Rising from the ashes of war, the Balorians value honour, courage, and family loyalty
“Look around you, at our ‘great Empire’,” he said, swinging his arm around them as if they could see out across the vastness of the occupied systems from their armchairs. “The only reason that any of this exists at all—this library, this nation, this tobacco even—is because our Progenitors went far enough away from the elves that we could build ourselves up away from their hostile eyes. But we can’t stay confined to these small worlds forever. If our people are ever to be something more than barbarians, more than mere animals who know nothing but murder and theft, we must be sure that the elves know to fear our steel and our cannons. Especially the ones who fancy themselves as part of their ‘Imperial Navy’, since they take it upon themselves to police the stars against the ‘Orcish scourge’."More properly called balôrra in their own language when referring to themselves, or balôrrĕn when referred to by others, the Balorians descend from the survivors of The Solstice Pact. They built their civilization, on a planet unknown to the Elves of the Avalonian Imperial Navy, over the roughly three hundred and fifty years since the First Interstellar War (IW1). This, they would tell you, is the key to their success -- the space to develop as a people, without being beaten down by the elves, just as their technology and governmental systems begin to realize their potential. Whether or not that is true, it cannot be denied that the Balorians are a sophisticated and complex people, who challenge many of the stereotypes that the Avalonian peoples and their allies hold towards orcs. The Balorians, who took their name from Balor, creator-god of the orcs, are the undisputed rulers and leaders of the Fomorian Empire. They have spent the past few centuries studying the lessons of the First Interstellar War -- and preparing for the Second.
A People Forged in WarElatha, and thirteen other leaders and ship captains who escaped destruction at the hands of the Avalonian Imperial Navy, along with their crews and families. With the elves hunting any Fomorian left in the void, they decided to take their chances on a recently-discovered wormhole that was unknown to the Avalonians. They found a hot and harsh planet, which they named Elatha, after their leader. Elatha turned out to be the center of a wormhole nexus, which gave them access to a range of worlds mostly inhabited by other Fomorians, many of which were difficult for the elves to reach -- if they even knew they existed. The Balorian clans made their first homes in defensible mountain fortresses, and only spread to the lower elevations once those homes had been established. Guided by the words of Elatha, they began the long process of creating an infrastructure -- and an empire -- that would be able to withstand the onslaught of the Avalonians when they inevitably encountered them again. The Balorians, as a result, have spent much of their history as conquerors and colonial rulers. While their footprint has been heavy -- and in some cases, their rule has been harsh -- they believe that only uniting all the Fomorian peoples will give them a chance against the genocidal campaigns of the elves against their kind. Their entire culture exists to prepare for this conflict -- and that time has now come.
Major language groups and dialects
Shared customary codes and values
Average technological level
Common Dress code
It was fascinating to see Balorian portraits. They posed for the painters by looking sternly out from their frames, their arms often crossed in front of them or grasping large axes. They all seemed to be wearing their standard spiked brigandine armor—although all of these ones were in red, not black—and odd runes were prominently displayed on their gear. Many even had those runes carved into their tusks and gilded.Balorians, like their ancestors, prefer leather, feathers, horns and bones in their clothing. Male Balorians often wear ceremonial brigandine armour as a sign of their rank, with their clan runes tooled into the besagues. It is customary for Balorian noblemen to etch their left tusk with the rune of the clan they were born into after completing their Zabbak'Tarr. They etch their right tusk with the rune of the clan they marry into after the nuptials are observed. They then gild these runes with liquid gold. How well they handle this is seen as a test of their strength. Hair and beards are styled in a wide variety of ways, but tend to be kept short or tied back in braids, so as to ease the wearing of helmets. Different clans tend to fancy different hair styles. Shaving one's head is not uncommon for older male orcs when they begin to lose their hair. Women's hair is worn long and loose for maidens, or styled into elaborate coiffures or braids for married women. Claws are almost universally grown long, if carefully groomed, and often enameled red, especially for Priestesses. Female Balorians do not gild their tusks. A wide variety of piercings, ritual scars, or tattoos, depending on profession or clan, are common to both genders. Earrings are especially common. Women wear elaborate jewels displaying their wealth and status, while men are usually starfaring sailors or marines, especially among nobles, and they wear two gold hoops -- traditionally worth enough to pay for their funeral.
Art & Architecture
Common Customs, traditions and rituals
As the wife of the Heir, in the absence of a Clan Lady, Ynga lit a flame in a small brass brazier from the hearth fire, and gave it into Dorin’s enormous hand by its chain. “Clan Chief,” she recited, “it is time to return to the mountains, and live in retreat as our ancestors began. I give you the care of the fire of the Bloodfist Hearth. Guard it well.” He touched his fist to his forehead in symbolic reverence. “I accept and honour your charge, Priestess of the Den Mother,” he swore, “and I will guard this flame with my life.”Because the climate varies to extremes on Elatha, Balorians make a seasonal migration between summer homes in lower elevations during the dry season, and higher elevations in the wet season. Rituals have developed around this seasonal migration. All major possessions are symbolically removed (especially since the winter storms are capable of flooding and destroying summer residences.) The matriarch of the house takes the hearth fire and gives it into the care of the patriarch of the house for the migration, but she rekindles the hearth fire of the other residence when they arrive. At the autumn equinox, all Balorian nobles send representatives to the capital city, Holmgang, to pay their taxes and engage in the Equinox Games , where the males of the clan show off their athletic prowess and compete against one another for status. It is also traditional for all warriors who are capable of doing so to come home for the winter, to spend time with family. At the spring equinox, the Balorians return to Holmgang, where food is symbolically distributed to the populace by the High Chief , symbolizing their feudal relationship and mutual obligations.
Birth & Baptismal Rites
Coming of Age Rites
Common Myths and Legends
- The Exodus of Elatha
- The Vengeance of Katya
- Hrutta Bloodaxe
- Tashaka Bloodfist
- Katya Icefell
- Grokka Doomspear
- Korr Bloodfist
- Urgoth Bloodaxe
- Bres Bloodaxe
The ladies left early to make lunch. Shaundar asked the instructor, “Karr, doesn’t that mean that our female marines are missing out on important training?” “They’re getting other training that’s equally important, Gor’tar,” Kael informed him. “That’s the closest Fomorian rank to ‘Lieutanent,’ by the way. Balorian women are expected to know how to care for a household, and many of our soldiers don’t, so they need the practice.” Shaundar thought ruefully of the pepper salad yesterday. “Gul, karr.”
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Among the Balorians, family is everything. Loyalty to one's family permits even acts that other cultures might view as treasonous or outright evil. While there are many Balorian clans, there are only 13 Great Clans of Balorians. Each one is a dynasty in its own right, controlling nations or even worlds. They are either the descendants of The Thirteen , the surviving orcish leaders of the armed forces of The Solstice Pact, or clans that ascended to their position when a vacancy opened. Each clan, commanding such influence, could be considered an ethnic group in its own right, since it has such power and influence over broad groups of people. Make no mistake: the titles of their leaders might be Clan Chief, Clan Lady, and Clan Champion, but they are kings and queens in their own right.
Child before Na'korr. Na'korr before spouse. Spouse before clan. Clan before all else.
The Five Original ClansThere are five clans that remain who are directly descended from the Thirteen. They are:
- Clan Bloodaxe
- Clan Bloodfist
- Clan Doomspear
- Clan Ironlaw
- Clan One-Eye
The Other Great ClansEight other clans are also counted among the Great Clans:
- Clan Baneblood
- Clan Deathtusk
- Clan Grimcleave
- Clan Ironguard
- Clan Reaver
- Clan Rageclaw
- Clan Starstrike
- Clan Stoneheart
The Works of Elatha
“’Elatha?’” Shaundar repeated curiously. “Elatha was the founder of our people,” he explained, “the one who taught us to be more than common orcs. It is said that he was the son of Balor.” He hesitated and then asked, “You do know who Balor is, don’t you?” Shaundar nodded. “Elatha was a writer and a scholar,” Dorin Bloodfist continued. “Most Balorians cite his earliest work, ‘A Balorian Manifesto,’ but I am rather fond of his last book, ‘The Art of War.’ It is not dissimilar from your ‘Song of the Blade,’ I think. He wrote, ‘Understand your enemy as if you were wearing his skin. Learn what drives him, why he fights and what he believes in. Then you will understand what it is that he believes is worth dying for. Only then will you be able to achieve true victory.’” “I fight to defend my home, my family and my people.” He smiled, and this time, Shaundar could tell it was a smile. “Don’t we all, lad. Don’t we all.”
A Balorian's Honour
His mouth thinned into a line around the tusks. “A Balorian’s honour is bound up in his armour and his axe. I know there’s no chance of getting my axe—relax, boy, I wasn’t asking—but the armour is a symbol of my clan. I suppose it’s somewhat like your elven Houses, Shaundar Sunfall.” Shaundar pursed his lips. This sounded to him like a trick to improve the orc’s lot so that he was in a better position should he make an escape attempt. “The armour is covered in spikes and studs,” he pointed out. “It would make a good weapon. I don’t think we should allow that, begging your pardon, sir.” Dorin Bloodfist sighed. “I give you my word of honour, harak’cha, that I will not try to escape while in your custody. Or that of your blood brother, either.” His gaze was intense. Shaundar looked carefully into his eyes and saw only sincerity. He nodded slowly. “I believe you,” he said. “I’ll ask as soon as my shift is done.”
The orcish language, more properly called Balôrrik, is commonly spoken by most orcs, and most other Fomorians in the Fomorian Empire.
Sisterhood of the Den Mother
The Sisterhood of the Den Mother heals warriors and protects and advances the needs and rights of Orc and Fomorian women and children.