A Modern Gaming Classic: Against the Giants by Gary Gygax

A Modern Gaming Classic: Against the Giants by Gary Gygax

Against the Giants by Gary Gygax (TSR, 1981). Cover by Bill Willingham

Against the Giants (G1-2-3) is an absolute classic by the legend, Gary Gygax.

These three strung-together adventures are some of the finest he wrote, IMO. I enjoyed this series first as a player when I was in the 5th or 6th grade, and then running it myself as DM years later. Hill giants, frost giants, fire giants, and drow! Oh, how I enjoyed recurrent use of the drow as a diabolical, super-intelligent, evil menace.

This is how Mr. Gygax described them.

Interior art for Against the Giants was by David A. Trampier, Jeff Dee, David S. LaForce and Erol Otus

Ages past, when elvenfolk were but new to the face of the earth, their number was torn by discord, and those of better disposition drove from them those of the elves who were selfish and cruel. However, constant warfare between the two divisions of elvenkind continued, and the goodly ones were ever victorious, until those of dark nature were forced to withdraw from the lands under the skies and seek safety in the realm of the underworld. Here,

in lightless caverns and endless warrens of twisting passages and caves hung with icicles of stone, the Dark Elvenfolk, the Drow, found both refuge and comfort. Over the centuries they grew strong again and schooled themselves in arcane arts. And if they were strong enough to face and defeat their former brethren in battle, the Drow no longer desired to walk upon the green lands under the sun and stars. They no longer desired a life in the upper world, being content with the gloomy fairyland beneath the earth that they had made their own.

This book features a beautiful cover by Bill Willingham, and interior art by the likes of Sutherland, Otus, Diesel, Trampier, and Willingham.

Have you ever played in or run this series?

Jeffrey P. Talanian is the creator and publisher of the Hyperborea sword-and-sorcery and weird science-fantasy RPG from North Wind Adventures. He was the co-author, with E. Gary Gygax, of the Castle Zagyg releases, including several Yggsburgh city supplements, Castle Zagyg: The East Mark Gazetteer, and Castle Zagyg: The Upper Works. Read Gabe Gybing’s interview with Jeffrey here, and follow his latest projects on Facebook and at www.hyperborea.tv.

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Mark Robinson

Although I played 1st edition AD&D many years ago, I don’t recall ever playing this particular module. And from looking it over, that’s my loss. It looks like hours and hours of fun, especially in the hands of an experienced DM. That’s where the real enjoyment came in when I was playing AD&D; start playing at like 8pm and then you look up and suddenly it’s 3am because you got lost in the world. Really good times!

James McGlothlin

I think the G-modules were some of the best old school D&D adventures. Played at least G-1. I don’t think we got beyond that the hill giant fort. Love these though! Love the artwork too! Classic!

We did get to the drow modules though. Dark elves! Always hated them until Drizzt came along.

Lawrence Schick

Well, I did oversee development of that three-module compilation edition.

That quote from Gary pretty much belies his assertions that Tolkien and his writing weren’t major influences on D&D. But he was a proud man, and hated having to cave to the Tolkien estate’s lawsuit about D&D’s use of their proprietary monsters.

James G

I only recently acquired this module but vault of drow was first i ever bought. I always bought based on the cover art as a 12 year old.

Let me say though White Plume to me is the quinticential 1st ed module with everything from exotic environs and encounters to the sentient weapons. When I started collecting old modules it was the first one I acquired (again).


I remember that we played it about 1983, but I don’t remember any details at all. I did re-use half of the hill giant fort for a campaign about 10 years ago, so I’ve read them more recently. They did appear to be very combat-heavy.

Wayne MacLaurin

The amazing part is how short/thin those modules are. G1 is eight pages, G3 is 16 … plus maps of course. Amazing amount of D&D lore was built on those three modules and the Drow in particular.

John S.

We played through G1-G3, but lost steam when the story went into the Underdark (D1, D2, Q1). We did not like Shrine of the Kuo-Toa (D2) at all for some reason, and never finished it.

But G1-G3 were epic and memorable AD&D for me and my childhood friends.

Now, let’s talk about The Tomb of Horrors…

Ty Johnston

Geez, I loved this series. I ran it as DM once back in about ’85, and I’ve played through it a couple of times over the decades. It was my second favorite 1e campaign, just after the Temple of Elemental Evil material. Yeah, I realize eventually all those were tied together as a longer campaign.

Wayne Ligon

I received the first module for Christmas and, yes, it’s very thin but chock full of material. It’s your classic TSR dungeon of the time, with a few interesting twists and the growing mystery of just who or what is behind the various giants working together for the first time.

Played through it complete only once – most groups would get wiped out in the first module and decide to do something else. It has one of my favorite gaming memories, where the party – does a super clever thing to get to the treasure room of the Fire Giants, only to be undone by their own greed and inter-party conflict resulting in the perma-deaths of the two most powerful characters and my guy saving everyone else, Great times.

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