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Goliaths

Descended from Giants, and as enduring as the mountains and barren terrain they tend to live amongst. Goliaths should be treated with respect and caution, though they are generally noble in their outlook, and are not as savage as their looks might suggest. Do not, however, disrespect their customs or superstitions, as that is not likely to end well for you….
Extract from Ingrid Aevardottir's Corpus Animalium.   Sitting somewhere between Humans and Giants, Goliaths are large, powerful humanoids who roam the northern reaches of Ulskandar’s continents in the Bloodkin Groups.

Basic Information

Anatomy & Morphology

Like the Giants that they are descended from, Goliaths are humanoid in form, but are substantially taller than average sized humanoids such as Humans and Elves. However, unlike their Giant forebears, Goliaths will tend to range between 7.5ft/c.2m to 9ft/c.2.7m in height, as opposed to being upwards of 16ft in height like most giants. Goliaths have wide, strong shoulders and will tend to be very muscular in build, though this is mostly a by-product of the active, rugged lives that most of them still live. Goliaths tend to have skin that sits on the grey spectrum, and can range from dark-mid grey through to pure white. Goliaths will normally have black or white hair, with males being able to grow beards of the same hue as their hair, though many Goliaths will choose to keep their heads shaven to display the tattoos that they frequently bear on their heads and faces. Most Goliaths have colourless eyes, which gives the rather startling effect of only have the white of the eyeball and the black of the pupil visible.

Growth Rate & Stages

Goliaths mature at roughly the same rate as Humans, and are considered to be fully grown at the age of around 15, though they are not considered to be adults until they are 20. On average Goliaths will live to between 70-80 years of age.

Additional Information

Social Structure

When they live away from heavily built up areas, Goliaths will still live and travel in groups that they refer to as their ‘Bloodkin’ in Common Speech and ‘Blothsamskiptiogvinir’ in Giantish. Although the name implies that these groups are all genetically linked they are more akin to tribes and have several family groups that are genetically unrelated moving with one another. The concept of Bloodkin is a very flexible term, and though it can and does mean those that an individual is directly related to, it also relates to those who have been acknowledged or adopted as being so important to an individual that they are considered as being family. Traditionally Bloodkin groups form around one individual, who through strength of arms and reputation attracts other individuals to them, and brings them into a Bloodkin bond that lasts long after the central individual has passed away and the oldest Goliath Bloodkin groups have existed for millennia. Members of a Bloodkin group will intrinsically view one another, regardless of their genetic link as being part of single familial unit, and they are expected to protect and provide for one another and to be honourable in their conduct towards one another.   Each Bloodkin group will be led by a single individual, which can be male or female, who is judged and divined by the elders of the group, to emulate and be most like the Goliath that originally founded the Bloodkin group. This individual is known simply as the ‘Head’, and will make decisions for the tribe as  a whole until their death, or they are forced to step down in extraordinary circumstances, and they will usually consult and often defer to the elders of the Bloodkin Group who take it upon themselves to act as advisors.   When they live within civilised society, Goliaths will either live amongst other sapient species as individuals, or they will collect together in much smaller groups to form a Bloodkin group of their own. Bloodkin groups formed under these circumstances will tend to be more fluid than the more traditional groups, and members are much more likely to come and go far more frequently, whereas the older, more traditional Bloodkin groups are viewed essentially as being permanent institutions.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Goliaths and Goliath Bloodkin Groups are found across all three continents of Ulskandar, though they will generally be found in more northerly latitudes, or living in or near mountain ranges as they prefer cooler weather. In Turoza, most Goliath Bloodkin Groups are found in the geographic areas of the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm and the Mountain Principalities, though there are several Bloodkin Groups that live in the Eira-Gwyn Mountains as well. In Kjörnsholm Bloodkin Groups are primarily confined to the area of Stäpplandskap, a semi-autonomous region of the Kingdom, where the different Goliath Bloodkin Groups, and the tribal groups of other sapient species there are able to self-govern to a limited extent (which essentially means not bothering with overall government) and they elect a Jarl to sit on their behalf and represent their interests in the royal court of Kjörnsjo.   Individual Goliaths, or small groups of Goliaths that have left their Bloodkin Groups can be found all across Turoza, where they can easily find ways to make a living, though many of them are drawn into work as mercenaries given their size. Even so, these individuals will generally tend to avoid the extreme south of the continent, unless that is they can think of a particularly good or lucrative reason to take them there.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Because they prefer to live in more northerly climes, or at higher altitudes, Goliaths are very good at coping with cold weather, almost as good as Frost Giants, and they seldom have a problem adjusting to areas of high altitude, though Goliaths that have spent most of their life at high altitudes may find themselves feeling unwell as they descend towards sea-level. Although it is not known exactly why, Goliaths seem less sensitive to pain than other species, which allows them to undergo extreme physical hardships that other species would find almost unbearable. Finally, Goliaths are generally the least magically sensitive of creatures in Ulskandar, and it is very rare indeed to find a Goliath that is able to wield Magic that has not been granted to them by another being, as with Warlocks, Clerics or Paladins.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

As they tend to be speakers of both Giantish and Common Speech, Goliaths will normally have two names, one for each language. Quite often these names will be based around the signs and portents that have been observed during the birth of the child, and frequently both the Common Speech name and the Giantish name will mean the same thing, something that Goliaths do no find strange at all. An example Goliath names would be: Blothsolimorgun Blood-sunrise, or Dansarefur Dancing-fox.

Average Technological Level

As Goliaths are fairly content living a fairly simple existence, which is often driven by the need to remain mobile in their semi-nomadic Bloodkin Groups, Goliaths do not tend to invest too much time and energy into creating or securing high-tech items. That is not to say that they are averse to adopting different forms of technology, it just isn’t one of their priorities. In the same vain, Goliaths will generally always choose something durable over something that has been designed to be purely ornamental, and the more functional an item is, the more likely that it will find the approval of a Goliath.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

There are a number of customs that are common to most Goliaths, including: Partly nomadic- Although Goliath Bloodkin groups do not move constantly from place to place, they are by no means settled. When the Head of the group decides that they should move on, they will get on the move, until they reach a place that is deemed to be suitable for them to indefinitely make camp again. Often the driving force behind this movement is the availability of resources, but it can also be driven by the divination of omens, which prompt the Bloodkin Group’s elders into advising that the group move on.   Very superstitious- Goliaths are incredibly superstitious beings, and they take very careful and serious note of the signs and omens that are interpreted by their elders, and that most Goliaths will attempt to divine themselves. A groups elders will normally be taken as the authority on the reading of signs and omens as they have seen more of the world and have experienced the passing of more seasons, but all Goliaths will regularly interpret things they deem to be omens themselves, or make their own reading using ‘Bone-Speakers’ (see below). A Goliath will always take bad omens with deadly seriousness, and they do not take kindly to people who trivialise the importance or portentousness of signs and omens.   Use of ‘Bone-Speakers’- Almost all Goliaths will carry with them a leather pouch that is filled with the bones or bone fragments of a variety of prescribed animals and creatures, called ‘Bone-Speakers’ that Goliaths use to divine the future, and establish whether a thing, occurrence or event has good or bad omens and portents attached to it. Bone-Speakers will normally be used by opening the neck of the leather pouch they carry their ‘Bone-Speakers’ in, and they will jerk the bag in a controlled, swift, upwards motion, so that one of the bones is ejected. An individual carrying out a reading will do this three times, and the bones or bone fragments ejected, and the order that they appear out of the bag will be used to make interpretations. Each of the bones or bone-fragments has a specific meaning, or meanings attached to them, for example the fox bone in the set stands for cunning, subterfuge and sneakiness, whereas the Orc bone fragment stands for violence, ferocity and uncontrolled emotions etc.   Tattoos for life events- Goliaths will commemorate significant events in their lives by getting themselves tattooed, and older Goliaths will have many tattoos that spread over nearly their whole bodies. These tattoos are nearly always symbolic, rather than figurative in the way that they commemorate an event, and it is up to the individual Goliath who has them to be able to explain which one represents what. The most significant life events are tattooed on an individual’s head and face, and will often be linked to their close blood relations, births, deaths and the like.   Atoning for mistakes through deeds of greatness- When a Goliath brings shame onto their Bloodkin group, or commits a crime of some sort, as defined by the rest of their Bloodkin they must atone for this through the completion of deeds that would be deemed to be so great that they would wipe away the stain of whatever the individual in question had done. For example, a Goliath that stole from one of their Bloodkin would be tasked to go out and slay a dire wolf, or stand outside the camp holding a heavy boulder over their head for hours on end in a show of great strength. However, the greater the misdeed, the greater the deed has to be to wipe it out, a Goliath that kills one of their Bloodkin, for instance would have to fulfil a number of great deeds to make up for the murder, all of which must be evidenced, through the presentation say of trophies from fearsome animals they have slain, or the testimony of another individual (not necessarily a Goliath themselves). Goliaths will be shunned by their Bloodkin and will not be allowed inside of their camp again until they have atoned for their misdemeanours, and this cultural law is one of the main drivers that makes Goliaths go out and wander the wider world apart from their Bloodkin. These Goliaths will often either settle somewhere else, and come to terms with the fact that they cannot achieve the requisite greatness to be accepted back into their Bloodkin group, or will constantly strive to meet the conditions, until they succeed, or die trying.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Species that come from lands in the northern hemisphere of Ulskandar, or who live in or near mountainous regions where Goliaths and their Bloodkin Groups live are generally fairly accepting of Goliaths, though they will often treat them with caution due to their large size. However, species that are not use to seeing Goliaths, and who know little about them will tend to be quite suspicious of them, and even quite fearful of them, and Goliaths travelling in regions that have seldom or never before seen one of their species are quite likely to mistake a Goliath for a Giant.   As for Goliaths, those that live in their traditional Bloodkin Groups will tend to be more hostile to members of other sapient species, though they will rarely be violent, unless the Bloodkin Group is at war with a group of settled people nearby, or unless the group have decided to begin raiding activity at the behest of their Head. One of the only exceptions to this are Goliaths genetic ancestors, Giants, who will almost always be treated with great respect, and who will normally show Goliaths such respect in turn. Goliaths that have left their Bloodkin Groups will generally be very accepting of other species, and will regularly travel with, live amongst and interact with members of other species. Goliaths that settle down in the cities, towns and settlements of Ulskandar will generally not have a problem integrating, and are often valued by the community they join because of their physical strength.

Genetic Ancestor(s)
Lifespan
On average 70-80 years of age.
Average Height
Between 7.5ft/c.2m to 9ft/c.2.7m.

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Cover image: by Chris Pyrah

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