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Orcish Chieftain and his Guard by Imperator-Zor Orcish Chieftain and his Guard by Imperator-Zor
Most Orcs live in clans of about 500 to 25,000 individuals in various mostly marginal areas, scraping what living they can from herds and rough farms and erecting strongholds, fortified villages and towns. Customs and traditions vary immensely from clan to clan but some factors are common. Life for most Orcs is generally hard. A combination of high caloric needs and breeding rates means that food is often at a premium even the ability to eat a wider range of foods than humans can and the ability to enter semi-hibernation during the winter months and there is always the threat of violence, either from humans, dwarves, elves and other Orcish clans and from within with crime and the heightened aggression of adolescent male orcs between the ages of 5 to 9. As such it is little surprise that to maintain order with minimal resources orcish justice usually involves a fair deal of brutality. Minor offenses that would be punished with a day collecting horse turds or a shilling or two in fines in a human city are typically punished with a flogging or a branding. Crimes not much worse than that can get an orc beheaded. Serious crimes such as murder are also dealt with execution, though usually of a more graphic nature. Said justice is mostly administered by a Chieftain*.

All orcs are expected to fight if need be and keep weapons and march off on campaign as common warriors but the best fighters that a tribe produces go on to become Warforged*. Warforged are mature orcs who constantly hone their skills, train up the next generation of orcs and act as leaders to their fellow orcs and act as elite shock troops in battle. In small clans the Warforged are clan leaders, in large tribes senior members of the Warforged class become Chosen (the best fighters), Captains (who lead forces of Warforged and Warriors) and Chosen Captains (those Orcs which can fill both roles). Orcish arms and armor vary in quality immensely from crudely modified farm implements and rough bits of metal hapazardly attached to cloth and leather to some above average products (even if Orcish runesmiths are almost non existent) as well as stuff they've plundered. Orcish armor is often on the thick side and often has spikes to catch enemy blades. Warforged Warriors have gear on the better end of that spectrum and the elite even better still. Chieftains are expected to lead their clans both in peace and in war. As such, Chieftains usually have the best armor and weapons the clan can muster, usually adorned with the geometric patterns that orcs favor and will be accompanied by a force of his best Warforged warriors. In recent years firearms have become an increasingly important part of their armament.

In a good sized Orc Clan, Warforged Captains and Champions make up the bulk of the Clan's elite, which also includes priests, the most skilled of artisans, what mages (if any) the clan has and in an increasing number of cases merchants, scholars and those orcs who know their way around machines. Despite this, warriors are seen to be the best leaders in orc society. Specifics vary from clan to clan, but for the most part this council of clan Elites has some say in choosing a chief. In some case a Chieftain needs to be voted in by the clan elite. In other cases the office of Chief is hereditary but the heir is determined by the elite. In many cases a Chieftain can be challenged to a duel for leadership, but only if a certain number of clan elites back him. Other arrangements exist which are other variants on this principle. Beyond that there are other figures in the governments of large clans that have jobs delegated to them. There is a certain amount of assassination and other skullduggery involved in orcish politics, as well as the brutal execution of those who get too enthusiastic about such means of advancement.

A single clan of orcs, even a large one is generally reckoned to be little more than an annoyance to the larger realms of humanity or Dwarven Alliances. However from time to time the Orcish Clans in an area will unite under the banner of a particularly powerful Chieftain who becomes a Warlord. When that happens forces tens of thousands of warriors and thousands of Warforged strong can be mustered and march forth, either to brunt attacking armies or to launch massive assaults. The problem with said coalitions is they tend to fall apart into in fighting if the Warlord is slain. Even so a few historically have managed to consolidate into Orcish Kingdoms.

*In truth there have been hundreds of titles used by Orcish clan leaders over the centuries. Chieftain is the generally accepted generic term, though many clans leaders would prefer that their clan's chosen title of officer be used rather than a generic term.
**There are several Orcish languages with often break down into additional dialects. Warforged is the most common translated title, which has incidentally spread among many Orcish clans.
:iconhelixdude:
Helixdude Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Orcs with firearms, this isn't going to be pretty.
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:iconimperator-zor:
Imperator-Zor Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2017
Gotta keep up with the times.
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:iconhelixdude:
Helixdude Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Dakkadakkadakka...
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