Adventuring Tactics Masterclass: Giants.

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
Admin note: when this thread is essentially finished, someone please post in Meta, and I'll be sure to archive it. This stuff is great..
 

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Gaiden

Explorer
I forgot to mention the Giant Killer (slayer - IDHMBWM) from the Silver Marches. I don't like it nearly as much as the foe hunter which is less specific, but that is personal preference.

Also, for the dire weasel tactic - you could always make the weasel invisible to make it live longer.
 

nikolai

First Post
What's a cleric or rogue to do?

I'm pleased the thread's going so well and it's fantastic we've got the Piratecat seal of approval.

There's been a lot ideas on tactics for Fighters and Wizards. With the standard practice being to use spells to weaken giants and then reduce their hit points by peltting them from range.

Any ideas on what should clerics and rogues should do?

Giants can dish out and soak up massive amounts of damage, so healing is going to be important - but very dangerous - and sneak attack may be risky to perform and isn't that lethal against a healthy giant.

yours,

nikoali.
 

AuraSeer

Prismatic Programmer
Clerics

You're right that clerical healing is risky. Since giants have reach, touching a comrade in melee will subject the cleric to attacks. (If the cleric starts out adjacent to his ally, he probably draws an AoO for casting. If he casts out of range and then moves in to touch, he is probably subject to a full attack next round.)

One way around this is to cast Sanctuary. Since giants have such low Will saves, there's a decent chance that they'll fail. That lets the cleric move through their threatened areas with impunity.

Another workaround, perhaps counterintuitively, is to concentrate on offense. If you can take the giants down quickly, they won't have time to do much damage, which means less healing will be required.

The offensive spells a cleric wants to use here are those that take advantage of the low Will saves. Hold Monster is of course the best. In a pinch a Command to "flee", or even a Random Action, could buy some time or split up a small group.
 

Pielorinho

Iron Fist of Pelor
Re: Clerics

"Command" is a great idea: many commands (e.g., "Die!") deny an opponent their dex bonus, allowing rogues to sneak-attack. A command to "Die!" can give the fighters the opportunity they need to approach the giant without incurring an AoO. Mass-command, of course, is great against lots of giants.

Rogues will probably want to use missile weapons: not only do their low hit points make melee with a giant very dangerous, but they also may have trouble reaching a giant's vitals when in hand-to-hand combat. Improved invisibility is almost a must-have for a rogue fighting giants.

Consider having grenadelike weapons available, to help overcome a giant's tremendous natural armor bonus.

Druids, if they're lucky, will have a warp wood spell available. Giants often fight with weapons with wooden hafts; destroying these weapons will definitely help. A rusting grasp spell may also prove useful, since giants generally wield weapons too large for the party to use anyway. But the touch range of rusting grasp makes it risky. They should keep their animal companions out of combat, unless the companions are under the influence of Animal Growth. Druids have access to fire and cold spells, and should prepare them if fighting the appropriate kind of giant.

Finally, druids have some great movement-limiting spells, e.g., spike growth. If you can get most of the party into the air and prepare the battlefield with these spells, you can make it much harder for the giants to bring their melee power into play.

Daniel
 

nikolai

First Post
Re: Giants' Weapons

Pielorinho said:
Druids, if they're lucky, will have a warp wood spell available. Giants often fight with weapons with wooden hafts; destroying these weapons will definitely help.

If occurs to me that shatter could be used to destoy weapons in a similar manner. But it does have a 10 pounds/caster level limit. Does anyone know how much giants' weapons weight. All I'm looking for is a ballpark estimate.

nikolai.
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
I advise caution with Improved Invisibility.

Giants can do a lot of damage. If too many PCs go invisible for a tough combat, those that remain visible draw more attacks each round. That can result in sudden PC deaths.

Sometimes it is best to coax the opposition into spreading the love around.

I would encourage the Rogue to use Blink, Mirror Image, Blur, etc. to boost their defenses instead.

An alternative tactic is to team up with the Cleric. Holy Smite or Order's Wrath (Reflex save or blind for 1 round), and Sound Burst (Will save or stunned for 1 round) will open up giants to sneak attacks. These are AoE spells so if you can hit multiple giants one of them is bound to fail.
 
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Wippit Guud

First Post
Whip out a couple of expanded glitterdust spells. Mass blind with their low will save, should be able to get 2 or 3 in a group. (or even 2 side by side with a standard one)
 

Victim

First Post
Ridley's Cohort said:
I advise caution with Improved Invisibility.

Giants can do a lot of damage. If too many PCs go invisible for a tough combat, those that remain visible draw more attacks each round. That can result in sudden PC deaths.

Sometimes it is best to coax the opposition into spreading the love around.

I would encourage the Rogue to use Blink, Mirror Image, Blur, etc. to boost their defenses instead.

An alternative tactic is to team up with the Cleric. Holy Smite or Order's Wrath (Reflex save or blind for 1 round), and Sound Burst (Will save or stunned for 1 round) will open up giants to sneak attacks. These are AoE spells so if you can hit multiple giants one of them is bound to fail.

Or you make everyone Improved Invisible.
 

Sir Whiskers

First Post
For clerics:
*Combine Zone of Truth with Enthrall to gain information before starting a fight.
*Sanctuary at the start of the fight, then start casting Bless, Prayer, healing spells, other non-attack spells.
*Entropic Shield (personal only) for 20% miss chance with ranged attacks. Use Imbue with Spell Ability to allow other spellcasters to cast Entropic Shield on themselves.
*Command and Greater Command ('nuff said)
*Insect Plague, then have the arcane casters throw lightning, cold, and acid area effect spells in the same area.
*Blade Barrier to split up the opposition and cover the party's flanks. If you can arrange it, cast it at the only path available to the giants for getting out of your Insect Plague.
*Antilife Shell blocks most living creatures (including giants and their animal friends) in a 10' radius around the cleric, no save. As with Blade Barrier, can create a great bottleneck, if terrain permits. Or, if the party's in trouble, have the sor/wiz cast Rope Trick while within the area effect of the Antilife Shell. The party flees into the interdimensional space (cleric last) for healing and buffing, coming out when the giants have (hopefully) dropped their guard a bit. Don't forget to have the cleric pull the rope in after himself.
 
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shilsen

Adventurer
Looks like this masterclass has done its work. Any suggestions for the next monster type to consider? Beholders, demons, devils, mindflayers, vampires?
 

jontherev

First Post
Re: Re: Re: Spell choice...

AuraSeer said:

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.

Yes, but what about the rest of the party? Right after the fireball comes a Cone of Cold, followed by 5 arrows from the arcane archer, followed by the rogue's sneak attack, followed by...you get the idea. The point is, damage is good. I do like the Wall of Force idea though. I understand your point though.

A great tactic is to have a rogue super buffed with either a ring of blinking or someone cast it and/or improved invis. on him. Then, he can go to town on the giants, who have to bypass the 50% miss chance AND a high AC. This is pretty much my PC's schtick, and it's worked well so far, though I almost died once because the DM was rolling like a madman. One time, someone cast hold monster on a giant, and I was primed and ready to make a full attack (had just drank a potion of invis.)...and changed my mind and made a successful coup de grace instead...very cool.
 

Pielorinho

Iron Fist of Pelor
Ridley's Cohort said:
I advise caution with Improved Invisibility.

Giants can do a lot of damage. If too many PCs go invisible for a tough combat, those that remain visible draw more attacks each round. That can result in sudden PC deaths.

Sometimes it is best to coax the opposition into spreading the love around.

Sometimes, certainly. But not if you're a rogue :).

A rogue who suffers a full-attack action from a giant is likely to end up dead. Unless the rogue has a spectacular AC or has extraordinary hit points, he's best off avoiding being attacked altogether.

The advantage of Improved Invisibility for a rogue is dual: first, his delicate hit points are protected from most damage; and second, he is able to do much more damage, since he can sneak-attack with every hit.

If II on a rogue is a possibility, it's almost always a good idea vs. a giant. Let the fighter do the hit-and-run dance against a giant (forcing it to move each round and give up its attack of opportunity): the rogue needs to avoid being hit at all.

Of course, as I said above, a rogue with a humongous AC or HP may forgo this advice, and share in the giant's beating.

Daniel
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
Pielorinho said:


Sometimes, certainly. But not if you're a rogue :).

A rogue who suffers a full-attack action from a giant is likely to end up dead. Unless the rogue has a spectacular AC or has extraordinary hit points, he's best off avoiding being attacked altogether.

Following your logic, the Wizard will go II, too. He has even fewer HPs. Only the Cleric and Fighter remain visible.

Now the Cleric complains he can't cast spells with giants standing on top of him. He needs invisibility, too.

Only the Fighter remains available to be attacked.

All the giants in the room full attack the Fighter. He doesn't even survive round 1.

You prevail in the fight, but the Fighter's player is so ticked at your PCs' general cowardice that you cough up money for a True Ressurect, putting you deep in the red for the adventure.


I agree with you that a Rogue needs to avoid the full melee attack. But it may contribute more to the party if he hangs in back with a well-magicked bow and Protection from Arrows -- drawing boulders attacks away from the Fighter, then if he goes with II. At least Blink will tempt giants to target him.
 

Lothar

First Post
The good thing about giants is their one-dimensionality. They are just stregnth, reach, and hitpoints. So if your tactics are sound, it becomes much less of a challenge.

The most important tactic is controlling the battlefield with your mage, as described by Ridley's Cohort above.

When it's time to engage in melee (hopefully one giant at a time), do not charge. Wait for them. Ready a 5 foot step and single attack for when they come withing 10 feet of you. That will allow you to get first strike on them, negate their reach, and be the first with a full attack.

The cleric in the group needs to devote all of his energy to keeping the main fighter alive. The best way to do that is to have a tower shield. It will negate the giants reach, spellcasting attacks of opportunity, and provide a healthy AC bonus. Don't wait for the fighter to be severely injured. If he is at full health, ready a cure spell for when he gets hit. That could stop a potentially deadly full attack by healing him in between attacks.

The utility fighters need to keep their low hitpoint butts out of melee. They should be moving and single attacking each round. Let the main fighters wear them down. Don't be a liability.

Cheers
 

Pielorinho

Iron Fist of Pelor
Ridley's Cohort said:


Following your logic, the Wizard will go II, too. He has even fewer HPs. Only the Cleric and Fighter remain visible.

Maybe -- not necessarily. The rogue, depending on his design, may need to get up close and personal with the giant, whereas the wizard can (and should) stay at a good distance.

And a rogue who gets a sneak-attack with every attack will do a buttload more damage per hit than otherwise -- a ninth-level rogue will do 17.5 points damage more per hit if he's sneak-attacking.

You seem to suggest that the rogue share the damage-sponge role in the party. I simply think he'll be more effective dishing out extra damage and killing the giants faster.

But as you point out, under some circumstances this won't be the best idea. It depends on party composition, character build, opponent numbers and abilities, and terrain.

Mostly, though, I think a rogue fighting a giant is best off invisible.

Daniel
 

FreeTheSlaves

Adventurer
My experience when the 11th level party attacked the hill giant outpost is as follows.
  • Solid fog spell greatly immobilised them, forcing them to a crawl out of it in different directions as was convenient.
  • The hasted Paladin was visible and indeed was thus targetted almost exclusively. When he was made improved invisible he was criticalled and went down. Criticals hurt but that was a fluke.
  • The party out-missiled the giants badly.
  • The giants speed of 40 and light encumbrance ment that the heavily armoured could not run away.
  • On the second round of combat, a giant power attacked the lower AC monk.
  • Do not fight with a badly wounded ally up close as all giants can cleave.
  • The enchantress was twice as good as the evoker it seemed.
  • Giant senses are pretty good and they may notice those invisible by sight or sound.
  • Dire bears are good hill giant pets with scent, improved grab and fearsome combat stats.
  • Giants large size and high strength make many combat options attractive. Trip in particular is a good option for the giants last full action attack v heavily armoured foes. It is a touch attack, so easily done and the giant has the better odds.
  • A group of giants may assign one of their members to ready boulders v spellcasters. Shield spell, bracers of AC and haste will guard against this.
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
Pielorinho said:
You seem to suggest that the rogue share the damage-sponge role in the party. I simply think he'll be more effective dishing out extra damage and killing the giants faster.

Well said.

I would say you are probably correct. But it may be true that the Rogue (and the Wizard) absorbing 10-20 points of damage per round that would have fallen on the Fighter would help the party more than the 20-30 points more damage done with the sneak attack.

A giant with a hot dice can do amazing damage in a single round. Spreading the hurt around is a hedge against a bad run of luck that might kill a PC.
 

Gaiden

Explorer
This is completely unrelated to tactics against giants - I just thought it might be worth mentioning.

A giant with a hot dice can do amazing damage in a single round. Spreading the hurt around is a hedge against a bad run of luck that might kill a PC.

I know that Giants are not very smart and in some circumstances they may want to spread the hurt around. Especially if something they though was just a nuissance just became more than a thorn in their side (read as wimpy looking rogue sneak attacks). However, in general the most efficient tactic which I can't help but think that even giants would follow would be to focus on one guy until he is down and then move to the next. This of course assumes that doing so is the most tactically sound attack method - if the giant had whirlwind attack things might be different.

I just thought I would say this because sometimes I, as a DM, have been (as well as seen other DM's I play with) be "nice" and spread the hurt around so that no one character dies. I don't like this because it takes away the realism of the game. If the giant has been sitting there bashing on the fighter for a few rounds and the fighter looks to be on his last legs and then a new combatant moves into the fray, the giant I doubt would suddenly shift his attention to this new foe - all else being equal. IMO, giants should fight just like everyone else - you eliminate threats as fast as possible. The giant will take down that fighter and then move to the new target. Extrapolating this to multiple foes around the giant - the giant takes one out a time - probably who ever looks like the biggest threat. (This is the case where their lower intelligence would come into play - in general it makes more sense to take out the weakest foe first.)
 

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