“We can see the gods, but beasts can not. The gods guide us, show us how to live in the land.”

The native faith of the Uruk of Aksh are dedicated to the worship of the Gods. The gods are distinct, immortal, spiritual beings.

The Uruk believe that in times long past, the Gods gave life to creation. Although, they are known to meddle in its affairs. They made the land, Aksh, dangerous and fearsome to test the Uruk and make them strong. Priests teach that the Gods are present in all things and that the world is greater than mortal understanding.

At the core of orcish tradition is that the Gods are capricious and needful, reflecting the failings of mortals. Their exploits teach lessons, but they are also watching at all times. Because of this, worship is likely to bring good fortune – while displeasure will bring ill fate upon the perpetrator.

Creation myth

The core story tells that Orcs were shaped by three Gods in turn:

  1. Tagga, the Creator Goddess, who made the first Orcs from the soil and gave them eyes to see;
  2. Nadjal, the Spirit of Darkness, who put fear into their hearts so that they might be wary (“the great enemy”); and
  3. Lulli the Trickster God, who gave them guile and ferocity to overcome any challenge.

Other Gods are worshipped vary between Clans. But they share common themes of a shared belief in and respect for the power of the world around them.

Beliefs

Worship of the Hundred Gods takes the form of offering and reward.

For any deed that the Gods might notice, there is a commensurate consequence. Doing things that honour a God will bring its blessing. While doing things that dishonour a God will bring its curse. This is a religion that reflects on:

  • the danger of life in Aksh, or
  • the passing between this world and the next (the transition between life and death).

The Uruk live in fear of being taken by one of any number of dangerous animals. This fear not only comes from the land. But from a belief that the Spirit of Darkness hunts for their souls. This is part of their emphasis on remembrance of the fallen. They believe that the better-remembered they are, the harder it will be for the Darkness to steal them away. Instead, they will then live on in the memory of their Clan, and in the memory of Orcs eternal.

The Pantheon

All orcish traditions include those gods present in the creation myth. The exact pantheons worshipped from Clan to Clan vary greatly. Common Gods include deities of:

  • Storms, often also associated with weather in general, capriciousness, and raucous celebration.
  • the Hunt, often also associated with patience, stealth, and luck.
  • Death, often also associated with change, harvest-time and new life.
  • Battle, associated specifically with combat between equal foes and not with beasts or dire situations.
  • Music, often also associated with celebration or funerals.
  • the Dead, associated specifically with protecting dead souls from the Spirit of Darkness.
  • Orcish craft, often associated with the forge, handicrafts, and hard work.
  • Fate, associated sometimes with fortune but mostly with inevitability, patience and acceptance.

Individual Clans will then add their own gods. Perhaps Gods of a certain place, of revered animals, or even of their own ancestors long-since-passed.

Principles

Precise strictures of behaviour are not codified in the religion of the Orcs. However, there are several basic elements that are reinforced by stories and traditions.

  • Do not speak ill of the gods for they are vengeful and their wrath will not only affect you.
  • Honour the dead with song and story, this will keep their spirits safe from the Great Enemy, Nadjal.
  • The world is dangerous, always be vigilant.
  • Your life is valuable. You shouldn’t throw it away but be prepared to spend it.
  • Laziness is not to be indulged or rewarded.
  • Bravery is a virtue. Challenges should be met without trepidation.
  • Creative solutions to problems will be rewarded with success.
  • Don’t defile holy places, and do not let them lie untended.
  • Don’t work against the best interests of the Clan.
  • Mark any victory, no matter how small, because they are few and far between.

Priesthood

Almost every Clan has at least one person serving as their spiritual leader, sometimes more. Priests are educated over several years by training under the tutelage of an older spiritual leader.
It is not uncommon for priests to spend time living with other Clans. This allows them to learn other traditions and bring them back to their own clan. Sometimes the learnings they bring back are incorporated into their own clans practices.

This exchange of spiritual belief gives the religious practice of all clans a homogeny.
Even if the names of the Gods might differ, there is a recognition that the same forces and spirits can be both whole and separate. In addition to their trained priests, the Uruk actively share their stories, poetry and songs around the Clan so that no one person is the sole keeper of the faith. Good storytelling is lauded among orcs, and religious observances will often feature it as the most important part of their ceremonies.

Practices

The Uruk worship the major gods Tagga, Nadjal and Lulli in turn and together with others, depending on the individual or the Clan. Worship is not scheduled. But spontaneously organised as part of feasts, or to mark occasions of significance (such as birth, death, harvest, or major milestones for the Clan or for members of it).

The two most common elements of ritual are sacrifice and storytelling.

The sacrifice is always material; a physical offering of food, handiwork or steel has a great deal of meaning to the gods.

The stories vary a lot. A priest may be called on to tell a story of the God being worshipped. They will either call a relevant one to mind or makes one up on the spot (often through a drunken haze). Sometimes, a relative of the honoured orc will be called on to tell a story from their life. They, like the priests will either call a relevant one to mind or makes one up on the spot.

When ritual is spontaneous, it can take place anywhere, so long as there is a gathering of orcs present. However, most Clans have at least one major sacred site in their territory. These are marked by stone constructions of some kind. They serve as a place of major ritual, burial for important people, and governance.

Variety in faith practices

A village might:

  • build a temple dedicated to the great spiny beast that resides in the hills nearby (as an incarnation of the Spirit of Darkness), but also maintain small shrines dedicated to their honoured dead.
  • build totems depicting their leaders' favoured animals (gifts from Tagga), and perform rituals honouring the storms that pass through their territory.
  • Pray to a deity specific to their own traditions (usually a version of Lulli), but also praise the sun, wind and sky.

Conflicts

The same way they are not a unified nation, the Uruk do not have a perfectly-unified religion. Practices vary from Clan to Clan, and these variances can cause conflicts.

  • The Soft-Skins. New arrivals from across the sea are not accounted for in the Uruk cosmology. What to do about them is a matter of discussion in religious circles as much as any other.
  • The Dangers of the Wild. While normally spoken of in secret and quiet, the Uruk will sometimes break into disputes about how to respond to threats from non-Orcs in their midst. The argument over whether to fight or placate the nameless horrors of the wilderness is a frequent one.
  • Discouraging glory-hounds. Elder Uruk will often shake their heads at younger orcs. Whose thirst for stories about them will often lead them to reckless, rather than measured, decision making.

Balancing their need to be remembered with the dangers of the world is a common dilemma for orcs.

Recent proceedings that effect followers

The Hundred Gods are restless.

Signs of their favour and displeasure are everywhere. These times draw the attention of the gods, like in the stories of the distant past. Locally, the gods held great displeasure at the destruction of the great and terrible beast the Lundroth.

The Lundroth was an ancient and sacred beast. Although it caused great destruction, it was not the place of Uruk to destroy it. It appears the Gods were appeased by the ritual and sacrifice made by the Uruk in penance for this act.

At the conclusion of this, three figures appeared, bearing the sigil of the gods. There is much discussion about who or what these figures are and what this might mean.