Rebuilding G1: The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief

Sometimes I like to take on a technical challenge and I thought that converting G1 to D&D5e would be an interesting thing to try.  I thought that it would be cool to see how well 5e would overlay upon the old bones of G1 and it would be interesting to discern how much of the original AD&D model would still shine-through while creating a Fantasy Grounds module.

Schley’s version is a great improvement, being rendered in a 5′ scale

So I gathered up a copy of G1 and the first task seemed to be to either make or find a high resolution battle map.  A little bit of search engine action later, and I was staring in amazement at a Mike Schley version of the two maps in G1.  They were not a one-to-one match, but very, very similar while getting the job done.  Actually, Schley’s version is a great improvement, being rendered in a 5′ scale while the original was in 10′ map square.  I became a patron of Mr. Schley’s web store and bought the two maps.

g1_cover
David C. Sutherland III cover art for the original G1 module

Once I had the maps, I started to wonder if Mike just took on old modules and made maps, or what.  Why in the heck did he make this map?

The entire G-series was remade for the 4th Edition of D&D

It turns out that the entire G-series was remade for the 4th Edition of D&D starting in the pages of Dungeon 197 and subsequently reappearing in 199 and climaxing in issue 200.  It was designed for level 13-14+ characters, which made me a bit unhappy since the original G1 was designed for level 8 or 9 adventurers.  I am still targeting the level 8-9 range because I’d prefer to keep at least that much consistent.

Fantasy Grounds screen shot of the Steading map and adventure text
Mike Schley’s excellent map serves as the anchor for my conversion of the G1 module to D&D5e and as a Fantasy Grounds module

Reviewing the pages of Dungeon 197, I was actually very, very pleased with how they had structured it.  The Steading was zoned off into logical areas and it was tied into what would happen if an alarm was sounded.

A 25th Anniversary edition of the G-series was released as Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff

Still looking at things through a historical lens, I discovered that a 25th Anniversary edition of the G-series was released as Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff in 1999.  I suppose that this was swan song of D&D2e material – but it is not available online, so my interest in it died.

Very, very early into this conversion, you have to stare down the barrel of Gygax’s player killing design.  The second room in the original module contains over 25 giants.  If the alarm goes up elsewhere in the structure and this group fans out and gets organized, it could be very easy for a party to do a full wipe.

The second room in the original module contains over 25 giants.

Conversely, a room filled with Giants is an AoE wet dream.  I can still recall the party that I DMed for hitting that room with wands, a necklace of fireballs, and of course an actual fireball cast by the party mage.  Of the 25 giants, most were dead or nearly dead and the room was really an irresistibly huge XP pool and my group of players happily cannon-balled and belly-flopped into the warm, warm waters of combat experience.

Fantasy Grounds chart for use in G1 module
This is one of the custom charts to generate mundane finds when searching.

In fairness, things were quite a bit different back in D&D1e days.  Damage inflation hadn’t happened – doing over 10 points of damage on a single attack was doing good.  The giants of the time had hit points listed as: H.P.: 44, 3 x 40, 39, 5 x 38, 5 x 37, 3 x 36, 33, 30, 2 x 27.

Your average run of the mill D&D5e Hill Giant has 105 hit points – close to 3x the average hit points of the giants in the original encounter listed above.  More problematic for the players, these giants will not crumple and fold under the incandescent glow of a few fireballs.

So the number of foes has to be reduced – even an expert party would go down under the crushing power of 25 giants.  It still needs to be an overpowering group of grubby hill giants, one that you do not want to face in a fair fight, but something closer to manageable in case the party decides to risk direct conflict.

What I ended up with was a CR 16 group worth 14600 XP – not yet modified for difficulty which will be deadly.  The group summarizes as:

  1. Stone Giants x 2 (one being the chief Nosnra, one being the stone giant emissary)
  2. Hill Giants x 5.  I really considered going with three (one giant for each seat at the table), but decided to dig in the spurs and make sure the group had significant gravity
  3. Dire Bear x 1.  The chief has a pet bear and animals might pose problems or opportunities depending upon the group and their plans.  To create the bear, I modified a polar bear, gave it more hit dice (7d10), renamed it to DIRE BEAR and patted myself on the back.

Get the hardest encounter tuned and the rest of it just sort of falls into place.

Getting the principal encounter on the map ‘tuned’ to level 8 or 9 made me feel pretty good about how the rest of the adventure will turn out.  I think that I will use this approach during future conversions – get the hardest encounter tuned and the rest of it just sort of falls into place.

Area 01 summary (CR9 XP 4950):

  1. Hill Giants x 2 (one on the tower, one asleep against the main doors)
  2. Ogres x 3 (asleep near the main gate)

Add one more ogre and the difficulty jumps from HARD to DEADLY, so this monster encounter is a pretty good acid test to see if the group of players is ready for adventure inside the Steading.  If you are unsure, fudge it into an full encounter and if the party struggles, they might want to fall-back.

Area 03 summary (CR14, XP 11250)

  1. Morzul, Hill Giantess Shaman (started with a Hill Giant, copied the three powers from the article in Dungeon 197 and removed rock throwing – she is asleep in her room)
  2. Hill Giants x 3 (these guys are asleep and scattered in beds in two rooms)
  3. Hill Giant Younglings x 9 (I took an ogre and converted it into a Hill Giant youth.  The players have three rounds to get this group down before they attract the attention of the adult Hill Giants whereupon things could take a turn for the worse)

This is a controlled situation where player choices will make a difference.  If the adults become involved, the situation could deteriorate very quickly.

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Author: Kilgore

Long-time gamer, alpha techno-geek, and former infantryman

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