Giants

Giants


Storm Giant

Cloud Giant

Fire Giant

Frost Giant 

Stone Giant 

Hill Giant



Giant Kin 

Fomorian

Ettin 

Ogre



Storm Giant Quintessent

Fire Giant Dreadnought

Cloud Giant Smiling One

Frost Giant Everlasting One

Stone Giant Dreamwalker

Mouth of Grolantor



Items in a Giant's Bag



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Giants tower over humans and their kind. They are humanlike in shape, though some have multiple heads (ettins) or deformities (fomorians). The six varieties of true giant are hill giants, stone giants, frost giants, fire giants, cloud giants, and storm giants. Besides these, creatures such as ogres and trolls are giants. 


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MM P149


Ancient empires once cast long shadows over a world that quaked beneath the giants’ feet. In those lost days, these towering figures were dragon slayers, dreamers, crafters, and kings, but their kind fell from glory long ago. However, even divided among secluded clans scattered throughout the world, the giants maintain the customs and traditions of old.


Old as Legend. In remote regions of the world, the last remaining plinths, monoliths, and statues of the great giant empires bow their heads in desolate obscurity. Where once those empires sprawled across all lands, now the giants dwell in isolated tribes and clans.


Giants are almost as old as dragons, which were still young when the giants’ heavy feet first shook the foundations of the world. As they spread across new lands, giants and dragons fought bitter generational wars that nearly brought both sides low. No living giant remembers what started the conflict, but myths and tales of their race’s glorious dawn are still sung in their steadings and holdfasts, vilifying the primeval wyrms. Giants and dragons continue to harbor grudges against one another, and it is seldom that they will meet or occupy the same area without a fight.


The Ordning


Each of the main giant racesthe cloud, fire, frost, hill, stone, and storm giantsare related by common elements of history, religion, and culture. They view one another as kindred, keeping any inherent animosity over territory and ambition to a minimum.


Giants belong to a caste structure called the ordning. Based on social class and highly organized, the ordning assigns a social rank to each giant. By understanding its place in the ordning, a giant knows which other giants are inferior or superior to it, since no two giants are equal. Each of the giant races analyzes a different combination of skills or qualities to determine the ordning. Giants make excelling in these qualities the purpose of their lives.


At the highest level of the ordning, the races of the giants are also ranked according to status. Storm giants are the highest in the ordning, followed by cloud giants, fire giants, frost giants, stone giants, hill giants, and finally giant kin such as fomorians, ettins, and ogres.


Regardless of a giant’s rank among its own race, the chief of a hill giant tribe is inferior to the most common of stone giants. The lowest ranked giant of any type is superior to the highest ranked giant of an inferior type. It isn’t considered evil to disrespect or even betray a giant of another type, merely rude.


Giant Gods


When the giants’ ancient empires fell, Annam, father of all giants, forsook his children and the world. He swore never to look upon either again until the giants had returned to their glory and reclaimed their birthright as rulers of the world. As a result, giants pray not to Annam but to his divine children, along with a host of hero-deities and godly villains that make up the giants’ pantheon.


Chief among these gods are the children of Annam, whose sons represent each type of giant: Stronmaus for storm giants, Memnor for cloud giants, Skoraeus Stonebones for stone giants, Thrym for frost giants, Surtur for fire giants, and Grolantor for hill giants. Not all giants automatically revere their kind’s primary deity, however. Many good cloud giants refuse to worship the deceitful Memnor, and a storm giant dwelling in the icy mountains of the north might pay more homage to Thrym than Stronmaus. Other giants feel a stronger connection to Annams daughters, who include Hiatea, the huntress and home warden; Iallanis, goddess of love and peace; and Diancastra, an impetuous and arrogant trickster.


Some giants abandon their own gods and fall prey to demon cults, paying homage to Baphomet or Kostchtchie. To worship them or any other non-giant deity is a great sin against the ordning, and almost certain to make a giant an outcast.


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VGtM P18


Giants: World Shakers


If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that any empire that rises will fall. They all come crashing down.

Volo


The saga of giantkind began in the dawn of the world. Elves had yet to set dainty foot out of the fey realm when the thunder of the giants’ steps shook the world to its bones, and even the dragons were yet unaware of the power and glory they would attain. The record of that early age had already vanished into the mists of legend by the time humankind came onto the scene. Now, not even the giants know the full truth of their beginnings.


All that the giants and their kin know for certain is that they are sibling races. Humanoids such as elves, humans, and dwarves are more similar in size and shape than the disparate giant types are to one another, but those races have no shared heritage. In contrast, every true giant, regardless of type, can trace its ancestry directly to Annam the All-Father. Most giants believe that Annam took a number of consorts in addition to his mate Othea, accounting for the variety in appearance and Abilities among the types of giantkind.


Giants and giant kin rank among the world’s most fearsome creatures, literally towering over the other, younger beings that crowd the world. Yet nowadays most giants live in isolation or in obscure locations, exhibiting none of the collective grandeur and power of their forebears.


First Impressions


Encountering a giant can be an awe-inspiring and disorienting experience. First comes a rhythmic booming, felt more than heard, that resolves slowly into the sound of footsteps: a giant is near! Loose stones vibrate and tumble down the hillside. Trees sway, then bend aside as the colossus emerges. How can anything be that big? Is it a trick of perspective?


When giants first appear before a band of adventurers, they demonstrate the qualities that make them spectacular to behold:






Children of the All-Father


In an age before human and elf, when all dragons were young, Annam the All-Father put the first giants upon the world. These giants were reflections of his divine offspring and also children of the world, birthed from the marrow of mountains, the hot blood of volcanoes, and the breath of hurricanes.


Annam conceived the giants to be masters of the world. He gave them great height so they would look down on all they ruled. He created a hierarchy for his children—the ordningso that all would know their status with respect to one another, and would know who among them stood nearest the knee of the All-Father.


United in purpose, Annams children built Ostoria, the fabled empire of the giants, where they lived according to the ordning. Storm giants ruled all from both below and above. They held sway over the oceans from undersea fortresses and lorded over the land from castles in the sky. Cloud giants built immense floating cities and served the storm giants as their strong right hands. Stone giants and fire giants settled on the mountaintops and in the sprawling caverns beneath them, where they carved and forged the greatest works of giant art and craft. Frost giants defended Ostoria with the might of their arms, not just on the chilly peaks and glaciers but on every frontier. Hill giants sprawled over all other lands, subjugating lesser creatures through brute force.


Beginning of the End


All told, the empire of Ostoria dominated the world for four millennia before its decline began in a genocidal struggle against the dragons that came to be known as the Thousand-Year War.


Dragons had lived in and around Ostoria in relative peace since the empire’s foundation. Conflicts between dragons and giants in those days were personal, not tribal or regional, and usually involved bragging rights or hunting territory. Differences were settled by individual Contests of might, wits, or skill. That situation persisted for generations, until the red dragon Garyx inflamed the greed and envy in its followers by railing against the giants’ prosperity, and they rose up in response.


At least, that’s what most giants believed to have happened. No one really knows any longer what set off the war. But once battle began, the long-standing peace between giants and dragons crumbled everywhere. Foes tore at each others’ throats in all parts of Ostoria. There were no front lines or safe havens, only endless ambushes, sieges, and atrocities committed against giants and dragons alike. Eventually, none were left alive on either side who had seen the war’s beginning. Age and brutality had claimed them all, and the few giants and dragons then alive had spent their entire existence at war. The Thousand-Year War didn’t truly end so much as it wasted away through attrition and Exhaustion.


The realm that could still be called Ostoria survived only far in the north. A few outposts and fragment kingdoms, such as the fire giants Helligheim and the stone giants Nedeheim, clung to life in deep caverns and hidden valleys. In the millennia that followed, even these places fell, and what remained of Ostorian territory became barren, shrouded in ice as thick as mountains. Since that time, many lesser races have attained greatness and themselves fallen into obscurity. Few hints of the giants’ once-great empire have survived the relentless accumulation of years.


But the giants remember. Their empire and their unified purpose are long gone, but a yearning for a return to the greatness that was once theirs burns in all their memories.


Ostoria and Other Worlds


The tale of Ostoria is drawn from the Forgotten Realms. Think of it as a good example of how giants developed on many worlds, as it captures their rise and fall from prominence in a manner that is iconic to many D&D settings. In your own world, you can replace Ostoria with another giant empire or adapt it to create your own origin story.


Voninheim, the Lost Capital


Voninheim (“Titan Home” in the Giant language) stood as the capital of Ostoria for millennia. It was an awe-inspiring structure of iron and stone, raised by magic as much as by mortal hands. Some attributed its construction directly to one or more of Annams sons, arguing that even giants couldn’t have erected such a monumental edifice. The palace stood firm and unshaken as glaciers that could flatten mountains assailed it and flowed around it, until only its iron spires jutted above the ice like great, gray fangs. Eventually the relentless ice buried it utterly, and Voninheim was abandoned. Many giants seek to rediscover its location: some hope to recapture the lost glory of Ostoria, but others want only to claim the mighty Weapons of legend said to be entombed in its frozen halls.


Annams Offspring: The Giant Pantheon


When Ostoria fell, Annam disowned his children, swearing never to regard the giants again until they returned Ostoria to its past prominence and reclaimed their rightful positions as rulers of the world. Giants, therefore, don’t pray to Annam, who refuses to hear them. Instead, they revere his divine children, as well as a host of other hero-deities and godly villains that are minor members of the pantheon.


Chief among the giant gods are the six sons of Annam. The brothers are Stronmaus (champion and favorite of storm giants), Memnor (cloud giants), Surtur (fire giants), Thrym (frost giants), Skoraeus Stonebones (stone giants), and Grolantor (hill giants).


Although each of Annams sons is typically worshiped by giants of a particular type, they, like Annam himself, aren’t racially distinct. Stronmaus, for example, doesn’t look like a Storm Giant, though he is often depicted as one in carvings and other art. Like Annam and each of his brothers, Stronmaus is a unique godly being with no mortal equivalent. His temperament and interests are similar to those of the storm giants, so most of his followers are of that type.


Similar statements can be made about the other five brothers. Most cloud giants revere Memnor, for example, but many reject him because of his deceitfulness and venerate Stronmaus instead. A Storm Giant living amid blizzards and icebergs in the far northern sea might pay homage to Thrym rather than to Stronmaus. Giants that have given up hope of rising in the ordning sometimes worship Vaprak the Destroyer, who is recognized by giants as the father of trolls and ogres.


Giants don’t worship male deities exclusively, either. Annams mate Othea, Hiatea the huntress and home warden, Iallanis the goddess of love and peace, and Diancastra, an impetuous and arrogant trickster, have substantial followings. Like humans, some giants even fall prey to demon cults, in which they pay homage to a demon lord such as Baphomet or Kostchtchie. Worshiping such entities, or any non-giant deity, is considered a great sin against the ordning. Being discovered means being cast out from family and clan.


The Giant Tongue


The language that giants share is one of the few remnants from their once-grand empire. Over time it has fragmented into many dialects, and each type has its own distinctive accent, but giants of different types can generally understand one another.


Any non-giant who learns the Giant language can converse with all types of giants, but giants sometimes have a hard time hearing the tiny voices of human-sized creatures, and some vowel sounds emitted by giants are nearly impossible to reproduce for any creature that doesn’t have lungs as large as beer barrels.


Maat and Maug


Two words have Special significance in the Giant language and the giants’ worldview. Neither one of them translates directly into Common or any other language, because their definitions encompass several related concepts. Maat (pronounced mott) is the term giants use to describe ideas, behaviors, creatures, and objects that they consider good, holy, honorable, or desirable. Maug (pronounced mog) is the counterpart term, embodying what other languages call evil, unholy, dishonorable, or undesirable.


Individual giants aren’t necessarily thought of as maat or maug by their kin. What matters isn’t a giant’s personal philosophy but its standing within the ordning, which is influenced by behavior and attitude but also by a host of other factors. Every individual commits both maat and maug acts, and rises or falls in the ordning as a consequence. A giant isn’t judged by other giants on the basis of whether what it did was inherently good or evil, but on whether its actions enhanced or diminished the qualities giants admire—the “giantness,” if you will—in themselves and their clans.


A Storm Giant, for example, might see the raiding practices of hill giants as distasteful but not maug, because brutal raiding is an inborn trait of the hill giants. If those same hill giants worshiped Yeenoghu, however, that act would represent a flagrant turning away from the traditions of the ordning. Hill giants who choose that path make themselves maug.


Non-giants are considered maug out of hand and must usually prove themselves maat to gain a giant’s respect.


Runes and Tale Carvings


For much of their written Communication, giants use a modified version of the runic letterforms claimed by the dwarves as their own. This alphabet is used widely today, including by many traditional enemies of the dwarves such as orcs, giants, and Goblinoids. That giants were first in the world and thus the creators of the script is a fact that giants take for granted but which dwarves hotly dispute.


Many giants are illiterate or nearly so—particularly hill, frost, and fire giants, which place little value on learning. Instead of writing stories with words, they typically tell their tales with pictograms etched in wood, ice, stone, or even earth, in the case of hill giants. These “tale carvings” relate legends or the stories of important events or meetings in the manner of highly sophisticated cave paintings. Often they employ aspects of legends about the giant pantheon. For example, Memnors face or head floating above the shoulders of another giant indicates that the giant was a liar or a deceiver; a depiction of Iallanis being stabbed in the back represents the betrayal of love. Such symbols and visual allegories are well understood by giants, but they can be indecipherable to viewers who aren’t steeped in the giants’ mythology. Most non-giants find a tale carving as unintelligible as giants would find poetry written in Elvish.


A Glossary of Giant Words


armorharbunad

arrowpil

battleslag

black—sort

bravery—prakt

cloud giantskyejotun

cowkue

chieftain—forer

danger—fare

death—dod

dwarfdverg

enemy—uven

elfalv

evil/unholy/dishonorable—maug

fire giantildjotun

fortress—festing

frost giantisejotun

gold—gil

good/holy/honorable—maat

greetings—helsingen (hels)

hill gianthaugjotun

home—heim

honor—rang

intruder—ubuden

journey—ferd

human—van

king—kong

lightstig

meat—kjott

mother—hild

red—rod

shieldskold

silver—solv

stone giantsteinjotun

storm giantuvarjotun

teeth—tenner

temple—bapart

tribe—stomm

up—opp

warrior—krigga

white—kvit

windvind


Representative Giant Phrases


What is your tribe and rank? Wo dun stomm rad?

Who is your leader? Wer dun forer?

I give you respect. Am du paart.

Who goes there? Wer fers dir?

Where are you going? Wie ferst du?

My name is Red Wind of a Thousand Evils. Rodvind Tusenmaug er meg nom.

Attack our enemies! Anfel su uvenir!

Lead me to your king. Fang meg zo dun kong.


Giants and Magic


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Giants have a paradoxical relationship with magic. The most outwardly magical are the cloud giants, followed closely by storm giants. Both types have an innate ability to use some forms of magic related to air, weather, and gravity. Very few giants, however, study magic in the way that humans, dwarves, and elves do. Arcane scholarship by itself isn’t acknowledged by the ordning; it isn’t maug, but it isn’t maat, either. Mastering the secrets of magic, though, demands a degree of devotion that would take giants away from pursuits that are valued by the ordning. As a consequence, it’s a path rarely taken.


The exception is rune magic. Giants are drawn to the solidity and permanence of magical runes. Stone giants are great practitioners of rune carving, both because of the artistry it demands and because their Environment is perfect for its use. At least a few skiltgravr (“rune cutters”) can be found among any type of giants, even the slow-witted hill giants who stomp enormous marks into hillsides or gouge them into their own flesh.


Crafting this form of magic is painstakingly slow. Imagine a Wizard who crafts a scroll and who eschews the convenience of Parchment and ink in favor of stone and chisel, glacier and axe, or iron and forge.


Carving a magical rune into an item imbues it with power. Like any other magic item, it can be used to activate one or more magical effects. A magical rune can also be inscribed upon a surface to create effects similar to those of a Glyph of Warding or Symbol spell. The rune itself determines what sort of magic the item or surface holds. For example, a storm rune carved into a stone might allow the stone’s possessor to control the weather. The same rune carved into door or chest might deal thunder damage to anyone who opens it.


A Giant’s Bag


A giant on the move always has a sack slung over its shoulder. The primary purpose of a giant’s bag is to carry food. With such an enormous belly to feed (particularly in the case of hill giants), it’s unwise for a giant to travel without a supply of nourishment.


Giants also carry rocks in their bags: a few for battle, a few others for hunting, and one or two Special ones for games. Beyond that, a bag might contain anything: tools, mementos, items for trade, or merely curios the giant wanted to bring along. Some possible contents are:



Champions of Rock Throwing


med-1.jpg


Giants have a well-deserved reputation as living siege engines—all of them can hurl boulders with accuracy across great distances. Rock throwing—for battle, hunting, and sport—is a tradition that goes back to the ancient times of the giants. Other races developed the sling, the spear-thrower, or the bow to artificially improve the Strength and accuracy of their Ranged Attacks, but giants never perceived a need for mechanical assistance. Even in places where giants have adapted bows or javelins for use in Combat, they’ve never neglected the straightforward strategy of picking up a rock and letting it fly. Few activities, in fact, seem to give them as much satisfaction as the simple act of tossing boulders.


Most of the games that giants play involve throwing rocks in ways that hone their skills for hunting and war. One of the most popular Contests, especially among fire giants, involves nothing more than taking turns trying to knock each other down with boulders. Frost giants build Targets out of snow and ice and compete to see who can knock down the most with a single toss. A popular one-on-one game begins with the challenger throwing a stone as far as it can. The giant who was challenged then goes to where the stone landed and hurls it back at the challenger. A challenger who is stronger wins, because the return throw will fall short, but a giant who took on a better thrower will stumble away, nursing its injuries, as a lesson that arrogance has a price.


In battle against puny creatures, giants use boulders that fit in one hand. When giants fight enormous foes (such as dragons) or enormous Targets (such as castles), they prefer to hurl stones so large that even a giant must use both arms to lift and throw one. Giants throw just as accurately with both arms as with one, a feat most humans would find impossible. These attacks are effective only at shorter ranges, however, for obvious reasons.


When they hunt by rock throwing, giants use smaller stones, about the size of a human head, that can kill an elk or a bear without smashing it into pulp.


How to Lay a Giant Low


A force allied with giants—or worse, a force made up of giants—is one of the most fearsome opponents on the battlefield. The giants can rain boulders onto an enemy from a distance where only skilled archers, heavy siege Weapons, or spellcasters can strike back at them.


At first blush, it might seem that a potent Wizard would make the best giant-killer, but few spellcasters can stand up to a giant in direct confrontation. One might do harm to a giant, but odds are it will survive the one or two Spells that can be Thrown at it before a well-placed boulder or the swing of an enormous club quashes the threat.


Among those with experience fighting giants, dwarves have developed the most effective Tactics. To defeat a giant, dwarves rely on prolonged, accurate, massed archery (favoring heavy crossbows for such work), fast-moving cavalry that can force the giant into a disadvantageous position, or fanatical troops armed with pole arms, ropes, and Grappling hooks. If a giant can be tripped or pulled down—preferably onto its belly so it’s less able to defend itself—then it can be entangled in nets and cables and disabled by concentrated attacks on its head and neck.


On the other side of the field, giants understand that smaller foes will try to target their legs and lower bodies. Thus, when they head into a fight against human-sized opponents, they don thick boots, greaves, armored codpieces, and wide, heavy hide or metal belts to protect their bellies. Even savage hill giants peel thick bark from trees and strap it around their legs and dangle logs or stones from their belts to make the going more perilous for an enemy that tries to get underfoot.


Living the Giant Life


Giants are exceptionally long-lived compared to humans, but none are immortal. A peaceful death from old age is a common occurrence among cloud giants and storm giants and isn’t unusual among stone giants and fire giants. It’s the exception among hill giants and frost giants, most of which die violently in battle against humans, dragons, other Monsters, or their own kind.


Giants live at a slower pace than humans do. In the space of four heartbeats for a man, a stone giants great heart beats just once. Giant mothers stay with their child for longer than human mothers do, and giant children grow to adulthood more slowly. Giants’ families are small, because a couple seldom has more than a few children, and many have none at all.


The life spans of the various types of giants are generally in keeping with their place in the ordning; the lowliest giants have the shortest life spans, and the noblest giants are the longest-lived. Stone giants are the exception. Because of their long life spans, despite their low position in the ordning, other giants consider stone giants to be the wisest of all giant types, just as Skoraeus Stonebones is often seen as the wisest of all the giant gods.


Giant Life Spans


Giant Type

Life Span

Hill

200 years

Frost

250 years

Fire

350 years

Cloud

400 years

Storm

600 years

Stone

800 years 


Roleplaying a Giant


Save in battle, giants tend to be slow. “Soon” to a giant may be three or four years to a human.

—Elminster


Giving a giant a personality trait, an ideal, a bond, and a flaw helps to create a more vibrant NPC. You can also give a character background to a giant. The noble background, for example, could apply to a Cloud Giant.


Giant Personality Traits

d8

Personality Trait

1

The brutality of my peers is a relic of a bygone era that should be stamped out. I seek a more enlightened path.

2

As the most powerful beings in Creation, we have a duty to use our Strength for the benefit of all.

3

I take what I want. I don’t care who gets hurt.

4

A giant lives for a few centuries, but giantkind is eternal. Everything I do is to glorify my ancestors and make my descendants proud.

5

Dragons are my mortal enemies. Everything I do is to ensure their destruction.

6

I measure a creature’s worth by its size. The small folk are beneath my concern.

7

The small folk are vermin. I enjoy torturing and killing them.

8

Good or bad, Annams sons represent the ideals that we, as giants, must strive to uphold. 


Giant Ideals

d6

Ideal

1

The Ordning. Annam created the ordning for the good of all giants, and it’s our duty to uphold his vision. (Lawful)

2

Skill. What sets my clan apart is its mastery of our traditional crafts. (Good)

3

Strength. No other race can match the Strength of giants, and none should dare to try. (Evil)

4

Lordship. Giants are the rightful rulers of the world. All will be well when our empire is restored. (Neutral)

5

Tribute. The lesser races owe giants not just respect but payment of tribute, and what they don’t pay willingly, we will take by force. (Chaotic)

6

Religion. Of Annams many sons, none is greater than my patron deity. (Any) 


Giant Bonds

d6

Bond

1

My clan is the most important influence on my life; our collective place in the ordning depends on our devotion to one another.

2

My clan mates who serve in our deitys temples are the closest companions I’ll ever know.

3

My place in the ordning is ordained by our patron deity, and it would be blasphemous to aspire to anything higher or lower.

4

Though I can never rise above my clan’s position in the ordning, I can be a leader among my clan.

5

My own kind have turned their backs on me, so I make my way among the lesser creatures of the world.

6

Humans have proven their worth in the world and earned a measure of respect from giantkind. 


Giant Flaws

d6

Flaw

1

The ordning is too restrictive for the likes of me.

2

The lesser creatures of the world have no souls; they exist only to be fodder for the ambitions and appetites of giants.

3

Unity among giants is a myth; anyone not of my clan is a fair target for my Weapons.

4

I care nothing for what others expect, to the point where I cannot help but contradict what others ask of me.

5

I am terrified of Arcane Magic and can be cowed by overt displays of it.

6

Ancient dragons fill me with dread. My knees grow weak in their presence. 



















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