In their castles atop high mountains and (occasionally) on solid clouds, Cloud Giants live lives of opulence and extravagance.
While they may find sources of amusement in the other races beneath their domain from time to time, these Giants typically stay detached from the affairs of humanoids.
And why shouldn’t they?
In their castles, the Cloud Giants proudly display huge amounts of treasure and luxuries that most could only dream of.
So while they may not take an interest in the lands below them, some adventurers might take an interest in these treasures.
But don’t proceed too recklessly, adventurer! You don’t want to risk being thrown off of the mountaintop!
First, you need to learn a thing or two about the Cloud Giants in D&D 5e!
Cloud Giant Society
While rank and status matter a lot to most Giants, Cloud Giants take it particularly seriously. This ranking is referred to as “the ordning” and establishes clear rules among giantkind.
Despite being the second highest rank in the ordning (behind Storm Giants), many Cloud Giants believe themselves to be of the highest status. This is thanks to the Storm Giants’ typical reclusiveness and the Cloud Giants’ egos.
Because of their rank in the ordning, Cloud Giants will commonly command the services of other giants. Fire Giants work as smiths for Cloud Giants while Frost Giants are sent to plunder for more treasure to be added to the Cloud Giant’s collection. Hill Giants are used as brutes or, at times, entertainment.
For humanoids that find themselves living in a domain that a Cloud Giant has claimed as their own, this can become very dangerous. As a “tax” for the ruling Cloud Giant’s generosity in allowing them to live there, “collections” by Frost and Hill Giants can become frequent. These “tributes” usually take the form of crops and livestock to be added to the Cloud Giant’s garden.
Speaking of which…
Cloud Giants love gardening!
Massive gardens are kept by these Giants that would amaze any visitor. Enormous produce can be found in these gardens. We’re talking about apples the size of pumpkins and pumpkins the size of wagons!
There are even some legends of seeds and “magic beans” from such gardens finding their way down to the humanoid lands below.
The Cloud Giant Family
While most types of Giants prefer to live in large communities of their kind, Cloud Giants are the exception. At most, one could expect to find a pair of Cloud Giants, their offspring, and maybe a couple of relatives in one place.
Families of Cloud Giants tend to live quite far from each other, but they do all know their neighbors.
They do this for a pretty practical reason: such a large collection of wealth in one place would mean a never-ending problem with adventurers. To the Cloud Giants, it’s similar to having a rat problem: they aren’t going to do anything, but they’re a nuisance.
However, if it becomes necessary to get the Cloud Giants together, word can be quickly passed from family to family. These situations are rare, but there are times when a crisis warrants their personal attention!
The Opulence of Cloud Giants
Though the lofty Cloud Giants don’t consider themselves to all be equal.
One’s place in Cloud Giant society is determined by their opulence. The individual Cloud Giant’s place in their society depends on the fine possessions that they have acquired and the quality of gifts that they give to others of their kind.
Piles of gems and coins won’t cut it here. These affluent nobles prefer the fine things that those gems and coins can be turned into. Wearing exquisite jewelry and displaying your wealth are how clout is gained in Cloud Giant society.
Want to rise in the ordning? Gain more wealth!
Of course, there is one very quick way to do just that…
Place Your Bets!
Gambling can be the quickest way to gain wealth and status for Cloud Giants.
Of course, it’s also the quickest way to lose those things too. But it’s more fun to focus on the win, right?
This is especially true as many Cloud Giants love the high rewards that come with taking high risks.
You’re not likely to find many of these Giants gambling on things like craps, roulette, baccarat, or horse races. Their games are much more intense and are less like games than bloodless feuds.
Instead, bets are placed on the outcomes of massive military conflicts among the nations below the clouds. The actions of some particularly well-known heroes might similarly spur some bets to be placed as to whether or not the heroes will succeed in their quest.
For Dungeon Masters looking to incorporate a Cloud Giant into their campaign, this opens up a golden opportunity.
While interfering in the outcome of a bet is frowned upon, it’s only cheating if the Giant is caught. Otherwise, it’s simply just “being clever.”
An adventuring party could find themselves with a discreet ally (or enemy!) in such a situation!
Memnor the Trickster
Cloud Giants revere their creator and patron god, Memnor the Trickster.
Memnor is known as the cleverest of the giant gods. As such, Cloud Giants work to align their actions with his.
Remember that whole bit about how cheating at bets by interfering is only bad if someone finds out? The trick here is that they all seek to discreetly interfere with the bet. Doing so without being caught is considered to be honoring Memnor!
Because Cloud Giant alignments tend to be split 50/50 between Neutral Good and Neutral Evil, it shows a certain duality to how they perceive Memnor. While the god is famously charming and intelligent, he also had a reputation for being prideful, scheming, and cruel.
Evil Cloud Giants model themselves after Memnor’s self-interested and deceitful example. Meanwhile, those who are inclined towards Good revere their god’s sharp intellect and charm.
Cloud Giants in Combat
It’s actually pretty unlikely to find yourself in combat with a Cloud Giant. They most commonly have servants or minions (likely other Giants) to take care of most problems.
By the time you get to the Cloud Giant, they are more likely to want to talk than fight. Getting their own hands dirty isn’t exactly something they care to do if it can be helped.
But if combat is their only option, watch out!
Cloud Giants are gifted spellcasters. They use their magical abilities to summon thick fogs, turn into mists, and control the weather.
Most of their spells don’t offer much in the way of damage. But that is no reason to get comfortable.
By using fog cloud to obscure an area, they can quickly start to take control of the battlefield. A clever use of Misty Step can see them sneaking up on a party’s backline to go wild with their Morningstar mace attacks.
If you can get through their tricks, Cloud Giants aren’t particularly difficult to hit. With an AC of 14, they have the second lowest AC of the giants in the Monster Manual. They do have a large amount of hit points, though, so be careful. These guys can take a hit better than you might think!
Cloud Giant Smiling Ones
One of my favorite things about Volo’s Guide to Monsters is the new Giants that were added. Perhaps none more than the Cloud Giant Smiling One.
Smiling Ones are the proud tricksters of Cloud Giant society. While they are often a thorn in the side in the more “noble” of their kind, Smiling Ones still embody aspects of Memnor the Trickster.
They proudly pursue wealth through trickery, deception, and sleight of hand. While their brethren may put on airs of decorum, the Smiling Ones instead choose to own their trickery.
These tricksters are most quickly identified by the masks that they wear. The two-colored masks which depict both a smile and a frown are more than just for looks. The smile represents their cleverness while the frown represents their feelings towards their place in the ordning.
Of course, it can’t help but be noticed that there is yet another trick at play here. While the mask proudly shows the Smiling One’s identity, it still conceals their true expressions and distracts from whatever they might be scheming…
Smiling Ones are similar to other Cloud Giants in combat, but they have far more tricks up their sleeves. If you find yourself fighting one, you would be wise to have several counterspells ready if you ever want to pin it down!
Conclusion – Cloud Giants
There was a time when more than just a very select few Cloud Giants lived atop the clouds. But the knowledge of that construction has been lost to time.
Now, in their homes filled with all manner of luxuries and decadence, most Cloud Giants pine for a return to those old days.
In a way, there’s a type of metaphor there. Without the ability to regain what their civilization once had, they focus on acquiring whatever beautiful things they can as they watch the clouds continue to drift by. But the question remains: could there ever be “enough” for them?
But that wraps it up for our look at Cloud Giants in D&D 5e.
If you liked this article, leave me a comment below with what you’d like to see our next featured monster be!
If you want to learn about another type of Giant, check out our article about the artistic Stone Giants!