Verros, The Interregnum
High Mountain Orcs
The orcs of the High Mountains did not always live high up in the frozen peaks. They used to live in the foothills and plains west of the mountains and on the eastern coast and sea. However, over the centuries the orcs have been pushed further and further up into the mountains, first by the dwarves and sea elves to the east and then by the unified kingdoms of man, exiling them from their former lands. As the generations lived and died in the High Mountains, the weak and the stupid died off, leaving only the cunning and strong. The mountains are teeming with strange beasts and dangerous creatures, forcing the orcs to adapt if they want to survive.
Centuries past, and through survival of the fittest, a new breed of orc was born. Where the orcs of the past were dull-witted, rash, and impulsive, the orcs of today are clever and cunning, using stealth to their advantage in order to deal with the dangers of the the mountains. Their clans have become more sophisticated to deal with isolation, their social structure adjusting to aid in the survival of their people in these new lands.
The High Mountain Orcs generally live in clans of a few hundred orcs, with there being some nine major clans. For the most part each clan is completely isolated from the others, as there is no way multiple clans can live in close proximity to eachother without starving themselves. Every decade the clans gather in one of the major mountain valleys, one of the few areas in the High Mountains that is not an icy wasteland. They generally spend about half a year within the valley, feasting and holding grand tournaments and melees, and each clan trades the clans daughters with the other clans, to strengthen their blood and keep their clans diverse.
High Mountain Orc adventurers tend to be similar to their forebears, becoming great warriors and barbarians. Usually they tend more towards stealth and strategy then their ancestors, and modern orcish mercenary commanders are some of the most successful and cunning leaders that the world has seen. Orc rangers are also extremely common, there being hunters and vagabonds alike. Interestingly though, where previously orcish blood sorcerers existed, orcish wizards have begun to take their place. Their developing mind for cunning has turned some towards study to gain access to powerful magicks.
Standard Racial Traits
- Ability Score Racial Traits: High Mountain Orcs are strong and cunning, but gruff and harsh of speech. The fact that they are also orcs does not help much. They gain +2 Strength, +2 Intelligence, and -2 Charisma.
- Size: High Mountain Orcs are Medium creatures and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Type: High Mountain Orcs are Humanoid with the orc subtype.
- Base Speed: High Mountain Orcs have a base speed of 30 feet.
- Languages: High Mountain Orcs begin play speaking Orcish and Common. Midland Humans with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Rylathi, Seawyn, Dwarvish, Gnomish, and Tvorsian.
Defensive Racial Traits
- Natural Armor: Over the generations High Mountain Orcs have grown unusually thick skin in order to shield against both cold and claw alike. They gain a +1 natural armor bonus to their Armor Class.
Feat and Skill Racial Traits
- Silent Hunter: Centuries of living in the frozen wastes in the high mountains have made the orcs realize that they need not only great strength to hunt the mighty beasts of the frozen climes, but also the shadow’s touch. High Mountain Orcs reduce the penalty for using Stealth while moving by 5 and can make Stealth Checks while running at a -20 penalty (this number includes the penalty reduction from this trait).
- Mountaineer: High Mountain Orcs are immune to altitude sickness and do not lose their Dexterity bonus to AC when making Climb checks or Acrobatics checks to cross narrow or slippery surfaces.
- Survivor: Survival and Stealth are always class skills for High Mountain Orcs.
Offensive Racial Traits
- Orc Ferocity: Although most orcs have calmed their bloodrage tendencies in the favor of survival, orcs that are corned and mortally wounded still ferocious and unyielding foes. Once per day, when a High Mountain Orc is reduced to fewer than 0 hit points but is not killed, it can fight on for 1 more round as if disabled. At the end of its next turn, unless brought to above 0 hit points, it immediately falls unconscious and begins to die.
- Weapon Familiarity: High Mountain Orcs are skilled in the use of bows and axes, and are proficient with Composite bows and Greataxes.
Senses Racial Traits
- Low-Light Vision: High Mountain Orcs can see twice as far as a race with normal vision in conditions of dim light.