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Monday, August 10, 2015

Elves vs. Orcs

I've already talked in depth about orcs before, but this time I want to address a broader concept: elves and orcs. In standard fantasy clichés, elves and orcs are mortal enemies, and have been so for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. I'm not here to say that this particular cliché is wrong to use in your game—only you and your players know what's right for your game—I'm just here to expound upon this idea a bit.

So, if your setting has a bitter rivalry or an ancient war between elves and orcs, these tables can help you flesh it out and make it relevant to your players.

Racial Traits

If a player has an elf or orc PC (or if you have an important elf or orc NPC), roll on this table to give that character a direct tie-in to the elf-orc opposition.

  1. My parents were soldiers who died fighting [elf/orc] warriors.
  2. I spent years in an [elf/orc] prison camp, performing hard labor and watching others die.
  3. I witnessed bloodthirsty [elf/orc] warriors slaughter an [orc/elf] village full of noncombatants.
  4. My best friend is an [elf/orc] pacifist.
  5. I am a spy for the other race.
  6. I believe [elves/orcs] are inhuman monsters, unworthy of breathing the same air as my people.

The Feud

This rivalry between orcs and elves has been going on for at least a little while, but what started it? Which side cast the first stone, and why? Roll on this table to find out.

  1. Elves desecrated a sacred place where orcs used to commune with their ancestor spirits.
  2. Bloody Urulla, queen of the orcs, slew Eshra Ling, the elf king, in a duel.
  3. The Lost Princess of Orcs (her name is no longer remembered) left Star-upon-Earth (an elf princess) at the altar.
  4. Gurug Two-Hand (orc) accused Aelenn of Silveroak (elf) of cheating after losing a game of cards.
  5. Elven prophets spoke of the coming of eternal darkness unless the orcs are all killed.
  6. Orc politicians convinced their people to strike the elves before the elves—who they claimed were preparing a magical superweapon—could destroy them.

Status Quo

You know how it all started, but what is going on now? What are the elves and orcs doing about it? Roll on this table to find out.

  1. Orc envoys are holding peace talks with elf negotiators on neutral ground.
  2. Elf battalions are engaged with orc warbands in many places, but neither side has an advantage.
  3. A massive orc army has penetrated deep into elf territory, and elf guerrillas are trying, and failing, to slow its progress.
  4. Elf priests and magicians are unleashing the full might of their magic upon the orcs, which is destroying the lands around them.
  5. Elf diplomats are trying to secure alliances with other nearby powers, and orcs are on the march toward elven lands.
  6. Orcs are fortifying their defenses, and elves are embroiled in a border war with another nation.

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