Fear, Fist and Flame

Round 2: Create a new organization

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

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Fear, Fist, and Flame
Alignment: CN
Headquarters: Dreadhand Keep in Wyvernsting.
Leaders: General Ironheart Askak; Warlord Orngrim the Horned Claw; Firespeaker Chesaka the Soul Burner
Structure: Mercenary company with three clan divisions.
Scope: Regional
Resources: Fear, Fist and Flame is based in Dreadhand Keep, their original home in half-orc dominated Wyvernsting. Hornshiver, the second most important holding, is a slowly expanding half-orc enclave set about an ancient siege castle outside of Absalom, and is where much hiring of the company’s members is done. Last of the major company holdings is where the monster-taming of the company takes place; Burning Dreams Tower, located on the border of Belkzen and the Worldwound lands.
Structure and Leadership: Fear, Fist and Flame is the name for the mercenary company of the Gorum-worshipping half-orc clans descended from Rokgos Demonheart, a demon-blooded half-orc sorcerer who managed to pass on all three of his bloodlines. Clan Hornshiver, the ‘Fear’, is the ‘human-blooded’ clan, with sage sorcerers and ice-tongued lady-bards providing the company’s cunning advisers, generals, and monster-controllers. Clan Dreadhand, the ‘Fist’, forms the raging heart of the company, with its demon-blooded black-clawed berserkers often leading savage orcs eager for battle. Clan Burning Dreams, the ‘Flame’, boasts orc-blooded sorceresses and their warrior-priest brothers, who stoke the company’s burning racial pride and faith in Gorum, and contribute fiery battle magic and healing power. Kin-bands of the company lead mercenaries and monsters pulled from the savage lands of Belkzen for gold and glory in Gorum’s name...and for those who can meet their price.
Goals: Fear, Fist, and Flame unifies the three bloodlines of Rokgos. It satisfies each clans’ goals: enhancing the wealth and power of the clans; earning respect and glory for the half-orc race; and subtly spreading the image of half-orcs as the favored people of Our Lord in Iron. The company’s ultimate dream is to claim a land in battle for half-orcs alone.
Public Perception: Fear, Fist and Flame is known as a brutal, pragmatic, and proudly mercenary organization of half-orcs willing to do jobs both fair and foul. The fire-haired female generals and sorceresses of the company are highly desired and feared among the Belkzen orcs, and their black-fingered brothers are likewise respected. In more civilized human realms, the company is acknowledged as being startlingly dependable, quite amoral, and excellent leaders of monsters and savage humanoids for hire.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Welcome to RPG Superstar, Bob. This is it! The game gets real now. The whole contest takes on an entirely different spin at this level. As judges we're here to comment on your work, both in the hopes of guiding you in honing your game design skills, and also to help the voting public assess how you measure up. With that in mind, I'm going to talk a bit about what you did well here, and where I think you've still got room to grow. So, strap in and let's get started...

First, I was a little taken aback by the name of your organization. "Fear, Fist, and Flame" sounds like the title to a novel or something. Not an organization I could see PCs discussing in quiet whispers over an ale in a tavern as they plot their next move against them. I get that it serves as the basis upon which to define the three different branches and operations of the mercenary company, but it kind of got to be too much there for me after awhile.

What I do like is the notion of an orc/half-orc themed mercenary group operating out of Wyvernsting in the Hold of Belkzen. It's an area where it makes sense for such an organization to develop and set up headquarters. And it's a useful place to define something more for the campaign setting in general, both for Belkzen and orcs, in general. You're kind of giving us a glimpse into their lives and livelihood there. I also like the "satellite office" for the organizaton in the Hornshiver siege castle just outside of Absalom. It's a little hard to imagine just anyone walking into Belkzen to hire a bunch of orc mercenaries, monsters, and savage humanoids. Far better to give them some half-orc representation in the "City at the Center of the World" so people can seek them out a little more safely and discreetly.

I also like that you wove in the Gorum connection. A war-like race like orcs, in a war-like profession as a mercenary company, following a war-like god like the Lord in Iron, makes perfect sense. You're striking all the right chords with what you've linked up to your organization to help round them out and "fit" into everything else that's going on in the campaign setting. And, you've given them an ultimate goal of conquering an entirely new homeland to call their own, outside of Belkzen. So, that's a nice touch. And there's more than enough material here to bring the Fear, Fist, and Flame into conflict with the PCs of virtually any campaign.

What I'm missing, however, is a wider definition of their recent activities and concrete examples of the kinds of conflict they've fostered in the past. I think you spent a little too much wordcount defining the three branches of the Fear, Fist, and Flame and not enough description on what they've accomplished to date. Personally, I'd have loved to see you define a much longer history for these orcs, maybe even charting all the way back to the hordes used by the Whispering Tyrant or even Kazavon. Or have them play a mercenary role during the Everwar. There's lots of room where these guys could have popped up throughout history which just a sentence or two would have helped crystallize not simply their current "threat level" but what kind of threat they presented in the past to warrant the reputation they now enjoy. That kind of craftsmanship is what you want to strive for as a Superstar designer when you're dealing with world-building material like defining a new organization. Find ways to link to the past even as you chart their future ambitions.

So, putting all that aside, I think you had a somewhat interesting idea here. You need to work on your naming a bit and try not to fall so much in love with your subject (in this case, orcs and half-orcs) that you lose yourself in talking more about them than the big picture of your assignment at hand. I felt a little lost, for instance, with Clan Hornshiver, Clan Dreadhand, and Clan Burning Dreams with all the various classes gaining recognition across those branches of the organization. A single sentence could probably have sufficed to lay out the three branches and what they bring to the table, thereby freeing you up with enough wordcount to enhance other aspects to convey a more inspiring write-up of your organization. In a wordcount this limited, you have to make the most of it by spending those words as wisely as you can on just the things that'll drive home the most awesome elements of your idea.

Regardless, for my final verdict, I'm not entirely won over by this submission. It's got elements I can back wholeheartedly, but I'm worried it doesn't quite have enough punch to warrant a full recommendation for advancement. For now, I'm ON THE FENCE.

But a lot of people really favor seeing something more done with orcs. You may have tapped a well that'll bring you a lot of support from the voters. And some of the other judges may heartily endorse your work here. I wouldn't mind seeing the author of the figurine of familiar power advance one more round. You've obviously got a sense for many of the elements that will appeal to certain segments of the gaming community. I think your challenge is going to be in properly framing what you write as you try and serve that market so that it has maximum appeal across the board, even to those who might not be as big a fan of that particular subject. So, best of luck in the exit polls. I hope to see you on the other side.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Bob, welcome to Round 2!

What you are getting from me in this critique: This round is all about conflict and story. I think the best organizations create interesting and compelling groups that will come into conflict with the PCs. My comments, and my recommendation, will focus on how well you do that. My comments will also focus on writing and use of your allotted content in achieving your goals. What you won't get from me: I don't have the total Golarion-fu that Neil and Sean do, so I will leave to them whether you got the nitty gritty details of some of the setting stuff to them (though apparently I did have enough Golarion-fu to know its Pharasmin not Pharasmian, you know who you are).

So here we go!

Initial Impression: An orc group with a bloodline twist. Will that be enough to elevate a rather tried and true group idea?

Concept (name, title, is it an organization?, overall design choices, is the organization and antagonist and does it create direct conflict for the PCs?, playability): B
The Good: I like the unique orc band here. I have to admit, the idea of a group of orcs from Belkzen is not the most unique. But the blood line angle and your ideas are fresh and cool and I like it.
The Not So Good: Like Neil, I am not a big fan of the name. Though I guess with orcs, that may be the name others call them rather than what they call themselves.

Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, quality of mandatory content, did you milk your idea for all it was worth? did you use your allotted space well?): B-
If anything, you spent too much time detailing the organization (which most people left under-done in this round, so good job on that in one sense) and didnt provide enough about their goals and ways in which they would come into conflict with the PCs. I think you could have done more with less on the description and been more evocative. Tease us, suggest things. Granted, too many entries this round had Neil's "glittering generalities," so you don't want to do that, but I think you perhaps are just over the OTHER side of that line--more detail then needed--and that impacted how many words you have left for other things.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor, are you showing Superstar mojo?): B
In the end, this is a good antagonist organization, easy to use in any campaign. Good focus, good concept. The execution needs to come up a bit.

Overall: B
The orcs make the cut, but it is close…

Recommendation: I DO recommend this organization submission for advancement.

Your figurine showed promise. I’m not sure you really took a big swing this round. The orc group was perhaps a bit safe. If you make it through, you need to take a big swing next round. I hope the voters give you that chance. Good luck!


The name doesn't sound like an organization.

Your Resources section runs on, and you don't have the template-provided 100-word introductory paragraph. Observe:

Resources: {This entry provides a brief list of significant resources the faction controls, such as property, valuable assets, castles, informants, and so on.}
[new line here] {This section is an approximately 100-word introductory paragraph summarizing the organization.}

So you're missing a necessary chunk of information. You're allowed to play with the word counts in each section, but you completely cut out a section. I don't think that was deliberate, but it's the sort of mistake you should have caught when you reread it and compared it to the template.

I think you spent too many words on Structure/Leadership and not enough on Goals (probably because of the slipup with the template).

I'm on the fence here. I think the writing is good, and this would be an excellent entry if it didn't miss that part of the template (if you were freelancing for me, I'd send it back to you and say "you missed something, fix it"). But for a newbie trying to make a good impression, goofing up the template is a big stumble.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Sean, these aren't freelancers, they are non-freelancers trying to be freelancers. And neither Neil nor I spotted that boo boo either. Your eye is just that good :) I agree its a misstep, but now that you have pointed it out I don't think it changes my recommendation. That is the kind of thing a developer is supposed to fix. But that is also the joy of multiple judges--I don't bring the same rules/design-fu of you and Neil. If we all spoke with the same voice, why have multiple judges? In the end, its for the voters to decide.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Actually, I spotted that boo-boo, I just chose not to call it out (shocking right?). I chalked it up as a bit of confusion attributed to how the template is presented. Still, this is the only competitor to make that mistake (or perhaps there was one other? I don't recall since it's all starting to run together at this point). Regardless, I think Sean's completely right in the fact that a Superstar freelancer should make sure to check his work against any examples provided. That missing introductory paragraph would have leapt out at them if they compared their work to the sample that was given.

Still, there's some elements here which keep me interested in what else this designer could do. Perhaps this becomes a lesson for everyone to take their work much more seriously in terms of double-checking the correct format? In other words, I think this oversight is something a developer could train out of them. Not necessarily something that completely self-destructs the entry. And, the only reason I feel that way is because I can understand why the designer drew the conclusion he did. He thought the Resources header was supposed to contain that 100-word paragraph. So, he very much thought he was giving us what we asked for...he just didn't realize he misinterpreted the template. And now he does.

Loved the whole concept including the name. There's so much crunchy RP goodness here for GMs and players alike. This organization would make a perfect recurring opponent, scaling up nicely with the PCs as they gain in power. You could even imagine a parallel group of mercenaries who scale right along with the PCs and keep showing up to harass, aid, thwart, or out-compete them.

It sounds complicated at first but the way you've divided the lineages and then given each a focused "reason for being" makes it easy to keep things straight for the GM. It feels like good branding - there are rules here but they don't feel like a straightjacket.

I think you wasted a few words on unnecessary geography but that's harmless.


In my mind I see a capstone adventure against the lich Rokgos in the lair where he secretly pulls the strings of his descendants for his own nefarious ends....

I recommend that you vote for this designer.

EDIT FROM SEAN: Competitors, remember this item from the Round 2 FAQ, which reminds competitors about the rule against commenting about their own submissions. We're pasting this reminder into the last judge comment for every organization just to make sure all competitors see it and remember.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Isaac Duplechain

I like orcs and half-orcs, but a desire for a half-orcish homeland is a tad hugs-and-butterflies for me. Other than that, I'm pretty on board with the whole thing.

I want to know a few things, which is good. Is there tension between the three branches? Does the full-orc part of the tribe feel like second-class citizens compared to the half-orcs, in an inversion of the usual relationship between the two races?

I would probably be voting for this submission on its merits. I will possibly be voting for you based on your previous work.

This one is simple for me: Hated the name.

Fortunately you really got me with the rest of it -- a lot of times with organizations you get one type of encounter over and over again. With three branches for these guys they are much more likely to be able to provide a whole slew of encounters of various types to really help keep things changing and coming from different directions.

That is a huge feat in and of itself, but then we also have a strong central theme to keep them all together. By tying race with religion there is a strong reason for the main body of the group to stick together. For plot twists there is also the possibility of specific individuals being talked into changing sides due to being 'too pure' in one aspect or another (a human worshiper of Gorum, an orc warband leader, or a half orc that believes the message but doesn't appreciate Gorum specifically that much).

Half orc organizations based around this theme are pretty common (see them in 3.5 for example) however usually those come off as much more zealous than Fear, Fist, and Flame does to me (which seems more pragmatic and willing to work around things), combined with the above reasons I intend to vote for this organization.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

I thought this was going to be a Dragonforce song. I think your org fits in well with Belkzen.

Question for after round:
How did they take over a siege castle outside of Absalom?

This group comes across as a great nemesis for a campaign, with a good deal of variety offered by the three branches. It oozes with flavor and got me excited. Given the overall feelings I've had looking through this round's entries, your entry is almost guaranteed my vote.

Silver Crusade

More mercs. Only this time they are orcs.. Interesting.

My big thing with this, is that you spent so much time trying to fit in their history and holdings, that you kinda skimped on the motives as to why they do what they do and what kind of reputation they hold in their area as well as in Golarion. I see that they are Chaotic Neutral, but they aren't that if they are trying to seize a land for their own.

Also when you do an organization that's tied to a deity, and that you are stating that they want a land for half-orcs alone, you can't have humans in your organization, cause that's a ticking time bomb in itself. Unless that's what you want to happen, that's just a bad idea period.

Satus: No vote-inconsistent and missing detailed information

P.S You do receive credit where due, for using locations, most Pathfinders don't know much about. I actually had to pull out my Inner Sea Guide to find Wyvernsting. So kudos!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

Oh, there is SO much I want to start blabbing on about my entry right now. BLABLABLABLABLAB. Drat these contest rules!

But wait it must! I hope you enjoy my organization and vote for me in the next round! I will gnash my teeth and fingernails and answer the questions that are already arising above when the voting is done!

==Bob Drouin

I honestly like the name unlike the judges. Sure, they might have gone with a single unifying name like The Fearful Flame Fist or The Terrible Fiery Fists or the Agitating Combusting Forearms. But honestly I do like the way it kind of works. It might have helped to have included a short hand for the name in the entry.

Honestly I like the idea of a union of clans under the same banner tied by blood for a single cause. I don't like the idea that the cause is mainly money.

I like to see goals that give them purpose. Why are they after money? What's the point of it? Oh, they want to carve a kingdom for half orcs for the lord in iron. So why do they have to be mercenaries? You could have left that part out and the concept would remain untouched.

Overall it has great ideas but I feel more could have been done with it. The fact that you left out a whole chunk of the block doesn't help at all. Speaking from a professional viewpoint it would likely have gotten it sent back to me with red marks on it indicating I needed to add it. I'd curse and try to make room for it. This is fine from that freelancer perspective BUT for superstar you should be turning in final drafts all the time, everytime not roughs. Therefore while this idea might have gone into a "maybe" pile for my vote I'm afraid that alone is what kills it for me. Sorry.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

And now we know that half-orcs do not use the oxford comma!

I love the name and I think it works well with the divisions of the merc company. The rest of it does not seem too original though, sadly. It is just a mercenary company of half-orcs with monster training.

The monster training part is the most interesting portion of the submission.

I might use this organization in my games (since I am planning on running a merc-based campaign soon), but I don't see anything too special about it. Since I might use the organization, I am considering it for one of my votes, pending an analysis of the other submissions' quality.

Congrats on getting this far at least! And if the judges have anything to say, you will be moving onwards and upwards!

The name works well for me. This got one of my votes this round.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6 aka Evil Paul

This got one of my votes too, but I'm confused about the alignment. They seem strangely well organised for a "Chaotic" group. I realise there is the whole Gorum thing and he is CN, but still.

I'm also curious how a group that tends towards the noble savage portrayal of Orcs gets on with the burning evil that is the Golarion orcs of Belkzen. Granted they are "quite amoral", but beyond that they seem a bunch of consummate professional who frankly just get the job done. If I was a native tribe Belkzen I'm probably think they were a bunch of soft-bellied human-loving scum, partially ruled by a woman <spit>.

Star Voter Season 6

I'm with Ryan on this one - I loved the name and the structure of the organization. I think the name stands out as an unusual one, that nicely avoids any kind of cliched structure, and makes it easy to remember the different parts of the organization. Good job!

Not a fan of the name, but I liked the rest of it. You get my vote. Good luck :).

Just call them the Triple F's or the FFF.

Dark Archive

Orcs and Half-orcs you got my vote.

Seriously though perhaps the name of the group may need a little work I like the concept and the direction you were going.

Good Luck.

This is Gruumash approved.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth


There, more backstory.

Thanks to everyone voting for me!

(Itching to post backstory. Going away now).

==Bob Drouin

Liberty's Edge

Alright, there are a few things I don’t really get about this one. I don’t mind the name (though I it implied to me some sort of order of monks or something). I don’t get how the regional office near Absalom works ... is this organisation really so far-flung / infamous that people will go to Absalom to hire a group primarily based in Belkzan? Say someone goes to Absalom to hire one of the clans to partake in a border conflict near Taldor ... How do the mercenaries get where they are needed? Does this army of half orcs march through Varisia, or Lastwall, or Ustalav, or through the Worldwound? Do they teleport en masse to the office at Absalom and take a boat from there? I just can’t see this working logistically.

I also don’t understand why all / only the bards and sorceresses are women. Do they only hire lady bards and male priests and warriors? Do only the women in the family inherit magical bloodlines? It just struck me as a bit odd.

They seem to have this quite strict division and organisation, but they are a CN organisation. Seems odd. Also, they are made up (seemingly) of a human clan, a half orc clan and an orcish clan, but their overall goal is to establish a half orc homeland – are the human and orcish clans equally on board with this goal, or are they just happy being feared mercenaries and making money.

I admit, I’m not one of the ‘more noble, misunderstood orcs please’ people, I like my orcs thoroughly savage and evil. To my mind this sort of organisation doesn’t fit the image of Golarion’s orcs, and I’m unsure how well they would function in Belkzen.

Good luck Bob.

Dark Archive

Just like your item submission, I have a couple of issues with this organization but overall I like it.

The main issue is that, for me at least, this organization doesn't seem to be a clear antagonist for PCs. Joining them would be difficult since they are all descendants of one guy, however I assume an outsider could join them by marrying into those bloodlines if they strengthened that bloodline's characteristics (which some PCs who play half-orcs or are wanting a funky character background may aspire to). Their goals may seem honorable or even admirable to those who venerate Gorum or want to see half-orcs get their own kingdom.

That being said, using this organization as an antagonist isn't much of a reach as long as their is enough madness in their method, and I think that with the changes some of the judges recommended this would end up being a lot less ambivalent as an enemy for PCs.

I would like to see what else you have to offer for this competition, so I will be voting for you this round. Hope to see what your monster submission is!

Best of luck to you, sir.

Liberty's Edge

Regardless of whether or not this is objectively the best org in the Top 32, it is definitely the most entertaining to read.

"...Clan Hornshiver, the ‘Fear’, is the ‘human-blooded’ clan, with sage sorcerers and ice-tongued lady-bards providing the company’s cunning advisers, generals, and monster-controllers. Clan Dreadhand, the ‘Fist’, forms the raging heart of the company, with its demon-blooded black-clawed berserkers leading savage orcs eager for battle...."

-- If you were a 10yo boy who saw that as a Robert E. Howard-esque back-blurb of a comic splashing Frazetta art on the cover, you'd pilfer from the church collection basket to snag it.

Silver Crusade Star Voter Season 7

Now this is what I wanted out of Golarion's orcs! :D

Dig this, all of it.

For orcs, the name of the organization makes perfect sense. It's obviously a combination of the three different factions. Orcs aren't subtle; they're simple, brutish, and to the point.

It's probably me, but I was thinking of Bell, Book, and Candle, which is a method of excommunication by the Catholic Church started back in the 9th century for those who committed a grievous sin. I'm reminded from a phrase in Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus:

"Bell, book, and candle;
candle, book and bell,
Forward and backward,
to curse Faustus to hell."

(Scene 7, lines 83-84)

These orcs? Oh yeah, they're going to give you some hell, alright.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

No more comments and votes? I'm starting to get a bad feeling here. :P

==Bob Drouin

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6 aka Evil Paul

I'd be surprised if you didn't go through. This may not be the best organisation, but it's certainly comfortably in the upper half of the entries.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

Let's cross the fingers and hope.

Got a killer idea for the next round based on a photo I saw online on Friday, too :0.

==Bob D.

Dark Archive

Here is another who hopes you get through to the next round.

Silver Crusade Star Voter Season 7

I'm also hoping this makes it.

It plays within some of the expected half-orc/orc sterotypes, but it expands them beyond just simple KRUSK SMASH. Nice evocative language that hits some personal likes. :) And not same-old always-chaotic-evil.

Again, this is what I wanted out of Golarion's orcs. I'd happily buy Orcs of Golarion over again if you were one of the writers on board.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth


More backstory done. There. Heh!

Thanks all! Crossing my fingers and wondering what the twist is going to be for the next round...


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

I'll get a full write-up of this organization up as a service to those who liked it. Thanks for your support!

Oh, and some key things:

The organization is based on sorcerous BLOODLINES. The 'human' bloodline defaults to arcane...thus, the sage sorceror bloodline for 'human-blood'. Orc-blooded is just that for the lady sorcerors, and demon-blooded uses the Arcane Heritage rules for the berserkers, and affects both genders.

Basically, the clan is tied together by the bloodlines of their forebears. A half-orc of the clans who has children by a human gets 'human-blooded' potential. If an orc is the other half, they are orc-blooded. If they have children by another half-orc, demon-blooded is the result.

There are no full-blooded orcs OR humans in the organization, save possibly as mates. The berserkers leading orcs are basically leading outside mercenaries eager for battle and gold, in the same way the sages lead monsters they've tamed.

Clan Hornshiver is The Fear because of the prevelance of dirgesingers among the lady bards, and they are the cunning, tactical bastards of the clans, leading the others to victory, making the deadly tools that win the fights, pulling a gorgon into a fight to really turn things on its head, and so forth. The sound of the horns of the family on the other side of a fight cause chills, because whoever you are fighting just got a whole lot tougher. Like humans, they are adaptable, cunning and versatile, and the sage sorcerors have more spell selection then their fiery cousins. They are the generals, officers, and sages of the clan, providing spell support, intelligent guidance, and powerful social cunning to the mix. While derided among pure orcs, they are also feared and respected for their cunning, and are fully capable of exerting vicious control over those they lead.

Clan Dreadhand, the 'Fist', is the most numerous, and the most damned in its own way. Their demon bloodline gets stronger as they get more powerful, seeking to turn them against their kin, an anger that fuels their rage as their hands morph into killing claws. The Warlord of the clan is given absolute last say on any plans. Usually Hornshiver proposes, Burning Dreams approves, and Dreadhand says yes or no. Even the craziest orcs of Belkzen Hold have no real wish to stir up the frothing demon-bloods of Dreadhand, especially with Hornshiver's dirges welling up in support. Dreadhands may develop minor sorcerous ability, but after the fate of the progenitor of the clan, it is considered extremely dangerous to try and develop demon-blooded sorcery, and all such children are trained as berserkers.

Clan Burning Dreams, the 'Flame', watches over the soul of the clan, particularly against the influence of Rovagug, who damned their founder. The orc-blooded sorceresses are known for their fiery temper against orcs who put down their gender, making them both feared and highly desired. They specialize in straight battlefield killing magic, leaving most support spells to the Hornshiver. The men of the clan are trained as holy warriors of Gorum, usually clerics, sometimes Inquisitors, looking for sign of Rovagug's influence and corruption among their kin, and keeping the warrior spirit of the clan alive. "Burning Dreams" does not refer to their battle-magic...it refers to the dreams of fire, destruction and apocalypse that plague all members of the clans. When such dreams grow too strong, the afflicted are taken to the tower of the clan, to spend their lives wreaking vengeance against the abyssal powers of the Worldwound in a near-constrant frenzy of killing rage.

Clan Hornshiver's use of a siege castle is quite simple...they are all over the place around Absalom. There's a level 1 dungeon set in one. The clan just set up shop in one and started expanding.

As the most human-looking of the clans, they have the easiest ability to interface with prospective employers. Yes, they use teleportation spells to move their kin around from place to place, possibly petrifying and shrinking large monsters to bring them from place to place. This practice has also resulted in some employment as monster hunsters for the wealthy who want a menagerie. Absalom was chosen as both a central location and a town with all the resources the clan could want, but living inside the city was considered a threat to the clan's purity of purpose. Taking over a siege castle and building it up into a decently sized settlement, while exerting control and safety over the surrounding area with no plans on trying to defy the entire might of the city, wasn't difficult. They aren't taxing traffic, and are generally using it simply as a base of operations and a place to recruit suitable expendables for mercenary duties.

Getting mercenaries to locations is done by the sage sorcs, using scrying with a prospective employer to set the location, and then shuttling over appropriate people, possibly shrunken or using a portable hole for larger numbers. Hornshiver prefers to command outsiders who do the dying, getting the most out of them as they do so, but are zealously protective of their kin.

Dreadhands interfaces most with orcs. Their demonic hands, strength and fury forces respect where little might be forthcoming. Dreadhand holds little respect for orcs who venerate the force that damned their founder, and gladly lead them into combat. They are perfectly happy to be employed by this or that orc cheif against other orcs. They understand the orc mindset of grab, destroy and enslave perfectly, but their almost unbreakable loyalty to their kin mitigates the effect of their bloodline. Senior berserkers who feel the call of their bloodline becoming too strong go to die in battle against the forces tainting their blood, and generally live their lives looking for glory defying the taint in their blood. It is the job of the Warlord of the clan to find that glory for his kin.

Burning Dreams interfaces with half-orcs at all levels. No less then three of the sorceresses of the clan 'feud' with one another over the Lord of Wyvernsting, which not incidentally chases away any other females and assures the clan's influence with the Lord. They recruit other half-orcs, speak of racial pride, power, and the strength of the Lord in Iron, and slowly convert the populace of Wyvernsting to the God of Strength. The Clans rely on the Brothers In Iron to keep them on the straight and true, and to insure that when the dreams become too much, they can at least die gloriously in Gorum's name. In battle, Burning Dreams specializes in fire magic and speedy destruction, although they can get a mite enthusiastic without Hornshiver around to direct them.

Women who hold a clan bloodline always have fiery red hair. Males who hold a bloodline, and all the demon-blooded, have black fingertips that grow darker, larger and more claw-like as the influence of that bloodline grows. This is considered a sign of power among the orcs, but a sign of corruption among human races, and so Hornshiver males usually go gloved in human society.

==Bob Drouin

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

Rokgos the Demonheart was the founder of the clans. A half-orc wild-blooded sorceror, he possessed both the sage bloodline and the orc bloodline, and used the understanding gained from such to build up a strong following among half-orcs. A great believer in the soul of Gorum being a half-orc, as well as the racial destiny and superiority of his kind, he had many children in a long and violent career of proving his power to his orcish kin without hesitation.

All that changed after a raid by wild demons out of the Worldwound, where he was captured and subjected to arcane tortures of horrific nature by demons looking to find new weapons to use against both humans and orcs. When he came back to his kin, his former bloodlines were gone, his hands were black demonic claws, his eyes glowed, and rage and madness were consuming his soul.

Before madness completely took him, he brought his children together with a vision, to join their strengths together, to never let the eternal feuding of the orcs, humans and other races divide and weaken them, and led them in a great ritual to bind their bloodlines and loyalty to one another, to trust and have faith in their kin above all else.

His reason rapidly starting to fail him, he put his destiny in the hand of his children, and they used his power to rage among the orc clans, demonstrating their power and name, drawing other half-orcs to them, until the name of Demonheart was whispered in fear amongst the orcs, and the future of the clan was secured. Then, they built the tower of Burning Dreams for him, and Rokgos the Demonheart raged against the forces that had doomed him, until he was heard from no more. Whether he lives on at the heart of the tower, consumed by madness, or disappeared into the lands of the Worldwound in killing frenzy, none but the Speaker of Burning Dreams can say.

The experiments that altered his bloodline infected all his progeny, an effect designed by the demons who inflicted it upon him. Warned of its coming, the clan has taken ruthless steps to control the infection to their soul, at the same time channelling the rage it invokes into a fiery drive to build their clan into a great power. The clans know that when their faith in Our Lord In Iron falters and their thoughts begin to burn, it is time to turn their power against those that inflicted the vileness upon them, and Burning Dreams tower calls to them as it has done for generations. Even then, they remain productive, capturing monsters from the Wounded lands for breaking, taming, and service to the clan, until the dreams of fire become too much, and end their lives in blazing, raging glory.

==Bob Drouin

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

Races with other races are fairly cool among the clans. The very fact they are a mercenary company insures this.

Orcs are seen as strong, brutal savages who cannot get their act together, infected by the worship of Rovagug and unable to make anything of significance. The clans slaughter orcs without the slightest compunction, because that is how orcs think life should be. This absolute willingness to slaughter orcs is one of the things that garners the most respect from orcs, as is their perfect willingness to serve against a former employer once a contract has ended. The fact they do not break contracts in mid-battle for coin is somewhat suprising to many orcish warlords, but again a strong point in negotiations, as the orcs know that the FFaF is actually reliable, and Hornshiver in particular can turn an unruly mob of warriors into a savage sword of destruction.

Humans are seen as opportunistic, cunning, clever, and ultimately divided, unable to reliably unite, weak in their clinging to civilization...but are definitely resourceful and great examples of what might be possible, as well as overflowing with gold and knowledge the clan could use.

Original mercenary services of controlling monsters and leading orcs to die for the clan proved fruitful, and the clan has expanded their prescence in civilized realms. The lady bards of Hornshiver, who can often pass for human, are particularly useful in dealing with humans and garnering contacts among wealthy nobles who don't mind dealing with unconventional forces. Complete willingness to emply underhanded subtlety or brutal destruction has since proved quite successful in enhancing the coffers of the clan, which Hornshiver turns into wealth and magic for all. It is also quiet fact that human lords in Lastwall have managed to hire FFaF to deal with orcish threats, which the half-orcs have done with suprising subtlety (one incident involved getting an invading orcish warlord to insult his hired Hornshiver officers, and the Dreadhands went berserk and slaughtered the warlord and his entire staff), at the same time they are perfectly willing to assault Lastwall fortifications and defenses and keep the humans respectful of the strength of Belkzen. That orcs and humans die in such conflicts is generally not a concern of the clan at all.

Elves are, for the large part, considered cowardly interlopers and decadent weaklings. The clan has no particular hatred for them, unlike many orcs, and regards them as rather effete and a waste of breathing space. The manipulative, arrogant nature of elves often leads to the clans putting a sword into such...but the FFaF was also hired by a particularly desperate elven noble to deal with cultists of Treerazer infecting the borders of the elven realm. The Fists happily tore the demon-worshippers apart, and are now waiting for the elves to 'manipulate' them into more such activity...for a dear price.

The clans hold a paradoxical view of the Dwarves. The Dwarves are quietly acknowledged as the 'fathers' of the entire half-orc race, for it was the Quest for Sky that drove orcs into the overworld and into contact with humanity. Thus, the clans hold no hatred for Dwarves whatsoever...without them, half-orcs would not exist.
On the other hand, the divisiveness that split the Dwarven race and destroyed their power, and the hidebound traditions of the Dwarves, draws their contempt. They see the Dwarves as a fallen people of little influence.
On the other hand, the Quest for Sky has ardent admirers among the clans. The Quest for Land, a realm of their own, is based on this single-minded focus. In short, the clans find the tales of Dwarves both inspirational, and a warning not to fall into the same traps.

Half-orcs understand halflings as those lorded over by stronger beings understand one another. Where the clans fight back, halflings must use stealth. The clans rarely keep slaves, simply because their orcish kin do, and any slaves can earn their freedom by proving useful. The FFaF will hire out to halflings as readily as anyone, and can respect the stealthy cunning of the small folk the same way they admire their own human-blooded. Outside of uses of that stealth, halflings receive little notice from the clans, probably to the approval of both races.

The clans get along with gnomes almost startlingly well. In addition to finding their black humor and spontaneity highly amusing...and understanding what it is like to live under a curse of doom. The gnomish desire for new experience dovetails easily with the clans' desire for glory, much to the suprise of many gnomes, and gnomes are generally well-treated by the clans as a result.

Half-elves are seen by the clan with a mixture of pity and understanding. To be saddled with weak elven blood is one thing, but then to be caught between your bloodlines, instead of reconciling them to become something greater? The clans tend to dismiss half-elves as a race, unable to find a greater collective destiny, and furthermore without a true Divine Patron to inspire them. Individual half-elves who have come to terms with what they are can earn respect, but the clans stereotype half-elves as weepy fools who have no kin or home or anything to believe in, and it colors all such interactions with them.

Other half-orcs are seen as recruits to the dream of racial unity, supremacy, and as the preferred children of Gorum. Although those outside the bloodlines are never given positions of leadership, they can easily be mates to leaders, and their children are considered full members of the clans. The clans prize large families, and treat females far better then their orcish kin, which unsuprisingly has led to a large number of orcish mates, if nothing else.
The clans are not at all unaware of the hard and bitter lives of other half-orcs, nor are they overly trusting of newcomers. Duplicity and self-interest runs hard in orcish blood, and newcomers are tested repeatedly to determine their motivations, faith, and trustworthiness. Those who wish can find the kind of family, understanding, and purpose in their lives that few imagined. Others, are used and disposed of if they are unable to exhibit loyalty to their own, much like orcs.

Relations with the Church of Gorum are energetic, to say the least. The ardor for battle of the clans is certainly not up for debate, but their interpretation of Gorum as having the soul of half-orc stirs up a lot of blood on both human and orc sides of the line. The clans consider this as just another challenge. There is no way to legitimize their belief except by brute force...exactly Gorum's way. When they can stand tall under Gorum's stare and human and orc rejection of their beliefs sounds like the foolishness it is, Gorum will doff his helm and the truth will be made apparant to all.

Relations with minions of Rovagug are also energetic, usually on the brutal slaughter and rampant destruction side. The clans pay back the corruption of their forebear with great energy, showing the mad fools what true destruction is, and they don't much care what manner of servants Rovagug has. A lot of orcs have been goaded into fights by the clans simply because of their faith, and more then a few tribes completely wiped out, or decimated by being drawn into fighting against other orcs. Fighting servants of Rovagug is a proud tradition in the families that bloods them for greater duties in the FFaF, and brings much glory to Gorum in the process.

Conflict: The Fear, Fist and Flame can be encountered anywhere members of the clans can scry and be teleported to.

The Fear will be encountered in a leadership capacity. Sage sorcerors in the field will usually use charmed or summoned monsters to wreak damage, staying out of the fighting, and will vacate their kinfolk if the situation turns sour. Lady bards will buff other forces brought to the fight by their employers, be it savage humanoids or loyal house troops, or even rival adventurers. WHile opportunistic for ways to profit, they will hold to the spirit of their contracts...and turn on employers who betray them with all the fury of their kinfolk. The distinctive bone-chilling call of the Fear's warhorns has become very well-known in the Hold of Belkzen.

The Fist will be encountered in personal combat, often leading orcish warriors who hire on for the glory of battle. Unless a Hornshiver officer is present, the Fist tends to be uncoordinated and happy to simply engage in brutal melee combat. With Hornshivers directing them, ambushes, feints, strikes and raids are more commonplace, as their more intelligent kin strive to keep the Fist alive to fight another day.

The Flame is brought in to succor the clan, heal the warriors, and to watch their souls. In battle, they bring explosive combat magic, often directed against fortifications and dense formations to clear the way for other forces. Members of the Flame are guarded fanatically by the Fist, who see them as the shepherds of their souls, and the Flame is also the force used to strike against betraying employers with fire and vengeance.
Due to the mountainous terrain of the Hold, the clan places little emphasis on cavalry, despite knowing and acknowledging the power demonstrated by the crusaders of Lastwall. Around Hornshiver, the ability to ride mounts is being expanded upon, sometimes to include monstrous creatures that the members of the Fist can empathize with. There is not a significant archery specialty among the clans...this practice is usually in the hands of mates or hirelings, although again the Hornshiver are well aware of its uses.

The capture, breaking and training of monstrous creatures is proving to be an interesting and profitable sideline, be it noble pegasi or hungry wyverns. When not engaged in conflict or training, many members of the Fist help in this task. The Fear spends its downtime making items of magic for the clan, finding new contacts and contracts, and looking (plotting) for opportunities. The Flame watches over them all, maintains the tower of Burning Dreams, and insures the soul of the clans stays pure.

The FFaF doesn't engage in much subtle planning, although they are often hired for it. Most of their self-directed activity is as public as such things can get, as you can boast and bring glory on yourself for deeds that are too secretive. This is not to say they aren't aware of, and can't appreciate subtlety...Hornshiver in particular is very good at seeing things and saying nothing, using that information to gain profitable employment. While aware of things like blackmail, treason, smuggling, extortion, and similar criminal things, the clans will only get paid to do such things, and don't seek to become a criminal force themselves, seeing it as a civilized weakness. Using such tactics against them tends to result in immediate violence, as the ritual that bound their blood to one another engenders great loyalty in the face of things that endanger the clan. While individual members of the clan pursue many small plans on their own, they take an affront to one of their own extremely poorly, and little things like civilized laws aren't even going to slow them down in exacting revenge.

The clan as a whole is Chaotic Neutral. They place a strong reliance on individual strength, and the bonds of blood ties. They have little respect for laws and traditions not part of their clans, and do not follow leaders they do not respect personally. They are pragmatic survivalists, willing to do whatever it takes to advance their goals, but consider unneccessary cruelty a sign of the taint in their blood and avoid it when possible. At the same time, they count a strong streak of personal and clan honor to be one of their greatest defenses against their Demon Blood...although they don't much care for what outsider's definitions of 'honor' are. They seek gold, power, magic, glory, and deep faith in the way of Gorum, and are ready to take such things by force as readily as they are paid by others to do so. Their numbers are their biggest problem, living as they do in a land of full orcs, and growing their clans so they may accomplish their dreams to tear down all who stand in the way of their destiny is one of the most important duties of the clans.

FFaF exists as a force to centralize and make easily understood the duties of the clans. Dreadhand is the heart of the clan, the raw muscle and vitality that drives it forwards, eager to die for the glory of clan, race and god. Hornshiver supports and guides with cleverness and forward-thinking, employing the human versatility and flexibility of their bloodline. Burning Dreams guards and wards them all, fans the flames of their faith, and insures all are equal under Our Lord in Iron.

===Bob Drouin

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

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If you want to introduce half-orc racial pride, the best way to do so is to rename the race.

I personally use 'urukhar', which translates from the Orcish as "Children of Battle", which distills the essence of the race.

A more arrogant name would be 'Gorumi', tying them deeper as the chosen of their god.

==Bob Drouin

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Good job on this. It's funny. I almost went with a three-pronged organization for my Round 2 entry, a group called "Silhouette." I'm a big fan of the Legend of Drizzt novels by R.A. Salvatore, and this totally reminded me of the orc clans from those books (which is a good thing). Well done!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

Man, there's a lot of typos in that stuff up there. Bah.

Is what happens when you don't reread it three times to edit it. Apologies, all.

==Bob Drouin

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

Also keep in mind that the description of half-orcs does not match their racial stats. Half-orcs are described as bigger, tougher and stronger then humans, but actually have the exact same racial mods.

Making Half-orcs +2 Str, +2 Con, with -2 to a mental stat of their choice, would make a better match, and would also match the divisions among the clans, as the wise cover for the clever who cover for the passionate.

==Bob Drouin

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

Out of four entries I have read, three are mercenary companies. I missed the chance to vote and give early feedback (something I won't let happen in the monster round). But were I casting votes, ten mercenary groups would be more likely to cancel each other out than to gain votes over more original concepts.

The name is terrible. I'd prefer a made-up Orcish name that translated as "fear, fire and flame". Get yourself a foreign-language, angry-sounding name that intimidates players and gets them excited just to hear it.

Are there enough half-orcs in Golarion to people an entire nation once the organization's larger goals are met? Perhaps a branch devoted to increasing and even improving the population would have given some unique flavor. Offering orc warlords prima nocte over those they capture on behalf of their employers, or trading in slaves until the petty humans and elves and dwarves are bred into the orc race as lower classes.

Things like this give the organization current operations and near-future focus, which makes them more fearsome, easier to use for GMs, and better antagonists.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

Fear Fist and Flame is there for humans to understand. Sure, the Orcs probably call them "Urga Roknt Kubruk!", which is probably the three entry words to the Saga of Rokgos Demonheart, and so a clear warning to every orc who has heard the tale, but it's not like people in Absalom have heard of their progenitor, and the clans don't mind that at all.

As for half-orcs...there's enough in Belkzen to dominate Whispersting, and there's bunches elsewhere. The fact is, probably YES...the realistic answer is no...so, yes, having lots of kids is definitely on the minds of the clans. Hence why Shiverhorn is growing remarkably quickly...fewer kids getting killed by disease and casual violence. Shiverhorn IS smart...that's their job, after all. And they did notice that living in places where CE orcs don't casually crush the brains of their kids helped them stay alive longer.

also, the clan's members emphatically take human and orcish mates...its the mates who define the bloodlines, after all. Pure half-orc children of the blood are always Dreadhands.

Racial relations I picked up. Half-orcs are half-orcs...they've got nothing for or against elves and dwarves, and 'subsuming them' isn't even in the calculation. Racial pride is strong here...they aren't humans and orcs, mating with anything on two legs. They're hybrids...they are better!


Bob Drouin wrote:

Fear, Fist, and Flame

Alignment: CN
Headquarters: Dreadhand Keep in Wyvernsting.
Leaders: General Ironheart Askak; Warlord Orngrim the Horned Claw; Firespeaker Chesaka the Soul Burner
Structure: Mercenary company with three clan divisions.
Scope: Regional


You should know the drill by now, but in case you missed it the first time round, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus:
Fairness is an adjective applicable to hair coloration, balance is what a couple of mortals rapidly losing it on opposite ends of a plank pivoted on a rocky spire a couple of hundred feet above a slowly rising pool of molten basalt try to do, and logic is one of those things which you could swear is there when you rattle the piggybank but if anyone other than a demon opens it the contents turn out to be a couple of dead wasps and a six week old ‘to do (in)’ list.

Important Note:
There’s a difference between late and fashionably late. The former is what most other beings manage. The latter is what sophisticated, (very advanced) succubi manage.

First impressions always being important, do members of this organization wear nifty robes or uniforms when out on formal business?
They're a chaotic mercenary unit who happen to be half orcs. The robes are unlikely, and somehow I suspect that the regular uniform is out of the question, too.

Does membership of this organisation seem likely to involve regular tea or dinner parties or other appropriate social occasions?
No mention is made of any wining and dining that this organization carries out, and to be honest I doubt that they have the premises for anything more than a basic tea ceremony in a tent somewhere.

Is the cost of being a member of this organisation likely to be acceptable to a succubus?
Half-orcs only means half-orcs only. And to be frank, I for one would not particularly care for an 'associate membership' given the only purpose that they apparently have for such personages.

Other comments?
This organization appears to be a bunch of cats-paws for some other entity or organization. Given that their bases of operations are as far apart as the borders of the Worldwound and Absalom, but apparently messages and members can get around fairly fast, someone outside the organization detailed is clearly providing a means to relay words and warriors fairly fast around the world.
Nice to see an organization with a group of bards attached, although I have some doubts about the likely quality of their songs. I suspect they tend to be fairly repetitive and about blood, gore, more blood, more gore, and the occasional splattering of guts just for variation. Somehow I doubt any poems about the duality of a Giant Flytrap or odes about the deadly beauty of a patch of Abyssal Lilies is likely to be forthcoming from their lips.
Ah well.
I'm feeling generous today and will overlook the fact that they happen to work for a deity (Gorum).

Organizations are not being rated except under special circumstances.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

==Bob Drouin

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