Roleplaying Corner: A Gentleman's Guide to Orcs
An overview of orcs is a difficult thing to put together, for orcs are every bit as diverse as the human race. For example, tribes of orcs in the western steppes build shelters out of bird feathers, hair, and planks of oak, while orcs of the northern frost lands build their shelters out of bird feathers, hair, and blocks of ice that they shape into planks with crude hammers and saws. Assuming any given orc possesses all of the traits discussed herein would be akin to assuming that every black man is destined to be an astronaut. Some few black men might be astronauts, but you can never openly say "hey astronaut", because that would be racist. Orcs, much like any other race, do not appreciate generalization, and like the black man an orc will smash your face in with a stone mace or crude bone-hewn sword if you stereotype it.
Orcs are a primitive species indigenous to the wondrous realms of magic. Where wizards, dragons, and kobolds doth tread, so treads the noble orc. They range in shapes and sizes but on average an orc is between two and three feet shorter or taller than a human and between 100 and 200 pounds lighter or heavier. Orcs have ten fingers and ten toes distributed evenly between four limbs. The bottom set of limbs are known as the orc's hind arms and these are used for propelling the orc in a loping gait not unlike a chimpanzee or dog that is standing up because someone has a treat. Its top limbs are known as the orc's fore arms and these end in more dexterous sets of fingers that can be used to manipulate objects such as barrels, oranges, or chimneys.
The orc's face is grotesque to most humans but beautiful to most orcs, unless it is a particularly ugly orc and then it would be simply considered an ugly orc. Although given the divide in aesthetics between orcs and humans perhaps an ugly orc would look like a beautiful human. It's hard to say until an orc such as this is placed in captivity and studied carefully with a penis.
The sexes of orcs are functionally identical to humans, although male and female orcs are impossible to tell apart without examining their reproductive organs. This sometimes causes confusion during the orc mating season, particularly for juvenile orcs who may unwittingly ask another male orc to the fall orc dance.
Orc society is complex and structured in a manner not dissimilar to human society. Each orc village usually consists of between 10 and 750,000 orcs living in loose family units inside of structures known as "orc houses". These "orc houses" are usually made from wood or stone, prominently feature one or more doors and windows, and sometimes include a second or even third level or "story". Because orcs are vastly less intelligent than humans much of what they build and do is simply copying or "orcing" humanity.
Orc technology is similar to human technology but less good. This isn't just because orcs are evil, but also because they are not good with technology. While there are a handful of famous orc inventors most orc technology is stolen from humans, orced from humans, or created from blueprints which have been stolen from humans. Sometimes they also steal from elves, gnomes, or dwarfs as well, but these races guard their technological secrets much more carefully. The differing quality between orc and human technology is worth mentioning. Let's take a look at several human inventions and how these are constructed using the more simplistic orc technology.
Human hats are usually made from riveting iron or felt into an attractive shape. Orc hats are created by smashing pieces of wood together until they form a "boat shape" and then ramming as many animal horns as possible through the wood. If there is no cavity left in which the orc can insert its head then the orc simply bashes its head repeatedly (and often fatally) into the hat until it stays in place.
Human helicopters are constructed from a wide variety of metals and plastics, using a number of manufacturing processes unavailable to orcs. Do you think an orc knows what a plastic injection mold is when most orcs will mistake a baseball for a rock and attempt to eat it? Of course not, but in their own ingenious way orcs have mimicked the helicopter to create their own version. This is done by taking a particularly large basket and then filling it with as many birds as possible. Because orcs are not good at even basic crafts like basket weaving these baskets usually resemble piles of sticks and fallen timbers with birds impaled or crushed within. The orcs then gather this basket and throw it into a river and in this way they have created a perfect helicopter with much simpler tools. Perhaps mankind could learn something from orcs for once.
Orc Artificial Hearts
While humans still struggle with artificial hearts the primitive orcs and their robust physique have mastered this difficult technology. Orc artificial hearts are created by specialty shamans who place various types of animal bones inside a leather bag. This bag is then set atop the ailing orc's chest and hammered through the skin and ribcage with a rock mallet.
Orcs do not create great monuments like most other races and rarely are great thinkers or artists celebrated. Orcs appreciate feats of bravery and feats of strength. Such things may seem trivial to you or I with our incredible empathic powers and ability to scry far into the future. However, one must remember orcs are not inclined to the magicks of the forest or the arcane arts of the wizard institute. Their brute force and courage are their only assets, and with these alone they have achieved some fairly amazing things. So, let us celebrate with them some of the most incredible achievements of the proud orc peoples.
Whiply Sissyfits is known for having smashed through 58 doors and 19 windows in a single hour.
Crackling Muffinwhite once broke a house in half with his bare hands.
Victoria Laundering pulled his own arm off and used it to smash apart a very long boat.
Hoppy of the Red Bunting felled a great ogre warrior by rolling down a steep hill and then bursting into flames.
Gurglenog the Tit Fisted bit through a bundle of hemp rope after mistaking it for the entrails of a king.
Chugly Tanglebottom beat a unicorn to death with a hammock full of rocks.
Steelshank Quimsham uprooted and ate an entire tree when it blocked his way. Died minutes later when a second tree hove into view and Quimsham attempted the same feat again.
Horace of the Dawdling Lolly shat out a solid bolus of daggers that had been stabbed through his stomach and into his digestive system. Claimed to survive but actually did not survive.
Glans O'Popping crushed a carriage full of bards into a diamond gemstone and then punched the diamond until it was reduced to dust for reasons unknown.
These feats may seem simple to your or I with our toaster ovens and solid-fuel rockets, but for the orcs these heroes are nearly gods. Not quite gods though, as you will soon learn in our section on orc religions.
Orcs worship their great heroes as gods.
The wise adventurer knows that orcs, like kobolds, are not worth reasoning with. In most situations you will be attacked by them before there is even an opportunity to parley. If the orcs do attempt to converse it will probably be in the form of threats or declarations about how they intend to chop you up. Orcs normally travel in groups ranging from five to fifty depending on your level. There will always be exactly the right number of orcs for you to defeat without much difficulty, so keep that in mind when you encounter them. You should be able to dispatch any orc raids on a campground without even disrupting your wizard friend's painstaking memorization of spells.
I realize that we did not provide you with any new material for your exciting gaming sessions, but we just had to produce race books for our new Forgotten Lands campaign setting. They told us not to put anything in here worthwhile. They said just cram it to the brim with dull and pointless background information and the occasional random illustration that we've probably already used in a previous book. I hope this fit the bill, because I am not returning that book advance and you can't return the book for your $29.95. After all, it's a deluxe hard cover edition.