Saturday, December 7, 2013

[Review] The Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord and Other Adventures From Our Shared Youth

I have recently stepped into a time machine and popped up behind the DM screens of eight very creative DMs back in the 80s. And you can too...
I was a supporter of a recent successful Kickstarter campaign launched by Tim Hutchings of the Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA). Tim has taken several donations to the Archive and -- with the permission of the original creators -- compiled and laid out eight D&D-style modules in a compilation tome titled "The Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord and Other Adventures From Our Shared Youth." And it is a thing of beauty to anyone who cobbled together their own D&D-style adventures Back In The Day using a loose-leaf binder, some graph paper, and maybe your family's Atari 800 printer (if you were lucky).
(click any photo for a bigger, better look at the details)

Each of the eight homemade, handwritten (or typewritten) modules in this 112-page volume were written by kids during the heyday of the 70s-80s D&D bubble. The titles within this collection include:

  • The Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord
  • Stone Death
  • The Crack at Garn's Canyon
  • The Ring of Gaxx
  • The Golden Scepter of the Trollfens
  • The Tomb of Areopagus the Cloaked and Japheth of the Mighty Staff
  • The Lair of Turgon
  • The Maze of Death

Rounding out the contents is an overview by Hutchings, and an Introduction by Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World. Peterson's Introduction offers some fascinating investigational insight, as he examines each module, pointing out what the author was inspired by or how each adventure fits into the D&D cosmos timeline. Peterson's overview really gives you an idea of how each was written and the steps these young DMs took to fit their works into TSR's published worlds.
Now then, I will not be reviewing the textual content of this collection as, well, they're unpolished adventure modules written by kids back in the 80s. Spelling errors, unbalanced encounters, and hackneyed cliches abound, but that's part of the charm of this collection. The unbridled enthusiasm these budding game designers had for their work is seen in each word, each sketch, each attempt to emulate the format and feel of The Professional Game Writers.
The pages of each module was scanned in high resolution color, so you get a feel of the originals' production. You can see the notes written on ruled notebook paper, the pencil sketches on graph paper, the handmade construction paper covers, the yellowing tape holding the maps in place, the dot-matrix patterns left by the printer, and every crease, wrinkle, and erasure smudge found on the originals. Several of them created their own covers to look like those made by TSR, pretending they were Big Name Game Designers. And now, here in late 2013, those eight young game designers got their wish, and their adventures are printed, published, and being played by gamers throughout the world.
Thumbing through the book is like standing behind the DM screen beside the respective dungeonmasters as they ran their players through a dungeon of their own design. When the respective authors assembled these handmade adventures, most of them took pains to emulate the feel and look of the professional efforts with covers. For example, "Habitition" was numbered by the author as "Dungeon Module G22", meaning it is intended to fall within the original "Against the Giants" series of adventures, possibly between G2 and G3. (If you're running your players through the series, how about shoehorning this sidetrek in there to throw off anyone who's read up on the original classics?)
The book is a fascinating look at our gaming past. It will give most of you a satisfying recollection of your own Great Killer Dungeons from your youth. And, according to the back cover, "it's a relic of the past you can play." I suggest taking one of these adventures and running your players through it. I cannot think of a better legacy to those eight kids who originally put pencil to paper than to run their creations at your own table.

The Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord and Other Adventures From Our Shared Youth is now available for purchase at The Hutchingsonian Presents for $30 plus shipping.


  1. Thank you for the great review! It's temporarily available here: and will eventually be a part of the

    I'm so glad you liked the book!

    1. Thanks for all the work on it, Tim. It's a great resource and a true mental trip back to my youth.

      I'll update the post with a link to the current sales location. Glad to see others can get a copy too!

  2. It exudes the love and affection I still have for this game today.

  3. I would never have known about this without your review. So, thanks.


  4. And folks, there'll be more of these. Go dig up your own stuff and let me know at