Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wood Giant

I’m so glad Pathfinder got rid of the ears.

Wood giants (sometimes called voadkyn) in the world’s oldest role-playing game had weird ears set super high on their heads for no reason whatsoever that I could tell.  Pathfinder’s wood giants still have elfin ears, but at least they don’t resemble Franken Berry anymore.

Wood giants seem like both a natural extension of the giant family (“Hill…taiga…marsh…well of course there would be wood giants!”) and a little unnecessary (“Pointy-eared dudes in nature?  So they’re…giant elves?).  Mostly they just seem a little strange.  They lack both the physiognomies and the ferocity of the Norse-inspired giants, instead feeling more like something out of Native American, Russian, Japanese, or African folklore.  And with their chaotic good natures, plant-related spell-like abilities, and animal friendships, they seem practically fey.  To elves, they would likely be the Elder Brothers in the woods; to fey, they might be the Big Big Folk; to sasquatches, they might be the Trusted Tree People; to treants, they might be “tolerable.”

That’s if you play them as written, of course.  But what if they weren’t so benevolent?  Wood giant clans are just as likely to feature witches and dire wolves as they are druids and giant eagles.  A little tweak of the alignment to chaotic neutral (or chaotic evil) and wood giants could be terrifying opponents—able to pass without trace, speak to and charm animals, take on tree shapes, and grow even larger at the moment of battle.  In other words, when wood giants go bad, the whole wood goes bad with them…

Seafaring explorers are tasked by the jarl to explore his holdings in the New World.  Used to the rapacious hill, frost, and fire giants of their home fjords, the adventurers will probably see any wood giants they encounter as enemies.  But if they take up arms against the giants, they will find the forest itself turns against them.

Adventurers seek the aid of wood giants during a harsh winter.  To earn their trust, the adventurers must spend a week in the giants’ company, living as they do—which means keeping up during their travels (despite the giants’ 40 ft. movement rate), tending their dire wolves and giant eagles without injury, and sleeping exposed to the elements…even during a blizzard.  The giants will not let them die, but if they fail two of the tests they are deemed too weak to be worth the clan’s trouble.

The wood giants of the Elk March have grown dark and dangerous in their isolation.  Their rangers treat humans as their favored enemies.  Their witches make crude waxen images out of giant wasp wax and favor patrons of the elements, strength, transformation, and trickery.  Many Elk March wood giants keep moss trolls as slaves. And they allow no one to enter their forests…

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 132

If you’re missing the wolverine, we covered it way back here.

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