This lumbering giant has short stumpy legs and powerful, muscular arms. Its hair and beard seem to be made of fire.
Speed 40 ft. (30 ft. in armor)
Str 31, Dex 9, Con 21, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
Fire giants transfer the heat of their bodies to rocks as part of an attack action when they throw rocks. A heated rock deals 1d6 points of additional fire damage on a hit.
Fire Giant King (Fighter 9; CR 19)
Environment warm mountains
Organization solitary, gang (2–5), band (6–12 plus 35% noncombatants and 1 adept or cleric of 1st–2nd level), raiding party (6–12 plus 1 adept or sorcerer of 3rd–5th level, 2–5 hell hounds, and 2–3 trolls or ettins), or tribe (20–30 plus 1 adept, cleric, or sorcerer of 6th–7th level; 1 fighter or ranger of 8th–9th level as king; and 17–38 hell hounds, 12–22 trolls, 7–12 ettins, and 1–2 young red dragons)
Treasure standard (half-plate, greatsword, other treasure)
Fire giants are the most rigid and militaristic of all the giant races. They constantly train for war and practice brutal tactics on anyone and everyone that gets in their way. Their rigid command structure is complete with soldiers, officers, and even generals, and they obey orders from their kings unquestioningly. Fire giants have bright orange hair that flickers and glows almost as if it were aflame. At birth, fire giant children are roughly the size of an adult dwarf, and they grow slowly to full maturity over the course of 50 years. Fire giant infants are girded with forged armor as soon as they can walk, the plate armaments remolded and replaced as the babes grow, ensuring that they become used to the feel of steel against skin. Youths’ wrought-iron playthings are scarcely distinguishable from deadly weapons, and by the age of 5, fire giant toddlers are as tall as humans and passably proficient with crude clubs and daggers. Rigorous and brutal training regimens make up the majority of fire giants’ adolescence, and all are taught the art of war from an early age. Such barbarous child-rearing fortifies their natural endowments, fostering the prodigious strength of fire giants and ensuring they will be ready to fight when they are old enough to go to war. An adult male is 12 to 16 feet tall, has a chest that measures 9 feet around, and weighs about 7,000 pounds. Females are slightly shorter and lighter. Fire giants can live to be 350 years old.
Fire giants wear sturdy cloth or leather garments colored red, orange, yellow, or black. Warriors wear helmets and half-plate armor of blackened steel and wield large greatswords that they use to cut swaths across the battlefield. In large groups, fire giants fight with brutal and efficient group tactics, and aren’t afraid to sacrifice one or two of their members to draw an enemy into an ambush.
Both female and male fire giants are almost uniformly unsightly in the eyes of other races. Warty, psoriatic, and often afflicted with humps, hunches, and misshapen or uneven limbs, these goliaths possess a strength that is as hideous as their appearances. Among fire giants, misshapen or deformed females are regarded as possessing strong blood and divine favor. The ugliest of fire giantesses usually find their way to crowns and thrones, either as rulers in their own right or wooed as consorts or potential queens by fire giant kings.
Fire giants command considerable respect among other races, not only for their strength, but also for their talent at smithing and ironmongery. The best-known fire giant smiths often find their work sought after by other giant-kin, who show off the maker’s mark of their purchases with pride and view it as a point of boasting to own so fine a piece of steel. Their ironworks are less renowned among humans and other smaller humanoids, as fire giants rarely dabble in crafting items for the tinier races. Rarely, a particularly impressive non-giant warrior might garner the attention of a fire giant blacksmith, and some civilizations manage to establish tentative trade agreements with fire giants, though such dealings are risky for all involved, and fire giants usually find it easier to simply instigate war and exact tribute from the conquered peoples. Fire giants inclined to trade inflame the rage of dwarf-holds and clans in particular, who not only despise giants of all kinds with historical, cultural, and even religious enmity, but also brook no rivals in the sale and supply of ironworks. Countless skirmishes, battles, and even wars have been waged between dwarves and fire giants above and below the earth for blood, for honor, and for the primacy of their industry and trade.
Dwelling in underground strongholds next to subterranean rivulets of white-hot magma, the towering warriors known as fire giants are both renowned and feared for their unceasing lust for battle and remarkable skill at the forge. The noxious fumes and sulfurous stink of fumaroles, mudpots, and lava pools are sweet savors to fire giants, though visitors to their demesnes might gag, choke, or even asphyxiate from the heavy smoke and exhaust of their furnace fires. Fire giants wade rivers of liquid-hot magma as easily as a human might ford a babbling brook of cool water, and they often sculpt their lairs to feature abundant geothermal and pyroclastic hazards. Such molten features are not only chosen for fire giants’ personal comfort, but also for their intimidation value and the entirely practical security they provide against intruders and unwanted visitors.
These traits, combined with their stocky builds, cause many to liken fire giants to dwarves, albeit at a much more massive and violent scale. Males typically sport wiry beards, rarely bothering to comb or take care of their facial hair outside of minor decorations such as plaiting it or weaving metal rings and chains throughout. Fire giants equip themselves in self-made plates of heavy armor and don open-faced helms in battle, wielding either immense greatswords or other massive bladed weapons in their pursuit of doling out destruction. Their skin ranges from the deep red of scorched brick to the sooty black of a crematory chimney, while their hair is usually a fiery orange that—according to numerous folk legends—glows like a blown ember when their volatile tempers are tried. Some lighter-skinned giants have hair the color of hammered lead, and a few are crowned with hair of burnished black, but all have eyes of red, gold, or orange, their jet pupils easily lost in their blazing irises.
Befitting these giants’ militaristic lifestyle, their architecture is constructed with an eye toward efficiency and defensibility, as well as a clear sense of hierarchy. Their lairs often incorporate volcanic elements such as rivers of lava or smoking fumaroles. While such features may be deadly to other races, the fire giants find them soothing.
Fire giants never miss an opportunity to remind other races that they are not like such puny creatures, and things that would kill others are their meat and drink and the very air they breathe.
Fire giants eat the same foods that most humans do, but their digestive systems are as powerful and undiscerning as incinerators, converting every iota of what they consume into nourishment. At need, fire giants can subsist on lichen or even ashes, extracting trace nutrients from almost any organic matter. Of course, digesting base matter is far less efficient than consuming more practical sources of food, causing indigestion and distress in fire giants forced to eat such scraps. Since they live in areas where food supplies are often scarce, however, fire giants are prone to delving deep into the earth and cultivating vast fungal gardens tended by ettin or troll thralls, or using trade or tribute agreements with those living on the surface nearby to supplement their food stores.
Fire giants marry for life, and upon wedding, each partner welds a steel ring around one of the other’s left fingers to symbolize their union. If a spouse perishes, that spouse’s wedding band (if it can be recovered) is removed and refastened to one of the right fingers of the widow or widower. Widows and widowers are free to remarry, forging a new wedding band on the left hand for each spouse; some older, ill-fated fire giants may accumulate half a dozen marriage bands throughout the course of their lives, each hand bedecked in numerous metal keepsakes.
Fire giants are very different from most of their enormous kin for one simple reason: their communal unity of purpose as a race. Whereas most giants are loners or clannish at best, lairing in isolated family holds and allying only rarely in times of war, nearly all fire giants uphold the brutal virtues of battle, and embrace the order wrought by violence and forcing creatures to submit to their will.
While beholden to few, fire giants are fiercely loyal to their kings and the generals these kings appoint, and at their leaders’ command have been known to form alliances with other giant races as part of a grand campaign. Fire giants have occasionally been manipulated by the crafty and powerful, from drow to dragons to devils and others, but rarely will they agree to any extensive plans until properly paid, and woe betide an erstwhile ally that betrays them, for one of the only things more frightening than fire giants’ masterfully crafted blades is their ability to exact dreadful, flaming retribution.
Consonant with their calculating nature, fire giants much prefer enslaving captives to wholesale slaughter, as a thrall has far greater value than a corpse. They rarely torment their captives for pleasure; far better to simply work them to death, feeding and tending them just enough to maintain the strength of these living tools, and using them as food when they finally collapse from exhaustion. To a fire giant, the sweetest of meats is the flesh of a slave marinated in the sweat of its own fatal labors.
Fire giants are difficult to use in lower-level games; even a very young or vulnerable fire giant is too strong for fledgling parties to overcome without suffering massive casualties. Fire giants are, however, smarter than many other types of giants, and as bright and charismatic as—and a good deal wiser than—the average human, making them powerful masterminds for larger plots. Since they have a natural tendency toward war and battle, fire giants make excellent generals for lower-level monsters such as gnolls, goblins, and orcs. While their size is difficult to hide, fire giants are capable of using misinformation to mask their true nature when necessary, implementing mundane or magical disguises to pose as ogres, trolls, or similar brutes in service to a figurehead leader who is in fact merely the giant’s mouthpiece.
Alternatively, a fire giant leader may be entirely obvious to his influence and power. Whether the head of a mercenary band, the leader of a predatory business concern out to exterminate its rivals, or simply a petty tyrant oppressing a subject people, fire giant masterminds marshal their forces effectively and ruthlessly in response to exterior threats. A lower-level campaign could involve uncovering the identity of a hidden fire giant leader or working against a known fire giant’s organization, building up to a confrontation with the giant itself. Against more experienced parties, a fire giant might have better access to equipment or allies to mitigate its vulnerabilities against cold effects and attacks that target his reflexive or mental defenses, and would have minions trained in teamwork feats and group tactics to reflect his fondness for organization and coordinated attacks. Likewise, the terrain where a fire giant is encountered can greatly impact the difficulty in fighting it, as a fire giant surrounded by heated barriers, lava pools, and hot springs is a much greater challenge than one encountered near human-sized buildings and tight caverns. At higher levels, fire giants are excellent enforcers or foot soldiers, able to focus their attacks en masse and support one another in combat, serving as an effective anvil upon which a more powerful leader can strike as the hammer.
Fire giant lairs are solidly constructed of stone and metal, with few places for smaller creatures to hide and none the giants cannot reach. Large stonework and metal traps, such as spiked walls, collapsible ceilings, rolling balls, and of course magical, alchemical, or natural flaming hazards of every kind are strategically placed, and fire giants drag or bull rush enemies into these dangers whenever possible. Their sacred halls and living areas are far more neat and orderly than other giant lairs, and are expertly designed for ease of movement and to avoid bottlenecks; they serve fire giants as defensible strong points to regulate access and stymie invaders.
Fire giants are avid metalworkers and have great skill in crafting their own weapons and armaments. They also appreciate the fine metalwork of other races, and collect such items either as models to build off of or as trophies of the people they’ve conquered. Fire giants know good work when they see it, and a piece of masterful metalwork is considered far more valuable and useful than a head mounted on a pole. Dwarven metalwork holds particular prestige in fire giant society, and the fiery goliaths claim such expertly crafted goods whenever possible. Since dwarves are loath to give up such treasures, fire giants must usually take them by force, and many a dwarven smith has himself become a trophy in death, his remains mounted above a fire giant’s mantel along with the polished and lovingly tended products of his labor.
Fire giants garner many of their metals from the endless caverns below the world’s surface and thus traditionally live near volcanic mountains where the mineral bounty of the world’s fiery heart constantly spews onto the surface. They are often great collectors of precious gems and refiners and smelters of raw ore, which they typically cast in ingots stamped with their king’s heraldic device. Though too large and heavy for easy use by smaller races, such ingots fit easily in a fire giant’s hand or bag and frequently serve as currency in trades with other giants. Fire giants also covet and collect rare and unusual metals such as adamantine or mithral, whether forged into bars as coinage or crafted into finished products.
Fire giants love heavy armors best, half-plate being their most common variety, though particularly showy kings and generals often make use of full plate. They arm themselves with massive greatswords and other long-bladed weapons for melee, rarely using shields but frequently mounting armor spikes on their persons. While these massive works of war are of little practical use to the human-sized fighter, such goods can be sold to knowledgeable blacksmiths to melt down and refashion.
Fire giants make special use of the boulders they hurl at foes by imbuing their massive projectiles with fire from their ever-burning bodies. The feats Blasting Boulder and Smoking Boulder can be taken by fire giants to enhance their rock-throwing abilities.
Average Height: 12–16 feet
Average Weight: 5,000–9,000 pounds
Favored Weapons: Armor spikes, greatswords
The following list of random treasure includes items one might normally find either on a fire giant’s person or in his dwelling.
|01–06||Large basalt drinking stein|
|07–11||1d12 polished boulders|
|12–16||Half-eaten monitor lizard carcass|
|22–27||Collection of 2d10 horseshoes, twisted and bent into a crude chain or tavern puzzle|
|28–31||1d4 Large hammers|
|32–35||Wooden box of 1d4×100 large nails|
|36–40||1d4 sets of human-sized manacles|
|41–44||Headband of inspired wisdom +2|
|45–47||+1 heavy steel shield of arrow catching|
|48–53||1d4 broken suits of random human-sized armor|
|54–58||Large masterwork greatsword|
|59–64||Bag of 3d6 humanoid and animal skulls|
|65–68||Sack of 5d6 ornamental gemstones or nuggets of gold (50 gp each)|
|69–75||Small cask of brandy (100 gp, 50 lbs.)|
|76–82||Ornate hilt for a Large greatsword, inlaid with silver but lacking a pommel stone (200 gp)|
|83–87||1d6 mithral ingots, stamped with the forge-rune of a fire giant smith (500 gp each)|
|88–92||Oil of magic weapon|
|93–95||A small adamantine meteorite (600 gp)|
|96–100||Torn piece of dragonhide (random color)|