Whether under a bridge, in dense swamps, or overgrown caves of the Underdark, there are dozens of places to drop a troll or two into your D&D campaign. Doing so can help introduce a unique monster for your party to face while also helping make your world feel more alive and varied.
Trolls are a pillar of fantasy storytelling, so you’ll have to put effort into either playing into the tropes they are known for or diverging from them enough to make them feel unique. So, here is everything that you need to know to help you run trolls in your 5e game.
Welcome to a Troll 5e Guide.
Key Info Up Front
- Book: Monster Manual
- Environments: Arctic, Forest, Hill, Mountain, Swamp, Underdark
- Challenge Rating: 5
- Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Troll History in DnD
Since trolls are a staple in western folklore, it is no surprise that they were included in the first edition of DnD. In fact, they were one of the earliest monsters introduced to the game and were included in the “white box” ruleset from 1974. Then, they were described as large humanoids with rubbery-like skin with the power to regenerate themselves.
The troll appears again in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons with a similar description. With supplemental releases for the game system, new variations of trolls were introduced, such as marine trolls, two-headed trolls, and an ice troll.
This trend continued through the following editions, with trolls typically appearing in the base rules for each edition and new variants being introduced in supplements and official modules.
This trend was only changed in 4e, where the troll, war troll, and fell troll all appear in the Monster Manual and don’t have any appearances in the supplemental material.
In 5e, the troll was originally included in the essential Monster Manual from 2014 before having four variants appear in the supplemental Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.
The introduced variants mixed new additions and classics, including the dire troll, spirit troll, venom troll, and rot troll, to help players mix things up. However, references to other troll sub-species are littered throughout 5e, which will be explored in their lore below.
Troll 5e Lore
Trolls are an extremely common monster across the lands of Faerûn. They can live in almost any climate and tend to roam between them.
Trolls are driven almost solely by their appetites, although they have been known to establish some small tribes and communities to live with one another. These tend to hold no more than a dozen trolls that take up residence in a single lair by an area rich with potential prey.
It is also common for trolls to look very similar to one another. They tend to have some shade of green for their skin color as well as either gray or black hair that is sometimes tinged with green notes.
Their bodies look thin but surprisingly strong, with thick hides that help protect them. Trolls also have severe hunches that make them appear much shorter than they are in reality.
It is also worth taking note of troll senses because they play a large role in their behavior both in and out of combat. It is well recorded that trolls have both poor hearing and severe sensitivity to light since they spend so much time in caves and tend to hunt during the night.
Perhaps the most important aspect of troll physiology, though, is their regenerative capabilities. Troll blood is capable of rapidly regenerative its flesh, even after decapitation.
This has made their blood extremely valuable for poisons and potions. Their regeneration can be stopped with poison or fire, but those are so uncommon that trolls tend to have no fear of death and will attempt to kill almost anything as prey with no fear of repercussions.
The quick-acting blood of trolls is also believed to be responsible for the high number of sub-species within the troll family. Researchers tribute it to the regenerating blood leaving troll DNA open to mutation more frequently, causing them to evolve and mutate at a highly accelerated rate.
Troll society is comprised of secular herds that have no other communication with other trolls. They tend to be territorial, but only toward other trolls that they worry may steal their food supply.
These tribes tend to establish themselves close to smaller human villages or settlements, especially if there is a well-traveled road nearby that can provide wayward travelers as an occasional food source.
Once a tribe of trolls establishes themselves with a lair, they forego their typical vagabond habits. Instead, they hole up in a cave or crevice somewhere nearby and do not leave until they are forced out or completely deplete the surrounding area of any food or resources that interest them.
This can make them a hazardous nuisance near civilization as they will kill humanoids and threaten food and supply lines that the settlement or others may depend on.
The Lairs that trolls live in have also been the subject of much research in the Forgotten Realms. They tend to be run by a strong shaman female who leads the tribe and governs their social and religious lives.
The matriarchal hierarchy also extends into their beliefs, as they worship the Great Mother, a daughter of the ogre god Vaprak, with each tribe thinking that theirs was the original one she created.
The origins of the trolls are very cloudy and filled with uncertainty. Some believe that trolls are related to giants in some way, but there is no concrete evidence connecting trolls to the progenitor giants Annam All-Father.
These beliefs stem from the troll religion centered around their birth from a daughter of Vaprak, the bastard son of Annam All-Father. However, some trolls also believe that they instead were created by a primal Earth Mother at the beginning of time.
So, if the origin of the trolls comes up in your campaign, I recommend just picking the story that makes the most sense, especially if it plays into the plot.
Regarding troll sub-species, there are eleven currently recognized in 5e. Below is each variation mentioned to exist in Faerûn currently for 5e, as well as a brief description.
- Fell: Fell trolls are distinguished because they have two heads and tend to be larger than other troll species. This could indicate that they were created by crossbreeding trolls and ettins, but there is no known evidence of such a claim.
- Fire: These trolls have adapted to living in hot environments, such as in the shadow of volcanoes. This has given them tougher skin and resistance to fire, leaving their regeneration only vulnerable to poison.
- Ice: Ice trolls tend to be the default troll that lives in colder climates and are smart enough to use primitive weapons like tree trunks and boulders.
- Cave: These trolls are commonly found in the Underdark, where they grew to larger sizes and are very imposing hunters capable of killing an entire cave of prey with ease.
- Snow: These trolls frequently find themselves competing with their ice troll peers. They are shorter and wider in stature but capable of survival techniques, especially in cold environments otherwise considered inhospitable.
- Forest: Forest trolls have grown in intelligence thanks to the complications of hunting in forest regions. Their smarts, however, have allowed them to adopt, equipping themselves with rudimentary armor and weapons like they have observed humanoids to do.
- Mountain: Mountain Trolls are easily picked out by their massive fangs and larger size. They also have a propensity for keeping smaller ogres and giants as minions and slaves, making them very capable in conflicts.
- Scrag: Scrags are trolls that adapted to living in the waters of Toril, where they routinely sank boats and attacked merchants.
- Tree: Tree trolls were initially created via magical experiments that decreased their size and allowed them to live in the branches of more giant trees within jungles and forests.
- Bladerager: Another consequence of experimentation, these trolls were initially captured by Zhentilar mystics. They were then tortured and modified to have armor and blades made of steel surgically implanted on their bodies so that they could be used in battle.
- Rot: Not as much is known about rot trolls. Still, they are similar to typical trolls except for being home to powerful necrotic magic that influences their appearances and capabilities.
Troll 5e Stats
The basic troll stats in 5e makes them a fun encounter to throw at your party when they are within the level range for monsters with a Challenge Rating of only five.
Their highest ability score is their Constitution at 20, which reflects their regenerative ability well. Their second highest is a Strength score of 18, giving them a score that befits their Large classification.
Their final positive attribute is a Dexterity of 13. Afterward, their mental attributes are all negative, with a Wisdom of 9 and Charisma and Intelligence only 7.
However, they still have a +2 to their Perception and Darkvision up to 60 feet to help them sniff out prey in any environment. The only language they know is Giant, in case your party wants to try talking to one. Finally, they have an Armor Class of 15, a speed of only 30 feet, and 84 hit points.
Troll 5e Abilities
When it comes to the troll’s abilities, they start taking on a lot more personality. Their first non-combat feature is Keen Smell, which grants them advantage on all Perception checks to try and smell anything. This shows how they must try to find prey while hunting since their vision is reportedly so poor. Then, there is their Regeneration feature.
This allows them to regain ten hit points at the start of every turn in combat for free. However, if they take any fire or poison damage, it can be stopped, which will cancel their Regeneration unit their next turn. This also means that the only way to kill a troll is by reducing them to 0 hit points while their Regeneration feature is disabled.
Regarding actions in combat, the troll’s kit is pretty simple. They come with standard Bite and Claw attacks and a Multiattack that allows them to take one Bite and three Claw actions each turn.
Their Bite is made with a +7 attack modifier and deals 1d6 + 4 damage of piercing type or an average of 7. their Claw attack is also made with a +7 attack modifier. Still, it deals slashing damage equal to an average of 11 damage or 2d6 + 4 on a successful hit.
Playing a Troll
When it comes to roleplaying a troll, there are two aspects of their personality that I have found to be the most important. The first is their overall lack of intelligence. Trolls are driven primarily by hunger. They do not think through plans or schemes to get their food and instead prefer to kill their prey with brute force.
Trolls would rarely think that any prey could not be caught or that making things more complicated than walking up to it and hitting it to death would be a complete waste of time. So, adopt this brutish primal approach to problem-solving when playing a troll.
The second core aspect of roleplaying a troll is their complete lack of fearing death. Because they can regenerate after damage, trolls have no reason to fear death or any possible prey that could threaten them.
Their Regeneration can be nullified by taking poison or fire damage, but those are so rare that trolls would never think to worry about running into them.
However, this opens up a fun opportunity as a Dungeon Master when running a troll, as their Regeneration ability being canceled would understandably strike a lot of fear into a troll facing a well-prepared party.
However, you should ensure never have a troll be fearful of anything while their Regeneration features are still active and they know that they are immortal.
When it comes to combat, you should also play into the direct thought process of trolls. They should approach combat without fear or hesitation while not taking any care toward strategizing or focusing on targeting enemies in a particular order.
To roleplay this approach during combat, I prefer to have monsters with intelligence levels similar to trolls target either whichever player hit them most recently or dealt the most damage to them.
You also can think of other exciting interpretations to mix things up, like trolls targeting the largest player and then trying to run away with its prey or having them target casters that use flashy spells that catch their attention.
Whichever option you end up choosing, however, you must keep it consistent. You’ll have to mix it up occasionally to avoid just focusing on one party member for the entire combat, but if you change it too frequently, any players that are trying to understand the logic behind the troll’s actions may become frustrated and annoyed.
I’ve also found it essential to emphasize the troll’s Regeneration feature during combat, especially if it is the first time the party has faced one.
You can try describing their wounds closing or even have limbs regrow during the battle to communicate what is happening, but make sure to communicate when the party blocks the effect using fire or poison damage so that they understand how the mechanic works.
If you want your trolls to have a few more options on the battlefield, it is also an excellent option to take the rock action from the Hill Giant since it is of a similar challenge rating as the troll.
I would use this option sparingly since it isn’t part of the troll’s regular stat block, but I’ve found it to be a useful tool for early in fights while a troll and the party still have some distance between them and I don’t think it interferes with the species’ lore at all.
Question: How Tall are Trolls in 5e?
Answer: Trolls are described as averaging around nine feet tall.
Question: Are Trolls Considered to Be Humanoid in 5e?
Answer: While trolls resemble humans, they are considered to be giants instead of humanoids, mechanically speaking.
Question: Are Trolls Immortal in 5e?
Answer: Yes, trolls are technically immortal because of their Regeneration feature. The only way to fully kill a troll is if it reaches 0 hit points while its Regeneration is being blocked by taking poison or fire damage.
Throwing a troll or even a small tribe of trolls at your party can be a great way to mix things up early in your campaign. They are magnificent antagonists for early storylines regarding the party trying to help a small village or town with a troll or two terrorizing the surrounding land.
Trolls can also be a great way to subvert your players’ expectations, which may expect them to act more similarly to how they do in fairy tales or folklore, which can help you keep them on their toes.