A Rough Guide to Orcs
Racial Realms = None
Minimum Features = Snout (pig nose), Dirty / Unkempt
Prohibited Realms = Knowledge, Purity
Element = Any
Orcs are a humanoid race with brown earthy skin and pig like snouts and small tusks. They are often ‘stereotyped’ as being aggressive, dirty and stupid. They are a short lived race in part due to the hard lives they lead. Most do not see 50 human years. Like goblins they are an old race, but have never managed to achieve an advanced culture. As a result they have suffered throughout their history, persecuted by the enlightened races. Shunned by the ‘civilised’ races they are often forced into the service of questionable masters serving nefarious ends.
Despite being around since the start of the second age the Orcish race has never managed to achieve more than a foot note in the pages of history. Throughout history the Orcish people have been oppressed, enslaved and hunted out of their home lands generation after generation. Orc shamen tell the story of how the first (nameless) Orc modelled himself out of the clay the Realm Lord Madrog discarded when he had finished creating the Dwarves. Yet as the new formed creature presented himself expectantly to his new master Madrog became enraged, stating only the Gods were meant to form new life. Here the tale progresses on to a long series of grim tasks inflicted on the poor creature by the Realm Lord, each more horrible than the last. The tale ends with the Orc finally escaping Madrog after a victory in a battle of wits. The accuracy of this creation myth is not widely believed non-Orcish scholars, but it does show how deeply the Orcs believe their past is full of unjust oppression. Other races have suggested Orcs are descendants of a Melnonian servitor race, escaped across the Ebony Bridge millennia ago. Others believe that Orcs are human ancestors from a more primitive time.
From the earliest days of recorded history the Orcs have been warred upon by the Dwarfs and by the Elves. This conflict began as all three races vied for the same natural habitat along the mountainous borders of Danar. Both ‘ancient’ races put aside their own enmity when ever the chance arose to turn upon the Orcish people. If not for their rapid breeding cycle the Orcs would have been wiped from the world a dozen times over.
With the die cast so often against them the Orcish peoples often found themselves sided with other enemies of the Elves and Dwarfs, be they ogre or troll, or ambitious tyrants. These allies had little more respect for the Orcs than their old enemies, using them as heavy labourers in their mines and sword fodder in their armies. It was such hardships which won the Orcs reputation for durability and ‘robust’ soldiering.
Stories are beginning to emerge regarding the Ungash Empire. This hitherto unknown civilisation is said to exist far to the north west. Information is scarce, but rumour tells of an almost utopian state where Orcs rule over the other races. On the specifics accounts differ. Some say the Ungash have discovered secrets of a lost civilisation in the area, others that they have gained arcane powers from Melnonian captives. Other yet say that they have been lead to enlightenment by an Orcish messiah.
These stories have lured some Orcs into making the long journey north, never to be seen again. Of course if the stories are true they would be unlikely to return from this ‘Orcish Eden’ even if they could!
(Information on playing characters from the Ungash empire is available on request).
Outlook & Attitude
Centuries of abuse has honed the Orcs an aggressive tendencies. They have little regard for any of the humanoid races because of the way they have been treated, but have particular enmity for the Elves and the Dwarves. Orcs have never really had a chance to bloom as a race. Orcs believe that if the other races stopped oppressing them for a couple of generations they could really make the rest of the world sit up and take notice, and then the iron shod boot would be on the other foot. Whether or not this is true, it is not an attitude which encourages the other races to give them the chance.
Orcs are straight forward in their thinking, never over complicating a situation. They dislike complex things, whether it’s, planing, tools, morale dilemma. They have no fear of complexity, they juts do not trust it. A catapult is very effective, but they wear out or break down. A battering ram last for ever. Because there are no Orc enchanters they have a similar philosophy about magic. It’s all very useful, but not to be relied on. The simple things in life are sufficient to please them, although eating, breeding and fighting are particularly favoured.
Orcs tend to apply violence (or the threat of violence) as a means to resolve most any situation. either resolving ‘problems’ or just for fun. They are not so foolish as to do so in situations where they will clearly loose (say punching a dragon), but few such situations exist. In their short violent lives they frequently loose close friends and family and the gruff exterior helps to cushion the endless blows. If the other races don’t see the deeper meaning beneath the violence. Obviously some situations rely on more discretion, but it is with great unease that an Orc starts dabbling in subtlety. There is something unnatural about it.
Orc noses are broad and squat, usually snout-like, their ears are sometimes pointed and their teeth often protrude as short tusks. They are muscular (or at least large) and their skin varies from mottled gray/brown through to a dull yellow/red.
Orcs have little time for personal grooming (which is ironic for a race with such well developed noses). They always appear unkempt and dirty to other races. The same general principle applies to Orcish attire and tools. They don’t wash or maintain things unless they are of great significance. Even when they acquire superior equipment they quickly become as grubby as the native goods. An Orc in the wild isn’t much to look at. They dress in furs and poorly cured hides in a loosely ‘Mongal’ style. Their weapons are large, iron and usually rusty. Invariably when in the service of some nefarious lord they will adopt the style of their masters, often cheap military uniform. An urban Orc (left to their own devices) will adopt a mixed of what ever they take a shine to and acquire. Invariably what ever the Orcs situation everything about them will be dirty.
Orc society consists of tribal war bands ruled over by chieftains and ministered to by Shamen. The entire tribe is capable of fighting. When not employed en mass by the latest over lord or fighting Elves they are usually at war with other Orc tribes.
Their difficult history has left the species technologically under developed. They are still very much in their own iron age. Native Orc tools are crude, but reliable enough to with stand the poor maintence they receive. They exist mainly as hunter gathers meaning they have little free time to develop native arts or craft skills. Because of this Orc tribe are keen to acquire all kinds of goods from the other races, often by raiding small settlements.
Some Orcs leave the tribes and bravely enter society at large, despite the stigma they have to face every day. Although few Orcs ever become high placed civic officials many have proven themselves effective in a number of fields where their natural talents are valued.