Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mongrel Giant

After a long time out of fashion, templates seem to be poking their way back into the d20 design space. (Why they fell out of fashion: The hangover from 3.0’s template-palooza was a looong one, especially because so many Paizo staffers cut their teeth working on Dungeon, where half-dragon submissions were a veritable plague.  Also two editions of Green Ronin’s Advanced Bestiary, which the Pathfinder team treated like an honorary core rulebook, meant that most every template one could want had already been covered.)

If they are back in vogue, it’s because of templates like the mongrel giant: templates that open up opportunities for surprising/interesting play.  Templates that make as world feel more real.  Templates that make you go, “Of course that should be a thing.”  And in a world where giants can comingle, it makes sense that there would be mongrel giants, so this template definitely fills a void.

Why mongrel giants exist is up to your worldbuilding.  Straight interbreeding is one explanation. But, if you treat the original description in Pathfinder Adventure Path #93: Forge of the Giant God as canon, such giant unions are sterile, which begs other explanations.  Perhaps all giants spring from a progenitor species, whose traits sometimes manifest far down the genetic tree. Or, as we’ve discussed in this space before, giants may have some mystical connection to their environs. A giant tribe that lives at the border of two terrain types, or that suffers from climate change, or that is forced to migrate a long distance might all see their offspring born as mongrels, or even spontaneously manifest mongrel traits themselves…

One final note: The template in Bestiary 6 gives traits for all 24 types of mongrel giants (that’s every hardcover Bestiary giant race except for the hapless hill giants).  The original template in PAP #93 only covered six giant races, but went the old-school route of giving you a bunch of traits to choose from/roll for.  If you live to randomize your monsters, or if you want to really detail out the individual members of a mongrel giant steading, that may be the template you want to use.

The Cromark stone giant has always been polygamous, but the current thane has pursued the practice with a jealous vengeance, claiming nearly every female not directly related to him.  Frustrated Cromark males have been forced to turn to the nearby Nightclaw cave giant clan for comfort (though this comfort has usually taken the form of coercion, prostitution, and worse).  A generation in, at least a dozen mongrel Nightclaws have come of age.  Meanwhile, the thane of the Cromark clan has begun sending raiding parties deep into human lands to keep his young warriors too occupied to challenge his power.

Orphaned as a child, the simpleminded hill giant Crusher has been collectively raised by the kindhearted folk of Whistledown, becoming a kind of town mascot.  But Crusher has just entered his teens, and with maturity has come a growth spurt and the blue-tinted skin of a frost giant.  Now, as autumn approaches, Crusher has become prone to violent moods and bloody threats, and townsfolk aren’t sure what to do.

Driven from their lands by logging and poachers, a wood giant clan has been forced to make a long sojourn toward a new homeland, a great forest which they know only from rumors.  Their tribe has been marked by the journey, with their young bearing the weathered tan skin of desert giants.  A solar eclipse marked the tribe even more dramatically: every mother who conceived in the next year bore twins, each with the heavy frames, gray skin, and magical nature of an eclipse giant.

Pathfinder Adventure Path #93 90–91 & Pathfinder Bestiary 6 192–193

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