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 material was originally published as three separate adventures: G1: "Steading of the Giant Chief"; G2: "The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl"; and G3: "Hall of the Fire Giant King." Contained herein are referee notes, background information, maps, and exploration keys for three complete adventures using the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules. This adventure can be used alone or as the first in a series of adventures that includes D1: "Descent into the Depths of the Earth," D2: "Shrine of the Kuo-Toa," D3: "Vault of the Drow," and Q1: "Queen of the Demonweb Pits."
For characters levels 8-12.
G1-3: "Against the Giants" (1981), by Gary Gygax, is a collection of three previous adventures (1978). The collection appeared in 1981, after the final copies of the original standalone adventures had dropped out of print. The intent was to upgrade the older modules to match the new trade dress of Q1: "Queen of the Demonweb Pits" (1980).
Sources. Gygax says that the G-series modules were inspired by the "heroic adventuring" of The Incomplete Enchanter by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague deCamp.
A New Beginning. Before the "Giants" modules, TSR had published a grand total of one adventure: "The Temple of the Frog," which appeared as part of Blackmoor (1975). They also distributed Wee Warrior's adventures for a while, starting with "Palace of the Vampire Queen" (1976), and had licensed Judges Guild to produce numerous D&D products - including adventures, starting with "Tegel Manor" (1977). However, TSR didn't publish standalone scenarios themselves. Instead they focused on rulebooks and accessories from 1975-1977.
The Original Adventures. When the parts of G1-G3 were originally published as three separate modules, they were a big deal. They were the first adventures ever for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game (which wasn't even complete at the time), and they were also TSR's first foray into adventure publication. Like other early adventures, the G-series modules originally had simple monochrome colors (brown, blue, and orange - all appropriate for the giants contained within). The original adventures were also among the shortest adventures that TSR ever published at 8, 8, and 16 pages, respectively.
A Tournament Release. TSR did a great job of highlighting the importance of the original Giants release. To start with, they ran the adventures as the official D&D Tournament at Origins '78 (1978). There 275 players and judges participated in a two-day affair. Round One of the tournament was G1, after which parties that survived got to play G2 and G3 in two later rounds. The tournament was eventually won by a group from Morgantown, West Virginia, who'd been joined by a smattering of Michigan players.
The adventures were offered for sale by TSR immediately following the tournament.
Dragon 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) on scoring tournaments. There was an advertisement, too, which called the adventures "the first three releases in a new series of playing aids." The idea of "an adventure" was new enough that TSR even explained how they were used, saying, "a Dungeon Master can moderate a pre-developed game situation with a minimum of preparation."
The Upgraded Adventures. The collected edition was essentially the same as the originals, with improvements to layout and the inclusion of the original tournament characters.
New Settings. By 1978, dungeons had pretty firmly become the standard location for adventuring. One of the remarkable things about the GDQ series of adventures is that each series opens up a new sort of adventuring. The "Giants" adventures featured halls and caves alike, all populated by societies of peoples that actually make sense! (There were dungeons too!)
Getting Ready for AD&D. Because the G-series adventures were published while AD&D was still in production, it doesn't entirely conform to the AD&D rules. In particular, the tournament characters that appear for the first time in the combined edition don't entirely match the later ruleset. The Dragon #22 (February 1979) would later preview enough of the Dungeon Master's Guide (1979) for people to be able to play TSR's first AD&D adventures using the new rules.
The Adventure Continues. Taken as three separate adventures, the G- modules could be considered the first "adventure path" for D&D, decades before such a thing would become popular under the game's 3rd edition. The storyline definitely became an adventure path of sorts when it raised the question, "Who was behind the organization of the giants?" That answer turned out to be the drow, who feature in the next sequence of adventures, D1-3 (1978), which would appear at GenCon. The adventure path concludes in the aforementioned Q1.
Future History. As the G-series was TSR's first adventure sequence, it's no surprise that the modules been frequently revisited. TSR did so first with GDQ1-7: Queen of the Spiders (1987), a 128-page supermodule. Wizards of the Coast reprinted and expanded the adventures for 2nd edition AD&D in Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff (1999). Later they made a more thematic return in Revenge of the Giants (2009) for 4e.
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 Player's Handbook (1978).
About the Product Historian
This history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, 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.