Beautiful. Superbly done.
As you mention, not all encounters need to be of great repercussion to the characters, and things like this can make the magic of a world come alive, not the realm of dusty tomes and wizened old men. Go to Comment
So she "gained a valuable nugget of information from a potent Seasonal Spirit", eh? Hirr-Hirr.
Your writing flows rather well and is pleasant for the eyes. I won't whine about you + editors anymore, but sure hope you soon find the correct editor to propel you to your proper place of glory. Until that happens, we are lucky enough to read your stuff ;)
And there are several kinds of editors y'know ;)
*Ring, Ring* "Is this the editor of New York Times? It is? Oh, good. You see, I know this young, promising Texan..."
So you mean use philosophers as inventors or primitive engineers. Maybe they could become important using their brains to become cheiftans. As cheifs or advisors they could become primitive stratigists. This is Necromancer Go to Comment
Arts and Entertainment
Far from the civilized tastes of elves and men, orcs have little value for dance, or for theatre or for the visual arts such as painting, or sculpting. They do show a great deal of support for lorekeepers or storytellers who keep their myths and legends and for musicians. Few can imagine an orc bard, but they do exist playing drums, digeridoos, and brazen horns. Bards and sages are given a great deal of respect, and trust. They are among they few who are not expected to pick up a weapon and give battle. There are few orc bards who would pass a battle though. It was in the guise of a acolyte bard that I spent much of my time.
The support of these 'artists' comes from the traditions of the clan, and tribe. The chieftan, or khan of each tribe is expected to keep a number of sages and bards within the tribe. Other lesser chieftans, such as those of the subclans can show up the ruling chieftan by having more or better bards, and sages.
Entertainment among orcs is seldom a spectator event. Hunting dangerous prey and 'sport' are by far the most common forms of recreation. There is a surprisingly intricate game the orcs play that they claim is sacred and the sages whisper dates back to ancient Yrth, the ancestral home of the orcs. The game is played with a ellipsoid ball sewn from animal leather that is at first simply seemed to be fought over until a more intricate underlying of rules can be percieved. It is from this primitive game of 'foot ball' or Orcball that many orcs learn their skills of combat. Evasion, bull rushes, and concepts of offence and defence are paramount in the sport and winners gain prizes and respect of the others. No khan has ever set on a set without having lead a team to great victories.
The slaves, and children of the tribe who are not allowed near orcball, or hunting are given over to lesser pastimes. They play games with sticks, such as hoop throwing, and tossing 'jacks'and other skills of manual dexterity. It is haunting to see orc children playing at games such as cat's cradle and think myself so different from them. Older slaves find ways to find the games of their own culture, or play at an orcish version of stones.
Displays of horsemanship are common pastimes among the more wealthy orcs. They will work to breed the best animals, and show them in contests of grueling obstacle courses, long jumps and endurance racing.
Aside from being raised as a food animal, chickens, generally larger and more foul tempered than human breeds, are used in pit fighting. The chicken fights are a social gathering, and a place where wagers are made. Fortunes are seldom won or lost over a chickenfight, though loot is often exchanged over the outcome.
The barrel chested orchound has been bred to fight, and pull. Dog fighting, considered barbaric and sometimes illegal in human lands is a vital thing among the orcs. Horses, slaves, and other real pieces of value are wagered before prize hounds enter the pit. Losers are often saved by the orcish grasp of healing magics, and the winners are treated as lavishly as any great warrior would be.
As common as tales of human cannibalism, tales of slave combat also abounds. While it is true that the orcs on occassion will send their slaves against one another, it is seldom the event that the outside thinks it is. Slaves are considered exceptionally poor fighters, and sometimes are matched against a fighting cock. A slave duel is a matter of comedy for the orcs. Go to Comment
To the bardic comments and questions above, pretty much yes to all of them. Some orcish heros and chieftans were such paragons of Orcish virtue that it doesnt denegrate for them to be sung of in the halls of other clans. The Bloodrock clan, who has a long running fued with the Warsong clan could not dispute the fact that the Warsong chieftan Blood-Wolf was a mighty cheiftan for he brought great and terrible ruin upon the elves, slew the human champion of Kar-Thrull in single combat, and mastered the sword to an extent unknown. He is a great orc.
Now on the other hand, said bard above could compare the current chieftan as similar to Blood-Wolf, praising him and his prowess even if he is at best a mediocre chief. If there is an ass, there is an asskisser.
Now, playing his elf-gut harp, the glib bard could compare the mediocre chief to Blood-Wolf, and praise a rival chief in a backhand fashion, saying that the glory of the standing chielf is so great, that the rival cannot help but press hius face to the dirt and hold his swords by the blades, indicating a lack of heart, and courage of the rival.
It all depends on the cunning of the bard, and what his true intentions are, if any other than keeping his plate full of meat, and his tail wrapped in fur. Go to Comment
The most common building material used by orcs is wood, thatch, and animal hide. Orcs, being nomadic require housing that is easily erected and collapsed to follow them as they move. Not surprisingly, these hides are also a display of wealth, as is the size of an orc's yurt, or tent.
Ornamentation among the orcs is most commonly decorations of bead and bone. Skulls of kills and great hunts are symbols of prowess, while colors splashed on lesser pieces of hide demonstrate some other capability. A splash of red is a warrior who has survived a great wound and returned to battle, while green denotes a hunter or trapper, while blue is a mystic, or sage. it was by luck that when I first appeared among the orcs I wore a blue scrap of cloth and did not know I named myself a magic user and bard to boot.
The average orc yurt is a little more than two spans tall, and large enough inside for at least three to four people to sleep comfortably. These usually will hold a family unit of two parents and anywhere from two to six children. Young warriors who have not proved themselves often are forced to share smaller cramped yurts until they prove themselves enough to gain one of their own.
Yurts by definition are round, with a slighly pitched roof to direct water away from a baffled smoke hole in the center. The smallest yurts have pointed roofs and resemble cones, while the common yurt more resembles a puffed cake. The wealthy among the tribe, and the artisan class generally have larger yurts. The chieftan has the largest, usually large enough for a dozen warriors, slaves and concubines to entertain, a display of wealth. The artisans, most notably the tanner, and the smithy also have large tents, as well as wagons to move their tools. An orc smith is accorded the same status as a warrior of middle renown, and is not only not expected to fight, some are often forbidden to fight. Go to Comment
I image that the lifestyle of the orc, even the advanced orc is sufficiently difficult that there is not the capacity for the orcs to come about pondering their navals. Philosophy is something that is the realm of the thinking man, who is often by necesity an idle man. Orcs are by their very nature not idle (lazy, as opposed to idle)
Also, the orcish philosopher would not contribute anything of substanciable value to the tribe or clan. The bards and lorekeepers earn their place be being the teachers and the rememberers of the oral traditions. The mages such as they are keep the clan armed, and protected. The laborers create the tools and the weapons.
Slaves and thralls might take up the idea of philospohy to somehow justify their servitude, but I see the orcs mocking them for being weak in the head. Go to Comment
The orcish calendar is solar based, with the new year begining at the Vernal Equinox. As the tribes share a commonality among sages and shaman, the calendar is a fairly set thing not matter the tribe.
Each day is measured in 'fists' in regard to the number of fists that can be held between the sun and the eastern horizon, or fists from the western horizon.
Lunar months are recognized, but only among the sages and shamen who seem to use them for the timing of ceremonies and the casting of divinations. For fear of being discovered, I never ventured close to the shaman, and actually tried to avoid them if at all possible.
There are only a small number of celebrations and holidays among the orcs. The 'great game' of orcball is played in late January and affords three days of elimination games, feasting, and the organization of slaves into cheering sections as a display of husbandry. There is a second set of feasts and revelry in the late Autumn where the orcs 'give thanks' for the bouty of the year and some go so far as to offer sacrifices to their deities. Go to Comment
Crime and the Legal System
One of the duties of the Chieftan is to enforce what few laws exist among the orcs. They are in this regard quite primitive and have very few laws to enforce. There are no courts and grievances are settled either by the arbitration of the chieftan, or by trial by single combat. Slaves are accorded no status other than what would be applied to a prized animal.
Sages and magic users are required to govern themselves and are not under the jurisdiction of the chieftan, though he does have a matter of say that as chieftan, the sages must respect, or loose the respect of the tribe. Once, a Sage sought to raise himself above the chief and exclude him from the sage's affairs. Though his magics were strong, the tribe killed him and boiled his acolytes in water to feed to the hounds.
Punishment is common. Most come down to quite simply a vicious beating. Serious crimes are punished by hot branding, such as cowardice, or fear. Theft from the tribe results in the loss of a hand, or a foot. A 'Left handed Orc' is the same as being called a petty thief. The worst crimes are simply punished with a death best defined as cruel and unusual. Boiling, torture and worse are common with accolade going to the most inventive way to kill. An orc guilty of treason, however, is not given the option of death. This I witnessed only once. The orc sought to betray a hunting band to gain their gear and loot as spoils. He was beaten, and then ritually castrated, with all organs removed. He was healed so as to not die from the wound, and then branded on the arms, and the chest, and his sword hand was viciously broken. Thus, with nothing but a battered piece of leather and a knife he was exiled from the tribe. Go to Comment