The orc has long been considered to be the quintessential D&D monster. The lowly orc is almost always among the very first foes to fall beneath a heroic party's blades, and orcs often hold a special place (be it good or bad) in the hearts and minds of both players and DMs. This installment of Recurring Villainy is humbly dedicated to that cherished paradigm of sword fodder.
Thanks to the revised D&D game rules and the wonderful miniatures produced by Wizards of the Coast, however, the orc is not so lowly anymore.
Presented here are 20 encounters ranging from EL 5 to 11. Each involves the Eye of Gruumsh and/or its minions. Feel free to substitute other figures of the same CRs if you want more variety among the Eye's lackeys or to startle players who visit this area of the site regularly. Only the Eye and the Orc Champion figures are rare. If you lack the Eye miniature, replace it with a Githyanki Fighter, an Erinyes, an Ogre Ravager (my personal favorite), or some other figure of your choosing. Substitute a Bulette, a Hill Giant, or Lareth the Beautiful for the champion figure.
The Eye of Gruumsh could be up to almost anything, provided it's nefarious. He could be organizing and leading raids into settled territory, whipping up the local orc tribes into a blood frenzy, preaching holy war against the enemies of Gruumsh (elves always top that list), following clues to a mighty artifact, or seeking to bring about a prophesy. Orcs are often enlisted into the service of a greater evil, too; defeating the Eye of Gruumsh could put heroes onto the trail of something even worse.
One method to help ensure the Big Bad of this (and each) installment of Recurring Villainy survives long enough to play a major role in your campaign is never to have that NPC meet the PCs alone. Heroes are predictably unpredictable, and many cunning plots have been derailed by PCs who did something unexpectedly brilliant. Keep the Big Bad's minions nearby in case things go badly for your antagonist.
About the Author
Dale Donovan is a 15-year veteran of the gaming industry, during which time he edited Dragon Magazine, wrote or edited on every roleplaying line produced by the company (be it TSR or Wizards), and moved from rural Wisconsin to suburban Seattle and back to Wisconsin. He's worked for Steve Jackson Games, Guardians of Order, White Wolf/Sword & Sorcery, the Valar Project, Green Ronin, and Wizards, among others. He loves games, books, comics, movies, and his wonderful wife and lovely daughter.
©1995-2008 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.