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Orcs are large and powerful humanoids who can be found across Khorvaire, but particularly in the Demon Wastes, the Mror Holds, and the Shadow Marches.[5] While the people of the Five Nations sometimes depict them as savage brutes and ravaging barbarians, most orcs are in fact a deeply spiritual people with a variety of different cultures across the continent.[6]

History[]

Orcs were among the first humanoid races to inhabit Khorvaire, and the first orc nations were established in western Khorvaire some thirty-thousand years ago.[6][7] Eventually the goblins of the Dhakaani Empire scattered the orc tribes, forcing them into the harsher environments of the Demon Wastes, the Ironroot Mountains, and the Shadow Marches.[5][6] As orcs primarily lived in nomadic groups, there are few archeological remains of orc culture from this time, with the exception of underground storage sites.[8]

About sixteen thousand years ago, a rogue dragon named Vvaraak began to teach druidic magic to the orcs of the Shadow Marches, the first generation of Gatekeepers.[5][7][9]. About seven thousand years later, when the daelkyr invaded Khorvaire from the plane of Xoriat, it was the orc Gatekeepers who bound the daelkyr into the depths of Khyber with magical seals, protecting the world from the horrors they wrought.[5][9]

Society[]

There are three main cultures of orcs, the Ghaash'kala, the Jhorash'tar, and the Shadow Marches orcs.[5]

Ghaash'kala[]

The Ghaash'kala, which means "ghost guardians" in the Orc language, is a confederation of orc tribes who have settled in the Labyrinth in the Demon Wastes to keep the fiends of the wastes locked away.[10] These militant and deeply spiritual orcs see the Demon Wastes as a tainted land and any who enter into it are forever stained with its touch, thus their sacred duty is to prevent anyone who has entered or is within the Wastes from leaving, one way or the other. Despite this fact the Ghaash'kala are often peaceful to those who come near the Wastes and are a proud and noble people, enemies of the ancient fiends and willing to accept those who have been tainted by the demonic nature of the land to join them rather than die by the axe.[11]

The Ghaash'kala are divided into four similar yet distinct clans (though the term is not technically accurate as the "clans" are not based on familial ties) each with two leaders. The kizshmit is the military leader of the tribe while the sar'malaan guides the orcs along a spiritual path. The kizshmit governs most of the mundane orc activities as well but bows before the wisdom of the sar'malaan in all matters of a spiritual nature. The clans all work together, though they have different duties and geographical locations. The Jaasakar ("Deadly") clan rules the east, the Maruk ("Mighty") clan guards the central labyrinth, the Kastar ("Swift") clan protect the west and the Vaanka ("Final") clan keeps watch over the northwestern labyrinth where the Demon Wastes connect with the rest of the lands.[11][12]

All of the Ghaash'kala tribes worship Kalok Shash, the binding flame. Unlike the Silver Flame followers, who are mostly farmers and other simple folk who live peaceful lives, the Ghaash'kala are warriors and their existence is fraught with constant danger. Kalok Shash is the burning beacon which calls warriors to their sacred duty and emboldens them to do battle with demons and monsters alike. The Ghaash'kala orcs commonly brand their own flesh with a symbol of Kalok Shash, though this symbol varies from tribe to tribe and even then is not universal among the clans warriors and priests.[5][10][11][12]

Jhorash'tar[]

The Jhorash'tar orcs are a culture of orcs in the Mror Holds. Jorash'tar orcs are a martial culture, whose whole way of life is dominated by the centuries-long bloody conflict of survival with the dwarves of the region. The Jorash'tar orcs resent the dwarves for pushing them out of the mountains into less hospitable areas or underground.[5][13][14] While the Toldorath and Tordannon dwarf clans have argued for inclusion of the Jhorash'tar on the Iron Council, others like Clan Mroranon see them as a threat that must be eliminated.[14][15][16]

Orcs of the Shadow Marches[]

Long isolated from the rest of the world, the Shadow Marches contain the largest populations of orcs. Orcs can be found in both cultures that dominate the region. Some orcs form loose tribes that shun outsiders and believe they can never possibly understand their way of life. Others are clans who allied with human refugees from Sarlona over fifteen hundred years ago, and mixed with them to create half-orcs.[17][18][19]

The nomadic tribes of the Shadow Marches cling to an older tradition and dislike being disturbed or meddled with. Tribal orcs see no common ground between them and humans as orcs were the first creatures of the continent, so only they can truly connect with Khorvaire.[20] Outsiders, including humans and half-orcs, are sometimes accepted in, but need to prove themselves.[18]

The orc clans are far more welcoming to outsiders and share their lands and towns with humans. Clan orcs see humans as quick-witted, if perhaps weaker siblings.[20] While a small number of clans remain either completely human or fully orc the majority are a healthy combination of the two. Shadow March clan orcs and humans alike see no taboo about cross-breeding between the species, so half-orcs are common and celebrated. The Shadow March term for a half-orc is "Jhorgun'taal" which literally means "children of two bloods" and is a mark of pride, half-orc's see themselves as the literal proof that orc and human are one and they work hard to bridge the gap between the races in other lands and among the tribes.[20] House Tharashk originated from the Shadow Marches, and while orcs cannot develop the Mark of Finding, many are employed by the House.[5][18][21]

All of the orcs of the Shadow Marches are very spiritual, if split between two major religious groups. The descendants of the Gatekeepers continue to maintain the ancient seals and fight aberrations.[5] Not all remember the stories of the war with daelkyr, but still feel a closeness with the land and believe it is their duty to protect it.[20] Other orcs have turned to following the daelkyr in Cults of the Dragon Below.[5] A touch of madness runs through the tribes, as they delve deeper into their worship of Xoriat and the Dragon Below, though most see these as flashes of the divine rather than serious mental illness.[20] This divison between the two religious groups equally divides the orc tribes and clans.[18]

Other Orc Societies[]

The orcs of the Eldeen Reaches are an offshoot of the Marcher clan orcs, drawn to the Reaches by their close connection with nature. They are among the most peaceful of all the orcs and work closely with other druids in the great forests. The Gatekeeper faith is strongest here and a raging orc sees his fury as a manifestation of the land, the experience an almost spiritual one to true followers.[citation needed]

Some orcs make their homes in the monster ruled nation of Droaam, primarily in the territory of the oni warlord Tzaryan Rrac near the Shadow Marches.[22]

Outside of Khorvaire, a small group of orcs have emigrated to Stormreach in Xen'drik, mainly to work for House Tharashk.[23] Orcs are also a significant minority population in regions of Argonnessen.[24]

Notable Orcs[]

Appendix[]

External Links[]

References[]

  1. David Noonan, Ari Marmell, and Robert J. Schwalb (2009). Eberron Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 0-7869-5100-1.
  2. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014). Monster Manual (5th Edition). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 244–247. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  3. Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt (2008). Monster Manual (4th edition). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 278. ISBN 0-7869-4852-3.
  4. Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, and Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual (3.5 edition). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 204. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 31–32. ISBN 0786966890.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 David Noonan, Ari Marmell, and Robert J. Schwalb (2009). Eberron Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 41. ISBN 0-7869-5100-1.
  7. 7.0 7.1 James Wyatt and Keith Baker (2009). Eberron Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 36. ISBN 0-7869-5099-4.
  8. James Wyatt and Keith Baker (2009). Eberron Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 21. ISBN 0-7869-5099-4.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, & James Wyatt (2004). Eberron Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 36. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, & James Wyatt (2004). Eberron Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 159–160. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 James Wyatt, Keith Baker, Luke Johnson, Steven Brown (2006). Player's Guide to Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 36–37. ISBN 0-7869-3912-5.
  12. 12.0 12.1 James Wyatt and Keith Baker (2009). Eberron Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 117–119. ISBN 0-7869-5099-4.
  13. James Wyatt and Keith Baker (2009). Eberron Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 148. ISBN 0-7869-5099-4.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 120. ISBN 0786966890.
  15. Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, & James Wyatt (2004). Eberron Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 192. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
  16. James Wyatt, Keith Baker, Luke Johnson, Steven Brown (2006). Player's Guide to Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 54. ISBN 0-7869-3912-5.
  17. Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, & James Wyatt (2004). Eberron Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 198–199. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 James Wyatt and Keith Baker (2009). Eberron Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 154–155. ISBN 0-7869-5099-4.
  19. Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 123–124. ISBN 0786966890.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 James Wyatt, Keith Baker, Luke Johnson, Steven Brown (2006). Player's Guide to Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 118–119. ISBN 0-7869-3912-5.
  21. Keith Baker, Ari Marmell, Michelle Lyons and C.A. Suleiman (2006). Dragonmarked. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 76–77. ISBN 0-7869-3933-8.
  22. James Wyatt, Keith Baker, Luke Johnson, Steven Brown (2006). Player's Guide to Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 52–53. ISBN 0-7869-3912-5.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Keith Baker, Nicolas Logue, James "Grim" Desborough, C.A. Suleiman (2008). City of Stormreach. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 30, 68–69. ISBN 0-7869-4803-5.
  24. Keith Baker, Scott Fitzgerald Gray, Nicolas Logue, & Amber Scott (2007). Dragons of Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 25, 32, 38, 41. ISBN 0-7869-4154-5.
  25. 25.0 25.1 James Wyatt, Keith Baker, Luke Johnson, Steven Brown (2006). Player's Guide to Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 61. ISBN 0-7869-3912-5.

Sources[]

Connections[]


Races
Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn | Drow | Dwarf | Elf | Gnome | Half-Elf | Half-Orc | Halfling | Human | Tiefling
Eberron Races: Bugbear | Changeling | Goblin | Hobgoblin | Kalashtar | Orc | Shifter | Warforged
Other Races: Armand | Asherati | Bhuka | Doppelganger | Dragon | Gnoll | Goliath | Kobold | Lizardfolk | Medusa | Sahuagin | Shulassakar | Thri-kreen | Yuan-Ti
Outsiders: Aasimar | Angel | Archon | Daelkyr | Demon | Devil | Elemental | Genie | Githyanki | Githzerai | Inevitable | Mephit | Quori | Slaad
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