Wednesday, July 6, 2022

#JULYGANTIC: Warrens of the Stone Giant Thane

Warrens of the Stone Giant Thane appears in Dungeon #198 - it’s by Chris Perkins and aimed at a party of levels 14-16.  It’s Perkins’ stone giant adventure meant to be part of the 4e-version Against the Giants sequence, between Hill and Frost.  My familiarity with 4e is low, so I’ll be eyeballing all of this.  Let’s read!

  1. Exposition tells us that the stone giants are the least likely to join King Snurre’s war, but recently Thane Arnak has become affected by a magical stone of madness.  What is it with NPCs getting corrupted by things?  Over and over.

  2. Several side-quests are presented, like recovering a banner.  Is this a standard 4e thing?  Here’s a minor quest, here’s the xp for doing it?  Interesting.  How explicit is this meant to be?  In 4e do you tell the party “you’ve just accepted the minor quest to find the peace delegates” and the players kind of know how much that’ll be worth (240xp/character) if they succeed?

  3. This adventure was designed to facilitate short rests between encounters, and using the treasure parcel technique to insure level-appropriate treasure distribution.  I hate every part of that sentence.

  4. Here’s the lamest “what are they carrying” table I’ve ever seen:

Nothing inspiring in there, nothing linking to anything else in the adventure.

  1. The gates are guarded by stone giants (duh) and the area is patrolled by a giant flying around on a roc, which is pretty badass.  You can fight your way in, or bluff your way in with a group Bluff check (!).

  2. These stone giants have a temple to Ogremoch, can we stop pretending they aren’t bad guys now?  I guess this links in a bit to the Stone of Madness stuff, are we going to get a Tharizdun mention later to pay it all off maybe?

  3. There’s a frost giant emissary accompanied by a frost-flavored hawk and owlbear, and a captured dwarf (why was she helping the stone giants in the first place?).

  4. If you’re trying to fool the stone giants into thinking you work for one of the other giant groups, there’s a nice bit covering what you’d have to know (or Bluff) to convince them.  Success here does seem a bit unlikely.

  5. Stone giant seer with a third eye, big Ogremoch fan.  If this were 5e, maybe he’d be a warlock.

  6. Next level down, the first encounter described is with what remains of a primordial colossus - the giant hand attacks and the big ol’ head rolls forward to crush you.  This is pretty fun and worth stealing.


  8. A room with tiny elementals and some exploding crystals - this is probably a fun/tricky fight if you’re running on a grid, dealing with all the foes and avoiding the crystals.  The monsters are going to push you into the ka-boom.

  9. Further rooms have gargoyles and crag ropers, because we’re doing an earth theme.  I don’t know if storopers aren’t a thing in 4e or whether crag ropers (which have the Earth type) are the substitute.  There’s an earth titan, too.  Remember, if you include a throwaway line about the Thane being famous for his diplomatic skills, and everything’s suitably earth-themed, then your dungeon isn’t a funhouse.

  10. The fungus garden contains gorgonbane, which can be used to return petrified persons to life.  Good.

  11. Finally, the Mad Thane - and the Tharizdun name-drop I was looking for.  The fight with the thane includes his pet gorgon, some galeb duhr, and two medusas.  Are we picking up on the theme yet?  Did 4e have magic weapons that did more damage against earth creatures?  Tackle this adventure with a longsword +1, +3 vs earth creatures.  Destroying the Stone of Madness is a skill challenge (plus there are insanity ghosties that attack you).

  12. It’s possible to destroy the stone and break its hold on the Thane.  A sneaky party could maybe get in here with minimal (or no) killing, free the Thane, and then reap that benefit.

Okay, filtering out the 4e-isms and my own biases on this one as much as possible, I think it’s a solid adventure.  Potentially combat-heavy, and a difficult adventure.  Your PCs might be tired of stone giants and earth creatures by the end of it.  Kudos to Perkins for tying this into both the 4e Against the Giants redux, and Temple of Elemental Evil/Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. You could use it with 4e Revenge of the Giants as well.  I don’t know if it’s worth the work to convert Warrens of the Stone Giant Thane into 1e/OSR, but sliding it into 5e might be easier and worth it… if you’re playing out the 5e Against the Giants, or the 5e conversion of Temple of Elemental Evil; or you could use it with Storm King’s Thunder somehow, or Princes of the Apocalypse.  It’s not constantly redoing the same stuff, it’s marketing synergy!

The redesign away from Trampier and toward Whatever This Is was a mistake.

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