Chapter III The Empire of the Scar

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in the end, Grbek Pukk sat on the throne of Orcwatch, where Lord and Lady Protectors had sat for over a thousand years, watching the Broken Mountains for signs of his own people, spilling into the Anvil Plains, filled with hatred, jagged orc-made weapons in hand. Over a decade ago, someone had sat here and watched him and his horde march forth but only himself and his Slayer had survived.

Moreso than killing the dragon, moreso than regaining a horde of his own, moreso than crippling the Spider Goddess, this was an accomplishment that soothed his hate-filled black heart. Squatting over Orcwatch, the keep the Elves had built to keep his people from leaving the Broken Mountains, felt right.

The rare moment of peace was broken when a goblin scurried to his makeshift throne.

“Dark Elves request an audience, King.”

Warder Gurth formerly known as He Who Slays for the Named (often Slayer for short) left the throne room, hatred gone from his heart but spite seething. His king had at least recognized him despite his latest transformations and he had been able to introduce his new wife.

But the King had not taken his blooded hand, had not sworn an oath with him. His King, possibly his only friend did not trust him. He had seen his Slayer lay the foundations for too many killings, for too much slaughter with cunning words and would not be the latest victim.

“I vow this, King. We will die together, in each other’s arms. I only know that you will die first.” The words had shaken the throne room, from the dwarves, to the human mercenaries, to the trolls, to the orc in between. Right now they were words in the king’s court but they had been said with force. Soon they would spill out into the world, become rumor, finally the stuff of legend.


In the Broken Mountains, Barghesta Pukk hears of her husband’s transformation and rallies the spiders to her call.

As the Spiders ride out, Kurga, a dragon-worshipper, takes the last of the dragons, a sickly creature, from the Troll Bridge-Keep to the south.

The Elven King hears of the loss of Orcwatch and begins his people to head south, en masse, an exoduce from this continent, from the world of man, or world of orc, or whatever it is. The Empire of the Scar has come to this continent and the king wants no more grief from this world.

The High King of the Dwarves is blinded, his eyes taken out by the Orc King’s uncle, Kargesh Pukk. The Slayerson, prophesied to be the leader of the greatest nation of the orc, would ride with Kargesh’s pack like a proper orc. He would come to his hatred through marauding, sitting atop a great wolf, covered in blood and glory. Kargesh had had enough of letters, court, empire-building, and honeyed words.

The King of the Orc would rule with hatred.

And so the Third Chapter of The King and the Slayer ends. Chapter I The Dragon. Chapter II The Spider Goddess, and Chapter III The Empire of the Scar have taken over a year of real time to play and over a decade of game time to see to the end.

Rich believes the King’s story is over. Jim wants more time with his Slayer some day down the road. Maybe they should have fought in that throne room and been done with it.

Jim and Rich are going to make human characters, a privateer and a noble veteran of war. We are going to continue in this world, with its Empire of the Scar, and see what else there is to see.

Little Thoughts

I went to be incredibly early last night and had damned strange dreams. There were spiders that I could hear walking around because they were so damned big and lost time that I couldn’t account for and travels in a Middle Eastern country that I couldn’t name with beautiful beaches but I had trouble explaining what gluten-free meant to my waitress.

With Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother coming out, lots of blog folks are talking about how cool YA fiction is and how many amazing science fiction and fantasy novels are over in the YA section of the book store. Seems to me that Rob Donoghue said those very things to me about two or three years ago when I started working on 1st Quest.

Yesterday, everything that was physically challenging that I tried to do just felt difficult. I managed to do it and get through it all but it felt like there were weights on my lungs. Nutrition-wise, I had a stout breakfast and a decent lunch and hydrated properly. Just one of those days, I guess.

In other news, my gaming schedule is chilling out a bit, with the Friday night game going every other week and I have to downshift the orc-via-skype game to monthly for a bit in order to get on school, some other writing and 1st Quest.

Duel of Wits: High King Wicks the Dragonslayer vs. Lord Slayer Warder Gurth


8 centuries ago the last Dwarf to hold the title High King was taking the Blood Star, a ruby the size of a warrior’s fist to Evenstar, to parade it in front of the Elves, who love the stars. The High King was ambushed and killed, the Blood Star taken by trolls, the gem put into the deepest corner of the Troll Vaults.

10 years ago, in a dank cave deep under Dragon Mountain, the Dragon is ambushed by three Dwarven Kings and two orcs. Two of the kings die while the third becomes High King. The orcs both live, one takes the crown as Orc King, the other his second, the Lord-Slayer Warder Gurth.

Over the corpse of the dragon the kings brokered a deal for ten years of peace between the dwarves of the 7 Kings Mountains and the orc of the Broken Mountains. Ten years for the dwarves to recover from a century of war with the dragon and ten years for the orc to build their empire.

In a decade, Wicks the Dragonslayer was to meet with his two fellow dragonslayers and present them with dragonscale armor.

Also 10 years ago, an uncommon Orc, the Slayer who was not then named, has sex with the Orc King’s sister and they beget a child, both knowing that their child, if he survived, would be destined for great things.


High King Wicks, a dwarf of his word, approached the Troll-Bridge Keep alone, not wanting to put any of his vassals in danger. One of his scouts was in the keep, captured by spider-riders by the Lord Slayer’s spies.

The armor was presented, a feast had and further peace wa brokered, both sides hoping to make profit from the trade flowing from the 7 Kings Mountains to the human city of Marsui.

The High King was given a tour of the Troll-Bridge Keep and his eyes appeared hungry as he was taken past the Troll Vaults.

The scout, on his High King’s orders, sneaked into the vault and took the gem (8 successes on a Stealth roll…dude).

The Lord-Slayer, who always enjoyed a kind of friendship with the High King stopped by his room and noticed that the scout was not there (Perception check, obstacle 2).

The Lord-Slayer, without blinking, “Do you think he will be successful in getting past the vault doors?”

The High King, trying not to gape, “Yes, I do.”

“We’ll wait for him, then.”

They waited. They drank. They talked.

When the scout entered the room, having re-taken his ancestor’s property, having broken into the most closely guarded vault that was not guarded by a dragon or a demon, the Blood Star reflected the fire light and turned the room a dim red.


Orc: Return the gem

Dwarf: Make the Trolls live with me having the gem after I leave.

The orc wins, big time, outscripting me with a well-placed Feint with only a minor concession.

The High King’s scout, tears in his eyes, returned the gem but they agreed that when the High King left he would take with him the Lord-Slayer’s son as his hostage and ward, with a deal that when he returned the son, he would get the gem.

Burning Skype: Hateful Orcs, Ten Years Later

Ten years went by quickly in the Broken Mountains. The trolls toiled, building roads and towers. Goblins patrolled riding both wolves and sometimes spiders. Grbek Pukk now wears a crown made in olden days from the broken blade of an elf and the Named became the Orc King. (Trait – Orc King: c/o when increasing the orc empire and +1 die when dominating and orc.)

The Slayer was Named, as per the ancient rite, for his valor and cunning on the Eight-Legged Isles, a long overdue honor. And so Warder Gurth stood where once stood The Slayer. (Trait – The Power Behind the Throne: +2 dice when representing a higher power & Biggest Bad-ass: c/o Sword)

A banner was planted from one end of the Broken Mountains to the other, a black banner with a red scar across it, denoting the new orc empire known as The Scar Across the World (Trait – Not Your Average Orcs: +1 die when defying how people expect an orc to act).

They became faster, smarter and more willful (ten years of training is a whole lotta training…holy shit). They learned of languages and cultures, healing and killing.

More on

Trait votes and training are really interesting parts of the game that I had only touched on a bit. I will have to write about that at some point once I’ve marinated on it for a while.

The Suck: #1 Burning Wheel Skype

The game has been going pretty well. Jim and I fell into an age-old pattern we have where his character get’s into trouble, way-way over his head and than plays the various powers against one another in an attempt to come out on top. Rich is right there with us now and it only took a few sessions for him to get his feet under him.

So, we’re into the second arc. The orcs have returned to the Broken Mountains, homeland to the orcs, to find that Rich’s character’s father has been driven into deep tunnels by an army of giant spiders.

And I heard myself say, “What do you want to do now?”

“How about now?”

“And now?”

I had no aggressive scene framing-fu at all. I was, as the GM, not contributing shit. I should’ve stopped, tossed some snow down my shirt and/or had the players read their Beliefs out loud again. I’ve got these two ambitious, brutal orcs with passions and hatred in their guts and I’ve got nothing to say.

If re-visiting the character sheets didn’t work I should’ve just cut the game short and admitted that I was just too tired to GM.

But I pushed on and GMed the most tepid session in years and years.

I e-mailed the guys and told them that I thought the game was suck and that it would be better next time.

Man, it is hard to write up experiences about games that suck. When you write about a game that is fun, you get to kind of re-live a touch of that fun and figure out what made it fun and celebrate each other. But suck is hard; its hard not to condemn anyone (including yourself) and just definitely not fun.

Orc Love.. I mean Hate…I mean rutting. Orc Rutting.

Favorite scene from last night’s game:

The game is about two brutal orcs, having returned to their homeland, The Broken Mountains, after having slayed a dragon and obtained a horde.

Jim’s character, He Who Slays for the Named, just Slayer for short and The Named’s Sister, a powerful Mistress of Eight in her own right have sex in the Spider’s camp.

Jim says something like, “I’m dominating her.”

Me: “Roll vs. Wills.”

Jim spends a DEEDS point, the Muthah of all Artha, the single most powerful resource point in the game, to win the conflict. I can no longer just fade to ceiling and say they did -it- and he dominated. He spend a freakin’ Deeds point.

Jim describes it in some detail, hair pulling, whose on top, biting, all that stuff.

And when he’s done I chime in:

“The Slayer knows that he has impregnated her and that their child will be great, ushering the orc to new heights of empire if only the child lives through the dangerous childhood of their kind.”

They’re already plotting against the Named and I honestly have no idea if Jim is just making shit up to use her or is actually considering going through with it this time. The Slayer, as always is a mystery.