Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ambitious Orcs or Avaricious Ogres?

Alright, so I barely finished writing up my thoughts on Ambition & Avarice and I am already feeling the need to tinker with it. I guess it would be good to run at least one session before messing with the rules? But I can't resist, sorry!

One of the obvious things that sets A&A apart from "classic" D&D is playable "monster" races: We get dark elves, goblins, hobgoblins, lizardfolk, and orcs. Wait, rewind that one more time: goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs? Isn't that just a bit much of the same thing over and over again?

True, much to A&A's credit it does characterize each of those three races differently. So goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs as written up in A&A are actually quite different. However, that doesn't help my deep-seated D&D sensibility of those races being almost interchangeable. Of course there have always been minor variations, and the cosmetics have been different ever since the AD&D Monster Manual started mentioning skin coloration and so on. But for most of my gamer life, those three races have otherwise been one and the same: Things low-level PCs wade through on their way up the campaign's food chain.

What I was really hoping for when I started reading A&A was a monster race that goes a little beyond the "everyone is human-sized or smaller" trope that most games have been stuck in. What I really wanted was this guy:

Okay, that's in fact the illustration for a half-ogre from an old Best of Dragon magazine, but that's the kind of PC that I've not seen enough of. And I think it's easy to "tweak" it into A&A without actually having to write up a new race description: Just replace the existing Orc with Ogre and hand players the picture above if they are wondering what that's like!

Orcs in A&A get the largest hit die already, and obviously so should the Ogre. Orcs get a +1 to-hit and damage, and so should the Ogre. And Orcs get a -2 on reaction when dealing with "civilized pansies" such as humans and elves, right on for an Ogre. So it's really all about the cosmetics of it. I might be tempted to put some kind of cap on intelligence, and I might compensate for that with some kind of bonus for constitution, but A&A typically stays clear of having race modify attributes, so maybe I should follow suit.

Just imagine an Ogre Cultist defending a town from invasion and having to decide whether to sacrifice a few more tasty halflings in order to heal his party up as the big bad black dragon approaches in the dark and cloudy sky. Perfect.

Now how about some kobolds on the other end of the "barbarian" spectrum? :-)

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