JourneyQuest is a fantasy comedy web series from the creators of The Gamers and The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. To learn more about the show or watch the series for free online, visit the official website. This article is part of a series that explore the world of JourneyQuest, its locales, myths, monsters, and characters.
There is perhaps no more iconic Orcish weapon than the vivdly named atrocity-knife (kelled in Orcish). Also known as flensers, hellshivs, and – most horribly – rape-knives, a war party of Orcs armed with these vicious, hideously tongued blades is instant nightmare fuel for the civilized races of Fartherall.
Atrocity-knives vary in length, from the size of a dagger to that of a short sword, and resemble an unholy cross between a lobster claw and a can opener. The serrated blade and puncturing hook make atrocity-knives brutal close-quarter weapons; the “atrocity” in the name is most often linked to the gruesome wounds the blades have been known to inflict. The hook on the knife can, in the hands of a skilled user, also be used defensively to entangle a hostile weapon or disarm an enemy. To that end, it’s not uncommon to see an Orc fighting with an atrocity-knife in one hand and a heavier melee weapon in the other. Even so, the knives’ tendency to break or stick in armor means they are not the primary weapon choice of most Orcs.
Most atrocity-knives are not made very strong material, and Orcs generally consider them disposable. As the knives tend to break in battle and/or in victims, smash-happy Orcs tend to go through a lot of them. Fortunately (for an Orc, at least) atrocity-knives are not at all difficult to make; given adequate time and any suitable amount of scrap metal, an Orc with rudimentary blacksmithing skills can create a small bundle of knives.
Why Orcs are so willing to carry frail (but still razor sharp) weapons into battle is curious, considering how painstaking they usually are with the care and quality of their weapons. One theory is that the practice is a holdover from the Orcs’ pre-nomadic scavenger days, when the only crafted materials they had were what they stole or salvaged from other races. It’s an interesting theory, since the Orcs as a race don’t care to remember that part of their history, and the jagged and oft blackened blades of the atrocity-knives closely resemble the Orcish scrapaxes and piecemeal armor of ages past.
Interestingly enough, there have been reports of some tribes using masterwork atrocity-knives that are sturdy and ever keen and can punch through plate. Speculation abounds that some sort of magic is involved in their creation. Rumors from the border kingdoms suggest that these master knives are forged rather than cut, and are cooled not in a blacksmith’s bucket but in a captive’s belly. Then again, these are only rumors, and the border kingdoms’ antipathy towards Orcs is well documented.
Even more curious are certain accounts of traders and peddlers friendly with some of the Orcish tribes in the Afterlands (these would be the more traditional, nomadic Orcs, not the modernists, who have consider atrocity-knives an outdated and hindering aspect of their culture, and have thrown them away along with ritual facial scarring). According to these reports, most Orcs don’t rely on their atrocity-knives except as a last resort since they’re unreliable in combat. Supposedly, the reason they wear them is psychological—they scare the living jibblie-crap out of the other races. Indeed, often all it takes is for an Orc to draw his atrocity-knife to get a clamp-lipped captive to start talking, or a stingy merchant to suddenly drop his prices.
Cost: 5 sp
Dmg (S): 1d3
Dmg (M): 1d4
Weight: 1 lb.
Type: P or S
A wicked blade that is cheap, defensive, and potentially lethal with the price of it being somewhat easily broken in battle. With an atrocity-knife, you get a +2 bonus on Combat Maneuver Checks to sunder an enemy’s weapon. On an attack roll of natural 1 there is a 50% chance the weapon will break. Openly carrying an atrocity-knife grants you a +2 fear bonus to Intimidate checks.
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System reference Document. Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, based on material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.
Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Copyright 2009, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.
The Book of Experimental Might. Copyright 2008, Monte J. Cook. All rights reserved.
Tome of Horrors. Copyright 2002, Necromancer Games, Inc.; Authors: Scott Greene, with Clark Peterson, Erica Balsley, Kevin Baase, Casey Christofferson, Lance Hawvermale, Travis Hawvermale, Patrick Lawinger, and Bill Webb; Based on original content from TSR.
The Atrocity Knife. Copyright 2010, Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, LLC; Authors: Matt Vancil and Jamie Chambers.