Giants have been a staple in DnD for many years, allowing their lore to be built upon and expanded significantly throughout each edition. It is not hard to imagine why this is so, as their towering size and generally dim-witted nature make them exciting and cinematic opponents for mid-level parties. However, one of my favorites of all the giants in DnD is the Frost Giant. So, here is our Frost Giant 5e guide with everything you need to know before running one in your D&D campaign.
Key Info Up Front
- Where to find: Monster Manual Page 155
- Challenge Rating: 8
- Armor Class: 15
Frost Giant History in DnD
Frost Giants were introduced in the first edition of DnD and have stayed in each one ever since. Over those editions, Frost Giants have remained a middle-tier enemy for parties approaching the more dangerous creatures in DnD. This makes Frost Giants a great enemy to wow your players with an opponent more significant than anything else they’ve ever faced.
Their appearance also hasn’t changed much throughout multiple editions. They have long been shown to have a blue hue to their skin and wear primitive leather garbs of stitched-together scraps. They have also consistently been shown with a nordic horned helm in their official art.
I have very fond memories of the first time I had a party face a Frost Giant for the first time, and their reactions to facing such a massive enemy were priceless. The only moment that was better was when they discovered shortly after that there was an entire tribe of Frost Giants just like the one they barely killed living in the mountain range nearby. So, if you use Frost Giants right, they can leave quite an impact on your campaign.
Frost Giant Lore
Like all giants, the origins of the Frost Giants began long ago when Annam All-Father and Other ruled the kingdom of Ostoria that dominated all of Faerûn. The two had mortal children that were the first giants, who they sent out to rule parts of the world in their stead. The first Frost Giant was named Ottar and was given the northern mountain ranges and their frozen tundras.
In the harsh tundra, the Frost Giants developed to become one of the giant species’ most towering. The harsh elements also hardened them into a resilient and hardy force to be reckoned with. They developed powerful nature magic to help them survive and grew to be strong warriors that took full advantage of their size to kill animals and anybody who opposed them.
Because of the limited resources in their immediate surroundings, the Frost Giants took to raiding for supplies. They use their nature magic to summon a blinding blizzard down on an unsuspecting village and then descend on it, destroying their inns and smithies to take as much food and metals as they can carry back to their camp. They then isolate and train until they require more resources and repeat the process all over again.
Their reliance on taking from others to survive placed emphasis on power and combat ability in their clans. This saw their power structures quickly evolving to have the most powerful one amongst them ruling for as long as they could physically maintain the position. Other roles in the clans include Craftsmen responsible for forging primitive weapons and armor from the supplies they raided and Skalds, who act as bards to preserve the clan’s legacy and heroes.
While their social structure still values warriors the most, the use of Craftsmen and Skalds has also helped Frost Giants develop to be slightly more sophisticated than some of their giant relatives. When they helped rule the world, they were particularly renowned for crafting massive ice sculptures that would melt to reveal different scenes and tell a story over time.
They also threw legendary feasts and festivals when deciding dominance with another clan, where they would feast and wrestle one another to determine which clan was stronger.
Frost Giant Stats
Like all giants, Frost Giants are classified as Huge creatures. This gives them a base speed of 40 feet and a melee attack range of ten feet. They also have a Challenge Rating of 8, putting them in the middle of the combat abilities of other giants.
Their base attributes are also pretty well balanced. They have a massive Strength of 23 and a solid Constitution of 21. Their Wisdom and Charisma are also decent at 10 and 12, respectively, but their Dexterity and Intelligence are weaker with only 9.
Frost Giants have an Armor Class of 15 thanks to their shoddy armor assembled by sloppily stitching together ragged materials and animal hides. Parties facing them will also have a challenge slaying one as they have a stocky Hit Point pool of 138.
Their harsh home environment has also given them complete immunity to cold damage, so your party will have to adapt to make sure they aren’t wasting actions tickling a Frost Giant with any cold spells or magical items.
Frost Giant Abilities
In combat, Frost Giants have two attack actions and a Multiattack that allows them to make two Greataxe attacks in one turn. Their Greataxe action has a +9 hit modifier, a 10-foot reach, and 3D12 + 6 slashing damage. Using two Greataxe attacks in a single turn, your players will quickly learn that they need to be careful when ending their turns within range of their towering foe.
For ranged options, Frost Giants can throw a rock with a minimum range of 60 feet and a maximum of 120. Their rock attack also has a +9 hit modifier and deals 4d10 + 6 bludgeoning damage on a successful hit. Throwing rocks for a ranged option is pretty standard for giants in 5e.
Still, Frost Giant rocks are interestingly one of the smallest species, according to the comparison images on page 150. Regardless, they can deal some solid damage to your party if they aren’t careful.
Playing a Frost Giant
When you decide to throw a Frost Giant into your campaign, you’ll need to consider the culture of their clan and the impact that their group has on the surrounding environment and any nearby towns or settlements. So, here is everything you need to account for when playing a Frost Giant.
Frost Giants Outside Combat
If your party is lucky enough to meet with a Frost Giant outside of having a massive ax swung at them, you’ll want to emphasize the species’ slightly higher intelligence and love of strength. Of course, one member in the party will have to be able to speak Giant to communicate with them, however.
I’ve run Frost Giants for my group in the past by allowing the party to impress or work with them if they can prove their strength and prowess in battle. You may not want to have the party wrestle with them as their culture dictates unless you have a player character that is Huge as well.
Some options that I’ve used in the past include a rock-throwing contest, killing a dangerous local enemy, or lifting a legendary boulder that has some cultural significance to the clan.
Another option is to allow the party to offer resources to the clan if they are having a hard time getting any or have run out of local villages and settlements to raid for themselves. This option, in particular, also ties in easily with whatever stories and locations your campaign uses.
Once your party is interacting with the Frost Giants, you should have them come off as more intelligent and organized than other creatures but still primitive in their interactions and outlook on the world. They should value might and action more than anything else and an eagerness to brag about their history and previous conquests.
I’ve also found it effective to emphasize the incredible environment that the Frost Giants tend to live in. Focusing on describing their towering ice castles or the biting cold that seeps into their huts can help you set the scene for the interaction. You should also introduce your players to the social structuring of their society, so make sure to have Skalds perform songs and a strong leader that has to rule with an iron fist to maintain control.
Frost Giants In Combat
If you’d rather have your players face Frost Giants in traditional combat, you have some great opportunities to make the encounter unique so that it stands out in their memory of the campaign. Like other giants, a classic encounter set up is to ambush your party with a Frost Giant or two throwing rocks down at them when they’re in a valley or passing near a hill or mountain.
However, Frost Giants also have some more unique options that I recommend using to help them stand out from their peers. There are many ways you can take the encounter, but I have two personal favorites that have worked exceptionally well in my previous campaigns.
The first is to catch the party off guard with a sudden blizzard that is summoned by the Frost Giants’ runic magic. This will limit the visibility of your party, hindering their perception and possibly giving them a disadvantage on attacks. It should also have an impact on regular ranged attacks from the sharp winds making it nearly impossible for arrows and bolts to fly straight.
This will force the party to rely on magic and melee combat for the battle and give it a unique set piece. If you want to make it particularly punishing, you can also have a cold of the blizzard deal damage to them over time or slowly freeze them to add extra pressure.
The second option that I’ve used successfully before is to have one or multiple members of your party face a champion of the Frost Giants to settle the score. This can be either their leader or a particularly well-renowned warrior of theirs.
Then, the party can be invited to an almost festival-like gathering with a feast, Skalds singing songs and performing skits, and a climactic battle between two champions to decide which side gets their way.
This is a great option to give a member of the party a chance to shine while also allowing them to roleplay with the Frost Giants as well as get some fun combat. If you don’t want to have the party member potentially die, you could even make it a fists-only fight so that the worst that can happen is them getting knocked out.
Regardless of how you set up the encounter, make sure that the Frost Giants aren’t too intelligent in the way that they fight. While they are more intelligent than some other giant species, they are still below the average for a human, and they should act like it. Have them act mostly on impulse and with emotion, attacking the party member that seems the biggest or just hit them with a ton of damage.
Apart from an initial ambush, they also shouldn’t use too many tactics and should act confidently because of their superior size. They should be surprised that puny adventurers could beat them at all as they get close to losing.
Question: How tall are Frost Giants in DnD?
Answer: Frost Giants are the tallest of all the giant species and regularly reach more than 21 feet tall.
Question: What alignment are Frost Giants in DnD?
Answer: Frost Giants have historically been listed as chaotic evil from the first edition to the fourth. However, the fifth edition changed this and has their alignment listed instead as neutral evil.
Question: What are Frost Giants weak to in DnD?
Answer: Frost Giants don’t have any officially listed weaknesses in 5e, but you can have them take extra damage from fire if you want to give your party something to use against them.
Frost Giant 5e Guide: Final Thoughts
Frost Giants are a ton of fun to introduce into any campaign, especially if you’re running one in the Icewind Dale area of the Forgotten Realms. They can bring a lot of flavor and life to your campaign and the regions they inhabit as well.
Their moderate Challenge Rating also makes them a great option to wow your players with such a big enemy for one of the first times, making the encounter exciting and new for everyone involved.