Ork!: The Roleplaying Game, by Jon Leitheusser, et al
When you are creating intellectual property for a text-based roleplaying game and you are trying to avoid problems with the intellectual property of others, you have to play things pretty carefully and the authors have managed to do so here. That is not to say that everyone will appreciate this game, but if you enjoy being in character for characters that are not particularly bright, where only the Orkmaster can be clever and smart, this game has at least something entertaining to offer that can be of worth. I’m not sure offhand that I know of anyone who would want to play this sort of game or would be able to do it well, but it is popular enough to have gotten a second edition and to have stayed in print for fifteen years, so that speaks something to a sense of enduring popularity for this particular game that seems a bit surprising to me but is still worthwhile to ponder. This is a game whose enjoyment I can see, but you just have to be in the right mood for it and I’m seldom in the mood to play stupid, it must be admitted.
This book is eleven chapters and about 150 pages long. The book begins iwth an introduction that assumes the reader of the book doesn’t really know what role playing games are. After that the book covers names, attributes, skills, wounds (hit points), cheats, and equipment that are to be chosen, maybe (1) and then more detailed skills in several categories (2). The book then covers the choice of cheats (3) and their consequences, then spends a fair amount discussing combat (4) as well as the dangerous hazards (including broccoli) that exist in the world for ork kind (5). An entire chapter is devoted to things that the Orkmaster needs to know (6) before brief chapters provide information about ork society and language (7), growing up ork in the gunk pit where one has to do something glorious before getting named (8), and then the magic that is available to orks (9). The last two chapters are far more length and contain interesting material about things to kill (10), which contains a list of stats for various enemies, and then a list of adventures as well as adventure seeds that can be used to play the game (11). After this there is an afterword, an index, and appendix, and then a character sheet that can be copied for a party.
Despite the fact that this book is written mostly in an embarrassingly bad dialect that makes everything into the present progressive tense and is painful to read, it is clear that the authors to this book did do some sound thinking about the worldbuilding involved. The authors portray the world as being a dangerous one and also show a sense of both allowing the characters to cheat and also punishing it, sometimes in entertaining ways. The end result is quite intriguing, even if it’s hard to exactly approve of the way that the game works. As someone who prefers to use my intellect and cleverness, this game’s absolute hostility to that is not something I really enjoy, although I have to say that there is somewhat appealing of playing against type from time to time. And for those who enjoy doing that, I can appreciate why they would want to play a game like this. I just think that if I played it, I wouldn’t have too much fun unless I was the Orkmaster, and I suspect that there are a great many others would agree that it would be most fun to play someone who is at least allowed and encouraged to be more than dumb and aggressive, although that is appealing enough for some to try.