See the 4th Edition D&D Player’s Handbook 2 for more information on the physical description and attitudes of most goliath.
Goliath alignment: Goliath have a slight tendency toward individualism, reflected in their wanderlust and the small, mobile communities that they live in. Goliath have a slight tendency for good over evil, since among the mountains, survival is much easier when each goliath can aid another without insisting on being repaid.
Goliath Lands: Because the mountain ranges they favor don’t support large-scale agriculture or settlements, goliath typically don’t encounter much other intelligent races. Most goliath tribes wander from peak to peak within a mountain range, tending flocks of mountain goats and foraging for alpine roots and tubers. Typically, tribes set up a temporary village in alpine meadows and remain there for a season or so, moving when the seasons change or better hunting can be found elsewhere. They retreat to lower elevations during the winter months or when they need to trade, and then ascend to the higher peaks once the snow melts.
Those goliath who live among humans or other races are there most often because their tribe exiled them for a crime, dispute or injury. Goliath tribes rely on each goliath trusting and protecting each other and everyone pulling their own weight. Those who cannot are liabilites to the survival of the others and are usually left behind to go their own way.
Language: While most goliath speak common and the languages of their neigbors, the dwarves and giant races, goliath tradition has a rarely spoken tongue, Gol-Kaa, which has only thirteen phonetic elements: a, e, g, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, u, th, and v. Each individual element is pronounced separately, notably the vowels, so Keanuk is pronounced “Keh-ah-nook,” not “Key-nook.”
Names: Every goliath has three names: a birth name given by the father or mother, a nickname or honorific assigned by the tribal chief, and a family or clan name. Both the birth names and the clan names are in traditional Gol-Kaa (and will contain only the traditional thirteen phonetic elements). The birth names will be short, often only a syllable or two, but the clan names will often have five syllables (or more) and always end in a vowel.
Known Clan Names: Anakalathai, Elanithino, Gathakanathi, Kalagiano, Katho-Olavi, Kolae-Gileana, Ogolakanu, Thuliaga, Thunukalathi, Vaimei-Laga.
The honorific isn’t so much as a traditional name as it is a nickname. The nickname, often a two-part sobriquet, can change at the whim of the tribal chief, whether a particular goliath did something useful for the tribe (earning an honorific such as “Highclimber” or “Deerstalker”) or as punishment for a failure (such as “Latesleeper” or “Wanderlost”). Specific roles within the clan can have honorifics attached to them as well (like “Lorekeeper” or “Wordpainter”).
Example Honorifics: Bearkiller, Dawncaller, Fearless, Flintfinder, Horncarver, Keeneye, Lonehunter, Longleaper, Rootsmasher, Skywatcher, Steadyhand, Threadtwister, Twice-Orphaned.
Goliath will introduce themselves with their given name, honorific, and then clan name. Thereafter, they will usually refer to themselves by either their given name or their honorific.
Adventurers: Traditionally, only goliaths who have been exiled (voluntary or otherwise) become adventurers. However, as some goliath tribes spend more time with “downlanders,” its become more common for a tribe to send a notable goliath or two on a mission that aids the tribe or goliaths in general. Certain omens or portents discovered by tribal druids or shaman may send certain goliath on missions to fulfill their destinies as well.
Once they descend from their mountain homes, most goliath find the lowlands fascinating, although they are generally on their guard against “lowland tricksters.” The same wanderlust that keeps goliath tribes moving often keeps a goliath among humans and other races for far longer than he originally intended.
Psychology: Goliaths’ love of competition shapes a significant part of their worldview. A goliath instinctively keeps score of anything that’s a challenge and casually mentions it to comrades and rivals. “That’s the eighth orc I’ve killed today,” or “This is the third time I’ve saved your life,” are just a few examples of what a goliath might say. Those unfamiliar with the culture often find the need to keep score annoying, arrogant, or self-centered, but they’re putting more weight on those words than the goliath themselves are. To a goliath, scorekeeping is as natural as breathing, and isn’t meant to insult or demean anyone.
While goliath love competing against others, their strongest competition is always reserved for themselves. If a goliath slays a dragon, he isn’t satisfied with other dragon battles unless its against a larger, older, fiercer, or more powerful dragon. When a goliath doesn’t consistently measure up against his former achievements, he can often become morose and withdrawn. Goliath rarely speak of this inner struggle and most couldn’t articulate it as such. But to a degree, all older goliath are haunted by their need to compete against their younger selves.
Because tribes rely on the effort of each member for survival in the mountains, goliath are almost incapable of holding a grudge if they lose a fair competition. “Today’s rival is tomorrow’s teammate” is a common goliath phrase. Cheating is so severely frowned upon that few goliath will risk the social consequences of being caught. Many can’t conceive of cheating and will instead find another sport or competition to try.
Open competition among goliath breeds a sense of fairness and equality among them. Goliath expect that all should have a fair chance to compete, whether at a sport, or at power, prestige, or other goals. They are often puzzled at societies with caste systems and wonder why kings and noble lords don’t offer peasants opportunities to become knights. Anyone in a situation with no hope of advancement can often earn the pity and assistance of a goliath.
A darker side to the competition aspect of the goliath is that those who cannot compete or keep up with the rest of the tribe, whether the old or wounded, is carried by the rest of the tribe for only a few days before the tribe begins to shun the weak goliath. Sometimes the weak goliath will refuse aid and walk away, shamed by his weakness and inability to contribute.
Society: A typical tribe consists of forty to sixty goliaths, with three to six extended families. Most goliath stay members of their tribe for life. Tribes that grow too big may split into two or three smaller tribes, while tribes that are too weak often merge with more stable tribes. Such changes, however, are rare.
Most goliath identify with their tribe more than they do with their family. Family members often share a sleeping tent and regard each other as close companions, but the bonds between them aren’t as strong as in a typical human society. The tribe as a whole raises its young, so children don’t form strong parental bonds. Marriages and remarriages are common among goliath, so families tend to be rather fluid.