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- Join Date
- Jul 2008
[Runequest 6] Frost Giants, a playable race (long stats+culture write-up)
For my next campaign, I'm considering moving the setting from the coastal cliffs of my last game to the northern hills, mountains and tundra of the same continent. I've decided that the dominant species in that area are Human nomads, Iqari (a race of predatory bird-men found in the Runequest book), and a race of Frost Giants I intend to develop. It's an interesting setting to me because it isn't traditional fantasy Western Europe, and the three races will compete with each other not through direct warfare, conquering settlements, etc. but through things like trade, control of hunting grounds and pastures, and networks of alliances, hostility, and political maneuvering between tribes, clans, and other groups.
The primary inspiration for the Frost Giants is the recent live-action Thor movie, at least as far as looks and the name. I don't plan on trying to replicate the race from that movie, though - I want to create something that will fit better into a sword-and-sorcery campaign. I'm going to list my design goals below, then present the stats and culture I've developed. Any and all feedback would be welcome.
- A unique culture for the players to interact with
- Playable as humanoid adventurers, either as a full party or as a single outsider living among humans
- Mechanically, they should be physically superior to humans in most areas, comparable to humans in mental and magical abilities, with a few minor special abilities and drawbacks
- STR: 3d6+3
- CON: 2d6+6
- SIZ: 2d6+12
- DEX: 3d6
- INT: 2d6+6
- POW: 3d6
- CHA: 3d6
Abilities and Drawbacks:
- Keen Sight - Frost Giants have superior ability to see in the poor weather conditions of the cold northern lands - they treat partial darkness as well-lit, treat full darkness as partially lit, and can see 50% further than normal when vision is obscured by mist, fog, rain, snow, or other such weather conditions.
- Immunity (Cold) - Frost Giants are never harmed by cold weather or spells that cause harm by freezing the target. They can still be physically harmed by things like falling icicles or spells that use cold indirectly (e.g. a Frost Giant is standing in a puddle and a mage freezes the puddle. The giant is still stuck in the ice; he's just not bothered by the fact that it's cold.)
- Natural Armor - Frost Giants have particularly tough skin and are resilient to pain. They have Armor 1 on all locations. This does not stack with worn armor, although it does protect against magical damage.
- Vulnerable (Fire) - Frost Giants are not especially harmed by Fire (it merely bypasses their natural Armor of 1), but they still fear it greatly because their bodies do not heal properly from burns. Any wound caused primarily by fire, heat, or burning of any kind heals at a rate one step slower on the time chart (minutes -> hours -> days -> weeks -> months -> years), and magical healing only restores half as many hit points as normal to such wounds (casting the healing spell twice in a short time frame is good enough to get full healing, no need for Zeno's Paradox here).
- Strong Jaw, Strong Stomach - Frost Giants can consume raw meat with no problems so long as it has not rotted. They can also survive, at least temporarily, on plant matter that would be too tough and inedible for most other humanoids, such as wood or roots from the small trees that grow in the northern tundra. This does not provide them with any special protection against poison, however.
- No Folk Magic - Frost Giants generally disdain Folk Magic, as explained in their culture details below. No Frost Giant character may learn the Folk Magic skill during character creation (culture/career/hobby). After character creation, a Frost Giant may learn Folk Magic at the normal costs of XP rolls and time - 3 XP rolls and 1 month to gain the professional skill, 3 XP rolls and 1 week per spell learned. A teacher is still required, of course, which may be nearly impossible to find in a Frost Giant community, and very difficult in a human community, given the poor relations between the two races. (Note: this lack of Folk Magic is especially significant because Humans in my setting ALL learn Folk Magic as a Common skill and all know at least one or two spells).
Frost Giants are tall, hairless humanoids with red eyes and blue skin. Their smallest adults stand just over 6 feet tall, but 7 to 8 feet is more common, with their most imposing warriors reaching 9 feet or so. Their skin ranges in color from nearly-black midnight blue through a range of lighter shades to sky blue and even, rarely, an almost snow-white complexion. Their eyes are commonly a dull red, but bright shades of red and even violet and orange are not unknown. While skin color varies wildly even within a family, eye color tends to be constant along matriarchal lines, so any group of Frost Giants with matching eyes is almost certainly closely related. Frost Giants do tend to be a little bulkier than a human of similar height would be, but not by much.
As far as clothing and accessories, Frost Giants rarely bother to cover themselves completely (due to their natural resistance to cold weather) unless armor is required. Leather, wool, and fur garments beyond a loincloth tend to be either purely decorative or provide lots of pockets, loops, and pouches to carry or conceal items. Piercings and tattoos are common as additional decoration. Tattoos in particular are almost always found as iconography, text, or geometric designs which incorporate an existing scar into the image and relate to how the scar was earned. Frost Giants who do not have an appropriate scar will have a trusted friend or mentor give them one in commemoration of some achievement, and scars earned in battle or in mastering a craft are treated with equal respect. For armor, a similar range of materials is used as humans would, though the pieces are stylistically distinct from human manufacture and very little, if any, padding is used between the armor and the wearer's bare skin.
In terms of civilization, Frost Giant civilization is alternately tribal and nomadic, varying by clan and location. Hunting and herding are the primary sources of food, though limited agriculture is practiced in certain settlements. Frost Giants use no fires, due to their particular vulnerability to burns, and indeed fire is not necessary to their way of life. They can see reasonably well in the dark and eat raw meat and bones with little or no preparation. Thus, there is no such thing as a Frost Giant chef.
The name Frost Giant is somewhat misleading - they are nowhere near as tall as true Hill Giants or Stone Giants, but they certainly must have appeared huge to the first humans who saw a raiding party of Frost Giant warriors bearing down on them. This can be particularly attributed to a quirk of Frost Giant culture, in which height is considered an indicator of aptitude for various careers. It is believed that only the tallest members of their race should be trained as warriors, while it is the shortest ones who are always trained as priests and mages, under the assumption that a "big soul in a small body" must logically overflow in the form of magical energy and spells.
A second unusual element of Frost Giant culture is their single-mindedness in pursuing a trade, craft, or other skill. "Do one thing well or none at all," they say, and they mean it. One of their blacksmiths, for example, may craft a very fine sword blade and set of metal plates for armor, but he will not set the blade into a wooden hilt or attach the leather ties and straps to the armor. Such things are left to an Assembler, one whose professional expertise is in combining disparate crafts and materials into a cohesive whole. Another Frost Giant might choose to pursue a career in tribal leadership and politics, becoming an expert on negotiating, delegating, and debate while learning almost no other useful skills whatsoever.
All these details may explain why Frost Giants and Humans have never been able to exist peacefully together for any serious length of time. Humans, being on average much shorter than all but the smallest Frost Giants, ought to all have substantial magical powers according to the Frost Giant way of thinking. This creates a secret fear of humans in Frost Giant culture, one which is reinforced by humans' use of both fire and Folk Magic. Frost Giants do not bother with Folk Magic, believing that one should either pursue one of the higher magical disciplines or none at all. Some trade and even a few clan-based alliances exist between members of the two races, but there is also a history of raiding parties, competition for resources, and outright betrayal that has bred distrust and subtle hostility.
Frost Giant sayings and proverbs:
- "Do one thing well or none at all"
- "He has his mother's eyes and his father's scars" (a statement of high praise, especially toward one from a prominent family)
- "I am drowning in snow" (that is, overwhelmed by many small problems or irritations)
- "I'm too tall for this" or "I'm too short for that" (that is, I'm not the guy you want, it's not my problem, etc.)
- "The dice kiss any hand willing to roll them." (that is, fortune favors the bold)
- "The steepest hills hide the biggest nests" (Big risks for big rewards. Also possibly a reference to the fact that Frost Giants have been known to steal and eat Iqari eggs from their mountain eyries on occasion)
- Loyalty to clan, tribe, or family
- Fear (Humans)
- Master (or Dedication to) a craft, skill, or career
Standard Skills: Athletics, Brawn, Endurance, Locale, Perception, Willpower, and one of (Boating, Drive, Ride, or Swim)
Professional Skills: Craft (Any), Lore (any), Gambling, Musicianship, Navigate, Survival, Track
Suggested Careers: Beast Handler, Crafter, Entertainer, Fisher, Herder, Hunter, Merchant, Miner, Official, Physician, Priest, Sailor, Scholar, Scout, Shaman, Sorcerer, Warrior
- Ice Wrestler (primarily unnarmed cultural style, bouts are commonly held on slippery frozen lakes or glaciers)
- Mountain Brute (cultural style focused on the largest bludgeoning weapons and rocks available to be swung or thrown)
- Tundra Hunter (professional hunting style, bows and spears predominate)
- Roving Marauder (professional warrior style associated with mounted raiders, short bows, bucklers, and short swords or sabers all accommodate striking while riding horses or other large animals)
- Deathaxe Soldier (professional warrior style only practiced by the tallest Frost Giants, the primary weapon has a haft just as long as a human-style halberd but thicker, and a blade closer to a great axe in size and deadliness - Deathaxe, two-handed, 2d8 damage, size Huge, Reach Very Long, can use Sunder SE, ENC 5, AP 4, HP 12, requires SIZ 21 or greater to wield)
The Frost Giant Voice:
I am Yngvar, a youth of the Jotnar, who the humans call 'Frost Giants'. They chose at least one of those words well, for we are a people of the cold. I was born in a freshly fallen snowbank, I wrestle with my friends on the glacial ice, and when I die I hope to be welcomed in the frozen halls of Bergelmir, where no flame can ever burn. I do not fear the smaller races and their magics as many of my people do, but fire is a bane to any Jotunn in his right mind.
Tonight, at midwinter, when the sun will not strike us for an entire day, my peers and I will come of age. We will submit ourselves to be measured by Ranhildr, She-Who-Matches-One-With-Another in our tribe, whether in love, in profession, or in alliances with the other peoples of these hills. I had hoped for another span of growth this year, that I might be counted among the great warriors, but the spirits did not favor me so. Still, I am certainly tall enough to be a smith or a hunter, if I so choose and Ranhildr is agreeable, and that is well enough for me.
Regardless of the path set before me, I will follow it relentlessly. Last summer, my brother brought shame upon our family when he chose to give up his training as a musician and go be a trader with the caravans. Father nearly disowned him, but Mother merely shrugged and said, "Sometimes the dice land askew". In any case, it falls to me now to earn my Father's scars and help maintain our standing in the tribe. Even more so, my people need us youths to learn our professions well - rumors abound of a truce between the nearest Iqari nest and the human nomads who traipse across our lands. If the truce holds or, worse yet, becomes an outright alliance against us, the coming seasons and even years will be hard indeed for our tribe
Ranhildr approaches now, hunched over and clad in almost nothing but the scars and tattoos that mark her many, many years of sagely chosen matches. She will take the measure of our bodies and our souls, then help guide us to our proper path, the craft and role that each of us will pursue unto death. We shall feast until the distant dawn, and then, my life will begin.I spent an hour on the edge of dreams,
I walked between the worlds,
and when I woke I never knew
to which side I had fallen
- Join Date
- Jul 2008
Re: [Runequest 6] Frost Giants, a playable race (long stats+culture write-up)
If it's tl;dr, can someone at least say so? :pI spent an hour on the edge of dreams,
I walked between the worlds,
and when I woke I never knew
to which side I had fallen