Ranging across the Sword Coast, Storm King’s Thunder is a dangerous, challenging adventure that pits players against terrible foes and cunning villains set against the backdrop of Faerun’s wide and diverse landscape. In a book that is one part campaign sourcebook and another part adventure, Storm King’s Thunder is everything a Dungeon Master in the Forgotten Realms could want.
An Adventure Far and Wide
Storm King’s Thunder is an adventure that takes characters from 1st to 10th level and higher. Central to the story is the ordning, a caste system that stratifies giant society both within clans and the structure of the six types of giants relative to each other. The ordning was imposed on the giants by their gods, and persists even after the fall of Ostoria. At the top of the ordning are the storm giants, and when five giant lords are convinced that the king of the storm giants is dead or otherwise no longer ruling, they set out to reshape the ordning in hopes of elevating themselves to its pinnacle. While giants fall back to tribalism and divisions, adventurers must rise up alongside the factions of the North rush to prevent disaster. Some play significant roles, others can take a supportive stance for the group of adventurers, but they will certainly need allies in this fight.
Somewhat reminiscent of Against the Giants, Storm King’s Thunder brings the possibility of facing each particular type of giants and journeying to their strongholds. Some may be encountered through the main arc of the adventure, while others may depend upon the party’s chosen path. Each race of giants bring their own challenges, whether the party attempts to parlay, operate stealthily, or simply fight.
The villains and adversaries of Storm King’s Thunder are many and varied, and offer no singular avenue of success to players. They are complex and multidimensional, both in their roleplay and their combat. Many have spellcasting or other abilities, turning encounters into much more complex and challenging encounters for adventurers. Fighting a cloud giant in a floating castle? What if they are also a 13th-level spellcaster? Facing an ancient dragon? How much more challenging does it become when they are given innate spellcasting as well as the potential for additional spellcasting? Creative players will shine in this adventure, able to adapt and think their way out of problems just as easily as they can fight their way through.
The encounters in Storm King’s Thunder are thrilling, and many of them are deadly by design. Facing giants is no small task, and that gravity should be conveyed to players early on. It often doesn’t take much for a battle with giants to shift and go horribly wrong, and likewise adding even one more giant to a battle can quickly turn the tide in their favor.
The adventure begins with a series of events designed to advance players from 1st to 5th level, working as a great introduction to new players and new characters. In the case of higher level characters, there is a supplemental information section that is useful for helping import players of 5th level to the adventure. As there are so many great introductory adventures set in the Forgotten Realms, this is a great option for groups transitioning from lower level play to higher tier adventures. Storm King’s Thunder will carry characters to 10th level, though for creative Dungeon Masters there are plenty of opportunities to expand and supplement the adventure with additional content and encounters. Especially as the adventure moves towards the higher level encounters, allowing more encounters and challenges to have the party advance more is not always a bad thing. A higher level party can take on more challenging encounters and more complicated situations, giving them more satisfaction in success while also allowing the Dungeon Master to incorporate more complex mechanics.
Across the Forgotten Realms
Storm King’s Thunder is sometimes referred to as a better sourcebook for the Forgotten Realms, specifically the Sword Coast and the North, than the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. Storm King’s Thunder offers some great worldbuilding content for the Sword Coast, but there is a lot that Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide offers that the adventure does not. Both together actually grant a pretty thorough spread of information regarding large swaths of the Sword Coast and the North. Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide brings a little information to a lot of locations and landmarks, while Storm King’s Thunder brings more detail to some of the more pertinent locations and significant figures within some of those locations. It also brings mechanics and actionable details, taking a step further than just descriptions. Obviously neither can be completely comprehensive, and even together they cannot fully cover the breadth of the Forgotten Realms. But in tandem, they offer an unparalleled resource for Dungeon Masters looking to make the most of the rich setting and all that it can offer, with everything from useful details to simple inspiration. If you are looking to start or expand an adventure in the Forgotten Realms that will traverse wide swaths of the region, Storm King’s Thunder is potentially an invaluable resource.
One shining part of Storm King’s Thunder is the supplemental resources, and specifically its magic items. Magical weapons and objects are nothing new to fifth edition, and each adventure brings their own flair in the treasures and resources available to players. The magic items in Storm King’s Thunder are some of the best I have seen in an adventure. They are thematic and powerful, ranging from artifacts to weapons that reflect the nature and style of giant magic. With the lore included in the section on giants in Volo’s Guide to Monsters, there is plenty of lore and inspiration for giants and giant-themed adventures, particularly in the Forgotten Realms.
There is not a deep bestiary to accompany Storm King’s Thunder, though the additional giants of Volo’s Guide to Monsters would make great additions to the adventure. The statistics and descriptions in the adventure are good supplements, and the optional mechanics are excellent additions. It is always a good thing to be able to throw new things at your players, particularly the experienced ones, in order to keep them on their toes.
Storm King’s Thunder brings a challenging adventure for characters up to 10th level and an extensive amount of lore and content for the Sword Coast and the North. Whether looking to run the adventure on its own, as a supplement to a giants-themed campaign, or just to provide additional content for the Forgotten Realms, this book is a valuable treasure. Building out the plethora of reference material for the Sword Coast and the North, Storm King’s Thunder belongs in the library of any Dungeon Master exploring stories in the setting. Giants are a pillar of the lore of Faerun, and there are so many possibilities to incorporate and integrate giants into campaigns or adventures with the resources brought to the table with Storm King’s Thunder.
Storm King’s Thunder is published by Wizards of the Coast.
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