My level 6-8 Party is going up against a small troll army invading a forest. Previously, we just assumed that once the party wins, they can burn all the troll remains. Some of us, however, were interested in how the rules handle this.

Applying a torch would not do it, because a torch is treated as a "one-handed improvised weapon that deals bludgeoning damage equal to that of a gauntlet of its size, plus 1 point of fire damage" according to the SRD. Even if they dealt 1d6 fire damage, the other damage that brought the troll down is regenerating, so you need to keep hitting the pieces as you torch them for 63/3.5 rounds on average.

Alternatively, use coup de grace with a torch, forcing a Fort DC 17 save (trolls having Fort +11). Or finally, given that immersion in boiling water does 10d6 damage, assume the same for a pyre. Somebody also suggested using a coup de grace using a scorching ray but that severely limits the number of trolls the party can kill. Or a sneak attack using a torch or alchemical fire?

How is one supposed to kill a troll by the rules, and how do they handle a raiding party of ten or more trolls? How does a party keep the trolls down while they fight the remaining trolls?

Both the pyre and the hunt for the various twitching bits with sword and torch provide interesting visuals.

I know that Pathfinder has a different rule covering this, but this is a D&D 3.5 game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have access to complete soundrel or the other poisons book, but my mind is bugging me that there's some alchemical item or poison that prevents regen. Am I mixing this up with 4e? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't like this question. All rules you are mentioning are valid in combat, but once it's dead, you are out of combat, so just set him on fire. Do you wdo torch "coups de grace" on your firewood when trying to set up your camp fire? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, every morning I pass a fortitude test and wake up. I grapple my shoes on and tumble-check down the stairs. I diplomacise the family, craft some breakfast, and wield my one-handed spoon. I'm not proficient, but I manage. Then every 6 seconds I make 2 vicious stabbing motions at my bowl, because I'm lvl 6. The wife usually just stares and asks me to have a sit, but I explain that the penalty for being half-prone, coupled with this proficiency thing, the miss-rate would make breakfast take too long. Aftewards, I of course loot the bowl. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ what about, good old classic fireball? \$\endgroup\$
    – user902383
    Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 14:50

8 Answers 8


63 damage done 3.5 at a time is on the order of two minutes' worth of rounds. Assuming that you are starting this after initiative has ended, why is this a problem? Taking two minutes to properly sear the wounds of the troll to be acceptable, especially considering how long it takes to sear a steak.

Additionally, if intelligent players sever the limbs first, even if the main troll body regenerates enough to wake up, it won't have any way to actually attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Chad I'm no 3.5 expert, but I don't think so. If a troll loses a limb or body part, the lost portion regrows in 3d6 minutes. The creature can reattach the severed member instantly by holding it to the stump. Nothing there about asexual reproduction. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 18:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ This was addressed decades ago; you can't have all the pieces grow trolls or else there will be troll farms. In any edition, the pieces crawl together; any that are missing die off and are regrown by the single primary creature. \$\endgroup\$
    – ExTSR
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think Lugh is right in that the PC kills the troll, beheads it (another standard action) and kicks the head away. He then has a few minutes to help fight the remaining trolls (at least 30 rounds which should be plenty). Once all the trolls are beheaded, build a pyre and burn the heads. Once the fight is over, one guard should be enough to make sure any half-regrown limbs are cut off before the pyre is ready. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 15, 2011 at 13:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Alex - If i was dming and the group took time to build a pire but only burnt the heads not the bodies... they would shortly be fighting trolls with regnereated heads... just on principle. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2015
    Commented Jul 16, 2011 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can mismatched body parts be reattached to build "nonfunctioning" trolls that are no longer a threat? For example, attach two severed heads together to prevent them finding a new body, or stick a severed leg onto the neck of a beheaded troll. \$\endgroup\$
    – RobertF
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 16:51

D&D 3.x isn't a "rules only" game. If there's no reason within the game world to worry about the remains reanimating (like, "we have to burn them before the reinforcements arrive to drive us off"), then it should just happen.

DM: Ok, so you gather the twitching remains and burn them in pyres. What's next?

Unless there is a pressure involved with doing things inefficiently, dragging out the combat system is just going to be annoying, boring, or both. The combat system is fundamentally not designed to handle non-combat stuff like efficiently cremating troll pieces.

Even if there is a reason to worry about it, then leaning on the combat system is using the wrong tool. Better would be the DM doing something smarter, e.g. calling for Spot checks with failure resulting in a random number of pieces being overlooked and regenerating into full trolls who attack the pyre-lighters by surprise.

This kind of thing, where the fact that the DM is a thinking human who can creatively handle events not covered by the rules, is what makes D&D a great game. Keep the combat system for actual combat, and rely on your DM being a good DM to handle things like this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree in general. But in this particular case I am in fact interested in the solution by the rules because I've had a discussion with players claiming that trolls were even stronger than I had made them out to be as it was going to be practically impossible to kill them and pointing out some problems with my interpretation of the rules. Basically fighting a squad of trolls was going to take at least twice that many characters, because in the end one will have to keep whacking the troll to keep it down while the other takes a long time to try and burn all the pieces. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 15, 2011 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, so you're interested in how to beat a pack of trolls where there are fallen ones reviving while you're still trying to take down the last one or two? That's quite different from the question as written (wondering how to clean up after beating a troll army), and would make a good separate question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 16, 2011 at 22:43

Some solutions beyond pyre/torching troll bits:

  • At levels 6-8 a spell caster should have access to some fire spells. Use liberally on trolls and/or troll remains.
  • Alchemist's fire will also do the trick and if the party has the right skill set can be made by the party (although depending on the size troll army this might be somewhat impratical)
  • A simpler alternative to alchemist's fire is just getting a lot of vials of oil and pouring them over the remains and lighting them with a torch. Oil is far cheaper and more common then alchemist's fire.
  • A very clever trap where trolls are baited into a wooded area which has been designed to be set ablaze and burn inward would probably permanently kill and possibly allow the party to watch from a safe distance (or pick off stragglers who slip through the fire line).
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah burning oil, one of my favorite neglected things. Casks of oil combined with an alchemist fire also make for It's on FIRE fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Burning the woods propably will also infuriate local druids, elves and other good-aligned forest-dwelling populace. BURN, FIRE, BURN! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 9:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ True, but if the woods has that many good-aligned denizens they should be willing to help out probably negating the need for the party to commence on fire crazed tactics (or assisting the party if they are chaotic, fire is a natural process after all!) \$\endgroup\$
    – mirv120
    Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Between Alchemist fire and lit oil, Comrade Molotov always wins against trolls! \$\endgroup\$
    – Pulsehead
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 18:00

Set their hair and clothes on fire with the Torch. Since the Trolls are unconcious they don't get Reflex saves to put the fire out and burn to death. If the DM is really persnickity then use Oil to treat their hair and skin first to ensure it catches fire since it costs 1 SP a pint. Want to be absolutely sure? Use a Winter Blanket, 5 SP, soaked in a gallon of Oil, 8 SP, for an 13 SP cost and they're sure to burn to death. How can they sleep while their beds are burning?

D&D Glossary: catching on fire:

Characters exposed to burning oil, bonfires, and noninstantaneous magic fires such as a wall of fire might find their clothes, hair, or equipment on fire. Spells such as fireball or flame strike don't normally set a character on fire, since the heat and flame from these come and go in a flash.

Characters at risk of catching fire are allowed a DC 15 Reflex save to avoid this fate. If a character's clothes or hair catch fire, he takes 1d6 points of damage immediately. In each subsequent round, the burning character must make another Reflex saving throw. Failure means he takes another 1d6 points of damage that round. Success means that the fire has gone out. (That is, once he succeeds on his saving throw, he's no longer on fire.)


The cheapest method will probably be drowning, as that scales the best. However, assuming you have a budget, the alchemical item "trollbane" in Dungeonscape, page 30, does what it says on the tin. 90 gp if purchased, DC 25/30 GP if crafted, negates the regeneration of a troll against that specific attack. Therefore it's best combined with a x4 crit weapon and a coup de grace.

Other poisons will absolutely be effective, due to regeneration not impacting ability drain/damage.

Suffocation through smothering in a pit should also work, if you dump the trolls into a deep deep mass grave, pile earth on top of them, and pack it in. The grave would require watching, but scales well.

Asking for various fire/acid based magical weapons is also indicated, and or spells that mimic those functions.


Poison can drop hit points to 0, but just as with a Ring of Regeneration, they'll revive each round to save vs poison again (eventually overcoming poison). Otherwise they'll stay dead until time to burn it.

Torches, etc. cause much more damage when sitting there on the body as opposed to being swung around like a weapon. Applied to a dismembered limb, fire ends regeneration immediately. A downed troll at 0 hp or less will not rise if flame is applied to the body.

Just like you don't have to read the entire set of blueprints of a building's construction to find your way to an office on the first floor, you don't have to waste 3 hours of game time to finish a troll you successfully brought down.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Minor point: poison doesn't typically deal hit point damage in 3.5. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 19:29

Just have your big nasty figther types go about knocking the trolls down and another char runs around on fire duty lighting up the trolls. Have your wizard use battlefield control spells and such to nerf and/or stop the other trolls... Ray of stupidity works wonders against your standard troll! :-)


First, the rules do not cover severing body parts through regular attacks. A troll brought down in this fashion is considered to be in one piece, barring several litres of putrid blood.

Second, you can hit the troll two times a round with a torch. This requires two characters (or one capable of 2 attacks per round).


If a torch is used in combat, treat it as a one-handed improvised weapon that deals bludgeoning damage equal to that of a gauntlet of its size, plus 1 point of fire damage. (c) SRD

That quoted, you will have a rough time toasting trolls with torches. You'd be better off using a pyre.

Last but not least, I don't see anything in the coup de grace description restricting you from performing a coup de grace with nonlethal damage, so have some pickaxes handy.

You could also drown the trolls. Dig a hole in the ground, create water and drag the troll remains there.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Regeneration rules prevent a coup de grace attack with a type of damage that is automatically converted to nonlethal. That said: you are right: spells, combustible (the pyre you mentioned), or a natural 1 on the troll's Fortitude save are needed to kill these pesky monsters. I really wonder if they ever die of old age... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, a single character with two torches would have little issues in hitting an helpless large creature, even without Two-Weapon Fighting. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 12:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wall of Stone, surround the buggers, and they'll eventually suffocate.... or break through the wall. But heck, they're unconscious and you have time to make more wall. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik - It is still only going to do 2 fire damage a round. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2015
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chad. Of course. I was only pointing out that a single character could perform 2 attacks per round. I concord with you that 2 points of fire damage per round is a ridiculous long way to kill a troll. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 6:41

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