The Tollam, sometimes pronounced ‘Tolm’ or simply referred to as giants, are large humanoids with highly dense muscular tissue, thick and durable skin, incredible stamina, redundant organs, and impressive recovery faculties. They display a wide variety of slightly bestial facial features, with flat or elongated features, wild eyes, broad mouths, sharp canines and almost fur like hair. Average Tollam height is 2.3 meters. The Tollam claim to have been created by Oto, the Warrior, as a demonstration of martial prowess, but other stories suggest they were created by the humans of the great empire as soldiers and servants. The Tollam are the only quasi-human species that has it’s own distinct territory and culture.
Tollam are, without doubt, the strongest and most durable quasi-humans in Aeldos. They are gifted athletes and warriors capable of prodigious physical feats. Tollam warriors are feared across the continent, not just for their ability but their affection for combat. Tollam are widely feared and while most attribute this to their size and reputation their presence actually seems to produce an almost arcane and primal sense of panic. Tollam are blessed with a variety of traits that enable them to survive wounds that would kill others including redundant organs, nictitating membranes, a secondary thymus, dense bones, and a thick, almost hide-like skin. They possess enhanced senses with sharp vision and hearing and a functioning vomeronasal organ and associated neural structure that grants them an accessory sense of smell and enables them to detect smells and pheromones other sapients cannot.
Tollam are devoted warriors with a culture that places a high value on martial talent but little value on invention and intelligence. As a result many Tollam are poorly educated and culturally adverse to advanced education. Their size and physique necessitates a colossal amount of caloric intake, 5-10 times as much as an average human. The intimidating features of the Tollam are often a curse to those who would seek trade, diplomacy or outside companionship. Tollam are susceptible to several Tollam-specific and terrible diseases, in particular the Red Rot which causes Tollam flesh to harden and turn dark crimson and triggers a severe degeneration of higher brain function, reducing a Tollam to a nearly rabid animal, driven by a hunger so intense it can lead to auto-cannibalism. Finally, while Tollam size and power is an advantage in combat but makes life difficult in many other small ways. Gear is more expensive, few mounts can carry a Tollam, and furniture and accommodations meant for humans are rarely comfortable.
Tollam are gigantic muscular humanoids renowned for their strength, resilience, and devotion to the arts of war and combat. Standing 2.3 meters (7.5ft) tall on average, and far broader than those few humans of equivalent height, Tollam strength and stamina are well documented and even the average Tollam is enormously powerful compared to other species, capable of nearly impossible feats of brawn.
The physical structure of Tollam varies slightly between female and male. While the average height for both is the same, the muscle mass is often higher in males than females. Females tend to possess denser muscle mass, better senses and enhanced reaction times in comparison with males. Accordingly, where male Tollam excel at front-line assault and infantry duties, females are more often found in scouting and reconnaissance units and using ranged combat implements such as bows and spears. This is not universal and the variance is not significant enough to truly handicap either group.
Perhaps the greatest advantage the Tollam possess is not innate, but due to their access to the first age relic known as the Fostrian. The Fostrian is a first age device designed to feed nations and capable of producing an apparently endless supply of incredibly nutritious and filling food, commonly referred to as Abrath, with only minimal input from the Tollam. While the logistics of production and delivery of food is handled by a small cadre and the Auroch tribe.
All southern Tollam are offered food produced by the Fostrian. All that is required to receive this food is the mark and the affirmation. The mark is the first tattoo received by a Tollam warrior after they have been born, a simple indicator of Tribal membership. The Oath is the affirmation of this allegiance, pledged whenever Fostrian food is received.
The Tollam capital is situated around the Fostrian, and the giants have constructed a citadel of enormous proportions, carving out an almost unassailable defensive structure and manning it with the elite guardians tasked to safeguard the Tollam food supply. This capital is incredibly spartan and functional and permits only a handful of outsiders, generally denying entry to all but the most notable foreign warriors and some diplomats. The most important areas of the city are the Fostrian, the granary’s, the Porters district, and the tribal chambers. There is also a great arena and several martial academies, all in constant competition with each other.
The Fostrian is a rich provider but it has limits. The current Tollam population strains the production capacity and this has led to two mindsets amongst the ruling Scepters of the Triarchy: expansion and conflict to thin the Tollam numbers; or increased food production by other means. The first appeals to the general philosophy of most Tollam (that conflict is the source of greatness, glory, valour, and the development of new wisdom and technology) and the latter is often associated with a loss of their cultural identity and physical superiority; Tollam do not farm and they look down on those who do. While the occasional oddball might take up farming there are powerful social and genetic pressures on the Tollam to fight. Many Tollam do hunt, both as a form of martial practice and to supplement their food but they must show caution due to the potential to overhunt their stock. This has led to the practice of herd management by region to minimize such risks and Tollam perception of their hunting regions has led to conflict with their neighbours.
Tollam society is embodied in three institutions: Tribe, Clan, and Cadre.
There are three Tribes of Tollam; Regn (Rain), Sant (Sand), and Barg (Mountain). You do not choose your tribe, it is a hereditary trait. There are many clans, and you do choose your clan as well as your cadres. Only certain tribes can choose certain clans, but any tribe or clan can join any cadre with the consent of the members.
Tollam clans are the broader social structure of Tollam society, analogous to a town, guild, or company in other states. Clan leadership traditions vary but are typically a hereditary leader chosen by their parents. The skill and ability of the inheritor is more important than any other factor in leadership determination. While most Tollam clans maintain stationary settlements there are several nomadic clans which travel within and outside of the accepted Tollam borders. Members of clans which travel frequently beyond the Tollam borders tend to be slightly smaller in stature, owing to their less steady diet of Fostrian food. Clan names are varied but often refer to some key trait or accomplishment of the clan.
The cadre is the smallest social group in Tollam society and represents a group who sleep, hunt, and fight together. The Tollam do not generally engage in monogamous relationships and the cadre system is essentially an established system of polyamory. A cadre typically consists of 3-9 individuals. Cadres are tightly bound, with each member akin to either a sibling or spouse. Accordingly, cadre mates are chosen very carefully. A cadre member is responsible for the actions of all other members.
A Tollam cannot join a Cadre until they have reached the age of 15 and many do not join a Cadre until significantly later. Solitary and Paired Tollam are rare and socially disadvantaged, though not excluded. For example, Skalds often operate as solitary individuals or in pairs, though not universally.
The history of the Tollam is a contested subject. Many Tollam adhere to a belief that they were created by Oto the Warrior Ayr, as the epitome of martial prowess. This simple myth underlies much of the Tollam culture, and forms the foundation of the Tollam religious philosophy of Kreegus. The lorekeepers of Selene however, claim the Tollam were created by the Silent faction of the Urul empire. According to their lore the giants were once humans but were engineered to be soldiers, to fight in a great war that raged for centuries. The truth is unclear and few feel compelled to argue the point with the Tollam themselves.
Most history and knowledge of the Tollam is maintained by Skalds, the cultural equivalent of Lorekeepers. These are well respected figures within the tribe, and even by those outside the Tollam. They are often proven warriors who show intelligence and an independent streak as they are self selected volunteers who must be annointed by a scepter to truly be considered a Skald. Once approved they are given great latitude and act as both historians and judges, as well as teachers and entertainers. Skalds sing or speak the record of Tollam history and also keep code-books.
Skalds operate in many different ways; as adjuncts to Tollam Cadres in battle; as wandering minstrels; as guides to kings and foreign visitors. A Skald is the only member of a Tollam Cadre permitted and required to flee a losing battle. They must retain the record and report. For any other to retreat is a great dishonor: Tollam who survive notorious defeats are outlaws and exiles.
– Tollam tattoos are records of life milestones, battles, contests, and personal oaths and can often cover the entire body. These are poorly understood outside of the Tribe.
Tollam hairstyles tend towards the sparse: shaved bald or into patterns are the most common. Long hair is reserved for Skalds.
– The great insults in Tollam society are to be declared Nitthing (lower than all others, beneath them, weak or cowardly) or Ergi, Argr, Ragr, (slave). These are accepted as challengeable insults which frequently trigger a blood duel. For many Tollam the failure to kill one who insults you in such a way on the spot is seen as confirmation of your cowardice and weakness.
– Many Tollam are suspicious of dexterous or subtle skills beyond their capacity. For example, someone capable of opening a heavy lock at night, without alerting men nor dogs, might be perceived as a sorceror by many Tollam as most delicate work has the air of sorcery to them. Taken in concert with theft which can be punished corporally, it is a dangerous profession to be a sneak-thief in Tollam.
-Some Tollam tribal encampments are situated within, among and atop some of the highest mountain ranges in Aeldos. Frenz, Tollar, and assorted warcamps can be found well above 5,000 meters and the external weather and atmospheric conditions at this height is inhospitable to most non-Tollam. The environment within the barrier walls of Tollar is controlled.
-It is easy for an outsider to mistake the Tollam infatuation with combat and warfare with blood thirst. This is only true to a point. The Tollam are not death worshippers, but neither do they fear their ends. Their culture values life and creation but all Tollam feel a primal call to fight.
-Tollam are generally a bisexual race, with no particular social aversion to same sex relationships and a general lack of understanding of mono-sexual attractions.
Tollam are blessed with a variety of traits that enable them to survive wounds which would be instantly lethal to others. This includes redundant anatomical features including secondary respiratory and circulatory organs, durable digestive organs, nictating membranes, secondary thymus, and additional and semi-distributed neural components which extend into their spinal column. Tollam skin also differs significantly from most other sapients, being both thicker and denser.
Tollam possess excellent senses, with sharp visual and aural acuity, well above human average but their greatest sensory advantage actually takes the form of a functioning vomeronasal organ and associated sensory neurons which grant them an accessory sense of smell and enable them to detect smells and phermones that most other Sapients cannot. This enables them to track scents imperceptible to humans and perceive the arousal and fear of their enemies.
Many Tollam possess somewhat bestial features including dense fur-like hair, elongated predatory features, sharp carnivorous teeth, and pointed and mobile ears. These features are not universal and can take slightly different shapes depending on the origin of the Tollam. Northern Tollam tend towards more canine and ursine features while central and southern Tollam tend towards more feline and human features.
As a result of their size, power, distinctive features, and readiness to use violence, Tollam are widely feared by other species. This trait seems to have a biological component, as the terror response a Tollam can trigger occurs even without line of sight or direct exposure. Travellers who have even passing encounters describe a sense of primal fear that seems to well up in their proximity. The Tollam utilize this trait as an advantage on the battlefield, emphasizing their ferocity with adornments and menacing displays and utilizing the effect to cow their enemies. The sound of Tollam war drums, coordinated shield clashing, deafening roars, ritual self-scarring, facial tattoos, sharpened teeth and more make encountering Tollam, let alone fighting one, a harrowing proposition.
The Tollam take advantage of their immense power in the design of their arms and armour. The most obvious example of this is Fortress Armour, a type of full plate armour made from thick layers of specially layered iron and steel that grant incredibly durability. Fortress armour is only functional on a Tollam; any other sapient would be crushed beneath the sheer weight.
The giants also utilize enormous specially crafted ballistic shields, in particular against Victran raiders These shields enable the Tollam to survive sustained vollies of Canna fire, slowly closing the distance on their enemies. These monstrous pieces of layered metal are difficult for non-tollam to move. They were adapted from Clatterjack shields and often have a spiked bottom allowing the Tollam to plant the shield before rushing the final steps towards a reloading enemy. Tollam shield tactics are disorganized compared to Ossandrians but the size and strength of their shield makes them effective nonetheless.
The Tollam wield a variety of weapons, from warhammers to spears, but the common characteristic is increased size, weight, and use of resilient, if not easily sharpened, materials. The most iconic Tollam weapons are the Battleblade and cleaver, both highly impractical weapons for any creature not endowed with superhuman strength.
The Tollam physique requires a truly colossal amount of caloric intake per day to maintain; 5-10 times as much as an average human. While this limitation is well handled in proximity to the Fostrian which produces incredibly dense and nutritious food, travelling Tollam typically do not have such a luxury. As a result Tollam who travel beyond their central territory must spend a significant portion of their time seeking out food and eating.
Tollam culture places a high value on martial talent and its demonstration and minimizes the value of many other pursuits. As a result many Tollam are poorly educated and culturally averse to advanced education. Unsurprisingly Tollam have little in the way of philosophy, engineering, or medicine, but a vast knowledge of the art of war. The one exception to this is the Skalds, a class of storytellers, entertainers, and lorekeepers who act as wise folk for Tollam tribes. Skalds can demonstrate martial talent, but it is generally considered less important than their ability to educate and entertain.
The intimidating features and demeanour of the Tollam are a blessing and a curse; they can aid in battle, but they often hinder in peace. Diplomacy, trading, and other social activities involving Tollam can be difficult for everyone involved. The inevitable result of this is a strong trend towards isolation. Even where integration is possible most Tollam end up preferring the company of other Tollam and withdraw into small communities on the outskirts of a given settlement.
Several Tollam-specific diseases exist but the most dangerous is the virulent affliction known as the Red Rot. Named for the effect it has on the skin and mind, the Red Rot causes flesh to harden and turn a dark crimson and triggers a severe degeneration in higher brain functions. The effect is to reduce an infected Tollam to a nearly rabid animal, driven by a hunger so intense it can lead to cannibalism and even auto-cannibalism. While the Rotted maintain much of their strength their senses are diminished significantly. For reasons not clearly understood the Rotted will not eat the flesh of other Rotten and groups of Rotted are able to engage in primitive communication and coordinated attacks. An outbreak of the Rot necessitates one of two actions; quarantine in hopes of starving the Rotted to death or, more frequently, the formation of a Cadre of the Dead; a group of Tollam inoculated from infection for a short term with powerful drugs. This inoculation enables them to survive an encounter with the Rotted but the side-effects of the drugs almost always kill the cadre shortly thereafter.
The size of the Tollam, weight of their gear, and inherently terrifying aura makes it very difficult to find and train mounts. As a result of this horse riding has become something of a taboo or a social restriction driven by a justified reasoning; that a Tollam should always carry their own weight. This does not mean that Tollam do not keep or use horses. Indeed the Tollam Dray is a distinctive and massive breed of horse used for their immense pulling power and envied across Aeldos. Tollam just view horses as domestic tools, not to be risked in warfare and not acceptable for travel. A small number of odd or adventurous Tollam employ large semi-tame mammal mounts, typically raised from infancy, but the vast majority of Tollam travel by foot.
The Tollam participate in a very odd sport and test of strength known as broling.
Broling requires the following; a stout tree at least two Tollams arms in diameter, three other tall trees spaced equally apart in a rough triangle, sufficient rope, and the willingness to sustain massive injuries in pursuit of fleeting glory.
First the stout tree is felled and its branches removed to create a log. Laying flat the ends of the log are tied high up on the pair of parallel trees and a pulley is used to draw the log back creating a great mass of wood ready to swing in an arc. Now the fun begins.
One by one Tollam will line up before the log as it is raised to varying heights and dropped in a swinging blow at the individual Tollam below who must stop the logs motion. At first the log is raised only slightly, providing only minimal momentum and challenge. Most Tollam of sufficient age can handle this and those who cannot are ruthlessly ridiculed. However, as the game continues the log is raised higher and higher, and its travel time extends, granting it more and more momentum. Within a few rounds many Tollam will have been knocked senseless or had their ribs cracked by the Brole as it falls relentlessly. The last Tollam standing, able to take the log or Brole from it’s greatest height is considered the winner. Surprisingly few Tollam die from this inane and dangerous game, no doubt due to their redundant organs and considerable resilience, otherwise the sport would be a far more lethal one.
Some Tollam participate in a variant of this known as Split Broling, a more labour intensive version that requires multiple logs. In this the Tollam must split the log with their weapon. This version is far more dangerous as the real blades used are often cast back in the holders face by the force of the falling Brole.
More than any other quasi-human species the Tollam have carved out distinct geographic cultures for themselves in the mountain ranges of Aeldos. This is no doubt due to their higher fecundity than other quasi-humans.
Occupying the Tollar and Southern Illspire mountain ranges the Tollar represent the largest population of Tollam in Aeldos. It is these Tollar who benefit from access to the Fostrian and have built a citadel of enormous proportions to protect the incredible device. The Tollar are led by the Triarchy, a trio of leaders, one each from the three castes. The Tollar have been in a mostly cold war against the Victrans for centuries with the two sides occasionally exchanging blows but rarely trading territory. The Tollar are considered by many in the south to be the primary brake Victran ambitions. As a result the Tollar maintain a cool but largely friendly relationship with the Southern Phraeds of Nehep and the Lady of Selene, enabling many Tollar travel beyond their mountains. Unfortunately, those who do are often targets for Ossandrian slavers. For the most part the Tollar are a stable and predictable force, content to expand further into the mountains, excavating ruins and new halls in the rock, rather than expanding further from afield, however a minority of the Tollar have ventured into the dangerous Illspire mountains in pursuit of glory, building sparse settlements and challenging the territorial claims of the Imperium.
(Name derives from Svertan word for mountain hunters): Several Tollam settlements dot the swordpeak mountain range, far from the bulk of the Tollam population. Known locally as the Felyagr these Northern Tollam survive primarily as hunters of the local megafauna, including some of the most deadly apex predators in Aeldos, a trait which has earned them considerable prestige amongst their human neighbours. As a result a notable portion of Felyagr have integrated with the local Svertheim culture, interbreeding and establishing deep roots within the culture. Even those who remain separate from the humans tend to see themselves as guardians of the Svertheimer. The Felyagr trace their origins back to group of Tollam migrants who traveled north during the second age. These migrants apparently eschewed the more war-focused nature of other Tollam. As a result their descendants prefer lighter armours, faster weapons, and more adaptable tactics.
(Name derives from Svertan word for vicious): A relatively minor faction with an outsized reputation due to their constant aggression, Ond consider themselves superior to all, even other Tollam, claiming they can trace their lineage back to the Ayr-slayer who felled the Warrior. Ond pursue conflict constantly, raiding, pillaging, and generally stirring up trouble wherever they go. Fortunately they are a small faction of the Tollam, isolated to the Ash and Nyxia mountain ranges, and plagued by inbreeding and associated mutations. Ond hunters and war parties venture into the lowlands occasionally but have never managed to stay due to their intolerance for the soaring summer temperatures. Encounters between the Ond and others such as the Luxi, Ossandrians, and smaller groups are regular, and the source of most of those cultures prejudices against the Tollam.
“Humans are so weak, so small, so petty. You have no purpose, no heart. You are serious when you should laugh and frivolous when you should take care. You battle each other over land you cannot hold and piss away your legacies on ingrates. When you make war you bring only sadness. We may war against one another but we do it for sport, we do it because it pleases the Ayr. We do it because it is what we are. We do it because the struggle is joy. We may die bloody but we die happy.”
Species Calling: Ka-Tollam
Tollam Soldier: Athletics = New Level x2
Tollam Lorekeeper: Concentration = New Level x2
Tollam Dancer: Athletics = New Level x2
Mighty: +2 starting Power, maximum of 7
Resolute: +1 starting Will, maximum of 6
Tough: +5 Health, +10 Stress
Fearful Aura: Add Power to Intimidation rolls
Sharp Senses: +2 Perception
Simple: -1 starting Intellect, maximum of 4
Gigantic: Cannot ride conventional animals, increased cost for equipment
Skill Purchase Modifiers
Tollam have modified XP costs for purchasing the following skills.
Lore +1 multiplier
Animal Handling +1 multiplier
Craft +1 multiplier
Combat -1 multiplier
Athletics -1 multiplier
Concentration -1 multiplier
Tollam Core – Mountain Heart: A small number of exceptional Tollam are able to direct their growth and evolution reforging their bodies into organic war machines and becoming a Ka-Tollam. The source for this control appears to lie within their complex and highly redundant biology; the Mountain Heart, a dense neuro-circulatory cluster that can be consciously controlled allowing characters to take on the advanced abilities listed below. They can also exceed the maximum Power rating by an additional point (Maximum of 12). Ability levels cannot exceed the characters level in Mountain Heart.
Ka-Tollam Limitation: After any major exertion (combat, heavy labour, extensive travel) the Ka Tollam must either eat an enormous quantity of food or risk falling into a deep sleep. The Ka Tollam must roll 2d10 + Will + Mountain Heart against a difficulty of 20 to remain conscious. On a failed roll the Character enters a torpor for 12 hours per point difference between what they rolled and the difficulty.
Mass: The character grows larger, gaining strength and resilience. For each point in mass the character gains 1/2 a meter of height and 20kg in weight, 2 points to their max power, and +2 bonus health. This mass does come with significant drawbacks. The larger the character gets, the less places they are able to fit comfortably – inns, taverns, tunnels, and other interior spaces become more and more restrictive. Additionally, all equipment needs to be custom made to match the characters increasing enormity. For each point in Mass the character adds +2 multiplier to gear costs.
|Mass Level||Equipment Cost Multiplier|
Wakeful: The character is able to resist the Ka-Tollam torpor more easily. Add wakeful trait to rolls to resist torpor.
Unstoppable Force: Once the Ka-Tollam starts moving, they are exceedingly difficult to stop, becoming a biological juggernaut.
-They can make a charge attack by rolling Power + Athletics + Mountain Heart. This can target a number of victims equal to their level in Unstoppable Force. Base damage is 3 + Mass + Unstoppable Force.
-The Ka-Tollam is as effective at pulling and pushing loads as a team of horses. Unstoppable force can be added to Power rolls for pushing and pulling purposes.
Organic Trebuchet: The character is adept at hurling objects in the environment with force and accuracy. For each point in Organic Trebuchet they can add a point to thrown attacks.
Devourer: The character develops a mouth full of redundant rows of iron hard teeth and a potent stomach acid allowing them to consume most organic matter. For each level in devourer they gain:
– +1 piercing damage for bite attacks
– Recover 2 health for each enemy killed and consumed
– +1 to rolls to intimidate
Universal Aura: The aura of menace and danger that surrounds the Tollam is typically perceived only by humans and quasi-humans, but for each level in universal aura the effect expands to a new group of creatures.
Terrifying Roar: The Tollam can emit a deafeningly frightening roar which is physically debilitating to all who hear it. The character can roll a Power + Intimidate + Terrifying Aura against a target’s Will + X. Targets who fail suffer the following penalties based on spread.
|1-4||-1 to all actions|
|5-9||-2 to all actions|
|10-15||-3 to all actions|
|16+||Temporary deafness, Enemy flees in terror|
Granite Skin: The character’s hide grows thick and resilient offering natural protection. +1 Armour (all types) per level and +1 bashing damage with unarmed attacks.
Blood Rage: The Ka Tollam uses pain to fuel their attacks, gaining a bonus for each point of damage they take. Each point in Blood Rage extends the bonus.
Shockwave: A Ka Tollam with at least 3 in mass and 1 in Granite Skin can purchase this ability. The character slams the earth with tremendous force, causing a massive shockwave. For each level in Shockwave the shockwave travels 3 meters. The character rolls Power + Mountain Heart + Shockwave. All targets in the area must make a grace or power defense or be knocked prone and take 1 damage per level in Shockwave.
Warrior Heart: The Ka-Tollam has accepted the brutality of the war and their role in it and can ignore an amount of combat related stress equal to their level in Warrior Heart.