A Sense of Immersion: Troll

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This week’s monster was suuggested by Reddit User /u/Singhilarity

Far worse than the internet kind. But just as smelly.

The Troll Toll
While in our world, Trolls are creatures who live under bridges and in internet forums. In the world of D&D, they are based on old Nordic and Scandinavian folktales and lore.

Nordic Trolls generally dwell in mountains, and seemed to be an “other” type of being (A creature that can represent something not quite human, with very human features).

Scandinavian Trolls were much more focused on nature as a whole, and would represent all forms of nature as a characterized “being”. Sometimes the Trolls would even eat people, and would turn to stone in sunlight. Both medias “The Hobbit” and “Frozen” use these Scandinavian trolls as inspiration for their own Troll creatures.

It seems accurate then that the Troll of D&D lore is mostly based on the Scandinavian tales, but it also has a good amount of inspiration from other sources, which is where the weakness from fire, rubbery skin, and regenerating body comes from. Some have theorized that these features originate in the fantasy novel “Three Hearts and Three Lions”  by Poul Anderson, but these claims are, as far as I can tell, speculation.

If you’d like more info on a more accurate Scandinavian form of the troll in D&D, go check out this awesome article on Nerdarchy.

Trolls mostly look like extremely tall humanoids with thick, rubbery skin. They are a dark greenish color, with specks of blue, silver, or brown. They have small bumps and sores all over their bodies, presumably because their rubbery skin does not have easily opened pores.

Their skin looks constantly wet is complimented by thick clumping hair that dangles down in heavy ropes around it’s face. This could lead a creature to think they are from a watery area, though far from it. They have simple humanoid feet, with sharp and stubby claws that protrude from each toe. Their arms hang down to their knees, which gives them a very simian feel, which can be misleading when viewed in silhouette.

When you spy a Troll, you usually won’t be surprised. That’s because the Troll’s stench will have alerted you beforehand. A Troll stinks like rancid meat, mixed together with spoiled milk in a barrel of fish. The closed up pores I mentioned before mean that the sweats and the body odors of the Troll are trapped for decades, before being released randomly after being built up so long. This smell is the origin of many long held superstitions, and some even say is the reason for the Trolls weakness to fire.

When a Troll crashes into you, it’s rubbery skin will feel like a slick, featureless, and uncomfortable texture, but you will struggle against it’s friction to escape while it holds you. It’s claws are short swords and sharp as rusted nails, and it’s jagged teeth are like stepping on a broken bottle.

The Troll may smell awful, feel disturbing, and look horrible. But it sounds just disturbing. That’s because the Troll has fairly human-like speech, and talks in Giant language. It’s language similar to Common and Dwarven, but when you hear it, it feels like Common without context, like it should make sense but doesn’t. This can be unnerving, because if you get a Troll to talk, it won’t be saying anything nice.

Trolls love the mountainous areas of the world, specifically the ones with forested areas. They find shelter in caves, hunt in rivers, and climb through trees to pick eggs and chicks from birds nests. They munch on these like little treats while hunting down more food.

In some lands, Trolls are intelligent, so they have very basic tent-like structures and wooden cabins. These Trolls set traps, hunt in packs, and work with a community. They follow a Shaman who leads them through the land with a bit of Druidic magic and wit.

You can tell if a Troll is in the area by the rocks. Like an Owlbear sharpening it’s claws on a tree trunk, the Trolls like to use rocks and boulders for this purpose. They will have four to five deep gouges in them, because Trolls are habitual, and like to use the same rock. 4e_trolls

As far as more peaceful encounters go, unless you can speak Giant and are charming as a snake, you won’t have an easy time convincing a Troll not to attack if it’s already made up it’s mind.

Trolls acting on their own will attack or avoid you, and will usually only attack if you give them a good reason. The best bet to avoid a Troll fight is to brandish fire very clearly, and be in greater numbers. If you’re alone and it’s raining, I’ve got bad news for you. You’re kinda fucked.

Fighting one Troll can be brutal. It can eat lesser hits easily due to it’s regenerating health. As long as your attack wasn’t fire or acid, it’ll regain 10 HP per turn! That’s an insane amount of health, and is the common concern when fighting a Troll. Sometimes, you’ll cut a limb off, and it’ll end up with two in it’s place! Heads, feet, arms, hell, even ears or noses will be regrown if the Troll loses them. Because of this, a Troll may regenerate it’s entire body in a month, leading to it being an entirely different Troll mentally and habitually.

Trolls blood weighs at a heavy cost in most markets. It’s incredibly useful for potions of healing or regeneration, and can be used as ink in healing spell scrolls to increase their power. If modified, it can also be used to fuse flesh together, so occasionally a necromancer might find it useful to make a more clean Flesh Golem.

Vampires, surprisingly, are not a fan of Troll’s blood. It gives them the closest thing that Vampires get to acid re-flux.

The rubbery skin of a Troll is excellent when used as a watertight material. Stretched across the bottom of a boat, or used to make a bag, and it would work perfectly.

The hair can be used to make fairly strong rope, but doing so takes a long time to master. You must unwind the hair into long strands, and then wind it up together slowly.

The Troll is a complete classic of fairytale lore, and will be a stubborn and interesting addition to any travel session, forest crawl, or mountain hike. Don’t be afraid to get creative when you design your own Trolls, because honestly they don’t have to be any one specific type. The fun of these creatures is that they leave a lot of room for you to interpret them as your own.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back with another Sense of Immersion every other Tuesday!

To read this early, along with a bunch of other content, please check out My Patreon!

If you’d like to discuss today’s monster, we have a Discord!

Image Sources: Wizards of the Coast

Roll a D6 to see how the Trolls have mutated! 

1: Every time the Troll regains health, its mass increases, which lowers it’s AC by 1.

2: The Trolls regain 15 health instead of 10 with regeneration.

3: The Troll has three eyes, giving it +6 in Perception.

4: Whenever the Troll loses a limb, it will always regain two of said limb in it’s place, unless damaged with fire or acid.

5: Whenever a creature is bitten by the Troll, they must make a DC 14 Con Save or be paralyzed for 1 minute.

6: When the Troll is damaged by fire damage or acid damage, it will explode, dealing it’s remaining health in damage to all creatures within 5 feet of it, and half that to all creatures within 20 feet of it.


I've been a huge fan of RPGs for the longest time now. Dungeons & Dragons has become my favorite hobby, and connected me with all sorts of people all over the world.

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