Non-Players with Character: Big But Not Bad – Giants, Jotun and Ettins

Jotunheim

I’ve decided to combine the three races of giants, jotun, and ettins into one post for a few reasons. One is that there simply aren’t enough noteworthy NPCs in each race to merit a standalone post. But also, these three races share some things in common and deserve some attention. They’re big, they’re menacing, and they’re mostly enemies, but there are some interesting exceptions. You’ll see they aren’t all bad, and some are downright endearing.

I’ll start with the biggest first: Giants. These bruisers are pretty rare, with only a handful across Tyria. Some of them are unfriendly, and they are mighty foes that literally send you running in fear when they roar. But others are pretty nice guys. Gort is a giant in Kessex Hills who lives in a cave, and he puts the ‘gentle’ in ‘gentle giant’. He often gets chased out of his home by ettins, and he thanks the player for clearing the ettins out by unearthing his treasure chest.

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Gort is quite the gracious host.

In the Harathi Hinterlands lives a giant named Fen. Fen has a size problem. He wants to go into a cave, but he’s too big to fit. So you can gather up shrinkcap spores so he can make a shrinking potion.

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Here he is before the potion…
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…and after.

He doesn’t particularly like being small…

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Well, Fen, some of us can’t just stomp on enemies to kill them.

But he willingly shrinks anyway, for an important reason:

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You have to admit, he’s no savage. He’s an honorable and intelligent being.

The caves are home to the graves of his friends, and he always visits them. It’s rather sad, but undeniably touching. I suggest you check him out and help him on his pilgrimage.

This next giant has no name that I know of. He’s found in the Silverwastes, in a somewhat hard to reach area. There are no Mordrem or other enemies nearby, just a flat area near some of the mysterious ruins that dot the area.

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Oh yeah, and he’s already dead.

He’s surrounded by four skritt, which are flagged as hostile to the player, but they dive underground when the player approaches.

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He’s a big giant, too.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about this giant. How did he die? Was he killed by another creature? Was it the nearby circling skritt? If so, that’s pretty impressive, but why did they do it? If it wasn’t the skritt, who was it and what are the skritt doing there? How did the giant get there, and why? It’s a pretty mysterious situation, and I hope we learn more about it in the future.

Somewhat smaller and much less intelligent than giants are the ettins. They are a living example of two heads not being better than one. Interestingly, while most ettins simply have one name, some have a name for each head, like Ert and Burt:

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Neither head is particularly friendly.

However, though ettins are pretty lacking in brains, they don’t lack for heart. Slugg is an ettin in Gendarran Fields, and he is befriended by the Lupikids, a gang of kids from the Cornucopian Fields area that are looking for treasure. Apparently his heart is easily won, since the kids just give him an apple to win his friendship.

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You can see the Lupikids in the background of the first two frames.
But… wow, Slugg.

But with the assistance of the players, Slugg successfully defends the kids from drakes and they all get treasure. Hooray, treasure!

In fairness, some ettins do have loftier goals. Krug is an ettin leader in Queensdale who is trying to rally ettins to fight the centaurs with varying degrees of success.

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Why is his friend named Fat Hands? I’m not really sure.

Players can help persuade (occasionally forcefully)  the nearby ettins to help fight the centaurs, and when the heart is finished Krug thanks you in a particularly… ettin way.

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Is… that the club you’re holding, Krug? Hoo boy.

Finally, we come to the jotun. They were the most social of the races in this article, but they became so hostile to each other that they refuse to even speak to each other to negotiate and trade. In a renown heart in Wayfarer Foothills, the player helps four jotun trade various goods for a runestone currency as a medium.

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They’re facing each other yet refuse to even speak.
It’s childish, but who’s going to tell Jotun that? Not me.

Finally, we come to the last and my favorite NPC of any of these races.

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Say hello to Thrulnn the Lost.

Thrulnn the Lost is the last jotun storyteller, and he has come to Hoelbrak to speak to Knut Whitebear. Jotun no longer listen to their own oral traditions, but he knows the respect norn have for stories and legends. As he puts it:

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He’s got an impressive speaking voice, by the way.

After he finishes talking with the elder, the elder goes to speak to Knut Whitebear and Thrulnn turns and offers to tell stories to players nearby. He’s well worth talking to, and when you ask him about the Age of Giants, he has different dialogue if you’re on a norn character.

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The gods he mentions are the same gods the humans revere,
according to him.

He tells some interesting stories, not just about the Age of Giants. Thrulnn also talks about the fall of the jotun, the gods abandonment of the jotun, and even the time the dragons rose before. I won’t reveal it all here, though – I highly recommend you talk to him yourself!

As you can see, the larger races of Tyria have more depth than meets the eye. There is the lost wisdom of the jotun, the rare and simple kindness of the ettins, and the gentle nobility of the giants. They’re well worth getting to know, and I’m glad I did. I hope you will too.

4 thoughts on “Non-Players with Character: Big But Not Bad – Giants, Jotun and Ettins

  1. It is articles like this that make my heart pound louder for this game! Little stories, which do more than add colors to an already incredible canvas of lore.

    I hope you have many more in store for us <3

    P.S. This might seem a bit out of place, since you didn't cover Ogres. There is however this one ogre who absolutely made my heart melt when I first encountered him – almost 3 years ago now! Auwurgh lives in Hoelbrak, and he has a short but very emotional tale to tell 😉

  2. Thanks again for this. Really interesting, especially when you (re)discover NPCs that you didn’t know about, or had forgotten about. Those squabbling Jotun in Wayfarer Foothills though… that renown heart takes forever to complete!

  3. Thank you for this article. It really helps showcase the depth that the writers put into making Tyria a living, breathing world (if you’ll pardon the cliché).

    It’s because of features like the one you talked about here that I wanted to start writing in Tyria over at Chronicles of Tyria (not-so-shameless self plug). Tyria is a fascinating world and it seems like there’s always more to discover.

    For example, I did not know about the dead giant in The Silverwastes, and now I am incredibly curious as to his fate.

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