The green-skinned orcs, or Greenskins are one of the most prolific races of Azeroth. Born on the world of Draenor, the orcs were brought to Azeroth through the dimensional gateway known as the Dark Portal and waged war on the humans while under the influence of the Burning Legion.
The orcs once cultivated a noble, shamanistic society on Draenor. Tragically, the proud orc clans were corrupted by the Burning Legion and used as pawns in the Legion's invasion of Azeroth. The orcs managed to rebel, however, and they were ultimately able to help turn the tide against their demon masters. Led by the young Warchief Thrall, the orcs have reclaimed their strength and honor. The orcs moved from the Eastern Kingdoms to Kalimdor, and there they founded the nation of Durotar.
Now, the orcs stand ready to fight not for the sake of conquest, but for their very right of survival in their adopted world.
To their enemies, they are brutal and fearsome opponents, without parallel in their ferocity and cunning. To their allies, they are noble and honorable, following the traditions of a rediscovered past. The orcs of Lordaeron are part of a race that has once again found its true spirit, shunning the cruel practices of arcane and demonic magic for the paths of wisdom and power. Some orcs still hang on to the arcane practices of the past, but their time is fading. Though brutal in combat, orcs fight with a feral grace that equals even the finest fencing of an elven noble. For an orc, skill in battle brings great honor. The concept of personal honor that pervades all echelons of orcish society has made the race more cohesive and more of a threat to their adversaries in the Alliance. Even the naming of an orc is temporary until he has performed a rite of passage. Once an orc has brought honor to his name and the name of his clan, the elders give him a second name based upon his deed.
For an orc, personal reputation is as important as his or her clan, and most will fight to the death in defense of either. This is in drastic contrast to when they were led by the forces tainted by the Burning Legion, and were a bestial force barely controlled by demonic magic. While the orcs might seem quick to anger, they are tempered by the wisdom of their leaders and their shamans. There are few of the demon-worshiping clans left, for the Alliance or the Horde itself has hunted down most of the remnants of such clans. Now, most of the orcs have embraced the values embodied in the leadership of Thrall as taught by his mentor, Orgrim Doomhammer. The orcs are one of the most populous races on the world of Azeroth. While many of the Alliance races perceive them to be brutish and savage, the orcs have forged a complex society that embraces many occupations and many different races. No doubt the leadership of Thrall and the support of the tauren and jungle troll elders has aided in this solidarity, but it is quite apparent that humanity has underestimated the ability of the orcs to unify and create their own distinct and powerful culture. Perhaps in time, the two factions might come to an understanding, but with the current division of Alliance and Horde, no one can say how or when peace might come.
When they were freed from the Burning Legion, orcs experienced a cultural revolution as the unnatural, arcane bloodlust left their bodies, giving them calmer and more focused states of mind. They, for the most part, follow Thrall as he forges ahead to reform the Horde both inside, with his shamanism, and outside, with the founding of Durotar. Still, not all orcs are pleased with these movements, namely the evil orcs who still reside on Azeroth. These orcs, who include a good number of the surviving warlocks, actively raid Alliance and Independent caravans and towns, and renounce all that Thrall proclaims the Horde is. Like the two faces of the Alliance, the different Horde factions meet rarely; but there are some orc warlocks on Kalimdor who would very much like to retake control of the Horde forces and are gaining strength in the wilderness to do so.
The orcs of Draenor had lived in a noble shamanistic society, roaming in tribes the grasslands of Nagrand on their dusty world of Draenor, for over 5,000 years. They lived in peace with the draenei refuges and were at war with the ogres. Eventually, the presence of the draenei drew the Burning Legion to Draenor. After investigating their world, the powerful Eredar demon lord Kil'jaeden tricked the respected shaman Ner'zhul into striking a bargain with him. He convinced Ner'zhul that the draenei were conspiring against the orcs, and were planning on attacking. In exchange for their service to the Burning Legion, Ner'zhul and all of the orcs would receive the power necessary to conquer vast new lands, and Kil'jaeden would have an army able to crush the draenei. To obtain this power, the orcs would need to first drink from the blood of Mannoroth the Destructor, a mighty pit lord of the Burning Legion. Grom Hellscream was one of the first to drink, and easily convinced the other chieftains and their clans to follow suit. This put them under the Blood Curse.
The Rise of the Horde
With the mass murder of the draenei, the elements refused to aid the orcs in their war. Believing that the elements had turned on them, the orcs turned to Ner'zhul. Gul'dan was then introduced as the new leader of the Horde. Slowly the entire race was corrupted into rampaging clans that would later be forged into the Horde. Over the next few decades the draenei and many other indigenous races of Draenor were almost utterly destroyed. Completely devoured by their demonic bloodlust and without new enemies to fight, many orc clans began fighting amongst themselves. Petty rivalries escalated into full scale bloodbaths, and total chaos descended upon orcish society. The few remaining draenei took advantage of this and started a guerrilla campaign that continues to this day.
During this time, Ner'zhul, no longer willing to watch his race destroy itself, betrayed Kil'jaeden and was subsequently replaced as Spiritual Leader of the clans by Gul'dan. Gul'dan cared little for the Horde and easily agreed to follow Kil'jaeden in exchange for even more power. Kil'jaeden taught Gul'dan how to project himself into the Twisting Nether and to commune with the dead. Gul'dan was changed by these encounters and realized how to attain even more power. Gul'dan also changed the way the orcs were ruled by giving Blackhand the title of Warchief during the war.
Gul'dan gathered all warlocks who shared a desire for ultimate power and attempted to the share knowledge of communing with the dead. Many died in the process, but the few who survived formed the initial ranks of the Shadow Council. Through careful manipulation and intricate machinations, the Shadow Council became the real ruling body of the Horde, with the clan chiefs under their thumbs. By using the promise of new lands to conquer on worlds other than Draenor, the Shadow Council was able to form a tenuous unity within the Horde. Gul'dan and his warlocks began probing the Twisting Nether, desperately searching for new worlds within easy reach before the clans' bloodlust exploded beyond control. Gul'dan also founded the schools of Necromancy to spread the new demonic magics to even more orcs.
Visions of Medivh
One night, an extremely powerful entity touched the thoughts of many orc warlocks. Gul'dan sought the advice of Kil'jaeden as to what this new presence might be, but his summons went unanswered. If Gul'dan's own tutor Kil'jaeden feared this entity, then it could prove to be a powerful tool if he could re-establish contact with it. Weeks later, Gul'dan was finally successful and opened up communication with Medivh, a sorcerer on some distant world. Gul'dan attempted to probe the designs of this Medivh, but Medivh's mind moved far too quickly for Gul'dan to discern much of any value. Gul'dan knew with near-certainty that Medivh was attempting the same, and did not want Medivh to gain an advantage, and so quickly broke contact.
Medivh later returned to the dreams of the warlocks on Draenor, presenting them with images of the land of Azeroth. The Shadow Council, despite the debate over Medivh's true intentions, decided to do Medivh's bidding if he could furnish a way to bring the horde into Azeroth. Those warlocks who were not members of the Council but had experienced the vision, were killed to keep the coming invasion secret. Weeks passed with no further word from Medivh and some members of the Council believed he was playing tricks on them. But then the rift appeared.
The Invasion of Azeroth
With time and much effort the orcish warlocks were able to expand the rift enough to allow orcs to squeeze through. Though their first scouts were driven mad, either by the rift itself or by what they had seen, the council was able to confirm that on the other side of the rift was the world Medivh had shown them. A small contingent of orcs was sent through the stabilized rift, now known as the Dark Portal, to scout and construct a base of operations.
The caution urged by the Shadow Council fell on deaf ears when the clan chieftains learned of how seemingly weak the native humans of the area were. Bloodlust soon overcame the Horde, and they launched a preemptive strike against the most powerful establishment of humans in the area, the Kingdom of Stormwind. Led by Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer Clan and Kilrogg Deadeye of the Bleeding Hollow Clan, this attack ended in a humiliating defeat for the Horde. Each chieftain blamed the other for this failure, and the Horde split into two factions. The Shadow Council attempted to reunite the Horde, but could not act directly, and so they chose an avatar to act as their puppet ruler: Blackhand the Destroyer was named Warchief of all the Horde once again.
Under Blackhand's iron fist, order was restored. It was then that Medivh once again made contact with Gul'dan. Medivh seemed even more powerful, but less sane. Medivh ordered Gul'dan to have the Horde destroy the Kingdom of Stormwind, and make Medivh the new ruler of the humans. Gul'dan initially refused to do Medivh's bidding; after all, the Horde had a new target and Medivh's usefulness, in Gul'dan's eyes, had run out. Desperate to see his plans succeed, Medivh tempted Gul'dan by promising to reveal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras, the lord of the Burning Legion and Kil'jaeden's master. And so the First War between the Horde and the humans of Azeroth occurred, ending with the destruction of the Kingdom of Stormwind.
Near the beginning of that conflict the Frostwolf Clan, one of very few clans of orcs that had rejected the demonic gifts of Kil'jaeden, was exiled to Azeroth and its leader Durotan was murdered by Gul'dan's forces as a warning. His infant son was left for dead but was taken in by a nobleman from Lordaeron fleeing the carnage of Stormwind. The Frostwolves, leaderless, fled to the far northern mountains. Toward the end of the war, a surgical strike was launched by the humans to kill the treacherous Medivh. As Medivh was assaulted, Gul'dan felt the psychic trauma waves that Medivh emanated and realized that his chance to obtain the power of Sargeras was about to slip out of his grasp. He entered Medivh's mind and attempted to steal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras while Medivh was weakened and distracted. It was at this moment that Medivh died, and Gul'dan, having been in his mind at the time of death, was thrown into a coma.
When he awoke, Gul'dan learned of a major power shift within the horde. Blackhand the Destroyer had been overthrown by Orgrim Doomhammer after he had learned of Blackhand's role in corrupting the Horde. Doomhammer was not as gullible or easily swayed as Blackhand had been, and quickly discovered the Shadow Council's presence in orcish affairs. He completely eradicated the Council through accusations of treason. Gul'dan survived only by 'swearing' allegiance to Doomhammer, and by promising to provide a vast undead army for the Horde's use. He formed the Stormreaver Clan and began the process of re-animating the corpses of fallen knights with the spirits of the fallen members of the Shadow Council.
These new Death Knights, along with other fel projects (such as the capture of Alexstrasza), gave the Horde enough strength to advance steadily north despite facing the might of the unprecedented Alliance of all the human nations (Lordaeron, Stromgarde, Kul Tiras, Gilneas, Alterac and the magical forces of Dalaran). The elven nation of Quel'Thalas sent support to the Alliance, and after the Horde took their beloved lands of Khaz Modan, the dwarves and gnomes gladly joined the ranks of the Alliance. When the Kingdom of Alterac betrayed the Alliance, the victory of the Horde seemed inevitable, but the Horde was to suffer a betrayal of their own.
With victory in sight, Gul'dan convinced Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer clan that he knew the location of the Tomb of Sargeras. Together, along with the Stormreaver clan, they abandoned their posts and set out to claim the demonic power for their own. This loss of nearly a third of the Horde brought their campaign to a standstill at the doorstep of Lordaeron. Doomhammer, furious with the insubordination at such a critical time, deployed a large portion of his own forces to attack the deserting clans and their leaders. This allowed the Alliance forces to rally and crush the Horde while they were divided. With the destruction of the Dark Portal the Second War ended. Although a number of powerful men in the kingdom of Lordaeron wanted the orcs rounded up and executed, King Terenas ignored them and had the orcs placed in internment camps with hopes that they would one day lose their bloodlust. There, cut off from their demonic rulers and with no way to replenish their fel stamina, the orcs languished and eventually slipped into lethargy.
Several years after the Second War, Thrall, the son of Durotan, escaped from his cruel human master Aedelas Blackmoore at the Durnholde internment camp and set out to find the rest of his people. In his travels he encountered Grom Hellscream, who along with his Warsong Clan had been hiding out in the wastelands of Azeroth in hopes of another chance at conquest. Thrall became friends with Grom, and eventually met Orgrim Doomhammer, who had escaped from the humans' prison several years before. From Doomhammer he learned about his father and the Frostwolf clan, and the betrayal of his father by the Shadow Council. After learning this, Thrall made his way to the exiled Frostwolf clan stronghold, where the shaman Drek'Thar taught him about the orcs' noble heritage and how they had been corrupted by demons. Thrall swore to free his people from the chains that bound them, and as Drek'Thar's new student, embarked upon the path of the shaman. Together with Grom and Doomhammer, Thrall successfully launched attack after attack against the internment camps to free the captive orcs. It was difficult to rouse the orcs from their lethargy, but Thrall was able to prove to them that their destiny was not yet at its end, and the clans rallied behind the new Horde. Unfortunately, during the attack on the last internment camp, Doomhammer was struck down. In tribute to the fierce and proud orc, Thrall donned Doomhammer's black armor and the hammer which bore his name to lead his people from their captivity. This internment camp was later captured by the Horde, renamed in honor of Doomhammer, and is now the Horde outpost of Hammerfall in the Arathi Highlands.
Thrall knew the human nations would not stand idly by and let the Horde regroup or settle down. Fortunately for Thrall, a prophet appeared in the form of a raven and advised him to leave The Eastern Kingdoms for the distant land of Kalimdor. Thrall, having no better alternatives, captured some human ships and set sail for the new land, taking all of his orcs out of Lordaeron. During the journey, the orcs helped a tribe of trolls escape from their sinking island. The Darkspear trolls were immensely grateful for Thrall's assistance and swore allegiance to his new Horde. When they arrived in Kalimdor, they were greeted by Cairne Bloodhoof and his tauren. The orcs helped Cairne fend off the centaurs, and in return, he told the orcs the location of the Oracle. The Warsong clan however, was sent to Ashenvale to cut lumber as punishment for attacking the humans without permission. There they battled the Night elves. The Pit lord Mannoroth took advantage or the fact that the orcs were losing to empower them with his blood, and thus brought them back under his control. Thrall allied with the human sorceress Jaina Proudmoore at the indication of the Prophet (who was actually Medivh). They captured Hellscream and turned him back to normal. Thrall then went with him to confront the Mannoroth. Mannoroth quickly subdued Thrall, but Grom was able to kill the demon, though it cost him his life, and free the orcs from their demonic master.
The founding of Orgrimmar
With the Battle of Mount Hyjal over, and with it the immediate threat to the world, Thrall set out to found the new orcish homeland in Kalimdor. He named the land Durotar in honor of his father, and founded the city of Orgrimmar in honor of Orgrim Doomhammer. With the orcs' new allies, the tauren, becoming part of the Horde and with the support of the Lordaeron survivors led by Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall was able to build quickly. However, this was not to last. Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, Jaina's father, arrived in Kalimdor (having left before the war was over to look for any surviving forces) and launched an attack against the fledgling orc nation. During the initial assault the Darkspear trolls lost their new home on the Echo Isles and with the help of the Mok'Nathal half-orc Rexxar, came to live with the orcs in Durotar. The witch doctor Vol'jin pledged the tribe's eternal allegiance to the Horde in return.
Thrall, not knowing what humans had attacked him, initially suspected Jaina's forces, but her loyalty was proven when she helped the orcs destroy the invading forces of her father Admiral Proudmoore.
Orcish society has always been characterized by hardy and rugged living. As a result they are staunch pragmatists, and never shy from killing if it will protect the future of the orc or his clan. All orcs, regardless of gender or station, are expected to pull their own weight and weakness is considered a grave liability. The weakness of one contaminates the strength of all, and it is punishable by the greatest humiliation an orc can receive: exile. Different orc clans however have different personalities; Thrall and the Frostwolves are notable for having brought a measure of mercy and compassion to the Horde, typically seen in Thrall's kinder treatment towards peons, who were once viewed as a despicable sub-race. On the other hand, clans such as the Warsong remain who still cling to the rigid, spartan beliefs valued in the original Horde as it was first established on Draenor.
Yet regardless of their clan affiliations, orcs prize honor over all other things in life — first to bring honor to their clan (and by extension, the Horde) and secondly bringing honor to the self and to their sense of self-worth as an individual. Likewise, hospitality is considered one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed. The orcs and tauren have become fast and unswerving allies because the tauren gladly offered the orcs shelter in a strange new land as well as their assistance regardless of the cost to themselves.
There is no discrimination between genders in orcish society. Women are able to pursue the same career choices as men, rise to positions of power and are even expected to answer to the call for battle just as men are. Strength (both physical and mental), courage, initiative and independence are prized traits in all orcs. Traditionally, children are seen as children of the parents, but are raised as children of the clan. However, because of the newly unified Horde and the current diaspora of individual orc families creating homes and settling down in various areas around Durotar, the Barrens and beyond, this typical clan scheme has been changing, and life is beginning to become more centered around the nuclear family rather than the greater clan.
One tradition of the orcs on Draenor was a ceremony for newborns of the clan. The infant's parents would stand in a body of water near the encampment with the entire clan observing from shore. The mother would hand the baby to the father, who would then proclaim the child as his, through himself and his father, and present the baby for the clan's blessings. The clan chieftain would then hold the baby and declare the infant under their protection, with the hope that they bring honor and glory to the clan. The chieftain's heir would then give a blessing. Finally the Elder Shaman would ask for the blessing of the elemental and wild spirits, and the hope that the ancestors would watch over the newborn.
In some clans, if the child appears sickly or frail, they will instead be drowned, likely by the father. A common expression of scorn is that an orc "should have been drowned at birth". This is likely the reason that the parents would stand in the water when presenting a newborn. The Blackrock clan and Bonechewer clan were noted for doing this without any qualms. The Frostwolf clan however, were known to have rejected such cruel practices.
Orcs instinctively revere the rugged forces of the natural elements, and as such, Shamans are held in high regard. They generally have a close relationship with the nature elements and angering them is considered a grave offense.
Wolves are a major symbol of the orcs, serving as guards, scouts, pets, partners and mounts. Many such wolves came from Draenor. Horde shamans can speak to them and summon spectral wolves and many serve a giant wolf spirit.
-is concerned with survival over artistic achievement.
-reveres its elderly and honors its ancestors.
-does not apologize for past actions, nor does it demand apologies from its enemies.
-values valor over cunning—as long as valor doesn’t lead to disaster.
-resembles "Primitive" human societies, but is, like those societies, far more sophisticated when examined closely.
-distrusts arcane magic, especially the magic of warlocks—but does not (yet) shun arcanists.
Orcish religion takes the form of an animistic faith that has strange parallels with the practices of the Kaldorei. Orc shamans draw their power from the spirits of nature, forming an intimate connection with the very world that surrounds them. This awareness has led to even more revelations of their race’s true nature, as the orcs realize that they live more in harmony with the world than many of the races of the Alliance.
The practice of slavery has historically existed in orc society, and while in modern times it seems to occur less, the practice still continues among the orcs, though it is unclear how widespread it is. Despite Thrall's work to ensure that no orc would be cast into slavery ever again, a small number of orcs have been found enslaved by other orcs in the Horde, for example Bloodeye Redfist. It appears that some orcs are also willing to enslave members of other races, both Horde and Alliance. Many of these slaves were once criminals whom were brought to justice. It is unclear why the orcs still allow slavery, and to what extent, or why they choose to ignore it.
The fact that the Crimson Ring, a gladiatorial circuit that very often includes slaves, is described as underground seem to indicate that slavery is an illegal or heavily discouraged practice. However the secrecy may be due to the nature of the matches, which many times include battles to the death. Surprisingly the Crimson Ring's gladiatorial death matches and the enslaved gladiators are in the open at times, some of the tournaments taking place in Orgrimmar's and other Horde arenas. Bloodeye was well known enough to be described as a "champion of the orcs".
Another example is the case of Jinxo, who had been captured by the orcs, and was going to be sold into slavery to a goblin, had she not developed a plan for escape.
In the newly established Horde, the orcs have strong ties to the recent race members of the Horde who are originally from Kalimdor. The ties between the orcs, tauren, and jungle trolls are unquestionable. In the aftermath of the Third War, Thrall, Cairne, and Vol'jin reluctantly allowed the Forsaken to join the Horde ranks, and with the reopening the Dark Portal the Horde recruited a fifth race to its ranks, the Blood Elves. Although the Horde has five notable races, the Horde also counts as its members Mok'nathal, a race of half orcs, and the Stonemaul Ogres. Recently, Thrall has tried to establish a connection to the Ironforge Dwarves in order to minimize wars between the two races. This can be seen in a quest chain taking a Horde player into the Blackrock Depths to find the daughter of Magni Bronzebeard. However, it is safe to assume the dwarves will not improve relations anytime soon due to their current affiliation with the Alliance. Either way, this mission proves to be a failure since the princess refuses to return to Ironforge. In the Wrath of the Lich King, the Horde becomes allied with the Taunka — an ancient offshoot of the Tauren — and the Tuskarr. The Taunka are Horde specific but the Tuskarr are a naturally neutral race. Orcs have a long history of violence with humans, though they grudgingly respect their strength and some still cling to old hatreds even despite the fact that they fought alongside each other during the Third War. However, while they don't like humans generally, the orcs do respect their own leader Jaina Proudmoore, especially since she had chosen to side with them over her father.
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