Dungeon 197 - Steading of the Hill Giant Chief (An adventure for characters of level 12–14)

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Dungeon 197
Steading of the Hill Giant Chief
An adventure for characters of level 12–14
by Christopher Perkins

Yo, Nosnra! We’re in yer house, killin’ yer doods! A D&D adventure for characters of levels 12–14, and the first of four paragon-tier adventures based on Gary Gygax’s classic Against the Giants series.

Talk about this article here.

Excellent! the one I've been waiting for! first read through gave me a warm fuzzy, but will read again on a night of sleep.
My first impressions are very, very good. This looks to be a classic series in the making, a defining moment for what will probably be the latter stages of 4e. It's nice to see an adventure of this size and quality in dungeon magazine. It makes me feel very happy as a subscriber as with this adventure I'm getting some serious value out of my monthly fee.

Paragon tier support is so refreshing after a never ending stream of heroic tier adventures. Hopefully this marks a shift in focus for dragon/dungeon with increased support for higher level play. Any chance we could see an epic level adventure sometime soon?

I'll have more comments later after I get more time to look this one over.
Thank you Chris !

This is a very neat re-imagined G1 and with very cool maps  with new twist (i wonder how deep he was involved in the making, knowing how he like to do maps) and a few new monsters, named or Draconic ! Artwork is nice too the Roper is cool. 

I can't wait to see the rest of the series and especially the new adventure... 

A Huge Astral Diamond to Chris Perkins for this Classic (a little thought  to Gary Gygax for the royalties) 
And to Eric Belisle,Noah Bradley, Goran Josic and Mike Schley for the artwork and cartography

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

This adventure is 12 months too late!
I am just getting to the end of running Revenge of the Giants thinking when I picked it up it would be like the original classics, however it is nothing like!
I will sadly never run the adventure as Revenge has eventualy destroyed my enjoyment of the game although I am determined to finish. Having this adventure originally looks like it would have continued my enjoyment for a while longer. Well done, looks a great piece of work. 
one question re: Nosnra

R great crossbow (weapon) F at-will
Attack: Ranged 15 (one creature); +18 vs. AC
Hit: 4d8 + 8 damage, and the target falls prone.
Effect: Nosnra can use greatclub.

he can use greatclub when he shoots his crossbow? that seems to be what this is saying.
There is a small typo in Greater Moon Frenzy... there are two stage 2's, one shoudl be Stage 3.

ahem . . .

hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah!
and he shall reign for ever and ever! 

thank you, mr. perkins. 

I very much like what has been done here. good logical changes in the dungeon, good logical changes in the map layout. Still have the opportunity to lead a revolt, unique new twists (particularly in the dungeon), nice extra effects for the cooks, nice addition for the Temple (and harkens back to my favorite, Temple of Elemental Evil).

I particularly like the skill challenges, actually I know it's a small thing, but the lack of formality was nice.
Anyway we can get a copy of the map (particularly the dungeon one) without anything that might give away what's there? I'm specifically thinking of the shading for the roper's reach. Some of us use electronic tools and import the map.
This adventure is 12 months too late!
I am just getting to the end of running Revenge of the Giants thinking when I picked it up it would be like the original classics, however it is nothing like!
I will sadly never run the adventure as Revenge has eventualy destroyed my enjoyment of the game although I am determined to finish. Having this adventure originally looks like it would have continued my enjoyment for a while longer. Well done, looks a great piece of work. 



What's wrong with the Revenge? I am contemplating buying it.
I was a late comer to 4e so after playing one adventure I DM'd the next. Not having the time to create like I used to I picked up Revenge believing it would be similar to the original giants series I remember so fondly. It's nothing like it. As I have played through the campaign in the last twelve months I have come to see how badly written the adventures are.
Simple things such as all magic items are 'x level item' no imagination or thought.
No maps for locations, you travel to so many different locations in the world and only get encounter maps.
You spend the campaign tracking down a artefact without even a description or picture of what it looks like.
After a while I substituted all the written monster stats for the d&di updated ones as they are written they do not pose a challenge.
I am just running the final encounter which will be hard but it will be with felief when I finish. It wasn't the pleasure I thought it would be it was very poorly put together. My advice is to look at the new re-imagined adventures for the giants and avoid revenge
Simple things such as all magic items are 'x level item' no imagination or thought.

In all fairness, this is the nature of 4e and the change in item design philosophy. Items interact much too close with the abilities of individual PCs to make sense to add anything random to an adventure. All it will result in is either the DM changing them anyway, or else the player changing them in residuum to create their own. The exception are the handful of story related items, and the adventure does include a couple of those.

No maps for locations, you travel to so many different locations in the world and only get encounter maps.

There is actually a detailed map of one area, which is also one of the better chapters. The rest is left vague deliberately so that the DM can set the adventure whereever it fits his campaign world best. It does mean you need to do a bit more work. Probably the result of a change in philosophy as well. 

You spend the campaign tracking down a artefact without even a description or picture of what it looks like.

You do? Granted, I have not taken a look at it recently, but I remember the goal of the adventure to be differently... you need to rescue an ancient city and prevent the resurection of a primordial.

After a while I substituted all the written monster stats for the d&di updated ones as they are written they do not pose a challenge. I am just running the final encounter which will be hard but it will be with felief when I finish. It wasn't the pleasure I thought it would be it was very poorly put together. My advice is to look at the new re-imagined adventures for the giants and avoid revenge

Well, the adventure was written before the updates to damage output, so that you need to modify the monsters to those can hardly be blamed on the adventure.

It does not look like the original series beyond facing types of giants in a series from hill to fire (with some drow added to the fire giants to spice things up). So if you buy it with the idea of running the old series updated to 4e you will feel a bit cheated.

Personally I am not a big fan of the adventure either with the exception of the chapter of the frost giants. It is a bit too railroady and dungeon crawly to me, and especially the skill challenges need a lot of work. But I don't think it is that bad either. Just not my cup of tea...

I'm DMing this adventure now. Changed the mountain location to Dawnforge Mts to fit Nentir Vale. Mainly using it as a skeleton or plot point. I add roleplay by building drama up with details of the destruction giants are coming. Had the fishing village of Nenlast leveled by them and refugees squatting in Fallcrest.

Should be fun!
The adventure looks really, good. Thanks!

Thanks for including the maps, but I would like an even higher resolution map of the steading. I would like to blow it up for use in the game. Yes, that means 70+ copies, but it looks so good -- though at 350% it looses a lot of detail... ;)


I've been able to import the maps into Fantasy Grounds 2 (which I actually use for PBEM and play by post games and not live. Then just screenshot the action and copy-paste to MS Paint and cut out hidden areas and the toolbar/windows screen stuff. Should work quite well doing that for a tabletop live game too, especially if you have a big HDTV you can HDMI hook your computer too.

What would be even better is if somehow the maps were available on the virtual game table here. Now that would rock. But the table needs a LOT more monster and PC icons.
My group have been playing on and off for a pretty long time (late 80's) and always regretted not running the original Giants series so this is a great opportunity for me to run it.  I've spent the last week or so getting everything loaded into Maptools as we're based all over the place now and play using Maptools and Skype.

The first in the series looks to be an awesome adventure but it also looks like one of those old-style "killer dungeons" where PC death is going to be a real serious possibility if not probability in a similar way to the old Ravenloft and others.

Has anyone actually run their group through this and is it as deadly as it looks to be? 
this one gives players the chance to skill encounter instead of combat which could save their bacon a few times as well as provide something for the skill monkeys and true role-play opportunities. It doesn't appear to be all that tough, in fact I may have to beef up the giants a bit.
I just started running our group through this adventure last night and there are a couple of things that I should have done that other DMs might want to include in their planning.


  • If you can find it somewhere, it's worth reading the original, it's only 8 pages long after all.  It will help add extra context.  This adventure has been written by someone who are very familiar and enthusiastic about the original adventure and I got the feeling while running the game that there is some asumed knowledge.

  • There is descriptions for how hard it is to open giant sized doors, how hard it is to climb down a chimney, what the walls are made of, what the floor is made of, what the rafters  are made of, how hard it is to set fire to the walls, but no description of what the roof is made of and how hard it is to get through it and set fire to it.  Guess how my characters decided to get into and what they're planning on setting alight on the way out.  This is only noticable given how well all of the other scenarios are covered.  The illustration in the original adventure shows it as been wooden (probably the intent and something I've only discovered after the fact) the illustration in this version shows it as thatched (and also doesn't show most of the all important chimnies)

  • Decide on which cell Zandor Caskerhill is in (a small thing, but it is one less thing to worry about at the time)

  • Note which of the sink holes has umber hulks in them (the text only mentions 2, but there are 3 likely ones on the map)

  • If the players manage to neuralise the two bugbears next to the dungeon gongs before they raise the alarm, how long till anyone notices they're not at their post.

  • In the chief's treasury it states that there are "three large, locked wooden chests... as well as one final trap to catch the unwary".  Then there's no mention of what that trap is.  I suspect this was going to be the poisoned pit trap from the original that didn't make the cut to the new version.

  • The box text for the play ground starts "Beyond a raised wooden portcullis is a spacious...", but the description of the room starts "Wooden portcullises set into the ceilings above the entrances are normally in the lowered position.".  This tripped me up as I wasn't expecting the players to get this to area (silly me) so I hadn't picked up on this until I was trying to add extra details to the description and told the players the portcullises where closed.  If I was doing it again, with the way the room is setup, go with the box text, let the players all wander into the room and bunch up, have the dragon turn invisible, hit the switch thus closing the portcullises and then breath death on the party.

  • The DCs for most of the locks (generally 20) are not a challenge for trained characters of this level. If they're at the lower end of the level range they'll have a skill of 16+ (Half level (6) + Training (5) + stat bonus (5)) means they have to roll less than a 4.  If you want the locks to be a challenge to force characters to go looking for keys, you'll want to consider uping this.


thank you so much for that heads up on things! Couple questions for you.

I've placed the adventure in Nentir Vale and the steading in the Dawnforge Mts north and slightly east of Hammerfast. Will this placement be ok for the rest of the giant series adventures? I'm assuming the January issue isn't done yet and what is up is just a teaser because none of the articles are clickable.

thanks!
Rob
I would like to be able to help you with that, but I'm afraid I don't know the answer.  I only looked for the original after running the one session so I don't know what the plot arc is.  If I've got time, I'm going to try and track down the rest of the original adventures and have a read before the next session to help me out with that.

If you're in a rush to get the next adventure, I've noticed that if you look in the archive, sometimes articles will appear there a day or so before being available on the magazine page.
ok thanks.

Rob
I am going to be running this game as a PbP. Is anyone making maps for use with maptools? I can impoirt the ones they have, but it'll take a ton of cropping, grid re-aligning, and such to make it work nicely.

Would be great if someone was doing these maps...
I have the entire steading mapped using the VT and use it for both live play and a PBP game. What I do for the pbp one is make characters in the vt for each then do screenshots as they go, crop, post etc. This way they can see the action, indicate where they want to slide to. They still do their rolling I just skip the attack roll in the VT and damage roll and just manually adjust the hp removed from monsters. For attacks the monsters make I just use the VT dice rolls and post results.

See www.playbyweb.com -Fantasy Section - Hill Giant Chief(4e).

direct link.

Some places aren't quite to scale or interpreted differently but it's mostly accurate. You can see it on the virtual table labled "Hill Giant Chief - VT Live".

For the pbp game whenever I have an update I make a new vt session, import the saved adventure, make the changes or turns, do screenshots, save adventure state and delete the session again. Currently the party in the pbp version is dealing with some attacking giants on the town of Frostfell this will give them a clue to the location of the Steading.

The live VT version the party has penetrated a ways into the steading and went down steps to dungeon level.