Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Giants (Part 5): Hill Giant

I feel like this monster was designed by someone who just wanted to put Hodor from Game of Thrones into D&D. Only that person’s least favorite Game of Thrones character was Hodor.

Okay, this monster is a little more original than that. A lot more, in fact! This simple, unassuming monster actually turned out to be pretty dope! Not insanely awesome, but fun! And sometimes that’s all you need!

Lore: The Biggest, Dumbest Brute

I’m imagining giant hillbillies. Let’s see how accurate that is.

Hill giants are barbaric, lazy, and dim-witted. If not for their monstrous strength, they would have driven themselves to extinction long ago. Instead, they use their might to bully other races into feeding them.

These giants don’t know that they are part of an ordning. They only understand that bigger equals stronger and stronger equals in charge. They follow the other giants simply because they are larger than the hill giants. It is incredibly rare that a hill giant with actual wits comes along to rise in the ordning rather than remain where they are.

While not fighting or enslaving, hill giants are eating. They’ll do so alone or with a dire wolf companion (the Stark family confirmed to be hill giants). Anything that isn’t obviously deadly, and I do mean anything, they’ll put on their plate. Mud? Sure, why not? Rotten flesh? Again, why not? Anything goes. This makes them a farmer’s worst enemy; they’ll devour all they have without any regard for others.

You may wonder how this terrible diet hasn’t driven them to extinction. Well, that’s because of their ability to digest practically anything. This has lead them to survive without evolving, leaving them old, fat, and stupid.

They have no culture of their own, so they’ll simply copy it from those they observe before they consume them. However, they don’t factor in their own size and strength. They’ll mimic the ways of the elves or dwarves without considering the simple fact that they are much too large and stupid to do so. They’ll even try to take their homes, smashing the rooftops and doors in a vain attempt to fit inside.

Hill giants are incredibly direct and blunt. So much so that the mere concept of deception is strange to them. A group of humans could disguise themselves as a giant by wearing a cloak and standing on each other’s shoulders with a giant pumpkin for a head and it may very well be fooled.

Be careful, though. When a hill giant feels a fool, it unleashes its fury upon anything and everything in its path. Even after it claims its vengeance, it’s wrath continues. Only exhaustion, hunger, or something more interesting can abate its fury.

Those who would crown themselves king use this fury to keep their subjects in line. Although they may very well forget about their self-appointed title due to their sheer stupidity. Should this happen, they’ll simply eat their subjects before either remembering or moving on with their lives.

So… I wasn’t entirely wrong. Just mostly wrong.

This lore is among my favorites that we’ve discussed in this entire series! It’s simple but detailed enough to write tons of fun scenarios! Perhaps the players could run into a hill giant ‘king’ and liberate its subjects! Or a hill giant pretending to be a high elf that they need to negotiate with! Or you could keep it simple, have an NPC hire your players to stop a hill giant that’s been eating all of the farmer’s crops! Whatever you go with, simple or complex, is bound to be an absolute delight for your players!

Design:

Did the artist imagine their childhood bully when they drew this guy? It feels like this was modeled after a specific person. Someone the artist really didn’t like.

Or does it look more like a depressed
alcoholic father?

I’m into it, though! It’s simple, it’s expressive, and it’s fun! Just looking at it makes me chuckle and puts a dumb smile on my face!

Firstly, you can tell that this boy has an appetite. That big beer belly is kind of a dead giveaway. But at the same time, you can tell that that food isn’t all going to its gut. Take a look at its arms. You don’t get that ripped by sitting on your ass and eating Doritos. Otherwise, I’d be Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger by now.

The lack of any clothes beyond a simple loincloth and sandals also serves as a decent hint to their lack of culture. All of the other giants are wearing clothing suited to their unique cultures. This one? He doesn’t have one, so he’s basically naked.

And… well, all you have to do is look at its face to tell that this ain’t the fluffiest sheep in the flock. It’s expression is a mixture of befuddlement and annoyance. Perfect for a monster of low intellect that’s quick to anger.

This is one of the few designs in the book that works best with simplicity. They made the most out of very little and, in this case, it is a perfect fit. It’s not as unique as the beholder nor as iconic as the dragons. But for this case? It’s wonderful.

But then there’s…

Stats: More of the Same

Remember the fire and frost giants? How they just had greataxes and threw rocks? Yeah, it’s that again. Just replace the axe with a club. And make it weaker.

Boring! Come on, give me something to work with!

Placement

Two out of three. Not bad.

This monster has fun lore and an equally fun design. Unfortunately, in terms of its actual gameplay, it leaves a lot to be desired. Players aren’t always excited by monsters that can only hit things! You’ve got to give them more!

With all that in mind, let’s put the Hill Giant on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Dragon Turtle
  4. Green Dragons
  5. Red Dragons
  6. Blue Dragons
  7. Black Dragons
  8. White Dragons
  9. Silver Dragons
  10. Couatl
  11. Behir
  12. Aboleth
  13. Bronze Dragons
  14. Brass Dragons
  15. Copper Dragons
  16. Gold Dragons
  17. Chuul
  18. Chimera
  19. Death Knight
  20. Fomorian
  21. Bone Devil
  22. Dracolich
  23. Faerie Dragon
  24. Ankheg
  25. Hill Giant <————————-
  26. Empyrean
  27. Efreeti
  28. Dao
  29. Cloud Giant
  30. Drow (all four of ’em)
  31. Shadow Demon
  32. Marilith
  33. Drider
  34. Aarackockra
  35. Azer
  36. Demilich
  37. Spectator
  38. Marid
  39. Cambion
  40. Fire Giant
  41. Animated Armor
  42. Banshee
  43. Basilisk
  44. Yochlol
  45. Bulette
  46. Cloaker
  47. Darkmantle
  48. Doppelganger
  49. Ghoul and Ghast
  50. Ettin
  51. Pit Fiend
  52. Erinyes
  53. Chain Devil
  54. Bearded Devil
  55. Barbed Devil
  56. Spined Devil
  57. Ice Devil
  58. Djinni
  59. Nalfeshnee
  60. Glabrezu
  61. Chasme
  62. Barlgura
  63. Horned Devil
  64. Balor
  65. Shadow Dragon
  66. Vrock
  67. Dretch
  68. Goristro
  69. Hezrou
  70. Manes
  71. Frost Giant
  72. Duergar
  73. Quasit
  74. Dryad
  75. Flumph
  76. Planetar
  77. Imp
  78. Flameskull
  79. Displacer Beast
  80. Carrion Crawler
  81. Rug of Smothering
  82. Bugbear Chief
  83. Bugbear
  84. Vine Blight
  85. Twig Blight
  86. Needle Blight
  87. Bullywug
  88. Ettercap
  89. Gas Spore
  90. Cockatrice
  91. Lemure
  92. Solar
  93. Deva
  94. Cyclops
  95. Centaur
  96. Ghost
  97. Fire Elemental
  98. Water Elemental
  99. Air Elemental
  100. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  101. Earth Elemental
  102. Galeb Duhr
  103. Flying Sword
  104. Crawling Claw
  105. Violet Fungus
  106. Shrieker
  107. Gargoyle

1 thought on “Giants (Part 5): Hill Giant”

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