Wells are dangerous. Fall in and you are likely to drown. In a society where children were expected to tend to themselves for a large part of the day as in the rural 19th and early 20th century Scandinavia (and most likely in many other low-tech farming societies around the world), it was necessary to emphasize the dangers of ponds and wells – and thus was The troll in the well created.
Brøndtrolden or The Troll in the Well is not a well-defined folkloric creature as with elves, revenants and the wild hunt, but instead a bogeyman used to scare children warning them of the dangers drowning. It is known by many names. Common in Denmark is Brøndtrolden (Troll in the Well), Brøndmanden (The Man in the Well) and Brøndkælling (Hag or Old Woman in the Well) as well as Krogmanden (The Hook Man – who used his hooks to pull children into the well). The creature is also known as Brunngubbe or Brunnskessan in Swedish and has other names as well. If have not come across any Norwegian tales, but it is likely that the same being can be found in Norwegian scare stories as well.
The brøndtrold hides in wells and pulls its victims down into the water to drown them. They are equipped with long arms or long hooks to catch their prey. It may be the dark shadow you see on surface of the well’s water, or that might be your reflection. There is not much more to say as everything hereafter is either variation on theme or draws elements from other folkloric creatures into the construct such as The Neck (Nøkken).
Other folkloric traditions surrounding wells involves ghosts or revenants. Some wells were haunted by their victims: Either people having committed suicide by jumping into the well or infants having been drowned by desperate mothers. These ghosts were commonly abjured by the local priest and a stake through the place, where they drowned were commonly part of the process.
However, since Brøndtrold is such a suitable name, there is no reason not to use it for the rpg Vaesen – Nordic Horror Roleplaying, and you can download for free the Brøndtrold from DriveThruRPG: The Troll in the Well. It describes three different well bogeys to build mysterries with for your Vaesen game.
More new Vaesen for your game?