- This page is about orcs in general. For the language, see Orcish (language). For the playable races, see Orc (playable) and Mag'har orc (playable). For the page about uncorrupted orcs, see Mag'har orc. For specific mutated and corrupted orc types, see the types section.
Durotar, Horde, The Mag'har, Earthen Ring, Argent Crusade, Shadow Council, Twilight's Hammer (Old Gods' forces)|
Iron Horde, Shadow Council
Death knight, Hunter, Mage, Monk, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior
|Area(s)||Azeroth, Outland, Alternate Draenor|
7 ft (213 cm) (male), 6 - 6.5 ft (183 - 198 cm)(female)
The orcs are a prolific and physically powerful race hailing from the once-lush world of Draenor, now known as the shattered realm of Outland. Originally a shamanistic people cultivating a primitive clan-based society, the orcs were corrupted by Kil'jaeden—a demon lord of the Burning Legion—and manipulated into forming a bloodthirsty Horde that waged war on the peaceful draenei race. Rampant demonic corruption caused the orcs to be filled with bloodlust and turned their normally brown skin into shades of green, culminating with Kil'jaeden's servant Gul'dan convincing the orc chieftains to drink the blood of the demon Mannoroth and thereby enslaving them to the Burning Legion's will. The few orcs who escaped the corruption became known as mag'har ("uncorrupted").
After conquering Draenor, the Horde invaded the world of Azeroth through the Dark Portal and waged war upon the world's native kingdoms, until Azeroth's nations united into an Alliance of Lordaeron that managed to defeat the invaders and enslave most of the survivors. Yet, the shamanistic tradition of the orcs managed to rekindle from the ashes as a young shaman named Thrall arose to become warchief and lead his people in their darkest hour. He reunited the clans into a new Horde and led the orcs out of the Eastern Kingdoms they had been forced to invade and into the continent of Kalimdor, where the orcs finally freed themselves from demonic corruption and briefly united with Azeroth's other races to stand against an invasion of the Burning Legion. Seeking to begin a new existence on Kalimdor for themselves and other newfound member races of the Horde, the orcs founded the nation of Durotar and the great city of Orgrimmar.
As time passed, conflicts between the Alliance and Horde reemerged. During the Cataclysm, Thrall passed leadership of the Horde to the reckless Garrosh Hellscream, whose actions plunged the Horde into civil war. After being deposed, Hellscream traveled to an alternate Draenor in the time before the original Horde's invasion of Azeroth. There, he rallied the orc clans into an Iron Horde—free of demonic corruption but still bent on conquest—to invade the main universe's Azeroth. History ultimately repeated itself as the Iron Horde succumbed to the Burning Legion's will before being defeated by the forces of Azeroth, with the uncorrupted remnants of the Iron Horde subsequently renaming themselves Mag'har. Years later, these uncorrupted orcs were recruited into Azeroth's Horde and joined their main universe brethren.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Origins and early history
- 1.2 Formation of the orc clans
- 1.3 The first shaman
- 1.4 The destruction of Goria
- 1.5 The Rise of the Horde
- 1.6 The Invasion of Azeroth
- 1.7 War continues
- 1.8 Gul'dan's folly
- 1.9 Thrall's rise
- 1.10 The founding of Orgrimmar
- 1.11 The Burning Crusade
- 1.12 Wrath of the Lich King
- 1.13 Cataclysm
- 1.14 Mists of Pandaria
- 1.15 Warlords of Draenor
- 1.16 Legion
- 1.17 Battle for Azeroth
- 2 Culture
- 3 Notable orcs
- 4 Orc clans
- 5 Appearance
- 6 Orc relations
- 7 In the RPG
- 8 Notes and trivia
- 9 Inspirations
- 10 Gallery
- 11 See also
- 12 References
Origins and early history
Orcs can trace their lineage back to Grond, the enormous stone giant created by the titan Aggramar to defeat the Evergrowth and the plant-like Sporemounds of ancient Draenor. As Grond and the Sporemounds fought, pieces of the battling leviathans fell to the earth and gave rise to the colossals, children of Grond, and the genesaur, children of the Sporemounds. After Grond's death, the colossals continued fighting the Sporemound Botaan and its minions, but over time many of the stone giants succumbed to their foes. From the colossals' remains, new creatures known as magnaron emerged. After the colossals sacrificed themselves to destroy Botaan in a massive explosion, spores from the plant creature's body, teeming with the Spirit of Life, drifted back to Draenor's surface and clung to the hides of the magnaron, weakening their bodies and turning them to flesh. Some of the magnaron devolved into beings called gronn, and due to the lingering effects of the spores, a small number of gronn continued degenerating into the ogron. Over thousands of years, the residual spores transformed a number of ogron into the ogre race, from whom would arise yet another race — the orcs. The smallest and weakest of Grond's line, the orcs made up for what they lacked in size and strength with a fierce intellect and a sense of community. By banding together, they survived the harsh wilds.
By the time that the arakkoan Apexis empire fell, 1,200 years before the opening of the Dark Portal, the children of stone had grown in number and spread across the land. The ogres and orcs quickly learned to fear the ogron's attention, and the orcs stayed far away from ogron lands. The largest orc settlement at the time was in a massive cave network beneath Gorgrond. While it was not a bountiful region, the orcs preferred a life of freedom in meager conditions over suffering as slaves of the ogron.
Formation of the orc clans
“From what I've heard, before they formed the Horde, the orcs were apparently no more hostile than any other life on Draenor. Which is to say, they were quite hostile indeed.”
When the ogres revolted against their ogron masters, the hierarchy of survival on Draenor was dramatically altered and the two greatest threats to Gorgrond's orcs — the gronn and the ogron — were eliminated. By the time of 800 years before the Dark Portal, the orcs, no longer confined to their underground caverns, began forging permanent settlements on Draenor's surface for the first time in generations. The orc population exploded, and overpopulation and lack of prey to hunt became a serious issue. Tensions between families simmered, but before war erupted many orcs migrated out of Gorgrond in search of new land to settle. Those who remained in Gorgrond formed the Blackrock, Laughing Skull, Lightning's Blade and Dragonmaw clans. Those who migrated east found themselves drawn to Tanaan Jungle, where they adopted a savage, superstitious mindset. Those who kept their sanity became the Bleeding Hollow clan, while those who lost themselves to dark impulses were exiled and over time formed another, smaller clan known as the Bonechewers. The orcs who journeyed west of Gorgrond settled in the icy Frostfire Ridge. The Frostwolves and Whiteclaws learned to adapt to the environment, while the Thunderlord clan instead sought to dominate the land. In the south, three clans settled in the mountains and plains of fertile Talador: the Burning Blade, Redwalkers and Bladewinds. Finally, the Warsong clan migrated farther southwest and roamed the plains of Nagrand, while to the southeast the peaceful Shadowmoon clan formed in Shadowmoon Valley.
The first shaman
Mystics from the Shadowmoon clan frequently ventured across the world on pilgrimages, hoping to hear the will of the divine. Many of these travelers received strange dreams and visions near the mountains of northwestern Nagrand, which unbeknownst to the orcs was the final resting place of Grond and a place infused with elemental energies. The first Shadowmoon visitors to the location learned about the world's primordial spirits of fire, air, earth and water. They treated these beings with utmost respect and named the site of their discovery the Throne of the Elements. The orcs flocked to Grond's remains and learned to guide the elemental spirits with a sense of harmony, and in return received astonishing powers unlike any seen by the orcs before. The Shadowmoon were the first to dedicate themselves to the elements and transformed Grond's head into a crude temple. They soon began spreading their teachings to the other clans, nearly all of which adopted the practice. Young orcs were raised to be steadfast allies of the elements, and fledgling shaman traveled to the Throne of the Elements to seek the spirits' blessing, entering trances to attune their minds to the elements. However, during this process a few orcs glimpsed the realm of the Void, and what they saw drove them insane, leading them to being exiled from their clans and forced to live in seclusion in the caves beneath Nagrand. White skulls were tattooed on their faces, marking them as "dead" to their people. Those orcs who were welcomed by the elements returned to their clans as spiritual leaders whose counsel was highly valued. The bond between shaman crossed clan boundaries, allowing them to peacefully solve conflicts, and the Shadowmoon clan began a biannual gathering called the Kosh'harg festival. Initially only a gathering for shaman, it soon grew to include all orcs.
The destruction of Goria
For generations, the orc clans lived on the fringes of the Gorian Empire of the ogres, engaging in occasional territorial disputes but never committing to all-out war against the ogres. The Gorian had little interest in (or fear of) the orcs and saw their practice of shamanism as little more than quaint trickery, but when they witnessed the power of a shaman first-hand they decided to take this power by force. 403 years before the Dark Portal, Imperator Molok sent an army to drive away the orcs from the Throne of the Elements and begin experimenting on the power there. One day, the dissonance between the ogres' magic and the residual energies lingering in the remains of Grond, from whose head the Throne had been formed, caused an explosion that blew apart the orcish temple at the site. The incident threw the elements out of balance all across Draenor, causing great storms, but Molok simply sent more spellcasters to replace the ones that had been killed by the explosion.
At the next year's Kosh'harg festival, the Shadowmoon elder shaman Nelgarm pleaded for action, lest all of the clans suffer disastrous famines as a result of the elements' imbalance. The clans agreed to join together, and Nelgarm called upon the elements to bless them with their protection. The united orc army took back the Throne of the Elements with little bloodshed, but Imperator Molok was quick to retaliate. The Gorian armies moved en masse, and total war engulfed Draenor, and now every orcish male, female and child had to be prepared to fight. The ogres imagined that this merciless tactic would strike terror into the hearts of the orcs, but the clans rose to the challenge and small, mobile groups of raiders slowly dismantled the Gorian Empire's network of fortresses and outposts, pushing the ogre armies back to their capital, Goria.
The orcs kept their distance on the hills surrounding the city, content to starve their enemy out. As the siege progressed and the ogres found maintaining their empire to be increasingly unsustainable, Molok and his sorcerers revisited their Apexis crystals, searching for a way to break the siege. In time, they discovered the arakkoan legend about the Curse of Sethe, and began experimenting with ways to create a similar affliction among the orcs. They succeeded, and soon the so-called red pox spread like wildfire through the orcs' encampments, culling vast amounts of the orcish combatants. Nelgarm and his fellow shaman, realizing that the pox was an unseen attack from the ogres and that the siege was now doomed to fail, beseeched the elements to destroy Goria. The orcs and the elemental spirits both understood that Molok would resume meddling with the Throne of the Elements if the orcs failed, and so the spirits unleashed their fury upon Goria. Over hours, lightning, fire and earthquakes ravaged the ogre capital until nothing but ash and rubble remained, before the earth itself wrenched open like a giant maw to swallow Molok and the remains of his great city whole.
Only whispers of the event would reach the other Gorian cities, but those whispers were enough to discourage further tampering with the elements. The orcs were victorious, but they had suffered massive losses and witnessed a destructive power they never wanted to see again. Nelgarm and the other shaman were particularly frightened by the elementals' wrath and said that the need for a unified orc army had passed. There was little argument, and the orc clans returned to their lands. The Gorian Empire never recovered. The ogre outposts and fortresses gradually became more akin to individual city-states than a unified nation. The orcs began to seize ogre lands by force, gradually surpassing them as the most advanced, dominant race on the world — that is, until the arrival of the draenei 200 years later.
The Rise of the Horde
“To pretend it [the demonic corruption] did not exist is to forget how dreadful the impact was. To make ourselves into victims, rather than claiming our participation in our own destruction. We chose this path, we orcs. We chose it right up until it was too late to turn back. And having made that choice, we can, with the knowledge that we have of the end of that dark and shameful road, choose not to take it.”
After investigating of the world, the powerful demon lord Kil'jaeden tricked the head shaman Ner'zhul by appearing as a spirit of an orc ancestor. He convinced Ner'zhul that the draenei were conspiring against the orcs, and were planning on attacking. Ner'zhul began raiding the draenei hoping to be the savior of his race.
With the mass murder of the draenei, the elements refused to aid the orcs in their war. Believing that the elements had turned on them, the orcs turned to Ner'zhul. He went to Oshu'gun to speak with the spirits directly and learned the truth about Kil'jaeden. Refusing to help Kil'jaeden any further, Ner'zhul was replaced by his apprentice Gul'dan as the spiritual leader of the clans. Gul'dan cared little for the orcs and readily agreed to follow Kil'jaeden in exchange for more power.
After being taught by Kil'jaeden, Gul'dan established warlock and necromancy schools to replace the shaman powers the orcs had lost. To consolidate his power, Gul'dan united the clans into the Old Horde under Blackhand as Warchief and formed the Shadow Council to pull the strings from the shadows. Over the next few years, the entire race was corrupted by fel energy and began turning green.
On the eve of the final assault on the draenei at Shattrath, Gul'dan presented the clan chieftains with Mannoroth's blood. The resulting bloodlust allowed them to easily overrun the city, ending the war. Believing the orcs to have fulfilled their purpose, Kil'jaeden abandoned them. Completely devoured by their demonic bloodlust and without new enemies to fight, many orc clans began fighting amongst themselves. Petty rivalries escalated into full-scale bloodbaths, and total chaos descended upon orcish society. The few remaining draenei took advantage of this and started a guerrilla campaign that continues to this day.
By using the promise of new lands to conquer on worlds other than Draenor, the Shadow Council was able to form a tenuous unity within the Horde. Gul'dan and his warlocks began probing the Twisting Nether, desperately searching for new worlds within easy reach before the clans' bloodlust exploded beyond control.
One night, an extremely powerful entity touched the thoughts of Gul'dan. Identifying himself as a servant of Kil'jaeden's master, Medivh enticed Gul'dan with the power of Sargeras' Tomb. He also presented images of the vibrant lands of Azeroth. The Shadow Council, despite the debate over Medivh's true intentions, decided to do Medivh's bidding and spent several months constructing the Dark Portal.
The Invasion of Azeroth
With time and much effort the orcish warlocks were able to expand the rift enough to allow orcs to squeeze through. Though their first scouts were driven mad, either by the rift itself or by what they had seen, the council was able to confirm that on the other side of the rift was the world Medivh had shown them. A small contingent of orcs was sent through the stabilized rift, now known as the Dark Portal, to scout and construct a base of operations.
The caution urged by the Shadow Council fell on deaf ears when the clan chieftains learned of how seemingly weak the native humans of the area were. Bloodlust soon overcame the Horde, and they launched a preemptive strike against the most powerful establishment of humans in the area, the Kingdom of Stormwind. Lead by Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer clan and Kilrogg Deadeye of the Bleeding Hollow clan, this attack ended in a humiliating defeat for the Horde. Each chieftain blamed the other for this failure, and the Horde split into two factions. The Shadow Council attempted to reunite the Horde, but could not act directly, and so they chose an avatar to act as their puppet ruler: Blackhand the Destroyer was named Warchief of all the Horde once again.
Under Blackhand's iron fist, order was restored. It was then that Medivh once again made contact with Gul'dan. Medivh seemed even more powerful, but less sane. Medivh ordered Gul'dan to have the Horde destroy the Kingdom of Stormwind, and make Medivh the new ruler of the humans. Gul'dan initially refused to do Medivh's bidding; after all, the Horde had a new target and Medivh's usefulness, in Gul'dan's eyes, had run out. Desperate to see his plans succeed, Medivh tempted Gul'dan by promising to reveal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras, the lord of the Burning Legion and Kil'jaeden's master. And so the First War between the Horde and the humans of Azeroth occurred, ending with the destruction of the Kingdom of Stormwind.
Near the beginning of that conflict the Frostwolf Clan, one of the very few clans of orcs that had rejected the demonic gifts of Kil'jaeden, was exiled to Azeroth and its leader Durotan was murdered by Gul'dan's forces as a warning. His infant son was left for dead but was taken in by a nobleman from Lordaeron fleeing the carnage of Stormwind. The Frostwolves, leaderless, fled to the far northern mountains. Toward the end of the war, a surgical strike was launched by the humans to kill the treacherous Medivh. As Medivh was assaulted, Gul'dan felt the psychic trauma waves that Medivh emanated and realized that his chance to obtain the power of Sargeras was about to slip out of his grasp. He entered Medivh's mind and attempted to steal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras while Medivh was weakened and distracted. It was at this moment that Medivh died, and Gul'dan, having been in his mind at the time of death, was thrown into a coma.
When he awoke, Gul'dan learned of a major power shift within the horde. Blackhand the Destroyer had been overthrown by Orgrim Doomhammer after he had learned of Blackhand's role in corrupting the Horde. Doomhammer was not as gullible or easily swayed as Blackhand had been, and quickly discovered the Shadow Council's presence in orcish affairs. He completely eradicated the Council through accusations of treason. Gul'dan survived only by 'swearing' allegiance to Doomhammer, and by promising to provide a vast undead army for the Horde's use. He formed the Stormreaver Clan and began the process of re-animating the corpses of fallen knights with the spirits of the fallen members of the Shadow Council.
These new Death Knights, along with other fel projects(such as the capture of the Alexstrasza), gave the Horde enough strength to advance steadily north despite facing the might of the unprecedented Alliance of all the human nations (Lordaeron, Stromgarde, Kul Tiras, Gilneas, Alterac and the magical forces of Dalaran). The elven nation of Quel'Thalas sent support to the Alliance, and after the Horde took their beloved lands of Khaz Modan, the dwarves and gnomes gladly joined the ranks of the Alliance. When the Kingdom of Alterac betrayed the Alliance, the victory of the Horde seemed inevitable, but the Horde was to suffer a betrayal of their own.
With victory in sight, Gul'dan convinced Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer clan that he knew the location of the Tomb of Sargeras. Together, along with the Stormreaver clan, they abandoned their posts and set out to claim the demonic power for their own. This loss of nearly a third of the Horde brought their campaign to a standstill at the doorstep of Lordaeron. Doomhammer, furious with the insubordination at such a critical time, deployed a large portion of his own forces to attack the deserting clans and their leaders. This allowed the Alliance forces to rally and crush the Horde while they were divided. With the destruction of the Dark Portal the Second War ended. Although a number of powerful men in the kingdom of Lordaeron wanted the orcs rounded up and executed, King Terenas ignored them and had the orcs placed in internment camps with hopes that they would one day lose their bloodlust. There, cut off from their demonic rulers and with no way to replenish their fel stamina, the orcs languished and eventually slipped into lethargy.
Several years after the Second War, Thrall, the son of Durotan, escaped from his cruel human master Aedelas Blackmoore at the Durnholde internment camp and set out to find the rest of his people. In his travels he encountered Grom Hellscream, who along with his Warsong Clan had been hiding out in the wastelands of Azeroth in hopes of another chance at conquest. Thrall became friends with Grom, and eventually met Orgrim Doomhammer, who had escaped from the humans' prison several years before. From Doomhammer he learned about his father and the Frostwolf clan, and the betrayal of his father by the Shadow Council. After learning this, Thrall made his way to the exiled Frostwolf clan stronghold, where the shaman Drek'Thar taught him about the orcs' noble heritage and how they had been corrupted by demons. Thrall swore to free his people from the chains that bound them, and as Drek'Thar's new student, embarked upon the path of the shaman. Together with Grom and Doomhammer, Thrall successfully launched attacks against the internment camps to free the captive orcs. It was difficult to rouse the orcs from their lethargy, but Thrall was able to prove to them that their destiny was not yet at its end, and the clans rallied behind the new Horde. Unfortunately, during the attack on the last internment camp, Doomhammer was struck down. In tribute to the fierce and proud orc, Thrall donned Doomhammer's black armor and the hammer which bore his name to lead his people from their captivity. This internment camp was later captured by the Horde, renamed in honor of Doomhammer, and is now the Horde outpost of Hammerfall in the Arathi Highlands. Thrall knew the human nations would not stand idly by and let the Horde regroup or settle down. Fortunately for Thrall, a prophet appeared in the form of a raven and advised him to leave Azeroth for the distant land of Kalimdor. Thrall, having no better alternatives, captured some human ships and set sail for the new land, taking all of his orcs out of Lordaeron. During the journey, the orcs helped a tribe of trolls escape from their sinking island. The Darkspear trolls were immensely grateful for Thrall's assistance and swore allegiance to his new Horde. When they arrived in Kalimdor, they were greeted by Cairne Bloodhoof and his tauren. The orcs helped Cairne fend off the centaurs, and in return, he told the orcs the location of the Oracle. The Warsong clan however, was sent to Ashenvale to cut lumber as punishment for attacking the humans without permission. There they battled the night elves. The Pit lord Mannoroth took advantage or the fact that the orcs were losing to empower them with his blood, and thus bring them back under his control. Thrall allied with the human sorceress Jaina Proudmoore at the indication of the Prophet (who was actually Medivh). They captured Hellscream and turned him back to normal. Thrall then went with him to confront Mannoroth. Mannoroth quickly subdued Thrall, but Grom was able to kill the demon, though it cost him his life, and free the orcs from their demonic master.
The "Great Alliance" is formed between the various races.
The founding of Orgrimmar
With the Battle of Mount Hyjal over, and with it the immediate threat to the world, Thrall set out to found the new orcish homeland in Kalimdor. He named the land Durotar in honor of his father, and founded the city of Orgrimmar in honor of Orgrim Doomhammer. With the orcs' new allies, the tauren, becoming part of the Horde and with the support of the Lordaeronian survivors led by Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall was able to build quickly. However, this was not to last. Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, Jaina's father, arrived in Kalimdor (having left before the war was over to look for any surviving forces) and launched an attack against the fledgling orc nation. During the initial assault the Darkspear trolls lost their new home on the Echo Isles and with the help of the Mok'Nathal half-orc Rexxar, came to live with the orcs in Durotar. The witch doctor Vol'jin pledged the tribe's eternal allegiance to the Horde in return. Thrall, not knowing what humans had attacked him, initially suspected Jaina's forces, but her loyalty was proven when she helped the orcs stop the invading forces of her father Admiral Proudmoore.
The Burning Crusade
This section concerns content related to The Burning Crusade.
When word reached Warchief Thrall that the Dark Portal had reopened, he immediately gathered his advisors to plan an expedition through it, eager to find new insights into the history of his people on the other side. After the forces of the Horde, alongside the Alliance, repelled a invasion through the Dark Portal from the Burning Legion, their combined forces pressed through it into the shattered world Outland, the remnants of the homeworld of the orcs, Draenor. There, the Horde expedition, led by Thralls loyal advisor Nazgrel, founded the outpost of Thrallmar.
On Hellfire Peninsula, the Horde came into contact with the Fel Horde - orcs corrupted by the blood of a pitlord and the servants of the ruler of Outland, Illidan. The Fel Horde was lead by none other than Kargath Bladefist, chieftain of the Shattered Hand clan and one of the greatest orc heroes of the younger history. The Horde forces stormed the stronghold of the Fel Horde, the Hellfire Citadel, conquered it and killed Kargath Bladefist. His fall to corruption and death was a heavy blow to the orcs, but they nonetheless honor the memory of the orc Kargath once was, as well as the lesson learned from his downfall.
However, the fel orcs weren't the only orcs on Outland. The Horde also met The Mag'har - a group of brown-skinned orcs who completely escaped the demonic corruption that affected the rest of their race. Among these orcs were individuals like Jorin Deadeye, son of the legendary Kilrogg Deadeye; Dranosh Saurfang, son of Varok Saurfang and the son of Grom Hellscream, Garrosh Hellscream. The Horde allied with the Mag'har and Thrall himself convinced Garrosh to return to Azeroth as an advisor to the Warchief.
Wrath of the Lich King
During the second Scourge Invasion, Orgrimmar was targeted as well. This lead Thrall to convene a council of important Horde figures, including Varok Saurfang, Garrosh Hellscream, Sylvanas Windrunner and Grand Apothecary Putress, to discuss the matter. While Thrall advocated sending scouts and cooperating with the Alliance, Garrosh Hellscream instead wanted to bring the armies of the Horde directly to Northrend before the Lich King could react. Arguments escalated and Garrosh challenged Thrall to a Mak'Gora after he felt that the Warchief had spoken disrespectably about his father. The duel was interrupted when the Scourge attacked the city.
After the undead had been driven from the orcish capital, Thrall issued orders to contact the Horde's goblin shipwrights and marshal their forces to meet the Lich King in Northrend itself. Garrosh Hellscream was to lead the first attack, with Saurfang as his advisor. Hellscream's Warsong Offensive established Warsong Hold in the Borean Tundra, where the Horde advanced despite setbacks to Angrathar, the Wrathgate. Dranosh Saurfang lead the Horde army that combined its forces with that of the Alliance under Bolvar Fordragon to breach Arthas' defenses. Both armies were betrayed by Putress, who unleashed his new plague on both the Scourge and the living. Dranosh Saurfang was killed by the Lich King and reanimated as a death knight.
Learning of Putress' betrayal and of an insurgency in the Undercity led by Varimathras, Thrall lead an army together with Sylvanas to deal with the treacherous dreadlord. While the Horde's forces were victorious, new hostilities with the Alliance followed after Varian Wrynn had led his own strike force into the Undercity and witnessed the experiments of the Royal Apothecary Society. Kor'kron forces were dispatched to watch over the experiments of the society from then on.
As the conflict in Northrend stretched on, Garrosh became increasingly hostile to the Alliance, with special enmity to Varian Wrynn, who had similar sentiments against the Horde. Both nearly came to blows in Dalaran, after being briefed about an ancient threat contained in Ulduar, and continued exchange insults during the Trial of the Crusader. Nonetheless, Garrosh proved himself to be a competent military leader, who earned the admiration of his orcish followers through his dedication to martial prowess and frowning of dishonorable tactics like poison.
In addition to his commitments as leader of the Horde, Thrall was a dedicated shaman with close ties to the elements. When he noticed severe disturbances in the elemental spirits, Thrall knew that he had to step down as warchief in order to investigate the situation lest all of Azeroth fall into chaos. Given his options, Thrall believed that Garrosh was the clear choice for warchief. But the impulsive young Hellscream is much more aggressive than his diplomatic predecessor. With the equally tempestuous King Varian Wrynn back on the throne of Stormwind, it seems likely that the orcs will need their famed strength now more than ever.
Garrosh sought more land and resources for his Horde. Under his leadership, Horde soldiers thundered across the realm in the wake of the devastation of the Cataclysm. The Alliance meanwhile, under Varian Wrynn, didn't use the disaster to gain a military advantage.
Mists of Pandaria
After Theramore's Fall, all out war erupted between the Alliance and Horde in every corner of the world. Since then, heroes of the Alliance and the Horde have tested their mettle against the might of the sha, the Thunder King, and each other, but neither side could have predicted the boundless atrocities the Horde's warchief would commit.
Garrosh Hellscream's reckless thirst for power has led him to do the unthinkable: from beneath the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, he has seized the desiccated heart of an Old God to use as a tool of war, unleashing horrors upon the sacred valley. The brazen warchief has also turned against other members of the Horde to create a purely orcish force of his own. Now this "true Horde", composing of Garrosh's most loyal and fanatical followers, is amassing strength within Orgrimmar's iron ramparts. With Garrosh bent on total victory, he plans to demonstrate the potency of the true Horde by conquering not just the Alliance but the whole of Azeroth. His machinations were stopped in the Siege of Orgrimmar and Garrosh was arrested as a war criminal by the forces of Azeroth.
While some orcs have stood by Garrosh's side, the majority of orcs stood with the rebellion against Garrosh's vision of a "pure" Horde.
Warlords of Draenor
- But even as times change, so too do they stay the same.
With the aid of the renegade bronze dragon Kairozdormu and the Black Prince Wrathion, Garrosh managed to escape from his trial at the Temple of the White Tiger. Using the , Kairozdormu transported himself and the former Warchief to an alternate Draenor's past — a version of reality where Garrosh was never born — with the hope of constructing a new Horde. After murdering Kairoz with the Vision, Garrosh traveled to the nearby Warsong village to seek the alternate self of his father, Grommash.
Garrosh managed to convince Grommash to rally the orc clans of this alternate world into an Iron Horde, an army free from demonic influences who would ravage Azeroth with the iron star technology Garrosh had brought with him.
When Gul'dan summoned the clans to the Throne of Kil'jaeden to drink the blood of Mannoroth, Grom refused and slew the pit lord. Gul'dan and his Shadow Council agents were shackled beneath the Dark Portal to power the gateway between worlds. The invasion of Azeroth was pushed back by the combined forces of the Alliance and Horde adventurers, and led by the Archmage Khadgar the heroes of Azeroth ventured to Draenor in a suicide mission to stop the Iron Horde.
The Frostwolf clan led by Durotan and Draka, the Laughing Skull clan led by Kaz the Shrieker, and the draenei led by Yrel and the Council of Exarchs also joined forces with the outsiders against the Iron Horde, leading to a series of crushing defeats for the orc army.
Following the deaths of most of the orc warlords, Gul'dan approached Warchief Grommash with his offer once more. Grommash refused, but Kilrogg, Warlord of the Bleeding Hollow, accepted, delivering the Iron Horde into the hands of the Legion. Gul'dan used his fel magic to twist and corrupt the Iron Horde's stronghold of Hellfire Citadel, and within he successfully summoned Archimonde the Defiler. When Archimonde was once again defeated by the combined might of the Alliance and Horde, and with Draenor once again free from the Legion's influence, Durotan, Yrel and the now-freed Grommash vowed to rebuild their world together.
The orcs, now officially led by Varok Saurfang, defended Northern Barrens during the Legion Invasions. The Horde participated in the Battle for the Broken Shore which resulted in the death of Warchief Vol'jin and the appointment of Sylvanas Windrunner as his successor. The orcs then joined various class orders and fought against the Burning Legion on the Broken Isles.
Battle for Azeroth
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Orcish society has always been characterized by hardy and rugged living. As a result, they are staunch pragmatists, and never shy from killing if it will protect the future of the orc or his or her clan. All orcs, regardless of gender or station, are expected to pull their own weight and weakness is considered a grave liability. The weakness of one contaminates the strength of all, and it is punishable by the greatest humiliation an orc can receive: exile. Different orc clans however have different personalities; Thrall and the Frostwolves are notable for having brought a measure of mercy and compassion to the Horde, typically seen in Thrall's kinder treatment towards peons, who were once viewed as a despicable sub-race. On the other hand, clans such as the Warsong remain who still cling to the rigid, spartan beliefs valued in the first Horde as it was first established on Draenor.
Yet regardless of their clan affiliations, orcs prize honor over all other things in life — first to bring honor to their clan (and by extension, the Horde) and secondly bringing honor to the self and to their sense of self-worth as an individual. Likewise, hospitality is considered one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed. The orcs and tauren have become fast and unswerving allies because the tauren gladly offered the orcs shelter in a strange new land as well as their assistance regardless of the cost to themselves.
Since Thrall took leadership of the Horde there is no discrimination between genders in orcish society. Women are able to pursue the same career choices as men, rise to positions of power and are even expected to answer to the call for battle just as men are. Strength (both physical and mental), courage, initiative and independence are prized traits in all orcs. Traditionally, children are seen as children of the parents, but are raised as children of the clan. However, because of the newly unified Horde and the current diaspora of individual orc families creating homes and settling down in various areas around Durotar, the Barrens and beyond, this typical clan scheme has been changing, and life is beginning to become more centered around the nuclear family rather than the greater clan.
One tradition of the orcs on Draenor was a ceremony for newborns of the clan. The infant's parents would stand in a body of water near the encampment with the entire clan observing from shore. The mother would hand the baby to the father, who would then raise the child to the sky and proclaim the child as his, through himself and his father, and present the baby for the clan's blessings. The clan chieftain would then hold the baby and declare the infant under their protection, with the hope that they bring honor and glory to the clan. The chieftain's heir would then give a blessing. Finally the Elder Shaman would ask for the blessing of the elemental and wild spirits, and the hope that the ancestors would watch over the newborn.
In some clans, if the child appears sickly or frail, they will instead be drowned, likely by the father. A common expression of scorn is that an orc "should have been drowned at birth". This is likely the reason that the parents would stand in the water when presenting a newborn. The Blackrock clan and Bonechewer clan were noted for doing this without any qualms. The Frostwolf clan however, were known to have rejected such cruel practices.
Orcs begin weapons training at age 6, when they are nearly the size of an adult human. When they reach 12, they are considered strong enough to fight and allowed to participate in hunting parties. This is also the age they become eligible for the om'riggor rite of adulthood and for the courting hunt, making them full-grown adults.
To an orc, blood was the ultimate tie. It bound oaths, commanded allegiances, and marked the true warrior in combat. To taint a blood bond was one of the worst crimes imaginable.
Prior to the Second War, the orcs were not seafarers and most of the superstitious clans feared the open sea. Despite this, Fleet Master Seahorn claims that aboard any vessel on Azeroth that's manned by at least one orc, one will hear sea shanties sung about a device capable of navigating the broad, rough ocean of Draenor, which the orcs used to keep their heading true in the choppiest of storms. Nowadays this fear seems to have been overcome.
The Orcs are also one of the most prolific races of Azeroth.
As far back as orcish history has been recorded, shaman have been mentioned, and learning to speak with the elemental spirits of Draenor was a pivotal achievement in destiny for the orc clans. The first orcs to learn the ways of shamanism hailed from the Shadowmoon clan, but many clans claim the mythical "First Shaman" arose from their ranks, even though the truth is that no one is sure of his or her allegiance. While excavating in Outland, adventurers may discover a cowl fashioned out of a wolf's head. Despite its simplicity, the item gives off the impression of being old, important, and powerful, and seems ancient beyond time, its creator and original wearer having been lost to history.
On Draenor, young orcs were raised from birth to be stalwart, steadfast allies of the elemental spirits. When they came of age, fledgling shaman from around Draenor embarked on a pilgrimage to the Throne of the Elements to seek the blessings of the spirits and entered trances to attune their minds to the elements. The entire journey was filled with risk, but the ceremony itself was the most dangerous time of an orc's life. Those orcs who were welcomed by the elements returned to their clans as respected spiritual leaders whose counsel was highly valued, second only to the words of the clan chieftain. The bond between shaman crossed clan boundaries, allowing them peacefully mediate arguments and solve conflicts. However, not all orcs were found worthy during the ceremony. A few poor souls who were not strong or worthy enough accidentally glimpsed the realm of the Void and succumbed to terrible visions and unearthly whispers during what should have been the triumph of their young life, driving them insane. The ones who survived fled or were exiled from their clans and were forced to live in seclusion in the caves beneath Nagrand, becoming pale orcs. White skulls were tattooed on their faces, marking them as "dead" to their people. Orcish shaman long used this tattoo practice to similarly mark certain failed apprentices as "dead". When Ner'zhul fell into despair on the dying Draenor, his mind plagued by visions of death, he had such a skull tattoed on his own face.
Orcs instinctively revere the rugged forces of the natural elements, and as such, shaman are held in high regard. They generally have a close relationship with the nature elements and angering them is considered a grave offense. Over the ages, shaman like Thrall have communed with these spirits and, through patience and dedication, learned to soothe roaring infernos, bring rain to sun-scorched lands, and otherwise temper the elementals' ruinous influence on the world of Azeroth. Since Durotar is a barren place with little water or plant life, orcs are reliant on shaman to negotiate with the elementals to provide necessities such as drinking water from fallen rain or fire to warm their hearths.
In orcish culture, any shaman that has been spoken to by the spirits is given equal respect and honor regardless of age or experience.
Orcs are voracious eaters: each orc eats as much as a dozen goblins. The staple diet of the orcs - as well as trolls and ogres - is fresh meat. To satisfy this hunger for flesh, wild boars are trapped and bred for food. There are several pig farms in the areas south of Orgrimmar, and swine meat is commonly sliced up and and used to make bacon. During the First War, the orcs were also known to slaughter groks, some kind of livestock, while during the Second War, boar meat coupled with a tankard of bloodmead became a bonfire favorite among the hardened troops engaged in a long war march. The prickly fruits that grow on cacti in Durotar are also commonly eaten. Orcs eat various types of fish, including pike, golden stonefish, and sandy carp, as well as other types of aquatic life like clams and crawfish. is a traditional Orgrimmar Hallow's End treat.
Mounts and companions
Long ago, the orcs tamed the large and swift wolves of Draenor. These massive canines came to be the orcs' chosen companions as well as their favored method of transportation. The wolves' unflinching temperament made them especially well-suited for battling large prey. When the orcs became more warlike and invaded Azeroth, their wolves were bred for size and stamina so they could bear armored riders into battle. Dire wolves remain the favored mounts for orc fighters. Generations ago, when orc clans still called Terokkar Forest home, an enormous wolf spirit played an important role in their lives. When the orcs departed, they had no longer had any need for the spirit and they left it behind. In time, the spirit grew lonely and it too left the forest.
According to Rehgar Earthfury, when the orcs arrived on Kalimdor, they were told of the demigod Lo'Gosh by the tauren. The orcs adopted him as their hero on this new world, for they considered that the will of orcs is strong like his and, like him, not even death can stop them. According to Takrik Ragehowl, the demigod Lo'Gosh has always been with the orcs as a part of their Horde, in their instincts and in their blood. He has appeared in many forms on both Azeroth and Draenor and is known by the night elves as "Goldrinn", the wolf Ancient.
- The colossal kodo beasts of the Kalimdor plains are valued allies of the orcish Horde. The mighty beasts were charged with carrying the orcs' pounding war drums into battle. The huge kodos, serving as symbols of orcish might and valor, also use their enormous size and strength to scatter enemy forces.
- The sentient wyverns of Kalimdor were eager to ally themselves with the shamanistic Horde. Impressed by the orcs' commitment to honor and victory, the wyverns allowed the orcs to ride them into combat against those who would disturb the tranquility of Kalimdor and its denizens. Wyverns are today considered sacred to both orcs and tauren.
- Main article: Orcish (language)
Orcs know Orcish and Common. Orcs tend to only favor the languages of their allies, for example Goblin, Taur-ahe, Zandali, Gutterspeak, Pandaren, and Thalassian in recent times as well. Before the slaughter of the draenei on Draenor, there were orcs who learned Draenei to facilitate trade between the two races.
Separate tribes had variations of dialect that differed so much that orcs could not understand each other unless they spoke the common tongue. The main form of the Orcish language used by all the tribes is known as common Orcish.
- Lok'tra — A song detailing a great battle.
- Lok'amon — A song detailing the history of a family or clan.
- Lok'vadnod — A song composed for a specific individual. Considered the greatest honor that the orcs can grant an individual.
- Main article: Notable orcs
- Main universe
- Alternate universe
Orcs are divided into clans. Each clan has a different culture, tradition or behavior which sets them apart from the other clans and often also gives them their name. The Warsong clan for example is named because of the rhythmic songs they chant in battle, while the Shattered Hand clan is named for the tradition of their warriors to cut of their own hand and replace it with a weapon.
Every orc clan is led by a chieftain, while the leader of all clans is called Warchief. Thrall and Garrosh Hellscream are former Warchiefs of the New Horde, the current being Sylvanas Windrunner, the Banshee Queen, notable for being the first elf, undead, and female to hold the position. The chieftain is usually the strongest member of the clan and there are two ways of becoming a chieftain. Either you challenge the old chieftain and beat him in a Mak'gora or you inherit the status of chieftain.
While there are still many different clans in the Horde, they don't live as strictly separated as they once did. However, some clans still maintain a large amount of individuality and separate themselves from the other clans, like Warsong or Dragonmaw.
Although there are many different clans, the strongest and most important clans were limited to fourteen. The other smaller clans never reached the power or importance of these main clans.
- Main clans
- Frostwolf clan - One of the few clans to not drink the Blood of Mannoroth, known for their prowess as one-on-one combatants and their strong bonds with wolves. They were exiled by Gul'dan during the first war and now make they home in Alterac Valley.
- Warsong clan - A nomadic clan, known for their powerful warriors and strong Wolf riders. Named for the rhythmic songs they chant in battle. Both the Azeroth and Outland portion of the clan joined the Horde.
- Blackrock clan - One of the most powerful and numerous clans. A very militaristic and disciplined clan known for their expert smiths and metalworkers. Led the charge of the Horde during the First and Second War. In modern times, the Doomhammer loyal portion of the clan joined the Horde, whilst the Blackhand loyal portion created the Dark Horde. Blackrock orcs also exist among the Mag'har.
- Bleeding Hollow clan - One of the most legendary clans, known for their fanatic and crude nature. Named for the tradition that their elders sacrifice one of their eyes to see into the future. The Azerothian part joined the Horde, while the Outland part is divided into Mag'har orcs and fel orcs.
- Shattered Hand clan - Formerly a clan enslaved by ogres, until the orcs rallied by Kargath Bladefist overthrew their ogre masters. The Azerothian part of the clan serves as the Horde's clan of assassins, while the Outland part of the clan has become Fel orcs.
- Thunderlord clan - A clan known for their excellent hunters, who specialized in hunting down the Draenor giants. Most have become fel orcs, although it appears that there are some survivors among the Mag'har orcs.
- Shadowmoon clan - One of the most powerful clans, known for their strong connection to the spirits and their powerful shaman and seers. Their leader Ner'zhul was the spiritual leader of the orcs.
- Dragonmaw clan - This wayward orc clan was once empowered by Deathwing himself to enslave red dragons, including Alexstrasza. These dragon riders now make their home in the Twilight Highlands and recently rejoined the Horde.
- Burning Blade clan - A clan of demon-crazed orcs, known for their extreme bloodlust and their powerful Blademasters.
- Black Tooth Grin clan - A split off faction of the Blackrock clan created by Rend Blackhand and Maim Blackhand as a way to maintain power. It later reformed into the new Blackrock clan under Nefarian.
- Bonechewer clan - A clan known for their cannibalistic nature and for ornamenting themselves with bones and other organs. Most appear to have become Fel orcs.
- Laughing Skull clan - A deceptive and treacherous clan, distrusted for their excessive use of thievery and assassination. One of the few orc clans led by an ogre, Mogor. Most appear to have become Fel orcs.
- Stormreaver clan - A clan formed by Gul'dan for his personal protection. It later betrayed the Horde to look for the Tomb of Sargeras and was slaughtered by the vengeful Blackrock clan. A few ex-members such as Drak'thul survived but none known have joined the Horde.
- Twilight's Hammer clan - A nihilistic clan obsessed with the end of the world. One of the few orc clans led by an ogre, Cho'gall. Later transformed into a cult dedicated to the Old Gods.
Orcs in general have muscular physiques and on average, female orcs are around 6' to 6'6" tall while male orcs tend to reach 7 feet in height. Males often have very long and unusual facial hair. Females tend to have eclectic hair styles and unusual piercings.
Orcs have an acute sense of smell, so much so that they can distinguish others without the need for visual confirmation.
Orcs mature quickly, growing nearly the size of a human adult by the age of six years old, when they begin to fight.
Orc warlocks are able to use magic to accentuate the growth of young orcs, aging six-year-olds rapidly into twelve-year-olds.
An orc's face would be described by some races of Azeroth as monstrous, their hideousness comparable to that of trolls. Orcs have large heavy jaws from which protrude sharp, tusk-like teeth, heavy brows, a broad and flat snout-like nose, and pointed ears. The number, size and position of orcish tusks and teeth are particularly variable, much like their troll allies. Kilrogg Deadeye, for example, has been portrayed with twin sets of tusks.
Orcs come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the short, pitiable peon to the hulking grunt. The average male Orc height is seven feet tall, while the females stand at an average of six to six and a half. Males, particularly warriors, are often hunched to variable degrees, though others stand straight and tall, such as Grom Hellscream. A fair amount of sexual dimorphism exists between the orc sexes, with male orcs possessing more extreme orcish physical characteristics, most noticeably broader shoulders and larger tusks. Yet all the orcs (with the exception of the oft-ignored peons) are large, powerfully built creatures when compared to their human counterparts, warriors and spell-casters alike, and regardless of gender. Old orcs such as Drek'Thar and Drak'thul, however, are often frail and wiry, though not all allow themselves to weaken with age, such as Varok Saurfang.
Orcs who drink the blood of a pit lord quickly grow in body mass and strength, and even the weakest of these fel orcs is a deadly foe. This unnatural power was apparently not carried down to the later, green-skinned generations of the New Horde. Fel orcs often have much longer teeth, becoming nothing short of tusks, as well as spines erupting from their body. Dire orcs are gargantuan, severely-hunched orcs also displaying many of these traits, although they are not all fel orcs.
An up-close look at an orc on the cover art for Warcraft: Orcs & Humans showed them with horns protruding from their cheeks and forward-pointing, tufted ears, neither of which have been seen in later examples, although Fel Orcs have spikes on their jawline.
Originally, all orcs were either brown-skinned, ranging from a bark-like brown to reddish-brown; or grey-skinned, ranging from a light grey to a dark, sooty black. However, with the exception of the isolated Mag'har, their bodies reacted to their exposure to warlock magic once it was introduced by Gul'dan. All orcs with warlocks in their clan found their skin slowly turning green before they were ever offered the blood of the demon Mannoroth.
The first orcs to drink the blood of a pit lord rapidly completed their transition to green skin. Further drinking the blood, or possibly the blood of any demon, will change their skin again from green to scarlet, transforming them into fel orcs. Orcs that drink Mannoroth's blood obtained gray marks in their green skin. Through certain rituals this state is reversible, not only restoring the orc’s sanity but their previous green tone as well. No green-skinned orc has ever managed to return to a completely uncorrupted state.
With World of Warcraft, orcs of the Blackrock, Black Tooth Grin and (with Cataclysm) Dragonmaw clans have grey-green or grey skin, differentiating them from the rest of the orcish race. The Blackrock orcs' skin has apparently darkened due to years of dwelling within the dwarven cities within Blackrock Mountain.
When greenskinned orcs blush, they turn purple.
The change of skin color from brown to green appears to have permanently altered them as Thrall, who had little direct exposure to warlock magic until recently, has had green skin from birth, and none of the Frostwolf clan, who have eschewed fel magic the longest (bar the Mag'har) have younger, brown-skinned members. It would also explain why it does not appear to reverse with time, as neither Drek'Thar of the Frostwolves nor Varok Saurfang of Durotar have regained the brown skin of their youth despite decades with little or no contact with warlocks.
Tides of War revealed that Blackrock clan orcs developed grey skin due to years of living underground. When this change occurred, or whether it affected all clan members is not made clear. There is no mention of the Blackrock clan being anything other than green-skinned before World of Warcraft. Orgrim Doomhammer and Blackhand have never been shown as grey-skinned. However, Warlords of Draenor and the Blackhand comic depicts Blackhand, Orgrim and the Blackrock orcs with grey skin. Eitrigg was noted as green-skinned in Of Blood and Honor and has been like-wise depicted in art, but being a Blackrock orc he is shown in World of Warcraft as grey-skinned, as is his son Ariok. This is despite him leaving the clan at the end of the Second War, and never returning to Blackrock Mountain. The Black Tooth Grin, which did not dwell in Hordemar during the Second War and only reunited with the Blackrock following it, have the same skin tones as their brethren.
The Dragonmaw orcs of the Wetlands were originally pale green but were changed in Cataclysm to grey. It's unknown whether their grey coloration is the result of genetics or (like the Blackrock orcs) years of dwelling in Grim Batol. The Dragonmaw might even deliberately change the color of their skin with dyes. The earlier choice of pale green skin may have represented differences in skin tone between clans. Grey skin tones are also often used for orcish cultists and might represent sickliness, similar to the grayish-purple skin of human and gnomish cultists. The Dragonmaw chieftain Zuluhed retains his green skin in Cataclysm, though this may have been an oversight.
The nature of the change in skin color when corrupted is considerably different from that of other fel-touched races. Felblood elves and eredar change from their original skin tones straight to the extremes (for orcs, red), and don't appear to have a middle-ground.
Brown skin, an uncorrupted orc.
Gray-green skin, a corrupted Blackrock orc.
Gray skin, a uncorrupted Blackrock orc.
Black skin, another skin color of a uncorrupted Blackrock orc.
Gray skin and tattoos, a Dragonmaw orc (old model).
Gray skin and glowing yellow eyes, a Dragonmaw orc (new model).
Pale gray skin, a Shattered Hand orc.
Gray-brown skin, a Shadowmoon orc.
Red skin and mutations, a fel orc.
Red skin, a fel orc (with no other mutations).
Grey skin and mutations, another kind of fel orc.
Deformed with light skin pale orc.
The naturally occurring eye colors of orcs include shades of brown, oranges, yellows, reds, greens, grey, violets, indigo, and in rare cases, pure blue. The color of eyes may change into red color when orcs succumb to rage or bloodlust.
Orcs who drank the blood of the pit lord Mannoroth invariably had eyes that glowed a bright, blood red, and the same is true of fel orcs derived from the blood of Magtheridon. Orcs that drink Mannoroth's blood had their eyes turn red in warriors and green or yellow on warlocks. These eyes did not dim until the orcs' withdrawal from warlock magic after the Second War, excluding the clans that continued to worship demons. Pure blue eyes are quite rare in the orcish race, and are seen as a sign of great destiny. Thrall has such blue eyes, as well as Rehgar Earthfury and Garona in some depictions, though this may be more a sign of her half-orc heritage and not her fate. The eyes of cultist orcs sometimes appear to be completely clouded-over.
In World of Warcraft, orcs are shown with a variety of hair colors; black, brown, blues, reds, purples and with age, grey and white. In earlier depictions, orcs only had black, grey or white hair, if they had hair at all – shaven heads are common among orcs of both genders, at least compared to most other races. Some male orcs cultivate beards, while others are clean shaven.
In earlier games and art, orcs had only black, red, grey and white hair (with the RPG adding brown to the mix). From World of Warcraft onwards (including the TCG) have orcs been shown with more colorful hair. In Warcraft II Kargath Bladefist has blonde facial hair.
Though Thrall's original model had dark blue hair, rather than the black from his earlier incarnations, in Cataclysm, his hair changed back to black, indicating that either his mild blue hair was an oversight or that it was due to a dye.
Although in World of Warcraft orc females and children have eyebrows, the majority of male models don't, with the exception of Thrall's models since Cataclysm. In other materials like the Mists of Pandaria cinematic or other artworks like this one show male orcs with them. In Warcraft II Gul'dan and Kargath Bladefist have eyebrows and in Warcraft III the Blademasters, Far Seers and Stormreaver Warlocks have eyebrows while other orcs don't have them. Malgar, Battlemaster Bröng, and various unnamed male orcs are depicted with eyebrows in Bloodsworn.
Orc blood is a dark red color, much darker than that of dwarves and humans. Because of this, orcs have been called “blackbloods” by their Alliance foes. However, they are sometimes shown with bright red blood, namely in World of Warcraft, as are both night elves (with otherwise purple blood) and some undead (otherwise black blood or green ichor).
Orcs, especially orc warriors, are fond of tattoos of orcish symbols that have abstract, yet personal meaning to the individual orc, such as a clan symbol or a battle standard. In orcish society, scars are a source of pride for an orc; the amount of scars an orc has received in battle marks his experience as a warrior.
In the newly established Horde, the orcs have strong ties to the recent race members of the Horde who are originally from Kalimdor. The ties between the orcs, tauren, and jungle trolls are unquestionable. In the aftermath of the Third War, Thrall, Cairne, and Vol'jin reluctantly allowed the Forsaken to join the Horde ranks, and with the reopening the Dark Portal the Horde recruited a fifth race to its ranks, the blood elves. After the Cataclysm, goblins also joined the ranks of the Horde, with the pandaren joining after Pandaria became unshrouded by mists. Although the Horde has seven notable races, the Horde also counts smaller organizations as its members, notably the Mok'nathal and Stonemaul ogres as well as other various groups. Recently, Thrall has tried to establish a connection to the Ironforge dwarves in order to minimize wars between the two races. This could be seen when Thrall ordered Horde adventurers into the Blackrock Depths to find the daughter of Magni Bronzebeard, Moira Thaurissan. During the war against the Lich King, the Horde becomes allied with the taunka — an ancient offshoot of the tauren — and the tuskarr. The taunka are Horde specific but the tuskarr are a naturally neutral race. Orcs have a long history of violence with humans, though they grudgingly respect their strength and some still cling to old hatreds even despite the fact that they fought alongside each other during the Third War. However, while they don't like humans generally, the orcs do respect their own leader Jaina Proudmoore, especially since she had chosen to side with them over her father.
In the RPG
To their enemies, they are brutal and fearsome opponents, without parallel in their ferocity and cunning. To their allies, they are noble and honorable, following the traditions of a rediscovered past. The orcs of Lordaeron are part of a race that has once again found its true spirit, shunning the cruel practices of arcane and demonic magic for the paths of wisdom and power. Some orcs still hang on to the arcane practices of the past, but their time is fading. Though brutal in combat, orcs fight with a feral grace that equals even the finest fencing of an elven noble. For an orc, skill in battle brings great honor. The concept of personal honor that pervades all echelons of orcish society has made the race more cohesive and more of a threat to their adversaries in the Alliance. Even the naming of an orc is temporary until he has performed a rite of passage. Once an orc has brought honor to his name and the name of his clan, the elders give him a second name based upon his deed.
For an orc, personal reputation is as important as his or her clan, and most will fight to the death in defense of either. This is in drastic contrast to when they were led by the forces tainted by the Burning Legion and were a bestial force barely controlled by demonic magic. While the orcs might seem quick to anger, they are tempered by the wisdom of their leaders and their shaman. There are few of the demon-worshiping clans left, for the Alliance or the Horde itself has hunted down most of the remnants of such clans. Now, most of the orcs have embraced the values embodied in the leadership of Thrall as taught by his mentor, Orgrim Doomhammer. The orcs are one of the most populous races on the world of Azeroth. While many of the Alliance races perceive them to be brutish and savage, the orcs have forged a complex society that embraces many occupations and many different races. No doubt the leadership of Thrall and the support of the tauren and jungle troll elders has aided in this solidarity, but it is quite apparent that humanity has underestimated the ability of the orcs to unify and create their own distinct and powerful culture. Perhaps in time, the two factions might come to an understanding, but with the current division of Alliance and Horde, no one can say how or when peace might come.
When they were freed from the Burning Legion, orcs experienced a cultural revolution as the unnatural, arcane bloodlust left their bodies, giving them calmer and more focused states of mind. They, for the most part, follow Thrall as he forges ahead to reform the Horde both inside, with his shamanism, and outside, with the founding of Durotar. Still, not all orcs are pleased with these movements, namely the evil orcs who still reside on Azeroth. These orcs, who include a good number of the surviving warlocks, actively raid Alliance and Independent caravans and towns, and renounce all that Thrall proclaims the Horde is. Like the two faces of the Alliance, the different Horde factions meet rarely; but there are some orc warlocks on Kalimdor who would very much like to retake control of the Horde forces and are gaining strength in the wilderness to do so.
- is concerned with survival over artistic achievement.
- reveres its elderly and honors its ancestors.
- does not apologize for past actions, nor does it demand apologies from its enemies.
- values valor over cunning—as long as valor doesn’t lead to disaster.
- resembles "Primitive" human societies, but is, like those societies, far more sophisticated when examined closely.
- distrusts arcane magic, especially the magic of warlocks—but does not (yet) shun arcanists.
Orcs wear a variety of clothing styles, from furs and hides in some clans to heavy metal armor in others. They favor clothes of hide, and armor and arm themselves with a variety of gear.
Orcish religion takes the form of an animistic worldview that has strange parallels with the practices of the Kaldorei. Orc shaman draw their power from the forces of the elements and the spirits of nature, forming a very intimate connection with the world that surrounds them. This awareness has led to even more revelations of their race’s true nature, as the orcs realize that they live more in harmony with the world than many of the races of the Alliance.
Orc males are massive and brutish looking creatures. Weighing in at 250 to 300 pounds and standing from 6 to 7 feet in height, they are not a small race. Even orc women tend to be only a half-foot or so shorter and 50 to 100 pounds lighter than most males (and some of them are equal in stature to their male counterparts), having broad shoulders and muscular, powerful bodies.
Most orcs are green-skinned, usually ranging from a light chartreuse yellow or olive to a dark forest or emerald green.
Orcs tend to have coarse and bristly hair and beards, often black or brown in color, graying with age. Orc males sometimes choose to grow beards that are wild and untamed, while others prefer them to be braided and tasseled. These beards always hang from the chin, as orcs do not grow heavy facial hair above their upper-lip.
- Main article: Horde technology#Orc technology
Notes and trivia
- Following the overthrow of Garrosh Hellscream at the end of Mists of Pandaria, playable orcs lacked an official racial leader. Throughout Warlords of Draenor, the official site simply listed their leader as "None". After Vol'jin was killed and Sylvanas Windrunner was declared as the new Warchief of the Horde at the beginning of Legion, Varok Saurfang took Vol'jin's place in Grommash Hold, taking on the role of giving out and completing the quests that previously involved Vol'jin, as well as taking on Vol'jin's role of tapping the keg at Brewfest and serving as one of the targets of the PvP achievement. While Varok has been officially confirmed as the current orcish racial leader, the new version of the official site does not list him as such; instead, while all other races have a clearly designated leader, the orc entry instead lists Thrall as the orcs' "Paragon".
- Warcraft is one of the very few fantasy franchises where orcs are put in a positive light. This is still true after two games with the traditional bloodthirsty interpretation. In fact, reviewers often credit the humorous voices and comments of Horde units from Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (making the "bad guys" more fun to play) as the direct influence on the choice to portray their redemption.
- Orcs have a great amount of influence in the Warcraft game series; an unusual thing to see, as most fantasy works featuring orcs instead typically portray them as easily-killable, bestial and brainless enemies.
- Orcs played a major part in every Warcraft novel up until Night of the Dragon.
- Several of the orcs' allies — including the ogres, the blood elves, and the Forsaken — were at one time enemies of the Horde.
- On Draenor, orcs commonly had large litters because so many died in childhood. Only the strong, the powerful, and the smart survived.
- Orcs have keener eyesight than humans.
- For a brief time, many orcs would declare themselves "hungry like an Orgrimmar wolf." Some blood elves still use the phrase ironically.
- Interestingly, World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2 reveals that the origin of the orcish race is very similar to that of their sworn enemies, humans:
- Much like humans, orcs are revealed to be descended from titan warrior races - the iron vrykul and the earth giants - constructed to fight the hostile natives of their respective planets.
- Furthermore, in both cases, the two races' immediate gigantic progenitors were originally hostile towards their smaller descendants, but were eventually overtaken by them.
- Humans and orcs even seem to share a common Titan patron: Aggramar, the Champion of the Pantheon. The latter's progenitor, Grond, was created by him directly. In the case of the former, his influence is not as obvious, but both humans and vrykul revere titan keepers associated with him: Tyr, who is said to have absorbed some of Aggramar's energy and consciousness after his death, and Odyn, who possesses an artifact named after him.
- Despite Thrall's work to ensure that no orc would be cast into slavery again, some orcs still practice slavery. Bloodeye Redfist for example was an orc enslaved by other orcs. It appears that some orcs are also willing to enslave members of other races, both Horde and Alliance. Surprisingly the Crimson Ring's gladiatorial deathmatches and the enslaved gladiators fought in the open at times, with tournaments occasionally taking place in Orgrimmar. Even Bloodeye was well known enough to be described as a "champion of the orcs".
- When asked if the Horde symbol was "a crude drawing shared by the Draenor orc spiritual leaders based on their visions of K'ure inside Oshu'gun that was passed down for centuries and eventually chosen because it represented all orcs and not one clan" or "just some cool tribal [thing]", Chris Metzen amusingly answered "Uhhhh... in my mind - it's A. Yeah. That. It's always been that cool and well thought out!....."
- Orcs are largely based upon Balkan and West Asian (particularly Turkish) mythologies, with other varied and specific elements from other cultures.
- For Mag'har specific cultural inspiration, see Mag'har#Notes and trivia
- For Thrall specific cultural inspiration, see Thrall#Notes and trivia
- Orcs in warcraft are a Tolkien and Warhammer derivative; Tolkien stated that he imagined Orcs to be "Mongol-types".
- Orcish building styles resemble yurts, and early warcraft fur hats for the Orcs resemble Mongolian head coverings.
- The word "Horde" comes from the Eurasian Steppe term Orda, associated particularly with Turkic and Mongolian peoples, and means things along the line of camp or seat of power.
- The word Shamanism is a Tungusic (Eastern Siberian) word; much like how in-game the original Shaman are Orcs, Tauren, and Trolls, in real life during 20th century religious studies and anthropology the term was primarily applied to Eurasian, African, and Native American religious traditions.
- The way the Frostwolf clan became the foremost leader of the Orcs resembles how the Ashina clan, which claims descent and ties to wolves, ruled over various Turkic empires. Likewise, the spirit of the great wolf in Orcish myth resembles the spirit of the gray wolf Asena.
- The way the Orcs descend from the one-eyed Grond and his descendants, whose body created parts of the landmass of Draenor, resembles how Ymir the father of all Jötunn was turned into the earth and his children became the Giants and eventually mixed into humanity and the gods.
- Blademasters are based upon Japanese samurai, exemplified in Samuro
- Blackthorne has been cited as an inspiration for the orcs. Samwise Didier has referred to the grag'ohr (the game's antagonists) as "our [Blizzard's] first orcs." Notably, the grag'ohr bear similarities to the orcs in various ways, including their green skin and muscular bodies.
- World of Warcraft
- Cinematic stills
Orc from the World of Warcraft intro cinematic.
Same orc in a Chinese commercial.
Same orc in the Burning Crusade cinematic.
Orc in the Mists of Pandaria cinematic.
Saurfang in the Battle for Azeroth cinematic.
Orc in the Warcraft III: Reforged cinematic trailer.
Thrall in the Safe Haven cinematic.
- Warcraft I
Orc from the Warcraft: Orcs & Humans box art.
- Warcraft II
- Warcraft III
Orc from the Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos box art.
Exodus of the Horde campaign menu background.
Invasion of Kalimdor campaign menu background.
Broxigar, as seen in the TCG.
An orc on the Legends Volume 1 cover.
"A Lion Among Wolves" by Samwise Didier.
- Heroes of the Storm
Alterac Pass orc combat NPC model.
Orc minions in the Hearth and Home animated short.
Urk patron of the Hearthstone inn.
The Horde art.
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 19 - 20
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 36
- ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, pg. 103
- ^ a b c d World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 39 - 44
- ^ a b c d World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 46 - 50
- ^ Rise of the Horde, pg. 139
- ^ Bashiok on official forums
- ^ Adventure Guide entry for Hellfire Citadel
- ^ Harbingers: Gul'dan
- ^ Warcraft: Legends Volume 4, pg. 133, 134
- ^ Warcraft: Legends Volume 4, pg. 134, 136, 144
- ^ a b Golden, Christie. Rise of the Horde, 125. ISBN 978-0-7434-7138-1. “'Children begin training at age six,' Kur'kul continued. 'They are strong enough to fight at age twelve. [...]'”
- ^ Lord of the Clans, pg. 42 (ebook)
- ^ Rise of the Horde, pg. 321 (ebook)
- ^ Rise of the Horde, pg. 20
- ^ Rise of the Horde, pg. 134 (ebook)
- ^ Bloodbeak
- ^ Mud Jumper
- ^ The Sundering, pg. 313
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 151
- ^ Brawn (NPC)#Quotes
- ^ a b c
- ^ Beasts of the Savage Lands — Nagrand
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 183
- ^ The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm
- ^ Earthmender Wilda
- ^ Sergra Darkthorn
- ^ Rise of the Horde, pg. 109: "while shaman could certainly grow in skill over time, once the ancestors had appeared to them in visions they were all accorded equal honor and respect."
- ^ a b Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual: Pig Farm
- ^ Warcraft: Orcs & Humans manual, pg. 19 (orc)
- ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment. Orc - WoW. Retrieved on 2017-01-03.
- ^ Destiny Awaits!, pg. 16
- ^ Takrik Ragehowl#Quotes
- ^ a b c Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Game Manual
- ^ Legends Volume 2, Family Values
- ^ Golden, Christie. Rise of the Horde, 21. ISBN 978-0-7434-7138-1.
- ^ Golden, Christie. Rise of the Horde, 40. ISBN 978-0-7434-7138-1.
- ^ Golden, Christie. Lord of the Clans, 10. ISBN 978-0-7434-2690-9.
- ^ Height#Official lore heights
- ^ World of Warcraft: Official Beginner's Guide, 43
- ^ Rise of the Horde, pg. 109, "Then the wind shifted and [Durotan] laughed as he caught Orgrim's scent."
- ^ Lord of the Clans comparing Thrall to Jaramin Skisson: "He was only six years old, but already almost as big as his tutor" and later "Damn Thrall! He was an orc, had been fighting since he was six years old."
- ^ Rise of the Horde, pg. 125 (ebook) Kur'kul: "Children begin training at age six .. strong enough to fight at age twelve .. I have the ability to accentuate their growth .. take all the children that are between six and twelve now and age them to twelve .. increase the numbers of warriors on the field by almost fifty percent."
- ^ Loreology on Twitter (dead link)
- ^ a b c d Rise of the Horde
- ^ "The Invasion of Kalimdor: By Demons be Driven", Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Blizzard Entertainment.
- ^ Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, chapter 2
- ^ A Good War, pg. 36
- ^ Warcraft II manual: The Black Tooth Grin Clan
- ^ Chris Metzen on Twitter
- ^ a b Lord of the Clans
- ^ Playable orc models in World of Warcraft
- ^ Dranosh Saurfang#Burning Crusade
- ^ Lords of War - Durotan
- ^ Fel orc models in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
- ^ Grey skinned, tattooed orcs in World of Warcraft, usually members of cults such as the Twilight's Hammer and the Cult of the Damned
- ^ The Prophecy
- ^ Orc blood in-game in Warcraft III
- ^ "The Founding of Durotar: Theramore Isle", Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment.
- ^ File:Chronicle2 Shadow Council.jpg
- ^ Tides of Darkness, pg. 20
- ^ Cycle of Hatred, pg. 13 - 14
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 45
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 12
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, pg. 138
- ^ a b c d Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 50, 51
- ^ Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 180
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 46
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment. Orc - Game Guide - World of Warcraft. Archived from the original on 2015-12-30. Retrieved on 2017-01-03.
- ^ Ion Hazzikostas Q&A, Gamescom 2017
- ^ The Last Guardian, pg. 302 (ebook)
- ^ Cycle of Hatred, pg. 63 (ebook)
- ^ Mount Journal entry for
- ^ The Comic
- ^ Chris Metzen on Twitter
- ^ 2021-02-21, ONE MAN, AN ALIEN KINGDOM, AND A SHOTGUN: BEHIND BLACKTHORNE, 26 YEARS LATER. Blizzard Entertainment, retrieved on 2021-04-21