Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pellatarrum: Giants (part 1)

by Demonic Bunny

They have many names, from many planes and many cultures: Titans, Thurs, Cewri, Devi, Resi, Formorians, Daityas, Basajaunak and Jotunn.

However, they are best known as Giants.

In Ancient Times

Before Pellatarum was created, giants could be found on nearly every plane of existence. With the exception of those planes utterly inhospitable to life (such as the Negative Energy Plane), every such realm contained at least one giant colony. This prevalence was due to their great thirst for exploration and talent for predicting the future (rune casting and oneiromancy in particular). Therefore, when a rift formed between planes, the giants were there when it formed, and were prepared to invade and conquer whatever lay on the other side

The other great giant talent was adaptability, the ability to magically evolve to fit each plane, changing their original forms into the different giant breeds we know today. Fire giants, storm giants, stone giants, cloud giants and hundreds of other varieties are all aspects of a single ur-race of Giants, and they adopted and shed these aspects as lesser beings would change clothes.

On each new plane they declared themselves its new masters and shepherds, and set about conquering it, for their desire for exploration was only matched by their arrogance and power. (This arrogance was not unwarranted, for each giant was, when compared to the modern giants of Pellatarum, incredibly intelligent and gifted with the powers of wizardry, sorcery, or prophecy.)

The giants themselves claim that, in their prime, they took part in the apocalypse which destroyed the gods, and in the ages during and after the Godswar they warred for dominance across the planes, eliminating or subjugating all opposition.

Their expansion was finally halted in the Elemental Planes by the four genie races, who quickly became arch-enemies with the giants. Equally gifted as the genies in most fields of magic, the giants' shortcomings in enchantment were made up for by their great gifts in divination and abjuration.Their battle was a titanic struggle with no end in sight. Caught in between, and suffering the greatest losses in this conflict, were the races the genies had enslaved: dwarves, dragons, elves and orcs.

The Creation of Pellatarum

The existence of the giants posed a conundrum for the Shapers, the mighty ancestors of the elder races who were charged with creating the world into which they could escape from their slavery.

While preventing the genies from entering the newly-created Material Plane was a relatively easy task (as mentioned previously, Pellatarum is quite hostile to all forms of elemental beings), there was no simple solution to shut out the giants. Between the giants' gifts of adaptability and divination, any straightforward prevention was doomed to failure. Either the solution would not be powerful enough, allowing the giants to eventually adapt to and overcome it, or would be too powerful, making Pellatarum inhospitable to all forms of life altogether.

The perfect solution was subtle and long-term -- a necessity to fool the prophetic visions of the giant seers.

Pellatarum initially appeared to be a perfect haven for the giants. The genie races could not exist there, so there was no one strong enough to challenge them for dominance. However, the curse built into the structure of Pellatarum's reality by the Shapers soon took effect, striking against the giants' greatest strength and using their adaptability as a weapon against them.

Though none of the Shapers would recognize the term, the curse was a kind of virus, and a kind of cancer. By adapting to this new reality, the giants made themselves vulnerable to the giant-bane which was as much a part of the world as gravity, because the curse was such that the choices were, essentially:
  1. Leave the plane forever.
  2. Die, as the curse mutated and twisted their forms.
  3. Adapt by, ironically, forsaking their adaptability and going down specific developmental paths.
The longer a giant stayed in Pellatarum, the more his adaptability would work against him, as the curse found its way into his very nature. Of course, none of this was immediately apparent, as the giant would simply think it was the result of initial adaptation to a new plane. If adaptation was like changing clothes, then the Shapers had convinced the giants to wear poisoned shirts. 

The first inkling that something was wrong was that these previously immortal being began to visibly age and wither. Worse, each generation was becoming weaker than those before: smaller in size, lesser in intellect, and locked into an environmental preference. After several generations, some even began losing their elemental powers, giving rise to a new breed of giants, the smaller and stupider hill giants. As each new generation was born, the hill giants became more and more common, with the ancient breeds of giants becoming fewer in number.

The curse was eventually detected by those giants who still possessed magical ability, and the worst effects of it countered such that the various elemental lines now breed true rather than degenerate spawn. However, halting the progress of a disease is not the same as curing it, and all but the oldest, most powerful giants have forever lost their adaptability. Priests and wizards are now a rarity within their races.

Today, only the Storm giants retain a resemblance of their former glory, and consider themselves to be the only true heirs of the giant race. They still retain a fragment of their magical powers and strive to present themselves as classical warrior-scholars.

Side Note
The giants themselves have a different version of the course of events. According to them, their lessening of power is not due to the plane itself, but because the elves stole their "divine fire" to fuel the Engines of Creation. The elves, of course,  refute this accusation, stating that they had plenty to contribute without needing to degrade themselves with petty theft.

1 comment:

  1. If adaptation was like changing clothes, then the Shapers had convinced the giants to wear poisoned shirts.

    Nice use of allusion.


The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.