“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
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.
The core story tells that Orcs were shaped by three Gods in turn:
- Tagga, the Creator Goddess, who made the first Orcs from the soil and gave them eyes to see;
Nadjal, the Spirit of Darkness, who put fear into their hearts so that they might be wary (“the great enemy”); and
- 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.
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
- 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
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
- 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
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.
Precise strictures of
- 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 dearly.
- Laziness should not 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.
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
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 like birth, death, harvest, or major milestones for the Clan or for members of it.
One 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. Another Clan might build totems depicting their leaders’ favoured animals (gifts from Tagga), and perform rituals honouring the storms that pass through their territory. Yet another group might pray to a deity specific to their own traditions (usually a version of Lulli), but also praise the sun, wind and sky.
In form, the two most common elements of ritual are sacrifice and storytelling. The sacrifice is always material; since the Uruk don’t have much, they believe that a physical offering of food, handiwork or steel has a great deal of meaning – and will be received by the Gods that way. The stories vary a lot. Sometimes, a priest will be called on to tell a story of the God being worshipped, and either calls 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, and also either calls 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, marked by stone constructions of some kind, that serves as their place of major ritual, burial for important people, and governance.
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. The new arrivals from across the sea are not
accounted-forin 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, decisionmaking. 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
favourand 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.
Lundrothwas 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.