This is the 12th article in our orc series. Today, we will examine and detail the different types of orc groups that you might encounter in the Daerkwood. As I have said on other occasions, these groups might not fit into your world. If they don't, I hope that you can find some use for this information. If nothing else, it might serve as a model for the different types of encounters you can have with a single monster type. Players can be a troublesome lot. Sometimes it seems like they need a reason for EVERYTHING. This makes me miss the bygone days of "hack and slash" when we were happy just to kill the monsters and NO ONE ever asked "why". It may be that your PC's are quite happy with the "what" in encounters and do not even care about the "why", but I find this is rarely the case these days. Usually the PC's are just as interested in figuring out the "why" of an encounter as they are in defeating the "what" in the first place. Below are the 6 Types of Orc Encounters. I hope that they serve you well in answering the "why" question when your PC's encounter a group of orcs. Happy Gaming!
Children Playing -- Close to orc settlements, the PC's might encounter from 2 to 5 young orcs, half-orcs, and/or ogrillions playing. They may be pretending to be a hunting party or a raiding group, but the key word is pretending. A party with fast initiatives and poor judgement skills might find themselves in a whole heap of trouble really quick if they can't tell the difference between orc children pretending to be raiders and REAL orc raiders.
Hunting Party -- Further away from settlements, the PC's could encounter groups of 2 to 6 orcs or half-orcs led by a orog. They will be armed with bows or javelins, as well as swords. They may or may not be wearing armor. These orcs are hunting animals. Perhaps they are hunting for sport, but most likely they are hunting for food, skins, horns, and bones, either to supply their village or to sell to others. They might not be happy about sharing their hunting grounds or they might hail the PC's and try to trade.
Raiding Party -- Throughout the Daerkwood, the PC's might encounter 6 to 10 orcs, half-orcs, and/or ogrillions led by an orog, or perhaps even an Eye of Gruumsh. They will be armed for war with both missile and melee weapons. They will definitely be wearing armor. They might be accompanied by worgs. Depending upon how successful they have been, they may have loot and captive slaves as well. If they believe that they can take the PC's, then they will just attack. Otherwise, they will negotiate or try to avoid an adventuring party.
Merchant Caravan -- Throughout the Daerkwood, the PC's might encounter 6 to 60 orcs, half-orcs, and/or ogrillions, perhaps led by an orog. Most will be armed with both missile and melee weapons, plus they will all be wearing armor. They will have 1 - 10 carts, drawn by mules or oxen, full of trade goods with them. These are business people and their guards. They have no interest in the PC's unless they want to become customers. They will fight hard to keep goods that belong to them.
War Party -- Throughout the Daerkwood, the PC's might encounter 6 to 10 orcs, half-orcs, and/or ogrillions led by an orog, or perhaps even an Eye of Gruumsh. They will be armed for war with both missile and melee weapons. They will definitely be wearing armor and they might be accompanied by worgs. Most PC's would NOT be able to tell the difference between a raiding party and a war party. War party's carry banners; raiders do not. War party's have their own goal that (probably) has NOTHING to do with the PC's; raiders just want to take whatever they can from whoever they can. Perhaps the most telling feature, war party's behave much more like disciplined soldiers, than undisciplined bandits.
Elements of a Clan Army -- Deep inside the Daerkwood, the PC's may encounter 60 - 600 orcs, half-orcs, ogrillions, full ogres, trolls, and half-giants led by orogs, and Eyes of Gruumsh. They will be armed for war with both missile and melee weapons. They will definitely be wearing armor and they might be accompanied by worgs. They may also have seige equipment and mercenary troops. They will definitely have banners and (like any army on the move), if they encounter the PC's while moving through an area, then they will most likely try to capture them so that they can interrogate them for information before giving their broken bodies to their goblin slaves to eat.