The Orcish language consists of guttural, sharp syllables that lack many of the vowels found in the Common tongue. It's difficult for non-Orcs to speak, as many of its sounds are created with the help of the elongated tusks all Orcs possess.
Over the course of the species' long and storied history, the many dispersed tribes of Orcs have developed their own dialects influenced by the local tongues. If two Orcs come from completely different tribes, they might not understand each other at all beyond the few basic words that have remained unchanged.
Most Orcs hailing from tribes that don't live in isolation can also speak Common, although it's hard for them to lose the thick accent.
Orcs, as a rule, are tall, brawny, and built like an old oak tree. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but those of slighter or smaller builds might not even survive the hardships of tribal life that many Orcs still partake of. For this reason, the species is naturally inclined towards dense muscle and strong bone structure, all the more pronounced by their dressing habits.
As if their bodies alone weren't physically intimidating enough, all Orcs grow tusks from their lower jaw as they mature into adults. The remainder of their teeth is also quite sharp even if hidden, and they are more than capable of tearing flesh from bone with the strength of their bite. The same can be said for the claws on their hands and feet, which can and often are used as weapons both in hunting and combat.
The color of their skin mostly varies depending on the location of the tribe, ranging from a tan olive shade to the green of a deep forest. Their hair is almost always a brown or black, with the rare exception showing off a dash of red or auburn, while blondes are virtually unheard of. As far as eyes go, they boast a wide range of greens and browns, all the way to charcoal black.
As with any other species, half-Orcs may inherit the traits of the other parent to a variety of mixed and interesting results. (Including blonde Orcettes with blue eyes.)
Jungles, forests, and mountains is where they prefer to make their home. That's where they originally come from, and where most tribes can still be found. Despite this, many others have since dispersed all over the world, and rare is the region that doesn't have at least one stronghold standing proud and tall somewhere.
They're a hardy people who still know how to live off the land, and can thus survive nearly anywhere. Since a single tribe will never grow too large before splitting into smaller ones, a group of Orcs can safely live in an area for years without overhunting the local wildlife.
Most tribes primarily take up one of two lifestyles: a fortified stronghold somewhat off the beaten path or a nomadic group that moves from hunting ground to hunting ground.
The former generally live closer to 'civilized' areas of the world – close enough to roads and other infrastructure that they can partake of the profits of trade. They sell much of their hunting spoils and are renowned as the best butchers far and wide. There is no better source of fresh, quality meat than a local Orcish stronghold. Some of these tribes also hire themselves out as individual or group mercenaries; others find the very idea of fighting for pay despicable and might well snap your neck for the insulting offer.
The latter types of tribes, however, never settle down completely – they move with the migrations of the game and the seasons, much like the beasts they hunt. When they find their new hunting grounds, they usually burn out a clearing in the forest and set up a temporary circle of mud shacks. When the time comes to move on, they level their homes with the ground, return them to the soil, and move on again. These tribes are generally less open to outsiders – if those can even find them – and lead what others might call more 'primitive' lives.
Even so, many tribes have found other ways to forge their path through Arethil. There are as many customs and habits between them as there are trees in the forest. Secluded, welcoming, aggressive or peaceful; there is no end to the various lives Orcs have chosen for themselves over the course of the ages
By far their most renowned quality is the Orcs' prowess in battle. The vicious combination of their physical might, hardy lifestyle, and sheer fervor are known even in the farthest-flung corners of the world. A single band of Orcish warriors can sink the hearts ten times as many enemies. Their battle cries are said to turn blood into ice, and many tales from old Urogosh recount the abject terror of facing the Orcs at their full might. To sum it up – even a Dwarf would think twice about going toe-to-toe with an Orc in single combat.
But if you ask the Orcs, and they will reveal themselves to be far more than the screaming berserkers so many stories paint them as. Many of their tribes share a deep bond with the land and nature, worshipping its manifold aspects where others might worship more anthropomorphic gods. This same worship often grants them gifts that others might deem 'magical', whereas many Orcs simply see them as rewards for their reverence. Their shamans are said to be able to run with the beasts, sometimes even take their forms, see through their eyes, think as they think. For these reasons, one would be hard-pressed to find a better hunter than an Orc, nor a better tracker or tamer.
One downside of their primal lifestyle – or what an outsider might see as a downside, anyway – is that they struggle with technological progress. If they know of them at all, that is. Irrigation, running water, sewage... many strongholds had never heard of the concepts that had existed in the bigger towns for centuries. There are always exceptions, of course; tribes that welcome technology, perhaps even seek to advance it themselves. But by and large, Orcs wandering through cities might be bewildered, if not downright afraid of gadgets and contraptions they encounter.