Orcs are a savage, violent and aggressive race of humanoids which take delight in plundering and killing innocent people. They once dominated Avistan in the Age of Darkness, where they appeared after they were expulsed to the surface by the dwarves in their Quest for Sky. But thousands of years later their most prominent presence has been reduced to the harsh lands of the Holds of Belkzen, which lies wedged between Varisia and Ustalav.
Physiological observations Edit
A typical male orc stands about 7 feet tall and weigh around 300 to 400 pounds, with females being slightly smaller and lighter. An orc is born with a deep green skin colour which becomes more greyish as they age. The skin of an orc becomes entirely grey near the end of its lifespan, though few orcs live to witness that happen. Except for their skin, orcs are most recognizable by their short, pointed ears and the lower jar tusks, which they sometimes use in combat. Orcs are all nearly bald, except for some sparse filthy black hairs on the back of their head. Orcs are known for being extremely ferocious: able to keep on fighting after receiving fatal wounds before succumbing to them.
The true origin of the orc has been debated by many scholars, with some claiming them to be corrupted elves and others going as far to claiming they evolved from the goblinoid races. Whatever their origin, it is a fact that orcs surfaced after being expulsed from underground during the dwarves' Quest for Sky. These orcs differed a lot from the orcs as we know today, being shorter (only up to 6 feet) with more rounded ears and grey skin tones. This kind of orc can still be found in the most remote mountain ranges, where dwarves have not yet migrated.
Orc anatomy is similar to that of other humanoid races: an Orc has relatively thick bones to support their 7 feet height and posses excessively large muscle groups. Another evident difference is their digestive track, which is relatively short due to an Orc's carnivorously oriented diet. Given the grey skin of subterranean Orcs, scholars assume the green skin is an evolutionary development to act as camouflage.
Social observation Edit
Orcs group together in tribal communities for food, protection and numbers. These communities are ruled by a single individual, a chieftain which is often a warlord or shaman. A chieftain wields the highest power within a community, and dictates the laws of a tribe. In larger tribes, where the community is split into a main camp and several peripheral camps, the chieftain may anoint paramount chiefs to rule in his name. These chiefs collect and pay tribute to the chieftain in the form of food or plunder.
The sudden death of a chieftain (which is not at the hands of a challenger) and subsequent lack of an immediate successor allmost inevitably throws a tribe into chaos and infighting, until a new leader arises and establishes dominance. The chiefdoms themselves are also relatively unstable forms of organization. Orc tribes are prone to periods of collapse and renewal, where tribes band together but eventually fragment through some form of social stress, after which they slowly band back together.
In some unique cases female orcs have been observed to rise to the position of chieftain. These females are more vicious and intimidating than their male counterpart, and they rule their tribe with an iron fist. Not surprisingly, they alleviate the females within a tribe of some of their tasks. A female chieftain also brings a considerable change in the looting behaviour: tribes become more systematic and selective in the towns they attack, maximizing their returns and minimizing their losses.
Orcs are merely interested in satisfying their own needs, which in itself is a reason why an orc would not worship a god. But they also dislike having a master, and they perceive the worship of a deity as subjugating themselves to it. Despite this, shamans frequently rise to power and enforce the worship of a god to exert control over the tribe.
The gods that shamans devote a tribe to directly influence the amount of control they have. Thus, they typically choose gods which portfolio suits an orc the best. Typically, this is either Asmodeus or Gorum. But tribes worshipping Norgorber, Rovagug or Zon-Kuthon are not unheard off. There have been some unique cases in which a shaman has succesfully engaged a tribe in worship of himself. These forms of devotion rarely last long, as a shaman's rivals will disprove his divinity as the first possible opportunity.
Orc raiding parties are, thankfully, uncoordinated, disorganized and opportunistic, striking only at targets weaker then themselves. It is due to this lack of the ability to effectively coordinate that orcs rarely develop a lasting nation. However, sometimes great leaders arise which are able to unite a number of tribes together and stand at the head of almost unbeatable orcish hordes, which will ravage across the land and plunder every town and village they'll come across.
On an individual level, however, orcs are still fearsome warriors who plunge themselves in combat with great strength and ferocity. We have been able to identify a number of types of warriors within the orcish ranks.
Orc warriors make up the brunt of many tribes across the Holds of Belkzen. These orcs charge into combat against the nearest foe they can find. They'll keep attacking with their falchions until either their enemy (or they themselves) are beaten, after which they seek out another target. Foes that resist will quickly find numerous orcs ganging up on him until he is worn down.
Orc berserkers, sometimes also called Orc barbarians, are the most fearsome sight in a battle. These brutes occasionally lead a charge, but more often seek out the strongest enemies on the battlefield to match their strength. They fight with great axes and can take an incredible amount of punishment.
Orc riders are an uncommon sight. These orcs were brave enough to tame a worg and ride it as a mount. Since these orcs lack in numbers, they often perform skirmishes on the flanks of an enemy, or after a battle pursue anyone trying to flee.
Behaviorial Observations Edit
Male-female interaction Edit
Males are, unsurprisingly, the dominant gender within a tribe. If they are not out raiding, or occasionally patrolling a camps perimeter, they spend their time indulging themselves with food, torture [of slaves] and fighting rivals. Male orcs rarely take up professions as they disgust at even the thought of having to go through the effort to create something themselves, instead of taking it. However, in some cases a male might take up the craft of armour- or weaponsmith and become a valuable and protected asset of chieftains.
Females fulfil the role of the lesser gender within orc society, which is most likely attributed to having a much calmer and collected nature, compared to their male counterpart (this does not mean a disgruntled female orc wouldn't tear off an arm). Males delegate much of the day-to-day tasks to the females within a tribe. These activities include, but might not be limited to: cooking, cleaning, nursing and herding. Females also seem to be more likely to take up a profession, like leatherworking or seaming to create or repair both tents and clothing.
Reproduction & childhood Edit
With love seeming to be an almost alien concept among males, orcs do not form lasting relationships. Males rather see females, and their offspring, as 'property' . Males thus create harems of females, the size of which is directly linked to their position within a tribe. Males do not partake in care for their own children, though they might occasionally teach their sons to fight. Children are instead raised by their mothers and learned how to survive within a tribe by assisting them in their day-to-day tasks.
Reaching adulthood is no small feat for orcish children. After leaving infancy they almost immediately have to fend for themselves against older members of the tribe. Already in childhood do most males, encouraged by their fathers, start intimidating children of the same age or younger than them. When reaching adulthood, male children are initiated by leading the charge in a raid, in which the survivors of the vanguard are considered adults. Females don't receive an official rite, though they are deemed adults once they develop their secondary sex characteristics, at which point they are forced into a harem.
Inter-Species Observations Edit
Orcs take little regard for members of their own species, and even less for members of others. They enjoy raiding neighbouring towns, and always enslave survivors of such endeavours. Male slaves are sold off for gold, weapons and armour. Female slaves have the less fortunate fate of becoming part of the 'daily entertainment' within a camp.
Negotiating with an orc is almost always entirely fruitless, for they will keep increasing their demands after an agreement is made or lose their temper during a negotiation and satisfy themselves with whatever the negotiator(s) have on hand.
The best way to have an orc cooperate is by being more dominant than the orc itself, often accomplished by intimidation. However, unless the orc is restrained or otherwise prohibited from engaging in combat, he will have to be literally beaten into submission. This is no small feat, as most orcs fight to the death rather than being taken, as this would make them the laughing stock of the tribe.
On a political level, cooperation with orcs is even more problematic. Eradicating a tribe is easier than keeping them as vassals, due to an orc’s tendency to either rebel against or backstab their superiors. More often, nations that have to deal with orcs and who have been unable to do this by military means often placate them with gifts of food or treasure. History has shown that providing arms and weapons has always proved counterproductive, as these seem to, almost inevitably, often be used against the gifting nation itself.