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Goliath Race Guide 5e: Story and Abilities of Reclusive Nomads

The Story of the Reclusive Goliath People 

It is said that a group of humans once climbed the Columns of the Sky to seek answers from their Gods, and in doing so became the first of the nomadic goliath race.

Others believe that this race is descended from stone giants or earth genasi.

While the true origin of the goliath people is a mystery, their culture is set in the stone of the mountains they call home.

Goliaths are a nomadic people, living life among the mountain peaks and allowing fate to take them where they need to be.

As they live in places where few races venture, meeting a goliath may be a rare experience for most races of the forgotten realms. Their tribal culture enforces a tight-knit society determined to succeed.

Rather than the relaxed views of other nomadic races such as the tortle, goliath culture holds ideals of competition, strength, survival, and fairness in high regards.

Competition being perhaps chief among these, a goliath strives to be the best possible version of themselves for the good of the tribe. Success is looked upon with great honor and pride.

Failure is avoided at all cost, although it is used as a tool to strive for further improvement. 

As such, goliaths love to win, but never at the expense of an unfair advantage. Almost as a code, goliaths seek to maintain a level playing field with any opponents.

While they may use magical items and other methods of improvement beyond their own capabilities, they understand that any advantage can be lost as quickly as it is gained. 

This mindset carries itself through to more than just combat and is used to view any circumstance. Goliath’s views on leadership, for example, is that those who are unfit to lead should be removed and replaced with the best candidate.

They tend to look down upon any sort of monarchy with arbitrarily chosen leaders. Their gender roles, or lack thereof, reflect this opinion as well, and they see no innate difference between genders when it comes to the responsibilities they carry in society.

With all of the emphasis on greatness, it’s no surprise that goliaths look down upon the weak. Those who cannot pull their weight, whether due to permanent injury, old age, or what have you, are left behind.

Oftentimes these individuals will choose to leave by their own values, understanding that their weakness is holding back the tribe from its greatness.

Instead of continuing to inconvenience others, they will allow fate’s cold hand to take them.

Goliath Abilities and Traits:  What Characterizes the Goliath Race

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, and your Constitution score increases by 1.
  • Age. Goliaths have lifespans comparable to humans. They enter adulthood in their late teens and usually live less than a century.
  • Alignment. Goliath society, with its clear roles and tasks, has a strong lawful bent. The goliath sense of fairness, balanced with an emphasis on self-sufficiency and personal accountability, pushes them toward neutrality.
  • Size. Goliaths are between 7 and 8 feet tall and weigh between 280 and 340 pounds. Your size is Medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
  • Natural Athlete. You have proficiency in the Athletics skill.
  • Stone’s Endurance. You can focus yourself to occasionally shrug off injury. When you take damage, you can use your reaction to roll a d12. Add your Constitution modifier to the number rolled, and reduce the damage by that total. After you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
  • Powerful Build. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
  • Mountain Born. You have resistance to cold damage. You’re also acclimated to high altitude, including elevations above 20,000 feet.
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Giant.

Starting off with natural athlete, we pick up a great skill proficiency.

Athletics is actually the only skill that utilizes strength, so automatically gaining the proficiency bonus on top of your substantial strength modifier means you’ll be able to do a lot of heavy lifting. 

While not every DM deals with encumbrance on small matters, even the most relaxed of them will still question carrying things that are ridiculously heavy. The goliath class comes prepared for that with their powerful build.

A goliath with 20 strength can carry up to 600 lbs with no repercussions, and with no time limit. They can lift, push, or drag double that!

Mountain born gives us one of my favorite resistances, cold, along with the rare ability to be unaffected by high altitudes. Cold resistance is one of the most common damage types and saves you from exhaustion in extremely cold climates.

The altitude protection is also going to save you from exhaustion. It will also allow you to travel at normal speed, but unless your party members are all goliath as well that really doesn’t matter.

To round it all off we have stone’s endurance. Solid as a rock and unmoving you literally can decide to take less damage if you want, just roll a dice and subtract the number from any incoming damage.

A d12 has great potential to save you from a lot of damage so make sure to use it on the right occasions. 

What Classes Are Well Suited to the Goliath

Goliaths are strong and sturdy people, and as such make great fighters or barbarians.

There are other races that provide more benefits to the strength-based martial classes, but this race can be excellent for roleplay purposes, or someone who is focused more on being excited about their character than having the “best” build.

While shamanistic goliaths of the sorcerer or druid class may exist, they are rare among adventurers, as they serve an important role in the tribe. 

Barbarian – Wonderful spread of stats for barbarian. Everything about this race reflects this class’s build. Stone’s endurance will be a great addition to any build.

Fighter – For any strength-based fighter this is a great choice. Athletics proficiency is going to free up some space in your class based proficiencies.

Goliath Appearance: General Looks Found Among Them

It is said that a goliath looks as if they were carved from a mountain face. Goliaths stand above most other races, at about 7-8 feet tall.

Their skin is often the pale brown or grey of stone and is just as solid. Looking at a goliath, one might assume that tattoos hold a rich piece of their tradition, however, most goliaths will never allow tattoo ink to come close to their skin.

The dark lines that cover their bodies are part of their natural appearance. These often symmetrical markings do hold a place in their belief system, and are thought to hold the truth to an individual’s destiny. 

Their association with a craggy appearance is often brought on by the massiveness of their bone structure.

A goliath’s brow is often heavy and thick, a visible ridge across their forehead, and their jaws are wide and strong, reflecting their possible giant heritage.

Goliaths also have small protrusions of bone over the whole of their bodies, most notably along their shoulders, arms, and legs.

These protrusions are called lithoderms, and look like small coin-shaped plateaus across the rippling mountain range of muscle a goliath is built out of. 

Goliath Names

Goliath naming tradition provides individuals with three names. Their birth name is given by their parents, and like the rest of their tradition, does not reflect gender in the least.

Typically this name is simple, up to three syllables long, and composed of harsh consonants and short vowels. 

The second name is a nickname or an honor-based name given by elders of the tribe or the tribe chieftain. These names reflect the deeds or accomplishments of an individual.

Naturally, these names change over time when a goliath conquers some new task and their life or does something otherwise notable. Goliaths also carry this tradition to relationships they make with people of other races they meet.

If a character in your party slays a dragon you may refer to them as Dragonslayer, or Wyverndeath. Similarly, you might be able to think of some fun names for the bard who just seduced some new eldritch horror.

Think of that time Draxx referred to Peter Quill as “Man Who Has Lain With An A’askavariian” in Guardians of the Galaxy and you get the picture.

The final name a goliath carries is their clan or family name, often five syllables or more and ending in a vowel.

Birth Names: Aukan, Eglath, Gae-Al, Gauthak, Ilikan, Keothi, Kuori, Lo-Kag, Manneo, Maveith, Nalla, Orilo, Paavu, Pethani, Thalai, Thotham, Uthal, Vaunea, Vimak

Nicknames: Bearkiller, Dawncaller, Fearless, Flintfinder, Horncarver, Keeneye, Lonehunter, Longleaper, Rootsmasher, Skywatcher, Steadyhand, Threadtwister, Twice-Orphaned, Twistedlimb, Wordpainter

Clan Names: Anakalathai, Elanithino, Gathakanathi, Kalagiano, Katho-Olavi, Kolae-Gileana, Ogolakanu, Thuliaga, Thunukalathi, Vaimei-Laga

This link does include the option to generate either male or female names, but you will find there is no difference between the two, so feel free to choose whichever you like.

Leisure Time

An important thing to know about goliaths is that their removement from the trappings of modern society gives them the ability to enjoy their free time.

They take this opportunity to enjoy different sports and incorporate their drive towards strength and competition into something fun.

In addition to common sports like wrestling, rock-climbing, and running, they have a few original sports that you can use to flesh out your character.

  • Stubborn-Root: Similar to king of the hill, this dangerous game involved one goliath defending a peak or cliff from their opponents. 
  • Goat Ball:  In this game teams of four toss around a stuffed goat hide. Rather than being focused on making a goal of some sort, this game was all about the last team standing. The game would be played upon raised platforms like rocks or logs, and players would jump around attempting to hit the opposing team. Any player who gets hit with the ball, falls from a platform, or is knocked off by force in any way is eliminated. Teams are eliminated when they have no more players in play.
  • Cliff-climb: In addition to simply climbing cliff faces, goliaths would turn such an activity into a race. Participants would climb up a cliff and then back down. On the way down it was encouraged for participants to fall, although they risked injury if they did this too soon. Typically this would be done in a best of three, giving both participants equal chance to improve from race to race. Additionally, skilled climbers often chose to handicap themselves by wearing heavy bags full of rocks.