Orcs are aggressive, callous, and domineering. They are violent, and respect strength as the highest of virtues. They are not necessarily evil, but their brutish nature makes them generally feared and hated by other races. Thus, Orcs are rarely welcome among civilized lands, instead forming tribes and bands which live in the wilderness. Occasionally, a great Orcish nation rises under an exceptionally strong or charismatic leader, but these nations rarely last long.
Orcs are strong and physically imposing humanoids. They are approximately 6 to 6 and a half feet tall with broad shoulders, and weigh about 200 – 225 lbs. Orcs have grey or greenish-grey skin and coarse, dark hair. They have ram-like horns that protrude from their temples and curl behind their ears. Male orcs also have tusk-like teeth that protrude from their bottom jaws. Orcs have broad heads, flat faces and thick, heavy brows. Their small eyes are yellow-ish and bloodshot with red irises.
History and Culture
The Orcish history is not one, uniform affair, but rather it is that of a thousand orc tribes across Gaeldren.
Orcish culture, though similar, does have some attributes that are constant throughout the tribes. For example, most Orcs worship Beric, the Brawler, the Chaotic-Neutral god of strength, pride, and single combat. Orcish clerics devoted to Berric are known as Shamans, and a moderately sized Orc tribe will usually have at least one shaman.
Furthermore, Orc tribes are almost always ruled by the strongest member, which can only be determined one way: single combat. These fights for dominance among orcs are what have given rise to the stereotype of the brutal and savage monster. However, these fights, though they may appear savage to non-orcs, are actually very symbolic and ritualized. Though the exact details differ from tribe to tribe, the fights usually proceed as follows: First, an orc who wishes to become the new tribe leader challenges the current leader. The current leader is then obliged to accept, unless some external factor prevents them from doing so (for example, if he is injured or sick). Then, the fight would be held at sundown, around a great bonfire, with the rest of the tribe in attendance and forming a wide circle around the fire.. Usually, the two combatants are painted or otherwise ceremonially adorned in the style or regalia of the tribe or their specific family heritage, and generally some sort of ceremony or ritual is performed by the tribe’s shaman in the name of Beric, though, once again, the details of this ceremony would vary from tribe to tribe. The combatants would then begin the fight on either side of the fire pit, both unarmed, and armoured, and often naked. The two orcs then circle the fire, always staying opposite their opponent. The Orc that makes the first move must jump over the fire and through the flames to reach his opponent, and thus this circling stage of the fight is usually the longest, with each orc trying to wear the other down and looking for a weakness before delivering the first blow. Once the fighting begins, it is usually quick and brutal. A common misconception about orc leadership fights is that they are to the death, but this is not true, as either combatant may surrender at any time. However, if the challenger surrenders, he is placed at the mercy of the chief, who can either have him executed or exiled. Thus, the challenger usually will choose to fight to their death, as losing in single combat is considered an honourable death among orcs, and he would recieve an honourable funeral to Beric as such. If the old leader decides to surrender, he thereby relinquishes control of the tribe to the challenger, as well as all rights to challenge for leadership in the future, but he is allowed to live, and often times even given a place of honour as an elder of the tribe. After all, Orcs are not as savage as most people believe, and actually have a strong sense of honour, even if it only applies to others of their kind and to those few outsiders who earn their respect.