Olthamites of the Western Mountains
When one thinks of the word "orc," Olthambria is probably the last thing to come to mind. It is such a harsh word, to describe such a silky, polite people. Of course, scholars would know that this word is millennia old, and much more suited to the Olthamite people back when we all ran through the mountains in loin cloths wielding wooden clubs. We have come to treat this word as... well what it is. A negative word for our people. Olthamite for one has a nicer ring to it, and it creates the image of what you are more likely to find in the mountains now. Not savage men fighting one another, but civilised ladies and gentlemen, leading fast paced, but wonderful lives.
Most Olhamite men and women tend to have a high percentage of muscle mass, requiring a large intake of calories to show any substantial fat. Sexual dymorphism of Olthamites is lower than that of other sapient species; with the females presenting comparatively narrow hips, wide shoulders and generally bulky appendages.
Because Olthamites are such large, broad figures, it is easy to tell where one may have a parent of a different species. Olthamite men with Sylvar parentage are more slim, whilst the women are shorter and tend to have more rounded figures. With Dorozi blood, Olthamite men and women are shorter, with darker skin and smaller tusks. Children with Olthamite and Khord blood are extremely rare, but they tend to be bulky even for Olthamite standards, and much shorter than their mountain dwelling brothers and sisters.
Genetics and Reproduction
The reproductive system of an Olthamite woman is considered one of the greatest medical mysteries of the current age. Whilst Olthamites reproduce via viviparity, something unique to their species is that sex determination is largely environmental, as opposed to genetic (the most commonly observed method amongst the sapient species of Varen). The gestation period of a healthy pregnancy is 10 months, but may be shorter if the father is of a different species.
It is theorised that sex determination in Olthamites is temperature dependent; cold and hot climates producing male offspring, and temperate environments producing females. It is as of right now unknown however when the Thermosensitive period occurs, and what the specific temperatures are required for the production of female offspring, despite extensive research into the area.
Olthamites can successfully reproduce with most other species on Varen. The partial exception to this rule are the Arenian women, who often cannot survive the birth of an Olthamite child. Gestation normally becomes too dangerous to both the mother and child at around six months. C-sections yield varied results, and often result in neonatal death.
Growth Rate & Stages
Dietary Needs and Habits
Despite what the Khordepi may say, Olthamites are no hulking brutes. They are civilised, polite, to a fault. The common Olthamite man may use brute strength in his profession as a builder or a woodsman. But the real example of Olthambrian intelligence lies amongst the upper class. At quiet dinner tables with entrepreneurs; deep thinkers and inventors. University lecturers and business men looking to leave their mark on the world.
Most Olthamites regardless of gender can read from around the age of 4. Basic mathematics and science is taught to all children, and universities encourage students to take some form of philosophical free elective during their studies. Knowledge after all, is power.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Civilization and Culture
A conventionally-attractive Olthamite lord will wear dark colours and burgundy, and always have at least two layers of clothing (typically a dress shirt and a waistcoat). His hair will be short and held neatly in place with product, and he shall at least shave his lip to spare the precious lips of his wife when they kiss. Tall men are preferred - or at least taller than the lady they fancy.
The ladies of the middle and lower class are typically Sylvar and Dorozi migrants, so the beauty ideals for men have changed somewhat over the decades. A man must have a ruggedness to him - evidence he has been out and seen the world, and is stronger for it. Scars, heavier musculature, facial hair and a bit of colour in their attire are all favourable traits. Typically, height is not so much an issue here, but a broad-shouldered man is an attractive thing.
An Olthamite woman is expected to be a precious thing, needing to be protected at all costs. A woman will keep herself wrapped up in elegant clothing, wear jewellery and precious stones to signify their worth, and wear make-up to hide any blemishes or rough skin. Lipstick should be red or purple, and nails should always be black. Hair is to be grown long and tied up into a neat bun, and often covered with a bonnet of some kind. Height is no issue to an Olthamite woman, but a truly-beautiful lady will have wide hips and thick thighs, like a true mother in-waiting.
In Olthambria, women are viewed as precious, and while this comes with a great many privileges, it is not without its restrictions. Chief among them is the sheer over-protectiveness with which they are treat. This often results in the female population of Olthambria being cooped up in gilded cages, given anything they request, on the condition it does not endanger them in any way. Olthamite women are a rarity outside of their country, mostly seen in illegal organisations or adventuring troops; sharing similar tales of fleeing home in the search of freedom. The Obligation of an Olthamite woman is to exist, and have bear children at some point in her life. They need not be educated, or strong or have opinions. They are always perfect as they are, and suggesting otherwise is a great insult.
An Olthamite man is a very stoic, polite, and calm individual. They hold a demeanour similar to an acolyte in prayer, or a bouncer at a rowdy bar. They are known to almost emit wisdom, silently looking over the world around them, ever appearing to know something nobody else does. He is supposed to be perfect. After all, how else does one find himself a wife? Often, this perfection is fluid, and many Olthamite men struggle under the pressure, all of their needs being seen as secondary to those of a potential spouse.
Olthambrian society is caught in a difficult place regarding sex, what with the deeply male-dominant population of their lands. Men are always expected to court the woman, and are taught to look for things beyond physicality for attractiveness. Courtship begins with getting to know the woman through extensive conversation, and deciding if she is an individual they would like to pursue a relationship with. When courting foreign women - a practice far more common in Olthambrian culture than any other - it is important to consider the woman's cultural differences, and alter methods accordingly. To avoid confusion, it is often quickly stated that the man is interested in a relationship with the woman, at which point,the final decision rests on the woman.
Unfortunately, women in Olthambrian territory are approached by many different suitors and as a result, Olthamite men are expected to pre-emptively come to terms with the very real possibility that the subject of their affection simply prefers somebody else. Olthamite men, as a result, are often deeply competitive in the game of love, and it is perhaps the only field in which an Orc is known to become outwardly frustrated - or even angry. The more children had, the better. Women are actively paid by the government for having children in any respect - be it as a surrogate mother, or a familial one. Infidelity is associated with a broken home, and a man can be heavily fined in the form of child support. On the other hand, should a woman cheat on her husband and fall pregnant with another man's child, the father can quite easily win custodial rights.
Olthamite relationships can be described as complicated. The women, presented as porcelain dolls often lack the emotional maturity or ability to express themselves in the early days of their relationships, and must learn such things along the way. This can be frustrating and arduous for both parties. The men, whilst often much more in tune with their emotions and needs, have to tread a careful line between communicating enough to make things work, but not so much as they seem broken.
It has become the case that many Olthamite men seek the companionship of one another and/or women of other species, some even disliking the idea of their own kind's women altogether.
Average Technological Level
Olthamites are the most technologically-advanced race in the entire world, with photography, intercoms, arc gyros, and even the same implants formerly used by the Arenians to strengthen their bodies and increase regenerative capabilities. The latter technology is used sparingly, however, only brought out temporarily in order to suppress terminal illnesses, before having these implants removed once their job has been done. Olthamite society benefits from items such as television and radio, the latter being commonplace in most public places and private homes. Steam trains, and the famed Trans-Varenian railway is an Olthamite invention.
The Olthamites' military spending is particularly extensive, with focus put primarily on heavy weaponry - be it a clockwork knight or a machine gun. War is waged on the assumption that their military's strength is enough to withstand any attack, with sheer brute force winning the day for them on most occasions.
Culture and Cultural Heritage
Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals
- It is a common practice for Olthamite women to wear jewellery made out of hair. all kinds of decorative pieces—rings, brooches, bracelets, wreaths—out of Olthamite hair, often from deceased loved ones as a way to mourn and commemorate them. Some men wear "watch fobs" made of their wives' hair and women keep clippings of their friends' hair in scrapbooks.
- On large Olthamite holidays it is custom to venture into the wild with a portion of a celebratory meal and bury it. It is seen as a homage made to the stone. Previously, foods would be buried in one's garden or a local park, this however had to be stopped and changed when villages and rural towns started experiencing large influxes of vermin as a result.
- Olthamites consider green a lucky colour, and implement it wherever is appropriate. It is an old wife's tale that the stone appreciates the shade - the colour of the trees it cannot grow.
- In Olthamite culture, it is considered unlucky to move house without cleaning both homes thoroughly first, let rust form on your weapon, or change the name of your ship, your pet, or even yourself.
- Most Olthambrian boys have some experience in mining. As it is considered an extremely respectable profession and vital to the survival of the economy, most schools provide trips for young men to spend a week familiarising themselves with the trade which sustains more than half of the Olthamite population in one way or another.
- Newborns have their handprints pressed onto small balls of clay which are then hardened and engraved. It is custom for parents to carry these items until their or their children's deaths. Loosing a birth stone is considered horrible luck.
- It is considered extremely uncouth to approach on Olthamite woman without her permission. It is understood in Olthambria that if an Olthamite woman wishes to speak to you, she shall approach you first. Anything else may be considered misconduct at best, or harassment at worst.
- Leaving an establishment without providing a tip to service staff is considered in poor taste amongst the middle and upper class. Doing so is a sign that a man cannot provide for himself or his family well enough to spare such a gesture.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Olthamites are generally welcoming of other races – particularly, their women. However, most Olthamites find it difficult to interact with other races, as their hulking physical appearance is known to intimidate most foreigners. Looking at other races, Olthamites typically view the Arenian people as one would view an unruly child, after the catastrophic mistake their civilisation made all those centuries ago. Dorozi appear extravagant to all races, but none more so than the Olthamites, who regard their vibrant colours and reckless behaviour as exotic, if not uncomfortable.
While the Olthamites harbour no ill-will towards the Khords, the same vice versa cannot be said. The distance between their peoples – and the distinct lack of technology on the Khords’ end – only permits the most pertinent information to pass between them. And so, just as the Highlands of Olthambria receive word of a peaceful farmland, the Khords hear of lumbering folk crafting colossal machines of war. One race with whom an Olthamite commonly enjoys a harmonious relationship is the Sylvar, whose similarly-encouraged patience and academia earn them high praise amongst the mountain dwellers.
Male namesBrinley, Clarence, Harold, Ebenezer, Eli, Joseph, Reuben, Thomas
Female namesChristiana, Lavinia, Lena, Leonora, Madeline, Polly, Sarah, Theresa
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ORCS! I love orcs! I really really love how you didn't make them stereotypical orcs! Have there ever been Olthambria women or men who don't fit the ideal? How are they dealt with? Small nitpickCould be written as
There are definitely plenty of men and women who do not fit the "ideal" of beauty or courtship. For men, this normally means moving away from home as finding a happy life in Olthambria is hard enough, and doubly so if you cannot fit in. As for women, that is often a bit of a harder topic. In the first campaign written for this world, there is an NPC, named Rosalynd Kessle. She is a young Olthambrian lady who does not fit into the stereotype of a polite young girl, innocent and mother in waiting. She is loud, and brash and she swears and wears pants and likes to shoot guns. Her mother is absolutely horrified by this, as most mother's would be and forbids her these activities (but Rosalynd being a rebellious teenager couldn't give any less of a crap). As for men... Some find it exotic and interesting, others find it a behaviour to be disciplined out of her. Either way... It is not easy for a young lady such as herself, especially when her mother tries in vain to make her perfect wife material.
I love the amount of information and Jesus christ your vocabulary is difficult. I had to translate a lot more than I'm used to, and most of the times that wasn't enough because I couldn't understand the vocabulary xD. I love it that it's filled with scientific words and it enlarged my English and Dutch vocabulary.
Oh wow, as a native Polish speaker (English being my third language) I take that as the highest compliment!
I decided to follow your world based on this article. It is an aspirational article for me - I hope someday that I can produce something this deep and well thought out. The depth of detail you've put into the social interaction is amazing. The stat block at the top is tight, and seems reasonably well balanced for 5e. As a player, I would have no difficulty building a character with this background (and in fact, I've got a tall, skinny, half-orc bard who would fit in really well.) As a DM, I've got plenty of hooks here to use to set stories among the Olthamites, though I'd want to know more about the government and economy of Olthambria to go really deep. Finally, reading this led me to come up with some better plans for orcs in my own world. Thank you for helping me remember to subvert the tropes where I can!