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Orcs hail from the continent of Korasha, where their people, still to this day, roam the majority of the northern lands in small to large clans. Several thousands of years ago, during the time of the Durgheil Empires, orcs arrived from Korasha to Avanor, where they settled in the then lush and green plains of what is today known as Ghorr. These ancestral clans’ reasons for leaving Korasha are still largely unknown.


Described by most as savages, orcs actually have a proud history of honour, shamanism and warfare. Though inherently a depicted violent race, orcs have shown that they are more than capable of peace and great intellect. They are a people of deep tradition and pride, and most would describe them as noble savages. Until very recently, following the founding of the orcish nation of Thrumnash, the orcs held no cities and no kingdoms, and were strictly a nomadic people. Being a race of wanderers, their existence has spread to nearly every corner of the world, and there are few in the world of Tariel who don’t yet know of the orcish people.

 

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

An orc is generally muscular in his or her appearance. From a young age orcs of both genders are taught and trained to live a life of hardship, labour and, in some clans, battle. Thus it is no wonder that most orcs are large and strong; their stature usually a head higher than that of a common human. Orcs have tusks protruding from their mouths that are usually larger on males than on females. In general these tusks come in pairs, though on a few occasions there are orcs who have been known to possess a more diverse tusked appearance. Accompanying these tusks are large rugged teeth. In terms of the nose and ears, orcs are often slightly pig-nosed with large, angled ears.


An orc’s usual skin colour is in a variety of green, yet there are also brown-skinned orcs and even red-skinned ones. It would seem it is usually a result of a region’s temperature. Colder climates produce more light-skinned orcs, whilst warmer climates produce darker colours of green, brown and red. An orc's skin is also quite thick, yet also resistant to more heat than it is to cold. Most orcs are born with dark to brown hair that they tend to grow long and braid. Longer hair is considered more attractive and nobler, whilst shorter, often bald hair is the sign of a slave or shamed orc.

Orcs possess wide eyes that range from completely white pupils to a varied mix of blue, red, green brown and yellow. An orc often decorates himself in tattoos that correspond to their clan’s symbols, and most orcs go out into battle smeared with red or blue paint on their face and body, depending on their clan. In addition, many orcs, male and female, like to decorate themselves in bone necklaces or ear/nose-ornaments. Some orcs also file down their tusks or sharpen them even further; much depending on whether nor not they have dishonoured or honoured their clans. An orc who has dishonoured his or her clan is forced to file their teeth down, and an orc who is revered tends to sharpen his or her tusks as a show of pride and proof of their new status.

 

HISTORY

Like humans, there is no historical documentation that explains in detail the creation of the orcs. Most scholars would agree that it was most likely an act of evolution, though ancient wall paintings found amongst the mounds in Korasha suggest an orcish belief that they were created by the spirits themselves. Their guess is as good as any.


Before the orcs arrived in Avanor, the majority of their people lived on the continent of Korasha, where they would in time claim vast territories from the farthest north to the very south. Today the orcs that live there are still quite plentiful, and their way of life has changed little in terms of their shamanism and traditions as nomads.


When the orcs arrived in Avanor, they settled first on the eastern shores of what is today known as Ghorr, and in time their clans spread to the far west and to the Dragonrises mountains. There they met the Durgheil dwarves, who, in the beginning, held peaceful intent for the orcs, and the orcs did the same.


But peace wouldn’t last, as one day the orcs and dwarves would be engaged in a war that would not truly end for many thousands of years. This was perhaps the start of the orcish tradition of warfare and battle. No one knows why the orcs and dwarves came into conflict, though it is believed that it was the cause of cultural differences, or possibly territorial expansion.


When the dwarves fled underground, the orcs would meet new foes in the form of the Aerthali elves. Having by now become a people of war and conquest, the orcs launched several great attacks on the elven kingdoms. In the end, come the arrival of the human tribes, the sun kingdoms fell, and the orcs began fighting the humans.


The conflicts between the orcs and the other races would continue for many ages, though they were never truly alone. Along the way of their history of war, they had made new allies in the form of the goblins, half-trolls and the kol’tari; thus establishing what they would refer to as the Pacts, a gathering of various clans and tribes of different races. In simpler terms they were more or less great warbands.


The last great war between the orcish clans and their allies against the human kingdoms ended following the signing of the Thrum Treaty and the founding of the first orcish nation of Thrumnash. Having fought in wars for thousands of years, sometimes even against their own people, the orcs would make peace with their age-long enemies.


Now the orcs in Avanor, having established themselves a true nation, seek to grow past their violent history and begin a new age of prosperity and peace for their people. Though it is not an easy commitment, as traditions amongst the orcs die slow.

 

SOCIETY

Orcish society is one filled with honour, traditions and battle. From a young age, an orc is taught how to fight without a weapon, and when he comes of certain age he is given the weapon of his choice so he may hunt and defend his clan. Female orcs are also taught how to fight, but later on as they mature are rather tasked with more suitable chores such as tanning, cooking, gathering, building and, in some clans, farming. This is not to say that female orcs can’t be warriors. Unlike many other societies, orcish women have often joined with their mates into battle, and are more than welcome to do so. Fighting or hunting together is considered by an orc the best way to create bonds of friendship or even love.


Traditions are very important to the orcs, and most clans have a great variety of different traditions they follow. These traditions can be anything from the way they speak, their customs, or simply by their appearances. Most traditions within orcish society are likely several hundred, if not thousands of years old.

Though the clan means everything to an orc, any orc who is deemed unworthy to his clan is often exiled. This depends on whether the orc has betrayed his clan in any way, failed to uphold his or her duty to the clan, or committed crimes against his or her fellow orcs. Exiled orcs are branded with a mark to show all others that he or she is unfit to be part of any clan, and thus must wander the lands alone; a fate most orcs would not be able to live with.


As they are a people of clans, orcs are raised in small to large communities that wander the lands, and everyone within the clan must do their part to sustain it. Since they are also a nomadic people, the orcish clans settle in one region for one or two seasons, then move to a new location either when the local wildlife migrates or the climate goes colder. As such orcs generally live in huts, tents or mounds; the latter of which is dug and built to last longer, thus allowing for re-use if the clan is to return to its previous location again.

The Pact is a term used in orcish society for a warband when several clans, not necessarily consisting of only orcs, join together for a common purpose. Over the many, many years since the first Pact, there have been a great number of different Pacts for the purposes of war and conquest, though some Pacts have been known to have formed for the sake of peaceful intentions such as for mass migration. Pacts are generally formed after a great clanmeet has been called between a number of clans.


There is only one orcish nation in the world, and it is known by all as Thrumnash. It is more or less an exception to the rule of wandering clans, since it is the only orcish community that has established permanent homes. The largest of these homes is Orthag Thum, which is the capital of the Thrumnashi nation, and the largest orcish city in the world. But even so, members of the Thrumnash Pact don’t necessarily settle down in Thrumnash, as old traditions die slowly, and most clans prefer to always be on the move.


Leadership of a clan, or of the entire Thrumnashi nation in its case, is given by the vote of its members, or, in quite a few cases, by the wisdom of a clan elder. The clan leaders are generally known as chiefs or warchiefs, and it is their responsibility to command their clans to where they go or when to engage in war. A typical warchief is strong and wise, and it does not matter whether it is a he or she. As clan elders and shamans are the wisest of their people, their words sometimes mean more than that of the chiefs and warchiefs, and as such Thrumnash has adopted an Elder Council within Orthag Thum, where decisions pertaining to all the clans of the Thrumnash Pact are brought forth and decided upon. Even Thrumnash's Great Warchief, leader of the entire nation, must often bow to the decisions of the Elder Council.
 

RELATIONS

Throughout history, the orcs have made many enemies amongst the dwarven, elven and human kingdoms. Their many years of warmongering and conflicts have given the orcs an ill reputation as savage monsters who know of nothing but violence and death; and in most cases the feeling is mutual. This is something that has begun to slowly change come the signing of the Thrum Treaty and the founding of the Thrumnash nation. Yet still, ancestral hatred still linger, and human, elven and dwarven societies look upon the orcs with disrespect and discrimination, and orcs consider their past foes as weak and unwise.


Though distrusted by many, the orcs have made some valuable allies over their many centuries in Arganorh; specifically allies in the lands of Avanor, in Ghorr. Half-trolls, goblins, kol’tari, dalh shai elves and even some tribes of ogres are counted as friends to the orcs; the strongest bonds having formed with the half-trolls and kol’tari; the latter of which gave the orcs new, better ways to forge metal armour and weapons. Goblins, due to their small statures, are not as respected by the orcs, and the dalh shai elves, as a people who were formerly considered enemies, are even less respected by the orcs. Though, thanks to the dalh shai’s efforts in transforming the lands of Thrumnash through their magic and earth shamanism to create habitable land, the dalh shai are growing on the orcs.


A notable relationship in regards to the orcs can be found between them and the humans of Samarauch. Having for ages been at war with each other, they were able to settle for peace and band together during the Kaz’rak War, and later again during the Kirnwar. Since then their relations have diminished slightly, but their past allegiances and friendships have not yet been forgotten by the Samarrine people.


Orcs would prefer to live in their ancestral lands, but have over the years since Thrumnash’s founding begun to travel into the lands of men, where they attempt to integrate themselves into their society. They are not always welcomed by the humans, and there are often conflicts between the two. However, some of the more accepting minds amongst the humans can see past their violent past and appreciate the strength and willingness of orcish immigrants.

 

ALIGNMENT & RELIGION

While not usually considered intelligent, it’s a rather unfair assessment to make of the orcs. Though they aren’t great philosophers, inventors or mathematicians, they make up for it in their wisdom and simple view on life, and many of their kind have shown to be great tacticians and strategists in times of war.


Orcs often act quite violently, though this does not necessarily make them as savage as most would think of them. It is simply just their way of life. Any fight is a good way to build character, relations or to claim honour. Orcs are, to the core, noble, honourable and courageous; valuing the life of their clan brethren more than they would their own. In the world of orcs it is not simply a question of whether doing something is the most profitable action for themselves, but rather if it is the noblest action to take.


Bigger orcs, generally, are also considered better orcs, and thus earn more respect from their brethren. The same goes for older orcs, though their respect is given for their wisdom rather than for their strength. As a society built on a great deal of war, orcs value skill in combat. Though most orcs would prefer to die in battle, a warrior who reaches old age would have proven that he is the greatest of warriors, and thus earned a peaceful death.

When crimes are committed, either against their clans or their fellow orc brethren, an orc must face exile. In some cases, when disputes are made, the accusing orc might challenge the accused to a trial of combat. These fights are not necessarily to the death, but it is sometimes unavoidable. The winner claims pride and justice, and the loser must walk away in shame, or, as it were, end up dead.

Although orcs are noble, some orcish clans also take slaves; often slaves of their own race or of their nearby neighbours. This is most likely part of some old tradition that hails from the earlier days of the orcs, when taking slaves was an act of showing superiority against another clan, or as a way of establishing wealth and skill in combat. But slavery in orcish society is not often agreed upon by all the clans, and only a few clans to this day still keep slaves.


Shamanism is an important part of orcish spirituality. The paying of respect to their ancestral spirits, the spirits of the wilds and the spirits of the land is a given tradition amongst the orcs. Their faith in the spirits is known as the Kal’mar, and although orcs are mainly practitioners of shamanism and spirituality, their belief in the Kal’mar shows that they consider some spirits greater than others; technically revering them as gods. In the Kal’mar, there are two major entities that the orcs sort of “worship”; the Skyfather and the Earthmother. Both of these entities are gravely important to the orcs, and any disrespect shown against either of them is considered the greatest offense.


The use of magic beyond that of Natural origin is not looked upon favourably. It is considered a weak way of fighting your enemies, and most orcs would rather use physical means. Even using the spirits themselves in battle is more or less prohibited, unless an Elder should approve of it in the rare cases of desperation. Though, as it were, most orcs wouldn't be able to commune with the spirits the same way as a shaman or Elder would.


When paying respects to their recently departed, orcs either burn their dead on funeral pyres, or bury them beneath great burial mounds; the latter of which is often reserved for the most respected deceased. It is sort of a nod towards the Skyfather and Earthmother; the ashes return to the winds of the Skyfather, and the buried return to the soil of the Earthmother.
 

NAMES

Orcish names are often short and hard-sounding. Their names usually hold some meaning to an event, the land they were born in, or their born season. These names are for newborn orcs, and, when of age, they are given new names that better fit their personalities. There are no surnames in orcish society, nor are there family names, though titles are more commonly given instead. These titles usually go by an orc’s appearance, his way of behaving, through accomplishments in life, or simply by his or her affiliated clan. Male orcs are generally named by their fathers, and female orcs are named by their mothers. Though of course, when they come of age, they decide on their own name, and it is usually very important to them to find the right one. Their titles must be earned, and many orcs sometimes go through their entire life without a title to their name.

 

LANGUAGE

While Orcish is the most typically spoken language amongst the orcs, they possess a great variety of other languages, much thanks to their relations with the half-trolls, kol’tari, goblins and dalh shai. However, while certainly able to learn the languages of their friends, many orcs are limited because of the sheer number of languages they might have to learn. An extremely well learned orc might be able to speak all the languages of their allies, but the typical orc would only be able to speak a maximum of two or three languages; thus making communicating with their allies a fairly difficult task in some cases, if the ones they speak to do not share an understanding of Orcish.

Some orcs might know a bit of dwarven Stonetongue, and in recent time it has been more usual for an orc to learn to speak Common; though usually quite broken in compared to their own language, as Common and Orcish are two quite different languages in both words, grammar and pronunciation.


Orcish consists of very many short words that are often combined to make sense of longer words. It is considered by outsiders as a very crude and foul-sounding language. Orcish runes are fairly simple and hard-shaped, and have constantly evolved and changed based on the many varieties that the different clans use. Even so, most orcs can more or less understand each other’s runes to the point where it is translatable.