Into the Trolls’ Den!!!

By John Fredericks
Sharp Mountain Games
Labyrinth Lord
Levels 1-3

The party will enter a troll lair in search of magical weapons. But will they exit alive?

This 26 page linear adventure contains seven pages of actual adventure text, overpowered opponents, and has, the chief draw I assume, full color battle maps.

Some dude in a halfling village asks you to go check out a troll den a day away. Getting rid of the trolls does the halflings a favor and they are rumored to have treasure and magic swords. So wouldn’t you like to go do it? You follow a linear path to get there. At night you have a wandering monster encounter if the DM decides to have one. It’s suggested it be at dusk so spellcasters can still get a full eight hours of sleep in order to regain spells.

[As an aside, who here could actually be a spellcaster? I mean, do you get eight hours of sleep a night? I know, I know, “Rest”, but I’m using sleep. This is the only part of aging I will admit to.]

Ok, have some linear encounters. Get in to the cave. Have some more linear encounters. How about a treant at first level? It’s on the wanderers table. If it were a normal wanderers table I might be ok with that. A “force the party in to a fight/encounter” decision though is different. The same thing with the actual encounters in the wilderness and dungeon. At one point four wolves, each with four HD, attack the party. No chance to avoid. The dungeon proper has three five HD trolls and a four HD rust monster in the same room. At first level. Again, varied opponent challenges are a feature of old school play. You don’t know what you are encountering. But this goes hand in hand with non-linearity. You have to be able to allow the party to avoid, negotiate, etc with those overpowered challenges. “You are first level. You will die from poison in one hour. The ONLY antidote is in the cave. The cave has one room with a 23 HD dragon in it. He attacks immediately.” That’s not old school D&D AND it’s piss poor design to boot.

Your reward are some +1 items. +1 dagger. +1sword. +1 mace. The most generic of the generic. You also get 60gp in books and 507 in coins and gems. Oh boy. Abstracted treasure. My favorite. How about just saying “Treasure Parcel: 567 gp”? That would suck even more joy out of life. Plus, there’s not NEARLY enough treasure for a Gold=XP game. It’s absurd.

There IS some dust in a pouch that replicates a Knock spell. That’s nice. There’s also a scardy cat Druid in the forest that slams her door shut and locks it to hide form the party and only talks in whispers so as to not disturb the serenity of nature. Nice though that.

But, hey, you get full color battlemaps!


This is $2.50 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages. Pages four and five show the druid, with the wolf encounter on page five also. The last page shows some of the dungeon encounters, proper. It’s a fair representation of the writing style throughout.

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11 Responses to Into the Trolls’ Den!!!

  1. Leomund's Limp Dick says:

    Couldn’t get it up for this one, eh?

  2. Gus L says:

    At the core of modern (3.5 – 5E) adventure design there’s the idea that the ‘encounter’ is the central unit of adventure. An adventure consists of a series of encounters which can then be placed on a map, hung on a choose your own adventure style tree of scenes or otherwise distributed. Avoiding or sidestepping these encounters is often seen as breaking the adventure. All this is referenced in the 5E DMG, and because of this designers with a background in contemporary systems often take the wrong lessons from old school sensibilities or maxims.

    I did recently read an adventure by Zzarchov Kowolski published by Dyson Logos that is very much a 5E adventure and tries to go the other way – making a classic location based dungeon crawl for the encounter focused 5E rules. It was solid, and has a pulpy feel – but I am a bit torn about how successful it manages to be at ‘dungeon crawl for 5E’. Might be worth taking a look at “Shadows of Forgotten Kings” for sort of the antithesis of this troll hole adventure (no full color battle maps though).

  3. Beoric says:

    “[As an aside, who here could actually be a spellcaster? I mean, do you get eight hours of sleep a night? I know, I know, “Rest”, but I’m using sleep. This is the only part of aging I will admit to.]”

    This is why wizards are always loners in towers. Parenting is antithetical to recovering spells.

  4. Grützi says:

    Could be a nice story seed: a wizard has devised a way to “steal” the sleeptime oft others. So now hes up an about 24\7 doing crazy magic while the townsfolk slowly go mad because mo one really gets Rest.

  5. Adam W. says:

    What’s the obsession with level 1-3? If you’re going to put trolls in your adventure just make it level 4 already. Are these guys playing with 10 PC groups or something?

    • Grützi says:

      Two reasons I think:

      1. It’s easier to design. At lvls 1 to 3 PCs won’t have really powerful artifacts and magic items. The spellcasters and clerics don’t have access to the really juicy spells.
      So the designer has less to worry about while thinking about the possible actions of the PCs. Nobody will teleport around his traps or simply disintegrate his beloved trolls

      2. It’s more accessible.
      Creating a lvl. 1 PC is no big deal and the Players won’t get to attached to them if something happens. So on the one hand your module is attractive to new DMs and Players because they can quickly build a party and play. On the other hand it is nice for veteran DMs and Players because they can give it a try in a quick one shot without getting to involved in character creating and so on.

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