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On the Fire Giants of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation
Posted on Thu, May 21, 2009 by LordCeb
CruelSummerLord writes "“Think of steel, and you will think of a fire giant. Forged and hardened by flames, become brutal and merciless in combat, hard and inflexible in life, and possessed of incredible strength. Steel knows its place in the world, destroys or breaks under anything it conflicts, and knows no mercy or compassion. So too, then, are the fire giants.”

-Holgi Hirsute, Dwarfking of the Iron Hills.




On the Fire Giants of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation

By CruelSummerLord


Social Mores and Practices

Fire giants typically stand at twelve feet tall and a girth of almost six feet at the shoulders, with coal-black skin, fire-red or bright orange hair, glowing reddish-black eyes, and orange-yellow teeth. Their roundish noses, thick limbs, and general proportions make them vaguely resemble dwarves, as do their deep, grinding and unpleasant voices. Typically dressing in very thick leather and hide clothes, fire giants almost always don thick chain and plate mail whenever they engage in battle. They wield large swords, battleaxes, hammers, clubs and spears in melee combat, favoring throwing weapons such as spears, javelins and rocks over bows or crossbows.

Fire giants typically dwell in warmer climes, although they can be found almost anywhere short of the coldest regions. They typically prefer mountains and highlands, often carving elaborate castles and fortresses out of the rock, which they then richly decorate with furniture they may manufacture themselves or purchase from enterprising human merchants. They disdain fruits and vegetables, being able to survive on diets of grains and meats, which they typically acquire either in trade or more commonly in attacking smaller races. Their love for treasure and glory is even greater than their general love for causing destruction and misery for the smaller races, and are brutal fighters in combat.

Fire giant society is cruel and militaristic, based around a strict hierarchy with an all-powerful king at the top. Each level of authority in a fire giant hold has almost total authority over the ones beneath it, leaving very little if any checks on the king’s authority. Only a strong sword arm will guarantee advancement among fire giants, as proficiency in battle and physical strength are the traits that are far and away the most important to fire giants. Disobedience is very harshly punished, with the dissenting giant frequently flogged or killed depending on how serious his offense is. However, if the dissenting giant bests his superior in combat, the dissenter is acclaimed as having obtained a greater position of authority and taken his superior’s rank. Ambitious fire giants will therefore often start violent fights to provoke their superiors and rise up in fire giant society.

What keeps fire giant tribes from falling into anarchy is their very strict adherence to rank and tradition. While individual giants can and do seek to advance their positions, most of their fellows are respectful of their superiors and typically obey their superiors without question. Any and all disputes and clashes for power are handled by ritual combat bound by strict ceremonial rules, with giants typically wrestling or fighting with fists to determine the winner. The sole exception is a dispute for the title of king, and such battles are always to the death.

Fire giants are typically oppressive and bullying to their women and children, but enterprising females will seek to improve their own status by allying themselves with the most powerful males. As with other races, fire giant women typically gain power by acquiring influence over the strongest male warriors, and cunning intrigue is a regular occurrence as the women compete with one another for status. The most powerful female giantess is whoever becomes the bride of the king. Fire giant queens wield considerable influence and power of their own, particularly if their husbands are exceptionally dull and easily manipulated. One of the most notorious examples was the vicious Queen Frupy of Muspelheim, who despite her hideous appearance had the devotion of her idiot husband, King Snurre Iron Belly, and so was by and large the true ruler of that fire giant hold, at least until Eclavdra and the drow gained Snurre’s ear…

Fire giants have varied relations with other races. They get on best with frost and hill giants, frequently allying with them in raiding bands to plunder and murder humanity and its allied races. Ettins are also respected allies, who are frequently used as shock troops and elite guards. Stone and mountain giants may be allies or enemies as necessity dictates, while verbeeg are generally viewed as puny weaklings and are treated with disdain. Evil cloud and fog giants are both respected and admired by fire giants, and along with their frost and hill kin frequently join them in battle. Formorian, firbolg, and storm giants are all hated by fire giants, who will attempt to murder and slay any of these that they encounter. Humans, demihumans and most humanoids are all viewed as puny weaklings, fit only to be eaten or enslaved, although trolls are an exception. Fire giants admire the trolls’ vicious bloodlust, and know that they can typically easily destroy any rebellious trolls by throwing them into lava, burning them with torches, or scalding them with hot steam, none of which bothers fire giants in the least.

History

Fire giants are both feared and hated by the smaller races, as much for their sadism and cruelty as for their brutal fighting ability and their capacity to run roughshod over all but the most determined opposition. Known as loyal and ready soldiers to any who will pay the price, fire giants have served many would-be despots, evil wizards, murderous conquerors and other tyrannical figures throughout the history of the Flanaess. Their strict adherence to hierarchy and their near-faultless loyalty to their masters make them ideal servants, provided they command the giants’ respect.

The race of hill giants was made in the image of its creator, the god Surtur. 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 known as Surtur, who was renowned among all the gods for both his fearsome fighting skill and his brutal, oppressive nature. Feared and hated by many, but respected by others, Surtur nonetheless showed respect to those who possessed combat ability equal to or greater than his own and would frequently work with them if he deemed it in his interest, often other brutes and bullies who shared his oppressive nature. Along with his cruelty, Surtur was also well-known for his rigid adherence to ceremony and tradition, treating both his father and those among his brothers he viewed as worthy with respect and forebearance, though he tolerated no insult even from them.

When Annam announced his contest, Surtur felt that his father would respect those ideals of rigid hierarchy, power based on strength, and ability to survive in very harsh terrain, and so imbued the fire giants he created with these traits. Fire giants need no fruits or vegetables, or even much water, to survive in some of the most desolate climes on Oerth, using their fearsome strength to take what they want based on their view that such weaklings are unworthy of their possessions. All that matters to the fire giants is power, and those who can match them in strength will be worthy of their respect, while all others will be ground beneath their iron heels.

Surtur’s relationship with his brothers affects how his mortal creations relate to their kin. Well-known for respecting Thrym and Grolantor, often joining with them on raids, Surtur’s creations get on very well with those of his two brothers. Surtur held Skoraeus Stonebones in some disdain, although the two could and did cooperate with one another when they deemed it in their interests, and the giants of fire and stone view one another in the same way. Nothing but hatred was reserved for Karontor and Stronmaus, and so no fire giant worth the name will allow any of these gods’ creations to live.

Famous Fire Giant Holds

-The Burning Heights: Based in the Lortmil Mountains south of Veluna; famed for their violent clashes with the dwarves and gnomes of the region; famous for the volcano that they have built their town around, which they worship as a sacred representation of Surtur; famed for throwing deadly pieces of red-hot magma in combat; famed for committing ritual suicide if they survive a battle in which they have been defeated by the smaller races; ruled by King Amleddach, Son of the Hellfires.

-Castle Bloodstone: Based in the Iron Hills between Ahlissa and Irongate; famous for using catapults of flaming pitch in battle against the dwarves of the Iron Hills, the City of Irongate, and the forces of Ahlissa, famed for their Fire In the Belly mead, which is said to be spiked with very hot peppers cultivated by the giants in gardens beneath the Oerth; famed for their alliances with orcs and goblins in their wars against their hill giant rivals, who they clash with for territory and treasure; ruled by King Gunarrrin of the Flaming Beard.

-The House of Kossuth: Based in the Sulhaut Mountains north of the Sea of Dust; famous for revering Kossuth, the ruler of the Elemental Plane of Fire, as their co-creator along with Surtur; famed for the elaborate myths they spin that depict Surtur and Kossuth as friends and allies in their battles against other gods; famed for conjuring fire elementals to fight alongside them in battle through special magical rituals; famed for using the blood of the firedrakes on their swords in battle, which cause them to burst with flame for as long as the fire lasts; famed for their alliances with the people of Ull; ruled by King Durrodtar, Duke of the Cleansing Fire.

-Muspelheim: Based in the Hellfurnaces southwest of the Hold of the Sea Princes; famed for its inhabitants reverence of the Elder Elemental God; famed for its connections to tunnels deep beneath the surface of the Oerth, through which horrifying monsters from the depths have made contact and support with the giants; famed for being home to the deadly red dragon Brazzemal, who is fanatically loyal to his fire giant masters; ruled by King Snurre Iron Belly.

-The Oerthwound: Based in the Raker mountains east of the Theocracy of the Pale, centered around a wide and deep crevice in the Oerth from which steam and magma frequently erupt; famed for the claims of its fire giant inhabitants that the Oerthwound is the site of a terrible battle between Surtur and the dwarfish god Moradin, where Surtur tore a great wound in the oerth and defeated Moradin by tearing off his beard and throwing him down the crevice into the depths of the Oerth; famed for their long blood feud with the dwarves of their region and their allies in Tenh, the Pale, and Ratik; famed for sacrificing captured storm, firbolg and formorian giants to Surtur in hellish rituals; famed for etching ritual scars on themselves and their armor with shards of heated rock; ruled by King Gohnordol the Burning Overlord. "
 
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