The Creation of Fictional Orcish Tribes


If one were to attempt to create a fictional world wherein Orcs were an actual race, a people with a culture, society and existence of their own, not just a band of monsters who seem to exist only to go to war, then how would one go about creating just such a concept? One would posit certain truths: that they would be a tribal society, that they would exist in areas of poor resources in order to justify their martial nature, and that they would be fractious and given to internecine warfare. How can one take this concept and make it real?

First, let’s posit that they reside in a mountain range about the size of the Alps, large enough and infested with enough orcs that the humans wouldn’t be able to cleanse them with a few sweeps of their army. Second, let’s posit that the lowland tribes are the most prosperous, deal the most with the humans, and have evolved to be smaller and less strong. Therefore we have a difference between the more primordial highland orcs and the more civilized lowland orcs. Let’s also posture that the lowland orcs control most of the passes except for the largest one which is manned by a human army, and that they are also herders of sheep and goats which they use for subsistence. Let’s also give the lowland orcs mountain ponies so that they have some form of mounted combat.

Now, we would have three main lowland tribes, each covering an area as large as Switzerland along the mountain’s edges, while the interior of the mountain belongs to one vast and broken tribe, equivalent to the Mongols but weak and more based on clans than a single tribal identity. These three lowland tribes would be huge, numbering some 30,000 individuals each, and derive their resources from a combination of trade, herding, taking tolls from use of the passes and raiding the southern and northern kingdoms. What are the identities of these three Orcish tribes, however? That’s what we need to get into in the next article, as we examine their composition.


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