Shadowrun: Throw Back
The rarest of the metatypes, trolls (homo sapiens ingentis) are
also the least widespread of the metatypes. Not only are population
numbers significant lower than the remaining metatypes, but
some areas of the globe and ethnic groups evidence below average
occurrence of troll expression (for instance, among native South
American ethnicities) or none at all.
Metavariants of the ingentis species are easily recognizable,
given their sheer size, which stands out no matter how much their
appearance differs from the baseline metatype.
An ingentis’s physique and often intimidating metatraits
(such as horns, tusks, and significant dermal deposits) are one of
the primary causes for social discrimination. Due to resemblance
of these metavariants to menacing creatures from mythology, they are often more feared and subject to even more prejudice than
There are four recognized troll metavariants: cyclops, fomori,
giants, and minotaurs.
A variant of Mediterranean trolls and native to the Aegean
Sea and Islands, a cyclops is often slightly larger and even more
heavily muscled than the average troll. However, evolutionary
adaptation to the warm climate and seabound environment of
the Mediterranean archipelago grants most cyclops a bronzed
skin, little body hair, and a lack of the metatype’s usual dermal
Cyclops typically possess only one horn and may have none
at all. Their identifying feature is the large single eye located in
the middle of their foreheads. While the bigger size of the eye
allows them to make reasonably accurate depth judgments based
on one-eyed (monocular) depth perception cues, cyclops lack
binocular vision cues (from two eyes), such as stereopsis and parallax
(and therefore have inferior hand-eye coordination). Current
understanding of cyclopean neurophysiology indicates they even
lack the cerebral regions and neural wiring to process binocular
cues—limiting the usefulness of ocular prosthetics.
Today, despite occasional racism, cyclops are seen in many
sprawls around the Mediterranean from Barcelona, to Marseille
to Istanbul. Their hulking and intimidating presence and sheer
physical power mean they are in high demand as sailors, stevedores,
security personnel, bouncers, and a number of other positions
focusing on manual labor.
One unexpected peculiarity detected by this study is that
cyclops register an unusual imbalance between male and females
of almost three to one.
Fomori are a troll subspecies native to the British Isles.
Several studies have established a tentative link between
Fomorian expression and Celtic family ancestry. If this is indeed
the case, it is likely that formori are not in fact native to the British
Isles but rather the result of historical migration. While perhaps
once dominant, today the population seems to have diluted to
the point where fomori are on par with baseline trolls in demographics,
with larger concentrations in Wales, Tir na nÓg and the
Southeast of Britain.
Fomori are smaller than typical trolls and lack the extensive
dermal bone deposits—this has earned them a misleading reputation
as the “frail” cousins of the ingentis species when in fact they
tend to be physically more powerful. In fact, fomori benefit from
being less intimidating and comparatively more attractive to
other metatypes and are statistically less likely to be targeted by
racial prejudice. Both these factors facilitate social insertion and and maladjusted individuals.
Another peculiarity of the fomori metavariant is exposed by
British Administrative Bureau statistics which indicate a higher
than average incidence of magical talent among the fomorian population
(as much as 4% higher). A controlled study undertaken by
the Oxford Royal College of Thaumaturgy in 2048, however, indicates
that fomori seem to be demonstrably more resistant to spell
effects and magical powers than the average metahuman (with the
possible exception of gnomes). The mechanisms and reasons (both
genetic and evolutionary) for these apparently contradictory traits
are still unknown.
Nordic or Germanic trolls, also called giants, are slender and
taller than the standard metatype. The average giant stands three
meters tall and lacks both the horns and dermal bone deposits
common to ingentis. They share the trolls heavy-set physique and
musculature, but possess luxurious facial hair and a leathery skin
(almost bark-like in texture) unique to the variant.
Native to the Scandinavian Union, the Allied German States,
and Northeastern Europe, giants have even more issues than baseline
trolls with fitting into normal society due to their size. Surveys
have proven that the acceptance of this metavariant is extremely
low compared to baseline trolls even within the populations of
the countries where they occur naturally. Despite institutional
and corporate attempts, such as the initiatives sponsored by Evo
corporation’s Metaergonomics subsidiary, which attempt to
facilitate integration and improve quality of life by size-adapting
clothing, vehicles, housing, and consumer products, giants are all
too often faced with unemployment and forced to live among the
fringes of society or in the drop-out communities not uncommon
Despite public and private efforts ingrained discrimination
has shown little decline. Though troubling, it is no great surprise
that a 2070 EuroPol report shows a growing number of disaffected
giants arrested for involvement in criminal activities. A strategy
meeting between Charisma Associates and ScandUnion authorities
earlier this month, promoted by UNESCO, has led to a 5-year
proposal for media engagement to further advance public perception
of giants within society.
Minotaurs are an unusual variant (or mutation) of the troll
metatype prevalent in the Mediterranean (especially Greece
and Turkey) and Asia Minor, though smaller populations exist
throughout Southern Europe (i.e. Spain, Portugal, southern
France, the Italian Confederation) and beyond.
The minotaur phenotype is characterized by slightly shorter,
stockier builds; pronounced, flaring nostrils; wide-set eyes; long,
symmetrical horns; and extensive body hair. Genetic fingerprinting
and biochemical mapping have debunked any similarity to
animal bovinae—shooting down several urban myths and raciallymotivated
claims. Although horns are not uncommon among the
ingentis species, minotaurs can actually use theirs to attack.
While minotaurs suffer from the same prejudice as other
troll metavariants, studies suggest that they enjoy a reputation
as reliable, hard workers, though bullish and strong-willed. This
balances out their often-flamboyant and outgoing nature. Both
contribute to explain their popularity and relative acceptance
in many physically demanding professions, particularly in the
Mediterranean region where populations are more accustomed
to their presence.
Section: Choose Your Metatype
Chapter: Creating a ShadowRunner