giants Species in The River | World Anvil
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Women are not the only sapient species living in the valley.  Giant apes have inhabited the same area for some few million years prior, and have been gradually retreating as the women's settlements spread.  Despite being much larger than the average woman, giants are not an aggressive species, and survival for them has been a matter of staying out of the women's way.

Basic Information

Growth Rate & Stages

Young giants stay close to their mothers for about 5 years of age; after that they remain in her home range until they reach maturity at around 12. Females will then move to claim a nearby range for themselves, while young males wander farther afield.  Males may take a few more years to reach full maturity, to avoid being challenged by mature males as they travel.

Dietary Needs and Habits

The majority of a giant's diet consists of fruit, supplemented with leaves.  When there is no fruit in season they will also eat tree bark and insects; very rarely do they eat meat.


Giants have the ability to camouflage their auras. When resting, they can enter a trancelike state during which their heart rate and breathing slow, making them harder to detect by pack-hunting predators.  The technique is equally effective against women.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Giants are somewhat social. Adult females are generally solitary within their range, but associate with females in overlapping ranges to forage. Males are more solitary, patrolling an area that encompasses the range of several females.  They will challenge other males that intrude on their territory, but such encounters usually don't progress beyond threat displays.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

The giants' avoidance tactic has been so successful that since the initial engagements, no woman has come face to face with a giant--or has spoken of such an encounter if she did.  That does not stop women from making good use of giants as a method of discipline.  Stories of terrible monsters in the forest that eat children who wander away are widely told to encourage good behavior in little girls.

Civilization and Culture

Major Language Groups and Dialects

Giants vocalize to communicate over long distances, usually warnings and distress signals, but their repertoire of calls does not have enough depth and flexibility to be considered a language.  In groups, they use a much more complex system of gestures to make requests and express intentions.  This system is the basis for a complete sign language adopted by a small group of feral boys.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions


When women first came into the valley from over the mountains, giants attempted to defend their territory. But the women reacted aggressively to warnings, and those first encounters saw casualties on both sides. These new predators were not deterred by the giants' intimidating size, and as more and more women moved into the valley, more and more giants were squeezed out of it.


Giants prefer to avoid confrontations with women. This does not mean that giants can't interact with the villages at all, so long as they handle themselves carefully. The females nearest to Moon Wish Village sometimes rescue and raise abandoned babies, resulting in a feral boy pack between the villages and the giants' habitat.
Scientific Name
Gigantopithecus blacki
25-30 years
Conservation Status
Although the giants in the area of the upper river valley may feel threatened, the species as a whole is not in particular danger. Their habitat is plentiful in this part of the continent, and the women's population is expanding at a slow rate.
Average Height
When standing erect, 2.5 meters (male) or 2 meters (female)
Average Weight
250 kg
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Skin dark gray to black, hair orange to brown.
Geographic Distribution
Long Steps claims that he met a giant the last time he left Moon Wish Village. He says it approached him, tapped the ground, and reached toward him. When he shouted in surprise, it left quickly. No one outside his pack believes him.

View from the future

As the exiled women moved downriver, giants left the area entirely. Only one legend even mentions their existence.

Some of the rescued boys learned the giants' "disappearing" trick, and passed it along to the exiles they traveled with. In the coastal communities, Tide Readers quieted their auras to better sense the local ocean conditions. In the modern Ocean, Water Seekers call this kind of meditation a "float".

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Author's Notes

Full disclosure: This article is based on one I wrote three years ago for a different world, with too many words in it to just change the date.  I reduced the original content to less than 50 words, found here in "View from the future" and part of "interspecies relations".  If you would prefer to compare them, the original article is here: giant.

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Aug 9, 2023 11:44 by E. Christopher Clark

This was fascinating! I loved how I felt dropped right into the middle of this world, where it seems like there are only women (at least at first), but that you don't hand-hold the reader and over-explain. Nope. You tell us there are women and there are giants and leave it at that, and then you get on with your story.   And it's a great bit of story, this. I really enjoyed each detail you added to make your giants distinct from the prototypical giants of fairy tales and fantasy.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Aug 11, 2023 06:29

Thank you! It's always hard for me to guess how much context to include in an article. I like to be allowed to figure things out myself, so I tend to err on the side of less information. (Still, after the awards ceremony I think I'll add some links with excerpts.)

These giants are real, or at least used to be. I admit I drew heavily on orangutans for their behavior, since those are the nearest living great apes. In my heart I want to believe that our prototypical giants have their roots in scarelore dating from early humans' encounters with ten-foot-tall apes.

From The River to The Ocean, a civilization grows up.