Adventure Review: The Orc Raiders by Ben Holsclaw



Quite honestly, I can never get enough orcs. They are the near perfect mass mob of foes for nearly any fantasy setting. We all love monsters, but a race premised on constant war and contempt for all other races–those are some baddies. So I approached Ben Holsclaw‘s The Orc Raiders expecting a meat grind (and was satisfied) but also discovered some strong roleplay elements that would fit well into any campaign making this module perfect as a one-shot, side quest, or adventure plot point in your own campaign. 

Holsclaw has written a solid background for the encounter giving DMs and PCs plenty motivation A band of orcs have created a semi-permanent camp in a series of caves near a trade route. From their camp, the orcs have been harrying travels and usually avoiding guarded caravans but something has changed,

“You see it just as the breeze brings the scent of smoke to your nose. Ahead on the road is an overturned wagon, smouldering and blackened as the fire that consumed it has now died down to embers. Bodies are scattered about, several of which wear armor. Whatever hit this caravan hit it hard and fast.”

As a scenario meant to be encountered as a party is traveling, this can be dropped into almost any campaign if it isn’t used as just a one shot. Designed for up to five players level 5-7, the adventured is well balanced guiding players through winding caverns with progressively stronger monsters and foes to deal with. Holsclaw also updates a contextually appropriate 2e monster, the Mobat (a sort of dire bat), for 5e as a bit of flavor. For the most part, the task before players is quite straight-forward yet the end goal can be reached by more than a few paths dependent upon the degree of roleplay and player temperament.

While Holsclaw provides some text, he wisely prefers to set parameters within which DMs can add their own unique flavor. The maps Holsclaw provides are easy to follow, the monster stats fitting, and the reward/treasure decent enough (although, it can certainly be altered to provide a hook for ongoing campaigns). The Orc Raiders is a well crafted adventure evenly balanced between action and roleplay opportunity while never being overbearing or difficult to make one’s own.


Rating: ♦♦♦♦◊


Recommended Party: I can’t imagine players of any class not wanting to test their mettle against a rogue orc clan. However, given most of this adventure takes place in rather tight, underground tunnels, it may not be the best for druids. This seems like the kind of adventure where paladins and rangers would excel.


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