D&D Race Guide: How to Play a Goliath
Tall, strong, and imbued with the power of mountains, Goliaths are powerhouses with a storied history.
For the player looking to play a character who’s built like a pile of bricks and can also carry those same bricks, a Goliath may be the way to go. Big, tall, wide, and with skin that looks like stone, Goliaths are uniquely intimidating, even by D&D standards. But deep down they want to earn a place in their own tribe.
“The first goliaths lived on the highest mountain peaks — far above the tree line, where the air is thin and frigid winds howl. Distantly related to giants and infused with the supernatural essence of their ancestors’ mountainous home, goliaths stand between 7 and 8 feet tall and have a wide array of skin tones resembling different types of stone.”
Believe it or not, Goliaths have been available as a playable character race in 5E since 2015. The Elemental Evil Player’s Compendium added them as well as Genasi, Deep Gnomes, and Aarakocra.
They have been popular ever since, though Critical Role’s Grog may have been a positive influence there. Goliaths are so popular, that they were a surprise inclusion in the playtests for the 2024 Player’s Handbook.
And for good reason! They are technically medium creatures like humans, but they average between seven and eight feet tall and have a ‘Powerful Build’ which allows them to push, lift and drag as if they were one size larger. Goliaths are imposing to stand toe to toe with.
They also have ‘Stone’s Endurance,’ which allows them to shrug off injury, and ‘Mountain Born’ ancestry gives them resistance to cold damage and acclimation to high altitudes. If you need somebody for a mission to the snowy village on the way to the mountain, you want to find a Goliath.
Between brute strength, resistance, and the ability to ignore damage, Goliaths are the perfect tank class. My top picks would be Barbarian, Fighter, or Paladin. But really any class that’s known for giving and taking hits could be a great fit.
Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse added another version of the Goliath. And by and large, the core of the race is exactly the same. In fact, there is only one key update or change.
This version of the Goliath has the standard plus-two and plus-one to any two skills of your choice. It’s a pretty normal change made to the most recent version of D&D classes, and not a surprising update to see. But if you were making a Goliath I’d bet you’d be putting at least one of those skill bonuses in Strength or Constitution anyhow.
One other minor change is that Stone’s Endurance- or the ability to shake off injury–can be used a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus and resets after a long rest. It just gives you a little more ability to use the trait in battle.
Tips & Tricks
Goliaths should be fun but fairly straightforward characters to play. They’re big and strong, and while they’re not stupid they aren’t likely to be interested in small talk or joking. Goliaths are known for being a little serious, humorless, and competitive. Yours doesn’t have to be, but definitely think of a back-story reason for that. Aside from that though, you’re playing a character tailor-made to smash; so start smashing.
Have you ever played a Goliath? Have you had one in your party? Do you think a Goliath character is in your future? Let us know in the comments!