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Roddi stared at his young friend, feeling a little guilt mixed with a scintilla of doubt. The decision was unsurprising, sharing the jewel in the crown, the Empire's magical lore, with foreigners was just too much to ask. Especially with foreigners who had lived under the dominion of the Druj for so long, and might yet end up back there. It was just too big a risk... Dammit, he agreed with the decision - but it was still frustrating. Huvon had all the skills to make a fine vate, there was no doubt about his ability or his enthusiasm to fight the vallorn. But without access to Imperial lore, it was likely those skills would never blossom.

"I'm sorry my friend, I did warn you it was unlikely..." Roddi's guilt metastasized as he artfully implied the decision was not one he agreed with. The orc's face was inscrutable, but he couldn't hide the disappointment when he spoke.

"I thought we were allies - against the Druj? Against the vallorn?"

"We were! We are!" protested Roddi, passionately. "It's just Imperial Lore... we all agree to share our magic - but we're only allowed to share it with the Navarr and the other nations..."

Huvon's impassive mask slipped a little. He screwed his lips up pensively, nodding to himself slowly, as if contemplating an internal monologue. For a few moments neither of them spoke, Roddi content to leave his friend to his contemplation. The guide had suggested he let Huvon come to terms with this disappointment himself.

"Well what if I join the Navarr? Can I learn the rituals then?"

Roddi's jaw dropped - that definitely wasn't the response he'd been expecting. He tried to think of all the reasons why it was definitely impossible. He remembered hearing a story once about an egregore who had disappeared when they tried to induct an orc. Now it was his turn to stand there looking pensive.

"I don't know" he said, speaking without really thinking what he was saying. "I... don't know if you're allowed to do that..."

Huvon grinned with infectious optimism fired by his friend's obvious ignorance. "Great! How do we find out?"
Among the Navarr.jpg
The Navarr are seen as the most welcoming of the Imperial nations... but that reputation may be about to be tested as never before.
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For some years now, there have been Great Forest Orcs travelling the trods with the stridings. The Navarr have benefitted: more people on the trods makes them more effective whether it be human or orc; its helped cement relationships between the orcs and their human neighbours in Therunin; it's also helped contribute to several opportunities for improved cooperation. The Great Forest Orcs have benefitted; they've gained a greater appreciation for the size of the Empire; taken advantage of opportunities to visit remnants of their "Great Forest" they might otherwise never have seen; and created opportunities for cooperation with their Navarr hosts that have helped secure their home-in-exile.

At the Summer Solstice, the Empire declined a request to share Imperial Lore with the Great Forest Orcs, but the Imperial Senate did formally reassure the Great Forest Orcs that it intends to concede the Heart of Peytaht to the Great Forest sept (and by extension the weirwood grove). Of course such reassurances are not legal commitments, you cannot bind the hands of a future Senate, but it's not clear that the Great Forest Orcs really understand the subtle distinction or if they do, they don't seem to care.

The Empire wishes to reassure the Great Forest Orcs of our intention to concede the Heart of Peytaht to them when the Barrens are secured under Imperial control, as per article VI of the peace treaty signed Summer 381YE.

Proposed Weirwater, Seconded Therunin

This approach has already paid dividends, as Navarr herbalists can attest. Now it is leading to an evolution in attitudes among the Great Forest Orcs. Most of them, particularly the older ones, are keen to return to the Barrens as soon as possible. There is a similar sentiment among their human allies, the Montanians, who cannot wait to get out from under the Empire's oppressive religious laws. News of the Druj defeat in Zenith is met with widespread jubilation. With the success of recent fighting in the Barrens, more and more are beginning to believe they might be able to go home soon.

But the view is not universal, especially among some of the younger Great Forest Orcs. More than a few of those who have travelled the trods and seen the wonders of the Empire seem... unexcited about the prospect of returning to the Barrens. Some have developed close friendships with their neighbours, and want to stay in Therunin. Others have found a new purpose in travelling the trods - not so much because of any desire to destroy the vallorn but for the opportunity to visit remnants of the Great Forest all over the Empire. At the same time some of the more mystically inclined have come to despise the vallorn, viewing it as a terrible threat to the spirit of the forests, and want to fight it directly. A few have taken up permanent residence at Peakedge Stead, studying medicinal techniques with the Navarr and the Highborn there.

That the Great Forest is recognised as a Sovereign Foreign Nation, and that all beings acknowledged as citizens of the Great Forest by their leaders have the status of Foreigners within Imperial Law.

Article I of the Summer 381YE Treaty

A number of these younger Great Forest Orcs have now come forward, asking for the endorsement of the Navarr Assembly to settle in Miaren and Hercynia. As foreigners, they have a legal right to live anywhere in the Empire they can afford to, but they are reticent to build new homes without the encouragement of their allies. What is more, a handful among them have made it clear that if they are welcome to live among the Navarr outside Therunin, then they are interested in going further...

A Home in the Empire

  • A small faction of Great Forest Orcs want permission to settle in Hercynia and another in Miaren
  • This will provide benefits to the weirwood groves there but will lead to requests the Navarr may not want to entertain
  • The Navarr Assembly can settle the matter with a suitably worded mandate

Whenever the Great Forest Orcs get the opportunity they visit Imperial weirwood groves, and "commune" with the trees (meditating, drumming, listening to the wind in the leaves). In the last season, some have made the trip to the other Navarr territories to offer their expertise in expanding the herb gardens there. After speaking with the Navarr whose stridings they know best, they have been emboldened to make another request. They would like to establish a Great Forest Orc settlement in Summersend and another in Serenael, near the weirwood groves of Heartwood of the Great Vale and the Golden Trees of Seren.

That the Empire seeks to ensure dignity, freedom and prosperity to the citizens of the Great Forest while they reside within the Empire’s borders.

Fourth Intention of the Summer 381YE Treaty

These "steadings" would be open villages, trading with their neighbours just as the orcs do in Therunin. Furthermore, just as the orcs in the Upper Tarn Valley have become more familiar with the Highborn in Peakedge Song and Elerael, these orcs are apparently hopeful they can learn more about the nations that neighbour the Navarr territories including the "orcs of the Skarsind sept".

The two groups are primarily young orcs, some of whom have only been recognised as adults since fleeing the Barrens. Others have recently begun new families, and are giving additional thought to the future. They are clear that these new settlements would be permanent. Returning to the Barrens holds little appeal for these orcs; they would rather build on their relationships with their Navarr allies, embrace the benefits offered by living in the Empire, and experience life in "fragments of the Great Forest" far from the Heart of Peytaht.

The national assembly could pass a mandate proposed by Corey Wayfarer to encourage the Navarr to welcome their new allies to live among them.

We welcome the Great Forest Orcs to all our territories to share following the example of Zemress to share in our combined prosperity, work hard and defend what we have. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to encourage all Navarr to welcome the Great Forest Orcs and encourage them to settle. All that is worthwhile is shared with those who deserve it.

Synod Mandate, Navarr Assembly

If this mandate is endorsed, the Great Forest Orcs will create the Great Forest Steading in Miaren and the High Pines Steading in Hercynia. They aren't asking for assistance with this - they have the funds and expertise to build their new homes. While some will work as herbalists, cultivate forests, or trade, others will seek employment at the weirwood groves themselves. The Great Forest Orc expertise in working with wood, especially weirwood, is well known. This will provide immediate benefit with the holder of the Golden Trees of Seren and the Heartwood of the Great Vale. Provided they are prepared to pay money to hire Great Forest Orcs to work the groves, their expertise will help boost production of the Bourse seats.

However Morwenna Winterbuilt has suggested that the Navarr Assembly make a much stronger statement than this. She asks them to judge this mandate:

We, the Navarr national assembly, swear in the name of the Marked and their first bonds of ancient kinship that none who would join our cause will go without a proper welcoming! We send {named priest} with 100 doses of liao to encourage Navarri across the Empire to show the Great Forest Orcs a spring festival they will never forget. Throw wide the gates of the Thorned Rose. Let the forges of Treji roar. Let our songs resound from root to golden boughs.

Synod Mandate, Navarr Assembly

This mandate would encourage settlement in all Navarr territories, and welcome closer ties between the Great Forest Orcs and all the Navarr across the Empire. It also asks the Navarr to swear an oath, something that is deeply cultural for the Navarr with significant ramifications. An oath like this would invoke powerful hearth magic. The consequences of breaking this oath like this would be much greater, and include supernatural consequences.

Golden Trees of Seren
72 crowns3 wains of weirwood
168 crowns6 wains of weirwood
288 crowns9 wains of weirwood
432 crowns12 wains of weirwood
Heartwood of the Great Vale
72 crowns3 wains of weirwood
168 crowns6 wains of weirwood
288 crowns9 wains of weirwood

The request by the Great Forest Orcs may appear innocuous on the surface but any guide can see that it represents a significant forking of the path. Offering reassurances to the orc families who want to settle in Hercynia and Miaren is technically a formality - there are foreigners all over the Empire after all. But the Great Forest Orcs are clear that they view this gesture as fundamental. They've experienced the peaceful tranquillity of Seren, and witnessed the majesty of Hercynia when the sun rises over the forest. They want to settle there because they want to feel they belong there.

The truth is that these individuals want to make their futures among the Navarr. They've seen the benefits that being part of the Empire brings. They're increasingly aware that some of those benefits are only available to citizens of the Empire. If this mandate is passed then in the future, some of those who settle there will inevitably grow interested in being more than just neighbours - it will lead to them asking to join the Navarr nation.

And that might be a step the Navarr do not want to make... It would be wise for the Navarr to consider how far down this trod they wish to stride before the journey begins...

Many consider it impossible for a human egregore to induct an orc into a human nation, but that simply isn't true. As recently as Spring 383YE the Imperial Senate appraised the problems presented by integrating the orcs in the Mourn and while it identified several significant obstacles, it was clear that it was possible.

There's no doubt that having orcs join the Navarr would cause unforeseen problems. The more optimistic are of the opinion that the nation can weather any disruption, and that of all the Imperial nations they are best positioned to accept outsiders and make them part of their community. Yet the situation is by no means so cut-and-dried - is now the best time for the Navarr to create even more chaos in their nation?

You Cannot Betray Your Enemies

  • There is some concern about what the Great Forest Orcs settling outside Therunin may lead to
  • The Navarr Assembly can endorse a mandate that will dissuade them from settling in Hercynia and Miaren

A number of thoughtful Navarr guides urge caution. If the Great Forest Orcs settle in Hercynia and Miaren, even if they don't ultimately join the Navarr in a more permanent way, they will certainly maintain contact with the main bulk of the Great Forest Orcs. There are positive potential impacts of this - if everything goes well and the sept of the Great Forest leaves Therunin for the Barrens, and settles down beneath the eaves of Peytaht, then having friends and relatives living in the Navarr territories will help maintain a strong relationship with them whatever happens with the territory as a whole.

On the other hand, if something goes wrong, if the Senate is forced to break its promise to the Great Forest Orcs for example, then the repercussions will be amplified. The Great Forest Orcs have taken the Senate at their word, but more than a few Navarr point out that the Senate has changed its mind before now... At the moment most of the Great Forest Orcs are in Therunin - if the worst came to the worst their anger could be contained. Once there are orc settlements in Miaren and Hercynia as well, it will be much harder to contain the consequences of any conflict between Imperial citizens and Great Forest Orcs. And if the consequences would be severe with orcs settled in Miaren and Hercynia, how much more overwhelming would they be if the Navarr had Great Forest Orc members and descendants among their own number as equal citizens? It would be easy to see war with the Great Forest Orcs as war with the Navarr themselves.

A few cynical Navarr have also pointed out that as Imperial citizens the Great Forest Orcs would have unfettered access to Imperial lore, something the Imperial Conclave has repeatedly denied them as recently as last season. Few are keen to openly decry this interest in joining Navarr as motivated by anything so crass, but in fairness the Great Forest Orcs interested in settling in Miaren and Hercynia have been clear about what they want. They want to live there just as the Navarr do now - with all the obligations and the benefits that brings.

For that matter it's not entirely clear how much the Great Forest Orcs own elders approve of these enthusiasts leaving their people to integrate with the Navarr. Thus far Chief Valack and his advisors have not opposed the establishment of settlements away from Therunin. On the other hand, the road between "live elsewhere" and "forsake the sept" is likely to be long and twisted. They also have their own spiritual beliefs, which they have been very cautious about sharing with outsiders. It is known that they imagine that "invisible spirits" exist related to their concept of the Great Forest. How would that integrate with the Way? How can they be part of the Great Dance if they do not reincarnate? While there are plenty of Navarr who do not trace a physical line of descent from ancient Terunael, surely this is a step too far?

The Navarr Assembly could endorse a mandate urging their fellow citizens to caution.

Be alert to all dangers; within and without. We send {named priest} with 25 doses of liao to urge the Navarr to be civil to the Great Forest Orcs but encourage them to move on when the time comes. Let us not give them false hope of a future we cannot share with them.

Synod Mandate, Navarr Assembly

If this mandate is endorsed then the current move for deeper integration coming from some of the Great Forest Orcs will abruptly end. They will not found the proposed steadings in Miaren or Hercynia and there will be no similar requests in the future. The mandate will reinforce what many understood to be the spirit of the original agreements made with the Great Forest Orcs - that they may shelter in Therunin until it is safe to return to their homeland in the Barrens. In future, the Great Forest Orcs will focus all their enthusiasm on that goal.

This Wind of Fortune contains one or more mandates that can be enacted by the Synod. As per our rules on alternative mandates, Members of the Synod can email us to propose their own wording they believe will have a substantially different outcome. The deadline for this is two days after the last Wind of Fortune is published before the event, or the Friday before the event, whichever is earliest.

If no mandate is passed, then the steadings will not be founded. The Great Forest Orcs are clear they will not settle there without a clear invitation from their allies to do so. However they will not give up their ambitions to find a home for themselves in the Empire and may return with other requests in the future.

OOC Note

Regardless of what happens in the course of this plot, the Great Forest Orcs will not automatically become a playable option available for players. If they join the Navarr at some point in the future then this will involve sacrifices on both sides, and some of those sacrifices may prove painful for the Navarr. Even if the nation decides to embrace these orcs, it does not automatically mean that it will be possible to play them., anymore than the hylje in Wintermark or the mora in Varushka are a playable option.

At present, the only orc character that is a playable option in Empire will be an Imperial Orc. If they ever did become a playable option, it would never be in the context of "just" playing a Navarr orc. If the Great Forest Orcs faction do integrate into the Navarr in some way, they will bring some of their own distinct style to the nation, and their own interpretation of the Navarr brief. It would only ever be possible to play a Great Forest Orc in the Navarr, who has their own identity and history just like the Imperial Orcs have. It will remain impossible for a human egregore to bond an orc and impossible for the Imperial Orc egregore to bond a human, so existing orc PCs will not be able to join human nations. If that situation ever changes then we will provide an out-of-character announcement to that effect - please don't email to ask for special dispensation as the answer will be no.

This plot demonstrates that it is possible for orcs to join a human nation, even if that does not make them a playable character option. Players who are interested in such themes should take note of the key points repeated here and in other winds of fortune. For this to happen requires a large population of several thousand or more orcs who are very similar in culture, morals, beliefs, and practices to the human nation they would be joining. They would need to want to join and the nation would want to clearly express a wish to see them join. The Great Forest Orcs could never join a nation like Wintermark no matter what people wanted because their cultural practices, mannerisms, their behaviour is nothing like Wintermark.

We want to provide clear out-of-character guidance on this point so that people understand what is and what is not possible in the setting and in the game.