Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Saturday 5 November 2022


“All right my Orcy Borgy boys and girls, dis great trash rocket, da Derelict, just smashed in a new ship. We gonna break it and smack it open, and hack the snot of any hoomies and gobbos and pointy ears, and make it good like any Orc home, like our dear old Derelict. Da gods have rumbled and yelled today and they say no DOOM today, but DOOM tomorrow. And we wantz that DOOM! We when have DOOM, we crash the Derelict into Heaven and scream every dead-hard big-toothed bastard in a glorious tide of violence. And when dat happens, ya wanna be at the front to be the first to kick Heaven right proper in its bollox. So ya gonna fight and yell and steal and kill to be at the front, but no DOOM today, but DOOM tomorrow!”

This is the set-up for ORC BORG, a fanzine-style roleplaying game of brutal action and violence, published by Rowan, Rook & Decard, following a successful Kickstarter campaign. It is modelled upon Mörk Borg, the Swedish pre-apocalypse Old School Renaissance retroclone designed by Ockult Örtmästare Games and Stockholm Kartell and published by Free League Publishing, the result being a doom-laden, death metal driven, dark fantasy roleplaying game set in a grim-dark world of despair. ORC BORG also shares with Mörk Borg its same neon and yellow colour palette, but not its despair. Instead, ORC BORG is a more action-orientated roleplaying game, even a more optimistic one, though still not a positive one. Rather, its optimism is driven by Orcish anger and energy—every Orc absolutely positive that DOOM is going to happen and until it does, and afterwards too, hand out plenty of punches, headbutts, and stabbings! This includes the dread Orcborgs, machine-Orc, Orc-machines turned into even brutaler killin’ machines with scrap and junk, and even the Big Robots, clankin’, smoking’, metal-screechin’ machines of war piloted Orcs who wire themselves in.

An Orc in ORC BORG has four abilities—Presence, Strength, Agility, and Toughness. For a standard Orc, a player rolls four six-sided dice and discards the lowest result, the total used to determine the ability values, which range from -3 to +3. (If a player is rolling up an actual Orc Borg or Big Robot, the two Classes in ORC BORG, only three six-sided dice are rolled.) Then the player rolls for his Orc’s Origins, Physical Features, plus gear that includes Stuff, Armour, and Weapons. This can include powers such as Technowizard Runes or Prayers, the latter to the Orc Gods. For example, the ‘Metronomicon’ Technorune summons a monorail car to the Orc’s location, whilst the ‘Rip and Tear’ Prayer allows an Orc to ignore armour in attacks. Technowizardry comes installed on single-function computers, data slugs, or ancient punch cards, whilst prayers are inscribed on steel plates, printed on clothing, or tattooed on flesh. This can be determined randomly, or chosen at the cost of some armour and weapon selection. If an Orc does not have either, he can easily beat up an Orc who already has, or simply steal them from his corpse! In comparison, the standard Orc is more straightforward than the Orc Borg or the Big Robot.

Bumhug Gorzharz
Presence +0
Strength +3
Agility +2
Toughness +1
Hit Points: 9

Tek: 10

Origins: Hunted by wild humans in Spacer territories until he was strong enough to defend himself.
Physical Feature: Huge Fuckin’ Teeth
Stuff: Yelling Helm, Alien Dogbeast, 25 m reinforced extension cable
Armour: Junk and Scrap (-d2 damage taken)
Weapon: Club (d4)
Technowizardy: Rite of the Blue Key

Mechanically, ORC BORG is simple. When he wants his Orc to act, his player rolls a twenty-sided die, adds the appropriate ability, and succeeds if the result is equal to or greater than the Difficulty Rating, which range from ten for Simple Enough to eighteen for Barely Possible. Technowizardy and Prayers have a limited number of uses per day—determined randomly, and can go wrong if the test is a failure. Combat is more complex, allowing natural criticals and fumbles, as well as Dodgin’, morale, and more. An Orc reduced to zero Hit Points is not dead—this occurs at -6 Hit Points—but ‘Mangled’. This in general, has a negative effect upon the Orc, but bionic prosthetics can be purchased to offset them. A head Mangle though, can result in a quirk, like mistrusting anything in writing or the Orc alone becoming the voice of DOOM!

For the Game Master, there is a map of the Derelict, marked with all of the ships that have crashed into it over the years. There are stats too for Angels of the Dark Gods as well as threats such a Spacers (Hoomies) and Rival Orcs, and it is fairly easy to create more threats. One set of tables determines whether or not the Derelict is one step closer to DOOM that day and what that day’s prophecies might be, whilst another suggests ways of mapping the Derelict to create easy adventures and jobs for the Orcs to carry out. They are all quick and dirty, and will run out fairly quickly if ORC BORG is overplayed. That said, it should not be too difficult to create more.

Physically, ORC BORG is a neon assault on the senses and scrappy stab in the eyes. It is big, it is bold, and it intentionally bashed together. Thankfully, ORC BORG is simple enough. With this layout and this colour scheme, anything more complex would be a pain in the proverbial and rightly require you to go all Orcy on the publisher.

ORC BORG is a cathartic scream of a roleplaying game. It demands a single session of brutal violence and Hoomie stompin’ and no more, before the Game Master and her players switch back something more involved and more restful. Then come stompin’ back to more yellin’ and stabbin’ action when a break is needed again!


Both Reviews from Rlyeh and Rook Rowan and Decard Ltd. will be at DragonMeet on Saturday, 3rd December, 2022.

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