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Giants, as listed in the MM, are known to wield large weapons. For most of them, this large weapon is the source of their massive damage in melee.

I was wondering if there was a way to disarm the giants of these weapons, and then prevent them from easily picking it up?

DMG pg. 278

Step 11. Damage.

[..] Big monsters typically wield oversized weapons that deal extra dice of damage on a hit. Double the weapon dice if the creature is Large, triple the weapon dice if it's Huge, and quadruple the weapon dice if it's Gargantuan. For example, a Huge giant wielding an appropriately sized greataxe deals 3d12 slashing damage (plus its Strength bonus), instead of the normal 1d12.

A creature has disadvantage on attack rolls with a weapon that is sized for a larger attacker. You can rule that a weapon sized for an attacker two or more sizes larger is too big for the creature to use at all.

There are several ways to disarm someone. These moves seem to work against any sized creature, so if successful, even a Giant can be successfully be disarmed. The weapon falls to their feet and, if it were a normal-sized creature, you could pick their weapon up, throw it away, or wield it yourself.

The problem is, unlike a normal-sized creature, when that weapon falls at a Giant's feet:

  • You might not be able to pick that weapon up yourself
  • If you can pick it up, you may not be able to wield it, instead finding yourself holding a very heavy weapon you can't wield
  • If you can somehow pick it up and throw it away instead, there is no threat to the giant if they simply step over you and pick up their weapon

Assuming you can create a character with enough skills, items, and support to manage a disarm/steal combination, how would you be able to do this?

Restrictions:

  • Your skills, items, etc, can't go much above the CR of the monster (eg, no casting wish on a CR 9 Fire Giant).
  • Assume this is a 1 vs 1 fight, rather than a team encounter. A team would have more than one way of fighting a Giant, not just disarming it -- which might not even be necessary, they may be powerful enough to simply kill it.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I am having trouble reconciling your two restrictions with one another, since monster CR assume four PCs against a single monster. For example, a CR9 fire giant (5000xp) would be considered far above deadly for a single PC of level 9 (deadly being defined as 2400xp). In contrast, a single PC of level 19, with access to wish spells, would see a CR9 fire giant as being just a touch more difficult than a Medium encounter (threshold 4900xp). \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 26, 2023 at 7:27

4 Answers 4

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I fail to see why you can't just pick it up. The only limitation on what you can lift is the relevantly named Lifting and Carrying section on p.176 of the PHB - you can lift a weight 30 times your strength score.

If the giant's weapon plus what you are already carrying you can pick it up with your free interaction with an object providing you have a hand available. You may or may not be able to wield it but if the point is to prevent the giant from regaining it that is irrelevant; if you have a weapon in the other hand you can still use that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Forgive me if my doubt seems naive, but wouldn't the Giant simply be able to steal it back? The Disarm move is a valid action in combat (DMG pg 271) although a variant rule. Then again, that would be their action, and if they can do it, you could do it too and steal it right back on your turn... \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    Apr 3, 2016 at 8:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure - or he could just grapple you and toss you off a cliff, I mean he's a giant ... \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Apr 3, 2016 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, yeah, but if you've got his weapon, he would be tossing his own weapon off the cliff with you... \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    Apr 3, 2016 at 12:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or, considering the scene of Zoro 'wielding' Usopp in One Piece, the giant might just pick the weapon back up and you with it... \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2016 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Clockwork-Muse In which case, picking the weapon up didn't really stop the Giant from taking the weapon back after the disarm \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    Apr 3, 2016 at 16:28
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Asymmetry and Teamwork

One way to disarm the Giant is to use a Charm Monster spell to convince the Giant to put the weapon down since you don't mean him any harm before the fighting. Is this guaranteed? No, but his save versus Wisdom is likely to be low, for other than Cloud and Storm giants. Get one of your teammates to "help" on the Persuasion so that you have advantage on the Persuasion check. (Works better with a warlock and a bard than with a wizard and a barbarian ...)

This may be a term short benefit, but it provides your allies a chance to pick up the ax, and run out. (Rogue or monk?)

He's still got his fists, but that ax is off the table.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Depending on its weight, it might take both a Rogue and a Monk to lift that weapon and run with it. How much damage would a Giant's fist deal? \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    Apr 3, 2016 at 16:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ See DaleM's comment on str versus weight. Fists would be like an improvised weapon, with +str (+6) for a Stone giant, for example. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2016 at 16:45
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Heat Metal

This spell can heat up metal objects, including the weapons of most giants as depicted in the Monster Manual (excluding those of hill and stone giants, if we're assuming their clubs are made of wood or stone).

Now, the spell doesn't unequivocally force the giant to drop its weapon, and since the required save is CON, chances are good that the giant succeeds on its save. However, even if the giant doesn't drop it, it still takes the damage (no save!) and suffers disadvantage on attacks and ability checks. Therefore, the giant might still choose to drop it intentionally in order to punch you to oblivion instead.

By using a bonus action, you can also repeat the effect on subsequent turns. Technically, nothing is preventing the giant from picking up his sword, but I would consider this a phrasing oversight, as otherwise someone affected by the spell could just drop the weapon and pick it back up on their turn, entirely negating the dropping effect (not counting opportunity attacks) and only applying the disadvantage to items like armor, which doesn't seem intentional.
Therefore, if your DM rules in favor of common sense, the giant can't pick up the weapon which was glowing red hot just seconds ago.

tl;dr: altogether, this solution is fairly straightforward. For any giant that wields metal weapons (naturally, excluding fire giants), this should work very well, as long as you keep your concentration up. Since the spell is only level 2, it's also plausibly available against any type of giant (excluding low-level giant-kin like Ogres, which most often probably only wield wooden clubs / small trees, anyway).

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Spells as DoS attacks

If you are attempting to deny use of the weapon to the giant, one avenue to explore is spells that can target objects. Most objects used as weapons by a giant would be Medium-sized (barrel or chandelier sized, about 5 feet in its longest dimension), and would be 'Resilient' since they are designed or selected to withstand blows. The DMG suggests 18hp for such an item, so if we are trying to damage or break the item we will need to reliably do at least that much.

The question "What spells can damage objects?" contains an excellent answer by Groody that lists 53 spells that can target objects. These 53 spells are just wizard spells from the PHB. Obviously a more exhaustive search would reveal more possibilities.

Looking through Groody's list, the following spells of 3rd level or less are immediate stand-outs. If you are casting spells of 4th level and higher, they are probably going to be more effective attacking the giant rather than its weapon.

Firebolt (cantrip) - One of the few spells that can both target and damage objects, even if they are being held. You likely won't get enough damage from it to reliably destroy giant weapons until 11th level (and even then, empowered evocation would help greatly). However, its ability to, even as a first level caster, set flammable objects on fire so long as they are not being worn or carried means that you might be able to first disarm the giant, and then set its weapon ablaze (at least for Hill Giant clubs, and the wooden hafts of Frost Giant axes and Cloud Giant morningstars). Would a flaming weapon deter the giant from picking it back up, or would it just continue to use the weapon and perhaps do more damage with it?

Acid Arrow (2nd) - This is a good option since it allows you to attack the weapon directly without even disarming the giant beforehand. A hit even at a second level has a good chance of doing enough damage over two rounds to destroy the weapon. Upcasting it to 3rd level gives you a better than 50% chance assuming you hit.

Darkness (2nd) - Disarm the giant first (since this can only be cast on objects not worn or carried) and then cast darkness on the weapon. The giant would have to first find the weapon in the darkness to pick it back up, but would it even do so if wielding the weapon blinded itself?

Enlarge / Reduce - If you can disarm the giant, and then reduce its weapon before it has a chance to pick it back up, you can shrink it to half size and one-eighth weight. This should allow you to pick it up yourself, or disincentive the giant to retrieve it even if you don't.

Flaming Sphere (2nd) - This doesn't damage objects, but it can set them ablaze if they are not worn or carried. Why not just use Firebolt? Maybe you want to use the sphere to attack the giant each round and then ignite its wooden weapons if you happen to disarm it at some point.

Heat Metal (2nd) - Has the advantage of being able to cast it before disarming, and having the giant drop the weapon itself. See also Pixelmaster's answer for more detail.

Scorching Ray (2nd) - This is a good option since it allows you to attack the weapon directly without first disarming the giant beforehand. A second level cast will do enough damage to destroy the weapon more often than not, if you hit with all three rays. Despite it doing fire damage it doesn't set things ablaze, but can damage metal weapons just as well as wooden ones.

Shatter (2nd) - You will have to get the giant to drop the weapon first, but then you can cast shatter to damage both the giant and the weapon - and the weapon will not get a save. Upcast to third level gives you an even chance of destroying the weapon with one spell.

Fireball (3rd) - This doesn't damage objects, but it can set them ablaze if they are not worn or carried. Just use Firebolt, unless you happened to disarm a giant of a wooden weapon and you want to attack both the giant and weapon.

Lightning bolt (3rd) - This doesn't damage objects, but it can set them ablaze if they are not worn or carried. Just use Firebolt, unless you happened to disarm a giant of a wooden weapon and you want to attack both the giant and weapon.

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