Sorry for the lack of blog updates. Busy holiday season!
Since Orcs are featured prominently in both my current campaign and in ‘Aspects of Fantasy’ I thought I should do a quick write up on them. Here’s the write up:
More than any other race, orcs are the most closely identified with the Powers of Darkness. They have a universal reputation for being wicked and cruel, delighting in the torment of others. Orcs are nocturnal creatures that live in tunnels and caves. They despise the sun and venture forth during the day only under extreme duress. Orcs constantly fight amongst each other and only the strongest and most powerful leaders can keep them in line. Orcs can potentially live a very long time – quite possibly centuries – though few last past age 30 due to their violent culture and dark natures.
There are no female orcs. Instead, these creatures have the horrific ability to mate and produce offspring with any medium-size female creature and often target animals like pigs and goats for their evil lusts. The creature born from such a union is an orc, but it often has the look of its animal parent. For this reason, most orcs present a porcine appearance or have muzzle like faces; some even possess tusks. However, many orcs have a strangely fey appearance with twisted, angular features. No matter what features they possess, all orcs have long pointed ears and horrid red slitted eyes. Skin color ranges from gray, to green, to greenish black. Size can range from 4ft. to 6ft.
While orcs will eat about anything, they much prefer the flesh of elves, dwarves and men. Orcs rarely hold captives for very long, most being devoured within a few day of being captured.
The origins of the orc race are murky, though it is certain they are a race created through sorcery and dark magic. Strangely, an orc’s pointed ears and potential long life span show evidence of a fey or even elven influence of some sort.
Design Notes: I haven’t used orcs in my game in well over 20 years as I thought they were cliché. So why did I re-introduce them both in my game and current campaign? For ‘Aspects of Fantasy’ I wanted a race that was vile and loathsome. A race with no redeeming qualities engaged in genocidal war with other races and peoples of the world. You know, a race of creatures player characters could kill without remorse. I had created a race of my own called the Dwimmerlokes, a race of men that had sold their souls for a chance at immortality and had paid a horrible price. However, I wanted a race that people were more familiar with, a race that conjured up images of darkness and evil. Orcs seemed like the perfect choice.
So why the strange, vile breeding habits? Several reasons:
1. I never liked the whole tribal setting where characters raid an orc (or hobgoblin, ogre, etc.) settlement and not only kill the warriors and menfolk, but also the women and whelps. Sure, they’re orcs, but from a certain point of view it’s still women and children the characters are (usually) putting to the sword.
2. It differentiates them from the plethora of ‘evil’ races in D&D, making them particularly loathsome and savage.
3. It provides a reason for some orcs at least to look like “old school” orcs with pig-like features.
Note that the orc breeding habits are not really an original idea. Runequest’s Broo breed basically the same way (though, as I recall, they can mate with both the males and females…).