Giant (Dungeons & Dragons)
An illustration of a giant
|Alignment||Varies by type|
|Type||3rd and 3.5 editions: Giant
4th edition: Humanoid (origin varies)
- 1 Description
- 2 Publication history
- 2.1 Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)
- 2.2 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
- 2.3 Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)
- 2.4 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
- 2.5 Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
- 2.6 Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
- 2.7 Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)
- 3 Description
- 4 True giants
- 5 Other Dungeons & Dragons creatures of the giant type
- 6 Giants beyond the Monster Manual
- 7 Giant-kin
- 8 Critical reception
- 9 Other publishers
- 10 References
Giants are humanoid-shaped creatures of great strength and size.
Giants were some of the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game.
Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)
Giants were among the first monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, in the Dungeons & Dragons "white box" set (1974), including the hill giant, the stone giant, the frost giant, the fire giant, and the cloud giant. The storm giant first appears in the original Greyhawk supplement (1975), where it is described as an intelligent giant found only in out-of-the-way places.
A number of unique giants appear in Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes (1976), including Antero Vipunen, Hymer, Hyrm, Mimir, Mokkerkalfe, Sterkodder, Surtur, and Vafthrunder, as well as the mist giants of Melniboné.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
Giants appear in the first edition Monster Manual (1977), including the cloud giant, the fire giant, the frost giant, the hill giant, the stone giant, and the storm giant. The stone giant appeared as a character class in White Dwarf #17, by Lewis Pulsipher. The fog giant and the mountain giant are introduced in the first edition Fiend Folio (1981). The fomorian, the firbolg, and the verbeeg appear in the first edition Monster Manual II (1983).
Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)
This edition of the D&D game included its own version of giants, in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977), including the hill giant, the stone giant, the frost giant, the fire giant, the cloud giant, and the storm giant; these same giants also appeared in the Expert Set (1981 & 1983), The mountain giant and the sea giant appear in the Dungeons & Dragons Master Rules (1985), in the "Master DM's Book". The sea giant is presented as a playable character class in The Sea People (1990). Giants also appear in the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991), including the hill giant, the stone giant, the frost giant, the fire giant, the cloud giant, the storm giant, the mountain giant, and the sea giant. The cloud giant, fire giant, frost giant, hill giant, stone giant, and storm giant also appear in the Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1991), and the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1994).
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
Giants appear throughout the 2nd edition Monstrous Compendium series. Giants appear first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989), including the cloud giant, the fire giant, the frost giant, the hill giant, the stone giant, and the storm giant. Giant-kin appear in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989), including the cyclops, the firbolg, the fomorian, and the verbeeg. Two more giant-kin, the voadkyn and the spriggan, appear in the Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Appendix (1990). The spacesea giant appears in the first Monstrous Compendium Spelljammer Appendix (1990). Three Zakharan giants, including the desert giant, the jungle giant, and the reef giant appear in the Monstrous Compendium Al-Qadim Appendix (1992). The fog giant appears in the Monstrous Compendium Fiend Folio Appendix (1992). The firbolg giant-kin and the voadkyn giant-kin are detailed as playable character races in The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993),
Many of these giants are reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993), including the cloud giant, the cyclops, the desert giant, the ettin, the firbolg, the fire giant, the fog giant, the formorian, the frost giant, the hill giant, the jungle giant, the mountain giant, the reef giant, the stone giant, the storm giant, the verbeeg, and the wood giant (voadkyn).
The beasthead Athasian giant and the humanoid Athasian giant first appeared in the original Dark Sun Campaign Setting (1991). The beasthead Athasian giant, the desert Athasian giant, and the plains Athasian giant appeared in the Monstrous Compendium Dark Sun Appendix: Terrors of Athas (1992). The beasthead Athasian giant, the desert Athasian giant, and the plains Athasian giant were later repinted in the expanded and revised Dark Sun Campaign Setting (1995) The shadow giant appeared in the Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix II: Terrors Beyond Tyr (1995). The crag giant first appeared in The Wanderers Chronicle: Mind Lords of the Last Sea (1996), and was reprinted in Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Four (1998).
The athach and the hephaeston appear in the Monstrous Compendium Mystara Appendix (1994).
Several giants for the Dragonlance campaign setting appeared in Dragon #256 (February 1999), including the cave lords, the desolation giants, and the earth giants.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
Giants appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000), where they are presented as a type of creature. Giants appearing in this book include the cloud giant, the fire giant, the frost giant, the hill giant, the stone giant, and the storm giant.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
Giants appear in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003), including the cloud giant, the fire giant, the frost giant and the frost giant jarl, the hill giant, the stone giant, and the storm giant. The hill giant dire wereboar appears as a sample creature under the lycanthrope entry.
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)
Giants appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), including death giants (the death giant and the death titan), earth giants (the hill giant and the earth titan), fire giants (the fire giant, the fire giant forgecaller, and the fire titan), and storm giants (the storm giant and the storm titan). Giant is no longer a creature type; instead, giants belong to the humanoid type. Giants generally have the natural origin, although death giants and death titans have the shadow origin, and earth, fire and storm titans have the elemental origin.
The Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition Player's Handbook 2 also introduced the playable character race of the Goliaths (originally found in Races of Stone). These stone-skinned mountain dwellers are larger than regular races, and have giant ancestry.
Eldritch, Frost, and Stone giants appeared in the Monster Manual 2 (2009).
The Monster Vault (2010) reprises the Earth, Frost, Hill, and Storm giants for the Essentials line.
All giants have low-light vision. As a group, they have no other special abilities or immunities.
Dwarves have a bonus to their armor class against attacks from creatures of the giant type, due to their experience with fighting these oversized foes.
There are six types of classic "true giant" in the core Dungeons & Dragons game:
- Hill giant: Hulking, dimwitted brutes, hill giants are the smallest race of true giant. They dwell in hills and mountain valleys, foraging near-constantly in order to find food. They eat as often as possible and can digest nearly anything (including rotting meat, humanoids, plant material, and occasionally mud). This has allowed them to survive for eons as savages, relying on their own formidable size and strength to defend themselves. They typically equate size with strength, and avoid fights with dragons, other giants, and other creatures larger than themselves. Hill giants commonly have a chaotic neutral alignment.
- Stone giant: Reclusive, shy giants who are normally peaceful if left alone. They prefer to dwell in cavern networks underneath mountains. Stone giants have stone-gray skin, gaunt features, and black eyes which give them a stern appearance. Despite their size, they are lithe and graceful, and often throw rocks as means of protecting their home. Artistry ranks highly among the stone giants, and stone carving is esteemed as the greatest of skills. Usually true neutral.
- Frost giant: Frost giants are fierce, hardy warriors who dwell in the freezing northern lands, away from normal civilization. They respect only brute strength and skill in battle. Based on rime (frost) giant. Usually chaotic evil.
- Fire giant: Fire giants are master metalworkers with a strong legacy of war. They are dangerous, organized warriors who live in and around volcanos. Based on Jötunn and Surtr. Usually lawful evil.
- Cloud Giant: Proud giants who live extravagant lives high above the world, cloud giants see themselves as superior to all other giant races save the storm giants. They place much value on treasure, not just in the value of the raw materials but of the artistry and beauty of the piece. Usually neutral good or neutral evil.
- Storm giant: Isolated, contemplative seers who dwell in isolated, hard-to-reach refuges. They are wise and benevolent unless angered, but wield powerful, lightning-based magic. Usually chaotic good.
Other Dungeons & Dragons creatures of the giant type
Giants beyond the Monster Manual
- Craa'Ghoran Giant: Rare stone giant offshoots created when earth elemental energy warped and twisted their ancestors. They can glide and walk right through stone like Earth Elementals and raise walls of stone from the ground with their supernatural powers. They resemble tanned, bestial and deformed versions of stone giants.
- Desert giant
- Death giant
- Eldritch giant: Powerful scions of arcane lore, these ancient giants spend their years seeking out fragments of knowledge. Though selfish and cruel, they are smart enough to bargain fairly when they must and perceptive enough to know that open conflict distracts them from their studies. They hate Storm Giants, though they are too involved with their pursuit of magical power to bother fighting other creatures. Eldritch Giants resemble burly but serious and wise looking Storm Giants. They have purple skin. This skin is covered with tattoos and runes. Unlike most giants, they are quite good and capable of casting spells and other magic.
- Fog giant
- Forest Giant: An elfin giant that is amongst the tallest species of giant.
- Jungle giant
- Mountain Giant: A brute that is amongst the largest species of giant, and loves to squash people under boulders.
- Ocean Giant: A merfolk-like giant that can assume a more humanoid form to walk on land.
- Phaerlin Giant
- Reef giant
- Sand giant
- Sun Giant: A grim, nomadic desert-dwelling giant that survives by raising livestock.
- Wood Giant
- Other giants: When turned to life as incarnate constructs, Large sized or larger artificial humanoids, such as golems, are defined as giants.
Giant-kin are large humanoids related to the 'true' giants. The mythology of the Forgotten Realms has it that the mother of all giants, Othea, cheated on her unfaithful husband, Annam, the father of giants, with Ulutiu. Othea and Ulutiu sired the four giant-kin races: Firbolgs, Verbeegs, Voadkyn, and Fomorians. Othea also conceived the ogre and troll races with Vaprak.
The storm giant was ranked fourth among the ten best high-level 4th Edition monsters by the authors of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition For Dummies. The authors described the storm giant as being "at the top of the giant world, at least as far as the Monster Manual is concerned", as they are encountered with "hurling thunderbolts from afar, using howling winds to scatter enemies, and fighting with a lightning-edged greatsword when the battle gets up close and personal".
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