Kingdoms of Garda
Norgrim Hill Tribes
The orcish tribes living in the foothills and frosty wastes north of the Shieldback Mountains all maintain many customs apart each other, though they share much in common. They value might above all things, and have no patience for the weak. Elders and cripples must find ways to make themselves invaluable or they will be left to die, leading the elders of many tribes to spend their final days seeking a glorious death in battle. Fortunately the north is replete with enemies against which they can test their mettle, including each other, ogres, wild elves, the Skjall, and the savage beasts of Norgrim. However, the ways of the tribes are varied, and some place a mystical significance on elders and those born as cripples, expecting them to become shamans, oracles, and witches or suffer the lonely fate of other invalids. The tribes are almost entirely illiterate and know next to nothing about the lands to the south, save their violent interactions with the Skjall. Many tribes still wield bronze era weapons, and prize iron as gifts from the Ten-Thousand Spirits. Frontiersman and travelers to the north tell the tales of their savagery and cannibalism, which while not entirely inaccurate fail to capture the full breadth of their ways and diversity. Though even these tales pale in comparison to those of the Skjall, whose hatred of all orc-kind is nearly irrational. Many of the Skjall see themselves as the first bastion against the barbaric hordes of Norgrim.
The ways of the tribes can vary wildly from clan to clan, these are some of the more proliferate or prominent tribes:
Fel’Krag Clan: The Fel’Krag clan is one of the few to build strongholds throughout the hills of Norgrim. As such they are the most strongly fortified of all the tribes, allowing them to exert ever greater influence of the other tribes of the region. Fel’Krag Gor the Warlord, the young leader of his tribe seems intent on organizing the tribes after escaping from his enslavement in the arenas of Velos.
Moraga Clans: The Moraga dwell deep under the Shieldback mountains, keeping many of their customs secret from prying eyes. They have dwelt below the earth so long that they’ve come to hate the sun. It is known that they place a great deal of significance on cannibalism, consuming their enemies for their strength, and elders for their wisdom. With the aid of sacred mushrooms, they honor a complex understanding of the natural cycle and the earth. They are known to paint their faces and bodies white with pigments made from strange fungi that make them insensate to pain, and driving them to charge nakedly into battle with nothing but weapons of bronze.
Faewyld Tribes: Even among other hill tribes, the orcs of the Faewyld Forests are feared for their unpredictability, and all are believed to be mad. Rumor holds that they consort with ogres and wicked fae, twisting their lineage and granting them mad insight. Their bloodragers sow confusion among their enemies, who revel as wildly as they fight, though it’s often hard to tell which is which. Some say they may even hold dark alliances with the Druadanatha.
The Hag’s Chosen: Superstitious, even by orcish standards, the Hag’s Chosen are ruled by a secretive coven of witches, inverting the typical gender balance in orcish society. Their patrons are the Nameless and Forgotten Spirits from before time and space.
River Tribes: The river tribes aren’t raiders like the other tribes, mostly content to fish, and hunt for seal and elk. Those living along the coast embark on yearly whale hunts, where their warriors prove their prowess by providing meat and raw resources for the tribe. Their boats are decorated with intricate scrimshaw, charms meant to keep their warriors safe at river and sea.
Tribes of the Mammoth: The tribes of the far north have learned to tame the mammoths of Norgrim. These tribes are often as primitive as the beasts they ride, fighting with stone era weapons. Like the river tribes, they live largely off hunting and gathering, wandering the cold north clad in the pelts of the wooly beasts they share the tundra with.
The first mention of the Norgrim Hill Tribes comes from the account of a Gilbardan merchant ship that somehow became involved in a coastal battle between the Skjall and one of the orcish tribes, early in the 3rd Era. It is clear that they had been there for longer as Gilbardan traders found that the Skjall had been doing battle with their mortal enemies for centuries. From whence they came prior to this hostility is unknown, though their creation is a part of Skjallic myths. Indeed, even the tribes seem less concerned with how they came to be, and are content merely that they are. The first major impact of the tribes didn’t occur until the 4th century of th 3rd Era, when several clans migrated south, becoming the Korukhal. In the past few centuries Velosi slave traders have taken a particular interest in capturing Norgrim orcs for their strength, and a spirit of submissiveness after being captured that makes them ideal slaves; the orcs of Norgrim consider any defeat a type of death, and tend to no longer care much for their lives afterward. Not to mention the fact that even Lituricans seem to object less to the enslavement of an orc. While the tribes often attempt to push through the Shieldback mountains into the south, their lack of organization, and constant infighting has kept them from making much headway south of the Westward Sea. However, a new warlord may change all that as more and more of the tribes begin to rally under the banner of one they call Fel’Krag Gor.