Grolantor (pronounced: /groʊˈlæntɔːr/ gro-LÆN-tor) was the giant god of hunting and battle, and the primary patron of the hill giants. The most prominent member of the giant pantheon (with the possible exception of Annam), Grolantor was the black sheep of the family, a vainglorious brute that refused any title but his given name and who was dedicated more to his ego than the wellbeing of his followers.
- 1 Description
- 2 Personality
- 3 Powers
- 4 Possessions
- 5 Realm
- 6 Activities
- 7 Relationships
- 8 Worshipers
- 9 History
- 10 Rumors and Legends
- 11 Behind the Scenes
- 12 Appendix
Grolantor normally appeared as a giant somewhere between 18 to 25 feet (5.5 to 7.6 meters) tall, clad in furs and/or dragon hides. Depending on the breed he was visiting, he was known to resemble a hill giant, frost giant, or ettin.
Grolantor was a truly miserable specimen of a god, one who constantly complained about his bottomless hunger, but would sooner snatch food from a family member's plate than hunt for it himself. Though possessed of a certain cunning and skill for ambushes, he constantly undermined himself, the blame for most of his problems laying squarely at his own feet as the result of his own selfish behavior and sheer hubris. Most giantish breeds portrayed him as a wicked being, but even the evil-tempered deity's own well-being was represented as second in priority compared to sating his pride.
Grolantor was completely dedicated to his own conceit. Despite being one of the most dangerous entities in the planes, with access to abilites that would strike fear in any mortal, the vain deity was too foolish to fully take advantage of his powers. This was not to say that Grolantor was fully stupid, for in fact he could be intelligent if he would only allow himself to be. Rather, Grolantor was idiotic in the sense that he was willfully ignorant, stubbornly refusing to accept reality and seemingly determined to stay along his course of self-appointed destruction. He insisted on doing things the hard way, trying to use strength where subtlety would have been more effective.
Grolantor absolutely refused to admit that any other being, including his kin, were superior to him and tried to instill that attitude in his followers, believing that Ostoria could never be restored without such pride. He was proud of his strength, but would not respect the greater strength, intellect, or seniority of his siblings, boasting of his own greatness while insulting his peers. These delusions of grandeur repeatedly forced him and his followers into pointless conflicts, sometimes more than they could handle. He sometimes showed this rash impudence when he manifested an avatar, behaving cowardly when faced with a stronger foe until challenged or mocked, at which point he attacked.
The great strength that Grolantor was proud of was his one redeeming quality. His avatars could hurl rocks up to 1,200 feet (370 meters) away, and would catch rocks and other large missiles thrown at them around 70% of the time.
Grolantor was known to wield an oversized club named "Dwarfcrusher", and in some artistic depictions the greatclub he wielded was made of bone. In any case, his avatars wielded an enchanted club that was twice as effective against dwarves as it was against any other being. Grolantor also usually wore several belts of woven dwarf beards.
Grolantor made his home in the Red Prison of Carceri, a plane of evil tinged with chaos. Carceri was the home of banished exiles, and each layer confined a different kind of traitor. Originally Grolantor was believed to dwell on the fourth layer known as Colothys, which confined those liars and cheaters who put forth harmful deception when the truth would have been just as easy to provide. Colothys consisted of mighty chasms and mountains larger than any on the Prime Material Plane, with impossibly rickety bridges, tight cliff-face trails and domiciles that clung to the rock walls. Hordes of around 150 hill giants might live in one of the various minor, wooden keeps of Grolantor.
However, as it turned out, Grolantor had multiple outposts throughout most of Carceri's layers. Grolantor had another set of steadings in the Abyss as well, but preferred Carceri's more grim atmosphere to the mindless chaos of the Abyss.
Grolantor's primary layer of influence was Cathrys, a collection of savage jungles and plains inhabited by bloodthirsty savages. As opposed to Colothys, Cathrys confined those individuals who unnecessarily responded to their primal instincts, abandoning their reason for barbarity when logic and rationality would have served better. The hill giant petitioners of Cathrys were just as dangerous as the ordinary savage schemers and much more powerful on top of that. Cathrys was fraught with danger, from the reeking, metal-dissolving acid that oozed from the blood-colored plants to the vast, arid, wind-swept plains, with blades of grass that cut through flesh as well as any jagged sword.
Like most of Cathrys's petitioners, the hill giants had adapted to life in the layer. Because they never bathed, they had a slimy, outer exterior that protected them from the sap, although they and other petitioners avoided it anyway due to superstitious dread. All petitioners, including hill giants had to maintain the roads to avoid being sliced to ribbons, but that was the extent of any cooperation. The few and far between villages of the layer experienced constant raiding by their neighbors, who sought to eat flesh and drink blood, and once the nomads had polluted a territory they moved on from their stinking razor grass huts to new regions.
The most well-known realm in Cathrys was The Steading, the main home of Grolantor. The savannah-like region that encompassed The Steading was clearly visually distinct from the rest of Cathrys. The scarlet grass was replaced with chaotically-clustered, earthy-brown hills, and the hill giants appreciated the rolling terrain since it allowed them to spy on their targets from a great distance away.
The philosophy of the realm was that the only true strength was physical, which was to be used as often as desired, and that dominance was displayed by beating others senseless. The hill giants of the realm raided each other in the absence of other foes, each eagerly seeking Grolantor's favor at the expose of others, and only allied to fight bigger rivals. Which tribes had his favor was easily distinguished by how fortified and prosperous (or rickety and broken ) their forts appeared. Roaming bands of giants scoured the realm and brought forth lions and mammoths as offerings to feed Grolantor's insatiable appetite.
A vast number of hill giants and their villages could be found throughout the hilly terrain of The Steading. About 100 hilltop forts, each miles apart, dotted the realm, and each was about as lethal as the others. On top of the hill in the middle of the realm was its inevitable focusing point, The Steading of Grolantor. This huge building covered literal miles of territory, with winding, fully connected, wooden halls, although the entire place was only a single giantish story tall.
There were few good reasons to visit The Steading since everything was made for giants and wildly varied in price (although most places sold vaath parts) and there was no way of knowing how a roaming giant band would react to travelers. They might ignore them, kill them, or bring them to Grolantor's Steading for the purpose of killing them there, giving them to Grolantor, or even trying to convert non-giants to Grolantor's cause. Dwarves were immediately exterminated in the Steading, as per Grolantor's creed, but humans were a different story.
Hill giants regarded humans as humans did rabbits, not as subjects of hatred, but as irritating pests good for food, occasionally useful for trade or supplies, potential sources of lucky charms (such as a foot), or as amusing pets. Human-sized holes allowing for potential escape littered the ground of the realm, some dug by unseen creatures and others seemingly naturally occurring. However, it was unadvisable to use them, but not just because of potential beasts within. Another aspect of The Steading's philosophy was that fear was not to be shown, and hiding in the hole caused a strange paranoia that made the victim as frantic as vermin for 1-4 weeks after leaving the hole.
In the World Tree cosmology, The Steading was another part of Jotunheim, the home of the giant pantheon. It was a small realm on the foothills of the plane's great mountains, and effectively a giant wooden house. The hill giant petitioners roamed the surrounding hills preying on all they encountered.
In the World Axis cosmology, The Steading was located in the Elemental Chaos. but much the same, a wooden hall surrounded by rolling terrain, albeit filled with oversized animals and plants. It was there where Grolantor (said to be one of the mightiest of elemental titans) bullied his lessers.
Grolantor spent his divided time in Carceri and the Abyss concocting his willfully stupid schemes, muttering to himself about various slights, most of which existed more in his head than in reality. He was an uncaring god who only rarely went to check on the state of his worshipers, although if something began killing his petitioners in their outpost, he might decide to descend upon it to ensure that it never bothered them again.
Grolantor frequently sent avatars to his followers to goad them into searching for acts of glory. The avatar would lead bands of hill giants (or ogres on much rarer occasions) on hunts or skirmishing missions, but unfortunately for his devoted, this was only for a short period of time. He was known to become bored with battles even as they reached their climax, disinterestedly abandoning his followers in their greatest time of need (although a true devotee perceived this not as desertion, but as a glorious, god-given chance to prove one's own mettle).
Grolantor was the child of Annam and the unnamed sky goddess that gave birth to most of the giant pantheon. He was the least of Annam's sons (at the very least those tied to a true giant breed), yet not the youngest. He was part of a third generation of offspring known by other giants as "the runts", with his younger brother being the fomorian deity Karontor.
Grolantor was generally scorned by all his family members, siblings and parents alike, and had been specifically disowned by his brothers for his stupidity and relative weakness. He insisted on being treated as their equal despite their obvious superiority, and had gotten into many fights with them on account of his pride, most of which he lost. Stories regarding Grolantor invariably ended with him getting another scar on his back when he pushed a family member too far and had to escape their wrath.
When they were children, the treacherous shenanigans of Grolantor and Memnor (the wicked cloud giant deity) resulted in Annam banning them from interfering with Jotunbrud affairs. However, after Annam's self-imposed exile, they convinced both Stronmaus (the storm giant deity) and Hiatea (goddess of nature and hunting) that the decree was no longer valid. Though neither Stronmaus nor Hiatea were pleased with Grolantor's behavior (several times had an angered Hiatea filled his backside with arrows) neither felt empowered enough to stop him, but both the nefarious gods sometimes left them with no other choice but to put an end to their meddling.
Grolantor's reckless behavior had doubtless made him many enemies, particularly among the dwarven pantheon, most of whom would attack him on sight. Though he hated all the evil giant gods, Marthammor Duin, dwarven god of wanderers and those that traveled beyond their enclaves, had a particular loathing for Grolantor. Similarly, Clangeddin, the dwarven god of battle, held Grolantor and his followers to be his most hated enemies. Grolantor himself had an arbitrary hatred for dwarvenkind.
Grolantor had other enemies among the goblinoid gods (goblinoid in this case including goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, orcs, kobolds and similar creatures). Solonor Thelandira, elven god of hunting and wilderness survival, also considered Grolantor (specifically, rather than simply hating the evil giant gods as a rule) to be his foe. The hill giant deity was often at war with another denizen of Carceri, Crius, the Titan of Weight and Density.
Grolantor had managed to turn several of the shator demodands of Carceri into his servitors, although less out of loyalty and more out of terror regarding him and his army of giant petitioners. They were weak-willed and obsequious, and while some shator ruled areas in Carceri as his vassals, some demodands had taken up residence in his outposts.
Grolantor was the deity most revered by the hill giants, who worshiped him both as clerics and shamans. Grolantor occasionally rewarded diligent shamans (around 1 out of 20 shamans had them) with a magic club that was especially affective against dwarves, although such clubs only worked in the hands of a hill giant shaman.
Priests of Grolantor had access to the unique spell known as Berserk Fury, where the casting priest entered a rage and would shout strange combinations of encouragements and insults. The ranting might infect other hill giants with a similar rage (although the number affected was limited by the priest's own power) and made them stronger or tougher. However, while under the spell's affects, none would be able to retreat, would stay in melee as long as possible, and would start attacking their allies if no more enemies were around until they could recover from the rage.
Ettins also venerated Grolantor, albeit a slightly different, two-headed aspect of him. Called "Grolettinor" or "Grelinor", this aspect of Grolantor was not worshiped by the ettins as a deity. Rather, ettins perceived him as a gigantic, extremely powerful ettin of superior intelligence, wisdom, and fighting prowess, whose two heads kept eternally vigilant for those who would enslave or destroy the ettins.
Because ettins only paid homage to Grolantor as a powerful ettin, were less wise than other giants (either despite or because of their two heads), and because Grolantor was possibly the least intelligent of humanoid gods, he did not grant spells to the rare ettin shamans. Instead, the unwise creatures relied entirely on their own faith to cast divine spells. The religious practices of hill giants and ettins varied greatly, and their shared deity did not necessitate positive relations between them.
Various other giants and giant-kin also worshiped Grolantor. He was one of the favorite traditional giant gods among frost giants for his courage, pride, and battle prowess (some of the same traits that drew hill giants towards him), and the few cyclopes that became clerics were worshipers of Grolantor. Most of Grolantor's worshipers were hill giants, frost giants, or ettins, but he had a similar ragtag following among ogres as he did with ettins (who could become slightly more powerful than ettin shamans). Taers, ape-like creatures possibly related to giants, had a complex pantheon of spirits and mythical figures, and Grolantor (along with Thrym) were known to appear in their mythology.
The creed of Grolantor was that the sons of Annam stood above all other beings in the grand Ordning of life, and that it was the destiny of the Jotunbrud to rule all of Faerun. As such, the hill giant priests of Grolantor, who existed both within and outside their normal hierarchy, had the primary responsibility of ensuring that all inhabitants of their never committed heresy, and stuck to the faith of Annam's pantheon.
Furthermore, the followers of Grolantor were duty-bound to crush the weak underfoot. The inferior races were to be persecuted, and the priests of Grolantor had to endeavor to wipe them out. Inferior races mainly included goblinoids that stood in their way, but effectively included all peoples smaller than hill giants. Where priests of Grolantor were in authoritative positions, they constantly urged their chiefs to launch invasions and send raiding parties, regularly organizing hunting and skirmishing bands for the sake of their cause, sometimes against astronomically low odds of success. Their favorite targets including dwarves, goblins, and dragons.
The quest to destroy weakness extended inwards, for Grolantor's priests took it upon themselves to find and eradicated whatever they perceived as societal weaknesses. Relatedly, it was against the dogma of Grolantor to admit weakness. Other giants were never to be treated as superiors, and hill giant shamans went so far as to refuse to admit that other giants were larger than they were, preferring to imagine that they were equals. Priests of Grolantor were never allowed to back down from a challenge, and disobeying this dictum would remove all a priest's power until they underwent atonement, which typically involved diving into an even more dangerous challenge.
Not every hill giant who venerated Grolantor were evil or egotistical, with some displaying an altruistic desire to help their people prosper even at their own expense.
The clergy of Grolantor was normally loosely organized and its priests were often undisciplined. Unlike most evil deities, Grolantor demanded no sacrifices from his hill giants, although unlike ettins, most hill giant shamans liked to sacrifice enemies and small valuables anyway.
There were no particular holy days, and the closest thing to a formal ritual that they regularly performed was an unrivaled tendency to engage in gluttonous revelry. Clerics of Grolantor routinely felt the need to prove that they were more capable of indulgence than their peers; hill giants tried to consume more than any other tribe member, while frost giants tried to outdrink their peers.
Grolantor's priests wear dark brown armor made from horn, and adorn their heads with skulls.
Mouths of Grolantor
Hill giants lacked an understanding of what foods made them sick, since most had such an indiscriminate digestive system that it was difficult for them to suffer from food poisoning. They could devour spoiled foods and rotten flesh, and did so with the enthusiasm of a child with dessert, rarely suffering for their eating habits. Their vulture-like constitution only made it stranger when one of their number did become sick, incapable of keeping down food. When hill giants vomited, their kin believed that they were being used as vessels by Grolantor, through which he spread his message into the world.
A sickened hill giant was separated from their fellows and often restrained, either trapped in a cage or tied to a post. Then either a priest of Grolantor or the village chieftan would visit the hungry giant each day, attempting to practice divination using the puked puddles of bile as a medium. In truth, this was a futile endeavor; Grolantor granted no omens to his priests whatsoever. If the sickness passed soon, the giant would be allowed to rejoin society, and most who recovered learned nothing from the experience.
A hill giant who stayed sick, however, would remain imprisoned and starved to the point of madness. Such a hill giant was known as a mouth of Grolantor. Mouths of Grolantor were ironically both disgraced and idolized. They were starved on purpose to induce the madness, treated as an object to allow Grolantor a mouth by which his hunger could manifest. On the other hand, the hill giant was no mere thing, but a holy object, embodying the sacred, eternal, aching hunger of the god.
The mischief that saw Grolantor and Memnor forbidden from interfering with mortal giants was no mere prank. Their "play" took the form of a plot that would ultimately thrust the giants into a minor war against the ogres. Since their exile was lifted, both incessantly meddled in the affairs of mortal giants (even despite his uncaring behavior towards his own worshipers). Once free to roam Toril, Grolantor began sending avatars among the Jotunbrud, attempting to persuade other giants to accompany him on his trouble-making outings. He naturally received the warmest response from hill and frost giants.
Rumors and Legends
It was possible that the hill giants had Grolantor to blame for their degeneration over the millennia. Grolantor was often accused of having collected and interbred the various runts of earlier giant breeds. In some myths, Grolantor personally polluted this racial stock by mating with various earth-bound monsters, including serpents and medusa-like hags, as well as the hag goddess Cegilune. His mating with a monstrous serpent, with one head at both ends of her coiled body, was often believed to have given rise to the ettins (although this was not wholly true at the least, since the ettins were the descendants of Arno and Julian).
In this way, Grolantor was a degenerate imitation of his father, who consorted with various entities to produce his myriad sons and daughters. The progenitors of the hill giants might have once been more capable, considering that in the days of ancient Ostoria they managed to create a standing stone that served as an oracle. However, the modern race of hill giants was frequently believed to be the result of Grolantor's crossbreeding, to the point where both the modern hill giants and ettins were believed to have come from the same stock.
Behind the Scenes
Grolantor was created by James M. Ward for the Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia (1980).
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