Marsh giants trace their lineage back to their progenitors who committed some unforgivable sin and were banished from their ancestral home to the dank misery of the marshland, where they eke out a meager existence to this day.1
Marsh giants are small by giant standards, standing only 11 feet tall on average. These swamp-dwelling giants appear squat yet bulky, with particularly repulsive faces which all seem too flat apart from their grotesquely bulging eyes. A marsh giant's skin is the color of fetid swamp water, a sickly gray-green hue. Marsh giants normally adorn themselves in primitive leather or animal skins and often carry crude fetishes made of wood or bone.1
Habitat and ecology
Despite their name, marsh giants actually prefer to dwell in swamps and bayous, living in some of the most fetid remote wetlands in Avistan particularly in southern Varisia and Cheliax. They prefer saltwater swamps over freshwater ones as these provide the easiest access to the sea where marsh giants perform their darkest rituals. Marsh giants are reluctant vegetarians—the swamps they live in do not support much life that is large enough to sustain giants—so their diet consists of roots, mushrooms and bitter swamp fruits. The only meat they can eat is that of huge swamp inhabitants like crocodiles and dire animals. This is believed to be the foundation of reports of people who claim to have seen marsh giant wrestling with huge swamp creatures.2
Like all giants, marsh giants are adept at hurling rocks to crush their opponents.1
Marsh giants live in small primitive tribes of around 20 giants, and dwell in dismal hovels either unevenly propped above the murky water or huddled on some small muddy hillock. A marsh giant's role in the tribe is determined by their gender. Males spend their days scavenging for food, hoping for large game to hunt. Any animals they do catch are normally devoured on the spot. The females stay at home poorly performing domestic chores and imbibing toxic mushrooms. Marsh giants believe the visions granted by these poisonous fungi allow them to communicate with the spirits. In fact all the mushrooms do is leave the marsh giants dazed and poisons their milk ensuring the next generation is even stupider than the last.
One of the most disturbing parts of marsh giant society is it religion. Marsh giants practice a strange type of animism, believing that everything has a spirit but that they can gain spiritual supremacy by consuming the spirits of other living creatures. This leads to marsh giants destroying their natural surrounding in an attempt to consume more spiritual energy. This belief also keeps marsh giant birthrates down as they believe having a child siphons off huge amounts of this spiritual energy.
Despite this selfish form of animism, marsh giants do worship a higher entity. They believe in a nameless god-like entity hidden beneath the waves that all marsh giants pledge their soul energy to. They make nightly sacrifices to this quasi-god believing that the spiritual energy of any creature they ritually drown will find its way to their submerged lord.
The holiest ritual dedicated to this dark being takes place on the winter solstice. On this night the ocean currents carry the blood of the marsh giants' mass sacrifices down to the ocean's depths. The night after the solstice, creatures from the darkest depths of the ocean drag their leviathan forms onto land to receive the adoration of the marsh giants. These unholy creatures grant the giants their blessings in the form of insane prophecies from the deep.
Their highest blessing is their most disturbing, for sometimes these sea monsters decide to mate with their giant worshipers. The children of these unions are unspeakably foul. These brine-born children have hideous fish like features and strange powers beyond those of normal marsh giants.2
Variant marsh giants
Fiendish marsh giants
A clan of marsh giants known as the Johud dwelled for eons in the Frostmire Fen,3 a large wetland in the northwestern part of Sarkoris. Although they were hunted by the local Kellid humans, the giant population could never be eradicated completely. When the Worldwound opened in 4606 AR releasing hordes of demons, the humans abandoned the nearby city of Dyinglight, leaving many of their belongings behind. Despite this tempting target, the giants of the Fen did not approach the city, fearing it was another human trick.
A small group of frost giants under the leadership of the visionary Jarl Bjorvesh entered Sarkoris, lured there by the demonic incursion, and quickly took the city. When the marsh giants saw this, they realized that the humans were truly gone for good, and descended upon Dyinglight, overwhelming the frost giants with their greater numbers. When Jarl Bjorvesh fell, he immediately rose from the dead, congratulating the marsh giants on their victory, but informing them that they now had to establish a giant kingdom there in honor of Kostchtchie. They immediately dedicated themselves to the demon lord and have claimed the city every since. Within a generation, the marsh giants began seeing fiendish deformities in their offspring, and soon the entire population was wholly tainted, remembering their previous existence only as legend.4
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