Hammer and spear
Held in the halls of Asgard
Fire and ice
Muspelheim and Niflheim, nowhere else
Blood and flesh
Hunger and hate
The Blade’s Edge
Strength and fear
Found in Kimon
Technology and frost
Kējì rù hù is the source of all
– The Grand Halls (translated from Norwegian)
The giant culture started simply. Some workers decided they wanted to be bigger and stronger so that they could do their jobs better, be more valuable. It began with the Nordics, just a few getting modified, which in turn convinced their friends, and so on. Soon, several hundred men and women had taken the Bigger package.
Then the attacks began.
It was the vampires who struck first. The original vampires, under Striga. She saw a chance to destroy a potential threat before it grew too strong to contain. The Nordics were big and strong, but they had little experience in combat outside of fistfights and brawls. They had little chance against trained killers. Most of their number were killed, especially fledgling warlords.
The Battle of Ginnungagap was where everything changed. After months of being harried like wild animals, the giants made a stand on the long street, ready to defend their homes one last night.
What they didn’t realize was that Striga had been killed just hours before, her fortress of Poenari Castle burning in the night. The vampires fighting the giants were angry and violent, but more than anything they were scared, running from Zaphkiel and his angels. Despite being trained soldiers and assassins, the giants fought them and won, defending the skyscraper Odin had bought for them.
But this was far from the end. Asgard came under assault from demons and kemos, even a few angels, all looking for an easy target to steal from. With their newfound confidence and a reinforced fortress, the newly-named Aesir were able to fight off all comers. For a time, they were on top of the city.
When the Jotuun were created, Odin and his family didn’t know what to make of it. The Aesir were made up of Nordic construction workers, but these Jotuun were primarily South American. The man calling himself Surtur was Colombian, while Thrym was from Brazil. Odin didn’t understand why they were mimicking Nordic myths.
The reason turned out to be a simple one: Surtur and Thrym were impressed with what Odin had done, and wanted to follow in his footsteps. They gave their own people the Bigger package, not out of any desire for conflict, but as a sign of respect and admiration.
Odin didn’t see it this way, and war was avoided by a hair’s breadth. Rumors abound on what exactly was said in the closed-door meeting between the Aesir and Jotuun warlords, but everyone left angry—angry, but still at peace.
The trolls were the next giant subculture to rise, founded by Tamil immigrants. They specifically avoided having any explicit warlords, in an attempt to sidestep the politics that were plaguing the other cultures. Whether their plan worked or the other giants were just so confused by them is a matter of debate, but either way the trolls did not end up at war with anyone. Border skirmishes with the kemos around them were common, but the troll healing toys kept fights nonlethal except in the worst cases.
Other giant cultures rose and fell, most silently. Most people have never heard of the Beanstalks, and remember the cyclopes only as monsters from Greek myths. The Aesir had no need to make an issue of them; they fell on their own, sometimes within weeks of their founding. The Aesir and the Jotuun had too strong a foundation. Anyone who wished to become a giant simply joined them, rather than some new culture.
Then came the yetis.
Founded by a small core of Middle-Eastern political refugees who fled to Domina intentionally, the new subculture quickly proved themselves distinct from all the pretenders scrambling for power. Where others shouted and clamored about how unique they were, the yetis consolidated their strength, fortifying their domain and quietly recruiting scientists and other men of learning. By the time the Aesir noticed them, they were a thousand strong, with powerful weapons and toys defending their borders from all comers.
And so the Aesir came.
The siege lasted a full week, with Aleksander Hagebak himself at the head of the Thors. Despite their superior numbers and training, the Aesir could make no headway against the entrenched yetis. Rumor has it that Odin himself was coming to fight when the siege was broken.
The trolls were the weakest of the three giant cultures—four if you counted the yetis—and did not like the idea of facing the Aesir after they dealt with the yetis and were looking for more foes. They laid a countersiege against the Aesir on the streets of New Tamil, demanding a cease-fire and an end to hostilities. Hagebak, tired of the fighting, agreed.
The next day, the Aesir, Jotuun, troll, and yeti warlords all came together to draft the Ginnungagap Compact, limiting interference with newborn cultures. They would be allowed to flourish or fade as they wished, with no unfair violence against them.
Following the Compact, not only did the yetis survive (despite their founder dying of disease), but the oni, ogres, and sasquatches rose as well. War was threatened on more than one front, for more than one reason, but thankfully nothing worse than a few border skirmishes ever broke out. Most younger giants hold it up as a point of pride that their culture is not plagued by the same civil war as the others. Most analysts are quick to point out that this is more due to Colossi being more willing to forgive crimes and trespasses that should result in war than an actual dearth of violence within the culture.
Giant honored are called titans, while their deviants are known as goliaths. Their warlords are called Colossi, while their novices are halflings. The microcultures (the sub-subcultures) are known as brotherhoods, clans, or Houses, depending on the subculture in question.
Notable Giant Subcultures
The nominal leaders of the giants, created by a core of Nordic immigrants. The man who would become Odin founded this culture—and by extension, the giants as a whole—after the Battle of Ginnungagap as a way of protecting his friends and family. Now, they have become the civilized elite, the ones who negotiate with Butler and the other cultures.
The well-rounded elites of the Aesir, Colossus Balder typically sends his men to reinforce any Aesir outpost where warm bodies are needed. They have a reputation as tireless workers, even if they are not the most skilled.
Outsiders are often surprised that the Aesir have bards and runners just the same as any other culture, finding the idea of a ten-foot giant jogging through the streets ridiculous. True or not, the followers of Colossus Bragi have been known to hit the streets on more than one occasion. However, they prefer to remain safely ensconced in Aesir outposts, where they can maintain communications equipment.
The last line of defense for the Aesir, they are rarely seen outside their domains and outposts except in times of war. They work closely with the Lokis to keep watch on their borders, and Heimdall himself is often seen pacing the top of Asgard. They are known for enhanced eye buffs, from basic day and nighteyes to advanced far-sight buffs.
Originally, Loki tried to pretend his culture was full of harmless jesters and fools, with perhaps a few bad apples who thought painful pranks were funny. This lasted about five minutes. While Loki himself was exceptionally convincing, few of his men were, and it quickly became apparent that the clan consisted of the spies of the Aesir. Most passers are Lokis, which has led to many jokes about them being the “little brothers” of the Thors. Loki himself rarely leaves Asgard, at least in any shape outsiders would recognize.
The warriors of the Aesir. They are nominally led by Odin’s son, Aleksander Hagebak, but he normally leaves matters to his Hammer, Mjolnir. They are the most well-known Aesir, and the ones who leave Asgard and the outposts on a regular basis. This has unfortunately forced them into the role of diplomat more than once, which rarely works well considering most Thors joined for one of two reasons: To shoot things, or to punch things. Thankfully, Mjolnir has a pleasant disposition and a silver tongue, making him ideal for diffusing situations his men cause.
Created by South American workers seeking to mimic Odin and the Aesir, the jotuun are slightly more numerous, but not as organized.
More commonly called the fire giants, the “Sons of Muspelheim” were founded by the owner of a large factory, which became their primary base, now named Muspelheim. They have a surprisingly good relationship with the Nifs, and often serve as the hammer to their anvil.
More commonly called the frost giants, the “Sons of Niflheim” are very fond of cold and ice. They are based in a domain that they call Niflheim, where they work on enhanced refrigeration technology. Nif domains are always cold enough to see your breath, and often cold enough to freeze unattended water.
Giants with the cannibalism buff. They were not officially founded; some giants simply fell on hard times, and decided that their increased food intake would be easier to handle if they could eat nearly anything. They have no true leader (though some of their subcultures do), and are given little weight in decisions.
Led by King Gordok, the tribe that bears his name is made up of the homeless and disenfranchised men and women who took the ogre package in hopes of getting food and work. They are a small tribe, but have a reputation for humanitarianism… usually. Their domain is the Dire Maul, in West Outer.
The followers of Gruul the Dragonkiller, the gronn distinguish themselves largely by being bigger and more violent than everyone else—and hating the laces of Io. The warlords are Gruul’s seven sons, and can be identified by stone-like calcifications on their skin. Their domain is Blade’s Edge, a skyscraper in West Outer.
Giants with horns technicolor skin, and a number of other demon buffs. Like the ogres, they were not founded for any specific reason or purpose; they simply wanted to be really big demons. There is some argument on whether they are actually giants or demons, but the issue has so far been tabled as they simply have no leader who is demanding a voice in either culture. They are typically categorized as giants because most oni are giants first, and only later upgrade to oni, rather than demons increasing their size.
Large, hairy giants founded by Australian immigrants, known for their raw strength—even compared to other giants. They have no warlord, preferring a collective, tribal existence. The fact that they have managed to maintain this despite the attempts of many other cultures to conquer them speaks of their strength and drive. Their domain, for lack of a better word, is Kimon, called the place where strength knows no fear. Not many people know where it is, and the sasquatches treat it with almost religious reverence.
Giants with disease-resistance and healing buffs, and often very large claws. They usually have unique skin colors, to distinguish themselves and denote a caste or job preferences. Founded by Tamil immigrants. Like the sasquatches, they prefer a tribal lifestyle, but they do allow themselves warlords, if only to interact with others. They still have a domain they call home, Arupadaiveedu, the heart of blood and flesh.
Blue trolls are the well-rounded caste, and thus the most common. They are represented by Ayyappan and Thirumal, on the rare occasion when the need arises. They are often seen by outsiders as the leaders of the trolls, but this is incorrect. The trolls do not have leaders.
Purple trolls are the hunters, the ones who stalk the streets tracking fey monsters and others. While they are not common, they are always noticed, as they are known for becoming entirely focused on the hunt, to the point of completely ignoring their surroundings. Meenakshi represents them in troll meetings, assuming he remembers to show up.
The warriors are the red trolls, and are the biggest, most dangerous trolls, with the sharpest claws and the strongest healing buffs. They have a close relationship with the mancal, from whom they receive most of their toys. Murugan is their warlord, and he revels in the bloodshed they wreak.
Nearly all yellow trolls are the scientists of the culture, the researchers and the scholars. They have a very good reputation with the rest of the city, as Nataraja and Kannagi sell their healing buffs and toys to outsiders. Many minor healing items such as healspray can be credited to them.
Large, hairy giants founded by Middle-Eastern immigrants. They are fond of cold and technology. It is said that they never had any warlord, but rumors suggest that they had one once, in the early days, but his assassination put the yetis off from electing another. They generally keep to themselves, rarely leaving their domain of Kējì rù hù, and mostly trade through the Nifs.
The founder of the Aesir, the Colossus known as Odin has made very little effort to hide the fact that he is tired of his duties. In addition to still being the highest authority among the Aesir and often the giants as a whole, he is a senator for South Central, representing the Great Banyan party.
The Aesir ambassador. He is known for being bitter and cynical, and despite all assurances to the contrary from the Aesir, rumors persist that he never wanted the job in the first place, and was only given it as a punishment for some unexplained transgression.
The Hammer of Thor, Mjolnir is a jovial giant known almost as much for the fact that he is still a bouncer for his favorite bar as for his status as a Colossus. He is often credited with personally stopping several wars before they could break out into violence.
More commonly known by his birth name, Aleksander Hagebak, the son of Odin has little interest in the day-to-day running of the subculture that bears his name, leaving it all largely to his Hammer, Mjolnir. He prefers to spend his time at Asgard, working on paperwork.
Surtr of Fire
The leader and founder of the Muspels, the Colossus known as Surtr is dangerous in the extreme. He is the spear to Thrym’s shield, the whip of domination to his open hand of friendship. Rumors persist that they are secretly brothers, but no proof of this has ever come to light.
Thrym of Frost
Unlike his mythological counterpart, the Colossus of the Nifs has a very good working relationship with the Colossus of the Muspels. They spend much of their time together, presiding over trials and giving out orders as a pair. Thrym takes the friendlier role, allowing Surtr to scare people and make him seem more reasonable by comparison.
Warlord of the clan that bears his name, Gordok is known for being magnanimous, charitable, and downright jolly—until he gets mad. Things that make him mad include alcohol, lack of alcohol, hurting children, failing to properly discipline children (he recommends hefty paddles), angels, vampires, lies, and certain types of truth. His men keep a list posted outside Dire Maul. Anyone who crosses Gordok finds themselves fighting in the Maul, often against captured fey monsters.
Gruul the Dragonkiller
The enemy of Io, the kemo warlord known as the Concordant Dragon. Io was once part of a small group of people attempting to create a dragon culture. This attempt was doomed to failure due to the limits of the toy maker, but Gruul shot down any chances it had by killing everyone involved. Only Io escaped. Io himself doesn’t seem to mind one way or another, but Gruul takes his survival as a personal insult. Laces are advised to avoid Blade’s Edge at all costs.