Resource Title:   DARKFALL - THE ORK
Date Added:
Darkfall Development Team
Darkfall Online
RTF Document of Darkfall - The Ork
February 21, 2001
A good overview of orcs(orks) in the online roleplaying game, Darkfall. (Currently in development by Razorwax AS). General orc(ork) traits, settlements, religion and society are well elaborated on. This information is posted with the permission of the developers of Darkfall Online.

 General Information
 Religion and Magic
 Society of the Orks of Korse



General Information

The barren highlands of Korse are home to the orks, a barbarian race of fierce warriors. Constantly raiding and invading each other and all neighbors, orks live for the glory of war and the thrill of combat.

The individual ork is a natural fighter, who acquires combat skills quickly, and whose natural strength gives him an advantage over members of other races. However, a limited intelligence means that orks find it hard to learn the most advanced and intricate fighting skills. Their magical abilities are also rather limited.

Physical Description
Orks stand slightly taller than humans and are a great deal more muscular. They are physically intimidating to other races, and put a great deal of pride in being strong and resilient. Weak individuals are not accepted among the orks, and through generations of selective breeding, they have turned themselves into a race which in many ways is physically superior to others. However, the centuries of focusing on brawn, has left its mark on the intellectual capabilities of the race.

Their skin is thick and varies greatly in colour between individuals. Orks can be dark green, dark blue, deep red, and black. Almost from birth, the orkish skin resembles the bark of an ancient tree; it is as gnarled, wrinkled and impenetrable to the wind and rain. Orks are bald and their bodies are completely hairless.

The orkish skull has a low forehead and a roundish shape. Their enormous jaws host impressive sets of canine teeth, with tusks protruding from each side of the lower mouth. The size and number of protruding tusks depends on the age and status of the individual. Tusks appear when the ork reaches adult age, and grow in size as he or she progresses through the social layers of the clan. At the very highest levels of size and status, orks develop an extra tusk on each side, bringing the total to four. The tusks are used as weapons in the orkish bite attack (see below).

Orkish eyes are small and deeply set, and come in an even greater variety of colour than their skin. In fact, all the main colours have been observed, with varying frequency, except brown and blue, which are unheard of.

Size progression
Uniquely, orks grow in size and stature throughout their lives and depending on their status in the clan. As the ork climbs new tiers of power, its size increases, until - eventually - reaching chieftain status as a nine foot tall hulking behemoth.

Extemely succesful chieftains reach Warlord status. To reach this size and status, a chieftain will have to wreak several decades worth of unrelenting havok upon his enemies. Presently, the only warlord in Korse is Grrrakk the One-Eye, leader of the Iron Orks (See below).

At a very few points in the history of Korse, singularly successful warlords have reached the size and godlike status of Mad Destroyer. These orkish avatars try to unite all clans under their banner, in order to lead them into savage invasions of neighbouring lands.

The angry mode
As an ork deals or receives damage in combat, his anger rises slowly towards a berserker rage.* When the boiling point is reached, the ork may voluntarily enter the angry mode, in which the ork deals more damage but is more vulnerable to attacks. When in this state, the ork screams, beats his chest, and swears and spits uncontrollably, not caring whether or not nearby enemies hear him. Calming down is a somewhat unpredictable process: The ork has a growing chance of leaving the angry mode as time passes. The ork is not forced into attacking while angry.

Bite attacks
Orks automatically use their tusks as close combat weapons. These gashing attacks are performed unthinkingly by orks whenever they are in combat with an adjacent enemy, and come in addittion to weapon attacks. The damage inflicted is quite limited but increases as the ork grows in size (see Size progression, above).

Clothing & Equipment
Their thick skin and resilient nature means that orks have little need for clothing. They wear short leather trousers, which usually only go down to their knees. Orks prefer to keep their torsos bare, showing off their impressive tattoos, war paint and piercings.

Orks like jewellery, in particular earrings, nose-rings and other piercings, and they prefer their jewellery to be of gold. Orks also wear metal-studded bracers, shoulder pads and leggings for decorative purposes as well as for protection.

Elite warriors often wear armour for additional protection. Orkish smiths fashion crude, blocky and heavy pieces of armour, which nevertheless are quite effective in stopping blows. The most common pieces are extremely heavy breastplates which cover only the back and torso, and long, thick suits of chain mail which provide protection from neck to thigh. The chain coats are made without the finesse of human smithcraft, and they are visibly uneven in thickness as well as in shape.

Orkish weapons are crude but cruelly efficient. They prefer axes and swords, and they prefer them to be as large and heavy as possible. As an example, an ordinary Orcish battleaxe is too heavy to be wielded by a human, and the large, huge, and gargantuan varieties can only be used by orks who have grown in size due to increased status.

Most orkish weapons are fairly simple in basic design, but with rich decoration and vicious details added after the weapon itself is finished. A typical orcish sword will have small counter-hooks and primitive, evil-looking runes etched along the side of it. Orkish swords have jagged edges, and are slightly curved.

While some orks prefer the the longsword and shield combination, most use two handed weapons. Giant two-handed greatswords are common, as well as two-handed, double-bladed axes.

Orkish blacksmiths also craft more exotic weapons, often designed as much to intimidate and frighten as to be effective weapons of war. Orkish special weapons often inflict massive amount of damage, but are unwieldy and slow. The Two-bladed two-hand sword is an extreme example of adventurous orkish weaponsmithing, while the legendary Flattener is among the more effective variations. The Flattener is simply a thick metal pole with an anvil-sized, flat lump of metal attached to its end. While its weapon speed is incredibly slow, a direct hit often proves fatal.

When orkish warriors use single-handed weapons, they also wear shields. These shields are always usable as secondary weapons, with spikes for stabbing, jagged blades for slashing, or both. Orks regularly decorate their shields, most commonly with the symbol of their clan.

Orks often don helmets which are designed to increase the damage of their headbutts. These helmets are often heavy and always equipped with horns, spikes or something else that increases damage. A variety of designs are available to all orks, while others are clan-specific.

Traditionally, orks are not very fond of range weapons, preferring to wade directly into melee combat. They do, however, occasionally use fairly primitive short bows.

War machines Orks are great enthusiasts of large engines of war. They build mobile catapults and ballistas, as well as things which are more exotic - and often quite deadly. The orkish mancrusher, for instance, is rightly feared. The mancrusher launches large slabs of rock into the air, not very far but quite high, and it is designed to devastate soldiers rather than buildings.

The ork dispenser is a more quirky engine. It catapults a single ork five to six hundred meters, and is used to send them directly into the midst of enemy armies. It shoots orks at great speed at a quite low, flat angle - and usually with the head first. The living missiles are routinely killed by a combination of the impact and enemies.

The so-called Slapper consists of a huge, flat wooden plate, covered by sheets of metal and spikes. The plate is wound up by orks using winches, and when released it snaps forward and to the right or left, mowing down anyone who doesn't get out of the way quickly enough.

The Mad Hellfire Catapult fires large animal stomach balloons filled with an unstable liquid substance. Upon impact, the balloons either explode in balls of deadly flame, or merely burst, covering everything in harmless goo.


Buildings and infrastructure
Orks do not build houses or cities in the sense normally understood by other races. However, each clan maintains a semi-permanent stronghold, in which it raises its young and which it retreats to in times of dire danger. The size of the stronghold, as well as the type of buildings it contains, varies greatly between the different orkish clans. What the strongholds do have in common, however, is a general lack of sanitation, as well as the fact that the buildings are usually flimsy and ill-kept. The buildings of the stronghold are usually constructed of a combination of animal hides and wood.

Most orkish strongholds lie in particularly inaccessible caves or mountain valleys. They are usually easily defended, and some of them are very difficult to find. Since the adult members of the clan are out raiding or hunting most of the time, the orks need to build in locations where their young and their foodstores can be guarded by a minimum of troops. Orks hate guard duty.

Orks regularly spend weeks or months on the move, either hunting or raiding. They generally travel in groups of five to fifteen individuals, who carry with them all they need for day-to-day survival. These groups live in tents made of rough animal hides, which are designed to either stand separately, housing a single ork, or to be connected with the tents of the other members of the group. Up to thirty tents may be connected simultaneously.

Ork stronghold buildings:

Beer tent
Always centrally placed within a stronghold, the beer tent is usually one of the largest and most permanent structures. More sturdy than than most orkish wood-and-hide buildings, they are constructed so as to withstand the ugly brawls which regularly break out within them. The beer tent always has a realtively wide entrance area, with stout poles on each side of the opening, and a wooden board over the opening containing the name and symbol of that particular beer tent.

The entrance opens up into a a central area which divides the beer tent in two. The central area contains an open fire, a food preparation area, and a large trapdoor leading down to a storage area. This trapdoor is always heavily guarded, since it leads to the cellar containing the beer supply.

The guests sit on benches lining long tables on each side of the central area. There are two, four or six long tables on each side of the central area, depending on the size of the beer tent.

The beer is usually served by slaves who are guarded by orks. These slaves are usually goblins or kobolds, but the occasional human can also be found. The beer is usually locally brewed and extremely strong, containing much more alcohol than human brews.

The alcoholic pride of each orkish clan, is the special drink called angrybrew, which is concocted by shamans in accordance with ancient, half-remembered recipes. The recipes vary from clan to clan, as do the effecs the angrybrew has on drinkers. In addition to being fiercely alcoholic, all brew variations enhance certain abilities, such as strenght, while reducing others, such as dexterity. Orkish raiders often bring angrybrew with them, and drink it before entering into combat. Occasionally, the orks drink too much, and the combat preparations degenerate into drunken brawls.

Food enclosure
Orks enclose all their livestock within the same large and sturdy pen. Pigs, sheep, cows and horses - whatever they can lay their raiding hands on - is forced into the food enclosure, where they are kept unil someone decides to kill and eat them. The conditions inside these pens are apalling, since no one can be bothered to tend to the animals or feed them at regular intervals. The food enclosures rarely, if ever, have ceilings.

Death pig pens
The pens which keep these orkish mounts are of necessity among the staunchest buildings in the stronghold. Here, the fierce beasts are kept chained to strong metal poles which are solidly embedded in the ground. The Death Pigs are kept apart by solid wooden fences, and the pens are covered by sloping roofs. Because of the constant noise kept up by the death pigs, their pens are always on the outskirts of the stronghold.

Chieftain's tent
This huge, movable tent is brought with the chieftain wherever he goes. His elite bodyguard lives with him in the central parts of the tent, and guard is permanently kept along all sides of it.

The outside of the tent is garishly decorated with the flags and banners of the clan, as well as standars taken from defeated enemies. Stakes with the heads of mighty enemies defeated by the chieftain and his predecessors is carried along by his household, and placed in rows along the entrance to the tent.

The hides of the chieftain's tent have been magically strenghtened by a lenghty shamanistic ritual, involving the sacrifice of many prisoners. They are as hard as stone, and may not be penetrated by weapons or magic.

The inside of the tent is partitioned into rooms of varying size, with the chieftain and his bodyguard occupying a large, central area. Other rooms contain his personal servants, his harem and his advisors.

The Hill of Many Heads
Orks worship the Beast Spirits on hills or mounds which lie on the outskirts of their strongholds. These hills are stripped of all vegetation, except for one or two tall trees. The orks kill these trees by removing large strips of bark, leaving only greying husks.

The orks bring back the skulls of enemies after raids or battles, and hang them from the limbs of the trees, or from wooden spikes placed along the sides of the hill. The spikes on the ground are often arranged in obscene patterns, while dim light spells are cast on the skulls hanging from the trees.

If a clan uses the same stronghold for a long period of time, they eventually cover their first sacred hill entirely. They will then move their worship to another nearby hill, attempting to cover that also in skulls.

The shorty tent
Orks have little time for their young. At a fairly young age they are placed in tents along with other orks of their own age, and left to fend for themselves. They are rarely given enough food for everyone, and the strongest are thus encouraged to take food from weaker individuals. After a while the weakest orks die, while the strongest grow to dominate the others, and thus they learn leadership skills from a young age. The shorty tent is usually an unclean, anarchic and permanently violent place.

The angry pit
A large, oval hollow is always dug out of the ground at the heart of the stronghold. Its walls slope gently towards flat centre, and its floor is of flat-packed earth.

The angry pit is the clan's duelling arena. Orks of the same clan aren't ordinarily allowed to take their grievances out on each other, but anything goes inside the angry pit. The combatants don't need to arrange a formal duel in advance, since it is common knowledge that no rules apply inside the pit. Whatever items the combatants take with them into the angry pit becomes the property of the victor.

Orkish smithy
Orkish smithies are incredibly smoke-filled, fiercely hot, and evil-smelling places. The sheer amount of smoke generated by these buildings are a health hazard to nearby dwellings. Uncontrolled showers of sparks and sporadical jets of flame also make them a very real fire hazard, and they are always surrounded by a circle of burnt ground and ashes. The smithies are mostly wooden buildings, sagging with the heat, and scarred by countless small fires. Some parts of the buildings are visibly newer than others, having been rebuilt after recent catastrophes.

Inside, the smithies are dominated by enormous forges and bellows, while a confusing array of tools and half-finished projects lie scattered about the place. Orkish smiths are nothing if not experimental, and they are constantly working on new designs, most of which end up being discarded.

Walls and fortifications

Orkish strongholds are always guarded by devastating amounts of orkish war machinery. Spiked traps, ballistas, flatteners and other destructive devices make attacking an orkish stronghold a tricky proposition at best. The strongholds are always built in locations which maximize the potential of orkish war machines.

Religion and Magic

The Spirit-beasts
The Orks worship a pantheon of spirits which symbolise the creatures of Korse. Most individuals worship many or all of the spirits, but as each ork comes of age, he or she chooses a single spirit which becomes his special guardian, and who grants the ork special abilities. The orks refer to these spirit companions as their Spirit-Buddies.

At the end of a rite of passage which lasts for several days, a symbol representing the Spirit-Buddy is tattooed on the ork's right shoulder. This tattoo is permanent and may not be altered or removed.

The power of the Spirit-Buddies primarily manifest as slight adjustments of the abilities of the individual. An ork with a bear-buddy will, for instance, start out as a slightly stronger than one with a lynx-buddy, while his agility will be proportionately lower.

In addition to the skills normally available to the starting ork, the Spirit-Buddy grants access to two new skills which reflect its nature.

Orkish shamanistic magic is closely connected with these totem animals, and the spells available to the individual depend upon his choice of Buddy. Many spells call upon properties of the Spirit-Buddy to manifest through the ork (The Claws of the Bear, The Eye of the Hawk, and so forth), while others summon manifestations which assist the ork (Guardian Beast, Summon Creature, etc.).

The guardian spirits available to the starting ork include badger, hawk, boar, lynx, wolf, bear and otter.

The Beastmasters
The will of the spirits is interpreted by the Beastmasters. These shamans lead religious rituals at the clan's holy places (see Hill of Many Heads, above), and they possess beast-powers which are beyond those of the clan's fighters. While many beastmasters wield great power, they are ulitmately the servants and councillors of their chieftains.

Shamanistic skills:

War Paint
Orks with the requisite spirit-skills use blood to paint symbols on their bodies before entering combat. These symbols give various bonuses, not unlike the combat-oriented spellsinging magic of the Mirdain. Orkish war paint fades after a while, with the duration depending on the skill level of the shaman.

The painted magical symbols are fairly simple shapes, with clear, bold lines and slightly jagged, rough edges. The more powerful shapes are more complex than the basic ones, which can be applied quickly. The time it takes to apply a symbol also depends on the shaman's skill level.

Each ork is limited to a certain number of simultaneous shapes. A starting character cannot have more than three shapes simultaneously, but the maximum increases by one for every increase in size. Some of the more potent shapes take up more than one slot of body space.

It is not possible to freshen paint while it is active - the ork must let the magic run its course before re-applying the war paint.

Orkish shamans are expert at locating plants and herbs with healing or magical properties. Usually, the effect of these remedies are subtle rather than spectacular, but some herbs have powerful effects when combined.

When combining different herbs, the shaman needs access to water in which to mix the components, and a container of some sort - preferably a vial of appropriate size.

A character with shaman skills is constantly searching for herbs and other remedies. It is assumed that after years of searching for the same roots and herbs, the shaman knows where in nature they can be found. When the skill is active, the player is told when he is close to a patch, and which direction he must go to find it. "Grimdrop is nearby. To the west."

The great majority of herbs have a healing effect of some sort. Some cause regeneration of lost hit points, some heal afflictions such as diseases and curses, others again offer protections against various dangers, such as poison.

Society of the Orks of Korse

Orkish society is centered around the clans, which rise and fall in the war-ridden lands of Korse. The clans are embroiled in a never-ending series of wars and bloodfeuds, with alliances constantly being formed and broken. An orkish clan is never at peace with its neighbours for long, and it will eagerly raid and plunder nearby non-orkish settlements.

Clan structure is vaguely hierarchical, with large orks bullying smaller orks into obeying their commands. Status within the clan is directly linked to size, which increases in tandem with the individual's skill and power. The leader of the clan is usually the biggest and meanest ork of them all.

Most chieftains discourage in-fighting within their clan. The chieftain's personal guard will break up fights taking place outside the Angry Pit (See Stronghold Buildings, above), and punish the instigators by beating them to within av inch of their lives, or beyond. However, orks who kill members of their own clan and race lose less status than do members of other races. While out of sight of the guards, raiding parties regularly end up killing each other over choice pieces of loot.

Names and clan-names
Orks prefer short, fierce-sounding names, often followed by a honour-name taken by the ork or given to him by his friends. The honour-name often changes many times during an orks lifetime. Thakk the Angry is a typical example of naming tradition of Korse.

Clans are generally given names which are meant to intimidate rivals. Other than that, names vary wildly, with no traditions standing in the way of orkish creativity. Examples include the Chopping Necks clan, the Iron Maiden clan, and the Monsters of Death clan.

Iron Orks
The Iron Orks are an elite unit of warriors. Unlike most orks, they wear full body armour, as well as plate helmets and tall shields. The traditional colours of the regiment is red and black, with all equipment coloured black and any symbols or embellishments being red. The Iron Orks prefer conventional weapons, such as longswords, to typically orkish weapons, like the Flattener and Two-bladed swords.

The Iron Orks are the private army of Grrrakk the One-Eye, a warlord who has gathered warriors from different clans, and trained them into a highly organized fighting force, at least by orkish standards.

For more than a decade, Grrrakk the One-Eye has built up his power base, making and breaking alliances with the chieftains as it has suited his ambitions. His wealth is now unaparalleled in Korse, and only an alliance of several powerful chieftains would dare challenge him. It is rumoured that Graakk The One Eye's ultimate goal is uniting all of Korse under his rule.

Grrrakk has continually expanded his headquarters at Flaming Skull, and what was once a crude, semi-permanent camp is now a fortified town with a growing number of permanent residents. Orks from all clans are welcome within the walls of the city, as long as they obey the simple laws of the place: 1) Don't break any of Grrrakks stuff and 2) Don't steal any of Grrrakk's stuff. Most of everything inside the city walls is considered his stuff, and patrols of Iron Orks deal mercilessly with transgressors.

Flaming Skull lies in the heartland of Korse, in the shadow of an active, skull-shaped volcano. The volcano is constantly spewing forth smoke, and at irregular intervals minor eruptions threaten the surrounding area, while covering Grrrakk's city in ashes and daytime darkness.

Click here to return to top of the page