It was officially announced on June 1st that the fall 2016 D&D storyline will be Storm King’s Thunder, a giant-based campaign inspired by King Lear. If you look on the product page, you can see the picture with King Hekaton, a blue dragon, and three women which may be his daughters. The one on the right with the white hair and horns is probably named “Iymirth”. Also announced is a new Volo book–which includes new character races– in November and some playable form of rune magic or treasure in the main story book.
I have known about the premise and storyline for a little while now, but not until the announcement did it dawn on me that I may need to make a character for this new campaign. Giants are very powerful foes to tackle unprepared. I generally do not like using them in games for one specific reason: I do not have any Huge humanoid miniatures. I did not say it was a good reason.
What is a giant mechanically? Giants are a relatively simple monster to breakdown. Reasonable Armor Class from wearing armor, decent speed, reliable and high-damage melee attacks, good Strength and Constitution saving throws, all wrapped up in a large bag of hit points with the occasional thrown rock. We can also extrapolate that there will be variations with spellcasting abilities thrown into the mix. At the core, there is a lot of hitting required to take down a giant and it will take really high Armor Class to avoid their damage output.
What are giants’ weaknesses? Relatively lower Dexterity saving throws make them more vulnerable to fireball and other area effect spells–but as I always mention, low Dexterity saving throws are generally mitigated by more hit points. (Side note: Spells with a Dexterity saving throw generally deal damage with little to no other effects, so they are purely a hit point sink.) Giants also have lower Wisdom saving throws, making them susceptible to hold and other mind control spells, but there is still the problem of what to do with a giant after hold monster takes effect–they still have a lot of hit points to burn through before it is all over. Giants’ thrown rocks deal more damage than a their melee attack, but they only have a single attack rather than Multiattack.
It probably goes without saying to stay away from a giant’s reach when possible. A tank character engaging multiple giants will still get hit consistently and 20 to 30 points of damage per hit is nothing to laugh at, said the cleric to the fighter. Stay at range and keep the targets at long range–over 60 feet for the giants. This may not be possible, but if the party has good artillery, then using the Dodge action to keep a giant occupied while its hit points are whittled down might be a good option. It goes without saying: focus fire.
For now, those are some general tips and considerations. Perhaps next time we will explore some of the finer character class details that may help against the towering enemies…
By the way, I love that each D&D book still bears the subheading “the world’s greatest roleplaying game“. I could not agree more!
But… what do I know…?