Skaar, City of Orcs

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Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby warlock1971 » Tue May 29, 2012 6:39 am

So I just bought this PDF and can't wait to read through it, probably tonight and tomorrow night. :D

Does anyone want to share their thoughts on the book and ideas for using it in an existing campaign?
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue May 29, 2012 12:32 pm

warlock1971 wrote:So I just bought this PDF and can't wait to read through it, probably tonight and tomorrow night. :D

Does anyone want to share their thoughts on the book and ideas for using it in an existing campaign?
I was wondering whether it might be worth using it as a base of operations for a party of Orcish soldiers fighting back against the encroachment of humans upon their ancestral lands. Or alternatively as a dangerous place that human adventurers might visit to look for work.

And then there's the more conventional option of using it as the site of a rescue mission to free an prisoner who has been captured by an orc patrol. Or as the location of an infiltration mission to sabotage the orc war effort, to steal some military plans, or to assassinate a tribal chieftain. And of course you could run a party of bounty hunters who come to Skarr on the trail of an Orc fugitive with a big price on his head...

For a different approach, how about running a mixed group of human and orc prisoners of war who have been brought to Skaar to fight in a series of brutal gladiatorial contests? I can just imagine a thriving subculture of pit fighters somewhere beneath the old Dwarven stronghold...
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby alex_greene » Tue May 29, 2012 12:47 pm

Or maybe you could have your human settlements trade with the orcs - fair trade, food and clothing, medicines and a decent education in exchange for the minerals the orcs dig up in the mine. Nobody is willing to cut those mine shafts but the orcs, and that gold, silver and copper won't dig itself.

Another option - your human player characters find themselves caught in a lashing storm. The only place to go for shelter is Skaar. To their surprise, as long as the humans are willing to help out the orcs there is no limit to their hospitality; especially if you as GM had primed the pumps by having the characters actually rescue trapped orc kids in an earlier story.

Rescue, rather than fight.

Just because they were invented by Tolkien to personify evil as ugliness inside and outside, doesn't mean you have to slavishly adhere to his aged, rotting, bigoted old chapbook.
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue May 29, 2012 1:51 pm

alex_greene wrote:Just because they were invented by Tolkien to personify evil as ugliness inside and outside, doesn't mean you have to slavishly adhere to his aged, rotting, bigoted old chapbook.
Well...Tolkien lifted his conception of Orcs from Anglo-Saxon mythology, where they were part of a vague category of monstrous creatures lumped together as þyrs - a term that is cognate with Old High German duris (“demon”) and Old Norse þurs (“giant”).

In Old English, the term Orc only appears in its plural form (Orcneas) or in compound form as orcþyrs (“ogre”). But all of the creatures lumped together as "þyrsas" had strong negative connotations with bestial violence and the wilderness. So Tolkien was merely adapting his mythological source material in his image of "orcishness" - it's more recent depictions of Orcs that have deviated from this baseline.

However, if you want alternative depictions of orc culture there are plenty to choose from. In addition to the proud but honourable warrior culture of the Orcs in World of Warcraft, there are the pragmatic Orcish mercenaries depicted in Stan Nicholl's Orcs series. And if you want a more humorous approach, I strongly recommend Mary Gentle's novel Grunts, which depicts what the life of foot soldiers in the army of a dark lord might actually be like. Speaking personally, I tend to play Orcs like Klingons with the serial numbers filed off - but that's just me :lol:
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby warlock1971 » Tue May 29, 2012 2:07 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:
warlock1971 wrote:So I just bought this PDF and can't wait to read through it, probably tonight and tomorrow night. :D

Does anyone want to share their thoughts on the book and ideas for using it in an existing campaign?
I was wondering whether it might be worth using it as a base of operations for a party of Orcish soldiers fighting back against the encroachment of humans upon their ancestral lands. Or alternatively as a dangerous place that human adventurers might visit to look for work.

And then there's the more conventional option of using it as the site of a rescue mission to free an prisoner who has been captured by an orc patrol. Or as the location of an infiltration mission to sabotage the orc war effort, to steal some military plans, or to assassinate a tribal chieftain. And of course you could run a party of bounty hunters who come to Skarr on the trail of an Orc fugitive with a big price on his head...

For a different approach, how about running a mixed group of human and orc prisoners of war who have been brought to Skaar to fight in a series of brutal gladiatorial contests? I can just imagine a thriving subculture of pit fighters somewhere beneath the old Dwarven stronghold...
I like the idea of the Gladiatorial combat ... perhaps throw in a few captured Dwarfs in to the mix?
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby warlock1971 » Tue May 29, 2012 2:17 pm

I haven't gotten too far as yet, early introduction still. It seems to me as though this book was written for a different system, maybe, and converted to Legend? All the talk of Paladins and duergar. :wink:

Still, there are many options available and I plan on inserting Skarr with only a small amount of background rewritten.
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby yojimbo » Tue May 29, 2012 6:12 pm

warlock1971 wrote:I haven't gotten too far as yet, early introduction still. It seems to me as though this book was written for a different system, maybe, and converted to Legend? All the talk of Paladins and duergar. :wink:
You're correct. It was originally published as Skraag: City of Orcs for d20 (http://ogrecave.com/reviews/skraag.shtml).
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue May 29, 2012 11:46 pm

There are dangers in adapting old d20 products to Legend, but Mongoose did a decent job with Skaar. There are a few points where the conversion is obvious, but it works better than I expected it to. It doesn't take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the new rule system (e.g. let's have some unique orcish spirit magic or at least a discussion of how shamanism fits into orc culture...), but I suppose that's to be expected given the haste with which the product was rushed out. The process of translation does cause occasional lapses of tone caused, but these are fewer than I expected. There are only a couple of spots in the book where Mongoose seems tone-deaf to the differences in flavour between the two game systems and they deserve a certain amount of kudos for this.
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby alex_greene » Tue May 29, 2012 11:55 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:e.g. let's have some unique orcish spirit magic or at least a discussion of how shamanism fits into orc culture...
Of course, once you start down that road you have to invent a consistent orcish culture ... which means how they interact with people, and how that interaction has changed through history.

Which means that if they hadn't been wiped out 40,000 years ago like every other hominid species by Homo sapiens, something has to have kept their race and the human race going.

Trade, diplomacy, cooperation, education ...?

It'd be a perfect opportunity for a powerful recurring orcish NPC, someone who runs the city, to routinely point out the ways the human adventurers behave so much like orcs at times ...
Last edited by alex_greene on Wed May 30, 2012 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby warlock1971 » Wed May 30, 2012 7:18 am

I do know that I was eagerly waiting for this book and after a quick read through it doesn't disappoint. I think that from a traditional Fantasy Game perspective, Legend could use more "fluff" material that is easy to slot in to an existing or new campaign with little fuss. Having said that, Legend is still new ...

So far I like it and can definitely use it. :D
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby Prime_Evil » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:21 pm

alex_greene wrote:Of course, once you start down that road you have to invent a consistent orcish culture ... which means how they interact with people, and how that interaction has changed through history.
And this is a major difference between the presentation of any fictional species in literary fiction and in gaming material - in novels it is easy for the author to ignore a lot of these questions or at least push them into the background, but gaming sourcebooks need to present a coherent and logically consistent situation that players can interact with from a number of different angles (especially in sandbox campaigns). For example, Tolkien could handwave the mechanics of food production in Mordor, but gamers might look for opportunities to disrupt the supply lines used by Sauron's forces - a topic that Tolkien says very little about.
alex_greene wrote:Which means that if they hadn't been wiped out 40,000 years ago like every other hominid species by Homo sapiens, something has to have kept their race and the human race going.

Trade, diplomacy, cooperation, education ...?
Possibly. In my own campaigns, the relationships between humans and orcs tends to be complex - sometimes members from one race cooperate with members of the other where there is common ground, but relations are usually strained because the two species are directly competing for the same territory and resources. The irony is that orcs and humans are evenly matched and can't simply be wiped out like the other hominid species - in my own campaigns, humans have a slight technological edge, but orcs make up for it with a natural fecundity that enables them to rapidly replenish wartime losses.
alex_greene wrote:It'd be a perfect opportunity for a powerful recurring orcish NPC, someone who runs the city, to routinely point out the ways the human adventurers behave so much like orcs at times ...
I don't think human adventurers are often the finest representatives of their own species. They are one step lower than mercenaries and thieves on the ladder of social respectability....
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby Lord High Munchkin » Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:02 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:The irony is that orcs and humans are evenly matched and can't simply be wiped out like the other hominid species - in my own campaigns, humans have a slight technological edge, but orcs make up for it with a natural fecundity that enables them to rapidly replenish wartime losses.
That's probably bad news for the orcs... eventually.

Real world political history has shown that even a small advantage in technology will count in the end. However, in a fantasy setting that might be millennia in the future, or if magic is involved, totally irrelevant.
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby Bifford » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:38 am

Any of you lot ever read "Orcs" (The Omnibus Edition), by Stan Nicholls. There are also two sequels, but get the main book out of the way first ;)

A totally unique view of Orcs, as told by Orcs. And of course it paints them in a totally different light to the norm. Well worth buying. It also does all of the above with telling a history in a story.

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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby Prime_Evil » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:34 am

Bifford wrote:Any of you lot ever read "Orcs" (The Omnibus Edition), by Stan Nicholls. There are also two sequels, but get the main book out of the way first ;)
I've already mentioned that series as a possible source of inspiration. Personally, I enjoyed the first book and think that the more recent sequels are not as good. But YMMV...
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby Nickbergquist » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:32 pm

Does anyone know if Skarr: City of Orcs will get a print release? It's not listed on the "upcoming releases" page but the actual listing for the book seems to indicate its pending a print release.
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Re: Skaar, City of Orcs

Postby msprange » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:39 pm

It will be mail order only, but yes, it will have a print version, hopefully next week!
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