Review – Bigby Presents Glory of the Giants (D&D)

Following in footsteps of Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is Bigby Presents Glory of the Giants, although I suppose that given their ancient rivalry the giants might prefer to think of themselves as making even bigger footsteps over the footsteps of the dragons. Glory of the Giants amply succeeds at being a GM-focused book that fleshes out the history and social structure of the giants, providing tools to help the DM make better giant-focused adventures and also more reasons for the DM to want to create more giant-focused adventures.

There are mechanics and maps in Glory of the Giants, but my single favorite part of the book was advice for DMs on how to depict giants in a game, and especially ground-level tips on how to do things like convey how much bigger they are than the characters – maybe standing up while speaking at the giant, a bit of boom to your voice, or a some rumble to the table. It’s the sort of small things that almost any DM can do, and that can really make an encounter more memorable.

There’s also a lot of effort to expand on the giant’s larger cultural structure, pushing them towards something a bit more than being big plus one obsession per giant type. And if you want to run something giant-focused and more in-depth than Against the Giants, you’re probably going to want that bit more. And, despite my dragons vs. giants attempt at humor to lead off this review, you won’t find much of that here either, because it doesn’t really say much about using the giants in a game (there is a section on having characters deal with the fallout as larger creatures battle without regard for the common folk, and that could be a giant vs. a dragon). You will find a look at their mythical history, but it’s about the giant all-father and his children and his disappointment with the giants and then the book pulls that material into how giant society functions and judges its members and their actions.

On the maps and mechanics front, the DM will find 18 enclaves – locations of some relevance to giants, each presented with a one-page map and a one-page writeup. As you might guess from the length, these enclaves are presented as sources of ideas, rather than complete encounters. There are also more than 70 pages of bestiary for when the DM does want to have fights against giants. Each of the classic giant types has a couple of variations – some sort of corrupted iteration (such as a fire giant of evil fire or a stalker of Baphomet), an undead version (such as the barrowghast), a fancier version (such as the hill giant avalancher), and a ‘hulk’ (descendents of giants who have become elementals). There are some giantkin variations as well, like demogorgon-serving ettins or a troll amalgam. And there are even some giant things that have nothing to do with giants – dinosaurs, “giant” versions of more animals, a couple colossi. Also, for reasons unclear to me, there’s a Cheshire cat (don’t get me wrong, it’s neat, I’m just not sure why this is the book it showed up in).

Bigby himself does appear in the book, adding side notes to the main text. Bigby, who is originally from the world of Greyhawk, is best known for his eponymous ‘hand’ spells, which in 5E are condensed into a single Bigby’s Hand spell with several modes (forceful hand, grasping hand, interposing hand, clenched fist). In Glory of the Giants we learn that he has been killed and reincarnated as a gnome (because when he died they only had a druid handy, not a cleric), and has developed a bit of a fascination with giants that tends to make his comments a bit fawning. Comments are also added by Diancastra, a giant demi-god. I like these side comments better when they’re funny, snarky, or otherwise presents more of a contrast with the main text.

Add in some giant-themed treasure, and there are a lot of options for the DM. There is something for players, but it’s not much – a few backgrounds (giant foundling, rune carver) and one subclass (the barbarian’s Path of the Giant). So I think that Glory of the Giants has to rise or fall on its value to the DM, and on that front I think it succeeds more than I was anticipating. Glory of the Giants leaves me wanting to break out some of those pretty giant-sized miniatures I’ve got sitting on my shelf and get them back into the game.

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