Tuesday, September 25, 2018

OSR: The Orc

"He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need for it because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a God."  - Aristotle

"I know what it's like to lose. To feel so desperately that you're right, yet to fail nonetheless. It’s frightening. Turns the legs to jelly. I ask you, to what end? Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same. And now, it's here. Or should I say, I am."  - Thanos

"Girl. You there, girl. Girl, quit all this scurrying around. Do you believe you can escape me before I arrive? How do you expect to outrun me when I am already here?" - Lord English 

No one knows where they came from.  Most suspect that they came from the steaming North, at the distant, mythical Boiling Coast that borders the night time abode of the Sun.  Others claim they came down the Ice Road through the Southron Peaks, that only the bone-freezing gales of the Freezing South could breed a people so hardy.  However, the Dwarves who are also from that region originally claim no knowledge of such a species, in their homeland or otherwise.  Maybe they were always here, and we just never noticed.  Regardless of where though, one thing is for sure, they are here to stay.
There is no Orc civilization that we know of.  The Gods have been merciful, at least in that regard.  However, this hasn't prevented the Orcs from rampaging virtually unimpeded, moving with near impunity.  This is not to be considered a blot on anyone's character, however.  The weakest Orc is said to as powerful as ten men, and the greater ones are even stronger.  The greatest of the Orcs are the equal of Dragons or Giants, though the Great Wurms and the Cloud Giants are still stronger then these Orcs.  We have never met an Orc that strong, thank the Gods.

Still, despite their individual pussiance, the Orcs are few in number.  This is our greatest advantage against them.  The Orcs are very few in number, strangers in whatever land they travel through.  They go in disguise, as no civilized land will tolerate an Orc for very long, but many are willing to look the other way, at least for a while.  For while dangerous, most Orcs are not as dangerous as a steading of Giants or a Rampaging Troll.  Instead, they move in silence and shadow, leaving mysterious piles of bodies in the wilderness or in back alleys, before vanishing, never to be seen again.  Few have ever seen an Orc, recognized what it was, and lived to tell about it.  But it does happen.  Many simply assume that the green, grey or red-skinned foreigner with a hood and his pale bodyguards is a wealthy, well-armed merchant and do not pay him anymore attention then is needed for a courtesy or to take his money.

For Orcs move in silence and shadow.  And they must, after all, for no one catches any game being loud.  That is what Orcs are: hunters.

They all have their preferred prey, but they will usually hunt whatever they find is appealing.  They do this for two reasons.  Firstly, it is to prove their dominance.  In slaughtering the strongest among their foes, they prove to everyone how strong they are.

The second reason is that because it is fun.  Orcs live for the hunt.  For the chase and the kill. 

Orcs categorize people, and prey, into three categories.  The strong, the weak, and the unrealized.  The weak are the majority of people and creatures.  These are things that fail to provide a good fight or chase.  This quarry is dispatched dispassionately, in the most effective way possible.  However, in some cases, if someone is so weak they cannot fight at all, then the Orc will usually just spare them, because it is not worth the effort of killing them.  This usually only applies to children, pregnant women, and some others.  As for the strong are killed as well, or at least, the Orc will attempt to kill them.  The Orcs define strength in terms of someone who could defeat them.  They respect the strong, and if someone strong survives one of their hunts, they are usually willing to allow the strong one to live.

But the unrealized, they are a different story.  The Orcs despise those who have the potential to be strong but refuse to put in the effort to manifest it.  So they offer the unrealized a choice.  Join or die.  If the first option is selected, the Orc brands the Unrealized and makes them the Orc's slave, until they die, manifest their potential, or the Orc releases them.

But if they choose the second option, well, that is all too easy.

                                                                    by  Manzenado
Base Orc Statblock
HD Varies  AC 15  Atk varies (see Weapons)
Mor 10   Saves 11 or less is a success

Hideous Strength: Orcs are strong.  For purposes of grappling, STR checks and STR saving throws, consult the "How Strong is this Orc" table to see what their STR stat is.

Twinkle-Toes: Orcs are surprisingly agile.  For purposes of escaping bonds, climbing, and delicate work, consult the "How Strong is this Orc" to see what their DEX stat is.

Sneaky Boys: Orcs are very, very good at hiding and sneaking.  Unless in some way impaired, they get +4 to all rolls to sneak or use stealth.  If an Orc has set up an ambush ahead of time and is waiting nearby, this bonus increases to +10.

Slave-Mark: If an Orc defeats someone, encounters someone who is helpless, or someone surrenders to them, it will place its mark upon them.  This process takes at least 1 minute and is painful to the person receiving it.  Once done, this process leaves behind a scar and the gives the person who had it bestowed upon them the Conviction of "I am terrified of this Orc, and do not wish to fight, or see them, ever again."  Additionally, if someone with a Slave-Mark angers the Orc, it can cause them to take 1d6 damage, no save.  This damage can be lethal or nonlethal, the Orc's choice.    

- Do not kill those who pose no threat or cannot fight
- Hunt down and kill the strong to prove your dominance over them
- Accept the surrender of those who, in good faith, lay down their swords and surrender

                                                      by DiegoGisbertLlorens

Then, to generate a Unique Orc, roll on the tables below.

How strong is this Orc?

1- Not at all.  3 HD.  This Orc is mediocre, as Orcs go.  This Orc has a STR of 16(+2) and a DEX of 13(+1).
2- Strong.  5 HD.  This Orc is the stuff of local legend, though not quite famous enough to be known outside of the local region he terrorizes.  This Orc has a STR of 16(+2) and a DEX of 16(+2).
3- Yes.  7 HD.  This Orc is a freakish terror, a monster that will peel the flesh from your bones with little effort.  Exercise extreme caution.  This Orc has a STR of 18(+3) and a DEX of 17(+2).
4- Run.  9 HD.  This Orc is a Warrior-King, a Prince of Carnage and Death.  Death is his meat and terror his wine.  Do not face him without a plan, great might, or a deathwish.  This Orc has a STR of 18(+3) and a DEX of 18(+3).  It gains the ability of 'Instrument of Violence' (see below).         
5- Help us.  11 HD.  This Orc is no mere opponent.  It is violence made flesh.  To fight it will be the most difficult battle of your life.  This Orc has a STR of 19(+4) and a DEX of 19(+4).  It gains the ability of 'Instrument of Violence' and 'Rapture'.    
6- Forgive us.  0 HD.  "I am the wrath of God.  If you had not committed great sins, God would not sent a punishment like me upon you."  This Orc has Super Hit Points and a Damage Threshold, as detailed here.  Give it enough SHP to make it seem godlike and near-divine.  This Orc has a STR of 20(+5) and a DEX of 20(+5).  It gains the ability of 'Instrument of Violence', 'Rapture, and 'Red Dominion'.  

Instrument of Violence: You cannot defeat a natural born killer in mortal combat.  Every round someone remains in combat with an Orc, they must save.  On a failed save, they get -1 to attack and damage for the rest of the combat.  Additionally, for every failed save someone makes, the Orc does an additional +1 damage to them. 

Rapture: This Orc is so powerful all pale before it.  When you enter combat with this Orc, you must save.  On a failure, you take 1d6 CHA damage.  If this CHA damage ever equals or exceeds your CHA score, you must flee, and gain the Conviction, "I will never fight that Orc ever again."

Red Dominion: Any who would raise their hand in anger or feel hatred in their hearts toward this Orc are automatically marked as its prey.  All who enter combat or act against the Orc must save.  On a failure, they can feel the Shadow of Death looming over them.  Against these targets, all damage rolls do maximum damage, and if they are called upon to save against a negative effect, they must roll twice and use the worse outcome.

What is this Orc's preferred/current prey?

1- Humanoid Warriors.  Alternatively: you.
2- Exotic Beasts.  Monsters that can sort of be thought of as strange, yet still beasts.  Examples include but are not limited to, Displacer Beasts, Blink Dogs, Wyverns, etc.
3- Intelligent, Magical Creatures.  Giants, Dragons, Djinn, etc.
4- Elites.  Kings, Princes, Cardinals; the rich and powerful in a society.
5- The Proud and Arrogant.  These Orcs have a great love of schadenfreude.
6- The Holy Ones.  The Sons of God.  See here and here for examples. 
7- Outsiders.  Compared to them, hunting mortals is like shooting fish in a barrel.
8- Priests and Prophets.  The chosen of God, here on Earth.
9- Magic-Users and Wizards.  Most people don't like Wizards, and this Orc is no exception to that rule.
10- Living Weapons.  The Living Weapon is a magic weapon with a will of its own.  The person carrying it is just a tool.  They may be a willing tool, or they may be a mind-slave, crushed beneath the weapon's grasp.  Either way, the Orc intends to kill the vessel and then when the Living Weapon is helpless, destroy it.
11- Abberrations*.  Abberrations are not Outsiders, but they are outsiders.  They come from outside our universe, but they are mortal like you and I.  Their power comes from the alien rule set they obey, and how reality folds and buckles around them.   12- Lesser Divinities.  Small things that don't quite count as Gods, but are more then monsters.  Dryads, Spirits of the Wild, Naiads, etc.   
13- Cultures.  This Orc systematically sets about destroying a culture.  This can mean assassinating the tribal elders and allowing a head-strong fool into taking over for them or by carefully brainwashing infiltrators to subvert a city-state so that it falls into ruin.  These are the longest hunts, but after a certain point, even if the Orc is killed, the prey will still die.
14- Dreams.  This Orc assists someone in pursuing one of their agendas, then secretly subjects them to hard-ship, in the hope of crushing their spirit and getting them to abandon their goal.  The hunt is successful if the prey abandons their goal.
15- Hope.  These hunts are simple.  Put a group of weak prey into a desperate situation, then offer them false hope to escape and live.  Then, once they have labored hard for the pleasure of achieving this hope, reveal it to be an illusion.   
16- Innocence.  First the Orc finds a mark.  They always choose someone innocent and good-willed.  Then the Orc engineers a situation where that person must do something despicable of their own free will.  The hunt is successful if they do it.
17- Justice.  First, the Orc finds a mark.  Then the Orc engineers a situation, either framing the mark for something hideous, helping them get away scot free and blaming it on someone else, or something else entirely.  The whole point is to cause a miscarriage of justice.  If the guilty go free and the innocent languish in prison, the hunt is successful. 
18- Goodness.  The Orc sets about tormenting and destroying one particular person, subjecting them to as much suffering as is possible, like the Creature in Frankenstein.  Killing their bride, framing their friends for the murder of family members, haunting them for years, none of these are off the table.  The point is to make the mark go through as much suffering as possible.  The hunt is successful if the mark renounces Goodness itself, and devotes himself solely to some despicable end.
19- Fortune.  Fortune is no God.  It was said that once a famous gambler had the tools to kill Fortune, but they were lost. The Orc is determined to find these, and butcher Fortune once and for all.   
20- One of the Hours.

*Coming soon to a city near you...

How does this Orc prefer to hunt?

1- Ambushes.  The Orc will stalk its prey, then strike at the most opportune moments.
2- Traps.  The Orc will set a trap with some juicy bait, and then wait.
3- Betrayal.  The Orc will try to become the ally of the prey, and then at the moment opportune moment, stab them in the back.
4- Honorable duels.  The Orc will set up a duel with it against the prey.  It will allow the prey to choose the weapons used in this fight, while it chooses the date and time.  If accepted, the duel will be arbitrated by a neutral party, and the two combatants must have a second and a physician on hand.  The duel can be to first blood, concession, or death.  All these things will be negotiated on neutral ground.  The Orc expects you to cheat, but is unlikely to do so, unless it would surely result in victory.  
5- Random Encounters.  The Orc will just intrude in your space and wander around the area you frequent until it encounters you.  Then it will attack you.
6- Self-Defense.  The Orc will not attack you, but instead antagonize you until you act against it.

What weapons* does this Orc have/use?  To determine this fact, roll 1d3 times for each Orc.
1- Sword.  1 attack per person in melee combat with them, each dealing 1d6+STR damage.
2- Daggers.  2 attacks, each dealing 1d6 damage.
3- Throwing Knives.  4 attacks, each dealing 1d4 damage.
4- Bow and Arrow.  1 attack per person firing projectiles at them, each dealing 1d6+STR damage.  2-in-6 chance of having poisoned arrows.
5- Blowpipe.  1 attack dealing 1 damage.  Dart is covered in horrible poison.
6- Chakram.  2 attacks each dealing 1d10 damage.  If this drops someone to zero or below, it automatically hacks off a limb as per the Horrible Wounds system, with everything else as normal.       
7- Punch Dagger.  1 attack dealing 1d6+STR damage.  Ignores non-magic armor except for shields.
8- Eyeball Gouge.  1 attack dealing 1 damage.  Requires the Orc to be grappling or touching the person's face.  Assume this is impossible if the Orc didn't get the drop on them or they're flailing around with their sword.  On a hit, the Orc pops out of on the person's eyeballs and slices through optic nerve.  Reduce their WIS by half immediately, and they lose an eye.
9- Giant Axe.  1 attack dealing 1d8+STR damage.
10- Warhammer.  1 attack dealing 1d8 damage.  Destroys shields on misses, and reduces AC from any other armor by 1 per unsuccessful attack.
11- Hatchets.  2 attacks each dealing 1d6+STR damage.  Can throw a Hatchet as a free action, but this reduces the number of attacks by 1. 
12- Clawed Gauntlet.  3 attacks each dealing 1d6 damage.  If the Orc is grappling someone, can spend any number of attacks to automatically deal damage to them.
13- Spells.  Can cast 1 spell a round as a free action, if it doesn't damage anyone.  Otherwise, casting is a full action.  Knows a number of spells equal to half its HD, and has a number of spellcasting dice equal to that number.   
14- Shuriken.  Can make 1d20 attacks each dealing 1 damage.
15- Rope Dart.  Can make 1 attack dealing 1d6 damage on a hit.  The Orc can then drag the person hit by this attack closer to them each round as a free action, as long as the Orc is not in melee combat with someone else.  Removing the rope dart requires a successful DC 10 STR check and does an additional 1d6 damage to the person it was removed from.
16- Firebomb.  Can make 1 attack dealing 3d6 fire damage in a 15' square area.  The burning oil also does an additional 1d6 fire damage each round to everyone originally hit until they take an answer to stop, drop and roll or otherwise extinguish the flames.
17- Bolas.  Can make 2 attacks, each one dealing no damage.  On a hit, target is restrained, and must succeed a DC 15 DEX check or someone else must take an action to free them, or they cannot move.
18- Chain Whip.  Can make 2 attacks, each one dealing 1d6 damage.  On a miss, the Orc can ensnare a weapon with their whip.  The target must then succeed a STR contest with the Orc or have their weapon yanked out of their hands and thrown away.
19- Javelin.  Can make 2 attacks, each one dealing 1d6+STR damage.  Can also throw the Javelin for the same damage, but then cannot use it until it is retrieved.
20- Musket**.  Can fire one shot or make 2 bayonet attacks.  Firing a shot does 2d8 damage but the target is allowed a save to reduce damage as per the rules here.  Bayonet attacks do 1d6+STR damage each.  To reload, the Orc needs at least 1d3 rounds.  The Orc has enough shot and powder for 1d10 shots besides the first.

*Each Orc has at a 50% of one of their weapons being magical.

**And no, I don't care if your setting doesn't have guns.  Just give one Orc this one, it'll be even better that way.

Who serves the Orc?

1- No one, this Orc hunts alone.
2- A group of Undead.  The Undead want to perish, as such, following someone who is constantly getting into fights with dangerous foes seemed like a good idea.  The Undead and the Orc don't really have a relationship, but the Orc tolerates their presence.
3- A pack of Ghouls.  They were hungry.  Orcs generate a lot of raw meat.  It is a mutually beneficial relationship.  The Ghouls are the Ghouls body-guards and valets, providing excellent dinner conversation, guarding the Orc, and cleaning up the bodies.  They regard as their patron and meal ticket.  The Orc regards them as fair-weather friends, who will either stab the Orc in the back or abandon them the second the corpses stop coming.     
4- The Orc's children.  Most so-called "Half-Orcs" have none of the pussiance of their Orc parent, and are indistinguishable from the usual inbred bandit yokels, beside their taste in dress, regalia, and how some of them paint themselves green, grey or red.     
5- A group of defeated warriors.  They were ritually bonded to the Orc through the use of its 'Slave-Mark'.  They despise and revere their master.
6- A clan of Demons (like this one).  This Orc, they're a riot.  So the Demons thought they'd stick around, to see what crazy nonsense the Orc gets up to next.

What trophies does this Orc have?  To determine the Orc's trophies, roll 1d12 once and 1d20 once.
1- A necklace of 1d10 rings taken from previous victims.  1-in-10 chance one of these rings is magic.  Otherwise, the rings are all 100 silver.
2- A string of 1d20 shrunken heads.  These are magical.  Decapitate a freshly killed corpse and place one over the bleeding stump.  That corpse will then reanimate and stagger around for 1d10 minutes, obeying your orders until the small amount of life force in the head is used up and it dies.  The heads cannot animate anything larger then a man, but if placed on a smaller corpse (such as a snake, ferret, mink or dog) they could animate it indefinitely.    
3- 1d6 skulls adorned with gold with gemstones in their eye-sockets.  1d6*100 silver each.  Speak with Dead works on them.   
4- 1d10 bottles of wine.  1d100 silver unopened, worthless opened.  Quite tasty, though. 
5- A crown, in two pieces.  Formerly belonged to one of the Kings of the Young Kingdoms.  Returning it would be a great way to curry favor or get a sackload of money.
6- An ancient, ultra-rare book of huge historical importance.  To a collector, worth [the Orc's HD*100] silver.  If you can sell it.  You might find that as soon as you announce it, other groups will want to claim this, as it once belonged to them. Also be careful with it, as its very old, and might fall apart if you so much as sneeze on it.
7- 1d6 paintings.  Each one is 1d10*50 silver, or double the total if they are sold as a set.     
8- 1d6 swords.  If the Orc didn't have any magic weapons, you will find one here.  Otherwise, the swords are all worht 1d100 silver, with a 2-in-6 chance one is masterwork, and thus does +1 damage and is worth 5x the value of the others.
9- 1d8 suits of armor, still bearing the wound that killed the original occupant.  Each suit is worth 1d8*100 silver, or more as a collectible if the person who formerly wore it was famous or notable. 
10- 1d20 A wall of shields.  Has an equivalent chance that one of them is magic.   
11- The flayed skin of the Orc's greatest foe.  The skin radiates magic.  If you slip on the skin, it sews shut around you, and the person wearing the skin becomes convinced they are the person whose flayed skin they are wearing.  Nothing will convince them of this fact.   
12- 1d20 rations.  Most of this meat comes from exotic sources, however.
13- 1d10 Occultum Coins.  Each coin is a 1000 sp.
14- A prophet's Mummy.  May whisper secret truths into your ear.  Or may be a liar.  Either way, certainly valuable to someone, even without potential prophecies fluttering from dead lips.
15- An ancient tablet bearing some kind of prophecy, curse or a treasure map (maybe all three).  50% of each.  Also a nifty historical antique. 
16- A vial of Dragonsblood, or Dragon Bones, or Dragon Scales.  A king's ransome to any Wizard or Prophet, and Invaluable to the Dragon's family, if they still live.  Returning them to the Dragon's kin is a good way to make the former plot your downfall, and selling them is a good way to make the latter hunt you down and destroy you. 
17- A cursed magic item.  For me, it is the Warhammer of Hamaz, a famous Dwarf.  Hamaz of Icicle committed many great deeds in the name of Mother Madrigail, and is publicly known as a hero among the the people of the Young Kingdoms.  However, in his homeland he is better known as a filthy traitor and a democrat.  His hammer possesses the power to freeze water and other liquids.  However, anyone who uses the Warhammer will be cursed to betray their friends at the worst time.
18- An item that a Ghost is bound to.  For me, it is the Oath Ring.  Rumors says that anyone who breaks an oath in the presence of this ring or betrays their former friend is cursed to die.  But the Referee knows that this isn't the case.  They aren't actually cursed however, as it's not a curse killing them, just the Ghost that lives in the ring.  The Ghost leaves at night, finds the oath-breaker and betrayer, and kills them.  The Ghost is strong, but cannot break through magical defenses and fears sunlight and Necromancers.  The Ghost's name is Lucinda, and she wants to kill oath-breakers and betrayers, as well as get her revenge on her former husband (till death do us part, after all), who she thinks is still alive.
19- Some kind of potion.  For me, it is a potion of Vampire's Brew, made of child blood, alcohol, and a fossil Vampire heart. Drink it to immediately gain the abilities and curse of a level 3 Vampire.
20- A piece of God-flesh, ambrosia.  This is a small piece, either a lesser organ (spleen, lymph node, gallbladder, appendix), a finger or toe, or a facial feature (eyeball, nose, or ear).  You could sell it back to the God it was originally taken from, or you eat it.  Eating just a nibble restores you to full HP, if you are of the God's alignment (see Sub-Table A).  If you are not, it instead makes you projectile vomit and curses you, no save.  Each piece of God-flesh is good for 1d3 nibbles.  Or, if you scarf the whole thing down, roll on Sub-Table B. 

Sub-Table A:

What was that God's Alignment?

1- Lawful.  If you pay your taxes, obey the law, and respect authority, you are fine.  If not, you are cursed to lose every single one of your possessions within the next 1d20 days.  This curse is broken by clothing yourself in sack-cloth, pouring ashes on your head, and offering an appropriate sacrifice to the God of Law you offended.  
2- Neutral.  As long as you aren't a sworn Minion of the Dark Powers, a Slave of Jessai or a Cultist of Abraxus, you're good. However, if you are one of those, you are cursed to be devoured by a lion.  This curse is broken by attacking a bee hive bare-handed.
3- Chaotic.  If you live freely, don't paid your taxes, and hold the Agents of the Law in contempt, you're good. However, if you are an obedient subject, you are cursed to attract lightning.  Whenever their is a lightning storm nearby (assume each day has a 2-in-10 chance of having rain/thunder and lightning) you have a chance of being struck by lightning equal to 0-in-6, the number increasing for each minute you spend outside.  

Sub-Table B:

Do you ascend?

1: No.  You are engulfed in pure ecstasy and feel the most amazing, glorious warmth.  You begin to glow and levitate.  Brighter and brighter.  1 round later, you explode, dealing 2d20 damage to everything within 30', save for half.  
2: No.  You gain an amount of mutations equal to your level.  
3-5:  Almost.  Your lowest stat becomes 16, and your highest stat becomes an 18.  1/Day, you can scream at someone and cause them to take 2d6 damage and burst into flames.  You also become incredibly beautiful.  But you are still mortal.  Monsters will desire you flesh, to feed on you and gain some of your power.   
6:  Yes.  You begin glowing and start regenerating at a rate of 1d10 HP/FS a turn.  You gain the ability to fire 1 glowing laser from your eyes each round that does 1d10 damage.  Your highest stat also begins increasing at the rate of 1 point a round.  You may abort this process at any time.  If not stopped by your will, this continues until you reach full health or your highest stat exceeds 18.  Then, suddenly, you realize how pointless everything on this planet is, and desire immediately to leave it.  You cannot be persuaded otherwise.  You may leave your possessions and offer your friends a boon, but you have no further business here among mortals.  You say farewell to them and leave them behind, flying into the Heavens and vanishing from sight.  Your comrades will probably find you soon after in a mural about the Gods, a godling serving at the feet of one of the Major Gods.


  1. Wow, those are some tough orcs. I have to say I like this take. The usual, "blokes who pillage" interpretation could be filled by regular people pretty easily.

    1. That was exactly my thought. I wanted Orcs to be something that struck fear into the player's hearts, so I made my Orcs into Apex Predators, in the hope of doing just that.