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killgore
2004-12-15, 03:18 AM
Blessings of Wrath

* *Samuel laid his head back against the bars. Naked, and shivering, he sat and listened to the screams of the previous victims of the Orcs. Looking around at the other cages, filled with people who knew they where going to die slow painful deaths, he started to count. In his cage, there was just 2 other people, both fellow pilgrims he knew, and had been travelling with (2 others had already been taking thru the curtains, and Jessie could still be heard screaming). The next cage had 2 people in it, both adventurers. One was a wizard, he had his tongue removed and his hands crushed, and like everyone else, was naked so had no spell components. His companion, a halfling, simply had his hands crushed. He’d managed to get some sort of lock pick that he’d been hiding in his mouth out, but the clumsy nature of trying to open a lock with your mouth resulted in him dropping the pick, which was now, just out of reach of the wizards mutilated hand, though they continued to try fruitlessly. Another cage had 7 humans in it, they sat huddled together for what little comfort they could manage, while their children waited their turn in another cage. The 5 kids crying helplessly in their cage was a stark contrast to the cage, bedecked with bloody entrails done up like garlands, and having the personal crest of the orc who captured him on the side, which sat a single elven boy. He looked to be about 7 or 8, but Samuel knew he had to be older, but was uncertain of the aging progress of elves. He sat there quietly, and even through he was extremely pale, he refused to give in to that fear, though Samuel was pretty certain that had as much to do with his having NO concept what-so-ever of what was about to happen to him, as it did the 3 adult elves in the cage next to him whispering at him to be strong and not give in like the lesser races. Two other cages had a mixed bag of demi-humans in them, but where shrouded enough in shadow that Samuel couldn’t make out the occupants. But the final, still occupied cage was different from the rest. That one contained a single orc in it. The leader of a failed mission to capture sacrifices for this celebration, he had a special fate in store for him.
* *Samuel sat watching the other occupants, right up until it was his turn to go thru the curtains. And there, he received the last blessing his god could give an elderly human, Samuel had a heart attack and died before the orcs could do anything to him. His final dying thought was a fervent hope that the orc responsible for bring such a weak bodied victim has himself, would suffer the fate that was supposed to be his.

The Blessing of Wrath is an Orc festival, with worship of Gruumsh at its core. This festival is possible on any game world that has Orcs as chaotic and evil creatures, like the core game does.

This horrifying ritual of pain, degradation, and humiliation, then death is practiced by Orcs worldwide. With no set date, priests of Gruumsh determine the timing by translating signs, portents, (or when they’re bored), and occasionally by commune spells. Not well liked by the other races, some effort is put into keeping the timing random.
According to the creation myths of the orcs, Gruumsh was cheated out of a choice in where his followers would live. It is said that, enraged by the actions of the other gods, he struck the ground with his spear, creating crags, rifts, and wastelands for his followers. In a fight with the elven god over this outrage, he lost his eye, earning for the elves, his undying hatred. The orcs feel that they have been unjustly abused by the other races (never considering their own actions may be at fault), and desire to destroy and humiliate others as a result. . This festival is a celebration of that anger and hatred for the followers of the gods that confined them to a miserable life.
When the time for the next Blessing is determined, the tribe in question will start to send out hunting parties between 3 weeks to 3 months in advance (depending on availability of prey). Orc hunting party leaders are held responsible for the prey they bring back, or fail to bring in at all. And since only the leader is held responsible, the other party members have an incentive to return him to the tribe, to take the place of any prey he failed to catch.
The prey that is targeted is determined by what’s in the area, how confident the hunting party leader is, as well as the point system that has developed over the centuries. The individual tribes determine how many “points” someone is worth, but elves are almost always worth more then any other race. Some tribes, for instance, will count a dwarf as being worth almost as much as an elf, simply because they feel getting a dwarf is tougher, while other tribes (mostly those who live nowhere near a dwarf enclave), feel dwarves are almost worthless. Likewise, the primary enemy of the Orcs in the area will be worth more then to other tribes. One tribe for instance, might very well be able to pull the occasional Mind Flayer in, and even other orc tribes are targeted. Also note, children are worth roughly double the number of points as adults are, they’re more fun to play with after all, and it positively destroys the moral of surrounding villages to know they couldn’t protect their young. After points are tallied, rewards are given to the best hunting parties, some directly from Gruumsh himself, in the form of unholy bonuses to rolls. The best party leader gains a +1 to all rolls for the next month, unless a elven child was captured, then the bonus lasts for an entire year. The 2nd and 3rd get a +1 to any one thing for the same time period (based on their own performance, fairness is not a factor here). All other party members in the number one slot will receive the same benefit as the leaders of the 2nd and 3rd place hunting parties, and all members receive prestige and honor amongst the tribe.
Also awarded is harems of orc women to the hunters. Depending on the size of the tribe, and the point totals involved, hunting party members may be given exclusive access to orc females of their choice (unless someone of higher rank as chosen them). Being an evil society, the orc women will not have any say in this, but they spend a great deal effort trying to attract the attention of the males in the top three hunting parties, since this is considered a great honor to be chosen.
Sometimes, if the “point” total is high enough, they gain prestige amongst other tribes as well, though this usually results in a change of leadership in the tribe. Any leader who fails to bring back prey will take their place, and their underlings all get a promotion to the next level up. Sub-leader becomes leader, ect.
Note; if the hunting party kills several priests, then no punishment is levied. This is after all, about killing the worshipers of the other gods. Besides, the tribal leaders and priests really don’t want someone who can cast commune with their god telling that god what’s going on. Even if the god won’t directly intervene, it can send messages to other followers as to where the festival is located. So known priests are generally killed.

The actual events at this festival, like so many other aspects, vary from tribe to tribe, but always include various games and sports involving the torture and mutilation of the participants. Torture and rape are common, and even if the victims are somehow rescued, they will forever be scarred. When someone dies, the tribe eats them, and sometimes, even the still living victims can get some of this “food”, depending on how long the festival will last. The party that brings in children gets to be the ones who eat them, but generosity, to the tribal chief and priest, by letting them join is rewarded. If someone is pregnant, then labor will be forced, and the leader that brought her in will be allowed to consume the baby before the mother eyes, before she starts her own torture. Any level of pain that is humanly imaginable is multiplied by a factor of ten during this festival. The only saving grace for the victims is that the orcs are usually on a timetable, plus they are consumed with religious fervor (or just plain bloodlust), so they tend to get carried away, and kill their victims too fast.
One game that is always fun is trying to get the children to help in the torture of their parents. Saying and doing whatever is necessary to convince the kids to help is seen as a useful, and fun skill. This not only brings chuckles for the thought, but also makes it so the parent in question dies hating his or her own child, and the last memory the child has of their parents (for the rather short amount of time until they’re tortured to death) is of the parent cursing and shouting obscenities at them.

With the festival lasting between 1 to 5 nights, the entire tribe is thrown into chaos. Decorations, macabre as they may be, are everywhere. Everyone participates, even the pit-mothers (the orcs who monitor and teach at the growing pits, where the children are raised) can participate, generally by donating a couple of dozen young orcs to the torture pens. This is mostly for amusement, but has the added benefit of cowing the other brats, and weeding out those who seem weak (I.E. those who don’t seem evil enough for the tastes of the pit mothers). The children lucky enough not to have angered the pit-mothers get lessons in torture, and the really lucky ones will be asked to come on stage, and help with the torture of a victim, and if enough victims are captured, the orc children are even given some to form a sort of junior torture tournament. The loser of course, gets tortured to death himself.
Great amount of alcohol is consumed, and Orcish bards will sometimes even play dance music on their great drums, or even various instruments made from body parts. One, much sought after, magic item useful here is something that records sound. Being able to record screams, and play them back in the form of symphonies is something very welcome in the tribe.
It should be noted, although all the orcs in the tribe will watch and enjoy the spectacle, most will not participate, though that is due more to the fact that there is almost never as many victims as members of the tribe. Most hunting parties never return. This means that the majority of the tribe are spectators, and spend most of the time getting drunk, gambling, dancing (orcish style), fighting, and breeding.

Gamebird
2004-12-15, 02:30 PM
Huh. We need a new category of festival: Festival You Most Do NOT Want To Be Involved In. :'(

killgore
2004-12-16, 02:50 AM
Festival You Most Do NOT Want To Be Involved In.
So, did my discription live up to my flavor text?

Gamebird
2004-12-16, 02:07 PM
Not quite as good, honestly, but I'm not sure what to change to make the description as good as the flavor.

Gorbash Kazdar
2004-12-16, 07:40 PM
The flavor text is excellent, but I think you need some sort of additional gimmick behind the whole festival to really make it interesting. In all honesty, it just strikes me as another "evil orcs do stuff because they're bad" sort of thing.

I do like the level of detail, however macabre, but it needs a bit more depth.

And I agree with Gamebird about the need for a new category, especially given her entry to go along with this one!

killgore
2004-12-21, 01:44 AM
Posted by: Gorbash_Kazdar Posted on: Dec 16th, 2004, 7:40pm
The flavor text is excellent, but I think you need some sort of additional gimmick behind the whole festival to really make it interesting. In all honesty, it just strikes me as another "evil orcs do stuff because they're bad" sort of thing.
In all honesty, that's pretty much it. Orcs are evil, vile creatures, with no redeeming values what so ever. This is an example of one of their festivals that celebrate this fact.
BTW, I modified it to include a little of their creation myth. Has that took up a several page article in Dragon many years ago, I didn't feel like typing it all out, but after some discussion with a couple of freinds of mine, I decided to include a little of it as backround material.


I do like the level of detail, however macabre, but it needs a bit more depth.
I'm at a loss as to how. Belive me, I'm thinking about what you said, but I really don't want to go into to much detail, my mind isn't twisted enough.

Gamebird
2004-12-21, 02:10 PM
* *In all honesty, that's pretty much it. Orcs are evil, vile creatures, with no redeeming values what so ever. This is an example of one of their festivals that celebrate this fact.
...
* *I'm at a loss as to how [to add depth]. Belive me, I'm thinking about what you said, but I really don't want to go into to much detail, my mind isn't twisted enough.

Depth is not the same thing as detail, though they are related. Depth would give the reasons behind a person's action. Detail tells me exactly when he swung his sword, what technique he used, which body part it severed, etc. Depth tells me why he was fighting this guy, how the events of his life led up to this point, and so on.

"Because he's evil!" is a reason, but it's not a good one for purposes of telling a convincing story. In a really good story, you hate the villain because the villain has made a conscious choice to do something that hurts you, often because it makes the villain happy to see you hurt. If you can get inside the mind of a school yard bully, then you have the key to portraying a realistic villain that people hate.

The bully doesn't care so much that he gets your lunch money - he cares that you're humiliated. He cares that he's shown to be dominant. The bully is the flip side of the hero. The hero also wants to be dominant. Note they are competing for the **same thing** (remember that concept of limited resources?) and in a lot of cases the only meaningful difference is point of view, though in our culture it's standard to ascribe a lot of virtues to the hero and perversions to the bully.

Perhaps the text would benefit from talking about how this ritual changes the orc tribe. It seems to allow them to weed out the "weak" (ie, non-evil) members. Does it make them proud to be orcs? Does it make them happy with their self-concept? Is it something they really look forward to, because of the risk, the chance to show their courage and skill to their peers, the chance to gain the favor of their god, the chance to prove themselves worthy of being called an orc?

Try to avoid "because they're evil" and replace it with "because of these circumstances, they find being evil is the most comforting and rewarding thing they can do".

Gorbash Kazdar
2004-12-21, 09:41 PM
Gamebird hit the nail right on the head.

I accept that the orcs are vile, evil beings - heck, with all the settings that recast orcs as being less inherently bad, it's a nice change of pace! But, without some sort of background and motivation, the whole thing seems contrived. Why do the orcs choose this method to show/revel in their vileness, versus, say, simply wiping out the elves altogether, or summoning demons, or capturing one specific individual of importance to torture and kill?

The orcs might kill and torture and maim on a regular basis just because they think it's fun, but there has to be some deeper reason behind a significant event like a festival; otherwise, this entry is just "a day in the life of an orc."

killgore
2004-12-22, 01:59 AM
Points accepted. I'll try and work on them, but I really don't want to get to in depth into their religion (which is what this is based on) when the article I took it out of was quite long and involved, and I'm not even sure I still have the magazine.
As for the evil being the reason bit, that was somewhat facisious. I decided to make a festival based on an evil race/religion, and when narrowing things down, decided on orcs (I'm really tired of stuff on drow). So in a way, yes it is becuase they're evil, but that's only the reason they get a right up from me.
Back to the drawing board to see if I can add more to this.