Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Random Creative Thoughts, Section II

And so my friends, once more we launch ourselves into the vast and unsuspecting waste of niche hobbies...

As threatened last time, I plan on burbling forth in regards to the orcish races of Xarathique. (I have succumbed to using the Empire's name for the world, partially out of laziness, partially due to not thinking of a pleasing alternative.)

Sages rank the orcish hordes in a bewildering array of castes, orders, tribes, and attendant organisations, however for our purposes there are but five distinct species of orc. These being, in a whimsical and in no sense purposeful arrangement, goblins, orcs, bugbears, ogres, and hobgoblins. Our more in depth view shall begin with the weakest and thrash about until all are described.

Goblins are small, weak, treacherous, foul-tempered, ravenous, pack-oriented, vicious and thoroughly nasty little vermin. Shot through with all manner of disease, debilitation, and disability, it is to be wondered at that they survive at all. Sadly, they do, with grit, determination, and anthropophagian habits. Their gear is usually filthy, as are they, and usually composed of badly tanned leather, bone, and wood. Leader types may have a hammered copper (or even bronze) knife or, if powerful and lucky, sword. Only their relentless breeding and willful stubbornness keep them not only alive, but a credible threat to other creatures. Many scholars suppose that the original goblin clans were formed by runt orcs chased away from their original tribes by their stronger kin.

Orcs are viewed as a demented caricature of humans, who they closely resemble... albeit with the additions of fangs, near snout-like jaws, pointed ears, and green-grey skin. Seemingly rabid and plagued by constant hunger, orcs destroy, eat, and pollute virtually everything in their path. As such, it is fairly easy to spot an orc encampment from a good distance away. The typical orc is armed with cheap iron weapons, usually polearms of scattered sort and wears studded leather armour. They form themselves into crude military bands and attempt to dominate their surroundings. Whilst they are led by the strongest and toughest of the orcish soldiery, orcish priests have high status in their dismal society. Communing directly, so it is claimed, with the orcish gods (a confusing and erratic band of possibly demonic spirits), the priests urge the orcs to kill and destroy all that is not orc.

Ogres, or orc giants, are thankfully rare. Though they display the common orcish anthropophagian tendencies, only the ogre has developed this taste into the flair of the true connoisseur. Favouring elf above all other meats, the typical ogre can be easily bribed with these oft-frozen delicacies. Standing about ten feet tall, ogres are cruel, vicious, hungry, and at times disturbingly crafty. Their usual weapons are of stone, wood, or bone, as they claim that metals "bend too fast" and their thick hides are well capable of standing in for the sorts of armours usually worn by smaller folk. Occasionally ogres are found living in small family bands, but most often they are found serving with the various orc militia.

Bugbears are demented, hairy, and over-sized goblins. It is not known how such a thing came to be, but the world is sadly blighted with their presence nonetheless. Combining the treachery, pack-driven, and stealthy nature of the goblin with the strength and endurance of its eight foot frame has made the bugbear one of the most feared of the orcish races. An ogre, after all, will kill you, but you'll see it and may be able to run away. Few, if any, see the bugbear before the tortures begin... Bugbears eschew armour and favour small, light weapons, mainly garrottes, daggers, and chains wrapped around their fists. Most bugbears travel in small packs, preying on nearby peoples to sate their hunger, bloodlust, and need for "sport", but some come to dominate goblin clans, directing their lesser kin in fiendish ways.

Hobgoblins, as many suspect from the name, are closely related to goblins. Chief differences are their size, hobgoblins standing as tall as an average human, and their civilisation. Hobgoblins are the only orcish race that looks to do more than slaughter and devour. They also want to enslave, control, and 'organise' the world to better suit them. So, really, they aren't much better than the rest in the eyes of the average farmer... Typical hobgoblin soldiers are outfitted with chain mail and wickedly styled axes, of fairly decent steel. Hobgoblin officers do, of course, requisition increasingly better gear as they ascend in rank. Fortunately, hobgoblins breed far more slowly than the other orcish races and this, along with the hatred that eveyone seems to show for them, keeps them from ruling more than small areas.

Legends state that the demons of the pit first unleashed their creations, the orcs, against the First Paradise that the Eternal Emperor had created for humanity. Goblins, it is said, arose from the orcs due to curses and maladictions hurled at the monsters. The demons then fortified their champions, producing ogres. Unhelpfully, legends remain quite silent on the origin of bugbears and hobgoblins, though scholars have been able to prove their relationship to the goblins.

And so we come to the end of our discourse regarding the orcish races, a snapshot into depravity and monstrous cruelty, but no more than a snapshot.

Next time: What is going on here and where did these peoples really come from?

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