So, I need some advice.

So, I need some advice.

So, I need some advice… My players have encountered a big problem (A big, devious, and massively-powerful Bridge Troll). They (smartly) decide this is not a fight they can just rush into. Since the roll is causing economic hardship for the nearby peoples, the players decide to rally the citizens of a nearby city to help them purge the land of this monster. That is where our last session left off.

First questions: how would you handle this “recruitment effort”? Let’s assume that they aren’t planning on just hiring mercenaries, but instead really trying to rally the city… would you just play it out through the fiction? Or would you put some mechanics behind it (recruit, Custom Move, etc.)? How would you handle it?

Second question: Assuming they do recruit some people, how do you play out a fight between 25+ men (or god knows how many) and a giant Troll? Do you treat them as some sort of hirelings (Warriors, or even Protectors depending on what they convince their mob to do…)? Do you just control them with fiction? How would you handle it?

25 thoughts on “So, I need some advice.”

  1. Awesome!! Sounds like a proper battle! Does the troll have allies she could call on?

    One thing you could do is play the troll’s hardship card… The troll speaks and says she’s actually really nice and stuff, but a lady(troll)’s gotta eat, right?* “Troll looks dejected and sad – a tear rolls down its mottled, ugly face as it watches the mob surround it… It speaks and its voice sounds quiet, almost timid: ‘Please… Please don’t hurt me…’… What do you do?”

    This is when the town mayor (might) step forward and offer a deal: food (from the city stores) and safety (from local adventurers looking for a trophy) in exchange for protection (by the troll) from bandits and other unseemly folk. “Mayor steps forward to offer [insert deal]… What do you do?”

    The nearby dwelling would gain +garrison or some other, appropriate, tag and no complicated battle to work out 😀

    *Cue enormous troll-sized violin

  2. Is the troll just waiting for them to do their thing, or is he recruiting help as well? Maybe cutting a deal with some water spirits or faeries or what have you? 

  3. That is pretty awesome… but we have already established that the troll, who lives in a cave in the wall of the chasm, just under the far-side of the bridge, is mean and is hording treasure that he collects as a toll from anyone who wants to cross (a classic trope that I love). And, seemingly, when the Troll is paid, he keeps his word and lets you pass. This is causing the price of food to skyrocket (-Prosperity) in these areas, and everyone knows why. They really want to rally a mob to storm the bridge. So how exactly do I handle the recruitment? And how do I handle the fight I assume they are going to force (damn Paladin won’t let this one go…)?

  4. Depends on the scope I’m looking for in the encounter. You could go way out broad and just resolve this with a charisma defy danger. Or you could zoom in a bit and break down various aspects of the encounter into different moves as appropriate. I could see a charisma defy danger for rallying, snowballing into another move for planning the attack, snowballing into the actual engagement, using whatever is left of the various citizens as narrative punching bags that also serve to hinder he troll while the party goes to work.

  5. A custom move might be good.  Something like 

    Roll + DEEDS (Deeds being the number of “good things” or quests the heroes have done for the town), to reflect the town’s capacity to trust that the heroes can actually lead them to a victory and not just motivate the troll to smash their village.  There has to be a reason that the town hasn’t overthrown the Troll before right?

    On a 10+ Choose 3.  On a 7-9 Choose 1.

    * The Best Warrior and his men are on your side

    * The Mayor/Elder/Whatever and the common man is on your side.

    * You Avoid the attention of the Old Witch.

    — This is a really loose idea.  I don’t pretend these are good examples for options.  Can you tell I don’t have any ideas on what the details of the move are ? =)

    This turns the convincing of the town into a little sub-arc of the story.

    As for controlling them, I would probably have a few named Hirelings in there and just use the rest as “fodder to the fiction.”

  6. It really depends on how long you want this to take, how big a stake this has in the setting and what everyone at the table is going to find awesome =)

  7. I am not sure about the recruitment issue; I’d probably split it up several ways.

    Have one group of supporters which they can Parley into joining up, another group which demands some sidequest, the village priest who sees his chance to suggest that the troll can only be defeated if everybody (hello, Paladin!) joins his religion, …

    So it becomes not a binary, or just quantitative thing, but they really have to struggle over the make-up of their posse. The militia from the upper village will only join if the militia from the lower village is placed under their command; the local lord’s son is automatically assumed to be in command of the joint forces, rather than the PCs… that could be half a session of tense hilarity. 

    Plus, the suggestion that the Troll is looking for some way to avoid a battle is mighty. 

    “Sure, your mob can kill my regenerating green ass, but if your river dries up over the next few days because my friends turned off the source upstream, your fields will look pretty sad come harvest time. And what will all those cattle drink, huh?”

    “Listen, I’ll lower my rates for people from your village, I’ll just tax people coming in from the outside, m’okay?”

    “You know, I can take down the entire bridge with me?”

    And of course, don’t forget the ecological aspect: the troll is the apex predator in the region – who knows just what sort of minor badness his presence has kept in check all those years? Mesopredator release! 

  8. I like +Guy Sodin’s idea. But maybe something more along these lines. Play out the party’s recruitment efforts. Have them go around to people and ask for them to join up. Or maybe just have a high charisma character give a speech at the town center. Then after you’ve determined how many villagers are gonna help use this move: When you lead an angry mob to slaughter a bridge troll roll + MOB/10 (where mob is the number of people in the mob). On a 10+ the mob overwhelmed the creature while sustaining only minor injuries to itself. On a 7-9 the troll is subdued and the GM chooses one of the following options: • An important NPC who was present is killed. • The bridge has collapsed during the ensuing chaos. •Roll the trolls damage the result is the number of broken limbs the troll has caused amongst the mob.

    Apologies in advance for my formatting. I’m writing this from my tablet.

  9. These are all awesome ideas… I can’t really plan on having them make a speech in the town square or plan on how they will go about the recruiting at all. But I do like the idea of having several different “factions” within the town, all of which will require their own mechanism to get them involved. Rallying a city (not just a village) should not be easy… I want it to require some thought and work, making it a story-arch itself.

  10. This sounds really fun and now I want to do it. This is the second thing this week I want to work into my campaign (other was the water-stealing dragon).

  11. As for how the battle will go, I guess I want it to really play out, not just have one roll determine the outcome. I want an epic propper fight scene! I’m leaning toward Guy Sodin’s idea of having a few named hirelings and the rest be “fiction fodder” (lol)…

  12. So, if I have several factions in the town who want different things… who are they and what do they want? That is the next thing I need to figure out… Here is the city stats if anyone has any ideas they want to throw out…

    City: Growing, Moderate, Militia, Dwarven, Market, Guild (Brewers), Oath (Greybark), Oath (???) (The city is ruled by the people, stats already adjusted)

  13. Maybe the brewers guild is split in twain. The troll keeps outside brewers from importing to the city and half the brewers guild likes this. The other half is annoyed because the troll inhibits their ability to export. Further, the town is Dwarven so maybe those who like the troll are traditionalists (read xenophobic) dwarfs while the ones who want to export more easily are young and more progressive in demeanor.

  14. Very little of this area has been developed. The players walked into the town, I gave it a name, and we called it there. Plus, the campaign is in its early stages… this will be the third session, so there are not to many rivals or political stuffs going on yet…

    This pretty much means it is a playground for me to take it where I wish…

  15. I like the idea of the split in the Brewer’s Guild… Lets get some politics going in this game (something my players have posted to the “We Would Love To See This In The Game” board)!

  16. honestly, I did not read every comment. I’m here just to say: hirelings are not mercenaries. They could be, but they don’t have to. Their cost define why they are obeying the character’s orders, and they do it as long as the cost is met. Having the farmers being level 1 warrior hirelings with a cost of “defend the village” is ok.

  17. Awesome!

    The Apocalypse World MC inside me wants to give all the townspeople names and make them people before they’re squished by the troll. What?

  18. If you ate unsure of factions ask the players some questions? Like who here wants the troll whupped, who here doesn’t . In a battle like someone else said make them hirelings +1, make some negative though too (they get in the way). Make sure you describe the widows and orphans though as the farmers are crushed. Have a four year old ask that paladin is he will be her daddy now since his fancy words lead her daddy off to be crushed by the guardian of the bridge that kept the bad people away.

  19. So, funny story (the session was last night): My players seemed to have forgotten they they planned on rallying the city and just decided to grab two hirelings and storm the bridge… lol… that will teach me to pre-plan too much…

    I was really looking forward to flicking a few of them off the bridge too (300 ft up!), but with a flash of insight, the Cleric cast Cause Fear on the troll to be afraid of the bridge… so they were able to bring the fight to solid ground. From there, they Volleyed bottles and buckets of tar and pitch on him and tried to light the troll on fire… It worked mostly, except for a few bad rolls where they accidentally lit themselves on fire too… It was wonderful!

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