On the Ogres of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation
Date: Thu, June 02, 2005
Topic: Peoples & Culture
"Eat! Smash! Kill!" - excerpted from "Religious Beliefs of the Humanoids of the Flanaess" by the Savant-Sage Iquander, City of Greyhawk.
On the Ogres of the Flanaess: History, Culture and Nation
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Social mores and practices
Appearing much like crude, Neanderthal-like creatures with dead yellow or blackish-brown skin, male ogres usually stand nine to ten feet tall and weigh about three hundred pounds. Female ogres stand about seven feet tall and weigh half as much as their male counterparts. Ogres are famous for their amazing strength, and even more amazing stupidity. They live for a few simple pleasures, namely food, alcohol, combat and plunder. Constantly engaging in raids on any other intelligent creatures unlucky to live nearby, ogres seek flesh to eat, alcohol to drink, enemies to fight, and treasure they can use to buy more food and drink. This day-to-day existence is an endless routine of fighting, boozing, and gluttony, but it is one ogres find very enjoyable.
Ogres can dwell in any climate and in almost any terrain, although they prefer hills and mountains to any other area. Unlike the smaller humanoids, they have few enclaves within the civilized states of man; while orcs or goblins can muster the discipline to live in secret under the humans’ noses, no self-respecting ogre would ever let any other creature live without acting as its servant or its dinner. Ogre lairs are usually just carved tunnel complexes, with no furniture or other decoration apart from what the ogres plunder or purchase with their booty. They are content to sleep on hard stone floors, and have no compunctions about making a snack out of their own excrement, so cleanliness is never a worry. Ogres will not take over human villages the way orcs or hobgoblins do, not least because they could not fit into the buildings, which they find small and cramped. They will, however, cheerfully plunder any wood, stonework, or other building materials they think they can use.
Ogres are very chaotic, and barely have any organized society to speak of. Usually, the largest and strongest male will call himself “king” and bully and beat the smaller ogres until they do what he says. Ogres do not organize themselves into clans. Individual families only band together for protection and raiding purposes. Women and weak male children are treated as chattel, as are all young or old males that cannot defend themselves. Most often this bullying comes from a physical beating with fists, rarely spilling into anything more serious. Although they have no formal system of government, ogres are strongly loyal to their own families, and often enjoy watching other families engage in domestic squabbles. The sight of ogres from the same family pounding each other in a free-for-all melee is hilariously funny to other ogres watching.
Ogres most prefer the company of their own kind, and love organizing into gangs for the purposes of raiding and fighting. The problem with such relationships is the fact that the ogres often fall to fighting with each other over the division of plunder. Ogres often cooperate with hill giants or verbeeg as willing servants, and enjoy the action and treasure they get while serving with the larger humanoids. Bugbears are generally ignored, while gnolls occasionally use ogres as shock troops in battle, putting up with the bullying they receive by knowing that most of the ogres will be slain in combat.
Goblins and kobolds actively hate ogres, as they are the favorite targets of an ogre’s bullying and harassment. Hobgoblins are actively disliked, and ogres frequently clash with them. Orcs relate to ogres in the same way as do gnolls, using the stupid brutes as frontline fodder to absorb the brunt of an enemy’s attacks in combat, and putting up with the ogres’ bullying in exchange. Trolls are generally ignored. Gnomes are hated as enemies. Humans are either enemies who make tasty snacks, or the kind of sadistic bullies ogres can get along with. Dwarves, elves and halflings are viewed as enemies by ogres, but ogres also view these demi-humans as culinary delicacies, and any members of these races unlucky enough to be captured by ogres is usually killed and eaten as soon as possible.
In battle, ogres are indeed as stupid as the stereotypes describe, and are just as happy to charge into a battle, attacking without fear. Tactics meant to deter or scare away enemies are all but useless against ogres, as the big lunks are happy to take more than a few minor wounds and casualties, as long as they accomplish their goal. They are fairly easy to outsmart, given that ogres often do stupid things of their own free will. It is a simple matter to trick an ogre into defeating himself, but taking on an ogre in face-to-face combat is rather more complicated…and dangerous.
The ogres of the Flanaess have always been a plague on all other races, good and evil alike. It is difficult to think of where the ogres came from, or to piece together a detailed history of their race, as the ogres care nothing for such matters. The oral traditions of many Flan nations state that the ogres arose from men who fell into the worship of an evil spirit that modern scholars would recognize as the evil god Vaprak. Tricked by the lies of this spirit, the men began to ravage the Oerth, treating her bounty as something to be carelessly used and thrown aside. Other peoples suffered; animals were murdered and left to rot; the men grew wealthy, decadent and cruel.
Although they grew physically powerful from their wealth, the men’s minds began to decay, and they began to lose touch with their humanity. The moral decay evident in some men and dwarves today, the Flan storytellers claim, was nothing compared to what the men devolved into. They became the ogres, having lost touch with whatever goodness they once had. The ogres took after their god, and the Flan stories describe Vaprak as a petty, malevolent spirit that took on his own hideous appearance due to his jealousies and attempts to take what was not his from those around him.
Ogres have their own stories and mythology, which is mainly a series of very tedious narratives about how they crush this crafty elf or that sneaking rogue. The intelligence and wit of these weaklings avails them not against the might of the ogres, whose physical might renders them immune to any intrigues their foes might make against them. Every legend ends with the ogres mutilating and torturing a victim, which is described in exhaustive and often sadistic detail, not so much to deliver any morals as simply to make these sickening creatures laugh.
Famous ogre tribes
-Clan Bonk: Live in the Bluff Hills northwest of the Duchy of Tenh; eagerly slay any and all humans they find, but are particular enemies of the Bandits of Rookroost; famous for laying siege to such cities such as Nevond Nevnend, Redspan and Rookroost; name their tribe for the way they slay opponents by crushing the enemy’s head with clubs; ruled by Chief Ugudugu.
-Clan Crash: Live in the Good Hills in southern Keoland; are a constant thorn in the side of the Keoish; famous for their ritual warfare against the giants of the Jotens, and the damage they cause while charging through Keoland to reach the mountains; famous for shrinking the heads of their enemies; name their tribe for the way they crash into their enemies in battle, bowling them over with their superior mass; ruled by Chief Bagabon-doo.
-Clan Crunch: Live in the south-eastern Abbor-Alz, south of the Celadon Forest; famous for their constant raids on Nyrond, the Urnst states, and the folk of the Celadon; famous for the eating contests they have with the body parts of slain demihumans; famous for the powerful stout they distill; name their tribe for the sound humans make when the ogres stomp on them; ruled by Chief Fungle-blugh.
-Clan Splat: Live in the western Yatils on the borders of Tusmit; hired by many of the independent lords of the Yatils to harass and loot the Tusmites; known for their obsession with collecting colored glass marbles, which to them hold a strong religious significance; name their tribe for the way they prepare giant insects for supper by splattering them against cave walls; ruled by Chief Gug-ugh-al-goo.
-Clan Whomp: Wander the border between the Bandit Kingdoms and the Shield Lands, raiding knights and bandits alike; famous for their eternal feud with the bandit kingdom of the Unified Bands of the Warfields; staunch supporters of Iuz, often serving in his armies; famous for their hunting expeditions into the Riftcanyon, from which they often return with grisly trophies; name their tribe for the way they kill the monsters they hunt by “whomping” them; ruled by Chief Agga-duh-huh.