The Frost Giant is the first of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Cards that is related to Norse mythology. A lot of my early D&D games had a heavy Norse flavor, so this card a was a favorite of mine. Whenever my players would fight one, I would paperclip it to my screens so they knew what they were fighting. Eventually with just a flash of yellow, they would know exactly what they would be fighting.
The art is by Bill Willingham. The very talented Willingham would also bring his Giant illustrating expertise to bear again when he did the cover for the 1981 G1-3 Series module, Against the Giants.
This version of the Frost Giant was how I would describe all of my Frost Giants for years. I did this despite having a problem with it. If you didn’t know this was a giant, don’t you think it kind of looks like a dwarf? Something about the way it is built. It has a certain stout quality.
I guess that makes this take on the Frost Giant even more compelling. Dwarves are tough, and worthy of your respect. Make one 15 feet tall and you should be terrified.
In the first edition Monster Manual, the Frost Giant still looks like a dwarf. Judging by the style of the art, I would say this is the work of David A. Trampier. Who also did the cover for the 1978 G2 module Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.
Stats for the Frost Giant line up nicely with its appearance in the first edition Monster Manual. In second edition, the Frost Giants get a bit of a makeover, becoming both taller and receiving for Hit Dice. The art by Jeff Butler might be different, but the stoutness remains intact. This is not a lanky giant, this is a giant that built like a 21 foot tall fire plug.
Cold and huge, like a wall of ice, the Frost Giant radiates a grimness that Willingham captures perfectly. This monster has been a staple of D&D since its earliest days and continues to show up in each iteration. It is no wonder they chose one to appear in the 1st set of Monster Cards.