Though they control no territories, the Imperial Orcs are legally considered the tenth nation of the Empire. Some critics claim that the Imperial Orcs cannot be considered on par with real nations because they do not possess lands of their own but Imperial magistrates have repeatedly confirmed that any newly conquered territory could be assigned to the Imperial Orcs.
The problem for the Imperial Orcs is that the assignment of newly conquered territories is determined by vote of the Imperial Senate, but with no lands they possess no senators and hence no votes in the Senate. This problem is compounded by the other nations' focus on reclaiming territories that were once part of their own lands; there is little chance they would be able to claim Holberg or Skarsind even if they wanted them. To gain lands of their own, the Imperial Orcs must look to the lands controlled by the barbarians that have never been part of the Empire.
The Imperial Orcs strongly supported Empress Britta, and fought in all her campaigns. She promised them her support in gaining lands for themselves if her campaign of expansion was successful, but with her death that promise remained unfulfilled.
After the orcs agreed to join the Empire, the first problem that had to be addressed was where they would live. The human nations that had formed or joined the Empire held lands of their own. Territories that were liberated from the barbarians were incorporated into existing nations. But as slaves, the orcs claimed no lands of their own and no Imperial senators, not even the Freeborn were keen to offer the Imperial Orcs a home within their borders. To resolve the problem the representatives of the orcs proposed a simple plan - the orcs would become a nation without territories, claiming no land of their own until they could conquer one following Imperial statute. This proposal relieved the fears of many senators and helped to win the support of the League, although it was heavily criticized by the Highborn.
Although decades have passed without any new territories being added to the Empire, the agreement still forms the basis for what most Imperial Orcs refer to simply as the "Plan". Help the Empire conquer new lands and have the senate assign them to the Imperial Orc nation so that they will have a homeland of their own. Most Imperial Orcs are not naive about the obvious military, political and historical difficulties that must be overcome to achieve their plan, but many believe that their journey to full citizenship in the Empire will not be complete until they do so. As a result the leaders of the Imperial Orcs and the legions themselves make a deliberate effort to keep the orcs together as a people, enduring the hard life in the legion camps as a sacrifice that must be made to achieve their ultimate goal. Individuals who settle down in other nations are seen as undermining the moral imperative for the Imperial Orcs to be given lands of their own and are regarded with open hostility by many.
The Armies of the Imperial Orcs
The Imperial Orcs have two armies which serve as their homes and their main source of political power. The armies themselves were founded in the aftermath of the revolt, and initially they were geographically influenced. Today, however, the third generation of orcs attach themselves to the army with which they feel the greater philosophical attraction rather than basing their decision on which army their grandparents' legion belonged to.
Orcs do not generally wear a uniform symbol of the army they belong to, but some may add a white sun or a red lightning bolt.
The Winter Sun
This army began with a core of orcs who had been slaves in Varushka, Temeschwar, Highguard and Wintermark. Vicious fighting against the Varushkan armies had decimated the numbers of the freed slaves in that nation, and harsh winters had contributed further to the death toll. The first magicians among the Imperial Orcs belonged to this army, however; they found it easiest to absorb the teachings of the Varushkan and Wintermark tutors the Urizen magi arranged for them. The hard core of the army were made up of many who had known Thrace and the other founders of the revolt personally, and they continued to develop the vision of freedom that had first spurred them to escape the mines.
Today the Winter Sun is the more politically active of the two Imperial Orcs armies, but it is also the army most likely to use magic in pursuit of the Plan. They garner favours, both through military aid and careful use of their magical resources. More warcasters and oathwrights fight under the banners of the Winter Sun than the Summer Storm, and they have more Preachers.
The first Imperial orc General leads the Winter Sun, and is appointed (or re-appointed) at the Winter solstice.
The Summer Storm
This army was formed from orcs who had originally been slaves in Dawn, The Marches and the southern and eastern cities of The League. Their uprising had taken part in the rich heartlands of the Empire, and they did not need to deal with the harsh northern climate that troubled orcs in Varushka, Wintermark and Highguard. They also tended to be better equipped; they were more able to loot weapons and armour, and were in a good position to deal with the 'war profiteers' from The Brass Coast and League cities. Perhaps just as importantly, the southern slaves were often surprisingly well versed in tactics, subterfuge and trade than their northern cousins - many more of them had spent their time as bodyguards, bouncers or gladiators than in the north.
Today the Summer Storm pride themselves on their military acumen. They are the hammer of the Imperial Orcs, well armed and armoured, versed in strategy and tactics, and supported by cunning bonesetters and thief-takers. They tend to be richer in terms of wealth and crafted items, and the first smiths and artisans were part of the Summer Storm.