The Orcs’ Lore Rework

As some of you may know, I have been reworking the Orcs’ Lore for some time now whilst working on updating their models, as you can see with the new Orc Chariot Model I have just released HERE.

I have just about finished one of their myth-building stories, but before releasing that in a post for people to look at, I thought I would release their race synopsis to give you a feel for what they would be like, and here it is underneath:

While an Orc may share some physical characteristics with Humans, such as having two legs and arms and a head on an upright body, the similarities between the two species end there.

Orcs are towering, hulking green creatures that possess robust, elongated trunks, short, sturdy legs, and immensely powerful, sinewy arms. Even the shortest Orc stands several feet taller than the average human, their yellow and crimson eyes set deep within their narrow, bony foreheads and above a massive, muscular, square-shaped jaw. Their sharp, jagged teeth jut out from their mouths, stained a sickly brown and yellow from consuming blood, guts, and flesh. It’s not uncommon for older Orcs, who’ve lived their entire lives battling and scrapping, to have broken and gnarled teeth and faces covered in scars and cuts.

An Orc’s strength is so immense that they can easily pick up a man in full armour and tear him apart, limb by limb. That said, what truly sets them apart from other monstrous warriors their size, is the amount of punishment they can take before falling in battle and their unbelievable endurance levels. Many veterans recount stories of dogged Orcs in battle, fighting on after being peppered by hundreds of arrows or suffering gaping wounds, with their insides spilling out onto the field and still going strong. This near-invincibility makes Orcs a formidable threat to all who face them on the battlefield.

Orcs live for battle! While most beings would tremble at the thought of being thrown into the fray, these warriors view it as a chance to have a bloody good time and demonstrate their worth to their females. For them, fighting is not just a means of survival but a way of life. The thrill of combat courses through their veins, and they relish the chance to test their mettle against any foe.

On the battlefield, Orcs work themselves into a frenzy, letting out child-like war cries and charging towards the enemy at full speed. Their primitive clubs, axes, and hammers are waved high in the air as they engage in combat. The Orcs will repeatedly bash their enemies with these crude weapons until they are nothing more than a bloody pulp!

While Orcs may be fearsome warriors, they are not known for their intellect. In fact, their mental capacity is said to be no greater than that of a human child between the ages of ten and twelve passings. Their communication skills are limited to the odd word, accompanied by grunts and snorts, and their knowledge is mostly limited to bashing enemies with crude weapons. It’s worth mentioning that the Bulls and Tinkers of the tribe are slightly more intelligent than the rest of their brothers, but not by much.

Depending on their skills, low-ranking Orcs, otherwise known as ‘Grunts’, form gangs depending on their skills. Each Gang specialises in a particular skill. For example, one gang may specialise in archery, while another may be skilled at riding chariots. The ‘Tinkers’ are what the rest of their brothers call those who can craft the necessary items for their tribe’s survival. One Orc may be skilled at knotting ropes or leather strips, another at bending metal, and another at creating bone or metal bolts and pins. As Orcs do not keep slaves, the Tinkers’ skills are crucial to the tribe’s survival. Although an Orc Tinker may spend a lifetime perfecting their craft, their work is often of poor quality and soon needs repairing or even replacing altogether. Nevertheless, they take great child-like pride in their creations.

The most formidable Orcs are the Bulls, who stand taller, possess greater strength, and exhibit higher intelligence than their brethren. Among hundreds of grunts born, only a rare few ever develop into Bulls. If a Bull proves difficult to control as he reaches maturity, his father will banish him from the caravan, forcing him to seek other mates in another tribe. Conversely, if a young Bull demonstrates potential, his domineering Iron Mother may trade him with another caravan for entire gangs of Grunts or half a passings’ worth of meat. Or she could marry him off to build an alliance with another powerful Iron Mother.

Female Orcs, known as “Snorts” among their kin, are towering and grotesque creatures covered in slime, blotches, and crude jewellery made from bones, iron, and sometimes gold. Their corpulent bodies pulsate with hundreds of young within them, making it difficult for them to move around. In order to support their immense bulk, they are carried in massive carts constructed from iron and bones, filled with putrid liquid that sustains their hulking bodies. Due to their massive size, it would be impossible for them to support their own weight, so they spend their lives submerged in these disgusting pools. Survivors of encounters with Snorts describe them as monstrous and terrifying, with their mere presence inducing feelings of revulsion and fear.

Depending on a Snort’s status, her huge cart is often adorned with skulls and other treasures plundered by her best sons. The Snort with the largest cart, constructed with the most metal, holds the title of the Caravan’s “Iron Mother” and is the undisputed leader. Outdoing her cart is seen as a significant challenge to her authority and can lead to bloodshed.

The vile and disgusting liquid the Snorts live in is a slurry of rotten blood, guts, flesh and excrement. Despite the repugnant surroundings, the Snorts give birth to countless Noms, the Orc young, who seem unharmed by their environment.

The insatiable hunger of the Snorts’ young never wanes, and it is the responsibility of the Snort’s sons to satiate their appetite. They hurl countless carcasses of beasts and men into the pool of Noms, some of which are still alive. In a matter of moments, the Noms swarm and tear the flesh from the bones, leaving no trace of their meal behind.

Despite their monstrous appearance, Snorts are much more intelligent than their sons and husbands. Some very brave traders and lucky survivors who have escaped an Orc Caravan report that the Iron Maidens have minds as sharp as any human scholar or even a long-lived wizard.

One might think that given the males’ natural strength and ferocity, they would be the natural leaders of their kind, but that assumption is very wrong. Snorts rule over their caravan with an iron fist. No grunt or bull, no matter their station, will ever question a snort’s command, as they all feel compelled to obey the females, no matter their desires. Even though the snorts’ numbers are just a fraction of their brothers’, a good-sized caravan will have at least five to twelve females.

Snorts may rule over the caravans, but they are far from equal in status. There are the “Maidens,” who birth the many grunts, warriors and tinkers the caravan needs for its survival. Then there are the Iron Maidens, the unquestionable leaders of the caravans. As for those females that live long enough to become infertile and are not murdered by one of their daughters in a bloody power grab, they become a “Grar.” These old hags are highly respected and revered, even by other females, as their withered, dead wombs pose no threat to the younger generations of Snorts. A caravan’s Grar will most likely have been its ruler in their younger years, which makes them a valuable source of experience an Iron Mother can draw upon when they need council.

Orcs have no natural ability with magic. Instead, they must consume what is commonly known as ‘Tears’ that grant them the ability to cast spells. A ‘Tear’ is magic given solid form, coloured blue, and usually takes the shape of a tear that would fall from one’s face, hence their name. No one knows how tears form or where they come from. Some say they are the weeping tears from the gods, and others say they bleed into this plane from the Great Toil. However, it’s a prized resource by wizards and manaquill writers, who grind it up and use it as magical ink. The magic smiths with no natural magical ability, such as the Dwarfs, also covet tears, as it would be impossible to craft their magical items without this precious resource.

For some reason, an abundance of tears can be found in the Black Lands, the homeland of the Orcs’. Unlike other races of Many, the green skins do not use it to craft magical items, nor do they use it as an ink to write out magic scrolls. Instead, their females eat it, which temporarily fuses their bodies with substantial magical energy, giving them the ability to see the Ether and control it. In other words, to cast spells.

If other races were to consume even a small amount of a tear, the black waters of the Veil would soon take them away from this Plain. However, Orcs are uniquely placed to both benefit from tears and have the physiology to cope with such a toxic substance. That said, overdosing on tears, as they often do, can warp their young magically, staining them blue and scrambling their minds, leaving them totally insane, even by Orc standards.

Iron Mothers and Grars seem to have an unlimited supply of tears to consume. This valuable resource is never wasted on grunts and bulls. They may be more resistant to its toxic effects than their sisters, but they do not have the intelligence to take advantage of the tears’ effects to cast spells. Occasionally, a Snort who shows promise or is the Iron Maiden’s current favourite is given tears so that they can learn the ways of magic from their elders.

Not only do Snorts gain magical abilities from consuming tears, but like other users of magic, their ageing is also slowed. In fact, there are no records of a Grar dying of old age.

Iron Mothers can become exceptional magic casters given their extremely long lives, intelligence, and the number of tears they consume.

A Snort can marry as many husbands as she desires, though no Orc will tolerate incest, even if commanded by their mother. So even the powerful Iron Maidens must allow their maidens to wed the lesser gangs to produce fresh blood for the caravan. Furthermore, a Snort will wed an entire gang, not just one male in the band. That said, a Snort will only mate with the leader of the gang, whoever that might be.

Bulls and Grunts will obey and protect their Snorts at all times, even at the cost of their own lives. However, if a Snort wishes to earn absolute loyalty and devotion, they must take them as their mate. The more influential and dominant the Snort is, the more valuable her “Husbands” will be. As a result, an Iron Mother, being the most powerful and respected Snort in the caravan, will have the most marriages, including the most dominant bull, the Saws (her personal bodyguard and the best warriors), and other key gangs in her tribe.

A Snort can marry as many husbands as she desires, though no Orc will tolerate incest, even if commanded by their mother. So even the powerful Iron Maidens must allow their maidens to wed the lesser gangs to produce fresh blood for the caravan. Furthermore, a Snort will wed an entire gang, not just one male in the band. That said, a Snort will only mate with the leader of the gang, whoever that might be.

Breeding equals power in the caravans. Therefore, an Iron Mother closely controls the mating habits of her Snorts. If a Snort’s husbands become too numerous, it could pose a threat to the Iron Mother’s authority and lead to a bloody coup. Still, it is important to keep the caravan well-stocked with a diverse range of Orcs to ensure its survival. In the event of a battle or a particularly violent coup that results in the loss of entire gangs of Orcs, the Iron Mother may have to make a deal with another caravan’s Iron Maiden to acquire new blood and maintain the caravan’s strength. Otherwise, their caravan risks falling apart and grinding to a halt.

Orcs indeed have a warlike nature, but they are not constantly at war with each other. This is because they all acknowledge the authority of their Iron Queen Mother, the matriarch of all Orcs in the Black Lands. She holds the highest position of power and is responsible for maintaining order among the Orcs.

While there may be occasional skirmishes between different caravans, any blood feud that gets out of hand, the Iron Queen Mother puts a stop to it, and woe betide any Iron Mother who does not heed her warning!

Grunts and Bulls revere their Iron Queen, as she is the one who speaks to the Shadow Mother, the Orcs deity. The Snorts fear Her Highness and would never question her openly. However, given the nature of Snorts, it is likely that in the shadows, away from prying ears, mothers may share secrets to plot and scheme for the downfall of their Queen, in the hopes of taking her place.

The Iron Queen Mother’s royal caravan rarely ever leaves the Black Lands or even moves, as it does not need to. Her Highness will send out her lesser caravans across the Middle Plain to raid and pillage to bring back her tribute of blood and iron she demands.

The Orcs hold their homeland sacred as part of their devotion to the Shadow Mother and believe that straying too far from it is a bad omen. Nevertheless, they regularly venture out into the rest of Many to raid and pillage, always returning to their beloved Black Lands. In recent times, however, the Orc caravan’s range has been expanding further and further from their borders, driven by a hunger for fresher meat and greater spoils.

Depending on the Iron Queen Mother’s mood, from time to time, she will order the destruction of some puny kingdom of “meat bags” who call themselves Men or Dwarfs. Her Highness will send out a massive war host of dozens of caravans to wipe out that pesky kingdom and bring those “meat bags” back for a great feast, where they will be the main course.

Soon after the ruthless Iron Queen Mother decides to attack a kingdom, reports of brutal attacks by towering, hulking green monsters start pouring in from the outer villages and towns of the realm. The attackers leave nothing but slaughter shattered wood, and broken stone in their wake. The kingdom’s armies are sent out to face the invaders but never return.

Then, one turn, at the break of light, the giant green hulks bring their huge iron and bone caravan carts filled with their hungry Snorts and Noms to the foot of the capital. At the head of the caravans sits an Iron Mother who wastes no time in hurling deadly dark magic at the walls, bringing them crashing down along with the men defending them. Hundreds of her sons and brothers, clad in bone and scale armour, wielding huge clubs, axes, and hammers, flank her on each side. The Iron Mother’s best sons, the Saws, are covered in thick metal armour and carry long iron blades stained with the blood of hundreds of battles.

The green hordes also bring to battle terrifying creatures that truly are monstrous! Their Beast Masters herd huge black and grey spiders with fangs as long as your legs, ripping with lethal venom. Enormous-scaled creatures with snapping jaws that look like horses pull their iron and bone chariots around the field. To the terror of the men, the orcs have also brought trolls, towering behemoths that can smash city gates with blows from their clawed hands.

After breaching the city gates and causing its defenders to flee for their lives, the grisly fate of the Orcs’ victims becomes all too clear. Men, women, and children are ruthlessly devoured, while others are taken captive and later used as a source of sustenance. The raiders systematically strip the city of its valuables, wasting nothing. With their carts loaded with spoils, the victorious caravan returns home to pay their due to their ever-greedy Iron Queen.

All feedback is very much welcome, and thanks for popping by


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