Comparing Giant Sizes

Russ Morrissey

Comments

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Funny, I was about to say how I disliked that the large sized giants grew up to be huge sized.

Every single one of these giants is 4-5 ft too tall, and the picture really does a lot to show why this is a problem.

Less is often more.
I love this graphic!

Question - why should the giants be 4' shorter? How is giants this height "a problem" as you say? How big should an Ogre be?

I don't mind that Ogres are Large and giants are Huge in terms of the game map. I guess they could have kept some Large but kept them having reach where Ogres and Trolls don't have reach, to showcase that they are in fact bigger/larger than the "lesser giants", but eh.

I think they did this just to differentiate True Giants from lesser giant types in the game mechanics.

It's less of a mechanical impact as well now that reach is disassociated from size/height in a linear way.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I love this graphic!

Question - why should the giants be 4' shorter?
Because 12' or 18' is plenty big as it is. The further out of human scale the monsters get, the more of a problem D&D's lack of consideration for scale becomes, and the more the RPG tends to evolve toward conforming to the video gaming tropes that it inspired. The actual physical reality of the giant becomes less and less important and less and less impressive as it's height increases.

The growth in giants is simply another example of number inflation for it's own sake which has been infecting every new addition of D&D. What is being simulated stays roughly the same, we just use bigger and bigger numbers to do it. Because, bigger numbers means better, right?

I think they did this just to differentiate True Giants from lesser giant types in the game mechanics.
Stop right there and tell me in 5e exactly what game mechanics are strongly effected by the extra 5 feet of height given to the giants. How does it actually effect play?

It's less of a mechanical impact as well now that reach is disassociated from size/height in a linear way.
Right. So in other words, the actual physical reality of the giant becomes less and less important as it's height increases.

These are joke giants, not true giants.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
The aesthetic choice is much simpler than everyone is trying to make it. It is really: if I use enlarge on the fighter (or he/she is a rune knight), do I want the fighter to be as big as a frost giant? If the answer is no, giants should be bigger than large. If the answer yes, then giants should be large. Right now, WotC's answer is "no" (or you have to work harder than casting one spell or taking one rune to be as big as a giant).
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
The growth in giants is simply another example of number inflation for it's own sake which has been infecting every new addition of D&D. What is being simulated stays roughly the same, we just use bigger and bigger numbers to do it. Because, bigger numbers means better, right?
Err
2e AD&D Monstrous Manual said:
  • Cloud Giant = H (24' tall)
  • Fire Giant = H (18' tall)
  • Frost Giant = H (21' tall)
  • Hill Giant = H (16' tall)
  • Stone Giant = H (18' tall)
  • Storm Giant = G (26' tall)
So actually all they've done is go back to 2e AD&D heights, and technically the Storm Giant has shrunk a size category from Gargantuan in 2e to Huge in 5e.

So... I'm not sure your argument about number inflation really has merit since these stats are from TSR in 1995.

Stop right there and tell me in 5e exactly what game mechanics are strongly effected by the extra 5 feet of height given to the giants. How does it actually effect play?
Well, with them being Huge (nothing to do with actual height other than arbitrary lines demarced on a WotC chart somewhere, nothing. But on a battle mat, being Huge has direct game effects with "true giants" take up 15' squares while lesser "giants" take up 10' squares

Right. So in other words, the actual physical reality of the giant becomes less and less important as it's height increases.

These are joke giants, not true giants.
1 - Your level of heat over 4-5' of height is slightly amusing to me.

2 - These are the giants from D&D at least as far back as 1995, so... shrug YMMV but these are almost the exact same heights as giants from D&D 24 years ago.


EDIT - I just went and checked 3.x stats. Looks like they shaved 4-6' off giant heights in the move from 2e to 3.x.

Maybe our baseline view of giants has more to do with the edition that we started playing in?
 
Maybe our baseline view of giants has more to do with the edition that we started playing in?
My baseline view of giants came from the bad B movies I watched as a kid. If a giant wasn't as tall as the Amazing Colossal Man or the 40' Woman or, y'know, Godzilla, it wasn't really all that giant!

OTOH, the 12:1 (feet to inches) Diminution effect clicked right into the expectations I got from Dr. Cyclops, Attack of the Doll People, and Land of the Giants.
 

Celebrim

Legend
So actually all they've done is go back to 2e AD&D heights, and technically the Storm Giant has shrunk a size category from Gargantuan in 2e to Huge in 5e.

So... I'm not sure your argument about number inflation really has merit since these stats are from TSR in 1995.
Yes, the 3e giants were reverted back to more 1e inspired stat blocks and descriptions.

Ironically, this thread ties into the 'occult panic' threads that we've been having, since the 2e number inflation with giants was tied to the removal of demons and devils from core. The designers touted that the new upgraded giants and dragons would fill the niche for high level foes, and the upgraded stat blocks and increased height seems to have been intended to increase excitement for the giants as high level foes.

So yes, this is an old issue for me. For me it comes down to not believing that people who want bigger giants are capable of imagining just how big a 12' tall humanoid actually is.

Also, I loathe the 3' wide blades associated with those giants. I realize that the artist is just copying the cartoonish style that 5e art direction prefers, but wow do I hate that look.

Nerd rage? Probably. But we wouldn't be hear talking about this stuff if we didn't have strong opinions about it. For me, that extra 5' or so (give or take a foot) attacks the believablity of giants as foes and beings. A 21' foot humanoid is totally huge as it is. Eighteen foot tall Cloud Giants are just huge. A 110lb sword, 14' foot long, and 8" broad is huge. Nothing bigger is needed to terrify, and in fact any bigger would cease to. For me, bumping them up 24' tall shrinks them. They move from inhabiting a fantasy world to a cartoon world where scale doesn't matter and is likely to change from scene to scene anyway.

See also the vertical exaggeration of the size of the Mûmakil in PJ's LotR. Takes me completely out of the scene.

But heh, if you disagree, use your bigger giants. I can always rescale them anyway.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
A 21' foot humanoid is totally huge as it is. Eighteen foot tall Cloud Giants are just huge. A 110lb sword, 14' foot long, and 8" broad is huge. Nothing bigger is needed to terrify, and in fact any bigger would cease to. For me, bumping them up 24' tall shrinks them. They move from inhabiting a fantasy world to a cartoon world where scale doesn't matter and is likely to change from scene to scene anyway.
Honestly, It wouldn't matter if I saw 21' tall or a 24' tall Cloud Giant, I'd never be able to tell the difference.

A Hill giant? maybe, we do have basketball poles as reference points that modern people can conceptualize, at least the height of a 12'. 1.5x a basketball pole is harder.

It really doesn't matter to me their height. I just go with what's in the MM of a given edition.

That said, I still love this picture :)

Take out the #'s and assume the human is actually a halfling and the scale's the same :)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
1e/3e giants weren’t giant.

A 12’ tall human-shaped person is a few feet taller than the tallest human in living memory. Nowhere near the difference of scale that these creatures should represent. The greatest giants should have faces bigger than the tallest natural human.

When I think of the iconic storm giant, he is rising from the deep, a whole ship comparable in scale to his face!

The smaller true giants should be such that they can interact in fairly normal ways with a human. Half-giants should seem possible, but not with the greatest giants.

I’ve a cloud giant mini that seems to be wielding architecture as a sort of mace. She isn’t quite big enough compared to the human minis, but the visual is still evocative and I don’t expect minis to have the right proportions anymore (ancient dragons are tiny things).

Why even have these creatures if they aren’t something that must be dealt with differently than something like an ogre?
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
Stop right there and tell me in 5e exactly what game mechanics are strongly effected by the extra 5 feet of height given to the giants. How does it actually effect play?
Huge size is actually an important break point in game play terms for enemy creatures since it is two size categories larger than medium and there are no large sized PC races.

You can move through the space of any creature two size categories smaller than you. Giants get the ability to move through the space of any PC which can be pretty huge for area control. In addition to that you cannot grapple or shove any creature that is more than one size category than yourself so by default you cannot grapple or shove a giant. Your fighter and barbarian want to hold the line to protect the squishy wizard? Well they're going to have a difficult time of that since giants can just step right over them. Which for giants is very fitting. If you have a creature whose very definition is that they are "like people but big", they should be of a size where that matters.
 

dave2008

Hero
1e/3e giants weren’t giant.

A 12’ tall human-shaped person is a few feet taller than the tallest human in living memory. Nowhere near the difference of scale that these creatures should represent. The greatest giants should have faces bigger than the tallest natural human.

When I think of the iconic storm giant, he is rising from the deep, a whole ship comparable in scale to his face!

The smaller true giants should be such that they can interact in fairly normal ways with a human. Half-giants should seem possible, but not with the greatest giants.

I’ve a cloud giant mini that seems to be wielding architecture as a sort of mace. She isn’t quite big enough compared to the human minis, but the visual is still evocative and I don’t expect minis to have the right proportions anymore (ancient dragons are tiny things).

Why even have these creatures if they aren’t something that must be dealt with differently than something like an ogre?
12’ is 2x the height of The average human. And 4 feet taller, or 50% larger, then the tallest human ever. That is not insignificant.

My son is 4 1/2 tall inches taller than me. That makes me feel short. I can’t really imagine how I would feel if he was 6 feet taller than me.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Huge size is actually an important break point in game play terms for enemy creatures since it is two size categories larger than medium and there are no large sized PC races.

You can move through the space of any creature two size categories smaller than you. Giants get the ability to move through the space of any PC which can be pretty huge for area control. In addition to that you cannot grapple or shove any creature that is more than one size category than yourself so by default you cannot grapple or shove a giant. Your fighter and barbarian want to hold the line to protect the squishy wizard? Well they're going to have a difficult time of that since giants can just step right over them. Which for giants is very fitting. If you have a creature whose very definition is that they are "like people but big", they should be of a size where that matters.
That's actually reasonably cool. I do like how that makes size matter (even if I'm not sold on the absolutes they are perhaps useful as simplifications for ease of play). I am gladdened that the size choice might have something to do with the limitations of the system, and they just work better in the system if they are a bit bigger. On the other hand, since most of the giants would still be on scale with the upsized Hill Giant, this feature is something they'd mostly all have even if they were reduced and still on scale with 1e and 2e so with the possible exception of the smaller giants like Hill Giants these "size matters" mechanics would still be in play.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
For me it comes down to not believing that people who want bigger giants are capable of imagining just how big a 12' tall humanoid actually is.
Well, thank you for laying it out here - your issue is ultimately in your lack of trust in teh capabilities of others. Not exactly a compliment - "Those masses, they just don't understand. I, with my superior cognitive function, do!" But, well, thanks for the honesty, at least?

Me, I look at those sizes, and think of the usual depictions seen for Jack and the Beanstalk - in which Jack is lucky if he comes up to the giant's knee, and rather often only comes up to the giant's ankle. That mythic referent leaves me needing giants that are 3 to 4 times the height of a man, as seen in these images, not two to three times man-sized, which is what you seem to prefer..
 

Celebrim

Legend
12’ is 2x the height of The average human. And 4 feet taller, or 50% larger, then the tallest human ever. That is not insignificant.
It's not only going to be twice as tall, it's probably going to be once you account for the need for more bone mass something like 10 to 12 times as heavy as a typical human.

But really, think about how huge Thanos or The Hulk is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Think about how gigantic those hands and fists and heads are. And then think, Thanos and The Hulk are basically just Ogre sized. Thanos is about 8' 2".

Why go that size? Because anything bigger and you start to have problems putting him into human context.

A 12' tall humanoid towers over Thanos or the Hulk. If a hill giant of them is a basketball center, the crown of their head is at the top of the backboard. They basically fill up the whole lane by themselves. A giant of a man like LeBron James leaping up to slam dunk the ball encounters a wall of living flesh. LeBron and similar NBA stars that tower over people, are diminished to childlike figures. Isn't that big enough if you want to imagine a melee combat between a mere mortal and a giant? Just imagine basketball between a LeBron and a Hill Giant and you'll see what I mean.

And that's the small end giants.
 

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