10 Ways To Make Your Ogres More Intimidating

From JohnnFour

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0018

A Brief Word From Johnn

This week we discuss making those dumb old ogres something a little more, something to talk about after the session. It was fun doing the research and thinking up these tips.

But one thing kept bugging me. Many of the sources I looked at reported some monsters as being cunning. So, I thought, hey let’s make ogres cunning. But, in terms of game play and game master strategies, what the heck is cunning? Do you know? Email me if you wouldn’t mind, thanks.

Oh, and if you are currently game mastering a sci-fi game, just replace the word “ogre” with the alien race of your choice and tweak the tips accordingly. And if you are GMing a contemporary or cyberpunk game, use these tips to surprise your players on the next group of muscle-bound bodyguards they meet.

Johnn Four

Make them cunning

  • Help the players make overconfident mistakes by playing up ogres as dumb and slow
  • Attacking ogres focus on spell casters first–with ogre-size rocks hurled at them if needed
  • Employ pits and traps to defend lairs
    • pile rocks on high ground and trigger them to fall
    • create a fake lair entrance beside the covered, real one
    • Create ogre ambushes

They Go For The Small Guys First

Hey, they’ve heard about that stupid Goliath guy and learned his lesson: attack the little guys first. Is this fair? Good! It’s not supposed to be and it will help scare the little guys quite a bit the next time ogres are around.

Fool The Characters In Their Own Language

Step One: have the ogres speak in loud, slow, stupid grunting noises before anything happensStep Two: give them really stupid, puzzled expressions on their faces when the characters speakStep Three: sit back and let the ogres listen, understand and react to the plans and commands the characters make out loud in front of “those stupid ogres”

Give Them Nasty Minions

  • How about some goblin slaves who help build tricky and deadly traps which only goblins know how to build so well
  • Or some pet dogs who are vicious and can track down even the most well-hidden PC

Grant Them A Highly Intelligent Leader

  • Make them better organized
  • Give them better tactics
  • Build them better defenses
  • Give them better equipment, arms and armour

Give Them A Very Strong Sense Of Smell

This goes both ways: make them hard to surprise by giving them powerful noses, and give them a heady stink to tip the characters off and make them nervous.

Make Them Faster

  • Allow them to easily catch fleeing characters
  • Give them more attacks in combat
  • Let them retreat quickly and outpace pursuing characters, and then attack again from behind or with missile weapons

Give Them Religion

  • Allow them shamans with spells: offensive and defensive
  • Give them mystical ceremonies which inspire a frenzied state of blood lust

Replace Their Club

  • Give them a nice double-bladed, two-handed axe
  • Give them shields
  • Let them use their magic plunder: potions, dust, weapons…
  • Give them the secret of greek fire!

Give Them Lots To Throw

  • Sharp rocks about the size of your head
  • Nasty ice balls
  • A thousand stones in hand-packed dirt balls
  • Did someone already mention greek fire?
  • What would a huge rock landing in the lake just in front of the characters do?
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