By Thilo Graf
This pdf by John Wick Presents is 26 pages long, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/prelude, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving 21 pages of content, so what exactly do we get with these Orks (yeah, with “k”, just like in German!)?
You have probably read the Wicked Fantasy-series of articles in Kobold Quarterly, but just to be sure: Wicked Fantasy centres on a new takes on classic fantasy races, a reimagining so to speak. An example would be the Uvandir, genderless (but male-looking), eternal dwarves who can toil all day and night, never starve etc. In this pdf, we get an expansive take on the Orks in the vein of a widely-expanded ecology-article.
The reimagining of the race essentially makes the Orks what you’ve come to know: An evil race, created by evil gods. Orkish doctrine, for ages, had them consume their foes to take in their strength and worship pain – until they evolved. For which foe might offer more strength than one’s god? In a feat of unheard-of racial uprising, the orks stormed their god’s sacred hall, vanquished their pantheon and ate them, thus gaining their strength. (Though some sages speculate that some orkish gods may have escaped…)
Thus, via the divinely-infused bloodlines, Orks changed and diversified and had to deal with the lifting of the red haze of rage, for now, they encountered a state of mind as of yet unknown – free will.
The nomadic tribes have made tentative peace with the other races, as they seek to understand the powers their newfound freedom and the darkness of their ancestors blood offer them. Depending on the bloodline of one’s ancestors, special abilities and dispositions are available to the green-skins. 6 of these divine bloodlines are included.
The Orks can also create so-called Feth’Ork-creatures by feeding animals and beasts their blood in order to mutate the critters into allies and negate the loathing regular animals exhibit when encountered by Orks.
I mentioned the worship of pain as well and it defines Orkish culture to this date – their sacred scars, the Va, all come with their stories and knowing these has to be earned. More importantly, 5 masochistic feats enable Orks to harness the power of pain and actually get stronger via hurt, pain and punishment. I really loved these feats and while they seem to be kind of powerful, the steep price they demand is worth the benefit. 3 feats are focused on the divine bloodlines and we get a new mystery for the oracles, the so-called blood mystery, which essentially provides the tribal shamans and makes for a neat piece of writing. We also get a new archetype for barbarians and one for bards, the latter being rather interesting, as it focuses on insulting foes and bolstering allies via epic story-telling, thus hearkening back to our own world’s intricate webs of poetic allusions displayed in saga-literature and Heian romances like the Tale of Genji, to quote only two.
Editing and formatting are good, though not stellar: I did notice about 7 glitches on my first read-through and an additional pass at editing would have been nice, as some of the extensive bookmarks consist of only one letter. layout adheres to a 2-column standard and comes in full-color, with a parchment-like background and neat pieces of artwork. I really liked the writing, which makes this pdf rank among the most compelling ecology-articles I have ever read. On the other hand, though, I feel that some of the pieces of writing like the feats could be more concisely-written: I had to re-read some of the feats before I got how exactly how the crunch is supposed to work. Were I to rate only the quality of the writing, I’d settle for a higher rating, but as presented the glitches and minor hick-ups just accumulated and thus I’ll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.
Wicked Fantasy: Orks: Children of Pain is available from: