The strongest, most hardened peoples endure lives of constant strife and struggle. They can survive despite the odds and overcome opposition. They rise up again when they fall and their deeds will never die. These peoples are real and have become manifest in the Orcs. Saratta's orcs are a mighty people, broken into tribes that struggle and war between one another for total domination upon the clay encrusted lands of Omgarr.
The power of the Orcs are told as fairy tales, portraying them as beasts with little culture and hungry for blood. Such tales do not do justice to their race who have struggled at every turn. As things begin to look good for the Orcs events usually unfold to bring them down again. Life in Omgarr is only for the strong and those who are willing to do anything to survive.
Orcs are a powerful people and their personalities reflect that. They are quick to praise others with superior might and are constantly testing their strength when given the opportunity. The chance to show up a potential rival makes them fierce competitors in whatever challenges they perceive which often includes day to day work and chores and especially on the battlefield. Orcs never give up and will always seek the upper edge against any who would try to enslave or belittle them. Orcs are quite to boast of their achievements and are more than willing to show off.
Orcs are well known for caring for their own blood and are quick to come to the defense of other Orcs so long as they are part of their clan or an allied clan. Orcs can be quite vindictive and are known to hold long grudges against those who have done them wrong. Slights against an Orc are often settled in hand to hand combant where brute strength determines the victor. Weapons are not allowed in a direct challenge as orcs see themselves as natural predators. Like the wolf they will stare down a challenger before they attack. This alone can settle a dispute without an exchange of blows and sometimes the simple act of standing up for oneself will earn the respect of a challenger ending combat immediately.
For all their rough and tumble nature, orcs are not an uncaring race, though civil manners leave much to be desired among the world's other cultures. Orcs take care in raising their young with women teaching them the ways of basic survival and knowledge of herbs and plantlife that will sustain them when they set out on their own. Males provide meat for the table and will teach their sons and daughters how to hunt and fight in order to hold their own in the harsh land they live in.
As they come of age, all Orcs must set out to do battle with a predator of Omgarr and return to their clan bearing its pelt as a cloak upon their back. This qualifies a child as a true son or daughter of the clan, worth of choosing a mate from among their ranks. When a mate is chosen an Orc will remain with their mate until they have reared their own children to an age where they can care for themselves. At that time, both male and female will seek new mates. In rare instances a mated couple will remain together for life. Such couples are call Ha-Re'Tak; souls fused in flame. Such loves are retold in Orcish song sung during joining ceremonies (the rites that mark a mated pair).
An orc stands between 6 to 8 feet tall, weighing in at an average of 225 pounds. Their skin color is generally reddish brown like the clay of their homeland. In rare cases an Orc is born with gray skin and is known to the clans as a Gray Orc. These orcs are often smaller than others, but granted a great deal of respect.
An Orcs hair is almost always black. Green and red hair is also present in the orcish line as well as a raven colored purple. Orcs eyes are shaped like a feral wolf's and are often orange, gold, yellow, and blue. Silver is a rarer color but does appear occasionally. Like the Gray Orc, and orc with silver eyes holds a superstitious legacy. The most striking part of an orcs eye is the Sclera (the white in human eyes) which is colored black or red and has been the reason behind many races regarding orcs as monsters throughout the ages.
The most well known orcish trait is their jutting jaws and prominent lower canines extending above their lip. The length of the canine teeth can tells quite a bit about an orc. The more difficult their life has been will yield longer teeth. Easier lifestyles, like those orcs who grow up within the more civilized areas of Omgarr are more likely to have smaller teeth. Orcs use this to size up their opponents and it can serve as an intimidation factor toward others. Orcish canines are part of the jaw bone adding to their strength; it is rare to find broken canines but when it does happen they will take pains to refile the tooth to a point. Council Magi who have had the privilege to study orcs in their natural environment believe that the orcish jaw has few nerve ending making it far less susceptible to pain.
The typical Orchish figure have well defined muscles and will usually wear an outfit that reveal as much muscle as possible. Many cultures believe that orcish society is among the least civilized because they tend to wear little in the way of clothing, covering only the most easily vulnerable places. Tattoos are also very common among the orcish people, and yet another reason to wear little in the way of clothing. Tattoos vary on whether they are ink or scarification and the style helps to tell the tattoos story. Orcs rarely add a tattoo for the sake of vanity as tattoos are a means of showing achievements and victories in the eyes of their clan. They can also serve as a sign of respect.
The average orc lives to be 50 years old due to the hardships they face throughout their lives. Orcs that are able to integrate themselves into Human societies see the average age increase by 10 years. On occasion an orc will survive all the trials before them and die of old age. These orcs will live the same approximate time-span as a Human; 80 to 100 years.
Orcish hierarchy is built upon strength and power. In the unyielding lands of Omgarr only those who are willing to band together or who possess great strength will survive. Everyday life for an orc is a contrasting dance of might, survival and order; it adheres to ancient shamanistic traditions and is dictated by the ranges of their nomadic tribes and desire to become great warriors in the eyes of their peers.
Interactions between orcs is an interesting foray of brutality and peace. It makes the transformation between either state as a falcon beats its wings. In the world of Orcs strength is power and law, capable of restoring order or just as quickly demolishing it. A mighty leader ensures the survival of a tribe and growing mighty warriors assures their continued survival. Growth within a clan requires proof of strength whether it is a feat of strength or direct challenge. As an orc grows they will be granted titles to their name that further set them apart.
Lying about a title or making one up is not an accepted custom in orcish society. Orcs understand this, for a title reveals much about what one of their kind has accomplished. The title Wolfheart for instance speaks of the great leadership of an orc. Those who hear the title will expect that of the warrior. Each title speaks volumes of the orcs who bear them. As new titles are gained an orc will only say the greatest of them when introducing themselves (ie. Lo Rush “Wyrmbane” of Clan Vakar). When making a formal introduction a full title is required, including any previous titles along with information on how the title was won (ie. Lo Rush of Clan Vakar, “Wyrmbane” who fell the dragon Taskan, “Boarskull” who took down a Crag Boar with a strike from his head, etc).
In addition to titles an orc will also tattoo themselves in honor of their achievement. These tattoos help other orcs visually judge their opponents, and allow potential mates to recognize strong blood when they see it. Outsiders have been known to be granted orcish titles when providing a great service to a clan or to orcs as a whole.
When concerning members of a clan, an orc leads a mostly peaceful life. Shaman traditions have their roots in interacting with nature and giving thanks for the blessings granted by it. Most Shaman magic utilizes Blood Magic (a well accepted practice in Omgarr and one in immediate conflict with the Council of Magi which have no presence in Omgarr). These traditions are steeped in the wisdom of elders bringing value to even old orcs who would not otherwise survive in their turbulent culture. An aged orc is a keeper of the clan; story teller who passes on tradition and trains the young. They are advisers to the clan chief and overseers of the overall well being of a clan. The majority of orcs will never reach an age where they become an elder. Some clans have lacked an elder for so long that they have begun loosing touch with the ancient ways and grow more barbaric and erratic every day.
Orc leaders ensure the survival of the tribe. They are always the strongest of the tribe as might is the rule. A powerful leader makes the difference is battles between clans or simply with the natural world. The leader is the first to attack and rallies their clan behind them. A wise leader will listen to the needs of their clan before acting and will often put the needs of many over the needs of few. A leader who cannot do this is quickly slain and replaced.
Disputes over leadership are often dealt with through direct challenges. An orcish challenge will be met immediately with hand to hand combat. An orc who attacks without declaring a challenge is viewed as dishonorable, and while they may be allowed to lead they will need to watch their backs for the rest of their rule. The clan also has the final say in whether a ruler will remain. A leader who fails to meet the needs of the clan is quickly dealt with.
An exception to the rule of might in orcish culture appears with the presence of a Gray Orc. The bulk of orcs are born with brown skin, but in every generation there will be some who are born with gray skin. These orcs are almost always the runt in a family. They are weaker than other orcs but are given respect from their very first day of life. The strongest will protect them and the most stubborn will listen.
According to tradition, a Gray Orcs is said to be bound with the spirits of the ancestors from whom wisdom, guidance and foresight flow. Gray Orcs are in tune with the spiritual world and are able to speak with the dead. From this they gain great insight and hold immense value to a clan, but there are dangers to their gift. A gray orc is a beacon for the dead and in places of great unrest a gray orc will draw in ghosts and spirits. Clans that lack shamans to prevent otherworldly incursions often come into hard times.
When wars between clans occur both sides will attempt to spare a gray orc (unless of course that orc is actively partaking in the combat or attempting to cast spells) simply because of their ancestral link. Slaying a Gray Orc without provocation is said to place the curses of the ancestors upon an orc, his or her lineage, or even a clan until they can atone for their sin, or they are wiped out.
Orcish clans are autonomous units which has lead to varied beliefs across Omgarr and created strife between them. Conflicts between the clans are common and are often with lots of bloodshed. For the most part a clan will stay within its claimed territory but they are always seeking to gain access to more land. Having a larger range means easier access to food and water which are much needed in Omgarr. An orc will not willingly part with something they have fought hard to gain.
The greatest of Orcs is granted the title Warlord by the clans. There is only one Warlord and he or she must battle constantly to keep the title. A Warlord reserves the right to call upon the Clans if a great threat looms over the orcs as a whole. The directive of the Warlord is one of the few things that will unite the clans for a short time. The clans are obligated through their ties to the Ancestors to obey or they face the threat of being cursed which is a very bad thing for an orc.
The Warlord is clan-less upon gaining the title. The Warlord is supposed to be autonomous from the clans to prevent a clan from gaining too much power. They quickly become loners thanks to the pressures of other Orcs within the many clans seeking their title. Warlords also dedicate the clans to their god of worship for the duration that he or she sits upon the “throne”.
Orcs do not have much love for the majority of other races in Saratta. They are bitter enemies of the Elves, whether they are Tashminaen or Issalonian and they have a deep hatred toward the elves of Tyr. According to the legends their embitterment stems from conflicts grown out of religious views. The elves of Tyr believe that they were made in the image set forth by Demuen, and the orcs believe that they too were born in this way. Tyran stubbornness resulted in a war that raged across the southern reaches of Thistol Narod before the orcs finally forced the elves to withdraw from the lands surrounding Omgarr. Issalonian and Tashminaen elves simply got lumped into the prejudices that grew out of the war.
Humans and Ephryn also rank low in the minds of orcs. For ages they have sought to enslave or conquer the orcs but orcish might and the drive given to them by Demuen have prevented these races from succeeding. Orcs are extremely cautious of them and tend to be prone to quick action against them. Orcs who have grown up in Human lands tend to be more favorable toward them but also see them as competition and readily strive to outshine them.
Orcs embrace the “Half” races. A half orc is a full blood in the eyes of the clans, and entitled to all the trails and rites or the tribes. Surprisingly half elves are also included in their societies and lands. Scholars speculate that this is due in part to the presence of human blood changing their scent. The majority of orcs believe that their half blood status has made them outcast to the world much as they are, thus making their paths in the world as difficult as that of the orcs.
Goblins also rank highly in the eyes of Orcs. For ages the two races have worked together to great success. The goblins see the orcs as a great means for gaining access to materials that their homelands lack like lumber and clay. For orcs an alliance with the goblins has meant access to technology, providing them with a much needed edge in their homes and a chance at civilization. The greatest of Orcish cities, Kaztonar, grew as a result of these mutual needs. To this day the orcs and goblins maintain a close working relationship.
Orcs generally view gnomes as a nuisance.
The orcs make their home in Omgarr, one of the northern sections of Thistol Narod. Omgarr is a land of clay, forests and monsters. Its beauty draws many to try their hand at adventure but many of them are never heard from again. Water is difficult to find without digging deep beneath the clay. Much of the plant-life is capable of breaking through the ground to get at these deep pools, slowly bearing the moisture and nutrients up through their roots and into the upper soil levels. The most edible parts of plants are at the roots meaning a hard dig to get at food.
Deep ravines cut across the land, drawing water into their cracks. The bottoms of these valley crags are burgeoning with life, easy access to river water and grass. These places are ideal for small deer and goats that frequent them but this also means any kills are in contest with the many predators of the land. Predatory creatures come in all sizes and often feed on one another when times become trying. Orcs are far from the top of the food chain in their own land and must always been on guard. It is a badge of pride for an orc who can survive the wilds entirely on their own.
In the southern reaches of Omgarr is the Sunken Hold, a sea that provides access for merchant vessels to trade with several clans. Orcs do not swim in these waters for the ancestor spirits tell them not to. Orcs do not know what lies in the depths but every gray orc will tell a traveler the same thing; the Hold is a place of evil from where not even light escapes the drowning deep. Exported goods from the Sunken Hold clans includes wood and pelts, but the most coveted resource is the clay. Its rich red and brown hues are used worldwide to craft some of the best pottery available.
When the world was young the Lord of Flames came to the lands of Omgarr and baked the earth, making the land hard. The plants that remained stood proud and tall and others worked through the cracks to fill in the land. Seeing the natural world growing in strides to match the beauty the gods had made, Demuen began to make a figure out of the clay.
The figure had a hardened brow and well shaped muscles to match the might of the land. The figures eyes were set in stone and legs of rock so it would always stand tall, never bow to bow. It had large hands to mold the world around, just as its maker now did for it. The god of Fire made a second figure of graceful curves and added spectacular muscles to match the first and wove for it long braided hair. He then joined them hand in hand, male and female; matched in might, one to stand firm and tall, the other with grace to see that they would not fall.
Then came the other gods to bestow their gifts upon the forms. The lord of Death came before them and placed his hands over them whispering “To you your ancestors I shall keep, to guide and lead you when others will not. Of the offspring you bear, few shall receive the gift, but they shall make you proud.”
The Beast King came next and placed the teeth of a wolf upon their lower lips and ran his blood over their foreheads. “I bless you with the might of the beast, worn upon your face so that all may know your power. In my kingdom you shall have the power and grace of the lion so long as your teeth are displayed with pride.” The beast king presented Demuen with the figures when he was finished and the gods were pleased.
Demuen breathed his blessings upon them and their bodies hardened and took form. He lit their eyes with a flash of the sun and made them clear to see in both night and day. Then he placed them in the hands of the White Lady who led them to the rising sun.
Orcs credit Demuen with bringing their race to life, but their origin story has an ingrained respect for many of the other gods who they continue to worship. Their following of Demuen has often brought them into conflict with the Elves who also dedicate themselves to the god of Fire. This embitterment did not stem from worship of the same god as many would accredit the conflict, but instead to their lack of pure dedication. The elves believe that only one god should be worshiped whereas the Orcs tend to move between gods as the years pass.
In orcish culture the worship of a primary god is dictated by the current Lord of Clans, or Warlord. The Warlord is the greatest warrior of the orcs, and is bestowed the blessing of the clans to dedicate a god that the orcs will follow. As a result the Orcish god changes often, commonly alternating between Demuen, Balphurus and Brashq in recent times (Lunidor).
Clans who dedicate themselves to a specific god often try to get one of their own into the Warlords seat as it is believed that a clan will receive a greater blessing by their god for faithful dedication despite the Warlords decree. These clans must still show some measure of dedication to the Warlord's god or risk the wrath of the clans for failing to follow tradition.
Orcs speak Orcish.
+4 Strength, -2 Dexterity, -2 Wisdom: Orcs are mighty, but slow to react and consider the consequences of their actions.
- Medium: Half Orcs are Medium creatures and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Normal Speed: Half Orcs have a base speed of 30 feet.
- Darkvision: Orcs can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
- Fearless: Orcs gain a +2 racial bonus on all saving throws against fear effects.
- Ferocity: Orcs can remain conscious and continue fighting even if their hit points fall below 0. Orcs are still staggered at 0 hit points or lower and lose 1 hit point each round as normal.
- Relentless: Orcs gain a +2 bonus on combat maneuver checks to made to bull rush or overrun an opponent. This bonus only applies while both the Orc and its opponent are standing on the ground.
- Weapon Familiarity: Orcs are always proficient with greataxes and heavy flails, and treat any weapon with the word “orc” in its name as a martial weapon.
Languages: Orcs begin play speaking Common and Orc. Orcs with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Elven, Ephryn, Goblin, Giant, and Undercommon.
Gray Orc Traits
+2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom: Gray Orcs are clever and cunning.
- Medium: Half Orcs are Medium creatures and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Normal Speed: Half Orcs have a base speed of 30 feet.
- Darkvision: Orcs can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
- Fell Magic: Gray Orcs gain +1 to the DC of any saving throws against necromancy spells that they cast. Gray Orcs with a Wisdom score of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day – bleed, chill touch, detect poison, touch of fatigue. The caster level for these effects is equal to the user's character level. The DC for these spell-like abilities is equal to 10 + the spell's level + the user's Wisdom modifier.
- Blessing of the Fire Gods: Gray Orcs gain a +2 bonus on caster levels checks made to overcome spell resistance. In addition, they also receive a +2 bonus on Spellcraft checks made to identify the properties of magic items.
Languages: Gray Orcs begin play speaking Common and Orc. Gray Orcs with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic).