Ork 101

by Rob Toth

Forget everything you know about gaming. In fact, chop it in half, stomp it to pieces, make a necklace out what’s left, and go bragging about it to your friends.

ORK! The Roleplaying Game crashes into your local retailer this July. [ed. note: That was July 2000, which explains all that crashing you heard back then.]

Everyone knows what Orks are. They’re the G.I.s of evil. They’re big, dumb, nasty, smelly, drunken, grunting, stomping brutes. They smash things. They eat rocks. They look a little like wild boars, but don’t let a wild boar hear you say that. In short, they’re enemies of all that is good and decent.

And now you can be one of them.

For the first time, an RPG takes you into the world of the archetypal fantasy heavy. And it’s more bizarre than you ever imagined. Ork society–a collection of crowded, stinking villages ruled by wily Shamans–doesn’t give an inch. From the moment you’re born (as a nameless Gunk), you’ve go to scrap and claw for everything. If you let down your guard for an instant, another Ork will smash your head, eat your brains and take what you’ve got. Want to survive? You’d better start busting some heads yourself. Ork life is truly “nasty, brutish and short”–not to mention driven by warrior hubris, blood feuds and all other manner of dumb reasons to stomp and be stomped.

But you don’t have to confine yourself to beating on your fellow Orks. The world is full of creatures to vent your aggression on (if they don’t tear you apart first). Look into a cave, and you’re likely to get snatched up by a Troll–huge, many-headed and hungry for Ork meat. That is, unless a Creeping Crud drops from the ceiling and sucks the meat off your bones. Get near a body of water and you may find yourself snatched up by a Giant Squid. And the skies are thick with Flying Monkeys, dive-bombing the unwary in little bellhop outfits.

Humans are dimly understood, but passionately hated, enemies, and they come in two flavors–Sour Men, strange, powerful zealots from across the sea who stomp through the wilderness trying to convert anyone they meet (and pounding anyone who won’t); and Squishy Men, tiny, cheerful, hairy-footed fellows who like nothing better than singing jolly songs, smoking pipes and caring for duckies. Needless to say, self-respecting Orks love nothing more than committing atrocities against this kindhearted species.

The god of the World of Orkness–Krom–is just as strange as the miscreants he rules over. Not only does he arbitrarily reward and punish characters during gaming sessions–turning them into pinecones, giving them extra heads, blowing them up–but he tosses strange artifacts from the sky to confound them. Toasters, GTOs, shotguns–nothing’s too big or small for Krom to chuck at his faithful.

As you might have guessed by now, the atmosphere of ORK! is one of cartoonish violence and barely controlled mayhem. Check your brains at the door, bring your id to the surface and prepare yourself for evenings of smashing other players on the head, doing things that you know are not only stupid but very, very WRONG, and generally destroying everything in sight. Learn the ins and outs of Ork language (“You am shut up!”) and culture (naming rituals, drinking songs, religious dogma). And if you don’t survive a session, get ready to be judged by Krom (“You am a stupid Ork! Me am turn you into Sand Dollar!”).

The rules aren’t quite simple enough for an Ork to understand, but they’re pretty close. Distribute a set number of dice among various stats, such as Meat and Mojo, and then pick skills such as Eyball and Chuck. But you’re not rolling against a fixed standard in this game–you’re rolling against God Himself. The gamemaster decides if Krom is on your side or not when you’re making a skill test–and rolls a corresponding number of dice. That’s the number you have to beat.

The rules–at a svelte 64 pages-also include a sample adventure, Go Ork Go!, and plenty of starting points for others–whether Hobbesian one-shots or Machiavellian campaigns.

You am will have a blast–or die trying!