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G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
 
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G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
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G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/29/2017 15:56:01

Originally posted here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2017/08/review-module-g123-against-giants.html

Getting to play AD&D at the height of its popularity was one of the best things about growing up in the 80s. Even living in a small town in Central Illinois there were multiple, independent D&D groups going on everywhere. It was not uncommon to hear talk of an adventure, or a rules debate or anything else. One of the adventures that everyone seemed to be playing was the Against the Giants series.

Talk of Ombi, King Snurre Ironbelly, and Eclavdra were not daily topics of conversation, but they were common enough that there was a shared set of experiences. It was something we all could relate too and talk about even when we knew those other groups were playing it all "wrong"! It is no surprise then that G1-3 have been ranked as some of the greatest *D&D adventures of all time and have been updated for every version of the D&D rules since it was published back in 1978 (and combined in 1981).

The Giants series began as three individual adventures. They were run as part of the AD&D Tournament at Origins '78. When later released they became the first ever published adventures for the then new Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) game. Each adventure dealt with raids from a different race of giants; Hill, Frost and Fire respectively. They were aided by other giants and giant type creatures including ogres, stone giants and even a couple of white dragons in G2. But what really grabbed the attention of many players, and certainly this player, was the big reveal that the masterminds behind these giant raids were none other than the Drow; evil, dark elves that lived underground. This elevated the adventure from mere dungeon crawl and searching in giant's bags to a conspiracy. The giant-Drow alliance became Evil with a capital E.

The giants themselves were new-ish monsters then. Giants had appeared in the Original D&D rules, but all six races were "detailed" in a paragraph. In the (then new) Monster Manual for AD&D 1st Edition giants were given significantly more space and more details. It would be difficult to say which really came first, but we do know that Gygax worked on and published the Monster Manual before the Giants series came out. Notes from one certainly could have influenced the other. What of the adventures themselves? I had the chance to play this as a player way back in the early 80s. So my memories of it are quite fond. So fond in fact that I also ran this adventure with my sons as the players and using the newest edition of the D&D rules. My experiences playing under 1st Edition AD&D compare very favorably to my experiences running it under 5th Edition D&D nearly 40 years later.

The 32-page combined adventure splits into three easy parts that represent the three original modules.

G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief Here the characters and the players are introduced to the World of Greyhawk, or at least this small section of it. They learn that giants of various types have been raiding the local villages and the character have been pressed into doing something about it. Now the original modules put a threat into the characters to investigate, I find that by appealing to their higher moral codes and motives (and the ability to keep all the treasure) works so much better.

Soon the Steading of Hill Giant Chief Nostra is discovered and even a party of 9th+ level adventurers will soon discover that bigger often does mean better. Giants, even Hill Giants, are not dumb monsters. They are not bigger orcs or ogres with more hit points. This is their home and they will defend it. I am quite impressed anytime I think about how this was run as a tournament. It took me many sessions to get through all three and when I reran for my kids at Gen Con I had wanted to do each one a different night. Didn't happen that way. This adventure requires the players to plan, to hit hard and then run away. Many times they would send in the assassin to take out a giant and then follow it up with a barrage of magic from a distance. Combat can honestly be a slog here. But the action is often very fast paced. There is a lot going on.

This adventure shares a lot in common with its sibling B1 Keep on the Borderlands. While designed for two different versions of the D&D game, there are similarities that should not be ignored. In fact, I would like to think that they are there on purpose. Each represents a "beginner" view of dungeon crawling, but the Giants adventures, if you pardon the pun, get more advanced. This adventure gives only our first clues to the larger conspiracy, namely that the Hill Giants are taking direction from Giants, quite literally further up. Completing this adventure only leads the characters to the Frost Giants.

G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl Going further up the mountains we get the first hints of how the AD&D game is different than the D&D one. We now have rules for cold and the wind and most importantly getting lost in the snow. Like the Hill Giants before, some sections are left to the Dungeon Master to detail. This is partly due to the desire for a sandbox style play and largely due to the tournament origins of these adventures.

Again in this adventure planning is required. The characters cannot just rush in blindly and hope to overwhelm these creatures. In fact, assuming they are mere "monsters" is a good way to get killed fast. The Dungeon Master is encouraged to play these giants as the personages they are. Sure, Guard #4 in area 19 might not have a name, but he does have a purpose. Even the white dragon has a purpose. I could not help but think that the white dragon cloak worn by Snurre had not been one of the Frost Giant Jarl's dragons. In fact I hope it was. Their haltered of each other is overridden by the fear they feel at the hands of the drow. How powerful are these dark elves?

In this adventure, it should become obvious that much more is going on than raids and attacks of opportunity. There is a force uniting these giant clans and directing to grim purpose.

G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King Here the conspiracy is laid bare and the character will discover what and who is directing the Giants. But first they must survive a live and active volcano. The walls, for example, are hot to the touch. How hot? Try 2d6 hp damage per touch hot. The giants here are smart and coordinated by a strong King. They will lay traps and ambushes for the party. They will try to stop them at every turn. This adventure is not only significantly deadlier than the other two, it is also about 50% longer. Not only do the players have coordinated giant attacks to deal with, burning walls and King Snurre himself but also hiding out on level 3 are the drow. For many players back in the day this was their first introduction to the dark elves. I liken it to the big reveal that Romulans were related to the Vulcans in the original series of Star Trek's The Balance of Terror. It is something in our post-Drizzt world that we have lost. Here the Drow are discovered to be pulling the strings, but we don't yet know why. We do that they are lead by a High Priestess, an unearthly beautiful drow by the name of Eclavdra. She is no monster, but an NPC worthy of her own motives, desires and schemes. In the last time I ran this adventure my kids figured out right away that they needed to take out the King in order to not die right away. So they hunted Snurre down. With him out of the way the other fire giants lost their direction and were much easier to defeat. The red dragon and the drow though were still a problem. They managed to kill all but two; Eclavdra and her enchanter. The characters were last seen chasing the drow down to the Depths of the Earth to complete the next series of adventures.

While the books are small, the adventures take a while to run. The combats can be long and the characters really should take the time to explore every inch of the three giant strongholds. There is more treasure here than any group of characters need but also there are plenty of prisoners to free and some have information on what is going on.

There had been D&D adventures before this, but this was the first epic.

Legacy There are good reasons why we are still talking about these adventures today nearly 40 years later.

Some of it, of course, is just good old-fashioned nostalgia. People loved these adventures then and now they want to share that love with new players today. That is exactly what I did and there is no shame in admitting it. But the reason why people loved them is also the reason why they stand the test of time. The adventures are just plain good. These adventures combined a lot of things that people loved; great locations and sandbox-like play. Iconic and classic monsters mixed with new ones. Not mention an engaging story with memorable NPCs. When gamers wax nostalgic over adventures like Tomb of Horrors, they think of things like the traps or character deaths. In the Giants series they also mention things, like the Hill Giant Chief's dining hall, but also they remember names, like I mentioned above; Ombi, Snurre, Eclavdra. When I played this back in the 80s Ombi nearly killed my whole party. I survived all these giants just to be killed by a Dwarf with some potions and magic item. Well that and a DM that knew how to make a character memorable. Imagine my shock and surprise when my kids plan and take out Ombi in two rounds!

This adventure also shaped much of what would become D&D's own mythology. Giants of any sort working together soon became shorthand for bad news. The drow, scantly described here, would go on to become one of the most infamous humanoids in all of the D&D worlds. Their underground city, only hinted at here, would be the template for nearly every Drow-realted product written in the late 80s and beyond to the present day. G123 is not just the seed, it is also the fertile earth of much of what would become recognizable as "D&D".

TSR and then later Wizards of the Coast would go back to the Giants again and again. In 1987 TSR combined the G series with its sequels the D and Q modules for GDQ Queen of Spiders, one of the first Supermodules. In 1999 they were reprinted and expanded again for the 2nd Edition of the AD&D game in Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff. In 2009 Wizards of the Coast released Revenge of the Giants for the 4th Edition D&D game. For the 5th Edition game Wizards of the Coast went back not once, but twice, to giant country with Storm King's Thunder (2016) and Tales from the Yawning Portal (2017). Storm King is more a spiritual successor to the original Giants series, but G123's DNA is all over it. Tales from the Yawning Portal is a direct reprint of the original Giants adventures but updated to the new D&D 5th Edition rules with new full-color maps and art. It has lost none of the punch of the original.

Not only have there been official Giant-related products from TSR and Wizards over the years, other publishers got into Giant business. Notably there is a "missing" set of giants from these adventures; the Cloud Giants. I went to track down a cloud giant based adventure to slot in and easily found 4-5 all based on Cloud Giants. Actually, most of them dealt with a Cloud Giant castle.

Think about it, what was one of the first stories you remember hearing as a child? Jack in the Beanstalk might have been one of the very first. The giant living in his castle in the clouds with a goose that lays golden eggs and a harp that sings on its own. Think of the stories from our shared consciousness. Giants living the mountains, David fighting Goliath, Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Giant's Causeway, the Frost Giants of Norse myth, the Titans of Greek myth, to Attack on Titan, and so many, many more. These are the tales we tell. Tales from antiquity to last week's Game of Thrones. It should then be no wonder why these adventures speak to us and call to us to join the battle.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Earl W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/15/2015 03:43:15

played these years ago great to see them again and now i can play them as well to kool thank you .... giants !!!!! ;)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by christopher p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/12/2015 13:32:41

I had and played this module in the early eighties and absolutely loved it. Being able to gain access to these old modules again is awesome. Very good quality and will purchase again. Would love to see even more of the old stuff go up for sale.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jacob A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/26/2015 11:18:06

Ran this adventure and did a quick conversion to 5E. It's wonderful. The maps are huge, there are interesting places to explore, and it is filled with ideas. The bundle that it's in is definitely worth getting as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Edward C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/05/2013 09:19:56

Writing a review for Against the Giants is a bit like telling someone about Diet Coke and Mentos. As soon as the words "Diet Coke and Mentos" come out of your mouth, most people are going to start telling you about their own experience with them and their spectacular effects. But some people are going to look at you confused and ask what you are talking about. So you grab that moment with both hands and immediately run to the nearest Stop-n-Rob to buy some innocent-looking candy and soda and be part of a moment that someone is going to remember for the rest of their life.

If you have played AD&D, Against the Giants is probably one of the adventures you reminisce about most at the Old Gamers' Home. You remember that moment when you opened that one door in the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief and felt like Han Solo rounding the corner into the StormTroopers. Or the guy who made the mistake of using the fireball at the wrong time and place in the Glacial Rift. Like any other module, you watched good characters die and lucky characters make exactly the roll they needed at the crucial moment. And if you were a serious gamer you probably went through it multiple times.

But like bell bottoms and that old flame that sent you a Facebook friend request, AD&D is making a comeback, and a new generation of gamers are being introduced to the mysterious alliance between factions of giants who would normally no sooner work together than twerk together. When DriveThruStuff announced the opening of the DnD Classics section, this was no doubt one of the first modules many searched for, and it was the first purchase I made when I logged in.

Now for those of you who have yet to experience Against the Giants, this one is called a Classic for good reason. It is a challenge for players and DMs alike. For the player, there are giants. Lots of giants. And there are giants' pets, giants' servants, and giant's houseguests and family to deal with. This doesn't mean you can check your brain at the door. Giants may not be brilliant strategists, but invading a giant environment has challenges you may not anticipate until you face them. And if you don't think, you are going to miss out on loot. You can, however, expect to gain a LOT of rocks. Giants love rocks, and carry them around in bags (according to the Monster Manual).

This leads us to some of the challenges the DM will face. 1) LOTS of bags with random contents: There are approximately 52 giants just on the first level. Each has a bag that holds from 2-8 items which are randomly generated from a percentile table. Your party is going to want to look through a LOT of those bags. If any of the first ten or so have gold, they may want to search every bag in the place. Download a random die roller and do all of this before the first session.

2) Dense population surrounded by empty spaces: If they don't use the right entrance a particularly stealthy party, or one that moves fast, could get through a significant amount of the first level and only see a few giants here and there. That is, until they open one particular door. You may want to change the population density a little and have the giants move around a bit. Or you may want the party to walk in to a particularly memorable event. Just be aware that they could get the impression that the giants are away on a raid.

3) Layout favors the cautious/cowardly: Parties who want loot more than glory can get their wish if they play their cards right. For example, in the Steading it is possible to get into the main treasure stash by opening less than 10 doors and quite possibly not even seeing a giant. On that route they will also pick up a significant clue that essentially satisfies they requirements of the mission. Are you, as the DM, going to let the chips fall where Gygax put them, or are you going to intervene?

There are some minor issues with the text itself, but nothing that applying some common sense won't get the DM through. But those issues were in the original published version. The PDF is true to the format of the combined modules. Older gamers may remember when the three Giant modules were sold separately, so they may be surprised at the size of some of the maps in this combined version, but they still print well even if enlarged.

The important thing to keep in mind is that Against the Giants is not a nostalgia module. It doesn't "give you the feel" of old-school Fantasy RPG. It IS old-school Fantasy RPG, the standard by which other old-school style games is to be judged. When you picture a group of nerdy gamers in the late 70s in their Kiss Army T-shirts having pizza and Mountain Dew while playing D&D, this is what they are gathered around.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Michael W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2013 11:32:12

If not the best, very close to it, series for AD&D 1e. Not overloaded with fluff descriptions so flexible enough to make the modules work for any plot the DM sees fit to use.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Bryan L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/18/2007 15:18:50

I have always enjoyed this seires of modules, Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by William V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/23/2007 13:50:22

Awesome, classic AD&D at its best. But scan was mediocre.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Abraham F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/17/2006 00:00:00

Classics of AD&D adventuring and well thought out in most places. One or two minor editing hitches but they are easily handled by an intelligent GM.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Matthew U. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/22/2004 00:00:00

A good old classic presented in glorious full color!!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Bruce L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2004 00:00:00

This set contains scans of the original G1, G2, and G3 modules, all for the price of $4.95. You can also get the super-module, GDQ1, for the same price, if you want to play the entire mini-campaign...

The scan quality is not great, but serviceable. I had to print the pages with my printer set for "Best" quality, in order to be able to read the printouts. Other than that, is is a decent enough scan.

If you play this with 2nd, or 3rd Edition D&D rules, be prepared to ramp up the PC levels by at least 5! Hill Giants, in 2nd Ed. AD&D, went from 9-HD, to 12-HD!

This is early Gygax material, and it shows. The DM is left to put together their own tactics, defenses, etc., for the giants. Matter of fact, E.G. Gygax starts out telling the DM that they need to introduce the giants' raids before starting the PC's in the module. He gives a warning about the need for PC's to establish a base camp (discussed for the DM, where, and how relatively safe it should be...), considering they will likely need to make multiple raids on the Steading. This module is bare bones, and needs a lot of fleshing out by the DM, but it is still a 'classic', in every way. Good luck!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Chris G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/13/2004 00:00:00

I'm pleased to have this back again - lost all my old AD&D stuff years ago!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Peter A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/14/2003 00:00:00

A solid early adventure; obviously not as developed as some of his later works like the T series. Leaves significant room for the DM to place the adventure however he wants in his world with no meaningful description of surrounding towns or other establishments.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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