A Change of Pace

Creative Commons photo by ankakay

Originally posted by Brianna Heine on the other (now defunct) version of this site.

So I’ve been discussing Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age and how it might be successfully translated into a d20 Campaign Setting. I want to switch things up this time. I’m going to do that occasionally because there is only so many times a gal can type the name Conan before she gets sick of seeing it.

I’ve decided to start running my first RPG in eight years. Actually it’s probably closer to ten. I’m sure some of you understand. You get older, you work overtime, or the kids keep you busy, or you get married, or you move away. All your friends have the same issues so getting together for game night unfortunately falls to the wayside. Ask my closest friends and they’ll tell you that I’ve been promising to run something for so long now that they probably think it’s not actually going to happen.

Well I’ve already set a date and invited some friends to play. No it’s not a Hyborian Age game. The rules aren’t ready for that yet but when they are I’m going to need my best friends to playtest because only the people closest to you will put up with rolling a new character every other session.

Continue reading “A Change of Pace”

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DCC RPG Ranger Class PDF

A while back I had a post about my take on the ranger for DCC. It took me awhile to get around to it, but I put the class in PDF and added a link to the Downloads section.

 

Split River: The Word Around Town

deviantART by AlexTooth
In a previous play report, I mentioned that my DCC party is currently based out of the mining town of Split River. In the interest of summing things up before game night (and of having another post this week despite getting my ass kicked at work), here’s a list of knowledge, rumors, and gossip that the party has thus far picked up while hanging around town:
Continue reading “Split River: The Word Around Town”

Under a Dying Sun: Campaigns I’d Like to Run Blog Carnvial

RPGBlogCarnivalLogocopy1-227x300May’s RPG Blog Carnival theme, courtesy of Age of Ravens, is “Campaigns I’d Like to Run.” This is a topic any DM can easily write at length about — perhaps too easily due to the ever-present threat of campaign ADD. And like everyone else, I’ve always got a few ideas for games I’d like to run kicking around in the brain; some are just vague notions and some have some get more developed as they keep boiling back to the surface. This is the campaign I’m most often distracted by lately, and the one I think I’m most likely to run after my current game comes to a close.

Blistered Skin Beneath a Blood-Red Sky

Perhaps because of its Appendix N sword and sorcery vibe, DCC RPG seems like it would be an excellent fit for the Dark Sun campaign setting. Defiling magic can be easily integrated with the existing spellcasting system. Mighty deeds are surely the order of the day for vicious, desert roaming ex-slave gladiators. But I would also be applying a few tweaks to the setting as well to take out some aspects that I don’t really feel fit all that well.

The first area of revision would be the races. Gavin Norman of City of Iron has been doing some great stuff with Ix, his Dark Sun-inspired setting for Labyrinth Lord. In particular, this post on PC races really hits the mark for me. He reduces the race options down to humans, mul, half-giants, and halflings. Humans actually get two different race choices depending on whether they are city-dwellers or desert-dwellers, and halflings remain the feral wild-men of the surviving jungles. The mul and half-giants, however, are recast as “Mool” and “Brutes.” Instead of being half-races of the traditional D&D sort, they become wholly separate races that were created through ancient genetic manipulation to be slaves to the humans. Dwarves and elves are gone altogether. I would definitely be using this as the race mix in my DCC Dark Sun game.

The next thing to be changed would be the removal of the “elemental clerics” from the published setting. Clerics would all fill one of two roles — they are either templars in the service of a sorcerer king or they are druids working to preserve what little of The Green remains in the world. Tying into the second part, such clerics would be the only magical “preservers.” All wizards, regardless of morality or intention, would be “defilers,” as that is simply how their magic works. I guess they could try and plant some shrubs after they cast a spell, but that might be hard when you’ve reduced what passed for soil to lifeless ash.

Psionics remain something of a wild card in my conception of the campaign. I know there are a few systems out there for using psionics in OSR games, and I know that they really are appropriate for the style of setting that Dark Sun evokes. Still, I’m just not sure that I’d want them as prevalent as the published setting makes them or which particular system I’d use.

Other than that, I’d run the setting mostly as presented in the initial boxed set. None of that “Free City of Tyr” would be going down in my game, though, unless the players really set their minds to making it happen. Good luck fighting the sorcerer-king.

Brom, of course
Brom, of course

 

In Death, Members of Project Murder-Hobo Have a Name: Sepulcher of the Mountain God Play Report

For our last few sessions I’ve been running a slighly modded version of Purple Duck Games‘ module AL2 – Sepulcher of the Mountain God. This post will contain some spoilers for that adventure, so read at your own risk.

After emerging from the underground river that carried them potentially thousands of miles from the small village which had previously been their whole world, the Company of the Starless Sea found themselves in Split River, a booming mining town. It is centered around an ancient and enduring mountain highway built by a forgotten empire; to the north the highway splits and spreads throughout the 1,000 Valleys where it remains the primary means of trade and transit between valleys. Heading south leads to the southern edge of the 1,000 Valleys and beyond that ultimately to Punjar, Tarnished Jewel of the Lorian Sea, where the iron, precious metals, and glow-rock mined in Split River sells for a premium.

Rather than heading to the cheap flophouses littering the edge of the mining sites, the party managed to barter their magic chaos incense censer for two weeks stay at the town’s finest inn, the Obsidian Sage, a many-floored rest stop and bathhouse as old as the highway itself. The name comes from an extremely lifelike black stone sculpture of a man working at a desk that sits on a raised dias in the center of the tavern room. The party acclimated themselves to the surroundings, played to the locals’ fascination with their emergence from the underground river, and began what looks to be regular patronage of Marlborough’s House of Enigmas. In said shop, Percival the halfling haberdasher managed to secure the purchase of 4 doses of giant centipede venom, a mild toxin with a severe impact on those it affects — complete and permanent amnesia.

They also picked up on some local rumors and gossip and decided that their next excursion would be to the recently uncovered tomb doors on one of the mining paths above town. Being a but smaller in number, they elected to hire local drunkard and miner Marcus Hayes as a guide and torch-bearer. Shifty Jack quickly dubbed the hireling “Roger” and the rest of the party followed suite, despite Marcus’s protestations.

After a two hour hike up a mining trail, the party reached the doors to the tomb, only to discover that three like-minded folk had beat them to the punch. These others hadn’t noticed them, though, so the party stayed in hiding to watch the rivals’ efforts to open the doors — efforts that ended with all three of them crushed between two horizontal stone columns that shot out from the surrounding rock like pistons. Now aware of the exact threat, Shakey Dog Buchanen (resident thief) proceeded to examine the entrance. During his 30 minute attempt to gain safe entry, the trap was triggered once but he managed to narrowly avoid doom.

Once the threat of the door was disabled, the party crowbarred the heavy stone doors partially open and proceeded into the darkness beyond. The encounter with the barbarian zombies was a tough one, with both halflings ending up on death’s door. Percival was saved through great effort at filthy, filthy healing by Sherman Funk, former gong farmer and cleric of Nimulrun. Ippie Skabipillie, halfling chicken butcher, was not so lucky and met his end that day.

They found the path through the stalagmites and stalactites on the southern wall of the cavern and came to the shrine of Ee-Rah and the great hall beyond. Sherman Funk swiftly proceeded to “sanctify” the ritual bowl from the shrine with excrement and then put it in his sack of night soil to be used as a scoop. Olaf the Oaf, strong and dim-witted mendicant, picked up the heavy stone idol of Ee-Rah and hid it in a nook of the cavern for later retrieval.

Next, they passed through an open set of double doors painted with what appeared to be very old dried blood. Then came a closed set of engraved bronze double doors, which Shakey Dog examined, went to open, and got splattered by as they slammed forward, being as it was actually a single spring loaded plate hiding the actual wooden doors that led forward.

At that point, Alex being short any player characters, he decided to roll up Marcus/Roger as a 0-level to play. Marcus had already been sketched as a somewhat despondent drunk, so Alex immediately started playing him as someone very unsure about continuing in light of what he had seen thus far, thinking it was about time to get back to the tavern since his flask had run dry. That’s when Percival said, “Here, drink this,” and Marcus took a swig of the giant centipede poison.

“There, aren’t you feeling better now?”

“Huh …”

“Roger, are you feeling better? Nasty bump on the head but that drink should clear you right up.”

“Wha … what? Who? Where am I? Who are you people?”

“Oh, still a bit groggy. It’ll be fine though. We’re your friends. Your name is Roger, and you love to open doors.”

“R … Really? I don’t know … Why are we in this dark tunnel? Where the hell am I?”

“You are with friends, and you were just about to open these doors right here. It’s really your life’s purpose, door opening.”

“No. No! Where is this crazy place?! Who are you crazy people?! Who am I?! AHHHHH!!!!”

At which point Marcus/Roger bolted up, opened the door after all, and ran straight forward screaming at the top of his lungs.

On the other side of the door was a long room full of columns and leading toward a throne on which a giant skeleton sat, sans skull. Above the skeleton was a huge carving of the face of Ee-Rah, the barbarian mountain god. And in sconces on four of the columns were large animated stone servant of the mountain god.

Marcus/Roger just kept running and screaming while the rest of the party tried to figure out how to handle the large animated statues moving to attack. Eventually he started pounding on the wall looking for a way out, which opened up a secret door, which he also proceeded to run through screaming. Very shortly thereafter he ran over a trip wire, causing a significant portion of rock to fall from the ceiling and bringing his running and screaming days to a very definite end.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party had to dispatch four large, angry statues, and then deal with the wrathful visage of the Mountain God himself, he insisted he could destroy them but would instead demand restitution. If they could recover the skull of Veyache, the champion on the the throne, from the servants of the mire-god Gelhidres who dwelt below, he would let them go on their way.

Good times.

Vassals to the Lords Unending: Elves of the Age of Ruins

Two blogs which I respect and enjoy the hell out of had some semi-recent posts about elves that got me thinking about how the pointy-ears fit into my own setting.  Adam Muszkiewicz of Dispatches from Kickassistan detailed a bit more of the history of elves in his Ur-Hadad setting, and I love his twist on the “elves leaving this world” concept: the elves already left a long time ago (a lot of them at least), and then came back (relatively) recently. Tom Fitzgerald of Middenmurk mused beautifully about elves in general before detailing several evocative types of elf. Really great stuff that inspired me; check it out.

In deep forests and forgotten valleys lie places where the border between the world of men and the realm of the elves is weak; around these hidden paths the Fair Folk have established footholds of dominion in the lands of mortals. This is not to imply that the intent of elves is sinister, nor is it certain that their will is benign. The minds of elves are not easily understood, being alien in thought as they are in birth.

'The Meeting of Oberon and Titania' - Arthur Rackham
‘The Meeting of Oberon and Titania’ – Arthur Rackham

While all elves ultimately owe allegiance to Oberon, the King of Elfland and First Among the Lords Unending, each is also sworn to the court of a lesser lord, the princes and princesses of the Unending Reign. More than mere allegiance, elves have distinct physical and metaphysical characteristics dependent on the court from which they hail. Different courts tend to also be associated with certain natural features in the world of men, and the paths between worlds near those features will often lead to the domain of a particular Lord Unending.

The very first elves to cross over into the mortal world did so in ancient eons, when mighty forces were still shaping reality itself. The wood-watchers of Prince Fyonheil’s court became fast friends to the servants of the Great Bear, so much so that they too marched to war when the Great Bear’s wrath stirred and brought about the First Ruination.

deviantART by bridge-troll

The lore keepers of Prince Arcanus also dwelt in the world in those early days and some shared the secrets of magic with the first men to practice the art of wizardry. Even the prince himself crossed into this realm, establishing a great citadel on the large moon that bore his name. The Court of Arcanus took little interest in most affairs of the world; the elves’ looked instead to other worlds that lie yet beyond the mortal realm, for despite their ancient and strange magics, it is impossible to summon entities of other realms into the land of elves. By way of the land of men, however, many an elf established allegiance with godlings and demons of all sort. And once brought into the world of men, such beings can follow the paths to Elfland with a guide to show the way.

The experiments of the Court of Arcanus surely played some role in the onset of the Second Ruination, for all elves fled from the world in those days, and the gate from the lunar citadel to Elfland was destroyed behind them, shattering the moon.

Shattered Moon

Elves remained apart from the mortal world for countless millennia until the Sixth Ruination, the Maelstrom of the Chaos Lords, opened many new paths into the elven realms. Drawn forth by the surging magics of the last Ruination, elves from all manner of courts entered the world of men and have remained here in the centuries since — a mere blink of an eye by their accounting of time.

Elf Characters: The elf class remains unchanged from the DCC RPG rulebook, though the physical appearance of an elf varies based on which court they come from. 0-level elf characters already have infravision, heightened senses, and iron sensitivity per the rules; in addition, they know and are able to cast one of their 1st level spells based on their court. For example, all elves from the Court of Arcanus know and can cast Read Magic at 0-level, while those from the Court of Fyonheil know Animal Summoning. This counts as one of the 3 spells the elf knows at 1st level, it is not a bonus spell.

Also, regardless of occupation, all elves begin play with either mithril scale mail or a mithril short sword; this is in place of the rule in the book that allows them to purchase the items at regular price once at 1st-level. Elves do not begin with any coins or randomly determined equipment.

The Night Children: Hobgoblins in the Age of Ruins

Hobgoblins are by far the most sinister and devious of the Night Children, possessing a sharp, cunning intellect to rival that of mankind. They commonly employ ranged weapons, such as bows, and many display knowledge of spellcraft — traits unique among least demons. Because of this wit, hobgoblins are frequently encountered as leaders among large groups of goblins and orcs; on rare occasions even the mostly solitary bugbears and trolls can be found serving hobgoblin masters.

Despite this accumen for command (or perhaps because of it), hobgoblins almost never gather in large groups of their own kind. They are most commonly encountered in small bands, traditionally referred to as “haunts,” consisting of a hobgoblin warlock, 3-4 warriors of diverse and complimentary combat styles, and a small swarm of common goblins. These groupings have such a fearsome reputation for brutal efficiency that itinerant human mercenaries and mages have emulated their structure since time immemorial, recruiting desperate, foolish, and greedy peasants in place of goblin swarms. This is why decent folk refer to those who choose to engage in such activities as “hob-os.”

Hobgoblins are also the only Night Children that actively seek out and summon their demonic superiors. Some sages believe that all of these traits, taken as a whole, suggest that hobgoblins are the larval stage in an unfathomably long and hideously alien lifecycle that culminates in the ascension of a demon prince.

Awesome original art by one of my players, Alex Rivera
Awesome original art by one of my players, Alex Rivera

Hobgoblin Warrior: Init +2; Atk sword +d4+1 deed melee (1d8+1) or bow +d4 deed missile (1d6); AC 15 (chain mail); HD 2d8+2; MV 30′; Act 1d20; SP infravision 60′, -1 attack in bright light, mighty deed of arms, vulnerable to fire; SV Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +0; AL C.

Mighty Deed of Arms: Hobgoblin warriors have a d4 deed die (at least) and are capable of performing deeds as members of the warrior class.

Vulnerable to Fire: Hobgoblins take an additional 1d6 damage from fire, and have a 50% chance of catching fire whenever they take damage.

Hobgoblin Warlock: Init +1; Atk balefire missile +3 (1d12); AC 10; HD 2d6+2; MV 30′; Act 1d20; SP infravision 60′, -1 attack in bright light, spellcasting, summon balefire, vulnerable to fire; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +2; AL C.

Spellcasting: Hobgoblin warlocks may know wizard spells as high as 3rd level. They have a bonus to spell checks equal to HD+1.

Summon Balefire: Hobgoblin warlocks can summon and hurl orbs of sickly green flame called balefire. Though it appears as fire, balefire is deathly cold and does no damage to demons of any sort (Night Children included). In addition to attacking with balefire, warlocks can make a spell check against DC 14 to transform all natural flame in a 30′ radius into balefire.

For Savage Worlds:

  • Use the hobgoblin stats from p. 127 of SW Fantasy Companion
  • Night Children traits
  • Warriors have Fighting d10 and Parry 7, as well as 2-3 combat edges up to seasoned rank
  • Warlocks have Spellcasting d10 and can hurl balefire at a -1 caster check (2 spell points) and transform fire at a -2 caster check (2 spell points), in addition to any other spells known

The Unholy Aristocracy Revisited: d100 Demonic Titles

I did this once before as a d30 table, but that was clearly not a diverse enough set of options. Roll d100 for each column; there’s a 50% chance that the gender form of any title is inverted.

D100 Title of Domain
1 Ajaw Vultures
2 Anax Wasps
3 Archbishop Floods
4 Archon Locusts
5 Ard Ri Gluttony
6 Ayatollah Greed
7 Baron Sorrow
8 Basileus Vainglory
9 Boyar Forbidden Knowledge
10 Bretwalda Deceit
11 Caliph Scorpions
12 Cardinal Sloth
13 Censor Wrath
14 Chancellor Filth
15 Count Lamentation
16 Daimyo Envy
17 Danshaku Lust
18 Despot Sores
19 Duke Flies
20 Earl Worms
21 Emir Spiders
22 Emperor Tumors
23 Father The Unspeakable
24 Freiherr Pride
25 Fuhrer Usury
26 General Fornication
27 Governor Blood
28 Grand Vizier Massacres
29 Grobfurst The Stillborn
30 Hakushaku Violation
31 Hou Ooze
32 Huangdi Darkness
33 Imam Dragons
34 Imperator The Unclean
35 Jarl Rage
36 Jun Scarabs
37 Kaiser Sorcery
38 Khagan Bats
39 Khan Bile
40 King Blasphemy
41 Knyaz Rats
42 Korol Undeath
43 Koshaku Bones
44 Kung Dread
45 Legate Misery
46 Lictor Lizards
47 Lord Rot
48 Magistrate Swine
49 Maharajah Famine
50 Malik Toads
51 Margrave Slugs
52 Marquis Agony
53 Master Slime
54 Minister Snails
55 Monarch Ravens
56 Monsignor Crows
57 Morza Pestilence
58 Mufti Jackals
59 Mullah Lies
60 Mwami Skulls
61 Nan Madness
62 Nomarch Vomit
63 Overlord Corruption
64 Overseer Warlocks
65 Padishah Serpents
66 Pansoh The Flayed
67 Pasha Puss
68 Patriarch Slaughter
69 Pharaoh Drought
70 Pope Wild Beasts
71 Praetor Mutation
72 Prefect Malformities
73 Prelate Poison
74 Prince Boils
75 Progenitor Syphilis
76 Provost Lunacy
77 Raja Lepers
78 Reeve Phlegm
79 Ruhtinas Fire
80 Satrap Excrement
81 Seneschal Rust
82 Shah Maggots
83 Sheikh Grubs
84 Shishaku Cannibals
85 Shogun Plagues
86 Sovereign Murder
87 Sultan Nightmares
88 Tlatoani Hate
89 Tonghou Unknowable Geometries
90 Tribune Lice
91 Tsar Ghouls
92 Vicar Contempt
93 Viceroy Ecstacy
94 Vidame Impurity
95 Viscount Despair
96 Vizier Atrocity
97 Voivode Temptation
98 Vojvoda Gnats
99 Warlord Imps
100 Zi Hail

Sailors on the Starless Sea Play Report, Part 3

This weekend my funnel party reconvened to tackle the final portion of Sailors on the Starless Sea (the previous two reports can be found here and here). We got a slightly late start owing to the effects of St. Patrick’s Day weekend on a Sunday morning — thanks, Gloucester City pub crawl! It actually worked out well, though: There was enough time to finish the module, do some “back in town” orientation and equipment buying, and have the party pick up on a thread for their next adventure.

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE CLIMAX OF SAILORS ON THE STARLESS SEA BELOW!

At the end of our last session, the party just reached the far shore of the Starless Sea and leveled the surviving characters into actual 1st-level adventurers. At this point, the party consisted of:

  • Joey Diamonds and Shifty Jack — Warriors
  • Ippie and Percival — Halflings
  • Shakey Dog Buchanen — Thief
  • Sherman Funk — Cleric of Nimulrun, God of Filth (former gong farmer)

I started the session reestablishing the scene of the ziggurat covered by dozens of beastmen in a religious frenzy along with the PC’s countrymen being led to the slaughter. There were maybe five seconds of silence before they immediately responded that they were putting on the Chaos Priest robes (“Sherman Funk is never taking them off.”) and pulling the old wookiee-prisoner routine. Rather than four humans donning the robes, however, they opted for one human prisoner and one priest’s robe filled by a halfling standing on the shoulders of another halfling. The two halflings made out well enough on Agility and Strength checks to pull it off all the way to the top of the ziggurat, where the party encountered the beastmen acolytes and three prisoners ready to be sacrificed.

The PC’s launched their attack during the surprise round as the next sacrifice was thrown into the flames. They made short work of the standard beastmen and faired pretty well against the acolytes, though they didn’t manage to stop the shaman from pitching the effigy of Molan into the fire … not that it mattered much. The animated effigy of the Chaos Lord rolled terribly. He literally didn’t hit once! Right after he emerged from the pit, Shifty Jack stabbed at his flaming eye and succeeded on a blinding deed. Then Shakey Dog snuck back down the ramp a short way to climb back up the side of the ziggurat; the thief managed to sneak his way up behind the Chaos Lord and land a backstab. On the subsequent round the two halflings and the cleric joined to drop Molan before the rest of the beastmen could reach the top, while Joey Diamond kept the shaman occupied.

The next round, Shakey Dog was the sucker who grabbed for the armor and flail. He got slammed by the emerging magma monster, though I ruled that he was not quite burned beyond a shot at a Recover the Body roll (pretty damn generous of me in hindsight).

It was only once the magma monster emerged that the players started chucking the flaming skulls, but given the combo of successfully using deed dice to aim for precise parts  of the magma’s form and highly damaging crits rolled on the skull tossing, I ended up shaving a round off of the monster’s lifespan. During which it mostly just wildly gesticulated and melted as it tried to maintain it’s form in the face of the magic used against it.

All the while, Shifty Jack had taken to defending the top of the ramp from the onslaught of beastmen, cowing them back with deeds used to swing his torch in a wide, intimidating arc while keeping them in sight of the rest party *ahem* “KILLING YOUR FUCKING GOD!!!”

Percival ran over to the body of Shakey Dog and proceeded to repeatedly slap him in the face whilst shouting “Wake up! We’re winning!” Shakey pulled off the Luck roll and lost a point of Agility for his troubles — but really, with a name like Shakey Dog he totally should have a limp.

Once the cavern started crumbling, the beastmen began to panic and flee, some crushed by rocks and others heading for the dragon-ship. The PCs proceeded to scoop up coins as well as finally free the two remaining sacrificial villagers, whom they then instructed to also scoop up coins. When I secretly rolled to see how many rounds they had before this whole thing collapsed on top of them, they got the maximum 8 rounds. So they managed to be very greedy and also fight their way back to the dragon-ship in time.

The end of the adventure leaves the ultimate destiny of the PCs in the judge’s hands; I knew I didn’t want them to go back to the small village they hailed from, but I did want them to choose their own course of action. I settled on the idea that the ship would ultimately take them to a town far away from their home and extended the final paragraph of block text from the module:

The towering wave propels you with terrifying speed towards the distant carven wall! Ahead, through a sea of towering whitecaps and the debris of falling boulders you spy the mouth of a narrow cave! The dragon-prowed ship rides down the crest of the giant wave and shoots into the rocky maw, the howling surf crashing all around you!

The ship rocks and lists wildly as the torrent carries it ever deeper into the pitch black earth. Desperately clinging to the boat and each other, all sense of time and space are lost as you speed forward. Eventually, though none can say how long, the travel of the ship calms and thin beams of light pierce the blackness from the high cavern ceiling.

Hours pass with the infrequent and dimming light showing no shore or alcove to offer respite, and the forward current still too strong to push against. Moving ever onward in the dark, you hold to wakingness to the point of exhaustion until you collapse, to the point of dehydration until you dare reach overboard to cup the still driving water in your hands. Have you been sailing for hours, for days? Has the sun ceased to be? Have you sailed across this starless sea to some wretched pit of hell?

At last, as even the strongest willed among you begin to feel your grip on reality rapidly loosen, a light appears ahead, at first like a guiding star in the impossible distance and then exploding in size, a blinding maw of white expanding to consume all of your being.

A thousand daggers stab your eyes as the ship emerges into the full light of day, pulling you through a chasm surrounded by towering mountains on both sides. The ship groans and cracks as the ancient wood is assaulted by the sun for the first time in countless generations. Before long, you are riding noticeably lower and water begins to seep up around your feet.

As you feel the boards pulling apart, in the blink of an eye the crumbling rock walls around you have opened wide and given way to carved towers and thatched roofs — the river has taken you right into the heart of a mountain city! Men and dwarves alike stop their business and gaze in wonder as you sail through their midst on this river that emerges from the depths of the earth. Several folk spring to action upon seeing your plight, as the ship is now barely held together above water. They throw a heavy rope your way, allowing you pull yourselves onto the canal banks, the last of you just barely holding on as the dragon-ship at last disintegrates away into the water below.

I said it in the intro to my first play report, and I’ll say it again: This adventure is a classic. This was one of the most purely fun campaign kickoffs I’ve ever experienced, and I can’t wait to see where these devious murderhobos go from here.

The Night Children: Orcs of the Age of Ruins

deviantART by DKuang

After the swarming masses of goblins, orcs are the second most numerous and commonly-encountered breed of Night Children. Though all least demons are prone to mutation and malformation, the physiognomic diversity displayed by orcs is staggering. In fact, some sages with a particularly keen interest in styxozoology have suggested that rather than the five commonly accepted varieties of Night Children (goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, bugbears, and trolls), there are in actuality hundreds of different breeds, and that it is only through uneducated and ill-informed peasant tradition that all brutish warrior-types have come to be collectively categorized as orcs. To date, however, field research has proved too formidable and mortiferous to conclusively support this thesis.

Douglas Chaffee
Douglas Chaffee

Whatever physical characteristics they display, there are a few traits common to all orcs: They are strong, dim-witted, and voracious. On their own, orcs deploy little-to-no strategy in their attacks, rarely even showing enough tactical accumen to utilize ranged weapons. Under the command of clever hobgoblins or sinister mages, however, orcs can easily transform into a terrifyingly adept army; they even seem to spontaneously gain great skill at weapon and armor craft in such circumstances, only to lose the ability to construct all but the crudest armaments if the leader is removed. Unlike goblins, many orcs are capable of crudely speaking the languages of men despite their lack of intellect. Orcs have no capacity for magic of any sort.

Perhaps the most frightening characteristic of orcs is their unholy hunger. Even in the midst of battle, orcs will often disregard immediate danger to gorge upon the entrails of a fallen foe before resuming their assault. This demonic appetite causes orcs to exude an aura of dread, which is why even a well-armed force of common men will falter and flea at the sight of an orcish warband.

by neisbeis

Orc: Init +1; Atk* bite +1 melee (1d4) or as weapon +1 melee; AC 11 + armor; HD 1d8+1*; MV 30′; Act 1d20; SP infravision 60′, -1 attack in bright light, lesser fear, unholy hunger, vulnerable to fire; SV Fort +2*, Ref +0, Will -1; AL C.

*Orcs can vary wildly in size; these stats represent a roughly man-sized orc. Particularly large orcs will have an additional +1 to hit and damage in melee, to hit points, and to Fortitude saves. Likewise, particularly small orcs (about the size of a dwarf) receive a -1 to the same traits.

Lesser Fear: Whenever henchmen, hirelings, or other 0-level NPCs encounter orcs, they must make a morale check against DC 11 or attempt to flee. If the orcs have been organized under an intelligent leader such as a hobgoblin or wizard, the DC increases to 13.

Unholy Hunger: If an orc is in the vicinity of a fallen and helpless foe, they must make a Will save (DC 11) to take any action other than ripping open the enemy’s gut and devouring a few handfuls of organs before returning to combat. The orc suffers a -1 penalty to AC during the round it spends stuffing its gullet. Once a foe has been gutted it no longer poses a temptation to other orcs.

Vulnerable to Fire: Orcs take an additional 1d6 damage from fire, and have a 50% chance of catching fire whenever they take damage.

For Savage Worlds:

  • Use the orc stats from p. 138 of SWD
  • Night Children traits
  • Lesser Fear causes extras to make a Spirit Check or panic
  • Unholy Hunger requires the orc to make a Spirit check at -1