House Goliath is one of the six Hive City Houses of Necromunda, making it one of the six original playable factions for the game when it was debuted.
House Goliath has been one of the two "introductory" gangs in both the original and the relaunch edition of Necromunda. In the original launch, they were paired up against House Orlock, whilst the relaunch matched them up against House Escher, which made for better contrast and played into their established enmity.
Occupying some of the deepest, harshest areas of the Hive and extensively involved in heavy industries, House Goliath has developed a culture defined by machismo; they pride themselves on stubbornness and their ability to endure hardship, looking down on the other Houses as "soft" and "slack" by comparison. Size and strength are the measure of a man, and thus their style of dress emphasizes a preoccupation with physique; chains and massive, spiky metal bracers are the ornamentation of choice.
In the relaunch, many previous different incarnations of House Goliath have existed in the past and have risen and fallen through various circumstance. The current Goliaths were created as a slave-race in roughly the 39th Millennium after the Cult of the Redemption flared up and decimated the planetary industry, requiring a fast influx of labour in order to make up the shortfalls. House Helmwar sought out the technologies of Van Saar and the alchemical knowledge of Escher to create a new breed of worker who could work in the ruined factories and collapsed depths of the hives. Both houses had been looking for answers to their long standing biological issues of their own, and hoped to use these new workers as a means of solving them.
Though collaboration between two rival houses was short-lived, the resulting specimens that rose from the amniotic vats were dubbed "Goliaths"; their bodies gene-smithed for strength and endurance. But thanks to interference from other houses, their unstable biology rendered them useless as organ donors for failing House Van Saar bodies, and because they were mostly sterile they were also useless as breeding stock for House Escher. While both houses bickered over who betrayed who, House Helmwar put them to work in the forges and pits almost immediately.
Their creators originally thought they could keep their creations docile and unintelligent. But successive generations of Goliaths began to develop their own culture and language and eventually managed to start producing rare naturally-born individuals of increased lifespan and intelligence amongst themselves. These "Natborn" Goliaths managing to make deals for the Van Saar amnio-vat technology, and allowing them to be able to maintain their own numbers without depending on others. (The suggestion is that the deal was struck more to aggravate House Escher than to benefit the Goliaths)
Though the path to freedom was not bloodless, it would take several centuries for all Goliaths to unite and carve out their territories, there was actually a minimum of open conflict, and after proving their successes in the factories and forges, they settled into Necromundan society as the youngest of the six Great Houses.
House Goliath makes heavy use of stims and gene-tweakers in pursuit of their goals, pushing their bodies to unnatural limits and reaching near-Astartes levels of bulk and savagery. The downside to these enhancements is a drastically reduced lifespan, with the average lifespan being roughly a decade or so. Goliaths also need to wear a chem-leash auto-rig for the rest of those short lives to maintain the delicate balance of stims and chems that fuels their enhanced bodies. The chem-leash also acts as a measure of control by the House authorities, as without it, the Goliath's bodies will destabilize and die, or go into overdrive and enter a state of uncontrolled growth and lead to eventual death anyway. Either way it acts as a powerful disincentive to rebellion. However, rumor has it a few Goliath gangs have found ways around this, usually via black market remedies but sometimes by using xenos drugs or even cannibalism.
Some observers have proposed they may even qualify as abhumans, and their status exists as a matter of debate within the Adeptus Terra. The fact that they are typically vat-grown, are mostly sterile, are mostly male, and have a dependency on the supply of drugs and stimms, means that the concern of unsanctioned populations of mutants/abhumans growing unchecked is mostly a moot point anyway. Nevertheless, the Imperial House of Necromunda has deemed them "sanctioned" provided their developments remain monitored and are even championed as the examples of the "ideal lower class": zealous, simple, and short lived.
The other Houses look down on House Goliath as barbaric, unsophisticated and dangerously unpredictable - this attitude is especially potent in the members of House Escher, and the two Houses have a centuries-old vendetta between them. Ironically, in the relaunch version, House Escher actually played a part in their first creation, and the Goliaths continued existence depends on Escher-produced pharmaceuticals to sustain their culture. That is not to say that they are without allies, however. Aside from the slave-guilds who also own the gladiatorial combat pits, the narco lords (who provide Goliath with all manner of drugs, though they're not exactly upstanding and legal businesses) and House Griem (a noble house who specialize in weapons and can even supply Imperial Guard regiments. They even tried to make an entire regiment of Goliaths once, but got snubbed for it)
The Three Variants
As part of ensuring Goliath's sustainability, there were experiments made by House Van Saar involving cloning. Though this was chiefly to ensure that the labor force didn't die out, Goliath eventually found ways to make use of them without needing another house's extensive meddling.
The first and largest group would be known as the Vatborn and make up the majority of Goliath's forces due to their population being mostly sterile. In exchange however, they need to go through massive education regimes through a process called the 'data-slug'.
Second up are the Natborn, who are Goliaths who were birthed by actual parents (yes, there are some rare Goliath females, indeed the first Tyrant of the House was female). The Natborn benefit from an increased lifespan and (relatively) increased intelligence. Natborns take great pride in their status - but this makes them more cautious. External agencies take great interest in Natborns, because if Goliaths can fully free themselves of cloning technologies, it could pose either a problem with them spreading unchecked to other worlds, or an opportunity in getting enhanced labourers and soldiers into the wider Imperium.
The last Goliath group are called the Unborn, since these are the people who join the house rather than being born into it. These Unborn are forced to undergo the procedures needed to keep up with the naturals, which might include even undergoing the same data-slug the Vatborn do - with considerably worse risk since these are fully-developed minds being crammed with even more info to the risk of overload. However the sacrifice of Unborn candidates is appreciated by the clan, because it allows for an influx of genetic variability that may eventually allow the Goliaths to free themselves from their dependence on the cloning technology.
Stimmers and Zerkers
While gene-enhancement and muscle grafts are common in the Imperium, for some members of House Goliath the process of enhancement through drugs, stimms, gene therapy and the simple addition of adding more layers of vat grown muscle pushes far past what might be considered the safe limit, creating a Stimmer who are even larger and stronger than their normal brothers and sisters. For the most part these individuals are well reasoned and clear thinking individuals, though prone to the occasional roid induced temper tantrum and have an even shorter lifespan than the average Vatborn goliath.
However, Stimmers live their lives on a knife-edge; the slightest imbalance of chemical stimms can cause a spontaneous eruption of mutation and uncontrolled growth, resulting in a gigantic flesh hulk called a Zerker.
Amazingly, Zerkers are even stronger than Ogryns; and with the addition of combat stimms can be far more savage. While this might sound like the ultimate expression of House Goliath's ideals, the downsides exaggerate the flaws already inherent in the processes the House uses on their regular gangers. Zerkers are forced to live in a state of metabolic chaos, with spontaneous bone spur mutations and uncontrolled muscle growth as common side effects. There is also the added drawback of practically eliminating higher brain functions means that Zerkers are little better than living battering rams who can contribute nothing to the further upkeep of their house or gang.
You know the urban legend of alligators living in sewers? Carnivorous reptiles were once imported to Necromunda as pets, then flushed down the toilets when they inevitably became too snappy for the hive nobility to tolerate. Those reptile populations that thrived in the polluted waters of the lower hives were first hunted for food until someone in House Goliath took a shining to them and kept them as pets for the very reasons that the nobility cast them out for.
Give those crocs a few millennia to adapt to their new environment, combined with genetic tweaks and selective breeding that House Goliath performed on them and you get something completely unrecognisable from their original form. A cross between an alligator and a pit bull on steroids.
Legend has it that the original mother of all sumpkrocs escaped House Goliath and still lives somewhere in the underhive even after thousands of years. Though now they have grown to over thirty feet and capable of wholesale slaughter.
In the first edition, House Goliath's specialty is Muscle Skills; every member of the gang has access to them. Ferocity and Combat are close seconds; Juves can't learn Combat and Heavies can't learn Ferocity. However, they have no ability to learn Agility at all - even in House Escher, gang-leaders can learn Ferocity and Heavies can learn Muscle - and their Stealth skills are abysmal, with only Goliath gang-leaders able to learn Stealth.
House Goliath maintains its focus on brute strength and physical domination over all other forms of combat. As such, the Brawn and Ferocity skill trees are available to all gang members (though Juves treat Brawn as Secondary), but Agility is only available as a Secondary skill tree for Juves. No gang member has access to Cunning or Savant trees as standard, which is in keeping with their "Brawn over Brains" philosophy. They specialize in ranged weapons with short range but high firepower, as well as melee weapons that rely on sheer force over finesse. These weapons include the "Krumper" rivet cannons, grenade launchers, and power hammers.
House of Chains released in 2020, granting the House quite a deal of variety in terms of unique tools. Alongside the genetic lineages, the book also introduces a list of new allies to throw in, including Sumpkroks, Zerkers, Servitors, and other hangers-on.