Ogre
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Basic Information

Ogres are gigantic, brutish, often man-eating humanoid beings of great physical strength in European legend. The term "ogre" is originally French, but the legends are more widely spread through western Europe. The Italian orco or huerco is apparently linguistically related, and both are used of the same type of ugly, violent giant.

The term "ogre" originally appeared in Chr├ętien de Troyes' Arthurian work. It was used of ancient inhabitants of Britain (presumably the giants that are said to have been pre-human inhabitants there.) However, it was popularized by the fairy tales compiled by Charles Perrault; this is the source of the term as we use it today, describing the dangerous giants of fairy tales like "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Hop o' my Thumb".

Ogres are a traditional staple of fantasy games. They have been in Dungeons & Dragons from the earliest version, as powerful brutes larger than humans but smaller than giants. Warhammer also includes ogres, and Warhammer 40K has "ogryns" - giant brutish beings which split off from humanity.

The Ogres depicted in RuneQuest, which are closer to the Cornish tradition than the European mainstream are more humanlike, more cunning and frequently magically gifted - but still anthropophagous.

Internationally ogrish creatures can be found in the Japanese Oni and the (likely related) creatures of Buddhist legend and in some Bantu myths.

Sources

Bibliography

Game and Story Use

  • Adventure Seed: Ogres of the Ice World
  • Ogres are standard monsters for fantasy games, as relatively uncomplicated but dangerous melee opponents.
    • A more cultured ogre might possess a variety of magical treasures, as does the one in "Jack and the Beanstalk". If intelligent enough, it might use them to become a major threat to PCs.
    • Uncomplicated? An ogre has layers. Like an onion.
  • In a science-fiction game, ogres might be humans genetically engineered for size and strength. Perhaps the low intelligence and high aggressiveness were undesired side effects of the hormones needed to grow them to such a size — or perhaps they were purposeful, to produce blindly obedient shock troops.
  • For a more mundane game, ogres may turn out to be some relic of Neanderthal Man - modern Man is thought to have eaten Neanderthals, and they might well have returned the compliment. This might also fit with the idea that they were the "pre-human" inhabitants of Britain.
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