When Ulm the Caretaker broke the rules of his father Aonir and became Zarach the Bloodthirsty, his first goal was to create his own race, a people who would follow him blindly and worship him only. Driven by this desire, he began to shape new forms of life, moulding them with his will, and produced all manner of heinous creatures. Incomplete and deformed were these beings, horribly disfigured and unfit to survive for long, let alone breed.
Enraged by many years of fruitless labor, he descended to the earth and stole the children of the noble races, races that had been created by the natural order of his father. Abusing the perfection they had received through Aonir’s power, he infected them with his evil and formed them to his liking. Thus he was able to create his own race, strong and enduring creatures in which he instilled a bloodthirst and longing for battle. He named his creation “orc”, which in the dark tongue means “conqueror”.
They were chosen to be the bearers of his will, to be dogs of war, existing only to mercilessly conquer all other races and taint Aonir’s world with the sign of the Blood God. In dark temples in the middle of the steaming jungles of Xu he gave them life and from there, he drove them out into the plains, where the orcs’ existance began. It was a brutal and sparse life that the first tribes led, but with their bestial instincts and their seemingly endless endurance, they not only survived, but increased their numbers rapidly. Great hordes soon began to scour the lands, looking for prey, and in their settlements the sound of blacksmith’s hammers was always to be heard, forging iron into make weapons. Their instincts often drove them to imprudent behaviour, yet a part of the old races’ wisdom survived within these beasts. An orc may be greedy and combative, but he is not stupid.
Zarach’s nefarious plan to conquer the old races might even have succeeded, had his orcs not been so eager to do battle, even against each other. Time and time again, bloody wars erupted between the tribes, and only few leaders were ever able to unite the tribes – and then only for a short while. If ever a tribe leader were strong enough to assemble the armies of all tribes for an extended amount of time, the other races would hardly stand a chance. Even now, most tremble in fear at the sound of orcs crying for blood.
Initially, any orc is deemed unworthy. Before he has proven his worth, he must perform lower duties and make himself useful to his tribe. Should an elder disapprove of his actions, his life will likely come to an abrupt end by the blade of a warrior and his flesh be left to the wolves. Those that do not awaken the anger of an elder, however, are still denied the right to blood and prey until they have earned it through hard work within the settlement, chopping wood for buildings and walls.
Later, they can earn respect by either mastering a trade, learning the skill of forging weapons or leather working, or by following a path of battle or magic and becoming part of the hordes that roam the countryside pillaging, plundering and hunting for prey.
Even when an orc wins the right to accompany the hordes and kill in Zarach’s name, he still is not eligible to carry a weapon. Armed only with a wooden club, he will be sent into battle as a Thug, usually in the front row. When, or rather if, such an inexperienced and ill-equipped orc survives his first battles, he is awarded the Honor of Iron, allowing him to trade part of his loot for a proper weapon and armor. It is not rare for a thug to take armor or weapons from fallen comrades, however, this is not considered honorable and generally frowned upon.
The service of their Blood God is not the only pursuit of the orcs. They foster a deep respect for the spirits of the earth and the winds; many even go so far as to believe the orcs are of Elvish descent. They do not, however, share the Elven desire for harmony and peace and fear the spirits, who they believe will judge them and punish the weak. Only the strongest will triumph and only the strongest will be deemed worthy.
To strengthen their tribe and increase the tribes victories, many orcs dedicate their existance to serving Zarach and appeasing the spirits. When they have survived the Consecration of the Blood, they are recognised as a Totem. From then on, they learn not only the rituals to placate the spirits, the power of the fire also is bestowed upon them, a power that originates from the ancient bond between the Blood God and the Red Hordes. In battle, as all orcs, they are possessed by a need to kill, and they destroy their enemies gleefully using the flaming might of Zarach.
Only the worthiest of Zarachs followers can master the power of the flames and surpass the community of the Totems. They draw their power from the deepest Halls, using it to conjure great fireballs that can incinerate even the most powerful enemy. Their lives are a blaze of fire and annihilation, dedicated only to their destructive powers. Even the hordes fear the few that become one with the flames. Their rabid laughter as they gleefully rain fire down on their foes to please not only the Blood God, but their own desire, will drive fear into the heart of the most courageous warrior.
Firemasters pursue a long and dangerous path, and many unworthy are consumed by the power of the flames – but at the end of their training, their reward is boundless respect from the horde and endless fear from their foes.
Battle over battle is fought by the hordes as they bring war and destruction wherever they pass. Many orcs fall on the battlefield, and only the few that survive can call themselves a Veteran. These are the most experienced orc warriors, having fought and won many conflicts and killed many a foe. The tradition of these warriors dates back to the Black Legion, the greatest and most powerful army in the War of Six Races. The blacksmiths of Urgath forged armor, black as the night, for the legion and furnished it with spikes and the symbols of the Dark Gods. This armor soon became the mark of the Black Legion, and the mere sight of them could cause entire enemy armies to flee. They were the guards of the Fial Darg, the Princes of Darkness. The Black Legion was the only army ever to dare to climb the Godwall, and only the power of the Keepers was able to stop and eventually defeat them.
Today, a black suit of armor is forged only for the best of best of the Urcish horde. They wear this armor with pride, and only a tribe leader or elder would ever dare to speak up to or contradict a Veteran’s orders.
The bane of the Orcs' enemies are the heavy pikes that are borne with great pride by their carriers. Attackers hardly stand a chance of penetrating the imposing mass of iron spikes, which the horde can also use to drive back their foes and corner their prey. The Pike-bearers give the great Orc hordes their devastating destructive power and are often the backbone of an Orc army. Bearing weapons, they are entitled to a larger share of the plunder and loot, and when they return victoriously from battle, proudly displaying the skulls of their foes impaled on their weapons, they can be sure of Zarach's favor.
This is the first rank of that a weapon carrying orc can attain. In battle, the number of Spearmen is often decimated quickly, their weak armor offering only minimal protection, but the sheer number minions aspiring to join the horde means their numbers are increased just as rapidly.
Although orcs were created for battle, they are not perfect warriors. The Blood God not only instilled in them the urge to kill, but also reverence to their master, whom they fear. And so orcs gladly kill for their master, offering blood of fallen foes as a sacrifice, but should they lose faith in either victory or leader, their fear is awakened, paralysing and weakening their desire to kill. For this reason, orcs seldom travel alone, and an orc leader must be strict and strong. The traditions of the orcs have handed down a tried and true method to ensure the courage of the hordes in battle: The drum.
The orcish war drums sound whenever the hordes go into battle. Their thunder bodes ill to their enemies and promises victory to the orcs, reminding each warrior that the horde is with him.
Drummers march into battle alongside the warriors. Even if the battle should turn against them, and no matter how hopeless their situation may become - no orc will lose his courage as long as the drums sound.
Orcs that survive battle as Thugs or Swordsman are soon promoted to the rank of Fighter. They are now considered true warriors, blessed by Zarach, and welcomed as full members of their tribe. From this point on, they are permitted to consult with their leaders and talk to the elders without fear of death. In addition, their share of the plunder increases dramatically. Fighters are well-respected and any fighting orc aspires to attain this rank – so widespread is the belief that only then will they be able to live a life worthy of their forefathers.
Fighters have a high level of training and the armor and weapons they are able to afford makes them a match for almost any other race’s warriors.
Many years ago, the orcs of the Grarg came down from their mountains and descended into the fertile valleys of the humans to hunt and plunder. They brought with them not only the drums of war, but also orcish horns, whose sound proclaimed the might of the horde to all the land.
When the orcs met the armies of the House of Leonidar in battle, the human mages unleashed the full power of their magic on the enemy. As the first waves of orcs fell, the Grarg began to falter, fleeing from the overwhelming power of the mages. Enraged at the cowardice of his troops, the Grarg leader Gor snatched a metal horn from one of his soldiers and blew it with all his might. The thundering tone of the horn shook the very earth and echoed down into the valley where the human army stood. With the sound of the horn, the orcs returned, reclaimed their weapons, and followed their leader back into battle.
The magicians in the valley rose to attack the orcs again with fire and storm, but again and again the horn sounded, its power resonating off the valley walls and battering the humans’ senses. Confused and shaken, some even paralysed, the mages were unable to complete even the simplest spells, and the human army was easy prey for the orcs.
Since that day, the orc horns sound Gor’s Call in every battle, not only to paralyse and confuse their foes, but also to proclaim the glory of the horde and remind them of their victories.