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The Races of TESO: Orcs
by Merari, Contributor — Category: Lore Articles
Post #45543
With The Elder Scrolls Online approximately one year away from release, TESOF has decided to educate fans of the game on the playable races in TESO, so you can have a good idea of their backgrounds before you dive into the game. Today we'll be continuing with the Orcs.

Keep an eye peeled on the Articles section for more articles related to the races of TESO!

Previous articles:
The Dunmer
The Bretons
The Altmer
The Argonians
The Khajiit
The Redguards

[Image: orsimer2.jpg]

  1. Orcs
  2. History of the Orcs
  3. Orsinium
  4. Orcish culture


The Orc or Orsimer are a merish race that reside in the mountainous area between Skyrim, High Rock and Hammerfell.
Also called the Pariah Folk, Orcs are notable for their extreme courage and endurance. Throughout history they have been reviled, shunned, sometimes even mistaken for goblin-kin. Their status as outcasts does fit the sphere of their chief deity Malacath which encompasses the patronage of the spurned and ostracised.
Orc society may seem rough and cruel to an outsider at times, but they are also fiercely loyal to their kin and have an egalitarian society where men and women are considered of equal value.
OrcMale Orc

History of the Orcs

The Orc people are the followers of the god Malacath who used to be Trinimac.
Trinimac was an Altmer ancestor-god and a champion of war. When he attempted to stop the Chimer from following the prophet Veloth to what would become Morrowind, Boethiah the Daedric Prince of plots and god-hero of the Chimer defeated him and this defeat turned him into Malacath.
One version of the tale has it that Boethiah tricked Trinimac to hide in his mouth, so he could speak with Trinimac's voice. Boethiah then swallowed and voided him, and so turned him into Malacath and his followers into Orcs.

Orcs are often reviled and negatively stereotyped by other races. At times in history it was even popular to class them with the goblin-kin and deny they had (much of) a culture. As a result only the Orcs themselves know a lot about their history and customs.
There are reports that Orc soldiers banded with Nord armies during the War of the First Council in Morrowind around 1E700.
When the Redguard warrior wave arrived in what would become Hammerfell they drove many Orcs from the land, forcing them to settle in the Wrothgarian mountains, where the first Orsinium was founded.
A scribe named Jastyga mentions them in 1E950, on describing the joining of armies from the Order of Diagna, Daggerfall and Sentinel to "hold at bay the wicked Orcs in their foul Orsinium fastness... and burn aught in cleansing flame."
But the earliest mention of the word 'Orc' in written record comes from the epic poem Father of the Niben, describing the voyages of the early Aldmeri explorer Topal the Pilot.

"For sixty-six days and nights, he sailed, over crashing
Waves of dire intent, past whirlpools, through
Mist that burned like fire, until he reached the
Mouth of a great bay and he landed on a
Sun-kissed meadow of gentle dells.
As he and his men rested, there came a fearsome howl,
And hideous orcs streamed forth from the murky
Glen, cannibal teeth clotted with gore

It is however likely that Topal saw not a true Orc, but another kind of creature as his voyages took place before any elven exodus and the elves were still one in race and religion. The use then of the word Orc to describe the followers of Trinimac-turned-Malacath can be seen as a slur or insult in itself, which fits the way the Orcs are perceived by other races and the sphere of their god.

After the first city-state of Orsinium was destroyed in 1E980 the Orcs were once again without a home territory, which did not improve prejudice against them. The raising and consequent sacking of an Orsinium is a recurring theme in Orcish history.


After the defeat of Trinimac and his subsequent transformation into Malacath the newly changed Orsimer fled to the north, inhabiting lands from Hammerfell to Skyrim and Morrowind. They were however never accepted by other races and skirmishes, raids and small scale battles were common.
Orsinium originally was located in the mountains near Old Hroldan and began as a small stronghold. It grew in size and power when many Orcish refugees fled from the Ra'Gada or Redguard warrior wave invasion of Hammerfell.
Their newfound strength drove them to attempt to take greater control over the region, specifically the river Bjoulsae. This to force the kingdom of Wayrest to pay a toll for its usage.
In 1E948 the king of Daggerfall wrote a letter to Gaiden Shinji of the order of Diagna, a knightly order of Hammerfell, proposing a joint attack on Orsinium.

This led to the Siege of Orsinium where the Redguard and Breton armies and the order of Diagna waged a thirty year war on Orsinium.
Despite ferocious defense of the Orcs the city-state was eventually razed.

Orsinium was rebuilt during the second era when the Akaviri Potentate granted the status of Imperial territory to the Orcish homelands.
However when the last Potentate was assasinated in 2E430 they lost that right once more.
Just before the events of TESO the Orcish people have allied themselves with the Redguards of Hammerfell and the Bretons of High Rock.
King Emeric has promised them the right to rebuild Orsinium as a recognised and independent Imperial territory once more, in exchange for their aid.

Orcish culture

Orcish society and religion centres around the worship of Malacath, who plays an active role in their lives. He is also called Malak or Mauloch, though some claim they are different god-heroes altogether.
As the Orcs are often not recognised as civilised by other races, so is Malacath not recognised as a Daedric Prince by the other Princes. As patron of the spurned and ostracised this fits his sphere perfectly.
skyrim OrcTES5: Skyrim Orc

Traditional Orcs live in strongholds ruled by a chief. He is the only man allowed to marry and have children and has several wives. When one of his sons defeats the chief in battle, he becomes the new head of the stronghold.
Malacath favours the strong and a stronghold can lose the blessing of Malacath if he judges them to have a weak leader.

A traditional Orc will seek an honourable death before his hair turns grey.
This means that out of all the races Orcs tend to have the shortest lifespan.
There are of course those that leave the strongholds to seek a more civilised life, some of these appear to live longer, at least in the sense that grey-haired Orcs dont seem to be rare outside traditional Orcish culture.

2013 written by Merari. With thanks to Tecca, Deveron and Terminus Zaire for editing and images.
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Comments on The Races of TESO: Orcs
Post #46201

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Excellent article! and Hooray for completing the DC races! I struggled with choosing between Redguard and Orc for a while, now I'm once again questioning my choice after reading.
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Post #46463

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Aldmeri Dominion (Bosmer)
Pleeeease do the Bosmer next XD
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Post #49791

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(March 1st 2013, 09:18 AM)Najla Wrote: Excellent article! and Hooray for completing the DC races! I struggled with choosing between Redguard and Orc for a while, now I'm once again questioning my choice after reading.

Orsimer Warrior Woman!!!!!
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Post #61768

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Ebonheart Pact (Nord)
I am really looking forward to how they depict Orsinium, I am sure they will blow our minds like they did with Skyrim.
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