Got in another session this weekend with my kids. My son’s half-orc fighter, the one who got a second chance last week after I screwed up a combat, returned to the hidden complex known as the Caverns of Quasqueton, formerly the home of Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown. This, of course, is Module B1: In Search of the Unknown, something that I’ve never played but am enjoying immensely. My son is also playing a halfling thief.

I have to hand it to him. When rolling up his fighter, he had hoped for good enough abilities to create a paladin, but our 3d6 seven times, arrange six to taste, remaining roll is starting gold method means getting those numbers is rare. So he ended up maing a half-orc fighter and told me that even though the guy wasn’t anywhere near the universe required for paladinhood, he was going to live the life of one anyway. A half-orc paladin wannabe. He bought a holy symbol and has even tried to turn undead with it. I’m not sure if he is trying to turn to be “in character” or if he thinks it might really work. I’m letting him roll and so far all of his rolls have been low, so he doesn’t know if normally-successful rolls will result in failure, also.

My daughter, meanwhile, joined in after we had been playing for a while. She picked out a character she had rolled up recently, a half-orc with an intelligence of 4. In Labyrinth Lord, an INT of 4 means “Unable to read or write,” so she named him “Grunt” and decided he’d be a less-than-talkative character. His STR of 15 means that, despite social shortcomings, he’ll be welcome in many adventuring parties.

Now, I really don’t think I’ve ever had a PC party with two half-orcs in it at the same time before. And we do not use the “half-orcs are so cool” idea that seems to have caught on in later editions. Half-orc humans, as a race, are definitely not considered “so cool” in our game. But here we are, and not only are my kids playing two half-orcs, they are both playing them in pretty fun way. In both cases they decided to go this route on their own without any direction from dear old dad.

One of the rooms in the fortress is a sort of “trophy room” with a dragon skin, a turned-to-stone basilisk, mounted heads of enemies, captured weapons, and the like. Against one wall of this trophy room stood six skeletons which had not been included in the pre-written description. These, of course, were placed there by me from the monster list and attacked as soon as the PCs looked closely at them. When the paladin wannabe’s turning attempt failed, battle was joined. As luck would have it, the players rolled poorly and the skeletons rolled pretty well. Things ended with three PCs, an NPC, and a hireling all unconscious with another hireling dead. Two skeletons remained, but as they were under orders only to attack those who approached them, they returned to their positions and resumed their silent watch.

The two half-orcs were the first to come to, and they carefully prepared to take on the two remaining sentries. I kept rolling to see if the skeletons would react, but they did not until the PCs were as ready as they could be. Fortunately, my son’s fighter had one vial of holy water left and they were able to take out the two remaining undead, revive the rest of the party, and retreat back to town.

Except for the fact that they were facing mindless undead, it would have been another TPK. Again, their tactics weren’t stellar but it was the horrible rolling that really did it to them. That and the fact that they had no cleric in the party. The key is to get yourself into position so that even if you roll badly you’ve got a chance to disengage. My kids need to work on that a little.

But I’m liking the half-orcs and the way they’re playing them.

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One Comment to “Half-Orcs R Us”

  1. Mike Monaco says:

    It is utterly awesome that you are gaming with your kids.

    But when did half orcs get to be “so cool”? I played the mall the time in AD&D and kind of hate the way they were reintroduced in 3e. I don’t play 4e anymore but they do seem a lot more like they were in AD&D in 4e.