Credit to this whole goddamn thread for giving me the idea, but also because I’ve been on a huge gladiator and wrestling kick I decided to give it my own spin.
Orcs are known for their love of blood sports. But there is more to it than meets the eye: orcish ritual combat is more than simply watching orcs fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowd. It stems from a very important orcish religious tradition.
Orcs have lots of stories about their origins, their gods, and various mythical characters. All of these stories have one thing in common: the ending and the exact details beyond the setup and characters involved always varies from one storyteller to another. This tradition further developed into a method for shamans to divine the will of the gods: since most of these stories involve mortal combat between the characters, what better way to present these stories than to have actors literally act them out?
Orcish blood sports are thus a strange mix of improvisational theater, mortal combat, and pro wrestling. An orcish actor is first and foremost a warrior: inevitably a play is going to lead to combat between the actors. Orcish acting school is a tight regime of improvisation class (”Say yes, and… hit them with an axe.”), battle training, and studying the themes and characters of classic orcish stories.
An orcish play consists simply of a list of characters (including their weapons and fighting styles), the opening narration, and the starting scene. Beyond that the actors are encouraged to make everything up as it goes, each successive performance adding new elements to the play.
There’s a couple of really important rules to it: you never break character. You always accept defeat. While actors are encouraged to show mercy to other actors, sometimes the gods and the crowd simply demand to see blood. The worst thing an actor can do is to break character to beg for mercy.
And now to run a campaign where the characters are a troupe of orcish actors, traveling from fortress to fortress performing various plays…