Sunday, April 04, 2021

You're probably doing ogres wrong.

Thanks to the Nameless Jedi for inspiring this post. Let's begin with a simple thought exercise.

Allow me to intriduce you to Orlando the Ogre. Formally, he's Orlando Pedgewick Ogremoore the Third, of the Crystalmist Mountain Ogremoores. He's a middle manager in the Crystalmist division of ChaosCorp and a junior officer at his country club. Orlando the Ogre wants to be your friend.

Now, before you click to read the rest of the post, imagine the color scheme you would use to turn my black-and-white illo into a full color jobbie. Do you have that image locked in? Then click away.

Here are three canonical color schemes for Orlando, or at least my best efforts to reproduce such color schemes.

Did you imagine any of those? Or did you imagine an extra-large Caucasian type? Sort of a junior-sized hill giant? You're not alone in that. But here's what the original Monster Manual says about ogres:
Description: The hide of ogres varies from dull blackish-brown to dead yellow. Rare specimens are a sickly violet in color. Their warty bumps are often a different color--or at least darker than their hides. Hair is blackish-blue to dull dark green. Eyes are purple with white pupils. Teeth are black or orange, as are talons...

And let's talk about the warty bumps. How many illos of ogres have you seen with warty bumps? I search every black and white image labeled "ogre" in google before I decided to draw my own. Only three had warts at all. Two of them were watermarked and the third was too complex to easily color. So I drew Orlando up there. (Can you believe I have a published illo in an early issue of Fight On! magazine? The editor must have been desparate to fill the blank space.)

Have you every seen a warty ogre miniature? Heck, the illo that accompanies the quote above depcts a wart-free ogre, so I wouldn't be surprised if all miniature ogres are smooth-skinned.

Obviously, your ogres in your campaign can be have any configuration of colors (and warts) you want. I've used the ogre in Time Bandits as my baseline in more than one campaign. But I also have done the bog standard Neanderthal look. Ogre stats also make for good reskinnable goons. I've used the ogre statblock for Metaluna mutants, for example.

You can't stop me! I have four hit dice!


  1. I got your yellow Ogre miniature right here:

    Even has warts, in the form of all those AP batteries.

    I'll also point out that WotC's Chainmail range from back around 2000-2001 was consistent about the box art showing all varieties of ogres as having skin in a variety of yellow shades, although I'll concede they were lacking in warts and the eyes were wrong.

    1. Aw, man. I totally missed the opportunity to make an easy OGRE joke!

  2. I paint minis, so I wasn't surprised by your picture

  3. My image of D&D ogres come from exactly three sources: the illo in the 1E Monster Manual, Jim Holloways art in Mountain of Mirrors (a Rose Estes CYOA book), and the illustration for the old TSR action figure "Ogre King." Only the latter is in color (the others are black & white), but it shows the skin as a sickly yellowish. All illos appear to have warts (except, perhaps, the MM).

  4. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1ed an iconic cover and the ogre has bumps, might be more pebbley than warty but they're there.

  5. Shrek made ogres green for a generation, all this is basically irrelevant lol

    1. This is an entirely on point analysis. D&D swims in the vast ocean of pop culture. Not following Shrek is going against the current.

  6. I believe I generally see colorful skin + warts given to trolls pretty often, which I wonder could just be a shift in where that concept migrated to over the years. Of course, even the more "colorful" trolls still tend to be green more often than anything else, but they tend to be the more "monstrous" one between them and ogres.

    Which as you point out, is a damn shame. That just leaves ogres to be "hill giant lite," when hill giants are already just "giants lite."

    I think all it takes to spruce up an ogre is often to just add some horns, a massive cow-swallowing mouth, and some light fairy-tale spellcasting.

  7. Hey, glad my comment was thought provoking! When I realized what the MM said about their appearance I also felt the need to draw and color some just to see. I think the orange teeth may be the most disturbing part.