Saturday, 13 September 2014

Orcs? What Orcs?

Oh, those Orcs...

Now you may remember in a post a couple of days ago I was boasting of creating a dungeon with a very few Orcs in it and many other things - something of a first for me, Orcs and/or Goblins are pretty much always my 'go-to' monster. I have been fighting the Dwarf-Goblin Wars for around 35 years now and don't seem to show any signs of stopping soon. They are to me pretty much the archetypal Minion of Dread Powers. In fact, this very evening I was reading Lord of the Rings to my youngest as a bedtime story. We reached the part in Mordor where the two Orcs, the brown-clad snuffling tracker and the soldier-orc from Cirith Ungol (probably) argue and fight near Sam & Frodo's position. Great stuff. Gotta love a bit of Orcy-Gobliny action, I say. Oh, and I am 'Red Orc' of course.

But, in creating Silvergate, I was for a while steering away from the Orcs, going where the dice took me. It's been quite a liberating experience. OK, I know, Bugbears are just big hairy Goblins. But never mind.

However, what I didn't bank on was the nature of random rolling. In the same post as I mention the lack of Orcs, I also outline my method for rolling either smaller numbers of higher-HD monsters, or larger numbers of lower-HD monsters, for filling the levels I'm detailing. And I rolled a few '1's while filling in monsters for Level 4. That brought me back up into the heady realms of monsters from Levels 1 and 2. What did I roll? Yup, Orcs.

Now, I'd said that there were only about 30 in the dungeon. That wasn't quite right. There were about 30 in the lair. Of fighting Orcs. Plus chief and bodyguard. Then there were a few wanderers, about 10-12 all together. Then there were the non-combatant Orcs both adult (described in the rules as 'female' but frankly I think the idea of female Orcs being like frightened Victorian ladies having fits of the vapours to be a little ludicrous) and young. So by my reckoning roughly 160, of which around 45 are combatants.

Now there are a lot more. I mean, really, a lot more. I rolled both a wandering group (how do you scale wanderers from Level 1 or 2 to Level 4? Have lots more of them, obviously) and a lair. Wandering group? Make up the Number Appearing. I rolled a lot of dice. A group of 33 Orcs appeared. That's the size of the entire fighting force of the lair a couple of levels above. And that's a Wandering Monster.

Then I rolled for the lair and things got a bit mental. Now, I may not be scaling things correctly. But I reasoned, if you run into x-amount on Level 1, you must run into 4x-amount on Level 4, right? Well, it turns out if you do that, you get 160 fighting Orcs in the lair. Plus 160 more adult non-coms and 320 young. And 2 Trolls. No Ogres though. I thought 'for every 20 Orcs there is a 1-in6 chance of an Ogre living with them' was more likely to mean 'roll a d6 for each 20 Orcs' not 'add 1 to the probability for each 20 Orcs'. The first would produce 0-8 Ogres (it produced 0), the second would definitely produce 1 Ogre and a 1/3 chance of a second. Plus, 0-8 Trolls, or, 8/10 chance of a single Troll. Those aren't the same probabilities at all. But, of course, that may not be how other people interpret that rule. I've never had to configure it this way, as I've never before tried to make a lair for more than 600 Orcs. So I'm flying somewhat blind here.

I like the idea of a series of caverns filled with Orcs. Maybe not much part of the main goings on in the dungeon - just off to one side somewhere, doing their thing, settling down to live in an old Dwarf city and getting on with their lives. They've not made much impact on the lands around, that's for sure. Indeed these may well be proper subterranean Orcs - they don't have any direct access to the surface, so they're more likely to be focussed on what is going on around them in the dungeon than the usual thing I do with Orcs, which is use some caverns as a base for attacking the wider area. Maybe they just don't care about the surface.

So what do Orcs do when they're not attacking human settlements? I need to give the workings of a proper 'Orcish society' a good hard think. I mean, there are 600+ of them. If that was a human settlement, I'd be thinking hard about water-supplies and taverns and bakers and craftspeople and where all the food was coming from and where the shit was going. It's a bit bigger than a village - 160 'families' is a small town. They're also somewhat out of their Level 1-2 comfort zone. They're surrounded by nasty nasties. OK, there are hordes of them, but even so...

So now, in amongst my 'lair building' (on the basis that a 'lair' averages 2 rooms - yeah, right) I also have to find room for a small town of 640 or so Orcs.

I love dungeon-building.

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