Should a low level character know to burn a troll?

Should a low level character know to burn a troll?

  • Yes

    Votes: 86 78.2%
  • No

    Votes: 24 21.8%

  • Total voters
    110

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Prompted by a comment in another thread. Should they? And why/why not?

(Had people other than Van Helsing seen Dracula movies?)

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TheSword

Explorer
No. Unless their background or skills mean they should know.

In my opinion the creators of the Walking Dead had it right. If zombie movies exist then zombies are less scary. We played Curse of Strahd the same way. No characters knew what this blood sucking fiend was, because otherwise their characters are all planning for it.

If the players are mature enough to separate character knowledge from player knowledge I find this method is far more satisfying.
 

Dausuul

Legend
For a relatively common monster like a troll? Yes, absolutely. That would be the sort of thing you learn from stories.

Contrast, say, a lich. Very rare, secretive, powerful monster that most people haven't even heard of. Among the few who have, there's likely to be more rumor and misinformation than fact. Low-level adventurers, or even mid-level ones, would be unlikely to know about the phylactery.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
Seems like the kind of thing a Knowledge Skill is for... but how high the DC for it will affect the CR of the monster. I feel like the Troll is built on the assumption the PCs will know to use fire... if they don't, the fight becomes harder so you should bump its CR.

That said, even if you know a weakness, it doesn't mean you're equipped to properly deal with it... in one Curse of Stradh Adventurer League game we ended up fighting a Werewolf with a Fighter, a Ranger and a Rogue and we had a single Silver Dagger between us... once the Rogue was downed the Ranger and I would just litterly pass the dagger to each other every turn. The most ridiculous juggling act ever...

No. Unless their background or skills mean they should know.

In my opinion the creators of the Walking Dead had it right. If zombie movies exist then zombies are less scary. We played Curse of Strahd the same way. No characters knew what this blood sucking fiend was, because otherwise their characters are all planning for it.

If the players are mature enough to separate character knowledge from player knowledge I find this method is far more satisfying.
In the game I play we were near a vampire and it was decided there's a LOT of legends about vampires to the point where our characters don't know what is and isn't true.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
No. Unless their background or skills mean they should know.

In my opinion the creators of the Walking Dead had it right. If zombie movies exist then zombies are less scary. We played Curse of Strahd the same way. No characters knew what this blood sucking fiend was, because otherwise their characters are all planning for it.

If the players are mature enough to separate character knowledge from player knowledge I find this method is far more satisfying.
To riff on this, I think that if the DM is mature enough, they're not going to craft encounters where making the players pretend to not know things is necessary to make an encounter interesting. In other words, trolls being vulnerable to fire shouldn't be the crux of the encounter. If you build encounters such that this is the important bit, that's on you as DM.

And, as you may guess, I see no point whatsoever in making players pretend they don't know stuff and fumble around for however long the DM thinks is appropriate before they're allowed to try fire on trolls.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So, to the large point, this is a question of play goals. Do you expect the player to be an advocate for their character -- to play it with integrity according to what's best for that character -- or do you expect the player to instead put what's best for the story at the table first? Because, if you're expecting players to pretend they don't know fire harms trolls you're expecting that player to put your story first, not their character. You've decided your story involves these characters encountering the unknown but instead of doing work to present unknown things, they choose a monster with a gimmick and demand that the players ignore the gimmick to get to the story of the characters encountering the unknown.

Gimmick monsters aren't a substitute for well crafted encounters. Present better scenes if you want the story of encountering the unknown.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
I answered "Yes," but as others have said it would depend on the campaign and each particular monster

If the DM is throwing monsters at players that they've faced dozens of times (or more!) over their gaming careers and expecting them to play their characters like they have no clue (perhaps because they wouldn't), I'd wager that's not very fun for most players.

If the campaign is centered around monsters being extremely rare and generally unknown, then maybe the DM should put some effort into creating some custom monsters or, at the very least, reskinning them and using different names.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I say yes. Troll weakness to fire I think would be common knowledge. Unless your character has travelled from a land where trolls are non-existent which could be a case for them to have no idea what a troll is.
 
So, to the large point, this is a question of play goals. Do you expect the player to be an advocate for their character -- to play it with integrity according to what's best for that character -- or do you expect the player to instead put what's best for the story at the table first?
Or, a third option, play their character as if the character is something like a real person with knowledge separate from that of the player.

We don't seem to have any difficulty with the idea that characters in horror rpgs, such as Call of Cthulhu, are unaware of the existence of the supernatural. They all have to start off as Scullys.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Or, a third option, play their character as if the character is something like a real person with knowledge separate from that of the player.

We don't seem to have any difficulty with the idea that characters in horror rpgs, such as Call of Cthulhu, are unaware of the existence of the supernatural. They all have to start off as Scullys.
This isn't a third option though. It's still the DM directing the players to play to the best of the DM's story, which involves them being ignorant of things the players actually know. This isn't high art -- it's lazy. It's lazy on the part of the DM.

And, you can tell because if a player declares that their character does know about trolls and fire, or the supernatural in CoC, the immediate reaction of the DM will be to challenge this and require justification. Justification that's not required for any other decision of the player in regards to their character. And, this call for justification is because the story the DM has envisioned will be harmed if the PCs can actually address whatever gimmick is being hidden by the pretended lack of knowledge.

Let me put it another way -- the first time you met a troll in game, it was cool. You didn't know about the fire and the encounter was scary and very interesting. Now, the second time you meet a troll, you have to pretend it's cool. It's not actually cool. The only fear is worrying how long or how much damage you have to take before the DM will let you use fire. This isn't achieving the goal of cool and interesting play -- it's just justifying the DM's laziness and forcing their preferred story outcomes.

And, I'll quibble with you on CoC. It's not that the PC can't know about the supernatural -- they very well can be firm believers in the weird and not lose anything. It's that knowing won't help. Call does this very well where even knowing things can be worse than not. It uses knowledge in a distinctly different way.
 

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