Orcs were a mammalian race of mortals native to Eidyn. They had grey skin and tended to be a bit taller in height than humans. They were omnivorous and had tough, leathery hands and feet adapted for rock climbing.
Orcs stood around 178 to 187 cm (5’10” to 6’2”) on average. They had grey skin, some with a more red tint, and sparse, thin body hair. Orcs usually had large, upturned nostrils for sniffing out scant food sources in their rocky, dry, former ocean homeland. They had large hands and feet, and had bristly hair that could range from white, grey, or black to shades of red or orange. Grey hair in orcs was not a trait of aging, but a natural-born hair color, which could lead to some confusion for humans and certain varieties of elf.
Orcs had fat deposits to help them stay nourished in their somewhat barren and desolate homeland, and as a result needed great strength to lift themselves up craggy rocks and cliffs with all the extra weight.
Orcs were native to the Limestone Plains found in the Verdant Wilderness. During the Tribal Era, nearly 3,000 years before the Demon Wars, the orcs were expelled from their homelands by forces from what would later become Fraengal. From this point forward orcish civilizations lived primarily in exile in distant lands far from the historical homeland of orc kind.
Following the Orcish Exodus, many orcs dispersed into other regions of Eidyn, living on the edges of other societies. From this period forward, they typically faced ostracization, and found themselves outcasts. Other orcs traveled across the sea to the vast unexplored expanse of Khyorgan, hoping to escape persecution and found their own nations. The first orcish settlers in Khyorgan shored in Obreidhion, in the southeast of the new land.
The orcs found little relief from their persecution in Khyorgan, however. The native Khyorganese, including the primitive, swamp-dwelling Haazrade, the gruesome, monstrous Abominations, and the ferocious, warlike Qilin, treated the new arrivals with extreme brutality, whether human, orc, elf, or dwarf. The reclusive Sentinel Dragons were the only native faction which was not immediately hostile to the newcomers.
In addition to the hostility of the natives, orcs found themselves the frequent target of scorn by their fellow immigrants. Though elves, dwarves, and humans could all generally tolerate one other, this tolerance rarely extended to the orcs, and many settlers had brought their prejudices along with them on the journey from Eidyn. Many orcs here once again found themselves living on the fringes of society.
However, while some found little difference in their fate from what they had faced in Eidyn, others forged their own civilization in the heart of the Desert of Lexighor. While humans and elves colonized the fertile lands around them, these orcish tribes occupied barren, arid lands otherwise considered undesirable. Nonetheless, they persisted and survived the harsh conditions. These Orcish tribes would go on to be known as the United Orcish Tribes of Gorholl.
Later, Gorholl would be destroyed during the Demon Wars. Their contributions to this war went largely unappreciated, and did little to reform the orcish image in the eyes of the races of man. A much less powerful state, the Orcish Alliance of New Gorholl, took over administration of those remaining orcish settlements not destroyed in the war.
Orcs in the world
Gorholl was the cultural center of the “free” (or more derogatorily, “wild”) orcs who lived in their own lands and polities, in contrast to those who lived as small minorities in the margins of larger societies with a non-Orcish majority.
Gorholl’s orcs were some of the only orcs able to finance trips back to the ancient orcish ruins of the Limestone Plains to retrieve artifacts and relics. The “free” orcs of Gorholl developed their own culture, both from their lives in the harsh Desert of Lexighor, and from studying ancient Orcish society. They came to consider their culture as the one true orcish culture, and many looked down on those orcs who did not conform to Gorholl’s cultural viewpoints and philosophies.
Gorholl’s people had strict social roles and a pseudo-caste system. They were battle-hardened from years of fending off abomination and qilin raids on their homes, and highly valued warriors, as well as hunter-gatherers who sustained their people in the unforgiving desert. The only valid form of artistic expression for the Gorholl people was continuing the ancient orcish traditions - singing ancient songs from a tabula dug out of the limestone plains was acceptable, but writing a new song would be a ridiculous, childish, immature waste of time and energy, unless perhaps its sole purpose was to glorify a great warrior or describe the beauty of an ancient orcish ruin.
The Gorholl people were strictly collectivist, and with every major action taken in life one was expected to have a reason why it would benefit Orcish society at large, directly or indirectly. Individualism and free thought were seen as forms of mental illness.
Orcs once traded with the ancient Adonbaxi people, who were wary of them, but maintained peace from a distance due to the mutual threat they hoped to avoid from the Haazrade to the north. During the late Antiquity Era, close to a couple thousand years before the Demon Wars, the Empire of the Red Tower colonized what is now Amicalis, enslaving most of the races they found there, but opting to instead exterminate the orcs outright as they were not considered to be useful slaves.
Some orcs assisted the slave revolts that brought down the empire, and afterwards, orcs lived in relative acceptance in the new Earldom of Amicalis, but almost exclusively remained self-segregated to their own communities for thousands of years afterwards.
As the government expanded in the late Steam Age and early Diesel Age, competing interests in land and resources forced orcs to become more politically involved and seek more representation in the Amicalic government. Many orcs became more “civilized” and took on the behaviors and etiquette of the Tarrbuskan humans of Amicalis.
- Main article: Ogruna
After the orcs were forced from the Limestone Plains, some chose to hide themselves underground in the massive caverns below the mountains just south of Kronen. They developed in relative isolation from their brethren and in the 3,000 years since the rest of their kind was driven out, they developed a fairly sophisticated industrial civilization. They made use of iron, steel and mithril in elaborate underground forges. Their steelworks and machinery crossed over deep chasms that led to Subterra.
Ogruna had a long history of conflict with the wildlife that emerged from Subterra. As such, the vast majority of their military equipment was designed for taking down large, subterranean beasts moreso than other humanoids. Because of how dangerous these monsters were, Ogruna orcs from a young very age were taught to be warriors and hunters. While infighting between clans was common, the threat of the monsters of Subterra were usually enough for the Ogruna orcs to put aside their differences temporarily.
Upon the onset of the Demon Wars, the orcs suffered a major resource shortage as they closed themselves off from the surface to protect themselves against the demonic hordes. This forced Ogruna to dig deeper into Subterra. However, in doing so, Ogruna had uncovered an ancient stronghold led by an Arbiter named General Lucien. Having been disturbed by the orcs, General Lucien flew into a fury and waged war against Ogruna. Wielding the power of the long lost Worldstone, General Lucien tore Ogruna asunder threatening their civilization with extinction.
It took the intervention of the Freelancer, a mysterious entity from Kronen, to stop General Lucien. The Freelancer would then return the Worldstone to its previous owners - the Jad people of Leir. With the threat of the Arbiters quelled for the time, the orcs of Ogruna would spend the next few decades recovering. Kronen's assistance towards Ogruna during the Demon Wars prompted them to begin forming diplomatic relationships with other mortals on the surface.