This is how it has been for 4½ edition (or however long you have needed to use fire against trolls. It has never been an issue in my campaigns.

The first couple of times the players meet trolls, they do not know (unless they pass the appropriate checks) what a troll is capable of. As they become higher level and more experienced, they have easier access to the knowledge and can act upon it, and thus the troll regen becomes a non-issue.

In short, if one of my players ever tried to use an at-will fire to cancel out regen without getting word from me that it was okay for his character to do so, it would be stopped immediately.


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First Post
I've used trolls in several encounters so far, with my PCs knowing full well what will stop their regeneration (thanks to several edition's worth of experience). I also figure that my PCs with extensive monster lore have come across stories detailing your average troll, so a simple knowledge check bypasses any meta-gaming issues, the same way that they can rather easily figure out that radiant damage stops most undead from regenerating.

As for how well this all turns out in-game, I think it's been fine. The fun comes not from the surprise, but from the attempts at consistently keeping the big guys down. My PCs don't have at-will fire powers, so they tried to wear the trolls down and then time their fire attacks so that they drop them for good. This has made the battles with trolls interesting as they attempt to outlast their regeneration, and a few times they've miscalculated and dropped a troll too early with a normal attack or critical hit (allowing him to get back up). One battle had the wizard rolling his Burning Sphere around the trolls while they rushed him and the party did their best to keep him covered. Another time the PCs ran out of fire attacks, and one big troll kept getting back up - the dwarf fighter whipped out the Instant Campsite and they rolled the brute into the fire the next time he went down! Pretty funny.

All that said, in my next game I believe I'm going to switch things up, and a troll's weakness is going to be a clan/tribe/regional thing.


First Post
Also, you could always just re-skin the trolls.

This is what I do. You see, players who've played a lot of D&D know what trolls are. They just do. They know what they're capable of, they know their weakness, and they just know trolls. True, you can require the characters to make checks before they can act on this knowledge, but that's not fun. It's not fun for players to have to take extra time thinking about their abilities, and even occasionally purposely not use the ability they would have used because their character doesn't have the player's knowledge. In my opinion, it's unnecessary. If your entire encounter is built around the players not being able to use out-of-game knowledge, that's a bad encounter, IMO.

So I typically re-skin trolls as something else- a two-headed alligator who keeps getting back up when it's down, for example. That allows intuitive players to take some chances, while still keeping the mystery of the game. I think many iconic monsters need a good re-skin every now and then.


For instance, it would be cool if a party of adventurers start the King of the Trollhaunt module with no access to fire or acid and only through experience fighting the Trolls find out what helps against them, and keeps them dead once defeated. However, I strongly suspect my players would all go into town purchasing some +1 Fire swords as back-up weapons at the very least. I really have a hard time seeing the signature ability of the Troll ever coming into effect against players with experience from earlier D&D editions.

Unless, of course, they choose to role-play instead of metagaming.

Not that it should be impossible for them to know about trolls' weaknesses. If they know they're venturing into something called the "Trollhaunt", or that trolls are in the area, then it's perfectly reasonable to let them make some Knowledge checks. If they succeed, then they're perfectly justified in loading up on fire and acid. If not, then doing so would be distinctly out of character.

What do you feel about a monster whose signature abilities are likely to never come into effect? Doesn't this effectively make the monster a few levels lower?

Even in a party that's reasonably well catered for with fire/acid powers, which knows what it's up against, I'd still be surprised if the trolls never get to use their regenerative abilities. In the course of a combat, not every PC's every power will deal fire or acid damage, and they're not always going to be in a position to apply them exactly on time. I'd expect trolls' abilities to still come into play often enough to make them a unique challenge.

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
From the DDI compendium, searching for "fire OR acid" and filtering for at-wills:

Flame Seed (Druid, fire)
Acid Orb (Sorcerer, acid)
Burning Spray (Sorcerer, fire)
Greenflame Blade (Swordmage, fire)
Hellish Rebuke (Warlock, fire)
Scorching Burst (Wizard, fire)


It rather makes my point that perhaps Trolls are MM1 monsters for PHB1 classes, and later books triple the number of ways to hose them with at-wills :)

Maybe there will be super-trolls in MM2 ;)


David Jose
I haven't really worried about imposing a mechanical break between player and character knowledge concerning troll vulnerabilities since AD&D. We've just chalked it up as one of the things that people in the world know (or at least think they know).
  • Dragons are big lizards that breathe fire and stuff
  • Trolls heal really fast unless you burn them with fire
  • Werecreatures need to be killed with silver and if you get bit you'll turn into one
  • Vampires die if they are hit with sunlight, need to have a wooden stake driven through their heart to prevent them from coming back to life, and can be held at bay by garlic
  • Some really powerful undead will sap your life
  • Santa Claus knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake
If they've got the right knowledge I'll give them a chance to correct themselves, but otherwise I let them believe the myth.

If there really needs to be a surprise, Achilles' heel moment, I use a monster that they (players and "people in that world" alike) are unfamiliar with or that I've invented entirely.


Your original post boils down to: "here are some reasons why I think trolls should be changed; do you agree?" My post boils down to: "no".
My post boils down to "do you think trolls are over- or underpowered?" and "do you feel it is a problem players will automatically wield fire or acid against trolls?".

Assuming you answer no to both these questions, would you care to expand on why?


First Post
I give a brief description of monsters, but do not name them. In the description I try to leave out key, easily recognized phrases (ex. ropey hair for trolls).

So I might say, "Out of the swamp emerges several 8ft tall warty humanoids, roll Nature checks."

If they figure it out anyway, good on the players. If not, it usually buys me a few rounds before it becomes clear to them.

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