Goliaths are borderline savage nomads who live for sport and fighting and live up in the mountains. They're named after Goliath, a larger than average man who was the champion of the Philistine army and killed by David in the Scriptures of the real-life Abrahamic religions. They're excellent at three things: climbing, killing and taking a beating. For this reason, they're excellent for pure combat builds - those bonuses to STR and CON have "Tank" written all over them. They also, for some reason, have natural skin patterns that look like camo body paint. Finally, your dream of building Cammy from Street Fighter as a Monk can come true! Also, these guys get most the benefits of being large (bigger weapon dice sizes, grapple bonuses,) with none of the penalties (attack penalties, ac penalties, being easier to surround) but lack the most powerful advantage (improved reach) so they are relatively balanced. One of the few races actually worth its level adjustment, at least when LA buyoff rules are used.
The downside is, they revere nature, like a hippie. Good luck playing one in an urban campaign (actually not that unfeasible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LDGzXpei8k ). They're pretty much the 'one true race' for Warden; give one a 2h weapon and the Fighter becomes somewhat obsolete, power creep ftw!
In 3rd edition, Goliaths had their own pantheon of gods who haven't appeared since; in 4th edition, they became worshippers of the Primal Spirits.
Goliaths originated in 3rd edition in the Races of Stone splatbook, which focused on "earthen" races like the more mainstream dwarf and gnome. There, mechanically, it was basically the Expanded Psionics Handbook Half-Giant but with the psionics stuff replaced by lame mountain terrain stuff. They are given a few unique Prestige Classes in the same book. The Goliath Liberator and Dawncaller are both are terrible, effectively require Ranger/Bard to enter while being worse than just staying in the base class. Liberator only gains anti-giant abilities and nothing else while Dawncaller only gains slight variants of Bardic Music and nothing else. Peregrine Runner is a Scout with some Ranger abilities which would be interesting... if it weren't published after the Swift Hunter feat which does this but better. The best by far is the Druid based Stonespeaker Guardian, which makes wild shape beefier and advances casting at every level.
3e's art is inconsistent for Goliaths. The first illustration and a few later ones looks like the one pictured above. Most illustration, including the large ones and the cover, instead show them as humanoids with bumpy, rocky skin. No explanation is given for this inconsistency.
Goliaths reappeared in 4th edition's PHB 2. A primal race whose culture revolves around competition, good sportsmanship, and daring; goliaths are nomadic hunter-gatherers who inhabit the rugged highlands, where they casually scale the tallest peaks and leap wide chasms, looking for food, water or just for the sake of proving they can climb higher, leap further and run longer than their fellows. Though they do like to show off how good they are doing, and everything's a competition, they can't abide cheaters, gloaters or sore losers, but they can be hard on themselves when they feel they are failing to live up to their past accomplishments. Their appearance has standardized on the one shown above.
- Ability Scores: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution or +2 Wisdom (originally +2 Str/Con, until Dragon #397)
- Size: Medium
- Speed: 6 squares (30 feet)
- Vision: Normal
- Skill Bonuses: +2 Athletics, +2 Nature
- Mountain's Tenacity: You have +1 to your Will defense.
- Powerful Athlete: When you make an Athletics check to jump or climb, roll twice and choose which result you prefer.
- Racial Power - Stone's Endurance: Once per encounter, as a minor action, gain Resist (5 per tier) to all damage until the end of your next turn.
5th edition's Goliaths appeared in Elemental Evil Players Guide. Same old perfect barbarians, but transplanted the hippie stuff into the firbolgs. Instead, they're vocal in their mockery of the tendencies of civilization's structures - they have a sense of fairness that no position can hope to dissuade, the weak and useless die trying to keep up, everyone is constantly tested in their environment (especially their leaders) which they will still relish continuing in fairer places, and they would all sooner die fighting hopelessly than waste away remembering glory days.
- Ability Score: +2 Strength, +1 Constitution
- Typical Alignment: Favor Lawful Neutral
- Size: Medium. Described as being between 7 and 8 feet tall, and weighing 280-340 lbs.
- Speed: Base walking speed of 30 feet.
- Natural Athlete: Automatic proficiency in Athletics
- Stone's Endurance: Can use your reaction to roll a d12+Con modifier and reduce damage by that much. Recharges on short or long rests.
- Powerful Build: Count as one size larger for carrying capacity and determining how much you can carry, drag, or lift.
- Mountain Born: Instant acclimation to high altitude, including above 20,000 feet, and naturally adapted to cold climates.
- Languages: Common and Giant.
|Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races|
|Player's Handbook 1:|| Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf |
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
|Player's Handbook 2:||Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter|
|Player's Handbook 3:||Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden|
|Monster Manual 1:|| Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki |
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
|Monster Manual 2:||Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku|
|Dragon Magazine:||Gnoll - Shadar-kai|
|Heroes of Shadow:||Revenant - Shade - Vryloka|
|Heroes of the Feywild||Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr|
|Eberron's Player's Guide:||Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged|
|The Manual of the Planes:||Bladeling|
|Dark Sun Campaign Setting:||Mul - Thri-kreen|
|Forgotten Realms Player's Guide:||Drow - Genasi|