Orcish Tribelands

The orcish civilization existed in Khorvaire during the Age of Monsters, noted for the oldest known fully developed written language of the Khorvairian races, as well as for its art, architecture, and magical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Unison Period (c. -15,000 to -10,000 YK), and many orcish cities reached their highest state of development during the Unison period (c. -10,000 to -7,000 YK), and continued throughout the Post-Unison period until the chaos of the early Current Age.

The orcish civilization shares many features with Dhakaani Empire due to the high degree of interaction and cultural diffusion that characterized contemporary Khorvaire. Advances such as writing, epigraphy, and the planar observances did not originate with the dragons of Argonessen through the teachings of Vvaarak; however, their civilization independently developed them in unique and powerful ways.

Orcish ruins have been found in Karrnath, Thrane, Aundair, the Shadow Marches and the Eldeen Reaches and evidence of orcish influence has been found as far as southern Breland, Valenar, and Q’barra, thousands of miles from the nearest orcish cultural center. Many outside influences are found in orcish art and architecture particularly from the Dhakaani Empire which existed to the south of orcish lands. These influences are generally thought to result from trade and cultural exchange rather than direct conquest, although several wars are recorded in both orcish and goblinoid sources.

Though they have abandoned many of their ancestral lands, orcish culture has not disappeared and many traditions can be directly traced to the Age of Monsters having survived the conquests of the daelkyr, the human settlers of the Five Nations, and the conquests of Karrn and Galifar. Today, the orcs form a sizable population throughout western Khorvaire, particularly the Shadow Marches and Eldeen Reaches, with a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs that are the result of the merger of pre- and post-Galifaran ideas and cultures.

History of the Orcish Tribelands

Much is unknown about the history of the orcs in Khorvaire as they did not keep extensive historical records during the Unison Period and much of what was recorded was lost in the collapse of their society after the Daelkyr Wars. The best-represented historical period is during the time of heavy urbanization just prior to that conflict, called the Unison Period because of the large-scale trading and religious systems which developed. Even during this period central government was not a factor in orcish culture, but cooperation was common and a societal rebirth occurred which resisted Dhakaani influence and the period is seen as the "high point" of orcish culture.

Pre-Unison Period

There is some dispute about when this era of orcish civilization began. Recent discoveries of orcish settlements in northern Aundair and the eastern Eldeen Reaches have been dated to -38,000 YK through magical and archeological methods, several thousand years earlier than sedentary orcish culture was thought to exist previously. These settlements are small and rudimenatary, but they included monumental structures and totemic images which indicate orcish styles. However the most widely accepted view is that the first clearly orcish settlements were established around -30,000 YK when they first enter the Dhakaani record. This period, known as the Early Pre-Unison, was characterized by sedentary communities and the introduction of pottery and fired clay figurines.

The largest archeological site for this time period, Jil Lu'ueth about thirty miles west of Fairhaven, emerged around -2,400 YK. For many centuries it controlled the trade routes stretching between the Eldeen Reaches and the eastern lands of the Plains Tribes. During the Middle and Late Pre-Unison, mid-sized Maya communities also began to develop in the southern plains, near modern Ghalt and Sigilstar, as well as to the east in modern Karrnath. though these lacked the size, scale, and influence of the large centers farther north. Two important Preclassic northern sites include Komchen and Dzibilchaltun. The first written inscription in Maya hieroglyphics also dates to this period (c. 250 BC).[6]
There is disagreement about the boundaries which differentiate the physical and cultural extent of the early Maya and neighboring Preclassic Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Olmec culture of the Tabasco lowlands and the Mixe–Zoque- and Zapotec-speaking peoples of Chiapas and southern Oaxaca, respectively. Many of the earliest significant inscriptions and buildings appeared in this overlapping zone, and evidence suggests that these cultures and the formative Maya influenced one another.[7] Takalik Abaj, in the Pacific slopes of Guatemala, is the only site where Olmec and then Maya features have been found.

Unison Period

This period lasted for a little more than two thousand years, from 5,275 to 7,423 EC judging from Dhakaani sources (-10,827 to -8,679 YK). Triggered by the Time of Warlords, during which the Dhakaani Empire was thrown into chaos for some time, the orcish tribes of northern Khorvaire built cities to an unprecendented scale. These northern cities provided real military opposition to goblinoid forces, major economic sites which dragged money and influence north, and powerful propaganda pieces to establish orcish culture as an alternative sociological force to the goblins'.
This period is typically split into three different periods. The early period (from about 5,000 EC to 5,800 EC) saw the explosive growth of cities in the southern part of orcish territories, modern-day Aundair and Thrane. These cities are thought to have benefitted from the power vacuum of collapsing Dhakaani states in Akhaac Province and Uthroul Province and one site in particular, Sirn-Khaliizi, came to dominate not only orcish culture in the region but even goblinoid culture in the Dhakaani hinterlands. By 5,800 EC, Sirn-Khaliizi had started to decline and the center of orcish culture shifted north and east as the city of Alum'thain rose to prominence. The dominant period of Alum'thain is known as the middle period, lasting from around 5,800 to 6,500 EC when the eastern city went through large-scale economic collapse. The city of Niaresk'afar in the Starpeaks seemed primed to take on the mantle of dominant city but the sudden rise of Cheel Draawaqen caused a long rivalry which defined the politics of the late period. This ended around 6,943 with the century-long Incursion War and the Unison Period ended completely with the abandonment of orcish urban centers during the First Daelkyr War.

Post-Unison Period

During the succeeding Post-Unison Period (from around 9,000 EC to the colonization of Khorvaire by humans), development in the western cultural centers persisted, characterized by an increasing diversity of external influences. The orcish cities of the northern plains continued to be important sites cultural and religiously but they were generally abandoned as areas of settlement. Political influence was limited to a tribal area rather than the large-scale trade networks of the Unison Period, and the orc tribes were often heavily influenced by nearby Dhakaani politics. After the fall of Dhakaan, increasing chaos in the region resulted in the orc tribes competing for space with gnolls, goliaths, and other tribes until colonization by humans from Sarlona.

Modern orcs retain some of their cultural identity from these earlier eras with the descendants of the Woodlands Tribes cooperating in the modern Shadow Marches and the eastern tribes of Karrnath and the Mror Holds all claiming common ancestry and customs from the Rocky Tribes. The only tribes to maintain a substantially similar culture to the earlier orcish civilizations, however, are the Carrion Tribes who claim the lands of the Demon Wastes.

Cities of the Orcish Tribelands

Carrion Tribes

Woodlands Tribes

Plains Tribes

Rocky Tribes

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