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[GM Resource] Anatomy of the Orcish Host

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Anatomy of the Orcish Host

Weapons and equipment: the Orcs deployed three general weapons, two-handed weapons, serrated blades and spears. Of these the most important was the dreaded War Flail. Orc arrows were of different "calibers" for tactical purposes, ranging from warheads capable of penetrating heavy armor, to an assortment of longer range, more specialized heads like "fire" arrows.


Morale, motivation and marching: The Orcs were exceedingly tough warriors, used to privation and hardship, and extremely dedicated. The Orcs was always seemingly identified with his tribe. Reared on the harsh wastes of their native land, from their youth they spent hours fighting for dominance. On the march, the Orc warriors carried their own supplies.


In a tight spot the Orcs would feed on lesser Orcs, using their blood to assuage his hunger. This extremely lean way of operation contributed to the rapidity of Orc maneuvers. Characteristically, the Orcs was practical with his lesser Orcs, and would discard or slaughter them as demanded by the situation without sentiment.

Army organization and leadership: Orc warriors were tightly organized into units of ten, and from that basic building block, grouped into larger formations roughly corresponding to regiments and other units, finally culminating in the distinct field force of 10,000 warriors, the famous Orc Hordes. Several of these divisional equivalents were grouped or subdivided as the situation demanded. Coordination was provided by designated unit leaders, with signaling provided via horns, smokes, flags or other devices.


Logistics: The Orcs logistical system was distinguished by its mobility and practicality. Most columns or hordes were self-sufficient in the short run. The Orcs armies lived off the land heavily. Heavier equipment and bulk material was probably brought up by supply trains, although we have few sources on Orcs siege logistics. Some of their light artillery seems to have been carried along the mobile armies. The large strings of slaves connected to the mobile Orcs field seems to have posed problems in extended stays in away from the wastelands an Orc horde off the wastes needed to be constantly on the move.


Swarm/encirclement tactics and massed firepower in the field: Orcs tactics were marked by speed, surprise and massive mobility. They approached in widely separated columns, both to ease logistics as well as to gain maneuvering room. Once they had isolated their target, the Hosts deployed in wide sweeps, converging on the enemy from several directions. Upon contact the Orcs played cat and mouse, standing-off while devastating opponents with massed arrow fire, or charging in close only to veer off while discharging yet another vicious rain of shafts. Opponents who took the bait and gave pursuit were quickly cut off and liquidated. The constant rain of arrows, the converging swarms of charges and probes, all carried out by the encircling Orcs were usually enough to "soften up" an enemy. Typically the opposing force broke and then the butchery began. As is well known, a force is most vulnerable in retreat, and the Orcs were ruthless.

Flexible tactics - ruses and ambushes: The Orcs were not rigid in their thinking, nor did they adhere to Human notions of chivalry. They deployed a wide variety of large or small tactical subdivisions as the action demanded, and feigned retreat to set traps for pursuers, conducted ambushes, and constantly probed and raided their enemies.

Orc siege warfare: Primarily a infantry force, the Orcs made wide use of captured or hired siege engineers to overcome fortifications. A supply train hauled a variety of siege engines in the wake of the Hordes sweep, and these were deployed against cities, as well as making use of local lumber and resources for other siege equipment. The Orcs were unsentimental and used every trick in the book, from sapper tunnels to treachery. Once a city had fallen, it was subjected to wholesale massacre and pillaging. Those that surrendered were spared the worst, but still had to yield up its treasures, both material and human. The Orcs era is filled with caravans hauling booty to the Orcs core in the wastelands.


Orc terror: Orc terror and atrocity seems to have left quite a mark, even by the standards of the 18th century. They employed a deliberate policy of terror. It was not unusual for them to round up the surviving civilian population of a city or area, and drive the victims forward against their own people. Contemporary accounts speak of mass mountains of human bones, or of vast areas burned to rubble, devoid of all life. Such atrocities were also put to use in psychological warfare allowing the Orcs to sometimes subdue opponents without fighting.


Orcs in the Caithness ~ Yrth/Banestorm Timeline

By 1741, having conquered large parts of Caithness, the Orcs began the invasion of Megalos with a massive three-pronged advance, following the fleeing Humans, who had established an uncertain alliances with the Elves and Dwarves . They first invaded Al-Wazif, then Western Megalos and finally Cardiel, culminating in the crushing defeat of the Horde in the Battle of Three Armies. The Orcs aim seems to have consistently been to defeat the Wazifi-Megalos alliance. The Orcs raided across the borders to Al-Haz in the summer when the Warlord Yorissir'Hoth died, and the Orcs fell back to Caithness. The Orc Hordes would frequently clash with Caithnessians, Megalosian Legions and Crusaders until driven back into the wastes in the Battle of Zarak.


In 20th century, with two large raids in the 2003s and 2006s respectively. In 2006 the Caithnessians, Elves and Dwarves repelled the last major raid into Caithness and Zarak.


The instability in the Orc Hordes seems to have quietened the western front of the Horde. The Humans and Dwarves had responded to the mobile threat by extensive fortification-building, army reform in the form of better armoured cavalry, and refusing battle unless they could control the site of the battlefield to deny the Orcs local superiority. The Elves relied on the their forested homelands for defense, and used their cavalry for raiding into the Orc-dominated wastelands.



So tell me what you think?




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Re: [GM Resource] Anatomy of the Orcish Host


That is one badass host! Hardly the unthinking horde I'm used to seeing in Fantasy! These guys are really scary! :eek: I almost wonder how Caithness still exists!



Caithness still exists through the actions of Heroes, Adventurers, and Friends. The Elves are a dying race in Yrth, but still powerful. The Dwarves may have been driven from their birth place, but you will find no more stalwart warriors on Yrth. The Knights of Stone are the strength of Caithness, the Nobles armies, the backbone, but it is the Highlanders are its heart.


In the 20yrs that our campaign has been running every band of adventurers has worked to stem the tide of the orc host. The enemy may never be destroyed, but it can be defeated.


By Heroes



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