Monday, 9 May 2016

B/X Class: The Half-Troll

It's exam marking season here at the university, and so my mind turns once again to B/X monster classes. I've always liked the idea of troll PCs, but struggled a bit with how to reconcile their signature ability, regeneration, with the B/X resource management paradigm: after all, if you can get all your hit points back after (or during) every fight, then you really have no reason not to keep wading into battle. Half-trolls are my solution, based around the idea that 'true' troll regeneration isn't passed on to their half-human offspring; they can regenerate, alright, but all that extra tissue has to come from somewhere. They can't just grow it out of the air: to fuel their healing, they need to eat. They need to eat a lot.

From a game-balance perspective, this means that the player of a half-troll has to balance two resources against each other: hit points, and encumbrance. How much food can you carry? How much food are your comrades willing to lug into the dungeon for you? How much food can you keep fresh and edible under adventuring conditions? You can hire bearers and pack mules, but they have their own problems: good luck extricating your personal baggage train from the middle of a panicked retreat. And, of course, it means that half-troll PCs will be constantly on the lookout for anything (or anyone) who can be used as an extra source of food. You know you want to eat the dead demon. You know you want to. What's the worst that could happen?

B/X Class: The Half-Troll

To-Hit, Hit Dice, Saves: All as per Fighter.

Weapons and Armour: Half-trolls can use any melee or thrown weapons, but their thick, clumsy fingers are ill-suited to using bows or crossbows. (If you insist on trying, you can use them with a -4 penalty to-hit.) They can wear any armour, but their huge, bulky frames mean that it must be made specially for them at double normal cost: human-sized armour will not fit. 

Experience Per Level: As per Elf.

Low Light Vision: Half-trolls can see perfectly in very dim light such as moonlight or starlight, but cannot see in total darkness.

Regeneration: Your body can repair itself at an incredible rate. When injured, you regain 3 HP every ten minutes. If reduced below 0 HP, you continue to heal at a rate of 3 HP every ten minutes unless reduced to more than twice your level in negative HP. (So a third-level half-troll dies at -7 HP, and so on.) This ability cannot be used to heal damage caused by fire or acid. 

Troll Hunger: You require an enormous amount of food to power your regenerative abilities. Every time you regenerate, you feel as hungry as if you had just gone for a full day without food, and must gorge yourself on a day's worth of rations at the first opportunity. (So a half-troll who has just regenerated 9 HP will feel as though they had gone without food for three full days.) Eating a day's worth of food in this fashion takes 20 minutes - which means that if you're still regenerating while you eat, you may finish your meal hungrier than you were when you started it! Normal limits on how much food you can eat at once, or how quickly your stomach can digest it, do not apply to these regeneration-fuelled binges: a half-troll can easily swallow down ten or twenty meals worth of food in a sitting, their swollen stomachs digesting it almost instantly to 'pay off' the enormous calorific debt incurred by their regeneration. 

Metabolic Limits: Your regeneration cannot function forever without food. If you are suffering from a number of 'days' of starvation greater than your level (either due to regeneration or extended fasting), your regenerative abilities will shut down, and will not work again until you eat at least a day's worth of food. 

(Note that this means that your regeneration will never actually make you starve to death - even a 20th level half-troll can only inflict the equivalent of 21 days of hunger on themselves through regeneration, which isn't enough to be fatal - but it can leave you very, very weak. Assume a penalty of -1 to all rolls for physical activity, including to-hit and damage rolls, for every five 'days' of hunger.)

Om nom nom. Art by Peter Mohrabcher.


  1. i had a player eat some troll brain other day, very messy

    as usual i salute your efforts

    im gonna do some trolls but they will be more like barn trolls and moomintrolls or even runequest trolls than dnd - RQ trolls have interesting eating habits too.

    my dnd trolls all insane and immortal chaos fiends who have regenerated into a mass of cancer

    do these half trolls use normal weapons

    1. If by 'normal weapons' you mean normal-sized, then yeah, I think so. A short sword would probably be more like a big dagger for them, and a greatsword would be like a bastard sword, but I don't imagine them as being so massive that they need special 'giant weapon' rules.

      Cancer trolls make an icky kind of sense. Basically humanoid tumours, right? Ewww.

      Last year my baby son was insisting on watching Moomins on almost continuous repeat, so I now have a weirdly complete knowledge of Moomin mythology. I look forward to seeing what you do with them!

  2. "which means that if you're still regenerating while you eat, you may finish your meal hungrier than you were when you started it!"
    Now that made me crack, good sir.

    "Quick, get him a bunch of cows to eat!"