Saturday, April 27, 2013

The GURPS cinematic Middle-Earth Orcs


Orcs were created by Morgoth by torturing and mutilating first borns (elves) during the first age. Their biology is mysterious, and certainly non-traditional. They can only multiply in large nests that are created by powerful wizards, and requiring the bodies of living elves to seed. Their birth is more akin to a cystic process than what we understand to be childbirth. 

Orcs can easily be cowed and coerced into obeying orders. They are individually weak, but compensate by their number and some innate tactical inclinations. Orcs do not age. Their miserable existence will persist until they meet a violent death. They are highly resistant to diseases, and can eat the foulest protein-based diet without suffering consequences. They cannot process food coming from plants, however. 

Without leadership from their creators, orcs will organize and create a hierarchical structure similar to a military unit: leaders are elevated and gain physical attributes to match. Leaders become larger, tougher. This tight integration of culture and biology was a stroke of genius by Morgoth when he designed them as the quintessential grunt to prosecute his world-despoiling plans. They speak a lingua franca which is mainly based on the working language of their creator and the language imbued in them for issuing commands (Mordor, derivative of Quenya). For example, Isengard orcs mainly function in the common tongue while Mordor and ancient lines of orcs are largely speaking in simplified language of Mordor. 

Their role in an RPG is to pour in throngs and die in large quantity. They are modeled as such.


ST 9; DX 9; IQ 8; HT 9; HP 8; FP 8; Move 5; Speed 3.75; Per 9; Will 8; SM +0;
Traits: Ugly,  Incurious, Glutton, Restrictive Diet (meat), Xenophobia, Sense of Duty (leader), Skinny
Skills:  Running-14, Soldier-13

  1. Spoiler: Sling-11 OR Bow-11, MainWeapon-10
  2. Striker: Spoiler + MainWeapon-11, Shield-11, 
  3. Sergeant: Spoiler + Leadership-12, Whip-12, Shield-12, MainWeapon-12
Most orcs wear something equivalent to a scale armor, but this may vary depending on their economic conditions and overlords.

Why they are awesome

Orcs are meant to die fast and keep on coming! They knockback with blows of 3HP (They are skinny), suffer major wounds on a 4 HP hit and go unconscious and stunned really easily (with a HT 8). Their weapon skills are not very good and damage minimal. The challenge is equalized when someone is facing a wave of them! 

Here is how orcs organize to create battle bringing to their foes a sense of being awesome. Orcs are not particularly inclined to learn any skill well. Their basic structure is made of a cell of three: the spoilers, the strikers and the sergents.  The sergent stands back 2-4 yards from a foe and attempts to coordinate an attack with his Leadership-12 (75%), if the leadership check succeeds, the spoiler will shoot first from a range of 2-3 (to minimize range penalty, and keep a LOS) with a net target level of 10 -1 (range)  = 9, or 37% chance of spoiling the foe's primary active defense. The striker then follow through with a telegraphic attack (target 10 +4 (telegraphic) =14, or 90% chance to hit, but with a +2 on the active defense roll on the foe. In the event of a leadership failure, about half of the attack cell will be uncoordinated and the spoiler will attack second. When a striker fall, the sergeant steps back to let a new pair of striker/spoiler in. The existing spoiler remains forward in hope to get flank shots and act as battlefield clutter to distract the foe for the next unit. Spoiler with bows in melee have a -6 (short bow bulk), or -4 with a sling: they are pretty useless but will think of dropping their weapon and use their melee weapon only if they get prompted by a sergeant (leadership check specifically for that), or succeed an IQ check (Ouch!).

The desired effect is to create cinematic battles where lots of orcs are falling, but the challenge level is reasonable for outnumbered opponents. Because of their number, tactical team play will be most important for whoever opposes orcs in an open battle.