Last night was the second session of my D&D 3.gneech "Way Too Many Giants" campaign, in which the Heroes of Brindol met the new party NPC (Half-orc rogue 8/barbarian 2 -- don't let him flank you with that battleaxe!) and rescued Old Warklegnaw's granddaughters from ogres, a named hill giant (Ogoro, the Hill Giant Chieftain's son), and his ally, a fire giant.
They also met for the first time a bladerager troll -- a kind of critter who appeared very late in 3.5 but features fairly prominently in 4e. Trolls regenerate, right? So imagine a troll pumped up on steroids and given the Wolverine treatment, and that's the bladerager. And as a bonus F-U from the bladerager's wicked creators, when the trolls dies the magic that holds them together inverts and instead blows them to bits, catching anybody nearby (friend or foe) in the blast.
They also just look darn neat. ;) So I think the players can probably expect to see more of those guys as the game progresses. ;)
But that led me to come up with another way of handling troll regeneration. The 3E method of doing this is very, very clunky: fire and acid does "real" hit point damage, while everything else does "nonlethal" damage that heals 5 hp/round. When the troll's nonlethal damage overcomes their current hp, they fall over unconscious ... only to pop back up again when the nonlethal damage regenerates. So that means that for every troll in the encounter, you have to keep two separate tracks of hit points, plus remembering to give them back 5 nonlethal hp. Put more than one troll into an encounter, and it quickly becomes a headache, which is why many 3E GMs just don't use trolls very much.
In fairness to 4E, it generally handles monsters very well, so I looked at the 4E method of handling trolls, and it's good. They looked at the desired behavior of trolls, i.e., "They keep getting back up!" and just made that the mechanic. To quote from the 4E MM: "If the troll is reduced to 0 hit points or fewer by an attack that does not deal acid or fire damage, it rises on its next turn (as a move action) with 10 hit points." Boom! Done. I'm yoinkin' it. Given that the 4E troll has exactly 100 hp, I'm guessing the formula is "1/10 its total," which works.
Besides the bladerager troll, one of the night's fun bits was Old Warklegnaw getting into a rock-pitching fight with a hill giant. "The hill giant chucks a rock at Warklegnaw -- *roll* -- that would be a hit -- *roll* -- but Warklegnaw catches it instead and chucks it back at him! *roll* The hill giant didn't catch it! Konk!" hantamouse, moving about on the board: "I don't want to get in between 'em! I might get hit by a rock!"
Overall it was a good session -- but lordy lordy, the math! The PC attacks are all doing massive amounts of damage, but the monsters are all giant bags of hit points, and nothing rounds easily so I have to use a calculator for every hit. Pile that on top of iterative attacks going two, three, four times a round and my poor little "I hate numbers!" head starts spinning fast.
Curse you, Monte Cook, for putting in iterative attacks! *shakes fist* I wonder if the players would revolt if I dropped them? Of course, that would mean less damage per round, so fights would take even longer. D'Oh. But even if the fight is longer, the turn might go faster!
What do you think, guys? Iterative attacks, yay or nay? Possibly with the SWSE style +1/2 level damage, just to keep the damage output up?