The Blood of Giants: Half-ogres

Giants vary in size from slightly larger than human-sized to mountainously colossal. The further back into antiquity one goes, the more enormous the race of giants are described as being. Those who were not imprisoned beneath the ground, or did not lay down and go to sleep to become part of the countryside, retreated to Færie as the magick of the ancient world faded and the boundaries of the world became pinned in place by the march of the mortal races, as life became more and more dense in manifestation.

The giants were once the smiths of the gods, creatures of a highly magickal heritage. The dvergar, who themselves came to dwell in the mortal world as the dwarfs, were the heirs of the greater part of their magical lore.

Ogres, along with the trolls and their cousins the drow, are the final heirs to that dwindled magical blood of the giants in the mortal world, all related somewhere back in the mists of time.

Like the half-elfs, half-ogres are not truly a race unto themselves.

Origins

One could say that the origins of half-ogres lie in the ogres themselves, since they roamed the Mortal World before the humans. Half-ogres are not truly a race unto themselves, but represent the result of an occasional occurrence amongst humans – raids of blood and rapine by fierce wandering rogues, or abduction for the purpose of taking a wife. Ogres are loathsome, wild and fearsome, marauding behemoths. Indeed, from the tales of ogres that have been passed down through the ages, stealing mortal human wives seems to be the only manner in which these brutes can reproduce in the mortal world, whom Fate has decreed shall bear fertile fruit, according to the old folk tales.

In the Beginning of Days, the borders between the Spheres (Nine Worlds to the Norse) into which all that is Spirit and all that is Flesh were divided were still amorphous, without defined boundaries, each flowing back and forth into one another. Gradually they separated, matter precipitating out of Spirit and the Mind of the All-Father. The world as it is now known was created by the gods in the place where Fire meets Ice, and was adrift between Spirit and the Flesh of the Mortal Coil for untold ages.

The many races of Spirit became accustomed to being able to shift from Spirit to Flesh and back again at will, so thin was the barrier between worlds, mingling freely and largely unknown with those of Flesh. This was simply the way of things. The elfs were one of the first races to descend from the heights of Light in Spirit through the border realms of Spirit that became known as Faerie and cross the Mortal Veil into Flesh.

Fire was brought to heel under the reign of Leo, among the Races of Man in the world of Flesh, the veriest medium by which matter of the world of Flesh was returned to Spirit.

Spirit and Flesh dwelt side by side through the reign of Taurus, under the rule of Bronze, and the Races of Men flourished.

But in the Age of Ares, the power of iron was discovered and did grow, inimical to creatures of Spirit.

The Races of Men prospered and grew so that they overwhelmed the homelands of the creatures of Spirit and set forth in great waves, migrating ever outwards, flooding the world. Bringing with them their iron, and later steel, they gradually pinned the mortal world in place. As time passed, especially as the power of the Light grew and spread to rival the scattered traditions of many gods, of gods almost without number, Spirit and Flesh drew further apart from one another. The majority of the Spirit creatures were not prepared for the harshness that the Mortal Coil took on under the rule of poisonous iron and the relentless march of the faith of the Light.

The threshold between Spirit and Flesh grew more distinct, more sharply defined. It took on characteristics of its own, becoming a border region in its own right lying between them which came to be known as “Færie.”

The peal of the churches’ great bronze bells chased the Spirits away into the incontinent mists, into the gray light of dawn and dusk or into the darkness of Night, all places where Faerie lay hidden. Rules for passing between the worlds made themselves known. Many of the spirits refused to surrender entirely their right and ability to walk in the world of Flesh as well as the spheres of Spirit and made their stand in those borderlands. These spirit folk gradually grew into solitary habits, haunting lonely places on the Mortal World, far from the habitations of human folk. These places were commonly dangerous in some way – sheer cliffs, in or by deep and/or swift waters, marshes and unstable boglands. As time passed, such beings were seen in the Mortal world more and more rarely, and eventually never in any numbers even in those remote environs.

This is the age during which the entire host of the creatures and beings of Spirit became sundered. Many retreated into Færie, where they could still pass into the Spirit Spheres and/or the Mortal World of Flesh freely, as desired. Others chose to remain in the hardening Mortal World, refusing to be beaten back and, as a result, completed their descent into matter. While the solitary, predatory ogres quietly settled in the mortal world and became creatures more mortal in nature than Spirit, they dwindled even further from their distant giant forebears, as evidenced by their smaller stature and sometimes animalistic attributes (horns, tusks),

The half-blood offspring of ogres, while fearsome and daunting to look on from the human point of view, are considered runts and weaklings among ogre kind, often exposed in the wilderness to die. Some of them are spirited away to more friendly environs, while others survive in spite of their vicious treatment. The characters described here are those half-bloods who survived birth and were allowed or somehow otherwise managed to live.

Description

Half-ogres are big, broad and tall due to the blood of their distant giant kin, although ogres are shorter and somewhat lankier than trolls. Both are still significantly larger than humans. The race of ogres never having dwelt in Færie are not marked by violet eyes nor feral, pointed ears, nor their half-blooded offspring, either. The half-ogre gets in some measure the ogre’s roughly hewn features, Neanderthal brow, lantern jaw and prodigious body hair, a patchy complexion, liberally freckled. Unlike the other descendants of the heritage of the giants, ogres were never creatures of the night. Although pale-skinned and sensitive, half-ogres don’t suffer like half-trolls or half-drow, but are unable achieve any more than 1point of protection from the sun by tanning.

Whether the ogre parent had tusks and or horns, and whether or not the half-blood must eventually grow them as well is completely up to the player and GM to negotiate and determine. The tusks grow once the character has reached maturity, over the course of years, from the bottom jaw up and out at an angle as high as the bottom of the cheek bones, and down from the top as far down as the bottom of the jaw line or more, fearsome tusks. Horns might be curved like sabers or spiral like a bighorn sheep, at the GM’s discretion, or any other configuration that pleases him best or the player successfully negotiates.

The ogres are voracious predators, dedicated meat-eaters with a taste for human(-oid) flesh. When faced with an ogre, all creatures and beings understand what it means to BE the archetypal Prey under the gaze of the archetypal Predator. All animals respond to the presence of an ogre in that manner, the absence of lesser animals in the vicinity being a clue to any Huntsman or Woodsman that such a great predator is near. Any humanoid faced by a full-blooded ogre is going to feel the “fight-or-flight” response in adrenaline rush and hammering heart, face flushed and sweating. The characters of that blood being played as PC’s come from among those who have escaped before they have eaten humanoid flesh, some time prior to puberty.

Half-ogres, the heirs of giant blood, have a DV bonus equal to (HRT) to exercise any skill that involves contact with an animal, such as Husbandman, Beastmaster, Horseman, or the like (GM’s discretion), making those skills more difficult. This penalty is reduced by an above average SPT att. mod., as applicable.

Half-ogres have a taste for meat, more carnivore than omnivore, equipped with the sharp pointed teeth of the predator, the canine teeth exaggerated no matter how high their BTY. The greater the character’s BTY, however, the smaller they ultimately grow and the longer they remain completely unobtrusive. This trait is always passed down the generations along with the “taint” of giant blood. When the giant blood is less than half, this trait becomes recessive, manifesting in a hit-or-miss fashion.

Though the giants their forbears had a taste for human(-oid) flesh that runs true in all their dwindled kin, it is NOT so of these half-blooded characters. IF however, any half-blood of one of these giant-kin were somehow to taste such flesh or blood (even unknowingly), the magick in their blood begins to awaken, to begin a transformation in body and spirit to full-blooded ogre. This is by no means an automatic process. The character must give in to it and must fuel the change by giving in to that blood-thirsty inclination. This essentially changes the character’s consciousness, effectively rendering him into a NPC.

The average life expectancy for a half-ogre is 100 years, as they lack any of the fairy blood and their giant blood is much dwindled.

Characters with an above average CND can expect a longer life, barring any unforeseen injuries and/or accidents, a shorter span for those with below average CND.

Point of View

Like the ogre parent, the half-blood is prone to a rather sour and cynical disposition – not surprising considering they generally get kicked around and scorned for their repugnant heritage throughout their formative years. They tend either toward the quiet or loud end of the spectrum in general personality, either quiet brooders who sit and think too much, to the point where they end up stewing and seething, or loud and full of brash boasting and swaggering braggadocio with a chip on their shoulders, always trying to prove themselves.

Half-ogre emotions may run rough, high and fast, then leave them in silent regret afterwards – those among them who bother with a conscience, anyway. Rash actions in fits of passion are not unusual, or anger that comes on quick and very violent, and is just as suddenly spent.

They are commonly bitter and angry characters, jealous of the lot of everyone else in the world, from the lowly serf to the half-blood elfs, no matter how sad their lives can often be. From the point of view of the half-ogre, at least the humans envy the elfin blood and the taste of magick and mystery they get to enjoy.

When the ogre heritage/blood becomes known, the worst is most commonly expected, and immediately. Torn between their brooding and hostile, truculent and even violent natures and their passionate gregarious human blood, most that live to maturity end up as outcasts (if not actually outlaws), considering the harsh welcome to which they will have been treated from the start. It is not unusual for these half-bloods to grow up hating their ogre blood and to have a will to do mayhem to every ogre they can find.

It is up to the player to decide how his half-blood character responds to any kindness shown him. It would be best if he at least allow the other PC’s get closer than most so long as they treat him well.

The half-ogres are presented for PC use only by dint of their mortal blood, which mellows their natures and makes them a more manageable size (STA). The full-blooded ogres and trolls are a bitter and nasty remnant of the ages through which they ruled, several thousands of years in the past. Full-blooded ogres and trolls among their own kind live very much to the standards of their ancient civilizations, which bear a great resemblance to those of the Celts, the ogres from the Iron Age. Unfortunately, they regard ALL life as theirs for the taking, as their rightful food. That includes the other sentient races. They are bitter and resentful of the manner in which their races have dwindled in size and numbers with the passing centuries. The quickest way to move them to rage is to confront them with evidence of or members of the younger mortal races. This is why the descriptions of these creatures include such a dire adjustment to Encounter Reactions. 

Ogres are provided in the Bestiary solely to fill the role of foe, not as PC material, because as foes of the heroes is the traditional role in which they have been handed down to us by ancient literary tradition, and that is the basis for the medieval fantasy presented in RoM.

Basically considered unnatural creatures and abominations by nature among humans, those half-bloods that have survived have been rescued from the ogre or troll lairs, generally after they slaying of the birth parent. Thus, such characters should be rarer still than the very uncommon occurrence of those of the full ogre blood in the mortal world in general. Ogres are somewhat more numerous than trolls, BUT both are rather rare nonetheless, having been hunted to extinction in all civilized lands, or as close as may be.

This being the case, you might consider severely limiting the number of such half-blood characters in your game, and take note of the special impact their race has upon their Fame & Reputation.