D&D 5E Orcish Freedom Fighters campaign idea

pukunui

Legend
Hi all,

I've had this campaign idea simmering in the back of my head for a while now, and I feel like it's now time to put my thoughts on some digital paper and share what I've got.

The basic premise is that there's a land similar in terrain and climate to Afghanistan where the orcs once had a flourishing civilization. At some point in the past, they were conquered by an invading force of humans led by a ruling class of aasimar. The orcs were either subjugated as a lesser caste or driven into the hills/mountains to live in tribes competing for meager resources. The standard view of the orcish gods as "evil" is primarily propaganda spread by the invaders. Yes, they're a bit rougher than the human/aasimar gods but they're potentially not as evil as they're usually portrayed.

The PCs would all be members of a single free orc tribe, and the arc of the campaign would see them unite the free tribes and spark an uprising among their subjugated kin in order to overthrow the invaders and drive them out so the orcs can reclaim their land.

I envision the PCs starting off by going through some sort of "proving" thing to get them to 3rd level maybe. Then they'd spend some quests uniting the tribes -- this could entail diplomacy for some tribes, besting the chieftains/champions of other tribes, perhaps even going on quests for some (like delving into ancient orcish ruins or infiltrating the human civilization to recover lost relics). Once they have a coalition of tribes large enough to face the human/aasimar army, they can go to war and also foment rebellion. Regarding the latter, there will undoubtedly be existing pockets of orcish resistance with whom the PCs can link up but they'll also need to put some effort into overcoming the reluctance of the general subjugated populace to rise up against their oppressors. They may also need to deal with betrayal, challenges to their leadership, and so on along the way.

So here's the thing: I've created homebrew settings before, but I've always adapted pre-written adventures to run in them. I've never run a campaign entirely from scratch before, and it's pretty intimidating. I know I don't need to / shouldn't think of everything at once. I can start small and build up and out. I also know I shouldn't prep a plot. So it'll be more: here's the situation, here are some options, what would you like to do? I'll try and keep it fairly sandboxy.

All that being said, I realize this is also very much a long term project. This isn't something I'll be starting any time soon.

If anyone likes the idea and would like to offer some suggestions on how to make it work, feel free to comment below!
 

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pukunui

Legend
As an aside, one reason I like that WotC appears to be moving towards making all classes gain their subclass at 3rd level with the One D&D revision is that it puts them all on a level playing field in that regard. I feel like gaining your subclass should be an important in-game story event, and it can be awkward when some PCs might start off already having their subclass, others gain theirs at 2nd level, and the rest gain theirs at 3rd. If they all gain them at the same time, then you can build it in as a kind of rite of passage type thing.

So in the context of the above campaign, I could put together a starting adventure that covers levels 1 and 2 and is about the PCs proving themselves as full-fledged adult members of the tribe. Should they successfully complete the quest, they are formally inducted into their chosen specialties as part of their "coming of age" ceremony or whatever.

(One thing that bugs me about the standard 5e rush to get PCs to level 3 is people gaining their subclass in the midst of an adventure. It's hard to have it be a momentous event if the PCs are trying to escape a haunted house or defend a village from attack or the like.)
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Hmmn maybe make the Orcs not Greek and their civilization was Greco-Roman Bactrian? Their deities can be the Theros ones. Culture wise more like Eberron ircs?

The evil humans are cultists of the evil elements lords and a not Persians but build their culture around the elemental lords.

Spotlighted races.

Humans West
Orcs
Goliath (really high up not Hindu Kush/Tibet
Some sort of horse lord's to the north
Loxodons to the east (Not India)
 
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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
So here's the thing: I've created homebrew settings before, but I've always adapted pre-written adventures to run in them. I've never run a campaign entirely from scratch before, and it's pretty intimidating. I know I don't need to / shouldn't think of everything at once. I can start small and build up and out. I also know I shouldn't prep a plot. So it'll be more: here's the situation, here are some options, what would you like to do? I'll try and keep it fairly sandboxy.
Sounds like you have the right idea. It doesn't need to be intimidating. You should prep a plot though. Just don't expect to follow it to the letter. Because sometimes PCs will just spin their wheels, talking to merchants. A little plot goes a long way.
 

Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
I love the concept, and agree with @Zardnaar that Bactrian orcs would be fun. The humans might have a couple different groups in the aasimar-led coalition - Mongol and Maurya, maybe, or ranging further for some fun combo like Inca and southern Norman. Within the orcs, there might be religious conflicts like solar monotheism versus various riffs on a big diverse pantheon, and cultural ones between tribes that continue to be sedentary versus those who’ve become semi-nomadic or fully nomadic.

Lots of potential!
 

pukunui

Legend
Hmmn maybe make the Orcs not Greek and their civilization was Greco-Roman Bactrian? Their deities can be the Theros ones. Culture wise more like Eberron ircs?
Yes, that's true. I don't have to keep the Gruumsh-led pantheon. I was just thinking of doing that so I could use the sample orc cave in Volo's as a starting point. Perhaps some of the tribes have a more druidic tradition while others worship more war-like deities.

The evil humans are cultists of the evil elements lords and a not Persians but build their culture around the elemental lords.
Hmm. Perhaps the human invaders could be led by genasi rather than aasimar then. I kind of like that idea.

Humans West
Orcs
Goliath (really high up not Hindu Kush/Tibet
Some sort of horse lord's to the north
Loxodons to the east (Not India)
Yeah, I like that idea. Maybe the horse lords could be centaurs?

Sounds like you have the right idea. It doesn't need to be intimidating. You should prep a plot though. Just don't expect to follow it to the letter. Because sometimes PCs will just spin their wheels, talking to merchants. A little plot goes a long way.
Oh sure, a bit of plot to provide a road map for campaign progression. I'd just want to focus more on prepping situations and letting the players figure out to solve them than the usual story-based fare. That being said, I imagine I probably could work in a few premade adventures here and there.

I love the concept, and agree with @Zardnaar that Bactrian orcs would be fun. The humans might have a couple different groups in the aasimar-led coalition - Mongol and Maurya, maybe, or ranging further for some fun combo like Inca and southern Norman. Within the orcs, there might be religious conflicts like solar monotheism versus various riffs on a big diverse pantheon, and cultural ones between tribes that continue to be sedentary versus those who’ve become semi-nomadic or fully nomadic.

Lots of potential!
Indeed! There is a lot of potential here. You guys have given me enough of a push to keep going with this, so thank you! :)
 


pukunui

Legend
Yay! Glad to help. :)
I could also have the PCs look to negotiate alliances with non-orc groups. Perhaps there are some stone or fire giants living in the mountains that they could potentially ally with. Maybe there's even a dragon they could negotiate with ... or perhaps there is a dragon that is preying on a tribe or two, and they won't ally with the PCs' tribe until the dragon is defeated.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Yes, that's true. I don't have to keep the Gruumsh-led pantheon. I was just thinking of doing that so I could use the sample orc cave in Volo's as a starting point. Perhaps some of the tribes have a more druidic tradition while others worship more war-like deities.


Hmm. Perhaps the human invaders could be led by genasi rather than aasimar then. I kind of like that idea.


Yeah, I like that idea. Maybe the horse lords could be centaurs?


Oh sure, a bit of plot to provide a road map for campaign progression. I'd just want to focus more on prepping situations and letting the players figure out to solve them than the usual story-based fare. That being said, I imagine I probably could work in a few premade adventures here and there.


Indeed! There is a lot of potential here. You guys have given me enough of a push to keep going with this, so thank you! :)

Centaurs maybe have them as somewhat tribal and they destroyed the Orcs civilization
 

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