Marching under the banner of the Fire Dragon, the armies of the orks are constantly on the march, forever seeking new cities to raze, new nations to conquer, and new people to sacrifice or enslave.
To the orkish warrior's mind, excessive planning is a coward's resort, while fancy tactical chicanery is a sure sign of effeminacy. Instead, orks rely on a combination of unrelenting aggressiveness, death-defying bravery, and the natural-born bully's instinctive eye for weakness.
While their behavior might seem erratic and irrational to outsiders, the orks themselves see every battle, every sacrifice, and every torched village as steps on the road to the Big Burning, an ork-administered apocalypse in which Agon is scorched clean and made ready for the reign of the Fire Dragon.
Much of he orkish homeland is covered by fetid and insect-haunted swamps, in which the traveller sinks ankle-deep in sticky, ubiquitous mud. Rain falls very frequently in Morak, and a combination of clouds and swamp-mist ensures that sunlight rarely - if ever - disturbs the murky ambience.
The northern third of Morak is dominated by a number of active volcanoes and the lava streams which issue from them. The land between these volcanoes is jagged, rocky, and as barren as the southern swamps are fecund.
The orkish realm lies in the central eastern part of Agon's main continent. A state of unending war exists between the orks and both of their closest neighbors - the humans of Mercia to the south, and the dwarves of Dvergheim to the northwest. To the northeast of Morak lies the jungle continent of Yssam, which is the domain and playground of a celestial dragon, while the neutral city state of Silvertown lies to the southeast. To the west, the Pall of Oncylus slowly spreads accross Agon's heartland.
Enemies: The Sadayel
In the darkest, remotest parts of Morak's swamps stand the villages of the Sadayel, a race of resourceful and semi-civilized lizardmen. Though otherwise peaceful, the sadayel nourish a marrow-deep hatred for the orks, who have been their (largely victorious) rivals in an age-long struggle for the meager resources of the swamp.
Sadayel villages occupy interconnected wooden platforms which rise on stilts from the swamp's mud. They tend to settle in wooded swampland or mangrove forests, building their houses among the trees and in harmony with nature. Sadayel settlements are found throughout Morak's swampy regions.
Slight and short-statured, the sadayel may be mediocre hand-to-hand fighters, but they are excellent archers and competent spellcasters. They sometimes bring groups of flying snakes with them into combat, and frequently ally with akathar bird-men.
Lava rivers cut through and encircle the orkish capital, which lies in the shadow of an eponymous and very active volcano. Minor eruptions of Flaming Skull are frequent, and the rain of ashes has recently grown so thick and steady that the sun is pleasantly (to orkish eyes) veiled by a black, noxious cloud.
The orks welcome the increased volcanic activity, regarding it as a sign that the Fire Dragon is about to wake from her slumber. When the nearby port village of Flayed Elf was completely destroyed in a recent eruption, unperturbed orkish authorities dispatched slave teams to construct a new port right next to the ruins of the old one.
In the center of Flaming Skull rises the Great Stairs, a huge pyramidal structure which contains the Fire Dragon's lair. Every day, dozens or even hundreds of victims are thrown into the ever-burning interior of the Great Stairs, where they are swiftly consumed by the draconic deity's flames. The Fire Dragon currently rests and slumbers, but according to orkish clerics, the hour of her re-emergence draws nigh.
Close to Flaming Skull lie three starting villages, which is where orkish adventurers embark on their careers. New Flayed Elf is a large port community, watched over by a lighthouse and a coastal keep. Metal Heart lies on an island surrounded by deep swamp, while Chopping Necks stands on a series of interconnected pillars which rise from a lava lake.
Culture and religion
Orks see themselves as purely a warrior race, and all manual labor in Morak is performed by slaves. The vast majority of these unfortunates are goblins, but a sizable majority belong to a clan of svartdvergir who were enslaved after migrating south from Dvergheim.
The orks worship the Fire Dragon, a chaos deity of awesome power, who quite recently unified the warring orkish tribes under her rule. Currently resting inside the Great Stairs in Flaming Skull, the Fire Dragon rules through Grand Messenger Arxanthos, a red dragon who receives dream-decrees from the slumbering goddess (or just claims to do so), and who commands a sinister priesthood called the Dragonbound. When the Fire Dragon is fully recuperated, she will emerge to take control over a united orkish army, and together they will unleash the Big Burning upon the world. In the meantime, the orks - who can hardly wait - do their best to prepare the ground for this rampage to end all rampages.
Since the Fire Dragon requires a steady stream of sentient sacrifice, orkish armies regularly raid for fresh victims. All resulting captives are hauled back to Flaming Skull, where they are dragged up the Great Stairs and thrown into a fiery pit which leads to the Fire Dragon's lair in the structure's interior.
The traditional leader of the orkish nation is the Big Head of Flaming Skull, a sort of high king whose power over the tribes has waxed and waned through history. The current Big Head is Uzrok Deathfist, a traditionalist who resents the power of the priesthood, and who suspects that Arxanthos is faking the dream-messages from the Fire Dragon, which frequently involve bringing treasure and food to Arxanthos's lair in Emberhall.
Movers and shakers
Big Head Uzrok commands one of the most active armies on Agon, and the Iron Orks are an elite group within that army, its members selected for strength, ferocity and cunning (in that order.) Utterly loyal to Uzrok, the Iron Orks answer to the Big Head directly, and some speculate that building their strength is the gambit in a scheme to wrest power from the Dragonbound.
The Defenders of the Swamp are an orkish order of knights who have dedicated their lives to keeping the swamps of Morak clean of unwanted elements. Since Morak has no shortage of monsters or enemies, the Defenders are kept very busy indeed, and their membership tends to attract orks that are even more fond of violence than most.
The Dragonbound are an extremely powerful group of fundamentalists, who have dedicated their lives to the Fire Dragon, and who show their loyalty by cutting off their lips and covering their bodies in self-inflicted scars. The Dragonbound are not averse to working behind the back of Big Head Uzrok, who they see as a mere pawn (and an insolent one, at that) in the Fire Dragon's game.
The Erodach are powerful humanoid creatures who are masters of the element of fire. They are haughty and arrogant, and are famous both for searing intelligence and cold cruelty. The origin of the Erodach is unknown (they are not natives of Agon) and their motives are veiled in shadow. They claim to be staunch allies of the Fire Dragon and the orks of Morak, but many assume that they have come to Morak for good reasons that they choose to keep hidden.
The Guild of Thugs is a highly organized - by orkish standards - outlaw band, who seek to reduce Morak to a state of anarchy, so that they can enjoy free rein. The Guild undermines the rule of the Big Head whenever they can, and they despise the Dragonbound priesthood.
What makes the orks special?
The orks throw all their weak or sickly children into the swamp. As a result of this process of evolution through orkish selection, the inhabitants of Morak are physically stronger than most other races on Agon. Orks also have a natural aptitude for melee combat and for other skills that involve brute force.
The orkish mount is an enormous, vile-tempered beast called the death pig. This monstrosity sweats constantly and profusely, covering its black, hairless hide in a glistening layer of oily liquid. In combat, the Death Pig kicks with powerful hooves and slashes with large, curved tusks which protrude from the sides of their mouths. Orkish smiths strengthen these natural weapons with a thin coat of leenspar, which is then decorated with black orkish runes. The eyes of the Death Pig are tiny red sparks of malevolence which almost disappear in the thick folds of their leathery foreheads.
Orks see most other races as little more than sources of income, sadistic fun and sacrificial victims. The only other race that the orks can comfortably form clans with are the mahirim, who they respect for their bravery, cunning and skill in battle.
How the orks see the world:
"All hail the Fire Dragon - bringer of death, destruction and orkish superma… sumepra... bestness. When Flaming Skull rages, the Fire Dragon stirs, and since a waking goddess needs food, we must triple the rate of sacrifice immediately!"
- Izkruul Viletongue, Dragonbound priest.
"If we sacrifice everyone else, who will be left to build, clean and make food? Only us, that's who!!! If you ask me, the Dragonbound are crazy and Grand Messenger Arxanthos is a big, fat, talky cheat."
- Arhard Deathspear, Iron Ork officer.
"The mud around your feet… the buzzing of a million little insects… the rich smell of rotting vegetation upon the wind… there are many places in the world, but no place beats the swamps of Morak."
- Biggor Stonecrusher, Defenders of the Swamp knight.
"In the olden days, it was every ork to himself and the will of the strongest always previle… prelaive… decided. To bring back those happy days, when death was everywhere, we must slay the dragon and chop off the Big Head!"
- Angrar Stabface, Guild of Thugs member.
"Though indubitably breath-taking, my own scintillating splendiferousness is a mere shadow of the supreme magnificence that is the Fire Dragon. She dreams in her sleep, and those dreams are conveyed to me, her Grand Messenger: Arxanthos the Sublime, the Immaculate, the Chosen Among Dragons."
- Arxanthos, Grand Messenger of the Fire Dragon.
How others see the orks
"A band of mud-brained swamp-bullies, whose only defense from extinction is the disease-ridden awfulness of their homeland. Soon, the human armies will march north and clean out that stinking nest forever."
- Simeon Ramsfleet, human Knight of Malregard.
"Guided by the cruel cunning of the Fire Dragon and her priesthood, the orks are becoming more than just a disorganized race of raiders and murderers. We should seek to destabilize the current regime by subtly encouraging the ambitions of Big Head Uzrok, while supporting the delightfully reactionary policies of the Guild of Thugs."
- Cirail Silverglow, mirdain merchant
"In a world full of weakling prey, the orks are distinguished by their great physical strength and near-limitless bravery. What they lack in shrewdness and predatory instincts, they compensate for with size and a wild-eyed enthusiasm that the lesser races find intimidating."
- Yalena the Wise, mahirim huntress.
"Half-witted swamp vermin! Though we have no interest in their vile homeland, the alfar will still take the time to eradicate every living thing in it that is larger than a small lizard."
- Sihgan Ghostshoon, alfar mage..
"Orks do not know how to build, only destroy. If it wasn't for their slaves, they would still be living in pathetic little mud hut villages scattered throughout the swamp."
- Skuldgeir Graythrone, dwarven bureaucrat.