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The Orsimer, commonly known as Orcs, are considered to be barbarian people by most of the other races on Nirn,—despite being a type of Mer—and are from the mountainous regions of western Tamriel. They are centrally located in Orsinium, the City of Orcs, but are common in other locations in Tamriel.
With skin tones ranging from light green to dark brown, a heavily muscular frame, and considerable stature the Orsimer stand apart amongst Mer and Men. They also are the only race to display tusks and protruding bone ridges. Born without the magical affinity of their Mer cousins, and following in the footsteps of their revered Trinimac, the Orcs have developed a strong warrior culture that makes them highly valuable in hand-to-hand combat. They often excel as adventurers and legionnaires in the Imperial Legion. This is not to say that they cannot wield magic, however. Certain Orsimer, such as Urag gro-Shub, have gone on to be successful mages, finding employment at such places as the College of Winterhold.
Orcs are, in fact, elves, or mer, hence the name Orsimer. They are known to be exceptional warriors similar to Nords, although their culture is sometimes thought of as overly bestial. Despite their barbaric, tribal nature, there is much to admire in their fierce tribal loyalties and generous equality of rank and respect among the sexes. Their impressive warrior qualities stem from their sets of heavy Orcish armors and racial ability to go into a berserk rage, inflicting major damage while caring little for defense.
Traditionally, all Orsimer mothers would teach their child how to smith from a young age. If an Orc chieftain has a second wife, she is called the "Forge-wife", in honor of this.
If an Orc leaves the province of Orsinium or Stronghold they're from, their surname will be the Stronghold/province they're from, prefixed with gra- (female) or gro- (male), for example, Moth gro-Bagol and Ghorza gra-Bagol (both from the same province).
Religion and cultureEdit
Most orcs hold Malacath as their chief deity, as he is believed to be involved in the creation of the race. As such, most orcs uphold the "Code of Malacath", which is a religious doctrine as well as a code of law used in the orc strongholds.
However, there is, or was, a religious conflict brewing which showed signs of becoming a major problem. The Orsimer have always worshipped the Daedra lord Malacath as their main deity. Orsinium's leader, Gortwog, however, has controversially claimed that Malacath is, in fact, a fake and has set up a priesthood dedicated to the worship of the ancient Aedric hero, Trinimac. This has caused controversy, as Trinimac was said to have been devoured by Boethiah, afterwards becoming Malacath. Gortwog's belief that Trinimac still lives and that Malacath is a mere demon is currently the official view taken by the majority of the leading priests in Orsinium. A handful of Orcs within and the vast majority of Orcs outside of Orsinium view Gortwog's beliefs as heresy.
Orc Strongholds are scattered throughout Skyrim. The Orcs have lived in Skyrim for centuries in tribal communities based around Strongholds.
Strongholds are governed by a rigid class system. Every Orc has a specific job and is obligated to perform it. Every man, woman, and child in the fort is also trained from birth to defend it. The Strongholds are led by a chief, who killed the previous chief to prove his strength. Only the chiefs are allowed to have wives, and due to this, they often have several. This method is to ensure that the strongest Orc becomes chief, contributing his genes to the next generation of Orcs who, in theory, should be stronger than the last. Orcs in strongholds follow their own law called the Code of Malacath. The will of Malacath is clarified by the stronghold's resident wise woman. The rules of the Code are simple: don't kill, don't steal, and don't attack people without reason. They do not have jails; instead, offenders are forced to pay a "blood price," in which the criminal bleeds until the victim is satisfied. In cases where the victim was murdered, the chief is consulted to convey an appropriate sentence.
Individuals that aren't Orcs are normally viewed as untrustworthy and are turned away from the strongholds. However, it is possible for an outsider to gain entrance by becoming "blood kin." This is done by performing a specific task to gain the trust of the Stronghold. This task is normally very dangerous.
Committing a crime in a stronghold will not put a bounty in the hold; rather, it will go to tribal orcs.
The translation of Orsimer is "Pariah Folk", as they are considered the social outcasts of the Tamrielic races. Due to this many other Tamrielic cultures have scorned the Orcs, and treated them as no more than callous brutes. Their only redeeming quality in the eyes of the public over the past few eras has been their venerable combat skills when serving in the Imperial Legion.
The other races of mer do not consider Orcs to be their kin.
In the middle of the Merethic Era, a group of Altmer and their leader Trinimac attempted to halt the movement of the prophet Veloth and the Chimer. The Daedric Prince Boethiah ate Trinimac, corrupting his body and spirit, and he emerged as the Daedric Prince Malacath. As a result, his followers, later known as the Orsimer, or "Pariah Folk", were also changed, becoming Orcs. The early Orcish people followed a tribal and independent lifestyle. Instead of claiming one area, they would instead settle in multiple provinces that suited their lives and needs, forming small, tightly knit villages. Many of these provinces were located in modern Skyrim and High Rock.
Eventually, the Orc chieftain Torug gro-Igron founded Orsinium. At first, it was merely a small collection of huts, but as word spread to the other Orcs of Tamriel about this rising civilization high in the Wrothgarian Mountains, it soon grew to house more permanent structures. In its early stages, the other races of Tamriel deemed it a place ruled by savage law which raided its neighbors along the Bjoulsae River. It was thought by the Bretons to be little more than a desolate mountain region where the Orcs scratched out a meager living off of the rocks and secretly coveted the lands and the settled livelihood of their valley-bound neighbors. Orcish historians, however, claim that this is simply Breton superstition and exaggeration. They claim Orsinium was always a peaceful land whose inhabitants made their way by simple agriculture and commerce.
After the Siege of Orsinium in 1E 980, the Orsimer became little more than pests and monsters in the view of the average Tamrielic citizen, as they had no province to call their own. Many Orcs attempted to set-up new city provinces, but with no luck. These dwellings were always destroyed before they could be properly established.
However, in 3E 399, an Orc visionary named Gortwog gro-Nagorm acquired the site of the former civilization of Orsinium and began reconstructing a new city for the Orsimer of Tamriel. As it grew, many believed it would succumb to the same fate as its predecessors. Gortwog, though, proved to be a superb politician and diplomat and managed to make negotiations with Orsinium's neighbors, which saw Orsinium prosper. He negotiated with Uriel Septim VII in trade and social negotiations and, for the first time, the Orcs were serious political players among the other races.
The Orcs have a strong, yet scarcely mentioned, tie with the Aldmeri Dominion. The Orsimer also have relatively strong historical ties with the Bretons of High Rock. The reasons for this are unclear, yet the relationship most likely originated because the races are cohabiting the same region.
Orsinium, also called Nova Orsinium, is an Orcish city province located within Tamriel. While technically being under the sovereignty of the Empire, Orsinium has in the past not been readily accepted by the other provinces of Tamriel. However, in 3E 399, Emperor Uriel Septim VII sought to improve relationships between the Empire and Orsinium through diplomacy, increased trade, and confederacy. Orsinium was located inside the Breton province of High Rock in the west of Tamriel, and, as such, Orcs co-inhabited the region alongside Bretons. Though the Orcs and the Bretons could not get along and some time in the early 4th Era Orsinium was once again sacked. (The exact date or by whom it was sacked is unknown) Like before it was rebuilt, but this time not in the Wrothgarian mountains like the two previous incarnations of the Orc kingdom. The new Orsinium was built in the Western Reach mountains in between Skyrim and Hammerfell.