Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hill Orcs Kick Ass - And So Does Goblinoid's AEC!

In a recent post on his excellent "Behind the Screen" blog, my friend Carl shared a great new monster that I am rather taken with: the Hill Orc.  Hill orcs are bigger and badder than their typical orcish cousins, are greenish rather than grayish, and favor poleaxes as their main weapons.  As Carl writes:

[Hill Orcs] can be easily recognized by the floppy wide-brimmed hats they wear to shield their eyes from the daylight, and the striped kilts emblazoned with their clan colors.  Hill Orc warriors share a special bond with the giant dogs that serve as mount and companion; as a young hill orc draws closer to the initiation ceremony that will mark his entrance into the warrior fraternities, a puppy is selected for him by the shaman. For the next year, the young orc must spend all of his time with his dog, training it and building a bond of mutual love and trust strong enough to survive the rigors of battle.

Wow!  Big poleaxe-wielding orcs who ride wargs!  How can I resist?  Yet Carl's post only includes stats for these creatures in the modified D&D 3.5 system he was using when he created them.  So what does a poor old-school Labyrinth Lord like me do?  Convert this great monster to Labyrinth Lord, of course!  [I have Carl's blessing to post this conversion, and I welcome comments from him or anybody else if I miss anything here.]

Hill Orc
# Encountered: 2d4 (3d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Move: 120’ (40’)
AC: 4
HD: 2
Attacks: 1 (claw or weapon)
Damage: 1d6 / weapon damage
Save: F2
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XVIII
XP: 20

Like standard orcs, Hill Orcs suffer a penalty of –1 to hit rolls when in sunlight - unless they are wearing their usual protective brimmed hats.  There are Hill Orc leaders who fight as 3 HD monsters.  On Ara, Hill Orcs live in the northern and eastern mountains of Telengard, and could be substituted into this encounter table -- maybe swap "Hill Orc" in for result 23, Neanderthal, or result 19, Werewolf.
Rage: Hill Orcs can fly into a combat rage like a berserker.  During a rage, which lasts 1-4 rounds, the Hill Orc gets -2 to AC, +1 to hit, and +2 to all inflicted damage.  For 1-4 rounds after the rage subsides, the Hill Orc loses all initiative and suffers a -1 penalty to hit and -1 to inflicted damage. 
Wolf mounts: For a hill orc's canine mount, I would simply use the Dire Wolf stats from p. 102 of Labyrinth Lord.

[Edit: Check out this badass illustration of a Hill Orc by Eli Arndt.]

Speaking of statting up new monsters, last weekend I was working on a creature that I hope my Labyrinth Lord party does not encounter for quite some time, for it is an undead version of a rather powerful classic monster from AD&D.  I was working on my undead version's stat block and had pulled out my 1e Monster Manual to check out the official characteristics of the original, non-undead version of the creature, when it suddenly dawned on me: Wait a minute!  I have a pdf of the Labyrinth Lord Society member's sneak preview of the Advanced Edition Companion!!  Why the hell am I dragging out my old Monster Manual when the stats I need are probably already in the AEC?? 

And indeed, what a glorious moment it was when I opened that AEC pdf and found the exact monster I was looking for, statted for Labyrinth Lord!  This made my undead-ification of the monster go very smoothly and swiftly, and will no doubt be the first of many successful encounters I have with the AEC.  Don't get me wrong, I am still quite happy to have possession of my 1e books, for obviously there is information, nuance, and nostalgia there that are not reproduced (nor reproducible) in AEC.  But in terms of a practical working text that will be of immense help to me in my current Labyrinth Lord campaign, I can hardly imagine a more useful book than the AEC right now.

Devotees will remember that I have been eagerly anticipating the Advanced Edition Companion since at least late October, in part because I am one of those people whose "default" rules system from the old days was a kind of "AD&D lite" approach that made primary use of the three core AD&D books, which the AEC emulates.   So I was thrilled to learn yesterday that the Advanced Edition Companion is finally out in print form!  I have ordered my copy and eagerly await its arrival.  I know I am going to make much use of this tome over the coming months and years.  Great job Daniel Proctor and Goblinoid Games!


  1. So, are your LL versions of these orcs pig-faced or not?

  2. I can't speak to Carter's LL conversion of my original, but in the campaign from whence the original inspiration sprang, the Grey Orcs were your classic pig-snouted orcs, while the Hill Orcs had small triangular noses... not that you can normally see much of their faces beneath the shade of their big floppy hats.

  3. Thanks for the assist, Carl. I'll defer to you, though I would want them to have at least a vaguely porcine look.