Adventuring Tactics Masterclass: Giants.

nikolai

First Post
Hi all,

I want try this idea out on you all and see if it gets a good response.

For a monster type the board brainstorms tactics which would be useful against it, the more cunning the better. No holds barred, everything from interesting uses of spells, optimum character design, melee tactics, spell selection, weapon selection, etc. Hopefully it'll become a neat resource for players facing the monster in question and an idea mine: whether people design characters from scratch for a campaign, or find themselves unwittingly thrown against them.

This thread's topic is Giants.

I'll kick things off...

Spell tactic: ready Shatter against a thrown rock.

The giant won't get a save, since the rock'll be in the air, and it gives spellcasters a way of countering the giants ranged weapon capability - particularly with the less powerful giants. While the other member of the party pound their foe from a distance. Making your opponents turn ineffective is a valuable tactic in many circumstances - the catch is it only works well on solitary giants.

Other ideas? all contributions welcome!

nikolai.
 
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Victim

First Post
Combat tactic 2: Negate reach. The reach ability of giants and other large monsters gives them free attacks. Obviously, this is bad. Use Spring Attack or Tumble to close without provoking a free attack. Alternatively, use a weapon with exceptional reach.

Also: Avoid the full attack. As strong fighter type monsters, giants launch multiple attacks at fairly high bonuses with good damage. Against these enemies, or monsters with lots of natural attacks - like Girallons - withdraw after attacking to prevent the enemy from taking a full attack sequence. Depending on the exact circumstances, it can be better to take an AoO and a single attack than a full attack series. Also, if combined with the above, you can limit the enemy to a single attack. Finally, since giants aren't usually spellcasters, you can use Haste to launch a full attack, and then withdraw.
 

AuraSeer

Prismatic Programmer
Shattering thrown rocks wouldn't be very useful, because all the MM giants can chuck at least two rocks per round. Neat idea though. ;)


When fighting multiple giants, take on one at a time whenever possible. Because they have reach, a character being meleed by two or more cannot escape without suffering multiple AoOs. If more than a few are encountered, use Wall spells to split one or two off from the rest, and take them down before their fellows can rejoin them.
 

shilsen

Adventurer
Fight at range, if possible. Giant boulders look impressive, but they're usually far less proficient with boulders than with their melee weapons, and do less damage.

Target them with spells requiring Will and Reflex saves. Spells with ranged touch attacks are also good, since their touch AC usually sucks (and taking advantage of that with a melee touch attack is difficult).

If fighting multiple giants, try to use them for cover against each other. With at least large size, an intervening giant is going to provide very substantial cover for a medium or smaller creature.
 

Kraedin

First Post
Giants have *very* bad Will saves (+4, +4, +5, +6). Target that weakness. Hold monster, confusion or charm monster should prove effective. Even Tasha's hideous laughter can work. (Not very well because of the +4 bonus they get against it, but still.)
 

Lord Zardoz

Explorer
Giants are not for climbing...

Despite the possible tactical advantages of doing so, it is generally ill advisable to attempt to Climb a Giant.

When possible, try to use Trip maneuvers against it, which can greatly cut down on its ability to use its iterative attacks.

END COMMUNICATION
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
Think about shaping the battlefield to control the pace of combat. Giants have good offenses and little else except HPs. If you attempt to match strength with strength, you may well prevail but you are putting your lives at the mercy of the dice -- a giant critical can do a massive amount of damage, especially those individuals that use good two-handed weapons like axes. Slowing the pace down also gives your cleric a chance to heal up the wounded.

Always have walls and fogs handy. That allows you to shut down the ranged boulder attacks and bring them closer where you can melee, or bunch them up for a later AoE spell. It is also useful to break LOS when you have a wounded comrade in a giant's threat zone, or the party needs to retreat. A Sleetstorm or Web (don't laugh!) will can slow giants down for a round or two and buy some time.
If giants stand off and use reach, it will be easy to place AoEs without hurting your friends.

Giant Will and Reflex saves are poor. Besides the obvious choices (e.g. Confusion), Slow and Grease are surprisingly effective against giants.

Have a retreat plan. Giants have good movement factors. Wall of Force is handy here.
 

Gaiden

Explorer
Particular good against giants are the following set of tactics:

If giant on stone surface:

For really low levels:

Throw 2-ball bolas - autotrip (doesn't realy matter if you are proficient - its only a touch attack and most of a giant's AC comes from armor or NA). Have rogue tumble in to hamstring opponent while wizard casts slow (if hold monster is not available). Have anyone who is able, cast web/entangle/briar web. Fire some arrows, summon swarm, whatever.

For mid levels:

Hold Monster, Charm Monster, wall of force+summon swarm, falling wall of stone+stoneshape, slow+spring attack w/fast movement (with hamstring, even better), Arcane Trickster with ray of frost against fire giants or finger of fire against Frost Giants, Stoneskin+oil of slipperiness+melee attacks,psionic attacks using PAM that deals wis, int, or dex dmg.

For High Levels:

dominate monster

or my favorite:

wall of force + summon swarm = dead giant w/no save
 

Shallown

First Post
Definately keep them at range. their bolders hurt when the hit but they seldom due. Get cover and shoot as much as possible.

Mobility is also important usually splitting up is a bad idea but if you spread out and make sure that you can out run them you can sometimes keep plugging them at range while they chase someone else. Rogues are good for this with tumble and expertise, fighting defensivly they can keep thier AC up enough to avoid a few blows while leading the Ginats around in circles.

As the group I run did in the last game. Send in the dwarven hasted fighter. he had no effective range and sure as heck couldn't run in full plate but his AC was great so he stood toe to toe for a while with the giant allowing the rogue to roll in sneak attack and still keep his AC up high as described before.

later
 

Elder-Basilisk

First Post
Re: Giants are not for climbing...

Actually, this is generally a very very bad idea. Trip requires a touch attack which is easy but then forces you to make an opposed strength check with size modifiers against a giant (and giants usually tend to be stronger than PCs). Even a bull's strengthed raging barbarian will have trouble getting a 50% chance at succeeding.

What's more, if you fail the check (as you probably will), you give the giant a chance to trip you back (which he probably will--remember the strength and size difference). If that succeeds, you'll be unable to retreat and the giant is likely to get a full attack with a +4 attack bonus because you're prone.

By the time you're able to have a decent chance at success (18+ level when 30 strengths are the norm for front-line fighters), the giants you can trip won't be a significant challenge. And you still won't be able to trip the giants who are a challenge.

Lord Zardoz said:
When possible, try to use Trip maneuvers against it, which can greatly cut down on its ability to use its iterative attacks.
END COMMUNICATION
 

DanMcS

Explorer
AuraSeer said:
If more than a few are encountered, use Wall spells to split one or two off from the rest, and take them down before their fellows can rejoin them.

Oh, lord, this is effective. Played Halls of the Fire Giant King at the Ohio gameday. We set up a wall of force across most of the main hall, which trapped the king and kept him from escaping, prevented most of them from attacking us while we took on their front line, stopped all those nasty boulder tosses, and funnelled the second line into walking through a narrow gap betwixt force wall and the real wall, where they nicely lined up for a cone of cold. It was swell.

Side note: mirror image was handy dandy there too, several giants had readied boulders against spellcasters, and they took out some of my mirror images before I put up the wall of force, but didn't hit me. After that, the battle was practically over.

Heck, though, the wall tactic is probably valid against most any large group of enemies you might face.
 

Someone

Adventurer
Ridley's Cohort said:


Giant Will and Reflex saves are poor. Besides the obvious choices (e.g. Confusion), Slow and Grease are surprisingly effective against giants.

That´s particulary true. We had a good laugh once with an athach, a Grease spell and a summoned fiendish dire weasel. Target the giant´s weapon with the Grease spell; it´ll lose most of it´s punch and will draw lots of AoO if it tries to recover it or fight unarmed.
 

nikolai

First Post
Spell choice...

Here's a question.

Is it worth using direct damage spells (Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Cone of Cold etc.) on giants? Or is it better to stick with things like Grease, Glitterdust and other save-or-be-weakened spells. Also, which are the best creature to summon against them.

Any ideas on good feat choices for if you want to make a giant killer.

nikolai.
 

AuraSeer

Prismatic Programmer
Direct damage is usually not the best tactic against giants, because they tend to have high HP for their CR. A single damage spell will probably not kill any of them, which means the giant group is still able to attack you at full power.

For instance, say you're fighting a gang of hill giants. If you throw a Cone of Cold, it probably won't do 102 hp, so even those who fail their saves will still be standing. Their combat effectiveness has not been diminished, so they'll commence pounding on you and your allies.

If you instead use a hampering spell, like Slow or Grease or Wall of Force, you diminish the number of giants who can immediately harm your party. That means you'll take less damage on this round. It also lets your allies concentrate on one or a few giants, and put them out of the fight quickly. That in turn means there are fewer enemies to attack you in later turns.

Direct damage is best against "mage-type" enemies with a lot of special abilities, because they have few hp for their CR. Giants are "fighter-type" enemies; they're good at taking damage, but have few defenses against nondamaging effects.
 

shilsen

Adventurer
nikolai said:
Any ideas on good feat choices for if you want to make a giant killer.

Depends on the type of character, since most classes could make effective giant killers.

Melee combatant - Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack are very useful, to attack and move so as to avoid full attacks. For a PC who wants to stand toe-to-toe with the giant (yikes!), AC-oriented feats like Expertise help (esp. good on a dwarf or a gnome).

Ranged combatant - Rapid Shot (Point Blank Shot, as a prerequisite). Far Shot and Precise Shot might be handy too.

Spellcaster - Spell Focus (Enchantment) and (Transmutation).
 

Sir Whiskers

First Post
Just to take the other side:

Giants should use overrun to knock down the front line fighters. Any PC's tripped by the overrun attack will have to use a move-equivalent action just to stand, taking away their own full-attack action. If the front line fighters choose to avoid the overrun, the giants simply continue forward to attack the spellcasters and archers. If an overrun is not possible, they should use trip attacks to keep the fighters from getting away, using full-attack actions the following round.

In the same vein, giants should not be afraid to take AoO's while moving past the fighters to get at the weaker party members. Force those spellcasters to cast defensively.

If it's a large group of giants, a few should ready an action to throw boulders at any PC attempting to cast a spell - if just one hits, the spell's probably lost.

As for giants' weak will saves, if no cleric is available to cast buffing spells, GM's should consider giving a few giants a level or two of barbarian. A raging giant gains +4 STR, +4 CON and +2 Will saves all for a measly -2 AC.
___________________________

Taking into consideration the giants' tactics, it seems to me the posters who've suggested splitting up the opponents are on the right track. Limit the number of giants that the party fights at any one time, restrict their movement, use spells that allow the party to dictate engagement range (expeditious retreat, levitate, fly), and use enchantment spells to disable individual opponents.
 

Geoff Watson

First Post
Re: Spell choice...

nikolai said:
Here's a question.

Is it worth using direct damage spells (Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Cone of Cold etc.) on giants? Or is it better to stick with things like Grease, Glitterdust and other save-or-be-weakened spells. Also, which are the best creature to summon against them.

nikolai.

Depends on the Giant.
Giants have bad reflex saves, so an area spell could do a lot of damage if there are enough giants to be affected.
Fire Giants and Frost Giants are vulnerable to Cold or Fire, so a couple of Fireballs can make short work of a bunch of Frost Giants.

Geoff.
 

AuraSeer

Prismatic Programmer
Re: Re: Spell choice...

Geoff Watson said:

Giants have bad reflex saves, so an area spell could do a lot of damage if there are enough giants to be affected.
That's not the point. Sure, if you catch 20 hill giants in the area of one Maximized Fireball you have potentially done 1200 total damage, and that sounds impressive. But not one of those giants will actually go down, and they'll remain at full combat effectiveness. If they're within charge range, you might not get a chance for another spell.

Frost and Fire giants are an exception, since their hp are effectively halved when dealing with their opposing element. That changes the whole tactical situation.
 

Someone

Adventurer
Re: Spell choice...

nikolai said:
Also, which are the best creature to summon against them.


As I said before, the dire weasel (Summon monster III) is an excelent choice if the giant is already dazzled, stunned or blinded. The critter drains 2d4 Con points if it manages to hit and live for 1 round. Note that, since Giants have lots of hit dice, the con draining will mean lots of hit points less.
 

Gaiden

Explorer
Classes:

Gnome Giant Killer (Dragon)
Foe Hunter (MotW)
Ranger

Feats:

Spring Attack
Hamstring
Close Quarters Combat
Clever Wrestling
Pebble Under the Foot
Knockdown
Expertise
Superior Expertise
Deflect Arrow
Snatch Arrow
Damage Reduction Increase

Weapons:

Reach Weapons
Disarming Weapons
BIG weapons

Abilities:

Poison
spells w/Will or Reflex saves
Walls
mind blast
entangling effects
stoneskin
damage reduction
 

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