The Let's Play Archive

Master of Magic

by nweismuller

Part 48: Regarding Orcs

Regarding Orcs

According to legend, the orcs were somehow created in the distant past by Rjak the Defiler, one of the first recorded wizard-lords of Arcanus and a cruel tyrant said to bear the blood of the Dark Gods in his veins. How he accomplished such a feat is unknown, but the results are better-recorded. The orcs in their day were raised to obedience and to war, building societies designed to provide the legions of the most evil wizard ever known. Arms and troops were delivered swiftly to his hosts, and for a time it seemed he might conquered the unready kingdoms of Arcanus, although he was eventually cast down and slain by early wizard-lords of the high elves. The orcs survived his downfall, and constructed their own societies upon the mold in which they were created, shaped in discipline, obedience, and war. Orcs stand in height between dwarves and men, and have skin ranging from a pale pinkish-red to a deep brick red, with warty faces, pink eyes and random bristles of white hair growing from their skin. Though heavier-built than men, they are not so heavy-built as dwarves, and their lesser height makes them little stronger than men.

The orcs were and are skilled in many useful crafts, although beauty and luxury are unknown to them. All that they make was and is coarse and serviceable, and they compensate for breakage in items of low quality by simply swiftly replacing them. In the absence of a wizard-lord to channel their efforts, orcs organise under military leaders known as 'despots', promoted from the chief lieutenant of the old despot when the old despot fails. Their society is forged into rigid hierarchy, with wide-spread thralldom, although under some wizard-lords in the Confederation this tendency moderated as orcs were bent to somewhat more peaceable aims and freedom was granted to skilled townsfolk, priests, and savants amongst them. Although orcs have little knack for true innovation in any field but battlefield tactics and in grand strategy, they are not unintelligent, and have swiftly copied the innovations of many other races in crafts, engineering, and magic, and, in the days of the Confederation, orcish battle-magicians were widely feared for their great knowledge of and skill in Chaos magic. Their rigid society, lack of initiative, and their stark refusal to ever learn crafts valuable enough for true value in export has ever left them rather unskilled as merchants, perhaps the only field other than artists in which they show little skill. As their whole society was created in days of old as the support for an army, they reserve a portion of every generation as ready recruits as warriors, and the discipline of their upbringing suits them easily to military life; they are then supplied swiftly by smiths who manufacture arms and armor in great mass. Although orcish swords are unlovely and may perhaps break more often than the swords of dwarves and men, they forge them very swiftly and cheaply. Like men, they breed swiftly and live short lives.

Orcish culture is deeply religious. They have most often, historically, dedicated themselves to the Dark Gods and to Rjak foremost amongst them, although outside rulers have been able to suppress native orcish religion and channel their passion of religious adoration to other beliefs. Their priests have never been known to master Bright Magic in any respect, but studies of Nature and Sorcery as well as Dark magic amongst their priesthood are not unknown. Given the opportunity, they have built temple complexes of staggering scope attended by hundreds of priests chanting to their gods, and the word of a priest amongst them is higher than the word of any but a despot himself.

The orcish society as it exists in the wild is vile, and they have a hatred and contempt for the dwarven people, who they still call 'anarchist rebels' in their legends. It seems doubtful they will welcome any liberation, and putting their towns to the sword is a crime beyond consideration. It would seem a pointless thing to seek to bring such a people into the kingdom.