Why do the rune giants have Japanese-esque armor and the like?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


They don't live anywhere near Minkai so I'm not sure. Maybe Karzoug (who is implied to be the one who created them) just liked Minkai culture a lot for some reason?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Most likely because the artist thought it looked cool.

Within the game world, it is quite possible that it works the other way around, and Rune Giants had that look first and others copied it.


You have to remember that Thassilon was an empire over 10000 years ago. It is unlikely that Minkai was anywhere near what it is now in the cultural sense. Just chalk it up to parallel evolution.

That, and it was supposed to look cool and exotic.


While the Thassilonian creators of the Rune Giants were "xenophile" seekers of cooperation with other cultures and reasonably could magically travel the world including to Tian Xia, the creation of the Rune Giants seemed to have occured ~2.5 thousand years before the first recorded human nations in Tian Xia (including Dragon-ruled Xa Hoi). I don't think there is anything really absolutely unique about the armor in question, so it could very well be case of parallel evolution as EM says... Although if we assume the armor is intended to be recognizably "Japanese" or perhaps simply "Oriental", taking into account patchwork philosophy of Golarion, it is reasonable to guess it isn't simply accidental but reflecting some historical linkage.

Positing such contact/influence, armor styles could have transferred in either direction. I'm not really sure in the first place if the Rune Lord art is strictly comparable only to Japanese as opposed to other cultures... Although assuming this would go along with the obvious trend to center "Oriental" development around Japan-specific concepts or terminology. Which is weird to me, but whatever. Anyhow, it seems possible if not necessarily certain that some hypothetical communication occured with, if not Minkai per se which developed later, a continental predecessor which influenced Minkai.

I think the immediate future developments of Tian Xia will focus on non-Minkai aspects of it, just because Minkai and/or not-Japan already has had much attention both directly in AP and indirectly in mythology and mechanics (oni, kami, on-myoji, samurai, ninja, etc) but given the heyday of Thassilonians long preceded Minkai per se the other parts of Tian Xia would probably be better place to look for linkages/communications.


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The real question is, why did real-life Japanese samurai wear rune-giantesque armor and the like?

I'm not saying James Jacobs has a TARDIS, but . . .


Does it outright say anywhere Karzoug created them? I always assumed so, along with the inverted giants (giants turned INSIDE-OUT yet still alive) and runeslave giants. He seems to have a thing for giants and he's an evil transmuter so making horrible mutant monsters seems par for the course.


I think it was a broader Thassilonian thing, not exclusive to Karzoug, although he may have more heavily used them.
Certainly there is other Oriental aesthetic cues to Thassilon and Rune Lords, even if not specific to Minkai/Not-Japan.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Maybe there some oni influence on the original rune giants (via bloodline, teachers, etc.), similar to later oni influence on Tian Xia.

Grand Lodge Contributor

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See this thread for a couple of interesting tidbits from James Jacobs about rune giants and a link to Tian Xia.


Yqatuba wrote:
Does it outright say anywhere Karzoug created them? I always assumed so, along with the inverted giants (giants turned INSIDE-OUT yet still alive) and runeslave giants. He seems to have a thing for giants and he's an evil transmuter so making horrible mutant monsters seems par for the course.

IIRC WotR talks about Alderpash creating the inverted giants as a response to the existence of the rune giants, which would have been a good bit before Karzoug's time.


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Here is an interesting answer- the armor types both deal with similar issues of problem with insufficient metallurgy and materials.

There is a fairly basic principle for forging- the larger the item, the harder it is to forge. A longer sword means more leverage, which means the forces it experiences are greater. if the metal is too weak, then it will just snap.

This is why you don't see full plate armor and greatswords until the middle ages- the metals just were not good enough until then. So, instead of one full chest plate covering the entire chest, you saw things with small scales and the like tied together- the kind of thing you see on samurai armor (Japanese metallurgy sucked- not enough resources to really experiment).

How does this apply to rune giants? THEY ARE REALLY, REALLY BIG. So it is hard for them to get proper equipment when using mundane metals. Sure, they can get a weapon, but they likely dump a large amount of their resources into that. So they don't have enough good metal left over to make full plate.

And if their armor is lacquered leather? It is even easier to write off the piecemeal nature- they just can't find very many creatures large enough to make a full piece of armor. Each of those plates/scales are made from the full hide of some large creature (a bear? A bull? Some random monster?).


lemeres wrote:

Here is an interesting answer- the armor types both deal with similar issues of problem with insufficient metallurgy and materials.

There is a fairly basic principle for forging- the larger the item, the harder it is to forge. A longer sword means more leverage, which means the forces it experiences are greater. if the metal is too weak, then it will just snap.

This is why you don't see full plate armor and greatswords until the middle ages- the metals just were not good enough until then. So, instead of one full chest plate covering the entire chest, you saw things with small scales and the like tied together- the kind of thing you see on samurai armor (Japanese metallurgy sucked- not enough resources to really experiment).

How does this apply to rune giants? THEY ARE REALLY, REALLY BIG. So it is hard for them to get proper equipment when using mundane metals. Sure, they can get a weapon, but they likely dump a large amount of their resources into that. So they don't have enough good metal left over to make full plate.

And if their armor is lacquered leather? It is even easier to write off the piecemeal nature- they just can't find very many creatures large enough to make a full piece of armor. Each of those plates/scales are made from the full hide of some large creature (a bear? A bull? Some random monster?).

I think this is my favorite answer, even if it's not the official one.

Dark Archive

Doesn't Thassilon in general have eastern aesthetic to their cities? At least Xin-Shalast does.


Shaun Hocking wrote:
See this thread for a couple of interesting tidbits from James Jacobs about rune giants and a link to Tian Xia.

Commencing Necromantic rites . . . .

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