The Giant's Garden contains encounters of level 2-16 and is suitable for use with any D&D campaign.
Many gardeners take pride in growing lush plants with big fruits or blossoms, but this garden has fantastically big fruits and vegetables. Sunflowers with blossoms bigger than washtubs, pea pods bigger than a human's forearm, and cabbages the size of beer barrels are just a few of the wonders growing within this garden. Is this place the work of some giant? Or is another force at work here?
Background for the DM
The gardener who has produced such immense plants is Lonijan, a storm giant druid who has spent decades breeding common garden plants for increased size. He has succeeded admirably, though not necessarily extravagantly. Lonijan might have begun his project with seed stocks from normal (that is, human-scale) plants, or he might have gotten a head start with massive seeds he acquired from other giants as appropriate for your campaign. In any case, Lonijan has a green thumb and he adores gardening. He's happiest when digging in the dirt or otherwise tending his plants.
Lonijan has had some success trading his produce and his seeds to other giant gardeners -- mostly other storm giants and good cloud giants. For a time, Lonijan worked to impress evil giants with the advantages of self-sufficient living (as opposed to raiding), and he has succeeded once or twice. Evil-minded giants who learn the art of gardening usually use their gardens to support more raiding, however, and Lonijan mostly has given up trying to teach evil giants anything. Occasionally, Lonijan shares seeds and ideas with a human, elf, or other humanoid gardener, though Lonijan's plants have never been more than curiosities in humanoid gardens. Their sheer size makes tending them a backbreaking chore for Medium creatures. They also require deep soil and massive amounts of water -- altogether too much for anyone but an actual giant to manage.
Lonijan's garden is located in a sheltered mountain valley, though it also could be found on a secluded tropical island or in an area ringed with rugged hills. Thanks to Lonijan's ability to control the weather, however, the garden might be located just about anywhere except an arctic clime.
Though the garden lies well off the beaten track, the towering plants in it are visible from a considerable distance, and player characters might notice the place when traveling through the adjacent high ground or when flying over the area. Player characters also might visit the place with a specific errand in mind:
- The PCs visit a small town or village where the local produce market features enormous vegetables. Or perhaps a gardener has managed to grow a sunflower or beanstalk as tall as a church steeple.
The locals have obtained some of Lonijan's seeds, either from Lonijan himself or indirectly through other gardeners who have access to his stocks. If the PCs inquire about the massive vegetables, the farmers might prove evasive, perhaps claiming to have received a blessing from a passing druid (not altogether untrue) or that they discovered a trove of "magic" seeds. If the PCs investigate further, they eventually learn about Lonijan and his gigantic garden. The locals tell the PCs that the friendly giant will gladly let peaceful visitors tour his garden (which is true).
- A druid or other aficionado of growing things hires the PCs to deliver a package to Lonijan and to return with a similar package from the giant.
The PCs' employer might or might not tell the PCs that they are to visit a giant (the employer might simply refer to Lonijan as a colleague). The return package might contain seeds (which are fairly easy to carry), or a few seedlings (which require much more careful handling). Perhaps a red dragon living nearby gets wind of the PCs' mission and decides it must have the package they carry because it likely contains a valuable treasure.
- The PCs encounter a confidence man who claims to have magic seeds for sale. He claims that planting the seeds will produce wonderful things, such as masterwork equipment or even minor magic items. The trickster shows the PCs a massive seedling as proof of his wares' potency.
The confidence man has a few of Lonijan's seeds, which are entirely nonmagical, though perhaps they have been treated with Nystal's magic aura spells. They produce nothing but very big vegetables, and then only if properly tended. PCs who encounter this scheme can eventually track the gigantic seeds back to a shipment that Lonijan lost in transit some time ago.
- A fearsome monster has demanded an unusual tribute -- in the form of all the fruit and vegetables it can eat in a year. Unfortunately a drought or blight has wiped out the local supplies, and the folks who must provide the tribute turn to the PCs for help making up for lost time.
The creature making the demand might be something evil and vile, such as a red or green dragon (albeit one with unusual tastes) or perhaps a beholder trying to keep an army of slaves fed. Alternatively, the creature might prove benign, and the demand for vegetable tribute might be whimsical or made simply to save face. No matter who demands the fruit and vegetables, Lonijan's massive produce would make up for the shortage nicely.
Visiting the Garden
The garden's appearance doesn't change much with the seasons. Even if it's located in a temperate area, Lonijan's daily control weather spells allow the garden to produce year round. Lonijan takes advantage of this benefit by carefully planting his crops in succession, so that something is always producing fruit or blossoms.
The text below assumes that the garden is located in a deep mountain valley, and that the PCs first notice the garden at a distance on a bright summer day. A few adjustments will be necessary if the characters come upon the garden suddenly or find it in different terrain.
The forest in the valley below abruptly gives way to a patch of vibrant color. A stand of trees seems crowned in brilliant yellow. Oddly enough, these trees stand in orderly rows, like soldiers on parade.
A closer look reveals the true situation on the valley floor:
Rows of brilliant sunflowers, each taller than a castle guard tower , stand sentry over a garden full of equally gigantic plants. Beans and peas with vines thicker than a human's thigh climb trellises made from whole trees. Strawberry plants with leaves the size of tower shields and berries the size of wineskins sprawl for acres. A thicket of sweet-smelling roses with massive blooms and dagger-sized thorns ring the whole plot.
Creatures: Lonijan tends his garden alone, except for Aneurin, his eagle animal companion. Lonijan and Aneurin live in a vast cave in the slopes overlooking the garden. A tangle of huge vegetation obscures the entrance.
Lonijan CR 16
Male storm giant druid 6
Init +3; Senses low-light vision; Listen +16, Spot +21
Languages Common, Draconic, Druid, Giant
AC 27, touch 12, flat-footed 24; uncanny dodge
(-2 size, +3 Dex, +3 armor, +1 deflection, +12 natural)
hp 236 (25 HD)
Resist +4 against spell-like abilities of fey
Fort +20, Ref +11, Will +16
Speed 35 ft. in hide (7 squares), base speed 50, swim 30 ft. in hide, base swim 40 ft.; woodland stride
Melee mwk quarterstaff +29/+24/+19 (2d6+19) or
2 slams +28 (1d6+13)
Ranged mwk sling +19 (1d8+13)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Base Atk +14; Grp +38
Atk Options Awesome Blow, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Sunder, Power Attack
Special Actions wild shape 2/day (6 hours)
Combat Gearpearl of power (1st-level spell), pearl of power (2nd-level spell)
Druid Spells Prepared (CL 6th):
3rd -- cure moderate wounds, greater magic fang, produce flame (empowered) (+18 ranged touch or +28 melee touch)
2nd -- barkskin, gust of wind (DC 18), resist energy (2), summon swarm
1st -- cure light wounds, faerie fire, produce flame (+18 ranged touch or +27 melee touch), speak with animals (2)
0 -- create water, detect magic, flare (DC 16), guidance, mending
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th or 20th):
1/day -- call lightning (DC 15; CL 15th), chain lightning (DC 18; CL 15th)
2/day -- control weather (CL 20th), levitate (CL 20th)
Abilities Str 37, Dex 16, Con 21, Int 16, Wis 23, Cha 15
SQ Animal companion, freedom of movement, link with companion, trackless step, water breathing, wild empathy +10 (+6 magical beasts)
Feats Awesome Blow, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Empower Spell, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Sunder, Iron Will, Power Attack, Spell Penetration
Skills Appraise +3 (+5 metal items), Climb +21, Concentration +25, Craft (blacksmithing) +13, Diplomacy +4, Handle Animal +11, Heal +17, Hide -7, Intimidate +12, Jump +27, Knowledge (nature) +12, Listen +16, Perform (stringed instruments) +14, Profession (gardener) +15, Profession (herbalist) +15, Ride +5, Sense Motive +16, Spot +21, Survival +6 (+8 above ground in natural environments or to follow tracks), Swim +34
Possessions combat gear plus masterwork hide armor, ring of protection +1, masterwork quarterstaff, masterwork sling, 50 sling bullets, masterwork lyre, 2 gold and jade anklets (2,000 gp each), platinum and onyx headband (3,000 gp)
Resist Nature's Lure (Ex) Lonijan gains a +4 bonus on saving throws against the spell-like abilities of fey.
Animal Companion (Ex) Lonijan has an eagle named Aneurin as an animal companion. Lonijan and Aneurin enjoy the link and share spells special qualities.
Link: Lonijan can handle Aneurin as a free action. He also gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks made regarding his eagle.
Share Spells: Lonijan may have any spell he casts on himself also affect his animal companion if the latter is within 5 feet at the time. Lonijan may also cast a spell with a target of "You" on his animal companion.
Freedom of Movement (Su) As the freedom of movement spell; continuously active; caster level 20th.
Trackless Step (Ex) Lonijan leaves no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked.
Water Breathing (Ex) As the water breathing spell; continuously active; caster level 20th. Can use spell-like abilities while submerged.
Aneurin, Male Eagle Animal Companion CR --
N Small animal
Init +3; Senses low-light vision; Listen +4, Spot +16
AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 16
(+1 size, +3 Dex, +5 natural)
hp 27 (5 HD)
Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +3 (+7 against enchantment spells and effects)
Speed 10 ft. (2 squares), fly 80 ft. (average)
Melee 2talons +7 (1d4+1) and
bite +1 (1d4+1)
BaseAtk +3; Grp +0
Abilities Str 12, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6
SQ 3 bonus tricks, devotion
Feats Dodge, Weapon Finesse
Skills Listen +4, Spot +16
Evasion (Ex) If Aneurin is exposed to any effect that normally allows him to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, he takes no damage with a successful saving throw.
Devotion (Ex) Aneurin gains a +4 morale bonus on Will saves against enchantment spells and effects.
Tactics: Lonijan doesn't care to fight with anyone, but he'll attack anyone who tries to harm him, his garden, or Aneurin. Lonijan is fairly good at sizing up foes, and he usually can tell when someone doesn't pose much of a threat. In such cases, he wades in with his quarterstaff, striking to deal nonlethal damage (and taking a -4 penalty on attack rolls).
Against anyone he sees as a threat, Lonijan retreats long enough to cast barkskin and greater magic fang on Aneurin, then looses chain lighting while Aneurin maneuvers to attack from the rear. The eagle attacks as Lonijan directs, usually swooping in to harry enemy spellcasters. After setting Aneurin on a foe, Lonijan moves in to make lethal attacks with his quarterstaff.
Whether attacking to subdue or to kill, Lonijan might also use his Awesome Blow against foes who have damaged him in battle. If he must deal with foes spread over a wide area, Lonijan uses call lightning or empowered produce flame to damage foes beyond his melee reach (though he is always careful not to strike Aneurin).
If he has time to prepare for a fight ahead of time, Lonijan uses control weather to create a storm before he casts barkskin and greater magic fang on Aneurin. He also casts resist energy on himself and Aneurin.
If the PCs approach peacefully, they find Lonijan either working in his garden or inside his cave. In the former case, he is busy weeding and hoeing his rows of vegetables.
The sound of repeated blows punctuates the air, but no cries of pain accompany them. "Take that! And that!" bellows a voice that sounds like the roar of thunder on the wind. "Your kind has no business here, but you just won't give up, will you? Well, I'll teach you!" Green, leafy vines fly into the air and fall again in a shower of dirt.
Lonijan has become frustrated with the weeds that seem to overtake his garden on a regular basis, and living alone as he does, he has taken to yelling at them as he breaks them up with his hoe.
If approached in either his garden or his cave, Lonijan assumes that the PCs are children who have sought him out in response to some of the fanciful tales that circulate through the nearby settlements. All human-sized people look small to him, and he has been bothered by several groups of youngsters lately.
"Oh, not again!" says the giant, a scowl creasing his mighty brow. "For the last time, I don't have any magic beans! My plants are the result of a long-term crossbreeding program designed to increase size without compromising flavor, coupled with careful tending and good soil conditioning. Well, maybe there's a little magic in there too. But those seeds aren't toys, so stop breaking off the seedheads! And don't you dare try to climb my beanstalks. You break off the leaves when you do that." The giant returns to his work, still muttering to himself. "Dratted human kids! What imaginations! If I ever get my hands on that Jack again, I'll. . . ."
Inside the Garden
Lonijan is happy to show visitors his garden anytime (once they assure him they're not silly kids). Overall, the place is neat and tidy, with long, straight rows of thriving plants and a deep layer of mulch underfoot. Characters touring the place in Lonijan's company are perfectly safe. The garden, however, fills three square miles -- more than enough space to hide some areas that a casual tour doesn't include. These are described below:
Ant Gangs (EL 3-6)
Giant ants have invaded the garden in force, and gangs of workers and soldiers are busy in several places. Lonijan appreciates the danger these creatures pose to visitors smaller than himself, so he steers visitors clear of the areas they infest. Anyone prowling around the garden on his own, however, might just stumble on a gang of workers or soldiers.
The ants don't pose a threat to the garden, but some kinds of ants farm aphids (in this case, aphids the size of halflings). If this is so, Lonijan will want them controlled or driven out, and he might ask the PCs to help out by dealing with the ants and soldiers. Lonijan will handle the aphids, which don't pose a threat to anything except growing plants.
Giant Ant Workers (2-6): hp 9 each; MM 284.
Giant Ant Soldiers (2-4): hp 11 each; MM 284.
Tactics: Workers tend to ignore other creatures and proceed with their tasks (which seem random and pointless to most other creatures). An attack against any worker, however, causes all of them to turn and attack the nearest foe.
Soldiers are aggressive and attack any creatures they meet.
Anthill (EL 2-8)
The only way to permanently end the giant ant infestation is to locate their lair and kill the queen. The lair is a hill some 12 feet high with tunnels and chambers that extend 30 feet below the crest of the hill. The whole complex contains ten chambers, nine of which hold gangs of workers or solders (see previous encounter). The final chamber contains the queen, six workers, and four soldiers.
Giant Ant Queen: hp 22; MM 284.
Tactics: The ants in here move toward any intruders and attack the closest foes. The workers stay near the queen.
Ankheg Tunnels (EL 5-7)
A cluster of ankhegs has moved into the garden. Lonijan considers them beneficial because they occasionally eat giant ants and other interlopers. They also have a bad habit of using their acid attacks whenever Lonijan ventures too close. Lonijan won't be too sad to see them go, especially if the giant ant queen has been eliminated.
Ankhegs (2-4): hp 28 each; MM 14.
Tactics: The ankhegs lie under the mulch and attack anything that comes within reach. They're accustomed to loosing their acid attacks at the start of any battle.
Hieracosphinx Nests (EL 7-11)
These creatures have recently flown in during a far-ranging search for a gynosphinx. Lonijan detests their evil natures. He also fears that they are a threat to Aneurin and has plans to remove them. He's happy to pass that job on to the PCs.
Hieracosphinxes (2-7): hp 67 each; MM 234.
Tactics: The sphinxes spend most of their time soaring above the garden. They avoid Lonijan but gladly swoop down and pounce on lesser creatures visiting the garden.
Bulette Burrow (EL 7-9)
A pair of bulettes has established a territory centered on the garden. They have created a lair in the soft garden soil; sometimes the burrow lies empty, and sometimes one or two bulettes are present, depending on how their hunting goes. Lonijan doesn't mind their presence, but he's getting fed up with their aggressive behavior and foul temper.
Bulettes (1-2): hp 94 each; MM 30.
Tactics: A lone bulette lies in the burrow and uses its tremorsense to note intruders. When it detects prey, it burrows into the middle of an approaching group and attacks the character who is unfortunate enough to be within reach when it breaks the surface.
Two bulettes use a similar approach, except that they hit a group's front and rear simultaneously.
About the Authors
Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and was the Sage of Dragon Magazine for 18 years. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (rabbits and deer are not Skip's friends) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.
Penny Williams joined the roleplaying game industry as Game Questions Expert for TSR, Inc. in the 1980s. Since then, she has served as RPGA Network Coordinator, PolyhedronNewszine editor, and Senior Editor and Coordinating Editor for the RPG R&D Department at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Now a busy freelancer, Penny edits for several game companies and runs the online playtesting program for Wizards products. When not enhancing the cruelty of the deaths PCs will suffer at the hands of designers, Penny puts up jam, works jigsaw puzzles, and tutors students in math and science.