This time, I have decided to take a look at a sub-race of Orsimer introduced by ESO. Because there really isn´t that much info about them, don´t expect this to be too long, but still, I hope I´ll satisfy your curiosity. I´ll be using a lot of comparisons to the Tribal Orcs which we know, so if you haven´t read my The True Nature of Orsimer article, I advise you to do so, so you have a better idea of what I´m talking about.
Who are they?
Wood Orcs are the cousins of Orsimer as we know them, with the difference that they are common only in Valenwood and have lived there for as long as anyone can remember. They often wage war on the Bosmer - probably because the Wood Orcs cut down trees and use wood for so many of their needs. Though I would like to point out that there are instances where Wood Orcs and Bosmer live beside each other in peace. They don´t follow Y´ffre, they follow Mauloch, just as their cousins do. The Code of Mauloch seems to be the same for them as for other Orcs, so they don’t really differ in religion.
So what makes them different? They still value skill in combat and the art of smithing, yes, but they have other skills they prize. Wood Orcs are actually smaller than their northern cousins, built more like Bosmer actually, so besides strength and physical prowess in batttle, they value agility and speed. They also appreciate geographical knowledge; the ability to move through difficult terrain, and how that knowledge can be used strategically.
Compared to Bosmer, they dislike stealth or any kind of trickery. If you skulk through their territory, then you´ll most probably end up with an axe in your skull, but if you walk in the open instead, you might earn their respect.
There are a few mentions of forge-wives and hunt-wives, so this tells us that Wood Orcs have the same tribal society as Orcs from the north, but I noticed one difference. It seems that Wood Orcs have no wise-women, instead of them they have shamans, who are usually male but can be female too. How they are chosen I don´t know, maybe based on whether they have magical talent or not, but a few sources mention that Wood Orcs really don´t like magic, seeing it as trickery - thus seeing it as a weakness.
In terms of architecture, the style is the same as we´ve seen it in Skyrim. The Longhouse and other smaller buildings serving as warehouses, smithy, etc. Additionally they use leather tents with the same style as their Longhouses. When it comes to armor, they actually wear armor similar to that of the Bosmer, mostly leather and bone - probably so as not to slow them down. Weapons are still made of various metals found in the mines, a location strongholds are often built near to.
Here are a few ways to begin a conversation (as a sign of respect, make sure to introduce yourself or at least establish eye contact first):
- Offer to begin an unarmed altercation and force the Wood Orc to submit. They enjoy fisticuffs.
- If you find yourself walking with a Wood Orc, gain the lead and maintain it. This may lead to a footrace. Win it, and win the Wood Orc’s approval.
- Find a large rock — equal to or greater than body size — and hurl it, within view. Use a strength spell if you must, but don’t let the Wood Orc know.
Here you see that Wood Orcs favour physical prowess; not only strength, but speed too.
And here are a few things an Altmer should not do when interacting with Wood Orcs:
- Flaunt magical abilities. Though the Altmer know that displaying advanced magic shows a lifetime of dedication and mastery of the highest craft, all Orcs bear a cultural distrust of magic. In their ignorance, they believe magic’s primary function is oppression of their people, and often bridle at its use.
- Unless you’re intending to ignite a battle, never hide in the trees of Wood Orc territory. Walk in the open. As our Bosmer cousins have learned, the Wood Orcs do not take kindly to those who stalk their forests. They equate secret movement with malevolence and cowardice.
Both quotes are taken from Civility and Etiquette: Wood Orcs, written by an Altmer, so you might notice their typical arrogance there. It´s interesting to note that here the Wood Orcs don´t look at magic very kindly, but when it comes to their shamans, they appreciate it.
The mention of shamans using magic is in The Taking of Abamath, which describes the time when the Ayleids ran from Cyrodiil to Valenwood.
When the Ayleid forces arrived at the Wood Orc town, the warriors painted themselves in the "blood of Malacath" and relied on their shamans' magic to protect them from the invaders.
See? They use magic. Also, I would like to speak about the “blood of Malacath.” What is that? This is where The Red Paint can help us.
Rakhal looked over the unselected, and pulled Yashirr to her side. "Mauloch chose you to perform the next ritual, child. Take the blade and remember: Mauloch watches you."
Guiding Yashirr's hand, Rakhal leaned over the empty vessel and slid the young Orc's blade across her outstretched neck. Rakhal's hand did not falter even as she slipped from consciousness in order to provide the next paint with the sacred blood of a true warrior.
This is something I haven´t encountered with northern Orcs, but I find it bloody interesting, that Wood Orcs actually make blood sacrifices to make their war plan. Though my theory is that not every tribe uses it, only those tribes that can trace their ancestorship back to the original denizens of Abamath. These clans are known to be extremely ferocious and savage, painting their faces red, to wash the shame of their defeat at Abamath away.
So, this is all I was able to find by observation of the Wood Orcs in ESO and a few other sources out there. I hope this will be useful to my fellow Orsimer, or to any weakling out there, to understand our Valenwood cousins and understand us as a race.
The Red Paint, Civility and Etiquette: Wood Orcs, In the Company of Wood Orcs,Taking of Abamath, Letter to Arkash, The Fall and Rise of Reman´s Bluff, Stay Away from Gurzag´s Mine, Tanglehaven´s Fletchers, Orchelor´s Diary,
Orcs can´t be defeated. Only delayed.
Hmm, that sounds interesting. A totally new Orc culture? I look forward to when you'll get to it))
These clans are known to be extremely ferocious and savage, painting their faces red, to wash the shame of their defeat at Abamath away.
Another nice little to hook. Damn, must resist the urge to play a freakin wood orc.
Wow, I wish I had seen this before. Great job!
Really interesting, Karver, sounds like something I could roleplay (And get me to play an Orc a second time.)