It’s hard not to channel Led Zeppelin when talking about Frost Giants.
“Ah-ah, ah! Ah-ah, ah!
We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow…“
Ok, but seriously, if you’re looking for an oversized chaos rage machine for your next cold weather campaign, Frost Giants are just the enemy your game needs!
Frost Giants are the middle ground of the evil giants, sandwiched in between Hill and Fire Giants. In a way, you can think of them as oversized Orcs except they’re blue and like to rampage in the snow.
They’re brutish, aggressive, and Neutral Evil which is fun for the whole group.
These blue-skinned frosty balls of fury are coming to (i.e. raiding) a village near you and destroying it mostly for food, drink, and metals.
So, put on your mittens! It’s time to take a look under the hood of these classic D&D foes that date all the way back to OD&D.
This is the full guide to Frost Giants in D&D 5e!
What Are Frost Giants in D&D 5e?
The Giant race in 5e D&D is a varied lot.
Indeed, for many, the Frost Giant is their favorite of all the Giants. And who can blame them? Our culture is filled with Frost Giant lore and tales of Norse deities. Heck, some of these deities even have their own comics!
In D&D, Frost Giants are part of the evil category of giants which also includes Hill and Fire Giants. In this group, Frost Giants are the middle cousin. They’re more powerful and intelligent than Hill Giants, but not as organized or as powerful as Fire Giants.
Whereas Fire Giants are methodical and strategic in their conquest Frost Giants tend to be disorganized and lack the willpower of their cousins. Frost Giants need your “stuff” to survive, but they’ll also burn down your village just because they can. They’re not very insightful, that’s for sure.
Of all giant-kind, the Frost Giant is the best hunter by far. In fact, they often hunt with animal companions like wolves and bears.
What they can’t acquire through hunting, they’ll simply come and take from the local village. They respect only brute strength and Frost Giant raids are known for being both terrifying and merciless!
Like most giants, Frost Giants are usually tied to an environment. In this case, it’s one of frost, snow, and biting cold winds. Venturing into such regions can do a lot to liven up a campaign and present new challenges.
Make no mistake though! When you’re in Frost Giant country, the elements will be the least of your concerns. These master hunters of the tundra will make quick work of even the most experienced adventurers caught traveling through their territory.
Frost Giants appear in the 5e Monster Manual.
Frost Giants have blue skin and their hair color ranges from a light blue to pure white. They often have frost and ice clinging to their ever-present beards. Their skin color and hair color lend themselves to helping the Frost Giant blend in with its surroundings.
Frost Giants are 21 feet tall and quite athletic and muscular when it comes to their build. They’re not quite as stocky as Fire Giants and lack the beer belly of the Hill Giants. For the purposes of game terms, they are Huge sized.
Frost Giants prefer Hide, Leather, and makeshift armor as well as thick fur cloaks and boots. They tend to arm themselves with weapons that rely on brute force such as greataxes, which are also great for chipping away at ice.
Frost Giant Abilities
STR 23 (+6) DEX 9 (-1) CON 21 (+5) INT 9 (-1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 12 (+1)
Frost Giants are very strong and sturdy but not so agile or graceful on their feet.
They are not known for their wits but are not as dimwitted as Hill Giants. Like their cousins, the Fire Giants, Frost Giants can be somewhat charismatic.
One of the weaker points is their Armor Class and Dexterity saving throws.
A Frost Giant can take a beating as they average 138 hit points (12d12+60). These giants are also immune to Cold damage, which should be no surprise.
They have an excellent Constitution-based Saving Throw bonus of +8 and a slight advantage on Charisma-based saving throws with a bonus of +4.
As for Skills, a Frost Giant has a +8 when it comes to Athletics checks.
Frost Giants are more than capable when it comes to their combat prowess. They get a +9 to their melee weapon attack and their ranged weapon attack.
PCs also want to be wary of the Frost Giant’s Multiattack action which means they get two greataxe attacks with a 10 foot reach. Considering each of these hits for 3d12+6 damage (average of 25), it can be a terrifying situation to find yourself in!
If you’re at range, be prepared for Frost Giants to throw large ice-encrusted boulders at you while they try to close the gap between you.
Denizens of Snow and Ice
As you probably can guess from their name, Frost Giants enjoy colder climates. They inhabit snowy peaks and rifts that are carved out by glaciers.
If your group plays in the Forgotten Realms, Vaasa and the Spine of the World are perfect locations for these giant Neutral Evil terrors.
This snowy frost-ridden environment also lends itself to hunter-gatherers, which is just what Frost Giants happen to be.
The permafrost and lack of warmth and sun mean no crops can be grown and livestock doesn’t survive long. Because of this, Frost Giants just take livestock and crops from unfortunate local villages.
Frost Giants tend to hunt the beasts and wild game of the tundra to survive. What Frost Giants do not hunt they take through force. Because after all “might makes right” in the Frost Giant worldview.
A Blizzard of Force
Frost Giants are a virus to local communities. As mentioned previously what they can not hunt, they acquire by strength.
Charging forward in massive, earth-shaking raids, these brutes take whatever they want without any mercy. Whatever they don’t take for themselves is often left destroyed in their wake.
Frost Giants aren’t known for sparing villages as they often raze them to the ground. About the only structure left standing after a Frost Giant raid is that of the moneylenders as Frost Giants have little need for money.
Taverns and smithies are of most value to these giants as they love their mead and they need their metals. These (and granaries and food stores) are often primary targets during a raid.
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Might Makes Right
Frost Giant society values raw strength above all else. “Might makes right” is a way of life for these giant-sized goons.
A Frost Giant’s rank in the ordning (their hierarchy) is determined by proof of physical prowess. This includes factors such as having the biggest muscles, scars from epic battles, and trophies fashioned from the remains of slaughtered opponents.
Giants are assigned tasks depending on their physical strength and hardiness, such as hunting, childrearing, and craftsmanship.
While Fire Giants, for example, are loyal to their king, Frost Giants serve their jarl because he can best them in combat which means they have no real choice.
When Frost Giants meet other Frost Giants from other tribes where their status is unknown, they often grapple for supremacy. Such gatherings may resemble celebrations with giants cheering on their clan’s heroes and making audacious claims and challenges.
More often than not the “casual” ceremony can devolve into a chaotic free-for-all in which both clans rush into a battle that destroys trees, shatters ice, and even creates avalanches on icy mountainsides.
You do not want to party with Frost Giants!
Why Craft When You Can Recycle
Because they rely so heavily on taking from those around them, Frost Giants are not known for their crafting skills. Such skills are generally considered to be of little value to the clan.
However, those that can carve bone and similar substances and those that can work leather are valued.
Frost Giants tend to recycle their enemies’ goods to “craft” new weapons and armor. It’s not uncommon to see a spear tipped with a longsword or patchwork armor strung together from the shields of vanquished foes.
Especially valuable are the scales of White Dragons which are often used to make armor for jarls and high-ranking leaders within a clan. They also value their teeth and bones as they make for excellent “kitbashed” weapons.
Such pieces of equipment also serve just as much as trophies as they do for combat purposes.
Encountering Frost Giants
Encountering a Frost Giant on the barren tundra is never a good thing for adventurers.
Though the really bad news is that adventurers will rarely encounter just one of these giants as they typically hunt in packs. They also often employ wolves, winter wolves, and dire wolves to assist them which should really cause some PCs to soil their pants.
Woe to the party that infiltrates a Frost Giant stronghold. Fighting Frost Giants in their own territory means that you will not only be contending with these skilled and merciless hunters, but the elements as well!
Running Frost Giants in D&D 5e For Dungeon Masters
Frost Giants like most of their evil kin are pretty simple to run as a DM. They can also be a real blast to control and their reputation definitely proceeds itself with many players,
A Frost Giant loves to wade into melee combat and crush foes with its mighty greataxe attacks. Though let’s not forget Multiattack means they’re making two greataxe attacks per turn!
That being said, until a Frost Giant is within 60 feet they will use their ranged weapon attack to throw boulders or large chunks of ice at the party even if they’re attacking at disadvantage.
The approach here should be to treat Frost Giants similarly to Hill Giants. They will throw rocks until they are within 50 feet of their targets before charging into melee. Once in melee, they will most definitely employ their Multiattack with much pleasure.
A Frost Giant is usually indiscriminate in their target selection. The one exception is that they may deliberately target the strongest adversary as a dominating gesture in order to demonstrate that they are even stronger than their adversary.
While they might not be the smartest creatures, Frost Giants can tell when a fight is turning against them. If they’re getting beaten, they’ll have no trouble retreating to recover before attacking again.
More often than not, Frost Giants will charge forward to overwhelm their foes. By striking fast and hard, they aim to bring the battle to a swift conclusion. If they can get the jump on the party, they’ll certainly take advantage of the opening!
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Encountering Frost Giants as a Player
Encountering Frost Giants is no cakewalk.
The key to dealing with Frost Giants is to keep them at a safe distance while dealing as much damage as possible and using the Dodge action against thrown rocks.
Make sure that you avoid spells and attacks that deal cold damage since they will have NO EFFECT on a Frost Giant. Area of effect spells that damage or slow their movement can be very helpful as well.
Once engaged in melee, it is critical to focus on the most exposed and injured giants first. You want to focus on a target and put them down as swiftly as possible.
A Frost Giant’s Multiattack action can deal some seriously lethal damage, so the party should prioritize cutting their numbers down as soon as possible. Underestimating a Frost Giant is a quick way to find your character in an early, icy grave.
When fighting these ravaging giants, it’s critical to have a strategy. Otherwise, you risk getting completely overrun by their merciless rampage.
Buffs are useful and spells like Haste will go a long way in helping you wear down their massive pool of hit points. Also, make sure to use defensive spells or features that allow you to avoid or reduce the damage that these giants deal.
Frost Giants suffer when it comes to Dexterity saves which means that this is a weakness that can be exploited. Spells and effects that require them to make a Dexterity save will be vital to surviving the encounter.
You’ll also want to be sure to have plenty of healing potions and spells available. These damage-happy giants may take your PCs out of action with just one or two rounds of combat if you’re not cautious.
It’s also critical to defend your spellcasters so they can do massive damage while the warriors in the group endure the brunt of their fury.
Conclusion – Frost Giants in D&D 5e
Like many of their kin, Frost Giants are iconic fantasy and D&D adversaries. Similar to Fire Giants, Frost Giants make for challenging enemies who dwell in inhospitable environments.
If you enjoy giant-themed campaigns but do not have the time or desire to craft your own campaign be sure to check out the classic Against the Giants adventure (found in Tales From the Yawning Portal) or Storms King’s Thunder.
Have you had a memorable encounter with these cold-hearted giants and want to share the tale? Let’s chat in the comments!
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