Thursday, July 28, 2016

The House Always Wins

So the rules of D&D aren't the boss of you.

The rules say I can be a Genasi. I hate Genasi.

More than Klingon-Orcs, Dragonborn, or the adopted Gnoll, Genasi really represent a trend in certain D&D thinking that became pervasive over the edition and supplement bloat and looks downright epidemic if you ever look at anything like the current 5e wiki (or, to an extent, the FRACAS): taking something that might be a fearsome and dangerous element of the world, something which should at least be rare and surprising and wondrous, and scaling it down to a safe and balanced form that is knowable, freely abundant from the player side of things, and at worst just misunderstood or troubled. If you're going to have dragons in your game you want them to be a big deal, right? Or even Dragon Men. It's harder to get that if your tent-mate is also part dragon herself.

Genies and djinn have even less to do normally in a game, usually present as just fancy elemental lads or introduced as a glorified plot device. I'm not even a great fan of using these guys in games because any elemental magic and wish granting that can be done by them seems like it would be cooler coming out of a dragon, right? But if I am going to use them then I want it to be a big deal that the players met a djinn. It becomes less of a big deal if this big impressive mystical creature is basically "two of Steve's guy taped together." The opposite also holds true: if I'm not going to make a place for Dr. Pepper in my game I'm sure not going out of my way to include Mr. Pibb, no?

There's other reasons they annoy me (races built around class features, how most exotic demihuman options end up being animal people or element people) but I'll stay on topic...

The rules don't say I can be a Kappa. To those rules I say, fuck off Water Genasi: I am one. This is all without changing a single thing in the way the race is written. If I wanted to I could decide that Air Genasi and Aasimar suck so much they need to be combined into one thing, make them beings of corporeal light and color, make a whole new kind of guy I can be. If I wanted I could look at an Earth Genasi and turn them into a reasonable Fungoid. I could even look at Fire Genasi and decide that they're even more useless than normal, since they're almost exactly Tieflings who I already don't love, making them an element-man version of a monster-man built around innate spellcasting. I could look at them and spit them out lukewarm...or I could make them work for me.

The rules don't say I can be a Domovoi, the little house spirit who lives under the hearth and throws a big ol' fit when the people who live in his house piss him off. Posing as the master, moving things around, making noises in the night, rarely glimpsed, something not a demon or a real god but something you beseech and honor. Something who bars evil spirits and crooked people from your home and protects it from disaster. Something that dusts the mantel and waters the plants when you forget, keeps careful accord with the mice, a spirit who talks to the ghosts in your shithouse and the demons who tend your barn.

To that shit I say my name is Ded, short for Dedushka, you may call me Grandfather. So far everyone just calls me "the domovi." So I fucking did it without changing a single thing.

I'll go you one better: the rules say no one wants to be race-as-class any more, you need to be a different thing. NOPE. I'm not a domovoi bard or a domovoi dragon sorcerer. I am domovoi, and my primary goal is to just grab little bits of whatever I have to in order to get the abilities a powerfully vested and fully venerated domovoi from a hale and loving home should have. That means mixing up classes. That means, since this is a newer-edition ruleset, even looking through feats. But my CLASS is always DOMOVOI. I can show you the math and the breakdown if you want but I haven't even made any shit up. Everything is by the book and above board.

The rules say I cast Unseen Servant to rotate the blades of the windmill for me. No I don't: I forfeit the actions and other things that such a spell would require, sure, but I track that myself. What I ACTUALLY do is knock on the windmill with my stick and talk to the house, convincing it to take me up to the next floor. The book says I cast Detect Magic and there's a rainbow aura that tells me its school. That doesn't happen. I can SMELL magic. Fiendish magic smells like Red Hots cinnamon candy, necromancy smells like rotten eggs, demons smell like motor oil. Do I use a cantrip to snuff the flames in a room? Fuck that, I crawl all over and lick em up like a lizard and I eat them.

The rules say I have certain random personality traits. That's fine, but I get way more mileage and a more well-rounded character from using my Muppet Maker.

The book says I have a spiritual connection that powers all my abilities, a connection to some higher remote god. Instead I am a spirit like unto an incredibly minor god. My spiritual connection is to the people who live in my home, and to the friends who make my little pop-up hose (I paid 4x the fanciest tent price to basically have a Fisher Price playhouse I can assemble) FEEL like home. They 'worship' me with their respect and appreciation and with raising tea in my honor, tea I brew with my bare hands.

Certainly the minmaxy Build Bros on any given forum would call me not optimized. To them I say I am entirely optimized. I am a custodian spirit and caregiver whose affection for peaceful creatures and instincts to protect those in danger are paramount. I have never slain the tiger but I have helped to win the day.

I pay for every kind of spellcasting focus and holy symbol and stuff possible and put it all into one big stick, a piece of wood used to bar the door against nighttime invaders and evil spirits. I find myself in a land of vampires and that's fine by me because I and my kind are the reason vampires can't just barge in uninvited. We block the way to evil spirits.

I don't have magic armor. I don't have a magic weapon. I don't have a magic ITEM. I have an old, old, pipe and even though I never have any tobacco I'm always smoking like a chimney.

My flesh is like floorboards, once polished but now splintering with strain and age the longer I am away from my home. There are even little nails holding it to my muscles, and places where the boards meet. I'd be just shorter than an elf at full height but I am "evolved" for sweeping and firetending, so my resting position is a painfully stooped crouch that puts me only at the height of a halfling. My clothes are moth-eaten curtains and threadbare tablecloths; they are ripped clothes and sodden quilts, which I am slowly repairing over time with the needles I pull from my mustache. My teeth are decorated ceramic. My bushy hair and beard has the consistency of broom-straw choked thick with dirty cobwebs. My fingers and toes are long, with extra joints, and my nails are charcoal. My eyes are deep-recessed and shine like smoldering embers. I own a cat.

And I am here to be the HELL out of that guy, and beyond that to help everyone else be a little bit more awesome.

The D&D we play is always better than the D&D we PURCHASE. Never play a game (or play with a DM) who insists that you live up to them. Live up to yourself, and do it in a way that makes them want to live up to you. The rules will never catch up to you. Do not scorn them, no, but pity them, and do not wait for them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

1d20 Torches

1. If you act like you're setting it in a sconce the torch will float in thin air for up to 5 minutes before it realizes it should fall down.
2. Light is as bright as a candle from a distance, as bright as a campfire for 60'.
3. Oily rags and burning bones, will stay lit until dropped and then never work again, make a random encounter roll (or an extra one) for every round of exploration; this is the torch Harrison Ford uses.
4. You can control how long the torch becomes, up to 100' or down to 1', neither extreme is recommended.
5. Wartorch: 1d4 bludgeoning +1d4 fire +save vs Death on a successful hit. Failed save means target catches fire and takes 1 damage first round, 2 damage second round, 4 damage third round, etc. Rolling a 1 on a tohit roll means you catch fire and take that ongoing burn. Targets on fire can spend 1 round extinguishing flames unless they've been on fire for more than four rounds: then they need water or something drastic or else they just burn.
6. Burns blue.
7. Burns "darkvision."
8. Waterproof but can easily be blown out or put out by dropping.
9. Can only be lit using water.
10. Only works underwater.
11. Acts as daylight for certain undead.
12. Will always tell you how many creatures are looking at it.
13. Burns green.
14. Shows invisible things.
15. Burns dark, spreading shadows.
16. A matched set of torches you can light each of them and use it like magical FaceTime.
17. Save vs posion when lighting: On a success you immediately know this is a toxic burn and can put it out before affected. Otherwise you lose 1 Intelligence each 10 minutes the torch is lit. If you have greater than Wisdom 12 you notice this, otherwise you don't. When you reach Intelligence 0 you stop moving, the torch goes out, and you're basically a mushroom now. In most systems I think this also means you're dead.
18. Holds onto your hand and you can't put it down, even when ambushed by bad guys, unless you douse it in water.
19. Fake fire. Doesn't burn.
20. Anything in the fire's light is made fertile, even if normally infertile. Includes men. Includes rocks and shit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

frggn' SKELETON CLOUD

Skeletons smashed to bits by adventurers cannot be raised. They are bone meal. Skeletons that fall into acid or are eaten by a dragon cannot be raised. They become loose chemicals.

Skeletons who are disintegrated by magical force like fire, lightning, and especially skeletons reduced to crusty frozen microparticles, can be raised in noncorporeal fashion.

Skeleton Clouds are clouds made out of one or more skeletons who were animated magically and later de-substantiated. Their health, attack values, and other particulars are exactly as a Skeleton would be in your game with four exceptions:
  • They are not just resistant to piercing and slashing damage they in fact take no damage from physical attacks except from magic items, when they take normal damage. This cuts both ways and they cannot wield weapons or affect you physically without being fortunate enough to have a special power (below).
  • They are immune to being turned by Clerics and holy types under Name Level.
  • They can do anything that fog can do including get through doors and cracks and keyholes and stuff.
  •  10% have the ability to inflict a static charge on anybody passing through them, doing 1d4 damage, half on a Petrify save. 10% can inflict 1d4 cold damage with their spectral touch, half on a Petrify save. 5% can do both. All Skeleton Clouds leave you covered in dusty, sooty moisture. Scrolls and spellbooks have a 5% chance of running (cumulative for every Skeleton Cloud affecting you this round) and all torches/lanterns are doused and all firestarting equipment is too wet to work.
The thing with Skeleton Clouds is that nobody really controls them. The sublimated dead are too vaporous for necromancers to wrangle and too much mortal soil for druids and elementalists to affect. The other thing is that an individual Skeleton Cloud may in fact be composed of multiple smoggy skeletons. This makes all their actions erratic as the skeleton decides with itself how to behave: remember, there are probably adventurers in there, too. Skeleton Clouds have both Moral 6 and Morale 12, and are both LN and CE if you care about that sort of thing. Track this with pennies, flipping them over every round and (for convenience sake) apply to all Skeleton Clouds in the area. Skeleton Clouds are rare and solitary in deep dungeons but in castles, near monster lairs, and within the wizard's keep they keep cockroach rules and if you see one you're INFESTED.

The best way to fight them is to scatter them with some elemental breeze magic, dispel them over time (like Insect Swarms), or throw some sawdust or some flammable aerosol in them and watch their natural static charge blow them up. That is incredibly fun.

Finally, why not just air elementals? Because air elementals are always terrible and never shaped like skeletons and not made of thousands of dead people they're just from a universe where breezes act like pissy teenagers.

Skeleton Clouds can also rain blood but this has no effect other than giving me A HUGE ERECTION.

ANTIGENCON Useful Game Data

Here are all the games I'm going to run and a bit more info about each. DO NOT sign up here, sign up when the G+ signup is posted sometime next Mon or Tues. Follow me on G+ to make sure you don't miss it. I am running at least 1 game a day. If you have any questions hit me up but remember you DO NOT SIGN UP HERE, you just click the NAME OF THE GAME and follow the link to its individual G+ Event listing.

THURSDAY August 4, 10PM GMT/6PM EDT
3 hrs

Suckburg: A DuckTales/Darkwing Duck Post-Apocalypse Game

Custom Mutant Rules
4 Players
No FLAILSNAILS, Pregens provided
Hangouts game, only audio required

Black magic gone wrong burned the world 1000 years ago and only those within the protective energy dome around Duckburg were spared...spared, but not unchanged. Emerged after a century in Cry the world has changed yet again, and that just won't do: put things back to the way they USED to suck and shape the world into YOUR kind of dystopia.

WHAT YOU NEED: Standard set of polyhedrals or a good die result generator. Microphone. Camera optional. Knowledge of how to work Hangouts; if you haven't used Hangouts before give it a test run before the night. Something far less than complete ignorance of the Barks/Rosa Duck books, DuckTales tv show, or Darkwing; Something far far less than encyclopedic expertise about same.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 10 minute break at the 1:50 mark, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. This game began as minor mods to Mutant Future but got out of hand. If you're expecting d20s to-hit rolls, saving throws, hit dice, armor class, levels, xp, race/class, don't worry: you are still on safe ground. We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. If someone cancels or doesn't show up or has technical difficulties I'll tag in an alternate if and only if an alternate is waiting already. The pregen you start with will be determined by random roll and if anybody dies during the session I will offer them a replacement character by just going down the list of the remaining pregens in order.

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FRIDAY August 5, 6PM GMT/2PM EDT
3 Hrs


TSR Marvel Super-Heroes (Done Wrong)
4 Players
No FLAILSNAILS, Pregens provided, previous MSH-Gone-Wrong characters permitted
Hangouts game, only audio required
The Green Room hasn't brought you here to stop the power mad despot of a hostile monster nation. You're here to appease the scouring cosmic arbiter by bearing witness and stopping the murder of a murderer.

WHAT YOU NEED: Percentile dice. This table sitting handy to you, on a printout or on your monitor. A vague familiarity with TSR's MSH might help you but I'm doing so much of it my way that it might hinder you as much. A knowledge of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol or Warren Ellis' Planetary would help, same with Jack Kirby's 70s output.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 10 minute break at the 1:50 mark, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. You want to read more about my MSH Done Wrong rules go here. If you want to create a character of your own or you want to learn more background for this game go here. That second link also includes 3 examples of character creation. IF YOU MAKE YOUR OWN CHARACTER YOU HAVE TO GET IT APPROVED BY ME BEFORE THE SESSION BEGINS. This is mostly just me double checking your math. NO travel powers unless I approve them.

We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. If someone cancels or doesn't show up or has technical difficulties I'll tag in an alternate if and only if an alternate is waiting already. You'll be able to choose your pregen from a list. In the event that you are killed you won't be handed a replacement character, you'll take over as one of my villainous henchmen instead.
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SATURDAY August 6, 11:59PM GMT/7:59PM EDT
3 Hrs


Feng Shui (technically Feng Shui 2; archetypes provided)
4 Players
No FLAILSNAILS
Hangouts game, only audio required

In a swinging 60s Hong Kong equal parts Run Me Shaw and Lorenzo Semple Jr. men and women of all nations, races, and creeds gather for a voyage to the Chinese mainland. Paying your respects to Master Po is near the top of the agenda...right after finding out what killed him!

WHAT YOU NEED: 3d6 of one type (black, red, gem, pips) and 3d6 of another type (white, blue, opaque, numerals). I'll be using black and white and that's the language I'll be using: black for the positive dice, white for the negative dice. I'll be tracking all shots so that if time demands it I can fudge them slightly to get everything done in time; not only do you not need a shot counter handy, DO NOT use one. A familiarity with Shaw Brothers style HK flicks would be helpful but not essential.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 5 minute break at the end of every "day" of the weekend, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. The Archetypes eligible to be played will be the Exorcist Monk, Karate Cop, Martial Artist, Masked Avenger, Old Master, Sifu, Spy, Sword Master. We won't be doing any trait swapping. Each type may only be used once, with the exception of the Old Master and Martial Artist. Obvious I think but to be clear: Master Po trained and mentored people all over the world so if you want your Karate Cop to be black gay and Canadian knock yourself out. We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. If someone cancels or doesn't show up or has technical difficulties I'll tag in an alternate if and only if an alternate is waiting already. In the event that you die you don't get a new character but hey....stick around, there's still stuff for you to do.
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SUNDAY August 7, 6PM GMT/2PM EDT
3 hrs

WEG Ghostbusters (pregens provided)
4 Players
No FLAILSNAILS, pregens provided.
Hangouts game, only audio required

The kids call him Long John, a psychic golem of manmade nightmare who has ripped through to the material plane. To catch a ghoul you have to think like a ghoul, so the franchise calls in some favors with the REAL Ghostbusters: if anyone can help them understand how fear stalks the mind of a child, the Boogieman Can.

WHAT YOU NEED: Just a whole big mess of d6, but actually not even those because I will be rolling all the dice. Other than that the best tools would be a vaaaaague understanding of Atlanta and the Real Ghostbusters. Only a vague familiarity though because honestly I know a 30 year old cartoon better than the city I lived in for like six years and I am far from any wiki-editing aficionado.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 10 minute break at the 1:50 mark, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. There will be a small, quick element of pregen customization at the beginning of things. You get to choose your pregen. We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. If someone cancels or doesn't show up or has technical difficulties I'll tag in an alternate if and only if an alternate is waiting already (alternates and people who show up after the posted start time, we will not wait for you to customize your guy, you will have to do it on the fly and we'll meet you back at HQ). You probably will not be hospitalized in the course of the adventure but if you are then you can take over controlling a couple of the ghosts.
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Monday August 8 1AM/SUNDAY NIGHT 9PM EDT
3 hrs

D&D Basic/Expert
3-6 Players
DEAD FLAILSNAILS CHARACTERS ALLOWED ONLY
Hangouts game, only audio required.

The honored dead and greatest bastards are all being ferried to a new and darker afterlife, to be built upon the ash of the waking world! You must conspire to prevent this apocalypse while at the same time sabotaging one another as you all attempt to jump ship and escape to the land of the living!

WHAT YOU NEED: A dead FLAILSNAILS character; that is a character who played in more than one DM's campaign, who was created and maintained as FLAILSNAILS legal, who died. Standard polyhedrals. Flexibility regarding your abilities and the game rules as required to make things manageable.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 10 minute break at the 1:50 mark, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. Magic-User types (psions, warlocks, etc) only have access to the spells they had memorized when they died and cannot relearn spells unless their spellbook (or equivalent) was formally buried with them. Cleric types (paladins, druids, etc) have no spells but are immune to their own Turn Undead; they can plead for 1 spell per level if their holy symbol was formally buried with them and their resting place consecrated. Nobody has the weapons, armor, magic items they owned in life unless they were formally buried with them. If you're not sure whether you would have such an item or resource available to you because that was too long ago, guess what: you don't. Other race or class abilities or mutations or special stuff like blue mage powers, you still have all of that. 

Remember that this mission will be threefold: cooperate to survive the ship of the dead, cooperate to stop the apocalypse this ship will cause, and fuck each other over so you can win the ONLY loot or reward this session has to offer: one more day of life in a world close enough to your own/the one you died in that you can reach it by nightfall. Dawn the next morning brings your death unless you use the 24 hrs provided to you to somehow prevent it. Even if your character died beyond all normal physical recovery this is your soul being dragged from the hells-across-worlds and given flesh, so anything is possible. We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. I won't tag in any alternates although people can drift in and out as other dead spirits or make cameos using their own dead FLAILSNAILS characters. If you die you are not given a new character, you're assigned a bad guy to use to bedevil your former allies; your old character is now dead even to death, and he has no more soul to even recover from the underworld. If you survive the game without making it back to the land of the living your soul is still intact and you can try again next year.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Machine Men of Doublecrossroads

  • Machines all require Strength 13 and Intellect 13.
  • Machines do not use Hit Dice/Hit Points in the traditional manner, instead adding to their Constitution value as indicated on the chart below.
  • Machines have a base Defensive Number of 15.
  • Machines may use any Simple weapon (d6).
  • Machines do not automatically use firearms.
  • Machines speak Lawful and an additional Language.
  • Machines all have a Design. They are either Apprenticed, Bookworms, Crafty, Defenders, or Expendable.
    • Apprenticed Machines begin with 6/6 in their Career Skill. They exist to serve specialized trade roles.
    • Bookworm Machines succeed on Common Knowledge rolls of 2, and make Esoterica checks at an Easy Save. They know their Intellect bonus x2 in extra Languages. They are calculators, researchers, and engineers.
    • Crafty Machines have a Defensive Number of 20. They are the builders and the diggers so are hardier and better protected.
    • Defender Machines may use Major Weapons (two handed, d10) as well as pistols, shotguns, and rifles. These were built for combat and personal protection.
    • Expendable Machines are +3 to Saves. In addition to all the uses you can imagine for expendable machines, these are also used for exploration.
  • When a Machine is hit by an attack or damaged due to a failed save, reduce its Constitution by 1. Constitution Damage repairs itself at a rate of 1 point per night cycle (Machines are solar powered and power down for about 5 hrs. every night). A successful Tinker check lets you regain 1d6 points in a given otherwise restful day. They gain Constitution each time they level. Their Constitution Bonuses count for the purpose of like poison Saves and stuff. At Constitution 0 they are rendered inoperable and will not self repair, and they have to make an Easy Save or self destruct in some way determined by the DM. They never benefit from normal or magical healing, but spells like Mending and such can restore 1d4 Constitution per Tier of the spell.
  • Machines all begin with some special Function. They may use this Function a number of times per day equal to their Level. The power supply for these Functions is their Constitution score. Each time a function is used roll the die associated with it and lose that amount of Constitution. If your Function would reduce you to Constitution 0 or less make an Easy save or else cease to operate. If you make the save you will regain 1 Constitution after a day of non-operation in the sun.
  • At level 4 Machines recover at least 2 Constitution every night cycle. A successful Tinker check can also restore 1d3 Constitution while adventuring.
  • At level 5 Machines may spend 1 Constitution to double their movement speed for a round (240/60).
  • At level 6 Machines may express a new Function. It draws on the Machine’s Constitution score as well and may be used a number of times per day equal to the Machine’s current Constitution bonus.
  • At level 7 Machines may spend 1 Constitution in order to move twice or attack twice in a round.
  • At level 8 Machines recover 1d6 Constitution each night cycle, up to their maximum.
  • At level 8, Machines have both lived past warranty and met the requirements for citizenship. They are also indistinguishable from normal men. Basically, their life begins anew. If they start a business or farm they can attract their Charisma in workers every year, and some may be other Machines (up to their Intellect Bonus). If they choose to keep adventuring then every 350,000 XP gained after 8th level they may take a level in a second class, fully vested in its abilities.
  • Machines may advance normally to level 8.
Functions:

  • Night Watch. See perfectly in pitch dark. 1d3.
  • Recorder. Perfectly recreate any sound the Machine has heard since its last dormant cycle. 1d3.
  • Seeker. See through wooden walls, through stone up to 1’ thick, through metal 1" thick. 1d4.
  • Doctor. Heal an ally 1d4 HP. 1d4. (Use the same roll for each value)
  • Punisher. A galvanic jolt surges through your skin, doing 1d4 damage and repelling targets human size and smaller 5’. 1d4.
  • Climber. Leap 120’ vertically or horizontally. 1d6.
  • Breaker. Additional 1d6 damage on a successful hit. 1d6.
  • Zapper. Target takes 1d4 damage, no attack roll required. 1d6.
  • Quartermaster. Manufacture a weapon (Minor or Simple) or item from your own body mass. 1d6.
  • Mover. Manipulate an object weighing up to your Intellect x10 lbs., up to your Wisdom x3’ away. 1d6.
  • Gazer. All targets in a 45 degree cone make a Tricky Save or take 1d6 damage, saves take half. 1d8
  • Grappler. Deal your full Constitution score as damage to a target you are currently grappling, no save. 1d8.
  • Charmer. As the spell Charm Person, penalty to their Hard Save equal to your current Constitution bonus. 1d8.
  • Aerial Scout. Fly full speed for 1 round. 1d10
  • Destroyer. 3d6 heat damage in 360’ for 15’. 3d6.
 
Features Level XP HP
Artificial Life
Design
Function
1 0 n/a

2 2300 +2 Constitution

3 4600 +2 Constitution
Recovery 4 9200 +1 Constitution
Quick 5 18400 +1 Constitution
Secondary Function 6 36800 +1 Constitution
Real Quick 7 73600 +1 Constitution
Reconstruction
Citizenship
New Class
8 147200 +1 Constitution

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Names of the Orc


(Adrian Smith)
Dwarfs go by the name Glimmer Goldenshield or some shit but that's their name in 'the common tongue.' It just sounds like "ThingThing ThingThing." Some dwarfs eschew this convention and are only known by their dwarf names: Udridge Brimgrid, Iduk Ulvex, Morminonk Giswarg. In dwarf, a name will let you know many things about that dwarf: what mine they were conceived in, what shaft they were born in (meaning if they were born or conceived far from home a dwarf may have multiple additional names), what Old Clan they would have belonged to, their direct parentage on their father's side, and their greatest and most esteemed ancestor ascending on their mother's side. Like many dwarf things they are rigid, they are about firm lines and spaces, and they convey much about one of the more important aspects of dwarf kind: geography, not distinguished from geology in the dwarf tradition (in this way genealogy is mostly an academic distinction). It is all about triangulating who you are by where you are. If you are a dwarf who has climbed to a place of higher esteem than the ancestor who shares part of your name, or traveled very far from where you were seeded or forged, or whatever, that means something specific. If you basically live in the same mine, same shaft, never improving your station but diligently fulfilling your lot in life, that means something to. More than a few dwarfs adopt naming in the common-tongue tradition because for whatever reason they don't want an aspect of their dwarf name known. To be a dwarf means to be a different dwarf to all other dwarfs depending on where you are.


Elf names are more concerned with the overriding force in an elf's life: time. Elfs are basically immortal unless killed so they tell each other histories - their own, and histories that other elfs shared with them. They tell histories even in their names. An elf's name is tied to a specific age of civilization. Then to a year, then a phase of the moon, then the hour. As an elf ages and sees certain milestones - a rite of passage into adulthood, or first sexy times, or first blood in combat, or first hunt, or by marriage or courtly appointment - their names get longer and longer. To your human ranger and halfling wizard an elf may be known by Agion. To another elf Agion may have a longer name than Russel Crowe, Orson Bean, or Emilia Clarke combined. This is one of many reasons elfs usually don't refer to one another by their names but by any appointed stations they've earned. They usually don't even do that: elfs know other elfs sure as they know the name of the wind and the song of the trees. Their postures say more than ululates ever could.


Many human and halfling names are taken from very impermanent things such as regions, local fauna, or professions, things which change drastically in as short a span as a thousand years. Dragons have names associated with their hoards and with their offspring, and those with the blood of dragons have names forbidden among true dragons. Gnomes have names associated largely with love and life and the experiential. Goblins are usually not named (as with elfs goblins know one another on sight from bearing, expression, and the wrack of their misdeeds on the body) but they all once had different names, human or elf or dwarf names; if they need to specify a particular goblin to a third party they refer to their methods. The One Who Spoils The Milk Inside The Goat. The One Licking Your Hand While You Sleep. The One Laughing From The Trees At Night. The One Who Frightens The Prince of Tergemord. Giant naming conventions mostly have to do with decibels, and the bigger or more regal the giant the better their name will sound when screamed across a mountainside.


Orcs, though...


Murder, Fuck, Bladder, Snatch, Fist, Cock, Blood, Spike, Fire, Balls, Nose, Tooth, Crunch, Foot, Crush, Spit, Iron, Shaft, Chain, Storm, Nail, Piss, Scar, Scab, Mane, Sabre, Thew, Strong, Hammer, Bone, Smash, Axe, Ice, Dark, Fear, Kill, Damn, Ass, Gash, Hole, Spine, Cleave, Breast, Fart, Shit, Bastard, Boil, Scrape, Skull, Rash, Torn, Worm, Hell, Split, Maw, Talon, Face, Blade, Doom, Night, Burn, Saw, Green, Sweat, Fat, Stink, Choke, Puke, Ale, Slash, Death, Punch, Hawk, Brutal, Pig, Jaw, Bellow, Thunder, Toad, Cruel, Fierce, Bollock, Gut, Thug, Chunk, Rot, Mud, Crag, Crotch, Jugs, Steel, Beast, Heart, Demon, Wolf, War, Knight, Mourn, Shadow, and Rump are the only names amongst the Orc.


(This is the first of a few articles about Orcs and this is the best place to start. Also, you're welcome.)


When I say they are the only names amongst the Orc I mean that these are the only names which directly transliterate into the local Lingua Franca or Low Tongue. It also doesn't work like "Hi, this is Fart." Not usually.


Orc names are earned. An Orc's parents might name her (this is the Orc's only pronoun but it's pronounced like "HRRR") something initially but that's no more a permanent or meaningful thing than the names an owner tries out with a pet before finally settling. "Princess? Goldie?" How about Mudfuck?


Most things in Orc society are based on hierarchy and accomplishments. Orcs deal in extremes, which is why they are mostly known solely for being warlike: the armies of the orc are the most extreme form of military might they can conceive of. Bizarre war machines, charismatic dervishes with extra teeth implanted, ten thousand nude warriors painted gold and swinging bloody chains and hammers that way as much as a Magic-User. No mercy in battle, always up for a fight, they against the world, burn the village salt the earth poopoo on all the altars. The thing is that despite conventional appearances and stereotype orcs do not care if you war. If you want you can me an orc surgeon, or an orc poet, or an orc mommy, or an orc shepherd. It's just that every great orc king sneers at every orc general who in turn wipes hrrr ass with every orc soldier. If you are going to do a thing then you need to be the very best at it. THE BEST, THE MOST, THE GREATEST, THE POWERFULEST. An orc surgeon can make two healthy orcs out of five mangled orcs and never invoke magic or alchemy. A truly ORC poet can talk you to death. Orc mothers strive to raise the most children, the best and most successful children, the happiest children, so on. Orc shepherds tend fields of one million sheep at a time, single handedly. Every aspect of orc culture is extreme. If you are not the BEST at what you do then orcs will respect you for every rival you have ever bested and that is it. They will not respect you as a person and they will constantly loathe you for not being good enough to be the best. They loathe themselves for the same reason. This self loathing drives them to be better and more extreme. Even peaceful pursuits are aggressively practiced.

Naming conventions are no different. As an orc you always want to have the best name. As an orc your name will immediately tell everything about you. In this way an orc knows exactly how much they should hate you. However, all the good names are already taken. If you want a name to be proud of you have to kick someone's ass for it.

An infant orc may be named Bladder for example. This is a diminutive form of the 'Me Name,' the name the orc things of as hrrrs. It has only one part. If another orc parent wants the name Bladder for hrrr infant they may arrange a contest between the two infants. This may be a straight contest of strength or an obstacle course or a measure of survival against a tenacious fight-dog. The victor will be able to take the loser's name to complete hrrr Me Name; continuing with the above example, if young Snatch becomes the winner then hrrr becomes Bladdersnatch. The name of the most recently defeated rival always begins the Me Name, and your previous conquest slides to the back. The defeated infant is now Orr, which doesn't quite mean 'Nobody.' It more accurately means "Fuck 'Em." They will have to defeat two rivals to earn a proper Me Name. If they lose a second contest they will be branded Orrorr, "Fuck right off," and either be cast out of the band, abandoned when camp breaks, or simply dashed open and fed to fight dogs. This will keep going on until the hottest day of hrrr tenth summer.

This Swelter sees a band's ripened youths brought before the leader of the band for a test of fortitude. They will clear the fight-dog pens and attempt to beat the absolute hell out of all eligible youths at once until dawn. All who survive Swelter are now orcs and may take hrrr 'Orc Name'. In the rare case where the leader himself succumbs to the masses of young he is fed to the fight dogs, while all those he fought (including the dead) are considered orcs and elevated or buried as such.

An orc may dedicate hrrrself to any pursuit. The different lifestyle pursuits carry specific titles, by category, further modified by a suffix denoting hrrr station in this pursuit within the band. The categories are broad so often many orcs share an Orc Name. As an orc successfully challenges hrrr way up the chain hrrr Orc Name will change. The suffixes which begin hrrr Orc Name stack up like so:
  1. Gar (Paramount in this pursuit)
  2. Gor
  3. Kor
  4. Mor
  5. For (this homophone is responsible for the idea that orcs can't count and are therefore dumb)
  6. Dor
  7. Tor
  8. Lor
  9. Loc
  10. Moc
  11. Roc
  12. Acc
  13. Frak
  14. Frag
  15. Farc
  16. Fecc
  17. Thek
  18. Shak
  19. Sok
  20. Sarc (True neophyte)
Meanwhile, the stations one might find themselves occupying within an orc band are as follows:
  • Orggo- Warrior
  • Kalkeh- Maker for War
  • Mukra- Maker for Other (including agriculture)
  • Dorvn- Caregiver (a homophone that causes many orcs to perceive dwarven culture as comparatively gentle)
  • Kata- Religious Duty
  • Torran- Instruction
  • Brok- Utility (feeding/raising dogs, cooking, garbage burning, slop toting, hole digging)
  • Uhl- Brute Force (for making buildings and carrying things)
  • Havar- Hunters/Gatherers
  • Dax- Soft Words (science, magic, and diplomacy and politics, all considered mystically obscure abilities)
  • Warn- Drums
  • Vyl- Fires
  • Nobog- Fucking (to produce more infants and/or for the pleasure of other orcs)
So if we continue our above example this young orc may one day find hrrrself ascended to being named Havarkor Bladdernsatch. Additionally, the leader of a band may carry the honorific Orrchiorr, "Fuck Everyone Else But Me," which just means they're the big swingin' dick in charge of everybody. Orrchiorr will always be a warrior leader, meaning hrrr ultimate Orc Name is Orrchiorrggogar. When many bands get together to discuss war or peace or war (they like war) they will appoint an "Above-Above" to have final vote in case of a tie: Chirorrchiorrggogargar. These orcs will often simply go by hrrr Orc Names, hrrr Me Names not considered relevant and rarely challenged for.

By now a few things should be obvious about orcs: they will turn anything into a fight, fight over anything, hrrr chaotic actions and lifestyles are largely due to a constantly churning foaming surf of strictly regimented order, and a lot of the time they are not pillaging your village they are devoting an awful lot of effort and concern on hrrr names.

Orc bands usually operate as close as possible to 500 ("Force"), not counting the band's Orrchiorr. Orcs may come and go freely between bands since being an orc is more important than who-you-orc-for. These two facts mean there is a constant ebb and flow that orcs fucking hate. Once a year on the brightest night of snowy winter all orcs in a band gather for Presents. If the Presents exceed 500 then every fifth orc the Orrchiorr touches is banished from the band until they reach the desired Force. This right to go hrrr own way and wander may be dismissed if an orc wishes to prove hrrr value to a community, which will result in hrrr bare-handed brawling other orcs until hrrr body lies broken or until hrrr opponents have been sufficiently winnowed to a Force. If a band numbers too few then one of two things happens: either they immediately make plans to attack a neighboring Force and make up the difference from the survivors (killing or banishing the rest), or else a gigantic orgy breaks out until sunup, the goal being to just shit out enough kids to reach a proper Force.

When a name proves too popular with orc parents an Orrchiorr may impose a Title Bout where every child bearing that name must fight until only one stands. If a band has too many priests and not enough mothers or too many warriors and not enough shit cleaners they may meet with another band for a Roast. Both bands bring the largest game they can kill and spend a week cooking it and feasting. The band with the larger beast gets to pick and choose who gets swapped while the losing band mercilessly criticizes and jeers at hrrr choices, even if (especially if) they are actually pragmatic.

Because naming conventions are so complicated with orcs some weird incidentals have arisen. Hrrr historical and cultural traditions are entirely oral and replace the names within these stories with the names of popular, powerful orcs currently in the band. Hrrr can read and write hrrr own ugly script but its use is entirely utilitarian, such as for military movements. hrrr tattooing traditions are entirely graphic for similar reasons. You know that an orc belongs to a particular family because of hrrr frankly over-involved bloodcrest, usually found on an orc's neck beneath hrrr clothes or beard. No orc wants to be known first for who hrrr parents were, so this detail has attained a level of taboo (and therefore fetish) among orcs. Hence the common orcly pillow talk, "Who's your daddy?"

You may meet many orcs who do not hold with these naming conventions. These orcs are usually Orrorr, though sometimes they may instead be orcs who willingly left behind orc customs to embrace a new master like an evil necromancer or powerful human king. These are living ghosts, dead to all orcs, and are derisively called Half-Orcs. That's right, though some may be born of a union between one of these shadows-of-true-orcs and other beings there are no halfbreeds: like elfs, or like everything else about orcs, hrrr blood is incredibly dominant. The distinction between an elf and a half-elf or an orc and a half-orc are entirely cultural. Many half-orcs, especially Orrorr, are slaves around the worlds. While horrible this has helped to dispel hrrr stigma to many people, since slaves are property like a chair and who would be afraid of a chair? In this way a society comfortable with slavery is comfortable with half-orcs, slave or free, in their society.

Orcs fucking hate hearing that these half-orcs thrive. Sometimes they'll burn a kingdom down just to get at them. After such a strike, a raid on a nearby orc band, or any great victory for the Force the Orrchiorr may offer orcs in Hrrr charge a number of rewards...including a new name. One they don't have to fight for, one they've already earned. Orcs are sometimes even granted the name of another being they have killed, such as a fabled elf warrior or a craven human king. There will maybe be one orc like this in an entire Force, but it happens.

One last thing: orcs will never volunteer hrrr name but will answer truthfully if asked. This is a sacred possession orcs aren't keen to share with riff raff beneath hrrr. The only exception is when meeting someone in a challenge as either the defender or the aggressor. Then the orc loudly proclaims hrrr name in the interest of honorable warning and fair disclosure. This means that it's not unusual to see two orcs get super pissed at each other, introduce one another, and then chat a bit and walk away. It also means that when a Force of orcs is charging at you on the battlefield it sounds like absolute chaotic berserker hell, like this, and you're MORE welcome.