Stone Giant

A Stone Giant (Giant: Bergrisar) is any one of the particular kind of giant who's skin is think and stone-grey in color.

Stone giants are large humanoids with dark gray, leathery skin that grow to about 12 feet in height. They tend to be both impassive and aloof, preferring to live in solitude in hills, caves, and mountains. Because of their skin color they tend to blend in among their stony surroundings — all the easier from them to crush unwary travelers with giant thrown boulders. Stone giants revere their tribe elders. They believe themselves to be the purest species of giant, from whom all other giants descend.

Stone giants prefer living in enormous caves in high-altitude, rocky peaks. They rarely live more than a few days' travel from other bands of stone giants, and even raise shared herds of goats and other livestock between tribes. Older stone giants tend to wander away from the tribe for a significant period of time in their later years, either living in seclusion somewhere or attempting to merge into other humanoid civilizations. After decades of this self-imposed exile, those who return do so as stone giant elders.

Society


Stone giant society is composed of two main groups: the so-called "high culture", or Runeveien, who utilize taboo knowledge gained from the Shi'imti Empire, and the "low culture", held true by craggy elders who refuse to give up the old ways.

The Runeveien culture is presently fading, soon to become nothing more than runic songs and legends of ancient Shi'im, stories of stone monuments stretching to the heavens, vast subterranean networks extending to the core of the planet, and mountain faces worked to vast visages of gods. These stories always contain elements of xenophobia against the smaller people, their tyrants, and slavers.

The low culture of the stone giant stays true to the pre-Shi'imti ways: living in caves, hunting large prey, finding balance and harmony with the stone around them, and treating their elders with great reverence.

Government

Stone giant clans are organized as as a zygarchy - societies which are ruled by the eldest couple in the tribe. This couple doesn't have a particular title, and their immediate and extended family gains no special benefit from their relationship. Interestingly, the ruling position is seldom sought after or seen as desirable; the many responsibilities of the role are seen to greatly outweigh its benefits. The eldest couple is chosen for the role as as their age is thought to bestow upon them the patience and wisdom needed to deal with family squabbles, ownership claims, and inter-clan relations.

Communities

Stone giants typically live within the shelter of hollowed out mountains, excavated using the stone giants masterful knowledge of engineering and stone. Stone giant communities consist of living quarters, stables, sheds, workhouses, and barracks. Within the outer walls of the mountain are built large watchtowers, from which stone giant guards can observe the surrounding areas.

In the center of the community is the tribe's Great Cavern. This is the hub of the tribe's social network, hosting everything from marriages, funerals, victory dinners, retelling of tribal history, and religious ceremonies.

Art and Architecture

The Great Cave also houses the tribe's art and culture. These tend to fall into two main themes: story telling, and stone crafting. Story telling is great tradition for the stone giants: every night they gather in the Great Cave, and the cavern resounds with the low thrum of the stone giants telling the history and legends of their people. The bards and elders who perform these stories are known as "vevere".

Stone giant masons and quarrymen are also greatly valued by their tribes. Using only rope, string, square, level, hammers, and bone and sinew they are able to build remarkable works of art from stone. The stone giants no longer build in the opulent, imperial style of classic Shi'im - the great temples, momuments, dams, and lighthouses of that dead civilization are now regarded as needless reminders of a failed alliance that ended in betrayal.

Death

Stone giants are long lived, with an advanced reaching ages of up to 800 years old, and some elders living as much as 1000 years. The proper age of an elder is at minimum 600 years old. Juveniles become adults at age 90 (for women) and 120 (for males).

Stone giant dead are rarely buried in the ground. Instead, prominent stone giants are mummified and perched on top of high mountains, their remains guarded over by stone giant shamans. The mummy is richly adorned with furs, jewels, armor, and other such trappings of life. Less prominent stone giants are put to the pyre, buried under stone cairns, where the size of the cairn is indicative of the respect shown to the giant. "Han vil forlate et fjell!" (He'll leave a mountain!) is something said of a giant much loved by his tribesmen.

Religion

Stone giants also believe strongly in ancestral ghosts, represented by The Ancestors, Father, Mother, and the Spirits of the Earth. Stone giants use divine magics to commune with these spirits. Stone giant communities keep shrines to these spirits in their halls, painted and lit with candles, and piled up with offers of bone marrow, amber, and burnt fur.

A recent (and some would say disturbing) development in the stone giant community has been the rise of the Bear Cult. Practiced by the more savage and evil of the stone giants, this contentious religion divides the stone giant community: the elders stand against it, calling out its tendency to play to the primal, base, and bestial aspects of their culture.

Magic

Elder magic is the most common among the stone giants. This magic is centered around divination and transmutation of stone and earth, and is passed down from elder to elder. It rarely happens that a sorcerer manifests among the stone giants, but always obviously so: these young giants are easily spotted by their oddly colored skin, the crystalline formations growing on their skin, or short stature. Sorcerers are simultaneously revered and shunned, held on the same level as a druid or shaman. Wizards simply do not appear in stone giant society, a gross reminder of the indignity suffered upon the giants by ancient Shi'im.

Animal Husbandry

Stone giants favor the following animals:

  • Dire bear: Bears play the same role to stone giants that dogs play in human society. The are frequently used to assist in the giants in hunting game, where their keen nose, natural intelligence, and size provide distinct advantage. An oral legend of the stone giants attributes both races as children of the historical giant queen Fandir, the result of a union with an avatar of Dhanni. Some stone giant tribes have one or many "bjørnfedre", hunters with extraordinary skills at handling bears.
  • Dire wolf: Much rarer than dire bears, and frequently found in the company of stone giant bards, dire wolves - called "jotunsúlfr" by the stone giants - are held as living embodiments of natural wisdom, and their winsome howls are songs of ancient lore.
  • Mammoth: In ancient times the temples of Ornus were the home to hundreds of giant mammoths, fearsome beasts trained for mounted combat. The use of these magnificent creatures has sharply declined since then, but modern stone giants from the Conocian Mountains are known to seek and train them as mounts.
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