Gygax’s Legendarium: The Giant’s Bag

Gygax’s Legendarium was a blog originally created by (I believe) +Grendelwulf to archive some of Gary Gygax’s original articles and writings. The site has since gone down, and emails to the original point of contact (geffyl@aol.com) bounced back, so I’m taking the last archived version of the site and re-posting these articles here to keep them alive. If the original owner of the site or any copyright holders have qualms with this, please let me know, but until then, I hope this serves as an interesting historical note from one of the creators of Dungeons & Dragons.

The following article first appeared in the Great Plains Game Players Newsletter #7, April 1975, pp. 9-11, and is likely one of the first Actual Plays accounting the events of a session (popularly known as “Replays” in the Japanese market).

Great Plains Game Players Newsletter #7, April 1975

Originally posted by the Greyhawk Grognard, Joseph Bloch.

From the Great Plains Game Players Newsletter #7, April 1975, pp. 9-11 (with only a few corrections to spelling), I present a bit of early Greyhawkiana. To the best of my knowledge, this work is in the public domain, but I don’t pretend to either be an intellectual property attorney nor play one on television. –JB

THE GIANT’S BAG

An Account of a “Wilderness Adventure” in Fantasy Wargaming.

by Gary Gygax

The LGTSA has been involved in a fantasy campaign for over a year now, using the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS rules (Gygax & Arneson) just recently made generally available; for along with Dave Arneson’s group in the Twin Cities, they got to be the “official play-testers” (to which they say whoopee…). During these months there have been many hundreds of “Dungeon Expeditions” and “Wilderness Adventures”. These games were often harrowing, mostly exciting, and often funny. The following account is one of the latter (I hope!). The referee was Rob Kuntz, with Ernie Gygax and Gary Gygax playing.

* * * * *

Four great war horses forced their way through the brush bordering the stream. The party was making its way through the trackless wilderness southeast of the walled city of Greyhawk, seeking monsters to slay and treasure to loot. At the head of the horsemen rode the sorcerer Nestre, with his elven apprentice close at hand. Behind were two armor-clad fighters, his henchmen and bodyguards. The four followed the tiny watercourse southwards, and eventually came to the place where it fed a broad river; here they dismounted to camp for the night. Trouble came almost immediately thereafter.

A great crackling of broken branches and the heavy tread of huge feet alerted the adventurers, and when the giant appeared a moment later it was no surprise. Weapons at the ready, they confronted the tall form. It made no hostile move, so Nestre stepped forward and spoke.

“Are you come with peaceful intentions?” the mage shouted.

“Duhhh…” the giant replied.

Somewhat relaxed by this friendly greeting, the men invited him into their camp. As soon as the great oaf was sprawled at ease by the fire, Nestre inquired if the giant was on any important business. The big fellow said that he was simply out for a month’s stroll in the greenwood, so the mage immediately sought to enlist the services of their guest:

“We are, good Giant, here with a purpose. We have with us a map leading to a fabulous store of wealth! Things in this forsaken land, however, seldom turn out as planned, o we are willing to share the treasure with you in return for your aid in gaining it! Do you consent?”

“Duh, sure, duh,” the giant replied indecisively. And so the bargain was sealed.

Nothing further disturbed the encampment — if anything came near it probably fled after seeing what sort of creatures dozed near the dancing flames. With the first light they saddled their steeds, the lumbering giant shouldered his sack, and all five now struck out in search of the treasure. The map led them along the bank of the turgid river to a spot infested with enormous crabs. Naturally, this was the very spot which the parchment scroll indicated as the repository of the unknown spoil. The men attempted to wade into the current, but they were quickly discouraged by the aggressive attacks of the giant crustaceans. Would the giant be willing to try? Immediately the tall creature stepped into the murky water, and as the crabs came near he struck left and right with his tree-like bludgeon. A few survived to flee, but the bulk of the monsters were flailed to pieces. The sopping, gore-drenched men then saw the giant stoop and disappear entirely under the water.

In a moment he reappeared with an iron-bound chest atop his shoulder. Soon the giant was ashore, had the trunk open, and was loading the contents into his bag.

“What else was down there?” Nestre asked eagerly.

“Dere was only tree roun’ things besides dis here box.”

Now the four adventurers dived into the river in order to retrieve the three spherical objects. Before long they were back, staggering with a trio of moss covered objects.

“What the devil!” expostulated Nestre, “Rocks!”

“Haw! haw! haw!” the giant guffawed, stuffing the last of the contents of the chest into his now bulging sack: “I ain’t never seed no guys as funny as youse are.”

Eventually, the whole party was seated before a flat rock, safe in a small cave, dividing the loot. The giant was gulled into accepting a few hundred pieces of gold, while the four humans shared the cream of the treasure among themselves. Somehow, this act of greed seemed to engender still more avarice in the mage’s heart. He began to eye the giant’s copious bag with keen interest. Was there some choice item therein? If so, Nestre the Clever (err, Cleaver) would certainly be able to gain it also!

“Say, my bulky friend, may I look in your bag?”

“Duh, nope!” the giant said with a shake of his tangled and dirty locks.

“Not even for a — GEM!” and with that the wily mage presented an indifferent jewel of 100 gold pieces’ value.

The giant declined: “Gimme a big gem, an’ I’ll letcha peek.”

“Two small ones?”

“A great BIG one!”

Now Nestre had several large jewels, but his greedy nature prevented him from accepting the logical. Instead he became even more determined to dupe the oaf: “Here. Look at this huge gem,” said the mage, presenting his crystal ball. The giant’s face lit with pleasure as Nestre made the globe alive with tiny and colorful scenes.

“Yah, yah! Oboyohboy! Gimme dat!”

“Not so fast,” the mage said, swiftly jerking the crystal ball from the giant’s reach: “You can have it under two conditions: One, you must be able to make pictures in it like I jut did. Two, you must allow me to look into your sack.”

“Suresure,” replied the giant, “Now gimme da pretty!”

Smirking with confidence, the sorcerer handed his glittering scrying device to the eager giant. The hulking brute hunched over the crystal ball, grunting and puffing as he tried to make pictures appear therein; all to absolutely no avail, of course, being a typically stupid and unmagical giant.

“You failed!” tauted the mage, “Now give it back to me, for I want to look–”

“STUPID GEM!” thundered the giant, “I’ll teach it!” and with that he smote the crystal ball with his oaken club, while tears of frustration ran down his cheeks.

These giant tears went well with the smaller ones rolling from Nestre’s eyes…

“All right (sob!), biggie, here’s the large-type gem you asked for in the first place.”

“Youse made me cranky,” the giant said, “so now I ain’t gonna let nobody poke their nose inta my sack unless they forks over TWO big gems.”

Shoulders stooped in defeat, the mage handed over two fine jewels, each worth not less than 1,000 golden orbs.

As the sorcerer rummaged through the contents of the bag — finding spare skivvies, old bones, a comic book, three lollipops, and other assorted trash, the giant was heard to say:

“Whyinhell did dat dumb shrimp wanna rummage ‘roun’ in dat dirty ol’ bag anyhow?”

“YARGH!” was the only reply from the mage.

* * * * *

AFTERWARD:

Late that night the giant decided that he had important business elsewhere, so he left with most of the treasure. Upon awakening next morning the four men found his note and a pair of his soiled drawers. The note read:

Great Plains Game Players Newsletter #7, April 1975

Great Plains Game Players Newsletter #7, April 1975

Stranger still, they waited three weeks, flying the drawers like a banner from a tall sapling near the water. Needless to relate, the giant did not return.


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neuronphaser is an editor, eCommerce consultant, web producer, and analyst living in sunny Hollywood, CA. He's been playing tabletop RPGs of all kinds since 1985.

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