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Revenge of the Giants (4e)

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Earth giants, frost giants, fire giants... when the giants strike out to raid and destroy the civilized lands, it becomes apparent that something much larger and more dangerous lurks in the background.

A group of adventurers must locate the spark that has ignited this spreading fire and find a way to snuff it out before it engulfs the world.

Revenge of the Giants is a super-length adventure that takes characters from 12th level to 17th level. It includes background material, adventure hooks, new monsters and magic items, and a powerful, unfolding story that shows off the best of the paragon tier of play.

It also includes a double-sided battle map depicting key encounter sites, designed for use with D&D Miniatures.

Product History

Revenge of the Giants (2009), by Bill Slavicsek, Mike Mearls, and David Noonan, is a mega-adventure for D&D 4e. It was published in September 2009.

About the Cover. Could the cover of Revenge of the Giants (2009) be a homage to the famous "Paladin in Hell" illustration from the original Players Handbook (1978). It seems likely. They both show a single fighter with a sword and a tall triangular shield standing on an out-thrusting cliff fighting multiple foes. However, the orientations of the two shots is different.

Origins (I): More Adventures. To date, D&D 4e adventures had focused on the HPE adventure path (2008-2009), which was just about to conclude. Revenge of the Giants offered something different: a 160-page hardcover mega-adventure.

Origins (II): More Giants. Giants were the opponents in the first-ever official D&D adventures, G1: "Steading of the Hill Giant Chief" (1978), G2: "The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl" (1978), and G3: "Hall of the Fire Giant King" (1978). This series of adventures was later combined as G1-2-3: "Against the Giants" (1981), incorporated into GDQ1-7: Queen of the Spiders (1986), and expanded as Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff (1999). It really got around.

Revenge of the Giants is neither a remake nor a continuation of the classic G1-2-3 adventures. Instead, it's a homage. Not only does it feature hill giants, frost giants, and fire giants attacking the human lands, but there are also a number of little touches that are reminiscent of the original. For example, the players must infiltrate the hill giant compound (just like in G1) and later if they meet the fire giant leader, they'll find his name is King Snarr (as opposed to Snurre in G3). There are even drow, though they're not the masterminds behind everything!

Of course, the new adventure also partakes of the new mythology of D&D 4e: the giants' relationship to the elements and to the primordials is played up!

Adventure Tropes: To Win We Must Lose. One of the early encounters is laid out as a classic set event: the characters are encouraged to stop something from happening, but actually have no chance to do so. (However, it's less heavy-handed than similar tropes from the 2e era: a villain just teleports away if he gets too hurt.)

Adventure Tropes: The Encounters. Like most of the adventures in the 4e era, Revenge of the Giant is built from tightly scripted encounters that result in a very combat-heavy campaign. However, there are a few advancements in the core style of this adventure.

First, the adventure is less linear because the players have about a half-dozen different paths they can take; certainly, they'll probably go down all these routes and undertake all these side quests eventually, but letting them decide the order maintains agency in a way that the early 4e adventures didn't.

Second, the adventure makes strong use of skill challenges. However, these encounters take a somewhat unusual form: they involve the players all making rolls against a specific skill in each round, and being graded on whether they succeed or fail as a group. This in turn takes away some of the agency of the adventure, turning the skill challenges into set die-rolling exercises.

Adventures Tropes: Time Travel. Revenge of the Giants includes a bit of time travel, as the characters journey into the past in search of a macguffin. It's a nice opportunity to meet a legendary character, but otherwise it's dealt with like any other part of the adventure.

Exploring the Points of Light. Revenge of the Giant is obviously set in the default Points of Light world, as it references backstory elements of the setting such as Nerath and Bael Turath. That means the abandoned city of Argent (and all its backstory) should fit right into the Points of Light world.

The question is … where. As was so often the case with the 4e books, this adventure contains a vivid setting, but doesn't provide any hints for how to connect it up to the other vivid settings of the era. Fortunately, the novel The Mark of Nerath (2010) would provide a strong clue, revealing that Argent lies near Nenlast, which puts it just off the Nentir Valley map, near the east end of Lake Nen.

Exploring the World Axis. D&D 4e made travel to the planes easy, so Revenge of the Giants sets one encounter in the Astral Sea and more notably places its finale in the Elemental Chaos, connecting up the ideas of giants, elementals, and primordials that underlay the whole adventure.

Monsters of Note. Obviously giants are the heart of this adventure, and that includes titans. There are plenty of earth giants (including hill giants), fire giants, and frost giants, in a variety of types, showing off one of the strengths of 4e.

Revenge of the Giants also introduces a new sort of giant, the astral giant, who could (possibly) be friendly.

NPCs of Note. D&D's favorite lich, Acererak makes a surprise appearance in Revenge of the Giants. It occurs during the characters' journey to the past, and Acererak isn't even a lich yet! He's just a mage who likes to build models of trap-filled vaults. The characters can fight Acererak and even kill him, but if they do, they just start him on his "path to ultimate evil and darkness".

The other NPC of particular note is Piranoth, the primordial who is the giant's big macguffin, but he doesn't reappear in any other books, except on the master primordial list in Heroes of the Elemental Chaos (2012)

About the Creators. This adventure was written by three of D&D's stars of the modern era. Slavicsek was the director of the RPG department (and the author of The Mark of Nerath), while Noonan and Mearls were two of his notable designers; Noonan was also one of the voices of the D&D podcast, while Mearls would become the lead for D&D 5e.

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 shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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160
File Size:
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on February 21, 2017.