The fifth story-line adventure for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons is Storm King’s Thunder, which harkens back to the classic adventure series, Against the Giants, adventures G1 through G3 for 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. A NOTE though, this IS NOT a redo of this series, like Curse Of Strahd was to Ravenloft!
This 256-page adventure for characters level 1 – 11+ provides everything a Dungeon Master needs to create an exciting and memorable play experience for the Storm King’s Thunder story, including rune magic items, a new treasure option for characters.
Giants have emerged from their strongholds to threaten civilization as never before. Hill giants are stealing all the grain and livestock they can while stone giants have been scouring settlements that have been around forever. Fire giants are press-ganging the smallfolk into the desert, while frost giant longships have been pillaging along the Sword Coast. Even the elusive cloud giants have been witnessed, their wondrous floating cities appearing above Waterdeep and Baldur’s Gate. Where is the storm giant King Hekaton, who is tasked with keeping order among the giants?
The humans, dwarves, elves, and other small folk of the Sword Coast will be crushed underfoot from the onslaught of these giant foes. The only chance at survival is for the small folk to work together to investigate this invasion and harness the power of rune magic, the giants’ weapon against their ancient enemy the dragons. The only way the people of Faerun can restore order is to use the giants’ own power against them.
The breakdown for the full book is as follows
- Cover Price: $49.95 At FLGS (Amazon lists for $34.23)
- 256 pages
- 12 chapters
- 4 appendices
- Dramatis Personae (List Of Notable NPC’s)
- Illustrations of Giants Runes
- Adventure Flowchart
First off let me talk about the Dramatis Personae and Adventure Flow Chart, I can’t say enough how much I LOVE these 2 sections. The Dramatis is very handy for when you want to find that NPC you want (Or the party is supposed to meet) The Flowchart NEEDS to be included in every adventure from this point forward. It provides a logic look at how the adventure should go, where to go from here, and when. ETC. I can’t tell you enough at how much this is needed, this is (Other than A great upheaval adventure starter) is a very wide open sandbox, there are many paths to take, to get the end. The flowchart makes it easier to figure out where to go, if your party decided to veer of the logical beaten path, as we all know most parts will do! Seriously I can’t speak as to how much this is needed, and wanted, this is the first time WOTC has included the flowchart, and I sure hope they will do this going forward, I don’t know who made the decision on this, or why, but I for one am very happy they did.
The entire book contains beautiful artwork, dare I saw some of the BEST we have seen to date from WOTC, I was impressed with the Curse Of Strahd artwork, but they went all giant on us here, Yes pun intended, we get double page art, some of which is just down right amazing, and I would love to have framed. As well as colorful and compelling location maps to ease the Dungeon Master’s description and planning.
The Story-line itself
I just started to run this adventure for a group of friends, so I can’t speak to much of it, but I have read it completely several times over. And I feel this is one of the best story-lines/adventures to date, with a few exceptions (More on that later) They provide you a way to get a party from 1 to 5 (Where the main story will start) this is similar to what they did with Curse Of Strahd and Death House. I personally did not like the way the story started and the hooked that was used, so I changed it up a bit for my party, and had them encounter a small group of Goblins on the way to Nightstone (They were going there as they heard there was a reward for helping the town out after a series of goblin attacks) I wanted to see what they would do with encountering a group before they even set foot in the town. Other than that it’s a fun little adventure, we are about half way through it. As for the rest of the adventure proper it’s an sandbox that you players can run wild in, and there will be certain parts they need to tread carefully, as they will be in over there heads, which is a good thing as it will make your party think, and not just go all murder hobo and try to kill everything that come across, Yes, there are Giants you face, will your party be ready? From the intro adventure you will move onto the story proper, and have different options to present your players, or let them just go in a direction they want to (Again, this is where the flowchart comes in handy) Another note is there are 5 fleshed out dungeons your players can delve into, if they wish, you only have to visit 1 of them to move the story forward, but reading them, if you have the time and your players want to I’d make a visit to all of them, surprises abound!
As I said, there were a few things I just plain and simple did not like at all with this.
#1 Leveling is done with the “Milestone” system, I’ve never ever been a fan of this, especially comes into play at the end when as few as two or three fights might lead grant players a level. While I know many DMs have switched to milestones (And good for them) , I’d prefer it remaining an option. Nothing major, I could figure out how to award Xp anyway but it’s set up for the Milestone.
#2 Magic Items could be handed out like candy, there are sections where the players will get a magic item, you roll on a chart and decided what to give them, they tend to be handed out too much in my opinion, They will also learn to how use giant runes to make them even more powerful. I’m not the here have this cool magic item type of DM, maybe it’s just me.
My Final Thoughts
Overall I’d say this a great book, and adventure. Artwork is amazing, the story is well written, I like the throw backs to the classic Giant series as well, and I mean you get to battle with giants, would is more D&D than that! It’s well crafted and presents many different challenges that will keep players clamoring for more, if not on the edge of their seats as to what’s next.
If you plan on DM’ing this adventure, I wanted to point your toward an wonderful resource that is available on the DMsGuild. A Guide to Storm King’s Thunder This will help your flesh out the adventure, and is a must have any DM. It’s a Pay As You Want product, so there is not excuse not to pick this up! It’s a godsend!
If you would like a copy of Storm King’s Thunder for yourself, head to your Friendly Local Game Store, or Amazon.