Though thought to be grim and irate due to their angry-looking resting faces, the goliath are of course as emotionally diverse as the other races
. Some traits, however, are undeniably found in most, and the stereotypes characterizing goliath as determined and stubborn are often true. It is said that not even death can change their minds, and dying for one's opinion is in fact considered honorable. Both minor feuds and major wars have arisen as the result of slightly opposing opinions.
Goliath live in large tribal towns, or close by one such town in smaller villages or farms. These towns can have anywhere from fifty to several hundred individuals living in it, and most goliath live their entire lives in the same settlement or its proximity. Each town is governed by a council of people, usually made up of the eldest of each of the most prominent families, though there are no laws prohibiting younger members of a family to serve on the council instead. In fact, most tribes do not have formal laws, instead relying on norms and traditions that most of their members can agree upon.
There's usually not too long of a distance between one goliath settlement and the next. While the other races of the world consider them recluses, they are actually quite sociable with their own kind. Exchange of goods, knowledge, services, and even entertainment between different villages is an everyday occurrence. The same trade does not occur with outsiders, however. Only the largest goliath settlement of Orzubak
have official "foreign" relations, trading regularly with Ashon
while technically part of their territory.
Being close to one's family is important to most, but it is more important for a goliath to find people they agree with so as to not provoke unnecessary hostilities. Thus, all who agree on the essentials of life gather to form tribal towns. Smaller and younger tribes are usually those who holds strong and fresh opinions, while larger and older societies are built upon non-controversial traditions. Outskirt villages and farmsteads house those who mostly agree with the larger tribe, but has a few fundamental differences.
Stubbornness and a dislike for change is what keeps a tribe together, but it is also what ultimately causes them to split up. Once a new subject where people form strong opinions arises, the separation is imminent, and best case scenario is that a new tribe is formed nearby. Worst case, the differences in opinion is so irreconcilable that war breaks out. And goliath wars tend to spread. Nearby towns will discuss the same subject, and join one side in the war. The fighting is brutal, but quickly over, as their rage turns to spite, and one side of the conflict will usually withdraw to ponder their opinions in peace.
Goliath culture is dominated by a strict gender structure
where the men are expected to do some things, and women are expected to do other things. It is a man's job to hunt and gather, fight, provide manual labor to the tribe, and cook for his family. It is a woman's job to make dyes and tan furs, provide manual labor to their family, and to take care of newborn.
As soon as a child can walk, they will follow in the footsteps of their parent of the same gender, but they will also have other roles within their tribe. As an adult goliath is big and clumsy, it falls to the children, with their smaller hands and fingers, to craft the finer things in life. Jewelry carved from bones or forged from precious metals, fletching, clothmaking and sewing are all done by the young.
The foremost musical instrument of a goliath is their voice. Already quite low, powerful, and harsh, combined with their massive lung capacity, they are natural throat singers. Throat singing is considered a male talent, while clean singing is associated with women. Their favored method of telling stories passed down through generations is for the women to sing the tales of their ancestors, accompanied by the rumbling sounds of the men creating ambiance.
Throat singing is known to be a weapon of war, with master warriors not only triggering, but molding avalanches to their will through their voices.
The tattooist occupation is close to sacred, and this respectable position is usually held by a single individual per tribe. It is one of few genderless roles, and is almost always held by an adolescent: someone who showed particular prowess and creativity with arts as a child, but with more developed motor functions. As their fingers grow thicker with age, the tattooist takes on an apprentice, before eventually taking on another trade.
Tattoos are made by covering an area of the skin with a powdered dye, then repeatedly poking a pattern into it with metal needles. The dyes' composition is a well-kept secret passed on from master to apprentice, and comes in black, blue, green, and gold. It is likely that one vital part of the dyes is blue kale
, a non-edible plant widely cultivated by most tribes. To non-giantkind, these dyes are highly poisonous, and even touching the tattooed skin of a goliath may cause irritation.
Most adult goliath have covered a significant portion of their bodies with tattoos, especially the warriors. The patterns usually tells the story of the person wearing them, or portray events important to their tribe or family. There are many exceptions to this, and certain folks simply get tattoos because they appreciate the artistic aspect of them.
A sort of family tree depicting ten generations of farmers as blades of grass in a large field. The surrounding gold speaks of long lasting success.
Stylized giant mountain goat, a common source of food and fur. It is tradition for hunters to tattoo challenging or favored prey.
Symbolic depiction of two tribes slowly merging. Clearly two different sides, blue and gold, but there are golden elements in the blue, and vice versa.
There are likely as many gods in goliath religion as there are goliath tribes. Some tribes may worship several gods, and another selection of tribes may worship the same god. In reality they are primarily worshiping aspects of nature, or natural elements close to their towns. These aspects are usually personified. Towns close to major waterways may pray to the River Lady Anljot, and those with a long history of stonework and masonry likely revere the Stone Lord Deibjel.
Ancient goliath held the belief that true divinity is beyond the comprehension of regular people, and so it is better to worship that which is god-made, rather than gods themselves. The truly enlightened still hold this belief today, acknowledging that their gods are merely metaphors for what divinity has created. The goliath have no term for this faith, but the Church of Harmony
recognizes this as a form of harmonic
worship, calling it Harmonia Mundana
This is my take on the D&D goliath. While there are similarities with the original, I reckon they're different enough to be considered a unique race. There are a lot of things I want to add, but this article is beefy enough for now :^)
Nice use of artwork. Interesting article with cultural details. I don't know the 5e creatures and races so this is all new to me.
Even if you did know the 5e races I think this would still be all new to you :D The only thing these guys have in common by now is being big and living in the mountains. Thanks for stopping by!
I like the interpretation of the tattoos and the use of the voice for storytelling and as a weapon. I also liked the overview of the lineage of the Goliath. Would it be possible to make it bigger or shorten unimportant stems?
Thank you! Yes, making the lineage bigger and removing what is unnecessary shouldn't be a problem. But alas, I am a bit lazy! :D I have made a suggestion on the world anvil survey to make it easier to turn whiteboards into images. If some of my suggestions come through, I will surely find the motivation to improve upon it!