There are many legions of Imperial Orcs, but only a comparative handful are involved in the affairs of the Empire (that is, attend the seasonal summits at Anvil). The influence of a legion can wax and wane, and involvement in Imperial affairs is not always a reflection of their influence within the nation itself.
This list was compiled by Bloodcrow Ergot, shortly after the Autumn Equinox 380YE. Original text provided by Brian Chandler
Winter Sun (First Army)
Banner Symbol: Crow Skull, and in recent times a red Rhyv Rune etched on the skull head.
Colours: Dark reds and Browns/white highlights
The Bloodcrows are one of the oldest legions. Their members are descendants of Varushkan slaves, many with distant Druj and Thule ancestry. Like most Imperial Orcs, the Bloodcrows have almost no connection to the barbarian tries but detractors point to an echo of the Druj bloodline in the battlefield cunning they display. During the Orc Rebellion it is said that the rivers of Varushka ran red with the blood with their kin and many, many humans. The Bloodcrows vowed to never forget. After the rebellion the Bloodcrows were led by a living legend, shaman named Fenrak who worked with Imperial magicians to help develop the modern orc approach to ritual magic. Ever since the Bloodcrows have been led by a so-called Shaman Lord, and have made a particular practice of winter magic.
The Bloodcrows strongly believe in the "old ways" (of Ancestors and the Howling abyss). For this reason the Bloodcrows look to build their legend in the eyes of their Ancestors and their people, rather than to the teachings of the Imperial Synod.
The Bloodcrow motto can vary and has traditionally been “Our souls. Our minds. Our flesh. Our Empire”, though variations exist such as “Our souls, Our Way, Our Empire”.
Banner Symbol: Single White Wing
A young banner of Imperial Orcs formed by the Shaman Skywise Rykana. Founded in Spring 379YE, Rykana felt it was time for the Imperial Orcs to further explore their own history and discover missing pieces of the past for themselves rather than have their history told to them by others. It is their belief that by discovering their past, the Imperial Orcs could better understand the path to their nation’s future.
The Skywise are all magicians specializing in Day magic, mastering information gathering spells such as Clear Lens of the Eternal River, Skein of Years, and other forms of divination. It is believed that Skywise Rykana was the first Imperial Orc to master the spell Skein of Years and the banner are said to record the stories of the objects they have cast the spell upon and hold them in vast collections.
In recent times the Skywise have split their duties between their birth army of the Winter Sun and establishing a home in Skarsind, in places known as the Iron Hearth and the former lands of the Sigehold Thane. Their shaman have also taken great pride in acting as conscience and good council to any who might seek their wisdom as well as offering guidance for those who hear the voices of their Ancestors.
The Stormcrows are a reaving band of orcs, They are not soldiers; they chafe at the heavy hands of the army generals. Their ancestors spent their days being told what to do and it leaves a bitter taste in their mouths so for now they do as they please, They were given one life and they intend to use every aspect of it.
Some of their number hail from the legions and have turned away, others have heard the voice of an unknown Ancestor urging them towards each other. They don't know the name of their shared ancestor but he has bought them together as a family, Their home has always been amongst each other aboard their fleet of ships, where they roam living the life of privateers or hunting supernatural beasts be it to fill a contract or because it feeds a desire.
The Stormcrows lean more towards the future and are willing to adapt and learn from their human brethren in the Empire, They also seek an active relationship with the Eternals through the Hall of the Worlds. Orc traditions are important to them but they know when change is for the better.
Amongst the banners fighters, the Stormcrow are a filled with ritualists and healers often members are adept to filling in two or three of these roles. Almost everyone among their number can cast magic in some way. They support their family in their endeavours, are open minded and will listen; they may not agree but everyone has the right to be heard. They also have preachers in their banner providing advice and insight into the Way.
They do not bind themselves with straight lines, rules and orders. They feel there is no wrong way to live a life as long as it is lived with pride, courage and to be ever vigilant, for subtle is the voice of corruption never will they fall to the heresy of freedom and luck. They have fought hard for all they are now and long may their wisdom prevail.
Symbol: Bones in the form of the rune Tykonus
Founded by a visionary shaman of the Winter Sun, the Bonewall are dedicated to the soul of the orcish nation. They seek to bring the Way of Virtue and the Imperial Orc nation together, both by preaching the Virtues - the soul and centre of the Empire - to their fellows and by furthering understanding of the Orcish soul within the Synod and beyond.
Between summits, they are busy giving their extensive ossuary a more permanent home than the carts and tents it occupied before the Orcs were given Skarsind. The ossuary is a collection of bones of dead Imperial Orcs and records of their deeds, intended to aid future generations in communing with the ancestors.
The Bonewall are theologians first and foremost; many of them study the magic of Winter, but as a tool to further knowledge of death and the dead, rather than an end in itself.
Summer Storm (Second Army)
Formed immediately following the rebellion, by one of Thrace’s closest comrades - Irontide Sutin - the legion swore allegiance to the Empire, proudly displaying their banners in the Empire’s name. Irontide history tells that the famed Iron Banner of the legion was stained with a drop of Ahraz’ blood, a symbol of their bond to the Empire.
“When I cross the abyss, Ancestors they will say,
How’d you earn your legend, why’d you come this way?
I earned my legend as an Irontide soldier,
Down in the Legions aint a soldier that’s bolder,
I earned my legend in blades and blood,
Down in the grime and guts and mud,
Crushing enemies Empire wide,
I earned my legend in the irontide
Largely hailing from Jotun stock during the rebellion, the Irontide still maintain a strong tradition of a warrior culture, the majority of the legion being made up from professional soldiers in heavy armour and carrying shields. The Irontide harbor a seething hatred for the Jotun, seeing them as the worst of the barbarian tribes, and will stop at nothing to see them crushed whenever they can.
Following the death of Empress Britta they have proudly led the Summer Storm army from the front, providing General’s to lead the army to this day. They also provided the Empire’s first Advisor on Orc Affairs, and importantly the first Imperial Orc Senator.
Fiercely loyal to the Empire, they live by simple rules of battle, preferring to sell their lives rather than those of their allies: “First in, last out”
Banner Colours: Orc browns with a red wrap on right hand and pennant of Red armoured hand in black and red
Redhands are the battle healers of the second army. Ready to pick up the fallen and return them to battle or patch them up to return home. They recently lost their warlord and are now led by Frakk. They have spent significant time in the Mournwold supporting the army on the front lines. The Redhands have a broad objective of delivering medical assistance on the battlefield; the exact manner in achieving this is often down to the individual orc. Some are healers, magicians or bonesaws, who render aid to the injured. Some fight to push back the enemy so the fallen can be recovered, perhaps then standing over the healers as they revive their patients. A few are scouts, searching out the dying and alerting other Redhands to where their assistance is needed. Some simply fight with the Redhands knowing help is at hand should they themselves fall.
For as long as the orc legions have been at war, the banners of the Gaterenders have flown high over their siege equipment. The Gaterenders trace their origins back to Highguard, a camp of orc slaves used to build forts along the border. Carving stone and chopping wood for the scaffolding was a daily business for them. Until word came by messenger to the garrison commander that a large force of former orc slaves had shown defiance in the face of the empire.
The toughest orc amoung them, Raam overheard the guards discussing this and begun planning their bid for freedom. That night, he tore his chains asunder like paper with his bare hands, freed his comrades and broke down the door to the tool storehouse with naught but his head like a raging bull. Woodcutting axes and stone hammers made great weapons. They took over the fort and held it against inumerable odds. The local lord throwing his own forces at them, mercenaries, armies, his own guards and even peasant militia against them but all in vain. They held this fort for what felt like an age. They raided the armouries and food storages of the barracks and local towns for supplies, armour and weapons under cover of night, this becoming such a common occurrence that the troops adopted a dark colour scheme of blacks, dark browns and purples.
It wasn't until the newly formed legions of orcs, fresh from their negotiations with the empress to come into the empires service as free orcs, that Raam's forces stood down. They were brought into the second army, Raam naming his troops "The Gaterenders" The Gaterenders as they stand today are a mixture of siege combat troops, siege engineers and spring ritual mages. Their expertise ranges from taking and defending forts, breaking through shield walls and spring combat rituals. They hit hard and fast, always ready to get stuck in and "SMASH!!" The enemy. Raam and his unit are the common link, Gaterenders often hear the voices of the first Gaterenders as common ancestry.
The Sunhammers are inquisitive and passionate orcs, that value the ideal that to create freely and earn a living is the truest symbol of our freedom. They are avid collectors of both items and information. As such, items of worth and their stories are very precious to them.
Many Sunhammers are descended from Grendel slaves, sold across the seas from the Broken Shore on boats that many died in, suffocated or drowned in dark holds before even reaching the horrors of the mines. During the rebellion it was a common tradition of many ex-slaves to take the shackles they wore, and reforge them into something new, and this tradition of transformation runs strong in their hearts. Indeed, the Sunhammer banner was once the Forgeborn banner, and Forgeborn Alkh is celebrated by the banner as the first to teach his kin how to smith and give our people a true profession - to repair and create the tools with which they would win their freedom. He urged those in the mines with him to take up their hammers and picks, rend their chains, and shatter the bones of their masters. Afterwards, they would claim broken armour and weapons from the battle-dead, repair them, and use them to arm themselves. Alkh's teachings helped him protect his brothers and sisters, and cut down those who opposed them. The wisdom and duty those orcs shared bound them together under the banner of the Forgeborn in a time of war.
Post-rebellion, many who fought found new use for their skills. They found much to admire and love of the people of the Brass Coast, and with the help of kind and altruistic Freeborn, learned to make trade, earn coin and craft magical items. The Forgeborn banner faded away, and the Sunhammers were founded; a new purpose in a new era of freedom – to provide and fight for the Imperial Orcs and the Empire, to create for the sake of creation, and to carry with them the pride and legacy of the ancestors that fought for it all.
Prominent Legions in Play
This list is by no means exhaustive; efforts are made to keep it up to date but due to the sheer amount of work involved the onus lies with the Imperial Orcs players to ensure the information is correct and current.
The majority of legions listed here represent player-character households. It should go without saying that you should not create a character who is part of one of these groups, or has personal history with one of these groups, without first clearing it with the appropriate players. You should also check before including other players' legions in your background. The background team are unlikely to approve a background that significantly impacts or involves another player character legion without their permission.
Included above are a handful of prominent NPC legions - you may be able to create a character associated with one of these houses but the situation will depend very much on your background and the legion in question. It is unlikely that a player character will receive additional benefits for belonging to an NPC legion, and may find their game limited - the leaders of these legions are likely to remain NPCs for example, and are unlikely to give player characters much attention.