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Tales from the Broken Lands - Orcs on the Rampage

by Greywolf-ELM

[Notice: Before reading this story. This is an EVIL group of Orcs adventuring. I will note at the top of a post, if there is killing of humans in the post. If you will be offended, please do not read, or skip the posts mentioning the deaths of human innocents. I hope that combat with human soldiers will not need to be noted. That said, please enjoy the story of the warband's adventures.]

This is a Campaign Log/Story of a warband adventuring in and about the Broken Lands of Mystara. We are playing D&D3.5 rules, and I attempt to subtly modify things as needed, hopefully without taking away from the flavour of the setting. I've posted some questions here before, and hope that you'll enjoy the story of my players' adventures. I keep this updated on a local message board but thought it would be appropriate to post here as well.

When we started this game as an alternate to the FR game we play, it was conceived to give Hellstar a break. As I had not played D&D since 2nd Edition AD&D I was a little rusty and wanted to familiarise myself with the new rules, and provide a completely different style of game.

To that effect I proposed a few guidelines:
- An Orcish warband, the party would be Evil-based, Orcs, Goblins, Half-Ogre's, Maybe a Shadow Elf, or renegade Dwarf in the party.
- There would be low healing magic in the game, and few, if any, spellcasters
- We would use the Broken Lands (Mystara) setting(modified) as I still had plenty of material for this world, and had not yet invested in any of the other gaming worlds, for all the time I have played or DM'd over the years, since the early 80's.
- We would play when Hellstar was not prepared, or preferred to play that evening. I believe we are moving towards alternating campaigns now, however.
- Not only would the party find enemies without, but from within, as there should be contention within an Orcish warband and tribe. Against the normal Taboo that characters should not hurt, maim, kill each other.
- Character death would be probable, due to the nature of Orcs and combat.

We now operate under the following guidelines as well:
- Hero dice are now awarded for heroic/anti-heroic acts
- Bonus XP awards for quotes/game notes

When we complete a session, I now post an outline of the session within a couple days, so the group can comment on them. Armed with my outline, maps, notes, adventure data, quotes, player notes, my updates will become easier.

I'll be glad to answer any questions. If not, I'll comment more about the game in a few days, and start posting updates.

This starting adventure was one of the suggested campaign starters in the Gazetteer for the Broken Lands. I turned it into a raid on a farming community, with the promise of not much gain without taking on the local watch tower. Darokin rapiers with a -1 in damage are not good and proper weapons for Orcs.


Beginning at Dusk the Vile Runes tribe is gathering quickly by the outside firepit, for Garnash One-Tusk has called for the yearly coming-of-age test to be given to the next batch of younglings in the tribe. There is an excitement in the air, as there is much discussion and argument over the fitness of the new batch of younglings to be full tribal members.

The Vile Runes, is a tribe started by Garnash One-Tusk an up and coming member of the Drippin' Blades tribe. Hoolg Redmane, the Red Orc Horde leader saw his ambition, and gave him a dangerous area of the Broken Lands to attempt to tame, 2 Tribes have failed in this area previously.

This part of Red Orcland has the Vesubian River on the Western Boundary, (With Ogre Tribes across the river on the entire bank) and the rival Fat Lip Tribe on the East. Horde lands are to the north, and the border with Darokin to the South. Any new lands for the Vile Runes must come from the Fat Lip Tribe, Darokin, or as a last resort, within the Ogre Tribe lands.
If the Tribe can hold these lands, it is theirs to keep and expand. This puts the tribe in near conflict with the Fat Lips Tribe. An older and more powerful tribe that was looking to expand into what is now Vile Runes land.

The Vile Runes Tribe is comprised of Red Orcs, Goblins, and Ogres(Half Ogres as well). There are some human slaves in the tribe used for general labour, and the occasional meal when times are hard.
Red Orcs are a sub-race of orcs, recognisable by their generally red hides, and more simian features. Red orcs are about the size of a tall human, with small round ears. They have Long, shaggy hair, bright orange to dull red. They are more muscular and aggressive than normal Orcs. Whenever possible, they favour black, studded leather armour and hoods.

Discussion and arguments about the current batch of younglings are centred around the possibility that they would make excellent tribe members, if they can just survive the trial.

The younglings are:

Gorga, a young Orc who has been training with the scouts and hunters of the tribe. His wilderness knowledge and skills mark him well as a future leader within the tribe, if he can survive the rivalries he will engender in the tribe.

Scrag, a young Orc a little more feral than some, his battle frenzies have been a sight to witness among the youngsters.

Rhgl,(Pronounced Huggle) a young Goblin with skills in fashioning weapons. If he can hone these skills into making War Machines, he will be an important member of the tribe. His ability to let others take charge is wily and calculating.

Ierkh, is a Half-Ogre/Orc cross between one of the Chiefs guards, and an older Orc female in the tribe. With his extraordinary strength he has been hard to manage by the women, and has had to endure several beatings by the males in the tribes, to get him to obey when the females need him to. His strength will make him a powerful warrior.

Drusilla, is an odd one in the tribe. She was found in the tunnels below the tribelands, left behind to die. The tribe adopted this young Shadow Elf and she's been a wild one in the lands around the tribal outpost. She is learning the hunting skills and lore of the lands to become a full member of the tribe, and not a breeder, her disfigurement has given no Orc cause to challenge the claim.

Sharraxtharkhul, is another goblin to cause contention in the tribe. This one has allied himself with a Wolf Companion, and learned to live out in the wilderness. He shows a spark of magic born of the land, and will surely draw the ire of the shaman of the tribe, if, he lives long enough to be a rival for power.
Magrax is his Wolf Companion

Tyco, is an angry Orc, found captured in Darokin Lands. His memory of the death of the Screaming Monkey tribe still haunts him as he joins up with the Orcs out of the Vile Runes tribe. He is considered pariah until he can prove to be a valued member to this tribe.

To Be added. Members of the Eagles warband kept around in case of character death, visiting players, fodder, and to round out the warband numbers. So far their morale is good, and they trust in Gorga, when he remembers to give them orders. They can see that he rewards those in the warband who do well.


Adventure Synopsis and Campaign Start

As the Vile Runes tribe gathers, Garnash One-Tusk signals for silence and the tribe quiets down. The Ogre guards flank him while he stands near his seat of respect. He speaks in a commanding voice for the entire tribe to hear.

"You who have lived under the protection of the Vile Runes, must now prove yourselves. If you do, you become full members of the Tribe. If you fail, you will be dead or cast out as pariah.... Step forth all who would be members of the Vile Runes!!"

The six who are to undergo the ritual step forward to be presented to the Chief. The tribe Shaman comes forth and begins casting his spell, waving his Gri-Gri around and dancing in the firelight.

Garnash speaks again:
"I lay upon you, the quest for weapons and armour. Bring back a suitable amount and you will win membership in the tribe."

The shaman continues dancing and wailing to Wogan the patron of the tribe, smacking each of the younglings with his Gri-Gri. Ierkh is restrained by Gorga, and Scrag from retaliating on the shaman, which would be a mistake for sure.

Garnash shouts his final commands:
"Let none aid them, on threat of death. If they return with enough armament, they will be full members. Let them die if they can not succeed. The nearest Pinkskin village is 3 days to the south, may you return as Vile Runes!!!!"

With that a war cry goes up from the tribe, and the younglings are chased from the only home they've ever known. Spears and knives are prodded to speed them along. Women and children cheering from the palisade, hurl rocks to show support.

So Begins the first adventure from the Broken Lands.