Last Updated on February 14, 2023
In the Forgotten Realms, most humanoids come to be pretty used to the bizarre. Everything from zombies to gods might end up affecting your life as a farmer, so it’s hard to be phased when magic bolts start flying through the air. That being said, a war between dragons and giants isn’t great for anyone.
In this article, we’re looking at Storm King’s Thunder, a 5e adventure module, and breaking down what’s inside of it so you can decide whether or not you want to run the campaign yourself.
(As an aside, you should definitely check out our full guide to 5e books here.)
- A campaign that spreads throughout the Forgotten Realms
- The war of Dragons and Giants plays a major part
- Heavy DM workload
What Is Storm King’s Thunder?
Storm King’s Thunder is an adventure centered around the politics of giants, the devious actions of dragons, and what happens when little folk (you) get stuck in the middle. More than that, this level 5-11 adventure module is a survey of the Forgotten Realms and a chance to dive into a lot of the incredible lore that exists in this world.
Of course, that’s talking about the adventure itself. Storm King’s Thunder is really just a book published by WotC, and that means we’re not just reviewing the adventure; we’re reviewing how well the book was written.
For the most part, Storm King’s Thunder is a solid adventure guide. The adventure itself is exciting, and if you follow the book’s directions of reading everything before running the module, it’s relatively easy to follow what should be happening as a DM.
This doesn’t mean it’s a particularly easy adventure to run. It fits more at the intermediate DM skill level. Since this adventure sets itself up as a bit of an open-world mystery that the players are solving, there’s plenty of opportunity to go off the rails. It’s then up to the DM to come up with what happens next and plot out how the party can make it back to the plot.
This brings us to the next “problem” with Storm King’s Thunder. Since our players will be traveling throughout almost all of Abeir-Toreil, there are a lot of locations to cover and interact with. This is equal parts good and bad.
On one hand, this really gives the players the experience of traveling through a fully fleshed-out world that exists. There’s even a lot of information covered in the book that describes different locations. On the other hand, you as the DM really need to be familiar with anywhere your players might go, which will often mean much more research and prep.
The last thing we should talk about is the adventure path itself. Fortunately, this adventure actually provides a nice little expected path flowchart, which is more than other 5e skeleton adventures can say. Probably the strangest part of this, though, is the fact that 5 chapters can all be taking place at the same time.
As the players go to the lairs of the giant lords (more on that in a bit), they can travel in any order they please. This means that they’re all roughly balanced to the same level, and there is a long period of traveling around in the middle of this adventure. It definitely can be fun, but it’s also really easy to lose a bunch of plot hooks in the midst of all the other things your party will get into.
What Is in Storm King’s Thunder?
Caution: Spoilers ahead. I repeat, spoilers ahead. Players trespassing on spoiler territory will be lightly reprimanded, and that’s about it.
The plot of Storm King’s Thunder is centered around the hierarchy of giants within the Forgotten Realms. With the god of giants dismantling “The Ordining” a divine decree of giant hierarchy, each of the giant lords seeks to become the new king of giants. On top of that, a dragon has disguised itself as a storm giant and is playing the role of advisor to the princess.
Our adventurers are thrown into this whole kerfuffle with towns under attack by giants. They’ll be given the opportunity to defend the towns and protect locals, and then they’re given a whole slew of plot hooks to explore.
This brings us to chapter 3, which is a very shaky chapter. Here, it’s down to good DMing and attentive players to keep things on track. Otherwise, you’ll quickly get lost with any number of side quests and little missions scattered across the Sword Coast.
As we move on, our characters are given the opportunity to fight one of the five giant lords so they can steal a conch of teleportation and make their way to the storm giant stronghold.
If our characters make it this far and aren’t squashed like bugs in the process, they might gain the trust of the storm giant princess and be sent on a mission to find her father and, eventually, slay the dragon that’s been causing so much trouble.
It’s a rather short story, but the traveling that occurs and the countless opportunities for our players to get distracted can all lead to this being an incredibly long campaign.
While the book claims this isn’t a ticking clock adventure, some DMs might find it helpful to add a dose of urgency to keep things moving. Of course, others might be completely content with a long drawn-out campaign that’s more of a tour of Abeir-Toreil. It really just depends on how much work you’re willing to put in.
Should You Buy Storm King’s Thunder?
Storm King’s Thunder is an excellent story, and it has all the makings of a thrilling campaign. We suggest that you strongly consider the workload attached to it, but definitely pick it up if you’re excited by the potential.
So yeah, this definitely has the Blackcitadel seal of approval. Enjoy slaying giants and fixing a monarchy, and as always, happy adventuring.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.