Which brings us to the ubiquitous orc. For once, I won't fight the assertion that D&D swiped this monster from Middle-earth, as there's not really any folkloric antecedent for it before Tolkien. However, the write-up in Volume 2 of the LBBs says nothing that suggests the orcs are at all like their literary counterparts, an omission that Holmes does not correct, while Moldvay says only that "Orcs are ugly human-like creatures who look like a combination of animal and man." Even the Monster Manual says almost nothing about these creature's physical appearance, despite devoting more than half a page to their entry. All the Monster Manual says for certain is that orcs have "pinkish snouts and ears" and "bristly hair." It was left to artist David Sutherland to (literally) draw a porcine conclusion from these scant hints.
Since my Dwimmermount campaign uses OD&D, there's no canonical description of orcs for my to draw upon, but I'll be the first to admit, though, that AD&D casts a long shadow over my conceptions of many aspects of the game, including orcs. So, when I started thinking about what orcs were like, I immediately thought of Sutherland's pig-men. But why are they pig-men? That's when I decided that, in the Dwimmermount campaign, orcs were "uplifted" boars, raised to evil sentience in ancient times as weapons of war. Most sages believe that it was the Eld who were responsible for this, but other evidence suggests the even more mysterious "Ancients" were responsible -- along with the uplifting of other animal species in a similar fashion, resulting in additional breeds of "beast men," like gnolls.
Here's what I'd love to see propagate across the old school blogs: an example or two like the one I posted above about orcs. I love hearing how referees have made the raw materials D&D offers their own, especially if doing so draws on longstanding information or images associated with the game. The examples don't have to be long, unless you want them to be; all I ask is that they reveal a little bit of that do-it-yourself spirit I think is so representative of our corner of the hobby. To encourage you further in this effort, have another hot elf chick on the house:
|Elven goddess of love and beauty, Hanali Celanil, from Dragon #60 (April 1982)|