In your games, stories, or settings, it’s quite plausible that different Brutal Races are at war with each other. Although we didn’t dedicate a specific section to this topic in the book, we wanted to touch on it briefly.

Firstly, if your players are not playing as Brutal Races, the conflict between two different Brutal Races will be in the background. Therefore, players will play little or no role in this war. Consider a classic D&D party: a human fighter, elven wizard, dwarven cleric, and halfling rogue. It’s unlikely for such a party to be “directly” involved in a hobgoblin-orc war. They could influence the course of the war, intentionally or unintentionally aiding one side, but the war is generally a backdrop.

However, the situation changes drastically if all the players belong to one of the warring sides. Imagine if all the players are hobgoblins. In most missions and adventures, fighting against orcs will be inevitable.

Regardless of which side the players are on, if we look at the themes of Brutal Wars, the most common scenarios might be:

  • The war typically involves large numbers on both sides but rarely culminates in a memorable, single massive battle. Instead, it consists of numerous small battles occurring simultaneously in different places.
  • Excessive violence and bloodshed. Civilized warfare customs like taking prisoners, exchanging captives, or sparing those who surrender are rarely seen.
  • Corpses are often left where they fall, with no time devoted to burial or similar practices.
  • Displaying captured and possibly tortured enemy soldiers to intimidate the opposing side.
  • Drawing neutral forces in the vicinity into the conflict.
  • Tendencies of civilized races to unite against them.
  • More tales of the dead than heroes.
  • Ruthless exploitation or destruction of natural resources, such as forest fires or poisoning lakes, to prevent enemy use.

These are some ideas to convey the theme of a Brutal War. Considering their populations and influences, which wars are most likely to occur?

  • Orc-goblinoid (united goblinoids or generally just hobgoblins) war. Both groups have a large population, and there are historical and religious enmities between them. This war could potentially be the most extensive and devastating Brutal War in a default setting.
  • Goblin-Kobold war. Both are small-sized and generally live out of sight, with their paths often crossing. Their struggles might be more challenging against larger races, but a clash between them is highly likely. Occurring in narrow tunnels and out of sight, their conflicts can have significant effects, like tunnels collapsing or becoming clogged with corpses, or thousands fleeing to the surface and suddenly appearing around unsuspecting settlements.
  • Orc-Gnoll war. Extremely destructive but expected to be short-lived. Both sides are numerous, but tactical approaches are rare in battles, leading to heavy losses quickly. If nearby settlements are lucky, both sides’ populations will be significantly reduced.
  • Bugbear-Minotaur war. Fewer individuals participate, but it likely involves other creatures and slaves from both sides. Few from the primary races die, but there are many casualties among the other creatures involved.

These are the most common ideas, but any two Brutal Races, or different subraces of the same species, don’t need much reason to fight among themselves. Let’s also look at other common wars within the same race’s subraces.

  • Pureblood-Branded Orc war. There’s a clear religious and racial reason. One side advocates for the purity of orcs, while the other promotes interbreeding with other species. The deities of both sides are sworn enemies.
  • Castellan-Grunt rebellion. Although they usually live together, Castellans often treat Grunts as an inferior race. When the Grunt population grows significantly and different leadership emerges, a rebellion against Castellan leaders becomes inevitable.
  • Vulture Tribe-Wolverine Tribe clashes. Both have larger populations for their species, and their paths intersect frequently. The Wolverine tribe doesn’t need much reason to fight anyway.
  • Blighter Gnoll-“other Gnolls” wars. All species fight among themselves, but especially the Blighter gnolls, with increasing numbers of strong druids and shamans, start to exert forced dominance over other species despite their smaller numbers. Especially fierce wars with Meatchopper and Aepchil gnolls can occur.
  • Muckbinger-Sentry Troglodyte ancient battle. Natural enemies, the Muckbinders altered by aberrations, and their aberration masters and minions are formidable enemies for everyone. Sentry Troglodytes, with their ancient teachings and bastions, act as a shield between these extraterrestrial forces and the rest of the world.
  • Cretan-Celestium Minotaur tribal wars. Occurring in small groups, these two species’ paths often cross. However, these battles are generally unknown and occur in desolate geographies.
  • Masquerade-Gladiator Minotaur street battles. These two urban-dwelling species are in an economic and influence war. Although Gladiator Minotaurs are individually more dangerous, Masquerade Minotaurs are much more organized.

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