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The Yerende are one of three septs that came to Skarsind from Ossium when that land was liberated from Druj rule by armies of Varushka and Dawn. The Yerende are patient, conscientious, and calculating; they pride themselves on thinking and planning for the long term. They were quick to grasp the opportunities presented by a new life in Skarsind, eager for an opportunity to begin building a new life for themselves far away from the dark shadow of the Druj.

When they came to Skarsind they brought dozens of cuttings with them: herbs familiar to every physick and apothecary, and many less-magical plants with helpful medicinal and narcotic properties. They also brought with them their most prized possession - a small amount of cultivable orcsroot - the peculiar magical mandrake the Empire calls realmsroot. They cultivated those seeds and grew their own herb gardens in the open, intent on teaching their children the lore of their ancestors.

Most Yerende are prudent and judicious by nature, and the other septs often assume they are a peaceful people who avoid battle. In truth, it is undue risk the Yerende dislike; they prefer to avoid direct confrontation when the outcome is in doubt. Better to stay your hand until you have time to prepare the battlefield in such a way that victory is assured. Rather than push themselves forward, most Yerende prefer to support others, presenting advice and serving as a steady hand to their fellow orcs where possible.


The Yerende are distant cousins to the Great Forest Orcs; a sept of the Barrens who reside in the Heart of Peytaht. Their ancient ancestors lived together when the Great Forest of Peytaht covered much of the Empire, a sprawling, primeval forest that reached the mountains of Otkodov to the north and as far west as the kingdoms of the Jotun. At some unknown time they were split; the Yerende in Ossium and the Great Forest Orcs in the Barrens.

By all accounts the sept thrived under the rule of the Ethengraw in Ossium. They served as respected advisers to the leaders of the Ethengraw and their influence grew steadily as they gained a reputation for wise counsel and effective administration. They used their status to become skilled apothecaries, masters of the study of plants and herbs, cultivating beautiful and bountiful gardens to provide what was needed. They believe their success was Ossium's downfall. The covetous buruk tepel of the Mallum jealously demanded that they share their herbal lore, especially their mastery of orcsroot. The Yerende refused, and the Druj elected to take it by force.

They suffered for centuries under Druj rule. They still tended their gardens but now the Druj took every herb they produced. The buruk tepel suffer no rivals to live, so their master herbalists were slain and their herbal lore stolen or destroyed. For centuries, though, they kept those arts alive in secret. Even the Druj are not all-seeing, for all that they claim to have eyes everywhere. In the depths of the forests, the Yerende tended their herbs in secret and handed down the forbidden lore of their ancestors from generation to generation.

Freed of the tyranny of the Druj, the Yerende cautiously offered to share their knowledge of orcsroot with the Imperial Orcs in exchange for the resources and assistance to construct a palace of flowers in Solvihill. This massive garden has transformed their position by providing herbs to members of the sept, enabling them to earn a living as apothecaries and healers. Many in the sept hope that this is just the beginning, that the future holds the potential for them to resume their traditional role as wise counsellors to the other septs.


All Yerende hear the words of their most important ancestor, Runa, who they call the Soft-Speaker. It is said that Runa first walked the world when the Great Forest covered the Empire and that she will return when that time comes again. The Yerende will patiently explain that the latter is a metaphor, meaning that the sept draw closer to their ancestor as they work to make the world fertile and bountiful. Runa usually speaks to her descendants when they are excited or enraged, urging them to be rational and think more deeply. Her words usually take the form of gentle encouragement; urging members of the sept to look for new ways to solve problems or to think about the wider picture.

Like other Orcs, the Yerende are painfully aware that they face the Howling Abyss when they die. Where other septs view crossing the Abyss as a heroic act facing the individual, the Yerende take a more communal approach. They see it as the responsibility of every member of the sept to strive to help each other to become strong enough to cross the Abyss. That is, after all, exactly what the ancestors do - they work hard to try and help their fellow orcs cross the Abyss. So to the Yerende it makes perfect sense that the orcs who are the most likely to cross the Abyss are those who did the most to build up their fellows in this life. It is also reflected in their funerary traditions; wherever possible the body of a deceased member of the sept is recovered and buried beneath the gardens of the Yerende. As natural processes cause the corpse to be absorbed by the soil, it nourishes the plants that grow there. Some Yerende herbalists believe that the presence of a particular body may grant extra potency to certain types of herb.

The Yerende prize the spiritual notion of diligence above all other qualities. They believe that only the most diligent individuals are able to cross the Howling Abyss. Diligence is much more than the simplistic notion of hard work as expressed by the Imperial Virtue of Prosperity; it is about meticulous and painstaking work that is geared towards an ordered goal. The Yerende are contemptuous of hard toil that is wasted effort, believing that spiritual strength comes from marrying physical graft with a carefully-made plan that directs that work to achieve a valued outcome.

To help each other achieve that state, the Yerende work to ensure that their sept and their allies have enough to eat and a place to take shelter. The Yerende know that people make poor decisions when they are fearful, cold, or hungry. They create their gardens to build places of shelter and sustenance for themselves and their fellow orcs, so that they are freed from the constraints of the world that trap the mind in the emotions of the body. In this way they hope that all can become diligent, and thus all can one day cross the Abyss together. Our inspiration for Runa is Uncle Iroh from the animated series Avatar the Last Airbender.

The Great Garden

If you ask a Yerende soldier what their profession is, if they know you well they may smile slyly and respond that they are a "gardener". You could get the same answer from an apothecary, a wheelwright, or a ropemaker. Actual gardeners are very common among the Yerende; they hold those who tend gardens to grow herbs or food in high esteem. Gardening is seen as the perfect embodiment of diligence - requiring long hours of hard physical work but also meticulous planning and care. When to plant, when to prune, when to harvest - everything must be planned with great care. The wrong plant next to the wrong herb can cause both to wither and die.

But the Yerende perceive a much deeper more spiritual truth in which they call the world the "Great Garden". They are aware, painfully so from their own history, that the world is a place of violence, conflict, and deprivation. It is as far from the vision of a serene garden as it is possible to imagine. To the Yerende, this is not surprising; nobody works to improve the world, nobody tends to the world, and so it grows ever more wild, disordered, and turbulent.

Once you see the world as one single great garden, it becomes clear that it is everyone's responsibility to tend it. No matter what path they chose in life, warrior or healer, merchant or mage, each Yerende is taught that the way to cross the Howling Abyss is to tend the Great Garden, to work with diligence to make the world more bountiful, harmonious, and productive, the better to support the needs of everyone who dwells there.

There is a darker side to this view of the world. It is absolutely a mistake to see the Yerende as pacifists. It is not violence or war they disdain, it is thoughtless violence that achieves nothing that offends them. The Yerende understand that tending a garden is much more than just planting seeds. Every garden must be protected against predators and pests. Every garden has weeds. Weeds like the Druj... weeds that must be meticulously torn out by the roots.

Creating a Yerende

The Yerende sept allows you to create a character with a strong communal focus who wants to help others. You are free to chose who you want to help: it could be other members of your group or your sept, it might be the Imperial Orcs or the Empire, or it could be other herbalists, magicians, or similar. It doesn't matter who you try to help or how - the Great Garden, the core philosophy of the sept, is all about making the world a better place - and better is entirely subjective. One Yerende might want to focus on improving the investment level in Skarsind, whilst another might want to see the Senate focus funds on the military. They're both entirely viable options - and they support the improvement of the Great Garden, even though they appear to be at odds with each other.

The Yerende is a great choice if you prefer to support and help others, rather than leading from the front. The role of advisor or counsellor is perfect for the Yerende and can be huge fun creating many opportunities for roleplaying. Don't forget that the Yerende are also meant be skilled and effective administrators - which is a great role to play in Empire if it plays to your real world strengths. You can be a brilliant adjutant, ensuring that your general has everything they need to succeed, without ever wanting to take the position itself if you don't want. Empire is full of important positions - senators, cardinals, archmages, grandmasters, and more - most of whom will find it an asset to have the support and assistance of someone genuinely trying to help them succeed.

Apothecary is a great skill focus for any Yerende, but physick or magician-healer are almost as good. Martial characters are rare, but not unknown - all Yerende will fight when they need to, or when it is clearly the best course of action. Magicians, especially ritual magicians, who can use magic to strengthen others are another ideal choice for any Yerende character. Ultimately what matters is not what skills you take, but how you use those skills to support others and "tend the Garden".

Herb garden is the ideal resource for obvious reasons, but there are plenty of alternatives. The Yerende don't engage in much large-scale agriculture, but they are adept at creating bountiful gardens that grow food almost all year round, making a farm an excellent choice. A forest might also represent a garden, and has the added advantage that it could be diversified to provide a small number of healing herbs. You can also pick your resource by thinking about your responsibility to tend to the ills of the world. A congregation, in particular, will give you votes in the Synod, allowing you to work to improve their decision making. Likewise you could take a military unit if you want to have direct influence in Imperial Orc politics. Mines, businesses, and fleets are much less common, but at the end of the day what resource you choose is less important than what you do with the wealth it produces.

Whatever character choices you make, you should think carefully about what part of the Great Garden you want to tend - and what your plan for the world is. Getting across the Howling Abyss requires not just that you work hard, but that you do so according to a plan. You don't have to have a big plan when you enter play and you certainly don't need to have all the details worked out. If you can identify one or more long term goals as you play your character, then it will help cement them as a member of the Yerende. It will also give you something to aim for at each event, especially if you can break it down into credible steps that you might achieve along the way.

Yerende is a great choice if you like to make long-term plans and work towards them over events or years. That can be hard in Empire, with its short-term event-by-event focus, but if you can pull it off then it will make your character stand out as someone who has a vision. You don't have to stick with one plan forever - the Yerende are not stubborn - they adapt their goals to changing circumstances. But it's brilliant if you can find something about the world that your character cares passionately about and wants to change.

Playing a Yerende

Playing a Yerende character is about wanting to change the world for the better. You want to work hard to achieve things that produce real changes in the Empire setting, making lives easier and better for others. You get to chose what constitutes better; you don't have to go along with anyone else's ideas. Having your own vision and working towards that is very important - but change is hard, so the more allies you can make the better.

The nature of the Yerende is to be diligent, always striving to advance their plans. That is great if you have the energy to pull it off: the more busy you are at events the more fun you are likely to have. But don't assume diligent means you have to be running around all the time. The Yerende prize efficiency; if a quick conversation with the right person will achieve an outcome, then that is better than spending hours going from meeting to meeting pursuing that goal. They also enjoy moments of quiet contemplation, where they can spend time mulling over the situation and looking for some new insight, so you can take a break whenever you feel you need one without feeling you're not living up to the sept's reputation.

The most effective way to achieve change is to give the right counsel or help to someone who will use it to achieve your goals for you. Don't assume that just because you are playing a Yerende people will automatically respect you and want your counsel or advice. Dispensing insight that is genuinely useful is very hard, so it usually takes years of hard work to build a reputation for wisdom. What you can do is work to make yourself useful to someone who is already important in the game by looking for ways that you can help them. If you are able to be organised and meticulous in your approach even better, as you'll find it makes you much more effective.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the Yerende are pacifists with gentle souls. They admire reason and dislike violence that is pointless and achieves no purpose - but they can be dispassionately ruthless when it is needed. They take no joy in harming others - they are not bloodthirsty or cruel - but they know that the perfect garden contains no weeds. If something is disrupting the perfect order of your garden, and it cannot be tamed, then it needs to be uprooted and destroyed. As a Yerende, you can be as remorseless as you want to be in pursuit of your dream of a better world. Apothecaries can brew poisons as well as antidotes, after all.

Don't be afraid to consider ideas that are at odds with the accepted wisdom. If you feel inhibited or foolish then remember that when you hear your ancestor Runa, she will constantly urge you to consider other viewpoints, to think about the problem in different terms, to try and see more deeply, and not to worry what others think. The Yerende are not scared of failure - like any gardener they know that sometimes the seeds you plant will not grow. It is not wasted effort to try to achieve something and fail - it's only futile to act without any guiding plan or purpose for what you are trying to accomplish. The more creative you can be when pursuing some goal, the better!


Since joining the Imperial Orcs, the Yerende have begun to wear the clothing of their adopted nation, however a few retain a fondness for axes which used to be a traditional weapon among the sept. A hatchet is a practical and useful tool for a gardener, and an effective way to go armed without being dragged in for questioning by the ever-watching Druj. Some concerns are long gone now, but the habit lingers.

Another common feature of Yerende garb is a large leather pouch or a belt with many smaller pouches attached. The Yerende pride themselves on planning for any eventuality: in practical terms that often means ensuring that you have a few useful herbs or potions on your person at all times. If not that, it might be mana crystals, or coins, or even just a flask of water and some preserved food. The point is to look like you're prepared for any eventuality.

One thing that does mark the Yerende out among the Imperial Orcs is their love of embroidery. All Imperial Orcs like to mark their clothing, costume and personal belongings with insignia that denotes their identity and loyalty. The Yerende are no exception, and they will employ paint, applique and any other techniques when needed. However embroidery is favoured among Yerende wealthy enough to afford it, a reflection of their love of meticulous and diligent work done with care and forethought.

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