Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination

The Ethengraw are one of three septs that came to Skarsind from the territory of Ossium when that land was liberated from Druj rule. According to their history, the Ethengraw once ruled all of Ossium. They conquered the other septs and their monarch - their king or queen - ruled over them all. They were, and are, a proud people with a great tradition of conquest and martial prowess, but they were broken for centuries by the cruel hand of the Druj. Now that they are free, they seek to find their place in the Empire, guided by an ancestor who tells them all that they should rule the world.

At the heart of Ethengraw culture is the Epic, a never-ending poem that recounts the greatest deeds of the legendary heroes of the past. All written copies of the Epic were destroyed by the Druj when they conquered the Ethengraw. All that remains are fragments of the vast poem, passed on by oral tradition. Disparate groups of Ethengraw have taken different views on what deeds should be added to the Epic, so there is no “one true version” of the poem. Instead, each group maintains their own version of the Epic, passing on the deeds of the heroes of the past to the next generation.

The Ethengraw are a very martial people, and everyone is encouraged to learn to fight, not just to defend themselves, but so that they can conquer their enemies. However, the Ethengraw don't see fighting simply as pertaining to combat; rather they view life itself as a battle. They relish competition and embrace challenges believing that they can only win themselves a place in the Epic by triumphing over adversity.


According to the Epic, the history of the Ethengraw begins with their first ancestor, Ethengraw themselves. This legendary figure united disparate bands of orcs under their banner and became their warrior-king. Together they conquered much of what is modern Ossium, ruling lands from the eaves of the Webwood to the coast of the Semmerlak. The Epic describes Ethengraw as a benevolent ruler, one who believed that a true monarch must earn the respect of all those they hoped to lead. Those who hear the ancestor say he always urges them to act with dignity, claiming that "Behaviour that's admired is the path to power among people everywhere".

The Ethengraw ruled Ossium for generations before they were conquered by the Druj. The Epic contains no mention at all of how this terrible disaster befell the sept - but most Ethengraw believe that it happened because they themselves had become cruel and degenerate. They suspect that their ancestors had grown arrogant and selfish; pride had given way to hubris. Thus they lost the respect of the other septs, and eventually they were betrayed to the Druj. The Kingdom of Ossium fell to the invaders, their leaders were beheaded, and the survivors were enslaved.

The domination of the Druj is seen as a great dark age by the Ethengraw. All written copies of the Epic were destroyed, as the Druj sought to break their spirit. Their ancestors told them they were born to rule, but the Druj treated them as slaves; they were left with nothing and forced to fight for their overlords. The voices urged them to resist the Druj at every turn but any hint of rebellion was punished with torture and bloody execution. Individual orcs used oral tradition to preserve what they could of the Epic, but even so, generations of Ethengraw fell into the Howling Abyss. The Ethengraw who survived learned to hide their rage.

They were forced to fight for the Druj when the Empire invaded Ossium and most feared that the rule of the newcomers would bring no respite. The Druj had always claimed that the Empire was their enemy; that the humans would kill them all without the Druj to protect them. Instead, after Ossium was declared part of Varushka, they were offered sanctuary and then a new home in Skarsind. To the surprise of many they eagerly embraced this new opportunity, abandoning their history in Ossium for a chance to build a new future.

At first, they resisted joining the Imperial Orcs. Having gained their freedom when they were defeated by the Empire in battle, the Ethengraw were determined not to accept a place as subjects of a new power. They wanted a chance to arm themselves, to grow powerful once more, so that they could join the Imperial Orcs on an equal footing. And they sought a grand gesture, some magnanimous gift, that would prove to their ancestors that the Empire was worthy of their loyalty. The Imperial Senate was quick to agree to the construction of the Black Forge, perhaps eager to incorporate the Ethengraw's fighting skills into the Empire's armies.

However when it became clear that all three of the Ossium septs would eventually join the Imperial Orcs, the Ethengraw refused to join until both the Yerende and the Illarawm were in a position to join with them. As the de facto leaders of the three septs that left Ossium to come to Skarsind, they saw it as their duty to remain apart from the Imperial Orcs until all the septs were ready to join with them. Thus they elected to wait one more season, giving the Empire time to complete construction of the Yerende Palace of Flowers so that the Ethengraw could lead the three septs into the Imperial Orcs together.


The Epic is central to the Ethengraw religious beliefs. This ancient poem begins with the story of Ethengraw, a warrior-king who united and conquered the septs of Ossium to found his kingdom. After his death, new verses were added to the Epic to celebrate the achievements of those judged worthy to be immortalised alongside Ethengraw. The simplest explanation of the Epic is that being written into the poem is what allows members of the sept to cross the Howling Abyss. However more traditional Ethengraw take a simpler view. It is not that the Epic allows you to cross the Abyss; rather, being part of the Epic is what they mean by crossing the Abyss. The Epic is not some power that enables one to make the journey. Rather the Howling Abyss is the metaphor, a fanciful literary device to describe the fate that befalls those who fail to become part of the Epic.

When the Druj conquered the Ethengraw, all physical copies of the Epic were destroyed. Rather than allow their ancestors to be lost, the Ethengraw took to passing on what was remembered of the Epic by oral tradition. Individuals passed on different parts of the poem, whatever they could recall, but much was lost. Since then groups of Ethengraw have often disagreed on whether something is “worthy” to become part of the Epic or not, so now there is no “one true version” of the poem anymore. Instead each maintains their own version of the Epic.

The one constant is Ethangraw themselves. Every member of the Sept will know a line or two or more about their founder and the ancestor will speak to them at crucial moments. Ethengraw's words usually take the form of encouragement of some kind, urging a member of the sept to believe in themselves and trust their judgement. He pushes his descendants to face their fears, to seize the initiative, and to be proactive in the face of any challenge. The ancestor does not appear to be opposed to cunning or deception, although many Ethengraw associate those qualities with the Druj and avoid them anyway. Rather, he reminds his descendants of the great legacy of which they are part, and urges them to take the lead rather than wait for events to overwhelm them.

The other voluble ancestor is Oddalin the Builder. According to most versions of the Epic she took the throne five generations after Ethengraw and her rule represented a high point in the fortunes of the Ethengraw nation. More than just an architect-queen, she was said to be a "builder of people", one who sought constantly to strengthen the qualities of those around her. She usually intervenes when her descendants are faced with moments where they could act to aid or strengthen others. Oddalin rarely misses an opportunity to remind the Ethengraw that a leader is nothing more than the sum of those who follow them. The only way to lead well is to not just inspire others to greatness, but to help them become strong enough to face their own challenges.

Called to Greatness

The Ethengraw are a proud people who absolutely believe that they are called to greatness. Their ancestors remind them that their forebears built a great kingdom and it is their duty to emulate these accomplishments. They are expected to take the lead and to make the Empire stronger than ever. Conquest is an important part of this; the Ethengraw welcome adversity, believing that only by embracing a challenge can they truly test their own character. Few things are more challenging than the heat of battle. Thus, they are eager to face the Empire's enemies in battle.

But winning in battle is only the first step. The goal of the Ethengraw is not to rule, but to lead. In their view that can only happen when you earn the respect of others. In this they cite the example of the Druj who have conquered dozens of septs of orcs, all of whom they rule with an iron first and none of whom they can claim to lead. The Ethengraw expect their leaders to be magnanimous in victory and generous of spirit to those they have defeated. Greatness comes not from forcing others to submit to your will but from inspiring others to follow your example.

Ethengraw never misses an opportunity to remind his descendants that those who wish to enjoy the respect of others first prove they are worthy of it. The Ethengraw believe this happens in two ways. The first requirement is to respect yourself. To be part of the Ethengraw is to be a member of the greatest sept in the world, every one of them is expected to live up to this legacy. Imperial preachers see a lot of crossover with the Way, for the Ethengraw encourage each other to be Ambitious, Courageous, Proud, and Prosperous, but to most Ethengraw it is simply a matter of living your life with as much dignity as possible.

To live with dignity is insufficient however - to win the respect of others, the Ethengraw believe you must first respect them. The best leader is one who seeks to raise up those who follow them. The best way to demonstrate your dignity is to help others find theirs. The Ethengraw refusal to join the Imperial Orcs until the other septs were ready to join with them is the perfect example of this approach. The sept felt keenly that they would dishonour the Yerende if the Ethengraw joined the Imperial Orcs before them, so they refused to do so. The Ethengraw are literally called to lead by their ancestors, but they see leadership as a burden, one that requires every one of them to be mindful of the dignity of others and to put their needs first.

Creating an Ethengraw

The Ethengraw sept allows you to create characters who are confident and driven to achieve. The Ethengraw ancestors make it clear that they expect their descendants to lead the Empire. The ideal Ethengraw character has a natural self-confidence that comes from being constantly told that great things are expected of them. The Ethengraw have only just joined the Empire but they are eager to make their mark on it - they want to engage with other leaders and take their rightful place among them. There has never been an Imperial Orc Throne, but they believe there will be one day and it is only natural that that individual will be an Ethengraw. Thus this sept is the ideal choice for anyone who is confident and ambitious and wants to take the lead in Empire.

As a sept the Ethengraw ascribe to the heroic ideal, holding themselves to high standards of personal behaviour. They are a great choice if you enjoy the challenge of striving to do the "right thing" rather than take the easy way out. They are ideal if you want to make choices that will make your character admired and respected. The Ethengraw would never steal or cheat others; those who do so only cheat themselves. Instead they strive to earn the respect of their fellows. The best way to do this is to respect others and support them whenever you can. The Ethengraw are an ideal sept to choose if you enjoy helping others, because they give you a reason to talk to every character you meet looking for ways you can help them to achieve their goals.

Most Ethengraw are warriors, but everyone is encouraged to be the very best version of themselves, so there are Ethengraw magicians, artisans, philosophers, writers, poets, and bards. For leaders they chose those who embody dignity (particularly in the sense of the Roman ideal of dignitas). Each is expected to excel in their field through hard work and commitment, and in doing so to earn the respect of their fellows. Thus an Ethengraw character can take any skills or personal resource and pursue any path. What typifies an Ethengraw is their natural confidence and self-assurance, not their martial skills.

If you are playing an Ethengraw, you should spend time considering your character's ambitions. Only one character can sit on the Imperial Throne, but Empire is filled with dozens of positions of leadership that you can strive for. You could be aiming to be a general, an archmage, or a senator, or you could aim for something simpler. Any Imperial title, no matter how minor, is still a position of leadership in the Empire. And ultimately, everyone who attends Anvil is considered to be one of the leading voices of their nation; just by attending and taking part in the politics of your nation you are playing the part expected of you by your ancestors.

You might want to create a line or two of the Epic for your character. The Epic is written in modern English, not Anglo-Saxon, but you can look at Seamus Heaney's Beowulf for inspiration. The Ethengraw belief that "behaviour that's admired is the path to power among people everywhere" is a direct quotation from Heaney's translation of Beowulf. If you want to work with other Ethengraw characters to have some lines in common you can, but it's more important that your version of the Epic appeals to you. It doesn't have to be amazing, it can be doggerel, but you can write it down if you want to create something longer, or memorise a few lines and quote them in-character when the time is right. What matters is the idea of a legendary poem or story, something to which all Ethengraw aspire to become part of.

Playing an Ethengraw

The core of being an Ethengraw is about striving to present an inspirational example to everyone around you. You want to push yourself to achieve everything you are capable of, provided you can do so without compromising your dignity in the process. The ultimate goal of an Ethengraw is to be written into the Epic after their death. To achieve that you have to win the respect of others, from your accomplishments in the game and the way you treat and inspire others.

By their nature, most Ethengraw will be filled with Pride - you are literally called to greatness - but you need to avoid appearing arrogant. Nobody should respect you just because you are Ethengraw, and in-character, you should not expect them to. You need to earn the respect of others, not expect or demand it. Hence you should try to be as confident and self-assured as possible, while avoiding the pitfalls of being self-important or conceited. You should assume that you can do anything and achieve anything, but never assume that that means that everyone else will simply do what you say.

Supporting other characters is an essential part of playing an Ethengraw. You want to win the respect of your peers, and the Ethengraw believe you achieve that by helping others to pursue their own goals. This gives you a lot of opportunities at events because whenever you encounter people who you enjoy interacting with then you should look to earn their respect by trying to help them pursue their goals. Thus your character has a built-in reason to want to help anyone they meet - provided it serves the best interests of the Imperial Orcs and the Empire. If you are lucky enough to gain a position of power in the Empire, you should try to use it to help as many people as you can. That doesn't mean helping your political enemies, but you should back those who supported you and seek out ways to win the support of those who did not.

Remember that you can literally hear your ancestor, Ethengraw. He expects you to lead by example and never to take the easy way out. If you are ever in doubt about your own ability to do something then try to imagine that you can hear Ethengraw literally urging you on. Defeats are setbacks from which your ancestor expects you to learn, they are never failures. Empire is an economic game, and one that regularly challenges characters to choose between idealism and expediency. You will often face situations where your best interests don't align with your ideals - part of the challenge of playing an Ethengraw is trying to stay true to the sept's heroic aspirations in the face of the temptation to take a short-cut to power.

Remember that being an Ethengraw is about showing leadership, not seizing power. You are a member of the greatest sept in the world, and your link to the ancestor bequeaths you a great destiny... but most Ethengraw characters won't hold an important Imperial title or wield power in the game. You should be ambitious and strive to succeed, but the crucial part of being an Ethengraw is about trying to seize the initiative and take action. You might begin the game as the third spear-carrier from the left - but always be on the lookout for moments to step forward and take the lead. If you find yourself inhibited by the possibility of failure or death, remember that you can literally hear your ancestor encouraging you and urging you on.


The Ethengraw wear similar garb to the other Imperial Orc septs, but the idea of respect and self-respect is crucial to them. Thus they often pay more attention to their appearance than other orcs, striving to ensure that their clothes, their armour and their weapons are well maintained so that they look dignified and inspire respect from others. Items of worth might be old, but that only means that more effort is needed to keep them clean and in good condition. Thus, costume, armour, weapons and props can all look well made, better maintained and in better condition than they might for another Imperial Orc. The Ethengraw is still a very poor sept, so your costume needn't look expensive or new, but where possible, it should look like you take pride in your appearance.

Creating and improving your Ethengraw look is an opportunity to embellish your Imperial Orc costume with flourishes that will emphasize your importance and status. While you shouldn't wear any crown except the Imperial Crown, you can consider jewellery for the head, neck or wrists that helps to convey the fact that you are one of the most important orcs in the whole world. A jewelled torc in particular is a great choice for any Ethengraw.

Most Ethengraw have adopted the Imperial Orc tradition of wearing wraps around their ankles, wrists, and neck. While few Ethengraw have literal scars they wish to hide, they understand the significance of these garments and wear them out of respect for their Sunstorm cousins.

Further Reading

Core Brief

Additional Information