|sergeantbrother||01:55 pm - New Take on Orcs and Goblins|
This is Daduchus, a setting I delevoped with Alex years and years ago, only recently have I gone back to examine it and develope it with any detail. Its much more magical and strange than anything else I have worked on lately.
Far to the north of the land of humanity, beyond high mountains and dense forests, is a land of eternal darkness. In Daduchus, the sun never rises nor do the moon or the stars, for the sky is shrouded by thick black clouds that swirl and flow but never leave. Not only is Daduchus forever shrouded in night, but it is eternally cold as the most brutal winter in the lands of men. Snow covers the ground perpetually, despite constantly being swept away by the strong wind that always blows in Daduchus, it is to be replaced by periodic snow fall. The northern reaches of Daduchus are particularly cold, so much so that no human could possibly survive there, most of Daduchus however, fluctuates between -20 degrees and 20 degrees fahrenheit.
In Daduchus the trees grow gnarled and blackened, completely devoid of leaves, flowers, or fruit. Along the ground grow thorns and brambles, with the occasional weed or in a few areas sparse brownish grass. The soil is dark gray and rocky. The only source of vegetable nourishment available to the denizens of Daduchus are the fibrous roots of some of the weeds that grow there and can be cultivated, and the red leafy vines that grow under certain conditions called blood leaf. For the most part the creatures that dwell in Daduchus prey upon each other.
The are a variety of dangerous fauna that inhabit Daduchus. The most prominent of these are the dire wolves, huge ferocious wolves the size of small horses. There are also rats the size of small dogs who at both plant and animal, occasionally hunting in packs to take down larger prey. Despite the low temperatures, there are insects of various kinds as well, often far larger than their southern counterparts. The spiders are particularly large, sometimes larger than a man. The only birds that live in Daduchus are scavengers. Large boars live of the weeds and their roots, or eat what ever else they can find, and are sometimes domesticated and used as a food source. Another creature common to Daduchus are large worms that borrow deep beneath the ground. Many of these worms can grow quite large (in excess of 6 feet) and are disgusting to look at, even for worms.
There are few if any humans in Daduchus, the few who enter usually don;t stay or last very long. The primary residents of Daduchus call themselves the Gornabag, but in the south they are simply known as goblins. Goblins are smaller than humans, usually around an average height of 4'8" tall and about 100 pounds. They have dull reddish colored skin, usually blended with gray or brown. The texture of their skin is tough and almost scaly, they have no hair either on their bodies or on their heads. The facial features of goblins are somewhat similar to those of humans, but are more feral. Their jaws are large and their faces distended, their teeth are long and sharp with particularly prominent cuspids. Their ears are small and semicircular, almost hard to spot, and their noses and short and upturned. Their lips are virtually non-existant. Goblins have bright yellow irises with no whites to their eyes, their brows are heavy and their eye sockets are deep.
All goblins have female characteristics, including wide hips, enlarged breasts, and somewhat fleshy builds - the reason for this is because all goblins are in fact female. All Goblins are born and grow up female, and any children they bare are also female. Goblins grow quickly, they have a 6 month gestational period and reach sexual maturity in about 10 years. After that point, its hard to tell how old a goblin is, because she doesn't really show any external signs of aging aside from a tendency to put on weight. Most goblins die fairly young due to violence, those that do not succumb to violence or sickness will typically die of old age from anywhere between 70 and 90 years of age. Those few who make it into their 90 will undergo a metamorphosis into a hobgoblin. At some point in a goblins 90's she will begin to become much fatter, also growing in height and build as well, after about of year of this her skin will begin to build up thick layers of dead skin until it forms something a cocoon around the goblin. In several months, this cocoon will break open and a male goblin will emerge. This male goblin, or hobgoblin, will generally be a full foot taller than it was before the transformation and at least 100 pounds heavier than the typical goblin. The fat that built up before the transformation will be replaced by dense muscles after the hobgoblin emerges from its cocoon. In many ways the hobgoblin resembles a goblin, though his body is more masculinely shaped, his muscles are larger, and his skin is slightly darker and scalier. Hobgoblins also have even more prominent cuspids that protrude from the mouth almost like tusks. Hobgoblins will usually live another 40 or 50 years after the transformation, the most easily recognizable sign of aging being the thickening of their tough scaly skin.
Goblins are highly resistant to the freezing cold of Daduchus, though they still often wear furs and leather to keep themselves warm or as a sign of status. Goblins can see in the absolute darkness of Daduchus as well as a human can see in twilight, so they often go about with no forms of lighting, but in their homes or when in need of seeing fine details they use torches and candles to see by. In the light of day they are completely blinded by the bright light, and even at dawn or dusk they are uncomfortable because of the brightness of the sunlight. They also have a limited ability to tolerate warm weather; around freezing is most comfortable to goblins and anything warmer than 60 degrees will make a goblin feel ill. Temperatures greater than 90 degrees are debilitating and will cause a goblin to expire if it is exposed to those temperatures for more than a few hours. Goblins prefer to eat meat as they are primarily carnivores, but they can survive on plant material to a limited degree but will become malnourished if forced to do so for too long.
Hobgoblins rule over goblins, they are not only significantly more physically powerful than goblins, but are are older and wiser than the goblins, they are the ones who have proved themselves to the the smartest to survive as long as they did. Goblins usually live in large villages with several hundred goblins and 10 or 20 hobgoblins. The typical goblin usually has a variety of rolls in the community, most act as a combined farmer, hunter, warrior, and mother. A goblin household is lead by a hobgoblin who is father or mother to the rest of the family. In most cases several of the goblins stay at home and look after the young while the others go out to do labor or to fight, in the case of labor the hobgoblin generally stays at home to help protect the children and to command the family, but in times of conflict he usually leads the warriors to battle. In larger more organized goblin cities, the hobgoblins form something of a council that votes on major issues facing the community. In most cases this ruling council has an eldest member, chosen by the other hobgoblins, to act as ruler, to be decisive, and to make difficult decisions. Hobgoblins represent the only legal representation that goblins have, so a family of goblins without a hobgoblin member will have very little power or protection from violence from other goblins or hobgoblins.
The entire family and social structure of goblin life is based on the family units with hobgoblins as household heads. In a major sense these families are harems, all of the goblins in the family are more or less property of the hobgoblin, who is father and/or mate of the rest of the family. In many cases, the hobgoblin gave birth to many of the goblins in the family when he was a female goblin. When a goblin in the family becomes a hobgoblin, it is customary for him to take several of the family's goblins with it and some of the family's resources to start a new family. This break off family will usually maintain close ties to the original family. The only times that a hobgoblin will stay with the family is when the original hobgoblin is old and sick, meaning that the younger hobgoblin can take over the family soon. When a family's hobgoblin dies with no replacement, the family becomes very vulnerable because it effectively loses all status and legal rights. Usually such a family will either be absorbed by closely related families (such as break away groups) or the close families will protect the hobgoblin-less family until one of the goblins matures into a hobgoblin. If neither of these things happen, then unrelated families will probably capture the goblins and force them to join their family. Sometimes certain paranoid or jealous hobgoblins will kill elderly goblins so that they will not mature into hobgoblins and divide the harem. This kind of behavior usually spells disaster for the family eventually, since when the hobgoblin dies, there is no other to watch out for his family. In families where there is such a jealous hobgoblin, often a goblin will run away and hide so that it may live long enough to survive its transformation into a hobgoblin - in such a case the newly transformed hobgoblin will often return to the family for its fair share or to seek revenge and gain control of the family for himself. A change in leadership under such conditions is often welcomed.
Goblins have medieval technology. They can work iron and bronze, some fine items are even made of steel. They usually live in simple stone huts, but wealthier goblin families will often make more advanced fortresses that resemble castles. Most goblin villages or cities are protected by massive stone walls that rise 30 or 40 feet into the sky. There are usually also a number of other dwelling in a goblin town such as a temple, blacksmith's shop, etc. Most goblins are hunter/farmer/warriors but, just as in any village, there are some who are professionals. There are stone masons, metal workers, weavers, etc. Sometimes goblins who specialize in these professions share their money earned with their family, meaning it will ultimately go to the hobgoblin. Some goblin professionals, however, operate independently of a hobgoblin or family unit, surviving and prospering because of their unique and valuable skills. Goblin mystics in particular are known for their independence from the harem system.
Goblins raise a number of different animals for use as food, labor, or warfare. Their main war beast are the dire wolves. Goblins breed dire wolves to be as large and ferocious as possible, most reach the side of a small horse. Hobgoblins and the occasional elite goblin soldiers ride these dire wolves into battle. Another animal that is made use of by goblins are the dark boars - large (between 300 and 400 pounds typically) pig-like creatures covered with bristles and with large tusks. The goblins raise dark boars for food, for their milk, and also use them as beasts of burden to pull plows, carts, or occasionally to ride. Wealthier goblins or hobgoblins will always prefer to ride a dire wolf though. Goblins also keep domesticated buzzards for their eggs and feed them table scraps or allow them to feed upon corpses of dead goblins. Stone spiders are another creature that goblins keep. Stone spiders are named this because their mottled grayish coloration allows them blend in with the rocky landscape of Daduchus. They have rather bulbous bodies, not unlike a black widow spider, and are highly venomous. Goblins keep these spiders to harvest their silk, stone spider silk can be spun much the same way a worm's silk can. Some of the finest clothing available to goblins comes from spider's silk. Goblins also use the spider's venom to coat their arrow tips, making them particularly deadly. Perhaps one of the most common staples of the goblin diet is rat flesh. In Daduchus giant rats are extremely numerous and though goblins do not raise them, traps or hunting trips usually can supply a steady supply of rats for goblins to eat. Goblins are also known to dig up worms out of the ground to eat them, or more frequently since they aren't very tasty, to feed to their animals. Goblins are not particular or sentimental about their meals - they will eat just about any living creature, from insects to their own dead. When a goblin dies, it is either eaten by its family or is given to domesticated beasts to eat, which ever the goblin family is in the mood for. This practice also includes prisoners and casualties of war along with anyone who happens into a goblin village and is unwelcome or unable to defend themselves.
Most goblins and hobgoblins in Daduchus share the same religion, the worship of the god Gulaga. To goblins, Gulaga is the supreme deity, the creator of all things, all power and all knowing, and the goblins are its chosen people. Goblins believed that Gulaga created the world and all life in it, but deliberately left them flawed. It is only goblins who have a perfect design, one matching that of Gulaga for Gulaga gave birth to the universe as a goblin goddess and rules the universe as a hobgoblin god. Gulaga as the goddess gave birth to female life among all the creatures of the world, and then become a god and sired all life through his female children, becoming both father and mother to all living things. Only goblins became like him however, with the holy ability to transform from mother to father.
Gulaga is worshiped by almost every goblin, but there are priestesses to Gulaga who dedicate their lives to worshiping him. These priestesses - who are called "Gafa" - are the brides of Gulaga, part of his harem, and therefore are never allowed to mate or bare children with a hobgoblin, nor are hobgoblins allowed into the clergy of Gulaga. The priestesses have a special building in the center of every goblin village where they can go to preform rituals in worship and praise of Gulaga. Normal goblins and hobgoblins are bared from attending the majority of their rituals, though many outside of the clergy will pay priestesses for blessing or to offer sacrifices to Gulaga on their behalf. Though hobgoblins rule over goblin society, the priestesses of Gulaga have a huge amount of sway. It is forbidden for a hobgoblin to harm or even to touch a priestess, because she is seen as a bride of Gulaga himself and Gulaga is a jealous god; any who showed such disrespect would be killed by other hobgoblins and goblins in hopes of some personal blessing. To join the priestesshood - called Valagud - the goblin who wishes to join must attain permission from the elder priestess, called a Fergaf, of the community. Often goblins who find themselves in a family without a hobgoblin will attempt to join the the Valagud for safety and protection, though most are denied entry.
The Valagud is very militaristic in its customs and beliefs. The Gafa train to fight as one of the primary duties to the faith. Before a battle the certain Gafa will chant for hours and take a mixture of herbs and chemicals as part of a religious ceremony to work themselves into a frenzy of destruction before a battle. The Valagud is the only goblin organization that extends beyond the size of cities and villages, it has a supreme high priestess called a Ferfergaf who has complete control over the Valagud and as a result is perhaps the most powerful single goblin (or hobgoblin for that matter) alive. Despite having no official power within a goblin village, the Gafa there have a large amount of unofficial power because of the reverence they are given as brides of Gulaga and because of the blessings that can befall those who treat them respectfully or alternatively, the curses which befall those who would treat them with no respect. When a Gafa becomes old and starts to gain weight in anticipation of entering a cocoon to transform into a hobgoblin, instead of allowing the transformation to take place, the Gafa commits a ritualistic form of suicide, insuring that the Gafa will be forever female and forever a bride of Gulaga.
It is believed that deep in the earth is the dwelling place of Gulaga and that Gulaga's blessing spring up from the ground and thus to give offering to Gulaga, the offerings must be placed into the ground. Because of this, temples to Gulaga are vast deep tunnels set into the ground, topped on the surface by a stone castle-like structure. The most holy and secret ceremonies are preformed as deeply in the ground as is possible. Temples are constantly under construction, going deeper and deeper into the ground, the Gafa continually build new ceremonial chambers as the tunnels go further down, the very oldest temples in the largest of goblin cities are incredibly deep. When a Gafa commits ritualized suicide, her body is buried deep within the temple. The is a single great temple from which the Ferfergaf rules the Valagud, this great temple not only has a great stone building above ground, but has tunnels and chambers so deep that many think that one can encounter Gulaga himself by descending to the deepest levels - though only the Ferfergaf and her must trusted servants are allows to go the the very bottom. Goblins who are religious or wish to make sacrifices to Gulaga ceremonially bury meat as an offering.
Goblins believe that when they die that a number of fates can befall them. Is is believed that when a Gafa dies, she becomes an angel-like servant to Gulaga himself, joining his harem and being his mate for all of eternity. When a hobgoblin dies, it is believed that becomes one with Gulaga, sharing all of his knowledge and power, sensing and knowing all things and eternally one with the infinite. For a regular goblin, they believe that when they die that they will be born again into the body of some other goblin in the future, and will continue to die and be born again until eventually surviving long enough to become a Gafa or a hobgoblin. Goblins believe that non-goblins are doomed to oblivion, since their lack of a true soul mean they can never become one with Gulaga or to be a direct servant of him. Those who worship other gods, false gods, suffer the same fate as the lesser races, complete oblivion after death, as Gulaga devours their souls for as a punishment.
To goblins, all other races are seen as nothing more than animals. There is nothing wrong in mistreating them, torturing them, killing even helpless children. They have no souls and thus don't truly suffer or feel as a goblin does. Goblins view even goblins who do not believe in Gulaga with a similar level of distain. They are blasphemers, liars, fools, they fail to respect the holiness of the creator of the universe and father of all goblins and hobgoblins. As such, they are deserving of horrible torture, humiliation, and death. In past generations there have been many goblins and hobgoblins who have died because of their lack of faith in the supreme god Gulaga, but now only a rare few fall victim to such punishments. Though, an accusation of lack of faith, a direct act against the brides of Gulaga, or sometimes even a suspicion of practicing some other religion can cause tremendous trouble for the accused and may even cost the unfortunate its life. For Gafa who violate their vows (such as chastity) the punishments are swift and terrible as well, especially when combined with the believed loss of their souls as divine punishment.
In the more Northern reaches of Daduchus the black clouds that swirl and churn above southern Daduchus meet the earth, creating a thick unnatural dark grayish fog that obscures sight and chills the bones. Here it is so cold that even goblins must wear heavy clothing to survive, here goblins must carry torches if they are to see because the darkness hangs so heavily in the air that is suffocates every speck of light, here even monsters and the great beasts of southern Daduchus must fear for their lives. This is where the greatest enemy of the goblins dwell, the orcs.
Orcs have a humanoid shape with similar proportions to humans in most respects. They are about the same size as humans, perhaps and inch or two taller on average and usually about the same weight. Their skin is typically a grayish tint, about the color of concrete or a bit darker. Their eyes do not glow, but are luminescent and are usually either of red, orange, or yellowish coloration; though a few have purplish or violet eyes.
Young orcs, those who have not yet reached puberty, have a skin texture similar to that of humans, perhaps a bit rougher and coarser. As an orcs get older their skin tends to wrinkle very quickly and become thicker, and most young adult orcs have skin as wrinkly as humans in their eighties. Young orcs also have hair in similar patters as humans do - thick hair on their head, with sparser hair on various other locations of the body, this hair is almost always black or dark gray. As male orcs enter puberty they begin to develop male pattern baldness and by the end of puberty they are usually bald on their head, though they also develop a thick, coarse, bristly hair on their back, arms, and shoulders. Female orcs do not lose their hair during puberty, but they develop breasts like human women and, like males, they also grow hair upon their backs and arms but not to the same degree. As female orcs get older they usually start to lose their head hair as well, but typically not until middle or old age. Female orc hair is usually slightly wavy, they typically wear it in long braids or falling naturally and cut about shoulder length. As orcs approach old age, their skin becomes lighter in coloration and even a little transparent, sometimes allowing veins and even muscles to be seen beneath their flesh. Orcs reach puberty around the age of 20, but do not reach middle age until around 300 years of age, after that old age begins to show at around 1000 years. Orcs do not die of old age, they just gradually get wrinklier and more pale over the millennia - though their physical and mental abilities do not decrease.
Orcs faces have some similarities to those of humans, though there are major differences. Orcs tends to have broad, flat noses. Their mouths are very large as are their jaws. The entire mouth and jaw structure is distended slightly compared to that of humans, this in combination of the broad flat nose give orcs the appearance of a muzzle or snout more than a mouth and nose. Their lips are very thin, hard to notice unless they speak. Orcs tend to have thick bony ridges above their eyes and bony lumps beneath their scalps, they also have large bony knuckles, shoulders, elbows, and knees.
Orcs teeth are larger and more vicious than human teeth, and instead of four sharp teeth like humans have - they have twelve. Orc teeth, because they are strict carnivores, are more for ripping and tearing than for crushing or grinding. Orcs have very thick and hard fingernails, and if allowed to grow naturally would form sharp claws, these nails are not flat like human nails, but rather are triangular (like an epee blade) giving them more structural strength. Orc ears are like those of humans, though their earlobes are long and always connect to the sides of their faces and the tips of the ears are pointed - not like those of elves - but rather more like a cat’s or wolf’s ears.
The differences between orcs are humans are not just superficial. The blood of orcs is not red, but rather it is pure black. Not only is this blood black but it is thicker than human blood as well, and tends to slowly ooze from wounds rather than flow like human blood. The blood of an orc is a deadly poison, even a drop on the skin can kill an adult human and its said that once a blade has cut orc flesh that it will forever carry the poison. When exposed to sunlight, and orcs skin quickly darkens and cracks, causing it to bleed. Prolonged exposer to the sun causes orc flesh to wither, this will cause great pain and eventually death to the orc. Orcs are immune to most poisons that affect humans, though the touch of cold iron immediately causes orc skin to blister and peel. Orcs are immune to the cold but they become weak when exposed to temperatures above freezing. Orcs also can see in absolute darkness and even see through the thick black mists that enshroud northern Daduchus, but light is painful to their eyes, even a candle makes them uncomfortable though it will not significantly hinder them.
Orc society is more egalitarian and structured than that of goblins. Males and females have equal status and equal rights. Orc society is also strictly hierarchical, having different classes who swear fealty to the class above themselves in a very feudalistic manner. This extends all the way up to kings and queens of orcish kingdoms, and many orcs believe that one day there will be an emperor to rule over all orcs. Orcs view themselves as the nobility who are meant to rule over others, and even the lowest in the orcs hierarchy are the equivalent of knights in human society. The real workers and laborers among the orcs, the serfs of their feudal system, are not orcs at all, but goblins. Orcs often go on raids to capture goblins to use as slaves, but many goblins join with the orcs of their own volition. Goblins who fear oppression for religious reasons or who resent the rule of the hobgoblins will often seek out orcs as protectors. In such situations, despite their extreme cruelty, the orcs will swear an oath to defend the goblins from harm in exchange for lifelong labor on the part of the goblins. Orcs keep virtually never break such an oath, but an orc is betrayed they will spot at nothing to get vengeance on the oath breaker, this vengeance usually entails weeks of horrible torture.
Because orcs are sensitive to iron, they use neither iron nor steel tools or weapons, instead they use brass. Because brass contains no iron and is comparable to steel in its strength, it makes an ideal metal for orcs to use. Orcs are excellent metal workers and make fine quality swords and armor, the typical orc can be seen wearing a brass breastplate, chain mail, or a coat of plates for armor. Another metal that orcs use is called dark steel. Dark steel is not really a metal at all, but created from the essence of evil stolen away from another creature. Among the orcs there is a profession called shadow shapers, who have the ability to control the very essence of darkness. They will take a slave or prisoner and light a small candle nearby, causing the victim's shadow to be cast against the wall. The orc then sinks its talons into the victims shadow and rips it free from the body; this horrible act shreds apart the victim's soul driving them forever insane or leaving them as a drooling vegetable. It is said that the act of having your shadow stolen is the most painful experience that any sensient being can suffer. The shadow shaper can then use the shadow for any number of purposes, such as animating it into an intelligent servant, consuming it to strengthen the orc's personal powers, or forging it into dark steel. A dark steel weapon is highly prized among orcs and quite expensive, its is much stronger than steel and much lighter as well, even when it is damaged it will reform into its natural shape unless it is completely burned away or exposed to sunlight. When a dark steel blade pierces the flesh of a living creature, it also chills them to the bone, drawing out the warm and life from their bodies.
Orcs use their goblin (or sometimes other creatures) servants to build huge fortresses for them. These keeps are more than just defensive structures, they are castles covered with ornate carvings and with redundant structures which exist to only to please the orcish eye. Along the same lines, orc clothing is stylized and esthetically pleasing. It is usually significant to the individual orc in some regard, such as bearing some personal crest or family heraldry. Orcs favor large dark fur trimmed cloaks worn over their other clothing and even their armor, these help to conceal orcs from other creature's limited vision is the dark mists in their realm.
When orcs go into battle, they ride Worgs. A Worg is a creature than in some ways resembles the dire wolf to the south, yet is also different in a number of ways. It is larger, as big a a full sized horse, and has a slightly different build. Its shape is slightly more catlike in some regards, having hugely powerful shoulders and large claws upon its feet. Their jaws are massive and filled with rows of dagger-like teeth, their faces look like a grotesque mixture between that of a bat, a cat, and a hyena. A Worg's fur is as dark and night its eyes gleam an eerie red. Worgs were created by orcs using selective breeding and dark magic over the years, feeding dire wolves alchemical substances to make them larger and more powerful and well as subjecting them to other foul experiments.
Orcs worship no deity nor do they believe in an afterlife, they think that all things go into oblivion after death unless their souls are somehow preserved through magic. They do believe in gods and greater supernatural creatures, but do not think that such creatures are worthy of worship. Some orcs do occasionally preform a ritual here or there to seek favor from a certain greater power, but they see it as more of a business arrangement than any kind of worship. Orcs do tend to practice sorcery at a fairly high rate, it is not uncommon for them to summon forth creatures of darkness and evil do do their bidding or perhaps to make an arrangement with. Demonic pacts are the closest that orcs get to true religion, and they look down on those who dedicate themselves in service of gods who the orcs believe will ultimately betray the worshipers and allow his or her soul to go into nothingness. They view such things as prayer as pathetic begging and believe themselves above it.
In orc society, the first born child of an orc couple is destined to inherit all that its parents own. Sometimes this first born child must be patient because of the extremely long life spans of orcs, despite this fact and orcs evil nature, patricide is almost unheard of because of the orcs' sense of personal honor and family loyalty. The second born child in an orc family receives training in some form of special professional skill. For poorer orc families, this could mean that the 2nd born orc becomes a scribe, stone mason, or blacksmith; in wealthier families the 2nd born orcs can expect to become shadow shapers, alchemists, or sorcerers. The largest category of orc are those called the "3rd Born" who are orcs who have at least 2 older siblings. These third born receive nothing from their parents after reaching adulthood aside from a weapon, armor, and a Worg. The 3rd Born are the knights and warriors of the orcish populace. They go to battle toe earn their money and to achieve glory and prestige that was denied them by birth. Though some 3rd Born die in battle, others win fortunes and lands greater than those that their parents held and they too carry on the tradition with their children. Because of orcish inheritance, arranged marriages are the uniformly practiced in their society. Because first born males often wed first born female, it means that wealth is often concentrated over the years into extremely wealthy families. This tendency often leads to feudal warfare between different orcish families because of the dichotomy in wealth - with 3rd born orcs fighting both sides trying to win land of their own.