Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Orc Babies

I’ve seen a lot of discussion about Mearls’ 5E articles and the rules-side of the game, but there’s been hardly any conversation about James Wyatt’s “Wandering Monsters” column. There should be, because it’s terrible. In the column, Wyatt discusses monsters, and their role in the D&D game and world. The results are often uninspired, or they come completely out of the blue.

Apparently, the goal is to create monster concepts that can include both the AD&D/3E version of a monster, and the 4E version. Sounds good, but the result is often a wishy-washy, watered down monster. I’m no fan of the changes 4E made to some of the monsters, but at least there were concepts behind them (even if they were weak concepts).  For example, the much-lamented Devil Succubus was a dumb idea, but at least it was a Devil. In 5E, the Succubus will be nothing. They’re watering down the concept even more. Furthermore, Wyatt’s articles make for dry reading, and that doesn’t bode well for the 5E Monster Manual.

Last week’s article, “You Got Science In My Fantasy” touches upon a topic I’ve been meaning to write about:

Orc Babies
Let’s get one thing straight: no orc is a “non-combatant”. The idea that encountering orc babies is an interesting “moral dilemma” or “philosophical discussion” is an often repeated adventurer legend that’s not true. It's up there with "Bree-yark means I surrender" and "Succubi are great kissers".
Orc babies are vicious, nasty little critters: balls of fur with razor-sharp teeth, an unrelenting hunger for fresh meat, and the ability to jump from the floor straight on a man’s face.

Orc Baby (2d8): AL C; MV 15; AC 10; HD 1d4 hp; #AT 1; Dmg 1d4 (bite); M 10; XP 6.

Jaws of Steel: An orc baby attacks the unarmored parts of their opponents (bare arms, face). If its bite attack succeeds, it stays attached to its opponent and does 1d4 damage automatically each round. To detach an orc baby the opponent must make a Str check.

5 comments:

  1. That's something that always bugged me about everyone who brings up crap like that. They tend to assume that baby anything means "cute, fuzzy and innocent." I only need to point you to the movie Dragonslayer to smash that little preconception to pieces.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and I don't understand it. When asked "what are orc babies like?", who's going to answer "they're noncombatants"?
      That doesn't make sense at all.

      Delete
  2. You need to take it up with Gygax because he specifically describe orc babies as "9 young (who do not fight)". How can you describe this as a legend "that's not true" when it's right there in the text?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gygax was an insidious DM always trying to lull his players into a sense of complacency. And he knew darn well they'd read the module even when they weren't supposed to.

      Delete
    2. Well, it's the idea that they're an interesting moral dilemma for the players that is not true. Feel free to use noncombatants in your own campaign, of course, but I don't think they're a good idea: it doesn't bring anything substantial to the table.

      If I would run Keep on the Borderlands now, I would lull the players into a false sense of security and have the orc babies attack the moment their backs are turned. Or maybe wait until a PC put's his hand in the cradle.

      Delete