• Media: #Books #Books 2020
    • Author: J Zachary Pike
    • Status: read
    • Date: 2020-08-01
    • Tags: #fantasy #humor #dnd #economics #satire
    • Rating: ★★★☆☆
    • Idea richness: ★★★★★
    • Links: Goodreads, highlights


Surly, disgraced dwarven beserker gets blackmailed into a seemingly hopeless quest after taking a lone goblin under his wing. Naturally shenanigans ensue, a colourful questing party is amassed, the quest goes off the rail, secrets are revealed, and betrayals ensue.



But none of that is why I read Orconomics. I read Orconomics because of the hilarious premise of a satirical fantasy world where D&D adventuring parties are the central economic driver. Unfortunately this concept is both the strongest and weakest element of the book.

On the one hand, it's a brilliant idea and is wonderfully extrapolated into every aspect of the worldbuilding. It is a satirical world but it stands up on its own and has plenty of juicy ideas I would totally steal for a D&D campaign. However, where this falls down is when it intersects with the story.

The story is a relatively straightforward, if drawn out, D&D-style adventure and the economical world has very little impact on it outside of the beginning and very end. The ultimate betrayal came as no surprise and I had been hoping the unique world building would be more intertwined in the actual quest line. That doesn't mean the story was bad, but it does drag in parts and I fear the unique premise set my hopes too high.


The satirical D&D economy alone is worth the price of admission. Plenty of fantasy and roleplaying tropes are roasted here and overall the humour is enjoyable rather than intrusive. Likewise the characters all embody tropes without falling flat as cliches. Overall, it works. Just don't expect too much from the adventure itself and maybe skim the drawn out training and preparation portions.


  • "...clad in the kind of cutting-edge gear that inspires bankruptcy."
  • "Goblins do not excel at much, but they are masters at tactical retreat."
  • "“Oh, there’s always a choice. Choice is a constant.” Flinn grinned, a cold glint in his eye. “It’s consequences that vary.”"
  • "A peephole slid open as Gorm and Gleebek approached. “Password?” barked a gruff voice. Gorm punched through the frail door, grabbed the lookout, and slammed him against the doorframe three times. “That work?” he said."
  • “I know your type. Ye’d kill your own mother for tuppence.” “Ah, you see, that’s where you’re wrong,” said Flinn. “I know the value of a life, usually within a few cents. When I killed my mother, it was for well over five thousand giltin.”
  • “That’s economics. Everyone is worth something, and some people are worth a lot more posthumously..."
  • “A giltin is just a symbol, a tiny unit of power. Currency is a system of control, and coins and bank notes are how it’s measured.”
  • "The bard shrugged. “Life is better with bravado.”"
  • "...while it is relatively easy to find a man who will fight for money, it’s much less common to find those willing to die for a paycheck."

Scrapbook Concepts

  • "Goblins do not excel at much, but they are masters at tactical retreat."
  • "Most importantly, he was the big man in the room, and not just because he was the only man in his department who wasn’t some variety of Gnome." --> Only human in department of gnomes #characters
  • Quest-givers sell shares in hoard before it is claimed. Speculators bundle these into 'plunder funds' sold to companies #setting
  • The Ironbreakers
  • "From the plains’ center, Mount Wynspar thrust upward like the gnarled toenail of some long-buried titan" #locations
  • Monstrous denizens living in sewers. Everyone afraid to go near sewer grates.
  • Search sprite spell - an orb of light that hovers around you shouting trivia about area #magic
  • "...they do say that madness finds whatever the All Mother touches."
  • Prophecy of seven heroes that keeps failing. Trying to fill the recruitment quota so they can set out again #adventures
  • A hoard adjuster sent with parties to audit loot #characters
  • "...when a beast takes down a well-trained hoard adjustor, it’s generally expected to have more valuable loot.”
  • the Lawyer-monks of Adchul #factions #characters
  • "The brothers of the Order of Adchul once famously saved a town from flooding by drafting a cease-and-desist letter to the river." Magic done by lawyer contract #magic
  • "The Thugs’ Union and the League of Goons existed to provide discreet protection and rule enforcement to private entities, but thugs also specialized in the control and suppression of licensed heroes." #factions
  • Salve-heads addicted to healing potions #setting
  • "An Elf’s old life was always trickling away, being replaced by new memories, new ideas, and eventually, for all intents and purposes, a new Elf." #creatures
  • “The Orcs took the Elves to court over it, and most scholars agreed they had a chance of winning. But three days before a verdict, the marbles disappeared, and each side accused the other of the theft." Orcs suing elves for looting cultural heirlooms centuries ago #adventures
  • Kobold kept by rich lady in purse like Chihuahua. Working w/ party against her. #characters
  • The General Store Incorporated #locations
  • the Lord of the End #characters
  • "One-of-Each Magrash, a wrinkled, gray-haired Orc with an eyepatch that kept slipping because one of his ears was missing. Only one tusk protruded from his lower jaw. His left hand was a metal hook. His right leg ended in a peg." #characters
  • Noncombatant papers (NPC) issued to monsters in town, unless you worked for a villain.
  • Inns catering to professional heroes with fireproof rooms, masseuses, equipment repair, and bolted down chairs #locations
  • Giant burrowing bat #creatures
  • Stone drake #creatures
  • Training golem with detachable limbs. Different difficulty settings for sparring session #creatures
  • “Have you got your purple?” “I beg your pardon?” said Kaitha. “Your purple. For the King in the Wood?” #fragments
  • "Something in the distant darkness roared, and then shrieked as it was eaten by something larger and more deadly."
  • Explosive firebeetle #creatures
  • Bloodsnakes #creatures
  • "She gently patted the nose of a savage-looking deer, the kind of grizzled doe that a soft puma from the foothills wouldn’t stand a chance against." #creatures
  • Orc sky-knights #creatures
  • "The pine forests around us are bound to an eternal cycle; they burn down every few decades and grow up again. The tower always stands, either surrounded by a forest or a field of ashes, stained with the smoke of an age’s fires." #locations
  • "A tall man clad in dark, ornate robes, yet its hands were nothing but bone" #characters