This muscular giant has dark gray skin and fiery red hair. Its lower jaw bears sharp fangs, and it wields a huge, primitive spear.
AC 26, touch 14, flat-footed 24 (+4 armor, +4 deflection, +2 Dex, +8 natural, –2 size)
Speed 30 ft. (40 ft. without armor)
Str 31, Dex 14, Con 22, Int 12, Wis 17, Cha 15
Once per day, a taiga giant may perform a 10-minute ritual to tap into the power and insight of his ancestral spirits. These spirits provide a +4 deflection bonus to AC, immunity to enchantment and illusion spells, and one of the following spell effects: bless, endure elements, protection from evil, protection from good, or see invisibility. The effects of a spirit summoning persist for 24 hours. The effects of this ability are included in the stat block presented.
Taiga Giant Shaman (Druid 10; CR 17)
Environment cold mountains or forests
Organization solitary, warband (2–7), or tribe (20–50 plus 30% noncombatants, 1 druid or oracle of 3rd–5th level, 2–4 barbarian or ranger hunters of 3rd–5th level, 1 chieftain barbarian or fighter of 4th–7th level, 2–6 dire bears, 2–6 dire tigers, and 8–12 stone giants)
Treasure standard (hide armor, spear, other treasure)
Taiga giants wander endlessly to keep from depleting the food supply of any one area. Aurochs and mammoths are their preferred inland prey, while whales, seals, and walruses provide food in coastal regions. These animals form the cornerstone of tribal survival, not just for the food they provide but because nearly all of a tribe’s possessions, from their portable shelters to their weapons, are crafted from the bone, hides, and sinews of felled beasts. Little is wasted. Taiga giants are also deeply spiritual, worshiping their ancestors. Every tribe member learns to call forth ancestor spirits at a young age. Taiga giants are ashamed of being the ancestors of rune giants as, like most giants, they both hate and fear rune giants as slavers and monsters.
A typical taiga giant stands 20 feet in height and weighs 10,000 pounds. Skin tones vary from dark to pale gray, with hair color ranging from dark brown to red.
Source Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Giants Revisited
Taiga giants are towering, gray-skinned nomads, standing 20 feet tall and weighing 5 tons when fully grown. With skin tones that range the palette of gray from pale dove to slate and sooty charcoal, taiga giants naturally blend into the shadows, mists, and squalls of their hilly forest homelands. Their hair runs from flaming red to auburn, and is typically worn long and loose, or pulled up in a headband or tie fashioned from braided strips of hide and beads of polished wood, bone, stone, or metal. They wear garments of natural materials, cured hides and layered furs in particular, often decorating their garb with beaded tassels. They sometimes go unarmored, or wear simple breastplates or breeches of darkened leather, though in times of war they may don full suits of hide armor and mount great wooden shields, usually painted with the sigil of their totem animal. Their primary weapons are long-hafted spears, which they wield in melee as well as hurl at distant foes, and they are equally adept at tearing up the landscape around them and raining rocky debris on their enemies. While their lower jaws bear sharp, tusklike canines that protrude even when their lips are closed, their teeth are for eating, not fighting, and are only useful in combat for the purposes of intimidating enemies. Taiga giants build few permanent habitations and tend to live in deep wilderness areas, particularly in the depths of the vast boreal forests that blanket many subpolar regions. From these woodland realms, they venture across the rolling tundra to the high ice; along seacoasts; and into the cold ranges of hills, badlands, and mountain peaks that dominate the chilly landscape. Few have seen taiga giants’ homes, for most have no lasting home at all; even those ancestral lodges they build are more places of pilgrimage, retreat, and occasional gatherings rather than permanent lodgings, with only the very old retiring to dwell there near the ends of their lives. To most subarctic nomads and highland peoples, taiga giants are regarded with equal parts fear and respect, and canny travelers passing through their hunting ranges hope only to avoid the unpredictable goliaths’ notice, lest the sacred omens in which taiga giants trust portend ill for those strangers they happen across.
Taiga giants live primarily in subarctic boreal forests, hunting elk, megaloceros, moose, and big predators like bears, wolves, and even dragons. From their evergreen fastnesses, they roam into cold hills and badlands and the endless windswept tundra. Those near seacoasts tramp the icy shallows hunting seals and walrus, taking hides for cloaks and tusks for their intricate scrimshaw. In the summer, when the migratory herds they hunt for food turn northward, some taiga giants follow them as far as the High Ice, but most return to their woodlands to hunt smaller, more local game. Entirely nomadic, taiga giants live under the stars in their forest cathedrals, using hide tents to keep out severe weather.
While taiga giants are travelers first and foremost, most families maintain ancestral lodges of hewn planks and logs somewhere in the great forests and hills they wander. They surround these great wooden houses with monolithic poles carved and painted with their individual, familial, and tribal totems. Such giant lodges usually incorporate the original hall of their first ancestor as a shrine adjacent to or directly within a great central hall. Each new generation within the clan builds onto the lodge, expanding the common hall or constructing separate longhouses connected by living arbors, the pine canopies overhead woven together by the mystical songs of clan shamans. While not great gardeners, taiga giants cultivate berry fields and beehives near their lodges, eating the produce and hunting the game their fields attract. Still, they never linger long at their lodges, lest their voracious appetites exhaust the local food supply.
Taiga giants are born the size of an adult human and grow slowly over their first decade. By age 10, they are able to walk and learn the skills of woodcraft and the spear, being taught to kill only what is needed—when game is scarce, nothing can go to waste. Taiga giants learn the manifold uses of every part of an animal: skin, bones, hide, hair, and so on, not merely its flesh. Among a people with little interest in judgment and reproach, waste is the one great sin. Youths reach physical maturity between age 50 and 70, and even families of taiga giants with young children roam hundreds of miles, never staying in one place for long. Their peripatetic nature is not due to mere wanderlust; taiga giants simply realize that too many mouths in one area requires far too much food for the environment to sustain. Families migrate across large swaths of wilderness in constant search of new prey, crisscrossing the cold lands and only occasionally returning to their ancestral lodges for certain ceremonies or when their wanderings take them nearby. Elderly taiga giants weary of traveling may settle in the clan’s lodge; here, they spend their waning years carving massive totem poles that recount their lives, and crafting intricate wooden spirit icons to decorate the longhouses of the lodge. Taiga giants typically live for up to 400 years, though rare ancient elders may linger a century beyond this, their souls hovering on the threshold of the spirit world as their physical bodies gradually wither.
Taiga giants gather in family groups encompassing both their local family and extended family members related by blood or intermarriage. Individual taiga giants each have a small pair of totems that they carry on their persons at all times, one representing anakot (“child-self ”)and the other qanukot (“adult-self ”). In addition, they may bear totems of a familial ulakot (“family-self ”) and a clan’s nomakot (“tribe-self ”), and most adopt one or more inuvakot (“life-self ”) totems that represent things they have achieved throughout their lives. A totem is typically a wooden, stone, or bone figurine that represents an animal or living creature, but some clans and families may take sacred mountains, hot springs, canyons, waterfalls, islands, or other natural features as their totems.
Ancestry and family lines are sacred to taiga giants, who keep extensive oral histories and fervently believe in the enduring presence of their ancestors, whom they call tikshutseen, “the great cloud of witnesses.” These ancients are said to linger near their descendants, revealing their counsel through portents and omens. Taiga giants are constantly on the lookout for such signs, using a variety of oracular rituals to discern omens and their meaning in the phenomena of the natural world, such as the sudden appearance of one of their totems. Their religion is most closely likened to spiritual animism, with druids or oracles leading their faithful to build upon communion with the natural world and the spirit world. Some taiga giants venerate more traditional nature deities.
Taiga giants are ambivalent toward smaller races—some are hostile, some are friendly, and most simply avoid them. As long as these diminutive creatures do not disrupt the taiga giants’ hunting grounds with their “civilization” of roads, farms, and towns, the giants usually treat them with indifference. Taiga giants tend to act more hostilely toward other giant races that constitute rivals for territory and prey. A few of the more savage taiga giants may bully ogres, trolls, ettins, and hill giants into serving them, becoming petty kings and warlords, but for the most part they disdain the company of these crude races and may even fight wars of extermination to prevent such beings from despoiling their territory. Relations are usually more cordial with stone and cloud giants for those taiga giants living in the highlands, or with frost giants for those in the highest arctic reaches. While skirmishing does break out at times, taiga giants rarely desire to war at the fringes of their domain, usually simply ceding control of other giants’ favored territory and returning to their own hunting ranges. Taiga giants despise fire giants, however, for their destructive pillaging of the natural world, transforming pristine wild lands into toxic slag-heaps, scouring the land of game, and enslaving all they encounter. Taiga giants also hate fire giants because it was they whom taiga giants were forced to breed with when both races were made thralls by an ancient sorcerous empire, their seed stolen and corrupted into a splinter race designed to rule all giantkind—the rune giants. Even after the fall of the empire that created them, surviving rune giants still descend from their alpine abodes to hunt and enslave taiga giants and other races as well. The communal remembrance and shame regarding this enslavement and the continued existence of the hateful half-breed race they were forced to sire drives taiga giants to feel lingering bitterness toward both fire giants and rune giants.
Taiga giants are versatile beings in mid- to high-level campaigns; they can serve as sources of information or objects of pilgrimage for PCs, or can be spun as nearly feral nomads who embody all that is dangerous about their wild domain. Their ancestral worship suggests a certain kind of placid mysticism, and may drive players to think of them as little more than noble savages, though such beliefs will surely work against any who might doubt their strength, intelligence, and divine powers.
Taiga giants roam far from the fringes of society, and can be played up as heroic guardians of nature, as they often tame wild beasts and hunt more outwardly evil creatures like dragons, trolls, and winter wolves. Taiga giants may also be protective of those who dwell respectfully in their wilderness and actively defend it from harm, and within a lower-level campaign they might intervene to turn the tide in a battle too difficult for the PCs. GMs should be careful to avoid upstaging the PCs or forcing them to rely on NPC assistance, and such interventions should more often simply bolster the legendary and mysterious nature of taiga giants and foreshadow the future involvement of taiga giants in a campaign.
While not malicious per se, taiga giants are tribal warriors whose first motive is the protection of their hunting grounds and their own clans. The welfare of humans and their ilk is rarely their concern, and any collateral damage these smaller creatures suffer is simply an unfortunate necessity for the taiga giant race to survive and thrive. From a PC’s perspective, of course, particularly heartless taiga giants may seem little more than raiders with no respect for law or private property—the kind of menace adventurers might well be recruited by outside forces to eliminate. While taiga giant warbands rarely gather in groups larger than half a dozen, enterprising chieftains have been known to gather forces for larger raids or to protect themselves against some greater threat. Some taiga giant leaders believe that culling the fruit of the land already gathered by smaller races is an easier route to survival than hunting wild game. Such mean-spirited taiga giant raiders serve as excellent enemies for intrepid PCs. Taiga giant rangers and druids, even with only a few class levels, gain abilities and spells that make them difficult to track or locate in the wild, and if they are aware of pursuit, such taiga giants may set up false lairs to lure pursuers into an ambush.
In combat, taiga giants are strong at range and in melee. They also have a unique advantage over other giants in that their spirit summoning ability makes them immune to enchantment and illusion magic, protecting them from two areas that are often a weak point for giants faced with spells like hold person and dominate person. Likewise, spirit summoning provides countermeasures against invisible opponents or summoned monsters, and as a supernatural ability it cannot be dispelled, making combat with a taiga giant extremely difficult for casters who rely on such tactics.
In keeping with their reverence for ancestors, taiga giants keep mementos of past generations. Sometimes these are personal possessions handed down from generation to generation, while others may be simple fetishes, such as a bone taken from a deceased relative and bound to the skull of a totem animal. Some taiga giants lash together bentwood hoops with braided hair from dead ancestors to craft dreamcatchers, spirit-nets intended to capture rogue spirits and ward them away from sleepers as they dream. Others carve elaborate totemic headdresses or masks for the same purpose, as well as for use in tribal rituals of dance accompanied by flute, drum, and ululating voice. All these relics and more are decorated with native crystals, semiprecious stones, and rings of precious metal. Sold to the right collector, such treasures may be worth a fortune, and at times, the druidic magic instilled in such items make them valuable prizes in their own right.
Taiga giants collect raw nuggets of gold and silver that they uncover in the rocky streambeds of their alpine forests, and some establish camps to sluice and sift for these baubles, but few have the inclination to mine for wealth below the earth. They often smelt these ores to create bracelets and other simple metal items. In combat, taiga giants favor simple weapons that they can craft from readily available materials, with hide armor and spears being by far the most common. Individuals of a more spiritual or magical bent typically enchant their own possessions, and believe that doing so brings them closer to the spirit world that their ancestors inhabit.
While they enjoy perusing maps and travelogues, taiga giants disdain those who rely upon such utilities to navigate, viewing natural intuition and personal experience as the best means of survival in the wilds. Even so, taiga giants eagerly collect magical aids that help them get by in the harsh realms in which they dwell. Any item that aids in movement, stealth, hunting, or driving out interlopers in their forests is welcome in taiga giant society. Because they commune with spirits from an early age, taiga giants also have an affinity for magic that enhances their ability to speak with the dead or perform divinations. Many taiga giant oracles and druids collect foci and components for spells like augury and divination when they require a more direct intervention from the spirits they worship.
Taiga giants use a wide array of weapons and armor both to hunt prey and to fight enemies. Druids, oracles, and other spellcasters among their ranks evoke the spirits of their ancestors to enchant their warriors’ equipment with potent powers. Though such items may be visually unremarkable save for unique shapes and sturdy builds, appearances can be incredibly deceiving—it’s hard to argue that taiga giants’ arms are primitive with a life-draining spearhead dug into one’s side.
The following magic weapon is a favorite among taiga giant shamans.
The following list of random treasure includes items one might normally find either on a taiga giant’s person or in his dwelling.
|01–04||Collection of tooth necklaces (dire bears, saber-toothed tigers, white dragons, etc.)|
|05–09||Massive waterskin of elderberry wine|
|10–13||Large packet of pemmican or smoked blubber|
|14–17||Huge bone needle and 100 feet of silken rope as thread|
|18–24||Hide-scraping and leather-working tools|
|25–27||Flint and steel, plus large bag of wood shavings|
|28–32||1d6 winter wolf hides (100 gp each, 20 lbs. each)|
|33–35||Signaling horn carved from an aurochs horn (100 gp, 10 lbs.)|
|36–40||Hide of a silver or white dragon. Roll d%:
|41–43||Masterwork exotic pack saddle for mastodons|
|44–49||Ancestral skull fetish|
|50–56||1d6 bundles of rune-carved sticks or bones (augury divine foci, 25 gp each), plus 1d6 bags of incense (25 gp each)|
|61–66||Stone pots of body paint powder|
|67–71||Collection of 1d6 large dreamcatchers (100 gp each, 10 lbs. each)|
|72–76||Haunch of a mastodon|
|77–81||1d6 scrimshaw-carved walrus or mastodon tusks (1d6 × 100 gp each)|
|82–88||1d6 × 10 gold nuggets (30 gp each)|
|89–94||Huge folded tent of animal hides, with 1d4 × 100 feet of rope|
|95–100||Stone tattooing tools and inks|