Friday, January 25, 2013
GAZ 10 The Orcs of Thar
This is one of my favourite Gazetteers, perhaps only second to GAZ 7 The Northern Reaches. Quite a few reviewers of this product are turned off by some of the humourous tone and comical illustrations liberally scattered throughout the pages. Make no mistake, this Gazetteer is about all those humanoid monsters that adventurers typically do battle against; Orcs, Kobolds, Trolls, Gnolls, Ogres. And their society, customs, and traits are described as foolish, bullying, gross, ignorant, disgusting and brutish.
And I think that is a particularly interesting way to portray the enemy, because, in addition to providing a detailed account of the lands, environs, and social interaction of the humanoids of the Broken Lands, this Gazetteer goes a step farther and provides rules on how to roll up and play humanoid monster characters.
I have never been a fan of playing or running a game where the player's are running truly evil, self serving individuals. I don't begrudge anyone who does run those sort of games, it just hasn't been the style of play among my friends and I. Playing the humanoids from the Orcs of Thar feels more like playing an inept, gonzo, caricature of a comic book villains sidekick. And the slapstick, "reversed" role nature of the setting can be a refreshing change of pace when looking for a quick and easy "one off" adventure.
And it is in the rules for how to actually handle playing humanoid monsters that ties this post into yesterday's about Race and Levels. Bruce takes a slightly different tack on how to handle the difference in power between a regenerating troll and a lowly 4 hit point kobold.
The innovative idea (for the time) was to introduce pre level 1 designations that corresponded to juvenile ages of the more powerful creatures. A troll would have to start out as a Whelp and earn his way up to level 1 by progressing through the Youngster and Teenager phases. This ties in well with the campy and whimsical style of the setting and also provides a good descriptor of the relative power of the different monsters.
This Gazetteer contains a lot of value and retailed for $9.95 at its release (the same price as other Gazetteers). But in addition to a highly detailed area of the known world, The Orcs of Thar contained a fully functioning role playing game, new races, classes, and rules. And, in addition, GAZ 10 contained a fun card board chit based game played on a large map of the known world-- a map done from the perspective of the monsters.