D&D Flashback: Hall of the Fire Giant King

D&D Flashback takes a look at old Dungeons & Dragons adventure modules from a modern perspective, pulling them apart to see what lessons modern DMs and players can learn from them.

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Hall of the Fire Giant King is the finale of Dungeons & Dragons first-ever set of connected modules, following the adventures begun in Steading of the Hill Giant Chief and Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl. By this point, the party should have mowed their way through legions of hill giants and frost giants, putting this strange alliance of giants on their heels. In Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, the players discovered a way to teleport to the hall of King Snurre, the leader of the Fire Giants, setting up a potential final confrontation.

Hall of the Fire Giant King is an important module for a few reasons. For one, it introduces players to King Snurre, the fire giant that graces the cover of the current Player's Handbook. King Snurre is arguably the first "unique" boss to appear in Dungeons & Dragons, as he's outfitted with unique items that makes him harder to fight than the other giant chiefs that appeared in previous modules. Snurre wears a cloak made of the hide of a white dragon, which grants him resistance to cold damage, and wields a powerful flaming sword. This makes him a tough challenge, especially when he's surrounded by his loyal guards and hell hounds. Snurre isn't given much motivation or backstory, but he's a memorable enough encounter that D&D referenced him on the cover of their best-selling book.

The module also introduces the drow for the first time in Dungeons & Dragons. While mentioned in other early D&D publications, Hall of the Fire Giant King was the first to give players stats on the drow and also establishes them as the true mastermind behind the giant alliance. The appearance of the drow (which was subtly hinted at in the last two modules) sets up the next part of the adventure, which lead players into the Underdark.

As with the other parts of the "Against the Giants" series, Hall of the Fire Giant King is set up as a straightforward "hack and slash" scenario, as it was originally intended as a module to be used in tournaments. Players can choose to fight Snurre at the outset of the scenario, or they can venture into the lower levels and rescue a group of prisoners from the dungeon to aid them. While searching the lower levels, they will likely discover the drow priestess Eclavdra and her followers, who are attempting to summon an Elder Elemental God for an unknown purpose. When confronted, the drow will likely flee to the lowest level of the fortress - a natural labyrinth of caverns that eventually leads deeper and deeper underground.

So - what can DMs take away from Hall of the Fire Giant King? Besides King Snurre's iconic boss fight, there are a few fun subtleties that players can look to for inspiration. For instance, King Snurre's wife Queen Frupy has her own unique encounter set up, where she demands the players bow to her and state their business. While the players will probably try to trick her, Frupy is smarter than she looks and she'll try to decapitate anyone who kneels in front of her. Frupy also has in her possession a potion of fire giant control to use on her husband, which suggests that maybe she's the true power behind the throne after all.

The module also reminds players not to trust every NPC they encounter who doesn't immediately attack them. The dungeon has a female thief who, while friendly to the party, will simultaneously case the party to rob them once they're clear of the fire giants. There's also a treacherous dwarf named Obmi, who poses as an imprisoned prince but is actually an advisor to Snurre. Obmi won't hesitate to betray the party when given the chance, and encountering him before heading into the dungeon level will probably make players a lot more cautious to trust anyone else claiming to be a foe of the giants.

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If players are lucky, they'll leave Hall of the Fire Giant King with plenty of treasure and the memory of a great boss fight. If they're unlucky, then they'll still remember Snurre and his minions for years to come. Plus, the players still have the drow to follow, which sets up their next adventure nicely.

Players can either purchase the original Hall of the Fire Giant King from the DMs Guild, or look at an version of the module adapted for Fifth Edition in Tales From the Yawning Portal.

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