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Opinions on using different names for established conventions

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Zero Angel, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    Hi all,

    I have been working on a wiki article for my race of creatures known as the sochu.

    They are my take on the type of trolls that I grew up with, that is, the kind made popular by D&D and Warcraft II.

    Why the different name? Well my trolls are more of the traditional Scandinavian / Norse trolls, which I feel deserves at least the name they have had for the last dozen centuries, so I needed another unrelated name to describe this distinct race of creatures.

    So my questions to yins are this:
    1. What is everyone's take on using different names for already established creatures?
    2. How do you feel about what D&D did in co-opting the name "troll" for their own creatures?

    Thank you! I look forward to hearing from everyone!
  2. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    To quote a certain wiki that must not be named:

    Elves have Pointy Ears and live for a very long time out in the magical forest. Dwarves live underground, dig up jewels, and are short and like to grow long beards. Merpeople live underwater, have sea-creature features, and sing. And Trolls...

    Err? Well, they're always big, ugly, brutal, and stupid, right? Except when they're small, Ugly Cute and friendly.
    Should they be giants with scaly green skin that rapidly heal from any injury except fire or acid? Or something that's literally made of rock and gets smarter when it's in the cold? Or perhaps something that guards bridges from errant goats?

    All right, let's admit it. Trolls are diverse. It's not even a matter of everyone wanting them to be different; there are so many clashing ideas of trolls in mythology itself that it's hard to decide what they are. So, really, you can't blame modern creators for putting their own spin on trolls. If there is any consistency, it is that the less cute the troll, the meaner the troll, but even that tends to be subverted.

    The upshot of it is that, if you use one of the (many) types of Scandinavian trolls, you can probably name it whatever you want, and your readers won't be able to tell.
    Zero Angel likes this.
  3. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    Is there a reason it must not be named?

    Well it's nice to know I can't be blamed for it...

    So you're saying it would be more appropriate to rename the "traditional" troll and leave the "modern" troll as a troll?

    What's your opinion in non-troll related conventions, creatures, etc?
  4. Chime85

    Chime85 Sage

    Well there is no reason why you cannot name a Troll as something else. After all, hasn't the name, Troll been stretched to internet slang? This situation can be a two way street.

    The beauty about designing our own worlds, as writers, is that we can build them from the ground up. What is known as a troll in our mythology may very well be called something else in another world.

    At the end of the day, a name conjures up a different image to each and every one of us. To some, a Troll is a cumbersome creature that turns to stone in daylight after capturing some Dwarves and a Hobbit. To others, they are blue tribal creatures in the land of Azeroth. Finally, some see trolls as grumpy large man like beings who live under bridges and torment goats.

    Have fun with the idea, write down how you would describe something when it is labelled a Troll, and something labelled a Sochu. Compare the differences and similarities. The bottom line is, there is no reason why you cannot name something that you believe resembles a Troll, as something else.

  5. To name that place is to invite doom. (Of your entire afternoon, which shall be devoted to clicking a lot of links.)

    That said, I do think Scandinavian-style trolls are the most kickass trolls. And I don't say that because I'm Swedish. Our trolls have tails, live for thousands of years, are skilled spellcasters, and have blatant super-strenght. What's not to love?
  6. I think I know of which site you speak. Rhymes with "Skeevy Gropes"?

    Anyway, to answer the question: I don't see any problem with having a race in your work that closely resemble an existing mythical race, but has a different name. If you're only giving them a new name to avoid calling them "trolls," then, well... if they too closely resemble things your readers are familiar with, they may get annoyed that you're making up terms for something that there's already a term for. But if they're different enough to be their own distinct thing, then it's no problem at all.

    I really like the name "sochu," too.
    Zero Angel likes this.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    1) I think it is fine to go ahead with a new name for an established creature, particularly if you are doing so because the accepted name is already used to describe different creatures. Since you are using "troll" to refer to Scandanavian trolls, then unless these "sochu" are related to the creatures referred to as trolls in your world, I'd avoid using troll to describe them and just stick with sochu.

    2) I don't have a problem with D&D using the name for their own take on trolls. It doesn't stop anyone else doing something completely different with trolls.
  8. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    Dungeons and Dragons names were pulled from all sorts of different historical and literary sources originally. No matter if people think they are "generic" races, theses creatures were most likely researched extensively before anything was decided upon. There is a discussion of that elsewhere on the forum, but I don't see a problem with using an established name if that's what you're going for. So if your creature is a troll in every obvious way but in name only (like Benjamin said) then I don't see the point in renaming it. However, Robert Jordan has a lot of that in his Wheel of Time series. "Trollocs" for instance, are basically like beastmen. I think if the sochu have something that makes them unique, then go for it. Or if it ties into the mythology of your world.

    So basically, if it fits your world, do it. If it's just a way to rename something, then maybe it's pointless.
    Zero Angel likes this.
  9. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    Thanks for the opinions so far.

    I appreciate the support for the name sochu, and they are my own take on the regenerative types of trolls. I wasn't so much caring what people thought of sochu (since I was going to do it anyway), although it is always nice to hear opinions (especially positive ones :D).

    Rather, I was just interested in what people thought about the practice of changing the names and how they felt about D&D co-opting.

    I can't stand what Robert Jordan does personally and I think that is a great example. It seems like he changes the names just to change it. I am never sure if I am supposed to recognize what he is talking about or not, but I don't feel that he describes the creatures well enough for me to know what the heck they are or even supposed to look like in general.
    ...it is possible that is my ADHD talking though which frequently causes me to skip the boring parts (description).

    Trollocs are probably the only creatures he's described that I figure I know what he's talking about. Although I thought of them as orcs, not beastmen -_-
  10. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    I don't have a problem with it either, but growing up I always thought trolls were how D&D did them and was amazed to research and find (as a teenager) that those are not traditional.
  11. Sieryn

    Sieryn Dreamer

    Its your world, do what you want. If we always refer to something in the exact same context it becomes stagnant and boring!

    I like the name.
  12. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror


    I actually completely forget how I came up with it (I hope I have it written down somewhere :confused:) but my main inspiration for the race is pain. I have them as a type of dichotomous offspring between two unlike races that has since bred true but should have never existed in the first place. Their existence is marked by overwhelming pain which they deal with in one of two ways:

    1) Their pain receptors and nerves eventually deaden over time through the use of powerful drugs and alcohol, and
    2) They embrace the pain and seek to strengthen it by causing and receiving more pain.

    Typically, younger sochu tend to go the route of #2 more, but over time they just can't deal with it anymore and many turn to #1 in their old age (if they haven't already).

    Their magicks, called pain magicks, are strengthened through acts of sadism and masochism both. This is one of the reasons why they have very painful piercings and body modifications done and why they tend to be extremely aggressive in battle. Plus they rely on their regenerative abilities to be able to handle anything that happens to them. Their regeneration is markedly stronger than Warcraft berserkers, but not approaching the super-hero levels of the Wolverine like D&D trolls.

    I'll let yins know when I post the wiki article.

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