Running many trolls and handling regeneration

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Our next session has the PCs facing Venduul the war troll and a large force of trolls (around 20). While they might choose to be sneakier later on, we left the last session with them picking a fight with the trolls guarding the gatehouse into the keep which Venduul occupies.

I'm worried that between their numbers and their regeneration, the trolls will be a grind fest.

Any ideas how I might speed things up a bit? And make managing trollish regeneration for large numbers easier on me as DM?
Our next session has the PCs facing Venduul the war troll and a large force of trolls (around 20). While they might choose to be sneakier later on, we left the last session with them picking a fight with the trolls guarding the gatehouse into the keep which Venduul occupies.

I'm worried that between their numbers and their regeneration, the trolls will be a grind fest.

If they have any access to fire, it won't be. My players were able to keep a damper on regeneration most of the time, when I ran King of the Trollhaunt Warrens.

Any ideas how I might speed things up a bit? And make managing trollish regeneration for large numbers easier on me as DM?

Decide that something will happen after X rounds. Three is a good number. If the players can't defeat the trolls in three rounds, then something happens. A complication. In this case, I'd shut the gate on them. Make it a big heavy thing that doesn't close instantly.

The players probably can't defeat the trolls in three rounds, and that's okay, because defeating them shouldn't be the point. Take whatever the PCs' goal is (defeating Venduul I guess), and make it harder if they spend more than three rounds fighting the trolls. After three rounds, they've lost, so it doesn't matter if they defeat the trolls. (You can add further complications if they insist on spending more out-of-game time, but at that point, I'd just tell them that they've won the physical fight, but lost the encounter, and move on.)

If they lose because the gate was shut, then the game continues, with the keep on high alert (Maybe Perception and Insight bonuses for the monsters, or Hard DCs for the PCs) and the frontal approach blocked. They suddenly have to get sneaky. Even if they win, and get past the guards, the keep will be on alert, but at least they'll be inside.

The troll's goal doesn't need to include killing the players. They win if they keep the players at bay X rounds, or whatever. And they're guards, so their side can win even if they die, as long as they die getting their job done. So, don't make killing the players their goal.

Even without regeneration, fights like this are grinds. There usually aren't any stakes to make PCs want to hit hard and fast, the way they might during something that's obviously a boss fight. Either add some stakes, or find some way for the PCs to either win or lose without killing or being killed.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Yes, closing the gate on the end of the 3rd round is great.

So far, there is a sense of urgency because the PCs suspect (rightly) that Venduul will take out his wrath on the peasants in the keep should an alarm be sounded.
Yes, closing the gate on the end of the 3rd round is great.

So far, there is a sense of urgency because the PCs suspect (rightly) that Venduul will take out his wrath on the peasants in the keep should an alarm be sounded.

So, another way to look at this as that all the guards have to do is sound the alarm, which probably just means they have to yell, but might entail yanking a bell or something. I don't see a good way for the PCs to prevent that, so I'm not sure why they picked the fight. Well, they've upped the stakes. Go ahead and start "taking out wrath" and give the PCs a chance to get in and stop that.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Our next session has the PCs facing Venduul the war troll and a large force of trolls (around 20). While they might choose to be sneakier later on, we left the last session with them picking a fight with the trolls guarding the gatehouse into the keep which Venduul occupies.

I'm worried that between their numbers and their regeneration, the trolls will be a grind fest.

Any ideas how I might speed things up a bit? And make managing trollish regeneration for large numbers easier on me as DM?



Trolls CAN be a grind. Good strategy is important against them as alpha-striking individual targets and concentrating fire is most necessary in a situation with an enemy that has replenishing HP. One important thing is to NEVER make the regeneration a mystery...never take for granted player knowledge. Make it clear that these things are healing (as would be visibly obvious) so that players know what they're up against.

As for managing regeneration...for that sort of thing I love spreadsheets. It lets me increment a round number and BAM all the trolls heal back up X (whatever the regeneration amount is) without me having to go back and do it all myself.
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While not strictly speaking in the rules I tend to do all Regeneration at an initiative count.  So rather than worry about all of them regenning on their turns they all just regen whatever amount at the start of the round (or end of the round if you prefer)  Makes life easy on me keeping track of a lot of little things.
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 So, another way to look at this as that all the guards have to do is sound the alarm, which probably just means they have to yell, but might entail yanking a bell or something. I don't see a good way for the PCs to prevent that, so I'm not sure why they picked the fight. Well, they've upped the stakes. Go ahead and start "taking out wrath" and give the PCs a chance to get in and stop that.


Yeah, I have no explanation for the players(then again I rarely do ;) ). I think it's the fighter player roleplaying his PC's brashness which led to the predicament. Anyhow, yes, it's very likely Venduul will be manhandling some peasants.


Trolls CAN be a grind. Good strategy is important against them as alpha-striking individual targets and concentrating fire is most necessary in a situation with an enemy that has replenishing HP. One important thing is to NEVER make the regeneration a mystery...never take for granted player knowledge. Make it clear that these things are healing (as would be visibly obvious) so that players know what they're up against.

As for managing regeneration...for that sort of thing I love spreadsheets. It lets me increment a round number and BAM all the trolls heal back up X (whatever the regeneration amount is) without me having to go back and do it all myself.


Making regen opaque isn't an issue. These are fairly seasoned players who knows what's up with trolls. Their combat strategy has a long way to go, however, and even simple things like focusing fire can be lost in the mix. Fortunately they're pretty creative group so they can figure a way out of most situations.

I only game with my iPad at the table, no PC, and haven't figured out spreadsheets on it yet. But good idea!

While not strictly speaking in the rules I tend to do all Regeneration at an initiative count.  So rather than worry about all of them regenning on their turns they all just regen whatever amount at the start of the round (or end of the round if you prefer)  Makes life easy on me keeping track of a lot of little things.


Yes, thats a good suggestion. I'll do that.
A quick play report for how this went down at the table:

The PCs faced a series of three connected troll encounters with no rests: gatehouse, courtyard, and keep interior. The trolls started off as standard trolls (120 HP), but I reduced their HP to 60 in the courtyard, and then in the keep tactics largely bypassed HP.

At the gatehouse they failed to stop the alarm from being sounded. After a bit of a rough start with trolls getting back up and poor tactics, the party fighter reduced a troll to negative bloodied, at which point I invoked the "chunky salsa rule" (a troll cant regenerate when reduced to consistency of chunky salsa). As the portcullis came down, the wizard used an orb power that forced several trolls under the portcullis - ouch! - and then lit a wall of fire - double ouch! Throughout the later half of the encounter they heard people deeper inside the keep screaming and trolls yelling in Giant "Hold this!"

After this encounter the PCs rescued an NPC from the crow cages who became their torch wielding light trolls on fire hireling. 

PCs scouted ahead and found 10 trolls were executing anyone suspected of betraying Lord Venduul by getting adventurers to come. There was a bloody chopping block, and the trolls were forcing peasants to hold the heads of the executed. The party charged in, carving a line thru trolls so the wizard could cast "visions of avarice" which immobilized 8 of the trolls around illusory gold. The party began riffing off this, and so I started a spontaneous skill challenge ("Sell the Wizard's Illusion"), the effect of which was to get the trolls fighting among themselves. Coupled with several severely damaging encounter/daily powers, the paladin's divine sanction, and their new torch-wielding hireling, the party made short work of these trolls.

They entered the keep and the wizard unleashed his true might: he promptly cast a sleep spell which knocked out Venduul and two trolls, then followed it up with an orb attack that pushed two trolls into a large pit. Good tactics quickly killed the troll witch and mopped up the rest of the trolls. Venduul was intimidated (the fighter had a vial of blood from the dragon who Venduul worshipped as incarnation of Red God) when he was bloodied and surrendered.

What I liked best about the session was the sense of combat progression from somewhat grindy to rather quick and creative.
Uh... that sounds awesome.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Uh... that sounds awesome.


Yeah, it was a fun session. Thanks to you for the closing the gatehouse suggestion

The party is now headed into Dragon Mountain. They've killed a red dragon and a massive amount of trolls, but do they have what it takes to best kobolds? Innocent 
 So, another way to look at this as that all the guards have to do is sound the alarm, which probably just means they have to yell, but might entail yanking a bell or something. I don't see a good way for the PCs to prevent that, so I'm not sure why they picked the fight. Well, they've upped the stakes. Go ahead and start "taking out wrath" and give the PCs a chance to get in and stop that.

Yeah, I have no explanation for the players(then again I rarely do ;) ). I think it's the fighter player roleplaying his PC's brashness which led to the predicament. Anyhow, yes, it's very likely Venduul will be manhandling some peasants.

Good to hear you had a fun session. I did want to reply to this particular quote though. Not saying it is the case at your table, but sometimes the DM is to blame for such acts through subtle behavior by the DM which lead to players drawing erraneous conclusions. When players do something stupid, best to always double check with yourself whether you are the cause.
 So, another way to look at this as that all the guards have to do is sound the alarm, which probably just means they have to yell, but might entail yanking a bell or something. I don't see a good way for the PCs to prevent that, so I'm not sure why they picked the fight. Well, they've upped the stakes. Go ahead and start "taking out wrath" and give the PCs a chance to get in and stop that.

Yeah, I have no explanation for the players(then again I rarely do ;) ). I think it's the fighter player roleplaying his PC's brashness which led to the predicament. Anyhow, yes, it's very likely Venduul will be manhandling some peasants.

Good to hear you had a fun session. I did want to reply to this particular quote though. Not saying it is the case at your table, but sometimes the DM is to blame for such acts through subtle behavior by the DM which lead to players drawing erraneous conclusions. When players do something stupid, best to always double check with yourself whether you are the cause.


Yes, that's always good advice.

In this case, the players were initially somewhat split on stealthy vs. head-on, but one player instigated the head-on. However, once he did, the rest of the group got behind him and saw their blitzkrieg as the best way to minimize casualties (after all, they didn't stop to rest between fights). From their perspective, risking a few deaths in order to get rid of the trolls was better than the slow but certain death the trolls were causing the village. The lord is certainly rewarding them, however...

I'm thinking it could come back to bite them if they employ hirelings for their expedition to Dragon Mountain...one of the hirelings could be the surviving family member of someone who was executed by the trolls during the PCs' assault, and he/she blames the PCs and plans to sabotage their expedition.
For Trolls, or other regenerating baddies, I'll hand out a pile of black (choose whatever color you want, we've got a pretty elaborate system) pipe cleaners to the players who can inflict conditions that would turn off regeneration.  So for Trollhaunt, the wizard and the fire elementalist got big stacks of pipe cleaners.  Players are to turn them into little rings, and place one on the token/figurine of anything they hit with fire.

On the troll's turn, I'll pass the pipe cleaners back, or if the troll didn't have a pipe cleaner necklace, he got his regeneration hit points.  Very useful from both a DM and player perspective to be able to look at the board at know who had been splashed with fire or acid that round.

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