The Jötnar (singular Jötunn), or Giants, are a race of primordial beings who have existed since time immemorial. They are the enemies of the gods of men and other mortal races, and the creators of the chaos races. According to prophecies popular in Northrim, they and their servants will one day wage a great war on the earth and in the heavens - the Ragnarök - killing the gods and ending the world as we know it.
According to Nordic myth, the Jötnar were some of the first beings to come into existence. According to the Achaeans, they were the children of the Titans, particularly Oranos and Gaia. Whatever the case, most tales agree that they existed when the earth first began, and strove with the gods, who overthrew them. Most were imprisoned in other realms, leaving Midgard free to be populated by the mortal races, though some of the lesser giants remained there, hiding in high mountain caves deep in the Jagged Edge.
After this, the giants decided to create mortal followers like those of the gods, mimicking these purer races and creating hideous, monstrous mockeries: the chaos races. The giants hope to use these creatures as their army in the mortal realm when they eventually launch their final offensive against the gods. The constant struggle of the other mortal races against the chaos races is seen - particularly by Northmen - as a holy battle to delay the coming of Ragnarök.
Also called the Sons of Muspell, the greatest Fire Giants can be powerful enough to rival the gods. They mostly reside in Muspelheim, the Realm of Fire, under their king, Surtur, who some call the God of Fire. They are said to have dark skin and fiery red hair and beards, with eyes that burn with flame, and their footsteps sear the land black where they walk. They wield flaming weapons forged in fires hotter than mortals can endure. With one such flaming sword, Surt is foretold to lead the armies of chaos against the gods at Ragnarök.
Another race of Greater Giants, the Frost Giants (or Rime Giants) are somewhat less hostile than the Fire Giants and interact with the gods more often, sometimes in peaceful ways. Indeed, some of the gods of the Nordic pantheon originated as Frost Giants, such as Skadi. Fair-haired and often noble in appearance, they can endure great cold, and have icy blue or sometimes colorless eyes. They mostly dwell in Niflheim, the Realm of Frost.
The third race of Greater Giants, Storm Giants dwell the realm of Air, building great cities among the storm-clouds, brooding plans to destroy the gods. Most have dark grey beards and grey skin, with smoldering blue eyes. Storm-clouds often gather around their heads, and they weild weapons forged of thunderbolts.
Some claim that the most powerful Mountain Giants (also called Stone Giants), those akin with the gods, dwell in a realm called Jotunheim. Others say that Jotunheim is merely a name for their lands deep in the Jagged Edge. Regardless of the truth of either claim, it is certain that some Mountain Giants dwell in Midgard, where they are among the most powerful beings to walk the earth, fighting with dragons and plotting the destruction of the world. Tall and often noble in appearance, they are considered the Great Giants, and they move and think slowly but shrewdly, living as long as the elves. They can grow as tall as the tallest castles in Achaea, so it is fortunate that they are seldom encountered by mortals, except those who seek them out.
The least of all Jötnar, Hill Giants are the type most commonly encountered in the mortal realms. They usually stand about as tall as a two-story house, though some may be taller. Though they may live for centuries, they are not immortal like their greater brethren. Most of them dwell in the Jötnar fortresses in the Jagged Edge, leading the chaos races there, but some venture down to the foothills or into the lands of men, seeking to escape the Jötnar war machine and live in solitude. Though they tend to move slowly, it would be a mistake to think them dull-witted. They are far more intelligent than the chaos races, and are not stooped and ugly, but look very much like men.
A cyclops is a type of giant with a single eye. Slow-witted and ugly, and shunned by the Jötnar as stupid mutants, they were judged as non-threatening by the gods and allowed to remain in Midgard, where they dwell in caves hidden far in the mountains or on remote islands. They are mostly peaceful beings, many living as simple farmers and herders. A few are even favored by the Achaean gods. They do, however, enjoy the taste of human flesh, and so are dangerous to approach, since their size and strength makes them quite difficult to kill.