Eric Aaronson and the Dubious Reasons
At the highest mountain peaks—far above the slopes where trees grow and where the air is thin and the frigid winds howl—dwell the reclusive goliaths. Few folk can claim to have seen a goliath, and fewer still can claim friendship with them. Goliaths wander a bleak realm of rock, wind, and cold. Their bodies look as if they are carved from mountain stone and give them great physical power. Their spirits take after the wandering wind, making them nomads who wander from peak to peak. Their hearts are infused with the cold regard of their frigid realm, leaving each goliath with the responsibility to earn a place in the tribe or die trying.
Goliaths tower over even dragonborn, standing between 7 and 8 feet tall. Their skin is gray or brown, mottled with darker patches that they believe hint at some aspect of each goliath’s fate or destiny. Their skin is speckled with lithoderms, coin-sized growths of bone that appear like pebbles studding their arms, shoulders, torso, and head. A bony ridge juts over their gleaming blue or green eyes. Male goliaths are bald, and females have dark hair they typically grow long and wear in braids.
Every day brings a new challenge to a goliath. Food, water, and shelter are rare in the uppermost mountain reaches. A single mistake can bring doom to an entire tribe, while an individual’s heroic effort can ensure the entire group’s survival. Goliaths thus place a premium on self-sufficiency and individual skill. They have a compulsion to keep score, counting their deeds and tallying their accomplishments to compare to others. Goliaths love to win, but they see defeat as a prod to improve their skills.This dedication to competition has a dark side. Goliaths are ferocious competitors, but above all else they are driven to outdo their past efforts. If a goliath slays a dragon, he or she might seek out a larger, more powerful wyrm to battle. While goliaths have life spans comparable to those of humans few goliath adventurers reach old age, as most die attempting to surpass their past accomplishments. In some ways, the goliath drive to outdo themselves feeds into the grim inevitability of their decline and death. A goliath would much rather die in battle, at the peak of strength and skill, than endure the slow decay of old age. Few folk have ever meet an elderly goliath, and even those goliaths who have left their people grapple with the urge to give up their lives as their physical
Despite their supposed relationship to Giants, the two races share a great deal of enmity. Giants often make slaves of goliaths, on the grounds that goliaths are tougher than most other humanoids, and the giants do not need to travel as far away from their mountain homes to find them. This is presumably one of the factors which drove goliaths underground and keeps them nomadic.