Recently one of my players asked “are there any good places to read up on races like Orcs/half-orcs in Akorros? Mostly why they are viewed “less favourably”?”
I realised I couldn’t think of anywhere to point him at, particularly since this is my interpretation and expansion of Akorros, which qualifies for a whole seven paragraphs in the Gazetteer. So I gave a quick summary, and realised how clear a picture I have of it all. Which made me think it was worth expanding on here.
Remember, while this is based on the information in GAZ11 The Republic of Darokin, this is my interpretation and expansion.
Orcs and half-orcs in Darokin
The gazetteer has a page on “Non-humans in Darokin”, but the section on Orcs is extremely thin and mainly talks about half-orcs and how they are second-class citizens taken advantage of, and it doesn’t explain why orcs are so hated.
With the current movement against racial stereotyping it’s worth saying that even though the gazetteer was written in the 80s, it doesn’t say “orcs are hated because they’re orcs and hence evil.” The humanoids now in the Broken Lands to the north have been feuding with the humans in Darokin for at least 500 years, and over that many years of battles there is plenty of time to build up bad blood on both sides.
Corunglain in the north was besieged and taken by an orc army in 523AC (i.e. nearly 500 years ago), and about 150 years ago, Ardelphia was overrun and destroyed, although the raiders fell on each other in the long winter which followed, and the ruins have never been reclaimed by either Darokinians or the humanoids. Orcs, bugbears and other humanoids still make frequent raids from the Broken Lands into the northern parts of Darokin, and the regiments at Fort Fletcher, Fort Runnels and Fort Nell are responsible for preventing them breaking through. Sometimes this involves pre-emptive “defence”:
Troops…regularly march into the western Orclands and across the border into The Broken Lands, ttacking any large concentration of orc warriors they can find. Especially when crossing into The Broken Lands, the troops are careful to attack “military” targets only; villages, farms, women, and children are left alone. The orcs, goblins, and other humanoid residents of The Broken Lands do not recognize this subtle distinction, however, and react quite predictably,
launching vicious counterattacks into Darokin territory.
In other words, the humanoids attack because they’ve been invaded, and the Darokinians attack because they’ve been invaded, and so it goes round and round…
There’s also the fact that the fastest trade route between Darokin and Glantri is from Corunglain, through the Broken Lands to Trinian and Fort Monteleone in Glantri, i.e. right through humanoid territory. With tempting rich merchant caravans passing through without so much as a “by your leave”, is it any wonder the inhabitants of the Broken Lands often turn raider and attack?
Orcs and half-orcs in Akorros
But this is all a long way from Akorros, so how does it bear on life in that city?
Well, firstly I imagine plenty of lads will serve in the Darokin army, and since most of the action is in the north, there’s a good chance that’s where they will end up posted. Which means they are almost certain to see action against the orcs, goblins, bugbears and so on, and will see friends and comrades die at their hands.
Having completed their tour of duty, they will return home with their trusty rapier, their half pension, and their stories. They will also bring their scars, their memories and their antipathy against the enemy they have fought. And the sight of an orc or goblin will trigger almost instinctual gut reactions.
I also imagine that there are enough veterans in Akorros for their attitudes to have affected others. And let’s face it, orcs and half-orcs tend to be larger and bulkier and do generally look different, and different is often scary.
This has been used by the various branches of the Thieves Guild. They have deliberately recruited half-orcs (and even some orcs) as their bodyguards, enforcers and general muscle. Since otherwise half-orcs tend only to be trusted with menial labour like loading and unloading in the docks, handling the skins and the vats of noisome chemicals in the tanners, and so on, serving the Thieves Guild is quite an attractive option to all but the most law-abiding half-orc.
All this means that to the general person in the street, the sight of a half-orc approaching is usually a reason for concern and hope that they’re not the intended target today.