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The Champions of the Peaks

Goliaths easily prove to be useful allies to anyone who can find them, but it should be warned never to turn to them in weakness; as a people they are as hard, pitiless, and unforgiving as the mountain stone which births them... Approach them in strength, and they might consider you worthy of an alliance- but in weakness, you are nothing to them but a nuisance.
— Anthropologist Torra Haller, A Guide to the Peaks
In some of the highest mountain peaks of the world- far above the line where the last trees grow, and the air becomes thin and frigid- dwell the reclusive Ovarketh, or the Goliaths as they're known by most in the Common Tongue today; towering grey skinned humanoids with powerful physiques capable of tossing boulders as if they were mere pebbles, they are often perceived as nothing more than a horde of brutish, unthinking barbarians. This perception is little helped by the fact that, because of their many exploits, Goliaths frequently appear in the legends and histories of other races across the world.   This reputation, however, frequently comes from tales alone- often told by adventurers with one too many ales in them, looking to impress a Tavern crowd… Few can actually claim to have ever seen a Goliath, though- and fewer still can claim to have ever had any sort of good relationship with one. And the reality is that, as the closest descendants of the Phet, Goliaths have a deep, rich culture that goes back to the very first Material inhabitants. Exiled from their ancestral citadels, though, they now wander from icy peak to icy peak in nomadic Herds.

Culture & Society

    At the top of the Goliath social structure sits the Herd's council, consisting of a Voltak, followed by a Yngva and a Górtra of equal status to one another. Beyond them are several Dóven- followed by various additional ranks in descending social order.   To understand this order, however, one must first understand that Goliaths culture centers around the belief that they are locked in a never-ending cultural battle to earn the worthiness of their ancestors- and of their unforgiving homeland. For that reason, Goliaths value self-reliance, strength, and courage above all else. This often has the effect of leaving each and every Goliath with the responsibility of earning their place within the Herd, or die trying- and Goliaths have little pity for adults who can’t take care of themselves or keep up.   Despite this, Goliaths are not necessarily a heartless people… Indeed, Goliath society recognizes that it takes more than simple brute strength to survive in the mountains. As a result, the injured and disabled members of a Herd are given great care and respect, and considered more than worthy as members; a Herd is only as strong as its weakest link, and teamwork and community are requirements for survival- both of which necessitate a wide variety of skills, and neither of which can be built by pure muscle alone.  
My legs are useless and I can no longer walk on my own- but at least I saved the child. And now I will do my part in other ways; my hands have always been nimble and so I become Hína instead- repairing clothes and weaving more cloth to survive the weather.
— Journal of Aeffa Hjgar,
Domurian Dóthúr Herd
This necessity for teamwork drives both the Goliath belief in "fair play", as well as their entire concept of Bjorak- a complex caste system which assigns a social rank to every individual in a Herd, based on a number of social and religious factors. The exact nature of ones bjúr and how it is determined, however, is unknown to all but the Yngva who assigns it at their birth, and regularly consults with the Herd's ancestors to validate any changes in their status as they age.   What is known, though, is that gender has no impact on one's bjúr; Goliaths see both Ana and Gída as being equal in all things due to both’s role in reproduction, and the necessity of all for the survival of the Herd... That said, Goliaths do still maintain some gendered lines in their society- particularly between Ana and Gída, and a third gender: Hína.
  Hína members are those who are non-procreative and don’t produce children for the Herd, either by active choice, or by health or circumstance. As these individuals transcend the necessary reproductive roles, they don't have to dedicate their resources to the same concerns as other Herd members- allowing them to concentrate on other areas, and take on different responsibilities for the Herd instead. As a result, many are looked to as teachers and cultural preservers, and inevitably occupy some of the highest positions in a Herd. Many Yngva, Voltak, Górtra, and Dóven come from members of the Hína gender because of this.   As the representative of the Herd's brú, a Herd is loyal to their Voltak and unquestionably follows their instructions. The Górtra is the only member to ever question their leader- and indeed, that is their entire role: To constantly second guess and disagree with the Voltak to ensure they make proper decisions for the good of the Herd, and maintain the integrity of the people's brú… The role of the Yngva, however, is to uphold the rite of ancestors, interpret signs and omens, and preserve the Herd's rich religious traditions- while the Dóven act as advisors to the laypeople, judge competitions, and settle lesser civil disputes between them.  

Magic & Religion

  While their original Phetian ancestors were staunchly polytheistic, and many of their descendants remain so today, Goliaths have largely deviated from the trappings of faith; they still maintain a small pantheon of cultural Divine (headed by a figure called Anaam) that are worshipped across the Herds, but it is the ancestors who play the largest and most integral roles in their cultural faith systems now.   Ancestry is important to Giants in general- far more so than any other race. But the Goliaths frequently take it much further than the others; most Goliaths take pride in their ability to accurately recount their lineage back to Annam, and the original Phetian Giants from which they descend. But ancestors aren't just important to the individual... The deceased of the Herds are heavily venerated as part of their cultural religion.   Goliath burial rituals involve leaving the corpses of the deceased on open mountain cliffs for the elements and animals to consume. This ritualistic consumption of the dead has led to the Spirit- and the ancestors in particular- being symbolized by, and associated with, the Ardek in Goliath lore; a large, extremophile wading bird in the Heron family, the Ardek is found only in the frigid waters of mountain lakes but is frequently spotted near corpses towards the final stages of these burials.   After their burial, the ancestors frequently receive offerings of food and drink, given during elaborate rituals. During these, one's complete lineage is ritually recounted in order to call them up, while the presenter adorns themself with a paste made from their ground bones. The offerings given are not only meant to sustain the dead until they rejoin the Weave- but also to appease them and ensure they don’t unnecessarily trouble the living. Feeding them in death, too, allows Goliaths to call upon their ancestors’ strength in times of need.
Common Name
Goliath   Genetic Ancestry
The Phet   Parent Species
Giants   Related Ethnicities   Other Relations
Common Hair Colors
  Common Eye Colors

Common Skin Tones
Goliath Skin Tones.png
Every Goliath has three names: A birth name assigned to them by their parents, their parent's clan name, and a (predominantly animistic) spiritual name assigned to them by the Herd's Yngva; if the child has no living clan members to impart a clan name, they instead become a member of their Voltak's household.   Common Birth Names
  • Sorac
  • Naemi
  • Kesiah
  • Ruan
  • Aeffa
  • Kethir
  • Nubili
  • Janci
  • Ivar(ta)
  • Barke
  • Runar
  • Lihan
  • Merani
  • Ilsbet
  Common Clan Names
  • Uldot
  • Skathi
  • Torgar
  • Nunir
  • Tuasha
  • Rondur
  • Mobur
  • Hjgar
  • Vanami
  • Ofdal
  • Matras
  • Kusha
  Common Spiritual Names
  • Sioffa
  • Aohag
  • Kíwar
  • Hein
  • Brara
  • Rian
  • Kruse
  • Urzúr
  • Fípa
  • Kumír
  • Maika
  • Shur
  Goliaths present their birth and clan names when identifying themselves to non-Goliaths, but include their spiritual name to Goliaths even from other Herds. They also frequently assign nicknames to one another- prefeing to use them in casual conversation.

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Cover image: Reaching Hand by Min An


Author's Notes

Flavor Text Credits

  • Aeffa Hjgar journal entry provided by Ezra Aldrich
  • Unfortunate Archaelologist provided by Lyraine Alei
  • Excerpt from the Mountainer's Guide to Tentage by Pati Caulton provided by Andrew
  Read Before You Comment
I absolutely love getting feedback on my setting and its worldbuilding. I love it even more when people ask questions about the things in it. I want both. I encourage both. And it makes me incredibly giddy whenever I get either.   However, there's a time and a place for critique in particular- mostly when I've actually asked for it (which usually happens in World Anvil's discord server). And when I do ask for critique, there are two major things I politely request that you do not include in your commentary:   ➤ The first is any sort of critique on the way I've chosen to organize or format something; Saleh'Alire is not a narrative world written for reader enjoyment... It's is a living campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons. To that end, it's written and organized for my players and I, specifically for ease of use during gameplay- and our organization needs are sometimes very different than others'.   ➤ Secondly, is any critique about sentence phrasing and structure, word choice, and so on; unless you've found a typo, i've blatantly misued a word, or something is unclear because of how I've worded it? Then respectfully: Don't comment on it; as a native English speaker of the SAE dialect, language critique in particular will almost always be unwelcome unless it's absolutely necessary.   If you want to ask questions, speculate, or just ramble? Go for it! Praise, of course, is always welcome too (even if it's just a casual "this is great")- and if you love it, please don't forget to actually show that love by liking it. Because I genuinely do enjoy watching people explore and interact with my setting, and ask questions about it, and I'd definitely love to hear from you... Just be respectful about it, yeah?

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30 Aug, 2020 14:44

I absolutely loved reading this article. Goliaths are already a favorite race of mine and your very detailed feel dive into them was really well presented. I especially enjoyed their social system and the Górtra challenging the Voltak as a role.

Featured Articles in the Shadow War across Creation by Graylion

30 Aug, 2020 15:18

Thank you! I wanted something more complex than the typical "roaming smash and bash" that Goliaths are by default, and I'm really happy with how I rounded them out. I'm so glad I could do your favorite race justice :D I hope you'll be just as happy with the Orcs when I finish them in the next day or so a, as well

30 Aug, 2020 14:47

And the theme, colors, style are absolutely amazing. I find myself looking around each page poking to see what surprise boxes I have not clicked to open up yet.

Featured Articles in the Shadow War across Creation by Graylion

30 Aug, 2020 15:16

I'm glad everyone's responding so well to the theme change! I was a little scared to change it since SA was so well known for its original theme lol.