If you haven’t read N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy stop reading this right now and grab it from the library.
Now you’re as excited as I am to play an Orogene in Dungeons and Dragons, right? Right.
Wtf is an Orogene?
Orogenes are powerful, violently oppressed magic users on The Stillness, the continent where most of the Broken Earth trilogy takes place. They have earth-based, elemental powers, with other abilities coming to light as the series progresses.
When I finished the books I started to wonder if I could create an Orogene using the existing classes and spells in Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons.
Turns out, yeah. Yeah I can.
Creating a custom Orogene class will be a feat for another day.
For now I’ve decided to try and create a character somewhat like Essun, our kick ass Orogene protagonist.
Variant Human is the laughably obvious choice here. You could argue for reskinned Dwarf, Gnome or Barbarian too for thematic flair. I’m sticking with Variant Human for Essun.
In Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, Variant Humans get to pick a feat instead of improving all of their stats by +1 like Standard Humans. There are a ton of great feats to pick from, but for Essun I like Alert and Elemental Adept.
Orogeny gives Essun additional awareness and she’s rarely surprised by attacks, the Alert feat makes perfect sense for this.
The Elemental Adept feat means your Orogene gets to ignore resistance to one elemental damage type. This would be great for adding impact to those cold damage attacks you definitely won’t be using as a Fulcrum-trained Orogene. Right?
There are tons of different ways to do this, depending on which aspect of Orogeny you like most.
Druid makes the most sense for most low-level Orogenes, especially since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything brought a bunch of thematically relevant low-level Druid spells in to flesh things out.
Druids are in touch with the inherent magic in the world, and can shape it to their will. So if that’s what you like about Orogenes, go for a druid with some heavy reskinning.
Wild Shape doesn’t really make sense, but a forgiving DM could easily re-skin the animals into something else if you really wanted to make it work.
If you want to branch out into Unearthed Arcana content, a Wu Jen Mystic could be almost perfect.
I’d be far more inclined to go with Wizard or Sorcerer for higher level Orogenes. Again, adding the expanded spell lists from Xanathar’s into this really fleshes out those lower levels. Mold Earth and Ice Knife, anybody?
If we’re talking about Essun, Wild Magic Sorcerer with a custom table for the…side effects would be perfect, but we’re sticking by the book, so Wizard it is. Transmutation or Evocation schools would serve you equally well. You could argue Abjuration, too.
Of course, Guardians would be Warlocks. If you’ve seen a darker pact with a higher (lower) power than theirs, I’d love to hear it. Actually, I wouldn’t. That sounds terrible.
I’ve picked out some spells to help you get your Orogene on in 5th Edition. Special thanks to Xanathar, The Forgotten Realms’ most enterprising beholder.
These won’t complete your spell list, so add in whatever tricks you reckon Essun would pick up on the way in your game. With the potential for Orogeny uncovered throughout the books, you can justify anything with enough XP.
Druids, Wizards and Sorcerers get access to most of these spells. If you think your Wild Magic Sorcerer desperately needs that Druid Cantrip like…take it. Ask your DM. Live your life.
That’s…basically it! If you make an Orogene let me know how it goes. I have to wait for a new campaign or my dumb awesome Warlock to die before I can get in on this.
- Earthbind (Xanathar’s)
- Healing Spirit (Xanathar’s)
- Hold Person
- Spike Growth – This could easily be rocky spikes rather than plant-based ones.
- Erupting Earth (Xanathar’s)
- Meld into Stone
- Protection from Energy
- Sleet Storm
- Wind Wall – This could be a strangely intangible crystal wall. If you wanted…
- Antilife shell
- Cone of Cold
- Legend Lore – Stonelore on command? Essun knew her Stonelore.
- Wall of Force
- Wall of Stone
- Flesh to Stone – *looks directly into the camera*
- Globe of Invulnerability
- Guards and Wards
- Move Earth