Orcs (sometimes spelled Orks) are a warrior race of typically green-skinned humanoids that can be found in many worlds, including Middle-earth and Azaroth.
Ranging in size and build, Orcs are roughly of human height, though often with misshapen or disproportionate bodies. Orc culture can vary from primitive barbarism to a proud clan-based society centred around honour and loyalty to the tribe. Considered a sub-class of Goblinoids or Greenskins, Orcs are closely related to—or in some cases synonymous with—Goblins.
Anatomy and appearanceEdit
Though their exact appearance can vary somewhat, Orcs are often seen as ugly or thuggish when compared to humans, and have skin colours ranging from yellowish or olive to dark green and brown.
Orcs of Middle-earthEdit
Middle-earth Orcs are of human shape, of varying size but always smaller than Men, ugly, filthy, with a taste for human flesh. They are fanged, bow-legged and long-armed, and some have dark skin as if burned. Orcs are "squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes".
Orcs of AzerothEdit
Orc males are massive and brutish looking creatures. Weighing in at 250 to 300 pounds and standing from 6 to 7 feet in height, they are not a small race. Even orc women tend to be only a half-foot or so shorter and 50 to 100 pounds lighter than most males (and some of them are equal in stature to their male counterparts), having broad shoulders and muscular, powerful bodies. Orcs tend to have coarse and bristly hair and beards, often black or brown in color, graying with age. Orc males sometimes choose to grow beards that are wild and untamed, while others prefer them to be braided and tasseled. These beards always hang from the chin, as orcs do not grow heavy facial hair above their upper-lip. Orcs are green-skinned, usually ranging from a light chartreuse yellow or olive to a dark forest or emerald green. Orcs wear a variety of clothing styles, from furs and hides in some clans to heavy metal armor in others. They favor clothes of hide, and armor and arm themselves with a variety of gear.
Orc eye colors include blue, brown, hazel, amber, and red. Pure blue eyes are quite rare in the orcish race, and are seen as a sign of great destiny. An orc's face would be described by some races of Azaroth as monstrous, their hideousness comparable to that of trolls. Orcs have large heavy jaws from which protrude sharp, tusk-like teeth, heavy brows, a broad and flat snout-like nose, and pointed ears. A fair amount of sexual dimorphism exists between the orc sexes, with male orcs possessing more extreme orcish physical characteristics, most noticeably broader shoulders and larger tusks. Male orcs possess a slight slouch, while females stand entirely erect. Orcs, especially orc warriors, are fond of tattoos of orcish symbols that have abstract, yet personal meaning to the individual orc, such as a clan symbol or a battle standard. In orcish society, scars are a source of pride for an orc; the amount of scars an orc has received in battle marks his experience as a warrior. Their blood is black.
Society and cultureEdit
Orcs of AzerothEdit
Orcish society has always been characterized by hardy and rugged living. As a result they are staunch pragmatists, and never shy from killing if it will protect the future of the orc or his clan. All orcs, regardless of gender or station, are expected to pull their own weight and weakness is considered a grave liability. The weakness of one contaminates the strength of all, and it is punishable by the greatest humiliation an orc can receive: exile.
Regardless of their clan affiliations, orcs prize honor over all other things in life — first to bring honor to their clan (and by extension, the Horde) and secondly bringing honor to the self and to their sense of self-worth as an individual. Likewise, hospitality is considered one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed. The orcs and tauren have become fast and unswerving allies because the tauren gladly offered the orcs shelter in a strange new land as well as their assistance regardless of the cost to themselves.
There is no discrimination between genders in orcish society. Women are able to pursue the same career choices as men, rise to positions of power and are even expected to answer to the call for battle just as men are. Strength (both physical and mental), courage, initiative and independence are prized traits in all orcs. Traditionally, children are seen as children of the parents, but are raised as children of the clan. However, because of the newly unified Horde and the current diaspora of individual orc families creating homes and settling down in various areas around Durotar, the Barrens and beyond, this typical clan scheme has been changing, and life is beginning to become more centered around the nuclear family rather than the greater clan.
Religion and ritualsEdit
Orcish religion takes the form of an animistic faith that has strange parallels with the practices of the Kaldorei. Orc shamans draw their power from the spirits of nature, forming an intimate connection with the very world that surrounds them. This awareness has led to even more revelations of their race’s true nature, as the orcs realize that they live more in harmony with the world than many of the races of the Alliance. Orcs instinctively revere the rugged forces of the natural elements, and as such, shamans are held in high regard. They generally have a close relationship with the nature elements and angering them is considered a grave offense. Wolves are also a major symbol of the orcs, serving as guards, scouts, pets, partners and mounts. Many such wolves came from Draenor. Horde shamans can speak to them and summon spectral wolves and many serve a giant wolf spirit.
One tradition of the orcs on Draenor was a ceremony for newborns of the clan. The infant's parents would stand in a body of water near the encampment with the entire clan observing from shore. The mother would hand the baby to the father, who would then proclaim the child as his, through himself and his father, and present the baby for the clan's blessings. The clan chieftain would then hold the baby and declare the infant under their protection, with the hope that they bring honor and glory to the clan. The chieftain's heir would then give a blessing. Finally the Elder Shaman would ask for the blessing of the elemental and wild spirits, and the hope that the ancestors would watch over the newborn.
In some clans, if the child appears sickly or frail, they will instead be drowned, likely by the father. A common expression of scorn is that an orc "should have been drowned at birth". This is likely the reason that the parents would stand in the water when presenting a newborn. The Blackrock clan and Bonechewer clan were noted for doing this without any qualms. The Frostwolf clan however, were known to have rejected such cruel practices.