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The Sannite sept came to Skarsind from Mareave following the raid on Beoraidh after the Winter Solstice 382YE. They are a disparate group made up of thousands of gladiators and others that were part of the Grendel's attempt to raise an army. Many are former Grendel but there are also orcs from the interior of the Broken Shore among them. In many ways it is their shared experience that has formed the common ground for the sept - not unlike the Sunstorm themselves.

The Sannites have made some attempt to adopt the Imperial Orc values of Loyalty and martial discipline, but the legacy of their time as gladiators in the arena at Beoraidh and their Grendel roots means they still retain a fierce culture of individuality. They won't stand for disloyalty, but orcs who pursue their own individual agendas and promote themselves are more acceptable in the Sannites than any other sept.

Like the Sunstorm and the Ethengraw, the Sannite are a martial sept. Many of them are adept fighters, either gladiators with experience in the arena, or former soldiers with experience fighting on campaign for the Grendel. The sept prize fighting smart, preferring to outwit their foes where they can, rather than defeat an enemy by weight of numbers. More than anything, they are competitive in nature - they are painfully aware that they are the smallest sept in the nation and there is a fierce desire to prove themselves to be as skilled, shrewd and resourceful as their rivals.


The Sannites have little history to speak of. They don't inherit an enduring legacy that dates back centuries like the Ossium septs or the Tamazi, nor can they claim great achievements like the Sunstorm who forced the Empire to accept the orcs as equals and created the Imperial Orcs. Their history literally begins two years ago when the Empire raided Beoraidh and they seized the opportunity to take up arms and turn on the Grendel who had enslaved them. A glorious, if somewhat one-sided battle ensued, during which the Sannites took revenge on their captors, slaying as many of them as they could catch. When Beoraidh burned, they seized the opportunity to flee the Broken Shore and travel across the Bay of Catazar to claim a new life for themselves in Skarsind.

For a long time it was not clear that they were really a sept at all. They had their experiences in the fighting pits in common, but little beyond that to bind them together. They joined the Imperial Orcs, eager to make a place for themselves in Skarsind, but few had ambitions beyond that. Over time though it became clear that their experiences and ambitions were sufficiently different to the Sunstorm sept who had lived most of their lives as Imperial Orcs. In 385YE, Skywise Gralka used a judgement in the Imperial Orc Assembly to declare "the liberated people of Dubhtraig and Beoraidh" to be the Sannite sept.

The Sannites have continued to promote their identity since that day, but they have yet to establish themselves in Imperial Orc politics. When they first came to Skarsind, there was a suggestion that the Sannites might form the core of a new Imperial army, helping them to forge an identity much as the Winter Storm and the Summer Sun did. But that goal was contingent on the Imperial Orcs gaining another territory, and thus far that has not come to pass. Since then the Ethengraw have joined the nation, and the Imperial Orcs seized an opportunity to raise an army of the new Ethengraw warriors, pushing ahead of the Sannites. The potential for the sept to raise an Imperial army still exists if the Imperial Orcs can obtain another Imperial territory, but being skipped over in this fashion has incubated a nascent rivalry between the two septs.


Like the Sunstorm, the Sannites have a number of different ancestors, but a significant number hear the words of one or more of the Grendel ancestors. Rucraic, the Storm Lord, who encourages ambition and daring; Dubhtraig, the Salt Lord, who pushes the Sannites to be ruthless in the pursuit of Prosperity; and Sheanduir, the Wind Lord, who urges her descendants to be bold and cunning so that they can outwit those who stand in their way. These ancestors don't seem to object to their descendants joining the Empire and the Imperial Orcs; in fact many say it was their ancestors who encouraged them to take up arms in support of the Imperial Orcs when they attacked Beoraidh.

Few Sannites see any conflict in this. Many of those rescued from Beoraidh were slaves who had been offered their freedom in exchange for agreeing to serve in the Grendel army. Others had been impressed by Grendel recruiters, literally grabbed from the shabbiest taverns in Grendel cities, or rounded up from the arid settlements to the east of Beoraidh, and taken against their will to the arena where they were forced to fight and drill. For both these groups the sudden arrival of the Empire offered an unparalleled opportunity to improve their station in life, one their ancestors urged them to grab with both hands.

Some Sannites trace their ancestry to one of the many small septs of orcs that dwell in the interior of the Broken Shore. Some of these ancestors seem more confused by their descendants' circumstances now that they are part of the Empire. Hearing these ancestors can be difficult; much like some of the ancestors of the Sunstorm, they are often baffled by the current situation and offer unhelpful advice urging battle with the Empire rather than its enemies. These orcs have benefited greatly from the skills shared by the Illarawm, which have allowed them to quiet their ancestors' voices and helped them to find an ancestor to listen to who can comprehend what is happening. Most have chosen to embrace one of the Grendel ancestors since they seem content with the sept's new situation.

Few Sannites knew much of the Imperial Virtues before coming to the Empire. The study of the Virtues is much more common in Grendel society among the prosperous and the powerful, especially those who have dealings with the Empire. Most Sannites have made some effort to respect the Way since they settled in Skarsind, the better to get along with their neighbours, but those who have embraced it wholeheartedly are very much the exception.

Something to Prove

The Sannites came to the Empire with very little. The gladiators sprung from the cages of Beoraidh's arena had little more than the exotic weapons and costumes they used to show-fight with. Few had more than what they were holding when they were freed, and most of those who managed to grab something opted for real weapons and armour that would let them help in the fight out. They came to Skarsind with almost nothing.

Other Imperial Orcs were generous in sharing what they had with the newcomers, and they quickly found places to live and work in Skarsind, but the arrival of the other septs only served to heighten their awareness of their own poverty. None of the septs who travelled from Ossium or Axos had great material riches, but they still brought with them the collected wealth of their sept, or as much as they could carry. And all of them brought rare lore, erudite learning, or a storied history. The brutal reality is that the Sannites are the smallest sept in the Imperial Orcs, and currently the poorest. All they have going for them is their cunning wits, their remorseless ambition, and an utter determination to better themselves.

The sept understands the importance of appearances. Their fighting style is often more showy than other Orcs, particularly when they are in the pits, but even on the battlefield. They admire those warriors who can defeat a more skilled opponent with a clever ruse, especially if it is delivered with a bold flourish. They don't just like to beat their opponents, they enjoy the thrill of making a display of it when they win.

Perhaps it is their background as gladiators in the Grendel arena, perhaps it is their circumstances as the smallest and poorest of the Imperial Orc septs. Either way, the Sannites have something to prove. They are eager to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them, and keen to prove that they are the equal of the other septs, preferably by publicly beating them at their own game. The Sannites are by far the most competitive of the Imperial Orc septs, and the most likely to use guile and cunning to claim victory.

Creating a Sannite

The Sannite sept allows you to create an Imperial Orc character who is driven and determined to make a success of themselves, but is not afraid to use a bit of cunning and guile to get ahead. Most of the Imperial Orc septs admire skill, tenacity, and excellence. The Sannites like those qualities too; they just think it makes sense to take the shortest route when the option exists. No Imperial Orc would ever countenance treachery to the Empire or the nation, but the Sannites have a natural understanding of the political nature of life in the Empire, and a keen desire to play the game to get ahead. They're a great choice if you want to play an Imperial Orc who is ambitious and ruthless, especially if you want to play a character that is a little more flamboyant than other Imperial Orcs. Ultimately they're a great choice if you're the kind of player who will enjoy the more player-vs-player conflicts in the game.

It is a good idea to consider a military unit if you don't have a resource that you feel better suits your character. Having a military unit will give you a lot of flexibility. Many Sannites are naturally drawn to become reavers, relishing the opportunity to enrich themselves without being beholden to anyone else. Being a reaver provides a Sannite with ample opportunities to use cunning and daring to get what they want. The Sannites are eager to seize any chance to get ahead, and having a military unit will let you take advantage of various opportunities that come up in a wind of fortune (for example), or choose an adventure to let you tailor your income to provide what you need in the moment. It will also allow you to choose to support an Imperial army, which will let you maximise your political influence in the nation. Even here, though, you could let the Sannite ruthlessness shine through, picking an army based solely on whether it is receiving the Imperial Guerdon rather than being guided by sentimentality.

Martial skills are the best starting point for any Sannite character, especially heroic fighting skills. Since they settled in Skarsind, however, the Sannites have been eager to seize any opportunity that comes their way. They are pragmatic about abandoning old practices in favour of adopting whatever approach will help them get ahead, so you can easily be a Sannite apothecary, a magician, or similar. The key is to think about how you can use your skills to better your own position; a Sannite apothecary or magician is likely to expect payment for using their abilities to help someone else, either in actual wealth or the promise of future favours. It's also worth considering how you can add an element of showmanship or flair to what you do; people who get noticed often have more influence than those who don't.

It is a good idea to decide what ancestors your character can hear. The Grendel ancestors that many Sannites inherit are ruthless in nature, and encourage you to take any opportunity to improve your lot in life regardless of the risk. The Grendel ancestors don't care one jot about the Imperial Orcs, but they do care about you - they want you to be smart and daring and to seize every opportunity that comes your way. If that sounds like more problems than you want your character to have, you can choose a different ancestor; the Illarawm have helped Orcs in Skarsind find ways to quiet the ancestors they don't want to hear and learn how to embrace other voices.

The Imperial Orcs are a nation of underdogs, the smallest nation in the Empire with only a single territory. Playing a Sannite character lets you play an underdog mentality in the smallest nation. The Sannites have the relentless enthusiasm and drive of first-generation immigrants eager to seize opportunities they would never have had access to before they settled here. The Empire has been good to them, but the main thing the Empire offers is limitless opportunity. Playing a Sannite is all about seeking out those opportunities and grabbing them with both hands.

Playing a Sannite

Your first challenge as a Sannite is to balance your personal ambitions with those of the Empire and your nation. All orcs feel a natural desire to be part of something bigger than themselves and most Imperial Orc septs want to put the nation and the Empire first. Sannites still share the desire to see the Empire and the nation do well - they have the same dislike of those who break the law for example - but they're also keen to see to their own advancement. You can lean towards whichever of those competing ambitions seems most enjoyable in play but try to keep them all in mind if you can. Look for the best solution in any circumstance - which is the one that helps the Empire, the nation, and you and your friends all at the same time!

You can spread your personal ambitions if you're part of a group. The Sannites are characterised by their ambition, not their selfishness. They're more individualistic than most other septs... but they're still Imperial Orcs. If you want your character to be focused on the good of your group or the good of the Sannite sept, that's a perfectly good ambition too. And always remember that friends and allies are the most powerful advantages you can have in Empire. The Sannites want to become the richest and strongest sept in the Imperial Orcs, but you're unlikely to get there by treachery and betrayal.

Playing in a very political game can be intimidating, especially if you're contemplating doing something risky or contentious. If you do feel inhibited, try roleplaying that you can literally hear one of your ancestors speaking to you at that very moment, urging you to go for it. The joy of live roleplaying is that it's just a game: it doesn't matter a jot if you fail, the only real danger is not to try. The Sannites are meant to be bold and daring, so don't be afraid to take some risks. And if it all ends in disaster, you can always just blame it on your ancestors...

But if your gambit does pay off, then don't hesitate to milk the moment for everything it's worth. Don't rub people's noses in it if you beat them, the Sannites are fiercely competitive but they're not bullies or bad losers. But they are flamboyant, they like to win and they like the adulation that victory can bring, so don't be averse to taking a lap of victory if things go your way.

One big issue for the Sannites is that of the Imperial Orc armies. Martial strength is very important in the nation, and there are currently two Imperial Orc armies, but both of them are Sunstorm armies. That's a reflection of the fact that they are the most powerful and most populous sept and have been part of the Empire the longest. There's a new army being raised, but it's currently planned to be an Ethengraw army, so that sept will gain the prestige and influence that comes from that. Getting a Sannite army is a great ambition for any starting Sannite character. That could mean raising a fourth army, which will mean you need to take some territory, or it could mean taking over the new army being raised, which would involve some quick political action. Either way, you've got a goal for your character.


Most Sannites have adopted the dress of the Imperial Orcs, the better to adapt to their new home. However, Imperial Orc dress can sometimes be dark and understated so many Sannites like to embellish their outfit with a touch of flamboyance. A flash of a bright colour can help to make your costume more distinct - a bright red cloth tied to a sword's pommel, or bright purple leg and arms wraps. Most Sannites don't dress in a riot of colours like the Freeborn, but they do like to be a bit more flamboyant than other Imperial Orcs. Many Sannites adorn a piece of their clothing with their personal history using embroidery or paint. The ideal is to treat each piece of art as a chapter of a book still being written; important actions they have taken, savage beasts they have slain, and cunning victories they have achieved.

Many Sannites also like to collect trophies of their victories. Small trophies can be attached to your belt with leather thonging, larger ones might have pride of place in the set dressing for your camp. The regalia of an archmage is a perfect example of the Sannite ideal - if you've won an important political then you want everyone to know how well you've done.

Further Reading

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