I love D&D and its tropes, if for no other reason than that they give players a frame of reference that you can shatter by taking the “mundane” and making alterations to it. Take the giants, for example – six varieties that can be modified in wonderful ways to stump those veteran “know-it-alls” that tromp through your campaigns with a copy of the Monster Manual in their brains.
Some of the modifications refer to Blood & Treasure, which is awesome and you should own (and the complete game, e-book, is now on sale at rpgnow.com / drivethrurpg.com – eventually I’ll have all my material up for sale there as pdf’s and hard copies).
(Apply One or More; use a d30 if you’d like)
1. Armored: Giant has a turtle shell, chitin or skin of metal or stone – boost AC accordingly, and add spikes (+2 damage) if you like.
2. Artillerist: Giant carries a cannon or ballista as his personal ranged weapon (just use damage equal to stone throwing damage if you want to keep it simple and just use the weapon for a dash of flavor).
3. Beauteous: The giant is gorgeous, and gains the nymph’s blinding beauty and charm abilities. In terms of giantesses, imagine hill giantesses like junoesque shepherd women, stone giantesses like living, regal sculptures, frost giantesses with cool, calculating beauty, fire giantesses like giant-sized Sophia Lorens, etc.
4. Bellowing Roar/Piercing Scream: The giant has quite a pair of lungs – once per day it can holler/scream/shriek/roar per the dragonne special ability.
5. Bestial: The giant has bestial characteristics (use the hybrid template in B&T). Combine hill giants with giant boars, stone giants with cave bears, frost giants with worgs, fire giants with giant lizards, cloud giants with giant eagles and storm giants with giant rams – or use whatever animals you think are most appropriate (elephants and tigers offer great possibilities).
6. Bigger & Dumber: Why do things get dumber when they get bigger? I’d probably know if I was smaller. For this one, just use the “giant” template in B&T and knock the intelligence down a notch. If the giant should have spell-like abilities, nix them. Huge giants get a trample attack (damage equal to strike damage) and giants that go from huge to huger gain a stomp attack (per the stomp spell).
7. Builder: Giant has the abilities of an NPC engineer, as well as the tools and a giant ox or draft horse to help him work.
8. Breath Weapon: The giant can exhale an appropriate breath weapon in a 20-ft. cone. Frost giants exhale cold (3d6 cold damage), fire giants fire (3d6 fire damage), storm giants and cloud giants spit lightning (4d6 electricity damage) and the rest just blow a gust of wind (per the spell).
9. Centaur: Giant has an animal body (see bestial above), gaining any appropriate attacks (claws, for example) and the trample ability.
10. Chariot: Giant drives a giant chariot drawn by appropriate animals (see bestial above for ideas).
11. Class: Giant has the abilities of a PC class with a level equal to half its hit dice. Hill giants make good barbarians, stone giants rangers (yes, because of Wormy), frost giants bards, fire giants fighters, cloud giants magic-users and storm giants druids – but any will do.
12. Claws: Giant gains 2 claw attacks (2d4 damage for large, 2d6 for huge)
13. Drunk: Giant is drunk 90% of the time. He loses 2 points of AC and suffers a -2 penalty to hit in combat, but ignores half of all physical damage inflicted on him. When he misses in melee combat, he must pass a Reflex save or fall prone – anyone who might be flattened must pass their own Reflex save or suffer 2d6 points of damage.
14. Elemental: The giant is kin to the earth elementals; use the elemental template in B&T.
15. Evil Eye: Giant can curse with its gaze (per bestow curse)
16. Godson/Goddaughter: Giant has the half-fiend or half-celestial template from B&T – mommy or daddy is divine!
17. Hideously Ugly: Giant is so ugly, those who see it must pass a Will save or be frightened.
18. Knightly: Like the giant Russian knights of old, the giant is not only in platemail and carries a giant sword and lance, but also rides upon a warhorse sized for him or her. Giant knights might have the abilities of a chevalier (see NOD Companion) of a level equal to half their hit dice, if the referee so desires. Giant will definitely be more civilized than most of its kin.
19. Magic Resistance: Giant enjoys magic resistance equal to half their Hit Dice x 5%.
20. Man-Eater: Giant gains the swallow whole ability against creatures two sizes (or more) smaller.
21. Pet-Lover: Giant is accompanied by a dragon or magical beast (or dinosaur?) appropriate to his environment.
22. Primitive: Giant is more primitive than its kin; it can wear nothing more than leather armor and carries nothing more than a giant club, but it’s strength gives it a +2 bonus to damage. Note that hill giants aren’t too swift to begin with, so primitive hill giants wear no armor and fight with their fists.
23. Sage: Giant is old and wise, and has the abilities of an NPC sage.
24. Size-Changer: Giant can change size once per day, per the shrink or enlarge spells.
25. Shape-Changer: Giant can polymorph self once per day.
26. Smoker: Giant smokes a large clay pipe, and can exhale the equivalent of a fog cloud once per day. Creatures in the smoke must pass a Fortitude save (vs. poison) or start choking (tactical disadvantage).
27. Sun-Hater: Giant turns to stone in daylight, but regenerates as a troll (though the damage they are vulnerable to might be different than fire and acid).
28. Trickster: Like old Utgard-Loki, the giant has natural illusionist abilities. Allow them to cast spells as an illusionist (specialist magic-user) with a level equal to half their hit dice, and knock their intelligence up a category.
29. Two-Headed: Per the ettin.
30. Tusks or Horns: Giant has a gore attack (2d6 damage for large, 2d8 for huge).
Okay, a few more ideas:
31. Field Marshall: Giant is an exile who has taken up with lesser humanoids, becoming their de factor leader. Scale the humanoids to the giant: Hill giant with kobolds, stone giant with goblins, fire giant with orcs, frost giant with hobgoblins, cloud giant with gnolls and storm giant with bugbears.
32. Undead: Combine the giant hierarchy with the sentient undead hierarchy, thus barrow giants (hill giant + wight), shadow giants (stone giant + wraith), smoke giants (fire giant + spectre), ice giants (frost giant + mummy – I’m thinking about the ice mummies here), mist giant (cloud giant + vampire) and tomb giant (storm giant + lich).
33. Friendly: Giants can be friendly, of course, but you don’t want to ruin the rep of the traditional giants. So – hybridize them with some of the friendly demi-human species. Combine hill giants with gnomes for forest giants, stone giants with dwarves for rock giants or fire giants with dwarves for iron giants, frost giants with elves for taiga giants, etc.