Phys rep requirements: All skin should be green/brown. Prosthetics/mask and enlarged teeth are encouraged.
Role in the Empire: The barbarian foe at the gates
Maximum age: 50
Adult age: 12
How common are they: Uncommon in the Imperial Heartlands, but very common on the outskirts.
History in the Eternal Empire
Long ago, the orcs were driven out of the Eternal Empire as a punishment, not that they would see it that way. Orcs are proud and spirited and could never have submitted to the yoke of the elves. Rather, orc history has it that the elves enslaved the other species and only the orcs had the mettle to resist. They were cast out because the elves feared their spirit and indomitable will.
Exile meant being driven out into the wilderness, becoming nomadic, hungry and poor, but this was the crucible that forged the orcs into what they are now.
The orcs used to live in small tribes on the fringes of Imperial land. The tribes banded together for protection and to establish raiding groups which would attack Imperial settlements, learning nomadic ways and the rule of keeping their own numbers low so as to avoid detection. When a tribe was successful and numbers grew, most often it would split due to internal conflict. When a tribe dwindled it either disbanded, was killed by the Empire, or was subsumed into another tribe.
After the Fall
With the loss of the Eternal Empire, things have changed. Since the Empire no longer hunts down any signs of Orc unity and power as a threat to its own integrity, Tribes have begun to grow larger and bolder. Some tribes have even come together and are “settling down” to form villages and even some towns. On rare occasion, these tribes, villages and towns have started to cooperate on a larger scale.
Perhaps the most famous example of cooperation in this manner is called “Conclave,” a huge, but loose congregation of tribes and clans which hold influence over a large swathe of Southern Etris. In theory, Conclave could be called by any orc, or even any denizen of Etris, but only if those whose voices are recognised as worthy make the call will anyone actually answer it.
For most orcs, though, the Fall is a long time ago – ten or more generations have passed since the Empire fell. Most Orcs live in the present, a world where their strength and prowess are to be respected.
Orc Psychology & Outlook
Orcs are born selfish. Infant orcs will fight over the food their parents give them and since orcs are rarely born one at a time there is almost always competition. Pity the runt of the orc litter, doomed to a hungry and cold existence unless he works out a way to best his brothers through cunning.
This does not mean that orcs are unable to work as a team or cohesive unit. Rather it means that they will band together for tasks which are big enough to require a group, but when the task has been achieved they will fight over the reward. Orcish leaders are the rare few that can put their own wants and needs aside to hand equal shares of the spoils to their followers. Orcish leaders also live in constant fear of an attack from a subordinate. Frequently orcs travel together in loosely affiliated groups with each individual looking out for himself and the additional protection of numbers.
Orcs live very much in the present. The average orc dies at fifty, and as such a shortlived species they have a focus on achieving what they can in the time they’ve got. It is a common orc belief that the rest of the species waste the long lives they have. Orcs dislike downtime, standing around doing nothing and waiting for things to happen. Their battle plans seldom involve patience.
Stereotypes (and what isn’t)
By and large there are two stereotypes of the orcish species. The first is the bully; a physically large and powerful orc, brutal and savage in battle. The type of orc who grew up the biggest of his litter, then the biggest in his tribe. These orcs are typically bellicose and arrogant, believing in their own strength above all else because they simply haven’t encountered anything bigger and stronger than they are. Bullies seldom lead long lives, but are often remembered for their bravery in battle.
The second orcish stereotype is perhaps more dangerous. These are the cunning orcs: the ones who outwit their stronger and faster brothers by laying traps, or using words rather than steel as a weapon. These are the sly ones, and the ones more likely to be the leader of a tribe for a long time. Cunning orcs lead longer lives than bullies, but attain power quietly, without glory.
It is the stereotype that orcs are not well educated, and for the most part this would have been true during the time of the Eternal Empire and a couple of decades after it. However, as time has progressed, orcs have had more time for education and more access to learned members of other species. They now value information, but generally on practical matters… an old Fae proverb defines impossibility as “like trying to teach art to an orc.”
Attitude towards the other species
“They were kicked out by the Eternal Empire. We were kicked out by the Eternal Empire. Seems to me we’ve got something in common, even if they’re elves.” Though many of the speciess see the wood elves as untrustworthy, the orcs tend to see the enemy of their enemy as their friend. Wood elves who fell foul of the anarchy that followed the Fall found sanctuary with the orcs, though they often find themselves needing to “prove their worth” and achieve more than their fellows to be seen as productive.
“The Humans are what we’d be like if we’d agreed to be the lapdogs of the Empire. Our smallest runt’s got more spirit than their mightiest warrior.” Humans could be orcs if they had split from the Empire and endured uncountable years on the fringes looking in. As it was, Humans were used as slaves by the Empire, and many orcs have a hard time recognising the difference between Humanity as is and Humanity as was.
“If you can get Dwarf armour or weapons, do it. Doesn’t matter who you have to kill to get ‘em. Once you got ‘em, keep ‘em forever. Shame the Dwarves are so stuckup. We could learn from them.” Orcs respect dwarves for their practicality, but are often frustrated with their overly-long-term outlook and their materialistic outlook. Orcs generally feel that the dwarves were fooled into thinking they were special, when they weren’t.
“I ain’t never met a Fae I could understand.” Practical and lowbrow as they are, orcs have a hard time appreciating the highbrow and flighty Fae. While an orc can appreciate a song or the antics of a street performer as much as any species, these things are an amusement, and not a way of life.
“Sneaky liars, the lot of ‘em. Most of them worked for the Empire at some point or another so they’re doubly untrustworthy.” While most orcs understand spying and its purpose, fewer would appreciate the idea of a “career spy” as more than someone who tells lies for a living. The stereotype of the “sneaky goblin” is very much alive in the minds of most orcs
Living on the periphery of Imperial lands where the Empire didn’t tread, pre-Fall, orcs have seen their share of the other creatures that inhabit the world that were never Imperial. Seeing as how orcish history is mostly an oral tradition, they know far from everything. Instead, many orcs understand that there is more in the world than they know of and accept anything new or strange with a calm acceptance mixed with healthy suspicion.