Friday, March 15, 2013

The GURPS Middle-Earth Troll


Trolls were created by Morgoth in the First age to be oversized fighting minions. They were fashioned from stone, and have the fatal flaw to revert back it when exposed to direct sunlight (overcast skies are fine, but seen as unpredictable). Although bred for fighting, many sub-population of trolls have diversified and defined culture of their own. As trolls are not very intelligent, and usually hungry, the bulk of their culture is centered on eating and hoarding. The late because they are big, the former as a remnant of their design as pillagers. 

Hill trolls

Hill trolls are the longest living lineage of free-living trolls. They are thought to have gone feral from scattered armies during the first age. Contrary to the canonical text suggest, most trolls have a language of their own, which is minimal in nuance and remotely related to the common tongue. Hill trolls are living in small clans, of size 5-10, usually lead by a strong matriachal figure. They hunt livestock and farmers. The devastation caused by trolls is such that they need to travel often to seek new food sources. A troll clan must find an underground camp that should be near a food source. While the food supply lasts, trolls are hoarding anything that seems to be of value (although they do not trade nor use most of their stuff), and also look to breed with neighboring clan members. Hoarded stuff gets used as gifts when a troll want to enter a new clan. The clan structure is very fluid: rarely a individual will spend more than 5 years under the leadership of the same matriarch. Trolls cannot die of hunger, but get very cranky. There must be a total population of less than 1000 hill trolls in the entire North of Middle-Earth. Hill trolls finding a stable source of underground orcs will abandon their surface-living lifestyle without hesitation. But places teeming with food and permanently sheltered from the Sun are mere matter of songs and legend to them.


ST 18; DX 10; IQ 7; HT 12; HP 25; FP 14; Move 4.75; Speed 5; Per 10; Will 8; SM +1;
Traits: Gluttony, Sensitive to Sun (turn to stone), Obsession (hoarding), DR 3, High Pain Threshold, 
Skills: Wrestling-[10 (youngs, trained ST 18, 1d+2 CP), 14 (adult, trained ST 21, 2d CP), 17 (hunters, trained ST 22, 2d CP), 19 (trained warriors, trained ST 22, 2d CP)], Tracking-10, Throwing Art-[9-13], Main Weapon-[11-14 (hunter and warriors)] Technical Grappling stats: 1H: ST 9, 1H1L: ST 13, 1H2L: ST 23, 2H1L: ST 20, 2H2L: ST 27

Why they are Awesome

Trolls are slow but strong. Trolls will attempt to grapple their opponent to either smother them (choke if grabbing by torso or neck), or use them as projectile against other remaining opponents. Wrestling-10 fight with an effective ST of 19, Wrestling-11 have an effective wrestling ST 20. Their basic lift is  65 lb, which places the throwing range for a 130-200 lb body to 4 yards, if thrown from overhead (2yds, 7 speed), the impact velocity will be between 4 to 11 , for a damage of [4-11]*HP/100 dice of damage on both the target and the projectile (see below for simplified guidelines on damage). The damage is not such a big deal, and most people have a decent chance to walk away from such a throw. However, there is a good chance that both the target and the projectile will be lying down afterwards. Lying down people thus increases the pool of ammunition for the next attack( They suffer -4 to attack, -3 to defense).  Projectile grabbed from the legs are going head first: a clever troll should attempt a leg grab so the ammunition gets stunned when thrown.

Trolls do not suffer shock (high pain threshold), they can only suffer a major wound on a 13 HP blow, and can only be crippled on their extremities on a 8 HP hit. On top of this, they have a DR of 3. This kind of damage is mostly out of reach of a typical weapon-wielding fighters. The only way to take a troll down is by coming up with a way to inflict a "very heavy" blow (drop a piano on their heads), or bleed the bad boy with a lots of little cuts. Skull  (DR 5) and vitals are better targets, but their high pain threshold makes them more difficult to stun. The first option needs a piano on the next level, the other is a dangerous sport practice in the long run. Their grabbing reach is reach 1. 

If a troll doesn't want to touch its opponent, because it smells or oozes somehow, it would have to grab whatever can count as a large club and swing hard, or try to throw other heavy stuff such as stones, tree trunks, sheeps... Speaking of sheeps, here are some quick guidelines on throwing stuff:

  • 8-16lb, range 18, 1d
  • 16-32lb, range 14, 1d+1
  • 32-65lb, range 12, 1d+1
  • 65-130lb, range 10, 1d+3
  • 130-260lb, range 7, 1d+1
  • 260-520lb, range 5, 1d+1

Free range trolls are gourmand, not tacticians: they should not be particularly effective when fighting in groups. Leadership rolls on trolls are unlikely to be effective (IQ check). Some variant of army trolls may be different, but this article mainly focuses on the wild variety.

Playtest afterthoughts

The trolls didn't get a good chance to shine during encounter 019. They were felled by improbable hard blows, lucky criticals and the devastating use of magic. The PCs took refuge in the ruins of a stone house, and one of the troll made the tactical mistake to enter the doorway (they are dumb, and had no reason to believe that anything but a hobbit was in there). The other Troll was under a Daze spell, got charged from behind by two knights, then was put to sleep again by magic. 

Hopefully, I'll have a chance to playtest them for long enough that they get to do some damage. 

1 comment:

  1. Great we get to fight them again! Next time Fin is gong to take one down.