Orcs are the 2nd most populous race of Onathien, after humans. They are one of the original 5 races, have their own pantheon of gods and for many years were the most powerful and dominant race in the world.
Orcs are steeped in tradition and reverence of their ancestors. Their reluctance to change their ways and embrace advances in technology (such as metal work) has seen them secede the mantle of power to the more ambitious humans. The size and power of orcs results in humans, elves and dwarfs being wary when in their presence, however orcs are no more likely to cause harm to a stranger than any other race.
Orcs are on average slightly taller than humans, around 6’ 2” being the norm for a healthy male. They are broad of shoulder, possess a slightly stooped gait and have a thicker and more dense bone structure, which often leads to powerful physiques. Their skin colour ranges from a grey/green to a very light grey, that under certain light conditions looks almost pure white.
Two of their lower jaw teeth are quite large and grow to fangs in their adolescent. They grow facial hair similar to humans, however baldness is more common amongst orcs. Hair colour generally ranges from black to red/browns, however on occasion, an orc cub will be born with pure white hair. More often than not this indicates the cub is marked with the gift of commune and they grow into Shamans.
Orcs tend to be divided into clans. Immediate family is not a concept orcs hold dear, they will much sooner identify themselves with their clans than their family. Orc cubs are grouped together from a very young age and the raising of young ones is a shared responsibility amongst the clan. This ensures orcs from the same clan are taught the same values and beliefs and also means the loss of a parent or sibling is no where near as keenly felt as those of other races.
A clan will have a single chieftain that is normally the most powerful male warrior. In more recent times there have been occasions where an orc with guile and cunning can lead a clan, one who is able to negotiate with other races and manipulate other more powerful warriors into his servitude however he is often running a fine line and must always be on his guard. Shamans very seldom lead clans. They prefer to be advisors and provide spiritual guidance to clan chieftains.
There is often good will between clans and usually an orc will side with an orc of another clan against someone from a different race unless the two clans have diametrically opposing views. Wars between clans are not uncommon however such conflicts are normally short lived and once the initial dispute is resolved the clans normally become friendly once again. Shamans as a rule are not warlike and during times of conflict between clans they are often working behind the scenes to come to a diplomatic solution.
Orcs record their history on large parchments that are referred to as ancestral scrolls. The scrolls detail the rich history of the clan, its triumphs, defeats, achievements and disasters. Orcs, more than any other race learn from their past. Ancestral scrolls are passed on from generation to generation and are the most valuable possession of any orc clan.
On the occasion of major wars between clans the victor has been known to destroy the scrolls of a vanquished foe. However this only occurs in the most extreme circumstances where the hatred between the clans is beyond reproach. The destruction of ancestral scrolls is utterly devastating for any surviving clan members, many of whom will take their own lives rather than live on without that sense of identity.
Haksa - Orc Shaman
Shamans hold a special place in orc society as they provide direct commune to the orc gods. Their counsel is often sort and normally followed, even by the most powerful orc chieftains. Even though the Shamans hold such a elevated position they are very rarely leaders, that position is normally reserved for the most powerful warrior of the clan.
A clan’s shamans are entrusted with the protection and upkeep of its ancestral scrolls, a task they are given immediately upon their identification as having the gift from an early age. The gift can reveal itself in many ways, pure white hair or skin, a pupil less eye or even a physical mark upon the skin. Regardless of the manifestation the gift is always the same, the ability to commune with the orc gods.
Kruul - Orc Witchdoctor
Witchdoctors are relatively new to orc society, the first ever was Krognar, one of the 5 champions sent to the Shadow Plane at The Gathering, some 300 years ago. Since Krognar, many young orcs with the gift have turned their back on their ability to commune with the old gods to gain favour from Krognar, who they believe is the one true orc god.
Whereas shamans provide wise counsel and promote peace, witchdoctors denounce the orc gods and promote war and conflict. Witchdoctors believe orcs were destined to rule the world only to lose their way and sucede power to the other races.
The rivalry between witchdoctors and shamans is the biggest threat to the orc race in his history. It is based on a similar dilemma all the races of Onathien face, the struggle between the old gods and the new upstart demigods.