Monday, May 26, 2008

Week of Trolls - Day Seven - Hunting Trolls

The chief occupation of adventurers in FRPG, when it comes to the realm of adventurer-troll relations, is that of population control. Adventurers kill trolls. Or they die trying. This final installment in the week of trolls (which is being posted a long weekend too late, but hey - its my blog), is concerned with a few topics related to killing trolls.

First, the topic of killing trolls begins with the meat and potatoes of adventurer combat skills - the weapon. A long out of print (but locally written, produced, and printed) game that bore more than a passing resemblance to Runequest 2nd Ed., called "Element Masters", once featured a weapon in it called the Trollkiller. It was a hefty two handed weapon (that had a steep strength minimum in order to wield it) that did 3d6 damage. In Runequest, especially when using hit-locations, that was enough to nearly guarantee if not the death of the standard troll, then at least a severing of a limb or head. Sever a head and it lives? Well, it depends on the troll, its cult, its runes, spells, etc - it gets complicated quick.

In AD&D, especially when weapons did different damage against large creatures (which Trolls classify as), the two handed sword is a great choice. It is slow - bummer - but it does hefty damage. Now, the classic AD&D troll has 6+6HD - which is to say 6d8 + 6 points, or (on average) 33 hit points. Up to a maximum of 54 hit points. Now, take your average fighter. He might have a magic sword of say, +2, and he might have a str bonus of say, +2/+4, which means that with a two handed sword (which does 3d6 vs. large), he is going to dish out, on average, 17 points of damage, and depending on which rules you use, he might get 2 attacks a round. IF he is lucky, and if the troll doesn't finish him off first (not a bad chance, considering he does a maximum potential damage of 28 points of damage per round), then the Fighter might finish off a troll in 2 rounds, 1 round if he is very lucky. Ahh, but trolls regenerate, you say, and they come back, and all of the other devious things that trolls can do as posted in the first part of the week of trolls. And, of course, they travel in packs sometimes.

Which brings up an interesting point - teamwork against a pack of trolls. Do you concentrate on one? Or pair off against individual trolls? Well, every dungeon is different, and every combat unique, but I would suggest concentrating on one troll at a time, and then if the resources are available, have the weakest member of the adventuring party make sure that the remains do just that - remain, and not reform into regenerated trolls.

Point two - weapons that do real damage to the troll. Everything discussed above, with the typical fifth level fighter, and his typical +2 magic two-handed sword is all well and good, but that damage to a troll is just a tickle. A walk in the park. A minor obstruction. He regenerates, you see, and Mr. Troll does not like to wait around. He'll start reforming the instant he is dead, and just a few short rounds later, he is up and at it again, kicking in all he's got for the Troll regiment. So how do you dish out damage that really matters - damage that will keep Uncle Ugly down permanently? Well, it boils down (basically) to either fire or acid. Adventurers dealing with trolls should ignore everything about infravision and ultravision and dark vision and twilight vision, and this vision and that vision. Carry torches. Every member of the party should be armed with a fist full of fire. The more the merrier. It might ward off trolls, or if they are desperate or stupid enough to attack, then it provides the means for permanent damage. And if a troll is downed, then a party member can use a torch to begin scorching the troll remains. Other options, if available, are fire based spells and firebrand (or flaming) magic weapons. As summoned fire elemental does nicely, but if you can pull off that trick, it seems a waste to use against some trolls. Which brings us to point three...

Acid. Ah, it seems so useful. Just "immerse the body parts in acid" the first edition monster manual states. Think of this - a large, gangly, rubbery humanoid freak with a height over 8 feet tall - how big are those body parts going to be? How much acid do you need? That little flask the adventurer carries in his belt to use as a desperate hand grenade isn't going to do it. A couple of jugs of the stuff. Or maybe a pool of acid (found in the better dungeons) should do the trick. One final option comes from the world of Cidri (revealed in the published materials from Metagaming related to "The Fantasy Trip").

Universal Solvent. What a great idea! Some made alchemist devises a material that can dissolve anything. ANYTHING. Nearly instantly. And he renders it into liquid form (what do you keep it in?). Luckily the forward thinking alchemist was wise beyond his years, and he made it a two part compound. You can carry those parts quite safely, but combine them - and you have local meltdown happening. Now, to me, this should do the job quite nicely on Mr. Troll. And the Mrs., and all the children. But it is dangerous. And what happens when you use Universal Solvent on the pile of troll parts, to dissolve a nice breadbox sized hole right down through the pile, and it continues on through the floor, down 15 feet through the bedrock, and down into the chamber with the angry green dragon in it a level down? Doesn't matter, those troll parts won't be regenerating though....

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