Isle of the Storm Giants

In my campaign some of the characters/players have been obsessed with the idea of claiming a floating island as their own and building a magnificent stronghold there. Well they have caught hold of a rumor that one exists but is currently inhabited by giants. They have decided that they will crush said giants and take what ‘should’ belong to them. Part of me thinks that they don’t quite understand what they are getting into!


By Frank Tedeschi (

Adventure Synopsis:

There is a stronghold carved into the peak of a mountain on a floating isle, caught in an unending storm. This airy mountain castle was forged by storm giants lead by the titan Crakshar. His undying loyalty to the primordial Saeta-The Devoured, has brought him to this place because here he plans to finally unbind his former primordial master. In this floating isle the material between the planes is weak, allowing Crakshar to open a transient portal to the Elemental Chaos. The divine bonds that hold Saeta are nigh unbreakable, and only can be undone by great unholy power. That is why Crakshar has enslaved Cultists of Orcus to summon the Prince of Undeath himself and persuade him- by any means – to use the mighty Wand of Orcus to free his master.

The adventurers must make their way through the Sunken Pass, parlay with an unusual village of Orc and Goblin Monks, devise a way onto to the floating isle, and stop Crakshar before he frees a being of such catastrophic destruction and power, even the gods couldn’t kill him.


Mt. Evensil lies just beyond what is known at the Sunken Pass, a shortcut passageway through two mountains known as the Sentinel Peaks. The Sunken Pass is named for the large war galleon which is shipwrecked between the peaks a hundred miles from the nearest body of water. The path to Mt. Evensil lies through the heart of this cryptic ship whose origin has passed into myth.

Beyond the ship marks the base of Mt. Evensil, a 1000 foot sheer cliff. At the base of the cliff dwells a small village of huts and caves belonging to a mountain cult. The cult is an eccentric bunch of isolated men led by a tribunal of spiritual half-orcs which worship those found within the deep belly of the sunken galleon.

The floating isle itself was created during a devastating event at the end of the Teifling Empire, which led to the peak of Mt. Evensil breaking away from the rest of the mountain leaving a deep valley behind. A furious broil of thunder and lightning enveloped the isle which eventually drew Crakshar and the storm giants to claim it as their own. However Crakshar is not working alone he has enlisted the aid of a living glacier, who was once part of the holy glacial lattice which has imprisoned Saeta. Together they have begun to strengthen their numbers with both storm and frost giants.

The storm giants built many of the peripheral rooms open to the elements and storm outside. The red lines denote the absence of wall (and presence of cliff-like mountainside). The two circular rooms are slowly turning in the indicated directions.

A-Armory and merchant B-General storage C-Dining Hall  D-Kitchen E-Barracks F– Interrogation room G-Dungeon H-Cultist study/preparation room I-Summoning room for Orcus J-Throne/audience room K-Crakshar’s chamber L-Room of the stormstone golem whose magic keeps the isle afloat M-Large amphitheater like room, channel in center of room is used for entry/exit of the castle. This room is also used for grand storm rituals if they are to ride the wind into battle. N– Portal to Elemental Chaos and Saetia P-Tower of the Elder Elemental Eye

Due to the storm and seepage from the elemental chaos all rooms open to the outside are subject to random weather. Roll 1d10:

1.       lightning storm. Hazard rolls initiative. Every round on its turn each creature in area rolls a d20 any natural ones are stuck 3d10 +5

2.       Unusually fierce wind and snow. Movement at half speed -5 to ranged attacks.

3.       Driving rain. Sight is halved. -2 to atk rolls for obscured vision

4.       Ice. Half speed. Or acrobatics for full speed DC=16. Failure=prone slide three squares

5.       Fog. -5 perception checks. 6 squares away have partial concealment. Rogues have automatic combat advantage in this area and a +2 bonus to steath checks.

6.       Raging Wind hazard (the plane below 4e supplement)

7.       Very pleasant indeed.

8.       Overcast and quite chilly.

9.       Fist sized hail. Hazard rolls initiative. Attacks everyone on turn. +12 vs Reflex: 10 damage.

10.   Acid rain. Melee weapons deal 7 additional acid damage on hit. All armor wearers (except cloth) is at -1 AC

This is still a work in progress, one of which I hope will include many interesting encounters, side quests and unbelievable dangers. Once finished I hope to compile this adventure into a pdf module complete with some nice maps, monster stat blocks, and plenty of random generation table fun. I hope you guys enjoy this preview and check back later for the completed work!

Soon I will be making a post about the first two sections of this adventure: Coming to the village of New Village home to the strange Orc and Goblin Monks and the exploration of a crashed airship.

Puzzles and Pitfalls: The Dragons Maw Puzzle

The following are a set of articles that I wrote up for the Kobold Quarterly Blog and are now putting up here for your personal enjoyment. Fire, is the theme for these puzzles/traps and they are meant to be used either in a the same dungeon together or separately, depending on your level of need for player torture.

Puzzles, traps, and hazards are a common occurrence in deadly dungeons. You might find that it can be quite time-consuming and challenging to come up with these events on the fly. In this series, you’ll find three fire-themed dungeon dangers ripe for plunder.

The Dragon’s Maw    Elite Puzzle Level 8 (XP 800)

A wave of heat washes over you when you enter a long and unusually bright room. A pit of lava as wide as the room blocks your passage. At the pit’s edge stands a four-foot-high stone pedestal with nine dull-gray glyphs upon it. A life-sized carving of a dragon’s head with a gaping mouth bigger than a man juts out from the wall. The rest of its body turns into a tiled mosaic running the length of the wall.

The Dragons Maw

The Setup

Room dimensions are 110 ft. x 30 ft., and the lava takes up a 70-ft. x 30-ft. section of the room. The hewn stone wall without the mural requires a successful DC 25 check to climb. The opposite wall with the mosaic is a DC 27 check, but it also has cracks oozing lava that require a separate Athletics or Acrobatics check to deftly navigate (DC 22).

A closer look at the dragon’s head reveals a pair of boot-shaped impressions upon the tongue, facing out of the fang-laden mouth. Directly above the boot prints are a pair of fist-sized holes in the roof of the dragon’s mouth.

The pedestal is of expert craftsmanship, carved and polished to look like a kneeling paladin displaying a large book. Inlaid upon the pages are nine dull-gray glyphs that emanate a weak magical aura.

History or Religion DC 17: This paladin was consumed by flame in his golden armor while defying the legendary red dragon, Reshkyrn.

The Mechanism

To activate the glyphs, a character must be standing in the mouth of the dragon and reach up into each of the holes and grasp the handles within. This act simultaneously binds the character magically by his or her hands and feet, and causes the glyphs to become functional, glowing brightly.

The glyphs are letters from an old dialect of Draconic that can be read easily by a character who speaks Draconic, uses the Comprehend Language ritual, or succeeds on a History check of DC 18. There are nine letters in a 3 x 3 grid.

Row one: S-L-O;                   Row two: P-E-D;                  Row Three: R-K-A

When a glyph is pressed, it glows red, and a corresponding set of stone platforms rise out of the lava to form stepping stones detailed within the diagram. Only four glyphs can be lit at any given time. The platforms are barely big enough to hold one Large humanoid; platforms 2 squares apart require a DC 30 Athletics check to jump (+5 per additional square apart). Characters can safely move between platforms that are only 1 square apart. Falling in the lava inflicts 2d10 + 8 damage per round spent in the lava.

When the first four glyphs are pressed, the dragon mouth jerks closed partially and a fire builds in the back of its throat. After these first four, a glyph must be pressed again to be deactivated before a new one can be pressed. Every two newly initiated glyphs causes the mouth to close further and fire to grow.

Glyphs Pressed Four + Two + Two + Two Final
Effect No damage 1d10 + 2 damage; heat begins to build in the dragon’s throat 2d10 + 5 fire damage 2d10 + 10 fire damage 3d10 + 5 damage with ongoing 10 damage, no save*

*The dragon’s mouth stays clamped shut, inflicting 10 damage per round until released.

The Answer

There is only one combination of four letters that provides a safe and passable path across the lava pit. If at any time the four letters S-E-A-R are all pressed, the paladin’s head lowers and the glyphs become locked from changing, indicating success. On the far side of the lava pit, the tile mosaic of the dragon’s tail protrudes from the wall, forming a movable lever. This releases the character from the dragon’s mouth and returns the mouth to its original starting position. To reset the puzzle and platforms, the paladin’s head or dragon’s tail can be physically moved back into place.

Overcoming this puzzle could involve your players trying to randomly guess the correct combination of letters or thinking through plausible solutions. During this time, they may seek more information or clues. The GM can decide how much to reveal and when about the mechanism:

Perception DC 15—Based on the fact that only four glyphs can be pushed, it is likely that the solution is a four-letter word.

History DC 18—Reshkyrn was a ferocious red dragon who was known for dwelling near active volcanoes, roasting would-be dragon slayers. He was overwhelmingly narcissistic.

History DC 22—The paladin portrayed here, Elrik, was avenged by his two siblings, Sym and Alana.

NOTE: The letters, backstory, answer, and hints of this puzzle can be changed to suit the needs of a campaign by swapping the letters out and modifying the story.

The next article for this series I will post tomorrow: The Infernal Swarm Hazzard

REVIEW: Tomb of Horrors. By Gary Gygax

1. What kind of adventure is it? (Location based? Dungeon? Town? Etc.)

This is a thinking man’s meat grinder style dungeon crawl in a trap infested tomb of a legendary demi-lich.

2. How long is it?

It is fairly long, took me roughly 5 (maybe 6), 4.5hr sessions to get through the entire dungeon. This includes additional roleplaying, dream sequences, random monsters I dropped in for my pleasure, and a unique “Dungeon Collapse” game sequence I created where the players had to flee the dungeon before they were irreparably crushed by the crumbling tomb.

3. Were there any particularly noteworthy things in it? (Monsters, traps, plot ideas, mechanics, etc.)

This is mother of all Death-Trap Dungeons. The Tomb of Horrors was created by the evil Demi-Lich Acererak not as a tomb or stronghold, but literally to entice heroes to overcome the obstacles within and attain great treasure, so that when they die, their soul is siphoned into the magical aura of the tomb strengthening Acererak and his eventual ascension to Godhood. If this sounds rather brutal, it’s because it is. Everything is a trap, or misleading, or dangerous in one way or another. Thus making it a delight to run.

Of particular note is the elemental vortex trap. Players here sounds of many people, laughing talking and playing music down a corridor, just beyond a door. When the door is opened they see a long hallway and the sound of people running away. Once they move into the hall, BAM, the floor drops down on the far end creating an intense slope, culminating in an elemental vortex attempting to suck them in and destroy them.

The caveat to this trap is that it is not THAT hard to escape from, however, if a player takes lots of damage and gets sucked into the elemental vent, and then dies. HE IS WHOLLY CONSUMED. Body, armor, weapon, and soul, nothing is recovered from his death. This makes it exceedingly difficult to Raise Dead since it requires a piece of the body. Yes dangerous indeed.

There are too many interesting traps and monsters to go through but most of them were enjoyable such as the many pillared hall, and room with three vats.

4. What sort of vibe is going on in it? (Creepy? Gonzo? Sword and sorcery? Chivalry? etc.)

This whole dungeon is a creepy sorcery feel to it. Once they enter and set off a few traps and realize just what kind of sadistic and deadly dungeon they are dealing with, the mood changes accordingly.

5. Would you run it? Why or why not?

Absolutely. This is the dungeon that I wish someone had run for me. There are puzzles galore and lots of fun and interesting details that went into making it. (Thanks Gary). However, it must be run correctly for the right group. If you have a hack and slash party, which just wants encounters every session, you should think twice about this dungeon. I sprinkled in a few extra minor encounters just for that reason, since there can be considerable time before monster based combat.

6. Does it resemble anything we might’ve seen before?

This is the original Deadly Dungeon, however I am sure there are other similar deathtraps out there. The neat part about this is that was written by Gary Gygax himself, and his a unique flavor to the text as well as the art. I will say though that death comes easily in this dungeon but not unwarranted. There are no instant death, no save, for no reason, traps herein. Things that cause severe injury usually are triggered by something a character does specifically. Like touch the altar, walk through the portal, pull the lever, etc. I fine balance of caution and bold action will create a memorable and dangerous game the likes of which are hard to top.