- Country: Tarfelz
- Capital: Reiburk
- People: Tarns
- Language: Tarnish
- Was invaded in First Orc Rampage 300 years ago, Ogrim capital, Ogsburk, was set up in Tarfelz.
- Ogir the Fierce was Orcish ruler who led the First Rampage, conquered many countries, rule lasted 50 years.
- Lord Fangsworn, Orcish Baron, celebrated author of a string of pamphlets and treatises regarding Ogrim role in modern society- The Moderne Orc, The Civylisd Orc, The Chivelros Orc, Roelle of the Gentilman Orc in Hye Socyetie and Nobile Warriers of the Ogrim. He has secretly founded an orcish military order, and is seeking to have it accepted by the church. His writings are inspirational for orcs and have found a novel popularity among human high society.
- Current capital is Reiburk, situated on the banks of the River Tarn. Has a sizable population, recognised as a centre of art, culture, and learning, renowned for its fabulous and bold architecture, still has some reminders of its history as Ogsburk- statues of Ogir the Fierce, orcish names for streets and squares
- Tarfelz follows a related religion to Gavonais, worshipping the Lady of Ash. Tarfelz society is also more liberal than Gavonais.
Tarfelz is a modestly-sized kingdom lying on the River Tarn. Its western borders front onto Gavonais and the Belleterre Marquisates, and while its eastern reaches are badly defined. Maps show the Eisenkolst Ranges stretching along the east of Tarfelz and bending around to the south, with the official border marked as a line of peaks running down the centre of the range. In practice though, the king has no control over most of the mountains, overrun as they are by tribes of wild orcs.
The capital, Reiburk, was previously known as Ogsburk and was the seat of Ogir the Fierce's short-lived Ogrim Empire until its downfall 237 years ago. Tarfelz bears the legacy of the First Orcish Rampage with a unique social order, allowing Orcs to hold an equal position in society to that of Humans. Thus the Orcs of Tarfelz are almost unrecognisable as members of their species, adopting the trappings, fashions, bearings, customs and education of modern civilisation.
Several Orcish baronies lie along the lower foothills of the Eisenkolst, marking the effective limit of the kingdom’s reach. They include Voilgensvaal, Lechsen and Uelerholm.
Tarfelz culture and customs are closely related to those of Gavonais, although Tarnish society is far more liberal and broad-minded, and they follow a similar religion, worshipping the Lady of Ash.
Ogrim in Tarfelz History
The First Orcish Rampage
Three hundred years ago, Ogir the Fierce led his horde of Ogrim across the Eisenkolst Ranges seeking a land of gold and wonder promised him by his shamans. The great army of orcs, ogres, orcish blood sorcerors and goblin rhinocharger and razorboar riders swept through the countries of the plains and conquered each and every one of them. The empire straddled seven kingdoms from the mountains to the coast but lasted a mere 50 years. Once the great leader had died and his heir had been assassinated, his empire splintered into territories under the rule of squabbling orcish princelings, and these were then easily toppled by human rebellions. Before another decade had passed, the old human kingdoms were reinstalled, continuing with the bloodlines of their former dynasties. The remaining tribes of Ogrim were eliminated and driven back to the mountains, all but entirely removing their trace from the plains.
In the foothills of the Eisenkolst Ranges, however, there remained a few tribes of Ogrim holding out against total expulsion. They had taken control of garrisoned citadels and fortresses in the lower mountains, or hid out in extensive cavern systems and overrun or abandoned mines- the task of fully removing their presence would have required more and more extended effort for diminishing returns in terms of victory, and soon more pressing domestic matters came to hand for those countries bordering the mountains. Thus it was that an uneasy truce developed between the human and orcish populations. Bands of knights out to prove their mettle or beat down evil would make incursions into orcish territories, while orcish bandits made a living by picking at the edges of human civilisation.
This status quo persisted for a number of generations, the low-level hostility between the neighbouring races never quite blowing out to full-blown warfare. While the situation was less than ideal for the farmers and villagers prone to orcish raids, it never developed enough to require the attention of the kings' armies.
Tarfelz Ogrim and the Voilgensvaal Accord
In the eastern Tarfelz barony of Voilgensvaal, some 180 years ago, orcish-human relations took a different turn. The baron, seeing his vassals suffering at the hands of constant orcish raids, his fertile farmlands, resource-laden forests and copper-rich mines going underworked, and his force of men-at-arms being wittled away by constant skirmishing, decided to sue for peace with the neighbouring orcish tribes. He found the tribal leader unusually amenable to his offer, the orcish tribes themselves suffering food shortages and hardship and faced with the oncoming winter, and a treaty of sorts was declared. Surprisingly, this shaky treaty held over the years, and the two races started forming ties in trade and mutual employment. Along the hinterlands of Tarfelz, other baronies followed the lead of Voilgensvaal, and many orcish tribes joined in what came to be known as the Voilgensvaal Accord.
While only an informal agreement and subject to differing interpretations and enactments in different regions, the terms of the Voilgensvaal Accord meant that Ogrim and humans would trade peacefully and equitably, that lawful transgressions could be dealt with by local jurisdiction, that orc-kind and human-kind often worked side-by-side on farms and down mines, and that the orcish tribes would be responsible for fending off attacks from other more hostile tribes based deeper in the mountains.
The Failed Second Orcish Rampage
Thus it was that under these circumstances, 125 years ago, when the Second Orcish Rampage began to spill across the mountains led by the ignominiously titled Urlak the Unfortunate, himself chasing after old legends of a great orcish empire, it soon faltered at the borders of Tarfelz faced with equally bloodthirsty, yet better-armed, tribes of orcs protecting what was now their homeland. The Rampage fared well against other countries along the Eisenkolst but well-failed in Tarfelz, and after routing the orcs from their own lands Tarn soldiers came to the rescue of their neighbours. The invaders were driven out and variously returned across the mountains to their homelands, found ways to settle with their now-civilised brethren in Tarfelz, or joined the still-hostile tribes of wild orcs living in the higher mountain reaches.
Ogrim Granted Citizenship
In reward for their service to their de-facto adopted homeland, and impressed at the apparent success of the Voilgensvaal Accord, the then king of Tarfelz declared the orcs to be full citizens of his kingdom, knighted the tribal leaders and made them barons of their own newly-proclaimed mountainside baronies.
Baron Fansgworn and the Loyal Orcish Gentlemen’s Order of the Knights of Swans
An Orcish Social Philosopher
In the deep south-east of Tarfelz, spread across the foothills of the Eisenkolst Ranges, lies the Orcish Barony of Lechsen. The eighth baron of Lechsen, Baron Philiph Fangsworn, has spent the past twelve years trying to reconcile the differences and tensions between orcish and human society. He is trying to show that orcs can conquer their brutish nature, overcome their animalistic tendencies, reject the savagery of their ancestors, and become polished, courteous, respectable members of civilised high society. For while Ogrim have been accepted as full citizens of the Kingdom of Tarfelz for over 120 years, they have not yet fully integrated with human society.
Fangsworn’s writings have become well-known amongst both orcish and human elements of Tarn society. He is recognised as a celebrated author in Tarn high society, and is welcomed at the king’s court as an eloquent and courteous spokesman for the Ogrim race. Often he is an honoured guest at society parties and gatherings and has a legion of fans among the duchesses, noblewomen and ladies-in-waiting of Reiburk. His works have found a recent novel popularity in the past couple of years in human noble circles, although there is a risk that his fame may be a passing fad.
His string of pamphlets and treatises regarding the role of Ogrim in modern society- “The Moderne Orc,” “The Civilysed Orc,” “The Chivilros Orc,” “Roelle of the Gentilman Orc in Hye Socyetie” and “Nobile Warriers of the Ogrim”- are inspirational to young orcs living on the edges of Tarn society. They are published widely and often read from in small gatherings in town squares and public rooms up and down the mountain-side orcish baronies.
When seen around Reiburk, he is often accompanied by his young niece, Lady Daschmina Stormstrong (see below), who he treats as his protégé and who he seems to be grooming for some leadership role in his campaign.
An Orcish Military Order
Fangsworn understands that his mission for acceptance is not a short nor easy one, and fully realises the tenuous nature of his current fame. However, he sees his writings as merely a first step to fuller acceptance, and is making preparations for the next stage of his plan. This is to establish a fully orcish military order to protect Tarfelz from its enemies, to be known as the Loyal Orcish Gentlemen’s Order of the Knights of Swans. The name is taken as a metaphor from an old traditional poem where the once ugly and outcast swan chick grows to be a graceful and elegant full-grown swan.
Fangsworn thinks that establishing such an order would have several benefits for Ogrim. It would cement their place in society and show they are still as equally committed to protecting their realm as their ancestors were against the Second Orcish Rampage 125 years ago. It would provide an outlet for orcish youths who have nothing to do but run with gangs and fight with young humans, thus solving one source of racial tension in Tarfelz. Fangsworn recognises that violence is a part of orcish nature, so putting young Ogrim in a military order teaches them how to focus and channel their aggressive urges, and to put these urges to good use. He doesn’t believe in suppressing orcish nature, but indeed that Ogrim should be proud of their great warrior heritage, albeit adapted to fit the needs of modern society.
Establishing an orcish military order faces a number of obstacles. The main one is acceptance- there is a paranoia that arming orcs is the first step to an attempt at rebellion, or that the orcs wish to form a breakaway state. Likewise, Tarfelz’s neighbours are against allowing non-humans to have such freedom and would make diplomatic efforts to block the order’s formation- Gavonais would especially subscribe to this attitude.
There is also the possibility that orcs are in fact unsuited to undergoing strict, modern-style military training, and at the least extremely severe forms of discipline would need to be implemented. But a failure on this level, the disintegration of the fledgling order due to in-fighting and rowdiness, would put paid to all of Fangsworn’s theories of redemption and the ‘diamond-in-the-rough’ nature of the orcish psyche, and shame all his show of prancing around as a well-groomed gentleman.
Currently Fangsworn is building up this order in secret. He has established a training camp in a border fortress high in the mountains of his barony, and is recruiting potential members of the order on his travels as he publicises his writings. He has recruited from the high and low levels of orcish society- hoods and ruffians from the streets, who need refinement and discipline, Ogrim nobles and their sons, who have grown overly accustomed to the luxury of nobility, and veteran orcish soldiers and sergeants from the border guard, baronial regiments and king’s army, who will supply the discipline and training the other recruits need.
His other current objective is to gain acceptance for the order. Thus he is making allies with various key courtiers and dukes who can help him make his case to the king, he has been showing his devotion to the Temple of the Lady of Ash, with significant donations to the central and regional shrines, as well as organising prayer meetings and charity drives in some of the larger orcish towns. But his main play for acceptance has been propaganda, with his treatises slowly building more militaristic themes. His latest, "Nobile Warriers of the Ogrim,” was a rather bold exposition of his aims and ideals, and it served well in attracting orcish followers that he could recruit directly to his order.
Lady Daschmina Stormstrong
The Baron’s Niece
Lady Daschmina Stormstrong is the daughter of Baron Fangsworn’s brother, Baron Bullan Stormstrong, lord of Lechsen’s neighbouring barony, Uelerholm. At Stormstrong’s insistence, Fangsworn took his niece into his entourage to show her the sights of Reiburk and introduce her to the civil and well-bred society of the capital, but also to act as a calming influence on the headstrong and rebellious young girl. She has now been accompanying her uncle Fangsworn constantly and helping with his publicity tours, pamphlet publication, society appearances and political meetings for eight years since joining him at the age of 17, and is his number two for most aspects of his organisation.
Baron Fangsworn has fully placed his trust in Lady Daschmina, he thinks she has grown and matured into a respectable member of society and an asset to the Ogrim emancipation movement under his gentle mentorship, but unfortunately this trust is misplaced. Fangsworn often has to fight against suspicions that he is secretly garnering support for a Third Orcish Rampage, and while it is true that he has no desire for this, he is unaware that the seeds for such a catastrophe have been planted in his niece’s bosom. When she first joined him, she had a quick temper and a sharp tongue, she was mischievous and enjoyed making trouble for him- Fangsworn remembers ofttimes chasing her through the market square of Reiburk like a mad fool. Soon though, she settled down and turned her energies and sharp wit to engaging with Tarn nobles and managing the everyday details of Fangsworn’s entourage. He gradually entrusted her with various aspects of his campaign until at this point she is totally conversant with its operation and she can handle many responsibilities of it on her own.
Daschmina’s Shame and Epiphany
Often also, she will accompany him to the garden parties, balls, concerts, gallery openings and soirees that are a staple of life in the capital, but it was perhaps this forced contact with mainly human high-society that soured her on following her uncle’s inclusivist ideals. For while he could strut around a ballroom in his tailored doublets and tights, puff out his barrel-like chest or flex his chiselled thighs and have the human ladies swooning, she could but sit awkwardly in her silver-embroidered satin evening gown and feel like a sow wrapped in a blanket for all the attention she gained from human men.
This kind of resentment is not something that the spirited Daschmina could swallow easily, especially since she knew that she was considered quite handsome by orcish boys. After seeing her uncle be led out of the parlour by some golden-locked hussy for a “midnight stroll around the garden to see how it looks by the moonlight” one too many times, she turned against her better judgement and approached the most attractive of the foppish young beaus at the gathering and asked demurely for a private tour of the other chambers of the manor. Despite a distinct round of suppressed sniggering from his cohorts, the youth actually good-naturedly took her up on the offer. The trouble started when she tried to steal his affections, at first amicably, but then more forcibly, and perhaps even, more orcishly, that the youth let out a squeal like he was being gutted with a rusty boning knife and fled from the room screaming for the guards.
Daschmina was politely escorted to her carriage shaking and burning with shame and self-loathing but also with fury and indignation. From this single episode, she determined that her uncle’s efforts would all ultimately be in vein, and that his campaign to turn orcs into the prancing, prissy dandies that made up human society was a ridiculous sham. Orcs and humans would never be able to live together on equal terms, and this veneer of civilisation was a bitter yoke around the necks of the proud orcish race, shackles that should be broken and melted down into long knives that could cut away their snivelling dependence on human society. Daschmina was careful not to show her new determination to her uncle, though, instead meekly apologising to him the next day saying it was just a drunken game that had gone awry.
An Orcish Agitator
This fateful night was some two years ago, and not long after she pleaded to her uncle that she could help his campaign more effectively by going on her own tour of the orcish baronies to preach his gospel for him. After guardedly watching her address town gatherings and Ashite congregations, he acceded to her suggestion and endorsed her own little entourage to further the message of orcish emancipation. She has done well on the campaign trail, gaining quite a following from her charismatic speeches, and even a fan-base of orcish male teenagers due to her fine looks. Her public addresses generally follow the same doctrine laid down by her uncle, but careful listeners can catch a fiery undercurrent in some of her more impassioned moments. However, a more select group of followers are rewarded if they attend one of her less open, late-night bull sessions, with emphatic calls to rebellion and a revival of true orcish culture. Here Daschmina expounds on her own philosophy of orcish liberation, casting off lame, peace-mongering human morals and embracing the glory of the old-time lust for blood, where fierce Ogrim warriors were tested in the fire of battle to emerge victorious and pure, strong, proud to stand tall like a real orc, maw dripping with the blood of their slain enemies.
Daschmina’s secret campaign is starting to build momentum. She has found a good number of like-minded orc youths that she can call upon to make a start-up wartribe, although outright rebellion is yet a much later stage of her plan. She enjoys finding the most virile, warrior-like specimens of orcish pride in each community and making them her lovers, and has gained a cohort of loyal, dependable lieutenants this way. Despite the fervour of her followers, Daschmina knows that they are not enough to lead a successful revolt, they will need a secret weapon to be able to grasp victory, and she has taken expeditions high into the Eisenkolst to seek out tribes of wild orcs.
Unlocking the Secret of Blood Sorcery
Since the first excursion a year ago, Daschmina has only made one further visit to the wild orcs, but already these trips have borne fruit. She rides out of town with her small, personally-selected entourage and, once past the last indications of civilisation, heads off the path into the hills, stopping briefly to change out of her Tarn finery and into rough orcish style and chain. The first benefit of making contact with the wild orcs was to find them to be willing, if at first untrusting, allies. The hardship of living in the mountains has not lessened in the 180 years since the Voilgensvaal Accord, and the mountain orcs would much prefer to settle at lower altitudes if not for the inconvenience of them being infested with humans. So, they dream of founding an orcish country on the plains but have so far lacked any leader strong enough or clever enough to unite them, but strangely they could find such a leader in the figure of this young orc girl.
The second benefit Daschmina found, and the one of which she is eager to have the chance to practise and improve, is that she was introduced to the art of Orcish Blood Sorcery. This is the secret weapon she hopes will bring victory when eventually she leads her rebellion. Using the heart, tongue and liver of fallen enemies, Blood Sorcerers are able to effect powerful magicks on the battlefield, but the art has all but vanished among the wild mountain orcs. Using her skills of persuasion and seduction, Daschmina convinced a tribal chieftain to introduce her to perhaps the last remaining, aged Blood Sorcerer in the Tarfelz stretch of the Eisenkolst, and he in turn was convinced to teach her his dying art.
The Baron’s ‘‘Bloodthirsty’’ Niece
Unfortunately, Blood Sorcery is a magic more suited to the battlefield than to the confines of a modern city, so Daschmina has had trouble finding the opportunity to practise and improve her skills. She can sometimes make do with farm animals or wild beasts, but the nature of the skill is more attuned to the sacrifice of sentient beings. Her duties to Baron Fangsworn still often require her to spend time in Reiburk, and she has to go to great lengths to acquire the materials needed for her study. Thus, recently, there has been a murderous menace stalking the night-time streets of Reiburk, as Daschmina’s assistants abduct mainly young upper-class men for her to cut up and perfect her sorcery with. Rumours speak of a serial killer stalking the capital’s young men of society, perhaps a demonic cult, for a couple of bodies have been found floating down the Tarn in recent months, bereft of entrails and with tongues roughly hacked out. The disappearances started 6 months ago with a certain handsome, foppish beau, who once spurned Lady Daschmina’s amourous advances.
- Not all of Tarn high society is captivated by Fangsworn’s antics. Some nobles are happy to have orcs be citizens and lords of Tarfelz, as long as they don’t have to actually associate with any personally. They see Fangsworn and his cohort as faintly ridiculous, mainly disgusting, and an unwelcome presence in Reiburk Palace. The fact that the Ogrim seem to be so popular with the ladyfolk is also particularly irksome. One of these nobles, or a like-minded band of them, employ the PCs to dig up some dirt on Fangsworn to discredit him. The PCs may then find out about the Knights of Swans and the recruitment drive, and try to surveill or infiltrate the order’s training grounds. Fangsworn’s piety might be put to doubt. The PCs might also uncover the supposed truth of Fangsworn’s ultimate objective, the overthrow of the king and success of a Third Orcish Rampage.
- There are rumours of a secret orcish fighting technique, and Fangsworn would love to have a master of this style teach it to the Knights of Swans. The orcish PCs are sent out to find such a master, who might be living with the wild orcs in the higher reaches of the Eisenkolst, or they may have to quest much further, across the mountains to the orcish ancestral home, the Grellens. Similarly, Baron Fangsworn might be very interested in learning more about the forgotten arts of orcish blood sorcery, not realising that his dear niece is elbow deep in perfecting it.
- Some elements of orcish society are unhappy with Fangsworn as well- let orcs be orcs and humans be humans. They object to him dressing up all fancy-like and learning to dance to viols and writing pretty words. They would be much happier if he just, kind of, got himself assassinated by accident, maybe in a duel or something really, really violent.
- Some wild orcish warbands are agitating on the higher borders of Lechsen, and it would be the perfect opportunity for the new order to test their mettle, with the benefit of their modern fighting methods, cavalry tactics and the latest weaponry.
- However, are the Knights of Swans really nothing more than an untamed rabble in shiny breastplates? Will their training and discipline be completely forgotten in the heat of battle?
- Is there someone who wants the knights to fail, and has planted a foil in the group?
- And perhaps the warbands aren’t as wild as they seem, receiving support from agents of Gavonais who would also like to see the newfound order fail.
- The king’s daughter is infatuated with Baron Fangsworn, and would really love to get him alone for herself for a night, and she has the PCs act as go-betweens to organise the clandestine rendezvous. THEN- Nine months later, the royal house is faced with a horrible scandal- the princess gives birth to a half-orc bastard. This tests the ideals of equality that the kingdom is based on. Can they accept a half-orc as a legitimate heir?
- Baron Fangsworn is getting suspicious about the serial killings in Reiburk, and worried that he might be accused of being behind them. He hires the PCs to investigate, who will initially find that indeed the clues actually point to the Baron. Are they able to dig deeper and expose the truth? Has Daschmina cunningly made it so that suspicions will only fall on her uncle? It would be convenient for her if he is removed from power, so she could take his place, but it might be too early for that in her plans.