Thursday, July 28, 2022

#JULYGANTIC: In Vino Gigantus

 Today's read-through is of the Frog God adventure In Vino Gigantus, penned by TridentCon attendee James Spahn.  It's for lower-level 5e characters.  Let's read!

In theory you could append the Wine Cellar to any old Cloud Castle map...

The gimmick: a debauched storm giant noble shanghais the PCs into dealing with his flooded wine cellar.  That's it, that's the setup - prepare for Basement Adventure, but at ten times normal size.

The adventure starts with the PCs being magically taken and transported to the flying home of the storm giant lush, where he proceeds to read an entire column of boxed text while the PCs eat an amazing repast in his hall.  Attacking Clovis the giant and his ogre servants (not to mention his ogre mage butler) is probably a bad idea at this level.  Far better to take the job - there's pay at the end, after all.  Unrelated gripe: vanilla ogres as the servitors of a fancy storm giant noble don't sit right with me...I'd have to reskin them as tempest ogres (whatever that means), or give them bird heads or something.  Eagle-headed ogres in fine livery sounds pretty fantastic to me.

The wine cellar is immense by small-folk standards, and contains "mundane" hazards like giant centipedes, rats, and frogs so you can do a proper Incredible Shrinking Man homage (and you should).  PCs will want to climb up on barrels and furniture as the adventure moves on, so there's a good bit of potential verticality throughout.  There do seem to be some scenes here where we're imagining the storm giant being even bigger than the 'canon' thirty feet or so - I think for a setup like this the PCs work best at "action figure size" but really they ought to be one-fifth the height of the storm giant?  The fight with the salt & pepper shakers makes less sense with bigger PCs.  Regardless, the whole adventure has size in mind - how are you going to pull the giant wine bottle that opens the secret door, that sort of thing.  There's a basement kitchen, a cold-storage room, and so forth.  Beware the weasels!

So many salt and pepper jokes you could do

One interesting bit is that there's another adventuring party down here.  Clovis sent them on the same mission you're on and then either forgot or presumed they failed, but here they still are.  Some other solid encounters follow, including the feral undead cats - yes, you read that right - and plenty of giant rats and spiders.  There are a lot of critters down here, especially if you trigger a lot of random encounters in the long slog across the biggest rooms - which means this adventure is potentially more lethal than it first seems.  Maybe that's why Clovis gives you healing potions at the start!

Eventually the heroes will find the storm giant's dog (Donner the Thunder Terrier), who is both captive of the giant spiders and the actual cause of the flooding.  What group of PCs wouldn't try to save the giant lightning dog?  This is a neat fight, with Donner's panicked thunder-barks causing the unstable foundation beneath your feet to crumble away, falling into the cloudstuff and sky below.

All in all, this is a solid low- or even mid-level scenario.  It could work as a DCC funnel or fit in a con slot if you dialed back on the extra random encounters.  I could see myself using this - the memorable parts, besides the dog, are going to be the interaction with the 'big' environment and how the PCs get around some of the obstacles.

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