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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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
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:
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
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.
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.
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
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 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 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 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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.