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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 6:52 pm 
Ill-Fated Peasant

Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:12 am
Posts: 9
Hey everyone,

While playing Castle whiterock with my group, they just encountered the Trollhound pack in the Orc lair on Level 2 the group destroyed the taskmaster in like 2 rounds. It really wasn't even a fair battle. The group's druid made a awesome handle animal check to heel the hounds. Then the group ideas started to spin. They decided they wanted to take the trollhounds up to cillamar, and sell some as war hounds to the highest bidder, the druid talked to me about keeping one as an animal companion. I know they are magical beasts, but she is gearing herself up to become a Beast heart adept (prestige class from Dungeonscape p. 48-52) and rearing one of the trollhounds as her monsterous companion. This prestige class allows druids to gain the service of a monstrous companion (magical beast or aberration) Oh yeah the bard, he wants to groom one of the trollhound pups, to be his familliar. He is taking Obtain familiar (his level 3 feat from Complete Arcane p.81) I said I think that could be fine.

This encounter went against my plans. Now I don't know if my PC's will become overpowered with 2 trollhound companions. The group is very large as it is already. 7 player characters, with a wolf animal companion. This group is getting very large.

My whole purpose for this post, was just to get ideas, thoughts, comments. What should I do with the pup familiar? Obviously he won't have the stats as a full adult trollhound. Should I let the druid have the monstrous companion of a trollhound? The prestige class allows otyughs, owlbears, and pegasuses at 1st level of the prestige class anyways. I don't think the trollhound is more powerful than these creatures.

Comments welcome

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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 7:38 pm 
Steely-Eyed Heathen-Slayer
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Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2004 7:44 pm
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I hope with such a large group you're scaling the encounters to match them, otherwise they'll cake-walk through the entire dungeon.
Beyond the prep-work of scaling, feel free to ad-lib as necessary to make the encounters challenging to your party: have reinforcements arrive, "spot" a bad guy an extra 10-20 hp, give someone DR 2/-, that sort of thing.
In short, do what good GMs always do: "fudge" the game. After all, you bought the module, it's yours to do with as you please.

As far as trollhounds go, IIRC the bard using Obtain Familiar gets him a bat or a rat, not a trollhound (even a pup).
If he wanted to take Improved Familiar (a feat, I think?) then he can suck up the level penalty just like someone with - say - a blink dog familiar.
Also, familiars generally have a negligible presence in combat, and their improvements by caster level reflect that. His trollhound pup is going to be FAR, FAR weaker than a trollhound animal companion.

As far as trollhound pup stats go, I'd treat it like a template. Reduce ability scores, reduce HD (and therefore hp, BAB, saves, skill points, etc), reduce size (and therefore melee damage), stuff like that.

As for the druid, it sounds like the druid is going out of her way to make a trollhound work (taking a prestige class that will let her have magical beast animal companions, etc), so let her have it AFTER she qualifies for it. Even so, a trollhound probably counts as an improved animal companion (it's tougher than a wolf, for example), so it would probably have to suck up a penalty to abilities like other improved animal companions.

Also, remember that trollhounds (and animal companions) are not robots that do what the character says. They don't like going in spooky, underwater, or otherwise unsafe places - and that's what the "push" function of the Handle Animal skill is for. Since trollhounds are magical beasts, there is (IIRC) a penalty to making Handle Animal checks to get it to do stuff.
Also keep in mind that animal companions can only do stuff if they're taught tricks, and then only the stuff that the trick says they can do.
(this is why all the trained rats on level 6 list what tricks they know)
Training an animal costs time and/or money (especially if you get someone to do it for you). Don't forget trollhound feed and water, too (unless the heroes give the animal "time off" to use Survival to forage on their own - assuming it has Survival).

Finally, if your heroes are walking around with such exotic creatures as companions and familiars, that may get noticed. That means plot points.
Ankiel (or some other villainous NPC) is bound to hear about someone in town with trollhounds, and would make the connection with the heroes taking out the Iron Manacle.
That drunk dude in the Inn of the Slumbering Drake will probably have PTSD flashbacks or something at seeing a trollhound, since he was a captive who escaped. Similarly, people in the know might not trust the party.
If the party gets to the Far Garden on level 8, the fey might look down on such unnatural animal companions, or the wizards of the Tome (with whom Baghamaya on level 14 is affiliated) might get jealous that your bard has such a nifty familiar and demand to buy it from him/steal it/whatever.
When the Pack of the Night-Wolf gets sicced on the party by the Thane of Narborg, they may try poisoning their animal companions to weaken them, or maybe they'll secretly kidnap them and retrain them to turn traitor!
All just ideas to use this decision as a springboard for interesting stuff in-game.

Kinda rambling, but I hope it helps. All just my opinion, of course, but the bottom line is to do what makes the game fun (and challenging) for both you and your party.

Co-Author: The Almanac of the Endless Traders, DCC #13, DCC #29, DCC #49, DCC #51, DCC #52, DCC #63

Author: DCC #55: Isle of the Sea Drake, DCC #61: Citadel of the Corruptor, more to come....

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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 8:09 pm 
Ill-Fated Peasant

Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:12 am
Posts: 9

thanks for the ideas. I will probably use a whole bunch of them. I am scaling the adventure, and Whiterock has not been a cake walk for them by any means. I am excited about how things have been going, but sometimes, things just don't go as the GM planned and I that is one of the main reasons I love RPGs.

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 7:58 am 
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Those are all great suggestions.

Having only dipped into reading CW, I'm not familiar with the trollhound (beyond it's being monstrous). But one thing that springs to mind is (if it fits) having some kind of greater trollhound(s) show up at some point, and seriously impact the creatures' loyalties. Suppose the greater versions have some kind of innate sway with creatures of like kind. Maybe the companions would turn on their masters, so the PCs have to fight the greater trollhound(s), while suffering the bites and scratches of their companions (because they surely wouldn't attack the creatures they've nurtured and relied on!). And if the PCs kill the greaters, how do the companions react...?

And so as not to make this a gratuitous "I'm trying to take your animals/familiars away from you because they unbalance things" type moment, set it up so that the effect the greater 'hounds are having on the companions is very clear before there is any face off. Maybe some howling in the distance for a couple nights, that the trollhounds among the party react to in a distinctive way, a way in which handle animal and/or survival checks can interpret....

Just two cents off the top of my head.
(How did that get there?)

Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

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