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
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!