Hill giants dwell in huge, rough-hewn timber strongholds hidden deep within rugged hill and mountain ranges. Selfish, violent raiders they constantly hunt and forage through the surrounding territory.
A hill giant steading is unlike any other dungeon. Consequently, the steading’s minor features of note or interest should be different to normal dungeon dressing. The giants, their pets and slaves leave a mark on the steading and the clever GM uses such signs to breathe life and verisimilitude into the PCs’ explorations.
Use the table below, to generate minor points of interest the PCs discover during their exploration of a hill giant steading.
- The ceiling is particularly poorly constructed; water drips down from above to form a puddle on the floor.
- A large brown bear skin is nailed to the wall. Its open jaws are easily ten-foot above the ground (and make a good place for a giant to hide some small trinket).
- A discarded, frayed giant’s bag lies in one corner. It holds a wheel of hard, mouldy cheese and a mangy (worthless) wolf pelt.
- A haphazardly stacked pile of firewood stands against one wall. The large logs are the thickness of a human’s torso and could be used as missiles by nearby giants. Rats infest the pile.
- A faded and filthy tapestry covers one wall. Clearly not of giant artifice it depicts a range of majestic, jagged hills rising into the distance. The tapestry is roughly ten-foot square and now worthless.
- Three torches—nothing more than hacked tree branches wrapped with cloth—burn here. The atmosphere is foul and overly warm; smoke coils about the ceiling.
- Trophies—mainly comprising skulls and rotting heads of humans, dwarves and bears—hang from pegs driven deeply into the walls. Perceptive PCs notice one of the rotting heads still wears a small silver stud earring (worth 5 gp).
- Splotches along with a thick smear of dried blood decorate the ground. They lead toward the giants’ kitchen.
- A large crudely-crafted bench sized for giants stands against one wall. Its surface is pockmarked with many gouge marks likely made by bored giants.
- Here, the wood of one wall is dripping wet and rotten. Water runs down the wall from above and the smell of rot hangs heavily in the air.
- A gigantic longspear—perhaps 20-foot long—leans in one corner. Examination reveals the haft is particularly thick and the spear’s point comprises a short sword whose handle has been wedged into a notch cut at the top of the spear’s haft.
- Wolf, bear and other hides of more exotic nature as well as a half-dozen blue wyvern scales decorate the walls. One of the larger hides obscures a small (currently unoccupied) cubby hole or guard post.
- A set of knucklebones, three dice and four empty flagons lie abandoned on the floor. Nearby a large (empty) wineskin hangs from a badly dressed branch protruding from the wall. It seems the gamblers have now departed—perhaps in search of more booze!
- The smell of wet wolf fur and excrement fills this area. An impressively large pile of relatively fresh wolf droppings decorate the floor near one wall.
- Shadows and cobwebs heavy with dust cluster thickly about the rafters high above the PCs’ heads. The walls of undressed logs make accessing this area relatively easy. PCs exploring the rafters discover a carefully concealed route through the cobwebs which leads to a small niche cut into the wall. Two empty wine flasks lie in the niche.
- Pegs driven into the walls hold a variety of bags, cloaks and other soiled pieces of giant-sized clothing. Several cloaks hangs all the way to the floor and could make excellent impromptu hiding places. Most of the bags are empty, but one holds a 100-foot-long coil of very strong, thick hemp rope.
- A rough map of the surrounding area hangs on one wall. The crude map is etched into the back of a gigantic mouldering bear skin. The map shows the steading, several nearby human settlements and a cave mouth over which the words, “Cavern of Whispered Death” is written.
- The smell of cooking meat wafts through the air.
- An orc slave slumps unconscious in a shadowy corner. Beaten near to death by its hill giant master for some transgression, the orc will die unless healed. If healed, the orc—Bargesh—is wary, but if offered his freedom happily tells the PCs anything they want to know about the hated giants. Bargesh isn’t suicidal, however, and has no interest in fighting giants.
- A large brass gong hangs from its stand in the centre of this area. The gong is battered and dented—it has clearly seen much use. A warhammer sized for a human or dwarf lies on the floor under the gong.
This article appears in 20 Things #14: Hill Giant Steading.
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