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Ogres and Hill giants are both of Giant type and are described as very similar height: 9–10 feet for ogres, 10½ feet for hill giants (and they're both of Large size category). Yet their described weight is vastly different (600–650 lbs. vs. 1100 lbs.), as are their abilities.

The ogre is a CR 3 monster with 4 HD and a strength of 21.

The hill giant has CR 7, 12 HD and strength 25.

Where does this difference come from? Is there a fluff justification for it? Or has there ever been any official explanation of why the hill giant (and other giants) was made much shorter than its 2nd-edition incarnation (which was 16'), while most of its abilities seem to have stayed?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What problem are you trying to solve with this answer? Is it that you are unhappy with how tall hill giants are now? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 30 '15 at 12:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Although not tagged as such, there's probably a history of gaming question with a very short history here (like, Have the developers of D&D 3E explained why they made giants in that edition shorter?). Converting campaigns and adventures from other editions might make this question important, for example. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 30 '15 at 13:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Basically, the problem I am trying to solve is: "Why do creatures of very similar shape, size, and type have very different levels of physical power?" I'd have trouble providing in-game description for my players from which they could infer that the creatures' power is so different. I'm therefore looking for a way to rationalise this - fluff, history, word of god, pretty much anything. If you can suggest how I could express that in the question so that it meets this stack's standards and customs better, I'll be grateful. \$\endgroup\$ – Angew Oct 30 '15 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I removed my last sentence (about discrepancy) based on your edit of the question title. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 4 '15 at 18:56
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The Evidence: Hill Giant Height Change = Correction from 2e to 3.Xe

TL:DR - An Ogre Isn't A True Giant

If you just looked at the two monsters standing side by side, the Hill Giant would be slightly taller and a lot stockier and bulkier in build.

  1. Based on the progression of D&D editions, the change in height appears to be a correction to the bloat/choices in 2e. Hill Giants have always been a much tougher opponent than Ogres(this goes back to OD&D: an Ogre was Monster Table 4 Monster, a Giant was a Monster Table 6 Monster). This theme of comparative power (Lore?) remains consistent with the stats in 3.5e.

  2. While Ogres may be of the Giant Class or Giant Type (usage varies with edition) Ogres are not True Giants. That status is reserved for: Hill, Stone, Cloud, Fire, Frost, and Storm Giants. The distinction goes back to OD&D/Greyhawk when Storm Giants were introduced, and the term "giant class" was introduced. Hill Giants were always the least powerful Giants(Monsters and Treasure).

    • An early mechanical distinction in why "Giant Class" matters had to do with Dwarves having an advantage fighting against them(ref Monsters and Treasure): Dwarves did +1 damage (Greyhawk)and took half damage versus giant and other large clumsy creatures like Ogres(Monsters and Treasure).

    • Also certain weapons were "Giant Slaying" -- the special damage bonus applied to giant class monsters. (Refs: Monsters and Treasure, Greyhawk).

    • Bugbears were added to "Giant Class" (Greyhawk). Gnolls and some Orc kin (1e AD&D). (Aside: Rangers got a damage bonus per level versus Giant class creatures. As with Dwarven advantages, there were some mechanical benefits based on that classification ...)

    I mention the above to point out that the "Giant Type" looks like the red herring that prompted your question. A better comparison is between your 3.5 Hill Giant and other True Giants to see if the power gradient lines up correctly.

  3. Supporting points:(Stat format = HD/DMG/Height). The increased Giant Heights stand out in 2e. Compare that to the 3.5e Monster Manual: is the trend consistent?

    • As presented in 3.5e, the difference in weight appears to accurately reflect that the True Giant (a Hill Giant) is a larger, stronger, and much harder to kill creature than an Ogre that isn't a True Giant (though of Giant Class/Type). The Giant has 400 pounds of bigger/denser bones, more muscle, more body mass, more monster. (And he throws rocks at you!)
    • If you are trying to paint a picture for your players (per your comment): look at an NFL cornerback who is about 5'11 and about 180 lbs, and a fullback who is 6' and 240 pounds. They are both tough, and almost the same height, but the latter is far more powerful, stronger, and harder to knock down. When he hits you with a block, he hits you harder. Height isn't the end all and be all to power. With a 400 pound weight differential, the Ogre and Giant are NOT the same size when all dimensions and factors are considered.

Monster        OD&D             1e                2e                  3.5e 
(HD/DMG/Height) --               --               --                   --
Ogre       4+1/1d6+2/7-10'    4+1/1d10/9'        4+1/1d10/9'        4hd/Dmg/9-10'
Hill Giant  8/2d6/12'         8+1-2/2d8/10.5'    12+1/2-12+7/16'    12HD/Dmg/10.5'

Height(HD):   Hill        Stone     Frost      Fire         Cloud      Storm

OD&D       12'  (8)      15'(9)     18'(10+1)  12'(11+3)   20'(12+2)    24'(15)
1e         10.5'(8+1)    12'(9+1)   15'(10+1)  12'(11+2)   18'(12+2)    21'(15+2)
2e         16'  (12+1)   18'(14+1)  21'(14+1)  18'(15+2)   24'(16+2)    26'(19+2)    
3.5(SRD)   10.5'(12+48)  12'(14+56) 15'(14+70) 12'(15+75)  18'(17+102)  21'(19+114)

Bottom Line: this difference is consistent with D&D lore from its inception. The 3.5e MM(SRD) shows a progression and comparative power like what's always been in the game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for full-back analogy. People vary in weight/density, so why shouldn't mythical monsters? who even knows if they're made of the same stuff \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Oct 30 '15 at 23:25
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As a friend here once put it to me, "to make a giant owl, first you throw away the owl."

Yes both are giants, though storm giants are also giants, but are much stronger than hill giants, so classification doesn't mean much. G Height is also a relative term, and has little to no effect on power. Several monsters of similar height are different size categories because weight and size make all the difference.

Ogres are just smaller monsters. Less powerful monsters, like how a green dragon is weaker than a red dragon. They were designed for different purposes from different concepts, for many reasons, such as fluff or flavor or challenge difficulty, lore, and many others.

If you need something different, the DM guide suggests several ways to alter monster stats, but the only raw reason is lore and difficulty

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If you downvote my answer, at least tell me why \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Oct 30 '15 at 3:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ As far as I can tell, it's pure speculation, and it doesn't seem to address any of the specific points in the last paragraph of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 30 '15 at 4:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/69379/… I believe you will find the concept similar \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Oct 30 '15 at 4:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's a completely different kind of question. This question is asking about the history and reasoning behind the differences in two monsters, and your answer seems to say that that's just how it is. "They were designed for different purposes from different concepts, for many reasons, such as fluff or flavor or challenge difficulty, lore, and many others." This is precisely what the question is asking about. What purposes? What concepts? Which reasons? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 30 '15 at 4:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's true. I was looking at it from a mechanical standpoint. I'll leave my answer unless it gets more down votes, in which case I'll delete it \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Oct 30 '15 at 4:37

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