Giants are a big deal in the world of Athas. Rajaat devoted at least one SK to killing them off and is one of the few instances where the SK was not successful in exterminating them. They continue to have an impact on the geo-political landscape. The biggest effect is on Balic, being a neighbor subject to raids. However, anyone seeking to use the Sea of Silt, or wanting giant rope hair, needs to think about them.
The basic use of them in Dark Sun is dwelling as tribes on islands in the Sea of Silt.
Dregoth is no scrub. Though it's perhaps worth noting that he did seem to lose interest in his mission, especially after the fall of Rajaat. He did not actively pursue it at the very least.
Now I read a Pathfinder book or two about giants, and it did go into the unique cultures and roles their different giants play. Given the somewhat unique elements of Athasian giants, I felt like digging in a little deeper.
For the sake of this post, I am ignoring the giants living in Last Sea. They are outliers at best, weird non-canonical adds at worst.
- Before the age of sorcerer kings
Curiously, there is no sign of giant civilizations prior to the Cleansing Wars. Giants were certainly around, but I have never found any mention of giant ruins, tombs or even plus sized tools or weapons. Given the small size of the Tablelands it seems likely to me that it may just be a question of geography. The actual giant ruins and artefacts might just be on another continent or something.
Still, this does mean that we don’t have any evidence of what their culture, beliefs or political organization was before the Cleansing Wars.
- After the Cleansing Wars
At first glance, the giants remind a little of Polynesians combined with ancient Greek myth. Polynesians did live on lots of small islands. The giants live on islands that would feel small to them. Also, giants in Greek myths often did live on islands, like the classic Cyclops.
The giant culture does seem very uniform. Polynesia could be very different from one island to another. I think the reason for that here is that the Silt Sea Islands have the same climate and terrain throughout most. The exceptions do stand out.
In terms of religious beliefs, I don’t see them as having druids of any kind. Templars, heck no. In terms of the elements, Silt would make a lot of sense. Alternatively, Air, Earth, Fire, Sun and Magma
- What is the deal with Taraskir?
So, this is beast head giant, who ruled Guistenal before the coming of Dregoth. After his death he was deified by the citizens and his worship did spread. Reading through the available material, it’s apparent to me that he’s an exception to whatever rules were active to then. Basically, he was a beast head giant adventurer. Sadly, his unique story seems lost.
Rom- This giant variant is from 2nd Al Qadim. Their lore is interesting and easily adapted to Dark Sun. In the original, the giants were a prosperous civilization that pissed off the gods. They were struck with infertility. Doomed to die off, the final members sealed themselves into cairns. There they rest as undead, mournfully playing weird music. Tweak the lore a little, apply a template (mummy, ghoul, etc) and they slot easily into Dark Sun.
Ash Giant- This is Pathfinder Bestiary. Ash giants are a kind of giant that has basically been mutated by toxic waste or some other equivalent. They also have close relationships to insects. This does make them a good fit for Dark Sun. Wonder if their insect affinity spills over to thri-kreen? Hmmm. I would consider using an ash giant as a “one off” NPC monster who lurks in an especially hostile region.
Cave giant- From Pathfinder Bestiary. Cave giants are a kind of sub terrain giant. Savage and degenerate, they look pretty darn bestial to begin with. To use these guys, I think they could be a beast head giant with cosmetic changes.
Cyclops- So these have always been canonically in Dark Sun. Now they are portrayed as giant kin. This is to say that they are smaller than traditional giants. Even in Pathfinder, they are usually classed as “large” rather than “giant.” I find keeping them in Athas to be easy. You need to use some “make it Athas” techniques. What I do question is when is should I use them, instead of b’rohg or megara? All three fulfill similar roles.