This hunched giant exudes power and a crude, stupid anger, its filthy fur clothing bespeaking a brutish and backwoods lifestyle.
Hill Giant CR 7
Str 25, Dex 8, Con 19, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +7; CMB +15; CMD 24
Feats Cleave, Intimidating Prowess, Martial Weapon Proficiency (greatclub), Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatclub)
Skills Climb +10, Intimidate +12, Perception +6
Environment temperate hills
Organization solitary, gang (2–5), band (6–8), raiding party (9–12 plus 1d4 dire wolves), or tribe (13–30 plus 35% noncombatants plus 1 barbarian or fighter chief of 4th–6th level, 11–16 dire wolves, 1–4 ogres, and 13–20 orc slaves)
Treasure standard (hide armor, greatclub, other treasure)
Skin color among hill giants ranges from light tan to deep, ruddy brown. Their hair is brown or black, with eyes the same color. Hill giants wear layers of crudely prepared hides with the fur left on. They seldom wash or repair their garments, preferring simply to add more hides as their old ones wear out. Adults are around 10 feet tall and weigh about 1,100 pounds. Hill giants can live to be 200 years old, but almost never do.
Hill giants prefer to fight from high, rocky outcroppings, where they can pelt opponents with rocks and boulders while limiting the risk to themselves. Hill giants love to make overrun attacks against smaller creatures when they first join battle. Thereafter, they stand fast and swing away with their massive clubs.
Hill giants are the most nomadic of all the humanoid giant species, preferring to travel from one settlement to the next in order to raid and pillage. While they prefer temperate climates, they’ll travel far from their preferred environment so long as the raiding is plentiful and successful. They are, as a whole, incredibly selfish creatures and rarely engage in battles they don’t automatically know they’ll win. Hill giants are known for shoving one another at terrifying foes and won’t hesitate to sacrifice a clan-mate to save their own skins. Roving bands of hill giants are common in temperate hills, and their constant aggression makes them one of the more feared dangers in this climate.
Solitary, non-evil hill giants are very rare but can sometimes be found in other humanoid societies, though they are almost never accepted in central cities or population centers. They do best as laborers and soldiers in outlying frontier towns, and often serve as rudimentary diplomats to negotiate with marauding hill giant bands. Unfortunately, hill giants who shed their racial lifestyle for civilization are mocked and often killed on sight by their nomadic brethren. Still, these “civilized” hill giants can find their place within society and many have managed to live peaceful, uneventful lives.
Hill giants are towering brutes of frightening strength, heartless selfishness, and alarming stupidity. Dwelling in the temperate, rolling regions that give them their name, hill giants prove a constant menace to hillside communities, which suffer the brunt of the monstrous giants’ unswayable brutality. Though hill giants raid primarily for food and resources, their depredations are not without a sizeable share of entirely extraneous, meaningless destruction, often as a result of their voracious appetite for mayhem and their insatiable bloodlust. For though they are dull-witted, hill giants are still smart enough to derive pleasure from chaos, and their overwhelming greed and ravenous hunger ensure that as long as there is something within reach that can be smashed, stolen, or eaten, a hill giant will gladly deliver such services.
Hill giants learn at an early age that violence is a universal problem-solver, a notion constantly reinforced within hill giant tribes. From the first disagreement won or lost by a beating, a hill giant quickly realizes that strength is power, and everything else is merely auxiliary. Concepts such as beauty, intelligence, and forethought are nothing short of laughable to hill giants; they rely only on their brutish muscles to find and acquire food or resources, muscles that prove unsettlingly well suited for such purposes. As much as hill giants prize their strength, however, almost all lack the ambition to utilize their power for anything more than personal or tribal gain. They are lazy, and strength is easy. Hill giants toss aside whoever and whatever stand in their way, and make few alliances, trusting to their own strength and primitive superstitions to get them through even the toughest times.
Most hill giants stand between 10 and 11 feet tall, although towering individuals of up to 13 feet have been known to lead their tribes. Both males and females weigh between 1,000 pounds and 1,300 pounds, their weight fluctuating greatly depending on the availability of food. The smallest hill giants—fewer than one in every hundred or so—stand about 8-1/2 feet tall. Such relatively short individuals are called “guffs” by their peers, who regard them as the giant equivalent of runts. Being called a guff is a terrible insult among hill giants, who regard stature as directly correlating to strength, and the term is usually reserved for the mockery of humans and similarly puny creatures. Guffs are given the same responsibilities within the tribe as their taller hill giant brethren, and succeed about as often; still, such individuals never fully live down the stigma of their stature.
Hill giants’ skin ranges from tan to dusky brown, more as a result of their inclination toward the sunny outdoors than any genetic trait. Their indifference for aesthetics or even personal health often leads them to sit or stand under the sun for hours on end, and most—male and female—burn their scalps to such an extent that the majority of their hair falls out. Even in thick forests, the tops of fill giants’ heads are often exposed to direct sunlight, baking their skin during the day. Their robust upper torsos tend to overcast their lower bodies, denying direct sunlight to their ever-pasty legs even on the brightest summer days. In temperate climates, fill giants’ skin is red or bronze from the shoulder up and pale pink or light gray from the waist down. Hill giants in warmer climes often have copper skin tones thanks to decades of year-round exposure to the sun.
Hill giants are nearly as fecund as they are violent, a trait that makes them all the more dangerous to those unfortunate enough to live near their roving bands. Mating within hill giant society is as disorganized as anything else, the only social stricture set in place being that the chieftain gets the first pick from among potential mates. Beyond this, fill giants’ sexual activity and promiscuity are limited only by how much stamina the giants can afford to squander between raids. Inbreeding is relatively common in hill giant tribes, though even hill giants are smart enough to realize that too many generations of indiscriminate incest can lead to a weakened tribe. Gestation is similar to that of humans, and rare is the occasion when a female hill giant isn’t with child. Unlike humans, however, hill giants have little regard for the condition of their infants upon birth, and a heavily pregnant hill giant will take part in raids and other strenuous activities with little or no thought for the child she carries. Due in part to this recklessness, the rate of live births among hill giants is extremely low, with only about one in every three births resulting in a living child, and even fewer hill giants make it to adolescence. Regardless, their lengthy lifespans and unabashed libidos ensure that more than enough children are born to maintain an individual tribe’s population.
Though they can live upward of 200 years, fill giants’ brutal and unhygienic lifestyles mean that few—if any—individuals live long enough to die of old age; most perish within their first century as a result of violence, disease, or starvation. Rather than garnering the respect of younger tribesfolk, elderly hill giants are tolerated at best and ridiculed as resource-drains at worst. The chieftain’s word is usually enough to keep other hill giants from tormenting their elders, but during particularly harsh winters or in times when food is sparse, even their leader’s decree won’t stop most hill giants from taking older individuals out to the wilds and abandoning them.
Hill giants primarily subsist on meat and whatever food they can steal. During raids on industrious villages or traveling caravans, hill giants are sure to grab as much food as possible before taking the feast back to their tribe.
When they find roving herd animals or livestock, hill giants tend to simply club a beast and bring its entire body back to camp to be cooked whole and served hot. Though they can digest raw meat better than humans, hill giants suffer indigestion if it makes up the majority of their daily diet. Vegetables, particularly starchy ones like potatoes and corn, are also popular when available. Hill giants have a largely indiscriminate pallet, and often cook stews made up of entirely incongruous food combinations to celebrate particularly successful raids or times of prosperity. The mishmash of flavors hill giants call a meal birthed the common expression “hill giant ragout,” a saying used in reference to particularly foul-tasting stews and soups.
Hill giant tribes are largely nomadic, and claim their meager settlements like most other things they do: loudly, lazily, and with surprising swiftness. Granted, “settlement” is a generous word for the places they dump their belongings for a few months. Dwellings consist mostly of found shelters like caves and captured wagons, though in the warm season hill giants occasionally spread animal pelts across trees to act as hammocks on fair nights and roofs in the rain. A chieftain often forces her tribe to build her a private shelter in which to sleep and guard the tribe’s treasures. These crude structures typically consist of little more than shabbily constructed huts built over large mud holes. Treasures are tossed in the hole, beside which the chieftain makes her crude bed on the rough ground; whatever family members the chieftain trusts are sometimes permitted to sleep in the shanty as well.
Among the highly fertile and promiscuous hill giants, family ties are complicated. Though hill giants openly practice polygamous and often incestuous partnerships, they nonetheless remain somewhat territorial regarding their favored mates. Only in the case of the chieftain is such covetousness allowed; any other members of the tribe who show signs of possessiveness over a mate are quickly reprimanded by their peers. The responsibility of taking care of hill giant children largely falls upon the women of the tribe, who nonetheless remain blundering and neglectful in their duties, a contributing factor to the high infant mortality rate among hill giants.
Though births are common in even small tribes, the arrival of a living hill giant baby is often marked with a great feast. The feast is not a celebration of birth, but rather a measurement of the tribe’s resources as the giants make preparations for another mouth to feed. If the tribe still has an abundant store or reliable source of food after the feast, the baby is celebrated and ritualistically scarified to symbolize its allegiance to the tribe. If after the meal the chieftain determines the tribe cannot sustain another member, the baby is killed. The chieftain kills the baby publicly to remind the tribe that its future depends on the hunt, and the corpse is used as bait to attract game so the tribe might have more food when the next child is born. This brutal tradition is often so ingrained in hill giant society that the mothers of sacrificed children hardly bat an eye at the barbaric act, and all accept the ceremony as a necessary part of hill giant life, oftentimes reveling in the bloodshed.
Hill giants hold strength above all other concepts, and learn to respect brawn early in their lives. Shows of strength need not necessarily entail spilt blood, and in raids or conflicts hill giants know that accepting the surrender of others can be as beneficial to the tribe as slaughtering such opponents. Rivals who surrender often regret their decision, as most victims are captured and taken back to the hill giant encampment as slaves, where they are forced to build structures, grow food, and commingle to produce even more servants for their ruthless masters. Hill giants apply their simple ideals to what they look for in a slave, and when possible take back only the strongest specimens. Even though their greatest need is for laborers in large numbers, hill giant tribes particularly enjoy enslaving enemy warriors for use in their own battles. Such enslaved fighters are the first to be sacrificed in frontal assaults and hastily planned raids, and are often set loose as distractions before the tribe makes a more organized attack. Slaves who show their prowess in the fight and manage to live through more than a couple battles may eventually be adopted into the hill giant tribe, though such instances are incredibly rare, and few non-hill giants desire such an allegiance. If a creature showcases power other than strength, such as spectacular magic or cunning tactics, hill giants give the captive no more respect than any other creature of like physical prowess, and set it to work as a common laborer.
Hill giants are barely more intelligent than animals, and their animalistic nature is particularly evident in battle. They intimidate opponents with bearlike posturing, and possess wolflike tactics, often chasing their victims for a short time to wear them down before killing them. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that hill giants commonly raise wolves as hunting companions, as well as other beasts native to the region that prove both loyal and useful.
Religion is a relatively unimportant fixture in hill giant society, though each tribe tends to have its own origin story. Those tribes that do practice religion usually do so in the form of shamanism or through primitive superstitions, and many make living sacrifices to their brutal gods.
Particularly independent and wise hill giants have been known to stray from their tribes, seeking something more to life than the brutal and meaningless destruction inherent within the hill giant tribal structure. Such hill giants either wander for the rest of their days as dreamy loners or eventually come into contact with more peaceful races of humanoids; in the latter case, such reformed hill giants may adapt the habits of their new allies, and some individuals have even managed to rise completely above the baser desires of other members of their race. Among other hill giants, independent-minded loners of this sort are shunned at best and hunted down at worst, and a hill giant seen associating with the “puny races” is regarded as worse than a traitor by members of his old tribe.
Occasionally, a hill giant is born with a better head for survival than the rest of his peers. He sees his tribe as both an advantage and a liability, and understands what decisions must be made to ensure the survival of the tribe, as well as how to direct his people’s unabashed violence into productive raids and attacks. Such natural-born leaders are usually destined to become their tribes’ chieftains.
Hill giant chieftains are not elected. More often than not, a chieftain is named simply because he is the strongest tribe member and because he claimed the title. His word becomes law, and is generally adhered to out of convenience, for those who disagree with the chieftain are also often the first ones culled from the tribe during food shortages. Tribes without chieftains exist, but tend to be poorly organized and even more barbaric than most hill giant tribes. When another member of the tribe thinks she can do a better job of leading (or simply wants the privileges afforded the chieftain, including the most food and first pick from among potential mates), the two brawl to the death for supremacy.
Hill giant tribes are generally too self-destructive and chaotic to establish any sort of government for more than a generation, but under the leadership of a particularly gifted chieftain, a hill giant tribe might come to dominate a small swath of hills or a valley.
Hill giants make excellent mid-level threats in physical encounters, and groups of hill giants can pose significant dangers even to parties whose average level is notably higher than the hill giant’s CR of 7. Hill giants deal damage both up close and from incredible distances thanks to their rock throwing ability and handiness with a club. They are easily advanced, and can be customized with combat-oriented class levels to make them even more devastating, and hence useful in significant encounters or as villains for PCs of 6th level and up.
Of all the giants, hill giants are perhaps the least tied to a single theme or environment, and can be found nearly anywhere there are hills and a viable food source. Vile masterminds often recruit hill giants to act as muscle for their extensive plots, and so hill giants can prove a suitable gateway monster to more powerful threats in a long-running campaign. Hill giants are also somewhat morally diverse, and tend to be more redeemable than other wicked foes. Stray hill giant NPCs of a peaceful bent may be used to trigger sympathetic responses in encounters that can be solved with diplomacy instead of violence.
Because of their low Will saves and poor mental ability scores, hill giants are particularly susceptible to manipulation and mind-affecting magic. Even mediocre Charisma-based skill checks and low-level enchantment magic can trick the brawniest hill giants. Battles with hill giants can take a drastic turn when a magic-user casts charm person on several of the brutes, and GMs should be prepared for such outcomes and refrain from viewing such trickery as circumventing an encounter. Numerous pieces of folklore about giants feature characters overcoming them through guile, and a silver-tongued bard should be equally rewarded for magically befriending a hill giant as would be a barbarian who deals the killing blow.
Hill giants do not care about gold, have no concept of money, and are baffled by the idea of trading goods for anything other than necessities like food and shelter. Regardless, hill giants substantially exposed to smaller races notice the great importance they place upon coins and other items of arbitrary value, and some mimic such behaviors. These avaricious hill giants loot varioustreasures from their fallen foes, but which gems and riches they keep are more a matter of personal taste and a primitive grasp of aesthetics than anything else.
Particularly clever hill giants can recognize magic items when they see them, though such insightful individuals are usually limited to tribal chieftains and shamans. Those hill giants who think to equip themselves with magic weapons and armor soon find themselves substantially elevated in their tribe, and more superstitious groups sometimes regard a magically garbed member as a tamer of wild magic and powerful forces of nature. Bludgeoning weapons such as clubs and maces are particularly prized among hill giant leaders, who use such implements to great effect in combat and often wind up living considerably longer than most hill giants as a result. Other items that may have some use in combat also frequently end up in fill giants’ bags, though particular fill giants’ intentions can be hard to judge from their collections of seemingly random battle gear, which might include any range of items, from stolen flasks of alchemist’s fire to badly damaged wagon axles. Hill giants’ minds work in odd ways, and what treasure they choose to keep is inevitably a reflection of their strange and often misguided mental processes.
The following list of random treasure includes items one might normally find either on a hill giant’s person or in his dwelling.
|1–5||Salted animal jerky|
|6–10||Mangled wizard’s spell book, 1d4 legible pages of spells|
|11–15||Spoiled horse meat (30 lbs.)|
|16–20||Filthy giant bedroll (5 gp, 20 lbs.)|
|21–25||Crossbow bolt case with 1d10 cold iron crossbow bolts|
|26–30||Leather strips (6 lbs.)|
|31–35||Small exotic riding saddle|
|36–40||Human gambling chips (140 gp)|
|41–45||Scroll of detect secret doors|
|46–50||Ornate painting of an elven maiden (250 gp, 10 lbs.)|
|51–55||Large broken bastard sword|
|61–65||Crude necklace of random gems. Roll d%:
1–50: 100 gp
51–95: 250 gp
96–100: 500 gp
|66–70||Cloth bag of golden pearls (1d12, 100 gp each)|
|71–75||Large masterwork greatclub|
|76–80||Small torn noble’s outfit (50 gp, 2 lbs.)|
|81–84||Landmark map written in Giant|
|85–88||Green dragonhide satchel (200 gp, 6 lbs.)|
|89–92||5 over-sized torches|
|93–96||Stone of alarm|
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Giants Revisited © 2012, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Jesse Benner, Ryan Costello, Brian R. James, Jason Nelson, Russ Taylor, and Ray Vallese.