This towering giant has finely chiseled features. Her skin is pale and smooth, and her long wispy hair flutters as if in a breeze.
Str 35, Dex 13, Con 23, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 12
A cloud giant can wield Gargantuan weapons without penalty. Most favor the use of immense morningstars.
Environment temperate mountains
Organization solitary, gang (2–5), family (2–5 plus 35% noncombatants plus 1 sorcerer or cleric of 4th–7th level and 2–5 griffons), or tribe (6–20 plus 1 sorcerer or cleric oracle of 7th–12th level and 2–5 griffons)
Treasure standard (chain shirt, morningstar, other treasure)
Epicurean and philosophical, cloud giants are divided between those who help smaller races and those who would rule them.
Cloud giants have an unusually wide alignment spread—approximately half are good and half are evil. Good cloud giants build roads from their settlements to connect with other humanoid roads in order to foster trade. It’s not uncommon to see a good cloud giant walking among humans, for example, in a human city near a tall mountain range. Evil cloud giants tend not to bother with permanent settlements and instead live on high peaks in crude shelters, only coming down to raid villages for whatever they might need. These two philosophies often see violent and long-lasting wars erupt between neighboring tribes.
Legends speak of cloud giant cities that float high above the world on the very clouds themselves, and of cloud giants who tread the surfaces of these clouds as though they were solid ground. If such cities exist, few have seen them, and even most cloud giants dismiss them as idle fantasies. Yet some among their kind see a glimmer of truth buried within these myths, and comb the world for signs of the legendary floating cities and their cloud-dwelling kin.
Like many other giants, cloud giants favor mountains, often dwelling at altitudes inhospitable to lesser creatures. Good-aligned cloud giants favor grand mansions or castles of gigantic scale. Their evil kin eschew such ostentatious structures as wasted effort, their abodes often little more than crude shelters of rough-hewn stone.
Cloud giants’ skin ranges in color from milky white to powder blue. Adult males are about 18 feet tall and weigh around 5,000 pounds. Females are slightly shorter and lighter. Some cloud giants can even reach heights of up to 21 feet, and with their lavish garb and jewelry weigh up to 8,000 pounds—they are sometimes so bedecked in ornaments that they must rely on their levitation power to get around more easily. Other than their great size, cloud giants closely resemble slender humans. They tend toward muted coloration, with skin of milky white, pale gray, or powder blue. They have fair hair—white, gray, or pale blonde—but richly colored eyes, which are usually gray, violet or blue. Regardless of the exact combination of features, all cloud giants possess an ethereal beauty and unearthly grace that seems contrary to their massive size and brute strength.
Cloud giants can live to be 400 years old, and dress in the finest clothing and jewelry available. To many, appearance indicates station. The better the clothes and the finer the jewelry, the more important the wearer. They also appreciate music, and most can play one or more instruments (the harp is a favorite).
Cloud giants were never a fecund race, and the breeding of new generations of cloud giants weighs heavily on the minds of their ruling oligarchs. Referencing moldering genealogies that suggest ideal partnerships, these leaders strive to arrange advantageous couplings between far-flung communities, at times even between tribes of opposite moral standing. Youth being what it is, many cloud giants ignore the guidance of their leaders and instead follow their hearts. While monogamy is a strict and strongly enforced tradition in most cloud giant societies, this doesn’t necessarily extend to times when the population is at risk of irreparably dwindling. Thus, some individuals must sacrifice their partnership’s sanctity for the needs of their tribe, and consent to bear or father the child of a different mate.
Perhaps nothing defines the whimsical and powerful cloud giants so well as the philosophical rift dividing their kind. Split almost evenly between good and evil, they behave in many ways like two separate races. Evil cloud giants lead reclusive lives, only coming down from their mountain peaks for vicious raids and brutal reprisals, while their good-aligned cousins seek out friendly contact and act as mentors for other species. The victims of attacks view cloud giants as brutal monsters, while the beneficiaries of their aid speak in awed tones of the benevolent colossi. Wise mountain communities hail the approach of one or two cloud giants as cause for welcome and perhaps even celebration, while the thundering approach of more than a couple is often regarded as the harbinger of despair.
Cloud giants reject the notion of a common ancestor for giants. They acknowledge faint kinship with what they view as lesser giant species (generally, any giant shorter than themselves), but for themselves claim descent purely from the blood of titans and the gods themselves. Though their powers may have been diluted over the generations from the admixture of lesser species, cloud giants believe their strength still derives from a divine lineage. As evidence, they point to their stature, their superior mental development, and their inherent magical powers, all lacking in more common breeds of giants. Other giants, for their part, view the cloud giants’ overbearing egos as perhaps their most titanic attribute.
Young cloud giants learn to speak and walk as young as 2 years of age, but otherwise mature slowly, taking more than 6 decades to reach adulthood. Their magical powers develop relatively early, at about 8 years of age, though such abilities manifest clumsily at best until individuals reach maturity. Nonetheless, the sight of an ogre-sized toddler hovering in mid-air can be startling to humanoids living near a cloud giant settlement; most onlookers either perceive such an anomaly as a boon to be praised or a curse to be heeded. Cloud giants spend the majority of their youths adventuring or warring with their morally opposed brethren, then trail into old age and gradually declining health as they reach their third century, at which point most individuals retire to more scholastic endeavors or become wise elders among their tribes-people.
Cloud giants fancy themselves true epicures. To the palettes of cloud giants, rarer and more complicated dishes simply taste better, and they favor meals with small portions and numerous courses. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and cheeses dominate their tables, with meat (typically mountain-dwelling fowl) playing only a minor part in feasts. Spices and sauces from all manner of culinary techniques find their way into cloud giant kitchens. They wash meals down with chilled nectars, fine wine, and expensive liquors. Good-aligned cloud giants frequently employ at least one humanoid chef, while their evil kin are more likely to kidnap and enslave numerous servants to cook for them.
Cloud giants thrive on spirited debate regarding all manner of issues material or philosophical, with such discussions often turning temporarily acrimonious even between fast friends. Occasionally, particularly heated arguments turn to violence, though such disputes usually end before blood is drawn as rivals agree to disagree after an invigorating brawl. However, such rivalries were not always so peaceful, as the greatly opposed moral outlooks of cloud giants suggests.
For countless centuries, a great philosophical divide has sundered the cloud giants into two camps. Though scholars remain unsure as to exactly what debate or feud split them so diametrically, most agree that the argument was over a question of altruism versus pragmatism. The altruistic cloud giants maintained that as an enlightened people, it fell to them to guide and uplift other, less gifted races for the betterment of all. The pragmatic cloud giants, however, believed such treatment to be no gift at all, but rather theft of opportunity to attain one’s full potential. Enlightenment cannot be given, they maintained, only earned. Matters turned darker when a splinter group of pragmatists brought forth the idea that it was the right of the cloud giants, blessed as they were, to take whatever they wished, for those who could not hold their own belongings didn’t deserve to keep them. Bitter argument raged throughout cloud giant society, escalating first into bloodshed, then the murder of the most eminent scholars of both camps. Each blamed the other for resorting to violence first, and the rift between them remains unhealed to this day.
Regardless of their alignment, almost all cloud giants bend to the rule of the wealthiest and most powerful of their kind, leaders known as oligarchs. Cloud giants go through a lengthy diplomatic process to determine the tribe’s oligarch. Every 50 years, each family selects a speaker to represent them. All the speakers of the tribe take part in a voting process in which each speaker can cast a number of votes proportional to the value of her family holdings. In the end, the speaker who receives the most votes becomes oligarch of the tribe for that half-century, and has the greatest influence in matters that regard the tribe. When a particularly dire situation affects a whole region, the oligarchs of neighboring like-minded communities gather together to make joint decisions. Oftentimes, these matters relate to declaring war against morally opposed cloud giants, though particularly drastic circumstances may bring such feuding tribes together to combat a greater foe.
Cloud giants have a great love of all creatures of the sky, small or large. Birds in particular are sacred to their people, and individuals who are particularly gifted with such avian creatures, such as druids or rangers, are often referred to as “bird mavens,” a position of honor among cloud giants of either alignment. Cloud giants train and breed birds of all sizes, even rocs, along with other aerial beasts such as griffins and hippogriffs. Good-aligned cloud giants likewise keep pegasi and occasionally even dragon horses, while evil-aligned tribes harbor fiercer creatures like harpies and mihstu. Despite the fact that cloud giants often live in close proximity to dragons, most shy away from imposing upon such beasts, finding them too dangerous and independent.
Religion isn’t central to cloud giant life. Many tribes worship the Sky Father, a cloud giant of great beauty and stature. They credit the Sky Father with bringing their titan ancestors to the world and with teaching the nascent cloud giant race the ways of civilization. Some evil tribes instead honor the patron of destruction.
Cloud giants differ from most giants in that their polar alignments allow them to be used as either benevolent allies or devastating foes. The effects of conflicts between warring tribes of cloud giants can constitute entire adventure arcs, and PCs acting as intermediaries between these two forces can have much to do with the final outcome of the feud.
Like other giants, cloud giants can take a lot of punishment, deliver terrible blows in melee combat, and are at a minor disadvantage in ranged encounters. They function equally well alone and in small groups. In larger groups, their size makes finding space for a battle somewhat challenging. Cloud giant oligarchs tend to be spellcasters (especially clerics, oracles, and sorcerers). Their high Constitution and racial Hit Dice make them more durable and able to take damage, traits that make them more challenging to face than more conventional spellcasters despite the loss of caster levels. With their already high CR, cloud giants with class levels (spellcaster or otherwise) make deadly foes for high-level PCs, especially ones who favor close-quarters combat. Lacking much in the way of defensive abilities, cloud giants offer a break from the damage reduction, spell resistance, and immunities so often encountered in high level play, but aren’t pushovers in a fight either.
Direct conflict with a cloud giant is best avoided entirely at lower levels, but they can still play an auxiliary role in lower level campaigns. Good-aligned cloud giants often have amicable relations with nearby settlements and can provide adventure hooks or act as valuable mentors when the PCs are stuck. Cloud giants of more evil intent may masquerade as their benevolent kin, using the PCs as cat’s-paws. Such a campaign could drift into more direct conflict as the PCs gain levels, with the PCs either acting against evil cloud giants on behalf of their good-aligned kin, or uncovering the manipulations of a false-faced evil giant.
A search for the floating castles of the cloud giants fits well in the middle and upper levels of a high fantasy campaign. Tracking down clues to their whereabouts might be the work of months or years of in-game time. To further complicate the matter, one might throw in one or more rivals seeking the same castles, perhaps the cloud giants themselves. A particular cloud citadel may hold potential allies or deadly adversaries, and should be filled with fantastic creatures and treasures drawn from myth and legend. While such a mythical city could be the eventual goal of an adventure arc, it could just as easily be the beginning of another campaign altogether, with numerous possible plots stemming from the inhabitants of the cloud city itself.
Cloud giants of any alignment love luxury and overt displays of wealth. Those of high station wear fine clothing and exquisite jewelry appropriate to their status, while less influential giants don the best they can afford. Many cultivate an appreciation for fine art and adorn their halls with paintings, sculptures, and tapestries, works usually crafted by lesser species. While often of great value, the weight of such artful objects presents a challenge for would-be robbers. Cloud giants likewise appreciate fine music, and typically collect fine specimens of both human– and giant-sized instruments, especially harps. They particularly covet enchanted instruments that enhance performance or evoke magical effects, with self-playing instruments being the most desirable treasures of all.
Magic items of rare or especially singular function evoke the envy of other cloud giants. Each cloud giant seeks to outdo the others in acquiring the most fantastic specimens. Among non-instrumental treasures, nothing pleases a cloud giant more than an intelligent magic item that can speak, particularly one that weaves grand tales. In the wealth-tabulating elections of cloud giants, rarity is just as important as monetary value when determining one’s holdings. Good-aligned cloud giants often employ buyers in neighboring cities to accumulate great wealth, scouring the market for valuable items to resell at profitable prices, whereas evil cloud giants simply launch raids and claim desirable treasures by force.
Gourmets that they are, cloud giants value spices and exotic ingredients for more than just their material value. Flavored oils, extracts, strands of saffron, and spices from all over the world might be part of a cloud giant’s larder, and the value of such goods often rivals that of gems and jewelry. Items that aid in preparing food or even conjuring it out of thin air, such as a rod of splendor, are likewise prized, though not those that create unpalatable meals like a sustaining spoon.
Cloud giants favor light armor that gives them full range of motion, especially mithral armor when they can obtain it. Those proficient in heavier armor still rarely don anything more restrictive than a breastplate. Cloud giants claim no special skill in melee beyond that granted by their size and might, and thus favor simple weapons such as morningstars, mostly for their ease of use and downright effectiveness. Those giants with either martial training or a position of leadership seek out magical arms, and generally spurn morningstars in favor of more impressive or effective weapons.
Average Height: 17–20 feet
Average Weight: 4,000–5,500 pounds
Favored Weapons: Morningstars, spears
The following list of random treasure includes items one might normally find either on a cloud giant’s person or in her dwelling.
|1–6||Amphora of scented oil (50 gp, 2 gallons, 20 lbs.)|
|7–8||Boxed up alchemist’s lab (Medium-sized), 1–4 bottles of universal solvent|
|9–14||Carved wooden box of spices (250 gp, 15 lbs.)|
|15–20||Cask of good port (500 gp, 8 gallons, 80 lbs.)|
|21–22||Gem that, when held up to light, projects an image of a cloud giant in fine clothes (moderate illusion, 500 gp)|
|23–28||Half a smoked goose|
|29–31||Headband, 10 feet long, white dragonhide or other exotic leather (100 gp, 2 lbs.)|
|32–37||Huge dagger and scabbard (8 gp, 5 lbs.)|
|38–43||Huge masterwork musical instrument. Roll d%:
1–50: harp or other string
51–75: pipes or other woodwind
|44–47||1–8 cones of giant incense (100 gp, 1 lb. each)|
|48–50||Large hooded lantern enchanted with continual flame (125 gp, 5 lbs.)|
|51–56||Ivory brush and comb set (200 gp, 2 lbs.), wrapped in sheepskin|
|57–60||Marble bust, human-sized, somewhat weathered (500 gp, 100 lbs.)|
|61–64||Masterwork throwing stones (1–2), decorated with intricate carvings (350 gp, 60 lbs. each)|
|65–70||Painted clay rhyton (drinking horn) in the shape of griffin’s head (10 gp, 2 lbs.)|
|71–76||Personal journal, sketchbook, or poetry book with writing implements|
|77–82||Philosophical treatise written in Giant, well-worn and hand-annotated (10 gp, 5 lbs.)|
|83–88||Potion of cure serious wounds|
|89–94||Silver mirror wrapped in cloth, 4 foot by 2 foot (1,000 gp, 30 lbs.)|
|95–100||Smoked and spiced meat (25 gp, 5 lbs.)|