From a human perspective, orcs are huge, muscle-bound brutes with half a mind, a tough hide, and very little else. For some orcs this may be true, but they can be much more varied than humans choose to believe.
An orc can be a hulking giant or a sinewy and ropey creature. The flesh of an orc can range in color from very dark to a light green, or a pale sickly brown to dull gray, and it may be thin or tough like leather. Although their facial features are no better than the gruesome orcish visage of legend, they can be more amicable in appearance.
Orcs possess broad faces, typically square shaped with a strong jaw and a broad, prominent nose. Their eyes are large and commonly oval or almond shaped. They can also be narrow and the eye colors run the gamut from shades of brown, red, amber, yellow, and hazel, all the way to black. Eyes the color of blues or greens are never seen in orcs.
The most distinctive part of their face involves their two tusks. All orcs have an under bite, and their tusks stick up and out from their lower jaw. These tusks are not used as teeth, but orcs believe that large tusks are a sign of strength and ferocity. Losing a tusk can be demoralizing to an orc for, unlike their normal teeth, tusks do not grow back. If an orc is severely dishonored, one or both tusks are often removed as punishment.
Orcs have no eyebrows and the hair on their head is typically thick and coarse. Their hair doesn’t grow too long, usually only to the shoulders, so it’s not uncommon for orcs to shave their heads either on the sides or completely.
Compared to humans, the orcs are huge. They have large bodies and even the thinnest orc can easily overshadow and outweigh a human. The average orc stands around 6’2, the shortest run about 5’8″, and the tallest 7’5″. Fat orcs are uncommon because extreme weight is viewed as a weakness. In fact, most orcs take rigorous care of their bodies. As a result they don’t normally die from obesity, poor metabolism, or cardiac arrest, as many humans do. Orcs are, however, susceptible to many other diseases and disorders.
Tattoos are a favored part of orc culture, so almost all orcs who have reached adulthood have more than on tattoo. These are “tribal” designs made of black or red ink.
The orcs breed in similar fashion to the human race, women carrying the child for about eight to nine months. The babes are born small and typically helpless to start, but quickly grow in size. They start growing their tusks at puberty, around the age of fourteen, fifteen, and gain full fledged adulthood between 17-23 years of age.
Orcs can live to be up to 100 years of age.
12-16 (Adolescence) / 17-23(Maturity Age) / 24- 30 (Young Adult) / 31- 35 (Adult) / 36-40 (Middle Aged) / 41-55 (Prime) / 56+ (Elder)
Orcs do have a lower birthrate than humans, though, and accounts for why the race is not as populated.
Humans and orcs can interbreed, creating a halfblood offspring called a half-orc.
To learn more about the human/orc offspring, see the Halfbloods
Orcs have above average strength, even down to their lowest of rank.
However, amongst their kind, really intelligent orcs tend to be rare, and intelligence seems to dwindle as their rank sinks- kaffs being quite dull or dimwitted. They aren’t technical savy, and many orcs shun the use of magite because it is too complex for them, too tedious or time consuming.
Orcs have been described in many ways by human observers, and the favored perception seems to be one of a brutish, basely intelligent monster race hell-bent on the destruction of humanity.
It is certainly true that orc society is defined almost entirely by the traits that engender the species as a whole. At its most simplistic, this is the worship of the strong. Orcs are indeed brutal, but they can also be cunning, ambitious, and ferociously driven. They have an elementally competitive nature which some believe led to their conflict with humans in the first place.
Orcs are resourceful and surprisingly fond of recycling and reuse. “Waste not, want not” is their motto, and so they are sticklers for using everything they find. Humans, by contrast, tend to be very wasteful and this is one of the many reasons orcs scorn and hate them.
Status within orc society is determined by a number of crucial factors. Generally, and in typically order of importance, these factors are: size, brawn and strength, intelligence, dominance, ruthlessness and cunning. Intelligence is valued quite differently among the castes and often depends upon the orc concerned. Orc War-mongerz, for example, value the abnormally clever a great deal, but intelligence may mean nothing among Runtz.
Orcs are very competitive creatures, preferring to shame their opponents either by physical dominance or mental superiority. They don’t regularly engage in murder unless it’s deemed necessary. They have their own form of honor, which may seem strange and selfish to an outsider, but for orcs, such acts of honor are highly prized.
An orc can inhabit one of five extremely distinct social tiers depending upon his or her aptitude. The names attributed to these groups can vary between factions, but all bear similar implications.
Runtz: These weak or especially dim orcs exist at the absolute bottom of the hierarchy. They enjoy the least freedom of any caste, and are generally pressed into the most common and unwanted jobs.
Kaffs: These orcs are the first real step up on the orcish status ladder. They enjoy a huge amount of “professional” freedom, and are the most varied of any caste. Kaffs are the commoners in orc society; the average working class. They make up the majority of the populace. This class is the major source for the army, and Kaffs often become foot soldiers. Most orcs start as Kaffs and, if they prove themselves capable, can rise through the ranks to become Mazeb, Raiderz, and Wargz.
Mazeb: This is the most diverse tier. The average Mazeb is a fairly intelligent Kaff with exceptional strength. These orcs hold most of the important jobs under the Raiderz and serve as a source for the Troopaz – the backbone of the orc military.
Raiderz: These orcs serve as specialized warriors or aides, associates, and confidants to warriors. They’re highly intelligent, physically empowered, or exceptional.
Wargz: More accurately known as the War-mongerz, these orcs are sect leaders that work directly with the Tuza. They are the most intelligent, physically empowered, or exceptional of all the prior castes. Wargz are an entitled caste. They can own large estates within their tribe’s territory as well as house servants, field hands, and workers. This caste – similar to human nobility – can also maintain groups of talented, lethal warriors.
Tuza: The Tuza are orc “kings” appointed by the people. They are the strongest and fiercest of the Wargz and possess a superior intellect. A Tuza and their subordinate Wargz monitor all orc affairs. They make decisions for the whole of the orc society. Females can aspire to be Tuza, but female leaders of this rank are rare.
Generally, other races know very little about orcs beyond the legends of their stronghold, Ugoth. This large, mountain city boasts crude yet interesting details and is a unique, well kept marvel of architecture. Built by the orc nation, it is an impressive testament to their ingenuity and strength. Most of the population resides within the city’s walls. Over the years, the city has gone through several expansions, under the rule of many different kings, in order to make room for the increasing population.
While Ugoth represents the fount of orc culture, there are other orc sects that live outside the city. Each sect is ruled independently and thus these clans do argue from time to time, but they do not war with each other. These small societies usually consist of three to four hundred orcs ruled by a single Tuza.
It is a great honor to be a high-ranking official in the orc nation. Every orc takes their positions and duties seriously, but they are not above scheming and competing with others for higher positions. Highly competitive by nature, orcs are always looking for ways to shame, dishonor, or challenge their rivals, but murder is considered the mark of a coward.
For the most part, only high-ranking warriors can issue challenges. Low ranking individuals can only challenge those in a position one level senior to them. So, for example, a Mazeb could challenge a Raider, or a Raider could challenge a Warg, and so on. Still, in order for a legal challenge to be issued, there has to be a viable reason. Orcs cannot simply challenge another just because they want a particular position.
Once a challenge has been issued it cannot be retracted or the challenger will be faced with great dishonor. If the orc who issued the challenge wins, they can claim the position of the orc they defeated. The loser, dishonored, must swear fealty to the winner for one year. If the orc who was challenged wins they retain their position and honor. The challenger then becomes the servant of the winner, and one of the loser’s tusks can be removed in reprisal.
Orcs do not kill their social rivals. In fact, the only challenge that can spell death among rivals is for the rank of Tuza. Wargz are the only caste that can offer a challenge for this position. It’s a very risky gamble and only a few have ever been brave enough to try. Any Warg that challenges his or her Tuza and fails is executed. If the Warg managed to win, however, he or she can choose to let the former Tuza live as one of their servants. In any case, the winner takes a tusk from the loser, dead or alive.
Humans and their allies do have their uses to the orcs. Many are captured during raids and these men and women are used as slaves. They take no part in orc society and are viewed as pets or beasts of burden, even lower than the kaff rank.