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Warclam
2010-07-24, 07:14 PM
So, I was working on a new campaign concept (3.5, specifically, but the problem holds generally) and I needed a major force in the world's backstory which could live up in mountains and volcanoes. Giants seemed to fit the bill pretty well, but... I dunno. They're big, OK. They throw rocks, OK. And... what?

I figured if anyone could help me, it would be the denizens of GitP. Please, good people: what's cool about giants?

(Alternatively, give me another good idea for volcano-dwelling ancient forces, but I feel a little patriotic about giants somehow.)

Fax Celestis
2010-07-24, 07:22 PM
*waits for Mark Hall*

Lord Loss
2010-07-24, 07:28 PM
Ideas for using Giants in Your Campaign

Giants are Big.Giants need to feed themselves, and this makes great adventure hooks: Giants could raid villages for food, Force captured arcanists to create food for them, grow giant versions of Livestock, etc. etc.

Giants take lots of Slaves and Prisoner. perhaps the PCs could get captured by Giants and break out of their gigantic cities. But escaping is quite the challenge. Going up a mere staircase could be quite the feat in a building made by Giants!

Giants vs Giants

A war between giants is quite something, especially when nongiants get involved. Giants at war, Much like the Ents. Vs Isengard, mean huge-scale battles between truly epic beings, crushing buildings in mere instants...

All in all, I think giants are interesting enemies, and Allies

Urpriest
2010-07-24, 07:30 PM
1. Dwarves are inherently awesome.

2. Giants (smarter ones, like Fire Giants) are essentially humongous dwarves, and can rock Viking style beards with ease.

3. Profit.

Jallorn
2010-07-24, 07:32 PM
Read Norse mythology.

Dr.Epic
2010-07-24, 07:34 PM
Giants are Big.Giants need to feed themselves, and this makes great adventure hooks: Giants could raid villages for food, Force captured arcanists to create food for them, grow giant versions of Livestock, etc. etc.

They eat people.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-24, 07:37 PM
They eat people.
If their diet was composed solely of people, there wouldn't be many around, much less in remote areas they seem to love to inhabit.

Idea: giant herd stampede.
"HOLY CRAP MAN THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF GIANT COWS HEADING THIS WAY"

AmberVael
2010-07-24, 07:37 PM
So, I was working on a new campaign concept (3.5, specifically, but the problem holds generally) and I needed a major force in the world's backstory which could live up in mountains and volcanoes. Giants seemed to fit the bill pretty well, but... I dunno. They're big, OK. They throw rocks, OK. And... what?

I figured if anyone could help me, it would be the denizens of GitP. Please, good people: what's cool about giants?

(Alternatively, give me another good idea for volcano-dwelling ancient forces, but I feel a little patriotic about giants somehow.)

Giants don't have to just be big barbaric rock throwers. They are also associated with the elements. They're rather like dragons, but more humanoid.

Think of djinn, of dragons, of godly beings with mighty power- these are things kin to the giants. Lords of fire, storm, and cold, giants have watched the world since its beginning and ruled over its harshest places, where no mere human dare travel.

Primal but noble, human but elemental, the giants are something greater than just giant rock throwers.

Warclam
2010-07-24, 08:09 PM
Wow, lots of replies. Thanks everyone.

I really like Vael's comments about the elemental ties of the giants. I'm thinking of turning around the they-look-like-humanoids aspect and having it go the other way. Something like this, perhaps:

The giants are the ancient, primal precursors to humanoids, emerging upon the first mountain which emerged from the primordial ocean. In the early days, they were threatened by vicious sea monsters. Working great magics, drawing from the elemental forces which spawned them, they pushed back the seas and created the land, banishing the beasts to the deeps. Their smaller children now dwell upon these create lands, while high atop the first mountain the giants watch and keep the waters from swallowing the world again.

Just kinda tossed that together, but it seems workable.

Twilight Jack
2010-07-24, 08:09 PM
Right now in the game I'm running, I've got the PCs assisting in a battle that's about to take place between a regiment of human soldiers (@2,400 strong, mostly 1st lvl warriors) and a tribe of frost giants (generated straight out of the MM, 22 Frost Giants plus 3 leveled leaders, 21 ogres, 19 winter wolves, and a young white dragon).

The giants plan to attack by night, both to seize the initiative and to minimize the effectiveness of the human archers (by far the humans' greatest asset in such an engagement). The giants' darkvision will mitigate their own problems with fighting on a moonless night, and their immense size and strength will wreak havoc on the human forces once they manage to close to melee range (the giants have no problems hitting standard soldiers, and so can afford a hefty power attack, which will instantly mulch any human of less than 4th or 5th level. Great Cleave comes standard for frost giants and they've a 10' reach, so that works out as 8-32 humans dead, per round, per giant). The ogres and wolves can move to hold a flank, and the dragon performs strafing runs with its breath weapon to break up any attempts to regroup in the back rank. Throw in some checks for morale, and we've got ourselves a fight that could easily go against the humans in a big way.

Even so, the fight is definitely weighted in the soldiers' favor, but the humans are looking to sustain heavy casualties if even a few giants manage to charge their ranks. The PCs job here is to keep that from happening.

That's what makes giants interesting. Dudes are freaking scary, especially in numbers. Their hp is extremely high for their CR, so focused fire is often necessary to take just one down. Their size and strength make many types of battlefield control less effective against them. When they attack in numbers, especially when spread out, they can pose a decent challenge to most mid-level parties.

That said, they've got some hefty weaknesses as well. Their Will and especially Reflex Saves are garbage, so they're definitely susceptible to save or lose tactics. They're also ground pounders and their ranged attacks aren't nearly as dangerous as their melee. Finally, they don't have any save or lose or battlefield control abilities of their own, and need allies for that sort of game plan. One trick I've found useful with giants is to always toss a few more in than the guidelines in the DMG would suggest are appropriate. That ensures that any encounter with giants is a desperate affair, rather than merely one more encounter on the way to the next level.

Also, giants are only good enemies in the mid level ranges. Once a party hits level 12 or above, they drop off in a hurry in their ability to provide any sort of challenge. Your mileage may vary, depending on the level of optimization your group brings to the table.

Dr.Epic
2010-07-24, 08:17 PM
If their diet was composed solely of people, there wouldn't be many around, much less in remote areas they seem to love to inhabit.

In addition to their regular diet some may have turned to people eating.

Wilhelm Scream
2010-07-24, 08:21 PM
Maybe read up on Eberron's giants for ideas, too. They're an ancient fallen civilization that used elves as slaves and almost brought the world to an end with their magic.

Warclam
2010-07-24, 08:22 PM
Twilight Jack: The people I play with tend to be all about dealing very large amounts of damage, so giants sound like perfect foes for them.

Also, that battle sounds truly epic. I never really thought about the effect Great Cleave can have against an army when used by something extremely effective in battle.

I think I'll go brush up on Norse mythology a little.

EDIT:
Wilhelm Scream: I've been reading about them too. Good source for thoughts about giants, and the world-changing power is relevant. The Primordial Giant template is truly excellent.

Coidzor
2010-07-24, 08:23 PM
In addition to their regular diet some may have turned to people eating.

Still, kinda boring if that's going to be their defining feature. As that pretty much goes for most of the Monster Manual.

Heck, Gnolls are both lazy hyena men where the women are better endowed than the men and they eat people.

AmberVael
2010-07-24, 08:25 PM
I think I'll go brush up on Norse mythology a little.

The Nordic mythos has some pretty interesting stuff about giants, but do try and remember that to the Norse, giant had a somewhat different connotation. They weren't just big men, they were more like gods, or demons. Spirits.

Which is somewhat like what I was trying to describe, I guess. Just keep in mind that they think of them as much more supernatural than many other sources.

Warclam
2010-07-24, 08:28 PM
The Nordic mythos has some pretty interesting stuff about giants, but do try and remember that to the Norse, giant had a somewhat different connotation. They weren't just big men, they were more like gods, or demons. Spirits.

Which is somewhat like what I was trying to describe, I guess. Just keep in mind that they think of them as much more supernatural than many other sources.

Sounds like what I was going for too, excellent. I'll keep that in mind though.

Evard
2010-07-24, 08:29 PM
Fee Fi FO FUM Mutha F*()&*

Gangsta Giants!

Dr.Epic
2010-07-24, 08:48 PM
Still, kinda boring if that's going to be their defining feature. As that pretty much goes for most of the Monster Manual.

Heck, Gnolls are both lazy hyena men where the women are better endowed than the men and they eat people.

Don't think of it from a gamer looking at a game. Think of it as something actually happening: if there was the threat of something eating people wouldn't you be compelled to stop it?

Snake-Aes
2010-07-24, 08:49 PM
Aya: Only if someone is there to tell the story.




Now, let's see another take on giants. They have their own stable government body, could be a king or a tribe leader or whatever.
Add diplomacy.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-07-24, 09:26 PM
The Nordic mythos has some pretty interesting stuff about giants, but do try and remember that to the Norse, giant had a somewhat different connotation. They weren't just big men, they were more like gods, or demons. Spirits.
I wouldn't go so far as to call them "spirits," but that may be because I tend to associate that word with ghosts and totemic animals. However, the giants were kind of like the Titans of Greek myth. They were in a class all by themselves, and the Gods were their upstart kids who overthrew them. You know how it seems every story that borrows from Greek myth uses the idea of the Titans re-emerging to take back the world from the gods? That's basically how the state of affairs was in Norse myth. The gods tossed the giants from power, and the giants have struggled against the gods ever since. They know they'll never achieve true victory until Ragnarok, and even then, they'll all die in the carnage anyway, so they take whatever small victories they can get over the gods, whether by leading them into traps (like the giant who tried to kill Thor when he recieved his magic belt and gloves), stealing from them (Thrym, who stole Thor's hammer in an attempt to win Freya and Thiazi, who tried to steal the Golden Apples of Youth from the gods), or just tricking or humiliating them (such as Utgard-Loki, the giant king who made a fool not just of Thor but of Loki too in a set of impossible challenges hidden by clever illusions).

Aroka
2010-07-24, 10:14 PM
Generally, giants are interesting because they have the intellect and ambitions of people, but they are too big and strong to confront directly or physically; you have to be clever or sneaky. So you use various basic plots involving humans, and give them that twist.

The idea about reading Norse mythology isn't bad, but that only works if your giants are a bit more than big brutes - they need to be big magical brutes. Fortunately, many types of giants have spellcasters (they can be clerics, wizards, sorcerers, or even bards), and spellcasting classes are nonassociated for them. D&D isn't any good at representing the sort of magical they should be, though.

Warclam
2010-07-24, 10:42 PM
The idea about reading Norse mythology isn't bad, but that only works if your giants are a bit more than big brutes - they need to be big magical brutes. Fortunately, many types of giants have spellcasters (they can be clerics, wizards, sorcerers, or even bards), and spellcasting classes are nonassociated for them. D&D isn't any good at representing the sort of magical they should be, though.

Coincidentally (and conveniently), the way magic works in this setting favours them. Spells and powers have been removed (partly for balance reasons, partly for flavour), and the most potent form of magic is incantation (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/incantations.htm). Since incantations are skill-based, giants actually have an advantage due to their racial hit dice: the mere act of reaching adulthood lets them achieve the sort of power that humanoids spend decades questing for.

Coidzor
2010-07-24, 11:17 PM
Incantations, eh? Hadn't seen that variant before...

I wonder if anyone's homebrewed up an incantation system that's decen to crib from...
Don't think of it from a gamer looking at a game. Think of it as something actually happening: if there was the threat of something eating people wouldn't you be compelled to stop it?

But I can't. After all, the premise of the thread precludes such a simple conclusion. You have to point out what they have over all of the other crap that eats people.

BobVosh
2010-07-24, 11:53 PM
Fee Fi FO FUM Mutha F*()&*

Gangsta Giants!

I'm imagining the loot:
Giant fedora of +7 perform: Kneecappin'
Brass Knuckles enchanted to +2, gives a +2 competence to perform: Crack knuckles (or intimidate)

Anyway I always like the great game, and giants tend to be the foot soldiers for the dragons in it.

Mando Knight
2010-07-24, 11:58 PM
2. Giants (smarter ones, like Fire Giants) are essentially humongous dwarves, and can rock Viking style beards with ease.

Viking beards... OF FIRE!

Coidzor
2010-07-25, 12:07 AM
Anyway I always like the great game, and giants tend to be the foot soldiers for the dragons in it.

The Great Game?

Urpriest
2010-07-25, 12:14 AM
The Great Game?

Bridge. Or potentially Politics.

Coidzor
2010-07-25, 12:23 AM
Bridge. Or potentially Politics.

Indeed, the great game of houses, but... kinda wondering if there was a particular thing he was referencing or if it's just something of his own fevered brain that created that link of giants = dragons' dupes.

FoE
2010-07-25, 12:27 AM
In Eberron, they once ruled an empire the size of a continent. Which makes sense, as they're giants. Unfortunately, they ran into one of those other-worldly invasions that Eberron has every once in a while.

Dr.Epic
2010-07-25, 12:29 AM
But I can't. After all, the premise of the thread precludes such a simple conclusion. You have to point out what they have over all of the other crap that eats people.

Well if they've been spotted in the area and you know they're eating people then I'd say that's enough for PCs to get off their asses and go giant hunting.

arrowhen
2010-07-25, 01:21 AM
They're friggin' huge!

Other than that, they're pretty much like people. So everything that makes people interesting -- their passions and desires and willingness to do whatever they have to to get what they want -- is also what makes giants interesting. Coupled with the fact that they're friggin' huge!

Fax Celestis
2010-07-25, 01:30 AM
The Great Game?

XORVINTAAL!

Coidzor
2010-07-25, 01:34 AM
XORVINTAAL!

Gah. Why do I hear that echoing in a deep booming otherworldly voice?

...Seriously.

It won't stop.

I'm kinda scared.:smalleek:

Jergmo
2010-07-25, 01:52 AM
1. Dwarves are inherently awesome.

2. Giants (smarter ones, like Fire Giants) are essentially humongous dwarves, and can rock Viking style beards with ease.

3. Profit.

Or are dwarves just like tiny giants?


Read Norse mythology.

Second.

Morph Bark
2010-07-25, 04:31 AM
Giants eat dire animals for dinner, alongside some dire potatoes and dire vegetables. They also eat dire cereal for breakfast and dire toast with dire eggs and dire bacon for lunch.

Kol Korran
2010-07-25, 04:45 AM
@Warclam: a lot of good advice has been given allready. I've pondered this question myself in the past, and have made an attempt at making stone giants more interesting, have a more distinct culture and so on. check my link, and scroll down till you see a stone giant picture. then read. i hope it may inspire you.

Also: seconded about the Xen'dric giant civilization and the slave taking.

BobVosh
2010-07-25, 05:34 AM
XORVINTAAL!

Exactly.


Gah. Why do I hear that echoing in a deep booming otherworldly voice?

...Seriously.

It won't stop.

I'm kinda scared.:smalleek:

Now that you mention...yes, yes it does. O.o

Warclam
2010-07-25, 06:08 AM
@Warclam: a lot of good advice has been given allready. I've pondered this question myself in the past, and have made an attempt at making stone giants more interesting, have a more distinct culture and so on. check my link, and scroll down till you see a stone giant picture. then read. i hope it may inspire you.

Also: seconded about the Xen'dric giant civilization and the slave taking.

Ah, excellent. I like when my work is already done for me. Your stuff is great, and it looks well-suited to what I had in mind. Thanks!

Yep, looking into Eberron too. There seems to be limited information about what they were like before the colossal oops with Dal Quor though.

Selrahc
2010-07-25, 06:31 AM
Anyway I always like the great game, and giants tend to be the foot soldiers for the dragons in it.

But why would Dragons and Giants care about 19th century British and Russian rivalries in South-Central Asia? :smalleek:

Bharg
2010-07-25, 06:34 AM
Make Giants the ruling race while the smaller people serve them as slaves!

BobVosh
2010-07-25, 07:02 AM
But why would Dragons and Giants care about 19th century British and Russian rivalries in South-Central Asia? :smalleek:

I was wondering if anyone would bring that up.

This great game. (http://www.meetup.com/East-Midlands-RPG/pages/Xorvintaal_-_The_Great_Game?name=Xorvintaal_-_The_Great_Game)

Orzel
2010-07-25, 07:46 AM
They's big peoples.
Think of int'restin' peoples and make 'em big!

AslanCross
2010-07-25, 07:50 AM
Giant. Aztecs. Sacrificing elves.

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/moe_gallery/91464.jpg

Thieves
2010-07-25, 08:10 AM
Don't forget to add the +4 racial bonus on Craft (comics) checks.

Having the walls of their mountain halls covered with stick figure battles of yore is obligatory.

Morph Bark
2010-07-25, 09:10 AM
Don't forget to add the +4 racial bonus on Craft (comics) checks.

Having the walls of their mountain halls covered with stick figure battles of yore is obligatory.

icwutudidthar

andilieksit

thompur
2010-07-25, 02:50 PM
Giants eat dire animals for dinner, alongside some dire potatoes and dire vegetables. They also eat dire cereal for breakfast and dire toast with dire eggs and dire bacon for lunch.

All of which explains why they also eat people. People don't have those pesky 'dire spikes',the worst being from dire radishes!

ericgrau
2010-07-25, 03:08 PM
Giants are cool because they are like humanoids... only bigger. You can have an interesting plot involving their civilization, the structures they build and so on as you would with NPC foes, but they'll put up a big fight and be intimidating at the same time.

Coidzor
2010-07-25, 03:28 PM
All of which explains why they also eat people. People don't have those pesky 'dire spikes',the worst being from dire radishes!

Y'know, it really makes you wonder why they thought that as things got bigger they got spikier...

...Maybe the designers spent too much time in their mothers' underwear drawers?:smalleek:

Hirax
2010-07-25, 03:34 PM
Perhaps goliaths from Races of Stone are worth considering?

Lord Vukodlak
2010-07-25, 04:10 PM
Truth be told, I never found Giants all that interesting, it is in fact the only creature type in the game I've never made a homebrew creature of. I suppose I don't find them interesting for the same reason ericgrau does find them interesting

they are like humanoids... only bigger.

hamishspence
2010-07-25, 04:13 PM
Heroes of Horror did suggest that there is a little extra creepiness in the thought of being eaten, possibly with a knife and fork, by what is essentially just a very large person.

Toliudar
2010-07-25, 04:23 PM
Or, for a very different take on giants, look at Monte Cook's Diamond Throne (http://www.montecook.com/mpress_MHB2.html). Giants as benevolent nanny-state. I think of them as the British Empire, late 19th Century...at least, the way that the British THOUGHT they were. Powerful, terrifying, but very, very polite.

Tiki Snakes
2010-07-25, 04:24 PM
It amuses me no end that whilst attempting to explain Xorvintaal, someone actually ended up linking a Campaign page on my local meetup-group's site. :smallsmile:

I favour the Elemental angle pushed earlier. Puts me in mind of Pratchett's trolls, (Which start off big and never stop growing, they just get a bit slow eventually.)

For the record, that's pretty close to the route they took with a lot of the 4e giants. Much bigger and more wild, very much tied in with the Primordials and the whole dawn-war against the Gods. Extra heapings of the once-great-peoples decending into savagery thing, too.

Eldariel
2010-07-25, 06:15 PM
Read Norse mythology.

Nthed. Jötun are more majestic than Dragons in my mind. That's what Giants should be. The idea of Lorwyn; everything they do is big; works very well. Their very mind is so large that any lesser invader will simply be overwhelmed. When they walk, they don't just move, the world around them moves. They can build homes for gods, they don't care much for some mortal holds.

Dragons are mighty movers, Giants simply are big in everything they do.

Sir_Elderberry
2010-07-25, 11:09 PM
Don't forget to add the +4 racial bonus on Craft (comics) checks.

Having the walls of their mountain halls covered with stick figure battles of yore is obligatory.

Randall Munroe looks normal-sized in all the pictures I've seen...

Urpriest
2010-07-26, 12:24 AM
Randall Munroe looks normal-sized in all the pictures I've seen...

Have you ever seen him in a playground, though?

Coidzor
2010-07-26, 12:51 AM
Actualy, I just read the Xorvintaal entry and I still don't see how giants enter into it. I mean, sure, they could become exarchs or be used as pawns, but what makes it such a conclusion to jump to?

Avilan the Grey
2010-07-26, 01:01 AM
The idea about reading Norse mythology isn't bad, but that only works if your giants are a bit more than big brutes

Norse giantesses, are as beautiful as human females, only bigger (Fetish Fuel?). The males tends to be ugly though.

BooNL
2010-07-26, 03:19 AM
Norse giantesses, are as beautiful as human females, only bigger (Fetish Fuel?). The males tends to be ugly though.

That's a *huge* ...

No, I won't go there.



I've always been fascinated by giants. Like said, everything they do is BIG. Look at Jack and the Bean Stalk, amplify this by a *race* and you get my drift.

I'd like to play/run a giantcentric campaign someday, where simple humans are awed by the huge world of the giants.

Morty
2010-07-26, 10:28 AM
In Forgotten Realms, Giants have a social structure called Ordning. It's pretty much a social hierarchy in which all members of a tribe/nation/etc. have a strictly defined position. What's interesting here is that the Ordning also applies to the types of giants - all races have a plade on the ladder, with Storm Giants being on the top and Ogres being at the bottom. You might want to use it.

Warclam
2010-07-26, 11:15 AM
In Forgotten Realms, Giants have a social structure called Ordning. It's pretty much a social hierarchy in which all members of a tribe/nation/etc. have a strictly defined position. What's interesting here is that the Ordning also applies to the types of giants - all races have a plade on the ladder, with Storm Giants being on the top and Ogres being at the bottom. You might want to use it.

Oh hey, good idea. I don't much care for FR so I didn't think to check, but that sounds extremely useful. Thanks for the tip.

Mark Hall
2010-07-26, 04:45 PM
So, I was working on a new campaign concept (3.5, specifically, but the problem holds generally) and I needed a major force in the world's backstory which could live up in mountains and volcanoes. Giants seemed to fit the bill pretty well, but... I dunno. They're big, OK. They throw rocks, OK. And... what?

I figured if anyone could help me, it would be the denizens of GitP. Please, good people: what's cool about giants?

(Alternatively, give me another good idea for volcano-dwelling ancient forces, but I feel a little patriotic about giants somehow.)

Since you're building the world, a lot of it comes down to what you think makes giants interesting. A few thoughts... kinda cliche, but they work.

In ancient times, X ruled the land. X (be they dragons, demons, or other powerful creatures) ruled from sea to sea and from shore to shore. Giants were their slaves, but they learned the arts of making (crafting in steel and stone, spells and items of magic) and overthrew their masters. From their mountain fastness, they extended their hands across the world. Races that had been as animals before the X were raised up under the hands of the giants... the elves gained tools of steel to shape their woodland homes. The dwarves were able to use giant engineering to build homes and forges.

The giants had a besetting problem, however, in that they reproduced slowly. Individual giants can live forever, but they breed but a few times in that long span. So the lesser races overwhelmed the giants, changed faster than the giants could keep up with, and drove them back to their mountain homes.

Giants today are raised on stories of the greatness of their ancestors, who ruled the entire world (or, at least, this part of it). Who invented the arts that men and elves now turn against them, and gave those as gifts. Giants, in this case, are a fallen race. Some will slip into decadence. Others will rage at the dying of their lost empire.

I think this is more or less what Eberron and Arcana Unearthed have.

In Norse mythology, Giants are essentially forces of nature... like elementals, and somewhat similar to the various species of Genie. They interbreed with humans and gods at times (with humans usually as trolls, a lesser form of giant, rather than the Poul Andersson/D&D style rubbery eating machines). In this case, they represent the chaos in the natural world. Remember, to the Norse, the world was out to kill you. We're not talking the Middle East, where regular river floods meant that land was fertile for generations. If you did not bust your butt every. single. year. the world would eat you whole and no one would find your bones until spring... if then. Heck, if you went out in winter, you could freeze to death before you unfastened your pants to take a leak. Nature was NOT your friend, and the giants were all that destruction given humanoid aspect. While some Jotnar were friends to the Gods, or at least uneasy allies, they were never friends to man.

EDIT: meant to mention the Palladium Fantasy supplement Mt. Nimro. It's a large book about giants who are more or less confined to a pair of volcanos.

Devils_Advocate
2010-07-26, 05:35 PM
The Titanomachy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_mythology#Titanomachy) is a recurring mythological motif found in many cultures. The potential problem with that is that semi-divine beings could be too powerful to serve as direct opponents for mortal protagonists. So, here's my thought:

There's a whole spectrum of giants, from the mightiest Primordial down to the lowliest ogre. And as a result, the difference in power between two giants is typically so large as to severely limit the sorts of interaction that take place between them. In the relatively infrequent cases where a less powerful giant has anything to offer a more powerful giant, the more powerful one can usually take it by force. More often, though, the easiest way for a giant to accomplish what he wants to accomplish is just to do it himself. Alliances between rough equals with different specialties tend to be both rare and tentative.

Except that at the bottom of the chain, furthest removed from the Great Progenitors, exist creatures like dwarves and humans and elves and orcs, who as individuals frankly suck so much that they often have to cooperate in order to achieve what they want. So cooperative groups are the ones that are successful and wind up flourishing. And the upshot of this is that over many generations, they form themselves into clans, then tribes, then nations, then empires; they build up civilizations. At which point they have the infrastructure needed to nourish the talents of extraordinary individuals, raising them up to become heroes, even gods.

And gods and heroes and lesser individuals on down to the cannon fodder will be loyal to their peoples, and willing to fight and die for their peoples, because those sentiments had to and have to exist in order for demihuman civilizations to exist. Whereas giants... don't even have peoples. They don't have a social system in which someone who steals from or even kills one of them can expect retribution; groups of giants never needed any such thing, because an individual giant can pretty much take care of himself. Except for nuclear families, giants as a rule don't even operate in groups.

But they're quite capable of understanding the ways in which humans and similar creatures do operate in groups, and consequently categorizing sufficiently large groups of such creatures as Things Not To Mess With, along with more powerful giants and active volcanoes and so on.

And thus Law arises to stand against Chaos. But there is no rebellion against and overthrow of an earlier capricious, tyrannical rule. Establishing a hierarchy and getting a whole bunch of folks to do what you want is something that the smaller races came up with in order to be able to influence the world on the same level that giants do. All of this highly formal stuff about governance, authority, tradition, duty, honor, and so on is pretty much alien to giants.

Dwarves and gnomes are like giants in that they'll attempt to excavate proper homes, instead of dwelling in structures standing out in the open where gods know what could come along and do gods know what to them. This requires much more individual effort for humanoids considerably less strong than giants, but they do it anyway. Not so much because they have greater concern for their prodigy than humans do as because they have longer lifespans. They're much likelier to have to personally cope with the eventual negative consequences of settling in a less than ideal location (and other long-term consequences of other actions). Of course, even the best of habitats will tend to have some drawbacks, and one of the drawbacks of living in hills and mountains is that giants tend to live there too. Due to their above-mentioned long-term planning tendencies, dwarves and gnomes therefore try to be prepared to have to fight giants.

Akal Saris
2010-07-26, 08:05 PM
For what it's worth, I use giants fairly often as antagonists, though rarely as the primary bad guys. They're like dragons without the massive treasure hoard - visibly powerful and quite a threat.

In D&D 3.5 at least, they are also one of the few non-magical monster types that can credibly threaten my high level PCs, since they have a ton of HP and a huge attack bonus, or with full power attack and a lucky roll they can nearly 1-shot most PCs.

Set
2010-07-26, 09:51 PM
I came up with a homebrew 'adventure path' involving fire giants heavily. The fire giant kingdom is on the map, called the Ashen Empire, and occupies a volcano-riddled mountain range of whatever the setting is (the Hellfurnaces would work great in Greyhawk).

The fire giants are described as very organized, and very much like overgrown dwarves, which I've decided includes a facility with smithwork and metalcraft. Their oversized cities are dominated by surprisingly few actual giants, as they are long-lived, but slow breeders, and larger numbers of fire hobgoblin slave-armies similar to the tattooed mamelukes of ancient times (only with intricate brands seared into their flesh, instead of tattoos). The looming basalt keeps would also be overrun with reddish-black scaled kobolds, who would have an unusual status, and be treated with at least a modicum of respect by the fire giants, as even the fire giants have a master, a great wyrm red dragon who has set himself up as emperor, and selects the highest-status fire giant matrons to sire the half-dragon fire giants who make up the terrible elite rulers of the Ashen Empire. While the giants, and some few hobgoblins and kobolds (mostly crafting equipment for those of their own size), engage in craftsmanship, the finest weapons come from the enchanted forges of the dozens of slave-Azer, who serve the Emperor's 'Advisor,' an Efreeti Lord who has spent so long on the material plane that he's a native outsider (and, something he doesn't share, has been exiled from the City of Brass, with extreme prejudice...).

An adventure designed to scale up would start with an influx of goblins and bugbears into nearby lands, driven out of their mountain homes by the armies of the Empire, who is clearing them out to 'recruit' more of the native hobgoblin tribes into his armies. Fairly innocuous encounters for the low-level sorts, who would discover in time that the goblins and bugbears they've been facing are refugees (with the goblins, it would be hard to tell the difference, but someone might question after the second or third encounter with only female bugbears, no less powerful and vicious than the males would have been, to wonder 'where are all the boy bugbears?'). The armies will pour forth later, and the party would have to deal with towns under seige and an apparently unstoppable advance from the thought-to-be-slumbering Ashen Empire. A later mission might take them into the mountains themselves (poorly guarded, as most of the armies are busy securing neighboring lands and villages, etc.), and make contact with the 'resistance movement' in the mountains, composed of the bulk of the bugbear population (who sent away only pregnant females, 'just in case') and the rare brave goblin who also chose to remain behind and 'fight the power' to 'rescue' their hobgoblin kin from slavery (and, more importantly, seize back control of the mountains from the formerly insular and 'neighborly' fire giants).

While the notion starts with a fire giant kingdom, it expands to include fights with goblins and bugbears, fights with fire hobgoblin slave militia, fights with actual fire giants of lower rank (out to make a name for themselves), an attack on the azer production facilities that are arming and equipping the army, and the efreeti who oversees them, fights with elite half-dragon fire giants, and fire giants who have howdahs build onto their backs from which kobold adepts and sorcerers can fling down magical support, and, eventually, a great wyrm red dragon himself, as the Ashen Emperor sees his dreams about to go up in smoke and takes to the field in person.

If Dragons don't float your boat, an exiled Balor or Pit Fiend could fill a similar role, and the elite giants for the higher level adventurers could be Half-Fiends, or, the exiled Efreeti Lord could be bumped up and turned into the emperor, or even turned into the Emperor's concubine, and the children of the king and his efreeti bride could be the new elite, with Half-Elemental (Fire) traits added to their other abilities. Perhaps the fire giant emperor even pulled a Jafar and wished himself to have efreeti like properties from a genie he'd found in a ring or bound with a spell, making him a fire giant / efreeti lord hybrid or something.

Way back in 1st edition, every Giant writeup in the MM it seemed had a list of critters they had working for them, giant animals and griffons and whatnot, fearsome creatures in their own right.

Having the glacier-castles of the frost giants circled by (barely) tamed juvenile white dragons, alchemically 'starved' to stunt their growth and cause them to remain at smaller sizes for decades longer than they normally would, and flown like hunting hawks by the cold jotunn would be pretty neat. Larger arctic beasts, like dire polar bears and remorhaz, could be used as warhounds or similar hunting beasts. Their castles could be enormous spires of ice, created through a combination of natural skill and magical artifice, and entire sections could be deliberately kept transparent, so that the events in one room could be viewed by guards in another, while the properties of ice itself might serve as defensive measures, as sections are so slippery that anyone not wearing spiked boots (or weighing over 1200 lbs...) has to make balance checks or go slip-sliding away, while sections would be kept supernaturally cold, so that those who do not share the frost giants natural immunity to cold suffer constant damage (they've keep their polar bears and the like out of these sections as well). A fight against frost giants in their native territory wouldn't just be a fight agaisnt some really tall people, but also be a fight against the elements and a brutal and unforgiving bit of terrain, which could affect movement (three foot snowdrifts that halve the movement of Medium and Small creatures, inconveniences Large creatures, and is ankle-deep and irrelevant to Huge creatures, and perhaps conceals ice caltrops that can pierce the feet of those who weigh a certain amount, but shatter if they encounter feet armored or naturally armored over +4, meaning that the giants just crunch them underfoot, while many PCs would suffer caltrop harm).

A Hill Giant with a level of Ranger might have a pair of grizzly bears on chains, straining as they prowl forward, looking like a man holding a pair of hunting hounds. Unintelligent versions of Giant Eagles could be used as 'Dire Eagles' to represent the 'falcons' used by a Hill Giant beastmaster. (Despite their utter lack of sophistication, Hill Giants might find it easier to identify with the primal and savage natures of predatory animals, making them better at animal husbandry than their lack of agricultural development would suggest.)

hamishspence
2010-07-27, 03:57 AM
A Hill Giant with a level of Ranger might have a pair of grizzly bears on chains, straining as they prowl forward, looking like a man holding a pair of hunting hounds. Unintelligent versions of Giant Eagles could be used as 'Dire Eagles' to represent the 'falcons' used by a Hill Giant beastmaster. (Despite their utter lack of sophistication, Hill Giants might find it easier to identify with the primal and savage natures of predatory animals, making them better at animal husbandry than their lack of agricultural development would suggest.)

At Hill giant size, a Medium Dire Hawk (MM2, Races of the Wild) would probably fit better for "giant falconry"

That said, there are Dire Eagles in Races of Stone- smaller giantkind, like the Medium Verbeegs in Expedition to Castle Greyhawk, might use these as mounts. Or scale them up to Huge size and Large giants can use them.

Warclam
2010-07-31, 05:55 PM
Wow, some amazing replies. Sorry for the long delay responding, a combination of busyness and laziness. I fear I will be unable to do them justice, but here are my current thoughts.

I notice that a great many suggestions include the giants being beholden to someone else, be it dragons, demons, or some other thing entirely. Iconoclast that I am, I'm planning on turning that on its head and having the giants be the very first power, children of the Earth itself (shades of the Greek Titans here). They pushed back the ocean and raised up the land, where Earth's many other children lived and died alongside the children of the giants themselves, the humanoids and monstrous humanoids.

In this scheme, the dragons come along afterward, as another of Earth's children. They wanted to rule the great Pangean continent, so they fought against the giants, trying to claim the land for their own. Massive losses were sustained on both sides, but the decimated giants eventually banished the dragons. The weakened dragons flew as far out into the sea as they could, and raised more land over which they could hold absolute dominion. I figure that in their weakened state they couldn't manage a full continent, so instead they got more of an archipelago.

The dragons created all reptiles and, later, avians, in their own image, and gave birth to their own children: the kobolds, lizardfolk, and other intelligent reptillians, avians, and other dragons. There has since been some mixing, such as kobolds making their way to the giant continent to become nuisances, especially to gnomes (their underground homes are just the right size for kobold immigrants). Basically though, there are very few reptiles or birds on the giant continent, and almost nothing else in the dragon islands.

These days, many dragons are content in their new home, but others are still bitter about their banishment and are considering another attempt at taking over the giant continent. This is the rift between the metallic and chromatic dragons, not the good/evil thing (which I honestly find kind of silly).

I feel like there should be at least one ancient group, before even the giants, that wants to drown all the land and return the world to the way it was. Aboleths would fit nicely here, or possibly some aquatic fey.

Thanks again everyone who offered their thoughts!

The Anarresti
2010-07-31, 06:02 PM
The big thing for me is that giants live to be so old. Stone giants (The oldest, save immortals and dragons, I think) live to be around 800. Storm giants, it doesn't say, but I could eaisily imagine them to be around 1,200. I have this idea that I really want to implement as a DM one day, of a Stone Giant monastery on a mountain. Anchient beings acheiving self-disipline, at one with the rock.
Anyway, you have Hill Giants, basically big ogres, and then the four elemental giants: Cloud Giants (Air), Fire Giants (Fire), Frost Giants (Water), Stone Giants (Earth), and then Storm Giants (Awesomeness)

Devils_Advocate
2010-08-01, 12:33 AM
I feel like there should be at least one ancient group, before even the giants, that wants to drown all the land and return the world to the way it was. Aboleths would fit nicely here, or possibly some aquatic fey.
Consider using aboleths with sahuagin (http://speakwithmonsters.badgods.com/comics/sahuagin) minions.

Set
2010-08-01, 12:57 AM
I'm planning on turning that on its head and having the giants be the very first power, children of the Earth itself (shades of the Greek Titans here). They pushed back the ocean and raised up the land, where Earth's many other children lived and died alongside the children of the giants themselves, the humanoids and monstrous humanoids.

Under these paradigm, I'd have Ogres, and then Orcs, be the lesser spawn of the giants, created (deliberately or through 'accidents') in opposition to the various races created by the dragons. The Orcs, never considered more than brutish shock troops, good for going places the Giants themselves never would fit (and mopping up the remains of battles that were now beneath them to stick around for), consider themselves the heirs to the Giant legacy, and are incredibly proud of the strong blood that flows in their veins, laying claim to a kinship with Giant-kind that the Giants themselves don't regard as being more than a few drops of giantish blood in an unworthy vessel...

In the lands where the Giants once ruled, before they pulled back for whatever reasons, the Orcs now thrive, having been second-class citizens at best under Giantish rule, but now considering themselves the lords of the land, the only 'noble-blooded' people left (as, in their minds, the blood of rulership comes only from Giant-kind).

With this giant-kin, I'd keep the Orcish stats the same, but describe them as averaging six to seven feet in height, pushing the edge of size Medium.

Perhaps the Jotunbrud feat would be available to some, and those would be considered to have the 'blood of kings,' and be natural cheiftans (if they survive to adulthood, as jealous non-giant-blooded rivals arrange for them to die young...).

With both Orcs and Ogres, it is notable that the mixing of giantish blood with human blood would produce not only such a physically powerful race, but such a brutish and savage one, far less sophisticated and erudite than one would expect for the more refined breeds of giant. Giantish philosophers maintain that this is the result of Giantish blood being too powerful for the lesser races to fully absorb, causing deformities (an entire subrace of deformed ogres called the 'verbeeg' or the 'fyrbolg' attest to that peculiarity), but also that the larger-than-life Giantish *temperament* is too strong for a lesser mind. Giantish rage, easily contained within a giantish body, is too strong for a smaller frame, and boils over into savagry and bloodlust, causing the smaller creatures with traces of giant's blood to be brutish things, overcome by feelings meant for far greater creatures than themselves.

They have the passions of gods, which burst out of their unworthy frames and strain their weak minds.