by Ryven Cedrylle
The Orc Lord has returned. Whether a reincarnation of the legendary commander who helped lay the Wizard King low or a new figure entirely who is merely building on old cultural foundations, the rise of the new Orc Lord brings troubling questions. Why now? For what purpose has the mythic leader reappeared? How will the Orc Lord change the balance of power in the realms?
There is no doubt that this new leader has very different ideas about the place of orcs in the world. Where in days past orc warriors were largely brutes wielding giant weapons (a prospect frightening enough in and of itself), new types of warriors and new tactics have taken the threat to the next level. Refugees from plundered villages report orcish raiders on horseback, wielding spears and bows, and attacking in staggering numbers. Some even claim the Orcs to be wielding Elven swords and casting arcane spells.
The bands are as vicious as before, but far more mobile and organized. While not yet a threat to the fortified cities of Axis or Drakkenhall, the surrounding settlements are falling prey to this new breed of orc with terrifying speed.
Orcish Horse-Archer – Level 4 Archer
AC: 21 (19 dismounted) PD: 18 (16 dismounted) MD: 14
R: Composite Bow – +9 vs. AC, 13 damage
Even: Shrieking Missile– the next ally to attack this target gets a +2 to hit
16+: Felling Shot – target must use two move actions to move elsewhere nearby (save ends)
M: Sabre – +8 vs AC, 11 damage and the target takes a cumulative -1 penalty to AC until the end of the encounter
Steppe Cavalry: The Orcish Horse-Archer can move twice as fast as a foot soldier, getting to Far distance in a single move. In addition, the Archer can make its attack at any point during a move, freely disengaging and engaging opponents once per round as needed.
If a player character hits an Archer with a natural 18 or better, that character can choose to forego the normal effects of its attack to dismount the Archer. The Archer takes 15 damage and loses all benefits of the Steppe Cavalry feature. In addition, its AC and PD drops by 2.
The Horse-Archer is the main tactical unit of an Orcish open-field assault. At the beginning of a fight, several charge forward into close quarters with the enemy and begin firing. When melee units engage, the Archers will turn and appear to flee. This is done with the intent to draw the enemy into less advantageous ground if not an outright trap. If the enemy stands ground, the Archers will instead move to encircle. Many of the Archer’s arrows have small holes cut in the shaft so they make a loud shrieking or whistling sound as they fly. Horse-Archers also carry a crude version of an Elvish curved longsword which they employ to slice through and pry off bits of armor from foes that get in too close.
Orcish Horse-Lancer – Level 5 Troop
AC: 22 (19 dismounted) PD: 19 (17 dismounted) MD: 14
M: Spear – +10 vs. AC, 18 damage.
15+: Sweeping – deal 9 damage to all Engaged enemies beyond the primary target
R: Spear – +10 vs AC, 20 damage. Useable once per encounter.
Steppe Cavalry: The Orcish Horse-Lancer can move twice as fast as a foot soldier, getting to Far distance in a single move. In addition, the Lancer can make its attack at any point during a move, freely disengaging and engaging opponents once per round as needed.
If a player character hits a Lancer with a natural 18 or better, that character can choose to forego the normal effects of its attack to dismount the Lancer. The Lancer takes 15 damage and loses all benefits of the Steppe Cavalry feature. In addition, its AC drops by 3 and PD by 2.
The Horse-Lancer is the secondary tactical unit of an Orcish open-field assault. They serve to finish often enemies that Archers soften up and form traps or block off routes of escape. Lancers prefer to engage multiple wounded units and use the reach of their weapon to end several foes at once. If a Lancer must engage a strong foe, hit-and-run tactics are preferred. The speed at which these Lancers can exit and re-enter a battle often creates an artificial inflation of the orcs’ numbers in their victims’ minds.
Lancers generally carry two spears so that one can be thrown if necessary. Some Lancers will carry in an Orc Warrior (Lv 1) or Orc Berserker (Lv 2) for extra support, though they can not fight effectively until the added weight is lifted.
Orcish Beastmaster – Level 5 Spoiler
AC: 21 PD: 18 MD: 16
M: Axe – +10 vs. AC, 12 damage (16 damage if the companion is defeated)
Hit (even): Harrier – target has a -2 to attack until the end of its next turn
Hit (odd): Two As One – deal 6 damage to a nearby enemy
Miss: Got Your Back – deal 6 damage to the target
Beast Companion: The Orcish Beastmaster has an animal companion, usually a large dog, but nearly any smart domesticated animal is possible. The companion is required in order to perform any of the three triggered abilities of the Beastmaster’s basic attack. If the companion is defeated, increase the Axe damage to 16.
The companion has no hit points and uses the Beastmaster’s defenses. It does not have independent representation on the battlemap and is assumed to be at the Beastmaster’s side for positioning purposes. If successfully attacked, it is defeated (frightened off, injured, killed, etc). Do not volunteer information about the possibility of attacking the companion separately (the Orcs rely on the more civilized societies’ complicated misgivings about humanoid vs. animal life!) but be honest if asked.
The brutish nature of Orcs give them a certain natural empathy with predatory animals. This empathy is best exemplified in the Orcish Beastmaster. The Beastmaster will keep about 8-10 trained hunting animals and use them in battle to supplement his or her own fighting prowess. Due to the time required to train, animal companions are generally taught to escape if hurt or in serious danger. They are intended to harass and make opportunistic attacks, not fight toe-to-toe. Rarely is any more than one Beastmaster found in an assault squad since they are most often employed against enemy commanders directly.
Orcish Pyromancer – Level 3 Caster
AC: 18 PD: 15 MD: 16
R: Ember Axe – +8 vs. PD, 12 damage
R: Ragefire – +14 vs PD (close-quarters; 1d4 nearby creatures starting with the closest), 18 damage and the Pyromancer takes 10 damage. The pyromancer must pass a save at the end of its turn or continue to use Ragefire.
Pyromancy: The Orcish Pyromancer may use its entire turn (move, standard and quick actions) for no more than two consecutive rounds once per encounter to gaze into the flame in its hand and shout helpful commands to its allies. Each time it does this, the Escalation die does not advance at the start of the next round.
Arcane magic does not come easily or well to Orcs, probably as a design feature implemented by the Elves when the Orcs were created.. This has not stopped the Orc Lord from forcing the runts to try to learn it anyway. Orcish pyromancers are as much a danger to their allies as their enemies when they attempt to wield magic as a weapon. Much like Beastmasters, only one is ever seen at a time per squad (if at all). The orcs’ shamanic heritage makes these magic users remarkably adept at actual pyromancy, or divining the future by the pattern of a burning fire. Fortunately for the orcs’ enemies, the orcs’ natural aggression kicks in after a short period of time spent in pyromancy and they feel compelled to start throwing the fire around – a skill at which they are far less proficient.
Some pyromancers have been known to become so aggressive during a fight that they light themselves ablaze accidentally. At that point, it’s only a matter of keeping a safe distance and letting nature take its course.