Giant's Armor

When I recently ran Module G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, there were some adjudications I had to make about giant armor. One issue is that although in AD&D giants are given increasingly effective armor per giant type, in OD&D they all have the same fixed value: AC4. A second issue is that while the Steading has an Arsenal/Weapons complex with giant-sized shields, helmets, and spears (Greek style?), there are no rules given as to how this helps the giants if they get in and arm themselves appropriately.

Here's what I decided to do for my OD&D game: Say that all giant types are AC5 naturally without any protection. Then say that the more sophisticated giant types customarily wear better armor, with the same number of steps protection that PCs get from them (or equivalently, normal book armor AC +4 steps). For example:
  • Hill giants, AC5 base. Normally wear no armor (primitive skins) for AC5. If giants in the Steading get to the Armory for shield & helmet, they become AC3 (+1 each).
  • Frost giants, AC5 base. Normally wear leather armor (berserker/barbarian-style) for AC3 (+2 steps improvement).
  • Fire giants, AC5 base. Normally wear giant chain mail (dwarf/heavy foot style) for AC1 (+4 steps improvement).
So you can see it becomes easy to adjudicate if a giant picks up a shield, or gets caught sleeping unarmored, etc. On the one hand, the G1 giants become easier by one step when feasting/unarmored, but are more challenging by one step if they get to their shield/helmet gear. The "normal" protection here results in being within 1 or 2 points of the revised AD&D statistics, frost giants being +1 improved, and fire giants toughened by +2 steps. If you want to make some special giant King that had full plate mail ("black iron armor"?), then he'd weigh in at AC -1, but I wouldn't anticipate using that very frequently.

Finally, if you compute the average AC among all these types in their standard armor, weighting by frequency of occurrence (6:1:1, per Vol-2, p. 9), then you get a mean value of AC 4, exactly as shown in the OD&D monster reference table for all giants.


  1. Great post! I was tossing around the idea of running these when the LL/AEC party gets high enough to survive and the giant armor extrapolation is superb. Thank you!

  2. While I ran this series in AD&D, I also assumed that AC4 was in "leather" (hide) type armor. I gave a penalty for no armor and a bonus for superior armor. I also utilized a limited version of Weapon vs Armor Type adjustments and those with slashing weapons (excellent damage vs. large creatures, BTW) really like those soft, squishy pink unarmored and lightly armored targets.