Today we’ll take a look at the Giant monster type. We’ve previously looked at using giants beyond their stat block, so today we’ll look at potential monsters to use either for a single session or as a campaign long villain that can throw multiple challenges and hurdles at your party.
Giants are a fantasy staple and can be the driving force behind a really exciting campaign! They have a ton of options for campaigns taking place in the first three tiers of play, making them easily incorporated into most tables’ games. Let’s climb this beanstalk and get started.
Giants as Monsters of the Week
Let’s start out by looking at the non true Giant monster options:
Ogre (CR 2)
Ogres are pretty simple: they like to smash and they like to eat. They can be a great addition to an orcish or goblin army, or present a threat to a hamlet that the party must track and put down. They can also be employed by greater giants or by other more powerful evils to wreak havoc or lure the party somewhere. They also make excellent (if unintelligent) bodyguards for those willing to put up with their temper.
Ettin (CR 4)
Ettins are two headed giants with each head having a distinct personality. They can be found in the company of orcs, and are rumored to be cousins to the orcs. They are also very hard to sneak up on, owing to the two heads they possess and the fact that only one head sleeps at a time. These creatures can be great monsters to try to trick into handing over a stolen person or item.
Troll (CR 5)
Green and with a mean regeneration factor, Trolls are an iconic Dungeons and Dragons monster for me. They are capable of fully regenerating unless fire or acid is applied. These guys can make great monsters of the week as the party has to try to track the creature and research how to take them down.
Fomorian (CR 8)
Fomorians are giants touched by the fey. They are cursed to have a horrible visage and can use their evil eye to curse the party and deal powerful psychic damage with a glance. These are great monsters and big bads to use against a party who is venturing into the Feywild. Fomorians can be easily mixed up to give more spell casting, or other fey-like abilities to continually challenge the party
Giants as a Big Bad
Giants come in many different flavors, Hill, Stone, Cloud, Fire, Frost, and Storm, and each of these giants could easily be a big bad for a campaign. With the exception of the Hill Giant, who is motivated largely by its rapacious appetite, each of the giants are just as capable of planning and scheming as any humanoid.
As with any big bad, first, consider what their primary goal or motivation is. This can help shape the campaign as you decide how they react to the decisions the players make. Perhaps they even become allied at times against a greater threat.
A motivation presented by the lore given in the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Master’s Guide is the desire to rebuild or reclaim their ancient civilization that was destroyed long ago. Some other potential motivations include:
- Desire for retribution on the players because of some slight one of their ancestors did generations ago that the giant still remembers.
- Wanting to reshape the Ordning (the giant caste structure) to put themselves at its top
- Destroy a rival good dragon by subtly influencing a humanoid population to go hunt them down.
- A storm giant seized by a vision of an apocalyptic future decides the best way to weather the end of the world is to hasten it.
- A Fire giant has crafted what is rumored to be the most powerful weapon in the world, stoking a frenzy to try to slay him and possess it.
Giants can lend themselves to epic battles where the party has to contend with a massive enemy, avoiding its reach while trying to take it down. To up the challenge, always pair the giant with support monsters, like casters, archers on flying steeds or other, weaker giants.
Like dragons, giants often possess powerful magic items, and defeating the giant big bad should grant a boon or reward equal to their epic deed. Perhaps defeating the giant leads to an even greater threat arising.
Have you ever used a giant in your camping? If so, let me know how it went!
Next week, we’ll take a look at Monstrosities.