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Orcs

Written by Lokrow

Still in process of being written/edited.

Basic Information

Anatomy

Orcs are medium sized humanoids with pronounced musculatures compared to other humanoids and a dense bone structure.

Genetics and Reproduction

The orcs' evolutionary strategy is one of mass conception. Orcs are conceived extra-utero, two or more willing partners combining genetic material in shells provided by the clan witch, each containing upwards of 20 embryos once conceived. This process doesn't discriminate the genetic material, meaning two or more partners can conceive regardless of genitalia. It also allows for the possibility of hybridisation as long as the genetic material isn't too different from an orc's, making hybridisation between orcs and other humanoids frequent in areas where they co-exist.   This strategy allows Orc adults to keep fighting without endangering their progeny like with in-utero pregnancies, and with more orc adults fighting more often, the new generation will have more chances at survival.   To be noted: Whilst most orcs in the Hold - and indeed on Golarion - will follow this way of reproducing themselves, orcs are able to mate and conceive in-utero if required to. This practice tends not to be favoured, however it is the foundation of Legacy Clans, so called as their way of reproduction changes the way the clan structures itself and its lifestyle and is most often due to clans which assemble without a witch or lose their witch and do not become assimilated or destroyed by another clan.

Growth Rate & Stages

The shell in which the embryos are conceived is then buried in the ground, referred to as a Breeding Mound where the embryos will pull resources from the mold, fungi and plant life around them to build a placenta-like membrane. The embryos then proceed to cannibalise each other inside their placenta in a process leaving only one to achieve maturity. This gestation period usually takes about a year, though no orc really knows how long as they are typically not there to keep track.   The newborn orc is born fit to fend for their survival, with knowledge from generations past ingrained in their unconscious and a skin tone dependent on the elements of their environment that made up their placenta.   Orcs typically reach adulthood around 12 years of age, hybrid orcs or Half-Orcs as referred to by non-orc species, tend to reach adulthood later in time (usually around 14).

Ecology and Habitats

Orcs originate from the Darklands and as such, are well adapted to a life in perpetual darkness with only scarce sources of light and extremely rarely sunlight.   While ill suited to life on Golarion's surface after the Age of Darkness, orcs have adapted as they could in order to survive and after multiple generations of migrations and displacements, can be found all across Golarion. Though orc stubbornness and stoicism towards pain means that many simply "put up with" life on the surface.
"Orcs never adapted to the burning light of the sun, we merely learned to endure it"   Orcish saying
 

Dietary Needs and Habits

Orcs do not know agriculture, as their ancestral life in the Darklands did not suit it and their current nomadic life on the surface doesn't suit it either. The legacy of the Sacking can be seen in full effect as they depend on other peoples who know how to use the resources of the land to yield foods and goods, acquiring them by way of frequent raids. Though orcs have no desire for conquest, the raids only serve to acquire resources they need and while they do kill people opposing their raids they are keenly aware of how dependent on other humanoids' settlements for those resources and do not kill those who don't oppose them.   However when raids are for some reason not possible, Orcs can hunt, gather as well as forage for food. Their knowledge being empirically based and accumulated over generations through their collective unconscious.   Essentially orcs eat what has historically not killed them and avoid what has. It is a knowledge still in process of accumulation.   Due to the brutal nature of orc life, they also cannot guarantee care for cattle as the cattle that they may keep has a very good chance of ending up slain in a raid by a nearby clan.   In short they are highly versatile omnivores with a wide range of variety in what their bodies can digest.   While often portrayed as envious and greedy, orcs never take more than what they require from their raids and hunts and it would be extremely unbecoming, though still possible, of orcs to raze and destroy and to adopt unsustainable practices.

Biological Cycle

Orcs remain active from birth til death, similar to humans. However, being much more suited to a life in complete and permanent darkness, orcs' sleep cycle isn't affected by the day night cycle. Rather they sleep whenever in a place of relative safety and they do so lightly, waking easily if alerted in their sleep.   However orcs in closer proximity to either other orc clans or non-orc settlements tend to sync up the sleep and wakeness cycles with the populations around them, mostly as a means of defense as orcs would rather die in a fair fight than slaughtered in their sleep.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Orcs arrange themselves in clans. A given clan will be assembled of orcs in tune with each other and as a whole. The hierarchy of a clan is simple, the leader is the most trusted warrior and their position can only be taken in a duel to the death or by widespread mutiny. However a clan also generally has a witch to allow for mass conception.   Witchless clans will either get assimilated into another clan, be destroyed by another clan or form a Legacy Clan. These clans differ from Seed Clans, which rely mostly on The Seeding to reproduce and are structured in very different ways.   Orc clans will accept and integrate non-orc individuals, though the number of admissions may vary based on clan leadership. This is a common enough occurence though rarely prolonged as few are able to keep up an orc pace and lifestyle. Orcs do not care much if a clan member leaves them. Though they may be attached emotionally, they value an individual's agency more and in the case of non-orc temporary members, their safety and that they spend a good life. Orcs understand that orc life is not suited to everyone.   An average orc clan will count between 60 and 80 orc individuals, not counting non-orc people who are integrated in the clan. A clan is divided up into multiple sub-units which are most like polycules with orcs who have formed a particularly close bond. These polycules also end up being the way the orcs naturally arrange themselves during raids with polycules functioning much the same as battalions.   Orcs understand there is strength in number but they also understand that too great a number attracts unwanted attention. As such, orcs self-regulate by way of brutal traditions of challenges and duel as well as fighting amongst themselves and with other clans. These traditions are what makes outsiders fear the orcs as barbaric raiders but to orcs it is a way to strengthen orcish kind. they fight from a young age much like the offspring of predator species playfight with their siblings to learn vital traits that may lead to their survival in the wild. And though deaths rarely occur from practice fights, they certainly do in conflicts between clans and duels.   Clans may share alliances and truces though they rarely last long. By virtue of their nomadic and dependent lifestyle, clans have few territorial attachments and do not define such things as borders for themselves. An orcish permanent settlement, such as Urgir for instance, typically has permanent residents in the form of one or more Legacy Clan with passing Seed Clans forming the remainder of the population at any given time, often for the duration of them conducting whatever trade they came to seek in the first place.

Facial characteristics

Orc have a pronounced brow, hiding a particularly thick frontal bone which they scarcely forget about in combat, their eye sockets tend to be receded under the brow to protect their eyes from sunlight. They tend to have upraised noses, traces of an ancestral snout used by their Darklands ancestors to forage for food in the tunnels. Speaking of which, another trace of their ancestral life as underground dwellers, they have pronounced tusks which are used more ornamentally since their emergence upon the surface of Golarion.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Orcs originate from the Darklands and exist all across Golarion but are more concentrated within the The Hold of Belkzen.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Orcs have a notable sense of smell and exceptional vision in the dark, having evolved from a species dwelling in the Darklands. However, this also means their eyes are quite sensitive to light and orcs have had to adapt to the brightness of the sun ever since the end of the Age of Darkness.

Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms

Orcs have a long history of symbiosis with non-animal or mineral lifeforms.

Civilization and Culture

Relationship Ideals

Orcs are rarely monogamous and prefer to find themselves multiple partners, even among legacy clans.

Average Technological Level

Due to the access to megafauna the orcs of the Hold of Belkzen have developped the ability to craft the finest leather and bone armour available on Golarion.   The clan of The Steel Eaters has specialised in engineering and produces fine orcish made steel armour and weaponry as well as machinery which they supply to the rest of the clans of the Hold.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

The orcs share a group of dialects which form a dialect coninuum.   Higher Orcish: spoken and understood by most orcs on Golarion.   Lower Orcish: spoken by Darklands orcs and understood by them and Higher Orcish speaking orcs.   Wet Orcish: spoken by wet orcs and understood by them and Higher Orcish speaking orcs.

Common Etiquette Rules

Outside of combat

  Orcs value respect but they rarely get lost in formalities, a non-raid encounter with an orc clan usually begins with the two parties settling on terms of engagement (even if only friendly engagement) before any exchange can be made.  

In combat

  Orc warriors will not engage in combat against people not also engaged in combat with them, making their raids on civilian settlements notably bloodless. This doesn't apply to other orc camps which are never seen as civilian settlements, orcs are always prepared for combat and if not, it's their failure as a clan and their natural end should come.   Orcs fight to the death when engaged in combat and have no qualms about being bested and killed in combat. However, orcs will take being mercied as a insult above no other. Likewise, they do not mercy opponents whom they best in battle.

Common Dress Code

Outside of armour, orcs will wear furs or leather wares and often show bare skin in order to display their tattoos or other body art if they have any.

Culture and Cultural Heritage

Orcs value strength, respect and physicality. They are a dedicated and determinate people as well as hot blooded. They do not hold on to grudges for long but will settle an argument in impromptu duel often.   Orcs do not see the point to lose oneself in the intricacies of life, preferring to live their short lives to their fullest. This makes them frank and honest but also rarely with anything to lose. If an orc wants to say something, it is said. If an orc wants to kill something, it is dead.   Their approach to life is to be pragmatic and practical only caring about things that affect their lives to a tangible effect, they could not waste time on intellectual matters. Not by a lack of "intellect" - as they are often accused by longer lived species of humanoids - but because most orcs deem it not to be worth investing what time they do have into lengthy academic studies. This makes arcane spellcasters rare but for the exception of clan witches.   Orcs see their own physicality as a skill to hone and will dedicate themselves to a specific physical endeavour to excell at. Orcs will often become entertainers and physical performers as well as warriors and hunters, orcs could hardly care for paintings and literature but they will dance and tattoo themselves and make themselves and their physicality a work of orcish art.   They have also a completely normalised view of sex work. As orcs do not view sex solely as a pleasurable endeavour - though that it may be - but instead view it as a physical discipline in which to excell at like any other sport or dance, this makes orcish sex workers well respected to the same degree as warriors and other artists.   In spite of it being often believed that orcs' alternative view of sex leads to them forcing partners and other humanoids into sexual subservience, the truth is far different. Orcs respect any and all individuals' consent above all. It is not uncommon for orcs having pushed another individual's boundaries to be ambushed and slain with no warning as orcs see this as a lack of respect towards orcish values.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

Common Taboos

Unlife

Orcs also tend to have a natural disdain for undead creatures, who they perceive as affronts to the natural order having either avoided their natural end or having been prevented from it by necromancers. Most orcs will kill undead on sight, some though rarely will to prioritise the source of the undead in the case of necromancy and go straight for the necromancer.    

Unliving Orcs

Any individual who remains animated after what orcs consider their natural end is seen as having the same status as undead in orc society. Orcs who have been mercied often enter a rage at the affront, often leading to a rampage which can only be stopped by killing them. Orcs who for some reason or other do not get killed after rampaging lose all will to fight and will not defend themselves in battle, they are dubbed "unliving" in Orcish.   To be noted: The Orcish term has no exact translation, holding more meaning as simply that of unlife, namely that of disgrace and anomaly but not that of shame, it holds no moral bagage and is merely a descriptor of a mental state. Other orcs will kill any orc found in such a state. It is not that orcs hold any particular value in death, they do not seek glorious deaths. Orcs simply perceive death as a natural process which should not be prevented from happening.

Historical Figures

Belkzen

Common Myths and Legends

The First Seed

  The orc creation myth likens the orcs to plant life, which to orcs include fungi, they both start as seeds sown in the ground and left to weather the times and soak up resources from the environment around them until they finally bloom, live their life, plant the seed of a new generation and die. Eventually going back to the ground to feed the plant life which will in turn help a future generation of orc seed.   It is unclear when this creation myth spread among all orc kind, some dwarven sources theorise it came after their displacement and with contact with the darven creation myth. Though that theory can be argued by pointing out that after their displacement, orc clans were spread out and some isolated from others, yet it was learned that these isolated orcs also followed this creation myth.   Following along their creation myth, orcs consider death a natural part of the cycle of orc life. They value death as a natural end and perceive prolongations of life by way of mercy in combat or magic to be unnatural and an affront to the natural order. This makes them extremely brutal in combat, taking no prisoners and giving no mercy to their opponents.   This myth is also at the origin of why orcs are "sown" and a Breeding Mound "blooms" and seed clans are given that terminology.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Orcs aren't well liked amongst non-orc species and few are the ones trying to correct the stereotypes of orc in their cultures. They are often subject to scapegoating and deemed half and half as fearsome vermin and as barbaric unintelligent brutes. Though brutes they are, barbaric and "uncivilised" they are not.   Prolonged interactions with other species are few and far between, most of them tending to be in the form of raids for resources. As such, orcs live fairly remote culturally from other species even when geographically close. Orcs have little care of their outward image and tend to focus more on orc kind and don't aim to correct others' views of them.   Orcs don't hold generational grudges but for the original one that drove Belkzen's revolt against the dwarves but which is fading in relevance since their victory. And a more recent one fueled by trauma due to The Whispering Tyrant's rule over the orcs, which serves as further reinforcement for the orcs' view of undead.
Lifespan
If not killed in a fight, orcs rarely live up to 50.
Average Height
1.80 m = 5"9'.   (Base height = 5ft = 1.52 m; height modifier +2d12)
Average Weight
100 Kg = 230 lbs.   (Base weight = 140 lbs = 63.5 Kg; Weight modifier +2d12 x 7 lbs = 3.1 Kg)
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Following the phase of their life cycle spent in soil for most orcs, they have a wide range of skin tones that often match the plant and fungal life of their environment. This trait was naturally selected as a form of camouflage in danger rife environment of both the Darklands and the surface of Golarion.   his can range from desaturated tones of the darklands mold to vibrant greens from chlorophyllic lifeforms, including richly varied ochre and dark tones using the lignin from nearby trees.
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