I thought I'd provide the most recent, updated edition of orcs in the world of Lingusia. This text presumes the orcs date to around the Ages of Lingusia era, which means nothing to anyone other than myself and a handful of other people, but for posterity puts the details in this writeup as relevant more or less to the year 1,950 aw. It is easily used with the later material in the Keepers of Lingusia campaign book, which is set around 2,476 aw. I have an entirely separate Pathfinder-based write-up for the orcs of Lingusia by the time of the Warlords Era (3,500 aw).
For a blog called "Realms of Chirak" I really need to put more....well...Chirak in here. Oh well! Lingusia it is for now.
The orcs are a strong but directionless force at this time. Vast hordes occupy the ever-expanding Mitra’s Forest and fight regularly with the people of Octzel and Hyrkania. Many orcish warriors set out to become mercenaries in the big world, or to make a name for themselves. Among cities of the Middle Kingdoms, only Blackholm allows orcs as regular citizens who intermix with the common human population, although there are orcish barrios in Malas and Hyrendan as well. The grey orcs have a strong enclave in the city of Ocentash as well, and maintain a strong alliance with the humans of the region.
Orcs come in a variety of “flavors” or “colors” in Lingusia, with the tone of their skin and nature of their character defining their tribal and racial relations; being beasts of chaos, such distinctions are often difficult to distinguish by those outside of the community, and only orcs tend to be able to tell one another apart. Orcs from any given group can intermix with orcs of another group, and such relations can lead to fairly generic orcs of indeterminate nature. Over the centuries this has led to a slow blending of orcish breeds in to more common subtypes.
Today, most orcs are known to belong to the clans of the blue orcs (blyskanyu), grey orcs (glythanyu), red orcs (thyzakkoni), white orcs (fell manorg) or green orcs (amenanyu). “Anyu” is the orcish word for their own kind, although its literal translation means the pieces, a reference to their mythical belief that the mad idiot god Baragnagor assembled their kin together from the parts of other beasts. The word orc itself is ancient elvish for the betrayers, though none no longer know why this appellation is used by the fey to refer to the orcs, not even the elves; the source of ancient enmity between the two races predates even the ancient memory of elves. Some old myths suggest orcs may once have been as long-lived or nearly immortal as the elves, but somehow lost this trait. None living today can say how or why this came to be.
Personality and Appearance: Orcs are universally bestial, with various beast-like features ranging from pronounced alligator or pig-like snouts, flaring nostrils, jagged teeth, beady black eyes, and smooth, leathery skin. The many different colorations of the orcish sub races reflect the tint or hue of skin, and while most orcs have some stubbly hair growth, only Fell Manorg have full fur coats. Most orcs average around 5 and a half feet to 6 feet in height, but Black Orcs stand at around 7 feet.
Half Orcs: Half orcs are an unfortunate byproduct of orcish raids against humans, and human and elvish women are often secured when they are short of their own females (indeed, there is usually one female orc for every four male orcs born). Because of this shortage, lesser orcs often take slaves of women from other demihuman groups and produce children from them. These children are usually regarded as orcs, albeit with more distinctly humanoid features, but if they look close enough to human or elf (by orc standards) they are usually cast out as being too pure of fair blood. These castoffs are what most people regard as half orcs.
Relations: Orcs are generally reviled in most lands, but are considered acceptable neighbors and citizens in some regions, and tolerated as good mercenary fighters in others (though not during the period of the Dark War, when orcs were almost universally under the banner of Xarion’s army of Chaos).
The Ashtarth see orcs and goblinoids as useful fodder, while the orcs pride themselves on their mercenary talents. Octzellans see orcs as a threat in and find allies only in the more civilized grey orcs of the south. Fell Manorg orcs in the north are considered the mortal enemies of the Autrengardians. Amenanyu dwell in Amech, and war regularly with the humans of the region.
Religion: Orcs worship many gods and beings. All orcs revere Baragnagor as the creator god. Baragnagor, the idiot beast god, was said to have tried to mimic the other creator gods by forming his own mortal creation, but all he could do was create formless lumps of inert clay. Instead, Baragnagor took the animals and beings of the world and mashed them together, creating the many chaoskin. Orcs claim to have the heads of aggressive crocodiles and swine, the bodies of powerful apes, and the cunning minds of wolves. This animal totemism is carried to an extreme by the Blyskanyu tribes, for which each clan takes on a specific animal as a spirit guide.
The Gray Orcs are an exception to the rule of worship, as the self-proclaimed avatar Naradaon has been working to convert the glythanyu tribes to the worship of the benevolent agrarian god Seth. At this time, success has been mixed, but a handful of dedicated orcs have taken up the mantle of Seth and serve as priests and paladins to the god.
Elsewhere, the Thyzakkoni red orcs are said to have forsaken other gods for Set, the deceiver, who granted them mastery of dark magic in exchange for eternal worship. It is known that the red orcs have many relations with the serpent men of Hazer’Phennis, and there are even rumors of half-orcs crossbreeds that are part orc and part serpent man.
Language: All orcs know their native tongue, and some know others. Orcs have fairly easy access to Deep Speech (the common tongue of the underworld), as well as other racial languages of the Underworld.
Names: Orcs like names that exemplify their skill and prowess in battle, and terrify their enemies and rivals. The native form of their tongue sounds guttural, beastly, and is hard for humans to pronounce. They will often go for a translated name when among humans to ensure they know what the name means. The native and translated forms are both suggested below. Female orcs, rarely encountered outside of their highly patriarchal and misogynistic tribes, speak a different feminine dialect and prefer to name themselves after their own heritage, and things in nature. Finally, all orcs find their tribal name to be important, and attach it at the end of their title.
Tribal Names: Bloody Hands, Poison Claws, Chaos Spirits, Demon Wolves, Harrowers.
Translated Names: Killer of Halflings, Eater of the Dead, Wolf Runner, Elf Slayer, Smashingskulls, Spinning Spear, Rending Guts.
Gutteral Translation: Okai, Agrabud, Gazkath, Vyghoar, Raghach, Megroath, Gobban.
Female Names: Syba, Trythabin, Shemi, Vryllats, Meerkas, Chem.
Adventurers: There are some orcish professions which allow orcs to interact with men and not find themselves constantly in conflict. Orcish mercenary companies are an unpleasant but accepted norm in the Octzellan lands, and are greatly valued in Souther Hyrkania and Blackholm. Indeed, orcs are considered acceptable citizens in Blackholm, which also recruit from the chaos-kin for cheap shock troops. Orcs move freely amongst the societies of the Underworld, as well, and can always find a safe haven in their controlled territories, which include the Halale Wilderness and Mira’s Forest, the Silver Mountains, some tracks along the northern Iron Mountains, and large expanses in the north.
Half-orcs and orcs can be played in 4E using the standard racial rules for both as given; apply the following modifiers by racial subtype if desired.
The surface dwelling gray orcs are the most acculturated with humanity, and are the likeliest source of half orc cross breeds brought about by voluntary relations (yes, amazingly). They are remarkably agreeable being as orcs go, with a culture dominated by a sense of pride and a belief that though they were, indeed born of an idiot god’s confusion that they can aspire to be much more. This racial pride has allowed for a fairly unusual conversion in recent years, as an orc named Naradaon claiming to be an avatar of the agrarian god Seth has set about to converting his people to a different faith, moving them away from the chaos cults. The results have varied, but many tribes in the region of Ocentash have now become friendly to humans and elves and are seeking to pursue the dictates of the pacifistic god Set. Ironically, the first orcish temple in the Hexerei Mountains is militant, staffed by a dedicated handful of orcish warriors who have become paladins in the name of Seth. Naradaor has not scolded them for such antics, seeing instead that it is necessary for the warlike nature of the orcs to find an expression, and doing through so through the adoption of an honor-based military caste form may be the logical means of helping the orcs cast off the yoke of chaos.
Gray orcs are distinguished by their more humanoid looking features, with the shortest snouts of their kind amongst the men. Female gray orcs rarely have distinct snouts at all, but pronounced tusk-like incisors instead. They have dusky gray skin and patchy hair, usually gray or white.
The barbarian tribes of the blue orcs are strongest within Mitra’s Woods, and they have a long, sordid history as rising to the occasion for any chaotic armies that need assembly in the name of evil. Blue orcs are the most tribal and violent of all the orcish tribes, though a few noted individuals in history have outgrown their violent heritage. Blue orcs are mostly barbarians, although they have many shamanic clerics dedicated to various demon gods and Baragnagor especially. There is a surge of worship amongst the tribes of the Cults of the Kraken, the ancient prehistoric order of primal gods that are said to still slumber beneath the earth. Indeed, the ruins of Old Chegga harbor a direct entrance to once of the subterranean prisons of these terrible beings. The orcs do not know what the Kraken is, merely that it is ancient and powerful, and grants their shamans profound power through its terrible dreams.
Blue orcs are the most bestial in appearance of their kind, often with great guts and massive crocodilian craws hanging beneath their long pig-like chins. Their women are just as notoriously disgusting, although occasional tales abound of valorous gray orcs “liberating” female blue orcs who are actuall comely (by gray orc standards) from their blue orc clansmen who deserve, according to the gray orcs, only the most porcine and protuberant female kin in their bed skins.
· Blue orcs receive a +2 racial modifier to Nature skill checks related to or in their native lands of Mitra’s Forest and the greater Halale Wilderness.
The Red orcs are a distant off-shoot of orcs that are dedicated to Set, the god of evil, and they are the most magically gifted of their kind. The Red orcs have the smallest overall population, being conservative in their breeding efforts, though ironically they are the only orcs who have a proper balance of males to females, as well. These orcs are spread among many tribes, and seek power in the control of their lesser kin, rather than the consolidation of their tribes in to concentrated power groups. Some believe their magical talents have a side effect of making it difficult for red orcs to produce offspring, but others more rightly suspect that the dilution of the blood with their lesser kin is the real result of so few of their kind.
Red orcs are the least bestial of their kind, with more ape-like faces and bodies than other orcs. They are exceptionally gifted with magic, and few of their kind are unable to perform at least a few simple spells.
· Red Orcs are treated somewhat differently than normal orcs, and have normal average intelligence.
· They get a +2 racial modifier to the bluff and intimidation skills.
· Red orcs are commonly gifted with arcane or divine talent. Regardless of starting class, a red orc character must choose wizard, sorcerer, cleric or some other spell-casting class as his favored class. A red orc may choose a martial class to start, but must then use a feat to multiclass in to an arcane or divine class.
Amongst the many species of orcs are occasionally born anomalous greater orcs, the Gul’Hlath, called black orcs for their blackish tar-colored skin. These are chaos infused beasts, great in strength, and they are coveted for a military prowess that seems inherent.
Black orcs are born of other orcish stock, and when this happens, they are almost always seen as a gift from Baragnagor. Only a few orcish chieftains will kill such babies outright, usually in fear, and only if they can get away with it. Usually, the child is immediately taken from the parents and put in to a warrior’s fraternity, such as the Bloody Hands or the Screaming Skulls, and they become powerful warriors in short order, destined to rule the tribe as a warlord in the future.
· +2 natural armor bonus
· +2 racial modifier to intimdation and diplomacy
· Black orcs gain one bonus at-will power in the same manner as humans.
The northern orcs are a plague amongst the Autrengardian northern kingdoms, and are much like the Blyskanyu except for their more primitive tribal societies. Fell Manorgs are best described as being somewhat yeti-like, hairy white-furred beast men with beady black eyes and white-gray leathery skin underneath. They molt in the Summer and travelers in the north look for signs of their shed fur as a warning. Fell manorg are in all respects like normal orcs otherwise.
· Fell Manorg receive a +2 racial bonus to stealth checks in a snowy environment.
· Fell Manorg are an isolated and xenophobic lot, and receive a -2 modifier to all diplomacy skill checks when dealing with other demi-humans.
· Fell Manorg may never start with another language other than orcish, goblin, minotaur, giantish or draconic.
· All Fell Manorg start off illiterate (which precludes them from starting at 1st level as a wizard), and must acquire the Linguist feat to buy this off with one language slot per language they desire to read and write.
· Fell Manorg warriors usually belong to a hunter’s society dedicated to specific prey. The most famous such society are called the Thro’Skaldar, and they revere Wolfon, lord of the hunt. Members of this order tend to be rangers, wardens and avengers, who specifically seek to hunt and slay humans. Needless to say this makes for a better NPC class option, unless your entire adventuring group is full of nonhumans!
· Fell manorg hate Hettanari, Zuedians and Autrengardians (the northern kingdoms of men) with a passion.
The goblinoid green orcs of Amech are savage primitives, dwelling both above and beneath the surface of their remote jungle enclaves, warring unceasingly upon man. They are degenerate throwbacks, but considered by some the closest to the progenitor god Baragnagor. Amenanyu are almost always barbarians and shamans when choosing a class.
Amenanyu are so crocodilian in their facial features that they are sometimes mistaken for short lizardmen. Their lack of scales and excessive body hair usually gives away their true natures, however.
· Green Orcs are natural experts at jungle camouflage and survival, and receive a +2 racial modifier to all Nature, Stealth and Perception rolls in a jungle environment.
· Green Orcs are very disagreeable with other demi-humans, and receive a -2 Diplomacy skill modifier with all normal demihumans and humans (but not other orcs and monsters).
Text of "Orcs of Lingusia" copyright 2011 by Nicholas Bergquist, all rights reserved
Text of "Orcs of Lingusia" copyright 2011 by Nicholas Bergquist, all rights reserved