Giants are humanoid creatures of great strength and size. They are immune to almost all diseases, and have a slight resistance to poison. Most giants have superior senses to humans. In general they can see and hear twice as well, and some can see in little or no light. The cloud giant, hill giant and stone giant species have particularly good senses of smell.
The appearance of giants varies according to the type of giant but they are generally humanoid in appearance, just much larger. Their bone structure is more dense than that of humans, giving them extra toughness and weight but slowing them down a little. Although their ancestors were immortal, giants’ life spans are getting shorter and shorter with each generation. Giants born in modern Faerun have a life expectancy of between 300 and 400 years, although there are giants aged at thousands of years who are still alive. Because their lifespans are so much longer than humans, giants are slow to make decisions and will not be rushed.
Intelligence and Society
Giants are intelligent creatures with their own set of cultures and customs. Their intelligence varies according to the type of giant (and as with humans, with the individual) but most are at least on a human level of intellect, with the exception of hill giants. Most giants see themselves as superior to all other creatures. The Ordning is one reason for this, but they are also much larger than many other species, so they will talk down to and patronize smaller folk, regarding them as unimportant. Giants live in tribes, but their numbers are limited because of their size, and the difficulty of finding plentiful food for their large bodies.
Ancestry is important to giants. Most giants can trace their lineage back to Annam All-Father, and this ancestry is recited formally when introducing oneself to other giants. Once a relationship has been established between giants, whether it is amiable or hostile, this will be continued further down the lineage. Therefore, reciting one’s lineage helps to dictate the relationship that will be established. Frost giant skalds (bards) will include lineage in the sagas they write.
Good (maat) and Evil (maug)
Giants have a different sense of good and evil than most other creatures. A “good” (maat) act for a giant is an act that honors a giant’s deity or family, displays bravery, or honors another “good” giant, regardless of the consequences. An “evil” (maug) act is one of cowardice, stealing, betraying a giant’s deity, family or trust, or an act that forces a giant from its natural terrain type. Violating the Ordning is also considered evil.
The Ordning is the social structure to which all giants adhere, dating back to the ancient Giant empire of Ostoria. It is similar to a class based society, but is much more specific, assigning a social rank to each individual. Therefore, each individual giant knows which others giants are inferior and superior to themself, and no giant is equal to any other giant. This structure is sacred in giant society
Each type of giant uses a different combination of skills or qualities to determine the Ordning. Giants believe excelling in these skills to be the purpose of their lives. Annam All-Father, creator of giants, is seen as the ultimate master in each of these skills. In all cases, advancement is made by challenging a superior, but different types of giant use different systems and restrictions upon advancement. It is considered an evil (maug) act to show disrespect to a superior giant. This can be mocking, betrayal, disobedience or a number of other behaviors.
The Ordning applies to individual tribes, but it is an insult to treat a higher ranked giant from another tribe as an inferior. Between different types of giant, there is a separate Ordning system, and even the lowest ranked giant of one type is superior to the highest ranked giant of an inferior type, but importantly, it is not considered evil to betray a giant of another type, merely rude. Titans are the highest in the Ordning, followed by Storm Giants, Cloud Giants, Fire Giants, Frost Giants, Stone Giants, Hill Giants, Ettins, the various Giant-kin and finally Ogres, who most Giants do not consider to be true giants.
Annam All-Father, the creator of Giants and their primary deity, is thought by researchers to be a Titan who became a god. Long ago, Titans left the material plane as we know it for an unknown plane. This left Storm Giants at the top of the Ordning. Powerful Storm Giant Kings are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the Ordning and seeing that punishment for those who violate it is fittingly harsh and swift. Usually, the All-Father is quiet, but at times he has been known to directly contact his descendants to give them a directive. These directives are considered to be absolute and must be obeyed by all Giants.
Although the Ordning dictates the leader of a tribe and the leader’s will must ordinarily be obeyed, it is possible for the priests or shamans of two conflicting tribes to conduct a parley in which their consensus is binding for the leaders of both tribes. The intention of the parley is for both parties to agree upon the will of Annam All-Father in the situation at hand, but often the party with more power simply asserts his own will. This system has been further abused in the past, where tribal priests or shamans engineered conflicts to fulfill desires that they would not normally be able to. In modern Faerun the numbers of giants are low enough that tribal conflicts, and therefore parleys, are rare. In addition, inter-tribal relations are vastly improved compared to the past.
It is believed, and all but confirmed that Giants were inhabiting the material plane before any of the other humanoid or demihumanoid races. The first of their kind and the source of the entire species were the sons of Annam All-Father and his wife Othea, who settled on the Material Plane to form a kingdom known as Ostoria. Each of his sons led to a different type of giant.
The giants were soon locked in a mighty war with the dragons. This conflict was to last for over thousands of years. The great Giant kingdom of Ostoria fell during this war. There are differing accounts of the war’s eventual conclusion, although the giants believe it was a result of a stalemate in a game of wah-ree between Annam and a dragon god. Dwarven accounts say that the dragons needed to declare peace in order to conduct a civil war in which the metallic dragons fought the chromatic dragons. Either way, the age old grudge between Giants and Dragons has hardly faded at all in the millennia since the great war.
Storm giants are extremely intelligent giants who live on cloud islands or under water. Their vision is adapted to underwater conditions, where they see equally as well as they do in the air. These giants sit atop the Ordning, and even the lowest Storm Giant is considered to be elite among giant kind.
A storm giant stands about 21 feet tall and weighs 12,000 lbs., they tend to wear fine tunics and belted sandals. When they enter battle, storm giants don bronze breastplates and Corinthian style helmets. The wield large weapons and can launch projectiles many miles away with extreme accuracy.
Storm giants are the most powerful of giant-kind; their power is near that of the ancient titans. Much like a violent storm, a storm giant is prone to sudden bouts of violence and mood swings. They are brutal and dangerous foes who wield the power of weather and can hurl lightning with a gesture.
Storm giants make their homes on isolated islands, under water in great lakes or seas or along coastal regions of the world. Despite their temperamental behavior, these beings are the most civilized of the giant races. They will even engage in trade with communities of small folk. In Storm Giant society, any act of mercy or charity towards a sentient being is seen as good (maat). Storm Giants high in the Ordning spend much of their time making sure other giants leave small folk alone and that they do not stir up conflicts with other races.
Storm Giants determine their place in The Ordning by their ability to read signs and omens from the All-Father, as well as their Wisdom and how many good (maat) deeds they have amassed.
Cloud Giants are a large member of the giant race. Cloud giants have vision that extends into the infrared which allows them to see particularly well through fog and cloud. They also have an excellent sense of smell. Cloud giants are sky dwelling giants with pale skin and sky blue hair. Adults are about 18 feet tall and weigh 5,000 – 7,000 pounds. They tend to dress in flowing cloud-colored robes and fine jewelry. They prefer to wear fine clothing made of quality textiles. Cloud giants’ skin ranges in color from milky white to light sky blue. Their hair is silvery white or bright blue, and their eyes are iridescent blue.
These giants prefer to live in the tallest mountains, or even higher if possible. Those with magical talent often create floating castles or cities in which to dwell, held aloft in the sky atop a mass of clouds. Cloud giants all possess some control over their namesake, being able to summon forth a cloud of fog and mist at will.
Next in line after the Storm Giants in the Ordning, Cloud giants are often haughty and standoffish. They are particularly prone to looking down upon the smaller races of the world.
Cloud Giants, who are highly intelligent, use Art and Intelligence to determine their place in the Ordning.
Fire giants, the third in line in the Ordning, stand between 12 and 15 feet tall and are almost dwarf-like in appearance and build. They tend to have orange or red hair, broad shoulders, a wide torso and very dark skin. Adults weigh between 7,000 and 9,000 pounds. Fire Giants have adapted their vision to be able to see despite the shimmering often associated with high temperatures. Their bodies generate more heat than other Giants and they have little or no trouble surviving in extremely hot locations.
Fire giants live in small family groups, called huslyder. They prefer to dwell in hot environments like volcanic areas, either in caverns or castles, and exist in societies often led by a king or a queen.
Their clothing is usually flame colored or black and singed. Armor is generally made from thick steel. Fire Giants use magically flaming weapons whenever possible. They attack with rocks heated in fire or lava to soften targets before engaging in melee combat.
Fire Giants are hostage takers and often take payments from less powerful creatures in the surrounding areas in exchange for not attacking them. Often times they are cruel, warmongering and tyrannical. They are often the target of Storm Giant ire for failing to care how their actions will impact all of giant-kind.
Fire Giants determine their place in the Ordning by their skills in forging and combat.
Frost giants, called isejotunen in their own language, are large giants that live in caverns or castles in cold, mountainous environments. They populate most heavily in the region known as The Spine of the World. Almost always evil creatures, these giants stand 15 to 16 feet tall and weigh around 2,800 – 4,000 pounds. They have white skin, a thinner frame than their Fire Giant brethren, and either blue or dirty yellow hair. They wear skins or pelts, along with any jewelry they own. Their eye color usually matches their hair color.
In combat, Frost Giants will hurl rocks and then close in with battleaxes. They have no trouble surviving in bitterly cold environments and have adapted to see in low light. Their visual senses extend into a higher end of the visible spectrum, allowing them to see more easily through snow and blizzards than other creatures. They will take prisoners for ransom or food if possible.
These giants have a shorter lifespan that others and usually live up to 250 years in societies led by a “jarl”. They often survive by means of hunts and raids, although are not below trading if the need arises. In Frost Giant society, the most important bond except that of the Ordning is the family bond.
Frost Giants determine their place in The Ordning by how well they to wrestle, fight and boast. This is so important to their society that many Frost Giants become “skalds”, or bards as they are called by the smaller races, to keep track of great battles and acts of athleticism in their history.
Stone Giants average about 12 feet in height and weigh between 1,500 and 3,000 pounds. Stone giants prefer to fight using ranged weapons such as boulders but if forced into melee they wield gigantic stone clubs. They have an excellent sense of smell and can see in nearly pitch darkness.
Stone Giants prefer temperate Mountain ranges as habitats. The Stone Giants are notably shy compared to the rest of Giant kind. Some may even consider them xenophobic. They live deep within caves and burrows in large mountains and consider the surface world to be a realm of dreams.
Stone giants determine their place in the Ordning by their skill at shaping and sculpting stone, creating art with it, as well as their ability to weave tales about the surface world. In Stone Giant society, family bonds are less important than the bonds between a master and his pupil.
Hill Giants are short and stocky in comparison to other giants, usually standing between 10 and 12 feet tall. They are extremely muscular, capable of hurling boulders of up to 500 lbs. through the air. This musculature makes them heavy for their size. A Hill Giant’s metabolism is very high, and as a result, it has to eat a great quantity of food for a creature of its type. Most Giants are averse to eating humanoids, but Hill Giants will eat almost anything, and some even prefer the taste of the small folk.
In Hill Giant society, the most evil (maug) act that can be committed is the betrayal of one’s tribe. A hill giant family, or huslyder, is usually large and communal but spread out geographically. This is out of necessity and not desire, as there is usually not enough food for the entire tribe in a small area. When there is, they congregate to feast. This is their preferred existence.
Hill giants determine their place in the Ordning mostly by size, but also with a combination of an individual’s physical strength and eating ability. They are the least intelligent of the Giant types, and are often below Humans in intellect and reasoning skills. They live in fear of the other Giant types as only Ettins, Giant-Kin and Ogres who aren’t “True Giants” because their lineage cannot be traced back to The All-Father and they rarely obey the Ordning, are below them in the hierarchy.
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