Giants have been raiding the lands of men in large bands, with giants of different sorts in these marauding groups. Death and destruction have been laid heavily upon every place these monsters have visited. A party of the bravest and most powerful adventurers has been assembled and given the charge to punish the miscreant giants.
This is the original adventures: G3: "Hall of the Fire Giant King." Contained herein are referee notes, background information, maps, and exploration keys for the complete adventure using the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules. This adventure can be used alone or as the last in a series of adventures that includes G1 "Steading of the Hill Giant Chief" and G2 "The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl."
For characters levels 10-12.
G3: "Hall of the Fire Giant King" (1978), by Gary Gygax, is the third D&D adventure from TSR and the third "G" Giants adventure. It was published in July 1978 at Origins '78.
Origins (I): Same 'Ole, Same 'Ole. G3: "Hall of the Fire Giant King" is the third of a series of three adventures that started with G1: "Steading of the Hill Giant Chief" (1978) and continued into G2: "The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl" (1978). Like its predecessors, it was written by Gary Gygax between work on the AD&D Monster Manual (1977) and Players Handbook (1978). It was used as the final round of the official AD&D tournament for Origins '78, then went on sale one hour after that round of play began, on Sunday morning, July 16th. It was thus one of the first three standalone adventures published by TSR.
Origins (II): The Marketing. A few months later, TSR marketed their new adventures hard in The Dragon #19 (October 1978), which included a chronicle of the tournament as seen by the winners and an article by Bob Blake (the creator of the modern D&D tournament) about tournament scoring.
There was an ad too, which called the adventures: "the first three releases in a new series of playing aids". The idea of adventure was new enough that TSR had to explain how they were used in the ad, saying: "a Dungeon Master can moderate a pre-developed game situation with a minimum of preparation".
Adventure Tropes (I): From Dungeons to Halls. "Steading" took place partially in a dungeon, then "Glacial Rift" let players crawl through caverns. Together they revealed the two classic settings for D&D play. So, how did "Hall" follow up? With two levels of halls (which are dungeons in all but name) and one level of caverns. In other words, "Hall" repeats the adventuring tropes of the first two D&D adventures.
Adventure Tropes (II): Boss Monsters. Primarily due to computer game design, modern roleplaying adventures tend to place the boss monster at the end of the adventure (or at least at the end of a level). "Hall" totally subverts that expectation by putting Snurre, the Fire Giant King, in room 3 of level 1(!).
Gygax says that he when he originally ran the adventure, for his local Lake Geneva campaign, his placement of Snurre was intended to give the players "a really major challenge … early on." When the PCs later returned to try and take Snurre down, he had moved and set up am ambush for them. (Gygax's monsters weren't dummies, waiting around to be killed!)
Exploring Greyhawk. Like its predecessors, "Hall" is set in Greyhawk —
or at least it was part of Gygax's original Greyhawk campaign and later supplements placed it in Greyhawk. To be precise, it was later placed in the Hellfurnaces of Greyhawk (Hex M5-138). This particular adventure gives almost no details on the setting beyond the Hall and in fact says that the location is "in effect Muspelheim".
Monsters of Note. This adventure is the big spotlight for fire giants. The reference to Muspelheim makes their origins obvious: they're the fire Jotun who follow Surtr from Norse mythology.
Though three races of giants get titular highlights in the Giants adventures, three more were left out in the cold: cloud giants, stone giants, and storm giants. Players and fans usually flag stone giants as the ones that were most neglected because they're the second weakest sort of giant, fitting in between hill giants and frost giants. A fan module filling the gap called G2^2: "Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord" (1981) eventually made it into print as part of "The Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord and Other Adventures from Our Shared Youth" (2013). Wizards of the Coast themselves recognized the missing stone giants in "Warrens of the Stone Giant Thane" in Dungeon #198 (January 2012), the second of a four-part giants series for D&D 4e.
"Hall" is also notable for being the adventure that introduced the drow — revealing them as the architects of the entire giant problem. They'd come into stronger focus starting in D1: "Descent into the Depths of the Earth" (1978) and especially in D3: "Vault of the Drow" (1978).
Finally, "Hall" is the second adventure to feature dragons. This time around it was a red dragon, stepping up the ladder of dragon difficulties from the whites of "Glacial Rift".
NPCs of Note. "Hall" is full of interesting NPCs.
To start with, it features Obmi, a dwarf villain. He first appeared in Gary Gygax's Lake Geneva campaign in 1972 or 1973. Gygax placed him on the third level of Castle Greyhawk amidst a pack of gnolls. Obmi squatted in a magical lab there, where he'd found a device that could be used to make interlopers retreat. Sure enough, the players were driven off by the device the first time, then by Obmi's dwarven thrower the second time. After numerous assaults, the players finally managed to permanently destroy Obmi's machine with a lightning bolt, causing Obmi to flee (to the players' great annoyance).
Gygax later called Obmi the "first real villain of Greyhawk Castle" — and thus one of the first real villains of D&D. He reappeared from time to time until Gygax moved the campaign beyond the Castle, but Gygax reused him in his own run of "Hall". This time around the players managed to kill Obmi … but a henchman later slipped in to recover his body, allowing him to be used in Gygax's Gord the Rogue novels (1985-1988).
"Hall" also introduces EHP'SS Eclavdra, a drow priestess. The funky abbreviation stands for "Evil High Priest('ess)". She reappears in D3: "Vault of the Drow" (1978), which also reveals her familial name, Eilservs. Eclavdra has been a major recurring villain over the years and also appeared in Gygax's Gord novels. She appropriately makes an appearance in the Against the Giants novel (1999), where she's killed.
Finally, "Hall" offers more hints about the Elder Elemental God, who was first alluded to in G1: "Steading of the Hill Giant Chief". This time around, the strange god is featured in the "Temple of the Eye", on level 2 of the Hall. Again, there aren't a lot of details. The Lovecraftian tentacles and insanity recur, while a big glowing eye appears for the first time. D3: "Vault of the Drow" would finally reveal that this Temple (and presumably the one in "Steading") was a "Temple of the Eye of the Elder Elemental God", a god worshiped by the Eilservs, who would largely disappear from D&D lore after the initial appearances in the "G" and "D" adventures.
Future History. The Giants adventure got an immediate sequel, the "D" Descent adventures, which were run at Gen Con XI (1978). Meanwhile the Giants adventures themselves were reprinted in increasingly large collections over the AD&D years: first G1-2-3: "Against the Giants" (1981) then GDQ1-7: Queen of the Spiders (1987). AD&D2 then reprinted and expanded the Giants adventures in Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff (1999), while in Dragon magazine Nodwick and crew tried their mettle against the giants in "They Might Be Against the Giants" in issue #262 (August 1999).
D&D 4e (2008) was in many ways a very nostalgic edition, so it revamped the classic adventures in Dungeon #197-200 (December 2011-March 2012), which included that new Stone Giant adventure. Meanwhile, there was a thematic return to the classic adventures in Revenge of the Giants (2009).
About the Creators. Gary Gygax originally wrote these adventures in the middle of creating AD&D. After finishing Monster Manual (1977) he needed a bit of a break, and so wrote the Giants adventures before continuing on to the Players Handbook (1978).
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.