I’ve always assumed that the goliath race are half-giants or pygmy giants or something like that. Something related to giants.
In the descriptions of the goliath race in 5e (in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Elemental Evil Player’s Companion), it doesn’t actually mention the race’s origins, nor does it mention their relation to giants at all. It mentions that they know the Giant language and they are described physically as per the following:
Their bodies look as if they are carved from mountain stone and give them great physical power.
The rest of the description largely concerns their society and how they tend to think and act, etc, but does not elaborate any further on what they are or how they came to be. This may be because the descriptions are attempting to be setting-agnostic, so they don’t want to tie the race to their origins in the Forgotten Realms, but that leaves me with not much to go on regarding what the goliath race actually is.
I have heard that they are specifically related to stone giants, but since 5e doesn’t mention this, I’m unsure if this is derived from older editions of D&D or what? The Forgotten Realms wiki page, at least, mentions this under the “History” section:
It’s unclear how old the goliath race was or where they originally came from, but it was commonly believed that they were somehow related to stone giants or earth genasi. Another origin story claimed that the first goliaths were humans who sought answers from their gods. These individuals climbed the Columns of the Sky mountain range to seek parley with their gods. It was said that the journey to the peaks turned the seekers into the first goliaths.
Basically, what actually are goliaths? What is their race’s origin? Do they have any relation to giants in terms of “genetics†”? I’m interested in in-universe Forgotten Realms lore from any edition of D&D, not out-of-universe explanations for what might have inspired the designers to come up with the race.
† Note that “genetics” isn’t exactly the right term to use for magical fantasy universe races, but I use the term to make it clear that I’m not interested in the “relationship” between goliaths and giants from a social point of view; I don’t care what they think of each other, I’m only interested to know if goliaths are somehow derived from giants or not, in-universe.