Friday, October 29, 2021

Cyclopes & Tales from the Smoking Wyrm...


(Warning for shameless self-promotion post!) Hey, I am on a kickstarter! That is thanks to the awesome crew of the Smoking Wyrm who were gracious enough (or mad enough) to let me play with their Trolls for DCC RPG.

This is a troll, by Paul Bonner.

You see, everything started with Cyclopes. Not any cyclopes, but the true ones, from Krull (the first and only D&D movie). Basically, I created a Cyclops class for DCC RPG. In Krull, cyclopes are a cursed folk who traded one of their eyes with the Beast in exchange for the power to see the future. However, they were deceived and the only future they can see is their own deaths. To represent that mechanically, I change how the Luck stat works for them because Cyclopes are DOOMED! Doom works as a variant Luck if you will. It is less versatile but more powerful than normal Luck. However, when you Luck runs out (i.e. you reach Doom zero) your Cyclops dies.

I friend of mine (and fellow judge) loved that approach and encouraged me to use it to represent the fading of Elder Races from the Tolkien imaginarium. The result is this post on not-Tolkien Elves and Dwarves and their own racial Ability Score instead Luck. At this point I had basically defined that Luck is a thing for “common folk” such as Halflings and Humans. Other races have a different stat and mechanic.

This is ALSO a troll (or two trolls actually), by Ward.

If you liked any of the above, you will definitely be interested in this 4th zine of Tales From the Smoking Wyrm. I was given the chance to create the racial Ability Score for Trolls. These mythological creates are so varied, each one so different from the other (ranging from elven-like beauty to grotesque giants), that only one concept could represent their racial stat – the Weird. I also wrote an open scenario for a Troll party to explore. However, the real deal is the authors’ amazing take on Trolls as a character class for DCC RPG. 

If you are interested in any of the above, please consider backing. You won’t be disappointed.

Did I told you that the kickstarter art is from John Cobb?

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Crawling Ones, a new DCC RPG class!

Happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes. For…the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth’s pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.

-         The Festival

You are the worms that, after eating enough corpses, come together and become something more than the diminished sum of their parts. Crawling Ones are what happens when maggots and worms feed on body (and soul?) of spellcasters. Over the centuries all that eldritch power builds up and usually it just requires one more corpse, spell misfire or arcana calamity before a Crawling One shows up.

Yes, this is the famous Worm That Walks and the main inspiration is Gareth Hanrahan’s amazing Black Iron Gods Trilogy where spellcasting is practically magic plutonian – it is powerful, but deadly and poisoning; and most humans can’t stand much of it before burning out or dying it. Experienced sorcerers are rare and extremely careful. Other races fare better in spellcasting such as Ghouls, but now one beats the Crawling Ones’ natural gift for it. I could go on and on about the origins of the Worm That Walks but someone one did that better, so take a look at TV Tropes and open the tabs on Tabletop Games, where you can the find the origins of the critter back to it’s Call of Cthulhu origin (besides a lot of other cool games.

The idea here is a DCC RPG class that you can use since level 1, it could even be used to continuing play with a 0-level character that didn’t survive his Funnel, but whose death triggered the emergence of a Crawling One. Is the Crawling One the soul of the dead character? Maybe a bit of that soul mixed with others eaten before? Or perhaps – as in Gareth Hanrahan’s Black Iron Gods – they really are their own bizarre thing, an entire race of worm-sorcerers who feeds on the memories of the dead.

The class herein try to play on all those angles, leaving the final answer to the player and Judge. This is a mash-up of D&D, Black Iron Gods and Kill Six Billion Demons (because I absolutely LOVE Gog Magog, which is like the uber-epic-Joker-version of a Crawling One).

So, to the Crawling Ones Class…

"There is no mask!"

Hit Dice: d4. On physical combat a Crawling Ones are ridiculously easy to put down.

Attacks and Action Die: Again, like a Wizard. Your Critical Hit dice and table never improves, Crawling Ones are physically puny.

Saves: Crawling Ones are adaptable. They start with their saves as a Wizard, but when they REST for at least 8 hours they can “change” their saves between Fort, Will and Save, representing the worms rearranging and adapting.

Weapons: all one-handed weapons. The only ranged weapon that you can eventually master are crossbows. No thrown weapons.

Armor: None.

Conquering Worm: you are a mass of worms, so as long as one survives you are fine. At any moment a Crawling One can use an Action Die to scatter itself over the area. In this “unassembled” form they are immune to anything that is not an energy area attack. However, they do take a long time to reform.

A Crawling One risks death or a Roll the Body check only when brought to 0 hit points or less by an energy area attack (fire, acid, lightning, and other forms, like pure magic energy). Attacks from really big creatures also fit (Judge’s call, but this should be rare and forewarned to the player).

Otherwise, when brought to 0 hit points or less you require 1d6 turns to reform. You reduce this time to 1 turn by suffering 1d6 points of damage to Stamina AND Strength.

You are immune to diseases. Finally, if hit by a poison attack, instead of rolling a save you can “expel” the poisoned worms by suffering 1d6 Stamina damage.

Eldritch Might: Crawling Ones can spellburn any Ability Score to cast spells, not only physical ones.

Burning Magic: you ALWAYS must spellburn at least 1d3 points of damage to cast any spell. If a spell naturally requires at least 1 spellburn, the Crawling One don’t need to pay anything extra (yes, finally Chill Touch is not useless… actually, it might be a Crawling One spell).

Dead Memories: your memories are scattered through the worms and its hard to focus. You are not trained in any skill, but you can burn 1 point of Intelligence to become trained for 1 turn in things related to magic, worms, dead (and un-dead) things, graveyards (and the dungeons below them), and ghouls and other “rivals”. As usual, as the Judge.

A Mass of Horrors: you are disgusting and unnatural. Animals will flee in horror if they sense or smell you. Predators will attack you in rage if cornered. You are untrained in any social checks against humanoids (except intimidating attempts). However, you are trained in social checks against all un-dead, even mindless ones, and can try to avoid them or negotiate with them (Judge’s call). You can be turned by Law and Neutral Clerics.

Worm That Walks: you are a mass of worms and can thus pass through any place that an individual worm could given time. If time is not of essence, you could pass through a keyhole. To affect anything physically using your Strength or Agility you need to be fully assembled, which usually require 1d6 turns.

Corpse Eater: you can feed on one humanoid corpse during 1 turn to do one of the following (a) heal 1 Hit Dice; (b) heal your level in Ability Score damage (distributed as you choose); (c) gain your level in trained skills that the corpse possessed (Judge’s call) for 1 day; (d) gain 1d3 questions related to things that that corpse knew.

Finally, you can devour a corpse for magic power. This takes longer, usually 1 turn per HD/level, but it grants you 1 “spellburn point” per HD/level. These “spellburn points” last for 1d6 hours after you feasted. These are not cumulative (i.e. you can’t devour an entire village… of course, the Judge is welcome to create some grotesque Quest for the Impossible just to allow you to do that. May the Gods have mercy on her soul.) 

In Unhallowed Ground: you can only regain hit points by eating corpses (or by magic).

Worm spellburning! RUN!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

I rolled my first (space) dragon!

Actually, my first rolled dragon AND space dragon. So, my players have been stuck in the Purple Planet for a year in our campaign. They have in the last session reached that status of “Warlods of the Purple Planet”, creating a domain in the middle of the sandbox, between the Peak of the Ancients and the northern deserts. To make a long story short, they started by clashing against warbands of both major houses from Peril on the Purple Planet and then running away. That was made ridiculous easy (and created a very chaotic sandbox) because the Mercurial Magic effect rolled by the party’s warlock (none other than this poor guy) triggers a teleport of 1-6 hexes in a random direction every time he casts Sleep. So, after some (literal) zig-zag they ended up finding the Tomb of Sotark, the Destroyer (from Tombs of Ancients), almost found the City of Smoke, pillaged (and lost) lots of relics, murdered Nam-knir, the Black Queen (a potential ally), allied with the Rider of the Wasteland (potential enemies) and finally took over the Servants to the Cauldron (all from the amazing Purple Planet Companion). Because I was running a sandbox, they also missed encounters (such as with the Skymasters patrols). There was also a lot more craziness going, but based on our campaign, such as celestial nemesis, Yog-Sothothery, references to Clark Ashton Smith, comics etc.

What happened, basically, is that after 5 months of campaign I decided that I wanted to create a major player for the sandbox, one with a random location (and which changed locations quite often). I created 2 rogue Ascended Masters and a small kith house that kept ancient healing technology, but I also decided to use a dragon! Yes, a dragon in the Purple Planet. I love the monster tables from the DCC Core Rulebook, so I decided (in true sandbox fashion) to randomly generate a dragon.

To my surprise I ended up rolling a young dragon (although one about the size of an elephant), with just 6HD and 13 years of age. However, to make things interesting, this dragon’s breath was a save versus poison or you are dead. Nice! It AC was just 17, but it has a rusting hide, destroying every metal weapon that touched it. Also nice! It has two unique powers: a dust cloud that dealt suffocation damage and the power to grant a Luck Boom (+1 permanently on luck).

With those results in mind I started my favorite part: making sense out of this chaos. Considering that we are playing the Purple Planet I decided to build a space dragon. Because we are dealing with a young and small species, I used the aesthetics of a gem dragon to describe him: exotic and alien for players used to chromatic/metallic dragons (and also wrongfully assuming that this particular space dragon would have psionics powers). The dragon would have crystalline, gossamer like wings (but razor sharp), and its scales would be like green-blue gems, its eyes shinning with the same cold light of the stars. The dragon would not speak but use a limited form of telepathy (but no mind reading, although the dragon would suggest that to manipulate the players). Because dragons are vanity and pride incarnate, this dragon would also pretend to be older, wiser and powerful.

I changed the breath weapon to a “crystallizing breath”. Targets have to succeed at a Fort save (like poison) or be changed instantly to crystal (the good thing is that the party can try to find a way to reverse the crystallization).

The unique power of suffocation was eve better: I decided my space dragon would open a small hole in the upper atmosphere and drag the vacuum of space, creating the suffocation effect. As a side effect, I decided that this unique power could be see from afar, like a strange haze in the atmosphere in the shape of an inverted funnel (image a slightly dark tornado upside down). In fact, during the campaign the players would often see the dragon using this power 2-3 hexes away and wonder what was happening.

The Luck Boom acted as “small patron bond”, blessing a character as an Agent of the dragon (I was tempted to use the rules from DCC Lankhmar here).

The rusting hide was perfect as it is.

That said, here is Opulent Nebulous Resplendence (or Opuneres for short).

Age: Young (just 13 !)

Size: Elephant

HD: 6d12+12 (42 hp)

Speed 40 ft.

Daily Breaths: 1 (Poison, save vs Fort or dies as your body is crystallized)

Action Die: 2d20

Attack: +9 (bite 1d8+1d3*, claw 1d12+1d3*) (Critical 1d10)

(*House rule: I usually add the dragon’s bonus to attack to its damage rolls, in this case this is a d3)

Saves: all +6

AC: 17 (rusting hide; magic weapons are theoretically immune)

Unique Power: Vacuum Zone (like dust cloud, 1d4 stamina due to suffocation)

Unique Power: Luck Boom +1 permanently (the dragon places one of its gem-like scales in the target’s forehead)

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Animal-Variant God Seeking Glorious Purpose, a DCC RPG Class! (And hopefully the longest-named class ever… see? GLORIOUS PURPOSE!)


Justicia, Azi Dahaka, Cthulhu, Bastet, Loki, Khorne, Ares, Tiamat! That is you! You are a god(deess)!... in the cannon/official/corebook timeline of Existence anyway. However, here you are the Animal-Variant version of the God(dess), originated in a displaced/erased/even-more-gonzo variant timeline, so it is hard to get the message across. You were hidden from cosmic forces that seek you demise (mostly those jerks from Balance) because they said you are an offense to Existence. Balderdash! Now it is the time to reveal to the world of your Coming and of your goal of GLORIOUS PURPOSE (or something of equal grandeur!). No more time hiding as some lowly farm animal for a fool that got himself killed in a Funnel.

This is a (obviously) gonzo class for DCC RPG and a homage to the amazing Loki series from the MCU. Not playtested, as usual, but hopefully playable.

The Class

Hit Dice: d6. You do not actually die when your reach 0 hit points, but a Watcher appears and takes you away in that moment of weakness. You cannot roll the Body. If you reach 0 hit points, They get you.

Attack: +1 per level.

Saves: as a Halfling.

Action Die: as a Halfling.

Animal Mien: Besides one weird aspect of your choice (colour, a crown, horns etc.) you look like a normal small animal (a chicken, cat, dog, a big rat, a small crocodile etc.). You have all the natural traits of the chosen animal. You cannot use any weapon or armor.

You cannot speak humanoid tongues, but for strange reasons one guy in the party can talk with you. If he/she dies, you must mimic to communicate or think on something else. It takes a month after that fool’s death to teach “High Speech” to a second fool. You can talk with other animals of your species but you find it demeaning.

Small, Fast, and Sneaky: you add your level to hide, sneak, initiative, and any checks to avoid or escape a grapple. Your natural AC is 13 plus your level due to your speed and size. You can move through opponents in melee of human size or bigger and even disengage from melee without any harm. If some one attack you with a range attack you can burn 1 Luck to roll a Luck check, if you succeed the range attack is rerolled against a random target within 5 feet of you (or the biggest one, Judge’s call). You are so small that when you are hit, you can choose to be knockdown and throwed away, if you do you take half damage from the attack but lose one Action Die for your next turn (which might leave you without actions).

Nasty Bite: it doesn’t matter your animal form, you have one nasty natural attack, usually a bite. It deals 1d4 plus your level in damage and the Critical Range is 20, increasing by one for every level thereafter (for example, 19-20 at 2nd level). You roll your critical hits in the Dragon Table, following the dice progression of the Wizard class (if you ever roll a 14 or anything related with breath weapon, consider that your “breath weapon” is 1d6 per level).

Cosmic Knowledge: you know a lot of stuff that an animal should not be aware off. Any Intelligence check related to arcane, divine, and cosmological stuff is always trained for your (i.e. roll a d20).

Divine Aid Yourself: the advantages of being a (animal variant) god is that you can get your own miracles, thank you! Roll Divine Aid as a Cleric of the same level. Every time you fail, the chance of Divine Disapproval range increases as normal for a Cleric. However, here a Divine Disapproval is not an angry god (you are the angry god after all), but actually it means that Existence has noticed your offensive state if being and sends something to take care of you. Within the next 24 hours the Judge should use a monster or roll a critter – a Cosmic Hunter – sent by Balance to get you. This creature has a number of HD equal to your Disapproval total and it can track you to your location with a precision of 30 feet (i.e. it can find where you are, but no exactly the position).

Godly Domain: choose a godly domain below.

War: you can burn 1 Luck to gain one d6 Mighty Deed of Dice (as a Warrior) for 1 turn. Whenever you roll a Strength check to break, lift or do a Strength feat, add +1 Die Step bonus. 

Trickery: you can burn 1 Luck to create an illusion of a small trinket or animal within 30 feet of you (if no one is looking at the location at the moment). The illusion can move, make sounds and act normally, but it is just an illusion. You can also use d3 Luck to create one small object (nothing bigger than a dagger) that is real for 1d4 minutes. The Judge might allow bigger objects but these will require d3 Luck and d6! Stamina (the dice explodes and might kill you) and maybe even a d20 check, using your level. 

Law: you can either Lay on Hands or Turn Undead. This increases your Divine Disapproval normally. 

Chaos: you can Spellburn to roll a Invoke Patron spell! (Any Patron that you know, you start the game knowing one Patron and must Quest for the Impossible for more, you can only cast Invoke Patron, no spells or Patron Bond; a Judge should give a bonus for style if an Animal Variant of, for example, Azi Dahaka, tries to Invoke the True Azi Dahaka!)

Minions: your obvious godly presence attracts (un)worthy minions. These are 0-level hirelings with fanatic morale. One per level! (You must Quest for the Impossible for more and in fact a cool quest might give you a cleric that follows you!). If a Minion dies, you usually get a replacement between adventures. They will carry you, feed you, and carry your stuff. In combat, they are your meat shield (Magnanimous judges might allow you to burn 1 Luck to redirect an attack from you to an adjacent Minion). Be careful, if you ever roll a Fumble within sight of your Minions, the Judge might ask for Luck roll to verify if any of your fanatics “changes” heart and betray you.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Races/Ancestries from my kids’ games!

I posted last year how I started running RPGs to my kids, first to my daughter and then to her and my boy. I would often craft mini games, using lots of props, physical activities, and miniatures (how I miss my Lego!). Also, I would often keep things open, because they needed room to use imagination to a degree that normal RPGs are usually confining. Since 2019 I managed slowly to move to a more authentic RPG experience, with a Theatre of the Mind style of game (my favorite one!). Right now, I am finding myself in the strange situation where my kids love table-top RPG (yay!)… but only those that I write and prepare specifically for them. I just don’t see them opening any of my RPG books (and I do try to encourage them into my collection, specially D&D and other d20s). A few weeks ago I finally managed to help them create their first character sheets (they usually would tell me what character they would like to play and I would finish the sheets for them). We are now playing Inuyasha, using Advanced Fighting Fantasy. Before that we were playing our second-ever campaign of a game that I fondly call Dragon Ball FKR. The Free Kriegsspiel Revolution (FKR) really opened my eyes on the idea of “play worlds, not rules” and I also got to run a few D&D-style games for my kids.  For the latter I wanted something that they could sit at the table and play right away (I would call this a “Zelda: Breath of the Wild” approach… and yes they love the videogame). FKR is perfect for that! In our second FKR game my kids basically just choose a race/ancestry, then I run them through a Funnel (none other than a reskinned version of DCC RPG’s Portal Under the Stars). After the Funnel, they picked “classes” in a very loose sort of way and we started an adventure that I took from Sly Flourish's Fantastic Adventures. At that point I had printed the second page of D&D 5E’s character sheet and they filled it as required DURING the game session (for example: when they needed a Dex check, I would often ask them to roll 3d6 for Dex during the game to figure out the value). I tried to keep dice rolling to a bare minimum (following OSR/FKR principles). Opposed checks were also used, in the best FKR fashion (2d6 opposed). For some checks, if we had a defined stat (like the aforementioned Dex) I would ask for a roll under d20. After all, I was also trying to teach them the barebones of D&D. I didn’t used Hit Points yet, only FKR Hits (they usually started with 3). Most attacks dealt 1 Hit, with big monster or critical hits dealing 2 (but the fiction was all that mattered to determine the impact of a hit). Recently, they showed a desire in knowing more about levels, so I might start doing something in that regard (that is, after we play a bit more of our Inuyasha Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG).

…sorry about the big resume, this is a post about the Races/Ancestries that I use at my kids’ fantasy games. These days I prefer an approach to Race/Ancestry like the ones used in 13th Age and Five Torches Deep (especially the AMAZING Origins supplement). The various GLOG hacks are another wonderful way of using Races/Ancestries for flavor with usually just one or two iconic rules (the rest left to the narrative). As usually, the Red Box Hack, Troika!, Tequendria, hopefully Maze Knights and a score of OSR blogs are another source of references in this regard.

Here is the current list of Races/Ancestries, followed by their iconic abilities (I tried to be as system neutral as possible). I am tempted to use them in other RPGs with my (adult) players to see the result. Because most are taken from famous sources, I placed a few links and didn’t waste time describing them.


The beloved of the Goddess who might (or not) be Elven-related. Yes, right out of Zelda (and I have to find some time to get the other races in!). My kids love them! Hylian Heroes are considered exceptional and thus have a closer link to their creator goddess, Hylia.

Ability: Once per game session, a Hylian can prey to the Goddess to find the answer to a simple YES or NO question. The answer comes as an insight or inspiration.


Another favorite of my kids (and mine!). Sayans are belic and though. They usually play the role of invaders in most of my games. Noble bloodlines of Sayans, it is said, become dreadful Oozaru (giant apes) under the moonlight, but that could be a myth.

Ability: Sayans get stronger just before you think you defeated them. If brought down in combat, a sayan will rise the next round (with 1 Hit Point, Hit, Vitality Level etc.) and with Advantage (roll twice, takest highest) on all combat checks for that round. Sayans are paralyzed if someone grabs their tail!

The ability to become a berserker giant ape is a good middle-level power. This requires a tail!


This race of mystics came from another world and are the source of all kind of psionic and magic techniques, from healing to the legendary Fusion Technique.

Ability: Nameks can reattach an amputated member and stretch their limbs to triple their length.

The ability to transfer their vitality to another target is a cool low-level power. Full regenerations should be either middle-level and costly, or high level. Fusion is very rare, but definitely a high-level technique.


My kids love Super Mario, so armored man-turtles are definitely in! Use your favorite take on Tortles (Mystara, Red Steel, 5E etc.). In our campaigns Koopa Heroes are renegades that have forfeited their evil master, an elder turtle-dragon god-king (whose hoard is made of princesses, not gold).

Ability: Koopas are naturally armored and that is a big advantage (full plate-level).


Gregarious frogmen that love chivalry or daring deeds. I don’t have any idea where they came from, but the visual is totally from Chrono Trigger.

Ability: to jump REALLY high and a prehensile tongue are Froggies’ obvious advantages.


Classic Tolkien-visual, but also inspired by Castle Falkenstein and King of Dungeons. Dwarves here are loyal, steadfast, and bullheaded. In other words, if you have a Dwarf ally, he is your best friend (even if you don’t want one).

Ability: Dwarves are immune to fire… actually they are not only immune but their hair is flammable. That gives them a very Heavy Metal visual but being “on fire!” tires them quickly.


Yes, Hobbits. Not halflings. They are 100% pure Tolkien. The best cookers in the world (and their food is magical).

Ability: when a Hobbit wants to move silently that is also magical. They REALLY are furtive and quiet.


The visual here is Lodoss War. Elves are magical and otherworldly, nature-loving heroes. Chaotic as you can get and very rare.

Ability: when no one is watching an Elf can teleport. This is not actually teleport, it is more that an Elf really is more “there” than “here” and when there is no one watching they often change position when you least expect it (they can teleport to any place in sight that they could walk to). Finally, an Elf is half-spirit and can try to talk to nature spirits (trees, rocks, rivers etc.). This often requires a lot of time and maybe a lot of singing and dancing. Nature spirits are weird and might not have the information most mortals are looking for.


Finally, the strangest of all: Humans. Also called the Hungry or Hollow Ones, the Devourers. Humans are everywhere, want everything and are NEVER satisfied. Their god(dess), if any, is Ambition. Other folk believe that humans have a hole where their heart or soul should be.

Ability: Humans are immune to magic. Yes, immune. They cannot be touched by it and that is why they crave magic more than anything. Most become monsters to learn magic, doing terrible things (liches, vampires, half-demons, hags, ogres, the list goes on and on). The safest way for humans to learn magic is to gain a Familiar or Animal Soul. That is always a small animal that follows the Human and is their link to the magic realms. A human with a Familiar can learn magic and even those that don’t learn it often have some knack linked to their Familiar. For example: a human with a Falcon Familiar can talk to birds and one with a Fish familiar never drowns (but can’t breath underwater). Capturing a Familiar gives you power over the Human and killing a Familiar is something terrible for both the Human and the Killer.

P.S.: This take on Humans is supposed to be radical. Humans are different, they lack something. Those that want to be part of something greater get a Familiar. Those that want to be immune to magic don’t. And immunity here is open to the Gamemaster and work both ways. In my games that means you can’t be hurt directly by magic, but indirectly is fine (charm/domination won’t work, you can walk through a magic barrier… but summon a demon and send that demon to kill you will work). Remember, “normal” Humans are immune to all magic, thus they can’t be healed by a spell or use magic items.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

KILL BILBO, a Crazy Hack for DCC RPG


You’re no hero (oh boy, definitely NO!).


a Uruk reaver,

a Snaga cutpurse,

a Warg Rider,

a tight-lipped Voidcaller, master of the Black Tongue.


You seek the Boss’ precious treasure and man-flesh,

winning it with sword and cunning,

caked in the blood and filth of your own kin – your best friends and worst enemies.


There are treasures to be won in the lands of the Free People of the Middle-Earth,

and you shall have them,

because you will…



You have toiled and dug deep in the most barren and dangerous lands of the Middle-Earth. You have fought for ages against Elven-scum and Dwarf-beasts. You have savored man-flesh after scourging their kingdoms from the face of the world.

And now, how dare the Boss send the Spooks instead of your team!? You am going to prove to the Boss that you can get the Job done!...

…of course, what is the Job?

The High-Ups in Lugbúrz won’t tell you (even after torture!). But you know, yes! A “Bilbo” has stolen something precious from the Boss. Maybe something powerful. You am going to get it back! (before those damn Spooks from Morgul, that is!) The Bilbo is something small, like human-spawn, with hairy feet, with lots of bagginses or pockets … so it is probably a burglar! Yes! A Bilbo is a half-man-thief. And your pack am going to find and kill the Bilbo!

A brief Orc vocabulary:
Boss = Sauron
Lugbúrz = Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower
Spooks = Nazgûl


You are Orcs in Middle-Earth, on a lonely mission to hunt down Bilbo Baggins and the precious gift he carries, to get it back for your Boss. You are going to cross the Middle-Earth into human, dwarven and elven lands to find it. You will use all your cunny, strength, and “evilness” to succeed!

Against you are arranged not only the Free People of the Middle-Earth but also monsters and your own Kin, either trying to get ahead of you or working for the Nazgûl (the only creatures Sauron trust to find and carry the Ring back).

I am not going to waste my time describing the setting: this is Middle-Earth (book, comics, movie, RPG versions etc. – use your favorite take!). Ideally, you would start the game in the end of the road sought by the Fellowship of the Ring – in Lugbúrz itself, the Dark Tower! You first missions should be to evade Orc patrols that might interfere with your goal and leave Mordor. If you are lucky (more on that later) you can reach “the Bilbo” before the Spooks get a sniff on you. Your only allies are your fellow pack-members (the other PCs).

Yes, the Ring is not with Bilbo, but what do you expect from Orcs. They didn’t receive the memo (that went to the Nazgûl). But confusion is part of the fun!


Your pack starts big! (but not for long) A Funnel in the best DCC RPG tradition! Roll four 0-level Orcs for each player. The DCC RPG Core Rulebook for 0-level characters work here, except for the following:

First, roll two d6s of different colours for each Orc.

One d6 is the “good die”, the other is the “bad die”.

Each die indicates which stat is affected: 1 – Strength, 2 – Agility, 3 – Stamina, 4 – Personality, 5 – Intelligence and 6 – Hate! (yes, “Hate!”, more on that later).

The “good stat” is rolled with 4d6 (maximum 18).

The “bad stat” is rolled with 2d6.

If both die comes with the same number, ignore this rule.

Orcs live hard lives and most die miserably. The “bad stat” reflects which attribute was crippled by your upbringing and the “good stat” which one showed how you managed to survive. They also can be used as roleplaying tools.


Yes, Orcs can have a REALLY low Stat. What that means? I am glad you asked it.

- Strength 2 means you can only carry 1 item on each hand and NOTHING else. However, you are so puny and pathetic that you are going to be the target of an attack only if no other target is available (of course, if you attack someone forget this).

- Agility 2 means you roll a 1-5 natural roll on Agility Skill checks that is a Fumble. The Fumble should be comic and should probably hurt the closet ally or Minion (more on Minions soon). The “good news” is that you are so clumsy that if you roll a Fumble in combat (natural 1) ONE target in melee with you also suffers a Fumble (you are a walking disaster).

- Stamina 2 means you have to stop and take breath every other round (i.e. you only act once every other round in combat). However, you can play dead as a pro.

- Personality 2 means you are an animal and humanoids react to you the same way people would to a rabid dog. However, natural beasts treat you as predator and will avoid or (at first) won’t attack you.

- Intelligence 2 means you cannot speak any sentence with more than one word! The good news is that there is practically no difference between your brain and a rock (you are immune to charm and mind control, but not fear or madness).

- Hate! 2 means that you are constantly at the point of Burnout (more on that later) and operates on frustration and obtuseness alone. You are more bull-headed than a bull. Every time you miss an attack you add +1d4 to your next attack roll until you succeed. That is cumulative.


Roll either 1d8 twice and choose or 1d10 once (Orcs start with one weapon, one ration and one simple item of their choice, like a rope or a torch – or the Judge can roll their favorite table):

1 – Lugbúrz: you know about Sauron, his Captains and main servants, and you can identify marks of different Orc bands or direction to Orc Enclaves (or even the lair of powerful monsters). You are usually good at bossing around other Orcs.

2 – Half-Orc: you are an experiment of Saruman, the White. Using a cowl or otherwise hidden most of your face allows you to pass as a (very ugly) human. You are aware of Saruman’s spy network and can speak most human languages.

3 – Morgul Rat: you were created under the ghastly fist of the Witch King in Minas Morgul. You know a lot about curses, magic, Wizards and similar stuff.

4 – Mirkwood Orc: you lived around Dol Guldur and is trained in forest lore. You can speak with spiders.

5 – Hai: another experiment of Saruman, you do not suffer penalties under daylight (but you can’t be a Voidcaller).

6 – Misty Mountains Goblin: you know a lot about mines, dungeons and the underworld. Your hate for Dwarves is legendary.

7 – Gundabad: you came from far in the north. You don’t suffer from cold, you can climb really good and speak with all kind of bats.

8 – Roving Orc: you are part of Orc bands that rover the land. You are trained to find food (horrible, but food) in places where even Orcs would starve. You are good at scouting and reading tracks.

9 – Old One: there are very few of you today and other Orcs believe you are immortal. You came from the Dark East, where the Great Enemy, it is said, created the first Orcs from corrupted and tortured Elven blood. You know all about Elves, including their hated tongue (you can’t speak it, but you understand it) and how to hunt them.

10 – Half-Troll: a recent experiment of Sauron. You are always hungry and needs thrice more food, but you can bite ANYTHING (even metal or rock given time). You deal 1d3 + Strength modifier damage with your bite. You are the first one to suggest that you pack eat their Minions when you are low on food.



Orcs don’t have Luck (they are probably the unluckiest creatures in the face of Middle-Earth). To compensate their miserable and violent lives, Orcs are powered by Hate! (with a “!”).

Hate! works exactly as Luck, with one difference: Hate! points spent in damage rolls or Critical Table rolls are doubled.

Orcs gain 1 point of Hate! every time they roll a natural 1 on a Skill check or Action Die, or when they suffer a Critical Hit (and survive of course).

Orcs also gain 1 Hate! the first time in the game session they see an Elf or Dwarf, or any group of 20+ Humans/Halflings (that includes most human towns). At the Judge’s discretion, seeing a place of pristine and unspoiled beauty also gives you 1 Hate! (once per session), but the Orc must find a way to spoil it before the end of the session or they will lose d3 Hate! points (this includes most Elven woods).

Orcs can gain more Hate! than their maximum. Extra Hate! is called Wrath!!! and every time an Orc gains at least 1 point of Wrath!!! they most roll a Will save DC 15 or go berserker. “Berserking” Orcs must attack/destroy something (even allies and Minions) until their Wrath!!! is spent. They won’t retreat, they won’t stop. They are immune to fear and have +1 Die Step to attack rolls, Strength rolls and damage rolls.

If your Hate! reaches 0, an Orcs must make a choice: they can try to reignite the flames of their Hate! or they can suffer Burnout.

Reigniting Hate! is easy: your Orc must immediately roll an opportunity (opportunistic?) attack against a Minion (or ally). If they hit, that backstab is a Critical Hit. The Orcs is back to Hate! 1 and life is good.

Burnout is hard. The Orc has Hate! 0 for the rest of the game session and they are also stunned for one round. The Orc is literally too spent and tired to move on. After that one round they can act normally and start the next session with Hate! 1. Finally, a Burnout Orc will suffer a backstabbing attempt from one of their Minions (and that Minion will be treacherous from now on and should be eliminated). The backstab moment is decided by the Judge. A good (Orc) way of avoiding this is (of course) killing all Minions.



The entire idea behind “Reigniting Hate!” is that Orcs can’t help themselves. They are a backstabbing bunch but also absurdly (almost comically) frustrated creatures, given to their literal role of cannon fodder for the Evil Overlord. That said, “Reigniting Hate!” should be freely used against Minions, but as a Judge I would only allow it to be used allies (i.e. other player characters) if the party authorizes the gamble and is playing for (dark) fun. This rule is NOT made to encourage PvP.



Luck is used as passive perception in the DCC RPG Core Rulebook (active perception or search is usually Intelligence). If there is one thing that Orcs are good is perception (especially hearing and scent), so if the Judge needs to roll a Perception check for Orcs just roll a 1d20 + Orc level (except for sight during daylight, that is a flat d10). Finally, all Orcs have Infravision since level 0.

Now, if you need to roll “Luck” to see if something bad will happen to someone in the pack, just ask all Orcs to roll a d20. The lowest result is the unlucky guy/girl of the moment.



After the first game session (or first mission), every player will choose one of their 0-level Orcs to level up (see the Orc Classes below). All other 0-level survivors, if any, become Minions. They never level up, but if the leveled Orc dies, the player can elect a Minion to become a new 1st level Orc (either after the scene where the leveled Orc die or next session, Judge’s call).

After 1st level, every time an Orc levels up. Each 1st level Orc attracts one new Minion. Don’t bother rolling stats. Threat these Minions as +0 attack, +0 on all saves and 1d4 hit points NPCs. They have one 1d6 weapon and a random item chosen by the Judge (roll your favorite table). If the main Orc dies, the player just roll stats for a Minion and that poor creature is “promoted” to a 1st level Orc.

Orcs can try to actively recruit, but this should be a special mission designed by the Judge (Questing for the Impossible, the BEST rule of DCC RPG Core Rulebook ever). The maximum number of Minions that an Orc should is 3 or his level (Judge’s choice, usually I max it at 5 for each player).




URUK (Class)

The big Uruks are Warriors. Ignore the Luck Weapon rule (Orcs don’t have Luck), instead of that grant the following ability to every Uruk:

All Your Hate In One Blow: before rolling damage an Uruk can spend 1 Hate! They don’t need to roll the dice and deal full damage. After the hit, the weapon is broken. Magic weapons (good luck finding an elven/dwarven magic weapon that won’t bite your hand) are not broken but are bent (-1 Die Step on all future attack rolls) and can’t be used again for this rule.


SNAGA (Class)

These sneaky bastards are Thievies that follows the Path of the Assassin. However, they don’t have Disguise self (unless you are a Half-Orc), Forge Documents (idem), and Cast Spell From Scroll (unless you are a Morgul Rat). The good news is that if you are NOT a Half-Orc or Morgul Rat, you always carry TONS of poison with you. At any moment you can spend 1d3 Hate! and declare that you have poison with you (you either crafted it from local creatures while resting, or bleed it from your own dark blood… or stole from the last Orc pack you met):

“I have POISON!” (1d20 + Snaga Level)

1-10 - Sleep/Short Term Amnesia, choose one (can’t be used in combat, must be place in water/food, enough to affect 1d6 targets); or

Pain (the first time the targets roll an Action Die, it suffers 1d4 of damage, then 1d6, 1d8 etc., can save at the end of every round, lasts 1d4 rounds + Snaga level); or

Numbing (-1 Die Step penalty to Action Die and Skill checks, can save every round, lasts 1d4 rounds + Snaga level).

11-15 - Deadly (3d6 damage in 1d3 rounds, save for half); or

Weakening (all damages dealt are reduced by half, lasts 1d4 rounds); or

Paralysis (save or target is paralyzed in 1d3 rounds, lasts 1d4 minutes).

16-20 - Doomed! (save or die, success leaves the target stunned 1 round in pain)

Big targets required double or triple the doses to be affected (Judge’s call). The Snaga still must roll a Handle Poison check and follow the same rules as a Thief.

Snaga recovers Hate! real fast and are dangerous… but that is because (besides sneaking) they are weaklings and usually small. To reflect that when you decide to become a Snaga at 1st level, you must automatically reroll your Strength as a “bad stat” (roll a 2d4). If the result is lower than your current Strength, then that is your new value.



The older I get the most I can’t stand Alignments. I just don’t care. Orcs traditionally should be creatures of Chaos, although their behavior in Lord of the Rings reflects a very dark side of Law in my opinion. Anyway, in my home games I let a Thief choose his Path unrelated to his Alignment and on this hack I don’t care about Alignments.



These boys/girls are the ones responsible for Morale in the troops. Mechanically, they work as Halflings, but remove Small and Slow. Whipmasters are (obviously) proficient with Whips and one of their weapons must be a Whip when using Two-Weapon Fighting. Whips deal 1d4 damage and have enough reach to hit targets from the second rank (3 ft. reach if you must). Whipmasters are cowards and have Sneak & Hide as Halflings (they use it a lot when in Burnout to flee their Minions).

Whipmasters can spend Hate! to help others as a Halfling and this is represented by them whipping other Orcs into “motivation” (this is just description, don’t roll damage). If a Whipmaster can’t whip an Orc, they can’t help that “poor” Orc.

Whipmasters can spend 1 Hate! before attacking to execute a Mighty Deed of Arms with their whips as a Warrior of the same level (i.e. they gain the Deed Die for one attack roll). Most Whipmasters use this to disarm foes or steal the staff of troublesome Wizards.

Finally, a Whipmasters can spend 1 Hate! to negate a fear effect (or Morale failure) of 1 ally or Minion that they can whip. This does not require an action.

There can be ONLY ONE Whipmaster in a pack. If a NPC Whipmaster shows up, there will be a fight eventually (or a backstab attempt).


WARG RIDER (class)

These mounted reavers also work mechanically as Halflings (but without Small, Slow and Hide & Sneak).

One of your Minions is always a Warg. The Two-Weapon Fighting of the Halfling class represent the bite of a faithful (?) Warg. Your Warg is your secondary attack and it can deal either 1d6 damage or attempt a trip attack. Warg damage increases +1 for every two Warg Rider levels. Your Warg moves at double the normal Speed (60 ft.) and can talk with wolves and Wargs. As long as you’re riding it, it obeys you (otherwise it must roll Morale if attacked and if it runs away, you have to track it and bring it back).

While riding your Warg your own attacks have a +2 bonus against targets that are on foot. Also, you can withdraw from targets on foot without suffering an attack of opportunity in melee. (Both these advantages won’t work against big monsters, such as trolls.)

Your Warg has 1d4 hit points per Warg Rider level. Every time someone targets you Warg, you can decide that they targeted you instead (and vice-versa). If the Judge needs to roll a check for your Warg, just roll either a flat d10 (untrained) or d20 (trained), depending on the Skill Check.

Warg Riders receive double the benefits of spending Hate! while riding their Wargs. Unlike Halflings, they can’t spend Hate! to help others. If their Hate! reaches 0 they are instantly dismounted (and bitten) by their “loyal” Warg (which will usually run away until the Warg Rider recovers 1 Hate!).

Warg Riders don’t gain Minions when leveling up and must Quest for them. However, they can choose to Quest for wolves/Wargs as Minions when doing so (just use Wolf or Dire Wolf stats from the DCC Core Rulebook).



Both Whipmasters and Warg Riders receive double the bonus from spending Hate! on some circumstances. If they spend Hate! to boost damage or Critical Hits, the effect is tripled.



This amazing OSR rule is used in KILL BILBO. Uruks, Snagas, Whipmasters and Warg Riders can use it: they can break their shields to negate one melee attack (attacks from bigger creatures such as trolls or special attacks such as breath weapons are decided by the Judge).



Voidcallers are really rare and every pack con only have ONE. Your Orc must be a Morgul Rat to be able to learn this demanding “trade”. Voidcallers are a hack on the Elf class. They obviously don’t have mithril and are not allergic to iron… in fact, they LOVE iron armor and can use it as Clerics. They don’t have Heightened Senses or Luck. Voidcallers always suffer -1 Die Step for every action done under direct daylight or inside elven realms (and also can’t cast spells under the direct sunlight).

Your Supernatural Patron is one the of Spooks (and yes, you are playing a very dangerous game). Use Sezrekan’s Patron Check table. Every time the table says you are teleported, you actually summon the Dread of the Nazgûl and every enemy on sight must roll a Will DC check against your roll or flee (this doesn’t work against Elves). Another option instead of Dread is the creation of a dense and cold mist that only you can see through (this should give you a fair chance of escaping from Elves, unless of course those pointed-eared bastards banish the mists). The 24-27 results will either summon a very powerful Dread (that will probably taint the area for years to come) or summon enough mist to cover an entire town.

Sezrekan’s Patron Taint is perfect but change Third Eye’s references to the Eye of Sauron. All the stuff about consuming gold pieces and magic items must be changed to relics and treasure stolen from Humans, Dwarves or Elves.

Voidcaller with Hate! 0 will bring the attention of a Nazgûl in 1d3 days (Judge rolls secretly). The party must evade the Spook or (if caught) cajole it and give it REALLY good explanations for what they are doing (and probably do one dangerous mission for the Spook). If the Nazgûl suspects that the pack knows about the Ring and is trying to get Bilbo, it will kill them. End of the game.

Magic in the Middle-Earth is powerful but costly and rarely flashy. Voidcallers always require at least 1 Spellburn to cast a spell, but they can burn any physical stat, Personality or bleed a Minion! (killing a Minion will grant +2d4 to the spell check roll)

I am trying to create Mercurial Magic for Orcs but, to be honest, Goodman Games did an AMAZING job in that regard with DCC Lankhmar. So, I would advise using the Spell Stipulations instead of Mercurial Magic and the Nehwonian Corruption tables for your Voidcaller. All references to Luck should use Hate! and change Nehwonian references to Middle-Earth.

Finally, Voidcaller can’t burn Hate! to avoid Corruption or regain lost spells.

Your spell list is changed to this one:

1st level

Animal summoning


Charm person

Chill touch (check my unbalanced version)

Choking cloud

Darkness (Cleric Spell, -2 Die Steps to cast under direct sunlight)

Find familiar (bats, wolves, frogs, giant bugs etc., Judge must approve type and powers)

*Invoke patron (all Voidcallers have this)


*Patron bond (all Voidcallers have this)

Resist cold or heat (Cleric Spell)




Ward portal

2nd level

Curse (Cleric Spell)

Detect invisible


Fire resistance


Invisible companion


Locate object

Lotus stare (Cleric Spell)

Magic mouth

Mirror image


Ray of enfeeblement


Stinging stone (Cleric Spell)


Shield maiden (this summon a lower wraith to serve you, the wraith is dispelled by direct sunlight)

Wood wyrding (Cleric Spell)

3rd level


Breathe life

Consult spirit

Dispel magic

Emirikol’s entropic maelstrom (this is know as Lesser Black Breath)

Fireball (this is cast on a casket filled with “black dust” made during your last rest, you must place the casket in the place of detonation and cast the spell)

Gust of wind


Lightning bolt (only outside, under a cloud filled sky and this beauty always require 1 Hate! and 4 Spellburn – or a sacrificed Minion – just to cast)

Paralysis* 264

Phylactery of the soul

4th level

Control fire

Desecrate (Cleric Spell)

Transmute Earth (casting time is the rolled result in minutes)

Vermin Blight (casting time is 1 minute)

5th level

Hepsoj’s Fecund Fungi

Lokerimon’s Unerring Hunter (this summons something dreadful, a barrow-wight or Thing from the Deep, only works at night)

Magic Bulwark

Mind Purge

Weather Control (Cleric Spell)



The players now must select the Brewer. This is the Orc responsible for brewing the Draught, a burning and horrible concoction that is the closest thing to healing that an Orc pack has. There can be only one Brewer in the party (because Brewers are loath to share their secrets as that is their only advantage).

Every time your pack has some chance to rest for a night, the Brewer will roll a d20 and add his level. Divide the final result by 4 (round up). That is how many Orc-Draught doses the pack has. The maximum number of doses a Brewer can keep is the number of players plus the Brewer level.

Each dose, if drunk, will heal 1 Hit Dice. If the Orc rolls the highest number possible on a Hit Dice, roll again and add it (i.e. the die explode!). However, the total amount healed in this case is temporary and those extra Hit Points will disappear (the Judge should roll a secret d20 to find out on how many hours). Most Orcs die by drinking the Draught.

Instead of healing, 1 dose can be used to ignore one poison or disease effect for one day (if you reach an Orc Enclave, they can literally beat the poison/disease out of you later).

Each Brewer has one sack of secret ingredients and one big flask of Draught that is shared.

Because of its importance to the pack, Brewers can direct backstab attempts made against them to one of their Minions (if they don’t have Minions, they are out of luck).

When a Brewer dies, it is revealed that they had a secret apprentice in the pack. The players must decide which player was the apprentice. That apprentice is now the new Brewer. The new Brewer still needs to obtain the old Brewer’s sack of secret ingredients (or otherwise Quest for the Impossible to create a new one).

Brewers can, of course, Quest for Impossible for more doses or stronger/different versions of the Orc-Draught.



A special rule that I like here is that Orcs don’t have access to maps or even an inkling of an idea of the shape of Middle-Earth. So they have only your descriptions, although Lugbúrz Orcs know how to find runes, marks and general directions to other Orc Enclaves. No maps! Let them try to find out the way. Voidcallers can try to track or detect the presence of Nazgûl through Invoke Patron but that is DANGEROUS.


Besides (obviously) all those amazing Lord of the Ring RPGs (MERP, Coda, The Ring and homemade ones), this hack was inspired by Burning Wheel’s awesome Orcs, Paranoia and an older hack of mine for We Be Goblins! from Pathfinder. Finally, of course, Kill Bill. Now, the entire idea of KILL BILBO came years ago from a great post in RPGNet (that unfortunately I can’t find).

Just to be clear: this is a satirical hack that should be played for laughs in the best dark humour/Warhammer 1st fashion that you can imagine.

Finally, bear in mind that this entire madness was not playtested. I hope you like it!