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Orcs

Basic Information
Narhai ri t-Urogh The Spine Normal, ~100 years Carnivores Many
Physical description
~2 m Tusks, dense and strong build
Cultural
Tribes, Mercenary bands, etc. Orcish and Common
Out-of-character information
Bayard Wu

Orcs are the intimidating warrior people of Arethil. To many, they seem savage and uncivilized; to others, they are one of the last beacons of what it means to live with the land. They consist of uncounted tribes scattered around the world, each with their unique customs and traditions.

Overview

Language

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.

Appearance

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.)

Habitat

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.

Traits

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.

History

Background

The beginnings of the Orcs, such as they might be, can be traced back to the fabled age of Uroghosh.

And that's pretty much it.

Outside of their rituals and communions with nature, Orcs rarely commit anything to writing. Most of their histories have been corrupted by time, embellishment, and the thousand oral traditions of the tribes. Ask ten different Storytellers, and you will receive ten different accounts of what happened in that time.

Some claim Orcs swept over the land as one Great Tribe under the mythical Uroghosh; others will swear that Uroghosh was never a single Chieftain, but rather a group of Shamans who had shed their individual names in testament to the teachings of Unity; another Storyteller still might say that there was never an Uroghosh at all, that the Orcs had made her up after their dominion over the land had been broken and they needed salve for their wounded warrior souls.

Regardless of which truth they believe in – if any at all – the Orcs of today display many of the same traits they did in the past.

Their fragmented, widespread culture has led to uncounted tribes living just as many different lives. Thousands of Orcs have found their home and trade in the big cities; thousands more sell their skill in battle to the highest bidder in famed mercenary bands. There are tribes that still live as they did millennia before, in conjunction with the land and the hard, remorseless life it brings. There are those who have settled down on their own, trying their hand at architecture and engineering with the same perseverance and ingenuity they have known since they first set foot on the soil of this world.

Second only to humanity, Orcs have made their fortunes grow in as many ways as leaves burst open in spring.

Lore

Travel log of Faesta Lashwi,
Captain of the Golden Company


Tuesday, 3rd of July
Third week on campaign

The scouts I sent ahead last week returned at second watch tonight. Lord Attanus has bolstered his ranks against our siege, and now stands at an estimated three thousand strong. Apparently he has a few friends left that our employer forgot to mention.

But it is no matter. Salka is already on her way to [unintelligible]. Attanus isn’t the only one with friends.

Saturday, 7th of July
Third week on campaign

Bharradhul Cromhargh remains a man of his word, and arrived with first morning light. He set up camp with the rest of his Orcs a stone’s throw from ours. It’s all for show, I know – by evening everybody will be getting piss-drunk together.

So long as they can march tomorrow I won’t have to [crossed out]

[wine stain] of July
Fourth week on campaign

Attanus tried to spring skirmishers on us at night, but Cromhargh sprang his traps instead. Trying to sneak up on folk who start stalking beasts still hanging off their mother’s tit. Dumb fuck.

Kaiul interrogated one of the soldiers that were still alive when we pulled them out of the pits. The guy spilled his guts. (Both ways.)

Now we know their guard rotations for the western wall. Cromhargh’s best hunters are going over soon as the dark falls. Dawn was overcast – hope the weather holds for the assault.

[page torn] for breakfast. Orcs are nothing if not practical.
[page torn]n’t have to worry about burying them before they start stinking, at least.

Sunday, 22th of July
Fifth week on campaign

Down to the last bailey. Half a mind to just starve them out, since we have the granary now.

Our own losses less than expected, a little over two hundred. In more than a week of fighting Orcs have lost maybe a dozen. Men are starting to joke it’s the diet. Who knows?

Wednesday, 25th of July
Sixth week on campaign

Cromhargh took a spear to the shoulder and kept fighting. Held ground on top of eastern watchtower until we managed to fight through and push them back.

He wouldn’t stop until their Shaman knocked him out. Stubborn motherfucker.

Attanus is holed up in his citadel but I give it two nights at most. Either we break through the front door or he breaks through the top window.

Thursday, 26th of July
Sixth week in campaign

We’re keeping the head so Szamyn won’t throw a fit about proof, but Cromhargh’s claimed the rest for his horde. It’s not a proper siege without a proper feast, I suppose.

As good as they are to have by your side in battle, I think the men’ll be relieved when they head back south tomorrow. You’d think it was yesterday they became mercenaries by the faces they make whenever the Orcs eat.

I asked Cromh about it. He said it tastes like chicken.

And since Attanus picked the top window… yeah, I believe it.

References

Categories: Core Lore, Sentient species

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