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GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar (Basic)
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GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar (Basic)

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Orcs? A Gazetteer about Orcs?

Absolutely. And hobgoblins, kobolds, bugbears, gnolls, trolls, goblins, and more! If you think the only good orc is a dead orc, you're in for a surprise. Orcs (and the other humanoids) are more than just anonymous hordes to be slaughtered for easy experience points - they are creatures with personality, culture, likes and dislikes, and a point of view. Find out all about them in The Orcs of Thar.

The Orcs of Thar is the tenth in a series of Gazetteers for the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game system. It gives you a comprehensive, in-depth look at the orcs and their world, including:

- Orcs and other humanoids as player characters
- A large full-color map of Thar, home of the orcs
- Complete rules for humanoid spell-casters
- The King of the Orcs, and why you don't want to run into him
- Seperate DM and Player's Booklets
- ORCWARS! , a complete boardgame, also included!

Product History

GAZ10: “The Orcs of Thar” (1988), by Bruce Heard, is the tenth book in the "GAZ" series of Gazetteers for the Known World. It was published in January 1989.

Origins. Because of the popularity of the "GAZ" supplements, all of the core realms of the Known World were being written about, so a book on the humanoid-infested Broken Lands had been on the schedule for some time. It was to be one of the most unique books in the series, as it would cover humanoids in-depth, something that was mostly unknown in the FRPG world. Since Acquisitions Coordinator Bruce Heard had plans for letting players take on the roles of these humanoids, he ultimately decided to write the book himself (and soon got approval to do so from his division head).

Continuing the “GAZ” Sourcebooks. Like the recent books in the "GAZ" series, "The Orcs of Thar" was a folio of two books, one for players and one for GMs. They were each the same size, at 48 pages, which was new; previously the series had included lopsided books at 64 and 32 pages.

"The Orcs of Thar" is one of several racial-kingdom splatbooks for the Known World; there had previously been three others: GAZ5: "The Elves of Alfheim" (1988), GAZ6: "The Dwarves of Rockhome" (1988), and GAZ8: "The Five Shires" (1988). "The Orcs of Thar" also one of the more light-hearted "GAZ" books, a characteristic shared by some but not all books in the series.

The Board Game Connection. Heard had previously designed a related board game called "Orcwars!", which appeared in Dragon #132 (April 1988). It's reprinted within this supplement.

A History of Humanoids: Sometimes the Monsters Play You. Fantasy roleplayers first got the chance to play the monsters in Ken St. Andre's Monsters! Monsters! RPG (1976). A few smaller scale monster-playing products appeared in the small press in the late '70s and early '80s, while Mayfair Games put out an early book giving more details on humanoid cultures: Dark Folk (1983). However for the most part FRPGs neglected the idea of taking on the role of monsters.

As a result, "The Orcs of Thar" — which allowed players to take on the roles of kobolds, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls, bugbears, ogres, and trolls — was a groundbreaking supplement. It provided a unique monstrous character sheet, and even gave guidelines for running a monstrous campaign, which might center on tribal warfare.

In the years that followed, D&D would follow-up on the idea of playing monstrous PCs in the "Creature Crucible" series (1989-1992), PHBR10: The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993), and elsewhere.

Expanding Basic D&D. As was the case for many later Known World supplements, "The Orcs of Thar" provides a lot of expansions to the Basic D&D game. The inclusion of monstrous PCs was the biggest one, but the supplement also includes two more classes: the shaman and the wicca. It also has rules for partial armor and defective weapons — both especial problems for humanoids, but probably of wider use in D&D games.

Love It or Hate It? "The Orcs of Thar" may be the "GAZ" supplement that's generated the most wildly divergent responses: some people love it because of its groundbreaking, in-depth detailing of multiple humanoid cultures; while other people hate it because it's one of the funnier "GAZ" books and that extends to the Jim Holloway artwor, which is among his silliest.

Expanding the Known World. The Broken Lands are fully detailed in "The Orcs of Thar", including both the world above and the world below — making it one of the few three-dimensional realms in the Known World. (The Sea of Dread was similarly detailed both above and below water.) Oenkmar, Jewel of the Depths, an elven-built city, also gets some specific attention.

Future History. "Rank Amateurs" by John J. Terra, in Dungeon #22 (March/April 1990) returns to the Broken Lands.

Following this supplement, orcs didn't got a lot of attention until the '00s. Much of that later attention came about through a multitude of d20 supplements, but there were also two orc-based RPGs: Green Ronin's Ork! The Roleplaying Game (2000) and John Wick's Orkworld (2000).

About the Creators. Heard was the lead on the whole initial rollout of the Known World. This was his second supplement for the line, following GAZ3: "The Principalities of Glantri" (1987).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Reviews (0)
Discussions (7)
Customer avatar
Brian S March 21, 2015 2:50 pm UTC
PURCHASER
why is this double the price of all the others? It's the same page count. and where is the dwarf one? Stop stringing us along.
Customer avatar
Pierre S November 04, 2014 10:37 pm UTC
Didn't this supplement also include a few pages to be copied and cut up to make a Guide to Da Legion, a humourous military handbook for orc soldiers? "Always start marching on the right foot. The other foot is the wrong foot."
Customer avatar
Zia M February 07, 2015 5:09 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Didn't see a reply, I got this today and confirmed Thar's Manual of Good Conduct is included.
Customer avatar
Pierre S September 24, 2015 9:52 pm UTC
Thank you. Haha, it was hilarious stuff.
Customer avatar
Charles G September 21, 2014 7:31 am UTC
PURCHASER
I wish they'd do a bundle of the GAZ series.
Customer avatar
Rich F September 19, 2014 1:37 pm UTC
Can anyone who purchased this comment on the quality of the scans of the counters and map for the ORCWARS! portion?

Thanks in advance.
Customer avatar
October 14, 2014 1:10 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The map scan is very good quality - a single large page.
The counters are good, could be a little sharper, but perfectly good for printing and play (if you can get the double sided to line up right!)
Customer avatar
August 19, 2014 1:01 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Well, GAZ8&9 are now available - hopefully 6 will be available shortly.
Customer avatar
October 14, 2014 1:11 pm UTC
PURCHASER
All the way up to 13 now, but still missing 6. :(
Customer avatar
Todd A August 02, 2014 3:03 am UTC
PURCHASER
Yeah, where are Gaz(s) 6,8 &9??? Please make these available too :)
Customer avatar
July 29, 2014 8:43 am UTC
PURCHASER
Another good GAZ, but is there any particular reason why this is $10 when the rest are $5?
While we're here, what happened to GAZ6, 8 & 9 ?
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This title was added to our catalog on July 29, 2014.