Simple Monsters Made Interesting: the Troll
In this new, and hopefully bi-weekly series we’ll give you some special example background stories to make well-known, and possibly neglected monsters interesting. Do your characters view orcs as easy target? Does a gnoll give them no thrill only faint boredom? Well, here are a few things to spice up these “usual encounters”.
The Troll. Frightening creatures, with a slight “meh” when your long-time players encounter them. “Okay guys, light some torches”, is the usual answer with a yawn. Trolls are dumb, green-skinned sacks of HP with little or no treasure whatsoever. So, here’s a Troll for you, who is a bit more interesting.
Rauk, the Troll-who-thinks
Rauk and the Broken Bones Clan were the guardians of a wizard called Kelannon, with the single task of preventing anyone unwanted to approach the wizard’s tower. They lived in the small shadowy forest encircling the fortress, patrolling every now and then, slaying adventurers or just simply weakening them, so by the time they reached Kelannon, they were easy targets for the wizard.
Kelannon thought them basic fighting tactics: always attack in numbers, have a reserve, pull your gravely wounded out of the battlefield to regenerate and don’t be shy to flee. For years and years these tactics worked, with some occasional hiccups and losing a few of their numbers every now and then. Kelannon rewarded them with treasures Trolls find interesting (Shiny Big Stuff), plenty of food and relative safety.
But then Kelannon died. It wasn’t a party of adventurers who killed him, but his own experiments: he poisoned himself with a potion he thought would make him more powerful. When no orders came for days, Rauk slowly crawled into the chamber of his master, only to find him lying on the floor, dead. Not knowing what to do, he looked around, touching the Shiny Big Stuff. One of the Shiny Big Stuff was an intelligent battleaxe called Reaver, which started to talk to Rauk, showing him a world far larger and far more interesting than the woods.
A few years later, Rauk is now the lord of the tower, and the members of the Broken Bones Clan are a bit more intelligent. Since Rauk learned that adventurers can cause a lot of trouble, they spread the word that Kelannon is dead and his tower is in ruins, despoiled multiple times by treasure hunters. Only a few low-level characters ever wander there, who are easily killed by the Trolls.
Rauk starts to become bored on the small tower and small forest, wanting to have a bigger portion of the far larger world. Reaver shows him possible futures, and there’s quite a few which caught his interest…
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