Sunday, November 27, 2011

In praise of pig faced orcs

I never had an issue with orcs being pig faced.  In fact it never struck me that they would be anything but.  Which is odd considering my first memorable look at orcs was not D&D, but instead the Bakshi Lord of the Rings animated films.  In Bakshi's roto-scoped vision they seems more like fanged beastmen.  Cool looking and spooky, but I'd be hard-pressed to call them pig faced.  Even so I don;t think I ever thought of them as "pig faced" until D&D.
Now these green skinned guys are more along the lines of the orcs I had in mind from D&D.  Pig faced humanoids, boar tusks, and green skinned.  I never understood why they were green skinned though.  For what ever reasons goblins being green was fine (probably a pre-established mental tie-in from Marvel's Green Goblin) but orcs as green skinned? Well I guess  if there are other oddities in a fantasy world, why not this one.  But...on the front of module B2 we see Roslof's interpretation...maybe.  There is still dispute over are these hobgoblins (with their samurai like armor) or are these orcs give their pig faced attributes...if orcs, why are they reddish and not green skinned?

Either way, the orc never really held too much overt interest as an enemy for me.  In fact in the starting monster hierarchy (Kobold-Goblin-Orc-Hobgoblin) they were just a stop along the way, with more HP and who could do more damage.  I blame two things for this: one is my own youth and (lack of) understanding in DM-ing monsters and two, the level up mechanics of D&D which pre-supposes only creatures of a certain level are deadly to you at certain levels.  Advance in levels, and the previously deadly monsters disappear like a bad dream from your world. Any orcs in the S series of modules? Goblins? Kobolds? Hobgoblins? not so much...

That's why in Roguish, monsters are going to be treated a bit differently.  More along the lines of TFT where monsters are always dangerous. Recently I watched the series "American Hoggers."  In it a family (with help) goes after wild boar in Texas.  Thinking back to the pig faced orcs of old, and watching how wild, deadly and destructive actual boars are, I have a new paradigm for using orcs in my games.  Now formerly pig-faced green skins, my orcs will be more boarish in appearance with short bristled hair.  They will be tough, deadly, able (and ready) to eat anything (or any one).  They will breed quickly and thus pose problems to all other humanoid races because of these.  As voracious eaters they are a threat, and as a fast breeder, their numbers swell quickly.   They will be tough and dangerous fighters. Oh..and no half orcs, that's just lame.  My orcs will be more like this:

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