Many centuries ago, a large clan of hill giants lived in the valley near a hidden mountain pass that led to a region of frozen tundra. An ancient white wyrm decimated the tundra, forcing a small clan of frost giants to flee from their homes. They took refuge in the cold valley on the far side of the pass for a few hundred years. Over time, they intermingled with the hill giants nearby, forming an inferior subrace of giants called snow giants. These giants are smaller, they are strong like hill giants, and they inherited some of the frost giants’ intelligence and cold immunities.
After a group of adventurers defeated the ancient white wyrm, the snow giants wanted to move back to the tundra and reclaim their ancestral home. They were too late—another tribe had taken over the lands. After realizing they had no place to call their own, the snow giants traveled around the edge of the tundra in nomadic clans, which they continue to do to this day. Snow giants will usually trade humanoid slaves to the frost giants for needed goods, but they do not have a good relationship with them. Snow giants do not care much for hill giants or frost giants, and they believe that they can count only on themselves.
Among the snow giants, some of the fiercest warriors are the females. They do anything they need to so that their race continues to survive.
Since their home was taken away, the snow giants aim to find a new place to settle down. Until then, they roam like nomads in the colder regions. Some common configurations of encounters with snow giants include hunting bands (2–4 fighters), scouting parties (2–8, with one cleric), and smaller nomadic bands ( 12–16, with 2 clerics, 1 mage; the rest are fighters). You can refer to part 3 for statistics for the base snow giant, and you’ll find more possible encounters listed in the “Random Encounters for the Tundra” section.
Random Encounters for the Tundra
For CR 9 to CR 12
1. 1 frost giant with a mastodon pack elephant
2. 1 raiding party consisting of 1 frost giant and 4 ogres
3. 1 frost giant with a polar bear
4. 1 remorhaz
5. 1 d10 aurochs being stalked by 1–3 snow giants
6. 2 dire bears
7. 2 ettins with a polar bear
8. 1–3 frost giants with 2–8 human slaves
9. 4–6 ogres looking for prey
10. 1d20 aurochs being hunted by 1–2 frost giants
Plot Hook: The White Rage
Many centuries ago, the great white wyrm called Jorggunnd died amid the high peaks of Fellfrost Mountains. A rival or a valiant hero did not fell this mighty dragon. Instead, sickness tore first at her mind and eventually her body. Frozen in the deep tundra, her massive form was preserved in the deep ice and snow, until recent thaws unearthed the remains. With her dead form now revealed, beasts and monsters began feeding on the once-frozen flesh of the dragon. The great snow cats that roam the high mountains and were often tamed to serve among the frost giants are among those beasts that took meat from the dragon corpse. These massive cats now work as carriers for the sickness that killed Jorggunnd, which has gained the name the White Rage among various giant tribes. This has, on rare occasion, infected the snow giants themselves, driving them into a state of frenzied aggression, during which they venture out of the frozen vastness to kill and raid in near hysteria.
When the powerful snow giant chieftain Argromund contracted the sickness from the meat of a mammoth, he began to lead his warriors ever farther on raids, killing all in their path. Some of his loyal warriors could tell that Argromund had changed from what he wanted to be and into something other—he not only started to disregard the lives of his warriors, but he also attacked with a lack of caring for his own life as well, which had not been his behavior in the past. To him, they noted, violence became his first love, and when he began destroying villages that held nothing of any threat to them, they started murmuring among themselves, seeking to understand what had changed and wondering how he had been infected with what they started to think was the White Rage.
As a plot hook, the heroes can be called upon to discover why some outlying villages have gone silent and be sent to investigate. What they will find are a few settlements, utterly destroyed, with every man, woman, and child slain. Additionally, they come across a fatally wounded snow giant who had tried to persuade Argromund to return to the mountains and find a way back home. Argromund, his mind assaulted by the White Rage, refuses to allow anyone to question his actions and now attacks those who do.
In game terms, Argromund fights in a frenzied rage when in combat (which is often these days). The disease takes away any regard for his own safety, so treat his AC as being flat-footed. The rage has allowed him to become extremely resilient to pain, which has tripled his hit points. In addition, all of his physical attacks have a +4 bonus to damage rolls. He has not yet succumbed to the point of senselessly killing any living creature, so unless his fellow snow giants question him, he does not attack them.
He will be accompanied by a raiding party of at least 12–15 snow giants and have either a giant saber-toothed cat or a mammoth as a mount.
When encountered, Argromund makes no attempt at stealth, and he charges into battle immediately.