The Avvor, the Arqa and the Halquor

So, I put orcs and dwarves in a blender for my campaign. I regret nothing. Here’s what popped out, explicitly and in one place.

The vor are a people divided between the brutal avvor and the mystic arqa, two castes or classes; those who fight and those who craft; as a side effect of these rigid roles, there arises a third type, the marginalized halquor. Here’s a little bit about them all.

The vor are the blood of giants. Titans, actually. Their creation myth states that Vorn awoke from a great chaos, amidst a storm of fire and blood on a battlefield of ruined flesh and rusting iron. Through the breach in the corpse he crawled, and countless other unnamed followed the First Warrior, slick with blood and howling in pain. The battlefield was called Ragnarok and Meggido, Gehenna and Tartarus — it was a chaotic wasteland beset by demons. The vor ate and slew and screwed their way across this chaos, exulting in it, barely noting the firsts which Vorn taught them: the first axe, the first shield, the first poison, the first orgiastic wash of passion in the wake of battle. But all things must end, and Vorn’s empire spread so far that his children could not all be warriors, and so they divided: the avvor, who travel the land spreading the gift of battle, and the arqa who remain behind, creating the tools of war.

The halquor are the third and least-favored children. Some say they represent a genetic taint, a foreign bloodline, or a divine curse. Whichever, they are simply different than the other vor, more cunning and more lithe.

* +2 Constitution
* Vorish resilience: Advantage on saving throws against poison, and resistance against poison damage.
* Relentless: While at 0 hp (but not dead), you may concentrate (as on a spell) to remain conscious while dying for up to 1 minute. You still make and accrue failed death saves, and cannot stabilize; you still die at 3 failed death saves.
* Stonecunning: Make Intelligence(History) checks related to the origin of stonework with expertise.
* Normal vision: I shouldn’t have to call it out, but Vor don’t have darkvision. This is a surprisingly major loss, though see the subraces.
* Languages: speak, read and write Common and Vorqu.

The Subraces:

The avvor are what everyone thinks of when they think of the vor; the name of the race as a whole is merely a corruption of the name of the caste. They’re vikings with horned helms, or mongol hordes; they’re klingons or orcs or hobgoblins. Their form is often irregular; the version suitable for PCs is as presented here but they frequently exhibit gigantism or other mutations; ogres, trolls and ettins are all expressions of this bloodline.
A group of avvor is a warband. The warband has a subjective hierarchy: its bottom rung are the nameless, those avvor who have not yet distinguished themselves. These individuals are considered the property of the band, and have no names, no goods, no ability to speak. Above the nameless are the named, those avvor which have distinguished themselves (usually in battle) and convinced the other named of their strength and worth. They are recognized and are the council of the band. Approximately a third of a given band is named. Above the band are one or more chiefs, nominally selected from among the named, but in practice the selection basis is the ability to seize and hold the title. There can be multiple chiefs in a larger band, including subchiefs, or just one in a smaller group. Warbands will occasionally be drawn together under a khan into an organized body, a horde, and once created these hordes can change the fate of nations, held together by those chiefs as share the vision of the khan.
The warband is therefore a very important concept to the avvor, as it represents their family and nation and employment in one. An avvor alone — such as an adventurer — can still arise. Perhaps their band was a small one, and disbanded due to some tragedy great or small. Perhaps they have been given a quest which requires single travel. Perhaps they were a rare egotist among the avvor. Whatever the reason, it’s likely that an avvor would bond with a new family, showing them the same devotion normally due their warband, regarding its members as named, though with perhaps a regrettable tendency to regard hirelings as unnamed.
Physically, avvor have grey skintones in the range from slate to fishbelly, tending towards stony colorations; thinning black oily hair, thick ridged flesh, eyes with little sclera and odd colorations (purple, red, and black-brown are not uncommon), and underbites with protuberant tusks. They stand seven to eight feet tall and weigh 300 pounds.
* +2 Strength.
* Avvor weapon proficiency: Proficiency with javelins, spears, handaxes and battleaxes.
* Blood rage: When at fewer than half hit points, +1 melee weapon damage (+2 at 9th, +3 at 16th; also add this damage if raging regardless of hp total).
* Large Framed: Double lift, drag and carrying capacity values.

The arqa are more rare. They are religious zealots of a faith which other races regard as daily toil. These dwellers in their mountain halls are the miners, herders, tanners, smiths and teachers of the vor. Vor culture regards study and skill as an almost religious experience, because of the level of rigor it demands of its adherents to sublimate their warlike nature. This religion is called arqarash, the way of the still mind.
Their clan-halls are founded by a small group of, generally, avvor who have tired of battle. Over a single generation, the avvor delve their halls and practice arqarash, bestowing arqa on their children born from birth into the stillness. Those who do not take into arqarash are banded together and given the best fruit of the hall, then sent into the world to bring back news and goods and glory, because the arqa do not forget the purpose of their work.
The leaders of a clan are the wise, a democratically elected post which even thralls may select. Oh, and there are thralls, brought back by avvor to the mountain halls; vor thralls regard this as a somewhat holy task, but to be consigned to an arqa mine is considered a fate worse than death by the other races.
Their long delves in darkness and the religious ecstasy they experience from the use of skill lends arqa to a somewhat solitary existence. While they feel beholden to their clan, a lone arqa is proportionately nowhere near as rare as a lone avvor — though the much smaller number of arqa settlements makes that still a rare event in absolute numbers.
Physically, arqa have brown skintones in the range from black earth to walnut, tending towards ligneous colorations; black, grey or brown hair, wrinkled or smooth ridged flesh, eyes with little sclera and odd colorations (purple, red, and black-brown are not uncommon), and underbites with negligible tusks. They stand five to six feet tall and weigh 200 pounds.
* +1 Wisdom
* Arqa tool proficiency: Gain expertise with one tool (especially blacksmith tools, miner’s tools, weaver’s tools).
* Darkvision: 60 ft.
* +1 hp per hit die.

The halquor are the outcastes of the vor, and in lean times can come to outnumber the other two castes put together. There are occasionally small communities of the halquor, but more frequently they are encountered as one-offs, half-vor in a human community or a barbarian lost alone in the woods.
There is no single description of the halquor, but to a first approximation, they have human-range skintones, hair, and eyes, with minor features to call them out: their skin is less saturated than their surroundings, their eyes have odd mixin colors, and their features are more rough and their skin and bones occasionally subtly ridged.
* Increase one ability score of your choice by 1.
* Darkvision: 60 ft.
* One skill proficiency.

Designers notes:

This is kind of tricky and I still don’t trust it. The rough idea is that I took the goliath, dwarf and half-orc and blended them. The three races are individually useful — the avvor as vikings, the arqa as the leaders and “friendlier” dwarves, and the halquor for your half-orc rogue (or I suppose barbarian, but why not avvor then?! Oh right: darkvision and a freebie skill. Ain’t I a stinker?).

I used to give the avvor “reckless” to model their inner rage, but I think that’s too finicky, especially on an NPC. The “bloodrage” is 1 point lower than the barbarian’s equivalent and stacks, so it works well for PCs and NPCs both, and at 10th level (much more reasonable than 20th IMO!), it’s +2 per attack on, say, 2 attacks — 4 extra damage a round doesn’t seem too nuts to me, even if it does make you a consummate cuisinart of death — even if we notice it’s really 6+ extra damage because of that sneaky +2 strength. It does require you be relatively unhealthy. It creates a perverse incentive (“no don’t heal me I prefer the chips be down!”) except for the barbarian, which is definitely an incentive to go barbarian.

I’d much rather hand out a damage boost than an accuracy boost, and granting a little extra damage feels mostly okay.

I considered something like bless (1d4 extra damage) but that’s so perverse at the lower levels and its only scaling is irritating. So a flat boost some of the time, which by the way synergizes GREAT with relentless — seems like the ticket.


You might like some monsters with these stats. Have some!


About lackhand

I was born in 1984 and am still playing games, programming computers, and living in New York City. View all posts by lackhand

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