Features Archive | 2/19/2013
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Orc Clans: Distinguishing Features
Appendix d12
By Jason Sholtis

With the release Dungeon Command's Blood of Gruumsh, we take a look back at orcs!

To help DMs add further detail to their adventures, Jason Sholtis (of The Dungeon Dozen) has provided the following tables—in the spirit of the 1st Edition DMG’s appendices, charts, and random encounters!

Orc Clans: Distinguishing Features

Ubiquitous enemies of civilization, orcs propagate like flies and have successfully infested a good portion of the world, from temperate woodlands to the polar ice fields. It stands to reason that certain isolated sub-groups might develop characteristics entirely their own.


  1. Saber-tooth: extraordinarily large mouths, sometimes ignore weapons in hand to savagely slash and bite with six inch razor tusks dripping with highly infectious saliva.

  2. Sinister black antlers: points and complexity signify rank and facilitate typically non-lethal bouts between individuals vying for position in the hierarchy.

  3. Monocular: denizens of the blackest pits, these orc-cyclopes eschew missile weapons due to a complete lack of depth perception, preferring to silently stalk their enemies and then overwhelm with numbers.

  4. Demonic: this line sports complimentary devil-like horns and vestigial bat wings for services rendered to an outer being of supreme evil.

  5. Simian: orcs of lighter build, heavier muscle mass and even more pronounced elongation of arms and digits, fully arboreal, they haunt dark forest canopies.

  6. Chaos rot: probably owing to long association with dark sorcery, the skin and soft tissues of these unfortunate wretches crumbles, cracks and sloughs off in a most unsightly and smelly fashion, leading to the common practice of head-to-toe bandaging.

  7. Extreme corpulence: rank determined by mass; like the terrestrial shrew, they must consume their weight in food daily or risk diminishment and (eventual) starvation.

  8. Hirsute: Long, filthy and exceedingly greasy black and grey hair flows from every available mooring on the orc’s physique; the thick coat provides extra protection in combat as well as against the elements.

  9. Tall and slender: orcs stand a full 8 feet, eschew close-quarters fighting until their foes bristle with oversize arrows from their massive bows.

  10. Amphibious: swamp orcs display the colorful frilly gills, bulging piscine eyes and webbed digits of the aquatic newt; they operate equally well on land and water.

  11. Bug-eyes: cursed by an insect god their ancestors failed to serve properly, bulbous multifaceted eyes deliver 360 degree vision and preclude the use of helmets.

  12. Pig-nose: due to Davids Sutherland and Trampier.

About the Author

Jason Sholtis serves humanity by day as a humble social services worker but keeps evenings free for self-indulgences such as writing, drawing and playing in rock bands. D&D occupies a special place in his heart. His semi-daily blog The Dungeon Dozen focuses exclusively on random tables for the twelve-sided die.

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