Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes (PFRPG)
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Blood and Brutality

Orcs are the scourge of civilization, the raiders who come in the night, slaughtering innocents for treasure and the simple joy of the kill. Their brutality extends even to their own kind, with tribes battling for supremacy and only the strongest individuals surviving to adulthood. Yet despite their fearsome image, orcs maintain a society of their own, having carved out the legendary Hold of Belkzen. Within this chaotic region, warlords vie for supremacy, adventurers plunder ruins long lost to orc barbarism, and those bold orcs who imagine a better life struggle for change.

Whether your players are treasure hunters stealing the riches of the past, soldiers seeking to end the orc threat once and for all, or orcs seeking to escape or rule their brethren, this book has everything you need to run a campaign in the war-torn Hold of Belkzen, including:

  • Detailed gazetteers of Belkzen’s settlements, from the surprisingly cosmopolitan capital of Urgir to the turbulent Blood Plains and the rare non-orc settlements such as Freedom Town and the hanging monastery of Sech Nevali.
  • Information on the terrifying orc gods, such as Dretha the Dark Mother and the Blood God, Nulgreth.
  • Overviews of the most prominent orc tribes, from the Empty Hand and the Broken Spine to the Ice Tooth and the Skull Eater.
  • Information on orc warfare, including their beast-powered war machines.
  • Tons of new adventure sites ripe for exploration, including the draconic Sleeper and the Flood Road, plus a detailed regional map ready to lead your player characters to riches—or a bloody death.
  • Nine new monsters, random encounter tables, and more!

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes is intended for use with the Pathfinder campaign setting, but can be easily adapted to any fantasy world.

Written by Tyler Beck, Jason Garrett, Alex Greenshields, and David Schwartz

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-710-9

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscription.

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3.00/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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More than just orcs

4/5

I used this book for two different campaigns and I think it deserves it a better rating.

Map & gazetteer:

Spoiler:
The book starts off with a map that's stained in blood which is a nice effect. A lot of places are marked there - it would be quite challenging to prepare all of them, so maybe use only a fraction of the map for your campaign. Neighbouring countries and places are missing, which is unfortunate.

The gazetteer is good enough to give an impression on Belkzen. Flood Truce is an interesting concept that adds more depth to orcs. History is summarized within 2 1/2 pages - for me the rise from Underdark and the reign of the Whispering Tyrant were the most interesting parts.

Five areas get a four-page write-up: Blood Plains, Conquered Lands, Smokespur, Urgir and Whisperfall. While some of the content is typical for orcs, human settlements, undead menaces and even a hanging monastry are mentioned. Urgir as an orc metropolis should make a great place to visit for adventurers.

Adventuring:

Spoiler:
Eight gods are described on half a page each - pretty helpful if you want to add more depth and flavor to enemy divine spellcasters. The orc tribe list has some surprises like female chieftains, worship to Sarenrae and wyvern tamers. Conflicts between tribes get some room here, which could contribute to the story.

Orc war machines, siege engines and mounts show a few creative ideas which might add to flavor when battling orcs. The 14 pages of adventure sites are a wealth of starting points for adventures, but you will have to make up most maps and stat blocks for yourself. Only the map of a small human settlement is detailed enough to be used directly, imo.

Bestiary:

Spoiler:
There are 8 creatures and a template, but I found only a few of them to be actually helpful - which is not so different from regular bestiary books, but still a limitation. Ankhrav is a more powerful ankheg - nice if you want to add a boss to an ankheg encounter. The Burning Child is an unique flavorful creature which probably works better as a story element than as a straightforward encounter. Dahzagan is pretty cool if you want to augment an orc horde with an orc-related outsider.

So, overall this book gives you a good introduction into the area, but limited material that can be used directly. Orcs naturally get a lot of attention here, still it's not "Orcs of Golarion, Campaign Setting edition" - which is a blessing, given the high quality of the nonorc material. The book walks a fine line between the classic orc horde and surprising new takes on the greenskins - and succeeds in doing so. There are some decent adventure hooks, which might be the most interesting part.


Disappointing

2/5

Read my full review on Of Dice and Pen.

Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes should have been an opportunity to add more depth to orcs in Pathfinder, and to be fair, it makes a couple tokens attempts to do so. However, on the whole, it misses out on the opportunity, instead focusing mostly on describing locations and adventure sites, many of which happen to have orcs in them. It does little to give the orcs any real character beyond violent killers or to differentiate one orc tribe from another. By the end of the book, orcs remain pretty much as faceless as they’ve always been, just fodder waiting for for the PCs to kill them.


Good but not great!

3/5

THE GOOD:
All major locations are mentioned and get a description.
Half of the inside art is great.
4 solid settlement stat blocks.
8 orc gods get half a page each.
24 orc tribes get a short write-up inclusive their leaders and their level.
The 4 orc warmachines are all solid.
The adventure site section is absolutely awesome - this is were the book shines! All 15 sites are great!
Half of the monsters in the bestiary are good.

THE BAD:
The inside-cover map of Belkzen is not very beautiful.
The timeline spans 10.000 years and is only one page.
3 settlements don´t get a stat block.
The city maps are not detailed enough.
Only 4 of 8 orc gods get pictures.
Not enough orc war-machines and the art for the 2 large ones that are shown is not very awe-inspiring.
Half of the monsters in the bestiary are lame.

THE UGLY:
Half of the inside art is too dark.

Worth it for the adventure site section alone!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber
brad2411 wrote:
lacker wrote:

Curious to know, from those of you with the PDF already and willing to share, the level of detail given for Freedomtown?

Is it like the detail given in the player's guide for Giantslayer AP of Tranau... Map, major NPCs, major locations etc?

Thank you

It does have a map and a town stat block with some locales. It is about a half a page of text and the other half a page is the map.

Great, thx!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Are any of the new animals usable as animal companions/mounts?

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Nate Z wrote:
Are any of the new animals usable as animal companions/mounts?

Spoiler:

Bristle Boar
Bull of Zagresh
Warcat of Rull
Whisperfall Vulture

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Skeld wrote:
Nate Z wrote:
Are any of the new animals usable as animal companions/mounts?

** spoiler omitted **

-Skeld

~yay~

Dark Archive

They are pretty cool animal companions. Also there are a few new animal companions in Battle of Bloodmarch hill

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Bristle Boar
Bull of Zagresh
Warcat of Rull
Whisperfall Vulture

These four were mine! *squee*
LOL... I'm actually very proud of them. Can't wait to see them in action!

I also did a bunch of orc tribes but I don't yet know which ones made it into the book (My contributor copy isn't here yet). Can someone with the PDF just quickly list all the tribes, and I'll point out which ones were mine?


So, this is awesome and I hate that I have to wait for the end of February. How much detail do they go into with the tribes? Also, any new items or something like that? What about the major powers of belkzen? Any word on their motivations or movements?

Dark Archive

cartmanbeck wrote:

Bristle Boar

Bull of Zagresh
Warcat of Rull
Whisperfall Vulture

These four were mine! *squee*
LOL... I'm actually very proud of them. Can't wait to see them in action!

I also did a bunch of orc tribes but I don't yet know which ones made it into the book (My contributor copy isn't here yet). Can someone with the PDF just quickly list all the tribes, and I'll point out which ones were mine?

I will say thank you then as I will be using a Warcat of Rull as my Hunters companion.

Edit:

Orc Tribes:

Black Sun
Blood Trail
Bloodied Gauntlets
Broken Spine
Burning Sun
Cleft Head
Dead Eye
Death's Head
Defiled Corpse
Drowning Sand
Eight Fingers
Empty Hand
Gutspear
Haskodar
Ice Tooth
Murdered Child
One Eye
Open Barrow
Skittering Ravager
Skull Eater
Steel Eater
Storm-Screamers of Rull
Twisted Nail
Wingripper

Dark Archive

Major_Blackhart wrote:
So, this is awesome and I hate that I have to wait for the end of February. How much detail do they go into with the tribes? Also, any new items or something like that? What about the major powers of belkzen? Any word on their motivations or movements?

Tribes are only detailed so much as this is the leader and here is how they act. Some are a little bigger then others but most of the tribes are only about a quarter of a page. There are a few new things like the orc war machines, Siege Engine Ammo, mounts, and there gear. I really have not got into major powers of belkzen the closets thing is the tribes but I have not fully read through the Gazetteer yet.


How much info is there on orc gods? Any standout god lore that grabbed you?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What's the Warcat of Rull like? Anything like a smilodon/sabre-toothed tiger?

Dark Archive

Bellona wrote:
What's the Warcat of Rull like? Anything like a smilodon/sabre-toothed tiger?

It is like a tiger meats an Armadillo. But the picture was a little weird as it had more scales then the plate of an armadillo. It gets huge size and is very strong. The animal companion does not get huge.

Dark Archive

Voadam wrote:
How much info is there on orc gods? Any standout god lore that grabbed you?

The gods have a half page write up like normal for the campaign setting line. The one that I liked the most was Rull the Thunderer. I did a spoiler on him earlier.

I also liked Sezelrian the God of Fire.

Sezelrian:
He is the God of fire, magic and revenge. Domains chaos, evil, fire, magic. SD Ash, Demon, Divine, Smoke. Favored Weapon Heavy mace. His symbol is a boar skull on fire.

He is also the god that gave orcs intelligence and is the orc god of magic. His picture is pretty cool. He looks like an Orc Witch Doctor with a heavy mace that has sparks and smoke but does not have burn.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Black Sun
Blood Trail
Bloodied Gauntlets
Broken Spine
Burning Sun
Cleft Head
Dead Eye
Death's Head
Defiled Corpse
Drowning Sand
Eight Fingers
Empty Hand
Gutspear
Haskodar
Ice Tooth
Murdered Child
One Eye
Open Barrow
Skittering Ravager
Skull Eater
Steel Eater
Storm-Screamers of Rull <- This one was mine. None of the other names are the same as the ones I submitted, but it's possible the developer changed the names of one or two others. :)
Twisted Nail
Wingripper

Can't wait to get the book so I can see the descriptions of all of these!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I know it's mainly about orcs in Belkzen, but are there any references to other orcs in Avistan? Perhaps mentioned in the history/timeline of tribes that emerged from the Darklands and moved onto elsewhere?

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
DeciusNero wrote:
I know it's mainly about orcs in Belkzen, but are there any references to other orcs in Avistan? Perhaps mentioned in the history/timeline of tribes that emerged from the Darklands and moved onto elsewhere?

For that look at the Orcs of Golarion book.


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Branding Opportunity wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
I know it's mainly about orcs in Belkzen, but are there any references to other orcs in Avistan? Perhaps mentioned in the history/timeline of tribes that emerged from the Darklands and moved onto elsewhere?
For that look at the Orcs of Golarion book.

It's possible Inner Sea Races will cover some of this too? [/speculatory]


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
If you're interested in playing one for Giantslayer, I can offer supplementary material for the Bloodied Gauntlet(some) and the Burning Suns(a lot) to help you fit into that campaign. I'm sure the creators of the Ice Tooth and Storm Screamer tribes will have some advice too!

The Burning Suns sound interesting. What can you share?


So a Warcat gets 3 NA and 2 strength in exchange for 2 dex, 4 wisdom and 5 charisma when compared to a big cat?

Dark Archive

deuxhero wrote:
So a Warcat gets 3 NA and 2 strength in exchange for 2 dex, 4 wisdom and 5 charisma when compared to a big cat?

it also has 1 more con then the big cats which puts it at +1 more hp

Liberty's Edge

When is the "street date" for the physical book?

Mike


February 25th.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

2 weeks from yesterday.

Silver Crusade

Evan Tarlton wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
If you're interested in playing one for Giantslayer, I can offer supplementary material for the Bloodied Gauntlet(some) and the Burning Suns(a lot) to help you fit into that campaign. I'm sure the creators of the Ice Tooth and Storm Screamer tribes will have some advice too!
The Burning Suns sound interesting. What can you share?

A lot. :) It will need to wait until after the street date though, and does need the disclaimer up front that whatever isn't in the book isn't official canon.

I can go ahead and say that

Spoiler:
it's extremely friendly towards consensual half-orc origins, the tribe is predominantly CG/CN, they're in a position that has left them desperately needing allies and/or an exodus strategy, their attitudes about cannibalism and slavery are better than the norm but could still use work(especially the latter), their burial rites might come across as both beautiful and horrifying to some, a popular and somewhat dangerous holiday sport involves smashing burning Rovagug effigies made of stuffed ankheg exoskeletons, and Mahja might have a (possibly aasimar) child waiting to be claimed as a PC.


Mikaze wrote:
Evan Tarlton wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
If you're interested in playing one for Giantslayer, I can offer supplementary material for the Bloodied Gauntlet(some) and the Burning Suns(a lot) to help you fit into that campaign. I'm sure the creators of the Ice Tooth and Storm Screamer tribes will have some advice too!
The Burning Suns sound interesting. What can you share?

A lot. :) It will need to wait until after the street date though, and does need the disclaimer up front that whatever isn't in the book isn't official canon.

I can go ahead and say that ** spoiler omitted **

Well, that about does it. My PC for Giantslayer will either be a Burning Suns barbarian, or a Half-Orc offspring of a Burning Suns warrior and priest of Sarenrae. :)

Liberty's Edge

Heine Stick wrote:
February 25th.

thanks

Dark Archive

Mikaze wrote:
Evan Tarlton wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
If you're interested in playing one for Giantslayer, I can offer supplementary material for the Bloodied Gauntlet(some) and the Burning Suns(a lot) to help you fit into that campaign. I'm sure the creators of the Ice Tooth and Storm Screamer tribes will have some advice too!
The Burning Suns sound interesting. What can you share?

A lot. :) It will need to wait until after the street date though, and does need the disclaimer up front that whatever isn't in the book isn't official canon.

I can go ahead and say that ** spoiler omitted **

I could have missed it but what part of the Hold is the Burning Suns living in?


Hmm, so does it go into the Orc Cults at all, or which gods aside from Rovagug play the largest part in tribes? Some appear devoted to the Orc Gods, but at the same time, are they a minority?

Dark Archive

brad2411 wrote:
lacker wrote:

Curious to know, from those of you with the PDF already and willing to share, the level of detail given for Freedomtown?

Is it like the detail given in the player's guide for Giantslayer AP of Tranau... Map, major NPCs, major locations etc?

Thank you

It does have a map and a town stat block with some locales. It is about a half a page of text and the other half a page is the map.

Thank you for sharing all the info Brad2411! :-)

Any more settlement info beyond Freedomtown?

How much pages is the section and how detailed is it?

Is there an NPC section including Grask Uldeth or other warchiefs with full stats?

Thx for your time


Images of Orc gods: Are there any?


An interesting bit - the orc deities all grant four domains and four subdomains.

Which means they're actually CR 26-30ish demigods, rather than true gods.

Rull the Thunderer:
I also like that the Orcs met Rull the Thunderer when they breached the surface (weather wasn't a thing to them until then), and now I'm wondering if that was meant literally. "About time you made it up here, you primitive screwheads. Now listen up..."

Also, I'll admit grinning at the Dead Eye tribe's entry and their god.

@ Major_Blackhart - Dretha, Nulgreth (Blood for the Blood God!), Sezelrian, and Zagresh the Destroyer all have artwork. You've already seen Dretha's art on the blog.


Major_Blackhart wrote:
Images of Orc gods: Are there any?

Yup. Four of them. Dretha, Nulgreth, Sezelrian, and Zagresh.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Zhangar.


Ok, this is awesome information. Is there further information on them and their cults or just little blurbs?

Also, what about the big two that EVERYONE in Belkzen talks about, Rovagug and Gorum?

There are so many questions I need to ask but won't because I want to read it all. DAMMIT!!

Edit: Also, the # of domains doesn't necessarily denote demi-god status. The Giant Pantheon, Dwarven Pantheon, Alseta, Brigh, Hanspur, Naderi, etc have 4 domains each. It simply means that they're lesser gods than the big ones. Don't know what that actually means, but it just means that they have less influence maybe or are limited in followers or something.


Major_Blackhart wrote:

Ok, this is awesome information. Is there further information on them and their cults or just little blurbs?

Also, what about the big two that EVERYONE in Belkzen talks about, Rovagug and Gorum?

There are so many questions I need to ask but won't because I want to read it all. DAMMIT!!

Edit: Also, the # of domains doesn't necessarily denote demi-god status. The Giant Pantheon, Dwarven Pantheon, Alseta, Brigh, Hanspur, Naderi, etc have 4 domains each. It simply means that they're lesser gods than the big ones. Don't know what that actually means, but it just means that they have less influence maybe or are limited in followers or something.

No, 4 domains means a being of demi-god level power. This includes Demon Lords, Archdukes, Horsemen, Empyreal Lords, Elemental Lords etc.

Any divine being with only 4 domains is a Demi-god, while any divine being with 5 domains is a true deity.


What are the NPCs?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:


A lot. :) It will need to wait until after the street date though, and does need the disclaimer up front that whatever isn't in the book isn't official canon.

I can go ahead and say that ** spoiler omitted **

Sounds promising! Thank you!


I really want there to be more weapons with the word Orc in front of them. Would make orc is weapon proficiency even more awesome.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Major_Blackhart wrote:
I really want there to be more weapons with the word Orc in front of them. Would make orc is weapon proficiency even more awesome.

Since this is a Campaign Setting title, most of the information contained within is fluff, although there is a chapter on orc war machines.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
brad2411 wrote:
I could have missed it but what part of the Hold is the Burning Suns living in?

Requisite Disclaimer: This isn't official canon but:

Spoiler:
These days they stick to the Conquered Lands, with their primary settlement being hidden south of Trunau between that and the Nirmathi border of the Mindspin Mountains, further south than the Skittermounds. In the past they moved around further north, but after the situation became too hot for them there and survival began to outweigh their earlier zeal, a semipermanent relocation was needed.

As they've painted a big target on their backs with their earlier crusades(especially the disastrous attempt to take Scarwall), any connections with Trunau, if any at all, are kept quiet though Halgra lends what aid or wisdom she can to her one-time student. The speculative whispers that Halgra is the "father" of Mahja's aasimar child are kept even more closely guarded.

Dark Archive

Mikaze wrote:
brad2411 wrote:
I could have missed it but what part of the Hold is the Burning Suns living in?

Requisite Disclaimer: This isn't official canon but:

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks Mikaze that works my friend decided to play a half orc druid from the Burning suns and he has made himself an unofficial ambassador. So I am working on some ways to put that into the ap.


Branding Opportunity wrote:
Major_Blackhart wrote:
I really want there to be more weapons with the word Orc in front of them. Would make orc is weapon proficiency even more awesome.
Since this is a Campaign Setting title, most of the information contained within is fluff, although there is a chapter on orc war machines.

I know. I just would have liked a mention of something, not necessarily stats, that would maybe bring a little anticipation for later releases.


This is going to be interesting...


As their god of magic, does Sezelrian look like he would be fit for worship by a witch doctor...or does he appear to be more on the divine end of things ?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Is there a map in this book which shows where Trunau is in relation to the other settlements of Belkzen?

Paizo Employee Developer

Joana wrote:
Is there a map in this book which shows where Trunau is in relation to the other settlements of Belkzen?

Yes! There is a full-page map on the inside cover that shows all of Belkzen and Trunau is tagged on that map.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
nighttree wrote:
As their god of magic, does Sezelrian look like he would be fit for worship by a witch doctor...or does he appear to be more on the divine end of things ?

Witch doctors would be perfect for Sezelrian. He is depicted as an orc witch doctor. They say that all orcs that use magic, of any kind, owe thanks to him no matter the god they actually worship.

Joana wrote:
Is there a map in this book which shows where Trunau is in relation to the other settlements of Belkzen?

Yes it does have a map that shows the different sites. It is the inside cover of the book.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Thanks for the quick response!


What does Nulgreth look like?

Dark Archive

Which settlements do get stats inside?

I´ll buy this next wednesday but i´m curious.

Sadly there will be no poster map available of Belkzen... :-(

Dark Archive

Major_Blackhart wrote:
What does Nulgreth look like?

Nulgreth has a pic in here but his is depicted as an Orc Barbarian with blood red skin with his bloody double axe.

Marco Massoudi wrote:

Which settlements do get stats inside?

I´ll buy this next wednesday but i´m curious.

Sadly there will be no poster map available of Belkzen... :-(

Blisterwell, Wyvernsting, Urgir, and Freedom Town.

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