Orctober – Grimluk in D&D 5e Updated, Homebrew

There’s a few major differences to Grimluk’s homebrew sheet this year. Last year, I held pretty closely to the RAW sheet, but included my homebrew Monster Hunter subclass for the Fighter, my homebrew overhaul for Orcs and Half-Orcs, and a Crossbow Expert style feat called Gunslinger. This year, we’re gonna make a couple of changes to each of these and then add a few things.

The updated sheet.

To start with, the aforementioned homebrew elements remain, with a few updates. My orcs overhaul was recently updated, removing Aggressive as a racial trait for orcs altogether and making Powerful Build standard. Half-orcs were updated as well, though that was mostly after realizing how hard I overthought the “orcish ancestry” trait. Instead, half-orcs once again just have Relentless Endurance. I also expanded the alternate half-orc features but that still needs a proper rebuild along the lines of half-elf ancestry and tiefling ancestry.

The Monster Hunter class is being updated as well. Firstly, I’m renaming one feature, The Hunter, to Hunter’s Strike and tweaking the rule for it. It was originally based on the Colossus Slayer feature from the Hunter Ranger but I decided to do away with the “below hit point maximum” ruling. Secondly, I’ve updated the Veteran of the Hunt feature. The more I’ve toyed with class design since last year, the more I realized that giving the Monster Hunter both a free d8 of damage once a turn AND a free d8 to an attack roll once a turn was too much. So now, once a turn, you can add that d8 to either an attack roll or use it for extra damage.

Finally, the Gunslinger feat is getting a small update as well. The original reads:

GUNSLINGER
Thanks to extensive practice with handguns, you gain the following benefits:

  • You can ignore the reload property of handguns you’re proficient with.
  • Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
  • If unsurprised at the start of combat, you can perform a quick draw, giving you advantage on your first attack roll.

That last bullet didn’t quite sit well with me. I figured, given it’s a feat, I do something a little better. The update reads:

GUNSLINGER (Updated)
Thanks to extensive practice with handguns, you gain the following benefits:

  • You can ignore the reload property of handguns you’re proficient with.
  • Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
  • At the start of combat, if you haven’t drawn your handgun, you may perform a quick draw on your turn, allowing you to make two attack rolls.

Advantage on your first attack roll is good but the whole point of a quick draw is that you’re drawing quickly. So a double attack at the beginning of combat seemed pretty fair and thematically solid. Crossbow Expert gives you a bonus action attack with your crossbow so it’s more in line with that now.

With those elements out of the way, we come to the last major updates. First, Grimluk is now Monster Hunter 9/Hunter 3. Why did I remove the level of Barbarian? Well, that brings me to the second, and biggest, update: I just flat fucking gave Grimluk physical damage resistances. Because he’s the Protagonist. I also gave him Prestidigitation for the campfire spell. It made sense. Like I said, this homebrew was gonna be bigger.

So that’s the new and improved Homebrew Grimluk for your viewing pleasure. Now, Orctober is nearly at its end.

 

Orctober – Grimluk in D&D 5e Updated, RAW

Last year, I rolled up character sheets for Grimluk in 5e. One was RAW, using the standard medieval-style weapons and gear, and the other was homebrew. I wanted to redo that this year. So first, we’ll be going over the RAW update.

Admittedly, the first version wasn’t that great conceptually. I actually did try to roll stats but honestly, Grimluk’s a Main Character, so in my update, I took the stats I’d molded through rolling and ASIs and just made them his base stats. Those stats stay the same through either version now, RAW and homebrew. On top of that, because Xanathar’s Guide to Everything didn’t come out until November, I couldn’t use anything from it AND, due to a couple of concepts I didn’t want to let go of, I insisted on including 1 level of Monk. We’ve seen Grimluk shrug off bullets, so I really wanted to keep unarmored defense and martial arts but it didn’t really work that well. Didn’t combine quite like I’d hoped.

So let’s take a look at the updated version. Here’s the sheet.

So, in the RAW version, Grimluk is still a half-orc. Duh. He still takes Fighter as his starting class with the Outlander background, along with Ranger, and one level of Barbarian. Like before, his Fighter archetype would be the Champion. With the inclusion of Xanathar’s, I debated Samurai but Champion works well, which also means a change to his Ranger archetype: the Monster Slayer. With no official version of the Fighter Monster Hunter, the Monster Slayer is the next best thing for a RAW Grimluk. Extra spells (specifically Protection from Evil & Good at lv3), Hunter’s Senses, and Slayer’s Prey are great features here. And that one level of Barbarian works better than Monk as it gives Grimluk a more appropriate Unarmored Defense (10+Dex+Con=17 AC), plus those good good resistances to physical damage while raging. True, he doesn’t have the martial arts die anymore, but oh well.

Since he doesn’t have a huge need for ASIs, I went ahead with several feats. He would’ve taken Dual-Wielder first, then Resilient, then Crossbow Expert. Dual-Wielder is more for the +1 to his AC and pulling out two weapons at once. Resilient with Wisdom, while a good Feat for any martial character, is mandatory for a demon hunter. Crossbow Expert is self-explanatory.

In play, it probably would’ve gone Fighter 6 -> Ranger 3 -> Barbarian 1 and then on to Fighter 8. Grimluk’s class choices would, as you can see on the sheet, be Two-Weapon Fighting for his first Fighting Style, then Archery from the Ranger. Fiends, of course, would be his Favored Enemy, with Grasslands as his favored terrain. Like before, and the only technical homebrew for this setup, he would have Fiend slayer weapons, still based on the dragon slayer sword. Honestly, I feel like Wizards should just make a “___ Slayer” weapon for different games.

So that’s Grimluk’s updated RAW sheet if you want to use him as an NPC. I will note one thing: for his background, I did have the thought of combining the Outlander and Haunted One (from Curse of Strahd) backgrounds. The Player Handbook says that you can create your own backgrounds, or tweak the ones listed and those two fit well together. Grimluk was trained to be a self-sufficient traveler (Athletics and Survival skills) but being a demon hunter means that, after training, he still could have the Heart of Darkness feature. So if you decide you want to tweak that, feel free. Also, you might want to get Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes to add some extra demonic flair.

Next time, we’ll be looking at the updated Homebrew version of Grimluk. Last year’s rendition was pretty intense already but this year’s is gonna be a bit more wild.

Orctober: The Demons Within Character Intro – Manyara Arendse

Today we’re gonna meet a human. I know, it’s Orctober, but there’s reasons why. I mean besides me promoting The Demons Within. Manyara Arendse is a ranger. Given that this is a fantasy western: yes, I mean like a combination of Texas rangers and Tolkien’s rangers. But we’re here for her. Manyara is a tall, black human with a nearly shaved head. She’s hardworking, hard-fighting, hard-drinking, and her commanding officer, marshal, is an orc named Bringar. And she does have a softer side, especially with who she would say is one of her best friends, Emerald. We don’t learn as much about Manyara in the book as we do about Emerald but we do learn, from Emerald, that she’s dyslexic and if she wanted, she has the potential to become a fairly powerful magic user. As of The Demons Within, Manyara is still the least senior member of her posse but has been there long enough to be respected.

She was fun to write. Manyara fell somewhere between Emerald and Grimluk. Like Grimluk, she likes the work she does, even when it’s dirty and deadly. Like Emerald, she’s never dealt with demons before and never wanted to. Due to being a ranger, she can be a little stoic but she’s still plenty capable of being personable. Especially if there’s Cimmerian whiskey involved.

I hope you like her as much as I do. Get yourself a copy of the book and go meet her properly!

Orctober: The Demons Within Character Intro – Emerald

So, have you bought your copy of The Demons Within yet? You shooouuuuld…

To tempt you further, I thought we could take a look at a couple of the new characters for this story. First up, like Grimluk, we’ll meet Emerald. Now, you’ll learn some things about her in the book itself so this is more surface level.

Emerald is an orc who lives in Downingville, New Gilead. She works and lives at the Coming Conqueror Saloon and Hotel as a Companion ala Inara from Firefly except without the cultural appropriation/fetishization and much more saloon girl. She’s a sex worker and damn good and proud of her job. Like most orcs, she’s on the bigger side, with dark hair, and a somewhat rare beauty trait among orcs in the shape of her pupils. Though I don’t name it in the book, she stands about 6’3″, and while she doesn’t cultivate muscle, she still has a measure of her people’s inherent strength. She has some magical aptitude, as well, something she uses as part of her job, mostly in the form of minor spells using heat, cold, and electricity for massages and/or sense play. She could be considered one of the core members of the Conqueror’s Companions, as illustrated well in the book itself. She loves her peers, but especially one of her best friends, the elf named Tulip (who is the very picture of androgynous beauty). Emerald is gregarious, flirty, and good-natured, with a low tolerance for bullshit and not one problem speaking her mind. She’s happy to help those in need and happier still to ply her services.

I sincerely hope you enjoy meeting her in the book as much as I enjoyed writing her. When I was planning the book, I had the idea of having a saloon girl be one of the major characters and eventually, Emerald was the result. So get your copy of The Demons Within, and meet Emerald!

Orctober: The Demons Within Sample

So I figured maybe I could share a bit more of The Demons Within than the first chapter for y’all. This is in chapter 3 and I’m still pretty proud of the whole interaction. Still makes me smile reading it. You can get your copy here. Enjoy!

Cigar smoke met him immediately but faded enough to mingle with the smell of whiskey. No one seemed to pay him any mind as he looked about. Everyone was busy drinking or gambling or singing around the little piano. Grimluk cut toward the bar in the back, passing by several poker tables, each covered in soft green or red or blue felt. Wooden chips clicked and clacked against each other while the players took their chances with bluffs aplenty. The smell of the place shifted near the bar, filling his nostrils with the scents of beer and, strangely, just a hint of flowery perfume.
The bar was long and well polished, covered in bronze accents and a fine stone top. Maybe marble? Grimluk didn’t really know much about rocks. If it’d been steel, he’d have had a better chance, but he liked the stone, whatever it was. It was dark and speckled with gold and silver.
Grimluk stepped up and waited his turn as several others gave their orders to the barmen on duty. He looked up at the mirror hanging behind the bar and noticed an orc talking with a human to his left.
When it was his turn, Grimluk ordered two tankards of the house brew and a shot of their best whiskey. The man talking to the orc bumped into Grimluk but didn’t seem to notice or care. The orc wore a dress of reds and golds, a similar color scheme as the barmen and a few others Grimluk had noticed, showing what some might describe as a generous amount of cleavage. She was frowning heavily, with hands on hips. The look and her stance made Grimluk pay attention.
“I said no, Roscoe,” she said.
“Think yer shit dun stink?” the man asked angrily. “Think yer better ‘n me?”
For a moment, it sounded like his words were slurred with drink but Grimluk realized the man’s accent was helping out as well.
The woman didn’t answer, which seemed to make the man madder. The human hauled back like he would slap the orc but Grimluk caught his wrist as the barman set his drinks down.
“Pardon, friend, but I reckon this might be a foolish course of action,” Grimluk said. The barman watched with a cautious glare.
The man ripped his hand free and spun on Grimluk. “The fuck you say, gerblin?”
Grimluk’s throat rumbled and he ran his tongue along one of his tusks. “Reckon I said your behavior might not be the best. Reckon that’s double now.”
“Ain’t your woman, goblin.” He made a clear effort to enunciate the word this time. “Ain’t no point in protectin’ her none, neither!”
Grimluk downed the shot of whiskey and turned to face the man proper. “Not protectin’ her, friend. Tryin’ to protect you. I reckon you could say I know a thing or two about orcs. Here’s what I know, friend. You hit her and she’s gonna break your hand. And you say that ugly word around either of us again, and I reckon she’ll break something else, too. Now, if I were you, I’d take a walk outside and let the wind cool me down a bit before somethin’ bad happened.”
The man opened his mouth to protest more but Grimluk cut him off with a growl. “Before something bad happened. Friend.”
A conflict of emotions warred on the man’s ruddy face as he weighed the situation. “Fah! Troll fuckers!” he shouted before wandering away to some dark corner, no doubt to tend to his wounded ego.
Grimluk nodded to the woman and turned back to his brew.
The barman set another shot of whiskey down. “On the house.”
Grimluk held the glass up in a small salute and downed it.
“Didn’t have to do that, stranger,” the woman said, moving closer to him. “Barrier spell in here prohibits violence. He’d have been turned away ‘fore he hit me.”
Grimluk shrugged and set his hat down. “He might be an ass, but there wasn’t a need even for that. He’ll either rethink his strategy next time or else the spell will do whatever it does and he’ll learn the hard way.”
She gave him a momentary laugh and a smile. He thought both were beautiful. Her tusks were clean and strong, if a little on the thin side, and framed by lips that were painted bright red. He couldn’t help but think of the now-dead demon, but he’d learned long ago to let thoughts like that slip away. He smiled back.
“Ain’t you a real sweetie,” she said, giving a wink. Her eyes were a dark red, made all the more striking with the help of her makeup. A pale green hand brushed Grimluk’s sleeve.
This close, he could see her eyes better. Among orcs, there were certain physical characteristics considered particularly beautiful. Grimluk saw such a feature in her eyes. Orc pupils were usually diamond-shaped, but sometimes, the points of those diamonds stretched out a little, resembling a shining star.
“Well,” he started, “I see enough violence.” He shrugged. “I figure a saloon should be a haven. Doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s my view all the same. Especially given my proclivity for travel.”
“Aaah, I bet you’re a cardsharp, ain’t ya? Clean house and then move on, am I right?”
He grinned again. “Sometimes. Speaking of travel, though, does this place have any free rooms? Given your presence, maybe even something comfortable for an orc? Deputy Amos told me to find someone named Emerald, too.”
She nodded and gave another smile. “Matter of fact, I’m Emerald, hun. And we do have a nice room for a fine gentleman like yourself. If you’d like, I could show it to ya. What’s your name?”
“Thank you kindly,” he said, gathering his hat and remaining drink. “Name’s Grimluk. Lead the way, Miss.”
Emerald led him through the throng to a stairwell he’d missed when he entered. She made her way down a long hall that connected both sides of the building, her hips moving rather exaggeratedly. Grimluk wondered if maybe she’d hurt herself at some point, but the thought drifted away. Wasn’t any of his business either way and he appreciated her kindness.
She stopped and opened a door before disappearing inside. “Illumo,” she said as he followed. The lamps around the room flared up, along with a small wood stove in one of the corners. It was easily the biggest hotel room Grimluk had ever seen in his travels, aside from one trip to Varnerton. He knew it was a modestly sized room, though. The type easily found in towns of this size. Still, it had a couple of high-backed chairs, a table, a dresser and chest, and, as he’d hoped, a bed that would fit him well. Soft wallpaper lined the walls and thick red curtains hung across the windows. Everything looked quite comfortable. Plush even.
“What do ya think? Nice enough?” Emerald asked after he finished taking in the room.
“It’s very nice. Only one nicer was in Varnerton.”
“You’ve been to the capital? Goodness, hun, you really do like to travel.”
He nodded once. “That’s the life.”
“Maybe you can tell me about it later. Now, it’s a bilt for two hours, three for the evening, and ten for the night.”
His throat rumbled as he frowned. “A mite on the expensive side, ain’t it? Ah, well. It’s warm and your drinks are damn good.”
“Expensive?” Emerald said, the sweetness draining from her voice. “Excuse me?”
“Reckon so,” Grimluk replied, unbuttoning his coat. “Usually get a night for a bilt, maybe two.” He slipped out of the coat and hung it up on a nearby rack along with his hat.
“Expensive? What a pile of troll shit. I’ll have you know I’ve gotten extra pay for a night!”
Grimluk’s brow furrowed. “Extra for the night?”
“Damn right.”
“Why?”
Emerald’s eyes narrowed and she marched over to Grimluk, every inch of her suddenly fierce and aggressive. “Cause I’m gods-damned worth it! And I don’t care how big your gun is, if you don’t agree, then get the fuck outta here, mister! Gun or no gun, I’ll whoop ya good!”
Realization struck Grimluk. “You’re a Companion?”
“The fuck else would I be? You asked for a room!”
Grimluk had to steady himself as the laughter rolled through him, heavy and sincere. Emerald looked at him like she would knock his head clean off. He held up his free hand in a sign of surrender. She looked at him warily but stepped back. Her own face lit up for a moment.
“Oh. Maybe you don’t like girls, then?”
“No, no, it’s not that. I like girls just fine. Don’t really have a preference one way or another. I really was just lookin’ for a room, though. I didn’t realize you were a Companion.” Another chuckle rolled out of him. “I’ve no doubt you’re well worth your prices, though.”
“Didn’t realize…” Now it was Emerald’s turn to laugh. “I’m so sorry! I just thought…”
“I know, I know. Reckon a little miscommunication goes a long way.” He sipped some of his brew. “Been a while since I seen another orc. How ‘bout I pay you for your time and we can just sit and talk? Still need a room, too, if these are actually for rent.”

The Demons Within – A Big Thank You To My Backers

I’d meant to do this Monday but I got a little distracted. SO! Today then. I want to acknowledge and thank the following people for backing the Kickstarter campaign for The Demons Within!

In order of pledge, a very orc-sized thank you to…

  • Eric DiCarlo
  • Steven Latour
  • Andrew Paterson
  • James Jakins
  • Thomas Moore
  • Bryan Young
  • Rachel Sharp
  • William Stafford
  • Shayna Wark
  • Steven Pope
  • Garrett Schmigle
  • Melissa Shumake
  • Samantha Tohtz
  • Dee
  • Alyssa Riggs
  • Cliff Tohtz
  • Benet Reynolds
  • Asher Stephenson
  • Jacob Townsend
  • Kibret Gordon
  • Sungrowler
  • Matthew W. Mueller
  • Alex Haigh
  • Lisa Richardson
  • Rebecca Roth
  • Jen
  • Christopher Hayes-Kossmann
  • Leigh Petersen
  • Krista Ball
  • Rachel N.
  • Jonathan Dean
  • Satya
  • Robert Woods Tienken
  • Prodigal
  • Mega Ninja Publishing
  • Justin
  • Michael Adam Childers
  • Jeff Lewis
  • Anonymous
  • Nick Kilburg
  • Caffeinated Zombie
  • Kerri Regan
  • Margaret Beldyk
  • Ryan H
  • Amalia
  • Andrew Barton
  • Benjamin Savell
  • Wes Hillman

Not only did you help me get this book out, but some of you were involved in the final 12 hour victory, which saw the campaign go from $1077, not quite half of my $2200 goal, to $2225! I hope you enjoy The Demons Within as much as I enjoyed writing it!