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Wicked Fantasy—Orks: Children of Pain (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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Come closer to the fire, child. Come closer, listen and I will tell you how we murdered the gods...

Wicked Fantasy began as a series of articles in Kobold Magazine reinventing the "standard races" in fantasy roleplaying. Now, those same articles have been expanded and revised (five times their original size!) and fit with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

The second in the series—Children of Pain—tackles the most set upon, abused and misunderstood race in all of fantasy literature: the orks.

Created for lives of evil, orks rose up and overthrew their gods. Now, they battle against what they were so they may forge their own destinies.

No longer the "standard evil race," orks have become something more. Taught that all life was pain and that only pain makes an ork great, they have embraced that philosophy, while at the same time, turning it into something greater. They are no longer the slaves of dark gods. They are orks. Free to choose. Free to make the world into a better place... or rend it to shreds with their bloodlust and rage.

Wicked Fantasy: Children of Pain includes:

  • Full color and fully illustrated
  • New Ork Racial Traits
  • New Feats including Masochistic Feats and Reputation Feats
  • New Oracle Archetype: The Oracle of Blood
  • New Barbarian Archetype: The Gahthrak (God Eater)
  • New Bard Archetype: The Fala
  • Ork Blooding Rituals
  • And More!

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Product Reviews (2)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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Orks - Power without gods


And the bard said, 'We are no longer at war.'
'I am glad to hear it,' the governor told him.
The bard and his retinue turned to leave, but paused at the door. He looked back at the governor and growled, 'Don’t give us cause to
change our minds.'

I am not going to discuss mechanics in my review. My review does not reflect the usefulness, balance or quality of the mechanical material within this product at all. (It also does not reflect the glitches in the pdf that another reviewer wrote of, which this reviewer noted as well) Rather, I will be discussing the flavor within Children of Pain (and have written a very similar review for Humans - the Reign of Men). Children of Pain is very solid fantasy material, but it is especially noteworthy as bringing a powerful and viable atheism into a setting and genre where pantheism is almost the accepted norm. I'm no atheist, in fact, I am quite proud of my Jewish faith, but the quality and seamless integration of that concept is something all fans of fantasy should be able to appreciate as adding a very untapped dimension to the body of work in our hobby.

Atheism almost always gets the short stick in fantasy. Even in a pantheistic setting, there are those who for all intents and purposes, are monotheistic in their worship, and they are just as rewarded as pantheists for their single minded devotion. Atheism is almost always portrayed as a fool's choice in a world where divine power manifests, and has terrible consequences. In Forgotten Realms, they languish eternally in the realm of death rather than going to a final reward. In TSR's Guide to Hell (one of my favorite books), they are consumed by Asmodeus, the King of Hell. There have been some interesting portrayals (the Athar come to mind), but by and large, they are ignored.

Wicked Fantasy changes that, and in different and exciting ways. Here, orks actively went up and slaughtered their gods, to free themselves from their intended role as mindless agents of chaotic evil warfare. Murdering gods preceding atheism has been done before, the Vashar in the Book of Vile Darkness is one example. However, the subject matter was treated more reasonably here, if not outright nobly. Instead of something so evil that it mindlessly consumed its creator, we have here a people who longed to throw off the chains of 'fates' that had been set for them without any say in the matter. You could draw parallels between the American Revolution and the orks, or more closely, with the growing atheist intellectual movement across the globe. You can almost hear Alice in Chains singing "deny your Maker" when you read of the orks and their liberation. Reading about the orks is reading about a proactive and powerful people who reject divine servitude as a way of life. There is something very empowering about this setting. I would compare it to Paizo's own empowering of gay pro/antagonists within Golarion's setting. In both, this empowerment doesn't come at the expense of the majority, but still stands out because of the dearth of previous exposure to the concept.

Within Children of Pain, we have orks in all their vicious glory, but they have a very distinct theme, that separates them from orcs in Golarion, Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons or Middle Earth. In fact, you can almost feel the Middle Earth/Golarion orc representing their previous god-shackled state, and the Wicked Fantasy ork coming down off that mountain where they murdered the gods, like Moses returning to the Israelites with the Ten Commandments.

Whenever I read new fantasy material, I look to see how many new ideas it sparks within my own imagination. If I want to immediately incorporate it wholesale into my own campaign, it is a winner. Wicked Fantasy stands in a fairly lonely company with Green Ronin's Freeport and Frog God Games' setting in that regard. When I read through it, back as a series of articles in Kobold Quarterly, it struck me as something that despite not fitting into my setting (modified Golarion/Oerth), it was going to be fit into my setting. It was that interesting, that unique and that compelling.

If you are looking for a fresh brand new look at orks, or if you like keeping your finger on the pulse of the fantasy genre, pick up Chldren of Pain. You won't be sorry you did. (Hey, who knows, you might even like those mechanics!)

Alternate take on the OrKs - rather interesting

****( )

This pdf by John Wick Presents is 26 pages long, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/prelude, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving 21 pages of content, so what exactly do we get with these Orks (yeah, with "k", just like in German!)?

You have probably read the Wicked Fantasy-series of articles in KQ, but just to be sure: Wicked Fantasy centers on a new takes on classic fantasy races, a reimagining so to speak. An example would be the Uvandir, genderless (but male-looking), eternal dwarves who can toil all day and night, never starve etc. In this pdf, we get an expansive take on the Orks in the vein of a widely-expanded ecology-article.

The reimagining of the race essentially makes the Orks what you've come to know: An evil race, created by evil gods. Orkish doctrine, for ages, had them consume their foes to take in their strength and worship pain - until they evolved. For which foe might offer more strength than one's god? In a feat of unheard-of racial uprising, the orks stormed their god's sacred hall, vanquished their pantheon and ate them, thus gaining their strength. (Though some sages speculate that some orkish gods may have escaped...)

Thus, via the divinely-infused bloodlines, Orks changed and diversified and had to deal with the lifting of the red haze of rage, for now, they encountered a state of mind as of yet unknown - free will.

The nomadic tribes have made tentative peace with the other races, as they seek to understand the powers their newfound freedom and the darkness of their ancestors blood offer them. Depending on the bloodline of one's ancestors, special abilities and dispositions are available to the green-skins. 6 of these divine bloodlines are included.

The Orks can also create so-called Feth'Ork-creatures by feeding animals and beasts their blood in order to mutate the critters into allies and negate the loathing regular animals exhibit when encountered by Orks.

I mentioned the worship of pain as well and it defines Orkish culture to this date - their sacred scars, the Va, all come with their stories and knowing these has to be earned. More importantly, 5 masochistic feats enable Orks to harness the power of pain and actually get stronger via hurt, pain and punishment. I really loved these feats and while they seem to be kind of powerful, the steep price they demand is worth the benefit. 3 feats are focused on the divine bloodlines and we get a new mystery for the oracles, the so-called blood mystery, which essentially provides the tribal shamans and makes for a neat piece of writing. We also get a new archetype for barbarians and one for bards, the latter being rather interesting, as it focuses on insulting foes and bolstering allies via epic story-telling, thus hearkening back to our own world's intricate webs of poetic allusions displayed in saga-literature and Heian romances like the Tale of Genji, to quote only two.

Editing and formatting are good, though not stellar: I did notice about 7 glitches on my first read-through and an additional pass at editing would have been nice, as some of the extensive bookmarks consist of only one letter. layout adheres to a 2-column standard and comes in full-color, with a parchment-like background and neat pieces of artwork. I really liked the writing, which makes this pdf rank among the most compelling ecology-articles I have ever read. On the other hand, though, I feel that some of the pieces of writing like the feats could be more concisely-written: I had to re-read some of the feats before I got how exactly how the crunch is supposed to work. Were I to rate only the quality of the writing, I'd settle for a higher rating, but as presented the glitches and minor hick-ups just accumulated and thus I'll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.

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