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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default So You Want To Kill An Orc (3.5, Fluff)

    So you want to kill an orc? Then read on.

    Orcs are not just trivial chunks of XP for low-level characters. Too often, we contextualize common monsters as predictable, laughable murderhobo fodder. Orcs are treated as convenient uglyrace melee-level coathangers without any element of interest - just dumb brutes.

    So what are orcs, then? Read on.

    The Enemy

    A Face Only A Cave Matron Could Love

    Orcs are tall, brutish humanoids who would be quite imposing were it not for their unusual anteclavicular scutum, a hard bony structure that includes the interscapular sesamoid which facilitates the orc's powerful upper body strength. This feature contributes to a slightly hunched or stooped posture. Orc eyes resemble human eyes with a reddish tint, though they appear slightly too small for the orc skull and contribute to the characterization of orcs as squint-eyed or beady-eyed. Orc ears are broad, pointed and hirsute, not unlike a wolf's ears. Orcs are more wiry than half-orcs - the average male half-orc weighs a good 15 lbs more than the average male orc despite being eight inches shorter.

    Orcs are also of a more consistent height than their half-breed offspring - while half-orcs can be as short as 4'7", no healthy orc is less than 5'2" tall (5'8" + 2d10" for males, 5'0" + 2d10" for females). Orcs have grayish-green skin and tend to have dark brown, black or gray hair. Some orcs of both genders possess a degree of facial hair, particularly males; a small few possess no hair on their heads whatsoever. Orcs never have naturally curly hair, though it can grow thick, tangled and matted. Their noses are fleshy at birth but lack a true columella; as an orc ages, their nose begins to look more like a snout, but by early adulthood is far more "skull" than "pig," being largely fleshless. Orcs have divided nasal cavities. Orc dentition is specialized for tearing and gnawing, with mandibular tusks that protrude from the mouth and carnassid molars.

    Primarily nocturnal, orcs benefit from a sensitizing pigment in their eyes that improves their ability to see in conditions of limited illumination. This light-sensitive pigment weakens with continual exposure to light, such that tribes who reside in chiefly aboveground environments have largely lost darkvision and instead possess low-light vision. With few exceptions, orcs with low-light vision are also less sensitive to bright light than their counterparts - only jungle orcs get the worst of both worlds.

    Bag of Hammers

    Let's get this one out of the way right now: orcs aren't tremendously bright, as a rule. Orc psychology is simply different from that of many other humanoids. What's important to recall is that orcs aren't nearly as stupid as they are made out to be - they share the same Intelligence as centaurs, gnolls, wood elves and lizardfolk, and are more intelligent than ogres and trolls. Where orcs lose out is in Wisdom - orcs aren't tremendously perceptive or intuitive, and lacking in common sense compared to most humanoids. An orc's poor mental ability scores have several effects: orcs are poor craftsmen and have few aptitudes; they are impatient and prone to overlook details; and they are frank and guileless in their dealings with others.

    The ramifications for the orcs and their culture are numerous: orcs have poorer long-term recall, but their short-term memory is sharp. Oral traditions and mythology pass along core elements of history whose particular details are elided. Orcs have weaker senses than most humanoids; while they possess keen night vision (many orcs have the Nightsighted trait), orcs have no eye for precision or detail in a rather literal sense, and suffer from a reduced ability to pick out soft sounds. Orc culture is therefore bold, obvious and loud - orcs prefer bright, garish and horrid color schemes and are not shy about making a lot of noise. After all, if everyone else is going to find you anyway, might as well know where you can find one another.

    Most orcs who survive to adulthood tend to have one aptitude they can stick to (at least one skill with max ranks), and although they tend to be illiterate, many orcs have actively chosen to eschew literacy in favor of honing another skill (non-barbarians frequently select the Illiterate trait). The inescapable fact remains that orcs aren't great at any number of tasks requiring patience and practice - from cooking to crafting, an orc considered competent in orcish company would be looked on with pity or contempt by experts of other races. Of course, this only fuels the orcish desire to conquer, pillage and claim. An orc does not need ranks in Appraise to know that a dwarven-made weapon will be superior to their own crude handiwork.

    Much hay is made of the Orcish tongue and how orcs express themselves; the "point and grunt" mockery is partially an unfortunate stereotype, and partially accurate but missing the forest for the trees. Orcish is a subjective sender-oriented language; where care is given to calibrate phrasing for the receiver depending only on relative social status. A cookpit grunt speaking to a captain will take the captain's perspective into account, but the warchief would address either from his own position of reference - and Luthic give mercy if either misunderstood. Such a speech system is seen among numerous races with inherent Charisma penalties, which includes frequent orc collaborators such as goblins, bugbears, and gnolls, as well as the hated dwarves, who are traditionally better at understanding this nuance of Orcish than elves, gnomes, and other races.

    Orcs know what other races think of their intellect, but orcish intelligence is better described as cunning; an orc of average humanoid intelligence has a sharp mind for battle and can maneuver with allies to turn the tide, and a group of even mildly intelligent orcs can coordinate their peers in savage and bloodthirsty fashion. In less combat-oriented situations, orc intelligence also manifests in a direct and basic problem-solving talent: in a puzzle such as this one, an orc's impulse reaction would be to answer "any three numbers," followed by "each number is larger than the last one."

    Everything Looks Like A Nail

    So what do orcs have? Strength - though in orc culture, their strength is considered less noteworthy than the comparative weakness of humans, dwarves, and the hated elves. While orcs make ample use of their physical might, in large part it's less meaningful to them than to other cultures. For why this might be, we need only turn to their peers and rivals - bugbears and gnolls are just as strong while being tougher and hardier, while ogres are considerably stronger. Orcs aren't comparing themselves to runts and weaklings like their enemies. As a result, strength is valued for what one can do with it, but orcs rarely ever consider it the be-all end-all of capability and accomplishment.

    The natural strength of an orc provides them with aptitudes that are not commonly recognized; for example, halflings are generally held to be nimble climbers and deft at leaping, but the average orc edges out the average halfling, all else being equal. The average orc can carry up to twice as much weight as the average human, chop down a tree in roughly 60% of the time, has a 66% better chance of kicking through a solidly-made door, and can fell an average human commoner with even a glancing blow from a falchion. The above represents an untrained noncombatant orc, with warriors being commensurately more intimidating. As for the ragers...

    Even a 1st level rager can easily fell a heavily armored dwarf fighter in one strike, provided it lands - a dwarf with full plate and a large steel shield (AC 21 with Dex 12) can be hit by the average orc rager two times in five, and two times in three a rager wielding a greataxe two-handed will drop a 1st-level dwarf fighter in one successful strike. The math on that is more than an orc would care to deal with, but dwarves have had long long years to come to terms with what it means - that just over 25% of the time that an orc rager attacks his opposite number, the dwarf will fall. That orc is packing some 15 years of age and 45 gp of equipment, moving twice as fast as the dwarf; the dwarven fighter has lived at least three times as long and is carrying over 1,500 gp of equipment.

    Some numbers orcs are just fine with.

    Two Ways About It

    What is it that drives the orcish mind? What underlying flaw produces the pervasive intellectual shortcomings of the race as a whole? What fuels their impatience, their lack of focus, and their struggle to meaningfully engage others? The answer lies in a complicated notion at the root of not just the orc psyche, but orcish culture as a whole. Orcs are motivated by two competing urges: akh and vah. Scholars have struggled for centuries to settle on translations for these concepts, which to orcs are as innate as breathing; some have tried "masculine" and "feminine," but one encounter with a cave matron puts paid to that. Other attempts have been "brains vs. brawn," "strong vs. weak," "push vs. pull," "hard vs. soft," and none of them has seen any serious consideration, with any conversant orc patiently explaining why the sage in question is a complete idiot.

    The closest that philologists have been able to approximate is that akh addresses that which is wanted, and vah what is needed. Again, these are not precise terms, but when examining the mind of an orc it is useful to remember these distinctions. If we were to compare with one prominent model of human psychology, we might align akh with the Id and vah with the Ego, though these remain to some extent incorrect.

    Akh encompasses impulse, hunger, lust, laziness, strength, what is close at hand, the present time, and brute-force solutions. It relates to raw power, to meat, to fire. An axe, a club, a hammer, a falchion... these are implements associated with akh. A closed fist is akh. To be blind or deaf is also akh. Cave matrons are akh. Pride in one's offspring is akh. Raging is akh. Song and drums and horns, bright colors, water both bitterly cold and boiling hot. Storms and thunder, oxen and cheese, antlers and bone. Akh at its most primal is the orcish desire to solve any immediate problem with however much violence will get it out of your way as fast as possible, and damn the consequences. It is the primal bellow, the howl from the gut that says "I am right, my way is right, and nothing else matters!"

    Akh is checked by vah, which is planning, rationing, affection, wisdom, things not present in time or in space, and problem-solving. Vah is magic, herbs, roots, leaves; it is smoke and rain. If akh is the leaving of tracks and spoor, vah is the reading of same by a hunter. An open hand is vah, and the implements of vah are the bow, the bolas, the spear, and the net. Shields, armor, and fortification are vah; shamans are vah. Accomplishments are vah, though victories are akh. Friends are vah. Storytelling, history, teachings, bells, and stringed instruments. Ice and flint, flowing water, farming and cooking, healing and rest (not sleep, sleep is akh). Vah at its most primal is the orcish desire to be supreme, to not be made to feel foolish, to not be denied or disadvantaged. It is the survival instinct, pure and raw, the voice in the back of the mind saying "it has never been this easy, figure out what is wrong."

    Gruumsh gave the two minds to his chosen race, but akh and vah never reconcile; when vah says "it is good to know things," akh says "but it is frustrating to remember them." When vah says "it is good to pay attention," akh says "but attention requires patience and takes away time." When akh says "be bold with others to make your mark," vah says "but boldness means exposure and vulnerability, which cannot be allowed." The orcish mind subconsciously wages war between akh and vah continuously, a motif that is reflected in their mythology in the symbolism of eyes. Orcs are born with two eyes, to see the world along two paths. To put one out, of course, is to cast aside one path, to lose what was given by Gruumsh. Only the One-Eyed God can truly see the world with his single all-encompassing vision; the one true path is neither akh nor vah, but a secret way between that only Gruumsh and his chosen can lead to.
    Last edited by afroakuma; 2019-10-27 at 12:02 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: So You Want To Kill An Orc (3.5, Fluff)

    The Culture

    Gentlemen Are From Gruumsh, Ladies Are From Luthic

    Gender roles form an important component of orcish behavior, centered around the welfare of the next generation. Most orc societies are loosely patriarchal and male-dominated, with specific caveats. Males predominate as scouts, ragers, warriors, hunters, and captains; shamans of Gruumsh are almost always male, while shamans of Baghtru are exclusively so. Females, conversely, are most commonly found teaching and tending the young, gathering edible and medicinal plants, attending to prisoners, overseeing construction, and handling animal carcasses. Some of these tasks are handled by younger or noncombatant males as well. Shamans of Luthic are exclusively female. These patterns tend to dominate across orc tribes, though exceptions are known to exist. Some of these follow a consistent pattern, while others do not align with what is considered typical orc social organization.

    Orcs typically mate for life, and while orc males are rarely monogamous, it is socially unacceptable for a mated female to be caught in the act with another male. Outside of being caught red-handed, however, sexual infidelity is an open secret in orc society. Mating behaviors begin when the young males leave the matrons' care and join their elders; at this time, they are considered ready to seek a partner. Males who display limited interest in finding a mate are marked out in many tribes as having been chosen by Yurtrus, who does not grant life; they may receive invitations to join the death god's fold. They may also be tasked as scouts, under the assumption that they have no conflicts preventing them from going far afield. Females who resist the call to find a mate or are found by the shamans to be infertile are traditionally considered "godsisters," a designation which opens them up for more paths in life than their mothers - godsisters may join the priesthoods of any deity except Baghtru; may become scouts, hunters, or ragers; and are favored by shamans to be sent on quests for the tribe.

    When You're Good To Mamma

    While the leadership of a given tribe is (more often than not) male-dominated, there is one role exclusive to females that often supersedes even the warchief in specific matters: the cave matron. When an orc who has birthed a child leaves her childbearing years behind her, she may be asked by the women of the tribe to become a sort of "community grandmother" overseeing the welfare of new mothers, pregnant females, and young children. A cave matron uses her strength and experience to protect the nursery caves, or tents, or palisade, or whatever space is serving this function. With regard to the housing and welfare of her charges, the cave matron is recognized by the rest of the tribe as the supreme authority. A space deemed unsafe by the cave matron is unsuitable for settlement by the tribe. Even the warchief would do well not to argue this point, for cave matrons are very much in the image of Luthic's holy animal, the mother bear - strong, fierce, and prioritizing the young above all. While elves rarely venture into orcish territories to fully roust out their adversaries, dwarves compete with orcs for the mountains and caverns, and many a dwarven warrior speaks with dread or resignation of the struggles involved in dislodging cave matrons.

    A cave matron normally retrains into bear totemUA barbarian and is at least 4th level. Some may retain the traditional rage ability, while others harness a berserker strengthPHB2 when enemies draw near. Between the noted ferocity of cave matrons and the zeal with which they focus on their charges to the exclusion of other concerns, dwarves in particular have often ended up negotiating with the elder females even after eliminating the warriors of a band or tribe.

    Parenting is an odd concept in orc society, for orc young produce filial pheromones that are conspecific to the olfactory sense of female orcs before puberty and transition to a mature filial pheromone that can be detected and recognized by the male's olfactory senses (not consciously, it must be noted). This is all to say that before an orc begins to mature toward adulthood, the father feels little, if any, natural kinship for his offspring. Mature children are recognized by their fathers, who may enlist their children in the functions of their own tribal role, introduce them to friends and mentors, or help them seek opportunities in other parts of the tribe. Fathering worthy children is a source of pride for many orc males, though what constitutes "worth" is a nebulous and challenging thing (see akh and vah for why). This adaptation helps solidify tribal bonds between adults while conserving paternal attentions during the prime years of a male's life.

    Live Fast, Die Young

    Orcs are not a long-lived race, and mortality rates are biased toward early life, particularly for males. Young orcs are expelled from the matron's care to find places within the tribe at between eight to ten years of age; an orc is considered an adult by 12-14. An orc is considered to be properly old by 40, with average life expectancy of roughly 60. An orc can die of old age as early as 52. These facts influence orc societies and can create friction and difficulty when dealing with others. A middle-aged dwarf, for instance, has lived two full orcish lifetimes and still has at least that many to go. That's before taking into account the fact that many orcs fall well before their time.

    Unlike similarly strong races such as gnolls & bugbears, as well as their mountain rivals the dwarves, orcs are not known for possessing exceptional health or fitness outside of their raw physical strength. Diseases, injuries, and natural toxins are just as threatening to an orc as they are to a human. Most tribes permit or openly endorse contests of strength and pride between young warriors, who may fight to the death with the tacit approval of the community writ large if their aggressive instincts take hold. Leaders such as captains and warchiefs may be challenged by their juniors, and while it shows great vah to decline a foolish or prideful whelp who might get lucky and end up damaging the tribe overall, declining too often may be seen as cowardice and call into question whether the leader remains bold enough to continue securing conquest and territory.

    While females are less likely to engage in risky behavior if they have children to tend, males (as noted above) feel no meaningful connection with their children before they have come of age, and are unlikely to take the welfare of their young into account when taking risks. Young orcs hunger for the freedom to win their own victories and make their own mistakes, whether in warfare, in adventuring, in hunting, or in exploration.

    Fuel For The Fire

    Orcish cultures have near-universally adapted to their environments' often limited food yield, which for most orcs is par for the course. Unlike a great many of their contemporaries, orcs do not overindulge on food when available. In point of fact, orcs tend to be a bit leery about food as a general rule. Orcs eat to live; they do not live to eat. Preferred foods include fresh or heavily salted meats, fish, milk, and cheeses. Orcs eat root vegetables (as well as many roots not generally considered culinary in nature), leaves, and herbs, but in general these are not considered "food" so much as things to gnaw on, based on dental care behaviors learned as children or observations of plants selected by shamans for medicinal purposes. In most biomes where orcs have settled, grain is not available; where they can collect sufficient material to grind into meal, a sour dough is preferred that is cooked hard. The orcish palate does not favor sweetness as a general rule; sourness is by far preferred, though orcs still avoid fruit such as lemons and limes for being too sweet.

    What influences the gustatory preferences of orcs? The most likely culprit is their god of food. In many cultures across many races, the deity overseeing food is linked with agriculture, motherhood, warmth, or life. For orcs, however, food is the purview of Yurtrus White-Hands, their terrifying god of disease and death. Shamans of Yurtrus are tasked with checking to see if food is safe or has turned, and with purifying food and drink during the lean months. Orcish food preferences, therefore, stem from concerns that ripe and sweet foods may be decaying and toxic, which is true of enough berries in the wild that their lore holds some common sense. Orcs are quite capable of digesting roughage, though they remain obligate carnivores and can suffer debilitating conditions such as kwashiorkor if forced to live on a purely vegetable diet for long periods, as they cannot effectively metabolize plant proteins.

    Besides hunters and gatherers, orcs also keep domestic animals capable of enduring in their environment. Longhair cattle, goats, and sheep are preferred by mountain orcs, while desert orcs have camels, and so forth. Milk and cheese are important staples of the orc diet where available. Orcs are perfectly content to capture, roast, and eat rodents; a popular idiom on some worlds, loosely translated, says that a diseased rat has already killed you, so why not take revenge?

    Not unlike many other humanoid races, orcs are quite fond of alcohol. Most tribes keep a large cauldron which has lasted for generations, in which is kept an active fermentation starter along with whatever base components will produce the fermentable liquid and provide flavor to the alcohol. The contents of this cauldron, as well as the potent end product, are called "warmash," for it is traditional to take a conquered enemy's foodstuffs and throw them into the cauldron. A tribe that has fought dwarves frequently may drink a warmash made potent with dwarven whiskey, while a tribe that has crushed elves underfoot likely imbibes a more sweet-and-sour warmash based on wine. Tending the warmash is an important role in the tribe, for apart from trade the warmash is the only source of alcohol the tribe is likely to enjoy.

    What Did You Call Me?

    Orcish names are traditionally simple, one or two syllables for the given name and no familial name, instead using the name of the tribe or discerning between two similarly-named orcs by some other observation ("Lurtha likes axes, let's call him Lurtha the Axe.") A name is of little importance in the tribe; in some orc cultures, the given name will even be replaced with a new one on coming of age and joining the tribe proper. Given names are purely used to identify this orc vs. that orc, and are by far the least consequential way that orcs tell one another apart.

    What really sets an orcish name apart is an epithet, a recognition of the deeds and prowess of the orc. As a race with a history of exile, exclusion, and denial of resources by other races, orcs hunger for validation from those who think orcs a lesser people; for acknowledgment and respect of the orcs and their greatness. When an adversary (in any sense of a rival or opponent, though chiefly an enemy combatant) is witnessed providing such an acknowledgment, which may take the form of an insult or an accusation of offense, an orc so acknowledged has the right to claim the enemy's words as an epithet. This becomes part of the orc's personal sobriquet, typically following the given name. The greatest epithets may go on to become tribal names in and of themselves.

    The key component of the epithet is that it must come from an enemy, must not be suggested by the orc ("why don't you call me Treekiller?"), and that the status conferred by the epithet stands in direct proportion to the stature of the enemy that gave it. Orcs don't count for this purpose; an Orcish epithet is seen as pathetic or humiliating, obviously conferred by oneself to sound important, and therefore utterly childish to pronounce to others. In rough order of stature, the best epithets come from goblins, gnomes or halflings, humans, hobgoblins, gnolls, bugbears, dwarves, elves, giants, and ultimately dragons or other beings of great power and significance. An orc may release an adversary to go forth and tell of his or her new epithet, to give fear to their people. Personal runes on shields and flags announce the epithet, and shamans learn other languages in part so that they can validate and scribe epithets for leaders.

    Large And In Charge

    Who leads an orc band or tribe? That answer is as varied as the bands and tribes themselves. In most circumstances, a band is headed by three prominent leaders - at least one captain serving the larger tribe, who is addressed as warchief; the head cave matron; and the highest-ranking shaman. Some bands have more or fewer leaders, with additional leadership roles including the palisade captain, hunt captain, pit chief, warleader (subordinate to the warchief), and larderboss (quartermaster). Those with fewer leaders may not have an established cave matron, may be short a spiritual leader, or in truly rare cases may lack a proper captain for war purposes altogether. Bands led largely by females are uncommon but not unheard of; bands are virtually never led by a shaman without a warchief.

    A tribe typically has the majority of these roles covered, with multiple warleaders and shamans reporting to the tribal chief (still addressed as "warchief"). Whereas a band numbers roughly 100-250 including children and the elderly, a tribe can be many times this size, composed of many bands reporting directly to the authority of the tribal chief. The warriors of at least ten bands combined form what is generally considered a proper "horde," at which time the greatest warchief in the mix may dub himself or herself "horde chief" or use similar titles such as "king" or "queen."

    How a leader gets chosen can be a troublesome matter. Orcs value strength, but recognize that if they were to defer to strength alone, they would need to kneel before ogres and hill giants and ettins, which they are loath to do. They recognize that exceptional strength among orcs is not a sign of worthiness or capability... but at a gut level, they sure would like it to be (that's the akh talking). They perceive value in a leader of cunning, sense, and charisma, the qualities that are generally in short supply among orcs; however, they resent the notion of a leader being considered "elite" on the basis of intellect, or worthy based on force of personality. To put it simply, they'd like a leader who registers high on both akh and vah. You know, just some idealized orc who doesn't exist. Easy, right?

    In the absence of this ideal being realized, orc societies use many methods to decide on leaders; some lean toward a monarchic structure, where the warchief's son is given the deference due his father. This tends to last only until the heir makes a serious blunder, at which point they are replaced, generally by an orc of proven merit and accomplishment. Some societies prefer to lead off with this meritocratic approach, only to find that the positioning of an "elite" in an authoritative role breeds resentment from younger orcs who have forged no connections with this senior and sought continuity of rule under the line of the prior warchief. The constant tension is one reason why most bands have multiple leaders; those who are not in such a politically fraught position as warchief (the shamans and cave matrons, whose social roles are unrelated to broader tribal authority) provide stability when a warchief is challenged and cast down.
    Last edited by afroakuma; 2019-10-27 at 10:36 PM.

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    Default Re: So You Want To Kill An Orc (3.5, Fluff)

    The Religion

    The One Almighty Vision

    The predominant orc religion centers on the orc creator deity Gruumsh and his immediate court, though many demigods (generally ascended orc heroes) receive veneration by particular tribes. Some orcs have been swayed to the cause of other deities, including traditionally human deities who value strength and conquest, draconic deities, archfiends, and occasionally darker gods than these. A few traditions among the orcs align them with the harsher deities of nature and the elements - rough, turbulent, uncaring.

    Religiosity among orcs is distinctive in that belief in the gods and their power is fairly ubiquitous, but actual veneration and religious practice is generally delegated to the shamans, whose importance waxes and wanes with the needs of the band or tribe. When healing or blessings of strength are needed, the shamans are a precious resource and highly regarded; in times of peace and wellness, the shamans may find themselves needing to remind the laity of the powers they represent. While orcs participate in few regular religious observances, storytelling is a popular entertainment and frequently incorporates the great legends of Gruumsh and his kindred or hero deities sacred to the tribe.

    Orcs feel a strong emotional link to their traditional patrons, who appeal to fundamental urges and facets of orc nature. These emotions are not necessarily always positive; in particular, the outsider gods of the pantheon tend to appeal to the darkest and most troubled emotions among orcs. It is noteworthy that, though he is explicitly the creator of the orc race and acknowledged as such by his chosen people, Gruumsh is not contextualized as a father figure, nor do his noteworthy epithets name him such. To the orcs, the supremacy of their deities lies not in the act of creation ("fools breed most true" is one maxim that shamans may reference in this regard) but rather in the vision that they present of the future greatness of the orcish race.

    The orcish pantheon has many foes; the Morndinsamman, the Seldarine, the Dark Seldarine, the goblin pantheon, the Pharaonic pantheon, Meriadar... given time, it seems, Gruumsh will find a way to give or take offense when dealing with most others. It also suffers from internal conflicts, with Bahgtru and Ilneval vying for the favor of the One-Eyed God and Gruumsh's ceaseless watching for the emergence of new orcish demigods who might challenge his power base in some fashion.

    Clerics representing the orcish pantheon as a whole can choose from the Chaos, Evil, and Orc domains.

    Gruumsh
    He Who Watches does not like to reveal it, but he is an old god indeed, possibly even older than his despised archenemy Corellon Larethian. The supreme deity of the orcish race, Gruumsh is god of conquest, territory, survival, power, and revenge. He is popularly held by orcs to have but one eye because he sees the one true way in all things, undivided by akh and vah, though legends from other races tell (correctly) that his other eye was lost in a battle with the chief elven god. His portfolio encompasses many variations on predominant themes; for example, as part of revenge, he is the orcish god of justice; as part of territory, he represents oneness with the harsh primal beauty of nature; as god of conquest and power, he represents mastery of skill and craft. Gruumsh is above all the god of warchiefs, tribal chiefs, and other orcs who must lead. They seek to channel the wisdom of his one true vision, that they may gain power and conquer.

    Gruumsh has made countless enemies in his time, not least of which are upstart gods intent on displacing him. At least two lesser orcish powers have died by his hand, and Gruumsh is much more willing than most gods to enter the fray against another deity. He has dueled with Corellon Larethian on more than one occasion, led avatars of the pantheon in open war against the Untheric pantheon on the world of Toril, and personally murdered the Pharaonic deity Ra. Through his leadership and ancient, horrific cunning, the orcish race is winning against its chief adversaries... and yet Gruumsh tires. He has struck a mortal blow against the future of the elvish race, but he would have preferred if Corellon were forced to come before him on bended knee, begging for his life. His orcs outnumber their dwarven adversaries, yet still Gruumsh feels the respect his people are owed remains as yet unpaid. The cosmic battle against Maglubiyet goes nowhere, and his people still ally themselves with the worthless goblinoids on many worlds.

    Most troubling for the One-Eyed God is that the court of Nishrek, over which he rules supreme, constantly threatens to slip from his grasp. Gruumsh would love to declare a successor to the Conqueror Throne and spend more time on big picture planning, but Bahgtru is too recklessly stupid to lead the orcs and Gruumsh cannot bring himself to trust Ilneval. His mate Luthic has Bahgtru's ear, and manipulates both father and son in accordance with her own views on how to preserve the orcish race. Past attempts to reassert total control have resulted in the deaths of other capable lieutenants, reducing his options, and the tribes lose their way if he extinguishes every hero-deity, even though many use their new divinity to seek paths apart from the traditional faith of Gruumsh. He has even been forced to tolerate two interloper deities, not part of his family or direct command, who refuse to settle in Nishrek and occasionally oppose the welfare of orcs.

    Gruumsh's symbol is a staring eye; his favored weapon is the spear. Gruumsh's domains are Cavern, Chaos, Domination, Evil, Hatred, Orc, Storm, Strength, War, and Wrath. Gruumsh is chaotic evil.

    Bahgtru
    Only son of Gruumsh and Luthic, Bahgtru the Leg-Breaker is the god of strength and physical combat, particularly melee combat. The patron of loyalty, brute force, and a big believer in might making right, Bahgtru is a relentless and dangerous power limited by only three things: firstly, that he respects most of his foes more than he has any real dislike for them, for by definition his foes must have great strength or else they would not be worth his time; secondly, that he disdains the use of weapons, armor, and magic, often limiting his shamans to spells that will enhance their combat ability; and thirdly, that he is profoundly and irredeemably stupid. Bahgtru 's adherents are the source of most negative orcish stereotypes, with Bahgtru himself being not just dumb for a deity, but actually less intelligent than the average mortal orc. Bahgtru shares his father's enmity with the dwarven pantheon (whom he admires for their strength but would also really like to squish) and the elven pantheon (who he hates with the fury of a thousand suns, if those suns were also preposterously stupid) Bahgtru believes literally any problem can be solved with a liberal application of force, which includes punching things that aren't actually punchable, such as magic spells, the weather, and conversation. If he weren't a deity, he would certainly be dead in a ditch. Instead, he is a devastating juggernaut used judiciously by the other orcish deities, and favored by orc warriors and some ragers.

    Bahgtru's symbol is a broken femur; his favored weapon is the spiked gauntlet or unarmed strike. Bahgtru's domains are Chaos, Competition, Courage, Evil, Orc, Passion, Strength, and War. Bahgtru is chaotic evil.

    Ilneval
    Bahgtru's rival and opposite, Ilneval was once a mortal captain who became a hero-deity and rose in prominence through calculated moves against his peers meant to increase his power, ultimately dueling one of the sons of Maglubiyet on behalf of the One-Eyed God. For his cold and ruthless ambition, he wears the epithet "Son of Strife," and he has earned his position a thousand times over as Gruumsh's most capable lieutenant. Of course, the One-Eyed God knows that Ilneval's true goal is the top job, and Ilneval knows that Gruumsh is aware of this, so an uneasy detente exists between the two. Ilneval is favored by fighters, marshals, and warblades - he is the divine ideal of the orc captain, the right hand of the warchief, and teaches that brute force can always be toppled with patience, alertness, and planning. He is the god of war and of strategy, and is venerated by weaponsmiths, engineers, archers, scouts, and even traders. Cold and pragmatic, the Horde Leader has recognized the value of orcish blood in all forms, and openly accepts half-orc and orog followers in numbers no other orc deity can match. His hand may have secretly been behind the creation of the first tanarruks. Ilneval lusts after Luthic in secret, not out of any real attraction but rather because she represents that part of Gruumsh's scope and power that he still cannot touch. He is leery of Bahgtru (who considers him a friendly rival, if a little disappointingly reserved, because Bahgtru is an idiot) and avoids the god of strength whenever possible, while working to determine how best to deal with him should Gruumsh send Bahgtru to extinguish Ilneval's ambitions once and for all.

    Ilneval's symbol is a bloodied broadsword; his favored weapon is the longsword. Ilneval's domains are Balance, Destruction, Evil, Orc, Planning, Pride, and War. Ilneval is neutral evil.

    Luthic
    The most prominent goddess of the orcs, Luthic the Cave Mother is patroness of caverns and shelter, of female fertility, of healing, and of morale. Mate of Gruumsh and mother to Bahgtru, Luthic commands the Leg-Breaker's loyalty before any other, even his father, for that is the way of orcs. Luthic is associated with a mother bear, her sacred animal, and depicted with exaggerated claws or talons, said to be her tools in digging caverns for orcs to settle in. The home is her domain and cave matrons are her people, whether or not they serve her directly as shamans. Orc males venerate her for her healing prowess and as the goddess who rules over settlements and safe shelters - her symbol is the orcish cave-rune. Luthic is not an idle goddess; she actively sends emissaries to the courts of other powers and major planar figures, subtly tracing a web of potential alliances and backdoor channels that includes Grumbar the earth elemental deity and the Olympian witch-goddess Hecate.

    Luthic's symbol is a cave entrance rune; her favored weapon is the claw bracer or natural claw attack. Luthic's domains are Cavern, Earth, Evil, Family, Healing, Lust, Orc. Luthic is neutral evil.

    Shargaas
    One of two major interloper deities in the orcish pantheon, Shargaas was not raised to divinity by Gruumsh, though he will heed the call of the One-Eyed God more often than not and deigns to maintain good relations with his peers. Shargaas is the orcish god of night, darkness, stealth, thieving, assassination, and the undead. A cold, calculating, and territorial god, he dislikes Luthic's claim to caverns, which he believes should be his by right as places of darkness; he also resents that Yurtrus creates and commands undead creatures, though he would never say it to Yurtrus's face. The Night Lord has a general contempt for life as a whole, and is very pleased to play a part in extinguishing it. Shargaas is something of a problematic deity in the pantheon; while Gruumsh values his skills and unique abilities, his portfolio is entirely antisocial and disruptive to orcish society. Shargaas refuses to join the rest of Gruumsh's court in Nishrek, and the One-Eyed God is just as happy to leave the Night Lord at arm's length.

    In truth, Shargaas himself doesn't know how he rose to power or where he came from - a talented thief, he stole the facts of his own origin and sold them to Ilsensine in exchange for a certain secret. The nature of this knowledge is something Shargaas does not disclose, but it must be noted that he established his current realm in Krangath only after this bargain was sealed. Shargaas enjoys stoking fear among the orcs as much as among their enemies; fear of that which lurks unseen just out of darkvision range, fear of that which lurks further below the earth than orcs should dare to dig.

    Shargaas's symbol is a red crescent moon with a skull between the horns; his favored weapon is the short sword. Shargaas's domains are Chaos, Darkness, Envy, Evil, Fate, Night, Orc, Trickery, and Undeath. Shargaas is chaotic evil.

    Yurtrus
    The most frightening figure in the orcish pantheon by far is Yurtrus, the White-Handed God, the second major interloper power. A macabre and utterly silent figure, Yurtrus governs decay, disease, and death. His priests certify if food is safe or spoiled, purge disease from the deserving, perform burials and death rites, and stand silent vigil over orcish burial lands. Though Yurtrus stands apart from the rest of the pantheon (who entirely prefer it that way, as Yurtrus terrifies most of them, except Bahgtru, who is stupid beyond reason), he mutely obeys Gruumsh's rare commands without hesitation and otherwise largely ignores what his peers are doing. The Lord of Maggots is said to disturb even his neighbors in Hades, with other gods of disease loath to spend time in his company. Yurtrus does not mind; his only known friend, if he could be said to have such, is the deposed former Oinoloth, Anthraxus. The White-Handed God sometimes allies with Shargaas to oppose the predominance of the warrior trio of Gruumsh, Bahgtru, and Ilneval. Sowing a small amount of terror and dread usually satiates them both.

    Only Gruumsh truly knows the origin of Yurtrus, though sages have many guesses - an orcish power tainted by Zuggtmoy, or a child of Zuggtmoy by Gruumsh; a deceased lieutenant of Gruumsh returned as a rotting entity bent toward devouring life itself; or perhaps most disturbingly, an ancient fungal deity that took on his current form, name, and nature by way of the orcs' fear of a particular plague that devastated them, a plague whose sign was white hands. Yurtrus, of course, never speaks, and nobody has seen fit to press the One-Eyed God on this matter. Other than Gruumsh, Yurtrus is one of the most active in sending emissaries and avatars to the Prime to create champions for his dark will.

    Yurtrus's holy symbol is a pair of white hands; his favored weapon is the unarmed strike. Yurtrus's domains are Corruption, Death, Decay, Destruction, Evil, Orc, Pestilence, and Suffering. Yurtrus is neutral evil.
    Last edited by afroakuma; 2019-11-03 at 11:23 PM.

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    Default Re: So You Want To Kill An Orc (3.5, Fluff)

    This is fun, engaging, and easy to read. Well done!

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    Default Re: So You Want To Kill An Orc (3.5, Fluff)

    I was really enjoying this innovative take on orcs - but then you reverted to the usual mistake (as I see it) of making a sapient species monocultural. I tend not to like monoculture species in settings. That made me stop and think.

    The akh and vah idea is interesting, and well put, but it seems to me that this should only be a way that a certain tribe or regional culture of orcs think, not a universal trait - or if you strongly wish it to be a universal trait, then maybe it needs variant words to express it, to show that the orcs of the plains are different to those of the jungle, who are different to those of the mountains (or whatever is applicable in your setting).

    Of course, the monoculture is born out of the game's default of giving each species a single language - humans all speak Common, dwarves all speak Dwarven, orcs all speak Orcish - and by giving the non-human species a single pantheon (if not just a single deity): there is one orcish god, one dwarven god, but many human gods.

    But in the end, if I wanted to add more cultural variety to my orcs, I could easily borrow your ideas, and gloss them differently for my own setting -so I can't really be grumpy about your buying into the default game setting with somewhat monocultural species.

    There! I've grown as a person!

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    Default Re: So You Want To Kill An Orc (3.5, Fluff)

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    I was really enjoying this innovative take on orcs - but then you reverted to the usual mistake (as I see it) of making a sapient species monocultural. I tend not to like monoculture species in settings. That made me stop and think.

    The akh and vah idea is interesting, and well put, but it seems to me that this should only be a way that a certain tribe or regional culture of orcs think, not a universal trait - or if you strongly wish it to be a universal trait, then maybe it needs variant words to express it, to show that the orcs of the plains are different to those of the jungle, who are different to those of the mountains (or whatever is applicable in your setting).

    Of course, the monoculture is born out of the game's default of giving each species a single language - humans all speak Common, dwarves all speak Dwarven, orcs all speak Orcish - and by giving the non-human species a single pantheon (if not just a single deity): there is one orcish god, one dwarven god, but many human gods.

    But in the end, if I wanted to add more cultural variety to my orcs, I could easily borrow your ideas, and gloss them differently for my own setting -so I can't really be grumpy about your buying into the default game setting with somewhat monocultural species.

    There! I've grown as a person!
    This article isn't a brand-new take on orcs; it's a dissertation on orcs as they exist in Planescape, drawing on the deep and wide body of canon that is D&D's 40+ year history. That means some stuff is not gonna be up for alteration, as such alterations are beyond the scope of the work.

    Also the Culture section isn't installed yet :P


    Quote Originally Posted by Chilingsworth View Post
    Wow! Not only was that awesome, I think I actually kinda understand Archeron now. If all the "intermediate" outer planes got that kind of treatment, I doubt there would be anywhere near as many critics of their utility.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Gareth View Post
    This article isn't a brand-new take on orcs; it's a dissertation on orcs as they exist in Planescape, drawing on the deep and wide body of canon that is D&D's 40+ year history. That means some stuff is not gonna be up for alteration, as such alterations are beyond the scope of the work.

    Also the Culture section isn't installed yet :P
    You speak for the OP, then?

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    what's up with you guys with pig headed uruk hai wannabes. i know you guys like to get dumb orc who likes to smash but can we kinda get on with the proper orcs instead of pigman brutes. proper orc for me atleast is cross between warhammer orks and warcraft orcs aka most of the clans and race are dumb berserkers while few of them are smart enough to act as heard master for their clan. the whole pig headed think feels like fandoms saving throw to excuse their slaughter.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Shadow View Post
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    Other Deities

    Orc subcultures typically venerate the main pantheon as well as their own deified culture heroes, of whom some are presented below:

    Ahgnaar
    When the orcs were first driven from their homes in the temperate mountains and hills to colder climes, they struggled to endure, possessing neither the natural ruggedness of dwarves nor the inherent ties to nature of the elves. Small bands were able to entrench themselves and worked to survive the winter, but the cold comes with its own dangers, and not all of them originate with the temperature. In this time, a lowly warrior named Ahgnaar challenged a terrible beast of the cold wastes, a remorhaz, and on killing it brought its still-hot ventral organs to the caverns. With this bold gift, the orcs were able to regain their strength, and have come to be masters of polar terrain. Ahgnaar himself did not survive his wounds, but his sacrifice and boldness were remembered, and the legend of Fireguts inspired Gruumsh to give the godhead to the spirit of the warrior.

    Ahgnaar is venerated little outside the tribes of the arctic orcs, and even they consider him mostly a culture hero, though that suits Ahgnaar just fine - he did not seek godhood or leadership and believes his people are, for the most part, doing fine with limited interference on his part. He is remembered during the worst of the cold months most especially, and represents control of resources, endurance, fire, and fearlessness. Young warriors and adventurers who run off to hunt monsters are sometimes said to be seeking Ahgnaar's grave, a phrase said half in awe and half in contempt for foolishness. Ahgnaar makes his divine realm, Wintersbite, on the top layer of Ysgard, on a particularly frosty earthberg where he can hunt frost worms and remorhazes.

    Ahgnaar's symbol is a cracked remorhaz skull; his favored weapon is the greatclub. Ahgnaar's domains are Animal, Chaos, Courage, Fire, Orc, Protection, and Winter. Ahgnaar is chaotic neutral.

    Dukagsh
    When the collected might of the vilekith was scattered in bitter defeat in the First Unhuman War, many of the surviving orcs questioned how their gods could have failed them so. One of these was the mighty and visionary captain Dukagsh, who abandoned thoughts of retreating to a conflict world where orcs struggled against their adversaries. Instead, he executed the shamans for contesting his leadership, then brought his warriors to an uninhabited world, which they named in his honor. Dukagsh had served with hobgoblins in the War, and extrapolated from the best of their ideals to teach his survivors a new way forward. When he died, he was entombed, and the veneration his followers had for him helped him reawaken as a demigod. Dukagsh remains the only god that the space orcs, or scro, will worship, enjoying enormous popularity among his people. He teaches of excellence not just in physical strength, but also in military strategy, unity of thought, discipline, and loyalty. It has been suggested that his symbol is meant to reinforce turning aside from Gruumsh, though Dukagsh still teaches contempt toward other races and absolute hatred of elves.

    Some scholars insist that Dukagsh is nothing more than a facade for either Gruumsh or Ilneval, and that an elder orc god is manipulating the scro as a large-scale experiment in giving the orcish race a new direction. These sages are wrong. Probably. Most likely. Potentially. Dukagsh makes his divine realm in the tomb where his mortal body was laid to rest, which orbits the planet that bears his name. Most likely.

    Dukagsh's symbol is a steel circle bearing two orcish eyes; his favored weapons are the pistol and scimitar. Dukagsh's domains are Community, Evil, Law, Orc, Pride, Strength, and War. Dukagsh is lawful evil.

    Kuvash
    There are two subjects you should not bring up around Gruumsh - the loss of his eye, and where his favorite spear is. The former is said to be an inestimably powerful artifact somewhere on the Prime; the latter may be found on the dark and forlorn layer of Agathys, lowest layer of Carceri, nestled in the guts of the Impaled One. Gruumsh wanted a son smarter than Bahgtru, and that's exactly what he received - Kuvash was possessed of both terrible cunning and surpassing boldness, but where his older brother lacked intellect, Kuvash lacked sense and respect. He goaded one of his father's best lieutenants into challenging a dragon god for supremacy, which ended poorly; he then took that one's role in the court of Nishrek, where he sowed division and sabotaged a line of battle so that he could miraculously be there to save the day when the goblins broke through. The One-Eyed God refused to see his perfidy - until Kuvash made a play for his remaining eye, having negotiated with enemies of the orcs for a weapon that could blind Gruumsh so that he could be toppled. Furious at his son's cowardice and treachery, Gruumsh threw his greatest spear through the belly of his insolent child, a strike so hard it sent Kuvash through five layers of Carceri and cracked the endless ice of Agathys, where he continues to bleed divine ichor mixed with the molten steel of his father's spear, white-hot after millennia from the undying rage of the One-Eyed God. This is the source of his other epithet, Steelblood.

    Stories of Kuvash are used to underscore why treachery and cowardice are unforgivable flaws for an orc, but some few worship him in secret. It is believed by sages that Gruumsh knows and tacitly allows this in order to keep Kuvash alive and suffering, which also provides a chance to collect some of the steel that has ebbed from his eternal wound. As well, servants of Kuvash may undermine Ilneval and Shargaas, and attempts to conspire with either god only help the followers of Gruumsh more easily detect treachery. Ghouls are considered beasts of Kuvash, as they are known in stories to arise from cannibals.

    Kuvash's symbol is a burned hand with a hole in the palm; his favored weapon is the punching dagger. Kuvash's domains are Chaos, Charm, Envy, Evil, Hunger, and Trickery. Kuvash is chaotic evil.

    Nabassh
    Daughter of Gruumsh and Luthic, Nabassh had little room to distinguish herself next to the brutal chaos of her stupid elder brother. Considering her a potential mate for Ilneval to keep his lieutenant in line, Gruumsh joked that she could be goddess of mercy, meaning the taking of slaves from the conquered. His daughter did not take his meaning, however, reasoning that a true conqueror shows no mercy. She came to her father and asked him if it would be merciful to let any elf thrive beyond the reach of the orcs, and he was deeply insulted. Then she pointed to the children of Deep Sashelas, the aquatic elves, and reminded her father that no orc dwelled in the depths. Gruumsh realized her point and asked his shamans to nominate a warchief to lead a band of transformed orcs to settle beneath the waves and purge the seas of elvenkind. One bold warchief stepped up immediately and received the gift of Gruumsh - imagine the surprise of the One-Eyed God when he discovered Nabassh behind the facade! With his gaze fixed in hatred on the aquatic elves, he had not seen through his daughter's plan, nor her disguise as a male.

    Nabassh led the first aquatic orcs beneath the waves, finding conflict with not only the aquatic elves, but also locathah, merfolk, sahuagin, and others. Her people tried to ally with the sahuagin against the elves, only to be mercilessly rebuffed by the sea devils. Incensed, Nabassh led her people to the cold depths, where they took the frightening creatures of the deep as their inspiration and plotted to strike up from the dark against those who had once again refused to give the orcish race the respect they deserve. Nabassh alternates between male and female depictions in religion, with surface orcs often considering her male, though debate continues. She is recognized as not only a sea deity, but also the goddess of pursuit, mercilessness, retreat and regrouping, and guardianship of territory. Gruumsh, for his part, remains deeply impressed by the Sharkslayer's ambition, confidence, and trickery; however, his bruised pride and stubbornness prevent him from considering her a potential successor, and she remains a demigoddess. Her divine realm, Deepstrike, is located in an uncommonly deep reach of a sphere on Porphatys, fifth layer of Carceri.

    Nabassh's symbol is a dagger stabbed into a fish skull; her favored weapon is the spear. Nabassh's domains are Blackwater, Evil, Orc, Protection, Trickery, War, and Water. Nabassh is neutral evil.

    Nurva
    Eldest child of Gruumsh and Luthic, Nurva was born in the wake of Gruumsh losing his eye, born of his rage and pain and Luthic's desire to see that her mate was provided with that which he needed most to take his revenge. The child she bore was utterly unlike their expectations - a female, missing her lower jaw, blind in both eyes. Yet when Gruumsh moved to slay her with his mighty spear, the babe easily avoided his every blow. Her voice slid into his mind, telling her father that she was Need, and Need paid now would be repaid in time one hundredfold. Though he struggled with his akh, Gruumsh allowed her to grow and thrive, and his eldest child became the eye he had lost, providing with her wisdom a window into the future of the orcish race. Nurva's foresight allowed Gruumsh to discover and eliminate his prospective challengers before they could become a threat, and her ominous and mutilated silhouette in the court of Nishrek gives pause to others who might have similar ambitions. Nurva has few shamans, and they have a bad reputation for sabotaging their warchiefs - in reality, of course, they choose such courses of action as will best benefit the orc band, even if it would undermine the warchief. Unthanked, unloved, and often deeply resented, Nurva is nonetheless a crucial custodian of her people and is called on when all else fails. Her epithets are She Who Sees and Snakebinder.

    Nurva's symbol is a snake's skeleton; her favored weapon is the dagger. Nurva's domains are Destiny, Evil, Oracle, Law, Luck, Orc, and Planning. Nurva is lawful evil.

    Nuugahtrec
    One of the youngest daughters of Gruumsh and Luthic, Nuugahtrec is a massive, ogrillon-like female figure associated with herd animals. Rough, brutal, and uncompromising, Nuugahtrec prefers her beasts to their herders, and condemns those who are wasteful with valuable animals to violent punishments. Her followers raise hardy cattle, camels, reindeer, and other such animals across many environments, forming kinships that may somewhat alienate them from orcish society as a whole. They gather milk, prepare cheeses, and butcher fresh meat. Nuugahtrec has no problem being the provider of trusted and reliable foodstuffs, but demands freedom and discretion in return - she refuses to be reduced to what she disparagingly calls a "pantry god." Shamans are encouraged to promote brawling with the best animals as a way to strengthen both orc and beast, improving the yield and culling the weak. They may also assist the band with winning the services of wild monsters - griffons, bulettes, young dragons, etc. Her epithets are Herd Matron and Bull-Thrower.

    Nuuaghtrec's symbol is a ruminant's skull with a rod in its teeth; her favored weapon is the unarmed strike (unless you're strong enough to fling the corpse of an animal, in which case do that). Nuugahtrec's domains are Animal, Chaos, Competition, Evil, Feast, and Strength. Nuugahtrec is chaotic evil.

    Thaargat
    Matron of None. Mother of Stones. The Spider. She Who Scattered Us. Jungle orc epithets for Thaargat are myriad and never friendly, and other orcs know her as a boogeyman figure. Originally, Thaargat was a tribal matron whose warchief wanted to settle in the heart of a vast jungle. Thaargat protested that their tribe did not know the ways of this new and dangerous place, and that enemies could easily take advantage in the dense and uncompromising jungle. Insulted at being challenged and convinced that the jungle concealed great wealth, the warchief forced Thaargat and their children into the jungle ahead of the rest of the tribe, to learn of its dangers firsthand - the hard way. The children died, but Thaargat endured, seeing their pain and what had ended their lives and envisioning it all raining down on the head of the warchief. She returned and made a show of teaching the dangers of the jungle, which included poisoning the warchief with a spider's venom. While his captains wanted to strike her down, Thaargat pointed out to them that they had already entered the jungle and that only she knew its secrets. To each one she told a small fragment of what she knew, and then split them apart to go out into the jungle with their smaller bands, for none were certain that she had not lied about something.

    The few who returned had seen the suffering she did, and begged her forgiveness and teachings, for they were now hopelessly lost in the jungle. Thaargat promised to ensure that all who entered the jungle would learn of its ways - one way or another. Her warning stones became sites of pilgrimage and veneration for the jungle orcs, markers that familiarized them with their new and perilous land. When she passed, the first generation of jungle warchiefs took up her name as a warning for the perils of the jungle, and Thaargat was renewed as a demigoddess of danger, herbalism, poisons, and jungle crafts. Her shamans are near-universally female at her insistence. Thaargat is depicted as an ancient crone with thick vines for hair. Some fear that she is a reflection of, puppet of, or disguise for the drow goddess Lolth, but others contend that this would be unlikely. Thaargat has never been seen in her divine realm, but few people go to Cathrys, second layer of Carceri, in the first place, and her Venomous Ravine is particularly unwelcoming even for that place.

    Thaargat's symbol is a stone spiderwebbed with radiating cracks; her favored weapon is the kukri. Thaargat's domains are Chaos, Craft, Evil, Knowledge, Orc, Plant, and Spider. Thaargat is chaotic evil.

    Vasthu
    The history of the orcs sees them settling in hostile and unforgiving environments constantly, and it should come as no surprise that orcs came to the deserts of many worlds before other races found the need to expand to such harsh lands. When the time came to confront these new interlopers, the desert orcs could have come forth to subjugate and conquer, as Gruumsh would have them do. However, the first desert orc to meet with a desert dwarf was Vasthu, who calmly and plainly offered that the orcs knew the land better and could tolerate it more comfortably, and that the dwarves would not find safe water without them. A trade was struck, the two sides begrudgingly offered one another the services they could, and Vasthu's example was passed among his people along with the fine dwarven steel he had extorted from their new neighbors in exchange for guidance to a safe oasis. Vasthu has become venerated as much for commanding respect from other races as from the example he laid out for how to prosper in an inhospitable land through trade, endurance, and experience.

    Vasthu keeps his realm, Vasthu's Moot, on the Outlands between Rigus and Torch, as he wishes to remain close to the court of Nishrek but recognizes that he has made decisions which are not favored by Gruumsh - Shargaas sponsored his ascension before the One-Eyed God. Many tribes refuse to speak of him outside the desert, but orcish trade delegations still carry black flags with bird skulls as the symbol of their sincerity more often than not, and some scouts learn his teachings. Outside of orcish culture, he remains an obscure demipower, but the laws of Vasthu have helped many a traveler cross the desert safely with the aid of their unlikely guides. Vasthu's portfolio is trade, scouting, pathfinding, and the nomadic lifestyle. He also has some limited cultural associations with time. He encourages the desert orcs to deal with members of other races, barring the despised elves; unlike the other orcish deities, however, Vasthu's followers are recommended to quietly shun elves and ignore them, recognizing that if the issue is pressed they will have a duty to attack their ancient foes but that combat is unlikely to be productive for anyone in the desert. He is known as the Sandchief, He Who Sees From Afar, and Taker of Trails.

    Vasthu's symbol is a vulture skull above a long black pennant; his favored weapon is the throwing axe. Vasthu's domains are Knowledge, Orc, Sand, Sky, Time, Trade, and Travel. Vasthu is true neutral.
    Last edited by afroakuma; 2019-11-09 at 09:46 AM.

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    Iím really liking this. Got more?

    Debby
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debihuman View Post
    Iím really liking this. Got more?
    Glad to hear it, and yes I do. Updated third post with Religion.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Default Re: So You Want To Kill An Orc (3.5, Fluff)

    The write-up for Yurtrus is really evocative, nice. Very much enjoying.

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