Monday, August 13, 2018

Monster Monday - Troglodyte

Troglodytes show up in some of the most iconic modules. First up: S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. 18 of the buggers hang out in the Greater Caverns. They use great tactics (with a leader that creates an illusionary army. The troglodytes are instrumental in the module to give the Caverns a "living dungeon" feel.
B9: Castle Caldwell and Beyond has 4 of them hanging out near the gardens. I've never played the module, so I don't know the chances of running into them.
X1: Isle of Dread has a lair of 17 troglodytes. However, they are stuffed into a corner of the island, with instructions to use a generic map. They don't even appear on the random encounter table!
N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God: In this module, the troglodytes drive the story. A few of the locations in town have cult members working with troglodytes. The author uses their scent as a plot device (a way to track them.) The troglodytes are active in the cult, and show up as wandering monsters. This is probably the best module featuring troglodytes.
In all, troglodytes have shown up in 29 different adventures.

Troglodytes fill the same roll as a lot of more common monsters. Orcs, hobgoblins, zombies, and gnolls are used similarly. Trogs have a wonderful flavor if you're looking for something same-but-different.

Today, I'm going to try something new. I want to thematically build an adventure starting with the troglodyte. So, according to Monstrosities, they are "subterranean reptile-people. In battle they emit a horrible smell..." From the MM we add "They loathe humans." This gives us a start of what might hang out with them.
My first thought is what loves smelly things? Otyugh. They love trash, offal and carrion. Sounds like they can hang out stinky troglodytes. And, I am often a fan of using them as a trash removal service.
Next, let's find a reptilian connection. The naga is an obvious choice, but that was the Cult of the Reptile God's boss. So, something different. Hydra are underused, imho, so that's what they worship and feed.
I feel that trogs probably live in a swampy area, so we can add giant leeches, and snakes (constrictor and viper.)

So, the adventure looks like this:
Hook: bad things happening in the swamp. (The DM can even use "lizardman" to keep the PCs in the dark about what's up.)
Travel to the lair: use giant leeches and snakes to wear down party.
The lair is probably branching paths, with several trogs in different areas. Add females/children as appropriate. The otyugh probably hangs out fairly deep. Maybe a branching side-path that doesn't directly connect to the main quest.
Eventually, the PCs find their way to the hydra's lair, but the troglodyte witch-doctor has set up a puzzle-lock to make sure his dumb flock doesn't accidentally get eaten by the hydra. Maybe a pentagram or another puzzle involving the number 5 (to give a final hint of what's behind.)
Then they come to the hydra, down in a pit. It can maneuver around to avoid arrows, possibly making a game of cat-and-mouse within a labyrinth below. Depending on levels and abilities 1-4 trogs could be present.

The image above was by Christopher Burdett. It is owned by WotC and used in the Dungeons of Dread.

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