Adventuring Tactics Masterclass: Giants.


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!

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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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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


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.



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.

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