Saturday, November 26, 2016

Adapting G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl By Gary Gygax For Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyberborea 1st Edition

"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."

And so begins one of the classic modules of the 'G' series; this module will test the mettle of any group of adventurers foolish enough to cross into the lands of the Frost Giants. Welcome to the lands of the Jarl Grugnur & his warriors, an eight page tournament module romp of  frost giants & ogres that has claimed its fair share of my PC's over the years. Written by Gary Gygax while he was creating the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide. According to the article in Dungeon Master's Guild;" Otherwise, "Glacial Rift" has the same origin as its predecessor, "Steading". It was part of TSR's first series of adventures and one of its major sources was the "heroic adventuring" of The Incomplete Enchanter (1941) by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp. It was run as part of a tournament at Origins '78, then the adventure went on sale immediately following that round of play — on the evening of Saturday, July 15th." And this is where I part ways with official canon because this module is one of my favorites of all times because it always reminded me of Robert Howard's The Frost Giant's Daughter. There's an alien pulpy weird quality to this adventure that places the frost giants front & center.

Since I'm going to be talking about running it with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea I'm going to be leaning more towards the Robert Howard & Norse mythological end of this module. The frost giants of this module are most certainly the children of Ymir, visitors  from Niflheim & Jötunheim.G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl centers around two adventure locations;"the bulk of this adventure takes place in two locations: an upper area consisting of caves and the rift floor, and a lower area consisting of natural caverns. In the upper area there are ice caves, barracks, and a dome of ice."  This is a land of yeti, frost giants, ogres, and winter wolves and the dangerous remorhaz. This isn't a light weight adventure but a tournament adventure that many PC's of mine have died at the hands of some very experienced Dungeon Masters.

This module takes many of the standard D&D ideas and turns them on their heads; the adventure takes place right after the 'Steading of the Hill Giant Chief' module after the party have been transported to the glacial rift via the magic chain. The other option is that the party of adventurers  have been hired by nobles to destroy the frost giants. Either way, a safe, hidden cave is easily found for a base of operations. If we're going to run this adventure with AS&SH, the other worldly aspect of the frost giants are going to be turned up to 'eleven'. Because the frost giants are in fact the spawn of Ymir as are their slaves the maggot like Dwarves this is right in keeping with Norse mythology. According to Wiki;"
Norse mythology provides different mythical origins for the beings, as recorded in the Poetic Edda (compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources) and the Prose Edda (written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century). The Poetic Edda poem Völuspá details that the dwarfs were the product of the primordial blood of the being Brimir and the bones of Bláinn (generally considered to be different names for the primordial being Ymir). The Prose Edda, however, describes dwarfs as beings similar to maggots that festered in the flesh of Ymir before being gifted with reason by the gods." The frost giants are invaders from another world who have been raiding and plundering Hyperborea for thousands of years. This same practices & treatement of the Dwarves in AS&SH is also shared by the fire giants.
Two dwarfs as depicted in a 19th-century edition of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.

This also means that the frost giants depicted in G2 might be the lead in for an invasion for from another world & the various classic era monsters featured in the classic module might be invasive species to Hyperborea. This other worldly agenda is something that we see in the weird tales of Robert Howard, because the adventure is a high level affair could this be because the PC's are mixing in the affairs of the gods unintentionally? In a word yes because Hyperborea is a world in which the gods walk the streets of cities & in the backwater areas of the world legends stride the fields.

The clangor of the swords had died away, the shouting of the slaughter was hushed; silence lay on the red-stained snow. The bleak pale sun that glittered so blindingly from the ice-fields and the snow-covered plains struck sheens of silver from rent corselet and broken blade, where the dead lay as they had fallen. The nerveless hand yet gripped the broken hilt; helmeted heads back-drawn in the death-throes, tilted red beards and golden beards grimly upward, as if in last invocation to Ymir the frost-giant, god of a warrior-race.."
Robert Howard's The Frost Giant's Daughter.

The entire module smacks of the Seventies sword & sorcery vibe with lots of monsters, treasure, excitement and worse waiting within the lair of the frost giants. But what does this have to AS&SH? It basically means that this takes the affairs with G2 go from simple dungeon crawl to epic level Hyperborean mythology. I think so because messing in the machinations of giants leads into dallying with the gods in my book. Adventuring in the affairs of giants is going to lead the PC's into the realm of
Svartálfaheimr. There is also an unspoken link between Drow & the Dwarves of Norse mythology which could have some vary dire consequences for adventurers upon Hyperborea;"The Poetic Edda and Prose Edda contain over 100 dwarf names, while the Prose Edda gives the four dwarfs Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri (Old Norse 'North, South, East, and West') a cosmological role: they hold up the sky.[1] In addition, scholars have noted that the Svartálfar (Old Norse 'black elves') appear to be the same beings as dwarfs, given that both are described in the Prose Edda as the denizens of Svartálfaheimr"  Rather then a simple high level dungeon crawl is there a Weird Tales mythological cosmic explanation for the events of the 'G' series Against the Giants? Underborea holds far more danger then anyone realizes as Ymir's cult is alive, well, and plotting to bring the giant's father to the world of men. 

"You cannot escape me!" he roared. "Lead me into a trap and I'll pile the heads of your kinsmen at your feet! Hide from me and I'll tear apart the mountains to find you! I'll follow you to hell!"
Robert Howard's The Frost Giant's Daughter.

The cult of Ymir is alive, well, & quietly moving forward with alien agendas against the world of men. The AS&SH Referee's Guide clearly states that the Frost Giants were made in mockery of the Viking nations of Hyperborea. Ymir has an incredibly dangerous vision for the world of Hyperborea & his children, followers, minions, and many others are pushing that agenda. Trapped within the Borea winds Ymir's body has been crushed but his soul lives on trapped within a crippled nightmare of a body. Its mind continues to push its alien agenda ever forward.

Imir by Sokol_92 
So rather then simply being an eight page hack and slash old school adventure, G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl By Gary Gygax  is a mythological old school adventure that PC's will be luck to escape with their lives intact

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