Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nosnra's Cousin

When I first DM'd G1 I fleshed out the surrounding area so that Nosnra could draw on reinforcements from neighboring hill giants.

Nosnra's Cousin

Only five leagues north-east of Nosnra's steading stands the hall of Karnash, Nosnra's cousin. His is a large and ancient hall though not on the same scale as Nosnra's.

23 hill giant warriors are sworn to his service. His dire wolves are numerous and they have a fearsome reputation, his ogre retainers are loyal and well treated and have been settled in the nearby caverns for generations.

In case of trouble Nosnra would first call upon his cousin and these forces would be the first to arrive at the steading.


Karnash is a powerful hill giant, large and fierce. He is not noted for great intelligence, but he has both cunning and experience. He dotes on his pack of dire wolves and they are the envy of the hill giants of the Jotuns. These dire wolves are larger and more intelligent than the normal breed, and pups from his kennel are sought after by other hill giant clans.

He is young for a chieftain, having inherited his father's position (after defeating all challengers, including his elder brother), but he is a proven warrior and leader. His wife, Krilla, is beautiful (for a hill giantess), but not physically imposing. Karnash went on a great quest to win his bride and returned after more than a year, barely within the time limit set by her father, Geffed, a powerful chieftain himself.

In the end Karnash returned with the head of some fierce and terrible lizard, and the tale of his quest was matched by the scars he bore from it. The skull of this monster is hanging from the rafters of his hall, a testament to both his courage and the great value he set on his bride.

Karnash has five children, three daughters and two sons. His oldest boy, Kariff, is a warrior apprentice but much prefers to spend his time with the dire wolves. He is small for a hill giant, taking after his mother, and Karnash does not view him as a likely candidate for chieftain. Karoak his younger brother takes more after his father and is likely to be apprenticed years ahead of time. He is his father's favorite but is a bit of a spoiled bully, though Karnash either doesn't see it or doesn't care.

The Hall

Karnash's hall is typical of the old style hill giant steadings. A long main hall with wings branching from the ends and private quarters branching from the center of the hall. It is in remarkably good repair and one wing, including guesting chambers and expanded married quarters, is a recent addition. Karnash spends a great deal of his treasury on upkeep and expansion of his hall. Upon becoming chieftain he went to great trouble in obtaining dwarven slaves and has put them to use in both his smithy and in supervising construction of new buildings and re-enforcing the structure of the hall itself. His kennels are large and extensive and are continually growing.


Hill Giants

Karnash (chief)
23 Hill Giant Warriors (12 Married)
Krilla (Karnash's wife)
12 Hill Giantess Matrons
15 Hill Giantess Maidens
37 Hill Giant children (17 male/20 female)


The ogres live nearby in a natural and expanded system of caverns and have served the hill giants for generations. Their leader is Gruush who is only of average ogre size but is very good with the dire wolves. Karnash made it clear that the ogre chieftain is who he wants the ogre
chieftain to be, end of discussion.

17 Males Ogres
32 Female Ogresses
53 Immature Ogres (male and female)


The Bugbears live in a warren of huts outside the main hall. The slave compound, similar to, but not as nice as the kennels, is between the outer wall of the hall and the bugbears' huts. A combination of factors whittled down the original clan of bugbears and recently Karnash induced (after only a handful of fatalities) a large tribe from the outlying hills to take up residence outside his hall. The survivors from the original tribe ( the Bloodyffangs ) are a down-beaten lot and are considering wholesale desertion. The new tribe (the Bone Crackers) are not very pleased to have joined the hill giants' service but their newly appointed chief ( the old one now just a smear under Karnash's boots) is smart enough not to show it. They've been taking out their anger on the Bloody Fang tribe who Karnash seems to have forgotten about.

17 Bugbears (The Bloody Fangs)
72 Bugbears (The Bone Crackers)
112 Bugbearlets +/- (high mortality rate)

Dire Wolves

The dire wolves live in a set of kennels built next to an outer wall of the hall. Karnash has a private entrance into the kennels from his personal quarters. These wolves are extremely well treated and well fed. Karnash as well as the other hill giants of his hall take them hunting on a daily basis. More than most other steadings Karnash's supplies itself by hunting rather than herding. A good percentage of hill giants and ogres will be out on the hunt continually, some arriving and some departing at all times. The pack is led by Fang and Claw, Fang is a gigantic dire wolf twice the size of an average dire wolf, but almost a lap dog when he is around Karnash who raised him from a pup. He is usually found at his master's side and will be at Karnash's feet during any meal. Claw is Fang's mate, a huge dire wolf bitch. She is young and has produced only two litters so far.

Fang, Claw
77 Dire Wolves
128 pups +/- ( pups are a source of trade with other Hill Giants)


Karnash considers his slaves as a resource and because of this they are actually treated much better than the average slave held by hill giants. He especially prizes dwarves for their usefulness as smiths,
engineers and masons. He is always interested in obtaining dwarven slaves. Karnash will always lame one leg of a newly acquired dwarven slave ( by severing the tendons) some will then die from infection and some will fight (hopelessly) to the death rather than allow this to happen. Since these rebellious fellows make poor slaves anyway Karnash sees this as a win/win situation. The dwarven slaves are kept in a special stone building next to the smithy and are segregated from the other slaves. They provide the know-how and skilled hands while the other slaves provide the blood and sweat. Because of this they are hated by the other slaves, sometimes more than the hill giants themselves.

The rest of the slaves are mainly orcs but there are a smattering of humans as well. The humans have banded together as much as they can and are led by a cleric who has managed to keep his abilities hidden from his hill giant owners as well as the orc slaves.

11 Dwarven Slaves (all lame in one leg)
183 Orc Slaves
39 Humans slaves
(1 cleric, 1 high level ftr {unknown to anyone except the cleric}, 3 mid-level ftrs, 7 low level ftrs)


Recently the hall has been seeing more and more guests arriving. Some come to trade, others to seek alliance or mediation with Nosnra and feel safer talking with Karnash first, while some bring slaves to sell.

At the time of module G1 Karnash has a group of 3 hill giants who have brought 5 dwarven slaves to trade for some of the dire wolf pups. Another male hill giant who has come to seek permission to go on a betrothal quest for one of the hill giantess maidens of Karnash's hall. Lastly, a neighbors son with 5 other hill giants and 12 ogres have arrived to go on a hunt in woods to the south which are shared by both Karnash and his neighbor.

Reaction Force

If Nosnra summons help Karnash will respond immediately. He will go in person and leave the hall in the charge of his sub chief and leave 5 of his own (disappointed) hill giant warriors behind.

Some hill giants will always be out hunting and Karnash himself hunts at least once a week, but his sub-chief will respond as Karnash would, except that he would send 1 hill giant out after Karnash and leave the most experienced hill giant warrior behind at the hall while he took the rest out to aid Nosnra.

1D4+5 Hill Giants, 1D4+4 Ogres and 1D10+12 Dire Wolves will be out hunting at any given time. These hunters will follow the first group to relieve Nosnra (though 5 will relieve the other 5 left behind
by the first group, since now it's their turn to be disappointed)

17 of His Hill Giants ( 1d4+5 hill giants out hunting)
10 Hill Giant Guests
15 Ogre retainers ( 1D4+4)
12 Ogres ( his guests' retainers)
Fang, Dire Wolf Pack Leader
40 Dire Wolves ( -1D10+12)


  1. Good stuff Jason: the next time I run G1, I'll definitely leverage a lot of your materials! :D

    Did you ever write more stuff for the other modules in the series (beyond your long ago sequels that take place in the post-adventuring sites)? Did you ever write anything up for D1-3?


  2. I never wrote a return to style adventure for the D series but I fleshed out the UnderOerth and greatly expanded the Vault of the Drow.

    One of the problems I had with the D series was its 2 dimensionality. I saw the UnderOerth more like a watermelon with strings threaded through it at all angles as well as graceful curves, sudden drops and pitfalls, vast waterfalls, twisting ventalation shafts. Maybe it is overthinking a fantasy campaign but I liked the idea that it wasn't enough to have breathable air underground but also to have air currents.

    The UnderOerth is akin to a vast ship encased in stone. The areas beyond civilization contain deadly pocket of gas, places choked by stillness which would suffocate a party if they made the mistake of sleeping there or were trapped in such an area. A place where a fire's smoke would hang in the air like an expanding ball of cotton.

    To keep the civilized areas breathable all sorts of methods are used but overwhelmingly slaves are used to turn great fans and pump vast bellows. So the UnderOerth raids the surface world for slaves continually.

  3. I'd definitely like to see more of your UnderOerth material: IIRC, you're already aware of the Dragonsfoot Collaborative Project "Mapping the Depths of the Earth" @ right?

    I also like Denis' 3D take on the Underdark @ Some good work there.


  4. I saw that collaborative project but only after it had run about 50 pages of replies. I felt it was a little late to try to get into it but I will certainly want to look through it for ideas.

    My own campaign from years ago developed about a dozen of the double-hex encounters and a multi-hex fungal city that was used as a neutral meeting ground for all the UnderOerth races. Beside the slave-worker trade there was a strong spartacus type gladitorial system with small estates and stables of gladiators who would compete against each other. My players enjoyed the arena fighting so much the campaign was side tracked for several months as each one developed their own gladitiorial teams and we ran all types of fights from single characters to teams and teams versus various monsters. We worked out a rough system so that we could all start even and only purchase a certain amount of monsters and gladiators for a season. It was a lot of fun but that group was reaching the end of its several year run. We came back to the campaign, made it to Q1 and the players became more interested in the worlds in the demonwebs than degeating Loth. Our last game involved the players helping to defend the dwarven mountain kingdom that was under siege and we never met as a group again.

    I used a lot of the same material the next time I ran a campaign through GDQ but avoided the gladitorial game aspect and the players ended up defeating Loth and moving into a long campaign against demons and devils in the Abyss.