Orcs


Orc society was based in tribal roots from it's beginning, but rose to be one of the most advanced and peaceful societies in the early history of Onathien. During the centuries before the Old Gods rose to prominence their Shamans began to explore the mysteries of life and death, compiling great stories that related the knowledge from generation to generation. This knowledge was not only conveyed by word, but by use of colouration and markings on the skin of the Orcs themselves. Orc's dye their skin from a young age with dyes that last for months, the colours changing as they develop and their life moves on. Colours are used to reflect their clan, their personal heritage, profession, even their hopes and aspirations. Additional markings are used that are likewise rarely permanent. The re-inscription of markings onto skin reinforces the history of the individual, allows them time for introspection and meditation and results in slow change to the historical legends of their race. 

The rise of the Old Gods initially had little impact upon Orc society, the primal elements had always been a focus of Shamanic lore and it wasn't really untill war began to spread accross Onathien that change began to come to the Orcs. As the Old Gods bought more war and death to Orc society a new type of Shaman arose. These mystics focussed much more intently on death and became commonly referred to as Witch Doctors. They were among the first true followers of Edarr to walk Onathien and even they perhaps did not realise the significance of their beliefs to the future of the plane. Their rise drove a wedge into the cracks in Orc society that were opening under the pressures of war. Martial prowess had not been widespread within Orc society, skills of warfare simply were not needed and were hence not highly valued. 

Under the doctrine of the witch doctors warriors were highly valued indeed. They were seen as bringers of death, honoured servants of Edarr. That message resonated with younger Orcs, raised in a time of war, among people that were obviously ill-equipped to fight. They came in numbers to serve the witch doctors and the Orcs very suddenly developed a military force that rapidly drove back their enemies and began invasions of their own, driving deep into areas of land that Orcs had never seen or desired. 

When Edarr came to Onathien and the true nature of her threat was revealed, Orc society shattered. The Shaman's recognised her doctrine for how truly self-destructive it ultimately must be and they pronounced a sentence of exile upon the Witch Doctors, sparking an immediate civil war. 

The numbers were on the side of the Shaman, since Witch Doctors were seen as a radical force from their very origins, but the skill in battle was on the side of the Witch Doctors. The war raged for as long as Edarr strode the plane, Orcs on both sides died in their thousands, entire clans were erased from the racial memory forever. 

Then Edarr fell. 

The civil war ended overnight, transitioning instead into a mass exile of those who had followed the Witch Doctors. There was no heart left in the Orcish people, no will to chase down and finish off those who fled, the clans simply collapsed into themselves, to mourn what was lost and attempt to rebuild what had fallen. 

For the next few decades the Witch Doctors were persecuted on sight, driven from villages and reviled by all, forced to live in secluded villages deep in the forests or high in the mountains. Yet time heals even the deepest wounds and slowly the Orc society found a place again for the Witch Doctors. Their knowledge concerning death was still valuable and they soon began to find a home presiding over funeral rites and tending to the sick and wounded. 

The returned Witch Doctors were far more peaceful in nature than their predecessors, the fall of Edarr having broken the certainty that had driven them before. They are now considered a normal part of Orc society, the flip side to the Shaman though not nearly as revered. It is not unheard of for a Witch Doctor to become a Shaman in later life, though the two paths seem very different from the outside. 

The other legacy of the war was harder to shake, harder to reconcile. "The bringers of death" as they had come to be known, were a new breed of warrior. Young Orc's so focussed on battle that when Edarr fell they were left with nothing in their lives. These young warriors wandered Onathien, unwilling or unable to settle into villages. They found homes in the many wars that still raged accross Onathien following the fall and those who survived long enough eventually found themselves in mercenary warbands, selling their skills and building the reputation of the Orcish berserker.