Mörk Borg, Ockult Örtmästare Games and Stockholm Kartell’s little yellow book of screaming death, has been a vector of influence within the indie and small press tabletop RPG scene since its release in late 2019. Now, the designer behind Heart: the City Beneath and so many one-page RPGs is jumping on the trend with a game all about cybernetic orcs hurtling themselves into space.
The cleverly named Orc Borg comes from Rowan, Rook and Decard’s Grant Howitt collaborating with artist Rollin Kunz to create a gonzo interpretation of Mörk Borg’s apocalypse-obsessed design. Players will embody a group of orcs aboard the Derelict, a “great big beautiful trash rocket” chugging through the dark of space in search of, well… the end of everything.
Much like Warhammer 40k’s orks (the distinct spelling is legally important), the countless denizens of the Derelict crave chaos and oblivion. They spend their entire lives brawling and chanting, preparing for the moment when their massive ship will break through heaven’s window and spill the gibbering crew into the peace beyond.
Whether the players’ orc will live to see this glorious day is largely irrelevant - Orc Borg will preoccupy itself with life aboard the Derelict as the group travel its endless corridors and encounter the factions, aliens and cults lodged within the ship’s metal guts. The game will be built upon Mörk Borg’s OSR-inspired ruleset of brutal combat, challenging delves and danger around every corner. Rolling dice means the situation has reached a dire state, and character death is understood as a ‘when’, not an ‘if’.
The preview page on Rowan Rook and Decard’s website makes it sounds as if Orc Borg will take as much of the original game’s source material as it pleases, welding cybernetics onto the rest and draping it in weird space occultism. Gigantic mechs with names such as Bang Ten Thousand, Massive Problem and Rust Bitch can be stolen and piloted into battle, while characters can specialize in the Orcish arts of technowizardry or yell-powered prayers.
Though the setting sounds extremely specific Howitt claims to be designing it in such a way that pre-existing maps, or those the facilitator dreams up, can be bolted onto the layout of the Derelict “ to avoid doing any actual prep work”, as he puts it. Oh, and one of the classes is a cyborg orc appropriately called Orcborg. Those who have played any of Howitt’s other titles will be familiar with this style of humour, and it looks to be shot through this upcoming RPG project.
The duo says Orc Borg will be crowdfunding “soon”, but the announcement doesn’t drop any names. Both Spire and Heart, the last and biggest projects from Rowan, Rood and Decard, used Kickstarter as a crowdfunding platform before the company decided to invest in blockchain technology and more recently doubled down on the move in an interview with Polygon. Whether that means Orc Borg will choose Gamefound or follow Possum Creek Games to Indiegogo isn’t yet clear.
Hacks, supplements and derivations of Mörk Borg started appearing almost as soon as the dismally beautiful game book did. Designers have released fishing modules and adventures both inspired by Ducktales but also of the more traditional variety. The offerings are so vast that one website is attempting to collect and catalogue all of the third-party content currently available.
The two outfits responsible for the original have teamed up again for a cyberpunk sequel to their first ENnie-award winning book. Cy_Borg crowdfunded earlier this year and is expecting to hit tables around June. Dicebreaker will keep its eyes on the raucous flight of Orc Borg and let readers know when they can punch heaven with their big, green fists.