Aug 29

GM Advice – Reskinning a Storm Giant into a Thunderstorm

Reskinning is an amazingly easy way to get extra mileage out of the Monster Manual and/or throw more experienced players for a loop when you describe a creature as one thing (goblin), but use the mechanics of another creature (Hydra!)

I’ve been reskinning monsters for years but recently decided I wanted to take things a little further and I reskinned a Storm Giant into a Thunderstorm that my players had to endure during a climatic boss battle with the storm also affecting the BBEG and minions.

This is how I made the conversion, your mileage my vary – but I can say it worked well at the table and I was very happy with how it turned out.

Storm Giant into a Thunderstorm:

Page 256 of the D&D 5e Monster Manual is where you can find the Storm Giant. It seemed like a great starting point to create a thunderstorm. I knew that in some cases the storm would be attacking the PCs and I can just use the stats for that as written in the entry (though if you are throwing this at lower level PCs you can easily adjust the attack bonus and damage dice down). I also knew there would be some aspects where saving throws or skill checks would happen so I took the Challenge rating of the Storm Giant (which is 13) and used that as my base for the DC of any Skill checks or Saving Throws. I could still adjust it up or down based on the narrative at that time or exactly what the Player was trying to do, but 13 was my base assumption.

The Storm Giant’s attacks include multi-attack with its Greatsword. I though it made sense to narratively treat these attacks as windswept debris that that could hit targets in the fight. Essentially each round I’d have flying debris that would target two random characters (PC or NPC). In some cases this debris was one of the goblins they were fighting against (I mean, of course it was). Once I had decided which 2 combatants would be attacked and with what (mechanically it made no difference, but I tried to make it narratively interesting) I then rolled the “attack” with the same stats as the entry. I could have had it be a Saving Throw to dodge rather than have the storm attack, but used attack for this one because of the next section.

The Storm Giant can also hurl a large rock for a ranged attack. I decided that it would fit the narrative of the storm for this to be a vicious thunderclap that generated a sonic attack in a 30’ radius. Since this was going to affect multiple characters I made it a Saving Throw with ½ damage on a success, using the base of 13 for the DC.

Lastly, the Storm Giant has a lighting attack with a recharge of 5 or 6. This was the easiest, there would be a chance of lightning striking the combatants. I decided every other round the lightning would attack one combatant (PC or NPC – rolled randomly) and used the attack with the same stats as the entry. Having it occur every other round was a higher probability than the 1/3 chance of rolling, but since the attack could target PCs or NPCs it felt right.

So, that’s how I changed a Storm Giant into a thunder storm that occurred during a climactic battle with the BBEG and his evil goblin minions. It changed the landscape of the battle and I feel added a lot of atmosphere to the encounter. I hope you found this useful. Please let me know if you’ve done something similar in the past, how you’d change how I did what I did, or if you’ve been inspired to do one now – what you picked and what you turned it into.

Keep in mind you can reskin other ways as well. I’m going to post soon about turning a Beholder into a Dungeon trap/puzzle.


I hope this has been helpful and remember, “If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right!”




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    • Konrad Ferlangen on September 3, 2017 at 2:44 pm
    • Reply

    Great no not a great this is an awesome iedea. I always reskin monster. Because there a so little monster outside. I needed a swamp Monster in CR 18 or so So I reskinned a dragon turtle as a bog monster.
    But this ist the next level-never thought og something like this.,
    Waht I didn’t read in the text, can the PC attack the storm?.

    1. Konrad,

      Thanks for the comment. So, I didn’t include the option of ‘attacking the storm’ in this example because I was already covering so much ground I didn’t want to complicate it any more. If I were to create a challenge where the PCs could attack the challenge I’d allow them to do an ‘attack’ and any damage they did would be divided by 10 and that number used to reduce the overall challenge rating. This way you could do a combination of both types, Skill checks with excessive successes could count toward victory as could ‘attacks’ of some sort – as long as they made sense.


    • Paul Hudson on September 16, 2017 at 3:57 am
    • Reply

    I have a D&D game, where the folks have to climb a mountain…I am so going to steal this and mix it was a skill challenge to escape it.

    1. Paul,

      Excellent. Please let me know how it works (or doesn’t) with your group!

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