Rise of the Orcs!



I think that a lot of Dungeon Masters, when they are designing their games, tend to ignore 1HD monsters, and dismiss them as weak. I know from reading lots of posts through the years that goblins seem to be the most popular monster for 1st level Characters, which, is also one of the most complained about. The goblinoid race is (or probably is) the most populous race in the fantasy worlds, second only to men. Elves have generally taken off, or segregated themselves to small parts of your map; dwarves are a doomed race that’s numbers are dwindling yearly, and Halflings and gnomes have little interest in over populating the world.

Goblinoids, as a race, are disjointed. They have a very odd social structure and constantly push each other down and hold each other back. Stripping the game away and looking at the Tolkien influence, it appears that the game has replaced orcs with goblins. My question is: Where does the Orc fit into our D&D worlds? Can we have a war that is reminiscent of The War of the Ring? Well, of course the answer is YES! And if we did that, it would be an even bigger nightmare then goblinoids could ever be.

I think that people don’t properly represent the orc, its population may outnumber the goblinoids, as this is a chief rival, yet because of their misleading entry in the Monstrous Manual, they get skipped over. They are definitely out there, quietly waiting their turns for conquest, and if a DM is looking for a giant bomb to drop on their milieu, they have no further to look then the seemingly lowly orc.

1Hit Die Wonders?

The Monstrous Manual is misleading. The quick stats have them as pathetic until you notice a few things that are different, the numbers of the tribe a listed as 30-300, this is just warriors, all specialized in their weapons. The second thing is that they are Lawful, this means that they fight as a unit and can use complex formations. The third, they are smart! Then you get down to the descriptions and you find out that these creatures are just as complex as any town that your adventurers could visit. The 30-300 doesn’t represent the more experienced ones, these are added later.

Where does the Orc fit into our world?

These creatures are legend. The earth has scars from a great war which took place long ago when the elves removed them from the ancient world, well now many of the elves have gone away, else segregated themselves to small communities which are far from the glory of the elder days. While the elf grew fewer, the orc grew. They now outnumber their chief rivals of lore, their biggest competitors now are goblinoids and men. What is to stop them now from taking back what they believe to be wrongfully taken from them? Men! I dare say that this would be a worthy scenario to entertain.

The Rise of Gruumsh

While the goblinoid races are held back by a bizarre and complex social structure which breeds infighting, the orc does not have this limitation. True, the race is divided into tribes currently, but the only thing that keeps them back is the debates between the army and the religion.  If an orcish hero could manage to pull these two different factions together, he could easily attract not just many tribes, but entire nations, perhaps, once word has spread of the orc’s greatness, the entire race.

With loyal numbers in the tens of thousands, the weapons of the warlords, and the blessings of the priests, they could take an entire nation, and unlike the goblin hordes, there would be no infighting to eat away at the orc nation from within, in fact it would be the opposite; orcs from all over our maps would hear what has been done, and march vast distances to be a part of it.

The former masters turned to slaves, fresh food, superior metal to craft their arms, and true power. Once this new kingdom stabilizes, their next conquest would be one of vengeance! Vengeance against the Elves! Vengeance against the Dwarves! The Age of the Orc is upon us!

Sorry, I went a little Gruumsh-like there.

WHY NOT THE ORC?

The bugbear is a formidable tactician, but their numbers are small. Orog orcs, are much more intelligent than the goblinoid bugbears, and of superior numbers. They also don’t enslave their own kind! Orogs don’t bully their underlings, they bring them wealth and glory, and in turn are treated with respect, and honor!

The orc is an expert at war. They know how to construct and use siege engines. They aren’t above using any tactic at their disposal, no matter how dirty and cheap. Rules of warfare are for cowards and the weak. They are steady fighters that are more then capable of seeing what can be gained from a battle, and are not above intense labor themselves. This is a perfect storm. These things were not designed to be placed on a Random Encounter Table; they don’t just randomly walk around in easy to pick apart groups. These creatures were designed for the purpose of mass warfare, particularly to harass an adventurer’s stronghold. They have no interest in the affairs of anyone, their sole drive is land! I say we see what happens when they try and take it!

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