Sunday, February 3, 2019

Did D&D Goliath's First Appear in BECMI D&D and Mystara?

Goliaths first appeared as a race in D&D in Races of Stone (2004) for D&d 3.5 Edition. They returned as a playable race for D&D 4th Edition and D&D 5th Edition. When D&D 4th Edition launched their version of the Dark Sun setting, the Dark Sun race of Half-Giants was changed into Goliaths. So perhaps it is possible to trace the origins of Goliaths back to those Half-Giants from AD&D 2nd Edition's Dark Sun? Or could its roots be even older?

When discussing how to adapt the race to Mystara (which is something we Mystara fans like to do), someone (Cthulhudrew?) pointed out how similar Goliaths were to an obscure D&D monster called Stalwarts. Stalwarts first appeared in AC9 Creature Catalog (1986) for the BECMI D&D edition (sometimes called Red Box, Classic or Basic). Paleologos' excellent discussion at The Piazza about the origin of AC9 monsters has not been able to trace this creature to any earlier product suggesting this is the first apppearance of this race.

An actual Goliath

Both Stalwarts and Goliaths stand around 7 feet and are exceptionally strong. Both races love competitive games. Stalwarts are said to enjoy challenging strangers to physical competitions. If they lose they will serve the winner for a month, but not to the point of risking their lives. The Creature Catalogue was limited in detail on the physical appearance of the Stalwarts, but did come with an illustration that didn't quite match that of the Goliath even though the things in its face might either be Goliath style markings or shade. In any case, I tried to fix this with my colorized version of the illustration above. See the original here:

Stalwart from AC9 Creature Catalogue

So, while there is no real evidence of the Goliath being based on the Stalwart, the similarities are remarkable. I like how so many of the monsters, races and classes in later editions of D&D are still the same ones who appeared in the 70s and 80s. And even if these two races are unrelated, I like to think of them as the same thing.

What do you think?



  1. Good find! Completely agree. I wonder if the person who wrote Races of Stone subliminally created goliaths through osmosis having seen the original creature once perhaps without remembering the name "stalwart". When trying fill niches in a fantasy world, the theme of earth is fairly generic and I'm sure a room full of writers would create the same goliath race though name it a hundred different ways.

  2. I think your theory of subliminally bringing in elements of the Stalwart into the Goliath race is not unreasonable. I suppose we could ask the author. There were a few new races in most of the Races books, but almost all of them filled a niche similar to some preexisting races. Raptorans from Races of the Wild remind me of Faenare (PC2) or Aaracockra for instance.


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