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On the Stone Giants of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation
Posted on Thu, April 16, 2009 by LordCeb
CruelSummerLord writes "“How do you determine who is a friend and who is an enemy?”
“Quite simply, by determining if those around us have more value as friends than enemies.”
“That appears to be more the way of evil.”
“Not precisely, for we do not attack and destroy those who pose no threat to us. If our neighbors leave us in peace, or seek to enter into a mutually prosperous relationship, we will be quite pleased to reciprocate.”

---Exchange between Weimar Glendowyr and King Undarmo, Friend of Dwarves and Friend of Pholtus, in the Whistling Caverns of the Raker Mountains.


Social mores and practices:

Resembling massive, entirely hairless humanoids over twelve feet tall with long limbs, stone and slate-colored skin, and metallic, silver-colored eyes, stone giants are surprisingly thin and gaunt for their size, with long, pointy noses and slender but immensely strong limbs. Typically dressing in well-made suits and tunics of hide and leather, stone giants are never without clubs and hammers made of stone, which they wield with fearsome strength and skill in combat. Their voices are very gravelly and scratchy, being harsh and guttural with particular emphasis on consonants.

As can be expected, stone giants live in desolate, rocky places, including caves, mountains and rock formations. They adapt well to almost any climate and need very little water to survive, and are as apt to be found in the desolate rocky lands of the deserts as the frigid mountains of the far north. Stone giants freely carve and adapt the rocks and mountains to their needs, although their lairs are typically spartan and undecorated, providing for the bare necessities of life and nothing more. Their lifestyles are purely utilitarian, living day to day without consideration of the needs of any neighbors unless they can gain some mutual benefit by association. Treasure is typically of little use to them, save for what they can use to buy from their neighbors or other traders.

Stone giants organize themselves into clans surrounding the most powerful war leaders, although this association is purely voluntary. If a leader loses the support of his people, or if one giant does not agree with the decisions of the group, they are free to come and go as they please. Rarely forming families in the same sense as humans or demihumans, different stone giants in the same group will make love to one another as they see fit, with any resulting children being raised by the group as a whole. Unlike many other giant races, stone giants almost never engage in violence against one another, and any abusive parents or lovers are usually banished from their groups by decision of their fellows.

Despite their apparently puritanical natures, stone giants can be very expressive and outspoken when the mood strikes them. Adults and children alike are typically very playful, engaging in sports and games using large boulders in the same way that humans might use rubber or wooden balls, throwing rocks at one another or hitting them with large tree trunks to see how far they can be sent. Much like cloud or storm giants, they also enjoy art and music, which serve an especially important role in maintaining their history. Lacking a written script, stone giants typically record important events or stories by painting them on cave walls or large stone slabs, writing music and songs to accompany the images. Those few humans who have witnessed such displays typically find them surprisingly elaborate and beautiful, belying the reputation of giants for stupidity and cruelty.

Stone giants are perhaps the most egalitarian and just of all the giant races, trusting to the most powerful warrior to make decisions for the group as a whole, guided by the wisdom of the elders. Generally wishing to work and live in peace, stone giants do not typically engage in politics with one another or their neighbors, save when they see an opportunity for personal gain. Stone giants will fight with other races of giants, or ally with them; they will trade with humans, or attempt to kill them, depending on what would bring the greatest advantage to the giants. While some view stone giants as evil based on this apparently selfish ethic, it is rather that stone giants base their associations with others strictly on need and gain. Thus, in one land stone giants might live in relatively peaceful coexistence with humans, trading with them as needed, while another clan might associate with hill or fire giants, eagerly raiding dwarven halls for their silver and gold.

Their relations with other races are thus based on pure pragmatism, freely associating with elves, orcs or humans as their whims and needs dictate. This tendency is reflected in their relations even with other giants, being willing to fight or ally with them as needed.

History:

Compared to many of their kin, stone giants have kept a lower profile throughout the history of the world. No single theme emerges in their dealings with other races, save that of pragmatism and a lack of consideration for good or evil. They have served demons and devils, or fought alongside paladins and devas, as they deemed necessary; they have supported one side of a dispute or another, as they felt was warranted; they generally prefer to remain aloof from the world and its politics, content to leave the grand power games of the world to the smaller races.

The race of stone giants was made in the image of its creator, the god Skoraeus Stonebones. According to legend, the deity Annam, the greatest of the giant gods, observed the rise of mortal beings in the time after the Dark Lord was imprisoned, created by the gods and allowed to flourish upon the Oerth as a reward for their help in defeating Dread Tharizdun’s minions. As he had himself fought valiantly against the Dark Lord’s forces, Annam decided that he would also create mortal beings to revere him and live upon the Oerth. He sealed a pact with the Oerth Mother, who repaid his loyal service by giving him the same boon she had to the other creator gods.

Crafty Annam then devised a plan. His weakness for women of beauty had led him to father many sons, all of whom clamored for their father’s favor, and he feared that some of these might become a threat to his position. To avert this, he gathered his sons together in his hall and announced that he would hold a contest to determine the most worthy heir to his throne. As his sons eagerly listened, Annam proclaimed that he would take the boon granted him by Beory and share it with them, allowing them all to create races in his image. The son who produced the most worthy race would thus be given Annam’s position.

As the cunning Annam had foreseen, his sons competed vigorously with one another, creating multiple races who all came to revere him in some form, even as his sons soon became more concerned with besting one another and fighting for dominance in the contest, than seeking to overthrow him. In this way, Annam maintained his hold on power as ruler of the gods of the giants.

One of Annam’s sons was the deity Skoraeus Stonebones, known for his quiet and aloof nature. Keeping himself distant from the feuds of his brothers, Skoraeus Stonebones participated in his father’s contest because he felt that it would be to his advantage to do so, seeing himself as best able to guide his father’s household due to his detached nature and his calm, collected judgment. He placed great stock in the retention of tradition, having perhaps the greatest knowledge of the past among his brothers. Working with and against his brothers and other fellow gods as needed, Skoraeus Stonebones always took to the long view, seeking merely his own personal gain, but otherwise holding no malice or enmity against those who posed no threat to him.

Skoraeus Stonebones believed that Annam would respect the traits of pragmatism and calm decision, unburdened by past grudges or other irrational considerations, and he instilled these beliefs in the race he created. Stone giants have thus always attempted to take the long view, working with good or evil as they deem necessary but having no inclination towards either alignment. They hold no malice towards other races, save when they are in opposition to the stone giants’ desires. As with their creator, stone giants also place an importance on heritage and recording the past.

Skoraeus Stonebones’ relations with his brothers influenced the relationships their races have with one another. Among the giant races, stone giants typically have no great enemies or allies, fighting with or against the other races as needed. Of his brothers, only Karontor was inclined to view Skoraeus Stonebones with hatred, but he regarded the stone giant god with much less loathing owing to Skoraeus’ treating him better than did the rest of the family.

Famous Stone Giant Holds:

-Fort Magma: Based in the Hellfurnaces, near the western beaches of Jeklea Bay; famous for their long-standing feuds with groups ranging from the Hold of the Sea Princes to many of the kingdoms of the Amedio Jungle to the various humanoids inhabiting the Hellfurnaces themselves; famous for throwing red-hot rocks into the bay, creating massive clouds of steam and smoke as part of their bizarre religious rituals; famous for carving the mountains around their lair into a formidable defensive wall; ruled by King Duriato the Strangler.

-The House of the Hundred Slabs: Based in the Sulhaut Mountains south of Ull and the Dry Steppes, consisting of a house carved out of a single very large mountain; famous for its hundred giant slabs, each the size of a small cottage, upon which are painted the very long and elaborate history of the stone giants of the area; famous for the beautiful concerts that are played when the stone giants celebrate their history by unveiling each of the slabs in turn in an elaborate ceremony; ruled by the High Loremaster Chundar Granitesson.

-The Towers of the Deep: Based in a very deep canyon in the central-eastern Yatils southeast of Perrenland; consisting of a citadel carved deep into the very rock itself, extending deep below the surface of the Oerth; famed for the trading caravans that come from Perrenland, the Vesve Forest, the other communities of the Yatils, Furyondy, Ket and Veluna; famed for the games they play using large tree-trunks and thrown boulders, which involves running from one “base” to the next, and can be heard for miles around; famed for the role the stone giants played in the early battles against Iggwilv, and the role they played in liberating Perrenland from the witch’s grasp; ruled by Chief Iroch Handukkel.

-The Whistling Caverns: Based in the central Rakers between the Archbarony of Ratik and the Theocracy of the Pale; famous for the milk and cheese they create from their vast herds of giant goats and cattle, which they frequently use in trading with surrounding human and demihuman communities; famed for the musical sound that results when the wind “whistles” through their above-ground cave tunnels; famed for having begun to revere Pholtus through contact with the Theocracy of the Pale; ruled by King Undarmo, Friend of Dwarves and Friend of Pholtus. "
 
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