Orcs are generally considered to be one of the more difficult races to RP. This isn’t only due to their very different cultures compared to most other races in the world of Warcraft, but because they have a very rich history as well. If you’re interested in taking a closer look at the orcish history in the timeline of Warcraft, make sure to check out our orcish timeline topic. In this topic, a general overview will be given of the orcish race and its culture.History
Orcs once cultivated a shamanistic society upon the dying world of Draenor. Then the dark magics of the Burning Legion corrupted them, transforming the orc people into a voracious, unstoppable Horde. Lured to the world of Azeroth through a dimensional gateway, the Horde was manipulated into waging war against the human nations of Stormwind and Lordaeron. These struggles went on for generations.
Under the visionary leadership of Thrall, the orcs stripped themselves of demonic influence. They now strive to recover their lost heritage and return to their ancient, shamanistic ways. Even as they rebuild their culture, the orcs do not forget recent events. They will stop at nothing to ensure that they are never used as pawns again.Culture
Though they often appear to outsiders as a barbaric and brutal people, orcs are very proud and noble in their own way. They prize honour and skill above material wealth. Though brutal in combat, orcs fight with surprising grace and style. They do not throw their lives away recklessly, but neither do they avoid danger, trusting their honour and skill to carry them through most encounters.
They value honour above all and go to great lengths to prove themselves to those whom they respect. The easiest way to pick a fight with an orc is to insult his honour. Orcs distrust outsiders, but make strong friendships quickly when trust has been proven.
The concept of honour is seen in every level of orc society., even in their naming practices. And orc’s first name is given early in life, often derived from a family name or the name of a great hero. The tribe bestows the second name after the orc reaches maturity, this name is based upon some great deed. Such a practice gives rise to surnames such as Doomhammer, Elfkicker, Foe-ender, Skullsplitter, Thumper, and the like. This second name may be changed if a new one seems more appropriate. Many young orcs leave their tribe to seek their way in the world and bring honour to themselves and their family through great deeds. Adventuring provides a wide door to both honour and combat skills.
Because orcs value honour, challenges are commonplace. These are rarely duels; rather, they take the forms of physical challenges that tasks each orc with something other than personal combat. Some are tests of skill (climbing a particular mountain and retrieving a treasure from its peak), some are tests or endurance (lasting in a desert in teh height of summer), and some are tests of ferocity (forcing a wilf beast to withdraw from a confrontation without striking a blow). When a young orc wishes to prove himself to an established warrior, it’s expected that the orc will be put through a series of gruelling tests. Sometimes orcs apply these tests to members of other races who wish to prove themselves, even humans and dwarves.
Orcs expect trials of themselves and their compatriots, and orcs love to boast of their accomplishments. One thing they also expect of each other is humility; just as Thrall paid homage to great predecessors like Doomhammer and Grom Hellscream, every orc is expected to revere his immediate elders. Shrines and memorials to ancestors are commonplace; and many orcs make pilgrimages to the memorials of great orcs, especially to the memorial of Grom Hellscream in Ashenvale, which is an important part of the orc autumn harvest festival.
Orcs do not worship a set pantheon of gods. Instead, their shaman worship nature, the elements, and the orc ancestors. The race boasts a tradition of rulership by shaman. Orcs venerate their elders, especially those who accomplished great deeds in their lifetime. They express this veneration through oral tradition, passing the legends of great orcs through the generations in legend and song.Society
Most orcs follow Thrall with an almost zealous dedication. Thrall led them from a bloodthirsty existence, battling the humans time and again, to a life of spiritual awakening and (relative) peace. They certainly do not discount the roles of warriors in their society; indeed, they consider warriors as important as ever, as their new homeland is still rife with struggles with centaurs, harpies and even stray Alliance soldiers bent on stirring up trouble. Orc warriors are no longer as blinded by bloodlust or conquest; they understand what they are fighting for and why, and accept the reasons.
The orcs are the foundation of the Horde and see it as almost an extension of their race. They are very pleased with how the Horde has grown to include the tauren and the jungle trolls, and with the strides their people have taken. They could no more betray the Horde than betray their own race.
Not many orcs beneath Thrall are as trusting as he is towards the Alliance. Orcs rarely react kindly to Alliance members they encounter. Some of the more spiritual orcs find it amusing that the Alliance views them as barbaric and uncivilized when the Horde is fashioned of races that trust and admire each other, while rumour maintains that the Alliance is rotting from the inside out.
Warriors occupy the highest strata of orc society. All young men and woman who pass the test of strong flesh are expected to receive some training, and training among the battle masters of Orgrimmar is considered among the highest honours that a warrior can obtain. They do not fight for the pleasure of others, or even for the joy of the kill. For orcs, skilled combat is a sport.
Aside from warriors, the other honoured group is the shaman, who are masters of the spirit just as warrior are masters of the body. The shaman is the explorer of the elements, which are as essential to the orc religion as the Light is to humans. Shaman are both masters and slaves of the natural world. Some of the greatest orc shaman train as far seers. Those who show great aptitude train and even live among the spirits in the Valley of Spirits, the spiritual heart of Orgrimmar. As Thrall combines both martial prowess and shamanism, he exemplifies the current orc mindset.
For orcs, life is a series of trials. In Durotar, young warriors and barbarians who graduate from the pits are sent into the Valley of Trials, a hunting ground that’s expected to prepare them for battle. Here they hunt (relatively weak) prey and hone their skills. Likewise, shaman and priests are expected to travel out into the plains and commune with spirits, learning to heed the spirits’ voices. From the tauren, orcs have adopted sweat lodges and other practices designed to test the body and bring it closer to the elements.Region
The orcs came to Azeroth from another world entirely. What passed for a homeland in Lordaeron was lost. Yet under the guidance of Thrall, the orcs came to Kalimdor to establish a new home. In the aftermath of the vicious struggle against the Burning Legion, they have begun to do just that with the realm of Durotar. The harsh landscape is much like the orcs’ original, blasted home world of Draenor.
The capital city of Orgrimmar, nestled within a jagged mountain valley, bustles with crude industry and trade. The orcs are fond of their tauren neighbours (whose homeland Mulgore lies west, across the Barrens) and delight in trading and hunting with them. Tauren are often found milling with their orc friends around Orgrimmar’s sport arenas and taverns.
The orcs consider their current state to be the best they have experienced in a while. They are finally free of the Burning Legion’s influence; they have a new homeland and strong allies who will guide them through their spiritual journey. While prosperity (both physical and spiritual) is their key focus these days, their spiritual lives do no put them above defending themselves.
Durotar is well defended, with all roads and main thoroughfares routinely patrolled. The orcs feel the need for defense and keep their eyes on merchants, explorers and heroes. They refuse to be caught off guard again.
Though orcs hold no lingering interest in conquest or domination, they understandably remain wary of their human neighbours to the south. Orc patrols set out regularly to ensure that the agents of Theramore keep their distance from Durotar’s borders.Affiliation
Orc relations with most other races are shaky at best. The Alliance races can little forget invasions of years past and are loath to trust that the orcs now follow more peaceful ways – especially when many orc tribes have not left the warrior lifestyle. While affairs are less than calm with humans, dwarves, and elves, the orcs get along well with tauren and the Darkspear trolls. The three races enjoy many cultural similarities, making for a strong bond despite their disparate heritage. Goblins are looked upon with tolerance, as they often have interesting things worth trading for.Honour
In orcish society, honour matters above everything else. To orcs, however, the word “honour” has a very broad meaning. Since orcs aren’t very much a race to abide by laws, their decisions are made upon what is honourable. Though duels to the death can be a way to solve a dispute, executions are known to have taken place as well. The Red Blade has formed the following list, as a means of depicting what is tolerated and what isn’t.Orcs adhering to the orcish Code of Honour will:
Orcs adhering to the orcish Code of Honour will not:
- Be loyal to their Chief, be it Warchief or Chieftain, at all times, unless this Chief has shown signs of dishonour. Mercenary contractors do not count as Chiefs.
- Respect their alliances.
- Only judge others by their honour.
- Ignore an alliance if dishonourable.
- Slay a dishonourable foe, even if that foe is helpless.
- Slay an honourable foe who is not helpless.
- Be hospitable and generous to those in need.
- Respect the hospitality shown them.
- Free any orcish slaves, unless branded as peons.
- Avenge any intended insult.
- Avenge any physical harm done to them in a manner fitting their sense of balance and justice.
- Fight their enemies to the very end.
- Anger the spirits or elements by any means.
- Betray any person they have sworn an oath in blood towards.
- Dislike others based on religion, race, or sex.
- Force themselves upon the helpless, unless dishonourable.
- Slay a wild animal or any other creature needlessly, unless for revenge, to get food or other resources, or to slay a sworn enemy.
- Slay or steal from one who has shown them hospitality.
- Take fellow orcs as slaves.
- Cannibalize either friend, foe, or otherwise.
- Worship demons or enslave themselves to any.
- Trade, bond or make alliances with those branded as traitors or outlaws to the Horde.