Under the Storm Giants Castle
Item Code: 93
Title: Under the Storm Giants Castle
System: Dungeons & Dragons
Author(s): Thomas A. McCloud
Date Published: 1979
Format: 32-page book
unique dungeon adventure set inside a magic cloud: a Storm Giant has his
stronghold on it, but his son was kidnapped by a worm-creature that
vanished into the cloud, and the players are offered great rewards to
rescue him. The booklet lavishly illustrated and mapped contains six
levels and nine unique monsters. Intelligent monsters are given names
and certain characteristics, and devilish traps and innovations are
scattered here and there: a tornado within the cloud that takes
characters from level to level without injury, and eleven new
"miscellaneous magic" artifacts.
Thomas A. McCloud about Under the Storm Giant Castle: "Here is a little history on the module. All of what follows is only from memory, any references I might have are away in storage.
Back in about 1978, I was 32, the Judges Guild ran a "Dungeon Design Contest." The Guild set up the contest in a very curious way. Each entrant was to submit one level of a dungeon. The entries were then to be judged on originality, and the most original design would win. Then, and I did not realize this when I wrote up UtSGC, the best levels were to be stitched together into one final dungeon.
I thought for awhile, and then came up with the most *original* idea I could: a dungeon that was not underground, not underwater, not overland, not in a city, but floating in the air. It turned out to be a lot of fun drawing puffy white clouds and passages and inventing things to go with the theme, and working out what it would really be like to walk on the inside of a cloud, and so I ended writing up an entire module.
At that point, I went back and read the fine print about it being a contest for dungeon *levels*, not for complete dungeons. Oh well. I submitted it with a note saying that I realized that it was more than the contest called for, but that I wanted to go ahead and submit anyway.
Not long after that, Bob Bledsaw called me on the phone, said that indeed what I had written was way over the top for the contest, but would I be interested in having it published as a module? And would I be interested in writing more material for the Judges Guild?
That phone call was a very happy moment for me. I answered "yes!" and "yes!", but you already know that. I filled out paperwork selling all rights to JG, and--I think--submitted a manuscript tuned a bit more toward the manuscript format they wanted.
Judges Guild then ran a copy through Gary Gygax, who, in those days, had to approve every module that was to be listed as "Approved for use with Dungeons & Dragons (TM)". Happily, or perhaps from another point of view unhappily, Mr. Gygax did not muck around with UtSGC much: cut the treasure down a little and ruined a nearly insignificant clue relating to the Pegasus' necklace. The necklace was supposed to be a hint that the Pegasus had a kind and loving master--very unusual. However, it was too subtle a hint anyway.
The people at Judges Guild then added a cover and illustrations by Paul Jaquays. I was not consulted about either one. The artwork inside is okay, I guess, but I hate the cover. Why do I hate the cover? Because it has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the adventure. When I asked Bob Bledsaw about it, he said that he had wanted to get it to print quickly, so used an archive artwork that was the only one he could find that had something to do with a castle.
The cover art is still a sore point with me. The adventure is a light, happy, breath of fresh air and goodness. The cover is a dark, brooding miasma of evil. Whichever way you may want your adventures, the cover art and the adventure *don't match up.* I honestly believe that this is a major factor in Under the Storm Giant's Castle being sometimes called the worst module that the Judges Guild ever produced.
Another factor, perhaps, is that some Judges may not realize that UtSGC is designed as a beginner's dungeon. It's a "starter adventure," if you will. For the Manteca campaign, mentioned above, every player started a first level character. By the end, a few were well into fourth level.Let's see, anything significant that I haven't mentioned yet? Oh, yes. The "linearity" This is a bit of an oddity for two reasons. First, each level connecting by only one path to the next was, if I remember correctly and I'm not at all sure that I do a design rule for the contest. Second, once players learn that they can dig their own tunnels, the adventure goes from linear to random access. When I run the adventure, this has been the difference between players struggling with the dungeon and the players having it all but conquered."
Under the Storm Giants
Castle (1st Printing)
Under the Storm Giants
Castle (2nd Printing)
Under the Storm Giants
Castle (3rd Printing)