The Nomads of the Ride

Changing things up today, we have content from the Thar hexcrawl, taking place in the moors on the Moonsea in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, and which we’re hoping to clean up into a .pdf and release onto the DMs Guild. This encounter includes the nomads of the Ride which borders on Thar, and who are at war with the Manslayer orcs.

Summary: A nomad camp here is pursuing a blood feud with the Manslayer orcs, who have been killing and kidnapping nomads for twenty-five years. The nomads here are all hunters pursuing the Manslayer tribe to retrieve captives, and are skirmishing with the Manslayers when the players arrive.

Hook: The players come across the nomads and the Manslayers fighting with one another.

Encounter: The skirmish is between four nomad hunters and one nomad champion on one side and eight orcs, an Eye of Gruumsh, and an orog on the other. The nomad hunters use scout statistics and the nomad champion uses berserker statistics. The nomads are quite badly outmatched. The nomads will attempt to stick together with their berserker, who engages the orog, and fend off the orcs with their shortswords. In addition to their numerical advantage, the Eye of Gruumsh will cast bless on the orog, himself, and one random orc, then use his command spell to try and force the nomad berserker to flee and take attacks of opportunity from the orog and any nearby orcs as he does so, before finally joining the fray with his spear. If his concentration is interrupted and ends the bless spell, he’ll recast it if the orog is still alive.

If the orog and at least four of the eight regular orcs die, the orcs will disengage and then use their move action to flee. If the nomad champion dies, the nomads will do the same. If either side is benefitting from the aid of the player characters, they will stay and fight until the players are dropped (whether killed or only unconscious) or flee.

Aftermath: The Manslayer orcs pride themselves on killing humans, elves, dwarves, and the like, and show no gratitude upon victory unless the player party is comprised entirely of half-orcs, dragonborn, tieflings, or drow, and they’ll even treat half-orcs and drow with contempt, though not the barely restrained hostility that they show towards other player races. Despite their disdain for humans et al, they will not attack unless the party is severely weakened and very likely to lose, but will instead just tell them not to stay out of the moors of Thar if they know what’s good for them. The DC to convince the orcs that the party are friends (and, for example, show them where their camp in Thar is located) is 21 if the Eye of Gruumsh survived the encounter and 20 if he did not. Convincing the orcs to help the players fight another enemy is 26 if the Eye of Gruumsh survived and 25 if he did not (in both cases, the Eye of Gruumsh gets to add his +1 Wisdom save to the DC).

If the orcs are convinced to divulge information to the party, they can tell them the location of the Black Spears, Jade Skulls, and Bloody Hands lairs in hex 01.01 and 02.00, such that players can find those locations automatically when in the right hex. They will also gladly wax poetic about their war to exterminate the ogres of the Jade Skulls with the aid of the Black Spear orcs, and to crush the Bloody Hands heretics who worship the heathen faith of Bane, introduced into Thar by the despicable fire giant Steinar of the Galena Mountains.

The nomads are much more grateful if the players help them against the orcs. They are a scouting party and will gladly tell the players what they know of the Manslayers, including their location in hex 01.00. Any party that receives this information can locate the camp automatically when in hex 01.00. The nomads will also tell the party that the Manslayers have about two hundred orc warriors, half a hundred orogs, two dozen Eyes of Gruumsh, and a smattering of warlords all answering to the main warchief. The warchief position changes hands now and again when one of the warlords challenges the current chief to a duel and one of the two is slain, but this doesn’t tend to cause a whole lot of internecine conflict within the orc tribes. Usually at least one warlord along with about a third of the host will be out raiding in either the nomads land or else against enemies in the moor, presumably Jade Skulls and Bloody Hands.

If the nomads are persuaded to be helpful beyond sharing information on a common enemy with a DC 15 Persuasion check, the nomads will bring word of them to their chief and propose a formal alliance if the players like. The nomads can then be used as allies to conquer tribal territories. The reinforcement point for the nomad army is this hex, 00.00.

The Manslayers hate giants almost as much as they hate humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings, and that includes the fire and frost giants of the Galena Mountains, but the nomads have reached out to the giants for an alliance and been rebuffed, usually violently. The giants consider the squabbling of Thar to be beneath them. The Manslayer orcs have an ad-hoc alliance with another tribe called the Black Spears, but mostly because they have a common enemy in a nearby ogre tribe called the Jade Skulls. They’re also having some sort of religious conflict with the Bloody Hands tribe of orcs nearby. The Manslayers are fervent worshipers of Gruumsh and their tribe is founded heavily on orcish superiority (though they recognize some races as brothers to be tolerated so long as they stick to their own lands and stay out of the way of the orcs’ path of conquest), but the Bloody Hands worship some deity introduced by the fire giants. The nomads are unclear on the details. They know the Jade Skulls and Black Spears are fighting over hex 01.01 and that the Bloody Hands are in hex 02.00, but do not know their precise location.

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