We owe them everything but the greatest gift they gave us was disappearing from the face of Tairos
So much of the bedrock of Tairos' true history is lost to time. Much of the fault for such a tragedy can be laid at the feet of the The Empire of Skyrir and their and the dictates of their wretched patron, the Golden God. However; the truth of the matter is that there is blame enough to go around and much it a burden meant for the giants to bear.
These creatures have become part of the myths of Tairos, their stories told by campfire and tavern candlelight to anyone interested in hearing fantastic stories about heroes, great beasts, and treasures beyond the wildest imagination. Giants in these stories are savage, solitary monsters, residing in distant places where they feast on the flesh of small things and hoard the wealth of the poor fools unfortunate enough to fill their bellies. They dress in the skins of wild animals, smash apart the homes of good men and women with massive clubs, and grind the bones of their victims into gruesome bread. Simple stories with simple monsters and nothing more.
The truth is so much more magnificent... and terrible.
Lords of the Land, the Sky, and the Sea
The origin of giants is one so old that all hopes of a concrete truth are impossible. If the faded cavern drawings of the ancient tribes of elves, dwarves, and men tell a variety of tales: that they were born from the land itself, that they are a race of angels who turned their back on the old gods, that they're travelers from a distant star or separate dimension. It's possible none are true, or that in some way all are true. Where they came from is less important than the impact they had once here.
Giants came to a land that was wild and untamed; filled with dangers unimaginable to the civilizations that would follow them. They fought against the Cult of the Scorned One when their master still existed in the mortal realm. Orcs and goblins were kept from spreading across every corner of the continent by their crusades. Demons, Djinn, and countless maddening abominations all ripped at the veil between worlds eager to pour forth and lay claim to rich feeding grounds of our reality but the giants rebuked their surge time after time. And if not for the lives spent in constant war with the Dragons, Tairos might be now be divided into kingdoms of slaves worshiping scaly gods of destruction.
The giants repelled these threats under the banner of noble houses. Six families stood above all the rest: Rigant, Gelt, Kocsis, Jantir, Div, and Crius, each with dozens of banner clans, minors houses, and oathbound retainers sworn to them. No true central authority existed among the empires; instead they operated as their own distinct entities and only gathered at periodic Moots to discuss politics among each other. This lack of singular leadership is believed to stem from earlier in their origin, a time when they threw off the shackles of such a figure, but none alive today could speak on such a matter with any degree of certainty. Though divided, conflict was rare between these greater houses, such squabbling was left to the banner clans. The same could be said of war, the giants preferred to reserve such extremes for the races that stood in the way of their expansion. Perhaps this long (somewhat) peaceful stance would have eventually ended as they further tamed the land and their borders began to clash but such a day would never come for their kind.
Twilight of the Giants
Few empires have the to know when they are in the final stages of collapse. The same can be said for the great houses of the giants. Their southward expansions continually put them in conflict with newly growing power, the Empire of Skyrir. Like many other such races that failed to fit within the design of the Golden God, the giants were targeted with extermination; something the zealous legions of his followers were all too eager to obey. Skyrir proved to be a formidable opponent both the battlefield and in the realm of the arcane but had they been the only threat present the giants would have eventually toppled the necromancers of the south as they had all other foes before. However, an alliance between a silver dragon named Martique the Uniter and a red dragon called Revesh the Cataclysm halted their forces. Druid circles in the deep forests were infiltrating the ranks of the giants' serfs and lighting the fires of discontent and rebellion. Cults within their own number began to arise; doomsday cults that began worshipping a name from the distant past of the giants, the one who's chains they broke before coming here... Cronos. And to add insult to injury, the volcano in what would one day be Cinderstone had recently erupted. Its choking gases and burning ash laid waste to the farmlands that fed many of the noble houses. All of this was eroding away at the once impenetrable dominance of the giants.
Each great house would crumble in time. Div and Crius were ultimately victims of the Golden God and his Skyriran empire. Rigant was blasted from the earth by the dragon alliance. Kocsis fell victim to the uprising of their own serfdom. Jantir was also targeted by the revolt of their serfs but before the could be fully eradicated the surviving giants scattered and fled to the north; these remnants formed the primitive Frost Giant clans that would finally be put to rest by Frostmere many centuries later. The giants of house Gelt vanished from Tairos one night leaving behind their territory, treasures, and serfs. What became of them and all their banner clans is unknown as is the cause of this mass vanishing.
In their wake horrors would take their place. Most of the surviving giants were nothing but a handful of kinsmen here or there and their noble traditions would could quickly degenerate in the face of desperation. So called Frost Giants, Fire Giants, Storm Giants and all the rest... these distinctions came about in the ages after the toppling of the great houses. All were labels invented by the former serfs to describe the crude new generations of giants that lurked in the far corners of their former domains. Ultimately, Tairos would move on. The legacy of the giants became myth, their arrival in this land would be forgotten, and other powers came to take their place.
This is the Way of Things
A phrase often used among giants during the reign of the great houses to describe the rigid caste system of their society - "This is the way of things" - was a simple means of making sense of their society.
Giants of old believed in a strict social hierarchy related to birth, family, and ultimately one's purpose in life. For giants, most fell into the Lenfjor (commoners) and Binlorgir (honored citizens and skilled professionals). These two ranks were somewhat fluid, with commoners having the opportunity to earn themselves honor, bestowable only by the Lorgir or Bjarsurn, and thus move themselves and their family into a more favorable position. A Binlorgir's only hope of advancement was to marry into the family of the Great Houses, a privilege or gift reserved only for the most extraordinary of their caste.
For the Lenlaff, the non-giants residing within the territory of the Great Houses, they lived as serfs in a feudal-like system. While not slaves; as they were free to come and go, could not be bought nor sold, and allowed to worship mostly as they chose, these were far from equals even with the giant commoners. They had no say in their laws, whom ruled over them, and what property belonged to them. Most of giant nobility was careful not exploit their Lenlaff or treat them harshly, in fact, it was considered a mark of pride to be adored by your serfs. Though, that is not to say that some were less than kind or that giants of common and honored classes didn't offload much of their burdens upon them. The Great Houses looked upon the arrangement as a sort of generational debt - the Lenlaff were kept safe from the dangers of the outside, were allowed to bring complaints of mistreatment to their local lords for adjuration, allowed a certain amount of autonomy upon the plot of land they worked, and were benefited from the gifts of education, magic, and, medicine that came with their masters.
Most of the Lenlaff were not only content with this way of life but considered themselves fortunate when compared to the dreadful life of those that lived in the shadow of dragons, the Scorned One's cults, and the conquering armies of Skyrir. Though, as time when on more and more dissent spread among their ranks. Much of it spread by the early druids in an effort to stop the giants' spread. Something they saw as a great threat. Giants were a cosmopolitan people, a very large cosmopolitan people. Their cities and their industry were both very advanced and always hungry for wood, stone, and flesh. The druids foresaw cities replacing forests, paved roads in place of pristine prairies, beasts of steel and smog claiming the sky, sea and the land. They also saw a future of chains, polished and gilded as they may be, for all the non-giants. Together with the Totem Spirits they worshiped, unrest was sown and open rebellion soon to be reaped.
There was considerable variation in the size, physical shapes, and coloration between giant families. Many of these variations often matched with certain elemental affinities and magical abilities. During the time of the Great Houses they considered themselves one race with a diverse set of special abilities. However; after the fall of the Great Houses, the enemies of the giants began to identify them based on these elemental affinities. Fire Giants were those with darker skin, talents with flame, and a greater tolerance for heat, for example. The same would follow for cloud, stone, hill, frost, and storm giants.
Genetics and Reproduction
Giants reproduced via sexual intercourse. The average term of a pregnancy among giants was between twelve and eighteen months
Growth Rate & Stages
Giants matured at a similar rate to humans though their aging began to slow considerably after reaching their twenties. It's during these years just prior to the slowing of their aging cycle that most of their natural abilities will begin to manifest. This is a time of their life similar to the puberty experienced by smaller races.
Ecology and Habitats
Most environments were survivable for giants in the short term though heat above 70 degrees Fahrenheit was considered "tropical" at best or "sweltering" at worst. They are particularly suited for temperate climates and would generally make their long-term homes in such places. The largest consideration when it comes to habitat is food. Giants of all castes were fond of indulging in both drink and good food. And, the average giant could eat upwards of five times the equivalent of a filling meal for a human. Few natural areas could support such appetites and this meant that any region they inhabited needed to be able to support a massive farming and fishing industry.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Giants ate a lot. Culturally speaking, they were very much inclined toward large portions and frequent meals during the day just like Halflings. They eat roughly five to six times what a human would consider a heavy meal per day. Their culture was quick to absorb the recipes and cooking methods of their serfs and incorporate them into their own. Typical meals include a large portion of protein with sides of grain, breads, fruits, and vegetables. It should be notes that at the time giants existed many modern spices and plants didn't exist. For example; sugar in its current, farmable, form hadn't come about. The only sweetener readily available to them was honey. Chocolate was also unknown to them as it originated in the deep south of Tairos, regions too warm for giants to want to frequent. Food was so important to giants that its production, farming, and preparation was the sole purpose of entire settlements. Many families of serfs have spent generations preparing food for their masters. Non-giants of considerable skill in the farming and food service industries were often among the most valuable and well treated of serfs.
Giants were extremely focused on their strict caste-system
Uses, Products & Exploitation
During the fall of the Great Houses many of the rebelling serfs would use vital organs and bones from their masters to create potent magical items. The remains of giants seemed to retain a great deal of their innate magic.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Giants were known for their exceptional sense of smell and taste. Even the most lowly of common giant took the opportunity to savor the smell and taste of their meals. It was also a very helpful trait to have when hunting.
Civilization and Culture
Major Language Groups and Dialects
Giantish, as the serfs would often call it, was something of a common tongue used among the Great Houses. Each of the Great Houses had their own language they spoke within their territories. All of these languages were fairly similar and seemed to have shared some root dialect. Common Giantish was a constantly evolving amalgamation of all the House Tongues. It was said that this common language was often lacking in complex terminology and unable to express anything more than surface level information. For this reason a giant's House Tongue often filled in the gaps.
Common Etiquette Rules
Honor was extremely important among giants and insults about one's character or prestige was deeply taboo. Each of the Great Houses and the numerous lesser ones had countless social etiquette around honoring hosts, guests, nobility, those of lower station, and even the serfs. There were variants within their common and House Tongues used when speaking with friends, elders, those of higher or lower station and many other situations as well. Another taboo would be to speak with the wrong variant to someone and it was universally distasteful for serfs to speak any of their languages.
Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals
Feasts and holidays. Giant culture was filled with such celebratory dates where gift giving and feasting were common. They had so many of these during their calendar year that is put significant strain of their chain of food production and the serfs responsible. It was deeply taboo to initiate conflict or act on old grudges these celebrations
Common Myths and Legends
While each of the houses, both greater and lesser, had vast libraries of myths and legends unique to them, there was one common to all of them. That of Cronos and the apocalyptic end of days known as the Sky Fall. Whoever or whatever this figure was, it was said that his return would herald the utter destruction of not only giants but all of existence. It was said that Cronos would appear in the blackened sky and the sky would fall upon reality, devouring it all.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Giants were conquerors, plain and simple. Where they went all other races would bow or be destroyed. Though individual creatures such as dragons and the spawn of the Scorned One were more powerful; giants brought a deep cooperation along with their titanic strength and vast magical might. Had giants not perished than there is no doubt that the great empires of more modern eons would never had risen.
The giants are gone now. The last of their kind was barbarous offshoot belonging to House Jantir; who devolved into what the Frostmerites knew as the Frost Giants. These monsters met their end during an ancient conflict waged between the first of the High Kings and Queens of Frostmere and the great dragon Abon.