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Giff (sing & pl; sometimes called "hippofolk") were a humanoid race from another crystal sphere known as mercenaries among the space-faring peoples of Realmspace.[3][2]

Ships that sail between the stars? Next ye will spin tales of a talking hippopotamus that walks on two legs and carries a bow.


Most people described giff as humanoid hippopotami. Giff had powerful muscles over stocky and broad frames. They were shorter than ogres, standing around eight or nine feet tall, but more massive. A giff's head and snout were covered with thick plates of chitin. They had a range of skin colors, including (most commonly) gray, black, and gold.[3][2]

Giff often decorated their skin with colorful tattoos related to their accomplishments and victories. They always dressed in uniforms or elaborate and strong armor and often carried multiple firearms on their persons.[2][3]

Giff had excellent reflexes and a surprising grace when moving. They were exceptionally strong and tough[2]—as strong as a hill giant—but neither very intelligent or wise.[2] There was no difference in strength or combat prowess between males and females.[3]

Although they had powerful tusk-filled jaws, giff were essentially herbivores,[2] though they could eat meat.[3]

Similarly to dwarves, giff had a mild but innate resistance to magic and were incapable of casting magic spells themselves.[3] This could hamper the effectiveness of using such spells as greater restoration on incapacitated giff, though it was possible to circumvent in times of need with Herb Tea 33-Alpha.[5]


Giff lived rigid lives of order and obedience to a chain of command.[2] They actually took great pleasure from following orders.[3]

A giff always kept its promises.[2]

A common hobby among giff was the maintenance of armor.[3]

Giff had no desire to become an empire, but they did enjoy traveling. They did not tend to have any love of money; food was far more important to them. The typical giff, however, had a great love of weapons, especially firearms and explosives, favoring the biggest explosions the most.[2] Some giff would also keep large collections of pole arms from the various worlds that they had visited in their travels.[3]

Giff were fearful of magic, but they tolerated its use in spelljamming, as it was the only way one could travel from world to world. They always relied on others to power spelljammer helms for them.[3]


Creatures of discipline, giff communities organized themselves into a strict hierarchy of command.[2] An individual giff's rank could only be changed by someone superior to her or him.[3]

They made no distinctions between males and females in their culture as far as rank or role. Males and females raised children together.[3]

A large population of giff lived in Gifftown in Bral,[6] a city in the Tears of Selûne.[7][8]


Giff preferred their own kind, but they would generally get along with any race willing to hire them,[2] especially those with more militaristic cultures. They paid little attention to ideas of good or evil; they simply followed the orders of whoever was paying them. About the only order a giff would refuse would be to fight against his or her own kind.[2][3]

Giff tended to feel threatened by creatures who were bigger than they and would sometimes complain about how fragile other smaller races were.[3]

Groups of giff mercenaries were commonly hired by dohwar merchants as bodyguards.[9] When hired as mercenaries, giff usually requested payment in smokepowder or weapons. They would request to be given their own quarters.[3]


Giff spoke their own language and used Common to communicate and trade with other races. The Giff language was gruff and covered a wide range of both high and low sounds.[2][3]

Many giff took names in the Common tongue as their own, since their native tongue was hard to pronounce for other races. The names they chose for themselves were often upper-class-sounding names such as "Algernon" or "Horatio" for males or "Beatrice" or "Ophelia" for females.[2]


The giff had no religion of their own, although they sometimes would worship the war gods of whoever's orders they were under. They believed that everything had a purpose and that their purpose was to follow orders.[2][3]


All giff were trained from a young age in the use of smokepowder weapons,[2] but they were proficient in all manner of other weapons as well. They were typically armed with multiple weapons, but if somehow caught unarmed, giff would head butt their opponents or pick them up and toss them.[3]

Giff enjoyed brawling for fun, but it was important to not use a weapon unless you expected them to treat it as a battle to the death.[3]

Most giff were trained as warriors or fighters, but a few became rangers.[2] While at one point in time, their culture had no spellcasters or clerics,[3] by the time Mordenkainen penned his Tome of Foes, giff wizards, clerics, and other spellcasters existed sporadically throughout Realmspace.[10]


Most scholars believed them to have one world of origin, but the original home world of the giff was long forgotten. For as long as any of them knew, they simply traveled the wildspace of the various crystal spheres, offering their services to those who could provide them with food or interesting weapons.[2][3]

Some claimed that the home world had been destroyed in a great explosion caused by accident. Others said that they sold their own planet. Whatever the truth, the giff's own legends claim that their world was a beautiful, thick jungle filled with swamps and luscious fruit trees, with mountains that could be mined for metal and smokepowder.[3]

Notable Giff[]

Giff were extremely rare on Toril. However, the Brigadier, a shopkeeper in Skullport was a giff,[11] and a whole squad of giff served as members of the Mindulgulph Mercenary Company.[12]




Dungeon #36, "The Sea of Sorrow"
The Maelstrom's Eye
Referenced only
Into the Void
Card Games
AD&D Trading Cards
Organized Play & Licensed Adventures
Stardock Under SiegeLast Orders at the Yawning PortalThe Fallen StarInto DarknessVolatile ThoughtsRecipe for RetributionBurying the Past


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 204. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 Joshua Cole (January 2006). “Races of Spelljammer”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #339 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 26–28.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 3.31 Jeff Grubb (August 1989). “Lorebook of the Void”. Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space (TSR, Inc.), pp. 77–78. ISBN 0-88038-762-9.
  4. Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 80. ISBN 978-0786966011.
  5. Paul Gabat (2021). The Fallen Star (DDAL10-06) (PDF). D&D Adventurers League: A Plague of Ancients (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 8–9.
  6. Richard Baker (1992). Rock of Bral. (TSR, Inc), pp. 66–67. ISBN 1-56076-345-0.
  7. Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc.), p. 170. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  8. Steven E. Schend (August 1997). “Book One: Tethyr”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Lands of Intrigue (TSR, Inc.), p. 86. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
  9. Scott Davis, Newton Ewell, John Terra (1991). Monstrous Compendium Spelljammer Appendix 2. Edited by Allen Varney. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 16–17. ISBN 1-56076-071-0.
  10. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 204. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  11. Joseph C. Wolf (1999). Skullport. (TSR, Inc), p. 61. ISBN 0-7869-1348-7.
  12. Tim Beach (1992). Gold & Glory. (TSR, Inc), p. 14. ISBN 1-56076-334-5.