Are you a busy GM? Does session prep take too long? Do you never have time to work on the cool little details that can bring your session to life? Well fear not! This article presents four articles to help you add depth and verisimilitude to the orc villages in your campaign.
Orc Village Dressing
The flavour of an orc village is entirely different to that of a “normal” human settlement. Orcs are more barbaric, less civilised folk and their settlements are primitive places that reflect their racial proclivities. Most orc villages are little more than armed raiding camps.
- A half-dozen sun-bleached skulls dangle from a hut’s overhanging thatched roof. The skulls—set out perhaps as trophies or particularly barbaric wind—chimes clack against one another in the breeze.
- Tied to a hitching post with a length of short, frayed rope, a miserable-looking, half-starved goat noses among the mud and weeds for something to eat.
- Sharpened wooden stakes driven deep into the ground and connected by woven tree branches form a ramshackle fence. A grinning skull tops each stake.
- A weapon rack stands against one wall of a hut. Eight unfinished spear shafts fill the rack; none of the weapons as yet has a spearhead.
Sights & Sounds
Orc villages are living, breathing places. Events and minor happenings occur all the time as the residents go about their brutish and violent day-to-day lives.
- The deep bellow of an angry orc followed by the high-pitched screaming of another creature shatters still air. The second creature does not sound like an orc. Any other orcs in sight, pay no attention to the commotion.
- An orc child beats a cowering slave who has his hands over his head in an attempt to ward off the worst blows. Each time the child’s cudgel comes down on the slave, blood splatters the ground.
- The stench of wood-smoke, cooking fires, sweat and other unwholesome things drifts through the village.
- Two orc children, wielding wooden weapons, are enthusiastically beating each other. Their high-pitched battle-cries would be comical, except each tiny warrior seems intent on inflicting serious harm on the other.
Inside an Orc Hut
Once they enter an orc village and start slaying its inhabitants, the PCs are bound to search a hut or two. Use the table below, to add minor points of interest to such locations:
- The floor is of packed earth covered with old, rotting rushes, bracken and so on. The stench of sweat and smoke lie heavily in the air.
- Several battered shields hang from the hut’s walls. A thick shafted spear leans near the door—ready for immediate use. Shafts of pale light pierce the thatched roof creating thin rays of light which faintly illuminates the hut’s interior.
- Shafts of pale sunlight pierce the hut’s interior through the thatched roof; strange shadows move across the floor—the hut’s orcish inhabitants have hung several bags from the rafters. The bags sway slightly, creating the shadows.
- Several throwing axes jut from one of the hut’s walls. The splintered wall in the general vicinity of the axes is “decorated” by many obvious axe strikes.
The PCs are bound to discover all manner of trinkets and treasures while sacking an orc village. Use the list below to add depth and flavour to their looting.
- This ancient and worn dwarven axe has a crudely serrated blade. Dried scalps and wolf teeth decorate its stained wooden haft which also bears scores of notches along its length.
- Two-dozen large iron nails pierce this carved wooden statuette of an orc deity. Crude holy symbols of enemy gods decorate each nail’s head. One of the symbols defies identification.
- This doll of an orc child has real hair, teeth and nails. It has amber stones for eyes. A hidden needle coated with sleeping poison pricks whoever squeezes the doll.
- Six glass jars hold pale chunks of meat floating in foul-smelling brine. A thick layer of yellow wax seals each. While these pickled meats are hard to stomach, they function as iron rations.
The material in this article appears in 20 Things #30: Orc Village, which is available here at the Raging Swan Press shop.
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