Monday, July 11, 2016

Eclipse Giant

You all already know my feelings on nonstandard giant types—I’m skeptical, but I try to keep my mind opened at least a crack.  So long as you don’t get too specific—“Behold the mighty karst giant!” or ridiculously off-theme—“Has anyone seen my scroll giant mini?”—I’m okay.  Hence me having no problem with Pathfinder’s taiga giant (legit geographical hook, plus a cool spirit focus for its fluff and abilities).  And rune giants won me over with their sheer awesomeness and the early-Varisia worldbuilding inherent in their creation.  (In contrast, I’m not 100% sure we needed slag giants, at least in the general, though again they work  as part of Varisia’s history.)

So what to make of the sun, moon, and especially the eclipse giants?


I dig them.

Okay, there’s no way I think that these…um…heavenly body giants fit in the same family tree as the Edda/Brothers Grimm-inspired giants of the Bestiary.  But on their own continent, or in a completely separate cosmology?  Heck yeah!  (The Bestiary 5 writers seem to be of a similar mindset, giving the sun giant an atlatl for a Mesoamerican flavor, as well as fluff that recalls both the kind and cruel gods of the Aztecs.)  A barbarian might be used to felling cloud giants in his home fjords, but when he gets stranded in a jungle and comes face to face with an eclipse giant hurling harm boulders, he knows he is far from home.  Or maybe these giants replace the standard giants altogether in your campaign world.  Remember how important phases of the moons were to Dragonlance’s world of Krynn—up to and including in-game affects for PC wizards of the White, Red, and Black Robes?  If celestial phenomena are as important as that in your campaign, eclipse, moon, and sun giants give PCs one more reason to look to—and fear or revere—the bodies in the sky overhead.

Eclipse giants are the most powerful and mysterious of these giants.  Eternally peripatetic and able to heal with one hand and harm with the other, they are nomads whose coming brings awe and fear in equal measure.

Adventurers discover the Rookery, the nesting ground for a primitive offshoot of the tengu race.  While savage, these tengus lay eggs infused with a magic that is anathema to daemons.  Adventurers are negotiating with the tengus to claim some of their stillborn eggs, but they are interrupted with dire news.  A solar eclipse is due to occur, and several families of eclipse giants are headed straight for the Rookery with no thought to the eggs they will trample on their way.

He Brings the Stone, He Brings the Balm is the cumbersome name of the eclipse giant eternally on walkabout in the land of the Wallatar.  A tribal nation of oreads, this shamanic people claim the eclipse giant had a hand in their creation.  Even so, they respect but do not revere the giant, as he is known for trampling Wallatar villages and smashing their standing stones in his hunt for rogue dreams and sceaduinar and nightshade incursions.

Most eclipse giant seers are esoteric beings with their heads in the clouds (sometimes quite literally), obsessed with formulae and portents.  Umpalang, on the other hand, is a shrewd investigator whose passion is the ancient ruins of giantkind.  His skill at trapfinding and alchemy make him a dangerous rival for treasure hunters, and while human-sized adventures can scamper through the cracks in a temple façade with more ease, Umpalang’s Gargantuan frame is better suited for navigating through the most dangerous (and most lucrative) cyclopean ruins.  He seems to be looking for something in particular, and rumor has it he is close to uncovering the birthplace of the drow race.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 121

Giants plus drow?  Yeah, I liked Eberron.

One of the most (in)famous professors at my college—which, by the way, may or may not be Ilvermorny (no seriously, we held a capella concerts on that mountain)—was the astronomer Jay Pasachoff, who has probably seen more solar eclipses than any other human alive.  He would have made a good eclipse giant.

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