Friday, 2 September 2022

Thoughts on G123 Against the Giants

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
― Aristotle

G123 Against the Giants

Is this? Greater than the sum of its parts?

You might ask, why are you addressing this compilation when you’ve already covered each of the G series in turn? Good question. Why, indeed? A more demanding question might be, what need was there for the compilation in the first place. Again, why, indeed?
I can’t speak for those who made the decision, but I might opine that there was indeed a reason why TSR ceased publishing the monochrome editions in preference for this combined version. It’s unlikely that doing so was a blatant cash-grab; doing so might be because, we, their faithful patrons, had become accustomed to 30ish page long adventure modules; and let’s face it, most of us were rather young then, and not many of us had an abundance of cash to spare, what with meagre wages, or an even lesser stipend. The sticker price for a thin 8-page tome, almost-equal to what they were asking for a 30-page module, might have been considered rather steep when we were browsing the shelves, all things considered.
I imagine those thin bifolds were almost as expensive to produce as were the thicker ones. I’m not a publisher, so I can’t attest to that, but unit prices are unit prices. So, I would not doubt that G1, G2, and G3 made way for the cheaper unit cost of a single G123. Three print runs were reduced to one, and the new and improved G123 Against the Giants henceforth shared the same price as those others it occupied the shelf with.
New and Improved? One might consider this edition new and improved, despite the entirely of its text being likely identical to the originals (I can’t say that I’ve gone over them word for word, but I’m convinced they are) insofar as it has new art, most notably those inclusions by Jeff Dee.
The most important improvement might be the addition of the pregens at the back, with such notables as Gleep Wurp the Eyebiter, Beek Gwenders of Croodle (where is Croodle, anyway?), and my personal favourite, Fonkin Hoddypeak. Love those names. Were the pregens included in the original monochrome editions? I don’t know, as I only have the PDFs and not physical copies (and the pregens are included in the PDFs), but seeing that the monochromes were 8 or 16 pages I surmise they were not.

Is the compilation identical then to the originals? I suppose they are; but where each original is an entirely self-contained in regards to each assault, this version addresses the entire mission as a whole, which it is, especially if the PCs should be teleported from site to site as is “suggested” (?), without their ever having returned to report progress to the noble lords who engaged them, and ordered them to do as much.
In the latter is a chain of weird black metal and instructions written in hill giant on a sheet of human skin. The instructions show that the chain is a magical device which is to be looped into a figure 8. Thus shaped, it will transport up to 6 persons in each circle of the figure 8 to the Glacial Rift if one of their number holds the map. [G123 – 8]
The alcove to the northwest appears empty, but if it is examined with care there is a 1 in 6 chance per person examining the area that they will note a thick iron bar protruding from the wall at about 10' above the floor. The bar moves downward and transports whatever or whoever is standing on the floor of the alcove to a spot some 50' distant from the entrance to Snurre's Hall (the Hall of the Fire Giant King). [G123 – 16]
I imagine the magical means was included to speed the story along at Origins ’79, where these adventures were originally unveiled for tournament use.
My preference is to not use these means, but the maps given, instead, because maps were…
The lid of the trunk has a secret drawer in it which contains 6 parchment scrolls in tubes: […] #3 is a map to the HALL OF THE FIRE GIANT KING […] [G123 - 16]
The latter is an illusion, for it is actually a well-made and water tight cask which contains a map showing the GLACIAL RIFT OF THE FROST GIANT JARL and an obsidian box. [G123 – 8]
… and use of those maps is more in tune with a long-running campaign.

I will point out that this edition is lacking in one respect. The absence of the back cover art of G2 is unfortunate. I noted in my prior post Thoughts on G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl that I was less than attentive when reading this adventure all those years ago, and never put 2-and-2 together that the eponymous Rift was, and is, open to the surface, always imagining that, like all dungeon settings, it was entirely underground (or under ice, as the case may be). Which it is not.
G2 Back Cover
The thick arrow indicates the beaten path which the giants follow to enter the place. There are two icy ledges along either face of the Rift. Both slope slightly downward, with occasional high steps which combine to make the paths progress from 250' above the bottom of the Rift at their beginnings to about 150' above at their far ends to the south. The two paths are indicated by slender arrows. The dark outline is the Rift, and the openings along it are the entrances to the caves and tunnels in its face. Caves and caverns will be from 25' to 45' high, tunnels and passages will be from 20' to 30' ceiling height. The party may travel on the surface of the glacier—mountain (over the caves shown) to circumvent the whole Rift if they so desire. Ropes can be lowered to gain the ledges below—from 50' to about 150' depending on position.
[G123 – 9]
My fault. Not theirs. I have since become a more attentive reader.

So, is this edition greater than the sum of its parts?
I believe so. I suppose that is obvious, isn’t it?
Collectors and completists will have them all, I imagine, including the GDW 1-7 Queen of Spiders; but those monochromes and that omnibus are pricey these days, aren’t they, assuming you are like me and want copies in good condition, with all maps included.
I’m happy enough with my copies of G123, D1-2, D3, and Q1, purchased new and still in great condition, and feel no need to gather in those others.
I’m also happy to fill in the blanks in between. I do love to doodle…and imagine what might be.

“Do not feel surprise at being schooled amid toil: you are being schooled for a wondrous destiny.”
― Augustine of Hippo

One must always give credit where credit is due. This post is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable.

The Art:
Cover art, by Bill Willingham, from G123 Against the Giants, 1980
Ice Toads, by Jeff Dee, from G123 Against the Giants, 1980
Back cover art, by Jeff Dee, from G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, 1978
Polar Bears, by Bill Willingham, from G123 Against the Giants, 1980
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9016 G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, 1978
9017 G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, 1978
9018 G3 Hall of the Fire Mountain King, 1978
9035 Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits, 1980
9058 G123 Against the Giants, 1978, 1981
9179 GDQ 1-7 Queen of the Spiders, 1986

1 comment:

  1. two other reasons for the combination. (1) Tracking, warehousing and shipping products is simpler with fewer products. (2) They may have found they sold a lot of G1, less G2 and that G3 didn't sell well. Bundle them all and the buyers have no choice.