Wednesday, December 30, 2015
The Devils of Dungeonteller
I like giving classic monsters a tweak or two. In Dungeonteller Fantasy RPG, orcs are the lowest ranks of the infernal army. I decided to tie my orcs to the original meaning of the Old English word "orc", which was "demon" or "devil." And so, Dungeonteller orcs are summoned by wizards as dim-witted, ferocious minions who stick around until slain or dismissed. When I'm GMing for my kid and her friends, I play up the orcs' lack of any instinct for self-preservation, perhaps related to the existential boredom of standing around for decades guarding someone's basement. When orcs talk among themselves, they share self-administered excruciating experiences they've had, in the manner of Christopher Guest's and Billy Crystal's Willie and Frankie characters from SNL. "Talk about painful..."
When an orc has survived for a few hundred years, it gets promoted to one-horned devil. The number of horns on your head symbolizes your rank in the hellish army. I got this idea from an Irish folktale called "The Witch of One Horn" that used to scare the Bejeebus out of me as a kid. One-horned devils are big lugs who can toss you aside with a flick of their horn or jab you with a perpetually red-hot poker. If they do well, they're promoted to two-horned devils, with barbed, prehensile tails, who act as both the jailers and border guards of the infernal regions. Three-horned devils are decidedly more intelligent. They are the front-line commanders and interrogators of the devilish legion.
Orcs are in the Dungeonteller Monster Book, which is bundled into the Dungeonteller Complete PDF set linked to above. The horned devils appear in the MonsterMore monster supplement. I'm sure there are more powerful devils with even more horns, but no Dungeonteller heroes in my campaign have even encountered the two-horned variety yet, so there's plenty of time.