Premise The bitter, frozen holds of the north are but a shadow of their former selves. Once the seat of a proud kingdom, fuelled by the vast mineral veins that flowed through their mountains, the desolate holds are now cruel and unforgiving to those that dwell there. The hold’s stoic mountain ranges, which were once the source of their ore and wealth, were suddenly plagued by gigantic beasts of epic proportions. With them came the blistering winters, colder and fiercer than any that the people of the northern holds had previously experienced, and soon the kingdom began to fall. Either to the elements or to the fangs of some great beast, all but one of the kingdom’s grand cities were reduced to ruin. In the cold tundra plains between the mountains and forests stands the fortress of Isanbjorg; the Iron Keep. A bastion of metal and stone, Isanbjorg is the largest and only remaining city in the northern holds, and is all that remains of the kingdom that once ruled there. It is here in the Iron Keep that Queen Elisavet oversees the lands of her ancestors, and like her father and his father before him it is here that she watches the kingdom slip away between her fingers. While it is safe for now, even in its might the Iron Keep is not invincible. Bit by bit the walls crumble, and if the walls were to fall then so would the Iron Keep. But Queen Elisavet refused to stand idly by as her kingdom turned to dust and her people were slaughtered. She sought help to hunt the monsters that would spell Isanbjorg’s end and bring back the might of her family’s kingdom. She turned to her loyal knights for help, but even they could not pierce the hides of the foul creatures they faced. So she turned to the court wizards, but they were few in number and their magic was ill-suited to combat, let alone against such titans. Hope for Isanbjorg’s future was found in time, but in the unlikeliest of places. The monsters that lived around Isanbjorg were of terrifying proportions, dwarfing even the tallest of men. One beast, however, scared the people of Isanbjorg beyond all else. They lacked sharp teeth or claws, and did not have the thick hides that the other beasts did that made them almost impervious to harm. They possessed one characteristic, however, that reminded humans far too much of themselves, and this made them more dangerous than anything else that dwelt in these wilds. They were cunning. These creatures were known as giants. Like the other terrors that the Iron Keep faced, giants were large and terrifyingly strong, but they were also intelligent and adaptable. They worked together with others of their kind and hunted beasts far larger and stronger than themselves with ease, and could thrive without the castles and walls that humans had grown so reliant on. They heaved large, stone weapons around with them, and some individuals had even learned to bend the very elements to their will in the form of magic. The giants were a force to be reckoned with, and in them Queen Elisavet saw an opportunity. The giants, while hardy, were not invincible, and none were more aware of their vulnerability than the giants themselves. Having only ever known the wilds, the lives of these people was a constant struggle for survival. The giants fought monsters, humans, and even their own kind in this struggle, and many of them envied the great walls that the humans had erected to protect themselves. Some believed that human cities could offer them salvation, and that if they could take them then they would be safe. Many of the hold’s cities had fallen to rampant tribes of giants since their arrival, but in this fight the giants had lost more than they had gained, and soon fell back to the mountains to tend to their wounds. It was at the decree of Queen Elisavet that, for the first time, giants would be willingly allowed to seek shelter in the human cities. Queen Elisavet knew the power that these giants possessed, and offered sanctuary for any of them who would pledge their lives to Isanbjorg and its people. In exchange for the protection that the Iron Keep’s walls offered these giants would lay down their lives to protect the city, fight to reclaim the holds, and work with the humans to re-establish the kingdom. This message was spread far and wide by the bravest explorers Queen Elisavet could find, and while more ended up slain by the very giants they sought to speak to than returned, their efforts were not in vain. While Isanbjorg never got the heroic paragons that they sought, some giants heeded the call. Those who made the long haul to Isanbjorg were refugees, not warriors, and had come to the humans out of desperation, not for the glory of saving a nation. Even these giants proved their worth, however, and with guidance the giants rebuilt the crumbling walls of Isanbjorg and brought back the severed heads of monsters that had plagued the city for longer than any could remember. For the first time in three generations, Isanbjorg has started to grow again. Mines were reopened, farms were rebuilt, and the Iron Keep almost doubled in size. Giants came in greater numbers, hearing the newfound prosperity of the humans and the newly civilised giants, and as they did so the city only grew stronger. Isanbjorg is now home to several dozen giants, and while every giant has a different reason for seeking out the Iron Keep they all pledge their services to the queen and fight to protect their new home. Eleven years has passed since the first giants settled in Isanbjorg, and while the city might yet thrive given more time, the need for the help of giants is still great. The monstrous foes of the city, while culled, have only grown more determined, and without the diligent watch of its adopted guardians the city will surely fall. This roleplay focuses on a small group of giants who have pledged themselves to Isanbjorg and Queen Elisavet, as they fight terrific beasts and explore the long-forgotten ruins of the holds for gold, glory, and the future of the Iron Keep. The Giants The majority of giants resemble their human cousins but on a larger scale. They are humanoid and their rough lifestyles tend them towards stout, muscular builds. They range anywhere from eleven to thirteen feet tall, and in the cold north the majority of them have dark hair and pale coloured eyes, although this is different from tribe to tribe and giants vary physically (and culturally) as much as humans do. Clothing styles also vary from place to place, although the furs and leathers of large beasts are commonly used to keep warm in the winters, and tribal patterns and colours are often used to differentiate between separate groups of giants as decoration and to mark out territory. The giants are a varied people in their beliefs and cultures. Typically giants will live in small tribes, consisting of a few family units tied together to better their chances of survival, although many live in solitude or with only a few others they trust above all else. Additionally, those giants who have pledged their services to human kings and queens will live a different life entirely. Giant tribes are usually isolated, only coming into contact with others when their territories clash, and their skills, religions, and identities will vary accordingly. One group may consider scars signs of great prestige while another may prefer fine silks and metals from human lands. One tribe may worship a complex pantheon of gods while another may only acknowledge nature herself as the true creator. Typically those giants who have lived among humans (or the rare case of a giant being born amongst humans) will adopt more human customs, although many still cling to their cultural heritage devotedly. One trait that does seem to unite giants is their distrust of strangers, a paranoia that does not discriminate between humans and their giant kin, which prevents them from forming colonies beyond that of a few dozen and explains their reluctance to ally with the humans. Few giants have mastered the art of metalworking, and as such traditional giant weapons are made from stone, wood, or bone. Warriors may favour crude clubs and greatswords carved from animal bone, while hunters may use stone-tipped arrows and spears to bring down their prey. Metal weapons designed for giant use are not unheard of, and human blacksmiths will happily forge blades of iron and steel for a giant who is willing to pay for them, but they are expensive and the forging process is time consuming. Armour is equally crude and, except for the astonishingly rare piece of plate male forged for individuals of such size, is usually restricted to the thick furs and leathers of wild beasts. Other than physical strength, one area in which giants do excel over humans is magic. While human beings struggle to grasp the most basic concepts of the arcane, with even the most experienced human wizards stumbling on the simplest spells, giants seem naturally talented at harnessing the elements. Some of the more spiritual giantkin possess a great connection to the forces of nature and may call on them for assistance. While their magic is not refined or elegant, the shamans and mystics of giant tribes are not to be taken lightly, as they draw power from spirits or the earth itself to force their command over stone, fire, or even the dead. The giants of the northern lands where this roleplay is set are a tall, stout people, but are otherwise similar in appearance to their human counterparts. These are not the only kinds of giant to roam the lands, although they are the most frequently encountered. Further north, high in the mountains or in the frozen wastes, dwell giants with more bestial features and attitudes, such as claw-like nails and more pronounced canines. These tend towards more barbaric habits and lifestyles. Similarly, in the south, there are rumours of a strange breed of giant who have but a single eye, and they show a surprising knack for metalworking. The variants of giants are purposely kept vague and are allowed to be played, although they are far rarer in these lands and will be considered an oddity even among other giants. Where You Come In The Earthshakers, those giants who have dedicated themselves to the protection of Isanbjorg, are the soldiers, builders, and hunters of the Iron Keep. Your character will be one of these giants, and whether they are newcomers to the city or have lived here since the first giantkin were allowed within its walls, you have been moved into a newly created hunting party consisting of your character and the characters of the other players. The roleplay will consist mostly of individual episodic missions such as hunting a monster that has been spotted near Isanbjorg or exploring one of the ruins of the cities in the further reaches of the holds. If this works out then we can continue along that format, but if we find that a longer story arc would be preferable then there are plenty of ways we can take this. Perhaps the source of these monsters is discovered, or the aggressive giant tribes band together to form a bigger threat to Isanbjorg? It depends entirely on what the players want out of this. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to post or send me a message. I'd be happy to reply.