Monday, April 18, 2011


O is for Orcs in the fifteenth installment of the Deepest Sea A-Z.

Orcs, at least as we know them, came from the Lord of the Rings.  They are nasty, brutish monsters, which threaten the "good" of the world with their desire for war.  Other views of orcs are generally similar, and only change the details, such as Games Workshop Orcs/Orks which are a bit more fun loving with crude Cockney accents.  Orcs are typically seen as hunched, dirty, with poor quality equipment, and low personal hygiene.

In D&D Orcs are not usually player characters.  They are described as pig faced cruel creatures who live primarily underground, have a lust for gold and killing, and a crude tribal structure.  They have one hit die, and are chaotic, which is in keeping with the description.  Half-orcs, which are an allowable PC race in the advanced companion, have positive strength and constitution modifiers, and a negative modifier to charisma.  They can be assassins, thieves, fighters, or clerics, but not magic users. They have infravision, and are able to find secret doors and traps 1/3 of the time.

Orcs come from the Northern Continent, and most scholars think that they originated somewhere beyond the great equatorial Wet, where the very air steams, and giant beasts tread the marshes.  They did not feature much in the affairs of the world before the Titans, or at least they do not make an appearance in the legends or stories of that time.  The Titans certainly made use of Orc slaves, particularly as task masters over the other subjected races, which may account for the cruelty of the Elves meted out once the Titans were over thrown.

The Elvish legions spent most of their efforts against the Orcs, spreading out on great pacification marches, where every Orc was slain, towns burned, cattle slain, and goods spoiled or carried off. These occurred on a rotating basis for centuries, as the then superior technology and discipline of the Elves allowed them to operate with impunity.  The Orcs were forced back into the Wet, and their population seethed.  Eventually, growing weary of the slaughter, and of death in the mud, the Elves built a long limit line along the southern edges of the Wet, league forts and walls to prevent incursions, and small towns to supply the forts. This was called Hadrioon's wall, after the emperor who ordered its construction.

The limit line lasted but a generation, for the Empire was already in decline.  More and more troops were diverted for civil conflict, or to fight with the incoming hordes of humans, or simply because there were no more replacements.  The wall grew weak, and gradually, slowly, and fitfully, it was abandoned.  In AGM600, the Orcs boiled out of the Wet in a massive crusade, sweeping the few Elves left from their path, and gobbled up the rich farm land to the south.  This crusade continued to the Sea, and by AGM630, they had destroyed the whole of the northern Empire, save what is now the Remnant, clustered around the Great River, and the City.

War with the Elves has now settled into defined lines, and the unity the Orcs once had is slipping away.  Great warlords became kings, and though they all served the Hooded One, they rule their own petty kingdoms beyond the rim.  The priesthood has a heavy hand in the rule of law, and all orcs remain united in that at least. Havlings and dwarves with in the territory are enslaved, and captured Elves are carried back to the homeland beyond the Wet.  No one knows what happens to those taken, and none return. The humans have sent several crusades against the Orcs to liberate the land, and aside from setting up the small kingdom Candia on the shores of the Deepest Sea, have had little success.

All Orcs speak Orcic, a language not related to Franka, or Titanic.  Consequently, it is very difficult for outsiders to learn, and Orcs similarly have great difficulty learning the languages of others.  Typically they use Dwarven or Havling interpreters for formal needs, and get by with a crude pidgin version of Marian when no slaves are available.  Due to their difficulty in learning Titanic and Franka, Orcs have a much greater difficulty learning new spells, and must spend twice as long to inscribe spells.

Race Rules
Orcs of the Deepest Sea are perhaps best treated as Humans. The differences between the two races as far as stats and abilities are slight, and these are handled best by role play, rather than rules.  Consequently, all of the restrictions normally placed on half-orcs do not apply.  Orcs may be any class save Paladin or Druid, as they have no equivalents to these.

Orcs adventure for much the same reason as any human, for money, for glory, for duty, or for love.  They look down on Havlings and Dwarves as servile races, and treat Elves with a thinly veiled contempt.  Humans are the only race that get on with them at all, something which does not impress the other races. They respect their overlords, and obey their priests nearly reflexively.  They take a great personal pride in honor and justice, even if these are obscure to those from other cultures.

Orcs typically have great piety, and will spend at least one hour a day in worship. Orcs have a number of sayings which involve mud and similar idioms from the Wet, which often are hard to translate.  They have a reverence for well built things, and often heavily ornament simple items of equipment.  In this regard, they are somewhat like Elves or dwarves, although they would not appreciate the comparison.  Female orcs are not often seen abroad, as they are seen as the guardians of traditional Orcish culture, and consequently are kept away from outside influences.

Randomly generated NPCs or PCs are likely to be male 7/8 of the time, nobles 1/10 of the time, and from the Wet only 1/20 of the time.  They are likely to be fighters 1/2 of the time, clerics 1/6 of the time, are not randomly wizards.  NPCs will be accompanied by d3 slaves, which are Havlings 2/3 of the time, and Dwarves 1/3 of the time.  These slaves are treated as hirelings, with a -1 to moral checks.

Adventuring Orcs are rarely seen abroad due to their slow conflict with the rest of the Deepest Sea, however, they do sometimes strike out from trade vessels.  They are likely to have legal or social problems in Dwarven kingdoms and in the Empire, and in smaller towns in Human countries.  They do adventure though, for their love of glory leads them to seek out monsters to slay, and treasure is always welcome.

The best miniatures for Deepst Sea Orcs are Thunderbolt Mountain Goblins.  As these are somewhat limited, Reaper Black Orcs might also work, particularly as a PC.

Tuesday, more Deepest Sea A-Z with Paladins.

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