The Trolls’ Den

We’re throwing up another bit of the Thar hexcrawl today, this one the lair of some trolls in the foothills of the Galena Mountains, right at the edge of the moors.

Summary: Trolls lair here, mostly hunting local wildlife for sustenance, but also hunting down any caravans or raiding parties who pass through to supplement their diets. They’ve hired themselves out as mercenaries for food and treasure to various factions in the moors before, and may do so again.

Hook: If the party rolls a random encounter in hex 01.02, roll a d6. On a 4-6, they are ambushed by 1d4 trolls out hunting. On a 1-3, use the normal random encounter table for Thar. If players succeed on their spotter checks while searching this hex, they happen across a troll hunting party of the same size and can attempt to ambush them instead.

Encounter: Regardless of whether the party found trolls or trolls found them, they’ve left tracks, and a DC 10 Survival check will allow the party to follow those tracks back to the trolls’ lair, a string of small caves built in the side of a hill. There are a total of two dozen trolls living in this hex, however there will be three hunting parties of 1d4 trolls each out ranging at any given time, leaving only the remainder behind to guard the den. Additionally, every troll slain in a random encounter is one fewer troll left living in the den.

Attacking the trolls head-on is inadvisable, but they can be whittled down by following their hunting parties as they leave and picking them off one by one. If the troll is cut in half within three months or less (very likely if the party is effectively hunting them down), they’ll become more cautious and start splitting their remaining forces in half, with one half going out to hunt and raid and the other half staying behind to guard the treasure. Five or six trolls is no easy encounter, so the party may need to find some allies to finish the job. The trolls have no particular enemies, but neither do they have friends, so any friends the party has made in the moors who’d be willing to help them in a fight will help them fight the trolls. The trolls have both a potion of healing and a potion of climbing in their hoard. They have no idea what either of them do, but if they’re attacked in their lair and lose at least half of their number, one of them will retreat to grab the potions and gaffle one at random. If he gaffled the potion of climbing, well, that’s useless, so he’ll gaffle the other. The potion of healing isn’t much use either seeing as how he’s a troll and can regenerate and might not even be damaged.

The trolls have been hired out as mercenaries before and can be again. If the players succeed on a DC 15 Persuasion check, the trolls will stop to hear out an offer for work. No matter what, the trolls will demand that the players provide food for the duration of the trolls’ employment, and by default they also demand 300 gold (or assorted treasure of similar value) per troll, and in exchange they will fight with the party in one major battle. For every point above 15 on the Persuasion check rolled, the price is reduced by 10 gold per troll. The trolls don’t have an exact legalistic definition of “major battle” that they’re working off of, and they may also get bored and leave if it’s been several weeks and they still haven’t had the fight they were hired for. If trolls are hired for some future battle and the players return some weeks or months after paying them to collect them for their service, the players must roll a DC 15 Persuasion or DC 20 Intimidation check. If they fail, the trolls have “forgotten” their promise to fight and assert that the treasure the PCs gave them has always been theirs.

Aftermath: Trolls are vicious and unpredictable allies. If hired they are unlikely to stab players in the back, but once a battle starts they will generally head for the most intense melee and tear up anyone who looks like the other side. If both sides aren’t clearly distinguishable, trolls will attack indiscriminately (usually the case if both sides are orcs or both are ogres, though trolls can certainly distinguish between orcs and ogres even in the haze of combat, so if it’s orcs vs. ogres they’ll be fine). The trolls can recognize their employers and will not attack them, specifically, even if fighting other humanoids. If hired, trolls can provide the location of both the Black Spears orc tribe and the Jade Skulls ogre tribe in hex 01.01 as well as the keep of the Bloody Skulls orc tribe in hex 02.03, both of which the trolls have visited in previous mercenary work.

If the players are able to loot the trolls’ lair, it contains 814 copper, 8,026 silver, 2,704 gold, 113 platinum, a small chest containing 3 vials of holy water (and some straw padding, 50 gold each), 2 sets of fine clothes (15 gold each), a chest containing 7 bottles of common wine (and also lots of straw padding, 2 silver each), a lute (35 gold), a disguise kit (25 gold), 8 turquoise gems (10 gold each), 9 amethyst gems (100 gold each), a flask containing a potion of healing, and another containing a potion of climbing.

 

The more we work on Thar the more pressing the need for proper maps become. Nearly every encounter on the Thar hexcrawl is a dungeon of some size or another, so having dungeonographer would be immensely helpful. If you’d like to help us get on that, please support our Patreon and get our content a week before the free-loading plebeians.

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