Oringard part 1

On the eastern fringe of Damir is the vast forestland of Oringard.  Named by the dwarven immigrants who fled the kingdom of Paia, it means “Natural Fortress.”  Although it lies within Damir’s borders, it is a realm all to itself.  It is almost two hundred leagues long and just shy of a hundred leagues deep.  It stops up against the Golden Mountains in the north, and trails off into the barren land of Basmah in the southeast.  Oringard touches five different lands: Damir, Gronde, Kasmoon, Nubrince, and Basmah.  Running through the forest is the curvy Paia River in the south, and the much shorter Mourning River in the north.   

Legend has it that the forest is the creation of Hovaia, a dryad queen, who planted the many trees and shrubbery to shield the land from mortal invaders.  Despite her best laid plans, the forest was inhabited for several hundred years by the wood elves, a nomadic people who built tree houses and lived off the forest.  It is rumored the wood elves knew Hovaia and worked with the dryad queen to keep other mortals out.

Of course this did not work.  After the kingdom of Paia (a dwarven kingdom) collapsed during the Chaos War, thousands of dwarves ventured north to discover the vast forestland which they would so aptly name.  They began to settle the forest, burrowing into the hillsides, chopping trees down to lay foundations for small communities.  The dwarves had a network of villages spread about Oringard but they did not occupy all of it.  They left Hovaia and the wood elves to their own realm and interests.

For two hundred years the dwarves controlled much of Oringard, dedicating most of their time to mapping the forestland.  The maze-like paths of the forestland can be deadly to any person who isn’t familiar with them or doesn’t have a map.  The trees are thick and some areas look similar to the next.  Getting lost in Oringard is easy and a common occurrence; trails become overgrown with foliage, creeks dry up, trees fall over and block paths. 

There are plenty of creatures in the woods, but a lot of the big predators have been driven out or killed by the orcs.  Bears, wolves, and wild cats are still common, but the forest used to feature sasquatch and hippogryphs.  It was also home to a nest of gryphons.  The gryphons kept to themselves for several hundred years, even after the high elves invaded the forestland and drove out the dwarves and wood elves.  It wasn’t until the orcs took over Oringard that the gryphons were forced to leave their nests and go elsewhere.

The high elves infiltrated Oringard around 350 ACW, defeating the dwarves in the 2nd War of Damir and forcing them out of Oringard.  The high elves took over much of southern Oringard, built large townships and began to blaze trails all over the forestland.  Believing the dwarves would one day return and try to take Oringard back, the high elves set up a series of booby traps along several false trails that led to their town centers.  The wood elves either assimilated with their High Elven brethren or left Oringard all together. 

Descendants of the fallen elven empire at Jeriko embraced the rule of their leader, Prince Iteph, who was a very distant cousin of the royal bloodline, but the only known survivor who could be linked to the elven monarchy.  In their time in Oringard, Iteph had children who went on to establish a royal line.  But because of the massive orc invasion that would come a hundred years later, most of the records concerning the descendants of Iteph were lost.  When Kalliste gave her prophecy that an elven king would be born amongst them, many figured it would come from Iteph’s lost lineage.

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Orcs part 3

The Trials for male orcs involve a grueling set of tests designed to place the orc correctly in orc society.  It is here that the Sheshua try to determine if the orcling has any special abilities or gifts.  If the child appears to have gifts he is set aside to undergo the Gift Trials, for orcs who might be candidates to become members of the Orc High Council.  Orcs who are born with no magical tendencies or special abilities undergo the Blood Trials, the passage to become a warrior and perhaps a Tron later on.  Orcs who fall in between or it is uncertain where to be placed but appear to be useful are trained to be Sheshua.

Orcs who are larger and much stronger and intelligent are considered candidates for becoming a Tron (a superior orc) who answers only to the warlord.  Trons help the warlord with strategy, organizing legions, arming and prepping their warriors and controlling the clan in general during times of war.  The majority of Trons are above seven feet and are athletically built for intense warfare against a variety of opponents.  To become a Tron an orcling must first pass the Blood Trials.  Depending on how he scores, a warrior can be given Tron status, but this is the exception to the rule; most become standard warriors.  Trons are exceptional warriors who are candidates for becoming the future warlord of their clan.  Becoming a Tron automatically means annual breeding rights with the females.

Orcs are taught not to fear death but to welcome it.  Suicide, however, is thought to be a coward’s end, while death in battle is considered glorious.  Orcs who have been badly wounded or have become too old are honorably put to death.  Orcs believe that when a warrior dies honorably he goes to the Great Mountain, which is the gateway to the Spirit Realm.  The Spirit Realm is the collection of the greatest warrior souls, where they serve as ancestral guides to the living.

The orcs of Oringard are one clan of the Orc High Council of Nubrince.  It is not unheard of for clans to go rogue and break off from a High Council, such as was the case with the orcs of Kasmoon, who conquered the upper half of the divided ancient kingdom of Paia, then appointed a king and fashioned an entirely different orc society separate from the High Council.  The Nation of Oringard is among the much larger and more successful clans who adhere to the Orc High Council of Nubrince.  The orcs were triumphant in their invasion of Oringard, driving out the elves in 460 ACW.  However, early on in their history, the orcs of Oringard began to squabble over what land to conquer next.  Most wanted to press west into Damir, where the ground could be cultivated, yet a segment of their people saw the Golden Mountains as a place to take refuge and launch attacks from higher ground.  This division caused a civil war within Oringard, one that lasted nearly forty years and decimated the clan.

The orc civil war within Oringard ended with the losing clan wishing to drive north to go rogue, defying the High Council, which ruled in favor of the orcs staying in Oringard and eventually conquering Damir.  Heading north, this rogue orc clan stumbled upon the dwarven fortress of Gilstad in 525 ACW and attacked it, launching the 7th War of Damir.  But the war was brief and the orcs were badly defeated.  Forced to retreat, their shattered army went north into the Golden Mountains and were never heard from again.  The orcs that stayed behind in Oringard spent the next seventy years forced to re-populate and rebuild defensive structures that had been totaled during the civil war.

The orcs did not make headway against Damir until the warlord Phumbaas, who organized the first ever massive orc invasion to cross the Paia and marched west toward Merrimont, the city of the elves, in 601 ACW.  The 10th War of Damir changed the land and gave the orcs tremendous confidence that they would eventually take Damir, despite the loss.  Even with Phumbaas’ defeat, the orcs had made their point: they were to be a thorn in Damir’s side for years to come.

Mal Orah-

The warlord and/or his Trons issue battle commands through the beats of orc drums.  The Mal Orah, which means “Death Charge”, is a command given to attack with maximum effort.  Typically, the Mal Orah is sounded for a full verse before the orcs actually charge, as a means of intimidating their enemies prior to assault.  The Mal Orah consists of slow beats that gradually get faster and louder until they are done in rapid succession.  The Death Charge is described as deafening, as the orcs usually use an abundance of drums, which beat together at once.  The Mal Orah is also used as a form of distraction, the noise making it difficult for their enemies to communicate.

Shogue Language-

The native tongue of orcs everywhere is the Shogue language.  The orcs refused to adopt the Druish language, yet it was still learned in some circles and is still taught among orcs of high positions such as Trons.  Considered the language of the Juhas, orcs only speak Druish rarely or for reconnaissance purposes.  Shogue is a slow language, as it is more important to pronounce the word than to speak it quickly.  Partly due to their militaristic society, orcs want to ensure that their words are heard and understood.  Because Shogue is relatively simple and slow it is among the easiest languages for other races to eventually master.

Orcs in Age of Thunder:

  • Kazul
  • Gozma
  • Noxima
  • Crohl
  • Mogabi
  • Mutawa
  • Morgon

Proudhill part 1

The first major human settlement in Damir to endure the test of time, Proudhill was settled by a large group of humans who broke off from Lyndon’s multitude of followers.  For a time, the templar Lyndon debated on whether or not Proudhill would be suitable for him.  While close to the Golden Mountains to the north and the Blue River to the west, Proudhill still did not offer access to the sea, a condition that Lyndon insisted upon.

However, Lyndon did help build Proudhill up before continuing on his way, using it as an outpost to launch attacks against the cyclopsians.  The cyclopsians were holed up in Thanoptos, a rock fortress and depot for cyclopsian war parties.  From Proudhill, Lyndon eventually crushed the cyclopsians and reduced Thanoptos to rubble.  Afterwards he pressed on, heading due west, but thousands of his followers stayed behind at Proudhill.

Proudhill offered plenty of amenities for humans to stay and settle.  They had access to the Blue River, natural irrigation for farming and agriculture, and a hill for fortification while elevating their citizens from the occasional flooding.  The township was officially founded before 115 ACW but the official naming of the hill wasn’t until then.  After the failed township at Merrimont, citizens were overjoyed to find an area so well situated that they relayed the pride they had for their new home in its name.

The town was a close knit community of devout templars, priests, monks, and goddess fearing citizens.  Because of their strong ties to one another, a council was formed to serve as a government.  A church was established and for a while the council and the templars there worked hand in hand, protecting the city from the bandits and petty criminals flocking to their establishment.

For a decade, Proudhill was the center of human activity in Damir.  It was larger than any other settlement; it had the biggest church, the markets to buy and sell supplies, and the most orderly society and government.  Being the largest also meant it attracted a lot of unwanted attention and resentment.  The humans of Proudhill who were native to Damir, having been suppressed for so long by the cyclopsians, did not embrace the teachings of the monks who reached out to them.  These humans were seen as “barbarians” and “heathens” and not to be trusted.  They became enemies to Proudhill.

A clan of these barbarians, calling themselves the Blood Bunch, launched several assaults against the farmers and the city gates, killing hundreds in a series of small wars.  The Blood Bunch frustrated the templars because they hid out along the swampy banks of the Blue river, which are hard to navigate.  They attacked at odd hours of the day: sometimes at night, other times in broad daylight, but always when Proudhill was unprepared.   While uneducated and uncouth, the barbarians were aggressive and intelligent, using spies and other clever means to detect weaknesses in Proudhill’s fort.

A dark day in Proudhill’s lengthy history came in 201 ACW, when the Blood Bunch launched a brutal campaign against the farmholds around Proudhill, sacking small villages, burning homesteads, raiding crops, killing men, raping women, and kidnapping children.  These raids prompted the council of Proudhill to adopt a different approach, and commissioned a young templar named Sir. Gallac to raise an army to deal with the savages.

Gallac’s goal was to seek out their nest and eliminate them.  To do so Gallac employed the help of someone who was of ill-repute and even feared:  a dark priestess named Sollus, who had been cast out of the church for her dark methods of healing and strange ritual behavior.  It was rumored that she had been spared from the stake because of her immense beauty, and thus was simply banished.  But Gallac tracked her down and made her an offer.  Sollus was a morph -had the ability to transform- and as an animal could infiltrate the Blue River region and locate the Blood Bunch’s base.  In return, the priestess demanded a small human female child to have as her own.  Gallac was reluctant to agree to the adoption, but because of the raids there were plenty of orphans in Proudhill.

The partnership paid off, and Gallac received the exact location of the barbarian hub deep within the swamps of the Blue River.  Marching with his army, Gallac invaded the Blue River, drove into the heart of their nest, and attacked them.  Unfortunately for Gallac he was unable to eliminate the barbarians, their numbers being far greater than he estimated, and he was forced to retreat.  However, his attack frightened the Blood Bunch into fleeing the area.  They would disappear and stay quiet for well over a hundred years before re-surfacing later.

Whitehood part 1

Located beneath Mt. Whitehood is the large human settlement named after the white-hooded peak.  The tallest peak of the Golden Mountain range, Mt. Whitehood sits at 14,200 feet high and it is the southern most mountain of said range.  The city rests among the Rossi Heights, the foothills beneath Mt. Whitehood.  Considering Damir’s age (circa 102 ACW), the city of Whitehood came to be settled late in its history.  Proudhill, Belvadore, Duinmire and Chance Rock predate Whitehood’s establishment, most of them by over a hundred years.  Officially, Merrimont was established long before any of them (circa 106 ACW), but the initial human settlement was destroyed by flooding approximately 147 ACW and again in 223 ACW.

Giving up on settling in the lush fields of Merrimont, survivors decided to try their fortunes by settling up north.  The hills and foothills surrounding Mt. Whitehood were untamed and unsettled.  A few sparse villages of native Damish people were about but they were primitive and unsuitable to maintain a viable population.  Humans had multiplied their numbers since the templar Lyndon had led them on a northern trek to new lands.  Those that stayed behind wanted to take advantage of Damir’s lush landscape, fresh water, and defensible settings.

The Rossi Heights presented an ideal place to build a settlement that could be defended.  The abundance of rolling hills would slow any army, and the mountain provided a safeguard against any attack from the  north.  Whitehood became an official human province in 250 ACW, and it started out primarily as a small community of miners.  A council of elders served as the town’s governing body, but as it grew so did its government.  In time, the elders began to jockey for the most influence and power.  This spawned internal fighting among the ruling class and later several bloody feuds which led to a string of warlords taking over Whitehood.  As the political situation in Whitehood deteriorated so did its economy.

Due to its limited agricultural opportunities, Whitehood struggled to keep up with its booming population growth.  The land about Whitehood was not the best for farming, its soil rough and rocky.  Their neighbor to the west, Proudhill, was on the other hand rich in agriculture.  Eventually, a trading post was established between the two large human settlements and Whitehood’s economic situation improved somewhat.  But its political instability was holding the city back.  In a span of nearly seventy years, Whitehood had five different warlords claim jurisdiction of the town.

Even with the political chaos, Whitehood grew from a mining village to a township to a fortress.  Fear of rogue bandits and fearsome monsters drew people behind its walls for protection.  The warlord Keltan attempted to be Damir’s first “king” and establish a bloodline of rulers from Whitehood.  He helped turn Whitehood from a basic fortress to a sizeable keep.  While Keltan ruled for almost forty years (345-84 ACW), his son never ruled a day in Whitehood.  The Keltan line was cut down immediately after following Keltan’s death, his family over-run by a mob and publicly lynched and executed.  The uprising against the Keltans was a planned event, meant to strike when the warlord’s family was most vulnerable.  Led by several concerned citizens over the state of Whitehood, and the fear that warlords such as the Keltans would only lead the city down a dark path, a council was re-established.

Under the governance of a council, Whitehood flourished, establishing a trade route to Proudhill and all the way to Belvadore.  Proudhill was rich in agriculture, Belvadore in linens, and Whitehood in salt.  Because of the volcanic region around Mt. Whitehood, an active volcano, hot springs producing mineral salt were ever present.  Known as the “Salt Trade,” Whitehood’s primary resource was the salt mines that paved the way for the city to become an economic giant.  In time, Whitehood’s population grew larger and it began to incorporate outlying villages.  Settlers and villages placed around the hills fell under the protection of the city.

History eventually repeated itself, however, when the rich and influential merchant, Krogert, bought the loyalty of Whitehood’s military guard and took over the council.  Krogert, a fat, slobbery man covered in hair from head to foot, behaved like a bully, intimidating Whitehood into submission by terrorizing households and fellow merchants.  He came to power roughly 430 ACW and was a merciless tyrant who put to death anyone he suspected to be his enemies.  Because of how close Whitehood had become to the other human settlements in Damir, Krogert’s coup caused an economic ripple and backlash.  The Salt Trade was dissolved, with both Proudhill and Belvadore attempting to distance themselves from Krogert and his ilk.

People starved in the streets, and clothes and medicine were hard to come by.  Krogert and his guards frequently raided homes, taking food and valuables to help preserve himself and his rule.  Krogert’s greed and consumption of resources went to all extremities.  As a levy, if a family could not pay Krogert’s steep taxes he would require a family member to enter servitude to his house.  He primarily wanted women to please him at every turn and would seize young girls and wives from their homes without explanation.  Outrage was rampant but suppressed by Krogert’s elite henchmen.  His rule lasted roughly ten years, but in that time Whitehood had become weak and vulnerable.