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Dragons vs. Giants [Oct. 21st, 2010|12:39 pm]
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition


In my campaign, I'm looking to have the PCs involved in a climactic battle between a society of Dragons and a race of Giants (think Storm Giant, etc). The Giants have gotten their hands on a super powerful artifact that is what lets them actually face off against the Dragons on somewhat equal terms. The plan is that the PCs will be headed into the battle (probably on the side of the Dragons), and will be able to face off against the Giant leader because they're the PCs, etc.

What I'm having trouble figuring out is how exactly an army of Giants would fight against an army of Dragons. Do the Giants hang on the ground and throw huge boulders as the Dragons try to come within breath-weapon range? Do the Giants ride into battle on the backs of Rocs (or other oversized birds)? Do the Giants have some kind of storm-based magic that lets them fly around for mid-air battles? Some combination of the above?

Basically does anyone have any ideas for cool/sensible strategies for a group of Giants to successfully fight against a group of Dragons?


[User Picture]From: mpanther
2010-10-21 08:15 pm (UTC)
Why not have the artifact have an additional effect that either no dragon Can fly within X miles/yards of it or No flight is possible.

Then have a reason the dragons Have to get the artifact back or destroy it.
something so important they will band together and war to get it back, no mater what.

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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-10-21 08:20 pm (UTC)
That's a possibility--but I kind of want to do some kind of aerial assault (I think my players would get a kick out of riding dragons). But maybe that can only get them so far.

The Dragons already want to destroy the artifact--hence why the war is happening. Motivating the battle isn't my problem; I'm just trying to figur out what that battle would look like.
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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-10-21 09:04 pm (UTC)
The dragons are attacking the Giants, who could have an entrenched position.

Fantasy-style anti-aircraft guns could be slick though.
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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-10-21 09:12 pm (UTC)
Quite possibly; though then it doesn't quite have the "army of dragons attacking" feel if only a few are there at any given time (remember: PCs are probably going to be on the Dragon's side).

Thanks for the thoughts though :)
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[User Picture]From: serpentgod
2010-10-21 09:22 pm (UTC)
Ballistae combined with massive terrain advantage, then.

Seconding this. Not just bolts and stones, either; tie together a few boulders with some chains or very thick ropes, and you can launch giant NETS at the dragons. Drag them down to earth, and then while they're stunned and bound, hack them to bits. (Don't underestimate the demoralizing effect on the dragon army, either.)

Also, if these guys are Storm Giant-like, it's not unreasonable for them to have a couple casters in the basement whipping up a nasty spell to use when the bulk of the army has arrived... or to aid the projectile-tossers in taking out the fliers. The battlements can also be guarded by shields enchanted against dragon's-breath. Perhaps the giants have brought in a few unexpected allies - maybe a titan or two?

Ironically, on a battlefield between giants and dragons, the PCs would be comparatively harmless; they might even be able to sneak into the fortress in plain sight.
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[User Picture]From: paka
2010-10-21 11:12 pm (UTC)
What everyone else is saying; the big things dragons have is maneuverability, so the big thing is to take that out. The chain-shot idea has been mentioned, but I'll suggest grapeshot-like scattering projectiles to take out wing membranes. Magic wouldn't be direct here - dragons are resistant to a lot directly, but what if you had ritual magic targeted at creating wind, or changing the temperature of the air to funnel gliding dragons? (I figure that might make scrolls which high level PCs could capture).

And, trying to emulate history; if you've got these artillery/controller types, they are obvious targets, so they'd get guards who in game terms would be Brutes or Soldiers, heavily armored guys - maybe spiked armor even - intended to grapple or hold up dragons. I figure that there's so much metal required to armor a giant that full armors are limited, and that's where they'd be.
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[User Picture]From: baisuzhen
2010-10-22 02:42 am (UTC)
I found this for you


From that list... it says Storm Giants use magic more than just mere rocks, so u can factor them in. Plus if dragons were to come from the sky, they can easily whip up a gale force wind to hinder them first.
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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-10-22 03:01 am (UTC)
So... that would be a vote for the third idea I listed :p
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[User Picture]From: schlake
2010-10-22 01:08 pm (UTC)
I'd say that the storm giants have raided a lair or two and have a cache of dragon eggs. The dragons have to land and melee because they can't risk AoEing their eggs from the air with breath weapons on spells. That gives you a circle of giants defending themselves from an army of dragons that constantly fly down and attack.
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[User Picture]From: dacuteturtle
2010-10-22 01:13 pm (UTC)
Grappling hooks. Most definitely grappling hooks.

That, and Storm Giants. Really, you don't have to invent a McGuffin for Storm Giants. They literally blow their opposition out of the sky with thunderbolts. Don't they control weather, too? Oh, yeah, these guys don't need McGuffins.

They can have allies, too, like cyclopses making lighting bolts. And Titans. Titans can do whatever you like.
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[User Picture]From: evildmguy
2010-10-22 02:50 pm (UTC)
I assume 4E?

What do you see as the PCs roles in the fight? Do they all have ranged weapons or abilities to use on the dragons? If they have to do hundreds of points of damage, are they going to be helping? Or are the dragons going to be doing more damage then they are?

In any case, I think you can easily treat the giants as NPCs, in terms of given them rituals and having a defensive position ready. They know they are going to be attacked and should be smart about it.

Do the giants have time to build/magic/create a roof or go to caves? Again, that would force a bottleneck. What about a small contingent at where the dragons think they have to go but the main group retreated to someplace more defensible from fliers?

Do the giants know about the PCs? Are the PCs friends with the dragons such that the giants attacking the PCs would be a distraction for the dragons? Would any dragon hesitate if the PCs were in trouble?

Maybe you can come up with the attack and defense plans and then see how the PCs disrupt them?

It really comes down to information. Can the dragons scry on the giants? Can the giants scry on the dragons? Do the giants know when the attack will come? What are the giants contingencies? How far will the giants go (i.e. fight to the last giant in protecting the artifact?) in the battle? How far with the dragons go to get the artifact?

Hopefully a few questions that helped.
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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-10-22 03:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah 4e (not that it really matters, does it?).

My thought is to run the "fight" as a Skill Challenge, using this airship challenge as a basis. In short, the PCs would need to break through the giant's defensive line(s), with huge battle waging around them, in order to get to the giant boss that would be a traditional fight (with maybe a few skirmishes leading up to that).

(Note that I'm not quite sure on the exact details, since my players might decide to do something totally different. But this is the default option).

The exact details of which way the battle goes are unimportant, since the battle is just background to the PC's fight/journey.

At this point in the game, the Giants have come out of their mountain lairs (whatever that may be) down into the foothills and sacked a humanoid kingdom there, reinforced by McGuffin magic that the PCs failed to liberate. The Dragons want to take out the giants in order to return "order" to the world (the order in which they basically control everything), basically seeing them as a threat because they're now a new super-power (the McGuffin also has a strong anti-dragon theme). Note that the McGuffin is explaining why the Giants are a threat now, as opposed to some previous point in the world's history. But releasing primordial-style allies that are a threat to the dragons could be in line with the artifact's themes ((as I'm writing this, I'm thinking I might have the SC end with an in-air combat against a released primordial/titan-esque monster)).

So my vision would be the giants have position throughout the foothills and the now ruins of this humanoid kingdom, but the center of their base (where the PCs would need to get to) could be up in the mountains.

Based on feedback so far, I think I'm going to go with a large combination of defenses that the PCs can try and break through in the SC. So there can be flocks of rocs or some other flying bird, anti-aircraft ballistae (and magical lightning cannons), a storm system that can help keep the battle near the ground, some flying storm giants/titans (or maybe just one), maybe the need to maneuver through canyons/etc as they get close, and finally a strong magic system that will take out the dragons (leaving the PCs to make the final approach).
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[User Picture]From: evildmguy
2010-10-22 04:17 pm (UTC)
It does matter, yes, because obviously they are different rule systems.

So, the dragons are in charge and the PCs are helping them keep that status quo? More curiosity than anything!

Okay, I like the idea of a skill challenge for this. I guess the reason I was asking is because I wasn't sure how the PCs would contribute to the fight from the backs of dragons. Are they rolling for the dragons skills, such as Endurance that wouldn't affect the PCs if they are riding the dragons? Assuming similar level between dragon and PC, certainly the PCs can do a lot or it should be equal.

Do they get to skip the positions in the foothills and go right to the center? So, once the leaders of the giants are down, the rest go back home?

Is this a blitzkrieg attack by the PCs/dragon or is it a siege? Do they keep doing a skill challenge until the succeed? What does a failure mean? Just curious what you are thinking here. My first thought was that failures could mean loss of surges. If it's a siege, or other long term goal, that's not as bad if it's supposed to be done all at once. Then there is a sense of time, however long that time frame is, whether the time frame for the checks is by day or by week or whatever. And being pushed back could mean that reinforcements arrive from the skipped areas.

I think the idea is really cool and I hope you come back to report how it went, what you did, etc. to the rest of us!

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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-10-22 04:53 pm (UTC)
System doesn't matter much to me (I'm really flexible with rules applications, etc).

Yeah, I believe that the PCs are leaning towards not upsetting the current dragons-on-top system, because the other option (depose the dragons) would likely have other, unexpected consequences. Basically the PCs had a chance to "bring back the gods" who would be able to kick out the dragons, but that would also involve letting demons back into the world, which they weren't thrilled about doing. The Giants have gotten their hands on a piece of the McGuffin that would enable Outsiders to come and beat down the dragons, and the PCs (last I checked, we've been on hiatus for a while) are currently looking to destroy the McGuffin rather than use it.

By using a Skill Challenge type thing, the stats of the dragons don't really matter. I'm going to abstract a lot of the actions (I'm a pretty free-form DM), hence why system isn't that vital to how this works out. The mechanics are in no way a restrictions--I can and will change them to make it work.

I'm thinking a blitzkrieg style attack--push through in order to get to the McGuffin and destroy it. Failure would mean they probably crash early, and so likely will have to approach the target from a much, much worse position. It could also mean the PCs die dramatically--this adventure is going to wrap up the campaign anyway. It's pretty hard to fail skill challenges in my experience, so I'm not really expecting that to be an issue. But yeah, they can also lose surges/etc. if things go poorly.
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