Frost giant

A frost giant (giant: hrímthur) is any one of the particular tribe of Giants who are made of ice.

Frost giants are among the most feared giants, as their wanton destruction, battle lust, and fearless demeanor push them to ever-increasing displays of brutality. Frost giants usually start combat at a distance, throwing rocks until they run out of ammunition or the opponent closes, then wading in with their enormous greataxes. A favorite tactic is to lay an ambush by hiding buried in the snow at the top of an icy or snowy slope, where opponents will have difficulty reaching them, and then starting an avalanche before leaping into battle. Frost giants can hide well in snowy environments and are masters of stealth in their domain.

Frost giants survive on hunting and raiding alone, as they live in desolate, frigid environments. Frost giant groups are split almost evenly between those that live in makeshift settlements or abandoned castles and those that roam the frozen north as nomads in search of spoils and provisions. Frost giant leaders call themselves jarls and demand absolute obedience from their followers. At any time a jarl may be challenged by combat for leadership of the tribe. These challenges typically result in the death of one of the combatants. A single jarl can often count a dozen or more smaller frost giant tribes as part of his extended tribe. In such a situation, the leaders of the lesser tribes are known simply as chieftains or warlords.

Frost giants love to take captives, and use them for food as well as slaves and commodities. Every group of frost giants typically has 1–2 humanoid slaves shackled to a slave handler—usually the meanest and cruelest non-jarl in the group. They are also quite fond of monstrous pets—white dragons and winter wolves are popular choices, but remorhazes, yetis, and even linnorms can be found dwelling in a frost giant lair.

Appearance


A frost giant's hair can be light blue or dirty yellow, and its eyes usually match its hair color. Frost giants dress in skins and pelts, along with any jewelry they own. Frost giant warriors also don chain shirts and metal helmets decorated with horns or feathers. An adult male stands about 15 feet tall and weighs approximately 2,800 pounds. Females are slightly shorter and lighter, but otherwise identical to males. Frost giants can live to be 250 years old.

Habitat & Society


Frost giants dwell amid frigid mountains or in the bitter hinterlands of the north. Many subsist in small tribes roaming the frozen wastes, hunting large game, and pillaging remote settlements for spoils. For these itinerate wanderers, glacial caves or earthen dugouts serve as temporary shelters from which they can attack unwary groups of adventurers and tundra-spanning caravans that wander too close to the icy hillsides. Just as many frost giant tribes instead prefer to abide in makeshift settlements year-round, lairing in either abandoned stone castles or crude fortresses carved out of glacial ice. From these holds, frost giants hunt game and raid for slaves and provisions, trekking back to their bases between raids to recuperate and divvy their plunder. Some frost giants even make their homes in vast ruins, carving out meager sovereignties in hopes of one day restoring the fabled kingdoms of their ancestors.

Frost giants are brutal, superstitious warriors among whom only might makes right. The title of jarl inevitably falls to the strongest and most worthy warrior of the tribe, who leads her people to glory through intimidation and violence. At any time, a jarl may be challenged in combat by one of her peers. The winner of such fatal duels is deemed the rightful ruler of the tribe—at least until the next challenger approaches.

The influence of a particularly charismatic jarl can often extend to clans outside her own tribe. In such cases, the leaders of the lesser tribes are typically known simply as chieftains or warlords. These allied tribes often meet to trade goods and arrange marriages, and especially organized collaborations have been known to form massive war bands for devastating campaigns that can span entire mountain ranges before disbanding.

A few frost giants have magical powers and can use runes, sorcery, or foul rituals to cast divinations or bring ruin to their enemies from afar. Such individuals serve their tribes as shamans, earning great standing among their peers second only to the jarl herself. Frost giants take a serious view of their heritage, and in addition to their more oracular duties, shamans are responsible for teaching the tribe's children about their ancestry and the tribe's oral history.

Given their generally warlike nature, frost giants show unusual reverence for their dead. Warriors are buried beneath icy cairns on the battlefield where they met their end, and are placed in their grave alongside their favored weapons. Particularly favored chieftains and jarls are taken back to the Frost giants' encampment or base, where a small ceremony is performed before the deceased is buried next to grave offerings such as gold and even live slaves, tributes meant to ensure she is given proper station in the afterlife. In contrast, those who challenge their current jarl in combat and lose the duel are treated as little better than traitors, their bodies desecrated and some part of their skeleton mounted on the jarl's throne or the hilt of her weapon.

Frost giants possess a particular fondness for slavery, and whenever possible take captives from their destructive raids. Bands of frost giants usually keep at least one or two humanoid slaves shackled to a slave handler—a feared and respected position of authority within frost giant society. Slave handlers are responsible for making sure slaves don't escape, as well as arranging slave trades between other tribes and warlike cultures or divvying out slaves for meals in lean times.

In addition to humanoid thralls, frost giants are quite fond of monstrous pets, including winter wolves and young white dragons, though virtually any creature native to their preferred domain are prone to capture and crude domestication. Mammoths, yetis, and even remorhazes and linnorms can sometimes be found battling alongside frost giant barbarians, as well as guarding frost giant encampments when their masters are out pillaging.

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