Todd Kenreck: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes has a lot of monsters that are horrific and disturbing. Basically, there's a lot of nightmare fuel in that book. But, there's also comical creatures, like the Giff.
Jeremy Crawford: In Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, we include a group of people who are very dear to some of us, who were fans of Spelljammer back in the day, and they are the Giff. Not to be confused with the Gith, who also appear in this book, the Giff are essentially hippopotamus people. They are a group of people who have a very strict military culture. Everyone in their culture has a military rank, and they hire themselves out in groups as mercenaries, to different folk throughout the D&D multiverse.
Now we say, just in passing in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, that they are a spacefaring species, but we don't really delve any further into that. We have been, as fans of Spelljammer, sprinkling in Spelljammer bits in a number of our 5th Edition books for a while. People will remember, for instance, that in Volo's Guide to Monsters, we included the Neogi, who are villains in Spelljammer.
And so now, we have the Giff, who not only often wear monocles, and have fancy military uniforms, they also walk around wielding various firearms that they have developed, and which are iconic for them when they're involved in battle. One thing we don't also delve into in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but which I enjoy about the old story about Giff, is they have a mysterious home world which supposedly they have even lost track of. It's almost sort of like Battlestar Galactica's story of their home was lost and they're not even sure how to get back. And so now they are basically warriors for hire through the multiverse, and almost always as a group.
One of the things we point out is that Giff like to be together, and so you are almost never able to hire just one. It's like they come in a party pack. Like, if you're going to hire Giff, you're going to get a group of Giff, and they can be extremely effective, but watch out for their gunpowder. We even talk a little bit about, in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, their explosive barrels and whatnot, so they can be dangerous as well.
Todd Kenreck: And a very unusual encounter.
Jeremy Crawford: Yes. Yes. Giff, you are possibly going to meet as foes, but you are as likely to meet them as potential allies, and ever since I saw Giff as a kid, in the original Spelljamer box, I cannot help, every time I see them, of imagining some hoity-toity 19th century British accent, you know, drinking tea, smoking a pipe, and getting ready for the next adventure into the dungeon, or wherever else the danger lurks.
We included Giff in the book A, simply because we have a soft spot for Spelljammer. We also enjoy including different types of anthropomorphic folk, because we know many fans enjoy them. We have Tortles, who appeared in the Tortle package this past year, and Tortles also actually are in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.
It's also, for us, a useful way to balance the mood. When I was reviewing our final monster lineup for Mordenkainen's, I noticed, "Wow, we have included a lot of really gross monsters in this book," so it was important that we have some monsters that provide a bit of a tonal difference, something more whimsical, something more friendly, because there are a lot of villainous, gross things in this book. And the Giff help give that change of tone, which is important for us not only in the context of this book, but also always important for us with D&D in general, because we know people have so many different tastes who play D&D, we want to make sure we're providing material that people can use in a huge variety of stories.