Orctober: Grimluk in D&D

Having gone through and looked at orcs, half-orcs, and my homebrew tweaks for them as player races, it’s time to look at how Grimluk would fit in D&D 5e. Below, I’ll be listing two different versions. The first will be a medieval style Grimluk based purely on the Player Handbook rules with only slight homebrew (for weapons). The only major thing is that to do Grim properly, he has to be multiclassed. There is no getting around that, especially considering he usually works alone. The second version is heavily homebrewed, which I’ll discuss below the link.

Grimluk, version 1

Pretty standard standard fair, multiclassing aside. Half-orc, Crossbow Expert and Resilient for feats, rolled stats that are fairly high (Grimluk spent eight years training as an apprentice, I think it’s warranted), plus fiend slayer weapons (based on the dragon slayer). Grimluk’s base class is a Fighter, taking the Champion archetype, followed by the Hunter Ranger, and one level in Monk. Crossbow, shortsword, crit fishing, a pretty solid build. While I went for unarmored defense, I would probably just go ahead and take the starting chainmail from the Fighter.

Grimluk, version 2

Now, this one gets intense. My tweaked Orcs with Powerful Build swapped over Aggressive. For classes, once again, a base Fighter but this time, the archetype is the Monster Hunter I made a while back, along with Hunter Ranger, and Monk, again, for martial arts and unarmored defense. Like before, this version uses two-weapon fighting and archery for fighting styles, but this time, I use the firearms from the Dungeon Master’s Guide combined with the Fiend Slayer features I used before. And since my Monster Hunter uses what is essentially the Colossus Slayer feature from the Hunter Ranger, I took Horde Breaker to compliment (and damn does that stack will). Resilient shows up once again along with the Gunslinger feat, which I based on Crossbow Expert. It works as follows:

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.

The feat might need some tweaking, for the quick draw feature, but otherwise, it’s the same as Crossbow Expert.

Now, once I got done with the second version of Grimluk, I was really surprised and pleased at just how close to the real thing it reads. I briefly considered a feature for the gun that uses the mechanics of the Arrow of Slaying for the blood runes featured in Demon Haunted but that seemed a bit overkill for D&D (especially since you’d get six chances to use it). Overall, the builds kick a lot of ass, with the total level for both versions being 12.

There are certain things that are hard to implement. Grimluk’s ability to shrug off getting shot being the major one. There aren’t really any rules for how to play AC when guns are a thing. There’s few rules for Wild West D&D and Grimluk’s ability to withstand multiple bullets is a unique trait (at least as far as the first three books are concerned). And I fully realize that he’s got Drizzt levels of OP going on cause he’s a book character, not a player character. That’s okay.

So that’s Grimluk in D&D. Friday will see Scott Oden talking about how personal D&D can be and on Monday, I’ll be posting a massive D&D game post where me and a few other folks played an orc-centric one shot. And don’t forget, if you want to see more of Grimluk, head over and make a pledge for The Demons Within kickstarter!

Orctober: The Demons Within

I’m currently waiting on a few guest posts and thinking up some more topics to discuss, so I thought I’d take today to talk about The Demons Within and its kickstarter campaign.

The most obvious is that it is the third book in the Grimluk, Demon Hunter series. It also represents another personal milestone. My THIRD book…holy shit, I’ve done this three times (or will have by its release). And I keep getting better at it! It’s no secret that A Demon in the Desert was a bit of a mess. Debut effort, lacked proper editing, was learning my process as I went, etc. etc. I still turned out a respectable book that people have enjoyed, but I had some growing to do. Demon Haunted was a marked improvement, especially with Tim Marquitz’s editing notes and encouraging me to maintain POVs and not head-hop.

The Demons Within puts all of those lessons together. I keep my POVs tighter but still give them a little bit of breathing room. My process is more defined, which has allowed me to write better. I went in with a clear plan and went at it.

But, this is Orctober, so I should probably focus on the orcs, huh?

The Demons Within shows Grimluk, at least at the start, more in his natural element. He travels to a town with demon troubles and proceeds to take the thing down. Up until The Plot arrives, you get to see him interacting with folks in a more regular matter, talk about his people some, and even get a look into what his dreams are occasionally like as someone who deals with a never-ending parade of the eldritch, the abominable, and the demonic.

And then there’s Emerald. Emerald is a Companion. If you’re reading that like from Firefly, then yes, it’s a lot like that, except no weird cultural appropriation/fetishization, and more bawdy saloon girl. The Companions are, explicitly, sex workers, and viewed as an important part of society in Grimluk’s world. The town of Downingville is basically built around the saloon/hotel where Emerald and her peers operate. Emerald, again explicitly, says she loves sex, loves making people feel good, and loves her work. But she still has other interests, and even does other things besides sex. Companions can just as easily serve as escorts for fancy events, masseuses, or just a temporary friend.

I’m quite proud of Emerald. She didn’t become a sex worker due to trauma or anything of that nature. She just liked the idea of being a Companion and went after it. She’s clever, feisty, self-assured, and, being an orc, more than capable of taking care of herself. She also presents as a unique orc, which I would love to talk more about but would be kind of a character spoiler and I would really like to let people meet her properly in text.

There are only two other orcs in this book and one of them is a passing character. The other, though, is the Marshal of the Rangers we meet. His name is Bringar and he is…surly, to say the least. I will talk about the Rangers another time, but I can tell a little bit about Bringar, though there’s only a little to tell. He’s a tertiary character but one that affects one of the main characters heavily, considering he’s basically her boss. You could say that he’s a bit of a mirror to Grimluk. An orc whose line of work tends toward traveling and fighting. Bringar, though, has a chip on his shoulder. He’s got some issues, probably a lot of which come from being an orc and being a marshal. Grimluk warns him to avoid the big bad of the story and Bringar ends up paying for his hubris.

I hope that this piques your interest, if you haven’t backed already. I would very much like to get this book to you next year, properly edited and with cover art. It will set up a recurring villain and a few other bits and bobs of Grim’s world, as well as shed some light on some older things. If you love orcs, then love my son, for his big and good. You can pledge here.

On Friday, we’ll see James Jakins talking about the effects D&D had on writing Jack Bloodfist. Until then!

Orctober Begins

It is October 1st. While the ghouls and ghosts rise from their graves to haunt the night, as the werewolves descend to share their cursed bite with swarms of bats swirling overhead, something else marches to join them. Something big, sometimes green, sometimes not. Something that looks right at home among the denizens of Halloween.

The orcs have arrived. It’s time for

orctober

For those who are new to Orctober, you can find a primer over on Fantasy Faction today, where Laura Hughes gave me a guest spot. For those returning and/or already familiar, welcome, friends.

Before we get into this year’s festivities, I’d like to take the opportunity to inform everyone that the kickstarter for the third Grimluk book, The Demons Within, is officially live! Get those early bird slots before they disappear!

Last year’s Orctober was a fairly successful event, in my estimation. Between having plenty to talk about, I had also just released Demon Haunted, and this year has a similar bend. I decided to go with a more cohesive theme for this year: Dungeons & Dragons. Partially to help me focus on content to post, partially because I’ve been playing my first full campaign this year after playing for the first time last summer and just digging into it with glee. On top of that, while I’m not releasing the third Grimluk book, I am running the Kickstarter campaign for it.

So let’s talk about what’s in store for the month.

First up, I’ll go over the current lore of the Orcs (including Half-Orcs) in Fifth Edition D&D. That will set up a couple of things for later revolving around tweaking the Orcs, for stats and lore. I’ll also be doing a big write-up on Gruumsh and evaluating his place as a Chaotic Evil deity.

Secondly, several of the creators form last year will be back this year with their own guest posts. Not everyone will be discussing D&D related topics but that’s hardly a problem. On top of that, we’ll be doing a one-shot D&D game which I’ll be recording and will be released towards the end of the month in mp3.

Thirdly, I’ll be doing some “Grimluk in D&D” type stuff, which will include a character sheet for our big hero. I’ll be doing two types of character sheets; one for D&D as written, and one for the changed rules I’ll be posting.

Somewhat related, while all this is going on, over on r/Fantasy, the Reading Resident Authors club will be reading Demon Haunted (which is currently still on sale for Kindle through Saturday night). If you’re interested and haven’t read it yet, that’s a pretty good excuse. There will be two discussion threads, the first on the 14th and the last on the 29th. And, once again, I’ll be doing a r/Fantasy Writer of the Day AMA on the 30th, where folks can come and hang out and ask questions and scream about Stranger Things season 2 with me. I’ve said it before, I know reddit can be a toxic place but, for the most part, r/Fantasy is a wonderful and chill place, so don’t be afraid to make an account and pop in.

Should be a good month. So brush your tusks, practice your war cries, and get ready.

Two Year Anniversary

It’s been two years since I released A Demon in the Desert.

Two years, man. It’s wild. Now I’ve got the third book drafted and I’ll be starting the fourth soon as well, with a Kickstarter for book 3 happening in October. I’ve learned a lot in the span of two years. I want to thank everyone who’s helped me and made this possible. Everyone who’s backed me, everyone who’s reviewed me, sent encouraging words, everyone who’s taught me craft and business. You’ve all been amazing. Who knows where things will be by year five!

Expectations for Grimluk

I figured I’d take the opportunity to say a little about where Grimluk is going because I’ve had it asked a few times if the books were going to be a trilogy. I know I’ve said in other posts that I’m hoping to write books 3 and 4 this year, so I’ll say it again for anyone who’s missed it.

I am going to write the Grimluk series for as long as I have ideas for his stories. And I have a lot of ideas. The current plan is to get through book 5 and then do another project, probably a space opera. But what to expect from Grimluk as we go along?

I haven’t exactly made a secret of including Lovecraftian influences (if you’ve read Demon Haunted, you’ll have seen an incantation to Shub Niggurath, for instance), and that will continue on in books 3 and 4, though probably not in completely expected ways. Book 3 will see the fearsome shoggoth introduced. Book 4 will touch more on cults which will bleed in a little for book 5, which will star a take on a combo of the Jersey Devil and Springheeled Jack.

I’ve often said that Grimluk is basically everything I love smushed together. So outside of those details, I could go on about ideas for later books. I have an idea I might do for book 6 that would introduce aliens, via a Tall Gray. I would definitely love to figure out a way to twist the Four Horsemen into Grimluk’s world at some point. I’m a sucker for the Horsemen.

I figure I can get out fifteen Grimluk books at the least, if not more. Probably more. And I figure as I go on writing, and if my life settles down, I’ll get more efficient and be able to write more books, maybe I’ll be able to do other projects along with Grimluk. Can’t say for sure on that though.

So yeah, this is a series and it’s gonna go for as long as I have interesting stories to tell. Probably never going to have Grimluk Save The World™ but who knows. And I’ll do my best to make each book self-contained to boot. I guess I’d kind of like to make the series kind of a high fantasy, weird west Dresden Files, mysteries only occasional though.

Anywho, just wanted to put these things out there, make it clear. I’m sure folks will still miss it but that’s okay. I’m still thrilled folks are enjoying my work so far. Take care.