Wednesday, October 14, 2020

An Abridged History of the Orcs

An Abridged History of the Orcs


  • Orcish oral tradition holds that the first orcs were born from the blood of the earth as it made war against sea and sky. Though physical evidence of the first orcs has long since been lost, orcs believe that the first cultures originated in the southern half of Nagrand (which did not survive the Breaking).
  • Early orcs likely engaged in hunting and gathering. Unlike the humans, who could draw what few cultural memories they maintained from their vrykul forebears, the orcs had to develop mostly on their own.
  • Scattered arakkoa artifacts indicate that some orcs may have served the arakkoa as slaves. Some cultures may have even seen the arakkoa as spirits (modern orcish historians joke that this lasted only until the orcs discovered that the arakkoa could bleed).
  • The orcs in Nagrand eventually develop into pastoralists, keeping herds of talbuks and clefthoofs. The oldest oral histories date back to this era, speaking of warriors, shamans, and tricksters who dealt with spirits and rival orcs.
  • Competition over grazing lands may have pushed a significant portion of the orcs east, into Terokkar Forest and Shadowmoon Valley. It is believed that these orcs probably discovered metallurgy.
  • Despite the advantage of having metal weapons, Draenor's rugged terrain made it difficult to form large polities, so the forest peoples are never able to leverage their metal weapons into a significant advantage.
  • Agriculture is discovered at some point, probably in the fertile river valleys of northern Nagrand. They face persecution from their nomad cousins in the south as well as ogres. As a result, they develop into an even more warlike culture. The earlier elements of the honor code probably develop here, as a means for resolving disputes between farming villages (which must maintain some level of unity).

400 - 300 BDP
  • Oshu'gun, known to the draenei as Jaikoob, makes its descent in central Nagrand. Unable to put Oshu'gun into its proper context, the orcs see it as a portent of great things to come. The fact that it lands closer to the agricultural north serves to further unify the farming cultures.
  • The Naaru within Oshu'gun, K'ure, creates a sort of communion with the orcish ancestors. Though unable to fully appreciate the implications, local shamans do pick up on the supernatural events. Almost overnight, Oshu'gun becomes a focus of northern orcish culture.
  • Initial interaction between the draenei and the orcs is quite limited. The draenei remain friendly but relatively aloof, not wanting to bring the orcs into their conflict with the Burning Legion. Using Oshu'gun's arcane powers, they move much of their population to the future site of Shattrath City.
  • Northern shamans organize yearly gatherings at Oshu'gun. These kosh'harg festivals put a stop to inter-clan warfare, and give clans a chance to resolve their situations peacefully.
  • At some point, orcs in northern Nagrand take advantage of the kosh'harg to attack the lightly defended homes of their enemies. Though they succeed in plundering their rivals, the other communities unite against them and drive these orcs into Zangarmarsh.
  • Unable to support cattle in the fungal swamp, the orcs split. Those who stay in Zangarmarsh are forced to resort to cannibalism (because orcs require regular intakes of red meat in order to stay healthy), and become known as the Bonechewer Clan. Others move to the east, and eventually forge a new identity as warriors and hunters in the deserts of Hellfire Peninsula; they call themselves the Shattered Hand Clan as a way to commemorate the suffering they experienced on their long exile.
  • Nomads and forest orcs begin to attend the kosh'harg. The nomads mostly do so in order to trade, and they have little respect for their agriculturalist cousins. The forest orcs, who had long been isolated, learn more about the Nagrand shamanistic traditions. The cultural and spiritual power granted by Oshu'gun is absent in other areas, and the forest shamans wonder if there is any way for them to serve their communities in the same capacity as the Nagrand spiritualists.
  • Contact between the draenei and the orcs remains limited. The draenei allow a few orcish traders (this is mostly so as they can keep an eye on what the orcs are doing, and learn if there is any demonic presence in Draenor).
  • Orcish writing, closely based off of Eredun script, is developed. It's mostly used for accounting and records; shamans (jealous of maintaining their cultural power) enact a taboo against writing stories or histories.

300 BDP - 250 BDP
  • At some point in this era, the tribes of Shadowmoon Valley begin to send their shamans to the arakkoa for training. As a result, the shamans of these clans begin to dabble with shadow magic, which will have dire consequences for the orcs in the future.
  • Draenic settlers reach Farahlon (present day Netherstorm). Here, they encounter hunter-gatherer orcs in the tropical jungle. Called the Laughing Skull Clan (apparently a form of gallows humor), they had apparently migrated north into the equatorial regions thousands of years in the past, and led a very marginal existence within the dangerous tropics. Due to their isolation from other orcs, the draenei elected to introduce them to the Holy Light.
  • This attempt ends badly, in part due to cultural misunderstanding. An essentially stone age culture, the Laughing Skull Clan has no way to contextualize draenic actions. When invited into draenic cities, the orcs have no idea how they are expected to act, and often steal food and flee into the forest.
  • An incident in which three draenei are killed leads to the local draenei forbidding the Laughing Skull orcs from entering their cities. After more failed attempts to proselytize to the orcs in the wilderness, the Farahlon communities cut off all contact with the orcs.
  • After establishing Shattrath, the draenei continue to expand throughout Terrokar Forest. Tuurem and Auchindoun begin construction at this time. The increased draenic presence pushes the orcs to the edge of Terokkar. This is not deliberate on the part of the draenei. Though aggressive, the orcs are too intimidated by the scale of the cities and draenic magic to directly retaliate.
  • Some Terokkar orcs migrate east towards Shadowmoon Valley, where they form the Twilight's Hammer Clan and fall into the Shadowmoon Clan's cultural orbit. Others attempt to settle in Nagrand, but are rebuffed, and instead move to Hellfire Peninsula.
  • The migrants in Hellfire are unable to consolidate, and end up dispersing. These isolated bands fare poorly against the Shattered Hand Clan, and are driven deep into the eastern wastes or are enslaved.
  • The Yellowblight, a desert south of Nagrand, begins spread into the land of the Nagrand pastoralists.

250 - 200 BDP
  • United by an ogre lord claiming to represent the will of the gronn, the Blade's Edge ogres are temporarily forged into a fearsome (albeit ill-disciplined) army: the Rampage. The Rampage first attacks the jungles of Farahlon, tearing apart the draenic cities. The draenei retreated to the largest citadel in the area, also known as Farahlon. Some of the ogre war bands stayed and made themselves the overlords of the scattered Laughing Skull Clan.
  • After looting Farahlon (the region, not the city) the Rampage turned its attention south. Ogre armies set Nagrand and Terokkar aflame, killing all that they encountered.
  • A visionary orcish warrior named Ogmar Stonehowl rallied the clans of Nagrand, Terrokar Forest, and Shadowmoon Valley. His own clan, the Stonebreakers, were relatively small, but their tenacity and courage did much to weaken the Rampage's advance. Ogmar Stonehowl was declared the Warchief of All Orcs, and his force was the ancestor of the modern Horde.
  • Linking up with draenic and arakkoa armies, the allied forces fought a brutal campaign up through Zangarmarsh to strike at the ogre homeland. Though never acknowledging Ogmar as leader, the Shattered Hand and Bonechewer clans harried the ogre forces.
  • The need to support the troops solidifies the burgeoning class hierarchy of warrior and peon in non-nomadic orcish clans.
  • The Blood Gulch Melee saw all three allied armies meet in battle against the leadership core of the Rampage. The cruelest battle in the world's history up to that point, the Rampage's power was forever broken.
  • In order to prevent the ogres from again arising, the three forces agreed to keep watch over the Blade's Edge Mountains.
  • The draenei also promise to keep an eye on Blade's Edge, but their attentions are redirected to the reconstruction of Farahlon. A new fortress is built, called Zelspur (today known as the Stormspire).
  • The arakkoa keep a token force in Blade's Edge, but they become distracted by their own inscrutable obsessions and do little to help.
  • Ogmar Stonehowl orders some of his raiders (from the forest tribes) and warriors (from Nagrand) to guard the Blade's Edge Mountains. These become the Thunderlord and Warsong Clans respectively. They shoulder the burden of periodically culling the ogre population and removing any particularly dangerous leaders. The draenei took some issue with their violent methods, but lacked the resources or influence to do anything about it, and again withdrew from orcish affairs.

200 - 150 BDP
  • Ogmar Stonehowl returns to his home and moves his clan to Terokkar Forest. Inspired by the draenei, he orders his clan to built Stonebreaker Hold, vowing that it would one day rival Shattrath City. A poor administrator, he is unable to fulfill this vision and the large population succumbs to infighting after he dies in a hunting accident. Stonebreaker Hold never amounts to more than a small and impoverished village.
  • A warlord named Zeth unites the clanless Hellfire orcs and at last mounts an effective resistance against the Shattered Hand Clan.
  • Driven to the verdant north by the expanding Yellowblight, the southern Nagrand pastoralists begin to encroach on the farmland of the northern clans.
  • In Hellfire, Zeth builds the walled city of Zeth'kur on the southern coast. Known as the Red City, it is approached by the surrusil, a salamander-like race from another continent. The surrusil seek slaves for their violent arena games, offering servitor warriors and weapons in return. Zeth accepts this bargain, finding slaves in Shattered Hand POWs and socially ostracized Zeth'kur inhabitants.
  • A draenic anchorite named Pekara, traumatized by the violence of the Ogre War, begins to preach a new creed of finding the Light's eternal joy in the peaceful servitude of undeath. She gradually draws in a network of supporters in Auchindoun, called the Auchenai.
  • The Bladewind Clan, in southern Nagrand, unites the nomads under the leadership of Krogarg the Crimson Hand. Calling themselves the Stampede, the nomads descend on the northern farmers, showing no mercy. This is the beginning of the Blood River War.
  • Some of the northern farmers appeal for help, but the draenei remain indecisive. One reason for this is the growing power of the Auchenai heresy. They also remembered how their interference worsened the position of the Laughing Skull Clan. The draenei finally choose to give limited aid to the north.
  • The northern clans use a sacred spot to create a training ground known as the Ring of Trials. Elite warriors, the Blood Swords, are trained in this place.
  • The Blood River War ends with the northern clans forced to give the Stampede access to their lands. Krogarg's empire does not long survive him, and the Stampede devolves into quarreling bands that retreat to the depleted south. It is estimated that 50% of northern Nagrand's male population died in the Blood River War.
  • The Blood Sword warriors adopt the name of the Burning Blade Clan, and vow to defend northern Nagrand from future incursions.
  • Prophet Velen at last orders troops to expunge the Auchenai, who had begun dabbling in necromancy. A few, led by Exodite Maladar, escape into the wilderness.

150 - 100 BDP

  • The orcs of Zeth'kur look farther afield for more slaves. Their ships raid Farahlon, taking slaves from the Laughing Skull Clan, and also buying ogres captured by the Warsong Clan. Some arakkoa are also targeted. The draenei are left alone.
  • The Temple of Telhamat is founded in order to give the Hellfire orcs a more peaceful example to emulate. The draenei also regret their failure to intervene in the Blood River War, and hope to avoid similar bloodshed in the north. Unfortunately, Telhamat accomplishes little.
  • The town of Telaar is built in Nagrand in order to monitor Oshu'gun. Though the orcs do not attack it, there is visible animosity against the draenei. Telaar's population gradually dwindles, leaving Oshu'gun unattended.
  • First reported sightings of the mok'nathal.
  • The Burning Blade Clan begins to make punitive raids on nomad camps. They are sometimes aided by the Bleeding Hollow Clan, a minor Terokkar clan that grew powerful by smuggling stolen or abandoned draenic weapons to the north during the Blood River War.

100 - 50 BDP
  • The draenei begin construction on Karabor in the far east of Shadowmoon Valley. They hope to use it both to serve the Light, and also to better harness the leylines. The long-term plan is to use the magic to ensure that the Burning Legion never discovers Draenor. Unfortunately, this site is the location of the Ragestorm Clan's preferred hunting grounds.
  • The draenei do what they can to ease the transition, promising the Ragestorm that they will get all the food and support they need until they can resettle. Insulted by the offer, the Ragestorm Clan leaves the area on its own, vowing revenge (the Ragestorm, many years later, would become the Dragonmaw Clan). Saddened, the draenei continue, knowing they have no other choice if they are to protect their home world.
  • The Shattered Hand Clan builds Hellfire Citadel (initially much smaller) to defend against Zeth'kur.
  • In order to get more slaves, Zeth'kur starts to arrest farmers and ranchers around the city. This diminishes their food capacity, and they become dependent on surrusil shipments.

50 - 0 BDP
  • Ner'zhul, the shaman of the Shadowmoon Clan, first encounters Kil'jaeden in visions. Already slightly corrupted by his time training with the arakkoa, and fueled by the indignities suffered by the Ragestorm Clan, Ner'zhul is easily manipulated. Gathering support from the Ragestorm and Twilight's Hammer, he begins to reach out to the clans of northern Nagrand.
  • Still resentful over draenic neutrality in the Blood River War, the clans of northern Nagrand agree that payback is in order. Calling their union the Horde, they prepare to make surprise attacks on draenic settlements.
  • Tuurem is the first city to fall. The orcish attack succeeds by virtue of surprise and sheer ferocity. They kill most of those who can fight back, and the civilians disperse into the woods; the orcs kill some, but don't bother making any organized pursuit.
  • Other small towns, like Telaar and Halaa, are also overwhelmed. Despite these successes, the Horde's long-term prospects appear grim. They simply don't have the organization or logistical capability to defeat a foe as well-entrenched as the draenei.
  • The remnants of the Stonebreaker Clan merges with the Bleeding Hollow.
  • Unsure where to strike, draenic forces have difficulty marshaling an effective resistance, though they almost always defeat the orcs in actual combat.
  • Several orcs suggest seeking help from the arakkoa, thinking that their dark magic would give them an edge against the draenei. This is vetoed by Ner'zhul, his rationale being that the arakkoa cannot be trusted.
  • The Thunderlord and Warsong Clans agree to join the Horde, seeing the draenei as cowards for failing to occupy Blade's Edge. The Shattered Hand Clan does not formally join, but agrees to harass draenic forces in Hellfire Peninsula. Gul'dan also recruits the Bonechewer Clan, and has agents spread agitation throughout the Laughing Skull Clan.
  • Learning about Kil'jaeden's nature, Ner'zhul tries to rebel but is betrayed by his protege, Gul'dan. Seeing that the Horde cannot win in its current state, he accelerates the process of demonic corruption. He invites all the clan leaders to drink the blood of the demon lord Mannoroth. Only Durotan, of the Frostwolf Clan, refuses, having been warned of such by Ner'zhul.
  • Demonic corruption allows the orcs to overcome Draenor's harsh terrain and quickly move large numbers of savage warriors. The larger draenic cities begin to fall.
  • An uprising against the City Fathers of Zeth'kur puts the corrupt port in the hands of the Horde. The Bleeding Hollow Clan is chosen to oversee the management of its shipyards. The Bleeding Hollow is chosen to counterbalance the power of the Shattered Hand Clan in the region.
  • The Shattered Hand Clan formally joins the Horde.
  • Shattrath City falls to the Horde. The remaining draenei retreat to Farahlon, though some hide out in Zangarmarsh.
  • Thunderlord, Warsong, and Laughing Skull forces seek to purge Farahlon. The last of the draenic citadels in the area falls to their might.
  • The Horde goes about in search of a new enemy. At Gul'dan's urging, the warriors turn their blades against the arakkoa. Many of the Nagrand orcs turn against the nomads (who had contributed relatively little to the Horde), at last finding vengeance for the Blood River War.
  • The Hand of Gul'dan is raised in Shadowmoon Valley.
  • The Dark Portal opens.