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Hill giants, called haugjotunen in their own language,[12] were voracious, primitive giants defined by their gluttony.[9][13] They were the least of the commonly recognized "true giants", the shortest in stature, weakest in mind, and lowest in rank according to the Ordning.[9][14] Granted domain over the rolling hills by Annam All-Father millennia ago,[15][16] they were masters of its slopes and deeply connected to the land itself.[16][17][18]

Don’t be fooled by its brutish appearance. A hill giant is as close to the earth beneath your feet as a storm giant is to the thunderhead above you.
— Noldir of Hammerfast.[18]

Description[]

Hill giants normally stood around 16 feet (4.9 meters) tall,[4][11] but males could reach about 17 feet (5.2 meters) in height,[11] although some reports of giants from other worlds put them at around 10​ to ​10.5 feet (3​ to ​3.2 meters).[3][5] Females tended to be a bit shorter, at 15 feet and ​5 inches​ to ​16 feet and ​4 inches (4.7​ to ​4.98 meters).[11] Their reported weight was around 4,500 pounds (2,000 kilograms),[4] but morbidly obese (and immobile) individuals were known to weigh over 10 tons (9,100 kilograms).[19][note 1] Their skin was a deep, ruddy brown, but they could also be light tan in coloration as a result of a life spent under the sun.[1][3][4] Their hair ranged from brown to black, and their eyes shared that color in addition to having red rims.[3][5]

Hill giants were basically humanoid in shape, but had an oddly simian in appearance, with low foreheads, stooped shoulders, thick limbs, and elongated arms shared by both genders. Despite being the shortest of giants, they had larger and more muscular appendages than other giant breeds. They had a rugged, barbaric look,[3][4] and if not for the lack of two heads could be mistaken for the relatively uncivilized ettins at a glance.[20]

The traits that other races often saw as attractive were known to be considered strange and worthy of scorn to hill giants. Straight teeth, neat hair, unblemished skin, clear speech, and a lack of drool when eating were abnormal, if not repulsive traits.[21] Their own sweat mixed with the reeking stench of the crude, rough animal hides they wore. Animal skins worn by hill giants were poorly stitched with hair and leather thongs, not stripped of fur, and rarely cleaned or repaired, since hill giants normally opted to simply add more skins on.[1][3][4][5]

Personality[]

A hill giant stealing pickles.

Hill giants were selfish and brutish bullies that, like other earth giants, often forced weaker creatures to do their bidding. They lived as uncivilized savages, surviving by foraging, hunting, and raiding for food when not coercing other, smaller beings into doing the work and feeding them.[1][2][3][4][18] The mean creatures would go on a rampage if they felt deceived, mocked, or otherwise humiliated, raging against the guilty and innocent alike until they calmed down, grew hungry, or were distracted.[1] However, while most hill giants (around 40-50%) conformed to the chaotic evil behavior commonly found among them, true neutral and even chaotic good hill giants were not totally unheard of.[3][22][23]

Hill giants equated size with strength, functioning based on a "bigger is better" mentality. Smaller creatures, sentient or not, were prey to hunt with impunity, while larger creatures, like dragons and bigger giants, were dangerous adversaries.[1] Following this logic, a hill giant of average intelligence might think to consume food in attempt to grow immense (not understanding biological limitations) and therefore superior.[24][25] The idea that giants were stupid was perhaps the most commonly stated misconception surrounding them, but few kinds embodied the fallacious belief more than hill giants.[26]

Hill giants were reckless,[3] sluggish,[27] and notoriously moronic,[28] such that they would died out long ago if their great size and formidable power did not compensate for their dull wits and lazy disposition. Ironically, their mental weakness was partially perpetuated by their brute strength. Having never faced adversity that required adaptation and improvement, hill giants had managed to survive for millennia[1] with their lacking ambition,[9] living unchanged as barbarians with simple minds and underdeveloped emotions.[1]

The least intelligent hill giants were mentally closer to beasts than civilized beings, while the brightest were above average compared to most humanoids.[26] Hill giants were blunt and direct in conversation, and though reasoning with them was useless, they could be manipulated into taking certain actions by more clever creatures. They had little concept of deception, to the point where villagers standing on each other's shoulders could cover themselves in blankets and hold a large, circular object above themselves to fool a hill giant into fleeing from the opposing giant.[1]

Hill giants were much like ogres in terms of mental prowess, being as intelligent, if not stupider, than the smaller giant-kin.[26] Both had a tendency to be overly literal due to not thinking about their directions, misinterpreting even the simplest instructions due to their lacking consideration.[29] However, though potentially less intelligent than ogres, hill giants shared with them an exceptional cunning,[26] even outmatching them in craftiness.[18] Though they themselves were easily susceptible to the schemes of others, both were capable of surprising feats of cleverness, albeit in pursuit of limited desires.[26]

Abilities[]

As one would expect, hill giants were incredibly strong and extremely resilient.[3]

Combat[]

Hill giants on the offense.

Despite lacking brainpower and being infamously clumsy, hill giants were capable combatants.[4][28] Some of the already physically formidable beings even trained to become barbarians.[3] When they went looking for food, hill giants did so alone or with an animal companion, such as a dire wolf, to avoid having to split their spoils with other tribe mates.[1]

A hill giant's preferred combat strategy was to utilize the time-honored giant tactic of throwing rocks at their enemies.[30] They pelted their enemies with boulders from high, rocky outcroppings, allowing them to injure their foes while limiting the risk of personal injury.[3][4] Assuming they could not pull rocks from the bags most giants carried around,[30][3] they could simply pull rocks up from the ground.[1] Normally the boulders they used were around 3 feet (0.91 meters) in diameter and 325 pounds (147 kilograms) in weight.[31] Their reported maximum throwing ranges varied, with the longest claimed distance being 600 feet (180 meters). They could also catch similarly-sized rocks (and other proportionate missiles) with an approximate success rate of about three in ten.[4][5][31]

Once an opponent got into melee range, hill giants stopped hurling stones and began fighting in close quarters.[2] They favored the use of oversized clubs,[3][4][5] and could uproot trees to use as weapons if needed.[1] Some hill giant hunters were known to use javelins, but they still carried throwing rocks with them.[18]

Hill giants had various favorite melee tactics. They loved overrunning smaller enemies at the start of a battle, trampling them underfoot before standing fast and swinging with their clubs.[3] When faced with more than one target, they made sweeping motions in an attempt to knock their enemies to the ground.[2] Some liked to hurl their whole, considerable mass at smaller foes, crushing their opposition beneath their formidable bulk.[32]

Even hill giants, as dim-witted as they were, recognized that smaller foes would attack their lower body parts. As such, when they knew they were going to face human-sized enemies, they took certain precautions. They were known to peel thick strips of bark from trees and strap them to their legs as make-shift greaves, and to tie logs and stones to their belts so that foes trying to move under them would have to beware the dangling obstacles.[33] Hill giants were also wise enough to know that a hopeless situation was one to escape from, rather than continue fighting to the death.[2] When faced with the prospect of death, they might even fall into incoherent blubbering and sobbing.[34]

Society[]

OH! RUDE OF ME. CAN I OFFER YOU A SNACK?
— A hill giant remembering his manners before offering a mangled cow spine to his shorter visitors.[35]

Like other breeds, hill giants had developed their own value system over the millennia, and their unique culture was centered around one thing — food. According to the hill giant belief system, the one true meaning of life was to satisfy one's appetites, and over the years the dull creatures had managed to take this simple philosophy of hedonism to surprisingly deep extremes. Unusually learned hill giants were known to write elaborate poems using food and consumption in complex metaphors regarding the many trials of life.[28]

Given the hill giant tendency to put all sorts of repulsive and rotting things in their mouths with little hesitation, some theorized that the species had no sense of taste or were so hungry at all times that taste was irrelevant.[9] In truth, hill giants had, over the course of their long history, consumed almost anything one could imagine (including various sentient beings) and enjoyed almost everything they tried. The kind of food that humans and elves would find appealing were appallingly dull to hill giants, who preferred more exotic dishes,[28] and since most recovered from getting sick, they rarely learned to avoid anything.[9]

Despite their general ignorance and ineptitude, hill giants had unnatural gifts for both hunting and cooking,[28] and had actually developed some of the most sophisticated food preservation methods in all the Realms. Long had they known the benefits of smoking, salting, and freezing different foodstuffs, although despite these advancements about a fourth of their inventory was accidentally ruined or spoiled before it could be used.[36] They also had knowledge of certain properties of different foods, namely which were more fattening.[27]

Ordning[]

A hill giant's position in the Ordning (the social ranking system among giant breeds and giants as a whole) was based around an odd combination of physical might and gastral superiority.[37] Though the latter skill might seem like a strange factor to use for determining the chain of command, among hill giants, it was a trait synonymous with virtue. Because hill giants believed the purpose of life was self-gratification, it only made sense that the development of skills that helped them to accomplish that goal were the most worthy of being pursued, and thus that the giant who had best mastered such skills was obviously the most fit to lead.[38]

Size was the same thing as strength to hill giants, and consuming food was not only satisfying, but made them even bigger. As such, the tallest, widest, and heaviest member of a hill giant tribe (normally but not always still able to move) was considered the most successful and admirable.[1][9][19] On the other hand, the lazy creatures also realized that overexerting themselves often made them thinner;[27] as one might expect, girth was perhaps the one area where hill giants excelled compared to other giant breeds.[9]

The qualities that other beings expected or required of their leaders — including intelligence, decisiveness, and charisma — were not rewarded or recognized as important beyond their capacity to aid a giant in obtaining more food.[9] Some hill giants did not even consciously realize they followed an Ordning, simply operating on the belief that the larger and stronger giant was to be obeyed.[1] Only on rare occasions were relatively smart hill giants able to subvert their social order through cunning, such as by deceiving or intimidating others into giving them food or by gaining the favor of their superiors.[1][9]

For hill giants, Ordning challenges to rise in rank took the form of epic eating competitions where two opposing parties would devour huge piles of food. After the massive meals were prepared, (hill giants involved would try to obtain lots of their favorite foods for such battles) the contestants would emerge, consume, and return every three hours until one side couldn't continue. In "duels" between the most gluttonous (and likely among the highest ranking) hill giants, these competitions could go on for weeks, with neither side allowed sleep. Unbelievable portions were consumed by the end of such matches, which ended with both participants often feeling utterly sick and nearly immobile.[28]

At the top of a hill giant Ordning was the chief known as the storkokk, meaning "master eater" in their own giantish dialect. Because of the nature of the selection process they had to endure simply to obtain their positions in the first place, storkokks were almost always the most massive and rapacious hill giant in their steading. They also had among the greatest responsibility, for not only were they tasked with handling matters of state (which given hill giant attitudes would often sounded like discussions at an eatery), they were looked to by their kin for political leadership, spiritual guidance, and gastronomical inspiration.[39]

Below the master eater were the gluttons, the highest ranking of hill giants. They were tasked with supervising labor, law enforcement, and the creation of new rules, but their most important duties were, supervising the obtainment of foodstuffs, hunting, and the creation of new recipes. A glutton that failed in these duties (such as if their food stores gradually dwindled down to nothing) was severely dishonored, and the pressure to succeed was so dire for some that they resorted to dishonest methods (including stealing from other gluttons) to keep up appearances.[39]

The best and brightest hill giants were assigned the role of fetcher, a position meant to groom them for later greatness. Each was the assistant to a specific glutton and most master gluttons called upon their most trusted fetchers to handle minor details related to their positions, such as stocking the vegetables or non-exotic livestock. Hoarders meanwhile were those hill giants responsible for performing inventory, storing the perishables and cooking supplies, and reporting food levels to the relevant higher ups.[39]

A hill giant herdgorger's shepherd crook was useful for picking bits of wool out of their teeth.

Hill giant hunters stalked game and brought it back home (dead or alive), and were known to form hunting parties to do so. Certain limits, such as not hunting humans, were sometimes placed upon them depending on a tribe's diplomatic position. Conversely there were also gatherers, who obtained foods that could not be hunted or, ironically, gathered, by buying from merchants. Since hill giants had no use for treasure, they would often gladly pay above standard price for their purchases. Lowest in the Ordning were herders, who killed and butchered the tribal herd (or managed the slaves that did so) and were usually trained in various livestock fattening techniques (livestock sometimes including sentient humanoids).[39]

Social Structure[]

As with most giant breeds, hill giants were loosely organized into huslyder, a giantish word roughly meaning "families", that were responsible for taking care of children. For hill giants, huslyder were large and communal,[40] and could be relatively unregimented compared to other giant societies, even if each giant still had specific assigned roles.[39]

Normally a hill giant lair housed an extended family, sometimes including lone hill giants who were accepted into the family, which totaled around 9-16 hill giants. Of these, around half were male, a quarter female, and the remainder juveniles. Raiding and hunting parties of around 6-9 members were known to form, as were bands of similar numbers with the addition of 2-3 non-combatant members.[3][4]

On occasions where a hill giant of average human intelligence emerged, there was the capacity of hill giants to be rallied by the superior intellect, creating groups of hill giants anywhere from 2-4 times the ordinary number. Such self-titled "giant kings" often raided human towns, and might even go so far as to attack other bands of giants.[4] A hill giant tribe normally had about 21-30 members in addition to about 7-11 non-combatants.[3]

Among hill giants, the most maug (the equivalent of evil for giants) act a giant could commit was the betrayal of one's tribe. If a member of a tribe aided outsiders against that tribe, even for a morally good reason, all his peers, even those of good alignment themselves, would brand him as maug, and therefore worthy of shunning or punishment. On the other hand, even despicable hill giants could be convinced to stop a rampaging hill giant if he once betrayed his breed.[41]

Culture[]

On occasion, hill giants were known to amuse themselves with inane games, normally involving food or eating in some way. One such game, known as "stuff-stuff" had the hill giants see how many small creatures (such as halflings, gnomes, or goblins) that they could fit into their mouths and once without swallowing.[9] Hill giants were also known to take amusement from wading in pools of water (which doubled as drinking water sources), even in regions with extremely low temperatures, and sometimes created such pools by damning rivers.[42]

If a hill giant glutton discovered that his food stores were particularly well-stocked, they might decide to call a grand feast. A grand feast was a huge celebration infamous for total revelry and lack or restraint, and often ended with most of the tribe heavily drunk and fast asleep. During such feasts, an important guest from outside the tribe was often asked to part. This might be another giant chieftain or a diplomatic partner of another race, but since so few guests (including some higher-ranking giant breeds) could match a hill giant's sheer overindulgent gluttony, most would politely excuse themselves long before the end of the feast.[39]

In lieu of engaging in their own lacking and myopic culture, hill giants were known to ape the traditions of other creatures instead, copying their methods without proper consideration. For example, a tribe might copy elves only to topple forests trying to live in trees, while those that tried to take humanoid villages as their own often only got as far as the door before accidentally demolishing the walls and roof.[1] One such imitation took the form of a hill giant declaring itself king and demanding tribute of livestock and produce from nearby humanoids,[18] a tyrannical reign of terror defined by the giant's shifting mood, with the constant threat of it forgetting its own title and eating its subjects on a whim.[1]

Possessions[]

Like other giant races, hill giants kept their belongings on them by keeping them in huge, hide sacks.[4] The primary purpose of the bag, especially for hill giants, was to carry food, for being as large as they were, it would be unwise to travel without rations.[30] Usually it also contained a giant's personal wealth, as well as somewhere between 2-8 throwing rocks and 1-8 mundane items. Hill giant possessions were usually well-worn, filthy, reeking, crude, and often jury-rigged or salvaged from something else. Examples included a wooden bowl and spoon, a drinking cup made from a gourd or skull, or a hand chopper made from the broken-off head of a battleaxe.[3][4]

The crudely-sewn animal hides that hill giants wore functioned as leather armor. Nearly all hill giants wore such hides because they were a status symbol in some communities, indicating a larger number of kills depending on the amount of hides. Those from colder climates had developed greater skin preparation techniques, as it was needed to keep warm and prevent the chilling winds from getting in their lairs. Only a rare 5% of hill giants created metal armor, using the pieces of armor from defeated foes to fashion their own.[4]

Relations[]

A hill giant stealing from a village.

Among giant-kin they were most often seen working alongside verbeeg and ogres, the latter of which they often traded with for trinkets or food.[43] Ogres were also known to act as guardians in hill giant lairs.[5]

Hill giants often kept dire wolves and giant lizards as pets or guards.[5]

Besides working among their kin, hill giants were known to work in more civilized areas, such as for the Rakshasa nobles of Tirumala[44] and in the army of Thay.[45]

Magic[]

Hill giants normally lacked the intelligence required to learn wizardry,[46] and the majority were suspicious of magic to the point of ceremonially killing mages and destroying magic items they found.[4] However, hill giants had a few among them capable of runic magic, even if their low intelligence would normally prevent them from doing so.[30][47] Hill giant rune cutters, known in the giant tongue asskiltgravr, stomped huge symbols into hillsides and scarred their own flesh with magical markings.[30]

Language[]

Hill giants were known to speak the general giant language Jotun, but they also possessed their own dialect of the language known as Jotunhaug.[13] However, they were often largely illiterate due to education being undervalued in their culture.[48]

Names[]

Common given names among hill giants included the following:[49]

Males
Dagg, Gulk, Hogl, Hond, Hund, Kuld, Lodd, Teldo, Vruk, and Usgut.
Females
Ardis, Bora, Dis, Gulkra, Gylla, Laha, Nelmyr, Telda, Teldra, Tora, and Vaere.

Religion[]

As with all giant breeds, hill giants worshiped Annam as the greatest of the giant gods and the ultimate paragon of their kind's chosen ideal. In the case of hill giants, they imagined Annam to be an enormous, master glutton, and the keeper of the grandest pantry in all reality.[38][50] Likewise, they perceived his eldest son, Stronmaus, to be a mighty fisherman, one more youthful, energetic, and carefree than the All-Father.[51] However, the racial patron of the hill giants was Grolantor, the least of Annam's sons[52] (with the possible exception of his younger brother Karontor).[17][53]

A mouth of Grolantor devouring pumpkins.

Hill giants that became sick were isolated from their clans. Due to their voracious appetites, such sicknesses were often related with consumption of spoiled and diseased food in spite of the hill giants' extraordinary constitution. A giant that was incapable of keeping food down was constantly visited by a priest or chieftain who sought to interpret signs of Grolantor. Individuals who did not recover and remained sick were then imprisoned and set to starve to the point of madness. These prisoners, called mouths of Grolantor, were seen as physical manifestations of the deity's endless hunger and caused extreme destruction if set loose.[27]

Homelands[]

These giants tended to dwell in hilly areas[13] and caves, often in such places that were considered forsaken by other creatures.[5]

In interior Faerûn, hill giants could be found in the Cloven Mountains.[54]

Biology[]

Diet[]

A hill giant's metabolism was very high for a giant, and as a result, it had to eat a great quantity of food. It was not averse to eating demihumans, and would eat almost anything.[55]

Lycanthropy[]

Hill giants were known to be susceptible to all forms of lycanthropy, though were somehow immune to being afflicted with the wereraven form of the condition. Those afflicted with lycanthropy were most commonly found to be either werewolves, wereboars, wererats, or werebats. Compared to other giants afflicted with lycanthropy, hill giants were notably broad and suffered from awkward movement.[56]

Sub-Races[]

An earth titan with two hill giants by its side.

Coombe giants
Coombe giants were hill giants who adapted to life within the treacherous Katakoro Shan mountains in the Hordelands. Though slightly smaller than their lowland cousins, coombe giants possessed amazing balance and dexterity, allowing them to safely traverse the steep slopes of Katakoro Shan and even wield a weapon in each hand proficiently.[57]
Giant trolls
The result of hill giant/troll crossbreeding.[58]

History[]

The hill giant race began with an individual by the name of Ruk, one of the mortal children of Annam All-Father and Othea, who in the kingdom of Ostoria was ceded control of the hills.[15] Within this mighty kingdom they spread out all over, using their brute force to subjugate lesser creatures.[59]

Notable Hill Giants[]

Cheif Guh of Grudd Haug

Appendix[]

Notes[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Giant heights and weights have varied wildly across editions. The heights of the major races of giants were shorter in 1st edition and 3rd edition and taller in 2nd edition and 5th edition. (4th edition did not provide information on the heights of giants.) This wiki follows the policy that Forgotten Realms sources take priority over core sources when determining giant heights. (For example, the sourcebooks Giantcraft and Volo's Guide to Monsters are considered canon when they conflict with various Monster Manuals.) The matter of weight, however, is more complicated, because—as at least a couple Dragon magazine articles have admitted (e.g., "How Heavy Is My Giant", The Dragon #13 and "Realistic Vital Statistics", Dragon #91)—some of the published values for the weights of giants are physically absurd. As is clear from basic geometry and physics, as an object is doubled in height with proportional changes in the other dimensions, its change in mass is multiplied eightfold, but this seems to have been taken into account in some sources yet not in others. In the case of a male hill giant, which, according to Realms sourcebooks, is over 16 feet (4.9 meters), the given weight is only 1,410 pounds (640 kilograms)! That is a reasonable weight for a 10.5‑foot (3.2‑meter), 1st- or 3rd-edition hill giant but is not even close for a Realmsian hill giant of 16 feet. 2nd edition's Monstrous Manual offers 4,500 pounds (2,000 kilograms) for its 16-foot hill giant, so this is the source that we choose to cite here as the only reasonable weight.

Appearances[]

Adventures
Desert of DesolationDungeon #15: "The Dragon's Gift"WaterdeepStorm RidersDungeon #27: "Bride For A Fox"Dungeon #28: "The Pipes of Doom"Dungeon #29: "Nymph's Reward"Dungeon #34: "On Wings of Darkness"A Dozen and One AdventuresThe Sword of the DalesCastle SpulzeerStorm King's Thunder
Video Games
Secret of the Silver BladesGateway to the Savage FrontierPools of DarknessNeverwinter Nights series (Neverwinter Nights: Darkness over DaggerfordNeverwinter Nights: Tyrants of the Moonsea)
Board Games
Faerûn Under SiegeAssault of the Giants
Card Games
AD&D Trading CardsBlood Wars
Gamebooks
Big Trouble
Organized Play & Licensed Adventures
Herald of the Moon

Gallery[]

References[]

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Connections[]

True Giants
Cloud EttinFire (Fire titan )FogFrostHill (Earth titanMouth of Grolantor)MountainStoneStorm (Storm titan)Titan

True Giant Offshoots
AshCraa'ghoranMaurPhaerlin
Giant-Kin
Cyclops (Cyclopskin)FirbolgFomorianOgre (Oni)VerbeegVoadkyn
Zakharan Giants
DesertIslandJungleOgre giantReef

Other Giants
EldritchDeathSandTroll