A Staple of Fantasy
The Orc, in it’s modern connotation, the semi-humanoid barbarian with equal parts brutality and cowardice can be traced back to Professor Tolkien and his experiments with Old English. I’ll spare the linguistics lesson, but tracing back through the origins of the name brings more to mind than the standard fantasy greenskins with axes, bloodlust, and mob tactics.
I ask of you, my excellent Citadellians and Strolenites, bring me your Orcs.
Additional Ideas (3)
Living in a land covered in shallow bogs and fens, and hounded year round by drizzling rains and constant fogs, Devshirme is a dismal land. The Orcs of Devshirme reflect this phlegmatic disposition. They are usually of a gray pigmentation and have rather bulbous eyes as far as orcs go. They have a less keen sense of smell, but slightly better than average hearing. While they share their greenskin kin's thirst for battle, these orcs charge into battle silently, and hack and kill with pole arms, flails, hammers, and bows. Their trophies and their dead are carried back for both celebration and mourning
The proud tribal peoples of the treacherous jungles and high mountainous regions of the Drannor, tire of their accursed lot in the world. A deeply spiritual nation of tribes lives in harmony with their surroundings hunting only for food or safety and once seen as a right of passage to manhood. These tribes revel in and recognizing and embracing the animal spirits within them that blossom during the hunt. Those that can see at night, and especially at dusk and dawn were praised and honor, as were those that gained the outward appearances of the beast spirits seen to dwell in each tribe member have led the race currently known a Orcs.
Once a nomadic people dwelling in the fertile plain lands north, and wishing to be good neighbors to a human kingdom ravaged by war took in refugees from the devastation, but were soon nudged further south as the greedy human began staking land temporarily gifted to them by the various tribes. Eventually the cooperative nature of Orcs led to an exile from their very own lands by the very humans they assisted. Because the tribe nation was not unified, they were easier to push out than if they had one connecting nation, making way for the great kingdom of demons basin a common human bastardization of their areas name Basin of Dawn. Many tried to flee to the Dwarven Nation of Lortmil, but were met with staunch refusal of help of any kind. From that point on the Orcs of Kyle Drannor knew the meaning of blood rivalry and racism.
In their new lands life was harder. Either more dangerous with larger predators and more competition with nature for resources of food, water and habitat or in the mountains the scarceness of the commodities were the challenge in and of themselves. This harshness has made them stronger and heartier, and they still remain a very proud spiritual people, placing great importance on skill of the hunt and battle and their now more delicate balance with the world around them. They still remain, divided and conquered.
From their hard life the Orcs see Humans as inherently weak of body and a lesser people as their spiritual disconnect is evident. The dwarves have earn a grudging respect from the Tribe Nation as their life in the mountains is also hard and they have many social likenesses, but their transgression of having forsaken the Orcs to this hard life cannot be forgiven. The tribes often live on the outskirts of Human and Dwarven nations, awaiting revenge. The Orcs of Kyle Drannor still make rights of passage, but these now only are in the form of raids on Human or Dwarven lands. As the Orcs are individual tribes, unifying leaders are challenged in every tribe both in battle and in spirit. This is a trial that very few succeed for long in, but there is always hope. And a Great Portent of the Kullryke, The leader to unit the tribe nation, and bring revenge, glory and restore the homeland to the Orcs or Kyle Drannor.
Tribes of man sailed over the Savage Vast, a featureless sea lashed by storms, to find a new homeland, and settled the lands called Hyer after their king, Hyerdal. While the southern parts were temperate, and home to a few dwarven and elven holds, the north was untamed wilderness, chill and forbidding. There, man met with orc, and as space was abundant, they allied against the winter and savage beasts, and forged the nation of Dynahyre.
While orc taught man to live with the wilderness, man gave steel and beasts of burden in return, things the natives embraced with delight.
Nowadays, the orcs and humans of Dynahyre are one nation, ruled by a common king, who is chosen based upon his prowess and wit. They revere common gods, the three titans of ice, march to war side by side, and intermarry regularly.
Leading a seminomadic lifestyle, they have settlements around mines, hot springs and temples, as well as Cities of the Word, where peace is enforced and the chiefs gather for diplomacy, while most of the tribe wander around with herds of wooly cattle, mammoths and caribou.
Status is bound to glory and valor, which can be gained in battle or hunt; both things at which they excel. Allied with minotaurs and ogres, they command the respect of surrounding nations.
Priests are outside of this order, serving all the tribes indiscriminately. The servants of Mavrai, the hunter are often amongst the tribes, aiding with counsel and spell, whereas the clergy of Margur, the beastlord wander the wilds. The blessed of Llutwryn, the battlerager, accompany the armies to war. The clergy is a way for gifted women to gain status, as amongst the tribes, they rarely can reach a position of respect. From amongst them, the king is given brides, as long as he can best them.
The men are enamored with steel and their steeds, owning several weapons, the more renowned the smith the better, and as many steeds as they can afford, tracking down their breeding more diligently than their own family lines. Each man is also supposed to excel at one craft, and it is a shame if he does not. Women are frequently adept at several, and train in archery for combat and hunt.
Dynahyran orcs are taller and less blocky than their southern cousins; most often they will be truly athletic in build. Their skin is a dark hue of green, glossy in females, while almost furred in males, especially on their backs. A peculiarity is that while they have five-fingered hands their feet have but two massive toes. Individuals with pronounced minotaur heritage may sprout horns. Ranging from black over hues of gray to white, their hair grows in veritable manes, and is elaborately braided, and taken care of. Men wear adornments of steel, but may wear gold or silver if they have earned it, while women weave semiprecious stones in their hair.
Leather and fur is the fashion, along with steel. Men carry their leader's insignia, while he carries a totem pole on his back, to be seen and followed.
Also of note is that crossbreeds between the various racial groups of Dynahyre are fairly common, and carry no special social stigma; crossbreeds with the sacred black minotaurs are even revered, and most often initiated into clergy.