Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Origins of the PCs

Welcome to the first installment of Origins of the PCs. This feature will be joining Jordan's Page of Useless Babble in 2010, but this week is a special preview of what you can expect when the article starts coming out on a regular basis. In each installment, I'll be selecting a character race at random, breaking down its strengths and weaknesses and suggesting things like classes, prestige classes and feats that work well with each class.

That's not all. Each installment will also provide some extra game-material. It may be some feats, a prestige class, substitution levels, equipment, spells or whatever! You can be guaranteed though that you'll be able to find something for your character or maybe a character you've got planned for later. And without further adieu, I present the Origins of the PCs: Half-Giant.

Half-Giants, introduced in the Expanded Psionics Handbook are a race originally created for the Dark Sun campaign setting. In the world of Athas, they are a slave race, created by a complicated breeding program, and possess the best of both giant and human traits. Now available in any campaign setting where psionics are available, half-giants have found a niche as a heavy hitting race, capable of psionic abilities.

Half-Giant Strengths

  • Higher Strength and Constitution scores
  • Immune to effects that target only humanoids
  • Resistant to fire effects
  • Treated as Large-size when beneficial
  • Starts play with a psionic power points and a stomp as a psi-like ability

Half-Giant Weaknesses

  • Lower Dexterity scores
  • Level adjustment

Playing a Half-Giant
If one word can describe a half-giant, it's physical. Both their powerful build feature and their higher Strength score allow them to hit much harder than other characters would, and the higher Constitution score, creature type and bonus against fire effects means that they're much harder to take down. In addition, thanks to their stomp psi-like ability, they can easily fight off a group of enemies at once.

Dexterity isn't a half-giant's strong suit, so their ranged attacks, Reflex saves and armor class are going to suffer. In addition, they also have a level adjustment of +1, so they won't have a lot of room for "wasted levels". Any player creating a half-giant character is going to have to make what levels they do have count.

Because of their lower Dexterity and focus on melee combat and psionics, the average half-giant character is going to want to stick with heavy armor. Not only is a half-giant not going to have a large Dexterity modifier, but they're also going to have a high Strength; perfect for lugging around plate mail.

A half-giant can wield a large-sized longsword in one hand to deal damage more damage than a human character could wielding a bastard sword. Regardless of whether the half-giant character wields a two-handed weapon, a one-handed weapon and a shield or dual-wields, they will be guaranteed to deal a large amount of damage. The downside to this is that large-sized weapons are more expensive, and characters are less likely to find them as treasure in a monster's horde (unless the monster is a giant or any other large humanoid creature).

Class Suggestions
As stated before, half-giant characters do best when in a melee combat role, especially one that takes advantage of heavy armor or psionics. Psychic warrior (from the Expanded Psionics Handbook) is the half-giant's favored class, and for good reason. It allows the half-giant access to psionic powers while giving them access to plenty of feats and armor proficiencies.

Another excellent choice from the Expanded Psionics Handbook is the soulknife. Although such a character could only form mind blades for a medium-sized creature (although the half-giant has the powerful build racial ability and can wield weapons as a Large-sized creature, they are still Medium-sized, and can therefore only make mind blades sized appropriately), it does provide the half-giant character with plenty of melee attack options, although such a character would probably want to invest in feats to gain proficiency with heavier armor.

The samurai class from Complete Warrior is a great choice for an oriental campaign. A half-giant samurai using their stomp power and their intimidation skill can easily take control of a small group of enemies and herd them into position.

The soulborn from Magic of Incarnum allows a half-giant the ability to power themselves with incarnum, while focusing on their specific alignment. Such a character can make good use of the class's smite ability and take advantage of feats such as Psycarnum Infusion to power their soulmelds.

The Tome of Battle provides two excellent choices for half-giant characters: the crusader and the warblade. With their usually high hitpoints, half-giant crusaders make excellent use of their steely resolve and furious counterstrike class features, turning this character into an automatic counter-attacking machine. A half-giant warblade goes the other way and can be very aggressive. Class features can help improve the generally poor Reflex saves this character will have, and with a fairly good Intelligence score, the half-giant warblade can be dishing out more damage ever before.

The knight and duskblade from the Player's Handbook II can provide a half-giant with less traditional options. A half-giant duskblade can effectively protect themselves from attack while wielding arcane magic (especially when they possess the battle caster feat from Complete Arcane). A half-giant knight is a great mounted warrior and can help provide their allies with protection from attacks as well.

For players looking for more traditional options: the cleric, fighter, paladin and ranger classes are all excellent choices, as they provide the half-giant with excellent fighting abilities and allow them to protect themselves properly. In addition, the magic provided by the cleric class can be used to enhance the half-giant's natural abilities and turn them into a true representative of their deity.

Feat Suggestions
Half-giants have little in the way of feats that improve their racial abilities like the standard races do. There are however, some excellent options that can be taken advantage of.

Both Half-Giant Stomp and Half-Giant Thunderer from Complete Psionic are good choices, and are the only racial feats available. Both will improve the character's stomp psi-like ability. If you're planning on using this racial ability, these feats are must-haves.

If your character finds themselves fighting a lot of spellcasters, then Deflective Armor from Races of Stone is a great choice. It will help protect the half-giant from touch attacks while they are psionically focused.

Players can also take advantage of the half-giant's powerful build ability to take feats like Fling Ally or Fling Enemy, also from Races of Stone.

If you're looking to increase your half-giant's Reflex saves, feats like Lightning Reflexes (Player's Handbook) and Insightful Reflexes (Complete Adventurer) can be very useful. This last feat is especially attractive to half-giant warblades who can effectively use double their Intelligence modifier instead of their Dexterity modifier to determine their Reflex saving throws.

Prestige Class Suggestions
Much like with classes, half-giants do very well with prestige classes that help them focus on either psionics of melee combat. One of the best choices for a defense-conscious half-giant is the iron mind from Races of Stone. A half-giant psychic warrior who becomes an iron mind is guaranteed to be extremely difficult to take down.

Having an identity crisis? Try the stoneblessed prestige class, also from Races of Stone. This will allow a half-giant to bond with the goliath race and gaining some extra abilities in the process. Such a character could then take advantage of the numerous feats available only to the goliath race, like Heavy Lithoderms and Earth Fist.

The cryokineticist from Frostburn provides a half-giant character with the ability to wield the powers of psionic cold and protect themselves against cold abilities with an ability similar to their racial protection against fire effects.

New Material

Half-Giant Paragon

The subjects of breeding experiments in centuries past, half-giants possess the strength and vitality of giants with the intelligence and adaptability of humans. These beings also possess a spark of psionic ability that sets them apart from much of their brethren on either side of the family tree. Half-giant paragons are those rare half-giants who have embraced their uniqueness and strove to improve themselves even further than the experiments that created their race.
    Adventures: Half-giant paragons can turn to adventuring for any number of reasons. Some desire to seek out new places, while others covet material wealth. Many attach themselves to a group of people or a small community and adventure as a way to help their adopted clan in any way they can. Having no homeland to call their own, many half-giant paragons use adventuring as a way of finding either themselves, or a place to call their own.
    Characteristics: Half-giant paragons are often curious about new people or places that they see, and are usually interested in learning customs, habits, expressions and history. They tend to get along well with most people they encounter, and are generally seen as quite accommodating. Those who choose to abuse the half-giant paragon's kindness can find themselves quickly shunned or put in their place, sometimes through violence.
    Alignment: Half-giant paragons can be of any alignment. Most are good, but there is no clear tendency towards either law nor chaos. Half-giants are ultimately the product of their environment, and half-giant paragons can be found from all alignments.
    Religion: Many half-giant paragons shun religion, a disdain that goes back to the creation of their race. Half-giant paragons of an extreme alignment sometimes take to worshipping a deity, but that is often a pragmatic following, or at the very least, lip service. Some half-giant paragons take to worshipping elemental deities, who meet the average half-giant's expectations of being powerful, yet aloof.
    Background: With a tendency towards wanderlust, half-giants, including paragons, often leave their home to see some of the world at a fairly young age, only later settling down to start a family of their own. Those half-giants who grew up in a loving home leave with fond thoughts of home as they face their journeys. A half-giant who suffered abuse, enslavement or worse may be escaping from the torments of their youth or leave seeking to gather power in order to one day get revenge on those who wronged them.
    Races: Half-giant paragons delight in meeting new cultures and races of all kinds. They get along well with members of most races, as long as those other races treat the half-giants fairly. A half-giant will quickly learn to avoid members of a race that have continually done them ill. Dragon-related races are the exception though, and are usually met with a sense of caution by half-giants. This apprehension likely goes back to the genesis of their race, but is easily broken if true friendship is offered to the half-giant.
    Other Classes: Half-giant paragons favor martial classes as well as those who use psionic abilities. While they can see the need for caution, they often have no patience for sneaking around or long complicated plans. Many half-giants see a power equal to psionics in arcane magic, but they are often distrustful of divine caster due to their general dislike of deities.

Game Rule Information
Half-giant paragons have the following game statistics.
    Abilities: Half-giants often take an active role in combat, so Strength is often quite important. Charisma is important for powering the character's spell-like abilities, and Intelligence is important for several half-giant paragon class skills.
    Alignment: Any.
    Hit Die: d8.

Class Skills
The half-giant paragon's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Autohypnosis (Wis), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge(psionics) (Int), Profession (Wis), Search (Int) and Swim (Str). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.
    Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the half-giant paragon prestige class.
    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Half-giant paragons are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, with light and medium armor, and with shields (but not tower shields).
    Powers per Day: At 1st and 3rd level, a half-giant paragon gains new powers known, maximum power level known and new power points per day as if he also gained a level in psychic warrior. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (such as bonus feats). This essentially means that he adds the level of half-giant paragon to his level in psychic warrior, then determines new powers known, power points per day, maximum power level known and manifester level accordingly.
    If a half-giant paragon has no levels in psychic warrior, this class feature has no effect.
    Resist Flame (Ex): A half-giant paragon's racial bonus on saves against fire spells and effects increases by 2.
    Talented (Ex): A half-giant paragon gains 2 bonus power points at 1st level
    Mental Disruption (Ex): At 2nd level, a half-giant paragon gains the ability to manifest mental disruption once per day as a psi-like ability with a manifester level equal to his half-giant paragon level. The saving throw is Charisma-based. (See the Expanded Psionics Handbook, page 115.)
    Ability Boost (Ex): At 3rd level, a half-giant paragon's Strength score increases by 2 points.

Table 1-01: The Half-Giant Paragon
Level Base Attack
Special Powers per Day
1st +0
Resist flame, talented +1 level of psychic warrior
2nd +1
Mental disruption -
3rd +2
Ability boost (Str +2) +1 level of psychic warrior

Tectonic Knight

The ground is solid and unyielding, or so it would appear. Beneath the unchanging appearance lies masses of rock that move. These migrations of stone, although slow, yield terrible damage in the form of earthquakes, landslides and other natural forces. The tectonic knight is an adept of these awesome powers, and displays their mastery of the ground through the use of one of the most basic of psionic powers: stomp.
    Most tectonic knights are psychic warriors or wilders. Other psionicists can be drawn to this class though. Half-giants, with access to stomp as a psi-like ability often become tectonic knights to improve their natural abilities.
    NPC tectonic knights usually live secluded lives in mountainside huts or on top of large plateaus. Isolation from the world at large is both an excellent way to focus on martial training and avoid those who would either plunder their secrets or challenge them for sport.
    Hit Die: d8

To qualify to become a tectonic knight, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
    Base Attack Bonus: +3.
    Skills: Balance 3 ranks, Concentration 8 ranks.
    Special: Able to manifest the stomp power to access to stomp as a psi-like or supernatural ability.

Class Skills
The tectonic knight's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Jump (Str), Knowledge(psionics) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis) and Psicraft (Int). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.
    Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the tectonic knight prestige class.
    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Tectonic knights do not gain proficiency with any weapons nor do they gain proficiency with any armor or shields.
    Expanded Shockwave (Ex): The tectonic knight learns techniques that allow them to channel more strength through their specialized psionic power. When manifesting the stomp power or psi-like ability, the range of the power is increased by 5 feet. At 3rd level, the range improves again to a total increase of 10 feet.
    Improved Manifesting (Ex): At 1st level, a tectonic knight begins to concentrate the training of their stomp power. She adds her levels in tectonic knight to the save DC for her stomp power or psi-like ability. This ability stacks with feats like Psionic Endowment or Ability Focus.
    Earth Connection (Ex): The tectonic knight's intimate knowledge of the ground and it's hidden movements provides them with a unique insight in how to best move upon it. Starting at 2nd level, she adds her levels in tectonic knight as an insight bonus to Balance, Move Silently and Jump checks.
    Violent Upheaval (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, the tectonic knight learns to focus their stomp power as to cause more damage. When using their stomp power or psi-like ability, they can choose to have the power deal lethal or non-lethal damage, at their discretion.
    Follow-Through (Ex): When the tectonic knight reaches 4th level, they master an aspect of their body's equilibrium. They may expend their psionic focus when manifesting their stomp power or psi-like ability to lower the manifesting time to 1 move action.
    Powerful Shockwave (Ex): At 4th level, the tectonic knight's mastery of the quakes caused by her stomp power improve. The damage dealt by the tectonic knight's stomp power or psi-like ability improves to 1d6. This improved damage die also applies to the extra damage that can be caused by augmenting stomp.
    Epicenter (Ex): At 5th level, the tectonic knight has mastered the use of her stomp power and gains the ability to become the radiate the power in all directions. The tectonic knight has the ability to change the area of her stomp power or psi-like ability from a 30-foot cone to a 15-foot burst that is centered on themselves. The tectonic knight is immune to the effects of her own stomp power.

Table 1-02: The Tectonic Knight
Level Base Attack
1st +1
Expanded shockwave (5 ft.), improved manifesting
2nd +2
Earth connection, violent upheaval
3rd +3
Expanded shockwave (10 ft.)
4th +4
Follow-through, powerful shockwave
5th +5

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