Games featuring Orcs

edited January 2009 in Story Games
Hey all,

I'm helping a friend out with a rather mammoth annotated bibliography of Orcs -- literally from their first mention in Tolkien on through into fantasy literature, games, music, and animation. Her weak spot is games, as she's not much into rpgs, so I thought I'd see what I could do about compiling a list of titles (heck, full citations would be great, but titles will work). The games can be indie or mainstream so long as they are published, and they should make more than a passing reference to Orcs.

AFAIK, the top of the gaming heap in regards to the depiction of Orcs is Burning Wheel . . .

Many, many thanks in advance!



  • There's ORX: Nasty, Brutish & Short and I've heard a lot about (but never played) Great Ork Gods, which I believe is still unpublished.
  • (Orcs predate Tolkien.)
  • Hey Scott,

    John Wick published the Orkworld

    or you can try to take look at Wizard's Warcraftseries and suplements if you like Warcraft-like orcs.
  • edited January 2009

    Don't forget:

    • Dungeons and Dragons
    • Middle Earth Fantasy Roleplay
    • Ork!
  • Are you sure about that Jason?

    I know Orke as a word appeared in some older fairy tales, but not IIRC in reference to a creature we would recognize as being an "orc" per se.

    I've always operated with the understanding that Tolkien invented the humanoid bestial good hating monster we know and love.
  • Somewhere Tolkien felt the need to indicate that orcs weren't related to the ocean (orcas).
  • There are orcs in The Fantasy Trip, too.

    Ralph, I think we can both be right. He certainly gave it his own spin!
  • The word orc predates Tolkien; the identification of that word with a race of humanoids created by and subservient to the will of a dark lord is all Tolkien. The word itself extends back through Latin ("Orcus") into Greek ("Phorcys/Phorkys") and was used to denote a singular individual, a Roman god of the underworld in the former, a Greek sea god prone to fathering monsters in the latter. Robert Graves traces Phorcys/Phorkys to some kind of neolithic sow-god or goddess, which might go a ways toward explaining the link to the Gaelic word "orc", apparently meaning "swine". The word found its way into the northern tongues and the Romance languages, where it was most often associated with -- for lack of a better term -- eaters of the dead. That the definition, I think, of its appearance in Beowulf.

    Thanks for the titles!

  • edited January 2009
    Interesting. I didn't realize the etymology of Orc went back through Orcus, although with Tolkien's vocation as a linguist I should have guessed that he wouldn't just invent the word out of whole cloth. Was the portrayal of D&D Orcs as having porcine heads (which I don't think Tolkien's did) intentionally based on the Gaelic swine connection, or is that just happy coincidence...?
  • Depends on who you ask . . . the connection didn't come as much from EGG as it did from David Sutherland III. I have a piece of a chat EGG did over on Enworld wherein someone asked him about the porcine appearance. He couldn't recall exactly, but he thought it was from a sketch DSIII showed him; later, he said he thought the Gammorean guards from SW: RotJ looked like perfect Orcs. DSIII apparently took his cue from a 76 Hildebrandt painting that depicted Orcs as a cross between monitor lizards and pigs. I can't find any earlier artwork showing Orcs with a porcine cast, nor can I find any attribution by the Bros. Hildebrandt as to what their inspiration might have been.

  • edited January 2009
    So, a short recap:

    Burning Wheel (Luke Crane)
    ORX: Nasty, Brutish, and Short (Raven Daegmorgan)
    Great Ork Gods (?) unpublished?
    Orkworld (John Wick)
    Warhammer FRP
    Ork! (?)
    The Fantasy Trip (?)

    A good list so far!
  • Shadowrun. Spelled "Orks" but, ya know, it was the eighties.
  • edited January 2009
    There are piles of D20 and D20-derived settings that contain Orcs, and tons that don't. For example, the Blood Throne setting for True20 has Orcs in it, while the Mecha vs Kaiju setting doesn't. And there are a lot of D20 and D20-derived settings out there. Should they be counted?
  • I'll have to ask her, Peter. I know if there's major Orc content (as in Orcs of Thar) it will count. I'm not sure what degree of inclusion she plans to draw the line at. One thing I'll suggest is that she run a search at Drive Thru RPG; that should give her quite a few hits (along with publication data) to explore.

  • Warhammer 40K
    Codex: Orks (from WH 40K)

    Skraag - City of Orcs
    The Slayers Guide to Orcs
    Wrath & Rage - A Guidebook to Orcs & Half-Orcs
    Fury in the Wastlands - Orcs of Tellene
    The Quintessential Half-Orc
    The Orcs of Hârn
  • GorkaMorka! The Warhammer game all about how orky orks are.
  • Posted By: JCunkleGorkaMorka! The Warhammer game all about how orky orks are.
    Needs more Dakka!
  • NO! More Shooty!
  • HoL has a page devoted to mocking the Tolkien estate and revelling in orcs being public domain stuff. No actual content, just mockery. But that's par for the course for HoL.

    Victoriana had Orcs as Zulus, I believe.

    I don't recall if there's an Orc or Orc-equivalent in Runequest/Heroquest/Glorantha or in GURPS Fantasy...
  • I think you can add Chivalry and Sorcery (sorry, my copy is burried, but with the heavy Tolkien influence in C&S and deriving from D&D, I can't see it not having orcs).

    Runequest III has orcs I think, Glorantha/RQ I/RQ II do not

  • edited January 2009
    Houses of the Blooded - anything that isn't Ven is an Ork.
  • Posted By: ScottOden
    Great Ork Gods (?)unpublished?
    Great Ork Gods is by me, and downloadable from here. There's a still mythical completed version to follow.
  • Scott,
    I have Orks.
    They are humanoid, tribal and not particularly good or evil.
    Dave M
  • If she's really that interested in Orcs, she's really going to love Orkworld. Seriously. It details ork society and why the good guys are constantly killing them (basically, the universe itself is bent against orcs. Great stuff.).
  • Earthdawn handled orcs rather well. They were not eternally violent, but a bit unpredictable in their temper since each orc had one thing that set them off. Since that one thing was unique to each individual, people had to react to orcs if they were incredibly violent. There's a good backstory for this, just as there is for each character race in Earthdawn, and a lot of other detail about their culture, too. I really recommend getting the old Denizens of Earthdawn books to anyone who designs high fantasy games.
Sign In or Register to comment.