Beginner's Guide to Firbolgs
Hidden deep in forgotten forests dwell clans of peace-loving giant-kin known as firbolgs. This reclusive race is often feared by outsiders, and for good reason! They are mysterious, magically talented, fierce protectors of the natural world when they feel threatened or provoked.
Firbolgs have given themselves the role of guardians of the world’s forests, which they consider to be sacred. The more ancient the better! A firbolg clan may inhabit the same forest for all time, unless something should destroy it. And while firbolgs guard the wood, that is unlikely. Any true firbolg would happily sacrifice itself to defend its verdant home and the rare and beautiful creatures that dwell beneath its boughs. They will starve rather than deprive the land of its resources, and will not hunt or forage if doing so would be a detriment to their environment. Firbolgs despise greed in all its forms, and believe it is virtuous to live by taking only what you need.
No one, not even the elves, knows their way around a wood like a firbolg! Their high regard for the trees that make up their home gives them a relationship with their surroundings that is so familiar it borders on familial. This devotion to nature and its ways gives every firbolg an innate connection to druidic magic. While not all firbolgs are druids, they are able to wield natural magic even from a young age thanks to this predisposition. Firbolgs who foster this ingrained talent to become true firbolg druids often become formidable wielders of frightening magic, though they do not revel in its use, and are respected and admired members of the clan.
Firbolgs are an insular people, preferring to mind their own business, and would like it very much if other folk would extend them the same courtesy. They hardly ever venture outside their forest homes, and dislike others encroaching on their sacred space. If a group of outsiders travels through one of their forests, the firbolgs keep a close eye on the interlopers, using their magic and the forest to remain unseen. If the group moves through quickly, the firbolgs may not hinder them in any way, glad to be spared a confrontation. If the group dawdles, or their passage begins to mar the forest, the firbolgs may encourage them to hurry on their way. If they feel comfortable doing so, this may be accomplished by a friendly conversation, or by bribing the travelers with simple gifts of nature’s bounty! If they do not feel safe making themselves known, they accomplish this by making the forest seem inhospitable. They will herd game away from their camp, cause the forest to become eerily quiet, steal useful tools and creature comforts, or poke holes in waterskins to hasten the group’s exodus.
If anyone harms the forest and angers the firbolgs, however, they drop all pretense of subtlety. Instead, they will marshall the full might of the clan beyond the sight of their enemy, mask their approach with magic, and fall upon their foes to vanquish them in a single, decisive strike! Firbolgs are gentle by nature, but their powerful, 7-8 foot tall builds and mastery of magic makes them a fearsome opponent when push comes to shove!
Firbolgs are dutifully bound to land and clan, and are rarely seen adventuring in the wide world. However, if a firbolg loses either, they will search for a new home and new clan. Oftentimes, a firbolg’s home may be lost to a natural disaster, or destroyed by a calamitous creature, and any survivors will crusade across the map, hoping to avenge their clan and prevent further disaster.
A firbolg may also be exiled from its clan for committing a grave sin. Destroying part of its home forest, slaying a magnificent creature that called the forest home, or murdering a member of the clan would all be offenses worthy of excommunication. Such firbolgs may no longer be welcome in any firbolg society, and must try to learn the ways of men and join human society.
Finally, in some rare cases, a firbolg’s duty may draw them away from their forest home. They must make pilgrimage to a distant clan, retrieve a mystical remedy, or procure a necessary magical item to ensure the survival of their home. Such adventurous firbolgs are driven and dauntless in their quest, if only so that they may complete it quickly and return to the comfort and safety of home.
Wise and gifted in the ways of magic as they are, it should come as no surprise that the Druid class is a “natural” fit for firbolgs in DND 5e. A firbolg Druid starts the game with an array of tools at its disposal that all blend into a wonderful theme. However, a firbolg Cleric aligned with a nature deity is an equally viable option! Firbolg rangers have a healthy bonus to their magic, and are especially self-sufficient in forest environs.
As per Volo’s Guide to Monsters, if you make a firbolg player character in D&D Fifth Edition , you benefit from the following…
Ability Score Increase
Your Wisdom score increases by 2, and your Strength score increases by 1.
As humanoids related to the fey, firbolg have long lifespans. A firbolg reaches adulthood around 30, and the oldest of them can live for 500 years.
Firbolg are between 7 and 8 feet tall and weigh between 240 and 300 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
You can cast detect magic and disguise self with this trait, using Wisdom as your spellcasting ability for them. Once you cast either spell, you can’t cast it again with this trait until you finish a short or long rest. When you use this version of disguise self, you can seem up to 3 feet shorter than normal, allowing you to more easily blend in with humans and elves.
As a bonus action, you can magically turn invisible until the start of your next turn or until you attack, make a damage roll, or force someone to make a saving throw. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
Speech of Beast and Leaf
You have the ability to communicate in a limited manner with beasts and plants. They can understand the meaning of your words, though you have no special ability to understand them in return. You have advantage on all Charisma checks you make to influence them.
You can speak, read, and write Common, Elvish, and Giant.
Firbolgs fill in several familiar but underrated stereotypes for storytelling: the gentle giant, the guardian of nature, the forest trickster, and the stranger in a strange land once they leave their homes. What about firbolgs inspires you the most? Tell us about your next firbolg PC or NPC on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or in our Discord!
Rob Franklin (thedndwannabe) has been a Dungeon Master for many years, and has a deep passion for roleplaying games. He runs the MistyMountainStreaming channel on Twitch, our Misty Mountain Gaming YouTube channel, and is cohost of the Bardic Twinspiration D&D podcast. He also enjoys bourbon, From Software games, and his dog Bigby.
Wouldn’t 350-500lb be more realistic for heavily-built 7-8’ tall giantkind? Or maybe even a bit more? And, of course, if female Firbolg are built lighter they could weigh between 250-300lb instead. We know of humans which have inhabited this size range in the real-life world, and they can be pretty heavyweight within their size category. Speaking as a real-life human who is 6’7" tall, well… 300lb is only about 20lb overweight for me. See what I mean? And I’m not even particularly heavily-built.
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