I, like many of my human brothers and sister, had believed that humanoids were soulless monsters, who only exist to terrorize mankind. If this writing has done anything, it has proven to me that humans are not the only people which they terrorize. While many are constantly at war and on the surface, appear to be extremely primitive, inside of them they are as unique and as intelligent as the more civilized nations.
Before leaving the hobgoblin sacked hamlet of Green Grass Pass, a name that no longer describes it, as the grass has all been trampled and killed, what was once a lush valley is now nothing but a muddy potholed road of unimaginable danger. The hobgoblins have renamed the hamlet, but their words are not fit for the delicate eyes of civilized people; besides, as you will soon learn, their new name may be quite inconsequential.
While still among them, I mentioned meeting an orc. I became interested in this creature and saw him sitting alone in a hobgoblin tavern and gambling den, so I approached him. It didn’t take him long to see past my ruse, he always asked pointed and direct questions of things that I could not know, at first this beast filled my heart with dread and terror, however at the point were I expected him to stand up and point me out as the fraud that I was, he instead told me simply to relax, for he wasn’t what he appeared to be either. In fact, this orc was not a true orc at all, but a half-breed orcish-hobgoblin and a spy.
He informed me that a few miles away, his tribe was preparing to sack this village, and he was here to report numbers of hobgoblins coming in and going out, as well as who was in charge, the cities defenses, and other information which will aid his tribe’s attack.
I found this half-orc an interesting ally, he found my quest to be an interesting venture as well, and gave me many pointers to infiltrate his own tribe, and warned me when it was best to make my escape from Green Grass Pass, and still have time to study his people before they moved on to destroy the hobgoblin barracks.
The half-orc, who I respect to much to write his name, gave me a simple armband of red, attached to it were a few feathers, this he reported, would allow me to be off limits and prove me as an ally to him. He gave me information which only he would know, this was to be my currency, and I had just enough to get in and do my work and leave with my head still in one piece.
The orcs of Hrarrrg, or “the Roaming Scorpion” are not the entire tribe. I knew that I had very little currency to keep them at bay (and myself out of the mines), so I spent as much time observing them from afar as possible, which only amounted to two days before I was captured by sentries and taken before the commander. Normally, I am told, that the orc lives much the same as goblins, as they dislike sunlight; however, they do not cower away from it in fear either, which goblins do do. This describes a military unit, with a clear goal and separated by the Orcish tribal leader.
Orcs are roughly 5½ to 6 feet tall, and the males are extremely well built. They appear almost human, but physically primitive in manner as well as appearance. This is deceptive, as their minds are not primitive at all, and they appear to be much smarter then the other humanoids which I have encountered to date. With that said, their skins are grayish green in color, and their bodies are covered in thick and course dark hair. Their eyes resemble goblin eyes as well, glowing reddish in dim light, probably due to the fact that they require very low levels of light to see by, and may even be able to see in the dark. Their features are unique to them individually, as well as by clan, and can be visually distinct from one another by simple subtleties and personal style, much as humans and demihumans are both unique from one another, yet the same. Orcs are stooped over, and cannot walk upright, their arms are proportioned to their bodies, and well-muscled. Their foreheads are unique, almost conical which may be from a common form of bondage placed upon them when they are young, as they see conical skulls to be more attractive then round ones. Orc teeth are sharper and more pointed then a humans are, normally a deep shade of yellow, they use them to eat meat, but aren’t civilized enough to use utensils to cut the meat up into bite-sized chunks. Their noses are almost snoutish, and their ears are set slightly higher on their heads, allowing them to hear and smell things which would be beyond us.
Orcs find empty and desolate places beautiful, though many of their camps and villages are chosen for this feature, unlike goblins and hobgoblins who destroy the land, the orc is more at home in places that are naturally like this. I believe that this is because they are off the beaten track and easier to defend.
Like many of the humanoids, the orc is a miner, and are most comfortable living underground, which has pitted them directly against the dwarven demi-humans of the realm. Orcs mine both metals and stones which they also find valuable. While I haven’t seen an orcish mine, I can see that they have crafted their own weapons, yet they also relieve all weapons from enemies that they have slain, so they carry wide varieties of arms, in just one week I have spotted elven, dwarven, and even hobgoblin craftsmanship! But they also have their own armaments which are unique to them.
Much of their tactics involve ambush and backstabbing, and they prefer weapons which aid them in this, many are items which they themselves have invented, especially siege weaponry. The camp was very busy constructing light-weight catapults from materials they have found and had brought with them for these constructions. Right now the catapults are not on wheels and will be carried to locations where the orcs will finish putting them together. They are not afraid of labor, and it is a brilliant strategy, breaking the catapults down to the smallest parts as they can without breaking down the sophisticated pieces which an orc specialized in such things oversees the construction personally.
They are constantly inventing, though many of the exploratory engines are highly dangerous to the operators at best, the brilliance and inventiveness is still admirable. I have seen nothing this sophisticated, even in human armies. I have heard of half-orcs who sell their services constructing traps for the paranoid and wealthy, seeing what full-blooded orcs are capable of, I no longer doubt this rumor.
While the orc prefers to live underground, they are also concerned with their defense, and build defenses around the openings of their mines, which are usually taken from routing dwarves or gnomes who have started them. Orcish construction for shelter is not as inventive or as oddly beautiful as their weaponry, but they are not above taking over mining villages which had been built around mines built by others, while they lack the ability to maintain and properly keep these buildings from weathering and rotting, they do require buildings and fences to keep domesticated animals which they butcher for food, many are common creatures such as pigs, chickens, goats, and cows, but they also keep other creatures for purposes of food, as they, unlike the goblins, truly detest eating their enemies.
Orcs are masters of hiding things, it is said that a village sacked by an orcish army for their mines resembles a ghost town. One can hear livestock and see evidence of them but finding them is difficult. I suppose that they keep them in the buildings themselves, which they keep locked up tight and guarded by traps against poachers and theft, but at night, the creatures come out, and if they are aware of intruders . . . which they usually are since the landscape is barren, offering few places for other creatures to hide, and the hiding spaces that are there are heavily trapped, the orcs will wait in hiding and attack, if they must, during the day as well as at night.
Orcs grow edible crops of mushrooms and other funguses, some which are deadly to humans, this substitutes their diets and the shamans use them as well. Orcs are terrified of illness and disease, but aren’t much cleaner then hobgoblins, in fact much of their mushrooms and molds are acquired in the caves which they use to relieve themselves in.
Like humans, orcs require water to survive, drinking it as well as harnessing its strength to power engines which provide many different functions. By far their seeming savageness is all an illusion, yet another trap which the orc uses to give their enemies a false sense of superiority.
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN OTHER RACES
The orc truly gets along with nobody, but will make shaky alliances with practically anyone; in truth, this new war which is about to be unleashed upon the hobgoblins started from such an alliance. To the west, in the Bone March, Orcs and Hobgoblins, as well as many other humanoids, have seemingly joined forces, however the Orcs of Bone March have felt that the Hobgoblin forces are too strong, and they just keep coming. It was decided by the generals of the March, that it was time to turn on the Hobgoblin forces before that race turned on them. Their goal is to destroy this fort, and then move on to the next, a brilliant move that will strangle the Road to Blood and Glory to death.
While, with care and dedication, it is possible to have a long relationship with the right orc tribe, the orcs themselves battle with each other constantly, either face to face, or, such as the case with the war about to be waged against the hobgoblin forces, in competition with each other. They do not get along and if presented the right opportunity, will slay each other if they think that they can get away with it.
Orcs have a deep and driving hatred for dwarves, who they are always at war with because of land disputes. They ambush dwarven mines and take them, forcing them to defend these mines for centuries, which to the short-lived orcs may be their homeland, having deep bloodlines to the area, and the long memories of proud dwarfs constantly seek to take back what is theirs, regardless of the fact that no dwarf has lived there in centuries.
The elf is also a highly hated foe, but for a different reason. According to orcish myth, long ago when the world was divided into separate kingdoms, it was the elf which dictated who got what. It was during this great division which the orcs were completely left out of. While the dwarves received great mountains full of ore and wealth, the humans received huge tracts of land close to oceans and great running rivers, and of course, the elf kept the best land for themselves, when it came to the great orcs of the past, they received nothing. This was a sin seeing that they requested very little, and now they are hell-bent on taking it all! For this travesty, they will slay elves on sight, they will burn their villages and cities to the ground on discovery, and they will shoot them in the back with no remorse. Just mentioning an elven name is enough to cause them to drool in bloodlust, and gnash their teeth in aggression, fore, though the orc is a short lived race, its memory for abuses of the past is without question.
Death is the only thing that an elf can expect from orcs, and the same goes for dwarves, all other races are prime stock for their slave pools. Orcs kill only the warriors, or those who are too strong to be trusted in the mines, all others are captured and are worth more for their backs then for the peace of mind which goes to killing them. Women and children are preferred, as they are weak and easily handled, as are the elderly who if they survive the horrible marches to the mines, are given the most dangerous jobs.
A halfling cook was present in this band of warriors and killers, this halfling is a slave, forced to cook for his life, feeding all of the men in the camp; a job normally the domain of orcish women. While it is preferred to eat the food burnt and charred, the orcish tongue appears to have a good palate for the thick spices and recipes concocted by the halfling, whose cooking is exceptional! Oddly enough, the halfling appears to be quite happy here, he says that he gets as many supplies as he needs and a chance to see the world. He has resigned himself, at least for the time being, into the care of these orcs who appear to be rather kind to him.
It is also worth noting here, that while the goblinoid species of humanoids are incompatible sexually with humans and demi-humans, the same cannot be held true of the orc. The orc has tainted the blood of every bipedal species with the one exception of the Elf, why this is may have more to do with their natural hatred of them then any physical incompatibility. While their kind revels in defiling dwarven women, elven woman are slain with the same gusto as the men are.
Most beings with half-orc blood are of the humanoid variety, with goblins and hobgoblins being most common, followed by human-orc. The orcish blood is dominant, causing the mongrel offspring to be more orc then anything else, however their temperaments will typically be that of the off race. A half human, half orc was an officer in the orcish army, he appears to be an unusually powerful, if not ugly man who is highly respected by his full-blooded orcish peers, but this could simply be based on the man’s ability with his sword that has earned him his position, the other, not as gifted, half-orcs are treated as contemptuously as we treat our own mongrel children.
RELIGION OF THE ORCISH CLANS
Orcs all follow many gods, they are a very superstitious lot, but the most powerful of the gods, and the one most widely worshiped by the same name is the one-eyed orc Gruumsh. It is Gruumsh which remembers the travesty of the past, and it is Gruumsh which dictates that the orc must not stop fighting until he has taken all of the map and all of the other races are either slain or digging for them, in their mines.
Gruumsh is a cruel god, his priests scour the orcish camps and tribes, they alone have free reign to walk among all tribes, because all tribes observe that Gruumsh is the mightiest of the orcish gods! Gruumsh is a very vocal god, he creates signs to his people which are impossible to ignore. His priests are the keepers of the orcish race, weeding out the weak, the sick, and the cowardly, and slaying them without mercy. They themselves are always in danger of their gods wraith, for if they fail in their duties, if they ever feel anything but hatred and contempt in their black hearts, it is said that the god himself personally snaps their neck for all to see, fore there is no greater sign to the orcs, then a priest of Gruumsh falling over abruptly dead and his head turned around, perfectly backwards.
While all tribes worship Gruumsh, their other gods are debatable, some share names while others, just stories. Orcish heroes are all mean-spirited and nasty, whom show nothing but contempt for their leaders, turning on their own family for glory, capturing power through blood spilt by the rivals in their own tribes. The commander of this army, his name being Battered Head, has allowed me to live only to satisfy his own ego. Once he found out that I was a writer and recording their lives to paper, he saw his chance to become an even larger hero in the eyes of his people. It was from him that I was able to capture much of this work which I put down for your inspection today.
Orcish myths all push their own twisted form of honor among thieves messages. Heroes slay kings for glory, and steal from their own brothers. The children are taught this, and wish to grow up to become these monstrous peoples; it sickens me, yet I suppose that some of our own myths and legends are no better.
ORCISH FAMILY STRUCTURE AND THE ROLE OF GENDER
The orcish family is quite common, though almost all of the orcish warriors in this camp are married, they are not faithful to their wives. I am told that a woman’s place is in the home, and that is where she stays. Her duties are child birth, preparing dinner, and raising children. A pregnant orc (or other species with orcish child) carries the young for 10 months, and normally has two to three children per litter. Many of these children do not survive to adulthood due to abuse by both parents, as well as the priests of Gruumsh. Meanness is encouraged, thus they also pick off each other so that only the strong survive. Male children are always preferred to female ones, fathers have no love for little girls, and they are seen as worthless.
Some women are, understandably, not pleased with their lot in life. Refusal to do their duty typically results in death, a lucky few are able to escape into a never-ending life of adventure, seeking fame and fortune with races which will tolerate them, the types we see in our cities from time to time traveling around with a ragtag bunch of other misfits. These orcish females can easily masquerade as men, as their mannerisms are all vary masculine, even while performing their duties at home.
While most children do not survive, the lucky few become self-sufficient at an early age. Most are self-taught as their mothers typically ignore them much of the time, and if their fathers are slain, they are abandoned completely by the mother who leaves. Once a male child can pick up a weapon, his father takes over the raising of it, teaching him how to fight, and instilling the warped sense of orcish honor typical of the race.
The orc, if not slain in battle, can reach about 40 years old. They live fast and usually die fast as well, quickly using up their bodies, which at age thirty their skins start to wrinkle, their hair either grays else falls out, and their muscles quickly waste away. This is much different then the goblinoids which usually fall victim to disease before reaching this stage, I can’t imagine why this process is so sped up in the orcish-clans, unless it has something to do with the gross inbreeding which takes place quite commonly.
Typical of the humanoids which I have studied thus far, orcs are a superstitious lot, and greatly fear magic, however not to the extent which the hobgoblin reacts to mystical forces at work.
Despite the races great age, they have no system of wizardry, at least not in this camp and nobody here would ever suffer a orcish mage to live, so either they are very rare and keep to the ancient occultist ways of hiding their studies, else they don’t exist at all. Personally I feel that if they were around, they would quickly jump on this mission as an orc mage would greatly improve their chances of wiping the hobgoblins out.
While they dislike magic, their religious clerics do possess considerable power. I would consider the religion of Gruumsh to be a full blown church, their clerics are in fact, orcish priests in every sense of the word. The orcs who do the bidding of the minor orcish gods are less powerful in the ways of spellcraft, so I qualify them as shamans or witch doctors.
Orcs are, by nature, explorers. They run into many many magical items along the way. If an item is discovered to be magically charged, it is not destroyed, as they still see that it is worth a lot more then it normally would be. The Church of Gruumsh dictates that all magical items discovered should be turned over to the clerics, however, I have seen the orcs hide these artifacts and sell them for a personal profit on the side. I myself was given the opportunity to purchase a gem of seeing which I couldn’t turn down. I suppose that if a buyer is around, greed dictates otherwise, but surly the clerics would had killed the orc who sold the gem to me if they had found out.
RACES OF THE ORC
Orcs, while each tribe is unique, they, I assume, are all of the same species. Wars between the tribes are more about petty egos of the clan leaders then of any real solid issues. One exception to this rule seems to be the mightiest fighters of a tribe, which they call Orogs.
Orogs are extremely huge for orcs, perhaps they are half-orc, half-ogre? But they are definitely of an elite status in this army. They fly their own banner, the only other banner which is not sanctioned by the Commander. They do not take part in the patrols, nor do any scouting. They are only here for when the actual fighting starts, this band of warriors are much scarier then the average orc, they speak orc, but are able to do as they will and all of the other orcs give them a wide path for which they may tread, yet they do enjoy the fact that they are here to fight besides them. Battered Head tells me that it is always an honor to have an Orog unit present, they do not live in the tribe, but for special occasions such as this, an orc chieftain can send to them a request for duty. If the Orog feel that the cause is a worthy one, and that a profit is to be made, and that it would please Gruumsh, they will send out a unit to the camp. The orog answer only to themselves, which is a fair trade-off as I guess that the Orog combat furiously. I had a chance to study them in training and they showed a unique fighting style which utilizes both their terrific power and great size to their advantage. When throwing a spear, the orog actually puts all of his body weight behind it, sending it with such force that the blades punch through trees and chip the rocky face of the mountain. Frightening as they are, I am told that they know no fear themselves. To run away from a challenge is to disgrace your entire race! Only an Orog commander can issue a retreat, and unlike the orcs who collect slaves for their mines, the orog take no prisoners.
The unit which I am studying is entirely military. A few women run around selling their bodies, but the rest are all soldiers, else clerics or shamans. This camp is run like a military, even the woman, if they get angry and lash out at an abuser, will be punished with death.
The Commander has four lieutenants which oversee the enforcement of most laws, however, this is a rarity in this army camp. All of the orcish soldiers are pleased with their positions here, and want only to taste hobgoblin blood upon their weapons. Even the women are proud of these orcs, honored to be here to serve them and see each black eye and bruise as a badge of honor placed upon them by a great hero.
I can only assume that since morale is so high, that I cannot get a proper estimation on how law is handled, however listening to their myths and who they idolize, I must only assume that laws are very relaxed back home. Villainy is actively worshiped, and moral taboos are always reveled in. Orcish heroes are murderers, thieves, and rebels who refuse leadership themselves, but become leaders through service to themselves. As a group, they fight besides each other very well, each unit forming a twisted brotherhood between themselves, but at the same time brothers commonly kill, lie, and cheat each other. I suppose that the biggest difference is that nobody besides themselves can do this to a brother and get away with it.
While orcs also mine the mines, they leave all of the dangerous and tedious work to the slaves, they themselves are rarely in any danger down there, but if a vain collapses, the prisoners (even orcish casualties) are instantly abandoned and the pit boss is held responsible. Killing one orc is not considered a crime, but leading a bunch of orcs to their deaths and yourself returning alive is punishable by death . . . and perhaps worse. A true criminal suffers by watching his children murdered right in front of him, his property redistributed to others, and himself buried alive to die alone and confined.
I have learned from Battered Head that the true leaders of the tribe are not the leaders themselves, granted that they appear to make the rules and be in charge, however the true rulers of the orcs are the clerics and the warriors who lead the troops. If a leader is not respectful of the army, or the religion, he is quietly slain and a new leader competition takes place. Nobody wants this job, the competitors in the leadership battle are chosen by a poll taken by all of the tribe, based on names picked by the church and the army commanders. Once the polls have declared two men a winner, these men are given a large feast and then must fight to the death, the winner becoming the new tribal leader who is responsible for the well-fair and success of the tribe. He gets to believe that he is in charge, but he is always given options and opinions by the church and the military leaders.
It would take years of study to understand this form of politics, and I would like to observe it first hand however I do not think that that is possible, since if I were to appear to be an orc, I would quickly be seen as a weakling and swiftly terminated by the church. It would require me to compromise my values, which I am afraid that that is something that I just can’t do.
ORCS AND DEATH
If an orc dies of illness, his body is quickly burned, as is any of his assets which he may have accumulated over his lifetime. Death in battle, the body is left as a testament to his sacrifice, his assets are then given to his male children as they see fit, if no children are alive, his assets are the property of the tribe, the leaders go through them and take what they wish and the rest is sold to the highest bidder. If an orc is slain by a cleric, or god, their property now belongs to the church.
Great leaders and heroes are given huge funerals. Dirt and rocks is brought to the corpse of the slain dead, the church commits a ceremony to the brave while the army builds a burial mound over the body and every orc in the area comes from miles around to pay tribute to his afterlife with coins and jewels. This mound is marked so that all know who lays below, how he died, and when. Great treasures are in this mound, however a curse is placed upon it as well. A great hero can attract orcs beyond his own tribe, and during these times the infighting and posturing between the tribal leaders is temporarily put aside. Leaders are expected to send dignitaries to the site to pay a grand tribute, if not arrive personally. Because of this, a funeral can take a very long time before it is completed, materials need to be brought in, leaders need time to raise the funds required and to travel from all over the Flanaess, thus the heroes body must be guarded by an elite group of soldiers called Boneguards, a temporary position designated to the heroes closest allies who forever after carry the distinction of this service, and allows them to refer to themselves as Cjuudge or “Friend-of”. An honor which they will take to their own graves, as all of the heroes of orcish blood were at one time Boneguards themselves.
ORCS AT WAR
This, I was able to witness first hand. The orc has a bizarre code of honor. Many of the off-race enemies will be taken prisoner and kept as slaves, those who fight are killed. The orc does not observe any rules to war, and cannot be expected to keep to his word. If battling on a goblin holiday, goblins typically break combat to observe this occasion, and the Orc will agree to this break in combat, but turn around and ambush them during the day.
Surrender is not allowed, if a white flag of submission is flown by an enemy, the orcs will redouble their efforts to kill them all. Backstabbing and lying to ones enemy is considered bravery to the orc, and stupidity on their enemies part. The orc honestly doesn’t need to revert to these tactics, as their soldiers are more then capable of honorable combat, but this code of orcish honor dictates otherwise.
The orc fights through trickery, massive firepower, and taking time before an attack to gain as much intelligence about the enemy as possible. They are brilliant in their methods, if they weren’t so underhanded. They study all of their enemies, and will exploit any weakness which they may find.
While many of the orcish troops are skilled fighters, this race does have some very dangerous warriors who are up to par with humanities best. These warriors can be identified by their bravery, and usually the way that they handle themselves. They become specialists of their chosen weapons, and spend much money on them. Instead of going out to patrol, they are allowed to practice and keep in perfect shape. Many of these warriors are commanders, but this is not always true, some of these specialists are not all that bright, and intelligence is also something which makes a good hero, not just brawn.
Orcish thieves are also quite skilled, these creatures seem to flock to such trades and usually serve as watchmen for the towers as well as spies for the large armies which form from time to time. The thieves are excellent archers and can fill their ranks with the warrior archers, but if the archers are compromised, the warriors will draw their weapons while the thieves flee. It is also worth noting that much of the siege weapons and traps are designed by the tribes thieves who form their own guilds within the tribes. While they have no political power, they do bring extra funds and power to the tribe, and they don’t have to work as hard as the average fighters do, thus becoming a thief is a highly desirable, but elite profession as the dexterity required by these men must be high indeed!
ORCS OF THE REALM
As a race, these creatures seem tailor made for their environment, and while creatures such as the lowly goblin cowers in filthy holes in the ground, the orc does not tremble in fear, but faces all obstacles. They are masters of surviving in barren and inhospitable places. They are both a threat to mankind, as well as a potential ally of it in some odd way. They have learned from us, and they continue to teach us.
Mans first impulse is to discount these creatures, and just assume them to be stupid and brutal but this isn’t the case. Orcs are wise, they are strong, and they are determined. They have their own, very unique society which has existed well before mankind, and continues to do so despite it.
It is my opinion that if we wish to aid the dwarf in their battles against the orcs, then we need to consider it a higher priority, for if any race has the determination and resources to destroy their race utterly, it would be the orc. While many of them lack the skills required to outfight the dwarven armies, a few warriors can and they also have numbers on their side. We humans, as a race, need to pick which side that we chose to stand on, and be more steadfast in aiding them, despite the dwarven pride which dictates otherwise, for if the dwarves fall to this foe, then we are next friends. We are next!
- ▼ September 2009 (4)