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The Grim Folk

Many think of the far-flung and rarely-seen orcs as a race of brutal savages dedicated to war and destruction. They may well be primitive, but they do what it takes to survive among the windswept Dales, and many follow an intense code of tribal law and traditions that would seem unbecoming of their barbaric reputation. Some are stern wardens and protectors of their people, while others are marauders who take what they want by might. Most simply try to survive.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

  • Examples of male names include Barg, Burgash, Ghesh, Grumbar, Imsh, Jor, Kerkad, Krusk, Melech, Mhurren, Nybarg, Ront, Tarak, Thar, Ungran, Varg, and Yurk.
  • Examples of female names include Bilga, Dunja, Egreen, Gorga, Grigi, Huru, Ilga, Kansif, Murook, Myev, Nogu, Shautha, Thava, Vorka, and Yevelda.

Major Organizations

  • Orcs are organized by tribe in the Dales. They have a martial culture, ruled by chiefs that are typically some combination of strong warrior and skilled tactician.
  • Warriors make up the second-highest rank in society, followed by non-warriors, who are usually just hunter-gatherers.
  • The lowest level of society are slaves. Orcs have a complicated relationship with the institution of slavery; on the one hand, their god, Grom, makes slaves of his enemies in the afterlife, so some orcs believe slavery has been condoned from on-high. At the same time, Grom also encourages his followers to detest him and his example, so they might believe that slavery is, instead, totally unjustified. Its a complicated religion.

Beauty Ideals

  • Both male and female orcs value characteristics that lend themselves to physical strength; tall and broad builds, muscular limbs, etc.
  • Male orcs have small tusks on their lower jaw. Their function can be compared to a peacock's plumage, as large tusks are a sign of strength and potency.

Courtship Ideals

  • In many ways, orcish mating is sophisticated. Due to their culture's focus on independence and self-sufficiency, female orcs are also allowed to court males, or refuse to mate with suitors altogether.
  • However, orcs have also retained a primal aspect to their courtship: if two orcs wish to court the same mate, they must engage in ritual combat. These are usually grand events within the tribe, moderated by codes of conduct.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

  • Orcs speak Orcish, a language as old as their people. It bears many similarities to Giant.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

  • Gromism is the religion of the orcs, based on the teachings of their god, Grom. It is deeply unorthodox, in that it is predicated on the rejection of, rather than adherence to, religious doctrine. Adherents are called the Gromish.
  • Ritual combat is a strong component of orcish culture. Disputes are often settled this way, as if in a court of law in another kingdom. If one is challenged to a ritual fight, he is allowed to choose the weapon, but is almost never allowed to refuse the summons. On rare occasions, ritual combat may be fought to the death.

Common Taboos

  • Arcane magic is a contemptible art to the orcs. It signifies weakness of body and will, reserved only for those pathetic enough to need its power, and cowardly enough to want it.
  • Praying to Grom or directly asking him for guidance is forbidden by orcish religious practice. Doing so is not only a sign of weakness, but it is foolish enough to potentially invite the wrath of their god.


The orcish creation myth states that they are the avatars of a god that created them just so that he could cast them aside, hoping they would be strong and self-reliant for it. This provides the orcs' with their reputation as the Grim Folk, and explains why so many of them are prone to warlike behavior; self-reliance is their virtue, and victory is their currency. Like most of the other races of the Free Kingdoms, the orcs fell under the rule of the elves of Alphos, and joined forces with the other races to overthrow the Empire. Ever since then, they have lived in semi-nomadic tribes in the Dales.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Orcs view any people of more civilized society than theirs to be weak and dependent -- it just so happens that all of the Six Races are more traditionally civilized than the orcs. They hate the elves for their destruction of the Dales, and see their reliance on magic as contemptible. Dwarfs and orcs share a mutual distrust of outsiders; this fact, in combination with their geographic isolation, means that their relations are unfriendly at best. Orcs find humans and halflings mostly pitiable, but worthy of respect if they prove themselves. The Dale-Men, or folk from other martial cultures, are the most worthy in orcish eyes.
Orcs mature at the same time as humans, but rarely live longer than 50 or 60 years.
Average Height
Orcs, on average, stand just over 6'. Females are slightly smaller, but are often larger than human males.
Average Weight
Orcs are heavy, even for their size, and average around 200 pounds.
Related Ethnicities

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