In this episode of the column "Who did it better?" let's see who, among the various editions of D&D e Pathfinder, he drew the most apt Troll!
A new appointment with the writer's favorite column.
In the past episodes, we talked about the buletteand Driade, Goblin and Beardog.
This time we will see an immortal monster in its popularity and even on the board: the Troll. Its presence in the manuals is constant and no bestiary could declare itself worthy of the name without including an entry of our favorite green monster.
So let's see which, among the many editions of Dungeons & Dragons e Pathfinder he drew the Troll better.
Obviously, "Who did it better?" continues to be one semi-serious column and the judgments given will be based solely on my personal taste. If you like a representation of the Troll that I don't like, that's more than legitimate.
A necessary premise
I am very happy because with our journey among the monsters and between the editions we begin to move towards the average levels. There, where the troll reigns supreme.
I admit that there are not very many monsters of high level challenge that are represented in all the manuals examined so far. Hence, this column will frequently travel between the lower and middle levels, with occasional pointing to the rare large monsters present in all Monster Manual.
From this column, I tell you already, for example, the illustrious Terrasque will be missing since it does not appear in the first and fourth edition of D&D.
In fact, keep in mind that, to be present in this column, must appear in the first official bestiary of D&D. It doesn't matter if TSR put out a monster drawing and its stats on the back of a marked pen box. D&D, or if Paizo only allowed the Flumph to re-enter through the window in the second bestiary.
I want to see how monsters have evolved from the first bestiary of D&D. Those that, with each new edition of the game, are presented to the world: those in which they want to invest. If a monster doesn't make it into the first bestiary of a series, we don't want it.
Introduction to the Troll
Once relegated to the realm of fantasy, with the advent of the internet all of us have met at least one Troll in life.
Framing the Troll is difficult. Fruit of the Anglo-Scandinavian oral tradition, the Troll has long lived in the oral tradition of the most boreal part of Europe. As typical of the oral tradition, the Troll has been declined in many different ways and in Scandinavian, English and Scottish folklore it takes on forms and functions ranging from those of the ogre to those of the small people.
At the beginning of the 900th century, two Scandinavian artists, the Swedish John Bauer and the Norwegian Theodor Kittelsen, made the figure of the Troll quite popular with their paintings and picture books. A few years later, our favorite giants made a memorable appearance in it The Hobbit di Tolkien . This combination of factors made them extremely popular.
In subsequent years, the Trolls appeared in cartoons such as the Moomin (1945), as toy lines (the 1959 Troll Dolls) and finally appeared in the most prestigious of publications: the Monster Manual of the first edition of D&D.
The Troll: instructions for use
- meetings with the Troll they have two outcomes: a walk if the party has fire or acid available (and a self-respecting party should always have it); or a hard and exhausting meeting if the party is not equipped.
The Troll is always a mid-level challenge. It is a large monster accompanied by a few small minions when it is between the third and fifth level, or a trio of trolls for the higher levels. In fact, it works well both as a main threat and as a group of adversaries.
The salient feature of the Troll is the regeneration, which can usually be suppressed through the use of acid and fire. It's nothing too unusual (like a blessed bolt to hit the Rakshasa), but it's one of the first times the party has to gear up for a moment to defeat the enemy.
The various packets of acid and the cantrip will finally find practical use Acid Spray. Even your player who wrote on the card that he bought lamp oil will finally have his moment of glory!
The Troll, being dumb but not quite, also presents opportunities for resolve the meeting in a non-violent manner, offering the side to roll with a touch of comedy. However, being a ferocious and almost immortal predator, it can be presented as a serious threat to be attacked.
In short, the Troll is a very flexible monster and offers itself to different uses and often will give life to memorable encounters. Make good use of it!
D&D first edition: like Wolverine in the heyday
This image is curious. The Troll is depicted from the side and from the front, as if it were one mugshot. It could be said that this image is almost an anatomical study of the creature.
His description immediately goes to the point: Trolls are fierce and voracious, and above all they regenerate. The presentation of the regeneration is very nice, and it elaborates on how you can recreate a Troll practically from scratch like not even Wolverine in his heyday.
The Troll in the drawing looks emaciated and gaunt, skeletal almost and certainly very hungry. The long pointed nose emerges as a distinctive feature.
Vote: 6/ 10. It does its job.
AD&D: the personification of hunger
What happens if you break up the Troll and publish it in many forms, manuals, codes and magazines? It happens that from the cut pieces it grows back and multiplies!
For this reason in the second edition of AD&D, under the heading Troll there is something like eight variants of the creature! From the classic one to the two-headed one, to then move on to the fresh and saltwater marine versions!
The descriptions are varied, but the fixed points always remain the same: ferocity, giant claws and regeneration. Then we discover a very pleasant detail: in the Troll species there is sexual dimorphism and the females are larger than the males.
They also tell you that since blood of Trolls you get healing potions and antidotes, and that sell it 400gp fruit.
I personally loved these little notes where they told you what you could use of the creature. At the time it didn't matter if you were a sentient being or not: if the adventurers mated you they would have found a way to get gold coins out of your body.
So far the drawings of the second edition have never disappointed me, and the trend is confirmed.
This Troll is a decidedly improved version of the previous one. I like the long, almost ape-like arms, the almost skeletal thinness and the sunken black eyes. Almost one can be seen mossy texture on the skin of the creature that helps to convey the idea of the damp and dark places where time passes when not looking for adventurers to eat.
It almost seems there personification of insatiable hunger. Overall we are faced with an alien and creepy creature, inexorable in its march towards the next Halfling to munch on.
Vote: 8/ 10.
D&D 3.0: the Troll on steroids
As you will have understood from the previous articles, I started playing with the Third edition of D&D. So here the personal memories begin. Unfortunately, however, in this case I have few memories because I have never used the Troll of the 3.0 edition. And the motivation is simple: I didn't like the drawing.
We are in the 2000s and everything has to be stronger, bigger and more exaggerated. The Troll of this edition made abundant use of steroids and it's pumped like never before. Obviously, the use of steroids and house rules uncontrolled causes side effects to be there for all to see: his nose has visibly shrunk and softened.
Moreover, this Troll has skin covered with lumps and buboes like any Venom designed by Mike Deodato Jr. It makes me mad that he has one arm with protruding veins and the other with a woody appearance. It looks like a bad attempt to copy the Marvel Man-Thing character, which in turn is an attempt to copy DC Comics' Swamp-Thing.
They wanted to make a creature more menacing and consequently more massive, but the yield is not the best and the impression it makes is rather weak. That fluffy, pendulous nose dismantles any air of menacing the creature may ever have.
Vote: 5/ 10. Less steroids and more character designs!
D&D 4e: Troll's party
As with many other monsters, in the fourth edition the Troll is presented in multiple variations to create as many combinations as possible of encounters.
For this reason, we are presented with a trio of Trolls with various levels and specializations from MMORPGs. The bestiary pattern is the same now, and I don't feel like criticizing it. Let's go see what these Trolls look like!
First of all it can be noted that they have detached heavily from the body plane used previously. This Troll looks smart, and it is very humanoid. Maybe too much for my taste.
The intelligent eyes, the human face, the ape-like posture but not too much. We have in front of Green ogres more than a separate category of monsters.
A positive note is the vague reference to the Troll as it was designed by Bauer.
Vote: 6/ 10. It could have been worse.
Pathfinder: a feral and brutal beast!
Paizo also wanted to give a significant redesign to the Troll. Indeed he focused a lot on the redesign of the Troll, so much so that he put it on the cover together with the Goblins (and a Marilith in the background, but we'll talk about it elsewhere).
It goes without saying that the Goblin rethought by Paizo was much more successful than the Troll. To find the image taken from the Bestiario I had to go really low in the image search!
Anyway, Paizo liked the Trolls a lot and in fact they put some Troll variations in all Bestiaries later, some of which are really cute!
Although it did not have the hoped-for popularity, to me the Troll's Pathfinder like it. A feral and brutal beast, just as they described it. I really like the makeover in the face a muzzle that resembles a warthog: long and flat with large protruding fangs at the end.
There are some exaggerations: The final part of the jaw seems painful and more useful for gutting adventurers than for eating, but maybe that's why he seems so angry?
Or maybe it grew that way due to the regeneration of that tissue?
I also appreciate very much that we have gone from the disturbing thinness of the first versions to one animalistic musculature: animalistic legs, powerful arms, swollen belly and tight chest. We are faced with a hominid, something barely evolved above the beast. It has all the animal ferocity and the occasional ability to organize socially.
Where the first Trolls were relentless murder machines, like the green Terminators, this is an indestructible and immortal fury.
I don't see it too much with class levels, but in Kingmaker you can face it ad nauseam.
Vote: 8/ 10.
D&D 5e: a primitive Troll, but gentrified by the loincloth
A step forward compared to the fourth edition. It was decided to keep the humanoid facial structure, with a big nose. No carrot nose like in the first editions, no slouching like in the third one: a simple troll nose.
I really like the tiny sunken eyes and the bulging forehead which goes a long way cro-magnon. Imagine the Troll as a humanoid sufficiently robust and good at gutting people, and that for this he never had to evolve as humans or other species of giant did.
I really like the very long arms with very long claws. They look very threatening. And even the pose looks like that of a creature who has just spotted a succulent Halfling.
The primitive look is accentuated by the thong and spikes. So far the Trolls have been shooting as naked as Mom did them. The authors had managed not to frame the genitals by putting the figure sufficiently in profile. What they had between their legs remained a mystery, they could even have nothing and reproduce by parthenogenesis.
Instead, in the fifth edition the Trolls feel shame and cover the lower parts. This disappoints me a bit. I don't care what they have down there, but the thong is a further sign of civilization and gentrification.
Where have the feminine regenerating death machines of yore gone?
Vote: 6/ 10. Bourgeois.
Pathfinder Second Edition: unconvincing
Seeing what it was done in D&D 5e, the Paizo went in the opposite direction with a result a bit… meh.
This Troll is running towards the reader, pushing himself with his front paws. The rear ones, either for the perspective or for the intention of the designer, seem rather stunted and perhaps with only two fingers.
Maybe the Troll walks using his stouter forelimbs as he does Sebulba ne The Phantom Menace? Or this Troll is climbing over some kind of obstacle Heart Oil?
The author has certainly tried to do something new, but the result does not convince me too much. I also find that in terms of design we have not gone too far from the Troll's Pathfinder 1. Nothing innovative and no big step backwards.
Vote: 5/ 10. Little effort.
The Troll of the Mines of Moria
For me this was my first real contact with the Troll.
Obviously, no The Hobbit they called them Wanderers so I could never understand they were Trolls. But what the Fellowship faces at the Tomb of Balin in Moria was most impressed on me.
Big, massive, almost intelligent, but beastly nonetheless. The Troll is the center of combat and it performs its narrative function well. I also like the simple, clean design - a big, smooth subhuman, a mountain of flesh and muscle. That's okay.
The Troll of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I love these fools. One of the monsters you can reason with, given their limited intellect. I find that the numerous Trolls in the video game have been well characterized and made a fun encounter whether you fight them, or talk to each other and persuade them to do Geralt's will.
Plus I love theirs rocky appearance, like some big stupid stone Krogan.
Ideas for adventures
Using the Troll in your adventures is easy: Basically, they do what Orcs and Goblins do but on a higher level. However, I will try to propose some ideas focused more on the uniqueness of the Troll.
- The cure. Feddler Primpler is a Gnome alchemist and has a dream: to create the elixir of life. He is convinced that the regenerative abilities of the Trolls are the basic ingredient for this product. Under the promise of a hefty reward, Primpler asks the Party to bring him a live Troll as a champion. The PCs will need to find one and take it by hook or by crook from the wilds to Primpler's laboratory, located in the city center, during the patron's feast.