CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Rainmakers

Jungle Orcs of the Mwangi

Like many races in fantasy we see orcs as being homogenous, all the orcs worldwide are the same with the same basic stats, same basic culture, same basic everything. On Golarion we’ve learned that there are cultures among elves, dwarves, and the other races just like there are humans. I’ve already looked at the snowcaster elves, desert dwarves, and the cannibal halflings of the Kavaa Lands. Today I want to look at one of the many cultural variations of the orcs.

There are a number of variations in the orcish culture. The most commonly known orcs are the plains and hill dwelling ones of The Hold of Belzken, but there are orc all over – and under – Golarion. There are the darklands orcs who returned to their underground home, the desert orc of northern Garund and Qadira, the jungle orcs of the Mwangi Expanse, the mountain orcs of Western Avistan, and the winter orcs native to the crown of the world. Although these separate cultures are touched upon in both Orcs of Golarion, and their half-orc children in Bastards of Golarion, there is actually very little information about them.

The ones that most interest me are the jungle orcs of the Mwangi Expanse. So this week I am going to expand upon their lore.

History


As the dwarves pushed the orcs up into the world above they came out onto the face of Golarion in a few places. Although most of the paths through the darklands led to Avistan – particularly in the northern regions – a few groups that were separated from the greater horde came up elsewhere. One of these groups, which consisted of only three small tribes, found an unused route to the surface that let out in the steaming jungles of the Mwangi.

Without the numbers of the horde, the tribes that would become the jungle orcs did not have the ability to subjugate the other sentient beings around them. They spent their first years above ground trying to scratch out territory for themselves in an area already ripe with many deadly predators. During this early time they also sought a trail back through the darklands to their brethren. Many of the scouts never returned and rather than lose more of their number, the orcs settle into their new home.

Although of one people each of the three tribes demanded their own territory and dispersed to make their own claims on land for themselves. The human tribes of the Mwangi, still reeling from earthfall and the long night that still reigned over the sky, were of little consequence to the orcs who stole pieces of their ancestral lands. The humans could do little to fight back at the time.

The orcs survived in the darkest part of the jungles even after the dust covered sky of earthfall cleared up. The tribal humans began to reassert themselves but gave the orcs a wide berth. By this time the jungle orcs lost the paths into the darklands and they began to lose bits of their own history as older generation died out and newer ones forgot the stories of the past.

The first threat to the orcish tribes, which now numbered maybe a dozen from the original three, was the rise of the Shory Empire. The humans had grown in magical and technological might and began to retake the lands around them. Many of the humans held to their tribal ways as the orcs did, but the leader of the Shory began to tame the land, which included removing threats like the orcs.

By the time the last of the Shory flying cities failed, the jungle orcs were in even more disarray. The tribes had lost many of their numbers and even more of their already vanishing lore. But orcs are survivors if nothing else and they began to rebuild. They had other peoples to contend with now for territory. Tribes of savage halflings and reclusive jungle elves began to flourish alongside the humans of the Mwangi. This is when the orcs began developing their own culture to compensate for the loss of their darklands traditions.

Although fierce, the orcs did not remain the most feared predators of the Mwangi Expanse. As the worshipers of the demon lord Angazhan gathered in the city of Usaro and the fierce Gorilla King lashed out in primal rage from his throne, the jungle orcs took up a defensive posture against this new enemy. With the coming tide of the Gorilla King’s forces the jungle orcs even made deals with the other non-orc tribes around them, who would occasionally come to breed orc stock into their tribes by mating with the porcine beings.

Now neither friend nor foe, the jungle orcs are considered a natural part of the Mwangi Expanse. As long as their territory is respected they keep to themselves. Some small amount of trade is done with the humans, elves, and halflings. It is now not unusual to see one of the jungle orcs on the streets of the trade city of Kibwe, or any of the other major cities in the Expanse.


Physiology


Jungle orcs have the same physiology as their other orcish kin. They have thick muscular builds and porcine features. Oversized pointed teeth fill their mouths, even to the point of having tusk-like protrusions. Although still somewhat aggressive they do not hold to the constant warlike tendencies of their kin and as such have lost their ability to stand in battle while grievously wounded.  What they have gained is the great olfactory senses, which aid them immensely in their jungle homes.

Mechanical Note: Most jungle orcs give up ferocity and weapon familiarity and gain the smeller alternate racial trait.

Family


Although the jungle orc society is slightly more egalitarian than the more well-known plains orcs, it is still a patriarchy. The family unit usually consists of a male and his mates. Since males have as many mates as they can take, you can tell the most powerful male by the number of females he surrounds himself with.

Jungle orcs do not seem to be as fecund as their other kin. That combined with the many dangers that orcs must face every day, from both their environment and other jungle dwellers – particularly the worshipers of Angazhan – means that each child is important, male or female.  Even half-orc children are given much more respect than half breeds of other orcish communities.

Some families also include human members, warriors of other tribes that come to breed half-orcs for their own people’s protection. These human family members are perhaps treated the worst – especially the females – as a means of showing they are worthy of the orcish blood their tribes seek. Regardless of how the orcs within the tribe treat the human “family member,” the orcs would never let outside forces bring harm to these temporary kin.

Society

The tribal society of the jungle orcs is very insular. They are exceedingly territorial and take great pride in what land they can claim and hold. Because of so many outside forces are aligned against them, the orcs still have a war-like attitude and all members of the tribe are trained for battle. This tends to be more defensive than offensive, although some of the larger orc tribes still raid the lands around them.

The society is highly patriarchal and all the chiefs and warleaders of the tribes are male. Most of the warriors are male as well, although some females – usually those who cannot bear children – may become powerful warriors in the tribe. Unlike other tribes, where the roles of females are limited to breeding stock, the jungle orc women are not tossed aside as easily. Some even become prized with doctors and shaman.

Tattoos and piercings play a large role in the society of the jungle orcs. When jungle orcs reach maturity they get their first tatto,o which is more like a series of elaborate and excruciatingly painful markings. These tattoos denote that the young orc is ready to become a full-fledged member of the tribe and is of age to begin mating.

Jungle orcs will add to their initial rite of passage tattoo as they perform great deeds through their short lifetimes. You can tell a jungle orc has lived a life of great meaning – to the orcs at least – by the number of tattoos they have. Some of the greatest chiefs and warleaders are covered head to toe in body art. And in places where tattoos are not present an orc may decorate themselves with horns, thorns, or wooden pins thrust through their body.

Strength rules all in the jungle orc tribes. Cheifdoms are not passed down through family lines, they are taken by the next strongest successor. Usually a chief will die in battle, most often against the minions of the Gorilla King,  but some chiefs live to an older age and will see their right to lead challenged by younger, stronger orcs. When a chief can no longer hold his own in battle, he is no longer chief and he is usually dead.


Alignment and Faith


Because the jungle orcs have by necessity been forced to actually deal and even trade with many of the other races of the Mwangi Expanse, their need to kill for killing’s sake has dwindled. Although on the whole the tribes will never be considered good, they also are not wholly evil. Chaotic Neutral tends to be the most common alignment among the jungle orcs for that reason.

Beings separated from the greater orc horde and the loss of their history has turned the jungle orcs away from the traditional orcish god. Many of the tribes worship Gorum as the deity of strength and battle, paying particular care to appease him before battle with the Gorilla King’s forces. Mostly, however, they have turned to animism as a form of religion.

Orc holy men tend to be witch doctors and shaman who pray to the forces of the world. The uses fetishes and totems to bind spirits and gather power for their tribes. These spirit talkers are both respected and feared for the power they can wield. Unlike other positions of power, women and half-orcs often become powerful religious guides for their tribes.

Relations


Jungle orc’s dealings with the other inhabitants of the Mwangi jungle are strained at best. Sometimes they war and sometimes they trade. Usually, as long as they come peacefully, jungle orcs are allowed into some of the larger human settlements to trade. Even then they are given a wide berth by most and are watched carefully by the city’s guard.

Each tribe will have its own relationship with the other orc tribes, and non-orc tribes. So to say the jungle orcs are friends with this group and not with that does not truly encapsulate the varied of relationships that can be had. The closer a group is to the territory claimed by a jungle orc tribe the more likely that tribe is to be met with hostilities.

The only truly universal relationship among the orc tribes is an intense hatred for the Gorilla King and his assorted simian minions. All jungle orc tribes are prepared for battle against the followers of the Demon Lord Angazhan. If there is anything that can make the jungle orcs ally with just about anyone, it is the forces of the city of Usaro.

Adventurers


Because of the small size of the tribes, adventurers are not that common among the jungle orcs. Some young jungle orcs do feel the call to leave the tribe and seek their own fortune but these are few and far between. Those that do choose the adventuring life are often overwhelmed by all that the outside has to offer.

Barbarians and rangers are probably the two most common routes that jungle orcs take as adventurers. Fighters and more scout-like rogues and slayers aren’t unheard of. Magical acumen is not common among jungle orcs in general, especially more studied traditions such as wizards and magus. Some of the more intelligent orcs become alchemists who build on the jungle orcs tradition of poison making.

Those who can wield magic tend to be divine casters. Shaman, clerics, and druids have a deep tradition among the orcs. Because their power is so well respected, they rarely make their way out into the world. Those that do set out from the tribe find that their powers can garner them much respect in an adventuring party.

Looking for some interesting new character ideas, or enemies for your Mwangi based adventure? Now you can add the jungle orcs to that list. I quite enjoy these culturally different group of traditionally homogenous creatures and I hope you do too. I’m going to make myself a jungle orc character now.

What kind of cultures for other races would you like to see? Would you use these jungle orcs in your Golarion campaign? Would you adapt them to your homebrew world? This is just a short write up, but what other information would you like to see about the jungle orcs?

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2 comments:

  1. Interesting. This appears to include elements we discussed a few months back in a character exercise. Great to see it expanded on and fleshed out. Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete