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While this may be opinion-based, this question is specific enough to produce well-argued and specific answers.

The weight range for Goliaths is 280-340 lbs, or 127-154kg. Their height is between 7 and 8 feet, or 213-244cm approx. They seem to be all fairly well-built gigantic muscle-heads (more technically: high CON and STR scores).

I think Mariusz Pudzianowski, Strongman competition champion, is a good real-world comparison. Generally, his physique is similar to a Goliath (esp. Barbarian). Mr. Pudzianowski is 6'1" (185cm) and weighed approx. 320 lbs (145 kg) during his Strongman days. Despite being a foot shorter than the shortest Goliath, he lands in the 0.66 percentile of their starting weight distribution.

A max-size Goliath is 340lbs/8'0" = 42.5 lbs/foot. Mr. Pudzianowski 320lbs/6'1" = 52.6 lbs/foot. I am 265lbs/5'11" = 45 lbs/foot. I think the typical Goliath warrior has a physique more like a professional heavy-lifting athlete than my crisp-devouring self.

Question: Is it reasonable, when creating a Goliath, to use weight way higher than the one provided in the EE Companion, generally going for around 50-53 lbs/foot, so 350-425lbs (or more)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Reasonable by what criteria? To whom? In what circumstance? For what reason? \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o May 26 '18 at 6:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o The construction of functional humanoid bodies as we understand them. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. May 26 '18 at 6:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. So is it really asking how it effects the game, or hoping the stats match the art? \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o May 26 '18 at 6:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ The official art, although just art, definitely should not be blatantly discarded. Furthermore the Goliaths have feats like “Powerful Build” and are generally described as very strong and rather massive. The numbers for weight seem definitely more suited for tall, lanky creatures, unless Goliaths are made of much lighter “meat”. My suspicion is this [making them relatively light] is done as a buff to make them less problematic for players, think magic carpets, horse riding, even wonky bridges. \$\endgroup\$ – Gerino May 27 '18 at 9:32
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UPDATE:

The Skinny:

If you'd like, you should definitely consider allowing for characters to gain weight dynamically! This could even potentially provide a relevant in-character explanation for increases to the character's STR modifier that they may earn through leveling.

Shorter Answer:

Is it reasonable, when creating a Goliath, to use weight way higher than the one provided in the EE Player's Companion?

With the proportions provided in the EE Player's Companion, a Goliath looks more like a professional basketball player (Yao Ming) than a Strongman.

I agree, artwork depicting Goliaths in D&D literature argues that they look like Strongmen. However, the tallest strongman competitor in the 2016 Arnold Strongman Classic is Hafþór Björnsson measured at 6' 9" (206 cm) and 397 lbs (180 kg), which is shorter than the shortest Goliath and heavier than the heaviest Golaith. To better fit the image you see in the artwork, it's reasonable to increase the Goliath's weight range +110-175 lbs (50-80 kg).

Long Answer:

Goliath To Strongman Comparison

Consider Hafþór Björnsson (GoT, "The Mountain") who is a Strongman just like Mariusz Pudzianowski. He's what I would consider the prototypical "IRL Goliath", almost tall enough and definitely muscular enough.

On Wikipedia, he is listed with a height of 6' 9" (206 cm) (~4"/10 cm shorter than Goliath's lower-bound height) and a weight of 397 lbs (180 kg) (~66 lbs/30 kg heavier than Goliath's upper-bound weight). In the World's Strongest Man, he's placed 2nd in 2014 and 2016 and 3rd in 2012, 2013 and 2015, so he's a Goliath of a man.

As you said, "[Goliaths] seem to be all fairly well-built, being a towering heaps of muscle" - Björnsson's frame is very similar to the Goliaths I see depicted in D&D literature:

Artist's Depiction of a Goliath

Based on this and what you've already mentioned on Mariusz Pudzianowski, a Goliath ought to be 110-175 lbs ( 50-80 kg) heavier than their starting weight range specified in the Elemental Evil: Player's Companion.

Goliath = Professional Basketball Player?

In professional sports, the NBA has the tallest players by average. In basketball, the center position is played by the tallest players. The average height of an NBA center is roughly 6' 11" (211 cm) tall and weighs roughly 250 lbs (113.5 kg). Assuming this chart's accuracy, of course cited by BusinessInsider:

Average Heights & Weights of Professional Sports Players

The average NBA center's height nearly matches the lower-bound of the Goliath's height. The average NBA center is ~33 lbs (15 kg) lighter than the Goliath's lower-bound weight.

Consider Dwight Howard (center for Houston Rockets). He is listed on Wikipedia with a height of 6' 11" (211 cm) (nearly matching the lower-bound of the Goliath's height) and a weight of 265 lbs (120 kg) (~22 lbs/10 kg lighter than the Goliath's lower-bound weight). While he is well-built, he's way leaner than the Goliath artwork I showed earlier. So, he's not a good comparison.

Consider Yao Ming, who used to play the center position for the Houston Rockets in the NBA. He is listed on Wikipedia with a height of 7' 6" (229 cm) (middle of the Goliath's height range) and a weight of 311 lbs (141 kg) (middle of the Goliath's weight range) - smack in the middle of the Goliath's height/weight ranges!

Assuming Goliaths and humans have similar anatomy & body composition, Yao Ming is the prototypical Goliath. The average Goliath (per the Elemental Evil Player's Companion) looks like Yao Ming.

Possibility for Dynamic Weight Increase

As @SteveJessop pointed out, an athlete's weight fluctuates over years of training and dieting (e.g., Muhammad Ali). USAToday has a list of all of Muhammad Ali matches. I think we can agree that Ali followed an intense training regimen and a strict diet (esp. while preparing for matches). At his lightest weigh-in, Ali was 188 lbs (85 kg) and at his heaviest weigh-in, Ali was 227 lbs (103 kg) (excluding a 236 lb outlier for last match). Ali's relative body weight change over his professional boxing career compares closely to the Goliath race's relative body weight variation:

\$Ali_{change} = \frac{(227\text{ lbs} - 188\text{ lbs})}{227\text{ lbs}} \approx 17.1806 \% \$

\$Goliath_{change} = \frac{(340\text{ lbs} - 280\text{ lbs})}{340\text{ lbs}} \approx 17.6471 \% \$

NOTE: I got the Goliaths' weight variance from their starting weight range, while Ali's weight change is calculated over 20 years of his athletic career.

Thus, it is reasonable to allow for the character's weight to increase further by as much as 18 % over the next 20 years of the character's life - as Ali's spanned roughly 20 years. For example, a young Goliath character who weighed 340 lbs (154 kg) at character creation could weigh 401 lbs (182 kg) (18 % increase, +61 lbs) after 20 years of training (adventuring, battling, smithing, etc.) in-game time.

Yes, Goliath = NBA Pro

When picturing the Goliath described in the Elemental Evil Player's Companion, you should picture Yao Ming - not a Strongman:

Convenient comparison of Yao Ming to average human

If you'd like to tweak Goliath measurements to fit a Strongman (Hafþór Björnsson or Mariusz Pudzianowski), then you have two options.

  1. Increase starting weight range around 110-175 lbs (50-80 kg) OR decrease starting height range by ~1' 4" (40 cm).

  2. Interpret the starting weight/height ranges as those of a young Goliath and then dynamically increase the weight of the Goliath as he/she matures, grows, and strengthens.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer had a mix of imperial and metric that was hard to follow. I've edited it to have both everywhere, but it would be good if someone double checked it. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki May 20 '18 at 21:16
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Warning: This is a scientific answer, not one based in any rule set.

It's not reasonable to calculate pounds per foot or similar weight/height ratio as you scale an organism. The Body Mass Index that is often (mis)used to determine whether humans are underweight, normal, overweight, or various gradations of obese is based on weight per height squared, or pounds per square foot, and barring the conclusion often drawn from that calculation that the circus strong man and fat lady are equally unhealthy because both are very heavy for their height, it's a more reasonable comparison.

Given the same fat/lean ratio and percentage of bone (potentially invalid assumptions, especially in terms of bone fraction, but probably tenable if you stick to heights under eight feet), hence similar overall density, and taking 6 feet and 180 lb. as "normal" for a human male, we might expect an 8 foot Goliath to weigh (8/6)^3 times 180 lbs, or close to 425 lbs.

This 425 lb. Goliath, however, would be relatively weaker than the prototypical human (assuming he's at a reasonable body fat percentage); his muscles have only increased their cross section by (8/6)^2, or less than double, while his weight has increased by a factor of more than 2 1/3. If your Goliath is to be "strong", he'd need additional muscle mass. A human male going from "average" to "body builder" will typically gain 10% or more of his body weight in added muscle; that would mean a "strong" Goliath would need to weight significantly more than 425 lb. -- in fact, he might well reach 500 lb. before his relative strength compared to that of a human weight lifter or "strong man".

In fact, humans are at their optimum at a little below six feet in height. The taller a man gets, the more muscle mass he has to carry to lift a given percentage of his body weight. When measured in those terms, a body builder or weight lifter around 5' 7" tends to do best in terms of relative strength. Carried further, and to other species, the smaller an animal is, generally, the stronger it is relative to its body weight. That's why cats can leap from flat footed to three or four times their height, or with a prepared spring another couple times, and why squirrels can leap ten times their body length from one branch to another -- and why ants can carry loads exceeding their own mass.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I do agree, that quite possible weight for a 8 feet tall humanoid of immense strength, that comes - as a reasonable assumption - purely from its human-like muscle fibre, would actually go well higher than what I suggested (425lbs). I didn't want to start throwing big numbers without any reasonable science behind it, and you've provided some wonderful data and calculations here. The whole questions comes from my realisation, that Goliaths seem to weight around what strongman athletes do in real world, while being a foot or two taller. Thank you for the time you put into that answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Gerino Jun 12 '16 at 22:48
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If you want to base them on the builds of professional athletes of one sort or another, consider also the running speed of a strongman compared with that of a Goliath. I'm not saying strongmen are all slow, but they train to build a very specialised physique that doesn't need to be particularly fast.

For athletes who are built like brick outhouses but can also run, consider contact sports like rugby or the NFL. Rugby players (always in the backs, and increasingly in all positions in the modern game) need to run all day, NFL players (in most positions) need to make a series of short but very explosive sprints. For example Jonah Lomu (rugby winger) was 6'5" and played at around 260lb, and was considered in his day to be freakishly large. Brian Urlacher (NFL linebacker) is similar, 6'4" and 258lb. Julius Peppers (NFL defensive end) is 6'7" and 287lb. Marshal Yanda (NFL guard) is 6'3" and 305lb, although interior linemen can treat running as a part-time activity. Vince Wilfork (NFL nose tackle) is 6'2" and 325lb, outweighing even Pudzianowski, although I'd venture to say that Wilfork has more gut than Pudzianowski.

Clearly these builds cannot be reproduced in the 7'-8' height range at the weights listed. A 20% taller version of Julius Peppers weighing only 20% more would exceed the max weight for a Goliath without achieving the max height, and would look lankier than Peppers. This is important: if you increase height and weight in linear proportion then the resulting build is leaner. The real Peppers is no weakling but doesn't have the muscular hypertrophy that you see in a lot of the art, never mind this stretched version. And Vladislav Martin already mentions Yao Ming, who falls neatly into the Goliath height and weight range. He doesn't have Peppers's bulk, let alone Pudzianowski's or Wilfork's.

NFL guards and strongmen can (and do) carry a lot of bulk that a DE or rugby winger cannot. Goliaths are drawn as if they have it (not necessarily the gut, but the shoulders and thighs), but the stated weight doesn't allow for that. So something has to give: either the art is unrepresentative, or else the weights given are incorrect, or else Goliaths aren't made of the same meat humans are ;-)

Of course, fantasy art is unrepresentative, even standard humans are often shown with implausible proportions. But even taking that into account, I think you're correct that we should interpret the art to indicate someone closer to the proportions of a Pudzianowski than a Yao Ming.

I'm personally 265lbs/5'11"

I'm 5'10" and 205lbs, which puts me between an NFL running back, and Johnny Wilkinson. Except that with me it's all flab and with them it's all muscle. I do not look like an athlete even in poor light, which just goes to show you can't fully deduce build from weight. Comparing your crisp-eating self with professional athletes usually doesn't work out, because they don't carry anything they don't need. Goliaths likewise probably stay in shape even though they don't have modern ideas about sports science. So they might be lighter than you'd think if you were a 7 foot tall crisp-eater and thinking about your own weight. Still, if you want to play a 7'6" Goliath with the build of a prop forward then that's clearly a lot more than 340 lb.

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Considering the fact that Goliaths are adapted for mountainous environments in which vertical movement is critical - I am not surprised their weight would be small compared to their muscle mass, by as much as 40%. Contributing factors are likely a bird-like skeletal structure and a low-weight brain (no implication intended).

A mildly amusing explanation I once encountered was that their stoney growths are actually filled with helium to improve their vertical mobility.

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No the weight range is not reasonable if you assume that their skeleto-muscular system is similar to humanity's. However, that is a big assumption and you are missing some great world building opportunities if you make it.

A goliath with bones of living steel, tendons of tungsten and muscles of natural carbon composite is way cooler than just a beefed up human. Or there's always magic available to fill in the gaps.

See, now you know why humans and goliaths can't cross-breed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer seems a little self-contradictory, you might want to see to that. You say we're missing worldbuilding opportunities by [assuming the goliath's skeletal structure is human and therefore the surprisingly light weights are unreasonable], then go on to suggest anatomy using materials far denser than anything found in the human body which would make them weigh even more than their increased, corrected weights. If we're missing worldbuilding opportunity by making them heavier (which is the connection you drew), why are you suggesting those anatomy choices? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 13 '16 at 10:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener: Actually using those materials could make a creature lighter if your goal was same height, same physical strength/resilience. I think that's part of the point being made here? \$\endgroup\$ – Neil Slater Jun 13 '16 at 13:22

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