Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Why are Giants "bad"

In many editions of D&D, giants have been a somewhat common "powerful but beatable" challenge, often for "mid tier" heroes (level 5-10 stuff).  They also have been the topic of a few campaigns, such as the "why do I have to do 75% of the work but really awesome potential" campaign Storm King's Thunder by WotC.  I really enjoyed the questions it raised about the role giants play in the world.

The Giant by Goya, Wikipedia Commons

(Answer: they contain dragons.  A few giants chucking boulders is a menace to most dragons.)

But despite this "noble" purpose, giants are frequent foes of humanity and PCs.  Why? They aren't particularly malicious - not more so than humanity in general.  

What are giants doing that's so bad? Well, giants consume a lot of resources (being giants and all that).  And they take those resources because they can because they are strong.  And if those resources are the sheep of a herder, too bad for the herder and their family.

For this terrible crime, PCs are encouraged to trick giants when they must (at low level - don't fight a giant it's suicide!) and kill them when they can (a middle level party can kill a single giants in 2 round, sometimes 1).  

Is this a ... critique of something?  The crimes of colonialism/capitalism are rooted in the strong taking resources away from the weak.

Is this metaphor profound?  No but it is intriguing.  

Note the dragons the giants keep at bay.  Doesn't capitalism - especially right wing parties in western democracies - gain support by "protecting us" from "bad" things - crime (not really...), communism, "those" people.

Note how this is about resources.  The hill giant devour the countryside. The frost giant raids.  The fire giant enslaves.  The stone giant blunders.  The cloud giant schemes.  The storm giant is ... absent.  A lot of this is about resources the giants take because they feel they need them.

Note how the giants believe they are "better" than humanity.  They have a spark of the divine in them, after all - they aren't gods, but they surely are more than mere mortals.  (Just the sheer... physics... of a humanoid so large).  Thus, this entitlement, for them, justifies their behavior.  Colonialism dehumanizes the weak, devalues them and their rights.

And note how the metaphor can be reverted.  Who does these resources belong to?  Are they any more the humans than the giants?  PCs "clearing land" from monsters is... kinda colonialism too.  I'm certainly not the first to note this.

No comments:

Post a Comment