain, when cursing in anger. Thus, to let off steam without irritating the powers-that-be, trogs invent loads of colourful, almost-but-not-quite-blasphemous curses, instead: expressions like "gah-dangit!" (Ka damn it!), "dagnabbit" (D.G. (=Demogorgon) nab/take it), "jimm-blasted" (Jammudaru-blasted), and so on. :-)
Allies and Enemies
Because their personal loyalties are focused upon the clan, not the nation or tribe - and because, despite what the trogs like to think, nobody's interested in stealing away their uninviting swamplands - Matera's troglodytes have had little experience, within living memory, uniting against a common enemy or forming military alliances with outsiders. Should some dire threat to all trog-kind emerge, they'll certainly try to present a united front, once a majority of clan-heads recognises the danger ... but it'll take a very strong - or very charismatic - leader to prevent rival clans from backstabbing each other over age-old grudges, or to maintain a semblance of restraint among the competitive, glory-seeking warbands. Lacking a common cause to unite them at the present time, lunar trog-clans' attitudes about other races are every bit as divided as the clans themselves.
The Longleg clans of the Marsh have no real "allies" per se, only business associates. While many of their clans have dealings with outsiders, in order to obtain metal goods and other commodities which they cannot manufacture, these are typically "marriages of convenience" at best: if the troglodytes feel they're getting short-changed, or that double-crossing their trading partners would be in their best interest, they'll probably do it. As a result, many Materans view troggish promises with a jaundiced eye at best, and frank disbelief at worst. (Not for nothing is the insult "as trustworthy as a troglodyte" heard on Matera!) Needless to say, this doesn't apply to all clans... just enough to give the rest of their race a bad name, such that trog mercenaries and similar hirelings must constantly prove their faithfulness to sceptical employers. Such unreliable, embittered clans' "bad attitude" is born of generations of resentment about how the "furriners" pushed the once-mighty troglodytes - the Longlegs' ancestors in particular - back into the depths of the Marsh. The fact that much of this was the handiwork of mammalian races has given the troglodytes even more reason to dislike them, than other "latecomers" who usurped the trogs' once-prominent place in the Nearside*. Nevertheless, troglodytes who have had positive relationships with outsiders - even mammalian ones - either as personal friends or as business-associates who've dealt straight with them, eventually shed their ingrained biases and come to accept that (some) non-reptiles are "just folks", not land-grabbing bullies or rich, stiff-necked snobs.
(* - In truth, most Materan races have incurred troglodytes' ire, at one time or another - not the best thing to have happen, given the long memories of the surly lizard-kin - but it's the "furballs" who now predominate, within the Hollow Moon; so most of the trogs' frustration is vented at mammals rather than other targets. Were some non-mammalian race to attain dominance over the HM setting, in times to come, the troglodytes would no doubt resent that race for its success, just as much as they currently resent mammals!)
Indeed, urban troglodytes who continually associate with outsiders generally conclude all HM mammalian races look, smell, and act pretty much the same: they don't distinguish between the various human ethnic groups, for example, nor between the several breeds of Beastman-descended humanoid. To many city-trogs, vesper elves are simply short humans with big ears, who live an annoyingly long time; Shaergarde's hin are just miniature humans with spooky eyes and an unpredictable temper; Cacklogallinians are basically mammals, despite the feathers, and act more or less like any other outsiders do. The fact that troglodytes aren't at all discreet about lumping other races together - "Orcs, goblins, who's tah tell the diff'ence? They all smell lahk they hain't changed their britches since Granny Besshie's Pairing-day!" - often strikes members of more mannerly, uptight cultures as crass, ignorant or bigoted; but as the troglodytes see things, they're just being candid, which is more honourable than acting all fancy for propriety's sake. In general, troglodytes consider other races' formalities, such as long-winded introductions and "small talk", a needless hassle that delays getting down to business. Unless you're a good friend, a customer or the one paying his or her salary, a hard-working troglodyte won't care to waste much time on you, if you're a mammal. Nor many words ... except if the trog is off-duty and in the mood for a rousing exchange of insults, of course. :-D
Exceptions to this rule apply, if the trogs have had a particularly good ... or bad ... history with an outside race. The Modrigswerg - northern neighbours of the Marsh since before the trogs' expulsion from their erstwhile kingdoms; and an occasional source of metal goods or mercenary employment, even before the Longlegs' trade-routes opened up - have earned the respect of the troglodytes for their practical outlook on life and blunt, unpretentious directness. The moulder dwarves, like the trogs themselves, also take great pride in their skills and appreciate fine craftsmanship; their eagerness to exchange metal wares for food makes them a natural source for smith-forged items, while their wealth and paranoia leads many to hire troggish mercenaries as sentinels/thugs. The "shadier" elements of Marshlander society, in particular, tend to gravitate to the Caucasus Mounts and their introverted dwarven residents. Troglodytes who've been kicked out of their clans or the urban troggish enclaves, for harming or insulting fellow lizard-kin, can often find work as treasure-guards for irascible Modrigswerg who fear for their homes' and hoards' security. The moulder dwarves' secretive habits, and near-xenophobia regarding other dwarf-like races, has aroused the curiosity of their reptilian neighbours - they're sure those grouchy little guys are up to more than just smithwork! - but the lizard-kin are quite familiar with Modrigswergs' traps and how poorly they react to intrusions, so know better than to push the reclusive demihumans too far. Even mixed-blood clans do infrequent business with moulder dwarves, in the rare event a clan needs metal goods and can't obtain them by any other means; only the Shovelfaces - who know magic-thieving Modrigswerg have gone snooping into the Apennines, in times past, and who fear their relationship with the pteryx would be jeopardised if they made nice with them - consider the dwarves just another race of mammalian usurpers.
If the Modrigswerg are the closest thing to "friends" which the HM troglodytes have, it's the humans, merfolk, minotaurs and others of the Adhuzan Satrapies who are their sworn enemies. It was the Adhuzans who first displaced troglodytes from their old territories, at the end of the troggish "Golden Age", and their leaders have consistently proven hostile to the lizard-kin for reasons of religious doctrine and imperial ambition. The full account of their wars with the troglodytes has long since passed into legend - no two trog-clans' oral recountings are alike; and Adhuzan reports have been re-written too many times, in dynastic transitions, for truth ever to be sifted from political fiction - but troggish tales of prisoners-of-war whose stench-glands were cruelly seared shut with branding irons, and of perfumed potentates who dozed idly in their palanquins while faithful L'Mor and Vairenyah marched expressionlessly to their deaths at these unworthy rulers' bidding, have kept the Marshlanders' loathing for Adhuza's Enlightened fresh, even after two and a half millennia. No troglodyte, not even the lowliest outcast, will serve the Adhuzans or fight on the same side as they do; some troglodytes deliberately team up with exiles or lawbreakers from that part of the Nearside (e.g. the minotaur "king" who'd recently ruled some trog-clans), just to spite the satraps!
It's mostly because of their common enmity for Vareinyah, Limor, and the other Adhuzan city-states, that the troglodytes have developed a grudging fondness for the Cynidiceans. Like most HM immigrants, the Cynidiceans clashed with their share of troglodyte clans, on first arriving in the museum-setting; however, those who fought under the banner of Gorm demonstrated sufficient honour in battle - treating their reptilian opponents as warriors of dignity, not "monsters" - to impress the troglodytes, even as the lizard-kin got their behinds kicked. The Cyds' subsequent successes in driving the Adhuzans eastward, and the Gormites' continued acceptance of troglodytes as brothers-in-arms, lead many displaced trogs to take up mercenary service with their erstwhile foes against their mutual nemeses, the Enlightened. During peacetime, troglodyte/Cynidicean relations aren't quite so good - when there are no battles to keep them busy, trogs notice how the factions' religious dogmatism and constant belittling of each others' Immortals is just asking for trouble! - but so long as tensions between Cyds and Adhuzans remain high, there'll be plenty of troglodytes ready to enlist on the subterranean humans' side. The "Trogtown" in HM Cynidicea is the oldest such urban enclave in the Hollow Moon, and one of the largest, despite its location many hundreds of miles from the reptilians' homeland.
Two of the races with whom the trogs get along poorly, the Qaurikkas and cryions, have had the temerity to raid the outskirts of troglodyte territory in the past. Of these, the Qaurikkas are a relatively new problem - they'd not thought the trogs had anything worth stealing, until the trade-routes opened up - whereas the cryions have been slipping into the Marsh, to steal crops, wood and (especially) water, since time immemorial. The rocky crystalbarren-island of Spitzbergen was originally fortified by Longlegs as a defence against the bat-folks' water-raids; now that Mare Imbrium's cryions are only a decimated shadow of their former selves, the troglodytes' bitterness towards them has eased a bit, and they usually settle for chasing off any bat-folk who approach their wetlands, instead of shooting them dead as was their traditional response to cryion trespasses. Whether the Qaurikkas will replace cryions as the targets of itchy troggish trigger-fingers, in the next few years, remains to be seen: to date, the Qaurikkas haven't killed anyone "important" - i.e. any whose relatives have enough clout with the major clan-heads to muster retaliatory strikes against the ice-barbarians - on their visits. Still, a Qaurikka who's dumb enough to raid the same clan twice is going to have a big, fat "bull's-eye" on his back, for incurring troggish blood-feuds!
Of the younger races which have popped up on Matera, in the last several centuries, it's the Cacklogallinians who've done the most to open up the trade-routes through Longleg territory, and stir up change in the Marsh of Putrescence. Always seeking new markets, their mercantile consortia founded the Wallace Island colony which makes sea-trade with troglodytes economical, although not many of the bird-folk have actually visited the Marsh itself. Most Longlegs think Cacklogallinians are dandified, self-absorbed pains in the rear, to be honest - always primping and fidgeting and worrying themselves sick over nothing - but they love the way their clans have benefited from the new trade, so try not to offend the finicky featherheads, when they have to put up with them in the cities or on one of their annual inspections of the trade-routes. Mixed-blood trogs, OTOH, aren't at all happy about the way commerce is disrupting their nice, quiet Marsh, so take pains to make any bird-folk who do venture into the wetlands as insecure and uncomfortable and miserable as possible. The Shovelfaces outright despise the merchant-fowl, for helping their Longleg enemies to arm and improve themselves, so have devised especially-nasty ways of expressing this to any Cacklogallinians they manage to capture, whether on a caravan-raid or in service to the pteryx*.
(* - The Apennine troglodytes have also picked up this bias against Cacklogallinians, from new recruits brought in off the Marsh. The survival rates for bird-folk "vermin" in captivity, over the years, have been much lower than pteryx ornithologists initially predicted they'd be, based on the creatures' observed life expectancy in the wild. Selfless and dedicated pteryx veterinarians are working round the clock, to try and figure out why the poor fowl just keep dying on them.... ;-) )
If there's any race which the troglodytes - all the troglodytes; Longleg, Shovelface and mixed-blood alike - are truly in awe of, it's the pteryx, whose forbidding, lava-streaked mountains abut their own marshlands. The pterosauroids are regarded as virtual demigods by HM Shovelfaces, who credit the pteryx with saving their kind from enslavement*, and who remain almost totally dependent on these leather-winged scholars for manufactured goods, employment, and sometimes for defence. (The pterosauroids don't understand the trog-clans' infighting - it seems like insanity to them - and won't kill other troglodytes on the Shovelfaces' behalf; but they don't hesitate to sleep-bomb Longlegs who threaten to invade the Deep Marsh and endanger their potential workforce.) The behaviour of the pteryx is often perplexing, if not incomprehensible, to Shovelfaces - the Apennine trogs understand that "collecting expeditions" bring in slaves and experimental subjects; but the motives for "culling operations" that make war on outsiders, and for the experiments themselves, go right over their heads - but the opportunity to make a comfortable living, and get paid for picking on the hated mammalian "vermin" (!), strikes them as too juicy to quibble over. The Shovelfaces have learned enough about their "bosses" to know they shouldn't ever fight amongst themselves, where the pterosauroids can see them doing it - it tends to upset the big winged weirdos - so are quite good at feigning camaraderie, even with their clan's worst enemies, in the event that pterosaur-folk are around.
(* - Enslavement to whom, even the Apennine trogs have forgotten. The Shovelfaces have fragmentary tales about evil "tall ones" who'd once kept them in bondage, but no longer remember that the "tall ones" were Greater Carnifex, or that their own ancestors were magically created by sorcerers of that race. Apennine trogs have occasionally read about the Greater Carnifex in their duties as file-clerks or the like, but haven't made the connection between those dry old pteryx history-books and the "tall ones" of their own folktales. The Longlegs don't even remember that much of their own origins as a species: despite being the later of the two "waves" of HM troglodyte immigrants, they'd forgotten their past humiliation as slaves of the Sickly Lords centuries before the SoR had a chance to perpetuate that knowledge.)
Conversely, the Longlegs are terrified by the power the pteryx have at their command - they've seen "culling operations" carried out on the cryions, not so many generations ago! - and wish to Pandius that the pterosauroids would just stay home in their dag-blasted mountains, and leave the world in peace. Gall them though it does, the Longleg clans acknowledge that they'd have no chance whatsoever, if their simmering feud with the Shovelfaces ever provoked an all-out pteryxian intervention; at the same time, they resent the fact that pteryx use Shovelfaces as their grunt-soldiers on "culling operations" and "collecting expeditions", rousing suspicion and antagonism toward all troglodytes, on the part of the other lunar races ... not to mention wiping out scads of potential Longleg trading-partners! While HM troglodytes accept warfare and strife as the natural state of the world, and a fit test of one's mettle, the casual and dispassionate nature of pteryx "cullings" sickens the Longlegs ... the more so, now that many have gotten to know other races as "just folks" instead of enemies. They know, both from observation and from captured Shovelfaces' tales, that pteryx are endowed with both powerful technologies and great proficiencies in the magical arts; Longlegs have little doubt that the Apennines' winged residents could claim rulership over large portions of Matera, were they so inclined. That the pteryx haven't already done so, is baffling to the Longlegs - their own "kings" are hardly so circumspect in the use of power, and they know zilch about the pterosauroids' society or pacifism - but you sure won't hear them complaining about this bizarre "oversight", that's kept the pteryx from pressing their advantage!
The mixed-blood clans know next to nothing about the pteryx, having picked up tidbits of speculation, rumour and innuendo from countless generations of pureblood outcasts - of both Shovelface and Longleg origins - and pieced them together into a mishmash of guesses, half-guesses, and outright lies. Ask a mixed-blood about the pteryx, and you'll get a darn good story for your trouble ... it just won't have much of anything to do with the truth. Plop mixed-bloods down in front of a pteryx and they'll run like hell: that much of the truth, they know. :-D
History on Mystara (Shovelfaces)
It's generally accepted among Materan outlanders that Deep Marsh troglodytes, with their embittered, self-centred, and fervently anti-mammalian view of history, have re-written the story of their race's past to suit their own narrow opinion of non-troglodytes. Ask a Shovelface about non-trogs, and he or she is sure to deride them as upstart usurpers, who shamelessly copied cultural and technological achievements by troglodytes and turned those advances against their betters. Little do the Deep Marshlanders suspect - and fiercely would they reject, if confronted with the truth - that their own race's origin on the Hollow Moon, and escape from bondage and slow extinction, came about through exactly this kind of a reversal: because the young, unsophisticated race of "oggum" resisted their Carnifex creators and oppressors, turning their masters' own weapons and military tactics against them.
During their lightning-fast ascent to civilisation, the Greater Carnifex of Davania showed no restraint in enslaving, then exterminating their Ur-Carnifex predecessors. Despite their great physical size and strength, the savage Ur-tribesfolk weren't suited to servitude: their temperaments were much too feral for Ur-slaves' spirits to ever truly be broken; and their exclusive appetite for flesh posed an economic liability, in that the Greaters were every bit as carnivorous and didn't wish to waste valuable livestock feeding their own slaves. While the Greater Carnifex leaders of the 14th millennium BC knew that a slave-caste could prove very useful, both as a workforce and as a way to remind their subjects - who might grow restive if denied someone to look down on, and whose devotion to the Outer Beings was still compelled more by fear than faith - of inherent Carnifex superiority, it was clear that the Ur-tribes would never make viable servants. In any case, Brasol's "wild" bands of Ur-Carnifex had died out on Mystara, and the dwindling ranks of the Hsth'kek were becoming too distorted by bodily mutation - devolving into something far too hideous and dull-witted to be serviceable, save in the dread sanctuaries of the Outer Beings where no (living) commoner dared to tread - to be accepted by the masses. Some other breed of earthly slave was necessary, to fill the roles the degenerated Hsth'kek no longer could ... or at least, would be needed so long as belief in the Immortals had not yet been wholly extinguished among the lower classes, and the ruling Being-cultists dared not summon Outer-worldly servitors openly to Mystara.
Initial experiments with lizard man slaves proved disappointing. While Davania's lizard folk were no match for Carnifex slave-takers in battle, and could be easily "broken" once captured, their intolerance for dry or cold conditions - the very conditions under which the Greaters, themselves, most desired servitors to labour in their stead - and unguarded slaves' habit of slipping beneath the surface of the nearest body of water, never to be seen again, limited their usefulness. Likewise, although a few (quiet) attempts had been made to "domesticate" the pteryx, using lone individuals abducted when the other pterosauroids weren't looking, the Carnifex's winged neighbours tended to curl up and die without the companionship of their fellows ... too many fellows, in any one group of slaves, for the Carnifex to easily control. As non-reptilian races would not appear in Davania until after the Greaters' banishment, this left the reigning reptiles with but one alternative: to create an all-new slave race that could endure harsh environments, and subsist on foods the carnosaur-folk, themselves, disdained.
Like the Nithians and Herathians of later eras, Greater Carnifex wizards lacked the power to create an entire race from nothing; such feats of creation lie within the province of Immortals, not mages, and the Greaters had not yet developed the skill - or temerity - to attempt such marvels. Rather, Carnifex magi combined the features of existing lizard man slaves with those of Davania's non-intelligent reptile species: the iguana's desiccation-resistance and less-carnivorous diet; the chameleon's physical dexterity and steadiness; the giant tuatara's stoic endurance of cold and wind. In the process of trying out different combinations, they also stumbled upon some unexpected perks - a capacity for limited camouflage instilled by chameleons' genes; the heat-sensitive facial pits adopted from vipers - which the magi incorporated into their finished product. The final results were omnivorous, temperature-tolerant, agile and adaptable - the first troglodytes - and had added potential as scouts or guerrilla-fighters, should the Carnifex empire choose to invade the northern continents or find itself wracked by civil war. The trogs' tendency to secrete strong-smelling oils - an annoying but tolerable defect, in the Greaters' view, as leaving a scent trail would hamper troggish slaves' escape-attempts - was an accidental side-effect of the new race's serpentine (garter snake) component, and defied numerous attempts by the magi to eliminate it.
The first few generations of troglodytes - the very first to be created as magical hybrids ~13,500 BC, along with their children and grandchildren - were "born slaves"; they knew this, and believed it. Awed by their Carnifex creators' magic and indoctrinated from hatching that their sole purpose in life was to serve their makers, they knew nothing of the world save what their masters saw fit to tell them, and were brought up to believe that any desires or thoughts which ran contrary to Carnifex intentions were evil. Weary or inept troglodyte labourers weren't merely exhausted or clumsy, they were sinful; troggish parents who protested when their offspring were sold to other masters weren't just soft-hearted, they were selfish; the bold trog who dared look a Carnifex right in the eye wasn't just being insubordinate, but conceited, and ungrateful to the vastly-superior beings who had given their race life. As a species birthed by earthly magic, troglodytes knew nothing of the Immortals, for the magi who first created their forebearers had been cynical unbelievers, who worshipped neither Immortals nor Outer Beings*... the latter of which, the young race of trogs understood only as dreadful, faceless, capricious entities to whom Carnifex priests sacrificed slaves whose performance failed to satisfy their masters' expectations.
(* - Being ignorant drudges, troglodytes were deemed unworthy of recruitment into the Greaters' growing Outer Being cult. Concerns that converting trogs to their own beliefs might lead to the same physical degeneration, on the part of their new slaves, which had annihilated/transformed the Hsth'kek, also discouraged the Carnifex from opening their abhorrent faith to troglodytes.)
The seeds of resistance were sown, for the first time, in the fourth generation ... the first troglodytes to grow up without any living "firstborn" elders, to tell them of their race's magical birth. With no eyewitnesses to recall their origins, this latest crop of "okham" began to doubt the notion that their kind owed their alleged "creators" lifelong service, or whether the Greaters had even (gasp!) created them at all. Though the vast majority of troglodytes remained subject to Carnifex indoctrination, lone individuals or small groups began breaking the strict rules by which their caste lived - holding back food for their own families on the livestock ranches, leaving brief scent-messages to one another that wordlessly expressed their discontent, listening to "seditious" words of the few outcast Carnifex who yet revered the Immortals in secret - as early as fifty years after their race's creation. Taking full advantage of their oil-secretions and acute sense of smell, the troglodyte slaves perfected their own hidden "language" of odours, much more complex that that which is used by today's HM trogs, with which to conspire and - for the lucky few - plot their liberation.
Unfortunately, the first troggish rebellion ended in disaster for the lizard-kin ... as did the second, third, and fourth. The Carnifex were simply too powerful; the hot-headed trogs who rebelled, too disorganised and militarily outclassed. The fifth attempt at revolt didn't even get fully underway, as the Greaters were by then so accustomed to how wayward "okham" thought that they could anticipate such periods of unrest, pinpoint and eliminate their instigators, faster than the cry for freedom could circulate among the slaves' ranks. Troggish determination, alone, couldn't alter the fact that their masters were simply much stronger, more magically-endowed, more ruthless, more organized, and - truth be known - diabolically smarter than the troglodytes who longed to escape their domination*. Like lightly-armed skirmishers forced up against a phalanx of heavily-armoured spearmen (or Basic-level monsters in a Master-level dungeon! ;-D), troggish would-be revolutionaries got the living snot kicked out of them, again and again and again.
(* - In the troglodyte rebels' eyes, their masters held their slaves in such a tight grip out of fear that the "oggum" would some day overthrow them. In truth, Greater Carnifex rulers often let trog slave-rebellions boil over, as it gave the monarchs a chance to display their troops' might before the whole carnosauroid populace ... and the priesthood and magi, both of which posed a serious challenge to the authority of the militant ruling class in this period of Carnifex history.)
Revolution having failed them entirely, the dissident trogs settled for what they could get, namely personal escape from bondage. Alone or in small family groups, troglodytes slipped away from the ranches and mines where they laboured, or "strayed" from the caravans and army units they accompanied as bearers and beast-handlers. Like the Ur-tribes before them, they took shelter in rugged wilderness areas the Carnifex had never deemed worth developing, or preyed upon unguarded travellers as bandits. Using scent-messages for communication and camouflage for secrecy, these outlaws eked out a living on the fringes of Greater Carnifex civilisation, eating whatever they could glean from unattended croplands or snare from the wilds and stealing the metals they'd never learned to spell-forge for themselves. It's at this time that the Shovelfaces' fugitive forebearers re-established the matriarchal customs of their lizardkin "ancestors", as well as acquiring modern troglodytes' traits of tight clannishness (since so many slave-families had been sundered by their masters), independence from other races, and trinket-keeping (since slave-trogs were forbidden such personal possessions). On the down side, blood-feuds and avenging relatives' deaths also got started at this stage, due to the essentially lawless, anarchic conditions under which these refugees - not all of whom had fled from captivity out of principle; there were murderers and the like among them, too - had to survive.
Up until the pteryx arrived in the Brasol region, the outlaw-trogs really weren't making any progress in freeing their people - they remained a tiny minority, compared to the still-brainwashed slave-caste, and kept getting more and more outclassed as the Greater Carnifex's powers increased - and had almost given up trying, to be honest. A few of the bandit-clans still "recruited" dissatisfied slaves, but bad experiences with trog fugitives from justice, and the continuing failure of the wider troglodyte populace to resist their miserable state, had long since dashed most free trogs' hopes for their fellows' liberation. Without magic, metal weapons, tactical know-how, proper organisation or leadership, the troglodyte outlaws had no chance at all of bettering their race's humble place in the world. It took the pteryx - and the magic firepower, military coordination, and renegade Carnifex allies the pterosauroids brought to Brasol, along with them - to rekindle the Shovelfaces' spirit and forge them into a nation.
Roused out of apathy and despair by the revelation that the pteryx were on their side - not merely that they'd have access to magic and air power, but moreover that trogs would no longer have to stand alone against their ex-masters! - the Shovelfaces' ancestors threw themselves into the task of mustering their clans into a potent military force. Though they'd previously known of the pteryx - indeed, had acted as scent-speech intermediaries between the voiceless pterosauroids and non-telepathic Carnifex - the troglodytes had always assumed the creatures were too reclusive and timid to care, let alone do, anything about the lizardkins' plight. Now, finding common cause against the carnosauroids, the troglodytes entered into an alliance with the pterosaur-folk, entrusting the latter with strategic planning, aerial combat and logistics while their own folk filled out the ranks of the ground-fighters. Troglodyte soldiers were equipped with pteryx-crafted weapons and armour; pteryx mentors introduced select, brilliant trogs to the basic principles of wizardry, a craft they'd entirely lacked until then. (While full magic-user abilities eluded these students, the practice of wokanism by troglodytes began with these lessons.)
As word of the trogs' and pteryx's preparations for war spread through the disgruntled slaves' underground scent-grapevine, bands of free trogs from other regions contacted and joined the alliance. So did a few bands of renegade Greater Carnifex, also turned to outlawry, who'd defied the empire's draconian prohibition on Immortal-worship and had renounced the Outer Beings. Despite the free troglodytes' understandable suspicion, these renegades proved their trustworthiness and eventually convinced the lizardkin they weren't spies or agents of the Carnifex slavemasters. In time, some even assumed the roles of commanders for crack troggish warbands, as the renegades' knowledge of tactics and carnosauroid battle-psychology was prodigious and their personal skill as warriors was unsurpassed. Having learned from these new allies of the ever-greater horrors suffered by their brethren still in servitude, as the Outer Being cultists' power continued to amass, these free Shovelfaces grew more determined than ever to win their fight against oppression.
And indeed they could have won, if only they'd had more success in recruiting those still-enslaved troglodytes to their cause. When the war broke out, the bulk of the Greater Carnifex army consisted of troglodyte janissaries - lightly armoured and drilled in basic formation-fighting - who marched against the free trogs in unthinking compliance with the old dogma of lifetime indebtedness to their makers. Some units of slave-soldiers did indeed desert from the Greaters' forces, and the incidence of escapes by trog labourers quadrupled with the lizard-kins' growing hope of liberation. But sadly, the Carnifex were all too effective in hunting down and making gruesome examples of any deserters, such that the number of these turncoats who joined the pteryx and free trogs never became strategically important. The latest wave of escapees from the cities and ranches proved neither combat-worthy nor hardened by life in the wilderness, unable to assist the anti-Carnifex resistance in any capacity save menial labour. Had the spirit of rebellion only spread to others - to those millions of troglodytes who'd never questioned the Carnifex's right to dominate the servitors they'd created - the pteryx and their lizard-kin allies might not have been extirpated from Mystara; but that spirit just wasn't there, in the beaten and downtrodden - and ultimately despairing - okham slave-caste. Slowly but inexorably, the pteryx's numbers dwindled, and the free trogs' hopes dwindled with them.
With the evident sea-swamping of their sole defensible outpost in Attyx, the resistance forces' organisational hierarchy collapsed. Unable to keep in contact with one another, due to the disappearance of vital communicators with the last pteryx city, troglodyte units in different parts of Davania could no longer coordinate their actions. Led on by veteran trog warriors or the surviving renegade Carnifex, the warbands went down one by one to defeat; yet, knowing the hideous examples that would be made of them all, in Greater Carnifex clutches, they never surrendered or gave up fighting. It took until about 12,300 BC for the Greaters to entirely break the backs of the troggish resistance-groups, but with no wings or transport-magics to let them escape if boxed in, they didn't even outlast the pteryx. By 12,250 BC, the only troglodytes not enslaved were a few timorous, nomadic badlands-dwellers, who no longer even dared risk poaching livestock from the Carnifex ranches.
As for those Shovelface troglodytes who'd remained in faithful service to the Carnifex, oblivious to their own exploitation and inured to their masters' ever-growing obsession with the Outer Beings... well, their fate remains a mystery. Even the Immortals - who are every bit as reluctant as any other sane being, to peer into the doings of Outer-worldly forces and cults - aren't sure what went on in Davania, in the period between the death of the last pteryx (~12,000 BC), and the Greaters' final exile to the Pits of Banishment. Whether they followed the remnants of the Ur-Carnifex onto the sacrificial altars of their masters, became mutated like the Hsth'kek, or expired as the prey and playthings of later, unearthly servants of the carnosauroids, there wasn't a single living troglodyte left in the Carnifex empire, at the time of their evil masters' banishment. The slave-caste's blind, unquestioning obedience had, in the end, left their own ultimate disappearance as the greatest troglodyte question still unanswered.
History on Mystara (Longlegs)
For a time after the banishment of the Greater Carnifex, Mystara knew peace. The elder reptilian civilisations of pteryx and carnosauroid were gone; the primal Immortals of that lost epoch wiped away the memory of their cataclysmic spells and the Outer Being cult's dark power. But the Greater Carnifex had left behind the fragmented traces of their vile rituals and foul magical techniques - "forbidden knowledge" which the Immortals, as yet unimpressed by mortals' native wit, mistakenly assumed later races would not understand - with the capacity to reveal secrets best unread*. Moreover, the precedents for global war and empire had been set, and these would not be forgotten.
(* - The Immortals of the Carnifex era had little appreciation for mortal potential, as few of those archaic powers recalled ever being mortals, themselves. They contemptuously dismissed the possibility that "mere" mortals might be cunning enough to interpret the Greater Carnifex's relics. This error in judgement is why they used soooo much overkill in expunging the Nithian civilisation, many millennia after the Greaters' consignment to the Pits: Immortals try not to make the exact same mistake more than once.)
Near 9000 BC, a new race of empire-builders did arise on Mystara, on a forested island off the coast of a Brunnish peninsula that would one day be known as the Arm of the Immortals. Its inhabitants' own name for their race has been lost to troglodyte memory, but the Materan Longlegs' ancestors referred to them - whenever their masters weren't listening - as the "Sickly Lords"*. Reptilian and magically-gifted, like the banished Greater Carnifex, these Sickly Lords weren't suited to physical labour, and sought out tractable servants of other races to work in their place. Unlike their predecessors, this new self-proclaimed "master race" also craved the service of lesser beings as soldiers ... for they themselves were inept combatants, and had failed to inherit the high fecundity of the Ur-tribes, so could tolerate few losses in battle.
(* - These were, of course, Geoff Gander's dreaded Y'hog Carnifex: a semi-aquatic, less physically powerful offshoot of the Greater Carnifex race. Much as gnomes are a good deal less-militant than their kin, the dwarves, these reptilians lacked the Greaters' visceral delight in melee combat ... although the two carnosaur-breeds did share an aptitude for magic's darker applications, perhaps inherited from the Ur-tribes. Those troglodytes the Y'hog created as slaves - who, like their Shovelface predecessors, grovelled and cringed and kissed up to the Carnifex as "Mighty Lords" in their makers' presence - called them "sickly" in private, assuaging their own fears by mocking their masters' physical frailty.)
Early experiments with Davanian lizard folk* proved disappointing; though very strong, the continental reptiles weren't fleet-footed or agile enough to out-manoeuvre opponents. The new-born mammalian races of the time - primitive proto-humans, halflings, dwarves and Brute-men - were too crude for organized work and too repugnant (to Sickly Lords' eyes) to put up with. Lacking any viable alternatives among existing races, the frustrated and ambitious island-dwellers at last resorted to tampering with Things Better Left Alone (***insert dramatic thunderclap***). Piecing together fragments of forbidden lore of the Greater Carnifex - crumbling tablets and hidden artifacts overlooked by the Immortals, their unholy rituals painstakingly translated and re-enacted by a reborn Outer Being cult - the Sickly Lords repeated the rites by which the Greater Carnifex's servitor troglodytes had been forged.
(* - Naturally, it's not mandatory that the Longlegs' makers and masters be identical to Geoff's Y'hog. Other DMs' home-grown Mystara timelines may prohibit this option. If you'd rather leave Y'hog, and Lhomarr, out of your own version of Mystaran prehistory, the "Sickly Lords" could just as easily have been a frail ethnic offshoot of lizard folk - an even more gruesome alternative than the Y'hog (!) in some ways, considering that means it's members of their own race which they transformed into troglodytes against their will - or perhaps a nation of "civilised" Brute-Men, who are feeling a mite peeved about the disappearance of their fellows on Brun. Or they could be a brand-new species, if you've got a home-grown race of ancient "baddies" that fits the job. Don't let these posts limit your imagination; do what works for you! (But don't tell Geoff I said that, OK? ;-D))
After numerous stomach-roiling failures - failures, whose deformed and ruined products would stalk Davania's wilderness for years to come - the Sickly Lords' wizards at last hit upon a combination of reptilian species which proved feasible, if not physically identical to the stooped, spade-jawed troglodytes depicted on ancient Greater Carnifex relics. (The Longlegs' creators didn't realise it, but they'd used a different subspecies of giant tuatara in their own rituals: the original subspecies from the Greaters' rites had died out since the Shovelface trogs were made.) Strong, fit, omnivorous, smart-but-not-brilliant, adaptable and fast-breeding, the Longlegs were exactly what the Sickly Lords needed: cheap-to-feed, pliable strong backs ... and cannon fodder.
Mostly the latter, as it turned out. While troglodytes on the home island were consigned to the same demeaning duties as their Shovelface predecessors, the Longlegs' masters also saw fit to conscript many servitors into military service. Equipped with formidable bronze weapons and armour, disciplined hordes of troggish slave-warriors swarmed from the island to ransack the primitive mammalian tribelands and the mud-walled villages of lizard-folk. The latter were attacked largely for territory and booty; the former, for living sacrifices, for their own troops' training and experience, and - increasingly, as the Sickly Lords' own tastes were perverted by their ever-increasing reliance on Outer Being lore - for meat. Villages and crude, walled towns of the continental races were taken in battle, their populations slaughtered, and their lands re-made into colonial outposts of a growing reptilian empire. Few foes the Longleg armies encountered could stand against them, in this primitive time, and a growing sense of their own invincibility amongst the military troglodytes birthed the one unthinkable quality in a slave: pride.
It took time - like the Shovelfaces before them, the Longlegs were awed by their creation at the Sickly Lords' hands, and this fostered a persistent loyalty that lasted generations - but inevitably the militant Longlegs chafed against, and tested, their maker's reins. Their nascent rebellion was tragically betrayed, by one of their own - the same victories that had birthed pride among them had also birthed greed, in the treasures they'd seized from the enemy - and the fate of its instigators was widely deemed unspeakable, even by the foul Sickly Lords themselves. Unwilling to trifle with renegades, as the Greater Carnifex had, the island's rulers imposed a horrific purge on the troglodyte soldiers' ranks, and set a policy of brainwashing and magical conditioning into effect, designed to expunge even the possibility of deviant thoughts from the Longleg warriors' minds.
Their resistance thus caged, the tall troglodytes remained obedient to their masters for the next thousand years, labouring meekly on the island in times of stability and dying without complaint on distant battlefields in periods of conquest. Robbed of personal initiative by their conditioning, trog soldiers abandoned their race's advantages of stealth and agility, to march in ordered ranks and fight in the open as per Sickly Lord commanders' orders. The best and brightest troglodyte officers - those who'd learned by experience how to make best use of troggish tactical assets, via guerrilla tactics and ambush - had all died in the pogrom; those indoctrinated yes-trogs who remained had been rendered incapable of questioning their leaders' judgement, in abandoning proven battle-techniques. Puffed up with callous self-importance, the magic-fixated Sickly Lords blinded themselves to their own ignorance of the arts of infantry command.
For entire generations, this fundamental oversight meant little, for the troglodyte armies so vastly out-classed their primitive opposition that even sub-optimal tactics sufficed to overrun all who defied Sickly Lord dominance. But a wake-up call was imminent: angry that mortals were once again communing with the Outer Beings, the ancient Immortals of the era set out to quash mortal trespasses with mortal tools. From the moment of the foul island-dwellers' first forbidden incantations, a new nation of humans - civilized humans - had been ascending on a second large island near Davania*. Though not bloodthirsty or corrupt like their reptilian counterparts, the humans were great explorers and warriors who'd founded their own permanent colonies on the mainland ... and, in time, the Sickly Lords' depredations on the southern continent ventured too near the humans' continental settlements.
(* - Lhomarr of course ... though it could've been another, short-lived civilisation that the Immortals fostered solely to wipe out the Sickly Lords' abominations, and then "retired" just as quickly.)
The warfare that followed gave lie to the Sickly Lord commanders' conceits of their own strategic brilliance. On land, the humans' forces ran rings around troglodytes hobbled by their imagination-numbing conditioning, which left them ill-prepared to cope with novel tactics on the enemy's part; at sea, the humans' vessels proved themselves faster, more maneuverable, and better-armed than the reptilians' ships, the designs of which had not been improved significantly in centuries. Unwilling to concede that their own ineptitude and use of brainwashing was responsible for initial defeats, the Sickly Lord commanders - indifferent to the cost paid by their servitors - evened the odds by trying to drown their foes in blood: troglodyte blood. Conscripting ten fresh slaves into the ranks for every one that fell to the enemy, and driving them into battle like cattle to the slaughter, the masters of the reptilian empire built a shield against the humans' armies, out of the living - and dead - bodies of their Longleg slaves.
Sheer numbers accomplished what the Lords' poor strategy could not: the rival empires hit a stalemate. Incapable of making peace, for each nation's leaders deemed the other an abomination, the reptilians and humans battled continually; the intensity of the conflict abated only if hampering weather, or the need to rebuild and to recoup their respective numbers, rendered fighting impossible. Sometimes keen human tactics and seamanship would prevail, and whole troglodyte legions would die like flies to buy their Sickly Lord masters time to escape; other times, the outnumbered human ranks would crumble, and Longlegs would take cruel, misdirected vengeance on captured human troops or civilians, their conditioning-stifled hatred for their enslavers twisted into fury at their mammalian opponents. So ghastly was the slaughter, with troglodytes generally getting the worst of it even in battles they'd won, that whole Sickly Lord colonies on Davania were converted to the exclusive breeding and indoctrination of new troggish soldiers, reared from the egg to fight and die for their masters.
It is from these warrior-born troglodyte recruits, and the surviving veteran troglodytes retired from the field to train them, that the Longlegs of Matera are descended. Exactly what happened, even the troop-breeding colonies' Sickly Lord masters weren't certain: in those final years of the reptile/human war, even magical communication with the home island had become erratic and unreliable; the scaled nation, bled almost to death by the ceaseless waste of life and resources. Some reports gloated over the evident sinking of the human empire's home island into the sea; others pleaded desperately for aid from a similar cataclysm, slowly overtaking the Sickly Lords' own homeland. Reports from the other colonies on Davania were even more contradictory and confused, ranting of lizard-folk barbarian attacks, human retaliatory strikes, civil wars between Lords, and sightings of graceful, point-eared creatures in the temperate forests, guarded by powerful spirits.
For six anxious years, no communication or ships from the far-flung corners of the reptile empire were received, at all ... six years, in which the breeding-colonies' resident Sickly Lords conspired to build their own autonomous realm, by the might of their fast-maturing troggish army and the magic they'd held at their personal disposal! But such ambitions were dashed forever, when the magical spells that conditioned the troggish slave-armies and bound their loyalty - spells, which the Lords of the breeding-colony didn't personally possess, these effects having long been enforced by Outer Being-cult rituals on the home island instead of by lone spellcasters - ceased to function without the slightest warning, simultaneously and for all time. Suddenly able to think clearly and independently for the first time since their own brainwashing, and recognising the truth of their (ex-)masters' horrific abuses and waste of trog troops' lives, the veteran troglodytes seized command of their own trainees, and - much like troglodytes all over Davania and the world - led them in a mutinous attack on their erstwhile commanders. Improvising in a few hours a finer strategy than any Sickly Lord military "genius" had concocted in centuries of warfare, the trog veterans used camouflage-assisted ambushes and overlapping placement of stench-secreting warriors to whittle away at their now-reviled creators, eventually slaying them to the last.
While this shrewd strategy saved many young trogs' lives, in their vengeful campaign to vanquish the remaining Sickly Lords, the veterans' tactics couldn't totally spare the trog mutineers from casualties: the colony's overseers were powerful spell-casters, and took plenty of troglodytes to Limbo with them. When the dust cleared, the trogs' numbers had been severely depleted, with only about 6000 battle-worthy adults surviving ... plus some 4000 colony-bred children as yet untrained in combat. Believing that the Lords would come from other parts of the empire, to punish them for their rebellion - unaware that they weren't the only troglodytes to take vengeance for physical and mental enslavement that day, or that the Sickly Lords had problems of their own - the veterans wanted to take their followers to safety in the wilderness; yet with many hatchlings and young to protect, they dared not risk such a journey among wild beasts and trog-hating lizard folk.
Fortunately for the Longleg mutineers, there are greater and kinder powers in Mystara's universe than their Sickly Lord masters. In searching the planet's surface for surviving Outer Being cultists, the Immortal Valerias spotted the troglodytes of the breeding-colony ... troglodytes, who had already slain their evil masters, and now prepared to fight on to the death rather than abandon their children. Having long regarded the Sickly Lords' stern and dispassionate "breeding colonies" (where mates were assigned or chosen by lot and "extracurricular" romances were forbidden) with a special revulsion, the patroness of love deemed the troglodytes' parental devotion worthy of respect, despite their previous (unwilling) service to Outer Being cultists*. Rather than leave them to get slaughtered by the lizard folk - whose forces she, herself, had helped rouse to annihilate the remaining Sickly Lord colonies - Valerias asked Ka the Preserver to send these particular Longlegs to the Hollow Moon.
(* - Of course, if you're using Lhomarr IYC, Valerias had another reason to preserve the Longleg troglodytes: before attaining Immortality, she was a Lhomarrian herself, brought up to despise troglodytes as OB-spawned evil incarnate! Yes, the patroness of love could and did hate the reptilians her people fought against, thoughtlessly and without question. It's only after she witnessed the colony's troglodytes in the act of mutiny - witnessed it, and realised that the troglodytes hadn't been inherently evil after all, but the pawns of evil masters who'd manipulated their minds - that Valerias realised her own hypocrisy in extolling love while harbouring hatred within herself, or felt shame that Lhomarr had been heedlessly slaughtering a race that might well have stood with them against the Y'hog, had the Lhomarrians but taken steps to break the troglodytes' mental conditioning rather than confronting them in battle. Aware there'd been too much blood shed, between her former people and the troglodytes, for either race to forgive, yet wishing to make amends for at least her own personal prejudices, Valerias asked Ka to place the Longlegs in the HM, where they'd at last be able to lead lives and take mates of their own choosing, safe from Lhomarrian or Selhomarrian hatred as well as Sickly Lord domination.)
The Immortal dinosaur agreed with Valerias, and so placed the Longlegs in a region of the HM where they'd one day encounter their Shovelface predecessors ... peacefully, he hoped. Just to make sure they'd not succumb to Outer Being worship like their masters, Ka also ordained the very first Longlegs as shamans of the Immortals, at that time, and warned these new clergy that the Sickly Lords' aberrant religion had been the true cause of their undoing*.
(* - This warning wasn't really necessary, as Longleg troglodytes had never been part of the OB cult, any more than the Shovelfaces had. Nevertheless, its implied threat did do a great deal to make the troglodytes of Matera an Immortal-fearing, faithful bunch ... in particular, because once they'd realised how easy it was to recruit Longleg worshippers by intimidation, all of Pandius started getting into it! Hence, the present-day plethora of revered Immortals and competing shamans among Marshlanders.)
History on Matera
Upon their initial arrival within the Hollow Moon, the Shovelface troglodytes leapt to the same conclusion as have so many other races: that a power greater than themselves had seen the rightness of their cause, and borne them away from their evil enemies. Unlike most races sent to the museum-settings, they didn't attribute this to the Immortals - as artificial creations of an earthly race, the primeval troglodytes of the Carnifex era had no Immortal patron to credit with such favour - but rather to the one force that they knew was vastly more powerful than themselves, and on their side: the pteryx. Too ignorant of magical science to grasp the pterosaur-folks' badly-translated theories of how Attyx had been whisked to safety, the uneducated Shovelface guerrillas who'd been carried along for the ride took it for granted that their winged allies' wizards had at last found a spell by which to escape the Carnifex-dominated planet. When the other communities of pteryx and rebel trogs failed to follow, the Shovelfaces likewise assumed that their kin had been wiped out on Mystara before Attyx's escape-spell could be disseminated. They mourned their comrades' fate, then thought no more of their fallen homeworld.
Now, faced with a new world to colonise - or to conquer - the Shovelface leaders swore their people to two principles. Firstly, that they would never again be enslaved by hostile races, but would embrace final extinction before yielding up their autonomy or land. And secondly, that they would work off their debt to the pteryx, who had stood by them in the face of Carnifex malice, then evidently rescued them from Mystara *. These two guiding ideals firmly in place, the Shovelfaces proceeded to scout out their new surroundings and to assist the pteryx in rebuilding Attyx.
(* - It says something of troggish nature that they saw no contradiction between these two vows ... for although they consciously wished not to be slaves, the instinct to obey beings more powerful than themselves had been engineered into the troglodytes by their makers, and would not be expunged by mere oaths. No enemy race would subjugate them, but serving their former allies was acceptable to the troglodytes' way of thinking.)
Explorers soon reported back as to the presence of "giants" (Kasepauk Ur-Carnifex) near Lake Archimedes. Fearful of these obviously-Carnifexian strangers, the Shovelface clan heads panicked, and launched immediate attacks against these presumed enemies. Their easy massacre of these unsuspecting Kasepauks - achieved via the superior pteryx-forged weaponry and savvy tactics of warrior-clans who'd survived centuries of battle with the sophisticated Greater Carnifex - was a revelation: for once, the troglodytes were the ones who vastly out-classed their opponents! The trog leaders milked this "triumph" for all it was worth, building up the Shovelfaces' will to conquer ... even as they hushed up any questions as to whether the "giants" had actually been a threat. Heady with victory, the first-generation troglodyte warbands went on to wipe out the few Ur-Carnifex tribes then living in the Marsh of Putrescence. Before long, the marshlands belonged to trogs alone*.
(* - Due to inter-tribal hostilities and the Marsh's geographic isolation, Ur-tribes in other parts of the Nearside never learned of this "ethnic cleansing" by the original troglodyte colonists. Many of the tactics the Shovelfaces would later employ in pteryx-sponsored "culling operations" were developed at this time, against the Ur-Carnifex these first trogs had equated with their hated masters. The pteryx - caught up in their own efforts to account for Attyx's move to Matera, and as out-of-touch as ever - seldom noticed or questioned why their bipedal allies needed so much military gear to "explore" their new world; trusting as always, the few who did inquire about the Shovelfaces' actions never thought to doubt the trogs' word that the "savages" were always the aggressors in such conflicts, and were merely chased away rather than killed. As for the Immortals, this act of genocide by one HM race against another shocked and alarmed Ka, the Preserver: while the Ur-tribes involved had close counterparts elsewhere on the Nearside, hence did not merit rescue, the Preserver's great care in isolating the museum-settings' more fragile cultures from aggressive neighbours dates back to this bitter lesson in what evils mortals - even non-Carnifex mortals - are capable of.)
Due to geography and their own limited numbers, as well as their "duty" to help Attyx rebuild, the Shovelfaces did not expand beyond the Marsh for several generations. By the time they ventured across the Great Spindrift, their displaced hatred for the Ur-tribes had abated, and pteryx influence had moderated their feelings of superiority: now, they'd just as soon exploit the primitive Ur-tribes as destroy them. Profiteers established trading posts where Ur-Carnifex hunters could barter rough gemstones, resplendite nuggets and wilderness treasures (skins, ivory, etc) for trinkets or metal tools. Humouring the savages' prejudices, male troglodytes quickly took the lead in such trade relations, as well as in the trading posts' defence, after several violent "incidents" involving shoddy goods or tribes hostile to the friendlier Ur-tribes.
Between natural resources obtained from the "savages" and finished goods with which their labours were rewarded by the pteryx, the marshland Shovelfaces gradually became both comfortable and wealthy. Disgusted, now, by their ancestors' heedless slaughter of the Marsh's native Ur-tribes - if only they'd had the good sense to exploit the barbarians, instead! - the troggish first-comers felt no need to expand further. Living peacefully on the healthy, lush fringes of the Marsh and in close proximity to the growing pteryx cities, the Shovelface clans lost interest in taming the dangerous wilds of the Nearside, content to let its wealth come to them.
Not so, the ambitions of the Longlegs, who arrived on Matera four-and-a-half millennia after their Shovelface counterparts. Appearing initially on the vacant Great Spindrift island of Manilius - an inadequate attempt by Ka to keep them away from the resident races until they've adjusted to their new habitat - where their young could finish growing up in safety, the well-disciplined Longlegs quickly explored the lonely isle, judged it too barren and meagre for a homeland, and so migrated en masse across the Boscovich Strait to the Rilles. Convincing themselves that the Immortals, having struck down their evil masters, had deemed them worthy to found an empire on par with the human empire they'd fought against, the Longleg veterans kept hold of the reins of power, selected one of their own number as commander, and set out to establish their own nation.
Unfortunately, the regions they sought to colonise and tame were already occupied, both by Ur-Carnifex tribes and (further westward) by Shovelface trading posts. On initially encountering the former, the Longlegs didn't launch the same vindictive massacres as the Shovelface first-comers - having fought lizard folk on Mystara, they didn't equate "non-trog reptilian biped" with "evil master" - but they did proceed to drive these overgrown savages off the lands they coveted. Aware that the metal arms and armour they'd looted from the Sickly Lords' armouries could only last so long, due to their own inability to forge replacements, the Longleg leaders couldn't afford to waste time bargaining with the locals. With natural camouflage to counter the Ur-tribes' wilderness skills, and stench-attacks that turned the carnosauroids' own keen noses against them - not to mention generations of know-how at fighting primitive races, passed down in old trogs' tales of heroism from before Sickly Lord conditioning forbade using guerrilla tactics - the second-wave troglodytes rapidly occupied the Sinus Medii coastline, carving out a confederation of small kingdoms, and building forts and stockpiling stone armaments against the day when their metal weapons would fail and the natives would seek revenge*.
(* - Because they'd not yet been forced into overcrowded conditions, these Ur-tribes weren't nearly as murderously-warlike as those of the Jura Plateau today. As yet, they hadn't started attacking each other solely for food, nor had they adopted their primary hunting tool - the splinter-arrow - as a weapon of war. Moreover, the Longlegs were organized, well-equipped, usually smarter than the tribes they fought against, and stealthy enough to slip into Ur-Carnifex territory for quick, devastating strikes, then retreat to their castles to recover. Sometimes, mixed bands of troglodytes - armoured warriors for muscle, wokani with battle-spells, shamans who could heal the wounded, and lightly-armed scouts skilled in trap-detection and ambush - would launch their own independent raids against the "giant cannibals", either as hirelings of the local king or on their own initiative, and return home bearing treasures and magic fetishes plundered from the lairs of their brutish neighbours. Hmmmm.... any of this sound familiar, folks? :-D)
The Longlegs' expansion, of course, severely disrupted the Shovelface traders' age-old relationship with their Ur-Carnifex trading partners. At first, tribal migrations kicked off by the Longlegs' military campaign drove long-established associate tribes away from their customary trading posts, forcing the Shovelfaces to fight off or negotiate with the migrant tribes who'd displaced them. Later, as tribes retreating from direct battle with the Longlegs began encroaching upon the trading posts, the traders became targets for the Ur-Carnifex's rage against all troglodytes! By the time the Longlegs themselves spread far enough west to encounter the Shovelfaces' mercantile outposts, the first-wave trogs' bitterness towards these late-coming troublemakers was already in place.
Once the mutual shock of meeting up with other troglodytes (!!!) in such a strange place had eased, and language barriers had been bypassed by communicating solely via scent-messages, the traders haughtily demanded that these interloping hotheads pay reparations for disrupting their cushy trading deals with the savage tribes. Indignant, the Longlegs threatened to evict the arrogant money-grubbers from their new empire. The Shovelfaces warned of dire consequences if the Longlegs didn't cough up the needed compensation. The Longlegs called their bluff, confiscating the traders' metal goods and other useful property, and commandeering all of their sailing vessels, too. The fuming Shovelfaces promptly stole back one of their own ships, busting a few heads in the process, and sailed back to the Apennines to request pteryx aid against these pushy newcomers *.
(* - Sadly for the Shovelface traders, the pteryx actually paid enough attention to their reports of "outsiders" to investigate the strangers in person! Still curious as to how new beings arrived in Matera, the pterosauroids dispatched a research team to observe these fresh arrivals from a prudent distance. Once they realised that the second-wavers were troglodytes, the pteryx weren't about to assist the Shovelfaces against their own kind: to the pterosaur-folk, the very idea proved the traders were mentally disturbed! The irate traders were confined for their own protection, and a new faction of Shovelfaces - more amenable to doing business with the new arrivals - took over the Marsh's trade franchise on the Great Spindrift. ;-D)
Shovelface "squatters" evicted, the Longlegs proceeded to establish their self-proclaimed empire along the southern and western shores of the Great Spindrift Ocean, from the midward fringe of the Rilles to Deslandres, and inland to the high mountains' foothills. The commander who'd led them from Manilius died without an heir, and the once-united Longlegs split up into many factions, each forming around a charismatic son of one of the original mutiny's leaders. This new, moon-born generation of chieftains forged kingdoms and sired royal dynasties, built castles for defence against the Ur-tribes or rival kings and subjugated the lunar wilderness. The arsenals of stone weapons their parents' generation had prepared proved unnecessary in the end, for after a few decades of silence, a fresh, better-tempered crop of Shovelface merchants re-established commerce across the Great Spindrift's waves, bringing metal goods to their distant cousins in exchange for Longleg produce and raw materials.
Language barriers between the two troglodyte "waves" abated, as their respective verbal tongues gravitated back towards their common Carnifexian roots, and the profits made from equipping various kingdoms with weapons and other metal goods more than made up for the loss of Ur-tribes' trade, in the new Shovelface merchants' eyes. The ancient lizard-kin clan system - all but extinguished, among the Longlegs, by the Sickly Lords' coldly segregated "breeding camps" - was reintroduced to the newcomers by the first-wave troglodytes, providing a firm foundation for their now-blossoming culture. Pairing Ceremonies, the division of roles for males and females, novel agricultural techniques and the "domestication" of marsh snails were all practices transmitted from one wave to another, or jointly developed and perfected by both, during this era of peace between Shovelface and Longleg. It is this period of prosperity, tolerance and expansion - distant, yet soon to be preserved in troglodyte memories forever by the Spell of Remembrance - that modern-day troglodytes of both ethnic groups look back to, when they speak of the "Golden Age" of their race*. Spreading in all directions, more sophisticated and better-armed than the retreating Ur-Carnifex tribes, most felt that a world dominated entirely by troglodytes was only a matter of time.
(* - It was the ascent of this new troglodyte civilisation, and the rise of Immortal-worship among them, which eventually attracted Thanatos' attention to the Hollow Moon and led him to sic a still-vengeful Demogorgon on the Ur-Carnifex.)
Five centuries after their arrival, the Longlegs' dreams of world conquest were curbed a bit, by the pteryx's sudden and (in the troglodytes' view) inexplicable launch of an all-out campaign to annihilate the Ur-Carnifex tribes. While they weren't targets of the carnage that resulted, witnessing its grisly aftermath did a great deal to tone down Longleg kings' conceits: clearly they weren't the most powerful residents of the Hollow Moon; nor could they risk invading the Shovelfaces' Marsh, as they'd previously threatened on occasion, since the latter seemed to have a good relationship with these mighty pterosaur-folk. The Shovelfaces - moderately well-integrated into Longlegs' kingdoms by then, as merchants and negotiators between kings - had known all along that their winged allies were, for all practical purposes, invincible; to them, the deaths of the Ur-tribes were only shocking because the pteryx had never before exhibited such violent behaviour, not because of their revealed power.
The Longlegs did expand into some of the freshly-vacated Ur-Carnifex territories, but the subsequent appearances of bat-like cryions on the crystalbarrens, of hsiao in the great southern forests, and of fierce shark-kin in Mare Humorum, curtailed their spread into other areas of the Nearside. Relations with the new, non-reptile populations was strained in some cases - cryions in particular were regarded as shiftless trespassers and thieves by the Shovelfaces, for their iceriggers' uninvited water-collection stops at Lake Archimedes - but none of these races actually tried to settle within troglodyte-held lands, so few of the Longleg clans developed major grudges against these races. Relations between rival troglodyte leaders did grow more tense, in this period; while sporadic wars among kings had occurred, on and off, ever since the troglodytes' original commander on Matera died, now that there was less chance for ambitious warriors to carve out their own dominions in the (occupied) surrounding lands, the competitions for power grew uglier, and battles over succession or the borders between kingdoms were increasingly common.
Not until the Enlightened of Adhuza - merfolk, humans, minotaurs and others - appeared within the Longlegs' home territory, c. 1600 BC, did the troggish "Golden Age" truly and decisively come to an end. Troglodyte folklore attests that the Adhuzans invaded from the mountains and rampaged through their kingdoms, hounding them from their rightful territories and driving them into the sea with magic and treachery. In reality, feuds and betrayals within their own ranks - exacerbated by kopru manipulation, often as not - did as much to overthrow the troglodyte kingdoms as did the Adhuzans' sophisticated magics and unprecedented use of elk-mounted cavalry troops. (The troglodytes had never been attacked by cavalry before ... not even in their ancient wars against the Greater Carnifex or human empires!) Many of the clan rivalries that present-day troglodytes perpetuate, in fact, date back to this era of broken dreams and military disasters. In just a few years of fighting, lands that had been trog-ruled for millennia passed into the control of outsiders, many of whom resembled the scarcely-remembered, but unquestionably terrible, humans which the first Longlegs had battled against in ancient times.
In the centuries following this monumental turnaround, Materan troglodyte kingdoms fell one by one, as new races and cultures appeared in the Nearside's confined environment and clan after clan retreated to the fringes of Shovelface territory. Destitute and burdened with wounded, refugees from Longleg catastrophes were allowed into the Marsh with the greatest reluctance by the Shovelfaces - having heard too many Longleg kings' threats of invasion, in the distant past, the Shovelfaces weren't eager to just hand over a chunk of "their" turf! - but the strategic need for a "buffer zone" between themselves and the fast-invading mammalian races - who seemed unstoppable, and who spread so fast, the slow-to-act pteryx might not acknowledge the Marsh's peril until it was too late - forced them to allow it. Bitterness between Shovelface Marsh-dwellers of long standing and Longleg refugees exacerbated the clan rivalries that'd already plagued both waves' populations, amongst themselves. As the Shovelfaces found that the Deep Marsh, into which they'd allowed themselves to be crowded by the refugees, had its definite liabilities - disease, poor foraging, difficult travel - they took out their frustrations on Longleg immigrants, denying them metal goods on all kinds of petty, feeble pretences, and allowing their once-mighty clans to languish in poverty and misery. The gratitude the Longlegs had felt for being granted refuge in the Marsh, not surprisingly, didn't last long: they knew they were being used as "living shields" by the Shovelfaces ... and mistreated shields, at that.
The arrival of Modrigswerg in the Nearside's Caucasus Mounts, in the 15th century BC, at last gave the Longlegs an alternate source of metal, and a chance to recover some of their livelihood and dignity. A balance of power developed between the now-alienated ethnic groups, in which neither Longleg nor Shovelface depended on the other, and clans kept their distance from each other. For a time tensions faded, as each "wave" concluded that "agreeing to disagree" was the best solution. Except at the Pairing Ceremonies, most clans never spoke to clans of the other ethnicity; clans in different parts of the Marsh led their own lives, and seldom did business with each other, let alone the outside world. No outsiders to speak of ever visited the Marshlanders; a few Shovelfaces took work in the pteryx cities, and a few Longlegs, in the moulder dwarves' lands, but such workers were recruited by troglodytes already employed by these races. For a time, few trogs ever saw a non-troglodyte of any kind, and fewer felt any desire to do so.
This uncomfortable, but workable stalemate preoccupied the clans for much of Matera's recorded history ... until the rise of the Cacklogallinian trade-cities and subsequent "culling" of Mare Imbrium's cryion population brought forth a new era of commerce and Longleg interaction with the outside world. Now, the old balance of power in the Marsh of Putrescence has shifted, yet again - a situation made even less stable by the Longlegs' cultivation of open trade with outsiders (!), even as the Shovelfaces continue to assist the pteryx's "pest control" actions - and the troglodytes' role in Matera's future is once more in doubt. Pairing Ceremonies are no longer shared events, but are held separately by the two ethnic groups, and mixed-blood pairings in "respectable" families are a thing of the past. Longleg and Shovelface clans grow increasingly aggressive toward one another, as their fundamental ways of life become less and less compatible, and a massive civil war within the Marshlands seems inevitable, within years or decades, if events continue to drive them apart.
Some representative Materan troglodytes - one skilled and capable, the other ... well, not ;-) - follow.
Slargg "the Liar" Gullywallow, Clan Leader's Adviser
History: Nicknamed for his talent for spinning tall tales rather than his deceitfulness, this middle-aged Longleg ex-mercenary is actually about as trustworthy and forthright as HM troglodytes ever get. Formerly a skirmisher in the on-and-off employ of the Cynidicean and Shaergarde armed forces, Slargg returned to the Marsh after his brother Ssalg, the Gullywallow clan head, was crippled by a razorback swamp boar. Slargg acted as his brother's strong right arm for the remainder of the unfortunate Ssalg's life, and he now advises Ssalg's son Belss - a moody, stubborn youth who needs advice, but seldom wants it - in how to govern the Gullywallow warriors and protect the clan territory. PCs who wander onto his clan's turf would be wise to get on Slargg's good side, as he's fought alongside both hin and humans, and concluded they're not (quite) all bad.
Personality: To people he knows and likes, Slargg is the quintessential "amusing uncle" - always ready with a preposterous story, a quip, or a tidbit of genuine advice - except, of course, he's a troglodyte. Though fully capable of strong-arming a hot-headed clan rowdy into submission or of wrasslin' a pesky alligator out of the henhouse, he's happy enough to sit back and let the up-and-coming generation of young Gullywallow toughs earn their spurs, with routine chores like these. His sober, ex-military side only emerges if there's a genuine threat to his kinfolk - in which case he'll issue orders until he's certain the other Gullywallows know what to do, before intervening personally - or if he's offering advice to his temperamental nephew Belss: a mule-headed adolescent secretly intimidated by his responsibilities, yet who publicly resists his uncle's coaching lest everyone think him a child. Not sure how this posturing young whippersnapper might react to non-trogs on Gullywallow land, Slargg does his best to keep visiting PCs well away from Belss ... and to keep his nephew from hearing the PCs are there, until after they've gone.
Appearance: Slargg is on the short side for a Longleg (6'1"), but he's stocky and very strong. Years as a mercenary have left the crests on his arms ragged from close calls; the palms of his two hands bear ugly horizontal scars, sustained when he was forced to block a Vareinyah naval officer's scimitar bare-handed after losing his shield. He has a habit of tilting his head waaaay over to the left when he's listening closely to others - much farther than any human neck could bend without snapping - that many non-lizardkin find unsettling. In addition to the standard troggish weapon-belts and trinkets, Slargg wears his favourite indigo shoulder-cape at all important clan events. It's really a hin full-length army cape complete with insignia, given to him as a military honour by a Shaergarde wide patrol following a tough battle against Adhuzan elk-riders: a classic Longleg foe, and one he's extremely proud of having prevailed against. Seldom armed with much more than a dagger at home, he does own a light crossbow for hunting and a rather nice Vareinyah-style scimitar (as normal sword; not the same one that cut his palms, though he wishes it was!) and small shield for emergencies.
DMing Notes: Slargg is a rarity in the Marsh - a troglodyte willing to give mammalians a fair chance - and can therefore act as a middle-trog between the PCs and the Marsh's touchy residents. He's amenable to helping out visitors, particularly if there's a halfling in the group, so long as he doesn't have to leave the Gullywallow village for more than a few days; his ability to assist PCs is limited by his advisory obligations to his nephew and his need to keep the latter from finding out about (and overreacting to) the PCs' presence.
Combat Notes: 6th level troglodyte; AC 4 (3 with shield); hp 26; MV 120' (40'); # AT 1 weapon or 2 claws, +1 to hit for Strength or +2 for Dexterity; Dmg 1d8+2 (+1 scimitar) or 1d6 (crossbow) or 1d4+1/1d4+1 (claws); SD Stench; Save T6; ML 9; AL N. S14 I14 W12 D16 Co12 Ch10. Languages: Troglodyte (Marsh Longleg dialect), Cacklogallinian, Hin. General Skills: Find Traps, Profession of Military Scout, Signalling (troglodyte scent-messages), Storytelling, Survival (Swamp), Tracking.
Magic Items in Possession: +1 scimitar, +2 vs. water-breathing monsters
Gessh the Unlucky
History: Born into a poor mixed-blood clan at the rim of the Deep Marsh, the adolescent Gessh decided she couldn't be much worse off among "furriners" than mucking out snail pens at home, so she tagged along with the first trade-caravan that passed her village and wound up in Modrigswerg territory. There, she found herself a job as a common cave-guard - a job she wasn't really qualified for - and feigned competence long enough to pick up the jargon and basics of the profession. Fast-talking her way from one employer to another, she perpetuated her charade by passing off her occasional mistakes as "bad luck". Unfortunately for her, while her dwarf bosses never caught her in a lie, her local reputation as "Gessh the Unlucky" has forced her to leave the Caucasus Mounts and find work elsewhere in the Nearside. That's what she's up to when the PCs encounter her, in fact: seeking work as a guard or hireling, pretending to be far more experienced than she really is, and sufficiently broke that she'll tackle jobs much too dangerous for her.
Personality: On the outside, Gessh presents herself as calm, collected, alert and capable; on the inside, she's an uneducated farm kid who's in way over her head. She's got the standard racial abilities of any Marshland troglodyte, and she can generally be trusted not to fall asleep on watch, but her abilities at fighting, tracking, guiding, and other learned skills - the very skills which PCs are likely to hire her to perform! - are negligible. Her real talents are lying - something she might easily put to use for a Thieves' Guild or swindling ring, if only she knew that such things existed! - and acting tough (by copying other, tougher troglodytes' mannerisms which she's observed). Gessh desperately needs work, and won't hesitate to use these talents to impress potential employers; note that she also tends to mislead non-lizardkin into thinking she's male, if the "furballs" don't know any better. If caught in a mistake, she'll explain it away as "bad luck" before admitting she doesn't know what she's talking about. So far, Gessh hasn't gotten herself hurt with her deceptions, nor has she been found out ... yet. If her fraud does get exposed, she'll try to run for it, afraid of being beaten up or perhaps prosecuted; if barred from escaping, she'll abashedly confess her deceptions and might, given a fair chance, become a super-loyal henchman (!), provided a PC takes the time to teach her how to do a few of the things she's been faking.
Appearance: Gessh is very tall (7') - a fact that hasn't hurt her quest for employment - and gawky-looking, with a distinctive "raccoon-mask" blotch of darker mottling across her eyes. Her arm- and head-crests make her gender self-evident to anyone familiar with Materan troglodytes, but she doesn't call attention to this if employers leap to the wrong conclusion. She fears her awkward build is a dead giveaway that she's just a teenager, so Gessh is seldom seen without a full-length (unhooded) cloak of brown wool; it's warm, but ragged and in need of repair. She wears both short sword and hand axe prominently sheathed on a broad leather belt, but is actually still learning how to wield the former (-2 to hit). At the time the PCs encounter Gessh, she's hocked her light crossbow to pay for her last few meals; a sling - wrapped around her left ankle and covered by a leather leg-band - and a pouch of sling stones are her only remaining hunting/missile weapons.
DMing Notes: Gessh can be used most effectively in a game with Mystaran PCs, as new visitors to Matera who know little of the setting will be much easier for her to deceive. She's so desperate that she'll take any job she thinks she can fake, even if it means facing serious physical danger or risking arrest for her deceptions. For the DM, she's a way to demonstrate just how destitute and wretched the poorer troglodyte clans of the Marsh are, since she's risking her life and lying through her teeth in order to get out. She also puts a novel spin on the old cliché of slipping a ringer into the PCs' company of hirelings, who then leads them into a trap. Instead, if the PCs unwittingly lead Gessh into danger, she's bound to get herself into trouble, blurt out the truth that she's a kid not a warrior, and beg for the PCs to rescue her! :-D
Combat Notes: 2nd level troglodyte (pretending to be ~7th level); AC 5; hp 8; MV 120' (40'); # AT 1 weapon (-2 to hit* with short sword, +1 with sling) or 2 claws; 1d6 (sword) or 1d4 (hand axe, sling) or 1d4/1d4 (claws); SD Stench; Save T2; ML 8; AL C. S12 I16 W8 D14 Co12 Ch15. Languages: Troglodyte (mixed-blood), Dwarven (Modrigswerg dialect), one open slot*; General Skills: Acting, Deceive, Signalling (troglodyte scent-messages), Survival (Swamp), two open slots*.
(* - If Gessh becomes a PC's "henchtrog" after her deceit is exposed, her to-hit penalty with the short sword can be eliminated by two weeks of training. Her open skill slots and open language slot can then be "spent", as the needs of the campaign and/or of the PC she serves might require.)
New OD&D Character Race: Materan Troglodyte
Most troglodytes encountered outside the Marsh of Putrescence are Longlegs, so most PC troglodytes will be Longlegs as well. Mixed-blood trogs also occasionally grow bored by clan life, or are driven out by feuds or poverty, in which case they might also seek their fortunes among outsiders. Shovelface troglodytes are not recommended as PCs, as most Materans fear and loathe Shovelfaces for their participation in culling operations; a PC Shovelface will likely be harassed or attacked by any lunar race that has suffered pteryx attacks within historical memory. Apennine troglodytes cannot be PCs.
Racial Ability Modifiers
Troglodytes depend on their agility and stealth more than brute strength. They receive a +1 bonus to Dexterity. Troglodytes tend to be annoying companions, between their odour, suspicions and constant belittling of others' deeds: they have a -1 penalty to Charisma.
Troglodytes save as thieves with the same number of levels as their HD.
Materan troglodytes can advance up to the 20th level, as described on the table below:
Level Experience Points Hit Dice 1 0 1d6 2 2000 2d6 3 4000 3d6 4 8000 4d6 5 16000 5d6 6 32000 6d6 7 64000 7d6 8 120000 8d6 9 240000 9d6 10 360000 +2 hp* +1 level +120000 +2 hp*
* - Constitution modifiers no longer apply; +2 hp per level thereafter up to level 20.
Gaining New Skill Slots
Materan troglodytes beyond 20th level receive another skill slot for every 350,000 extra experience points earned.
Dexterity is the prime requisite for Materan troglodytes. A troglodyte with a Dexterity of 15-17 receives a +5% bonus to all earned experience, while a troglodyte with a Dexterity of 18 receives a +10% bonus.
Materan troglodytes must have a Constitution of 9 or more and a Dexterity of 13 or more. As with other natives of the Hollow Moon, troglodytes need a minimum 13 Wisdom to become shamans and a minimum 13 Intelligence to become wokani.
Weapons and Armour
Generally, Materan troglodytes are fond of using axes (battle and hand), daggers, swords (short, normal or two-handed), spears or tridents when fighting in melee combat. Their favoured projectile weapons are light or heavy crossbows, although poverty-stricken clans employ the sling as a handy and cheap alternative.
For adventures or routine inter-clan skirmishes, troglodytes usually rely on their natural AC of 6 - raised to 5 by their Dexterity - as armour negates their camouflage abilities. Most also keep a buckler or small shield handy during ambushes, to be snatched up for additional protection after the initial attack is sprung. Troglodytes spurn larger shields as too clumsy. A few of the Marsh's more aggressive clan-leaders have experimented with horned shields, with mixed results.
In the event they must take to the open battlefield, troglodyte mercenaries throughout the Nearside don (human-sized) breastplates and groin- and shin-guards, plus crested helmets form-fitted for their kind. Non-magical armour of this sort weighs 350 cn, and it raises the wearer's AC from 5 to 4 (3 with a shield). Longlegs' tails and crests prevent them from donning full suits of armour that were designed for non-lizardkin *.
(* - A very few high-level Longlegs own superior, pteryx-made suits of troglodyte armour, stripped from Shovelface officers who died during "culling" operations. Because of the political ramifications of walking around in public dressed like a genocidal Shovelface, these Longleg heroes are extremely reluctant to wear such armour.)
Troglodyte shamans are not restricted in their use of armour, but they may not use swords or two-handed weapons. Troglodyte wokani are forbidden the use of armour, shields, or any two-handed weapon other than the staff.
Shamans and Wokani
Longleg troglodyte clans are a bit more open to Immortal-worship than the Shovelfaces, and don't have dealings with the magic-savvy pteryx. Longlegs may advance to 8th level as shamans or 6th level as wokani.
Shovelface troglodytes know a bit more of magic than Longlegs, though their faith is not as sophisticated; Shovelfaces may advance to 6th level as shamans or 8th level as wokani.
The rare mixed-blood clans can attain 8th level as both kinds of spellcaster, separately or in both classes at the same time ... but as yet, no mixed-blood troglodyte has actually done so, hence the mixed clans don't know they have this advantage!
The tough, scaly hides of troglodytes provide a natural base AC of 6. Because of their high Dexterity, lunar trogs also receive a bonus of 1 or more to their armour class.
Like chameleons, Materan troglodytes can change the coloration of their skins to match their surroundings. This process takes two full rounds to function, and works only if the troglodyte is unclothed and in natural (not indoor or urban) surroundings. Once changed, the troglodyte can surprise opponents on a roll of 1-4 on a d6. Bands of troglodytes that cooperate in an ambush make this roll as a group, not separately.
A troglodyte can release foul-smelling oils from musk-glands in his or her skin, at will, in a single round. This can be done up to three times per day, plus one additional time daily per 3 experience levels earned (e.g. a 6th level troglodyte can release odours five times per day). This vile cloud of aroma fills a 5' radius sphere around the troglodyte, lingering in that radius for one turn after emission, and travelling with the troglodyte who released it*. Any human, demihuman, or non-troglodyte humanoid possessed of a sense of smell, on inhaling this foul odour, must make a saving throw vs. Poison, or suffer a -2 penalty on attacks while in the area of effect.
(* - The unpleasant aroma of troglodyte-stench does linger where the trog used to be, for 2d6 hours, but it's too weak to impose attack penalties on creatures who pass through the area after the troglodyte has moved on. It just reeks! :-D)
Victims who successfully save vs. Poison need not save again against that specific trog's aroma if they stay within its area of effect; if exposed to a different troglodyte's stench-cloud, however, they must save a second time! If two or more stench-clouds overlap, the victim saves at a -1 penalty per additional troglodyte after the first. Matera's troglodytes are well aware that their stench-defence is most effective if their aromas overlap, and they intentionally "gang up" on foes who seem to be resisting their nausea effects. Races with a superior sense of smell - lupins, pisachas, Ur-Carnifex, etc - suffer an additional -2 penalty to their saves vs. Poison when confronted by troglodyte stench, and they cannot use scent as a means of tracking or of detecting unseen opponents, while so-handicapped.
Victims who have failed a saving throw may retreat from the 5' radius of the stench, and seek fresher air. It takes one round outside the radius of any troglodyte's odour-cloud to clear the scent from one's system, or two rounds for races with a superior sense of smell. Moving back into the stench-radius of a troglodyte means making a new saving throw, even if the victim had previously saved against that individual trog's stink successfully.
Weather Control or Control Winds spells can immediately dissipate the cloud of stench around a troglodyte. Create Air does not, as this spell offers no protection against poison gas. An air elemental of any size can strip away the stench-cloud immediately.
Materan troglodytes who lose their weapons can make two attacks per round with their claws, inflicting 1d4 hp of damage per hit. Lunar troglodytes don't file their teeth or use bite-attacks in combat; only the degenerate troggish savages on Mystara do that*.
(* - If desired, DMs can revise the Materan troglodyte into a "savage troglodyte" class, in a Gaz10-style "Humanoids" campaign. In that case, the "savage troglodyte" receives an additional unarmed attack: one bite for 1d4 hp damage. Preferred weapons for "savage troglodytes" include stone axes (hand & battle), spears, knives, slings, hand-thrown rocks and javelins; they do not use shields. "Savage trog" shamans and wokani are limited to levels 4 and 2, respectively, although they may attempt to advance further using the "Personal Sacrifice Table", as per Gaz10 rules.)
Territorial as they are, Materan troglodytes receive a +2 bonus to Morale when fighting in defence of their "home ground". This is usually their clan's home territory ... although it's not unknown for "urban" trogs to defend their places of business from thieves with an equal determination! :-)
Much as other races are blinded by extremely bright light, Materan troglodytes can be left staggered and disoriented by extreme (volcanic or metal-melting) heat. Brief "flashes" of heat, such as from a Fireball, don't have this effect, but prolonged exposure (3 or more rounds) to fairly intense heat - a burning house, a boiling geyser, a sauna, a Heat Metal spell - causes Materan troglodytes to suffer a -1 penalty to their attacks, much like bright light affects goblins.
Truly overwhelming heat - the heart of a volcano, for example - not only imposes this -1 attack penalty upon them, but an unprotected troglodyte in such an environment must save vs. Paralysis or succumb to a Confusion effect (as the spell) for 1d4 rounds! Spells that increase a recipient's physical tolerance to heat, such as Resist Fire, don't protect troglodytes from disorientation, but spells that physically keep the heat away from them (e.g. Force Field) will do so*.
(*- The Apennine troglodytes have special "heat-masks" that block their infrared sensory pits and protect them from this hallucinatory Confusion effect. Most troglodytes outside the Apennines don't even know these things exist; if they do learn about them, they'll be awfully eager to get hold of some!)
Like most HM races, Materan troglodytes also suffer a -1 attack penalty in sunlight or its magical equivalent. Unlike some lunar races, a Materan troglodyte who leaves the moon to adventure on Mystara can become accustomed to sunlight, losing this penalty after 2d4 weeks of gradual acclimation to the day-lit world.
Because their usual (non-stench) body aroma is rather strong, troglodytes are at a -1 to surprise races with a superior sense of smell (including animals or each other), if they have to approach their targets from upwind. This disadvantage is negated in areas where many troglodytes have spent a lot of time: once their mildew-odour has saturated an area, keen-scented opponents can detect that troglodytes are in the vicinity somewhere, but cannot distinguish old leftover scents from those of an imminent ambush.
Materan troglodytes have standard night vision and normal hearing. Their sense of smell is roughly as keen as a lupin's; it can be used to identify specific races, or specific clans or individuals of their own race. Sight and infravision (90') are each considered primary senses for troglodytes, while hearing and scent are secondary senses.
Unlike elves, dwarves, or other races that detect heat using their eyes, troglodytes sense heat using facial pits along their upper jaws. This means that blinding a troglodyte's eyes (e.g. via a Light spell) doesn't prevent it from using infravision to spot enemies. It also means that a troglodyte's infravision does not "turn off" in illuminated environments, but overlaps with its conventional eyesight*. A liability when faced with great heat, this does have its rewards: a troglodyte's world is far more "colourful" than most beings', showing temperature's "colours" layered upon those of the conventional spectrum, much like how a human's eye detects the textures of surfaces along with their colours.
(* - When describing a troglodyte PC's surroundings to a player, DMs should sprinkle in a few references to the temperature of things the PC is observing, as well as their odours. This can occasionally be used to drop clues for a party of HM adventurers (e.g. the trog PC can be the first to notice that a man "dozing" on the couch at a party is actually dead of poison). Don't let players abuse this troggish racial perk, by giving away information that would spoil an adventure! Perhaps the nosferatu chatting with the PCs had just fed, and is full of nice warm blood, when the troglodyte PC looks at her... ;-D)
Although troglodytes' sense of smell is far superior to that of humans, that doesn't mean they can automatically track someone by their odour. Tracking, by scent or otherwise, is a skill that troglodytes must specifically choose to acquire.
Highly loyal to their clans, yet self-serving and undependable to outsiders, most Materan troglodytes are either Chaotic (albeit not necessarily evil) or Neutral. Chaotic alignment is more common among powerful troglodytes, or troggish adventurers - individuals who are willing to break rules (and heads!) to achieve their ambitions - than among the "stay-at-homes" who never leave the Marsh. Very few HM troglodytes are Lawful.
All PC troglodytes must take a skill appropriate to their backgrounds. Marshlanders must take Survival (Swamp) (INT) as a skill. Urban troglodytes must take any one Craftsman (INT) or Labour (INT) skill. If used as a character class, "savage" troglodytes on Mystara must take the Caving (WIS) skill.
All troglodytes receive Signalling (trog scent-messages) as a FREE skill.
Combat notes: AC 5 (4 with shield) or 4 (3 with shield) if armoured, average Dexterity bonus of +1; HD 2*; hp 10; MV 120' (40'); #AT 1 weapon or 2 claws, average +1 to hit with missiles; Dmg by weapon or 1d4/1d4 (claws); SD Stench; Save T2; Int 12; ML 9 (11 on home turf); AL N or C
Troglodyte Clan Leader
Combat notes: AC 4 (3 with shield) or 3 (2 with shield) if armoured, average Dexterity bonus of +2; HD 6*; hp 32; MV 120' (40'); #AT 1 weapon or 2 claws, average +1 Str bonus to hit in melee or average +2 Dex bonus to hit for missiles; Dmg by weapon +1 (melee) or by weapon (missile) or 1d4+1/1d4+1 (claws), average Strength bonus +1 in melee; SD Stench; Save T6; Int 15; ML 10 (12 on home turf); AL C
The Marsh of Putrescence crawls with all kinds of swamp animals and monsters. By far the most economically-important is the giant marsh snail, a tremendous mollusc that lives on algae, detritus, rotten fish, frogspawn and other icky swamp-bottom gunk. Relentless, tireless, and virtually brainless, these 9-ton goliaths plough unstoppably through the Deep Marsh and nearby boglands, toppling dead trees and flattening brush as they go.
A fully-grown marsh snail's shell is muddy grey with brown streaks, measuring up to 12 feet in height; it's about 5' thick - flattened side-to-side, not conical - and rides upright atop the snail's back. The creature's fleshy body, a pale grey in colour, is boneless and flexible, allowing its head to stretch up to 10' from the shell while "grazing" on marsh muck, yet withdraw into the protection of its armoured "house" in a fraction of a second. Fully splayed for movement, an adult snail's "foot" can flatten a ten-foot swath of marsh weeds, leaving a (slightly sticky, but harmless) slime-trail behind it*. Marsh snail bodies are AC 1 when extended, thus, or AC -2 when drawn into their shells.
(* - Troggish folk tales insist that rare marsh snails of phenomenal size - up to 80' tall, in some stories - also prowl the Deep Marsh, gulping down whole trees and the occasional careless traveller. True? That's up to the individual DM; certainly, shells of dead marsh snails up to double the usual 12' diameter have verifiably been found.)
The keg-sized head of a marsh snail is almost featureless, with a nearly invisible mouth and two pairs of extendable "feelers". Hidden inside the snail's deceptively-tiny slit of a mouth is a gullet lined with grinding shell-plates, and a tough, rasping radula for scraping edible muck off of rocks. The upper and longer pair of "feelers" sport simple, near-blind yellow eyes; the lower pair is very touch-sensitive, used like whiskers to warn the snail of obstacles ... or as a means of steering, for snails used as beasts of burden. A simple gill-opening at the base of its neck allows a marsh snail to breathe water for up to 20 minutes, permitting short forays across deep rivers or lakebeds: a necessary adaptation for life in the swamps, since they're far too heavy to swim.
Though they appear slow and ponderous when feeding, giant marsh snails are capable of brief bursts of speed when alarmed. Bright lights, loud noises, vibrations in the ground or pain can cause a snail to dart forward (double normal movement) without any warning, overrunning and crushing whatever or whoever happens to be in their path. Because this behaviour seems incongruous for such "slow-moving" creatures, anyone not yet familiar with these lumbering behemoths' habits must check to see if they are surprised by the animal's lunge, even if they already knew the snail was there! Apart from the risk of getting squashed by such an abrupt lurch forward, a solitary marsh snail poses little threat unless provoked: it is loners like this that the troglodyte clans hunt for food, and also occasionally "domesticate".
While solitary snails are no danger to a cautious, informed Marsh-traveller, several times each (Materan) year their habits change. In the hours immediately after a severe Storm Time, each adult snail fills its shell's "brood chamber" with pure rainwater and releases a batch of eggs within*. Adult snails gather in herds, mate, and then remain together until their eggs have hatched. Pregnant marsh snails are even more sensitive to noise, light, or other significant disturbances of their immediate surroundings; if provoked, whole herds of snails - which usually contain 2d8 adults, but can swell to several dozen if multiple herds should wander into the same area - have been known to "stampede", charging heedlessly through the Marsh in a blind panic, squishing everything in their path.
(* - Like IRL snails, Matera's giant forms are hermaphrodites: every adult can both lay its own eggs and fertilise the eggs of others. Unlike real snails, they gestate these eggs in cavities in their own shells, mostly to prevent other marsh snails from eating them.)
After their eggs have hatched within their brood-chambers, the marsh snail herds begin to break up into smaller (2d4) clusters, each individual now loaded down with 2-24 young. The baby marsh snails, pure white in colour and about the size of a basketball, ride around on the adults' backs for several weeks, scraping minerals from their mothers' shells so they can build up and harden their own. A marsh snail with hatchlings is very protective of them; any perceived threat* to its vulnerable, soft-shelled offspring incites it to try to squash the potential predator flat. If the "threat" is too large to squash, the snail will bite instead. What alarms one marsh snail typically alarms others, so usually a whole cluster of mother snails will confront such enemies together. Only after their offspring's delicate shells have hardened, and the babies crawl away to live on their own, do the adults finally go their separate ways and become placid loners again.
(* - A "threat", in this case, is any animal life form larger than a rabbit within ten feet of its offspring that does not happen to be a marsh snail.)
Because maternal instincts lead marsh snails to ignore weight on their backs, the Materan troglodytes find them useful as beasts of burden, both for some kinds of farm work (e.g. uprooting stumps) and for transporting goods. While not tameable or truly domesticated, marsh snails can be steered by troggish drovers who tap or tug on the animals' second, touch-sensitive pair of "feelers". Marsh snails in breeding condition are unmanageable, so the snail-drovers drill drain-holes through their animals' shells and into their brood-chambers; these leaks ensure that the snails cannot collect water for eggs to develop in. Marsh snails cannot survive dry conditions for long, which limits their usefulness outside the troglodytes' native swamplands.
Though slower-moving than most pack animals, a marsh snail can carry a staggering 60,000 cn of weight without being encumbered. If more heavily loaded than that, a snail hides inside its shell and refuses to move. Typically, the first 1000 cn of a marsh snail's carrying capacity is taken up by tack, waterbags (to keep the animal hydrated), a wooden platform for its rider to perch on (nailed directly to the sturdy shell), and supplies of tasty snail treats (week-dead fish, yum!) used to encourage the animal to enter dry or otherwise unpleasant areas.
In a pinch, troglodytes can also use marsh snails as war mounts, directing them to move toward their enemies and then deliberately jabbing them with a sharp stick, causing their steeds to lunge forward on top of the enemy. Given the snails' tendency to ignore further commands from their drovers, after such an "attack", but rather to flee the battlefield and squash everything - enemy or troglodyte - that gets in their way, this is normally a tactic of last resort.
Adult marsh snail: AC 1 (-2 if withdrawn into shell); HD 12; hp 90; MV 90' (30'); # AT 1 trample or 1 bite; Dmg 3d8 (trample) or 2d6* (bite); Save F6; Int 1; ML 7; AL N.
Baby marsh snail: AC 7 (6 if withdrawn into shell); HD 1; hp 5; MV 30' (10'); # AT 1 bite; Dmg 1d3 (bite); Save NM; Int 0; ML 5; AL N.
Juvenile marsh snail: Varies; typically 1 HD per 1' diameter of shell, AC as adult
(* - While their mouths are too tiny to engulf even halfling-sized foes, marsh snails have been known to swallow small predators, such as raccoons, alive and whole in the defence of their young. A very small opponent, such as a Glantrian PC's summoned companion-animal or a HW Kubitt, may be vulnerable to a Swallow attack by an angry marsh snail.)