Another quick half-orc post

When I was reading Save or Die! a while back, there was mention of half-orcs and half-goblins appearing in a random character generation article in the Dragon #3.  This was the article “Birth Tables for D & D” by Brad Stock & Brian Lane.  On the race table, half-goblins and half-orcs are each given  a slim chance on the “Commoner” table — a 2 or 3 on 2d6 respectively  (“Merchants” and “Gentry” cannot be either).

These new races are then barely mentioned, except that they roll 2 dice for Dexterity, Charisma, and Intelligence, and three dice for Strength, Wisdom, and Constitution.  For comparison, the other non-human races get four dice on one or two stats and Hobbits get only 2 dice on Strength.  There is no other information given on these half-orcs and goblin-men, which suggests that most players would have an idea of what these are as early as October 1976!  As far as I know no further details for playing half-orcs appear in D&D-related publications until Advanced D&D (with a mention in the Monster Manual and full information in the PHB & DMG).  I assume Tolkien is the source.

I find this Dragon article interesting, even though it is obviously neither “official” D&D material (and as I understand it, nothing in D&D was “official” until AD&D was introduced, with the explicit intention of being a codified set of rules for especially to facilitate tournaments, because original D&D so variously house-ruled), nor something Gygax, Arneson, or the other creators of D&D played with.  I still wonder where Gygax got the idea to add half-orcs, since he repeatedly expressed a certain amount of distaste for non-human and demi-human characters.  Perhaps it was something he was reluctantly talked into, like variable weapon damage!

In any case, this reading of half-orcs is actually a bit closer to the 3rd edition D&D version, but without the increased strength.  It is hard to see these working out as anything other than clerics or fighters, and I wonder if anyone in Brad & Brian’s campaigns ever chose to play half-orcs.

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Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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