On the Ecology of the Giant

"Yes, I would say we have a big problem" - Todis Aldan, Neo-Empyrean Archaeologist

Nomenclature: Giants, Titans, Big Folk, Goliaths

Description: Large Humanoids

Things that are known:

  • They are large creatures that resemble Men. 
  • They vary in height from 8' to the size of small mountains
  • They are fond of throwing things

Rumors and other whispers in the dark:

  • Many people differentiate the giants by the terrain in which they live. That really has little affect on the nature of the giant
  • They are hated by certain breeds of Gem Dragons
  • The terrain actually differentiates the race of giant. Cloud giants are elves, Fire giants are dwarves, etc.
  • Fire giants are actually ancient dwarven gods. They fled their home plane where they were the smallest creatures and came here. To their surprise they were much larger then even the largest creatures here.
  • Giants traditionally live in sky castles. There, they mine the clouds for silver
  • Giants are all living on a clock. As they age they gradually turn to stone
  • Stone giants are giants that have found a way to overcome this curse
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  • They are a proto-stage of titans or gods. 
  • Gigantic ruins suggest they may have at one time ruled the world
  • Certain giants, like fire giants, are the result of ancient arcane experiments that ruined their civilization
  • The giants are natures only response to the giant dire cow
  • Giants are bestial creatures, collections of the worst emotions of man, too large to be contained in his small form. They enjoy eating the flesh of creatures that beg not to be eaten. Instead of cooking their food, they torture it for flavor.
  • Giants consume as humanity does, just proportional to their size. This is beyond any sustainable rate, leading to fighting with other races.
  • That consumption is intentional  the giants being the harbingers of the apocalypse  bringing famine and leaving destruction in their wake.
  • The giants are a rare species who's size determine their intelligence. Once they were wise titans who's heads touched the clouds.
  • Giants are good eating
  • Their toe jam is surprisingly sweet and delicious. Served with giant toes it is a royal delicacy
  • They were cursed by the Mother Maggot and have been shrunken and debased. Hill giants, Ogres and other brutes are all that is left of their once majestic race
  • Giants retain magic enough to extract the energy they need for food. Some giants of course have simply adapted to eating anything, usually stone. This works out fine until the weather patterns start to change as the mountains are ground down to nothing. Eventually they move below ground and begin to consume the earth
  • They are the result of gods mating with mortals. They carry traits of their divine fathers, often seeing themselves fit to rule. However this is a terrible idea, as they are a nexus for forces both mortal and divine that prevent them from being balanced or reliable
  • All giants are slaves to their addictions, either alcoholism or worse
  • Giants are a first draft of creation, messy and still mixed with the primal elements. They envy and hate the pure humans who are free from elemental bondage
  • Giants are simply men of fame and power. As you accomplish more and more deeds, you absorb the energy of shrines and artifacts of the ancients and your stature grows. Eventually this could lead to divinity.
  • Giants are animist avatars that become associated with an area. They manifest around large natural structures, mountains, volcanoes, storms, hills. . .
  • Some manifest around temporary things. Fog giants in the morning mist that fade away as the sun rises
  • Like most fantasy taxonomy, the sages have only covered the most common breeds. Their are cactus giants who stand still in the desert, coral giants who lie in wait in oceans, giants of waves of grain. . .
  • They survive by drinking the blood of men. The magical force inside the blood provides hundreds of thousands of calories. It is also why giants have developed such a keen sense of smell
  • Everything large fades. The largest fade the quickest. Giants were the first to leave the mortal realms, followed by ogres. Now humans and demi-humans are fading and the time of goblins is coming. following them even smaller creatures will dominate. Giants are only the echo of the past and regret; tales of a world more filled with magic and truth then the one that exists now
  • Giants are fed not by food, but by their elements. They are guardians of the natural world, a literal physical defense mechanism. 
  • They kill humans of course, because humans are locusts, all consuming creatures outside of the natural order.
  • The giants are hired by the gods. They are masters of reality building and dimensional manipulation. They come from a realm beyond that knowable by humanity. After a lifetime of service, they retire content to be revered as creatures of ancient wisdom in the shadow realms they once helped construct
  • Giants are a form of lycanthropy
  • A little know subset of arcane lore stipulates that any elemental subject to summoning by the wizard is allowed to return and engage in some form of obscene congress to obtain key genetic materials. Once completed the elemental returns and gestates a humanoid. The resulting humanoid is a giant, a creature that one day the elementals hope will replace all life with their own chosen race
  • Giants are actually domestic spirits. Ettins come to vent wrath upon those who anger you, Ogres of rebellion, and true giants of emotions more powerful. Fire giants are a miasmas of rage, Mountain giants depression. They are emotions made manifest.
  • This is also the reason the giants are so human looking, they are simply manifestations of what lies within all men
  • Because giants are simply psychic projections, you don't fight them by dodging them physically. You manifest a psychic projection of a giant version of yourself to fight them. These projections may or may not look like giant bad-ass robots
  • This is why dwarves and halflings get their bonuses versus giants, because they are so full of themselves and overconfident
  • When the wickedness of humanity becomes too great, it bleeds over into the fey kingdoms. They, being wise and long lived, collect and concentrate this evil until it reaches an intolerable level. They birth this destruction into a giant form which then haunts the kingdom that created it. Giants are the conscience of man
  • They are prideful and arrogant creatures
  • Tiny dimensional beings wanted to visit, so they took a friendly meat form of the enormous humans they saw. They overdid the size a little. Oops.
  • They began by trying to pretend they were normal sized, but that didn't work very well. Now they are stuck and regret their initial miscalculation. They keep trying ways both physical (hunching over) and magical to become smaller. Many have just become bitter, frustrated and angry and lash out
  • Wizards who lost control of incantations like 'enlarge' and 'flaming sphere' often found themselves stuck in strange magical forms. Those that were stuck this way were hunted and eagerly vivisected by their peers. 
  • This led to the current situation today, those crusty nutjuob social pariahs who couldn't even master magic and then were hunted by their peers were off to a misanthropic start. Things did not get better as time marched on.
  • Giants come from a fallen other world. In this far realm, everything was much larger and giants were unaware of their size.
  • A great disaster came as gravity became heavier and all the giants plants died. The few giants that remain are brutes, who stoop while they scavenge what is left. Only the smallest and least capable were able to survive by hibernating  only waking to consume and destroy huge amounts of food and human lands before sleeping again. 
  • They are recruited as siege weapons and can catch rocks. This is often a surprise to the catapult team that targeted them with the rock
  • Giants do not actually have a stable size. When you face a giant in the distance, they appear to be huge monstrosities  But if you face one bravely in combat, you discover it is not so large. The giant shrinks even further when struck, until finally it shrinks down upon death to a mere eight or nine feet tall
  • Giants keep giant animals as pets. Giant goats, beavers, and hamsters mainly
  • There are six true giants, all the rest are reflections
    • Cloud
    • Fire
    • Frost
    • Hill
    • Stone
    • Storm
  • Giants are said to have magical powers to control the weather, levitate, hide themselves in fog, or more

Giants themselves are kind of boring in combat. They are large single targets, usually easy to hit and not very dangerous. Players are afraid of them, but generally in classic games they are not much of a threat. 

This doesn't have to be the case though. The following are some suggestions for how to give giants more interesting attacks.
  • The sweep attack: Hit multiple man-sized targets and knock them back or prone
  • The throw: Pick up a single man-sized target and hurl them
  • The bite: Pick up a single man-sized target and bite off his head
  • The rock hurl: A ranged attack
  • The earth stomp: Stop the ground causing everyone within a radius to make a saving throw or fall over
  • The shout: A scream that stuns all targets in a cone
  • The hot air: A blast of wind that knocks targets over, extinguishes flame, and prevents ranged attacks. In giants over a certain threshold of hit dice (or cold-natured) can also be a freezing attack


  1. In times long gone there was no one large enough to milk the dire cows. So in their discomfort the cows rampaged across the world, causing great destruction. A noble wizard permanently enlarged himself to tend the herd. He was the first giant.

    (Love the special attacks --- make giant fighting feel more real, for sure.)

  2. The special attacks are awesome, they should be part of every monster ecology.

  3. G+ Source


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