War, Intrigue, Exploration, and Profit. Adventurers Needed, Apply Soon
The Orcish Principalities
The orcs are not truly an imperial power. Their “nation” is really a collection of fiefs, each ruled by a self-styled prince. However, these principalities produce fine warriors, act as a buffer zone between the elven tribes and Wànnián Dìguó, and also have made great feats in exploration.
Orcish politics are as straightforward as the orcs themselves. Each principality is ruled by a Prince, who has ultimate authority over the citizens of his territory. Under a Prince are Barons, who usually rule a single castle and the surrounding area. Most conflicts between Princes or Barons are settled simply: both rulers strip down and fight unarmed until one yields. However, occasionally a conflict is too deep to settle like that, which usually results in a brief war or even a single skirmish between opposing forces.
The Principalities, being separate political entities, do not have a single set relationship with any neighbor. However, a few generalizations can be made. The southernmost Principalities border Wànnián Dìguó. Hobgoblins stereotype orcs as dirty, barbarous, uneducated, and stunningly stupid, though they will, when pressed, admit to the legendary orcish strength and size. The Bozhestvennaya Imperiya borders the Principalities on the west, and dwarven stereotypes of orcs paint them as lovable oafs who are exemplary of dwarven communal values, but are greatly in need of strong leadership. Orcish mercenaries, both pikemen and the famed Landsknecht, are appreciated by both nations, however, and are a primary export.
As the Principalities border the elf-controlled north and lack centralized leadership, orcish communities are often targeted by elven raiders, leading orcs to have an intense hatred for the savages.
One thing of note is the skill of the maritime Principalities as shipbuilders and mariners. Orc sailors mapped the coasts of Azhidar, and discovered another orcish culture on a long island chain. Rumors have begun to circulate among their docks of new lands to the east, and their ships are in high demand by traders the world over.
Unlike any other powerful nation on the continent, the Principalities don’t have standing armies. The only true professional soldiers are the Landsknecht, non-inheriting sons of Barons and Princes, who choose to take up a mercenary life. They are heavily armored, and usually carry a halberd. The lack of a standing army is not much of a disadvantage for the orcs, however. A male orc is massive, and incredibly strong. Most soldiers in an orc army are essentially conscripts, wielding massive pikes or heavy crossbows. The crossbows can be compared to light siege weapons, and orcish pikemen are considered some of the most lethal troops on the continent. Orcs have a major military disadvantage, however: lack of mobility. Horses and orcs share an intense mutual dislike, making cavalry or even dragoons impossible.