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The Sunstorm sept are the original founding sept of the Imperial Orcs. Inspired by the leadership of the legendary exemplar Thrace, they fought their way to freedom. They were eventually accepted by the Empire as equals becoming the final nation to join the Empire (centuries after Urizen joined). Originally known only as the Imperial Orcs, they embraced a new name after they were joined by the other septs. Their "official" name is the Sept of the Sun and Storm after the Winter Sun and the Summer Storm. Few orcs have time for such a long name and it was rapidly shortened to create the name Sunstorm.

In recent years the descendants of Thrace have welcomed other septs into the Imperial Orcs. The newcomers have adopted most of the customs and traditions of the Imperial Orcs, but the larger septs have retained some of their history and culture. This caused some soul-searching among the nation founders as they sought to define an identity of their own that was distinct from the Sannite, the Ethengraw, and the other septs.

Most Sunstorm are loyal and dedicated, both to the nation they founded and the Empire that has embraced them. The sept has a strong emphasis on civic duty: those who work to advance the cause of the Empire and the Imperial Orcs are lauded, in particularly those who make sacrifices, whether that is by serving in or supporting one of the two Imperial Orc armies. It remains to be seen if the other septs will continue this tradition but as the largest and most powerful sept the Sunstorm are still in a position to dominate Imperial Orc politics - at least for now.


For the most part, the history of the sept is the history of the Imperial Orcs. There were orc slaves in most human nations when the Empire was formed, and their numbers only swelled as the Empire expanded. Those taken as slaves were deliberately separated from their families to make them easier to handle. The result was that most orcs in the Empire had lost all sense of identity, stripped of their heritage by generations of slavery. The uprising began in Varushka under the leadership of the legendary orc warlord Thrace. He led an uprising against the Empire and sent his allies everywhere to unite their fellows under a single banner, bringing them together as one sept.

Emperor Ahraz was elected to the Throne to deal with the rebellion, but rather than attack them, he arranged to meet with their leaders in secret. These orcs who were there speak of Ahraz as a man of great sincerity and passion who convinced them that he could not only save their people but give them a purpose and a home. Against all the odds, the rebels elected to become part of the Empire, and after various political machinations they were confirmed as the tenth nation, the Imperial Orcs.

The rebel's agreement with Ahraz created the Imperial Orc nation, but did not provide any lands for them to call their own. For decades they fought in the Empire's wars, hoping to earn lands of their own, but the opportunity never came. Empress Britta promised them a territory, but died before she could fulfil her promise. Then in 379YE the Imperial Orcs helped the people of Wintermark fight off a cruel assault by the forces of the Thule dragons, recovering the Crown of Three Tears, and returning the priceless relic to the people of the Mark. Overwhelmed by gratitude Wintermark proposed to give the Imperial Orcs a gift that would surpass even the crown: a homeland, the territory of Skarsind.

Some members of the sept argued that the nation should not accept the gift, believing that their armies should take a territory on campaign. But after years of peripatetic travelling around the Empire most Imperial Orcs were eager to settle down and embrace their new home. They accepted the Winterfolk's generosity and took over the farms, businesses, and forests of Skarsind. They even found a way to operate the mines in the territory, though no orc was prepared to work them. Slowly they began the work of transforming Skarsind into their home.

Those efforts have accelerated in the years since, as other septs have come to join the Imperial Orcs in Skarsind. They welcomed the newcomers with open arms, inviting them to become part of the nation just as Thrace had once done. Only as more and more new septs began to join the Imperial Orcs did voices begin to question if some of their own history and identity was at risk of being lost. "Names carry the worth of our ambitions," Skywise Gralka said, as she used a judgement in the Imperial Synod to proclaim the descendants of Thrace, the liberators of the orcs, to be the Sept of the Sun and Storm.


For generations the Sunstorm orcs struggled to make sense of the words of their ancestors, which were often confused and incoherent, urging battle with the Empire, rather than its enemies. Some Imperial Orcs heard the words of ancestors from the powerful barbarian nations - they were often angry, barely comprehensible voices that urged violent or aggressive action against the rest of the Empire. A handful seemed to be ancestors from their time as slaves in the Empire, who would often urge their descendants to flee. The voices were cacophonous and confusing, the advice was often contradictory, and only rarely was it useful. It was an unspoken fear for many Sunstorm orcs that their ancestors were not strong enough to carry them across the Howling Abyss, or that they would never guide them through the darkness because they did not embrace the violent, anti-human teachings of these resentful ancestors.

When the Illarawm sept joined the nation, they shared their skills and knowledge of the ancestors showing the other septs how to use meditation to still the voices of the ancestors. Even more importantly, they shared techniques for embracing new ancestors, allowing an orc to hear the words of a new ancestor. Previously it was believed that the only way to hear an ancestor was if you were a direct descendent of them, knew them well when they were alive, or were a descendant of someone who knew them well. The Illarawm have demonstrated that this is not the case - they are able to help an orc embrace a new ancestor, albeit only if they first still the voices of their existing ancestors. For those Sunstorm orcs prepared to accept the help, the assistance of the Illarawm has helped them to quiet the clamour of competing voices. Now at last they are beginning to hear the words of their ancestors clearly.

Despite his singular status, no Imperial Orc has ever heard the words of Thrace. The Imperial Synod declared Thrace to be an exemplar, but he has never returned as an ancestor to speak with the sept he created and led. In recent years, a story has emerged that this absence may in part have something to do with the cruel Winter eternal Sorin. The details have not been widely disseminated, but it appears that at the height of the rebellion against the Empire, Thrace made a deal with the Devourer-of-Hope. At that time the rebels were wintering in Varushka, but it was clear they would not survive the cold, the dangers of the wild, and the lack of food. The Tomb King gave the Imperial Orcs a place to shelter at the height of the storm, but in return Thrace was forced to sacrifice any hope of becoming an ancestor to his people.

One ancestor that some Imperial Orcs do hear quite audibly is Sjöfn of the Bitten Blade. A Jotun ancestor, although not a prominent one, Sjöfn was once a jarl or champion of her people. She died leading her people to victory over the Empire at the battle of Chalkfields; her axe was recovered by the Empire from the monastery there many years later. Somehow the Imperial Orcs were able to forge a link to the ancestor's spirit through the axe enabling many to clearly hear her voice. Now she urges then to fight heroically, glorying in battle without fear or regret, seemingly without regard for who they battle.

Another relatively new ancestor whose voice is increasingly audible is unnamed. During the Winter 385YE invasion of Skallahn some orcs began to hear a voice that urges the importance of finding and protecting a family, of loyalty or fidelity to loved ones, and receiving the same in return. A voice with an absolute commitment to protecting that family and wreaking bloody vengeance on anyone who harms them. The voice is usually quite matter-of-fact, but when it speaks of treachery, betrayal, or traitors it burns with a palpable fury that may cause an orc to lose their temper and lash out at someone who has wronged them. There is some interest, especially among Imperial Orc shamans, of learning more about the identity of this voice.

Forged In Battle

All orcs have a powerful instinctive need to feel as if they are part of something larger than themselves, but the Sunstorm have made military service a crucial part of their founding identity. When they lacked a land of their own, the Sunstorm orcs marched with the Imperial armies, the Winter Sun and the Summer Storm. They forged a great plan - all agreed that every member of the sept would bend every sinew to support the Imperial Orcs in their attempts to conquer land of their own. Not everyone was expected to fight; a battle is no place for those who cannot swing a sword for any reason. But everyone who marched with the armies had a role to play, supporting the army, scouting the land, securing provisions, healing the sick, tending the young while their parents fought, or creating weapons and armour to outfit and supply the soldiers. It was a hard life in the legion camps, marching from one war to the next, but it helped to foster a deep sense of communal spirit - there was a place for every Imperial Orc in service to the nation.

As the years went by, the constraints of military life chafed for some. Reavers preferred the independence and personal wealth that accrued to those who took mercenary work away from the Imperial Orc armies. It paid well and gave them greater freedom than they had following a general's orders, but it came at a price. They were tolerated by other Imperial Orcs; but rarely lauded for their accomplishments. When it came time for the Imperial Orcs to decide on mechanisms for voting in their nation in Senate and Bourse elections, the decision to disenfranchise the reavers reflected widespread disapproval of their lifestyle.

It is more than just the fact that members of the sept expect every Imperial Orc to put the Empire and the nation first. Life in the legion camps is one of constant travel and hard graft, but the discipline and camaraderie that it provided made every Imperial Orc feel part of something bigger than themselves. Even those who did not serve in the army tended to live in one of the many legion camps dotted around the Empire. Life in the legion camps was crowded; orcs slept in large communal tents and ate, trained, and worked together. Military discipline extended even to those who were not formally part of one of the armies. The orcs of the Sunstorm sept have been literally forged in battle and many of them still identify themselves primarily by the legion they fight or fought with.

Now the Imperial Orcs have a homeland of their own, the military camps have mostly been disbanded. Where once the orcs lived in tents and makeshift buildings, they have begun to construct permanent towns, villages, and homesteads of their own. Human visitors often find these settlements a little cramped - the Sunstorm have lost none of their affection for communal living. This deep affection for the military life is nowhere more apparent than the Imperial Orc camp at Anvil itself, which even now is laid out like a fortified army camp, despite the fact that it is the safest place in the entire Empire.

Break The Chains

Decades have passed since the Imperial Orcs joined the Empire, but time has not diminished their hatred of slavery. Many members of the sept have been passionate advocates for freedom ever since they fought for their own, and they have been at the forefront of attempts to liberate other orcs who still languish in slavery in barbarian lands. Some of these efforts have been directed at distant shores - the Imperial Orcs played a major part in the great raid on Chalonsio, the Asavean slaving city, and on Rachensgrab where the international slave trade was ultimately shattered. Almost every member of the sept with the ability to do so participated in these assaults against this abhorrent practice. In recent times though, the sept has begun to focus their efforts on more local problems.

In 381YE, the first legion, the Winter Storm, took the decision to focus their expertise on finding ways to free those who still toiled in chains. Many swore oaths to wipe the evil of slavery from the earth, quoting Bloodcrow Ergot, whose judgement in the Imperial Orc assembly said that "prosperity must not come at freedom's price." The army has not yet taken decisive action to free those enslaved by the Druj in the Mallum, but they have attempted to work with some of the septs in the Barrens, albeit with mixed success.

Where the sept has been most successful is in the politics of Anvil. The Sunstorm were outraged when it came to light that an alliance the Empire had made with the Thule to attack the Jotun together included clauses allowing the Thule to take Jotun as slaves. They protested the decision vociferously and threatened to refuse to support Imperial expeditions through the Sentinel Gate. The Empire surrendered to their demands and desperately attempted to renegotiate the agreements with the Thule. Somewhat to everyone's surprise, the Thule opted to free their slaves, rather than risk the ire of the Imperial Orcs. It is incredibly unlikely that they were worried about the sept particularly; the Thule are much larger and more powerful than any one Imperial nation. But they clearly didn't want to upset the Empire, and the Sunstorm were able to use that leverage to force them to abandon slavery.

It is not clear how much this victory has done to improve the lot of orcs in Otkodov; they remain desperately poor. What is clear is that neither the Druj nor the Grendel have any interest in abandoning slavery anytime soon. Both nations make extensive use of the practice: the Druj habitually try to break the will of everyone they conquer, while the Grendel see people as just another commodity. The Jotun have a unique cultural approach to those they conquer, but it is easy to criticize their thralldom as just another form of slavery. Their thralls may manage land and property, but everything they own ultimately belongs to the jarls they serve. Victory in the Thule lands is just the start - the great task of freeing orcs across the continent has only just begun.

Creating a Sunstorm

The Sunstorm sept allows you to create an orc character who is driven to see the Empire and the nation thrive. Those who first joined the Imperial Orcs had the fervour of the converted. Having fought for their freedom and won a place for themselves in the Empire, they were determined to be first among equals. All orcs feel a great pride by being part of something greater - with nothing else to hold them together, the early members of the Imperial Orcs treated the entire Empire like it was their sept. The triumphs of the Empire were their triumphs. A Sunstorm character has a reason to be strongly invested in every part of the Empire, the politics, the magic, the economics, the battles. The Imperial Orcs and the Sunstorm prosper when the Empire prospers, giving you a motivation to get involved and make that happen.

While many Sunstorm are warriors, the real encouragement is to play a character who strongly identifies with and supports one of the Imperial Orc armies (often called legions) that is formed primarily of Sunstorm warriors (the Winter Sun and the Summer Storm). Your sept is literally named for these two armies, so strongly do they identify with them. You can be a warrior who fights alongside the army, but you could also be a character who uses different skills to support the soldiers, such as a herbalist, healer, or ritualist who focuses on providing assistance to the armies. Sunstorm bonesetters strive to ensure that the armies are well equipped with everything they need, while Sunstorm oathwright might master rituals that enchant warriors or warbands to fight the enemies of the Empire more effectively. What matters is your commitment to the wellbeing and success of your legion, not what form that commitment takes.

Nonetheless, it is a good idea to consider a military unit, if you don't have a resource that better fits your character. This will allow you to support your legion directly between events, but it also gives you an important say on who becomes senator for Skarsind and on who can hold Bourse resources. Characters with military units who don't support an army are often suspect - other members of the sept might react negatively to you if they discover you are taking paid work when you could have been volunteering to fight for the Empire. Whichever way you lean, taking a military unit will give you some important choices to make that can have a big impact on what happens at events.

The Sunstorm have a troubled history with their ancestors, but they have benefited from the knowledge and skills shared with them by the Illarawm that allow them to quieten the voices of their angry ancestors and reach out for those ancestors they wish to connect with. The Sunstorm have been striving to create new Imperial Orc ancestors and many Sunstorm have now found themselves able to hear the words of one of their friends or leaders who has now died. As no Sunstorm can hear the voice of Thrace, you won't have a legendary ancestor figure like the Ethengraw or the Illarawm. You can however choose an important figure of the Imperial Orcs from recent history, someone who actually existed in the game and who other player characters may know and have even met. You can have a unique ancestor, either a real character who has lived and died in the game in the last decade of play, or a character whose history you create and who means something just to you.

One thing you will need to think about is where your ultimate Loyalty lies. The Sunstorm have dedicated themselves to serving the Empire for decades fighting in its wars without question. In recent times, some in the sept have begun to question if such sacrifice is really rewarded. The nature of the Empire is such that those nations that look out for themselves tend to do better. Your character might want to prioritize the Imperial Orc nation and encourage others to do likewise. And now that other septs have begun to join the nation, that raises new questions. Until very recently the Sunstorm and the Imperial Orcs were one and the same thing, but that is no longer the case. All orcs feel an urge to be part of something bigger, and the idea of looking out for yourself is anathema to most Sunstorm characters, but your Loyalty could be to your sept first and foremost.

Playing a Sunstorm

For a long time the Imperial Orcs have been focussed on supporting and defending the Empire. Working for the good of the Empire by taking part in skirmishes if you are a warrior, or using your skills to provision and support the fighters, can be a great way to get started in the game. It will give you a simple goal that you can work towards from your first event. It also gives you a good reason to leave the Imperial Orc camp which is always helpful. The more you get out and find out about what is going on in the Empire, the more opportunities you will discover to use your skills, abilities and resources to help.

Once you find your feet, it is worth considering if your true loyalties might not lie with your nation, rather than the wider Empire. Empire is an avowedly political game - much of the plot for each event comes from the different political agendas and the clashing interests of different nations. Consistently putting the Empire's interests first is rarely in the best interest of the Imperial Orcs - so you might want to look for moments where the Orcs should look to their own first. Of course any Imperial Orc character can make that choice, but the Sunstorm are the only sept that have been part of the Empire for decades. Your sept is the one with all the experience of dealing with the rest of the Empire. Most characters will want to get involved in the parts of the game they enjoy, but the thousands of NPCs in the other septs, those orcs who don't attend Anvil, will generally look to the Sunstorm sept to advise them for guidance on the wider Empire. Finding ways to get the best out of the Empire for the Imperial Orcs can be part of the challenge of playing a Sunstorm character.

The Sunstorm's hatred of slavery gives you a great reason to involve yourself in the Empire's politics and its wars. Many of the Empire's neighbours make extensive use of slavery, but many of them would still like to negotiate with the Empire where they can. You have license to be obstreperous and cause trouble - poke your nose into diplomatic relations to find out what is going on - and don't be shy about making your voice heard if you find out the Empire is not living up to its ideals. The Imperial Constitution promises "dignity, freedom, and prosperity" to all its citizens, but it often falls short of these ideals when dealing with other nations.

In addition to Imperial politics, the nation will increasingly have to contend with internal rivalries between the septs. The Illarawm believe their ancestor was the first and by far the most important orc ancestor ever. The Ethengraw sept believe they were born to rule, while the Yerende see managing the nation as their highest calling. These septs are new to the nation, and at the moment they lack the prominence and influence of the Sunstorm. But if they start to come to Anvil in force, they are likely to come with their own agendas and their own goals. The Sunstorm triumphed in a life or death battle to create the Imperial Orc nation, it would be a betrayal of everything that Thrace and your ancestors fought for to abandon that legacy now.


The other septs have largely adopted the fashions of the Sunstorm, so all Imperial Orcs will use the sort of garments laid out in the Imperial Orcs look and feel to a large extent. There are two ways you can make your identity as a Sunstorm orc more obvious. The first is to use a depiction of a horse in one or more places on your costume. insignia are very important to orcs, they're a powerful hearth magic that helps you to be part of a group allowing you to work together more effectively. For this reason, the Imperial Orcs adopted the horse, the unofficial symbol of the Empire as their nation's heraldry. It has been a powerful enduring symbol of the Imperial Orcs ever since, but the image doesn't have the same resonance for the other septs who joined the Empire more recently and few of them have adopted it. A striking version of the Imperial Orc banner depicting an armoured horse's head can help to mark you out as a member of the Sunstorm.

The other insignia that you can use are the symbols of your legion - the Winter Sun or the Summer Storm. Almost all Sunstorm groups identify strongly with one of the two Imperial Orc legions. There are members of the other septs joining these two legions, but they don't see it as an essential part of their identity in the way the Sunstorm do. Prominent displays of the iconography of your legion on your costume, props or camp set dressing will help to convey how important that is to your character.

Further Reading

Core Brief

Additional Information