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On the Cloud Giants of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation
Posted on Mon, September 14, 2009 by LordCeb
CruelSummerLord writes "An evil cloud giant is the only being that brutally slaughter a dozen humans, and then listen to the performance of a romantic ballad on the harp while cooking them for dinner. A good cloud giant is the only being that can paint a beautiful three-dimensional portrait of the sun rising over a pristine mountain valley, and then march off to make war on the hill giants living there, all in the same day.”-The archmage Mordenkainen, patron of the Circle of Eight.

Social mores and practices:

Cloud giants stand approximately eighteen feet in height on average, with pale blue to light blue skin, silver-white to light golden hair, bright blue eyes, and ivory-white teeth. They have wide faces, with large noses, high cheekbones and rounded, short jaws, with voices that are typically deep and rich, but can become fierce and rough when they are angered. Typically dressing in loose-fitting robes and suits, cloud giants are almost never without various sorts of jewelry and baubles, which they wear at all times, even into combat. They can and do employ armor in combat, typically of the scale or chain variety and richly decorated with precious metals and stones when they can obtain them. The more richly decorated the armor and clothing, the higher the giant’s status. Their major weapons are giant clubs and hammers, and they can be fearsome engines of destruction when wielding them in combat.

Cloud giants will dwell almost anywhere save the very coldest climates. Their favorite terrains are hills and mountains, these being closer to the clouds they so cherish. Many of them will carve their own castles out of oerth and rock, although some few have the capacity to dwell on mystical cloud islands, forming their castles directly from the cloud material itself. These dwellings are typically outfitted with furniture and other goods crafted by the giants themselves, or with specially crafted goods they obtain in trade with enterprising humans. A cloud giant’s diet is omnivorous, typically supplied by large herds and gardens they tend themselves, although again some cloud giants will trade with or attack the smaller races to obtain grains, fruits, and other foodstuffs that they cannot obtain themselves. Unless they actively raid and attack other beings, cloud giants typically disdain hunting, preferring the more succulent and tender meats they get from herd-raised animals.

Cloud giant society can be rather peculiar by human standards, even more so owing to the fact that the race is sharply divided between good and evil and that they seem to blend traits borrowed from other giant races. All cloud giants have an appreciation for music, beauty and culture, much like storm and stone giants, and gifted musicians, craftsmen and artists are admired by their kin. However, cloud giants also revel in combat and the thrill of battle, and wield their hammers and clubs with often frightening zeal, becoming more like hill, frost or fire giants when they do so. These traits are present in all cloud giants to one degree or another, and are not exclusive to alignment. Evil cloud giants can appreciate epic poetry, and the beauty of a well-crafted pendant, and good giants can relish the opportunity to engage their enemies in combat. Some giants adhere more closely to one set of virtues than the other, but they almost always go back and forth between them.

As with other giant races, leadership in a cloud giant tribe is typically based on martial prowess. The most skilled fighter in the tribe is accepted as the leader, and the other giants are honor-bound to obey his decisions. Unlike other giant races, however, cloud giants are not given to violence or brutality in settling leadership contests. As they are typically loath to throw away each others’ lives in internal struggles, they will typically settle disputes by wrestling with one another, performing feats of strength, or other non-lethal forms of competition. Even then, however, a cloud giant chief’s position depends on his ability to command the respect of his followers. Should they decide to abandon him, they will simply refuse to obey his orders, and the offending giant will have to respect the community’s wishes or risk being expelled from the tribe.

 

Unlike most other giant races, cloud giants are egalitarian, and women are as likely to be in positions of power as the men. Cloud giant women are well-known for their capacity to take leadership in times of crisis, and to compete with men in feats of strength, and there is no stigma among cloud giants in being bested by a woman, as opposed to the humiliation that male fire, frost or hill giants would suffer at being bested by a woman in combat. Lacking the partriarchal culture of the evil giant races, cloud giants frequently marry more for love than status or social advancement, a trait that is almost unique among the giant races.

How cloud giants are perceived by other races varies with their alignment. Evil cloud giants typically get on very well with fire, frost and hill giants, and are often viewed as trusted allies and honored guests, if not outright superiors, when the cloud giants are among them. They view ettins and ogres as stupid but loyal servants, while disdaining verbeeg as puny and weak. Evil fog giants are close kin and revered as cousins, while firbolg, storm, and formorian giants are actively hated, as are gnomes and dwarves. Stone giants are viewed as allies or enemies as necessity and whim dictate. Humans, elves and halflings, along with humanoids, are usually treated as defenseless weaklings, and evil cloud giants take sadistic pleasure in tormenting the smaller races. They will, however, conduct trade for certain foodstuffs and manufactured goods from daring evil-aligned human merchants, if the humans have things they want.

Good-aligned cloud giants are another matter entirely. They enjoy a close kinship with storm giants, firbolg, and especially good-aligned fog giants. They have an active hatred for fire, frost, formorian and hill giants, ettins, ogres and verbeeg, and are allies or enemies of stone giants as necessity dictates. They hate humanoids, have an abiding distrust of dwarves and gnomes, and can be indifferent or strongly allied to humans, elves and halflings. The latter three races have been known to form very profitable alliances with goodly cloud giants, trading foodstuffs and manufactured goods to the cloud giants, in exchange for the giants’ providing wealth and/or physical protection. While gnomes and dwarves are not considered enemies, the enmity between the shorter races and the giants runs too deeply for long-lasting friendships to be formed.

            History:

Cloud giants stand out among the giant races for their tendencies towards both refinement and violence, and their divisions between good and evil. They are a race of contrasts, and are capable of adapting to a wide variety of situations, depending on their alignment and innate personality traits. Unlike other giant races, they do not seem to have a single defining trait, instead having several ostensibly conflicting ones.

The race of cloud giants was made in the image of its creator, the god Memnor. 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 god Memnor, who was known alternately for his savagery in combat and his appreciation for fine art, music, literature and food. A being of contrasts, Memnor could be cruel and sadistic to those gods that crossed him, while faultlessly loyal to the giant pantheon. Even as he sought to take Annam’s position, viewing his father as incapable of handling the divine intrigues of the modern world, his primary concern was the welfare of the giant races and the giant pantheon.

When Annam announced his contest, Memnor eagerly moved to participate, hoping to take his father’s position and use it for the betterment of giantkind as a whole. Disdaining the approaches of his brothers, who he thought foolish for merely adhering to one set of defined traits in their creations, Memnor believed that Annam would most approve of a race that could adapt to a variety of situations, and were not as one-dimensional as those of their rivals. He gave the cloud giants he created an appreciation for art, music, literature, fine food and wine, along with a love for battle and a strong desire to engage in it. Uniquely among his brothers, he also gave the cloud giants the ability to become good or evil as fate dictated, such that some would be the allies of other races, and some would be their enemies. To that end, cloud giants are known for being allies or enemies of other races, even as they will fight or ally with each other as their own alignments dictate. They would also revere goodly gods like Pelor and Hieroneous, or evil gods like Nerull and Incabulous, who all dealt with Memnor as circumstances required.

Memnor’s relations with his brothers affected the relations that cloud giants shared with other races. He could earn the respect and reverence, or hatred and loathing, of his brothers depending on his actions. As Memnor was as apt to help them in their dealings with other gods outside the giant pantheon, or cause them trouble when he offended their divine non-giant allies, the rest of Annam’s sons could be his allies or enemies depending on the circumstances. Only Karontor hated him unceasingly, given that Memnor followed the rest of the family in treating the misshapen wretch with cruelty.

Famous Cloud Giant Holds:

-Castle Sterling: Located in the eastern Kron Hills north of Celene; famous for the evil alignment of its inhabitants; famous for ruling over many of the local hill, frost and fire giants in a feudal system, with the leaders of these clans serving as the cloud giant king’s vassals; famous for its beautifully crafted ornaments of sterling silver, which decorate the whole outside of Castle Sterling; famous for their participation in the Hateful Wars on the side of the humanoids, and their long-running feuds with the dwarves and gnomes of the Lortmils; famous for the way the lightning reflects off the silver ornaments during the frequent thunderstorms in the area; famous for the crazed religious rituals the cloud giants carry out during these same storms; ruled by King Ereghoul Blacklightning.

-The House of the Clouds of Dawn: Located in the Glorioles Mountains between Sunndi and Ahlissa; famous for the good alignment of its inhabitants; famous for the beautiful epic poetry of its cloud giant bards; famous for the music the giants play every dawn, which echoes on the breeze for miles around; famous for the crystal pyramids the cloud giants have crafted, that catch the rays of the sunrise and reflect them in a stunningly beautiful pattern; famous for their long-standing alliance with the elves of the Rieuwood; ruled by Queen Madicken Alhambra, Dame of the Morning.

-The Nine Towers: Located in the northwestern Yatil Mountains, south of the lands of the Tiger Nomads; famous for the evil alignment of their inhabitants; famous for the frightening war-paint and tattoos worn by the cloud giants who live here; famous for the herbal mixtures they inhale before battle, which drive them into a raging frenzy in combat; famous for the many elaborate meals they can cook from the flesh of dwarves and gnomes; famous for paying huge sums of money for wines from the Aerdy lands, which they greatly value; famed for being ruled by a council of four male and four female giants, with a ninth leader that can be male or female; ruled by Queen Maggeddia, Slayer of the Golden Dragon.

-The Sky Palace: Located in the Griff Mountains north of Tenh; famous for the good alignment of its inhabitants; famous for its inhabitants’ centuries-old alliance with the Tenha, who are their friends in war and trade; famous for joining the Tenha in their elaborate dances and songs to revere the gods; famous for their bloody raids into Stonehold; famous for being built among some of the highest peaks in the mountain range, where the clouds dance among its upper windows; ruled by King Belorn of the Golden Helm.

"
 
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Re: On the Cloud Giants of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation (Score: 1)
by Mystic-Scholar on Tue, September 15, 2009
(User Info | Send a Message) http://mysticscholar.blogspot.com/



Re: On the Cloud Giants of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation (Score: 1)
by Crag on Fri, September 25, 2009
(User Info | Send a Message)
Really enjoy these cultural series CSL. Some of your ideas have sparked my imagination for the beyond the flanaess gazatteers.

These articles also help those involved to create a more unique experiece rather then simply another giant with a boulder.

Nice work...




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