D&D 5E A Deep Dive Into The Over 70 New Monsters In Glory of the Giants

This 15 minute-interview between Toddd Kenreck and game designer Ben Petrisor, goes in-depth on the monsters in the upcoming Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants.

Todd Kenreck: So we're here to tell you about Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. This is a fantastic book and it's got lots of giant huge monsters in it and you designed many of these correct?

Ben Petrisor: Yeah I designed probably like 90% with James Wyatt providing some delightful giant critters to round out the section.

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Todd Kenreck: How many different monsters? Because people are probably gonna be a little bit surprised just how many monsters are actually in this book.

Ben Petrisor: Yeah there's over 70 statblocks in this section, and what I thought was going to be an initial challenge was how do we present something that has already been established--the giant families, your Hill through Storm, and do that multiple times without feeling redundant. And what's really great in our books like the Monster Manual and Monsters of the Multiverse--we give you the building blocks, we give you giants, we give you demons, we give you cultists, and you can use them however you want. And in this book we got to explore what does it mean for a giant that's lived in a world? And how do these elements sort of overlap and interact? How does the lens of a demon lord affect a giant in that direction? It becomes a multitude of different ways you can express the same giants and still keep it really fresh and interesting.

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Todd Kenreck: Are there any particular monsters in this that are your favorite?

Ben Petrisor: One that I really like is the hill giant that have caught the the eye of the demon lord Yeenogu. They both have the commonality of eating. The hill giant completely falls into the demon lord's domain, they become a Maw of Yeenogu. They go through a drastic change, they become fiends. When I was designing this creature I had the moment in my head that I wanted to translate into the design. The moment is when you first see this thing and it's hunched over it's on fours and it's just charging at you, and the big thing I wanted was the the image of this huge jaw with multiple rows of teeth just dragging and scraping against the ground like a plow. It might have been promised by Yeenogu that it'll fine cessation from this hunger that's really driven it and haunted the giants. And it might even have that fulfilled, but what it also has is teeth that constantly grow sort of like some animals, and so even if it's not hungry it has to keep chewing on things. And the other thing I I wanted to capture in this is the moment where you think you're out of range and then it reaches into its mouth, rips some of its teeth out, and just chucks it at you like a like a barrage of daggers, and then you watch in horror as the teeth start replacing themselves immediately.

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Todd Kenreck: That monster in particular made an impression the first time I opened the book, and also I I have the WizKids mini and of all of them, the first thing my partner Megan gravitated towards was "what is that?" Yeah that's a great monster. What's another one that you you really enjoy?

Ben Petrisor: I really like the the spellcasters that we designed in this book. There's a swath of giants that have mastered rune magic. Giants that use rune magic in this book all have runes that give them access to really powerful abilities that they can they can just use without limit, so players when they're encountering one of these, has the option--do I attack the giant? Or do I attack the rune? because if you destroy the rune it shuts off their access to this magic, so it gives them a real kind of tactical choice that is different from other spellcasters.

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Todd Kenreck: There's a variety of different giants in this, like we've got hulks, we've got regular giants, we have scions, we kind of like have the whole gambit of giant culture, and it it's as big as you kind of want it to be, right?

Ben Petrisor: It's as big as it needs to be for a book about giants.

Todd Kenreck: Tell me tell me about the scions; what's unique about the scions?

Ben Petrisor: So the scions are the direct children of giant gods. We didn't outline a stat block for Thrim but you can fight one of his direct children, and these are giants that have lied dormant in their world and the world shaped around them, so this shows like a design that one could go when you're trying to make like a really big epic encounter. So in contrast to the mythic rules that we've used in books like Theros or in Fizban where a change happens in a creature statblock that gives us access to more powerful abilities, this is actually two statblocks so this is a... before you even see the scion you have to deal with the cradle that has formed around it.

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Todd Kenreck: What these cradles typically made out of?

Ben Petrisor: They're made of the element that the giant is in tune with. So the giant enormous iceberg in the distance might actually be the cradle of a scion of Thrim, and when you try to awaken the giant by like exploring the glacier or attacking it or whatever, that awakens as this humongous titanic elemental creature that is fighting you to protect the scion, but also kind of protect the world from the scion, because if you if you slay the cradle then the scion awakens. Now you have a second encounter that you might not have been planning for so it's these sort of very distinct creatures that have their own abilities and design but are narratively really connected that makes it feel natural to have that sort of transition.

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Todd Kenreck: What was the reason for having the scions? Was it just like that that kind of epic tier kind of combat?

Ben Petrisor: We definitely wanted a giant that fills up the higher tier of something that you feel like could be the capstone of a big campaign. Something that we've had with ancient dragons or the great wyrms that were in Fizban's. So we were always planning on some kind of primordial giant, a giant that's bigger and more powerful than the giants before, but it was during development and design and working with and collaboration that we came to the idea that these are giants that are directly related to the giant gods. They are so powerful that even in their slumber they sort of infuse the land and the world around them with this magical power that causes it to act even without their knowing.

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Todd Kenreck: It's kind of hard to experience just how many different monsters and different giants are in this; it's like a shocking amount and the variety of it is shocking, because we have death giants, we have giants that are influenced by like aberrations, or the outer planes, or the inner planes, or elements out there, and then we have the hulks as well.

Ben Petrisor: The hulks are what have happens when giants embrace the elemental nature in them, and have kind of descended into these elemental beings rather than what you know them as today. We got to do some really really cool art that kind of drives that point. They still look like the giant that they descended from but they're barely keeping it together.

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Todd Kenreck: They're like they've become more of that element than an actual giant, like in that kind of transition.

Ben Petrisor: Yeah, they become a elemental that is still kind of trying to retain their giantness.

Todd Kenreck: There's also a lot of, like there's ettins in this, the ceremorph erin is disturbed, I bet you've got formians. This is a deep dive into just giants in general.

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Ben Petrisor: What giant book would be complete without a few trolls in there too? Speaking of favorites. one of my favorites is also the troll amalgam.

Todd Kenreck: It's the artwork for that is exactly what you think it's gonna be.

Ben Petrisor: It's exactly what it should be. This is one of those kind of things where trolls already had the lenses of mutations. How does the world or other creatures affect a troll, and how is that troll kind of respond to it, right? What happens when a bunch of trolls get together? And they all start regenerating at the same time, either due to some weird ritual a dark wizard is coming up with, or or maybe they hear the call of their of the god Vaprak and all kind of coalesce together. You you have a big roly-poly rubber green mass of limbs and teeth and eyes, and all of them are still trolls, so every every face is kind of fighting to be the the main head basically. It's so fun getting to design monsters, especially when you get to design monsters like this, and you get to write "oh yeah if it wants it can just rip one of its limbs off and throw it at you and that limb will try to wrap around you and hold you down but be careful because if that limb stays around long enough it'll just regenerate into another troll maybe."

Todd Kenreck: We've also got some weird things like giant ticks, we have giant animals, we have bag jelly, we have weird creatures that come along with it.

Ben Petrisor: Yeah, I think what's really cool about giants is that they're creatures that have been around since ancient times, they have a culture and they're intelligent. They've made things and things have happened and sort of in response to them, right, just like how ticks have evolved to feed on deer or anything else that passes by. Why wouldn't there be a parasitic creature that has tasted giant blood and really likes the taste of it? Why wouldn't they forge a golem that is the appropriate size and infuse it with with runes to help them fight ancient foes like dragons?

Todd Kenreck: There's a horrific example of like one that is like fallen enemies of a giant that was a giant that was sewn all together to a bigger golem.

Ben Petrisor: Yeah the flesh colossus. A real sort of 'desperate times, desperate measures' creature where the giants took in their fallen foes or comrades and stretched it over a giant adamantium skeleton to make another construct creature that continues the fight well beyond their life.

Todd Kenreck: The death knights are a thing now as well correct?

Ben Petrisor: Yeah, we've also reintroduced the death giants from previous editions into this book. These giants are those who have come into the service of the Raven Queen. We have two death giants: we have your regular death giant, your baseline death giant; but also one that has mastered rune magic, and specifically the death rune. These death giants have carved their rune on skulls that they have on their person, and so seeing the souls of the dead sort of seep through the eye sockets and floating around them while they carry a big staff with a necrotic scythe blade shining through. It creates a really cool intimidating presence.

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Todd Kenreck: Any other favorites that that stood out?

Ben Petrisor: I really like the giants that have aligned themselves with the evil elemental cults. The giants that have embraced undeath like the fire gaunts... a fire giant that was slain maybe betrayed, and has risen as a vengeful spirit ... all these fires just gouts out of it in any way the DM wants to describe it, from like a wound in its stomach or in its legs, to just all from its face like a screaming spirit of vengeance. But we also have formorians from before the time they've become the formorians that we know them as. Unfallen formorians, these regal giants that are interested in magic more than treasure or might, a different picture of what could have been if they didn't fall under the promises of conquests of the Feywild and were banished to the strange magics of the Underdark.

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Wonder if the Flesh Colossus was inspired by X2 - Castle Amber's colossus.

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"We ran out of giant hair corpses, so just give the colossus male pattern balding. Thank the dark gods that we didn't run out of giant fingernail corpses."

(In X2, the colossus is an amalgam of smaller corpses, which Erol Otus either didn't know or didn't care about.)


A suffusion of yellow
Babe the Blue Ox? American Folklore getting some love…

I really like that theyve explored the elemental nature of giants and given us both elemental hulks and scions.

What I didnt quite get was are Scion coccoons treated like seperate monsters or like a suped up Lair, they sound intriguing either way…

What I didnt quite get was are Scion coccoons treated like seperate monsters or like a suped up Lair, they sound intriguing either way…
The way I understood it was that giant scions are generally like slumbering demigods, and that their elemental nature has infused the area around them and turned it into a kind of sentient guardian elemental that serves to protect the scion but also keep it dormant.

So rather than a two-phase boss fight like the mythic creature rules encourage, where you damage the monster to the point its HP resets and it gains a new set of actions, this is designed as a consecutive boss fight, where you have to get through the elemental "cradle" first and only once it has been defeated does the giant scion within wake up.
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I have never, ever, ever been interested in giants in Fantasy.

This interview completely changed that. Wow, what creative and intriguing ideas. The Scions and the Death Giants related to the Raven Queen especially stand out as amazing adds. Can't wait for this book now!
FYI, death giants are in 4e at least. Not sure if they appear earlier or not.


"We ran out of giant hair corpses, so just give the colossus male pattern balding. Thank the dark gods that we didn't run out of giant fingernail corpses."

(In X2, the colossus is an amalgam of smaller corpses, which Erol Otus either didn't know or didn't care about.)

The original source explains that.

The Colossus had male pattern baldness because it bore an "incredible likeness" to Nathaire, the necromancer who made it. Presumably Erol Otus thought he was balding.

The Colossus originates from the short story The Colossus of Ylourgne (1934) by Clark Ashton Smith, which goes into some detail on the Colossus's creation.

Numerous corpses are separated into their flesh and bones, which was then rendered down in cauldrons. The melted-down bones were moulded into a colossal skeleton, which is then "invested" with the rendered flesh.

The story strongly implies the resulting giant was inhabited by the soul of Nathaire, the necromancer who created it. It closely resembled a giant version of Nathaire, presumably being crafted into that shape, and spoke with a similar sounding voice. Whether that was due to the sorcerer's vanity or some requirement of the animating process is unclear, but likely:

The Colossus of Ylourgne said:
]People who had known Nathaire recognized the incredible likeness of the huge features, the similarity of the swollen voice to his. A rumour went abroad that the dwarf sorcerer, through his loathly bond with the Adversary, had been permitted to transfer his hateful soul into this Titanic form; and, bearing his pupils with him, had returned to vent an insatiable ire, a bottomless rancour, on the world that had mocked him for his puny physique and reviled him for his sorcery. The charnel genesis of the monstrous avatar was also rumoured; and, indeed it was said that the colossus had openly proclaimed his identity.

Incidentally, the 3E D&D Flesh Colossus details a construction method that is obviously based on the above.

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