Cliffhangers Adventures

A Giant Ransom
Episode Two: Giant Trouble
By Stephen Schubert

A Giant Ransom is a short adventure for four 11th-level characters. There are opportunities for diplomacy, stealth, and combat, based on the choices the PCs make, so any mix of classes is appropriate. The adventure can be set in any campaign world, in a frontier region near glacier-covered mountains.

Adventure Background

In the first episode, the PCs were employed by Duke Ambrinigan to exchange a ransom of 10,000 gp in gems for a golden lion that was taken by frost giants in a recent raid. While waiting for the giants to arrive at the designated meeting place, the PCs watched as the white dragon Whildenstrank attacked the giants and then flew off with the statue. Charged with returning the golden lion statue at all costs, the PCs move to investigate the site of the battle.

Angry Giants (EL 10)

The PCs may elect to go search the site of the dragon attack. There they find two dead giants, and two others that survived the attack, but are obviously nervous.

As the characters approach the clearing, read or align="left"aphrase the following text:

The target of the dragon's attack becomes evident as you approach the clearing. Two wounded frost giants remain standing in the clearing, and the bodies of two others lay on the ground. The two live ones scan the sky frantically, perhaps waiting for the dragon to return.

The giants are concentrating skyward, so it would be relatively easy to sneak up on them from below. If the PCs remain hidden, the frost giants will complain loudly about the dragon attack, and suggest to each other that the dragon must be working with the Duke, and they blame the humans for setting up the ambush. After a few more minutes, they will gather up the bodies of their companions, and head back to their tribe. If the PCs are detected, give them enough time to attempt to explain themselves, but any overt offensive action will result in the giants attacking.

The giants will initially believe that the PCs are in league with the dragon, and have plotted to finish what the dragon started. Therefore the giant's initial attitude toward the PCs is hostile, and they will first threaten the party before attacking. These giants speak both giant and common. The PCs can attempt Diplomacy, or Charisma checks:

Unfriendly (DC 20): Information: the giants will indicate that the dragon took the statue. If the giants learn that the PCs have the gems for the exchange, they may attack the bearer of the gems, and then flee when they have the loot (perhaps even taking the gem-bearer!).

Indifferent (DC 25): Information: the giants will relate general information about the area. They know the dragon lives in the midst of the glacier, past the "ice canyons."

Friendly (DC 35) or Helpful (DC 50): Information: the giants avoid the glacier because of the "hot worms" that live there. The last horn blast should have alerted Velg the Dragon Tamer, and Velg will likely be on his way soon to the glacier.

If the PCs loot the corpses of the fallen giants, the remaining giants will become hostile.

Treasure: a sack on the 110-hp frost giant contains 1071 gp, and a +1 longspear is on the corpse of the leader.

Wounded Frost Giants (2): hp 80, 110; see Monster Manual page 98.

Velg the Dragon Tamer (EL 13)

The party must now head west, in the direction the dragon flew, toward its lair. Assuming normal means of transportation, the trek to the glacier takes about a day. During this time, the frost giant ranger Velg, also known as Velg the Dragon Tamer, heard the warnings of the horns, and has likewise journeyed to the glacier to do battle with this draconic foe. His trusty servant Zim is with him.

When the PCs arrive at the glacier, they see Velg and Zim sitting on the ice, about 200 feet from the tree line, finishing off a meal of venison. Velg wears eyes of the eagle, and has +16 to Spot checks, so unless the PCs were particularly sneaky, Velg has spotted them as they approach the edge of the glacier.

Initial reaction: Indifferent: Velg will start the encounter by lobbing large snowballs at the nearest PCs. He lobs one per round as Zim busily packs more snowballs. Treat the snowball as a rock attack, +12 ranged, 1d6+9 subdual damage, with a 100-ft range increment. If the PCs respond with regular attacks, Velg's attitude will become unfriendly and he will throw until he or Zim has taken 20 points of damage, at which point Velg he will call for a cease-fire. If the PCs persist in their attacks, the giants will become hostile and move to engage in melee.

Friendly (DC 15, 25 if the PCs attacked): Velg will share his meal, and talk about his upcoming conquest over the white dragon Whildenstrank. He will also warn of the dangers of the "ice canyons": the "hot worms" that melt weapons, so use ranged attacks on them, and the "cold worms" that stun opponents with a screeching trill. He might join the group if asked, but will demand the dragon's hide and half of the dragon's treasure other than the golden lion. Zim will stay behind and await word.

Helpful (DC 30, 40 if the PCs attacked): Velg will join the group for the dragon's hide and an equal share of the hoard. Zim will still be ordered to stay behind, to inform others of Velg's fate.

For the DM: The addition of Velg to the group could make combat encounters easier for the party. Consider increasing the strength of the creatures in subsequent encounters, or have Velg refuse to fight, and instead save his strength for the dragon.

Velg the Dragon Tamer: Male frost giant Rgr3; CR 12; Large giant; HD 14d8+70, 3d10+15; hp 164; Init +3; Spd 40 ft.; AC 21 (touch 8, flat-footed 21); Atk +11/ +6/ +1 ranged (2d6+9rock); or +23/ +18/ +13 melee (2d8+14/19-20/x2, Huge +1 greatsword); SA Rock throwing; SQ cold subtype, darkvision 60 ft., favored enemy dragons, rock catching; AL CN; SV Fort +17, Ref +4, Will +9; Str 29, Dex 9, Con 21, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 13.

Skills and Feats: Climb +14, Hide -7, Intuit Direction +7, Jump +14, Knowledge (nature) +5, Listen +6, Spot +9, Wilderness Lore +6; Alertness, Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Power Attack , Sunder, Track, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (greatsword)

Cold Subtype: Immune to cold damage; takes double damage from fire unless a saving throw for half damage is allowed, in which case it takes half damage on a success and double damage on a failure.

Darkvision: The creature can see in the dark as though in normal daylight.

Favored Enemy: The ranger has selected dragon as a favored enemy. He gains a +1 bonus to his Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Wilderness Lore checks when using these skills against this type of creature. He gets the same bonus to weapon damage rolls against creatures of this type. He also gets the damage bonus with ranged weapons if the target is within 30 feet. The bonus doesn't apply to damage against creatures that are immune to critical hits.

Possessions: Chain shirt, eyes of the eagle, Huge +1 greatsword (not useable by most PCs due to size), 2 longswords, large white dragon hide cloak, black dragon hide boots, 656 gp, platinum belt buckle (400 gp value).

Zim, male frost giant: hp 120; wields huge greataxe; see Monster Manual page 98

The Cliffhanger

A few hours after the encounter with Velg, while they are traveling west across the glacier, allow the PCs Listen and Spot checks. A successful Listen check (DC 15) reveals a low rumbling sound. A successful Spot check (DC 20) is required to see the ice shifting 100 feet away, as if something were burrowing under it, headed straight toward the heroes...

About the Author

Stephen Schubert is a freelance writer who spends too much of his time at his day job. When not working or writing, Stephen runs two D&D campaigns, and plays in a few others. He dedicates this, his first published adventure, to his wife, whose paladin will always remember "242 points of damage!"

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