DangerDwarf writes "Fighting continues on the western front
the Orcish Empire as the dwarves of Ulek refuse to give up their
tenacious offensive to reclaim their lost land. Who are these orcs that
have managed to hold the Despot’s western border? This the first part
of a series of articles expanding and revising upon an earlier article
entitled "The Tribes of Occupied Ulek".
Authors Note: This is part one of an expansion and
revision of a previous article I wrote entitled “The Tribes of Occupied Ulek”.
In this vision of Ulek’s eastern provinces, the dwarves claim them in name
only, eastern Ulek is firmly entrenched with humanoid forces and it is unlikely
that they will be removed any time soon.
The section entitled “Rise of the Empire” was
heavily influenced by entries in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer as well as a
write-up of the Greyhawk Wars.
Rise of the Empire
During the month of Readying in
584CY the Despot Turrosh Mak fielded his armies and struck into the Wild Coast. The
unprepared villages and towns of the coast fell quickly to his humanoid horde.
Flush with victory the hordes turned southwest and pushed into the Principality
of Ulek, catching the dwarves unaware.
Augustos Clinkerfire, the dwarven
Warden of the Jewel, attempted to halt the advance as best as he could but
found his command structure in disarray.
Immediately preceding the assault, advanced orc scouts from the Gutshank
tribe had slipped into dwarven encampments and towns assassinating key
officers. The overwhelming numbers of the horde, combined with the assault on
the Warden’s command structure left Clinkerfire with little option save an
organized retreat. It was not until they reached the foothills of the lower
Lortmils before Clinkerfire and his men were able to make their stand.
Unfortunately by that time the eastern provinces of the Principality were
overrun by Mak’s forces.
Understanding that his fragile
confederation of tribes needed continued victories if they were to remain
strong Turrosh Mak placed several contingents of his human forces in the newly
gained area to hold the line and turned the humanoid horde northeast. Mak
despised his need to rely on the human troops but recognized that his humanoid
forces were not disciplined nor patient enough for the protracted campaign
necessary in holding their new lands in Ulek.
When finally the newly formed Orcish
Empire halted its advances in 585CY many of the humanoid tribes looked to the
conquered lands to make their homes. Several tribes returned to the captured
provinces of Ulek, eager to pick through the ruins of the dwarven settlements.
As more and more humanoid tribes made their way west of the Jewel River Mak was
forced to pull several of his human contingents from the region to minimize
conflicts between the groups.
Ulek was not about to concede defeat
and continued in attempts to reclaim its eastern provinces. The sustained
military action began to destabilize the humanoid tribes of the region and in
586CY Prince Corond arranged an alliance with the Knights of Luna. The combined
forces managed to mount an effective counterattack and reclaim some of the lost
land. Turrosh knew he needed to quickly consolidate his strength there if he
wished to keep his gained lands. Mak found the answer in an unusually
disciplined orc by the name of Nevrash the Stalker, chieftain of Clan Gutshank
and one of Mak’s most vocal supporters during the initial formation of the
empire. Mak named Nevrash as War Chief over the assembled tribes of conquered
Ulek in early 587CY, charging him with maintaining the western front.
The Night of Long Knives
Nevrash’s appointment as War Chief
of the western front did not sit well with several tribal leaders of the
occupied provinces. Clan chieftains of more aggressive tribes, such as the Evil
Eye and the Broken Bone, believed it was their right to lead the assembled
hordes of the region. Nevrash saw his newly gained position in jeopardy as
opposing tribes mobilized to challenge his leadership.
Nevrash quickly responded to this
threat by allying his clan with Clan Balefire, a small clan of orcs who were
known for the number of sorcerers they produced. Then on the 25th of
Coldeven in 587CY, during the dark of the new moon, Clan Gutshank assassins in
coordination with a handful of Balefire sorcerers struck simultaneously
throughout occupied Ulek eliminating rival chiefs and other voices of
contention. This “Night of Long Knives”, as it grew to be called, consolidated
Nevrash’s grip on the tribes of the region.
With several well planned skirmishes
against the Ulekian forces along the contested land’s borders Nevrash further
bolstered the assembled tribes’ morale. By 588CY Nevrash ruled with absolute
authority over the humanoid tribes of the western front.
Tightening the Grip
Nevrash, understanding the need to
better organize the humanoid forces under his command, divided the occupied
provinces into four regions. The western edge was divided into three fronts
(Northern, Western and Southern), the fourth region became known as Shargaal
and provided support for the tribes of the three fronts.
Nevrash’s division of the region
served two purposes. First he wished to ensure greater accountability by the
tribes of a given front in defending their area. Second, and most importantly,
he understood it was crucial to minimize the need for cooperation between
tribes of differing religious outlooks and therefore reduce intertribal
Once he finished organizing the
hierarchy of the region and detailing their responsibilities he continued to
build on the racial pride that Turrosh Mak had sparked in the orcs during the
initial formation of the Empire. Tribal elders continued to spread tales of the
Hateful Wars and how the wretched dwarves had robbed them of their “birth
right” by driving them from the Lortmil Mountains. Around the
campfires could be heard the dogma of orcish superiority and their place to
rule over their “ancestral” lands of the Lortmils.
With the consolidated tribes of
occupied Ulek now fully under his control Nevrash then continued to further his
agenda. With the humanoid armies relatively stable Nevrash wished to have Mak’s
human forces withdrawn from the region. He despised the human presence and saw
them as detrimental to his long term goals.
Gutshank and Balefire orcs began a
quiet campaign to fully turn the humanoids against the humans also occupying
the region. At their whispered urgings and prodding, violence against Mak’s
human forces became more commonplace. As belief in orcish superiority
strengthened and spread so did the attacks against the human forces. By 590CY
the open hostilities between the humanoids and the humans grew so widespread
that the Despot was forced to withdraw his remaining human forces from occupied
Ulek and relocate them to other areas.
Timeline of Events
Turrosh Mak takes control of his tribe, the Nedla.
584CY - In
the month of Readying, Mak’s forces invade the Wild Coast. He then
marches through the Suss and into Ulek. The march continues until halted at the
Battle of Celene Pass.
Mak turns his attention to maintaining and strengthening his new holdings.
Counterattack by Ulek’s forces, aided by the Knights of Luna reclaim portions
of the fallen provinces.
Mak names Nevrash the War Chief of the assembled tribes of the Western Front.
The 25th of Coldeven marks the “Night of Long Knives”.
Nevrash consolidates his grip over the tribes of occupied Ulek.
Orcs of Clan Gutshank and Clan Balefire begin a campaign to set the humanoids
against Mak’s human forces in the region.
Mak withdraws his human forces from occupied Ulek due to increasing violence
against them by the assembled humanoid horde.
591CY – On
the 11th of Goodmonth, combined clans from the Leprous Hand tribe
unite under the direction of a cleric of Yurtrus to conduct the Rite of Sky
Rending. A blight in southern Ulek begins.
– Nevrash continues to strengthen his position in Ulek, increasing efforts to
rebuild strongholds and use slave labor for agricultural operations.
Current state of the region as presented in this work.
A Note on Clans
The orcs in this series of articles
have two social designations, clans and tribes. Clans are smaller groups, each
with their own leader. The clans are the orcish social units that most are
familiar with as they are the ones encountered in a lair, roving a particular
range and so forth. Tribes are a conglomeration of the smaller clans, usually
united by religious belief. The tribes do not serve as a central authority of
the clans that fall under it; they simply represent a set of common ethics and
beliefs. Clans operate autonomous of the orcish tribes. The tribes simply
provide a larger framework for cooperation. For example, two clans from the
Death Moon tribe share many religious outlooks and social customs. Whereas a
clan from the Vile Rune tribe and a clan from Evil Eye tribe have enough social
and religious differences that cooperation becomes difficult.
Five of the largest orc tribes now
reside within occupied Ulek, their names and religious patron are listed below:
Death Moon Tribe: Shargaas
Evil Eye Tribe: Gruumsh
Vile Rune Tribe: Luthic
Leprous Hand Tribe: Yurtrus
Broken Bone Tribe: Bahgtru