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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Oringard part 2

In 460 ACW, the elves of Oringard were thoroughly dismantled by a large orc incursion from the neighboring land of Nubrince in the east.  The invasion came as a sudden surprise.  The orcs hit the elves on multiple fronts, destroying their defenses easily.  The orcs were battle tested, numerous, and absolutely ruthless in their attacks.  The elves, over the course of a couple of years of futile resistance, finally yielded Oringard to them and fled west into the fields of Merrimont.  The orcs then became the primary inhabitants of Oringard and have remained such for over three and a half centuries. 

For the next one hundred years, the orcs built up Oringard into their domain, spreading to as many areas as possible within the forestland, populating and conquering whatever stood in their way, like the gryphons.  They cut down large sections of trees, mined coal, built large training arenas and fortifications.  They mapped out Oringard, learning the secrets of the forest, locating good hideouts and lookout points.  As their population swelled, so did their confidence.  The orcs stayed quiet in Oringard for over a century, until the time of Phumbaas.

To protect herself and her community of immortals, Hovaia cursed a large section of forestland that would later be called the Bleak Woods.  Making a petrified forest, the wood there became lethal to touch.  White Bark is a common dryad trap, designed to petrify intruders.  This prevented the orcs from entering her small section in northern Oringard, which would later be dubbed Hovaia’s Cradle. 

Since Phumbaas, the orcs have begun to call their clan the “Nation of Oringard”, establishing it as separate from the rest of Damir.  Because of the thick woods and its internal maze-like structures, Oringard is almost impregnable by any army.  Even so, elven merchants will occasionally venture into Oringard to seek out rare herbs that the forest is known to grow.  Some adventurers continue to search for Hovaia and other hidden treasures.  Many do not return from these expeditions, but it doesn’t keep others from trying.  The kingdom of Damir sends scouts into Oringard year round, trying to decipher what the orcs are planning and when they might invade next.  Because Oringard is so dense and long, the orcs can strike from any point along the tree line.  It is standard orc procedure to deceive the enemy as to where they will strike next.  To do this, the orcs use the trees as cover while they shuffle legions from north to south, confusing enemy scouts, and leaving Damir’s military command holding their breaths.

Oringard is viewable as far west as Whitehood, and from Merrimont’s Peach Orchards the forestland looks like an endless ocean of trees and forested hills that goes on beyond what the eye can see.  It is an ominous looking domain to anyone who comprehends the danger and threat that lies beyond its forested curtain.

Notable creatures that can be found in Oringard (aside from orcs):

1. Shunjilas

2. Black-spade Bears

3. Gryphons

4. Owl Raptors

5. Saw-tooth Beavers

6. Red-eyed Condors

7. Mud Frogs

8. Shadow Squirrels

Rossi Heights

The Rossi Heights have been a big part of the community at Whitehood since its inception.  Its name comes from the Du Rossi family: high nobles who were nearly exterminated by Ulric in 700 ACW.  Before given its now famous name, they were simply called the Southern Foothills, because they were on the road south to Merrimont.  The road that connects Merrimont to Whitehood runs through the Rossi Heights.  The Rossi Heights serve as a vanguard for Whitehood as they form a protective shield from the east and south.  The Rossi Heights have their own community, but it is mostly an outpost controlled by the military.  It has been the host of two major wars: the 6th War when the elves invaded from Merrimont in the south, and the 11th War, when Hathar the orc warlord made a run toward Whitehood.  In both cases, the humans won the war.  The orcs of Oringard often send small war parties across the Mourning River to terrorize the Rossi Heights but the hills are very well guarded.

Count Peter Du Rossi (570 – 621 ACW) was a very suave and very direct noble, who was exceptionally picky and confrontational.  He enjoyed swordplay and spent many hours of his youth learning the art of sword fighting.  As a young man, Count Du Rossi looked for every excuse imaginable to test out his skills on Damir’s best and most boastful fighters.  As a young boy he loved running through the flowery hills of the southern foothills to play, and that childhood memory inspired him to hold duels there.  It is unclear how many duels Du Rossi fought, but he claimed in his journal that he slew a hundred men there.  However, estimates from other records suggest the number is closer to fifty.  Whatever the number, Du Rossi was undefeated, and he settled disputes through these duels.  Now-a-days, duels must be approved by a magistrate to prevent any escalation or unnecessary confrontations.

The majority of duels are now fought on one of the hills of the Rossi Heights.  It is considered an ideal setting for a match because the ground is firm but not rocky, soft but not muddy.  It also allows spectators to gather and form a gallery, as the fighters duel high up where they can be seen clearly. 

Mud Frogs

There is perhaps no more terrifying creature in Damir than the Mud Frogs, who are generally found near the three main rives in Damir: the Blue, the Paia, and the Mourning.  Mud Frogs are gigantic frogs, the size of elephants, who bury themselves in mud and then attack when its prey grows near.  They are the leading cause of death in Purewater, which is up against the Paia River and less than a league away from Oringard.  Because the three major rivers in Damir are so wide, the mud frogs have little difficulty using the rivers as a means to travel and hunt.  

Mud Frogs were at first thought to be legend, a scare tactic used by the Blood Bunch to keep the templars of Proudhill away from their hideout, deep within the Blue River.  However, in 204 ACW, Sir. Gallac and an ensemble of templars stumbled into a mud frog who devoured three of his templar knights.  Gallac slew the mud frog and the beast was no longer simply legend.  Over the centuries, many travelers have disappeared when crossing the Blue River, many believe them to be victims of mud frogs.  Incidents have dropped in recent years because knowledge of the creatures have kept travelers wary.  

Mud Frogs have a tendency of stationing themselves in an area that is soaked in mud, so travelers will usually try to avoid such areas.  In Purewater, mud frogs are still a problem, even to locals.  Thanks to the Mud Flats region, just east and north of the town, Purewater citizens have to cross the muddy terrain if they wish to reach the Paia River or head north to Paia’s Bluff where Shunjilas have been found.  Hunting is a major economy for Purewater, and the Mud Flats offer some of the best hunting ground in Damir, making mud frogs a dangerous obstacle for hunters.

Even the orcs of Oringard learned the hard way about the mud frogs and the Mud Flats around Purewater.  On more than one occasion,  the orcs have attempted to surround the river village only to lose some of their warriors to the mud frogs.  Orcs will now only assault the eastern and southern ramparts of Purewater, just to avoid the threat of mud frogs.

Merrimont part 2

As the years and decades passed, the kingdom of Damir became intensely jealous of the elves and their ability to farm the land and dam the rivers without going through the hardships their ancestors suffered.  With control of Merrimont and the southern farmlands below the city, the elves were enjoying a cultural renaissance in Damir, and they would not recognize King Bandrian or any human king as their ruler.

In 485 ACW, the elves of Merrimont were feeling a bit brave from having occupied the fields and farmlands so successfully that they decided to try and settle on the hills north of Merrimont, on the way to Whitehood.  The Rossi Heights (or so they would be named at a later date) guarded Whitehood from the south and east.  Upon hearing that elves had moved into the area, Bandrian sent his army out to shoo them off.  The shooing resulted in bloodshed and Bandrian’s army pursued the elves by driving south, almost to the gates of Merrimont where they had a short but inconsequential battle with the elven army.  The confrontation became the 5th War of Damir, but it was closer to a skirmish, and later standoff-than a war.

Bandrian had made his point, however, and did not want open warfare (the king was growing old and weak).  He summoned his troops back to the Rossi Heights and made a declaration that the hills belonged to the kingdom of Damir and that any further encroachment by the elves would mean war.  While the elves celebrated Bandrian’s retreat they knew that his army was more than capable of destroying theirs and agreed to his demands.  A truce was called and the humans of Whitehood and the elves of Merrimont had peace.

This truce would be broken when Bandrian’s grandson, Bandrian III, thought it a good idea to attack Merrimont with the full force of the royal army.  In 557 ACW, Bandrian III was beside himself in anger over hearing about the elven prophecy: that a king would spring from their own and likely compete against a human king.  He used the prophecy as propaganda to garner enough initial support to attack the elves, but went overboard.  Instead of demonstrating a show of force against the outlying farms north of Merrimont, he took it a full step further and marched on Merrimont.  But this 7th War of Damir was brief.  Once the elven scouts learned of the human army’s intentions to invade Merrimont, they broke the northern dams of the Paia and Blue Rivers, flooding the land and wiping out the invasion force.  It would take years for the elves to rebuild the farmlands north of Merrimont, but at least their city and people had been spared.  Unfortunately, the elves had no idea what was next to come around the corner.

In early 601 ACW, several elven provinces east of Merrimont were destroyed one by one by an invasion of over 10,000 orc warriors led by the warlord, Phumbaas.  Elves everywhere fled to the confines and safety of Merrimont, hoping the city would protect them from the orcs.  The elven army tried to slow Phumbaas down from reaching the city, attacking him in small clusters, killing off the frontline soldiers, but the warlord always seemed to have plenty of warriors to replenish his losses.  The elven army dwindled, chipped away by these small battles.  They made their final stand just outside of Merrimont, near the Peach Orchards, and slugged it out with Phumbaas.  But the warlord was too strong and the elven lines broke.  The army slaughtered, Merrimont prepared itself for a siege.

Desperate for relief, and surrounded by orcs, the elves managed to send an envoy of emissaries to Whitehood to plead for help from the human king, Valimond.  The purpose of the emissary was for Damir to enter the war on Merrimont’s behalf, and save the elven people from being annihilated.  But King Valimond wanted more than just a war-time alliance against the orcs of Oringard.  He wanted a treaty with the elves and the annexation of Merrimont into the kingdom of Damir.  He wanted recognition from the elven people that they were subjects to a human king and would pledge their loyalty as citizens of Damir.  To ensure this, he stipulated that elves would have to give up their rights to land, dissolve their caucus and reduce their merchant trade.  These demands were unacceptable, but under the grave circumstances Merrimont was experiencing, they rushed through negotiations and agreed to Valimond’s demands.

Armed with the might of Damir’s massive royal army, Valimond relieved Merrimont of its siege just in time.  The ramparts of the city had fallen, half of Merrimont was left in ruin, and Phumbaas had already extinguished thousands upon thousands of elves in his wake.  Phumbaas did not anticipate the arrival of the Damish army and was flanked.  The warlord attempted to thwart their efforts to save Merrimont by dividing his army in two and leading his own side against Valimond’s.  But Phumbaas was cut down in the battle and the orcs were pushed back.  The war was over and Merrimont was spared.

Merrimont was a shell of its old self, and less than half the elven population remained.  Forced to rebuild under the stern laws set forth by the Treaty of Merrimont, the elven city would go through a century of darkness: riots and plagues would become the city’s legacy.  However, during King Valan II’s reign, the elves gained more control of their society and Merrimont began to turn around circa 700 ACW.  Their temple was reconstructed, roads re-built, fountains and archways were erected to mark the return of elven pride and cultural rejuvenation.

Merrimont part 1

Located strategically between the Blue and the Paia, two of three main rivers in Damir, is the elven city of Merrimont.  The name “Merrimont” is not elven, but human.  In 102 ACW, a massive party of immigrating human pilgrims, led by the great templar Lyndon, passed through the flower fields and grassy knolls of southern Damir.  Because of the flower fields and the small hills, it was named “Merrymont,” later spelled as “Merrimont.”

Flanked by the two rivers, the soil and ground seemed to be prime farmland that could be cultivated.  A large group of Lyndon’s followers broke off and decided to remain behind to farm and establish a human township in the fields.  Lyndon himself admired the ground but wanted access to the sea so he pressed ahead. 

Early on, it appeared the humans had found the perfect place to settle.  The fruit orchards provided plenty of food, and the humid climate added to the growth of their crops.  However, human irrigation technology was lost in the Chaos War.  Knowledge of cultivation was low, and the people were forced to learn anew.  Among the lost knowledge was how to properly dam a river.  After about ten years, the Blue River flooded the settlement and most of the outlying farms.  Five years after that, the Paia did the same.  The floods were catastrophic: dozens of people died at a time, houses and crops washed away, livestock killed. 

Feeble attempts to dam the rivers failed miserably, as the flooding continued to wreak havoc on every new settlement the humans built.  Still, for over a hundred years the humans in Merrimont gutted it out and kept rebuilding after each flood.  Then in 221 ACW, both the Paia and the Blue flooded simultaneously, wiping out the township completely, killing hundreds, destroying farms, crops and livestock; the people there were reduced to nothing.  The humans were fed up.  Every time they harvested a good crop it would flood.  Every time their livestock began to bear young it flooded.  Every time. 

By 240 ACW, virtually every human left the Merrimont region, convinced that the area could not be properly settled because of the rivers.  They went north, many settling near Mt. Whitehood and establishing a human outpost there.  Others went to Proudhill in the west.  But the fields of Merrimont were deserted.  Only a handful of human farmers tried to stick it out. 

Around that time the elves had successfully entered Oringard from the south and pushed the dwarves out.  The war between the elves and dwarves was technically the 2nd War of Damir.  It started when the elves, in search of a homeland, were given permission by the dwarves to pass through Oringard on their way north.  However, the forest proved to be just what the elven wanderers were in search for and they decided to stay and settle.  The dwarves took exception and began hostilities.  Eventually the dwarves, who had been mining up north, decided to retreat there and give up the forestland.

But in 461 ACW, over two hundred years later, the elves got a taste of their own medicine when the orcs of Nubrince entered Oringard and attacked.  The elves were too spread out and unprepared for an attack coming from their eastern border and scattered.  Iteph, their royal prince, did not escape and he and his family were massacred.  The elves that did manage to escape found themselves following the Paia west to the flowery fields of Merrimont.  In 469 ACW, the elves learned through the few human farmers that lived in the area that the land was called Merrimont and the elves decided to establish themselves there. 

The new elven township sent shockwaves across all of Damir.  Due to their location, the elves were now southern neighbors to the humans, who had established Whitehood as their primary domain.  Under their new king Bandrian I, the humans saw the elves as potential threats and fortified the hills (later called the Rossi Heights) above Merrimont.  However, many humans did not initially feel threatened by the elves, knowing they had settled in a region prone to flooding and would soon be wiped out.

However, this did not happen.  The elves knew of ways to dam the rivers, create waterways and proper irrigation, and minimize the flooding damage.  As a people, elves  often have a natural knack when it comes to cultivation and agriculture.  Within twenty years of establishing a township, the elves blossomed in agriculture and farmland.  Although the rivers still flooded, the preventative measures the elves took kept the damage manageable. 

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