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I'd like to know where this unique phrase came from. “Orc and pie” has become shorthand for a style of simple dungeon design, but where did it originate?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since I’ve been gaming 30 years and have never heard the phrase, perhaps you could expand your question to indicate where you heard it and why you think it’s a widespread saying. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Nov 29, 2018 at 12:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ A first for me as well, but also a wonderful bit of RPG lore. Thanks for asking this question. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2018 at 12:56

4 Answers 4

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Presenting Monte Cook’s "The Orc and the Pie", ©2001

The World's Shortest (Yet Technically Complete) Adventure: A Parody

"The Orc and the Pie"

Adventure Background: An orc has a pie.

Adventure Synopsis: The PCs kill the orc and take his pie.

Adventure Hook: The PCs are hungry for pie.

Room 1: The Orc's Pie Room

You see an orc with a pie.

The room is 10 feet by 10 feet.

Creature: An orc.

Treasure: A pie.

Concluding the Adventure: Pie tastes good.

Further Adventures: Somewhere, there is a bakery making these good pies. Perhaps it's guarded by more orcs.

WHAT DO YOU DO???

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    \$\begingroup\$ Obviously you go off somewhere else and buy a tart. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibbobz
    Dec 2, 2018 at 17:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or sit in a bar and strike up a conversation with one. Whatever... :-) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2018 at 22:38
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It was an example adventure by Monte Cook

It seems to have been made as an example adventure that is as short as possible while still being an actual adventure hook, but it is no longer available on their website. (Here's an entry for it on rpggeek.com, which puts its publication at 2002, and shows an image for it that dates it to 2001.)

The synopsis is basically:

There's an orc, he has a pie, the adventurers are hungry.

It has everything an adventure needs: An adversary, a MacGuffin the players need, and a reason to get it.

Somehow this caught on and more people started using "Orc & Pie" as a phrase to mean "extremely simplistic adventure." It essentially became a meme, which helped spread its name.

In fact, if Wil Wheaton is to be believed, it can also be used as an easy starting point for learning a new game system.

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As others have already answered, “orc and pie” came from American game designer Monte Cook’s “The Orc and the Pie”—“The World's Shortest (Yet Technically Complete) Adventure: A Parody”.

It was posted on Monte Cook’s website on 2001-07-27. The original website is no longer accessible, but it is archived by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

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Apart from its specific history outlined in other answers, "orc and pie" was (obviously?) coined as a phonetic reference to "pork and pie" as a food of basic consistency.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the Stack! You're facing downvotes because we expect answers to stand on their own. When you have enough reputation you'll be able to leave comments on other answers. Check out the tour to get yourself oriented! Happy Stacking! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Dec 1, 2018 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ The original phrase is “the orc and the pie”, which has no phonetic/syllabic resemblance to “pork and pie”, so the assertion that it was coined on that pattern, or even evolved toward it later, is going to need substantial citation support. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 1, 2018 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Surely it would be "pork pie" not "pork and pie"? \$\endgroup\$
    – G_B
    Dec 2, 2018 at 6:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keep writing good answers or asking good questions and you'll get points quickly. Deleting downvoted answers will also remove their negative rep. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2018 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree completely, don't delete this \$\endgroup\$
    – qazwsx
    Apr 11, 2021 at 23:06

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