More Like This Please: Return to the Glory

Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 24 May 2020

Return to the Glory is a D&D Adventurer's League (DDAL) legal adventure for four to six orc or half-orc characters levels 6 to 8. All proceeds from the sale of the adventure go to Red Nose Day USA, a charity to help children in poverty. The adventure designers include DMs Guild adepts and members of the D&D Adventurer's League administrative staff.

So, one might ask themselves, what? A DDAL adventure that requires orc or half-orc characters? Why?

Because it's a chance to tell a different story about orcs, one that you might not find in your history books (I'm looking at you Volo).

Imagine that there had been an orc society, one with a bunch of different groups, with different ways of viewing and interacting with the world. That these groups built a large complex that celebrated their cultures, imbuing it with the wisdom and outlooks of each. And that eventually a cataclysm happened, that created an orc diaspora, the loss of identity, and that the history was now written by their enemies. And now, several hundred years after that event, those of orcish descent decide to reunite and reclaim their past. This...this is the story of Return to the Glory.

For some of you, this probably sounds very familiar. There are a lot of echoes here of what happened to many people in Africa, those who were stolen and enslaved. How there is a great sorrow and loss around that loss of continuity of culture and history.

And there was a large conversation recently about how the words and arguments that have been used to describe Black people, to argue for their enslavement or for discrimination against them, were also used to describe orc. And this conversation has been had several times because...because folks often refuse to understand and acknowledge it.

So, at this point, you might ask, what makes this product different?

The biggest difference I can say is intentionality.

We can discuss all day whether or not the various iterations of orcs in D&D and beyond were intended to represent Black people and probably not get anything clear and solid. But once the same arguments and descriptions that have been used as weapons against Black folks were used to also describe orcs; that connection becomes impossible to deny, regardless of intention.

So once we have this connection in at least some folks minds, what do we do with it? How do we move beyond it? The answer for this adventure is by intentionally invoking the connection in an attempt to fundamentally change it.

This adventure rewrites the history of the orcs. It puts orcs in a city of their own construction, a complex city with a story to tell as the characters explore it. It details out a variety of different groups that existed in that city, with their own viewpoints and creeds (here mentioned as omens). It provides a history of orcs that is written by orcs, through what was left behind. It challenges the history written by Volo (who is often known for being at least slightly untrustworthy and biased).

The adventure details 13 sections of the city and introduces an omens pattern that helps describe the creed and/or outlook of the group responsible for that section. The large number of groups with different viewpoints but under the same omen approach is an intentional method for dealing with orcs. There is a shared culture in the broad sense, but a range of diversity and opinions below it. And by incorporating the omens of that group into how the section functions, it reinforces that diversity and story and brings that history alive.

At least one section may have an owlbear.

Additionally, another part of the intentionality here is that there is an editorial assistance credit for Tanya C. DePass, who some might know as Cypher of Tyr, the founder and Director of I Need Diverse Games.

I really enjoyed reading through this adventure because I could see the thought and intentionality that went into creating it. I really enjoyed the application of what makes orcs unique and the omens structure to how different parts of the adventure play out. It made me think a lot.

It's an interesting adventure worthy of adding to a library without all of this of course.

Is it enough to reclaim orcs? I don't get to determine that. But I can't wait to see what discussion and play unfolds because of this adventure.

If you'd like to grab the adventure and discover it for yourself, you can grab it on DMs Guild here:

All proceeds from the sale are going to Red Nose Day, in case it's important for you to know where your money is going.

Send feedback using the contact form or through twitter, @sarahdarkmagic.

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