Everything in PHB2 is correct but since MM2 didn’t flush them out anymore I will fill in what I am thinking and Ash and Osh can chime in on what they are thinking and perhaps we will get a good clear picture.
First if you have read the sword of truth series by Terry Goodkind this will be pretty easy to explain. If not I will do my best.
I picture the area of the wilds but set in the mountains. Since there is no Midland’s council the different tribes of Goliath’s have banded together for mutual defense. They are not a large population, only 50,000, but because of there fierceness in battle they are pretty much left alone (Picturing the Mudmen here especially Chandlen’s men, Priddin and Tossidin as examples).
Each tribe has a council of Elders, even the little tribes. The twelve tribes each have an Honored Elder. This Honored Elder is their representative to the overall ruling body of the Goliaths. These 12 elders are responsible to the Shaman Father Skywind (TG read Birdman). He interprets the signs and presides over the important events. He has 3 apprentices that aid him in this task.
Eleven of the tribes all have winter lodgings deep in the mountains. During the Spring when the passes clear and the waters flow down the mountains plants grow and wild game comes out. Then the tribes travel into the great valley. There they hunt, gather and some tribes farm. The bounties of the spring and summer months are shared amongst them all. Tribes mingle the young marry between tribes. Then when the leaves turn the food is prepped for winter. Come late fall they pack up and head back into the mountains. After the first snows the waters stop and most of the valley becomes a dried and desolate land until spring when the cycle begins again. This sense of the greater cycle of life have made the tribes very aware of the greater balance of nature. The Shamans study the heavens and use them to guide the decisions of when to call for a relocation and when to stay put.
Some mention of the twelve tribe must be made. In a community where there are no permanent settlements there can be no prisons. Since the Goliath’s do not promote the killing of their own kind this has led to a unique solution. Criminals are sent off to the care of the tribe of the rattlesnake. The Honored Elder of the Tribe of the Rattlesnake is a warden by the name of Nose Breaker. Nose Breaker was exiled for his temper but when the former elder was getting old he trained him in the ways of the warden. His job is too keep the Goliath’s safe from the outside world and from his men who he employs to keep the outside world out. The tribe is currently one of the smallest with only 75 members. They are stationed at each of the passes until the snows have clogged them up. Nose breaker goes about the mountain ranges to ensure that these formerly lawless men are doing there duty. When the last snow comes he will gather his men and take them to a high plateau there they will winter. There supplies are brought to them by the Tribe of the Condor each year. They must last all year until the winter snows come again. It is not a bad life and these men use there thirst for blood to keep the legends of horrible giants leaving in the mountains alive.
The tribes are:
Tribe of The Rattlesnake – The outcasts
Tribe of the Bear – Named because of there winter habits. They claim to be the eldest tribe. A goliath saying starts, Poking a goliath is like poking a sleeping bear. Ash and Osh were born of this tribe
Tribe of the Eagle – This is Father Skywind’s tribe and one of the most numerous
Tribe of the Condor – These are the most well traveled. There winter lodgings are at the limits of Goliath territory. There from the caves in the face of the cliffs they have made a wondrous dwelling.
Tribe of the Boar – Mid size tribe they are mostly barbarians, there honored elder is currently a druid by the name of Bright eyes. His eldest son Beleg is a fierce barbarian whose mother was a half-elven priest of Melora. Tribe of the Cougar – Mid size tribe of Bow men hunters and rangers. They build there winter homes among the trees. Tribe of the Bighorn – Herdsman, each year they drive there animals down to the valley for grazing. Tribe of the Elk – The farmers, these are named because of there love of eating plants slow to wrath but ruthless in their fury. Tribe of the Fox – There leader is a quick of wit and comes from a long line of smart leaders. Tribe of the Beaver – A medium tribe they built there lodgings behind a waterfall when it freezes for the winter it becomes a solid shaft of ice. Effectively sealing them in. Three small tunnels lead out once the freeze sets in. Tribe of the Wolf – A small tribe the greatest hunters are among them Tribe of the Trout – These are river-men and fishermen
Each tribe contributes to the common defense. A certain number of women and men are conscripted into service as protectors of nature. These few are trained in the ways of the warden. They then teach this to a few others during there lifetime.
This same tact is used to select Rangers, Barbarians, and Shamans. These are the warriors of the tribes. Healers mostly of a non-magical bent are also selected this way.
The rest of the population do not specialize in there professions.
There are no blacksmiths. Woven goods and food are traded to a small community of dwarves that make metal items including weapons.