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Trolls aren't broken, but do seem racist: technical arguments

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I've seen some mention here and there of the big Troll questions, with answers falling all along the spectrum.  Thought I'd consolidate the argument here and try to pin it down.  I trust you regular types to shut me down right quick if I've overlooked a dedicated thread.

I've been prepping some troll NPCs in my game and I've discovered that 1) it's perfectly doable to make competitive troll builds in most categories besides 'tank' as long as your concept embraces the minimum troll burliness; but 2)  I can't get comfortable with their intelligence limits.

On the first point: 

I built three mages: Troll A/Magic B, and two Human D's, one Magic A/Att B, the other Att A/Magic B.  I then aimed at parallel stats for them all (including giving the human mages uncommonly high Body and/or Strength).  I assumed max magical Skills wherever possible and spent the Skill Group points on Stealth.  I then spent Karma to raise each to match the others' superior stats.  The results, with concessions for Troll Mental attribute ceilings, were that to get all three characters to look the same cost almost exactly the same Karma:  103 for the Troll, 96 for Human Mage B, 100 for Human Mage A.  They all resulted with

B 6 R 1 A 1 S 5 C 5 (4 for Troll) I 5 L 4 W 6 Mag 6 Edge 5;   10 Spells

Casting, Counterspelling, Ritual Casting, Conjuring, Banishing and Assensing all at 6; Enchanting and Stealth Group at 2

Now of course if you're making a human mage you won't be spending your first year of sessions elevating Body to Olympic Boxer levels, and you probably won't force your Troll Mage to study Ritual Spellcasting out the a$$.  This is just to prove that the Troll Mage is not starting out in a major developmental or chargen-resource hole...

Point 2:

...IF we suspend the restriction of only one Racial Attribute max at chargen.  And now we're into the racism v. Trolls.

They don't just have lower mental ceilings, they're FORCED to start even below those ceilings.  You can't get a Troll out of the gate that is any better than average human intelligence.  Best you can do for mage all-roundedness is something like C 3 I 4 L 4 W 6, which any mage will tell you ain't really gonna do it. 

Bending your build to include some physical chops at the expense of mastering every single last magical skill is a fair tradeoff to ask a Troll Mage player to make.  FORCING them to start with superhuman strength and body (which is where those can't-be-mental-yet starting ATT points will likely go) but only mediocre mental stats--the ones they'll live and die by as a mage--seems too much.

Which brings me to the fact that, though I'm no political correctness junkie, I can't get down with trolls and orks being dumber.  If they were totally different races, sure; chimps and orangutans have different mental ceilings.  But these creatures start, or at least started, as human.  Becoming *meta*human means that you get bigger, but dumber?  This isn't the Middle Ages.  The Enlightenment happened, which is to say everybody that doesn't utterly suck figured out that reason is the ultimate resource, the ultimate weapon.  Declaring that metahuman races have lesser access to reason is declaring that they're subhuman.  They're second-class citizens.  DNA has declared class stratification is a natural, even good, outcome.


Lower Charisma I can see with ease; that's a subjective attribute depending on standards of beauty, social elegance, etc.  Maaayyybe even Willpower, due to social trauma, or relationship to pain in the body, sumpn.  But intellect?

There's a whole body of Literature scholarship on these types of issues in texts from Lord of the Rings on up, and it's an issue that's unlikely to be solved here.

Unlike in some systems, though, there's only a lower maximum, not a flat penalty that applies to everyone of that metatype. So while a Troll can have at most Improved Charisma and Superior Intuition, Logic and Agility, they don't need to spend 5 points on Charisma in order to have it at their racial max of 4, just 3.

What fantasy literature at large does is its business.  What a mechanic in a game we play does is very much ours.  I'm not freaking out about this, nor am I accusing SR's developers of racism.  I'm not out to root out racists and prove myself a hero of sensitivity.  I just don't know that the brains mechanic is cool.

In other games, trolls are other organisms.  There's a Genus out for the brains problem.  But SR trolls are PEOPLE, dudes.

If my initial analysis about reason=equality is correct--and maybe it isn't--then the troll thing is ill.

Shinobi Killfist:
But they aren't people.  I'm not going for my usual humanis don't shoot until you see the points of their ears gag either.  They have massive physiological differences between standard humans or elves, dwarves etc.  Think of it like dog breeds, some dog breeds are considered smarter than others but they are all dogs.  Trolls are part of humanity but they aren't human just like a poodle isn't a greyhound but they are both dogs. 


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