The Builders, The Breeders
Self-Name: Orq (singular), orqs (plural), or'qish (attributive)
Emotional Affiliation: Protectiveness, Nurturing, Growth, Domestication

Orcs are a race united under the vast expansionist Padishar Empire, ruled from the largest city on Zenth, Bulsharippur, riddled with internal strife and power struggles. Sprawling, filthy orc cities dominate clear-cut landscapes and massive, almost industrial-scale farmsteads feeding the war-ready garrisons on the borders. They are a fecund race, giving birth to large litters but raising their many children with a fierce devotion. There are few things so vicious orcs won't at least try to tame them, and their cities house wondrous menageries as a result… and their armies and field legions of beasts and monsters. Orcs are the masters of resource exploitation, using every inch of land, drop of water and clod of ore to the maximum glory of the empire - heading to the point of ecological collapse.



Standing between five and seven feet tall, though far more usually in the 5'5" - 6'5" range, orcs are the most 'humanoid' race (aside from the extinct humans, of course). Those that engage in hard work or combat gain muscle quickly, giving them a striking physique; well-fed and slothful orcs likewise gain a lot of weight. Orcs have a build suited for labour; large, powerful hands, broad shoulders and strong backs. Their skin tends towards a golden tan colour, while those living further south may have a reddish-brown hue. Their eyes are almond shaped, their ears small and slightly pointed. Orcs have thick, dark hair, which it is fashionable to wear long if one has a sufficiently luxurious lifestyle; workers and soldiers tend to keep it short for practical reasons and to make a stand against such decadence. Males can sport thin, pointed or drooping beards and moustaches.

Female orcs can give birth to litters of up to a dozen children at once. Perforce, their offspring are smaller and more helpless in some ways than those of other races - while born with teeth, they are also blind for the first few days of life. They do not breastfeed, but the mother and father chew and regurgitate food for the babies. Nothing in nature rivals the fierce love and devotion of orc parents for their brood.


While not quite as rugged as dwarves or as strong as elves, orcs have a remarkable resilience: wounds they suffer heal faster and more cleanly than on other races, allowing them to rise from their deathbeds and return to their labours or battlefield surprisingly quickly. Open wounds clot and scar swiftly, pain is forgotten soon after it is inflicted and lost flesh even regrows, to an extent. While this incredible recuperation helps orcs survive their often harsh lives, it is also the source of their reputation for cruelty and brutality. They have a playful attitude to casual violence, and an orc overseer may administer a lashing that flays an elf's skin or even brings a dwarf to its knees, forgetting that those races cannot simply shrug and resume work afterwards. Orcish sense of touch is a little dull in comparison to other races, as their nerves are inured to some painful sensations, and the rigours of birthing a litter means orcish women are even more resistant. Despite their recovery ability, they are not a long-lived people; an orc that lives to see sixty is considered rare and fortunate.



Orcs are driven to protect what belongs to them and acquire what belongs to others. To an orc, a resource that is not being exploited is a resource wasted. It infuriates them to see land uncultivated, ore unmined, trees unharvested. Why leave it where it lies, when it could be retrieved and put to use now? This attitude puts them at odds with other races, especially dwarves and their reverence for joormas and places of still, untouched potential and dryads and their guardianship of the woodlands. While their attitude can come across as opportunistic, none can deny the orcish gift for turning everything to their advantage.

Orcs flourish under discipline and duty; their talents come to the fore best when being directed by a strong leader. Whether the shar, a house-lord or their devotion to the gods, orcs excel most when pushed and driven. Left to their own devices, the acquisitive streak in their natures can become greed and indolence, as reflected in the decadent and flabby character of so many house-lords and wealthy merchants in their cities.


The Padishar Empire is a militant, autocratic, expansionist regime, and revolves around three loci:

  • The first is the emperor - the shar. Power derives from the shar as the herald and anointed champion of the gods, and the current incumbent of the Carnelian Throne, Qamahl Ata'orq XVI has little tolerance for dissent. There were once other levels of nobility, but the shars crushed them and broke their power, reclaiming it for the throne. Positions and prestige are now handed out by the shar personally, in the form of House Charters: writs that give legal and economic privileges, able to be passed down through the family, in exchange for specific duties. These can include providing manpower, food or weapons for the army; ruling a conquered city in the shar's name as a satrap; ensuring the flow of a certain good or service; or even undertaking personal missions for the shar. Colloquially, houses are divided into Great and Lesser; the Great Houses are those with the wealth and standing to be a force in society, much like the nobility before their dissolution, while Lesser Houses have the legal privileges of a charter, but are in practice to few in members and limited in scope to act as a noble class.
  • The second is the family. Family bonds are strong in orc life, and these bonds echoes throughout society. The shar demands to be treated as the father of the nation, the house-lords strive to ensure that their subjects have loyalty like children to parents towards them, military units shape warriors into brothers and sisters in arms, and some workshops are as close as siblings. But blood is the thickest chain of all, and the mutual devotion of orcs for their kin and their ancestors is a powerful social glue.
  • The third is caste. Orcish castes are chosen as often as they are born into; while it is common for relatives to share a trade, it is not frowned on to seek another profession if one is more suited to it. Castes have a guild-like atmosphere, with their own professional secrets and rituals, and competition with workers in other fields.

The imperial army is massive and, as many nations have learned to their cost, deadly effective. It is divided into two major parts: the janissaries, foot soldiers loyal to the shar, raised and equipped from taxes and lead by officers he appoints; and the cataphracts, 'knights' whose training and equipage is funded by houses and castes - or even by exceptional individuals. Janissaries are the finest heavy infantry in Zenth, wearing strong brazen steel armour and favouring spears, scimitars and falchions. Cataphracts vary widely in their gear, competence and specialisation, but the popular image is of a dashing cavalryman, wearing markings honouring his house patron or the workers who support him.

Unrest, Ambition and Revolution

The orcs might have conquered all of Zenth if they had but learned to conquer themselves.

  • Monk-scribe Enoje Lamod, Padishar Commentaries vol. II

It is said that only one shar in history survived to die of old age. For the empire and its rulers, civil war is the rule more than the exception. Cities rebel against taxes; conquered peoples revolt; adherents of less-popular gods protest; coups are launched from within the palace and without. It seems that if you give an orc a title and a garrison, the first thing he does is look back at the capital, scratch his chin and decide he'd look more fitting on the throne than the current occupant. A shar's siblings, cousins and viziers are often his most ambitious and deadly rivals, which is why paranoia comes with the crown, and often leads to brutal preemptive purges of potential usurpers, which spawns more insurrection…


In order to till their expansive fields, work the mines and do the countless other dirty, miserable jobs of the empire, orcs use slaves. These are sometimes born into the life of shackles, but it is a custom to grant freedom to second and third generation slaves (at least orcish ones), so the majority are prisoners sentenced to servitude for various crimes or debts and conquered populations. Most slaves are orcs, the remnants of the wars of unification and the losers of civil wars. Dwarves are also popular, due to their endurance and calm natures, and though rare dryad slaves are prized for their skill at planting and growing. Elves make terrible slaves: their speed makes them prone to escape, their strength dangerous when they lash out, and the tend to sicken and die or go mad when confined. Orcs are under the misapprehension that goblins size makes them harmless slaves, but their slipperiness, flexibility and viciousness means that orcish masters often come to nasty and unexpected ends. Due to the recent conquest of so much goblin land, there are many of them enslaved on plantations and reclaiming ground from the swamps.


Orcish cities are a strange blend of sweltering slums, ever-churning workshops filling the air with smoke, bustling markets and opulent palaces. Their large populations mostly live cheek-to-jowl in squalor, and public hygiene is not a concept orcs have grasped yet, but the rich and influential enjoy every luxury they desire. Orcish architecture resembles dwarven, though without the burden of snow in most places they favour flat roofs and straighter walls, and inferior construction techniques mean that second floors are more likely to be rickety add-ons than proper levels. Their streets are wide to allow for the traffic of various domesticated animals and monsters, which add their own muck to the conditions underfoot. The mansions and imperial buildings, on the other hand, feature great domes lined with burnished metal, marble pillars, beautiful gardens and pools and countless other wonders.

Orcs are a sensual people when it comes to food, drink and revelry. Seldom a day goes by without some kind of parade or festival honouring an obscure god, a historical battle or potentate's birthday, and free orcs will take any excuse to down tool for an hour and enjoy the debauchery. In larger cities, gladiatorial fights are regular events, with prisoners, mercenaries and professional fighters battling each other and vicious monsters from the menageries. Staple foods are handed out every day, ensuring that virtually no-one in the Padishar Empire goes hungry. This 'bread and circuses' approach is in part an attempt by the government to stifle unrest, but as with all previous efforts has only had limited success.

Relationship to goblins: orcs flattened and absorbed the 'unclaimed lands' of the sparsely-populated goblins, absorbing them and sparking a bloody rebellion and shadow war that continues to this day.

Linguistic Traits

  • Lots of K sounds, depicted as Q.
  • Long vowels often marked with a following H.


Word / Name List


Adnan, Agah, Ajlan, Aqohn, Altan, Aras, Argun, Artaq, Armahn, Arzahn, Atan, Atash, Bahador, Balim, Basir, Battal, Bezahd, Bulut, Devram, Doruq, Dashaq, Duruqan, Faruq, Firouz, Garsedak, Goqbar, Guluhn, Haldun, Hazad, Hazom, Izad, Jalar, Loqman, Majid, Maqit, Mahir, Mahzun, Meliq, Murahd, Naim, Nard, Nazar, Oqan, Oqtar, Orqmud, Othan, Ozalan, Parslan, Qadir, Qalqashandi, Qamahl, Qamran, Qayvan, Qovanq, Qerem, Qaldun, Qirqor, Qorqud, Qahlil, Rafat, Ragab, Ramzan, Sabat, Saruhan, Selorq, Sevulan, Sodoq, Sulaq, Sundaq, Tarazul, Tajir, Tamer, Taroq, Tarlan, Toros, Torqequl, Ugur, Uzay, Varnaq, Yalchon, Yunniz, Yildirim, Yudaqul, Zaqer, Zulfu

Abdi, Adihl, Alara, Asni, Assieh, Ayla, Bala, Basri, Bedia, Beril, Behlil, Ciria, Chagri, Ceyda, Damla, Dilar, Danith, Ediz, Emrah, Eti, Farrah, Feyza, Gaya, Gursi, Gulnza, Haqqi, Latif, Macide, Marala, Merih, Mina, Moraq, Monireh, Narin, Nargess, Nesri, Neyla, Nisa, Omay, Ozge, Perra, Piruz, Qemile, Qerrah, Qira, Reyha, Saadet, Saffiy, Salime, Saziment, Seref, Siran, Suna, Tarani, Tulay, Ulviy, Yazgul, Yeliz, Zaide, Zeri, Zila

Ariqan, Ardeshir, Avaq, Azgapur, Ambardaeq, Bahram, Bazar, Bayezid, Barram, Bozorgmehr, Erqan, Ertugrul, Ferraqdouhn, Galaq, Ghatari, Goshtab, Gurani, Haidaq, Haliqi, Harredin, Haqmand, Ilqer, Jeriqeq, Mandiral, Madoqht, Madaqbas, Marsuqi, Manoucher, Nahriman, Neggar-Sal, Ogultmen, Ozdaglaar, Paqalin, Qaan, Qa'atay, Qarabaqir, Qarmandar, Qazanqigil, Qetinoq, Qianosh, Qoroltan, Ramsaur, Saglam, Sarqogluh, Sarqandar, Sihabed, Tariq, Taleqani, Temizqanu, Teymohrtash, Uzunqarsil, Yazicoghu, Zaganos, Zarabad, Zarincheth