Goliath Ethnicity in Runetalras | World Anvil
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Goliaths are a nomadic race of humanoids native to the mountainous regions of Runetalras. The coming of a goliath horde is seen as a disaster in waiting, as they are inclined to pillaging and demanding tribute from city-states and towns. Goliaths are distantly related to giants, much like Firbolgs, and tower over many of the over races.  

Physical Description

Goliaths as their name suggests, are massive. They averaged between 7 and 8 feet tall (2.1 to 2.4 meters), making them among the tallest of the mortal races. Goliaths have noticeably bony or prominent supraorbital ridges above their eyes. Goliath eyes are often a bright blue or green and sometimes glowed a little.   Goliath skin is often gray or brown and is extremely tough, and feels more like tanned leather than the skin of most other humanoid races. One of the most distinctive features of the goliath is the darker (often vertically symmetrical) patches of skin that covered their entire bodies. Goliaths believe that these markings somehow explain or control their fate or destiny. For this reason, goliaths never tattooed themselves as this could affect their future.   Goliath skin is littered with bony growths called "lithoderms". These growths are roughly the size of a coin and appear like studded pebbles on their arms, shoulders, torso or head.  

Lifespan and Maturity

Goliaths live, typically, for eighty years but reach ages of one century. Goliaths age similarly to humans, losing vitality and luster increasingly as they reach towards the end of their lifespan. Typically a goliath will only live as long as they can sustain themselves, as their culture places huge value on independence and self-reliance. A goliath is considered to have reached their maturity when they first kill a specific animal, typically a bear or shadowcat, with the typical age being 15.  

Goliath Abilities

The goliath are a naturally strong and resistant races, and well suited to combat and physically straining life. The goliaths strength and resistance allow them to shrug off blows that would fell most other races. The races is also highly adapted to live comfortably with cold and elevated climates.  


Goliath tribes regularly go to war with one another and other peoples over matter that may seem trivial to other races. Though the wars tend to be short and limited in nature, tending to end once the tribe feels that their point has been made. All members of goliath society are prepared to fight if the tribe is under threat, and once weapons have been handed out the entire tribe become a veritable warband. Goliaths, as a whole, tend to be at the peak of physical fitness and their expert hunting skills make them competent warriors at a moment’s notice.   Hide and leather armour are favored by goliaths as they already have naturally durable bodies and do not like to restrict their movement. Goliaths often use large two-handed weapons to make the most of their considerable strength.   Goliaths often employ guerrilla tactics in battle, owing to their upbringing as hunters. Fair-play is also integral to goliath fights. As long as they are fairly sure they could still win, goliaths even handicap themselves to give their opponents a fair chance. For example, if a goliath disarmed their opponent, they would throw aside their own weapon and continue the fight with their fists.   As with their recreational sports, goliaths seriously frown upon "cheating" in battle. Finishing off a fallen foe, taking hostages, and attacking civilians areconsidered distasteful and unfair.   The Yhess State prize goliath slaves for both labouring slaves, slave soldiers, and even slave gladiators.  


Goliath society's key focus is competitiveness. Their society also holds equality and fairness in high regard.   Goliaths live in small tribes that number between forty and sixty goliaths. This is usually made up of three to five extended families. Most goliaths live in the same tribe their entire life. On rare occasions, a tribe that gets too large splits into smaller tribes or smaller tribes merge together to create a larger tribe.   Goliath tribes have a number of key roles that are filled by the most capable members. Summaries of these roles are included below:   Chieftain: The primary authority figure in a tribe. The chieftain is responsible for choosing when the tribe should move on to new lands. The chieftain also chose who fills some of the other key roles in the tribe. The chieftain can be challenged to combat known as a Makrhuorhand for control of the tribe.   Captain: Two captains are assigned to each of the important jobs each morning. These jobs include hunting, gathering, cooking, and scouting. The captains then build their own teams and set out to achieve their task. Two captains are assigned to each task to encourage healthy rivalry.   Skywatcher: Often the most experienced druid or shaman of the tribe. Skywatchers make sure that resources are not over harvested and game animals aren't needlessly slaughtered. Skywatchers are often exempt from the teams that the captains assemble each morning. Skywatchers also oversee festivals, rituals, and celebrations.   Dawncaller: Are responsible for guarding the camp overnight and alerting the tribe if there was trouble. At dawn, they sing or bellow tales of goliath bravery or heroics to wake everyone up. Dawncallers are assigned daily and given less work throughout the day so they could rest and be alert at night.   Adjudicator: Adjudicators settle disputes. Unless urgent, an adjudicator hears disputes after the evening meal. Tough decisions are often settled with a contest of the adjudicator's devising. If a goliath appeals against an adjudicator's decision, the chieftain had to settle the dispute, but also had to dismiss the adjudicator from their position. Adjudicators also acted as referees for sports.   Tent-mother: The only sex-specific role in the tribe because one of her jobs is to be a wet-nurse. Chosen by the chieftain each morning, the tent-mother is responsible for the care and teaching of the tribe's infants and toddlers, as their parents are often busy with other responsibilities. It is also tent-mothers who decided when young goliaths were old enough to start contributing to the tribe (usually around the age of 10).   Lamentor: Responsible for determining when a member of the tribe was too old or weak to serve as a productive member of the tribe. Good lamentors then approach the individual to explain their decision and consult the chieftain. Once it had been decided, the lamentor prepares a long chant to commemorate the goliath before the tribe exiled the old or weak individual from the tribe.   Tribe chieftains only maintain power as long as they could prove they were suitable for that role. As a result, leadership constantly changed.   The competitive nature of goliaths means that the attitude and achievements of one would quickly inspire the whole tribe. Individuals within tribes are constantly trying to outdo each other's deeds.  

Laws and Justice

Although goliaths have no written laws or codes, there are a number of unspoken rules that were commonly followed by most goliath tribes, discouraging theft and cheating. The greatest rule was obedience to the chieftain and captains.   Because they are typically nomadic tribes who share belongings or traded goods rather than use gold, conventional punishments like imprisonment or fining are not possible. Instead, tribes often employ the following punishments:   Beating: Goliaths caught stealing, cheating, or disobeying the chieftain are beaten. Pain was considered a healthy motivator in goliath society.   Shunning: Shunning involves the tribe acting like the criminal didn't exist. They are not picked for teams or sports and are not provided with food and shelter. A lesser form of shunning for minor crimes, called "half-shunning", sees the offending goliath simply treated poorly and as a second-class member of the tribe. The duration of the shunning is never spoken outright, but rather is communicated and decided via body language. Many goliaths claim to "just know" how long a shunning should last. Goliaths who broke the shunning risked being shunned themselves. This is a serious transgression, as it threatened goliath society itself.   Exile: The worst punishment a goliath can receive was exile. Before being exiled the chieftain assigned a new middle name to the goliath. Exile is also the fate of the old, weak, or badly injured who can’t contribute to the tribe. It should be noted that these individuals received a lament to commemorate their lives before their exile. Criminals receive no such treatment.   It was common for a goliath who know they have failed their tribe to leave the tribe of their own accord, rather than force the tribe into the awkward position of exiling them. Some stubborn goliaths however have to be forced into exile.  


The cultures and traditions of goliath tribes vary from tribe to tribe and region to region but a number of traits are common across several tribes.   Goliaths have little empathy or pity for adults who can’t take care of themselves but they do treat and take care of the injured and sick. Permanently injured goliaths are still expected to contribute in every way that they could.   Arts and crafting in goliath culture is limited by the resources they have at hand in the mountains. As a result, goliaths are skilled in crafts like flintknapping, tanning, stitching, creating simple pottery, bone-carving, and painting.   Goliath art is often colorful and expressive. Art is one of the few things that goliaths understood to be non-competitive; they fully appreciated that art can’t have a winner. Goliaths believed that art should be used to show people something they can’t see in the real world. Goliaths decorate their tents, caves, weapons, and clothes with abstract designs (often jagged, parallel lines and symbols that had astronomical significance).  


Most goliath tribes are pagans revering natural and primal forces, with shamans known as skywatchers or sunspeakers interpreting natural events as the will of these forces. It is not uncommon for goliaths however, to worship deity of war and honour.  


Considering their competitive nature, it's not surprising that sports are played by goliaths to improve their physical skills and pass time. Simple games include climbing, sprinting, and wrestling. Other games that were popular amongst many tribes included:   Goat-ball: This involves the use of a stuffed goat hide, which is tossed around by two teams (usually four a side). The two teams jump around on several raised platforms (usually rocks or logs) trying to pass, intercept, and hit each other with the goat-ball. Any participants that are hit by the goat-ball are out of the game. Participants who fell or were knocked from their platform are also out. One team loses once all their players were out.   Stubborn-root: One goliath is chosen to be the "root" and has to defend a ridge or peak from the other competitors (similar to king of the mountain played by children in towns and cities).   Cliff-climb: A simple cliff-climbing race. Most races involve climbing up a cliff and then climbing back down. Participants can choose to fall part of the way on the return climb to save time, but risk injuring themselves. The winner is often the best of three races. Particularly skilled climbers often handicap themselves by wearing backpacks full of stones.  

Homelands of the Goliaths

While there are no kingdoms of the goliaths their are countless tribes and settlements of Goliaths throughout the mountainous areas of Runetalras. Goliaths are known to be present in the Ice Mountains of the Velgan Empire, the Desolate Lands of the Kasari Dominion, the Short Mountains, Savalir Ridge, Kilgarth Mountains, and some are rumored to make their home within the Seldori Range.  

Goliath Traits

Ability Score Increase. When determining your character’s ability scores, increase one score by 2 and increase a different score by 1, or increase three different scores by 1. You can't raise any of your scores above 20.   Creature Type. You are a Humanoid.   Size. You are Medium.   Speed. Your walking speed is 30 feet.   Little Giant. You have proficiency in the Athletics skill, and you count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.   Mountain Born. You have resistance to cold damage. You also naturally acclimate to high altitudes, even if you’ve never been to one. This includes elevations above 20,000 feet.   Stone's Endurance. You can supernaturally draw on unyielding stone to shrug off harm. When you take damage, you can use your reaction to roll a d12. Add your Constitution modifier to the number rolled and reduce the damage by that total.   You can use this trait a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.   Languages. Your character can speak, read, and write Common and one other language that you and your DM agree is appropriate for the character. The Player’s Handbook offers a list of Languages to choose from. The DM is free to modify that list for a campaign.
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