Giants are a great enemy to ramp up the difficulty and make interesting combat encounters for your party. Their scale and intensity make them both cinematically exciting while posing an interesting challenge for players to overcome in combat, thanks to their attack reach and ranged options. Out of all the races of giants, one of the unique options in DnD 5e is the Fomorians.
Welcome to a Fomorian 5e Guide.
Key Info Up Front
- 5e Book: Monster Manual
- Editions: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- Challenge Rating: 8
Fomorian History in DnD
Fomorians were included in the very first edition of DnD. They are derived from Irish mythology, although the earliest versions of the Fomorian in the tabletop RPG omitted the magical elements of their origins. However, with their inclusion in 4e, the magical parts of their origins were introduced and carried forward with their appearance in 5e.
Over the course of those editions, the Fomorians have had their history and culture developed to make them a fully fleshed-out part of the giants that make up a large part of the worlds of DnD.
The lineage of the Fomorians can be traced back to the original giants that led to the various races as they are now known. The Fomorians are said to have been one of the most beautiful of all the giants. Their beauty was only matched by their creativity and intelligence, allowing them to create great works of art, inventions, and even politics more advanced than any of their kin.
With their beauty and smarts, they traveled to the First World, then ruled by the Fey. They expected to be treated with excitement at the new home, allowing them to become its storied heroes and leaders.
Instead, the Fey paid little attention, leaving the Fomorians embarrassed and rageful. This drove them to try and conquer the First World for themselves to show the Fey exactly what they slighted with their audacity.
However, the Fey was able to solidly defeat the Fomorians and send them spinning back to the material plane. As a reminder and scar of their transgressions, the Fey placed a powerful curse on the Fomorians.
The curse stripped them of their intelligence and left them deformed while filling their heads with little besides anger and violent urges.
Their horrifying appearance led to them being driven to survive in the Underdark, a serpentining web of tunnels and caves hidden beneath the surface of the material plane. A few Fomorians also remained in the Feydark, the Underdark equivalent in the First World. The civilizations that the two sects of Fomorians developed from then on became strikingly similar despite being in entirely different planes of existence.
They built their respective cultures on the violence and aggression that had begun driving their every move. The strongest of a group of Fomorians was treated as its leader and ruled with iron fists. This includes beating their subordinates into submission. Even their women and children are regarded as lesser beings, treated as poorly as the slaves they keep from their conquests.
Fomorian leaders are also characterized by being extremely paranoid. They employ entire spy networks that run through the veins of their exclusive domain. While their paranoia often reaches unnecessary heights, it is grounded in the innate predisposition toward plotting and subterfuge that Fomorians share. It is common for Fomorian leaders to be usurped through covert operations, grassroots rebellion campaigns, or more direct guerilla warfare.
As a culture, the Fomorians also wait for the coming of the Giant King, who they believe will be a Fomorian by birth. They believe the Giant King will be sent to them by their patron deity, Karontor. Their stories then claim the Giant King will grow bigger than any giant before, rivaling the mythical titans of the old.
It is said that this transformation will mutate all Fomorians as well, allowing them to emerge from their place of shame in the world to conquer it for themselves and reshape it in their image.
Fomorian Physical Description
While all Fomorians suffer from the same deforming curse, it displays itself in many different ways across the species. This is great because it gives Dungeon Masters a lot of freedom to describe them however they see fit. They can have misplaced facial hair that defies all logic, eyes that are misplaced on their head, disproportionate features, or even vertical mouths.
Whenever I’ve run Fomorians in a campaign, I’ve used this to describe not only a wide range of deformations but also to give important NPC Fomorians a distinct feature that I can refer to as a sort of label for the party. In the past, I’ve used descriptors like one massive eye and a minuscule one, ears like an elephant, or even loose facial skin that looks melting.
Your party comes across if you don’t want to get into too many specifics for each Fomorian. However, there are some shared traits across the species. Firstly, they all have dull skin tones ranging from pale white to gray with purple undertones.
They are also known for having visible warts covering much of their body and eyes of differing sizes to some degree. Fomorians have also been said to have eyes that match various common beasts like cats, which may even change across a single Fomorian’s eyes.
Fomorians are also known to be almost entirely hairless regardless of sex, although they can sometimes have sporadic patches of coarse hair that feel like wires. Their body-altering deformities also prevent them from wearing much clothing.
Instead, they tend to don shabby loincloths or kilts that are put together of spare hides and stolen pieces of clothing from conquered enemies. They have also been known to crudely attach spare pieces of armor to themselves or their clothing for a modicum of protection.
Fomorian statistics in 5e reflect their size, innate talent, and the curse’s effects on them. Their immense size gives them a Strength of 23, with an associated +6 modifier, and a Constitution of 20, with a +5 modifier. Interestingly, despite the curse’s effect on their minds, Fomorians maintain an impressive Wisdom of 14 but an Intelligence of 9. Finally, their Dexterity is ten, and their Charisma is only 6.
These stats are pretty average for giants, except for the mental ones. These are interesting because the curse hampers the Fomorians’ ability to store and learn knowledge but leaves them retaining their ability to notice and process their surroundings.
This means that while they may not remember the vast pool of wealth that had led to their kind being one of the most advanced of all giants, they are still aware of their surroundings and can react to them with ease. Fomorians also have a natural armor class of 14, a hit point pool of 149, are considered Huge, and have a speed of 30 feet.
This plays into the skills and features that all Fomorians share. For skills, the species receives a healthy +8 Perception and a solid +3 Stealth to reflect their innate ability to go behind the backs of other Fomorians to get their way. Fomorians also enjoy Darkvision up to 120 feet, have a passive Perception of 18, and can speak both Giant and Undercomon.
All of these features make sense as they live their entire lives in dark caves, scrounging the tunnels for food sources with only glowing mushrooms as an occasional light source.
Once your party comes across a Fomorian in a combat encounter, they’ll also have to deal with the following actions. Fomorians have a Challenge Rating of eight, meaning they are a tough match for a party of four level eight players.
The Fomorian Multiattack action allows them to use the Greatclub action below twice or use Greatclub once and Evil Eye once.
The Greatclub action is the Fomorians primary method of attack and is what they’ll likely use most frequently whenever you introduce one to your campaign. It comes with a +9 attack modifier, a reach of 15 feet, and focuses on one target.
On a successful hit, the Greatclub deals 3d8 + 6 bludgeoning damage, or if you don’t want to spend time rolling, you can use the average damage of 19.
This means that with the Fomorian’s Multiattack action, they can deal a maximum of 60 damage in a single turn, which is pretty scary even for level eight players.
The Fomorian can use its magical properties to use the Evil Eye action. This action has a range of 60 feet and allows the Fomorian to force a creature to make a Charisma saving throw with a DC of 14.
Evil Eye deals 6d8 psychic damage or an average of 27. If a target passes their saving throw, they still take half damage while full damage if they fail.
Curse of the Evil Eye
Fomorians can only use Curse of the Evil Eye once per short or long rest, so you’ll have to make sure to use this action when it makes the most sense for the Fomorian to do so. The Curse of the Evil Eye action functions identically as the Evil Eye action above but comes with harsher penalties when the target fails their saving throw. When using this action, a failure afflicts the target with horrible deformities bred from magic.
This leaves the creature with its speed halved and gives them a disadvantage on any check that uses either Strength or Dexterity. This effect also lasts until the creature succeeds in a repeat saving throw after they take a long rest or if they manage to remove the curse through magical means.
Playing a Fomorian
One of my favorite parts of pitting my parties against giants is that the monsters have just enough intelligence to have tribes and even conversations with the parties. This offers excellent interactions and roleplay opportunities that provide a change of pace from fighting or interacting with more standard NPCs. Fomorians are no different and come with even more exciting hooks thanks to their unique lore and history among their fellow giant-kin.
One aspect of roleplaying a Fomorian when your players come across one that is very important, however, is their violent nature. Whether your players enter straight into combat with a Fomorian or get the opportunity to socialize with one, or even play a role in their tribe, I find it helps to showcase just how violent of a species they are.
I’ve found a few ways to show this, whether a Fomorian always threatening to attack the party when talking to them, casually being violent toward non-player characters, or constantly suggesting violent solutions to problems while talking to the players.
The history of the Fomorians also provides great story opportunities that can be a lot of fun for players to discover. With how strikingly grotesque the species is visual, revealing that they were once the most beautiful of all the giants can be a fun twist to work your players toward.
The subterfuge they rely on for their political changes also provides a great story opportunity, as the party assisting a Fomorian in overthrowing one of their own is a great way to make the Fomorians stand out as more than just a single combat encounter during your campaign.
This part of their personality can also be used for exciting interactions between Fomorians and other types of giants. Personally, when I ran the official Storm King’s Thunder module for my party, I used the Fomorians to shake the story up and allow the players to bring them into the fold as an espionage force against the other factions of giants. This was a fun use for the Fomorians and an exciting fold to help mix up the plot beats in Storm King’s Thunder and give the party something new to work with.
Once your party enters combat with a Fomorian, however, you’ll want to make sure that they come off as dangerous and intimidating as possible. To do this, it is essential to use the Fomorian’s features to their utmost and communicate how driven by rage their actions in battle are. To help get this message across, describe the Fomorian’s roars as they charge and attack and have them focus on members of the party that hit them the most recently or for the most damage in the previous round.
However, you should make sure to highlight their abilities in Stealth and Perception as well. You can do this by having them avoid an ambush set up by the players or by having them ambush the party. Since they don’t have the thrown ranged options of other giants, the ambush will likely consist of them either popping out of hiding to attack the party or charging at them and catching them off guard.
Fomorians will have to wade into melee range to get the most out of them in combat as the Dungeon Master. Once you get into the melee range, you’ll have to use their full kit to make them impact your party as much as possible. This means that for every round, you should use their Multiattack action.
I recommend using it for one Greatclub attack and one Evil Eye for most rounds to keep getting the most out of the Fomorian turn. This is especially true when facing player characters that don’t do so well with Charisma saving throws, like the Barbarians and Fighters, that you will likely be facing the most often on the frontlines.
This will allow you to circumvent their armor class to still get hits on them. At the same time, you can use the Greatclub to damage non-martial characters with lower armor classes or attack martial characters, thanks to the Greatclub’s decent attack bonus. Its greater range also means that you can punish players that get out of position easily. You can do this by knocking a player’s character unconscious and attacking the healer that comes to help them.
Regarding the Curse of the Evil Eye feature, it is difficult to describe the best time to do it. However, I find it imperative to use it at least the first time the party faces a Fomorian, as inflicting a player with the deforming curse makes the encounter stay with the party for longer, making it more exciting and impactful on the campaign. I would avoid using it too often. However, if you run an encounter with multiple Fomorians, this will quickly get more irritating than interesting for your players.
To pick a good target for the action, I recommend picking a player you know has the lowest chance of passing the saving throw. The debuffs that the curse afflicts are universal enough to have an impact on every player, regardless of their class or role, so choosing the right target is more about making an impact rather than impactfully countering a character.
Question: How tall are Fomorians in 5e?
Answer: The average height of Fomorians is approximately 13.5 feet or 4.1 meters.
Question: What alignment are Fomorians in 5e?
Answer: In 5e, Fomorians are listed as tending to be Chaotic Evil.
Question: What is a Fomorian in DnD?
Answer: Fomorians are an ancient race of giants that were deformed by a curse, leading to them taking up residence in the underground network of caves in the material plane known as the Underdark.
Fomorians are great alternatives to normal giant encounters. They come with some great lore to explore, exciting combat options, and the ability to leave an extraordinary impact on the players of your campaign.
They work exceptionally well for interactions with other types of giants. Their considerable size will always leave an impression on your party, especially if it is their first time coming across one.
So, if you want to give your party a unique story arc or encounter, look no further than the Fomorian.