What is the Classics Return Blog Carnival?

So, when we say the Classics Return blog carnival, what do we mean?

A blog fest, or blog carnival is a themed series of articles hosted by a prominent blog (we like to think of ourselves as one). It hosts guest articles from community members, and links to articles about the theme written on other blogs. We’ve hosted the Got Loot blog festival here before, and participated in the Lonesome Night and Winter is Coming carnivals hosted by our friends.

As for the Classics Return part, well, D&D has nearly 40 years of rich heritage, lots of expansive campaign settings to plunder ideas from, and even amongst the published settings for 4e, there is a wealth of old material just waiting to be converted. Whether you take your inspiration from the early settings of Blackmoor, Thunder Rift, Mystara, Hollow World, Savage Coast or Greyhawk, or look at the missing parts of the Forgotten Realms such as Kara-Tur or Maztica. Or venture into the gothic horror of Ravenloft or Masque of the Red Death, or be influenced by the oriental and asian settings of Al-Quadim or Rokugan. Maybe your take a more out of this word approach, with Spelljammer or Planescape, or look at very specific settings such as Birthright, Ghostwalk or Lankhmar, we want to see articles inspired by these classic settings.

Each entry benefits the 4e community as a whole, and shows WotC that there is still a massive love for the game, supported by a committed fanbase.

I started in the late 80’s/early 90’s with my brothers BECMI boxsets and the Rules Cyclopedia, and despite many house moves and a crazy ex-wife prone to destroying my stuff, I still have many of the Mystara books… So I present to you a sneak peek of the kind of material we are hoping to receive.

(c) Clyde Caldwell 1988

The Orcs of Thar

Most races consider orcs and goblin kind to be inherently evil, races whose sole existence is to attack, rape and pillage, burning the frontier towns as they sweep across the land in a tide of bloodshed. But while the orcs are a race with a history of war, they are more complex. Modern orcs are descended from a tribe of orcs that dwelt in a mountainous region of Nerath called the Broken Lands. It was a rugged landscape, of hills, mountains, narrow canyons, sun blasted wastelands, and wind scoured steppes, abandoned by the other sentient species. Even the orcs who lived here did not thrive. The lived amongst the rubble, making their homes as deep into the caves and crevasses’ as they could, nomadic hordes of darkness, fierce caravan raiders preying on whatever came close.

For centuries, the orcs endured in this homeland they called Thar, roughly translated as snapped fang, or damaged tooth. Many generations died, food was scarce and the creatures skin was constantly weathered away by the wind and rain, until orr that remained was a grey mass of muscle and scar.

One tribe, the Wogar, grew to prominence, for they were lead by a great shaman. This shaman saw visions of a blue knife carving the land before him. He led the orcs of Thar out of the broken lands, into the grasslands of the humans and forests of the elves. And still they found no blue knife. The shamans son, led the tribe onwards, and then his son, and then his son, until they reached the sea. There the last of the line of Wogar died, the orcs of Thar parted, forming new tribes and hordes that fled to the north, crossing the sea to the east, heading south into the deserts and jungles.


Average Height: 6′ 0″ – 6′ 5″

Average Weight: 200 – 230 lb.

Ability Scores: +2 Strength, +2 Wisdom or Constitution

Size: Medium

Speed: 6 squares

Vision: Low-light

Languages: Common, Giant

Running Charge: When you charge, add 2 to your speed.

Warrior’s Surge: You can use warrior’s surge as an encounter power.


Warrior’s Surge Orc Racial Power
“Spilling the blood of your enemy invigorates you.”
Encounter * Healing, Weapon
Standard Action * Melee Weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 1W + Strength modifier damage, and you can spend a healing surge
Level 21: 2W + Strength modifier damage, and you can spend a healing surge

Physical Qualities

What we consider to be Orcs are just one of the many sub species that developed when the hordes of the Wogar clan parted ways. Most have grey-greenish skin, thick muscles, dark hair and protruding fangs. Some, such as the Orcus Porcus species are fatter, with snub, pig-like noses and large spots upon their skins, while the Orcus Hyborianus are thinner, with sickly white skin, and tend to where thick furs to protect themselves and keep themselves warm.

Years of in-breeding amongst the clans has resulted in strange physical deformities, and amongst some villages of orcs, these can become so common as to establish themselves as a new racial trait for that type of orc.

Roll for 1d4 physical deformities, For each deformity, make a d20 roll and compare the result to the table below.


1 – Big Wrinkles and flabby flesh 2 – All teeth are broken
3 – Snout is covered in blue splotches and is always cold 4 – Drooling, gaping mouth
5 – Bald scalp, excessive hair everywhere else 6 – Hairy warts and furry feet
7 – Hunchbacked 8 – Hair naturally grows as a mohawk
9 – Occasional convulsions and twitchs 10 – Drooping ears
11 – Oozing lumps and pimples 12 – Oversized facial features
13 – Small horns on the head 14 – Cleft lip
15 – Drool soaked chin beard 16 – Thick blue lips
17 – Foul breath and body odour 18 – Reddish brown skin
19 – Long, thin arms 20 – Different length legs

Attitudes and Beliefs

Many orcs belong to a tribe or clan, and live in that clan serving the chieftain, who is almost always the strongest fighter. The most successful clans ally themselves with the weird boys, orcs who have gained some degree of control over arcane forces and primal spirits. These shamans act as the spiritual leaders, guiding the orcs in their following of the gods Bane and Gruumsh, and preparing the fungal brews that turn the fun loving inquisitive orcs into rampaging killing machines.

Orc Adventurers

The typical reaction to an Orc entering a city or town is their immediate killing, or at least their attempted killing by militia. Those that aren’t killed immediately are often arrested and locked away, making the live as an orc adventurer a short one. Those that succeed do so with the aid of the allies.

Roleplaying an Orc

When creating an Orc adventurer, here are a few points to consider.

You are searching. All orcs descended from the line of Thar, through the shaman of Wogar, are still searching for the blue knife that will carve a path through the land for them.

Fights are fun. You don’t fight because of bloodlust or savagery, you fight because you enjoy it and it makes you happy to wield your sword or axe.

Try the Fungi. The clans shaman is always experimenting with the mushrooms he finds, mixing a bit of Deathcap with some Blast spore, or Black tongue. Away from the clan, who can’t resist a nibble, to see what each new mushroom you find taste like.

1 comment

2 pings

  1. ObsidianCrane

    Oh you just had to get started early didn’t you? :p

  1. Weekly Assembly: The End Is Nigh | The Gamer Assembly

    […] What is the Classics Return Blog Carnival? by Adam Page at Daily Encounter: The Classics Return Blogfest runs during GenCon this year – August 16-19, 2012. This post presents a sneak peek at the type of content they’re hoping for – Mystara’s Orcs of Thar updated for D&D 4e. […]

  2. A late start to the “Classics Return” Blog Carnival » Daily Encounter

    […] text based on the material from the Orcs of Thar gazetteer from Mystara/Basic D&D –  http://dailyencounter.net/2012/07/20/what-is-the-classics-return-blog-carnival/ – though I should have added feats and racial powers to really make this an article worth […]

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