Guardians of ancient traditions and ways of life. Do not instantly fear a Giant or their kin, for much can be learned from these, the largest of humanoids. Treat them with respect, however, and do not be disdainful of their rejection of ‘civilisation’, for an enraged Giant is a terrifying sight to behold.Extract from Ingrid Aevardottir's Corpus Animalium. Unlike most other sapient species in Ulskandar, Giants still mostly wander through the landscape, never settling and dedicated to carrying on the way of life that their ancestors led countless generations before them. Blessed with enormous size, stature and strength, Giants can be formidable allies and opponents.
Giants are on the whole very similar to Humans in their anatomy, except for the fact that they are far larger in their proportions. In height Giants range from c.16-26ft/5-8m, though this does not only depend on the individual, but also the ethnicity of the giant in question. Because Giants as an overall population have separated into several distinct ethnic groups, there are differences between the ethnicities in terms of their appearance and characteristics: Cloud Giants- By far the largest of the Giants, Cloud Giants will regularly stand over 24ft/7m in height. They prefer to live in highly mountainous areas, which is what has given them their name over the centuries. In terms of appearance they have tanned-dark skin and tend to have hair and eye colour that sits around the browns and blacks. Cloud Giants are amongst some of the most magically sensitive Giants in Ulskandar. Fire Giants- Perhaps the most distinctive group of Giants, Fire Giants are a mid-height Giant, with an average height of c.20ft/6m. Their appearance is quite reflective of the volcanic regions they prefer to live in. Their skin is reddish in hue, and their hair is generally red/ginger in colour. Their eyes tend to be on the blue-green spectrum. Frost Giants- Like Fire Giants, Frost Giants’ appearance is very much a homage to their preferred climate. Having spent millennia adapting to the cold, they are the smallest of Giant kind, standing on average at c.16-17ft/4-5m. There skin is generally a white-blue hue, with icy-blue eyes and hair that is generally white or grey, regardless of their age. Frost Giants are by far the hairiest of Giants, and both male and female Giants will have large amounts of fine, almost translucent body hair, with male Giants capable of growing extremely large and thick beards. Hill Giants- The slowest and most dim-witted of Giants, Hill Giants have been the least careful to ensure that individuals from different kinship groups get together to breed. Standing on average at 19ft/6m, they are often pale in complexion, with patchy areas of hair, often in a brown colour scattered over their bodies. Their eyes are often yellow in colour. Stone Giants- Having adapted themselves to living in more barren, rocky areas, Stone Giants have a greyish skin-tone, along with grey eyes and a uniform baldness that affects both male and female Stone Giants. Even young Stone Giants are born hairless, which does mean that they tend to prefer slightly warmer climates. On average, Stone Giants stand at c.20ft/6m. Storm Giants- Standing at an average of 22ft/6.5m, Storm Giants can often be found living in coastal areas and near bodies of water. They tend to have a mid to dark-bluish complexion, often with green eyes and hair that is a mossy green in adults that fades to a silver in old age. They are the most prone of all Giants to wander far and wide as individuals, and their nomadic kinship groups have incredibly large nomadic ranges. Like Cloud Giants, Storm Giants are highly magically sensitive, though Storm Giants are capable of far more arcane prowess than their cousin Giants.
Genetics and Reproduction
When a Giant reaches adulthood they will be encouraged by their kinship group to go out, away from the usual nomadic route of their kin, to search for a mate. Not only does this help to intermix the gene pools of Giant groups, but it also regularly takes some pressure off the kinship group, in terms of resources, as individuals leave for prolonged periods of time. Both male and female Giants go off in search of mates in this way, and when a suitable match is found, they will actively make the decision, as a couple as to who’s kinship group they will rejoin and travel with. Very occasionally a Giant pair may choose to set up their own kinship group, but this is not common. Because Giants are larger than average humanoids, their gestation period is longer, with Giant mothers carrying babies for up to a year and a half before giving birth. Giants are incredibly loyal to their partners, and will tend to stay true to them for the duration of their lives. This means that Giant couples can have many children over their time together, but also means that if one of the couple dies, the other Giant will almost never take another partner, regardless of how old they are.
Growth Rate & Stages
Once born, Giants develop quickly and are considered to be young adults when they reach double figures. They are considered to be adults when they reach their second decade, after which time they will tend to reach an average age of around 100. Some Giants have been known to double, or almost triple this average lifespan, and such individuals are treated with great respect by their kin, who almost come to revere them as one blessed by a god or goddess.
Unlike most of the other sapient species in Ulskandar, Giants have not moved to form their own states or kingdoms, but instead still travel and live in small kinship groups. These kinship groups will be led by the strongest Giant in the group, regardless of age or gender, and such groups will often be formed of blood relatives, their spouses and children. Generally Giant kinship groups will reach around 20-30 individuals in size, with new kinship groups forming when the group becomes too large to be adequately supported by the food sources that they move between. Kinship groups, especially those of Fire Giants, who have ceased being nomadic will tend to be much larger, as resources will have been expended to make their area of settlement able to support their numbers. It is rare for Giants to get together in larger groups, but occasionally kinship groups will band together to celebrate particular occasions, for protection, or to ride out bad weather along their migratory routes. Individual Giants are regularly observed to leave their kinship group to wander on their own, something which is apparently encouraged amongst younger Giants to take pressure off their kinship group to support them, and to let the individuals get their more impulsive spirit out of their system, without risking the safety of the rest of their kin.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
As a species as a whole, Giants can be found all across Ulskandar and on all three of its continents, Turoza, Tafran and Amfris. However, different types and ethnicities of Giant will tend to be concentrated in different areas, where the climate is makes for the most suitable dwelling place for them. In addition, Giants are very good at being able to blend into their ideal surroundings, with Stone Giants, for example, being almost indistinguishable from bare rock if they so wish. However, outside of their ideal environment, Giants can stick out like a sore thumb, not just because of their large size, but also because a Giant outside of its ideal conditions will often be very vocal in its complaints. For instance, Fire Giants will tend to be found in climates and terrains that are extremely hot, such as areas of volcanic activity and deserts, whereas Frost Giants are most frequently found in areas where the ambient temperature is much colder, and in Turoza, for instance will be most frequently found in the north.This does not mean that different varieties of Giant cannot exist outside of their favoured climate, but it does make life more uncomfortable for them if they are not in or near their favoured conditions. Giants will tend to avoid areas that have been built up and developed by other sapient species, primarily because they are treated with caution and suspicion when they enter communities of other sapient species, though this is mostly due to an innate worry that they will accidentally break something, rather than a fear that they will bring destruction to the community.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Some types of Giant are much more sensitive to magic than others are, to the point where they are able to wield arcane powers just as well as any average sized humanoid. In many cases, a Giant’s larger size makes it safer for them to use magic than other humanoids, as their bodies are able to suffer far more hardship, which comes in handy in the event of a miscast, or something else going wrong. Theoretically, any Giant can be born with a heightened enough sensitivity to magic to allow them to wield arcane power, but Cloud Giants, and Storm Giants are the most magically sensitive, and most individuals from these two types can innately cast spells.
Civilization and Culture
The naming of babes amongst Giants does vary from ethnicity to ethnicity, but on the whole Giants will be named with a relation to landmark near which they were born, the day of the week they were born on, and whatever animal was last seen by the mother. All of these attributes are used to try and divine a fortune for the Giant’s life to come, which might potentially mark them out for greatness or sorrow. Because Giantish frequently combines words, a Giant’s name will be a combination of all three words stuck together. For instance, a Giant that was born near a mountain on a Wednesday, and whose mother last saw a fox before the child was born would be called something along the lines of: Fjallmithvukudrefur.
Average Technological Level
On the whole, Giants tend to exist using a much more basic level of technology than other sapient species of Ulskandar do. This is partly because many Giants are still nomadic, and therefore do not want to weigh themselves down with tools, objects and curios that they do not really need. As well as this, Giantish slowness to accept and integrate new ways of thinking or doing into their lifestyles means that they have to take a lot of convincing to accept new pieces of technology, especially as, as far as they see it, they can still get by using the traditional techniques and tools that their ancestors have used for centuries. Some types of Giant, in particular Fire, Frost and Storm engage in metal working, which is focused particularly on the production of weapons and armour, Fire Giants in particular have become very adapt at this, though they are aided by the fact that they tend to live in areas where there is easy access to sources of heat and metal ore good enough to facilitate metal working without having to spend too much time sourcing materials or forging areas.
Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals
Because Giants have split off into at least 6 different ethnic groups, there are few customs that are actually common to all Giants now, as hundreds of generations of Giants have been able to form their own specific customs within their own ethnic groups. However, there are at least two customs that are still a constant amongst most Giants, though these too will vary from community to community, and ethnicity to ethnicity: Nomadic- The vast majority of Giants are still nomadic peoples, and will continuously move around in the family groups. The ranges that Giants move around depends drastically the individuals in question, and is normally tied into the food supply in the area. As a rule, Frost Giants tend to have the largest nomadic ranges, as food is much scarcer in their preferred environments. Most Giants will tend to be respectful of the areas that they stop in, and only take the amount of food that they need to feed themselves for the duration of their stay, and then move on so that they don’t deplete or wipeout a food supply. By ensuring that the food supplies along their nomadic routes are allowed to recover, it means that Giant groups can return to them at a later date, and also means that other creatures living in the area aren’t threatened too much by the Giants’ presence. The Giants that have most readily stopped adhering to the nomadic lifestyle are Fire Giants, who have almost universally chosen to settle down in specific areas. Deeply Traditional- All Giants retain a deep respect for the traditions of their ancestors, and will vigorously protect the customs and rituals that they have been passed down to them over the generations, from being altered or adapted, unless there is a very good reason to do so. This is the main reason that Giants tend to rely on very little technology in their day to day lives, for some groups, changes have been mostly accepted to allow for greater protection of their kinship group.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Amongst the other sapient species in Ulskandar, Giants tend to be viewed with suspicion, and often with outright fear. Their size alone makes Giants quite intimidating to smaller humanoids, and that along with a Giant’s large appetite has led to numerous urban myths emerging about Giants eating smaller humanoids, and having a penchant for bread made with bonemeal. Nations, particularly the nations and kingdoms of Turoza tend to be particularly wary of Giants, as their lack of recognition for international boundaries, and the fact that their nomadic routes may take them across numerous borders, makes them inherently untrustworthy to national authorities. On the other hand, a Giant’s natural strength does mean that in times of hardship, nation states are quite happy to interact with passing Giant kinship groups in order to hire them as mercenaries in a coming conflict. However, for communities that lie nearby to regularly used nomadic routes, Giants are viewed quite differently, and are generally trusted and accepted. This is primarily because such communities will regularly trade with Giant kinship groups that pass by them, and may well have a kinship group reside near them for several weeks at a time. Perhaps the best relationship between other humanoids and Giants can be found in the Barony of Hohensten, whose foundational myth, the Duel of Ludgera & Arnwulf means that Giants who stray into the Barony are often treated very well indeed by Hohenite communities they come across.