Basic Ideas:
-For the most part, they exist in a barbaric state, like the usual Orcs, living in tribes with Stone Age technology. However, unlike usual Orcs, they are not an inferior race in any fashion. They have all the intelligence of humans, with more strength and speed, but their minds are 'locked' in a strange way that prevents most of them from ever rising from brutish, animal living.

-Their minds become 'unlocked' when they serve a master. Perhaps they were created to serve, or perhaps this is just the way they work. Regardless, they find freedom in service to a worthy (remember that- WORTHY) master. They are humorless, grim, and when they are given a task, they follow it to the bitter end. They follow a master's orders without question.

-Worthy masters must be like the Urwhor themselves- driven, grim, pitiless towards enemies, yet honorable. Urwhor have a very deep sense of honor. They are also very regimented, even in a barbaric state. They are pitiless and cruel to their enemies (percieved or otherwise), except where their code of honor calls for charity (For instance, they will not slay or even attack an enemy on said enemy's birthday).

-A large part of their culture is poetry and song. Even in barbaric state, they compose haiku-like poems, songs, and stories.

-They dwell mostly in mountainous and wilderness areas where 'civilized' folk have not driven them off. They can also be found in the service of kings, sorcerors, and warlords who they find to be worthy masters.

-Their traditional weapon is a lorwhogw (lore-hwog-wuh), a type of axe. They do not wear armor, instead relying on their tough skin OR scales, and preternatural speed.

-They have an unusual sensitivity to the use of Power (i.e., magic, psychic abilities, supernatural things like that)

-They worship the Ghaharshord, a sort of tribunal or council of gods. I haven't really envisioned them that well yet.

-I don't see them as innately evil, just cruel and unyielding to their enemies, who are usually everyone else.

I have well outlined their cultural and mental aspect. But I am torn between to physical aspects.

Option 1- They are emaciated and bony, with splayed feet and hands. They have flat, animal faces and spiky, stiff hair that is similar to quills. Their skin is a sallow yellow color and is leathery, rough, and dry.

Option 2- They are strange reptomammals, wide and muscular, with green scaly skin and short tails. They have clawed hands and feet. Their faces are semi-humanoid, but have long, slit-like nostrils, chitinous spiked chins and brows, and a bony, sharp crest on top. They grow silky furry coatings between the scales on their arms and legs.

I need more help with the Urwhor than I did with the Duerga. Anybody care to do another New Look?

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Your race was probably created by someone a long time ago. That person was destroyed/ defeated and a few breeding pairs survived.

The original stock was probably some kind of pack hunter, thus their orrientation towards social heirachy. Thus the strongest figure to their perception would be the leader. If the base creature was more intelligent than most animals, other than a need to band together and follow a leader, their society could very greatly. So some groups will just be slightly better than a pack of hunting animals, while established groups will have a complex and ritual social groups.

Since they were created, they can have a mental disposition that is fairly narrow/ steroetypical. There will be exceptions after all, but as a whole they follow the strongest leader blindly. They may even have instinctive skills. So they can automatically pick up your racial weapon and know somewhat how to use it.

In fact, they may all look like each other, thus requiring decorations like tattoos or clothing to mark themselves as different.

Along that line, perhaps you have to earn a name. You are just a grunt until you go do something to differentiate yourself. Then you get a name. Then you get a place in the heirarchy.

Now that I have thought about it, lets run with the repteloid version.

This allows them to be more logic based, without those silly mammal emotions getting in the way. They can be cruel, because empathy is an emotion. Their codes of conduct and social rules are a substitute for a moral code.

They are more alien that way, and people would accept it with fewer reservations or preconceptions.

The main reason I like this is that they can breed with eggs. This allows our Orc-substitutes to breed quickly, as one female might lay a dozen eggs at one time. These eggs can lay dorment until summer, then hatch. They may grow quickly and gain intelligence. If they mature quickly, you could have an adult ready to go in a year or two.

Eggs mean they can focus on the group, especially if the eggs from several females are put in the same nest and raised by the group.

Also have the race be mostly male. The most submissive of the bunch might mutate into a female (nature finding a way to break free of constraints). This might explain how they escaped their originally servitude or how they survived their creator's death. The only ones that are allowed to breed are the group alpha and his betas (lieutenent alphas).

In addition it could explain certain... agressive attitudes. Between no ....ummm.... female release and a 'locker room' attitude, it could color their responses greatly.

'Why do you live this way?'

'Without master, there is no purpose. Waiting for master.'

Perhaps the Ghaharshord is the ancestral memory of their creators and long-ago masters- a cabal of sorcerors or something like that.

Reptiles it is. The egg-laying and female mutation is much in keeping with all my ideas.

Appearance

The Urwhor are reptomammalian, having features of both mammals and reptiles. They generally stand about 5 feet tall, and have wide shoulders and hips. Their bodies are muscular and seem slightly top-heavy. Their arms are longer than their legs, and their long fingers end about at their kneecaps.

The skin of the Urwhor is covered in large scales that are usually a dusty dun color. On the arms, legs, and back of Urwhor, a fine, silky coating of fur grows out from between these scales. The chest muscles and muscles of the solarplexus are covered by large leathery plates.

Urwhor have humanoid heads that are slightly longer than they are wide, though this is unnoticeable from the front or back. Their faces look somewhat like that of a human, but have planed, sharp cheekbones, a flat nose with nostrils forming a V, and a slightly jutting lower jaw. The chin and brows have chitinous, horned growths. The middle of the skull is crowned with a bony, sharp crest or fin that is highest at the top point of the head, and dwindles into the backbone between the shoulder-blades.

The Urwhor have sharp, black claws on their fingers, and blunter ones on their toes, with a short dewclaw in a recess above the heel.

Slightly above the collarbone on each side, the Urwhor have special glands, which they can use to emit a soft glow. Each Urwhor's gland glows a different color. These glands are used as a part of Urwhor communication.

Urwhor speak in thick, gurgling voices, that sound somewhat like a man trying to speak through a mouthful of mucus or tar, punctuated with clicks, buzzes, and pops.

Urwhor Language

Here is the Urwhor 'alphabet', as it is, though they have no written language, a catalogue of all the sounds in the majority of their dialects. The 'normal' pronunciation is hear taken to mean English pronunciation.

U- 'uh' or 'oo'

W- As normal. At the end of a word, such as axofw ('darkness'), it is pronounced as wuh. (Axofw- aks-oh-fwuh)

H- As normal. Sometimes to emphasize a vowel, as in Oyahgw, where it makes the A sound stronger.

WH- A combination sound, 'hw', so that Urwhor is pronounced Uhr-hwor. It is imperative that English speakers do not drop the W sound, as would be done in the English 'whore' or 'whoa'. For people who wish to pronounce it absolutely correctly, try drinking a thick drink (like eggnog or NesQuik) and then pronouncing it (An ugly sound, somewhat like the sound made when hocking a lugie.).

A- 'ah'.

E- 'eh'.

O- 'oh' or 'uh'.

I- 'ee'.

G- As per normal, though it never functions like a J.

GH- An emphasized, somewhat glottal G sound.

D- As normal.

L- As normal.

J- As normal.

F- As normal or like a V.

K- As normal.

S- Sibilant and hissed. (Example- Ruwos, 'fire', = roo-wohsss)

SH- As normal.

X- As normal.

V- As normal.

Y- As normal, though when placed at the end of a word (As in 'whoy', air) it is pronounced as 'yuh'. Therefore, whoy becomes 'hwoh-yuh'.

T- As normal.

TH- As normal.

Yes- Oyahgwuxw (Oh-yah-gwuhks-wuh; literally, 'it is')

No- Dur-Oyahgwuxw (Door-Oh-yah-gwuhks-wuh; 'it is not') {Sometimes shortened to 'dur', meaning, simply, 'not'.)

Examples of Verbs:

To be- Oyahgw (Oh-yah-gwuh)

To serve- Uxugharsh (Ooks-uh-ghahrsh)

To go/move - Ujorwhor (Oo-jor-hwor) {Ujorwhor is also used to mean 'to die'}

To consume (used or both eating and drinking)- Ghovat (Ghoh-vaht)

To sense (used for all senses)- Sagharsh (Ssssah-ghahrsh)

To live- Velekwohrd (Veh-leh-kwohrd)

To speak- Targhafod (Tahr-ghah-fohd)

To sing- Urghafod (Uhr-ghah-fohd) {Also used in the sense 'to speak of in poetry'}

To fight- Wharjog (Whahr-johg)

To kill- Gharokshof (Ghahr-ok-shohf)

To dwell (As in, to live in a place)- Dawharoxy (Dah-hwahr-ohks-yuh)

To rule/lead- Gharharsh (Ghahr-harsh)

Examples of Nouns:

Master/Leader- Gharharshord (Ghahr-harshord; usually used in the sense 'I-Gharharshord', the Gharharshord.)

Servant- Uxugharshord (Ooks-uh-ghahrshord)

Person- Urwhor (Uhr-hwor; usually used in the sense 'I-Urwhor', the People)

Axe- Lorwhogw (Lohr-hwog-wuh)

Scale- Akwhofax (Ahk-hwo-fahks)

Fur- Towhofax (Toh-hwo-fahks)

Egg- Ghorshokard (Ghor-sho-kard)

Honor- Koyasy (Koh-yahsss-yuh)

Poetry/Song- Urghafw (Uhr-ghahf-wuh)

Air- Whoy (Hwoh-yuh)

Fire- Ruwos (Roo-wohsss; reader will note that Urwhor words rarely end in S)

Darkness/Stupidity- Axofw (Aks-oh-fwuh)

Water- Uwexy (Oo-wehks-yuh)

Earth/Stone- Yahkwox (Yahk-wohks)

Note- Urwhor nouns are both singular and plural

Songs of the Urwhor

These are some of the songs universal to all Urwhor tribes and groups.

Whoy-Ruwos-Urghafw

The Song of Air and Fire. This the song that tells of how the Urwhor dwelt in a cold wilderness to the furthest south, and then were led north in search of their master by the first chief, Gharghorwhox.

Koyasy-Urghafw

The Song of Honor. This song is sung when a hero performs a great deed, or even arrives, when a good omen is seen, and just generally at any celebrations. It tells of the proper code of honor and conduct for Urwhor.

Athofw-Urghafw

The Song of Athofw. This is a very long saga about the Urwhor hero, Athofw, who gathered together many thousands of Urwhor to serve a warlord of Men, but then slew his unsatisfactory master and led the Urwhor as a master himself, leading the many tribes to massive victories and much plunder and happiness. However, unthinkably, he was betrayed by his nephew, Urwofodej, and slain, and his Great Tribe crumbled and separated.

Lorwhogw-Urghafw

The Song of Axes. This is a song sung by Urwhor warriors.

I find the thing most striking to me, and that is only touched on, is their human intelligence which is somehow locked. I think this and how it works is somehow core to what the orcs are.

The fact that they are honorable is interesting. Knowing when their birthday is is a feat of incredible knowledge in itself, being able to keep track in such a primitive society. There must be some tradition that is passed on to allow this.

So when they are won over by a worthy master, which means the good guys have an even chance of getting them as the baddies, their intellect somehow solidifies and concentrates on the goal given them. They see with utmost clarity the how and result of what they want to do to comply with the wants of their leader as long as it doesn't disrupt their honor.

I almost see them as a flock of birds during a battle, they have a unified vision of what needs to be done and their intelligence enables them all to see certain openings and percieve them as one. So in the middle of a pitched battle, perhaps the left flank has fallen and as soon as it does the orcs just know that if they use that opening then the battle could be turned. Looking from above, the orcs turn, almost as one, and their efforts are redirected towards the weakness. Gives me a good visual, but not sure if it is appropriate.

Anyway, I am hung up on your idea on their intelligence and what it is capable of once it is unlocked.

I love this thread. Orcs deserve a makeover and this one's doing them justice.

I think one crucial point arises in trying to understand the Urwhor mind and that is the role of the Ghaharshord. I think that the Urwhor do not fully understand themselves what it is they worship, but they are aware of its existence and its awesome power. Perhaps the whole Urwhor spiritual and cultural drive is a groping to comprehension of the nature of Ghaharshord. Maybe as CP has suggested, it is a vestige of some primal memory of a terrifying cabal of sorcerors. But the flock-like behaviour Strolen mentioned makes me think it could be something else. Perhaps the great Power the Urwhor so fear and revere is 'I-Urhwor': themselves as a Race.

The average Urwhor may think of Ghaharshord as the Ultimate Master, an axe-wielding warrior, but I think the warrior represents a different part of their psyche. It is a Jung-like archetype for their libido. The Ghaharshord is another deeply rooted archetype which is much less tangible and yet is felt by all Urwhor.

I think it would be good to do some sort of Jungian analysis of some Urwhor myths (or perhaps use these ideas as a guideline for the myths) to discover more about the way the Urwhor think.

Numbers

One- Ghul (Gool)

Two- Low (Loh-wuh)

Three- Wagax (Wah-gahks)

Four- Tush (Toosh)

Five- Axw (Ahks-wuh)

Six- Urly (Oorl-yuh)

Seven- Whej (Hwehj)

Eight- Foy (Vohy)

Nine- Valugh (Vah-luhg)

Ten- Doxw (Dohks-wuh)

The Ranks

Gharharshord- The Master. All Urwhor serve their current Master unquestioningly, unless they find it unsatisfactory.

Ghuly

(Gool-yuh) Means 'First'. The alpha of the tribe. Ghuly have absolute control over all other Urwhor. It is the Ghuly's duty to interpret the orders of the Gharharshord correctly, and to make sure the other Urwhor follow them (though that is rarely a problem). It is also the duty of the Ghuly to initiate rebellion against an unsatisfactory Gharharshord.

The Ghuly is not necessarily the strongest warrior in the tribe. They are more often the most clever, defeating their competitors with trickery and underhanded dealings rather than brute strength.

Lowy

(Loh-yuh) Means 'Second'. The Lowy(s) are the Ghuly's lieutenants. They usually come from the Wharjogwhak, though a rare Sagharshowhak has been skilled enough and accomplished enough to become a Lowy.

Urghafwhak

(Uhr-ghaf-wahk) Means 'Singer' or 'Poet'. The Urghafwhak is a special member of the tribe, lying outside the usual hierarchy. The Urghafwhak is the shaman and lorekeeper of the tribe, learning the tribe's historical songs, calendar, birthdays, and rituals for placating the Gharharshord (gods, not the Master). The Urghafwhak is in many ways the most important member of the tribe, though not the leader or the decision-maker. They are revered as the wisest of all beings.

Wharjogwhak

(Hwahr-johg-wahk) Means 'Fighter', though is less literally interpreted as 'Warrior'. The Wharjogwhak are the warriors of the tribe, and are in charge of fighting enemies and hunting for the tribe's sustenance. If the tribe has a Master, the Wharjogwhak are the 'grunts', who do the drudge work and battle for the Master, also serving as guards. Most males of the tribe are Wharjogwhak.

Sagharshowhak

(Sahg-harsh-oh-wahk) Means 'Senser', though less literally interpreted as 'Searcher' or 'Scout'. The Sagharshowhak is in charge of foraging out (non-huntable) food, cooking the tribe's meals, constructing the tribe's dwellings, scouting during the tribe's journeys, and serving as spies and scouts for the Master.

Dur-Ghorshokard

(Door-Gohr-shoh-kahrd) Means 'Not-Egg', though it is always interpreted as 'Young' or 'Offspring'. The Dur-Ghorshokard are the children and newly-hatched of the tribe. The Dur-Ghorshokard are heavily protected by tribal law, and to harm a child, even a non-Urwhor child, is a deep taboo. They have no duties to the tribe other than to mature into a useful adult.

Dur-Aghur

(Door-Ahg-Oor) Means 'Not-Male', interpreted as 'Female'. The Dur-Aghur are the weakest, lowest members of the tribe. Females are a section of each clutch that is submissive to all other members of the tribe. These submissives mutate into femals. They exist only to give birth to new clutches of eggs, expanding the tribe's population. Only the Ghuly and his Lowy(s) are allowed to breed with the Dur-Aghur.

Some questions...

I can't come up with good reasons for either of these....

Why do place so much emphasis on music, song, and poetry?

and

Why do they hold birthdays and calendars important?

and

Why are they so sensitive to the use of Power?

A few questions, and points on the Urwhor.

Questions:

1. Reptiles have internal genetalia, seeing as the Urwhor would fall into the range of Protomammals (Reptilian Mammals) would they share this trait? If so, they would not need clothing, as they have nothing to hide, unless...

2. What sort of metabolism do they have? A cold blooded Urwhor would be very active in the summer, and lethargic, or hibernating in the winter. They would have use for clothes, but only as insulators during the fall months when the temperature starts to drop off. If they are warm blooded, they will still have more defined clothing, but for full year insulation. As the cold increases Urwhor activity to procure food for the tribe would increase as local game depletes during the winter.

3. No one has said anything about the sense of smell. Since they lack a large snout, and associated olfactory nerves, perhaps they use an organ similar to that of snakes, an olfactory sensor in the roof of the mouth, letting them 'taste' smells as snakes do. Smell is going to be important if males and females aren't immediately obvious.

4. Since female are rare, they might instead of being smaller, be larger than the males. These could be the broodmothers that the tribes protect, and could be equal in rank to any ghuly. Just an idea.

Now for points.

1. The Urwhor have a strongly repressed libido as there is not a population of breeding females, just the main clutch that only the alpha males may access. The libido is the constructive side of the psyche, and as it is not expressed, there would be no urwhor cities, or monuments, or other trappings of civilization.

2. The destrudo or destructive masculine side of the psyche is well, perhaps overly expressed. This would create a power based pecking order among the males, as well as possessing innate ability to use weapons, combat tactics, and being general scourges in battle.

3. As a created race, as opposed to a 'true' race, the id and ego could be very suppressed. Without a genetic predisposition to individuality, the urwhor would be ferocious in battle but utterly lacking in ambition, or desire to usurp the power of the creators. Their greatest turmoil comes from the fact that instead of being chosen by the master for their roles in the tribe, they must accept those roles themselves. It would be a conflict of the survival instinct versus their predisposition to being sevants.

4. The collective consciousness of the Urwhor would be a turbulent thing, Their dreams could be fragments of their animalistic halves, solitary urges of reptiles, long periods of time basking in the sun, sleeping through the cold. They could also have the fevered dreams of mammals, breeding in the dark, the suckling comfort of the mother, the joy of birth siblings. Waking from such an state could leave the urwhor inwardly angry and violent.

The Urwhor are definately outside of the old orky box

Scrasamax has hit the nail with his psychoanalysis, that's the sort of thing I was talking about. I'd independently hit on some similar ideas:

The Warrior and his Axe

Perhaps the only males to mate are those born with external genitalia, the majority having internal organs. The sexual repression and frustration which results scars the Urwhor and characterises their whole mindset. This is symbolised by the Warrior and his Axe, a phallic archetype appearing in many Urwhor myths. He is something to be feared and hated, a reminder of their own sexual inadequacy. He is often portrayed wielding his axe on a black hill in a blood-red sunset. He is the thing of Urwhor nightmare.

All other forms of Urwhor behaviour are sublimations of their repressed libido.

Music: Expression of their inner turmoil through song. As a result their music is revered and aspired to. Anyone is capable of attempting to produce music, while only a special few can mate. It is the goal of all Urwhor to become accepted for their art, and those that do come to terms with their twisted minds and are wise, peaceful beings.

Following the Master: The Master is another archetype from myth. A powerful being like Jung's Old Wise Man. It is someone who can protect the Urwhor from the terror of the Warrior and his Axe, and as a communal whole they can act and forget their inadequacies. As a result they are one-minded and efficient, utterly obedient servants.

Anyway, there's lightning around, so I'd better get offline...

ephe!

PS Admirable language, Captain. Any possibilities of some MP3s to let us know how it sounds? It looks juicy!

Good ideas, Eph! The Warrior and his Axe thing is great- perhaps the males who are chosen to battle for being Ghuly are the ones who have external genitalia.

Music- good explanation. They express their rage and turmoil through their songs, a way to stave off the inevitable breakdown.

Masters- good, good!

I don't know about those Mp3s... I'll see what I can do.

Can we get a summary of what is canon and what is not?