Orcs Species in KELLDORIA (DRAGON REALMS) | World Anvil
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The Orc

The Godsworn   To feel the thunder of orcish war drums outside the gate and to hear a chorus of voices growling, "Gruumsh!" is the nightmare of every civilized place in the world. For no matter how thick its walls, skilled its archers, or brave its knights, few settlements have ever withstood a full-scale onslaught of orcs.   Every soldier who lives through a fight with orcs tells of confronting a hulking foe that can cleave through a warrior with a single blow, part of a force that can cut down enemies as though they were trembling stalks of wheat before the scythe. Only a skilled and determined hero can hope to survive single combat with an orc.   Savage and fearless, orc tribes are ever in search of elves, dwarves, and humans to destroy. Motivated by their hatred of the civilized races of the world and their need to satisfy the demands of their deities, the orcs know that if they fight well and bring glory to their tribe, Gruumsh 'One Eye' will call them home to The Plane of Acheron. It is there in the afterlife where the chosen ones will join Gruumsh and his armies in their endless extraplanar battle for supremacy.    

Life in The Tribe

  Orcs survive through savagery and force of numbers. Theirs is a life that has no place for weakness, and every warrior must be strong enough to take what is needed by force. Orcs aren't interested in treaties, trade negotiations or diplomacy. They care only for satisfying their insatiable desire for battle, to smash their faces and appease their gods.    

Booming Birth Rate

  In order to replenish the casualties of their endless warring, orcs breed prodigiously (and they aren't choosy about what they breed with, which is why such creatures as the Half-Orc and Half-Thull are found in the world). Females that are about to give birth are relieved of their other roles and taken to the lair's whelping pens, where they are tended to by the followers of Luthic 'The Cave Mother'.   Orcs don't take mates, and no pair-bonding occurs in a tribe other than at the moment when coupling takes place. At other times, males and females are more or less indifferent toward one another. All orcs consider mating to be a mundane necessity of life, and no special significance beyond that is imparted to it.   At 4 years old an orc is considered a juvenile, and by age 12 it is a fully functioning adult. Most orcs don't live past the age of 50, most living to about 25 years old due to battle or illness, but orcs are Immortal. Luthic's Divine Blessing can further extend an orc's life beyond the age of 50, by properly healing old wounds and curing diseases, though Gruumsh is never happy when she uses this power and tends to frown upon the one so 'Blessed'.  

Future Warriors

  Young orcs must mature quickly in order to survive their perilous upbringing. Their early years are fraught with tests of strength, fierce competition and nothing in the way of maternal or paternal love. From the time a child can wield a stick or a crude knife, it asserts itself and defends itself while learning to fight, to survive in the wild, and to fear the gods.   The children that can't endure the rigours of a life of combat are culled from the main body of the tribe, taken into the depths of the lair, and left for the followers of Yurtrus 'The White Handed' or Shargaas 'The Night Lord' to accept or reject. A fully grown orc warrior is well prepared for a lifetime of combat.  

Tribes like Plagues

Orcs gather in tribes that exert their dominance and satisfy their bloodlust by plundering villages, devouring or driving off roaming herds, and slaying any humanoids that stand against them. After savaging a settlement, orcs pick it clean of wealth and items usable in their own lands. They set the remains of villages, hamlets, farmsteads and camps ablaze, then retreat whence they came, their bloodlust satisfied.

Search, Destroy, Repeat

  When a tribe is on the move, orc warriors are commanded to scour the surrounding landscape for any opportunity to spill blood and bring glory to their gods. Often, bands of warriors work on rotation, with one group heading out on a raid just as another group returns, laden with severed heads, sacks of loot, and armfuls of food. Warriors also serve as scouts, bringing back detailed reports about the surrounding area so that the tribal chief can plan where to send raiders next.   The territory that orc war parties cover can extend for many miles around the lair, and any encampment or settlement of elves, dwarves, or humans in that area is at risk. If orcs come upon a target that is too large to assault directly, they will lurk along supply routes, taking out their frustration on caravans and travellers. Left unchecked, a tribe can subsist on this sort of prey and booty for quite some time.    

War Wagons

  Orcs pillage and scavenge wherever they go-everything is loot, and loot is always something to be proud of. In order to haul as much food and booty as possible back to the tribe's den (lair), every tribe has a sturdy war wagon. Since orcs are poor crafters, most of their wagons are stolen from human or dwarven strongholds, and then decorated with uniquely orcish accessories.   A war wagon is a source of great pride for a war chief, comparable to a human army's banner or flag. Many are clad in armour and festooned with garish trinkets and grisly trophies that hang from hooks and spikes. A war wagon makes a good shield against arrows when orcs besiege an elven fortress, and a heavily modified wagon could serve as a battering ram if a settlement dares to close its gates, blocking the way to the treasures and tasty food that lie within.   A heavily laden wagon that requires the strongest orcs to return it to the lair is a sign of great success. One that can be moved by the runts of the tribe is proof of a shameful performance.   The loss of a tribe's wagon can undermine the chieftain's authority and cause the tribe to collapse into chaos, with the survivors scattering either to join new tribes or to strike out on their own. At the other extreme, warriors that return home with a heavily laden wagon or after heroically defending it from thieves gain great respect and advance higher in the tribe's pecking order.  

Leadership And Might

  Orc tribes are mostly patriarchal, flaunting such vivid or grotesque titles as Many-Arrows, Screaming Eye, and Elf Ripper. Occasionally, a powerful Orc War Chief unites scattered orc tribes into a single rampaging horde, which runs roughshod over other orc tribes and humanoid settlements from a position of overwhelming strength.   Strength and power are the greatest of orcish virtues, and orcs embrace all manner of mighty creatures in their tribes. Rejecting notions of racial purity, they proudly welcome Thull's, Trolls, Half-Orc's, and Orog's into their ranks. As well, orcs respect and fear the size and power of evil giants, and often serve them as guards and soldiers.      

Orc Crossbreeds

  Luthic 'The Cave Mother', the orc goddess of fertility and wife of Gruumsh, demands that orcs procreate often and indiscriminately so that orc hordes swell generation after generation. The orcs' drive to reproduce runs stronger than any other humanoid race, and they readily crossbreed with other races. When an orc procreates with a non-orc humanoid of similar size and stature (such as a human or a dwarf), the resulting child is either an orc or a half-orc. When an orc produces young with a thull, the child is a half-thull of intimidating strength and brutish features called an orthul.

Basic Information

Growth Rate & Stages

At 4 years old an orc is considered a juvenile, and by age 12 it is a fully functioning adult. Most orcs don't live past the age of 50, most living to about 25 years old due to battle or illness, but orcs are Immortal.

Ecology and Habitats

Orcs will live and can withstand pretty much all environments, weather, and climates of the world.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Omnivore, but love meat especially humanoid.

Additional Information

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Darkvision 60ft.

Civilization and Culture

Major Language Groups and Dialects


Symbolic Communication

  Orcs have a written language adapted from that of the dwarves, but they aren't a literate culture and rarely keep records or write down their thoughts. When orcs need to communicate in writing, they use crude symbols to convey basic information, such as "food stored here", "danger close", or "go this way". A orc raiding party might leave such a sign in its wake, as an aid to other warriors that travel through the same area later on. Mountain guides, druids, and rangers might be familiar with many of these symbols, enabling them to keep their charges from inadvertently stumbling into a tribe's territory.

Culture and Cultural Heritage

Orcs live in constant fear of their gods, and their behaviour is rooted in that mentality. They believe that they can see the influence of the gods everywhere in the world around them, and the priests of a tribe are entrusted with the responsibility of identifying these signs and omens-both good and bad-and deciding how the tribe should react to them.   As a race, orcs have no noteworthy universal social traits, but some commonality does exist in the crude written communication that all orcs employ and in the way that they use pigments to decorate and distinguish themselves and their lairs.    

Omens, Superstitions And Beliefs

  Orcs believe that any seemingly unimportant discovery or event-a bear's claw marks on a tree, a flock of crows, or a sudden gust of wind-might be a communication from the gods. If the tribe has encountered a similar omen before, the priests understand how to interpret it, but if a sign from the gods has no clear explanation, the priests might have to meditate for hours or days to get a vision of its meaning.   Every group of orcs has particular superstitions and recognizes certain omens. These tenets vary from tribe to tribe, and are often based in events that the tribe has experienced. Below are a few examples:  
  • If a dwarf or a human invokes its god upon dying, you must carry the corpse's ears for three days to ward off any retribution, and then bury or burn them.
  • Three ravens is always a good sign.
  • It is good luck to spit where you are about to sleep.
  • Gnome bones can ward off diseases if they are worn.
  • Don't stand inside a ring of stones, mushrooms, or any other kind of circle.
  • Seeing a shooting star before a battle is bad luck. To ward it off, you must swallow a stone.
  • A tribute of elf ears brings favour from Gruumsh.
  • If you bury five stones at dwan before a long journey, you will always find your way back to the war hearth.
  • Stomping your foot three times and uttering "Gruumsh" wards off bad magic.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

Colours of Conquest

  Three colours have special meaning to all orcs, and they adorn their bodies, possessions, and lairs with pigments that produce those hues. Red ochre is used to represent Blood, grayish-white ash to represent Death, and charcoal to represent Darkness.   The unwritten laws that govern the status of individual orcs within a tribe are manifested to a degree in how each orc uses these colours on itself and its personal items. For instance, the chief of one tribe might be the only one that has the right to stain its tusks with red ochre, while the warriors of another tribe rub streaks of ash into their garments to signify their safe return from a raid.
Humanoid (Orc)
25 to 50 years of age.
Average Height
from 4ft to 7ft (Averaging 5ft 6")

All Are Fighters

  Most of the orcs that stay behind when the warriors go on their raids are weaker than their tribe mates or otherwise not suited for a life of battle. Worshipers of Luthic fall into this category, as do some of those that revere Yurtrus or Shargaas. But even these orcs are trained in combat, and all of them are expected to act like warriors if the lair is attacked or threatened. Their numbers are augmented by any orogs in the tribe, which are primarily responsible for making sure that the lair is protected from intruders.    

Special Enemies

  When orcs attack a settlement of humans or halflings, they will kill anyone who presents a threat, but they are more interested in grabbing plunder and food rather than in wanton slaughter. The elderly, children, and many who seem weak or meek enough might escape death. If they leave the population more or less intact, the orcs leave themselves the option of returning to raid the community over and over.   When orcs fight elves, all of that changes. The enmity between the two races cuts to the core, and no orc will leave an elf alive. Orcs become so frenzied in combat against elves that they forget all about taking loot and valuables back to the tribe-the only trophies of any worth are the heads of their enemies.   Orcs treat dwarves somewhat differently from other foes, because they covet the homes that dwarves fashion for themselves. If a tribe succeeds in fighting its way into a dwarfhold, the orcs will butcher any dwarf that stands against them, but it's really all about the property- they would be just as happy if all the dwarves ran away.    

Strength Respects Strength

  Orcs appreciate physical prowess and formidable combat ability in any form. As such, they might accept other creatures into their ranks from time to time. Orcs have been known to associate with were-creatures (Lycanthropes), Wereboar's more so than others, and Ettin's, both creatures that can markedly improve a tribe's murderous efficiency. For a promise of sufficient food and loot, a Troll might accompany a tribe temporarily.   A group of orcs can be dominated by evil creatures of immense power, and they accept this subservient role either because they are forced to or because it offers them a measure of security while they engage in their savagery. Green Dragon's, for instance, sometimes use orcs as sentinels or shock troops. Orcs are sometimes attracted to the service of Frost Giant's or Fire Giant's, who then "reward" their loyalty by turning them into slaves.   If a tribe is defeated and driven from its lair, the survivors might come under the sway of a strong but dimwitted creature, such as a Hill Giant or a Thull. It is also not unheard of for an exceptionally strong and charismatic evil human to lead stray orcs that no longer have a tribe to call their own.    

When Tribes Team Up

  An orc tribe typically has no more than a few hundred members, because a larger group would need a prohibitive amount of resources to remain strong. As a rule, a tribe is violently hostile toward any other tribe it meets, seeing the rival orcs first and foremost as competitors for food and victims.   On some occasions, though, tribes that have a common concern band together. The result is an orc horde-a sea of slavering killers that washes over the countryside and leaves vast tracts of devastation in its wake. Such an event is rare in the extreme, but its consequences can lay low entire nations that are unable to stand against the wave.

Articles under Orcs


Author's Notes

The Original Article from Volo's Guide to Monsters 5e By Wizards of The Coast (WoTc), and The Original Article from The Monster Manual 5e By Wizards of The Coast (WoTc).

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