Giant (Zakhara), General Information

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The giants of Zakhara are ancient tribes and races from the early days of the world. Although they are respected for their huge size and strength, they are increasingly outnumbered by the smaller races, and their cultures have declined from the position of ruling the most fertile lands to subsisting in the corners of the world. Most giants accept this change and became enlightened, but a few still strive to restore their power over the land by forcing smaller races into service.

The giants of the Land of Fate are more civilized and less inclined to loutish behavior than other giants. Zakharan giants are neutral rather than evil; they have their own interests, but they do not interfere in human affairs. They stay apart from humans not from boorish unsociability but from a sense of superiority to smaller races. The exception is the hill giant race, which mingles freely with humans. Hill giants even live in harmony with other races in many of the great cities. The subspecies of Zakharan giants may once have been one race, but they have been isolated for so long that they rarely meet, though they are aware of each other's existence.

Zakharan giants do not just pick up the nearest rock or tree to use as a weapon - they prefer to use carefully crafted wood and metal weapons like gigantic bows, tridents, and even lances. One way to win any giant's trust is to provide such a weapon. While they prefer metal weapons, they cannot make them themselves from start to finish, because giants are such poor miners. To get coveted metals and finished weapons, Zakharan giants resort to many strategies: mercenary work, caravaning across the deserts, guiding jungle hunts, and diving after sunken treasures. Some giants prefer not to work for their gains; they locate the metals and take them by force.

The giants of the Land of Fate dress as most civilized people do, in robes and tunics and turbans made of fine cottons and silks. Hill giants in Zakhara do not wander the land like fur-clad barbarians: if they can afford it and have need of it, they wear armor. Porter and dockworker giants wear what they find decent and comfortable.

Zakharan giants are entirely willing to engage in trade to get various items such as coffee, cloth, and spices from other races. In exchange they offer rare furs and jungle flowers, riches from the sea, and opals or other gemstones taken from the deserts. A few exceptional giants take their skills to town and set up shop. Stone giants, for example, may work as master masons, jewelers, or quarrymen, and an occasional fire giant is sometimes found at the bellows or the hammers in a smithy. Desert and reef giants live so far from most human haunts that they venture into the great cities rarely, and when they do they generally remain in the suq or the bazaar. Generally only hill giants will truly adapt to city life.

This willingness to engage in trade has resulted in considerable skill with languages for the Zakharan giants. Every giant knows his own dialect, the trade tongue of the giants, the common tongue, and 1d4 additional languages. The giantish languages are sometimes spoken fluently among nearby humans.

Although they are refined, Zakharan giants are also haughty. They are quick to command obedience from those they deem inferior, but they are also quick to acknowledge skill and merit. In a few cases, the giants have managed to impose their rule on entire tribes or towns of humans and other creatures, usually through slow and subtle means. Because of their relatively small numbers, giants might initially hire on as mercenaries or hunting partners; but over time they expand their sphere of command to other areas, preferably those of justice, trade, and minting coinage. Giant rulers are only common on the fringes of civilization and in backwater remnants of old empires or trading routes.

Zakharan giants live much longer than humans, with a generation varying from 60 to 100 years and individuals living 200 to 600 years. Children are treasured in giantish society, and all giants in a clan contribute to the upbringing of the young. Striking a child is a serious offense, and any mistreatment of children (one.s own or the children of others) brings down the wrath of the clan on the perpetrator.

Zakharan giants have written traditions of poetry and scholarship. Desert and reef giants are the most literate, and the work of their historians and scholars is valued by humans because of its overview of long time periods.

All the giants of Zakhara are traditionalists: they believe that there are proper ways of doing everything, whether it be brewing tea, curing meat, negotiating a contract, or preparing a desert clan for battle. Not following giantish protocol is a serious breach of etiquette and often results in violent punishment or expulsion from the company of the giants, depending on the severity of the offense. Zakharan giants refuse to be rushed in anything, and they are supremely confident that their time-honored methods are the best. Their scholarship is influenced by this tendency as well, with the result that it can be called plodding and reactionary. Giants look to the past more than they look to the future.

Priests and Mages: Because the Zakharan giants are more literate and refined than their cousins elsewhere, all adult giants of the Zakharan sub-species may become priests or mages. Any given giant has a 25% chance of being a priest or a mage, with an equal chance for either class. Giants may reach up to 9th level of ability as priests and 11th level as mages. Giant priests tend to be ethoists or moralists, though some are mystics. Giant mages cannot be sha'ir, though they may be elementalists or sorcerers. For each level of ability a giant spell-caster gains, he also gains an additional 3 hit points.

Giants and Genies: Giants and genies do not always get along, as genies refuse to recognize the power of the giants and their superior traditions, and giants refuse to give the genies tribute or sacrifice; neither will the giants acknowledge the genies as superior beings. The clash of these two proud groups has perhaps been responsible for the slow decline of the giants, though neither giants nor genies talk much of the other. The two groups never cooperate.

Giantish Law and Punishment: Giants operate their legal affairs in their own communities by an ancient code of law that emphasizes taking back from the lawbreaker what was lost due to his crime. Theft, extortion, and even assault are judged with considerable mercy: criminals are forced to return property and sometimes forced to enter indentured servitude to restore the original way of things. In cases of murder, child abuse, treachery, and rape, where it is impossible to make amends, giantish law calls for branding and exile rather than death.

Giantish law is especially harsh on those who might expect to be least affected by it: nongiants. For reasons of racial pride in their past, all giants consider their code of law and their judges to be far above the primitive, upstart laws of other races. Creatures brought before a giantish court (for flouting protocol, for example) may not appeal to their own legal system. In this, the giants of the Burning World are unrepentant, and they insist that they are doing the world a favor by spreading their code throughout the land. In communities where giants live with humans, they abide by human laws, though they make their misgivings about it plain.