The Slayer's Guide to Troglodytes


The Slayer's Guide to Troglodytes

Author: Mike Major
Publisher: Mongoose Publishing
Publish Date: 2001
ISBN: 1-903980-06-2
Pages: 32
Rating: 3 out of 10
Retail Price: $9.95


Troglodytes are horrible reptilian creatures that act in the same general capacity as low-level monsters, but are slightly more powerful.While lizardfolk might be on good terms with their humanoid neighbors, troglodytes are as openly evil and vile as they are smelly and disgusting.They represent everything alien that a humanoid-like reptilian race can offer.More often than not, they are used by the DM to replace kobolds as cannon fodder when the PCs increase their levels a bit.Once the PCs gain a few more levels, they leave the troglodytes’ caves and graduate to bigger and badder monsters.But it doesn’t have to be so.A well-designed tribe of troglodytes run by a competent DM that is willing to play trogs as a legitimate threat can challenge even mid-level adventures with alarming ease.


Like other books in the Slayer’s Guide series, this book opens with a discussion about the physiology of the troglodyte.The obvious features of the stench attack and their chameleon-like ability to blend into their surroundings are touched on, but this chapter offers something extra as well.It posits the idea that troglodyte physiology is directly impacted by the amount of food the creature is allowed access to.The average trog is somewhat stunted by a lack of sufficient diet, but every trog has the potential to grow up as a 7 ft. tall paragon of his race, if he’s allowed a generous enough diet.This, I thought, was an interesting theory.


Habitat is briefly touched on, and basically amounts to “the live underground.”A nice feature of this book, however, is that it bases troglodyte society on a built-in racial caste system, a sort of feudal system of dominance within the tribe that dictates a particular troglodyte’s position in the tribe by his physical development, which is, as mentioned before, based on the amount of food he is allowed to ingest.This seems like a fairly good idea for a built-in system the DM can use to design a working troglodyte lair, with the largest and most powerful trog as the chieftain, who limits the amount of food his underlings may have as a means to keep them at a manageable power level.


Methods of warfare is a fairly straight-up chapter in this book.Troglodytes are extremely evil and consider members of their own race that are lower in their caste hierarchy to be little more than tools to be used and thrown away.With that in mind, it’s easy to envision what trogs think of all other races.Aside from the giant lizards they occasionally breed as livestock and dray animals, they consider every other race to be a potential food source.


What’s particularly noteworthy about this chapter is that it details how a troglodyte tribe is essentially an extension of the chieftain’s will.As such, they can attack in surprisingly sophisticated and coordinated ways, depending on the intelligence of the chieftain.This is wordlessly communicated to each member of the tribe via their scent ability, which I think is just a wonderful idea.It makes the tribe a force to be reckoned with, while at the same time opening them up to different weaknesses that creative PCs might discover.For example, a spell like gust of wind might disrupt the communication between a chieftain and his warriors, making them lose coordination and fight les effectively.


The plot hooks offered for including troglodytes into your game were a bit disappointing.Each essentially boiled down to either “scour the troglodyte lair” or “capture a troglodyte for scientific study.”There wasn’t a lot of variation.


A prestige class, the Crafter, was included in this book.Essentially, these are the troglodytes that have developed enough brainpower to act as craftspeople for their tribe.Unfortunately, it’s extremely poorly designed.At 2nd level, the trog gains a bonus to Profession (miner) checks, which seems all but useless, considering the use of the Profession skill.At 3rd level, the trog suddenly learns how to manufacture and forge steel.Instead of making metal items available for crafting, it just grants a static +4 bonus to all such Craft checks.At the next level, it can craft weapons and armor with a magical enhancement bonus without requiring the requisite feat.No information or rules about how this is done are given.At the final level, the special ability is that the trog gains a level of cleric.It doesn’t specify if this is in place of the final level of this prestige class or if it’s in addition to.


The final section of this book is a sample troglodyte lair.Unlike most of the other Slayer’s Guide books I’ve read, the maps given don’t include any really useful information.They’re not well-labeled by area, nor are the areas numbered.Very little information is given about which areas do and do not contain which types of trogs.The accompanying text is a bit difficult to follow without a better map.Sections of different maps that are supposed to join together aren’t clearly marked as to where they’re supposed to join, which is confusing, to say the least.Lastly, there’s a sidebar that points out what effect the sheer amount of troglodyte stench in an area might have on a PC.It’s cut off by bad print layout, but the gist of what is there insists that a penalty of 1d6 Strength damage be applied due to nausea.Couldn’t the nauseated condition have been applied to make things more simple?


I thought this book had some very worthwhile ideas about how a troglodyte tribe and possibly lair might be organized.There was plenty of good seed information a clever DM could use to create his own opposing trog force.However, I thought the book fell very short of my expectations roughly halfway through.A creative dungeon master that wants a good method for involving troglodytes in his game might get a great deal of worthwhile ideas from this book, but to the average DM, I’d advise spending your money elsewhere.