The indigenous orcs on the continent of Alivast are varied in both culture and even skintone, though they are frequently gray-skinned to blend in with the often rocky environment. Four notable clans reside north and east of the city of Alivast.
The clans are all disparate and often in disagreement with one another, but in the distant past, Raunfalt's father once drew their ire, and a warboss emerged to unite the clans entirely, and they beat the giant's forces back.
Iron Claw Edit
Their territory is near the village of Lebreaus and they trade iron to the villagers that they mine themselves. They worship the spirit of the bear and hunt bear and other game with traps. They have a good relationship with the city of Alivast which allows Ollem entry into the city without the usual process of requiring sponsorship or other justification for a ticket.
The Iron Claw have fallen on hard times with the arrival of the Dragon Cult. They were driven from their village and mines west of Lebreaus and were forced to flee south to a secondary camp. They still have extensive iron mines which give them their name and their current camp is a mixture of above and below ground structures.
Alice was caught in one of the Iron Claw's bear traps and was slated to become one of the chief's wives, but the clan matriarchs felt that life with the clan would be too harsh for her, so they told Ollem to take her to Alivast. This cost Ollem his place in the clan and made him an outcast. The Unexpectables later ran into the clan whilst chasing a lead on the Dragon Cult and on Winter. They heard out Borky's negotiations, and agreed to their terms to open trade and join the coalition, but under the condition that the Unexpectables provide ten "compatable" women to the tribe.
Despite their good relationship with the city, outsiders typically don't go near their village because it is surrounded by traps and the Iron Claw are very isolationist, bordering on xenophobia. One major reason for this is that by their tradition any women who enter Iron Claw territory are taken to be the chief's wives.
Enceladus Anclad has studied the Iron Claw extensively and visited them to conduct anthropological research. He explained that any woman who enters their territory is considered a wife of the chieftain, though he has not explained what this means exactly. One thing that he has explained is that no easy way for a wife to leave the clan of her own free will, hence what happened to Alice. The Iron Claw had limited contact with non-orcs prior to the recent founding of the city of Alivast leading to confusion about how some humanoids, such as kenku, fit into their definitions of gender roles.
The Iron Claw have dramatically unbalanced ratio of males to females and the recent conflict with the Dragon Cult has made that worse. They seek to bolster the number of women in the tribe though they are primarily interested in women who are compatible with orc biology, so presumably kenku, dragonborn, and similar species are less desirable.
The clan's chieftain, Lubso, currently has five wives. It is said that while the chief controls the clan, the wives control the chief and these matriarchs hold a great deal of power and respect. According to Gruul Hellhorn there is one old and cunning wife who is particularly terrifying. He is absolutely right because Ovela commands absolute respect and it's implied that the clan respects and listens to her more than the actual chieftain. Women in general are treated with a great deal of respect and despite being bound to the clan and it's chief, they are the de-facto rulers of the clan where the chief is largely a figurehead who defers to the council of wives for decision making and direction.
Magic is an extremely complicated issue among the Iron Claw, and Enceladus recommended not to cast spells near them or their hunting parties due to their beliefs on the matter. Iron Claw orcs believe that magic is the sole domain of women and inherently feminine. Therefore, men who can cast magic are "Women Reborn": women who have died and had their souls returned in a new body. For the Iron Claw, being able to use magic is proof of this feminine nature and male spellcasters are treated with a mixture of deep fear, reverence, and suspicion because they occupy a cultural position with traits of both genders. Because of this in-between status, a chief does have the right to declare them one of his wives, binding them to the role of a woman with it's benefits and restrictions. In the case of Remy, chief Lubso opted to release him because the kenku's appearance was too dissimilar to interest of the orc.
Named Individuals Edit
- Ollem - A banished hunter, and unable to return.
- Lubso - An absolutely enormous Orc who is the current chieftain of the tribe. Near-Ogre sized, he looks and acts fearsome, but is in fact merely a large, muscular puppet of the wives, acting more like a big dumb morale officer than a boss.
- Ovela - The aged matriarch of the tribe, and the "true" power behind it's decision making. While she is not the chieftain, she is among the eldest of the wives, and wields near-absolute power, and appears to have some particular control over beasts. Insulting her is a crime punishable by death. She demands respect for her position and obedience to the clan's traditions, though the situation with Alice shows that she is also willing to find practical solutions within those bounds. She carries a staff decorated with a variety of iron trinkets, totems, and talismans.
- Griggi - A massive, incredibly strong, and tough-as-nails orc wife of the chieftain. She is profoundly simple, with a lovely disposition. She appears to be related to Lubso as they have a similar build and features.
- Keggu of the White Snow - A Goliath wife of the chieftain with five brothers, and the only remaining female goliath in the camp. She is very attentive and aware of the surrounding areas of the camp and of the mountain range nearby the Mountain of Repetition. Her goliath markings are very blotchy compared to old-world goliaths.
- Reeza - A stunningly beautiful orc woman. She is very doting on Lubso.
- Hornet - One of the youngest wives. She is a small orc, to the point that some might even suggest she might be of mixed heritage due to her extremely small size. She is sneaky, impulsive, and prone to causing trouble. She has very "sticky fingers" and likes to steal small items simply because she can, though she will give them back when caught.
Blood Axes Edit
The Blood Axes are currently the northernmost tribe in Alivast, who live at least two days journey to the north of the Iron Claw tribe and are known for their savagery, and their propensity for killing outsiders on sight.
The Blood Axes are by far the most established tribe in Alivast with somewhere between 500-700 members, and a well developed permanent settlement. Their town has high walls with massive gates, and their houses are crude, but made of stone. The Blood Axes are an especially dangerous nuisance to the Dragon Cult, using the heads of their victims as personal trophies and decorations.
The Blood Axes thrive on bloodshed and are among the most faithful in the land to Gnash, attacking any and all who dare make their way to their territory, and tend to use the bodies both as a decoration and as a personal offering to the god of destruction through the jaws of a Hellmouth that they consider a sacred pit. They trade orcs with the Iron Claw for good breeding once every half century in an event called "the swap". They do not appear to have any positive opinions on academics, as any from Alivast that have come to meet them have met their grisly end by their hand. They are also often at odds with spellcasters, but attempts to face local hags have met with..."explosive" results.
They live on the slopes of the Mountain of Repetition and believe its summit to be an extremely dangerous place. They avoid going there, believing that it leads to nothing but death, and not an honorable one. They also believe the tone that comes once every hour is the heartbeat of the mountain.
Their emphasis on might is to the point that they can be challenged for leadership simply by killing enough of them that the chieftain takes notice, though that is far from an easy task. They respect martial strength above all else and to have any standing in their eyes an outsider must demonstrate their fighting power.
The Blood Axes do have tanarukks among their numbers, but they are bestial in disposition and kept chained like guard dogs.
Named Individuals Edit
- Agranak - The massive chieftan of the Blood Axes, over seven feet tall with a mane and beard of long, wild black hair with bones woven into it. He wears a cloak of black dragon hide with a pair of smaller dragon skulls as pauldrons. He is bare chested and has a massive scar running from his groin all the way up to his hairline through one milked-over eye. He wears pants made from the snake tail of a chimera. He is a grizzled and hardened warrior, still powerful despite being in his 40's (late middle age for an orc). MontyGlu glowingly described him as "Johnny Depp" but a massive orc.
Double Tusks Edit
The Double Tusk clan has territory to the West of the Iron Claw and are regarded as repulsive by that clan. They are like most orc clans in Alivast; grey skinned, and are notable for piglike faces, punctuated by their large, second pair of tusks, as well as their generally putrid odor. They practice magic, and are either entirely wereboars, or heavily affiliated with them. Recently, they have taken up residence in a temple previously known to be a haunt of Stillhavity, and have been seen using weapons and armor that only the drow wear. They were briefly led by a Spawn of Stillhavity, who had bested their previous leader.
On their way to the underground temple of Orun, the group stumbled upon the injured and recently deposed clan leader, Steer Viletusk. Taking upon the mantle of her champion, Borky bested the new Double Tusk leader, a five-limbed, vaguely reptilian Spawn of Stillhavity, in combat, banishing it back to its father's realm and reinstating Stir Viletusk as clan chieftain in exchange for forming an alliance with Alivast. It appears that they made good on this promise, as the Double Tusks shacked up near Tent Town in the five months after the party's foray into the Realm of Discord.
The Double Tusk culture was not well-explored or discussed when the Unexpectables met the group, but they are generally much more feral and less organized in culture than the other clans, though they do recognize certain traditions, like duels for the right of leadership. Duels are decided by use of a Duel Totem, usually a large tusk with inscriptions on it. The duel does not always go to the death, but the defeat often leaves the former leader in a condition close to it.
Named Individuals Edit
- Stir Viletusk: (pronounced "Steer") Former, then Current Leader. Led the Unexpectables to the underground temple of Orun, but could go no further.
Blood of Gnash Edit
The coastal orcs to the east of Alivast are predominantly a greenish-blue aqua color. They were once united under Orvar, a tanarukk who was slain when he tried to seize the Time Cleaver from a temple of Oreyara near Balton Village. Afterward, they fell into infighting and their strength was greatly reduced when they fractured into two major groups, The Blood of Gnash and Saglak's Group.
The Blood of Gnash is led by Orvar's brother, a tanarukk named Gruul Hellhorn. Their village wass a shadow of its former self, largely depopulated and with a great many orcs badly injured by skirmishes with the United Clergy of Orun, who scared Snaglak and his faction into joining their ranks. They raised aurochs as livestock. Their banners are blue cloth hung from blood-smeared poles topped by the jaws of a shark. They felt they were the "true orcs" and sought to venerate Gnash over the worship of other gods, a goal they'd achieve by destroying Orun's presence on their shores. Despite their frightening appearance and apparently savage proclivities, they treat their prisoners better than the United Clergy does. After a destructive battle against the United Clergy Base, the Blood of Gnash and their allies chased away the United Clergy, reunited the two factions under one banner, and forged an official alliance with the city of Alivast though Borky. This alliance states that Gruul's clan will guard the coasts from further United Clergy presence in exchange for gifts of food, steel, and forges. They also took ownership of the vacant camp and all of its resources, which include
tall dogs horses, chickens, metal, and the best fishing spot in the region. They named their new home Bronto in reference to a dramatic part of its capture.
Snaglak's Group Edit
When the United Clergy of Orun came into the fishing grounds of the Blood of Gnash, they fought and soundly defeated the already weakened tribe. Snaglak claimed that the god of the UCO was stronger than Gnash, and he gathered others of like mind and made an alliance with them. When the clan fractured, he took most of the women and some of the men. This group helped the UCO at their base encampment. Apparently this group had chosen to adopt the worship of Orun as their primary god, and Snaglak had begun the process to become a paladin. According to Noogugh, the splinter group felt dismayed at the absence and seeming impotence of Gnash and sought to find a patron deity that is not silent. Was disbanded and abosorbed back into the Blood of Gnash when Snaglak was killed and the UCO fled their camp during the end of the attack from the Blood of Gnash and the Unexpectables.
Tanarukks are not always welcome within the tribe due to their tendency towards violence but they are also appreciated and often rise to leadership because of this same power, putting them in a rather odd place in the social hierarchy. When a tanarukk child is born, they are left in the woods to see which animal shows up; this indicates the child's nature. A wolf indicates they will be violent, a badger means they will be cruel, a raccoon means they will be unlucky, and a raven means they will be intelligent. Based on this omen, the tanarukk child might be allowed to live or doomed to die.
The tribe excels in laying traps, and use them not only for catching game, but also as a means of defense. Their traps include strangulation snares, leg traps, and others. Some of their traps are quite sophisticated and are a higher quality than the orcs themselves can manufacture, though it is uncertain if they were acquired through trading or as loot.
The Blood of Gnash live largely in communal housing segregated by gender, though their leader has their own quarters. They do not practice marriage and romantic relationships as is common among humans and similar races. They gather on occasion for a gathering called a "grouse" where they engage in ritual combat to display their willingness to mate with a female. The assembled clan members sit around the lodge pounding a fist into their palms until a contender stands and presents himself. Then a challenger rises and the two square off in the center of the ring for an exchange of blows. The first to land three solid strikes wins the fight. The winner then chooses a female who then can choose which of the contenders she wishes to have as a sexual partner, though she is not required to pick either and can even choose the one who lost the ritual combat. It is considered very inappropriate for an orc to pursue a female that has rejected him.
When The Unexpectables formed an alliance with the Blood of Gnash Gruul laid out four rules:
- No killing anyone in the tribe without his permission
- Don't steal from the tribe
- All food is shared
- Everyone must attend the Grouse if they are able to sire/bear children.
The Blood of Gnash are struggling with a theological crisis concerning their devotion to Gnash. Gnash's imprisonment prevents any contact or direction to his worshipers, so they are largely left without spiritual guidance or the support of divine spellcasters. Shamans devoted to Ydia are present, but as a group the tribe does not worship that goddess. This crisis has created a lack of purpose and direction among the tribe and seeking a powerful and active divine patron is one of the reasons why so many orcs followed Snaglak when he broke away from the main tribe.
Named Individuals Edit
- Biguk and Opaguk - warriors
- Bruzzle, Uzad, and Zug - hunters
- Cog - The tribe's aurochs breeder
- Gruul Hellhorn - Blood of Gnash Leader
- Parfu - Scribe and historian. He is slightly built for an orc, and looks almost like he might be a half-orc. He can read and write. He wears robes.
- Shugah - Elderly medicine woman. She has a bag of holding that looks very crudely made, but functions exactly as it should, mother of Gruul, and druid of Ydia.
- Gruul's Sister - Druid who has companionship with a disturbingly literal Sea Lion. Is a bit of a hermit and seems to consider Gruul as dense. Previously a member of Shaglak's group
- Tozug the Quiet One - messenger
- Urad - A hunter who led the group that first discovered the Unexpectables
- Vak - A pregnant female.
- Vuk - A female with a mohawk. The only orc woman able to participate in the grouse.
- Zaggok - Orc with a very bulbous face. He is the "Dawn Caller" - an orc who's job is to wake the clan every morning with his loud cry.
- Snaglak - United Clergy of Orun ally faction leader. He had a weapon made from Gruul's broken horn, claiming it as a trophy even though it was the Clergy leader who broke it. Died at the hands of Borky
- Noogugh - a male who followed Snaglak, now a prisoner of Gruul's faction
- Orc pirates of the Alivast area typically decapitate their victims that they kill.
- The Blood of Gnash had a good relationship with a tribe of blue-scaled kobolds that lived nearby in the recent past. Gruul expressed sadness that their caves flooded and the tribe was wiped out.
- MontyGlu intentionally developed fairly detailed and distinct cultures for Alivast's orcs.