"The power of youth. Literally the power!":
To start of the list of encounters, I'd go with the closest thing in my concept to the "fight with a giant brute". I speak of course of the Pebble group. The group of young giants is hired by an adversary of the players, and at some point or another they fight. Pretty ordinary, but there are some notable differences:
- The giants make good use of their spell like powers granted by the Link feats. A thunder clap may add to this as well. Stoneshape could create pits, block passages, create cover and so on. Call lightning can harass spell casters, while fog cloud provide concealment.
- The Pebble has the Minor Geode for extra support. Either make them stronger, or buff up their spell like abilities.
- Living away from their community, these giants are probably better equipped than the usual "giant swing club" stereotype. This is particularly true for thunderclaps- possibly better armor, weapons, or even some alchemical "Novelties"?
- <ore a matter of flavor, but important non the less- the age group. We're talking teenagers and young adults here- they are brash, enthusiastic, making lewd comments and jokes, egging their friends and so on. Oh, and they are a few meters tall delivering a really serious punches...
"Like a rolling stone":
The other chance to meet a fairly small group of these giants is the migration scouting groups. A bit larger than Pebbles, these groups are comprised from the best of the clan/ tribe. An encounter with them is a far more strategic and tactical event. Some possibilities:
- A settlement in a mountainous area is harassed by stone giants. At first the harassment was merely to inconvenience, but recently things started to get worse. What is weird is that there haven't been any stone giant here for ages! (Though there are those peculiar stone statues all over the region). Attempts to find a base of operation have failed miserably. The harassers are actually a scouting group, preceding the main tribe by a few weeks/ months/ years. They are determined to get rid of the "land poachers", in order to start preparing it for the tribe. They use guerrilla tactics, aiming to drive the people away more than outright kill them. But if time gets pressing, they are willing to do whatever it takes. To make things more complicated this group avoids talking about the reasons for it's actions (Fearing to expose the actual tribe on it's journey), and goes to great lengths to prevent capture.
This encounter/ adventure suited more for the thinking kind of players, and offers no clear cut solution. Iit can go many ways, and have many possibilities for various tactical combat. (Ambushing the adventurers, sabotaging supplies, using the spell like abilities to alter the terrain, and more) Things might get far more complicated if the party actually kills the scouting group, only to find some time later that a whole tribe of giants, with their elders and weird magic just arrived...
"A case of mistaken identity":
As the party enters an area well known for gentle reclusive stone giants, they are suddenly confronted by angry ones, perhaps with an elemental by them, accusing them of some crime! When the party tries to explain it wasn't them, the giant reply "Oh! Our watchers saw you, and watchers don't lie!".
An enemy of the party with shape shifting/ illusion abilities entered the mountain range shortly before the party came. It used it's talents to hide it's true nature, before committing some crime (Destroying art, killing cattle, attacking a young giant, and such). The villain made sure it was all done in front of a watcher though, before getting away. The villain might use this as a diversion, throw them of his/ her trail, or just mess up their lives.
"Reinforcements are on their way!"t
While doing something totally NOT related to the stone giants, fighting off some baddies and such, one of them presses an odd stone to a tall statue (or statues), and moments later, it comes alive! Oh well, the party fought constructs before... only this one doesn't really act like one- it fights smart, hits accurately, and where did the buffing spells come from?
The statues are of course watchers, and the "baddies" are allies to giants using a calling geode. This is a surprise encounter/ complication- unexpected enemies, fighting in unexpected ways, and there might well be more stone giants (Or giant eagles?) on their way!
The idea is to have an encounter that injects new tension, new urgency into the play. By adding the "The giants are coming! The giants are coming!" element you also inject that vital thing that keeps a game interesting- time pressure.
"The fugitive, stone giants style!":
The presence of watchers grants a really unique surveillance power for a community in it's region. An interesting challenge would be to create a situation in which the party has to travel inside stone giants territory, and yet evade being seen/ caught. If watcher sees them, the entire community might mobilize after them.This means scouting groups, perhaps giant eagles, and the ever present, ever silent numerous watchers... they merge fairly good with their background, and they are usually set at points that promise a great view.
If the group is found many resources are diverted towards them- Giants, animated watchers, giant eagles, and possibly even elementals. Unless the partyis realy high OP, this is a serious challenge, which requires mroe than just "bashing your way through".
Possible scenes: The party stole/ hurt roc eggs or younglings. The party was tasked to steal/ hurt an elder or it's artifacts, the party seeks to enter a dungeon that is blocked by a spiritual site of the giants, and more.
"A heavy burden- a dead giant's last wish":
The party witness (perhaps even assist) in a battle between two giants and some other monster (which might escape). At the end of the battle one of the giants is dying (negative hp, but stabilized), but the remaining giants urges the party not to heal it! The giant explains that it goes against their beliefs, and that if they heal him he won't be able to become a watcher later on (Equivalent of robbing the giant of their after life). The giants have to pursue the threatening monsters, but request of the party to help them embed their comrade. The giant needs to be transported to a specific location before this can happen, as communication with en elder explains.
The party is to escort and secure the unconscious giant to it's final resting place. There could be many complications here: Actually transporting the heavy giant, making sure others don't kill it (They WERE fighting someone before, no?) and more... This will most likely require unconventional thinking, methods, but may also gain the respect and gratitude of the giants community. Also, they may witness something very rare- becoming a watcher.
"In Thunder's Step, your ears go BOOM!":
Thunder Clap giants can appear in all of the above scenes (As well they should, though they are a distinct and small minority), but they really come to their own in their nomadic traveling groups. There they have their own stylish ways, more powers granted by the Held Storm and their elders, and perhaps most importantly- they are suddenly the norm, not the exceptions.
These nomadic groups enables the characters to see esoteric parts of giant lives:
- They give more depth to the common stone giant- they stand in contrast to them, but are also part of their culture.
- They shed some light on the world of giants in general. Being emissaries between the different communities and giant sub races may shed more light on them. In fact, one of the main reason for an adventuring group to join In Thunder's Step is to be able to reach hidden giants, or converse with them in a relatively safe manner.
- These giants have a special relationship with the storm giants, and any who wishes to learn about this mighty creatures may do well to seek the Thunder Elder.
If the party does join the thunder clap, a small battle may explain why the Thunderclaps never built communities with the stone giants themselves. As battle erupts, they begin using their special powers, and the powers of the Held Storm. The Call of Thunder means the party will find itself in the middle of booming sonic thunders! (Make sure to have a recording of a thunder storm for this session...). Most chances the characters will be deafened in no time which will lead to a lot of confusion and mayhem. (You might ask your deafened players to just cover their ears till it's their turn or something of the sort) Together with call lightning, and perhaps sleet storms the battle will look like a little storm indeed! (Oh, make sure it's a sunny lovely day before the encounter...)
This encounter is mostly for flavor, and to show the vast contrast to the common giants. but it could also be amusing, and overwhelming...
"Don't shoot the messenger! but then again, perhaps you should":
This last "encounter" is actually a suggestion for a campaign, or part of a campaign. It somewhat enables you to use many of the above mentioned scenes in some way or another. The idea is far from complete, but it is enough to show how giants can become major forces in the campaign.
The main BBEG is a Thunder Elder, who secretly harbors some dark cause, far exceeding the usual "emmisarial" role appointed to his kind long ago. Outwardly this Elder is charming, open, and have even gained some fame between humanoid groups as wise and insightful. Secretly the Elder uses it's diplomatic skills and special position to sow unrest and concern amongst the various giant groups (Not just stone) in the region. He also persuade a small community of stone giants to settle in a previously unsettled mountainous area, and under his guidance the area is transformed into a land fortress.
There are many possibilites here:
- The various giant groups start attacking or harassing the common races.
- The BBEG tricks the party into attacking and killing one of the Stone Elders (Saying they are responsible for the attacks), to weaken an opposing force. This of course triggers the wrath of the entire tribe, as well as the new young elders, who takes his position far ealrier than he thought.
- The party might even travel with the BBEG's In Thunder's Step group, as he tries to get them on his side.
- The party may need to escort the new young elder to a Storm Giant's castle, to plead permission to attack the BBEG (And maybe learn soem useful info on how to do so).
- The full powers of the Held Storm could come into play at the final confrontation, or they might be the threat that the party needs to stop. This will be a battle against the community that made the land fortress, a safe haven for the BBEG, possibly with the aid of giant eagles, rocs, Geode powers, other monsters and more. The BBEG may have learned more ancient secrets of the Stone Giants, perhaps how to unleash the full extent of the central Geode and Held Storm, to a devastating and terrifying effect!