It is true the orcs do not have the best reputation. They are often called brutal, savage, and pitiless. And the truth is that this reputation is entirely earned. However, they are more complex than it might at first seem.
The orc tribes have their homes in the north ranges of the Caribre Mountains, and the plains west to the Great Western Sea. The tribes will often range widely in this area, though they tend to move back and forth between Zoedur in the low western hills and Mor Cthokbur in the foothills of the mountains. Many, what some consider the more civilized orcs, and what the tribesmen consider weak and debased members of their race, live full time in the cities and rarely leave.
Orcs pride themselves on their toughness, never asking for mercy and rarely requiring it. However, they acknowledge that not everyone is as tough as they, and are not unreasonable in their expectations. Children who have not yet been trained to a harsh life, or have not had the opportunity to be trained, are treated gently, as are the mad and simple. Any adults, however, are fair game.
Each tribe goes its own way, and consider their own wants and needs above any others. A chieftain powerful enough to unite them in one purpose is the nightmare of many lords and kings in Calibran.
Orcs are large, muscular, and inherently tough. They are commonly over 6 feet tall, making them larger than all but the minotaurs. They live a tough life, most of them following herds of shaggy elk and deer back and forth across the plains, the difficult work taking their natural strength and hardening it.
Their skin is a green color, with shades varying from a gray green to a dark green closer to black. Their hair is always naturally black, but they frequently die it or cake it with clay and other materials that turn it any number of colors.
An orc might be considered old at 50, and ancient at 60 years. This has more to do with their harsh style of living than nature. An orc who lives in Zoedur or Mor Cthokbur and avoids the perils his race is heir to might live as long as a human.
There are two orc cities, but as for the most part orcs are tribal and nomadic, they are small and rude places. With a permanent population of 5 thousand or so, the cities can swell to several tens of thousands depending on how many tribes arrive at once.
Mor Cthokbur Edit
The larger of the two orc cities, Mor Cthokbur lies in the low foothills of the northern Caribre Mountains. Many of the orcs that live here permanently mine the mountains and forge the tools and weapons the nomadic tribes use. As a result, the tribesmen respect these miners and blacksmiths more than other city dwelling orcs. The merchants that buy and sell the steel goods, however, are regarded with open contempt. These merchants, as well as the rare human daring enough to try the market here, hire many guards to protect their goods and themselves. Orcs consider it something of a game to take what they can without having to pay.
To the west of the city lies a large lake called the Iron Rift. There are a few tribes of orcs that have learned to take their living from the water instead of the plains. They sail in small boats on the water, and keep their young and valuables on islands on the lake. As a result of influence of these nautical orcs, fish and seafood, and a variety of ways of preparing them, are something of a delicacy in Mor Cthokbur.
The governance of Mor Cthokbur is an open question. Which ever is the strongest tribal chief present at the time is considered to be in charge. Who is the strongest at any time can be difficult to determine. Sometimes simply counting warriors is enough, or one chief will fight another, or their champions will fight. On infrequent but regular occasions, nothing but a battle will decide the matter. After these contests, the city has to be more or less rebuilt.
There is a small population of shamans in Mor Cthokbur. However, there is not as many, nor are they as powerful politically, as in Zoedur.
Though a smaller city, Zoedur is older, and most orcs consider it the capitol of their culture. Human merchants, or the rare foolhardy dwarf or minotaur, will go and visit Mor Cthokbur, or seek to trade there. This is extremely rare in Zoedur, and it is built and inhabited only by orcs.
It is a dry and dusty place, built in the low hills in the northwest of Calibran. The buildings are stone, with those at the center being inhabited year round. Other buildings are claimed and repaired by tribes to house them for their short stays in the city.
The orcs have shamans that mediate between them and their god, and the elements of nature. Zoedur is where the best shamans come to learn and teach. Where Mor Cthokbur is a trading town, wild and without real restraint, the shamans effectively rule Zoedur. They choose which chief is strongest, if there is a disagreement, preventing the fights that plague Mor Cthokbur. They are sustained by offerings given by visiting tribes, and give over all their time to the study of their religion and their magic.
The orcs worship a mysterious deity they call the Scarred Lord.
Far back in the midsts of time, the orcs were without a god. They were the orphan race, left without guidance. Legend says that an old orc shaman, seeking to find a way to protect his people, preformed a ritual that included scarification and the gathering of power through pain. He suffered so much pain, and thus gathered so much power, that he became an equal of the gods, and thereafter watched over the orcs. Many of orcish religious rituals require pain as a sacrifice, on the theory that it adds to the Scarred Lord's power.
There is supposedly a language that orcish shamans speak, a secret tongue that allows them to communicate with their god. Most orcs, however, use the King's Speech. In any case, no outsider has heard a word of the shaman's language.
Orcish shamans have a control over the elements, and the spirits of nature. They say some of their power comes from their god, but as their magic looks similar to the minotaurs', who make no claim toward communication with a divinity, this is regarded with skepticism by other magic users.
The shamans can summon fire, or rain, or snow. They can manipulate rivers and lakes to some degree, and create other effects using the elements. Some of the subtler magical effects achieved by elves and humans remain beyond them.
Before Farsalon Edit
There were several orc tribes that were enthusiastic supporters of the dragons, and there are orcish legends that remember their rule fondly. The dragons used orcs as armies regularly, giving them opportunities for the fighting and pillage that their culture values so highly. Many orcs suffered at the hands of dragons as well, whenever one of the great beasts thought to take a personal hand on the field of battle, or took revenge on an enemy's servants. Some orc tribes went to fight at the Battle of Farsalon, with their warriors fighting in the front line. Some preferred life under the dragons, but most are just as happy to be free of them.
After Farsalon Edit
To be honest, the life of an average orc has not changed greatly with the end of the dragons' rule. The major difference is that the tribes do not range as far. When the dragons led them to battle they often went as far south as Kehlaktur, or Wert's Dune. Now they are confined to their northern ranges.
Where before the dragons directed their violence, the Dragon Kings have sought to restrain it, and keep them from attacking their neighbors. There are still regular clashes with the barbarians to the north and west, the humans of House Northvode to the north, and the dwarves to the south. The fact remains that being the Dragon King's ambassador to the orc tribes is generally considered one of the most difficult and dangerous tasks in Calibran, and certainly the most thankless.
No orc has sat on the Dragon Throne, for which many remain truly grateful.
Named and Important Characters Edit
None so far.
Naming Conventions Edit
No surnames. Female names end in “A”. Examples: Azmog, Lagog, Gorlúk, Lagog, Lughur, Grishga, Maumog, Radga, Gothog, Gothlúk. Individuals will often be differentiated by a byname or title. For example, Big Azmog, Lagog the Fist, Grishga Little Nose, etc.
Notable Skills and Traits Edit
Orcs are large, impatient, and generally skilled with arms. They fight with each other on a more or less regular basis, and are highly mobile due to their nomadic nature. The only thing that really keeps the orcish tribes in their ranges in the north is the superior technology of the dwarves and humans, and regular bribes from the Dragon King, who often combines the bribes with dire threats of what should happen should they stray too far.
They are often expert trackers, and are fleet of foot. Some among them are expert archers, though of course they can not match the skill of the wood elves. They can make up for their poor weapons with strength, base cunning, and a bad temperament.
Though they are stereotypically thought of as dumb brutes, their leaders are often intelligent and cunning. Shamans are taught, along with the tenets of their religion and magic, political maneuvering and much about the other races.
Cultural notes Edit
Many orc weapons and tools are forged in Mor Cthokbur by orcish craftsmen. Not all orcs can afford it, but most of those that can buy their steel here, turning up their noses while they negotiate with the merchants. Some, however, regard this as dangerously degenerate, a weakening of their race, and will only take steel they have stolen or killed for. Some go north, to Krulea and the lands of the human House Northvode to raid and take what they can there. Some range south to steal from the dwarves. This is generally considered more dangerous, but the steel is invariably of better quality. In any case, steel from either source is superior to most of what the orcs produce, and is very valuable to them. Steel in general is valuable, and in many tribes only chieftains and champions have weapons and armor made from steel. Many have to make do with iron or bronze, or in worse cases, stone.
Tribal Marks Edit
Different tribes distinguish themselves by a variety of markings, or combination of markings. These can include dying of the hair, or painting the face or other body parts. Many include rituals of scarification upon reaching adulthood, the designs and placement differing depending on the tribe.