Dungeons & Dragons Online

Songs of the Jotunbrud

Giants use Dethek for writing, but most of giant culture is passed down through oral traditions. In the days of Ostoria, Frost Giant skalds (an Old Norse word meaning bard) were the keepers of these oral stories. Like oral traditions in all ancient cultures, these stories were recited as poetry or sung (think the Odyssey or Sundiata). Inspired by the Kalevala, I've written these as a collection of giant lore that the characters were able to find in the libraries of the North. These should be considered fragments, to capture the elusive nature of giant culture when it comes to what the "smallfolk" are able to learn about them.

My main source of information is Giantcraft (1995) as well as whatever I have been able to glean from the Forgotten Realms Wiki. For style and spirit of writing, I borrowed/adapted from Old Norse religious texts, the Eddas (the Frost Giants are basically the Vikings of the Forgotten Realms). Each of the songs opens with a standard invocation, a repetition device that sets the stage and is typical of recitations in oral traditional cultures (such as the Sing in me Muse… opening to the Odyssey and the Iliad). Pouring out a libation of mead to the ancestors/spirits/gods was common in Viking (and many other) cultures.

  1. Annam All-Father, Creator-by-Thought is a fragment that tells of Annam's creation of Toril, adapted from the Eddas.

I pour mead to the All-Father,
Progenitor of Worlds, Creator-by-Thought.
Grant me silence, all you holy children,
large and mighty, sons of Annam;
he wills me to tell the old stories,
the oldest that I remember.

Annam All-Father, Creator-by-Thought

I remember the giants of ages past,
those who called me one of their kin;
I know how nine roots form nine worlds
below the earth where the great tree rises.

Before Thrym strove with Surtur,
before there were ice seas, or chill waves
cutting the great glacier's edge,
with neither Toril below nor Selûne above,
only gaping emptiness and nothing living.
Annam thought and Annam dreamed
and thus the world came into being.

The sun climbed, the moon's companion
raised her right hand over heaven's rim.
The sun did not know where her hall stood;
the moon did not know his own might,
the stars did not know where they would be set .

Then Annam called the gods to their seats,
the all-holy gods took counsel together:
they named night and night's children,
they named the morning and the midday,
afternoon and evening, counted the years.

  1. The Creation of Ostoria introduces the origins of both the giant kingdom and the children of Annam, who became the progenitors of the different giant races.

I pour mead to the All-Father,
Progenitor of Worlds, Creator-by-Thought.
Grant me silence, all you holy children,
large and mighty, sons of Annam;
he wills me to tell the old stories,
the oldest that I remember.

Creation of Ostoria
All-Father beheld these lands, these seas,
and courted Othea, mother mountain,
to bear him sons, his favored ones,
he gave them a kingdom to rule forever,
mighty Ostoria, and established the ordning
that they might always know their place.

To Lanaxis, titan-father, first born and mightiest,
the vast frozen plains, where he reigned from Voninheim;
To Vilmos, paramount, dominion over the seas and lakes;
To Nicias, dynast, he ceded the skies;
To Masud, khan, the fiery peaks to the south;
To Ottar, warrior, the icy peaks and glaciers of the north,
To Obadai, runecarver, the caverns of the dark below.
To Ruk, chief, the rolling hills above.
And Dunmore, falsely fathered in Othea's deceit,
claimed for himself the forests deep.

The sons of Annam met, to honor him they
raised altars and temples in high mountain halls,
great cities to roam the living ice,
castles above the clouds to cover the lands,
island fortresses to govern the seas,
mighty forges to fashion gold and mithral gifts
to adorn Gudheim, jewel of Jotunheim,
and carved deep into the mountains's roots
great chambers to worship and call on his name.

  1. The Fall of Ostoria recounts the end of the giant kingdom of Ostoria and the exile of Annam All-Father. Othea was his wife, a mountain in Faerun, who gave birth to his children, the progenitors introduced in the Creation story. She was unfaithful to Annam, and held trysts with Ulutiu, a minor sea deity who was her lover, who Annam killed in a fit of jealous rage. In exchange for not terminating her pregnancy with Annam's final child with her, the Hartkiller, Annam went into self-imposed exile, vowing not to return until his children restored Ostoria to it's glory. Ulutiu's burial resulted in the creation of the Great Glacier that buried most of Ostoria, including it's capital Voninheim, the seat of Lanaxis. Lanaxis organized a plot with most of his brothers to poison their mother for her betrayal, but botched it such that most of them also died. The Hartkiller lived and is the subject of a prophecy for the rebuilding of Ostoria. It also functions to introduce PCs to two ethical concepts unique to giantkind: maug (dishonorable, unbefitting of a giant's nature and purpose) and maat (honorable, in accordance with giant nature and purpose); giants do not have ethical categories of "good" and "evil" the way that smallfolk understand them.

I pour mead to the All-Father,
Progenitor of Worlds, Creator-by-Thought.
Grant me silence, all you holy children,
large and mighty, sons of Annam;
he wills me to tell the old stories,
the oldest that I remember.

The Fall of Ostoria

When Annam All-Father discovered Othea's betrayal,
how he raged in his jealousy! how he demanded revenge!
Ulutiu's deception proved his undoing,
he could not hide in high Sheol-Div,
he could not hide even in waters deep.
Annam All-Quenching raised Sky Cleaver,
he shattered the sea god's seat,
he clove Sheol-Div and its ruler in twain,
so great was vengeful Annam's wrath
he rent to its roots the mountain beneath,
burying his axe in the blood-filled chasm.

Ulutiu's body was prepared in secret,
washed with his lover's tears, Othea's waters,
from the hardest oaks in his forest
Dunmore built his father's death-barge,
they set it to drift the Cold Ocean, Ulutiu's domain,
where many a glacier was marked with his rune,
but Stronmaus, eager to please his father,
summoned a gale until it sank into the icy waters
and settled in the darkest pit of the deep.
The loss of his life-heat, his dormant amulet,
froze the great ocean, the endless ice sea,
it seeded a glacier so vast and so great
it devoured the heart of once-mighty Ostoria,
even the citadel, Lanaxis' Bleak Palace,
which Lanaxis's mother forbade him to save.

Lanaxis gathered his brothers,
he laid out his plan
to find the slain body of the Lord in the Ice,
Othea's lover, father of giant-kin,
to reave his corpse in his watery grave,
to steal his amulet which fed the great glacier,
in defiance of grieving Othea's command.
Only Dunmore protested,
stirring his brothers to chaos,
(they knew not then that he was Othea's spy,
false offspring of her betrayal,
his true paternity too late discovered,
for which the Jotunbrud scorn his seed,
the reclusive, avaricious Voadkyn).
Their discord spelled their doom:
Brothers will die by their brother's hand.
Titan's progenitor, proud Lanaxis,
poisoned his mother's life-giving waters,
but the others drank too, nearly all were lost,
and with her last breath, cursed him to banishment.

Was it maug to slay her
who betrayed the All-Father?
Was it maat that Annam abandon this world
on her promise to bear his last son,
the prophesied rebuilder of empire,
Hartkiller, rejected by his brother's sons?

Woe to the world
then wedded in whoredom,
swords and axes
will split shields asunder,
a wind age, a wolf age
till the end of the world
and only hatred
in the hearts of Jotunbrud.

All-Father! return! make us mighty again!

Jotunbrud Proverbs a short collection of sayings, heavily inspired by the Eddas. They also expand on the concepts of maug and maat.

I will sing from the sage's chair;
I watched and listened, I looked and thought
about the words of the wise
when they talked of runes and what they reveal
at the High One's hall, in the High One's hall —
here is what I heard:

All the entrances, before you walk forward,
you should look at,
you should spy out;
for you can't know for certain where enemies are sitting,
ahead in the hall.

never look up when you're locked in battle —
where many men go mad with fear —
an evil spell may strike you.

don't rejoice in maug deeds,
though they be mighty, they never gain glory;
be glad to do maat
in battle and mead-hall.

It takes sharp wits to travel in the world —
never tell any son of Annam you can't trust
that you've lost your luck;
and you'll be ill rewarded if you think well
of a doer of maug deeds.


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