High Rock write-ups, ideas, etc.

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ThomasRuz
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I have been discussing with some people over at Project Tamriel about Orsinium. And now, especially with the brainstorming on the Malahk Orcs, I wanted to do something with the Orcs, because they are my favourite race in TES, so we have been brainstorming a bit of lore about the Orcs, Orc society etc.

So I want this topic to be a sort of place where you can drop some things you want included in Orc lore, or to read up on it. I will also try to post some Orsinium stuff at the High Rock forum.

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The first thing I have fully written up is about a Vilebark tree, a tree local to Orsinium:

Vilebark, the ideal poison
 by  Nurrelon Galandris
Vilebark is a name not recognized by most. It is a rare and exotic tree found only in the Wrothgarian mountains, home to the city of Orsinium, and its inhabitants, the Orsimer.
Most are unaware of the existence of this tree, but its influence is to be found all over Tamriel. Many alchemists, including me and my associate Sinderion are in agreement, that it is one of the most potent, if not the most potent poison known to Men and Mer. When this tree exactly came to exist is unknown, due to records of varying herbalists and alchemists who have studied the surrounding region extensively, not having any information on the Vilebark whatsoever.
Though I would assure you that we already expected this, as our own research has led us to the same result. After the field expedition, many of my apprentices had perished because of the Vilebarks strong poison, and those who were in close proximity were left with severe chronic respiratory issues. The nearby Orc hunters were quick to act however, helping to carry the diseased apprentices out of the Vilebarks vicinity, and these hunters, to my surprise, were not affected by its harmful effects, except for reddening of the eyes.
Though this setback had cost us dearly, we were close to uncovering of the secret of the Vilebark tree, me and my apprentices were led deep through the mountain passes, to arrive at the home of their wise woman, who called herself Amidra-gra-Niguul. After helping my apprentices with a tonic (from which she wouldn’t disclose the ingredients), she told us that we were lucky, but that she was exceptionally lucky. She told us the most remarkable stories, and was incredibly kind. She said I could include a few of these in my report, as such I will hold me to this promise.
The origin of the Vilebark is somewhat debatable, though the story she was taught, was the legend of the blighter: “A blighter came to these lands, one of those cursed Mogoi-Khan, and wearily sat under a tree. The tree then was colossal, and bountiful of the most rich and coloured fruit, one of the fruit fell on the Mogoi-Khan. The Mogoi-Khan was angered and cursed the heavens, and out came the sour rain. The tree wouldn’t not budge and not wilt, the blighter was maddened that a mere tree could stand against his powers to control the heavens. The Mogoi-Khan spat with his cursed language, he knew the tree was strong and would not budge to a power greater than it. So he screamed the cursed words from the top of his lungs, that it became as vile as he.”
She explained that the Vilebark tree is used in many ways, the bark itself is used for medicinal purposes as a sedative,  it can help numb the pain from wounds, can numb weary muscles( this is why it is sometimes used on a bow, a bow created with this bark has a stronger effect), and issometimes used recreationally, although she said that this is strongly inadvisable, as in high doses it can cause severe headaches and sometimes moments of paralysis. The leaves are more of a threat, it causes respiratory issues( similar to that which had afflicted my apprentices), severe irritation on the skin, and sometimes mucoidal thickening, which can lead to death.
But the most poisonous? She said, was the sap, which looked like a dark green ichor. Taking just a drop, or even inhale the vapor could lead to premature death, therefore it is only harvested by people who know how to deal with it, like hunters, shamans, or wise-woman like herself. She also added that the poison was best used for hunting, as it could be boiled out of the flesh.
We were surprised by the amount of knowledge Amidra-gra-Niguul had shared with us, but her reasoning to do so was justified. She said she was the last of her clan. Her clan had sought the tree to cure the bloody curse, and somehow, by Malacath’s grace she had survived. Granting her, her name Amidra-gra-Niguul, which means life’s grace in Orsimer tongue, how she had survived she didn’t want to disclose however.
After this journey, me and my apprentices gained a lot of respect for the Orsimer, for their(albeit sometimes barbaric) way of life. It had given us a lot of knowledge and wisdom, but it had also cost us dearly. Therefore reader, I ask you one thing, take this knowledge as you will, but unless you are a most experienced alchemist, do not venture out to find the Vilebark, it is the most potent poison on Tamriel.
 

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I have an idea for a knightly order hailing from Orsinium which I will put up here soon.  I do not believe that it is greatly against the characterization already discussed (which is admittedly quite scarce) 

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I have updated this post with the changes described in the following post for convenience. The original passages have been moved to spoilers at the bottom of this post.

Generally, I'm in favour of the Orcs being monolatric, worshiping either Malacath or, more recently, Trinimac. That being said, ThomasRuz ended up convincing me that a more animist approach might be worth exploring (and the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive), so here are the results of that exploration, extrapolated from our chat and preceding discussions on the topic, and focusing on Malacath worshipers for the time being:

View of Aedra:
The basic principal is that Orcs used to (as Aldmer) worship the whole pantheon of Aedra and ancestor spirits, though favouring Trinimac in particular. With the transformation of Trinimac into Malacath, however, the Orcs felt (and arguably were) locked out of their old worship, leaving only Malahk as a familiar figure.
The Aedra and pre-transformation ancestor spirits came to represent all the things the Orcs had lost through their transformation, and as such, from the point of view of a Malacath worshiper, the things the Orcs no longer have a need for. Their existence is as such acknowledged, and they are still recognized as interacting with the other races, but they are simply seen as irrelevant to Orcs. "They are no longer our gods".

View of Daedra:
To fill the gap, Orcs began interacting more heavily with Daedra, though not worshiping them. They have kept their Elven distrust of the Daedra (Malacath being the exception, of course), but unlike the Aedra Orcs see the Daedra as being potentially useful to them as well as potentially dangerous. Basically, the Daedra are seen as relevant to the Orcs, whereas the Aedra are not.
Over time this major shift, from at first worshiping the Aedra and shunning the Daedra to ignoring the Aedra and interacting with Daedra, was rationalized as an extension of the transformation of Trinimac and the Orcs. Just as the Aedra came to represent all the things they had lost, the Orcs began to see the Daedra as representing the new possibilities that lay before them. Orcs began associating individual Aedra with individual Daedra as two sides of the same coin, just like Malacath/Trinimac. Whereas most races can interact with both sides of the coin, the Orcs believe they are cursed only to see the Daedric/corrupted side.

Umbrella spirits:
The Orcs now recognize five chief groups of spirits (basically oversouls): that of the Old Adversary, representing the traditional enemies of all Elves; The Betrayer, representing those who betrayed the Orcs by transforming them; the Warrior Spirit, representing the gods and ancestor spirits that took the side of the Orcs; the Shaman Spirit, that offers (often unreliable) guidance to the Orcs; and the Dark Spirit, a foreboding presence the Orcs try to steer clear of.

What follows is the Orcish pantheon, remembering that the only one the Orcs really worship of the bunch is Malacath, or at most the Warrior Spirit as a whole. Indented names are attendant spirits to the spirit they are listed below. While the number of primary spirits is set, there is no limit on the number of attendant spirits:

 

Arkay is not present in the Orcish pantheon in any recognizable form. (He may however have some marginal presence as such as an attendant spirit in fringe communities).

A rough summary of the Orcish transformation narrative:

 

The Orcs associate the constellations with their chief spirits, and, for the heck of it, with different elements:

 

So that's the view of the Malacath worshipers. I have put less thought into Trinimac worshipers, and this post is long enough as it is, but by ways of tossing them some attention:

 

==========
Original text:

 
Gnomey's picture
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After further discussion and thought, I've made a few changes and additions. I've added them to the last post, but to save people who have already looked at it the trouble of rereading it:

First, two minor name changes for aesthetic reasons:
Khyraban->Kharaban - Orcs appear not to use the 'y' as in 'type', the letter only appearing as 'Ya-' at the start of a name, probably pronounced as in 'yak'.
Narmaraz->Namaraz - I don't really like the 'narm', and Namaraz is simpler and closer to the original name anyway.
Jyg-Galath->Yag-Galakh - same reason as above. The 'th' does appear rarely, but I think I prefer the 'kh' sound.
She-Galath->She-Galakh - as above.

I've adjusted and expanded the pantheon a bit, among other things adding attendant spirits (the indented names). They are not represented as constellations. (Though maybe as the stars of constellations?). One interesting idea is if attendant spirits are effectively seen as the 'family' of the associated spirit, so as spouses or descendants.

 

Arkay is not present on the Orcish pantheon in any recognizable form. (He may have some marginal presence as such as an attendant spirit in fringe communities).

The above changes lead to a small adjustment of the Mage constellation, which I think works out better:
The Mage is Morugob, the Apprentice is Azug, the Atronach is Hurma and the Ritual is Kharbarkhash Ulghol

As this thread is about Orcs in general rather than just their religion, I might as well plug a few ideas on Orc society as well, as I'm not a big fan of where Bethesda took the Orcs with Skyrim. (I liked Skyrim's Orcs for what they were, but personally feel that a strictly regulated society with clear roles should be kept as more the realm of Altmer, who are more concerned about order and clinging on to what they have than they are about propagation, whereas Orcs would chiefly value propagation and survival, and all else would ultimately serve that purpose):
Orcs practice both polygyny and polyandry to varying degrees. The one married to the many enjoys a high status, and that status increases with the number of spouses, but only as one of several factors by which an individual's status is measured in Orc society.
All spouses maintain a high degree of self-determination, and partnerships are not always lasting. Often partnerships are not evenly distributed within the often small Orc populations, so that the majority of one sex is married to a minority of the other sex. As such, monogamous, bigamous and unmarried individuals are common.
Most Orc leaders excercise a very weak mandate, carrying no entitlement to rule and having to constantly demonstrate their worth. Organization among an Orc clan is -- like their marriages -- largely organic and based on convenience, perhaps often resembling governance forms employed by pirates. Gortwog is the very obvious and clear exception, as he gained his position through Breton laws and customs, and has shown a high degree of usefulness to the Orcs, but many of his decisions -- especially attempting to reestablish the worship of Trinimac in favour of Malacath -- have undermined his position of late.

Edit: added Jyg-Galath and She-Galath, which I had overlooked.

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Couple notes I had in mind:

  • Idea for Orcs is using Jewish influences as the idea of Orsinium being an idealized homeland with the Orcish Diaspora flying to far reaches of Tamriel whenever Orisinium fall matches real-life of Judaic people. And different orcs in different regions act differently; Velothi Orcsimer act different than Reach Orsimer, etc.
  • A concept I always had was having Pariah Champions, wandering, self-exiled champions of Malacath and representative of Orisinium in battle, working for themselves, as mercenaries, and etc. They would work as 

Please send coffee and energy drinks to fuel my writing addiction.

Thank you in advance, sera!

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Not necessarily Orsinium, but I've created a conceptual map for High Rock, with Atrayonis' Gridmap:
EDIT: Now with Region map concept

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ThomasRuz
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Newest maps

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Concept and Other Stuffs