Copyright 2009 Wizards of the Coast

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Frost giants are based on the Jotuns of nordic folklore, and these roots translate into them being the most viking-like of all D&D giants. They’ve been a part of the game since its beginnings. Frost giants appear on the Monster Vault but not on the Monster Manual - they would appear on the MM2. We’ll skip ahead a bit and look at the stat blocks from both the MV and the MM2.

The Lore

Frost giants live atop permafrost-coated mountains or at extremely high latitudes (normally referred to as the Frigid North but there’s no reason it couldn’t be the Icy South in your world). They carve their holds and fortresses out of the ice, and their rulers are known as jarls.

Frost giant culture is all about bravery and martial prowess, so when food in the surrounding area begins growing scarce, or when the itch for a fight just becomes too strong, their warriors gather and go out raiding for plunder, slaves, and glory. When they return, the skalds sing of their bravery and of how much loot they got. Much like historical vikings, frost giants are assholes.

As members of Team Primordial who love raiding and looting, they are typically Chaotic Evil.

The Numbers

Frost giants are significantly stronger than hill giants, enough that a party that’s going through a 4e version of Against the Giants might have a bit of trouble when they first get to them. In earlier editions, Stone Giants stood between Hill and Frost - this is still true here, but stone giants appear only on the MM2 and so we’ll look at them much later.

Frost giants are Large Elemental Humanoids with the Cold and Giant keywords. Frost titans are similar, but Huge. They all move at Speed 8 with Ice Walk, which means they ignore terrain penalties from ice and snow. Frost giants have Resist 15 Cold, and the titan is completely immune. They are not particularly vulnerable to fire. They have a typical Int score of 10.

Their other signature trait is Icebound Footing, which allows them to ignore a number of squares of forced movement (2 for giants, 4 for the titan) and make a saving throw to avoid being knocked prone. This is essentially a more powerful version of the trait PC dwarves get.

Frost Giant (Both)

The basic model is a Level 17 Brute with 201 HP and all standard frost giant traits. You can expect most individuals you face to use this stat block.

Its basic attack is an Icy Greataxe (Melee 2 vs. AC) that does quite a bit of cold damage and has High Critical, meaning it does a lot more damage on a critical hit. It can also empower this axe with even more cold magic for a Chilling Strike (recharge 5-6), which does more damage than a non-critical basic attack and inflicts Vulnerable 10 Cold on the target (save ends).

The MM2 version still suffers from the damage bug, and has a couple more abilities: Dying Swipe allows it to make one last basic attack when it dies, and it can throw Icy Handaxes (Ranged 5/10 vs. AC) if melee isn’t an option for some reason. These have probably been removed from the MV version because of the next entry.

Frost Giant Marauder (MV)

The fast, wiry cousin of the basic frost giant is a Level 17 Skirmisher with 168 HP and all common frost giant traits. It trades the big axe for a brace of 8 hand axes, which it can throw or dual-wield.

Indeed, the marauder’s basic attack can be either Melee 2 or Ranged 10, both vs. AC. It does a bit of cold damage and allows the giant to shift 2 squares as an effect.

It can also employ a Twin Strike at will, performing two basic attacks and shifting 2 squares between them. This replaces the “shift 2 squares” effect, as I understand it.

Once per encounter the marauder can perform a Hurling Charge, throwing two handaxes and then charging one of the targets of those throws.

Frost Giant Ice Shaper (MM2)

This spellcaster is a Level 19 Controller (Leader) with 182 HP and all common frost giant traits. Its magic likely involves a lot of runes.

The ice shaper fights in melee with a Freezing Flail (Melee 2 vs. AC) that does cold damage, and at range with Freezing Bolts (Ranged 20 vs. Reflex) which do cold damage and immobilize. As a minor action it can use Ice Slide (Ranged 10 vs. Fortitude) to slide someone 3 squares without doing damage.

Its “special” spells are Wall of Frost (Area Wall 12 within 10), which does what it says on the tin: it fills up 12 contiguous squares with a semi-solid frost barrier that provides some concealment, counts as difficult terrain, and does 5 damage to people who start their turn adjacent to the wall or 15 to those who enter it. This lasts for a turn but the giant can spend minor actions to sustain it. It’s also Recharge 6, which means it might be able to cast it more than once in the battle.

The other spell is Ice Armor (recharge 5-6) which grants one ally within 10 squares Resist 10 to all damage for a turn.

Frost Titan (Both)

The Frost Titan is a Level 20 Elite Brute with 466 HP, and is literally made of ice. As such, it’s completely immune to cold and its Icebound Footing trait prevents up to 4 squares of forced movement. The MV version has a weakness to fire, gaining -2 AC for a turn when it takes fire damage. The MM2 has no such weakness.

The frost titan’s breath is cold enough that it works as an Aura 2, turning every square in range into difficult terrain and causing 5 cold damage to enemies that start their turn inside.

The Titan fights with an Icy Greataxe (Melee 3 vs. AC), which does both immediate and ongoing cold damage (save ends), and has High Critical. It can focus its icy breath once per encounter (Close Blast 5 vs. Reflex), which does cold damage, ongoing cold damage (save ends), and immobilizes for a turn. A miss does half damage.

As a minor action it can use a Cold-Blooded Kick (Melee 3 vs. Reflex), which is actually a bit stronger than the axe, pushes the target 2 squares, and knocks it prone. Fortunately it doesn’t have High Critical or ongoing damage.

When the Frost Titan is reduced to 0 HP, it can make one last axe strike.

The MM2 version can also fling ice bolts (Ranged 20 vs. Fortitude; recharge 5-6) against one or two creatures which do cold damage and slow (save ends) on a hit.

Sample Encounters

The MM2 has two encounters:

  • Level 19: 2 basic frost giants, 1 ice shaper, 1 remorhaz.

  • Level 21: 2 frost titans, 2 ice archon frostshapers, 1 ice archon rimehammer.

That gives you a general idea of the things that partner with frost giants and titans: big monsters who live in the same cold places as them, and ice archons or other primordial forces.

They would likely not be very friendly with the likes of ice devils, demons, or winter fae. This gives you some ready-to-go rival factions to use in your cold dungeons if you like that.

Final Impressions

I imagine people complained that frost giants weren’t present in the first MM, since they’re an important part of the classic D&D bestiary. These ones seem like suitably fearsome opponents, though. Cold-damage brutes that can make you vulnerable to cold as a basic infantry unit? Yikes!

The MV versions are generally superior because of their damage fixes and more focused stat blocks, but the ice shaper fills a nice niche that seems to be missing from the MV stat blocks.