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D&D General Ideas for other Orcish religions/cultures that are alternatives to the Gruumshite religion

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I looked at Orcs as hunters and developed it to become a ‘Blood Cult’. These Orcs dont have gods and dont actually ‘worship’ anything, instead Orc beleif is that they consume both the flesh and life-power of their prey whether they be animals, monsters or humanoids. The practice then is to catch hunt prey and drink/cover themselves with the blood in order to absorb the Life-Power of the Beast. Orc Shaman mix various ingredients with Blood and share the brew with the clan to cause various magical effects.

I also had another set of Orc matriarchs who worshipped the Mother Goddess and beleived that she had two children. Her daughter was born naturally and stayed with her mother but Her son ripped his way out of the Mothers stomach and tried to attack his sister but was driven out to become a mad raider.

Orc society is thus divided on gender lines, females live in settled and relatively peaceful villages. Males whelps are however driven out at around 8 yrs old where they go off and form all-male mobs who survive by raiding or as mercenaries hired by Evil Wizards :)_
 

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MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I have used a vaguely Aztec religion for orcs, where the orcs are sacrificing humanoids to god monsters to keep them sated (and not destroying the world). The orcs are correct in their understanding that the sacrifices keep the god monsters asleep (as the PC's find out if they disrupt too many sacrifices). The orcs also believe that by sacrificing "weak" (i.e., non-orc) humanoids, they are weakening the god monsters (this is not true).
 

MarkB

Legend
Atheism. They've been screwed over by enough gods that they no longer have any use for them. They tolerate a certain degree of druidism, but their practitioners tend more towards the practical than the mystical.

They have strong bardic traditions in the form of skalds and similar oral historians, who provide the closest thing to a spiritual framework for them. They're insular more than hostile, except to missionaries, for whom they have zero tolerance.
 

Make Luthic more TN, following Gruumsh most of the time because, seriously, are the elves or humans going to protect the orcish women and kids? Easy shoe-in for a few paladins focused on protecting the noncombatants.

Waaaaaaayyy back in the day, back in the 2e era, I created a fair number of Faiths & Avatars-type entries for monstrous deities on usenet. This was exactly the course I took for the orc pantheon, that Luthic wasn't as evil as the rest of the pantheon, and was likely more a harsh LN than LE, and that she had secretive contacts with other motherhood/protection deities.
 

Atheism. They've been screwed over by enough gods that they no longer have any use for them. They tolerate a certain degree of druidism, but their practitioners tend more towards the practical than the mystical.

They have strong bardic traditions in the form of skalds and similar oral historians, who provide the closest thing to a spiritual framework for them. They're insular more than hostile, except to missionaries, for whom they have zero tolerance.
That's what the orcs of my world have done, decided to no longer worship deities, as they're too fickle and apathetic towards humanoids.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Reposting from what I did with orcs in my homebrew world...

Displaced But Not Forgotten. From their lairs in the Durghessan Highlands and nearby foothills, the orcs look toward the eastern sea with longing. The Highlands, with its human "barbarians" and bitter dwarves to the north, is where the orcs have pitched their sail-tents for several generations, but it is not their home. Long ago, the orcs were driven from the lowlands. Their legends claim that the orcs were born from the womb of the mercurial sea goddess, and ancient orcish prophecies claim the deep sea is their destiny. When their shamans hear the call, the orcs pack up their sail-tents and strap them to the backs of draft horses and water buffalo to make the pilgrimage to the lowlands. There is no predicting this – orcish spirituality is not bound to tradition, but rather is ecstatic and individual in nature – though it never happens in winter when travel is hardest. To humans lacking understanding of the significance of this journey, the orcs appear as raiders descending upon them. This is only half true.

Raiders or Pilgrims? The orcs do take what they need to survive, particularly if it was a hard winter. However, the orcs feel an intense time pressure during this pilgrimage, as the call of the sea echoes in their bones, and the risk of lowlander humans uniting against them grows. They do not wish to tarry in human lands long, and humans who resettle for a night or who can convince or trick the orcs to take a "quicker route" may find their fields and homes untouched by orcish raiders. Additionally, many pregnant mothers undertake this journey, hoping their children will be born in the ocean in a ritual known as the Salten Spear. They do not wish to unnecessarily jeopardize the lives of their mothers and young with needless battle. Providing medical care and midwifery to orcish mothers is a sure way to avoid hostilities. Orcish outriders look proactively for threats to counter, particularly military encampments with horses or other means to rapidly mobilize light cavalry; these are sabotaged in the dead of night, and success on these missions is a bit of a competition to see who can inspire the most shock, awe, and fear – to bring glory to that orc's family in the eyes of the sea goddess. Thus, appearing as no threat or an otherwise unworthy target will avoid drawing the attraction of the orcish outriders.

Culture of Adoption. Like the sea pig (scotoplanes) of our real world which protect baby king crabs from predators, orcs are known for adopting the forgotten, abandoned, and outcast. During these pilgrimages, new blood is brought into the caravan. To the orcish perspective, "sharing the same blood" is a bond formed through overcoming hardships and fighting at one another's side repeatedly. Thus, when visiting the orcs in the Durghessan Highlands or even when encountering them on pilgrimage to the lowlands, travelers may be surprised to see a small percentage of non-orcs living among the orc clans, eating their food, dancing their wild "wind dances", and inter-marrying. Those half-orcs with aquatic elf, water genasi, or triton descent are viewed as especially good omens.

Sea Reavers and Believers. A very small minority of orcs still live on the sea, fashioning shallow draft longships which can go over reef/shoals and journey upriver. Though these ships are ill-suited for long journeys, the creation of one is a long process closely safeguarded by orcish shipwrights. Only a few of these ships remain and the crafting of the ships is a dying art. In the past, these coastal orcs reserved hostilities for those who displeased the sea goddess by failing to give her offerings, conjuring storms without offering the proper rites of respect, or hunting sea life in a wasteful manner. However, in recent years they have increasingly acted as sea reavers, taking "the sea goddess' due" from those who've forgotten her ways. The worst of these coastal orcs demand blood sacrifices. Like their highland kin, the coastal orcs are also known for adopting deserters, orphaned cabin boys/girls, castaways, and captives, integrating them into their clan much like their upland kin. Using animal messengers, the highland shamans and lowland reavers/shipwrights coordinate when a pilgrimage is happening, so that the lowlanders meet their kin at the coast, bearing the statue of the sea goddess on a specially constructed longship. The Salten Spear birthing ceremony and appeasement rites of the sea goddess are closely guarded secrets, and outsiders are absolutely unwelcome (though adopted humans, half-orcs, elves, dwarves, and so forth are encouraged to attend).

A few thoughts on reinterpreting orc features...

Darkvision: If they once came from the deep sea, then it makes sense that orcs retain some way to see in the dark murky depths.

Aggressive: While their combat style could be seen as needing to rapidly ascend slopes or to quickly catch/dispatch a scout to avoid their people being discovered, there's another way to look at this. The bonus action to move toward an enemy (and CON bonus) actually makes orcs great free divers, letting them reach enemies deeper underwater or, conversely, to ambush enemies out of the water like Navy Seals.

Menacing: If you've been pushed from your homeland to a hostile place with neighbors who don't like you... If you need to win a battle without fighting a battle (because you don't have the numbers to survive a mass confrontation & you have pregnant mothers and children in your caravan)... then intimidation tactics make a lot of sense.

Powerful Build: Not unreasonable for a culture with a built in pilgrimage where you need to carry lots of gear across long distances. This also makes orcs great at portaging canoes, and lifting heavy things... including heavy stones or shipwrecked things underwater.
 

Voadam

Legend
In my Carrion Crown game the player of the Half-Orc in the party was a big Star Trek fan so we came up with her tribe being basically Klingons with Stovokor and the old Gods having been kicked out by legendary Orcish heroes. It works well.

When I was playing a 5e totem barbarian Half-Orc I described it as there are a ton of orcish gods, but it is a dog eat dog- god eat god cosmology so you talk about them like WWE superstars, great entertainment and stories, and every couple of years there are new crops of them and there is turnover. You listen to the shamans' and skalds stories about spirits and gods to get pumped up. Gruumsh was probably eaten by Sabre-Toothed Tiger Bat, who was later ambushed by the Giant Black Ground Sloth, who was later hunted down by the Ultimate Totem Warrior.
 

J-H

Adventurer
When I was playing a 5e totem barbarian Half-Orc I described it as there are a ton of orcish gods, but it is a dog eat dog- god eat god cosmology so you talk about them like WWE superstars, great entertainment and stories, and every couple of years there are new crops of them and there is turnover. You listen to the shamans' and skalds stories about spirits and gods to get pumped up. Gruumsh was probably eaten by Sabre-Toothed Tiger Bat, who was later ambushed by the Giant Black Ground Sloth, who was later hunted down by the Ultimate Totem Warrior.
That sounds like a lot of fun with the right creative mind behind it.
 

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
Their legends claim that the orcs were born from the womb of the mercurial sea goddess, and ancient orcish prophecies claim the deep sea is their destiny. When their shamans hear the call, the orcs pack up their sail-tents and strap them to the backs of draft horses and water buffalo to make the pilgrimage to the lowlands. There is no predicting this – orcish spirituality is not bound to tradition, but rather is ecstatic and individual in nature – though it never happens in winter when travel is hardest. To humans lacking understanding of the significance of this journey, the orcs appear as raiders descending upon them. This is only half true.
Interesting as traditionally in D&D Orcs just don't have much to do with the sea. They never had an aquatic subrace from what I remember, even though for some reason Hobgoblins do have one (the Koalinth).

In this circumstance maybe the Koalinth are an enemy of their Goddess or a curse on their ancient ancestors that spread from the seas to the lands (landbound Hobgoblins being the descendants of Koalinth) to harry those Orcs where they go.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I could see orcs having a religion similar to Eberron's Blood of Vol, but more how Baker talks about it on his blog and not how Faiths of Eberron talks about them.

I also like the idea of them venerating heroic ancestors, naming their families after heroes, and adding their own heroic deeds to the stories of these deified ancestors. Ie, if you are a scion of Gruumsh, and you destroy a dwarven kingdom that enslaved orcs and goblins to farm for them while they worked under the mountain, your deeds become a story that is told about Gruumsh, and after a few generations you have now become part of your people's understanding of the figureof Gruumsh.
 

Voadam

Legend
Interesting as traditionally in D&D Orcs just don't have much to do with the sea. They never had an aquatic subrace from what I remember, even though for some reason Hobgoblins do have one (the Koalinth).

In this circumstance maybe the Koalinth are an enemy of their Goddess or a curse on their ancient ancestors that spread from the seas to the lands (landbound Hobgoblins being the descendants of Koalinth) to harry those Orcs where they go.
In the d20 supplement Into the Blue there are the orcam.

Orcam are a race of humanoids encountered in the open sea, usually in the company of whale pods. They have large builds and stand over 6 feet tall. They are entirely hairless and their thick skin is covered in white and black patterns reminiscent of those found on killer whales. They have small, flattened noses and small teeth. Both the toes and fingers of the orcam have slight webbing and some have small ridges on their backs and legs where fins would be located. These vestigial elements lead most scholars to believe that orcam are descended from whales, though some believe they are an offshoot of orcs modified through magical means.

Despite the description as entirely hairless and medium size:

1603317249151.png
 

Eltab

Is this a moon, or is it a space station?
Reposting from what I did with orcs in my homebrew world...

Displaced But Not Forgotten. From their lairs in the Durghessan Highlands and nearby foothills, the orcs look toward the eastern sea with longing. The Highlands, with its human "barbarians" and bitter dwarves to the north, is where the orcs have pitched their sail-tents for several generations, but it is not their home. Long ago, the orcs were driven from the lowlands. Their legends claim that the orcs were born from the womb of the mercurial sea goddess, and ancient orcish prophecies claim the deep sea is their destiny. When their shamans hear the call, the orcs pack up their sail-tents and strap them to the backs of draft horses and water buffalo to make the pilgrimage to the lowlands. There is no predicting this – orcish spirituality is not bound to tradition, but rather is ecstatic and individual in nature – though it never happens in winter when travel is hardest. To humans lacking understanding of the significance of this journey, the orcs appear as raiders descending upon them. This is only half true.

Raiders or Pilgrims? The orcs do take what they need to survive, particularly if it was a hard winter. However, the orcs feel an intense time pressure during this pilgrimage, as the call of the sea echoes in their bones, and the risk of lowlander humans uniting against them grows. They do not wish to tarry in human lands long, and humans who resettle for a night or who can convince or trick the orcs to take a "quicker route" may find their fields and homes untouched by orcish raiders. Additionally, many pregnant mothers undertake this journey, hoping their children will be born in the ocean in a ritual known as the Salten Spear. They do not wish to unnecessarily jeopardize the lives of their mothers and young with needless battle. Providing medical care and midwifery to orcish mothers is a sure way to avoid hostilities. Orcish outriders look proactively for threats to counter, particularly military encampments with horses or other means to rapidly mobilize light cavalry; these are sabotaged in the dead of night, and success on these missions is a bit of a competition to see who can inspire the most shock, awe, and fear – to bring glory to that orc's family in the eyes of the sea goddess. Thus, appearing as no threat or an otherwise unworthy target will avoid drawing the attraction of the orcish outriders.

Culture of Adoption. Like the sea pig (scotoplanes) of our real world which protect baby king crabs from predators, orcs are known for adopting the forgotten, abandoned, and outcast. During these pilgrimages, new blood is brought into the caravan. To the orcish perspective, "sharing the same blood" is a bond formed through overcoming hardships and fighting at one another's side repeatedly. Thus, when visiting the orcs in the Durghessan Highlands or even when encountering them on pilgrimage to the lowlands, travelers may be surprised to see a small percentage of non-orcs living among the orc clans, eating their food, dancing their wild "wind dances", and inter-marrying. Those half-orcs with aquatic elf, water genasi, or triton descent are viewed as especially good omens.

Sea Reavers and Believers. A very small minority of orcs still live on the sea, fashioning shallow draft longships which can go over reef/shoals and journey upriver. Though these ships are ill-suited for long journeys, the creation of one is a long process closely safeguarded by orcish shipwrights. Only a few of these ships remain and the crafting of the ships is a dying art. In the past, these coastal orcs reserved hostilities for those who displeased the sea goddess by failing to give her offerings, conjuring storms without offering the proper rites of respect, or hunting sea life in a wasteful manner. However, in recent years they have increasingly acted as sea reavers, taking "the sea goddess' due" from those who've forgotten her ways. The worst of these coastal orcs demand blood sacrifices. Like their highland kin, the coastal orcs are also known for adopting deserters, orphaned cabin boys/girls, castaways, and captives, integrating them into their clan much like their upland kin. Using animal messengers, the highland shamans and lowland reavers/shipwrights coordinate when a pilgrimage is happening, so that the lowlanders meet their kin at the coast, bearing the statue of the sea goddess on a specially constructed longship. The Salten Spear birthing ceremony and appeasement rites of the sea goddess are closely guarded secrets, and outsiders are absolutely unwelcome (though adopted humans, half-orcs, elves, dwarves, and so forth are encouraged to attend).

A few thoughts on reinterpreting orc features...

Darkvision: If they once came from the deep sea, then it makes sense that orcs retain some way to see in the dark murky depths.

Aggressive: While their combat style could be seen as needing to rapidly ascend slopes or to quickly catch/dispatch a scout to avoid their people being discovered, there's another way to look at this. The bonus action to move toward an enemy (and CON bonus) actually makes orcs great free divers, letting them reach enemies deeper underwater or, conversely, to ambush enemies out of the water like Navy Seals.

Menacing: If you've been pushed from your homeland to a hostile place with neighbors who don't like you... If you need to win a battle without fighting a battle (because you don't have the numbers to survive a mass confrontation & you have pregnant mothers and children in your caravan)... then intimidation tactics make a lot of sense.

Powerful Build: Not unreasonable for a culture with a built in pilgrimage where you need to carry lots of gear across long distances. This also makes orcs great at portaging canoes, and lifting heavy things... including heavy stones or shipwrecked things underwater.
Unfortunately, that is invisible in Dark Mode. Could you make the text not-black?
 


the Jester

Legend
Assuming we’re staying within the tribal themes for orcs, I could see a religion based on the cult of ancestors where your forefathers and foremothers watch over you, but also expect a certain respect of traditions (kids these days, can’t even observe the 9-day hike of mount maternity that symbolises pregnancy!)

Yeah, I have used ancestor worship as a part of my orcish culture for quite some time. One interesting element that I use is the tradition of making weapons, especially magic ones, from the bones of one's ancestors- swords from thigh bones, axe heads from pelvises, etc.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I did away with pantheons based upon humanoid type a long time ago. They exist as a historical footnote as to how the humanoid types and Gods came into existence, but the world evolved away from it.

In the mythology of my world, there was a time when the Gods realized the benefits of being worshipped, and many Gods created a race to worship them. The first generation of these races were created and trained to worship that God. Over time, the free will of these beings (something necessary for worship) resulted in the worshippers choosing to break with their tribes and worship other beings. As a result, I have a Moradin, a Gruumsh, a Corellon Larathian, and there are large number of the historically associated humanoid type that still worship them - but it is a trend, not a rule.

So, Gruumsh has a lot of orc followers, but orcs also follow other gods freely. You may find tribes worshipping Kord, Erythnul, Dagon, Tharizdun, Selune or Trithereon.
 

I made my orcs in Sertorius, or at least one of the main group of orcs on the continent, more like Romans. That kept the martial aspect but allowed for more civilized and beautiful orcs. They worshiped a god called Lorgo (a kind of elephant god of stone, mountains and volcanos). Those he doesn't like he can curse and turn to stone
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Atheism. They've been screwed over by enough gods that they no longer have any use for them. They tolerate a certain degree of druidism, but their practitioners tend more towards the practical than the mystical.

I’d go even further, if an Orc hero ever got powerful enough it would go and hunt and slay the gods, for the singular purpose of bathing in their divine blood
I made my orcs in Sertorius, or at least one of the main group of orcs on the continent, more like Romans. That kept the martial aspect but allowed for more civilized and beautiful orcs. They worshiped a god called Lorgo (a kind of elephant god of stone, mountains and volcanos). Those he doesn't like he can curse and turn to stone

I do wonder do you have Hobgoblins in your game? Ie how are these Romanesque Orcs d
distinct from standard Hobgoblins in the d&d bloat?
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
In the d20 supplement Into the Blue there are the orcam.



Despite the description as entirely hairless and medium size:

View attachment 127697
How ironic - the first Orc I ever came across was the Great Sea Orc from the Italian poem Orlando Furioso which is what Orca whales are named after. Tolkiens Orcs always confused me due to being distinctly not acquatic (I later learnt they were named for Orcus and distinct from the aquatic form)
 

I do wonder do you have Hobgoblins in your game? Ie how are these Romanesque Orcs d
distinct from standard Hobgoblins in the d&d bloat?

The setting itself is not a D&D setting. It is set in a world where characters are people born with magic that comes from a dead god, and societies like the ones the orcs live in have institutions and methods for channeling or containing these demigods. No hobgoblins in the setting. It has been a while since I've played anything with hobgoblins in it, but for starters they are not evil orcs, they are just very roman. I also put a lot more emphasis on the other trappings of Roman culture like bathing and scriptoria. And they often use mammoths in war (though they have strict laws against harming them and against the ivory trade---due to their worship of Lorgo). You can see a breakdown of orcs in the setting here: ORCS THAT SMELL GOOD.

And on the orc scriptoria: THE SCRIPTORIA OF CAEL
 
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