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Titans are, essentially, randomized creatures (or procedurally generated for you fancy big-city developer types) composed from a variety of material types, creature bodies / limbs and other additions. These other additions include everything from venomous stings to flame breath. Evil Titans are forced to attack your Fortress once it has reached 80 dwarves (without modification of world creation or init files).
Titans can potentially cause dangerous syndromes in their victims, as the effects can vary anywhere from mild dizziness and nausea to heavy bleeding and immediate necrosis.
The number of titans is a worldgen parameter; you can have any number you want. Each titan lives within a particular region of the world for which it will be named (e.g. "mountain titan" or "ocean titan"). All titans are building destroyers, and they are also entirely immune to traps and cannot be stunned in any way. Bridges are also less useful, as they cannot be raised or lowered as long as the beast is standing on (or under) them, preventing the traditional magma pit / dwarven atom smasher designs from working. This is probably one of Toady One's ways of making the encounters even more fun.
When a titan appears, the game pauses and a message appears in the center of the screen with a description of the titan.
If you need to kill a titan, order your military to move to the location of the beast.
- Some titans are extremely difficult to kill due to body composition (e.g. a titan made of steel) or deadly attacks (such as clouds of flesh-eating toxins). When confronted with such creatures, the only option is usually to use your brain and try to lock it away somehow. Walls stop them. If you can put it in a pit, a clever trapmaker can feed it invaders.
- One method of defeating titans is to cause a cave-in on top of them. They'll be killed by dropping either natural or constructed walls on them.
Forgotten beasts are a subterranean subset of these creatures, which are trapped underground and attack your fortress from below.