Saturday, January 31, 2015

On Giant Hierarchies

"Dear Magus Amisa, we discovered this missive while searching through former Prime Minister Orestes' hidden files (which, by the way, were hidden in a ridiculously treacherous pocket plane--we haven't lost any of our staff yet, but we're thinking of requesting a shield defender or two for our next foray). It details the hierarchies among giants, which presumably would be useful in making allies of them during the end stages of the war. I hope you find it useful.

                                         --Cestus Pladius, head researcher, Academy department of concealed texts

To Orestes. May this serve you well. Ophearus. 1/14/08

I have spent several months on the Grey Moor, attempting to duplicate the research I conducted for you last year in the Dwarven Mountains. It seems that giant notions of hierarchy are uniform across their separate tribes--and that this notion of hierarchy extends deep into their worldview as a race.

Lowest among them are what I've come to refer to as "giantoids", which is the best I can do in the way of a translation from their varied and difficult to learn language. This comprises the ogres, ettins, firbolgs, verbeeg, and the like--large creatures which are clearly close relatives of the frost and storm giants of the world, but not possessing the power or elemental distinctions which so easily divide their superiors. One thing that is interesting to note is that the deformities of these creatures are looked down upon by the other races, while it is the very deformity of the fomorii which is venerated. Never expect a culture to make sense, my dear friend.

On the next level are hill giants, sand giants, and forest giants, and any other giants which are in not tied to the extremes of nature. While these are significantly larger and more powerful than their giantoid cousins, they lack the intellect of the higher orders. There is a distinction made between these two groups however when it comes to servitude, which I'll get to in a moment.

One order up from these are the giants which reside terrestrially, but in the extreme places of the world most associated with the elemental planes--in other words, frost giants, stone giants, and fire giants, though there are rumors of other more secretive races that may help to make up this rank. While stone giants seem to be characteristically resigned to their place within this hierarchy, both fire and frost giants have, as cultures, made it their business to strive toward the limits of their standing, which still resides somewhere below that of their favored masters. As a result, wars of dominance between these two tribes have often been brutal, especially since they are so vulnerable to one anothers' attacks. Today they largely live far apart, their border regions having been depopulated and reclaimed by other races.

Above these is the last sort of giants that can truly be considered giants--the storm and cloud giants. While immensely powerful, they also take pride in their ability to divorce themselves from the earth. They are the undisputed masters of the other giant races, both by power and by the honors bestowed upon them by the fomorii--or so tradition would have it. Unlike the other races, they take no slaves, but will happily obliterate any other giant who does not perform obeisance to them. Oddly, they are not malicious, but their tradition of god-given dominance gives them a dim view of the sovereignty of the lesser races.

And of course, at the top are the fomorii, who we know so very little about. The fomorii were once fairly numerous, if highly territorial and antisocial creatures, and were the first children of the Titans to walk the earth. They are marked by their dramatic deformities, and were masters of the seas and oceans. After the disastrous war against the gods which so happily littered our world with the tombs of the Titans, the fomorii were quite nearly eradicated. After the massacres which they had perpetrated, the elves allowed them to live but banished them to the deeps. Or so we've been told. We have, of course, failed to make contact with a fomorian as of yet, but we do have a lead or two.

Servitude is an interesting and surprisingly complex notion among giants, and seems to have been instituted at the very least several thousand years ago as a way to keep the hierarchies clear and provide labor and sacrifices for the higher orders. While any order may capture and enslave any sort of giant that is of a lower order, it is considered anathema to enslave a giant that is considered "on rank" with your tribe. This partially explains why the fire and frost giant wars were--at least according to very old legends--so deadly, as neither tribe was allowed morally to take prisoners. It is of course considered prestigious to enslave those giants only slightly less fortunate than your tribe, which is why one rarely finds an ogre toiling away in a cloud giant castle. And on that subject, it is oddly considered prestigious among cloud and storm giants to own fewer slaves. I'm not certain why this is, though in the particular case of the storm giant it may have much to do with their obsession with keeping their castles pristine. A gang of slovenly hill giants would ruin the beauty of their many-spired manses.

Well friend, that's all I have for now, but I'll keep you updated on our quest to find a fomorian to pull one over on. Maybe we'll find one with two asses to kiss so we can flatter him into a job. Good luck in all your endeavors, and may this land be named Neren before the new year.

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