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Creature Comforts: Frost Giants

Wooly mammoths near the Somme River, AMNH mural; Charles R. KnightWith each installment of Creature Comforts, we take a deeper look into a legendary monster that adventurers might encounter while journeying through the world. In this installment, we start by taking a look at frost giants and adding to their basic description by giving them more spells.

Frost giants are more intelligent and complex than some of their giant kin. They avoid fire and use their frigid surroundings to their advantage whenever possible. These giants thrive in sub-zero, harsh conditions that would normally hinder the common player character. For instance, frost giants cleverly attack during blinding snowstorms, causing characters to have a –1 penalty in combat while suffering no penalty of their own. As spellcasters, they use distance to their advantage and employ tactics that are on par with a well-trained militia.

Frost giants are a hard, cruel race, and they can be as unforgiving as the harsh environment in which they live. Their cruelty extends to other races that they subjugate. Slaves tend to their every need, and the giants clothe them only in enough garb to take the edge off the bitter cold.

If player characters encounter a frost giant settlement, they find among these giants a powerful chief and shaman, along with a Herald of the Flame, who is a master artisan. The Herald of the Flame not only forges for the clan but also oversees mines filled with downtrodden slaves. These mighty smiths are often some of the elder giants of the clan.

Frost giants take pets and have found that wooly mammoths and mastodons make for excellent mounts. These animals are rare, even among the frost giant clans, with usually no more than four available to the clan warriors. Only chieftains and powerful shamans bring them into combat, and they tend to do so only when feeling particularly threatened by their foes.

Certain frost giant clans that are in more arctic climates may also have polar bears as companions. Some smaller clans hunt with lesser numbers but use the bears to help them catch prey. In such cases, the giants have one to four adult bears and one to three cubs with them or near their encampment.

Spells

Some frost giants cast spells, and the following spells can enhance both the GM’s experience in running a frost giant, plus add some surprises to players whose characters are going toe to toe with them.

Drift

School conjuration

Level sorcerer/wizard 1

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S

Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)

Area 20-ft. radius burst

Duration 10 minutes/level

Saving Throw Reflex (see text); Spell Resistance no

This spell causes snow and ice to form in an area. If a creature is within the area when the spell goes off, it will need to make a Reflex save or be paralyzed for 1 round. If a creature enters the affected area during the duration of the effect, it needs to make a Reflex saving throw or be slowed down to half movement while it moves through the affected area. Creatures stuck or moving through the area do not lose their Dexterity bonus.

Snowblind

School evocation

Level sorcerer/wizard 1

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S, M (see text)

Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)

Area 10-ft. radius burst

Duration Instantaneous

Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance no

The caster must be within 30 feet of an area covered with snow or ice before uttering arcane words. A bright flash of light erupts near the ground, creating a blinding glare that affects anyone in the area. If a creature fails its Will saving throw, it is dazed for 1 round and dazzled for 1d4 rounds.

Icicle Dart

School conjuration

Level sorcerer/wizard 2

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S, M

Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)

Effect Three hovering icicles

Duration 1 round/level

Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes

The caster calls forth three icicles that hover in front of it. When these icicles appear, the caster can launch some or all of them at the same target or different targets. Each icicle requires a ranged touch attack to hit and deals 2d4 damage. Half the damage is cold damage. You provoke no attacks of opportunity when launching them. Any icicle you do not launch as part of casting this spell remains hovering near you for the spell’s duration. On rounds subsequent to your casting of this spell, you can spend a swift action to launch any of the remaining icicles. If you fail to launch an icicle before the duration ends, that icicle disappears and is wasted. The material component for this spell is three drops of water.

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3 Replies to "Creature Comforts: Frost Giants"

James Thomas

November 12, 2012 at 11:48am

I’ve liked frost giants ince G2. The Norse legends make them iconic.
Thanks for this interesting article!

Dmitri

November 12, 2012 at 12:18pm

Interesting article. A nice, concise point of view of the frost giants.

Morgan Boehringer

November 12, 2012 at 7:13pm

Great article guys! I love the flavor writeup (polar bears FTW!), and am doubly impressed with the spells – I particularly liked the Drift spell and the wait-and-fire aspect of Icicle Dart.