Orcs are one of the most instantly recognizable races in fantasy as a whole, but they are a singularly important driving force in the Lore of World of Warcraft from its very inception. From the very first entry in the Warcraft Universe, Warcraft: Orcs versus Humans, Orcs have been painted as the villains. But why? How did the orcs get here, and why are modern orcs GREEN? Well, in our Orc Lore in Short, I am going to try and provide some history and context for the mighty back-bone of the Horde!
Where are Orcs From?
Orcs are native to the planet of Draenor. Draenor is a rough and rugged world where the strong and crafty survive. Among the denizens of Draenor is a race of Mighty and Intelligent hunters and gatherers with a dark brown skin. The Orcs. These early orcs were separated into clans and hierarchies that all had traits based on the parts of the world they inhabited.
The Frostwolf clans thrived in the icy tundras, while the Shadowmoon Clan thrived in the shadows of the mountains and in caves. Eventually, a spacefaring race called the Eredar crash landed on Draenor and this greatly changed everything for this mighty race. The orcs were no longer the premiere and most powerful species on the planet. They now had the Eredar to contend with. By the time the orcs and Eredar made contact, the Eredar had adopted the name of Draenei, to better match their new homeland.
The Downfall of the Orcs
The Orcs were out matched not only in Technology, but in power and magic as well. The arrival of the Draenei has changed the dynamic of the entire planet of Draenor, and this was not good for the Orcs. As the Draenei began to thrive and create societies and cities on their new planet, food began to become scarce. Space was limited. Tensions rose.
In steps the machinations of the Burning Legion. An army of demonic forces that were intent on destroying the Draenei. They sent agents to speak with the Orcs’ more shadowy and nefarious clans, and convinced them that the only way that the Orcs would survive is to become soldiers of the Burning Legion. And so, the Orcs drink demon blood and become imbued with great power, and lose what sense of morality and independence they had. They were now completely under the control of the Burning Legion and turned loose as weapons of war upon the Draenei.
Evolution of the Orcs – Orc Lore
The Orcs were successful in driving the Draenei off of the planet and thought they had succeeded, but the Burning Legion were not done with their new weapons. They had influenced the orcs to be more Warmongering and Bloodthirsty. The Legion provided the orcs with means to invade other worlds, and now pointed their weapon at the planet of Azeroth. The Orcs, now corrupted, were beginning to have changes beyond their blood lust. Their skin had become a sickly green, and their eyes a dark red. As if they were burning orbs of blood red flame. These monstrous new warlords began their campaign into Azeroth.
The First War – Orc Lore
The invasion of Azeroth has become known as the First War. The Orcs began a campaign of violence and pain across the continent of the Eastern Kingdoms, leading the denizens of Azeroth to form an Alliance in order to repel this hellish Horde. The Horde, while mighty, were out of their element and trapped on a new world. The Alliance were able to sneak past the Hordes forces and shut down the portal being used to bring Orcs to the world. Following the destruction of this portal, the Orcs were trapped, outnumbered, and forced to retreat and hide!
The Second War
The Orcs were not going to give up easily. After the First War, a handful of powerful orcs managed to find a way to cure their Fel Corruption and break the legions control. This led to the Orcs beginning to fracture and form into various factions once again, just as they were on their home world. This would not last long, as the Denizens of Azeroth remembered the pain and suffering caused by the Orc invasion, and sought to exterminate them all. The Orcs were forced to come together with many of the more barbaric races of Azeroth to try and carve out a new home.
They found allies amongst the Ogres, Dragons, and Trolls. The orcs formed an official alliance of themselves, calling themselves The Horde. While some of the Orcs wanted to find a peaceful resolution to the violence, a majority felt that they could seize power and become Dominant on this planet. This led to a 2nd war between the Noble Alliance, and the Mighty Horde. The Horde ultimately lost this war as well, and the orcs were rounded up and placed in Internment camps to prevent them from being totally wiped out.
A Short Time Skip!
After MANY years, a champion of the Orcs managed to rise up from the Internment camps. Thrall, a descendant of a mighty Orc Chief, was raised as a gladiator. He successfully escaped from his Internment Camp and travelled the world gathering Allies of his own. After many years of travel, searching, and bountiful Diplomatic missions, Thrall managed to free the Orcs and have them taken to a separate Continent. Kalimdor. Here, Thrall established Orgrimmar and became the first Warchief of the New Horde. Not a bloodthirsty band of monsters, but a society of the misbegotten and downtrodden that were not allowed to join the Noble Alliance. Thrall began to be seen as what the Orcs could be. Intelligent, kind, fair. He led the new found Horde until the events of the Cataclysm, after which he stepped down as Warchief to pursue Shamanly duties and aiding all races of the world recover from a world shattering event.
What about the Brown and Red Orcs I see in game?
There are many more Orcs than just the ones that crossed the Dark Portal and invaded Azeroth. There are still Brown Skinned orcs known as the Mag’har on the remains of Draenor, now called Outlands, as well as red skinned Fel Orcs. These red skinned orcs are the result of a new form of demonic taint. Not gained through a bargain but taken by force from the blood of Mannoroth. Since the bargain was not willingly struck, the Fel Orcs are much more ferocious and blood thirsty, and their skin was changed to reflect this. More than just the eyes of the Original corrupted orcs.
I hope that this was an informative short that has helped you better understand the World of Warcraft! There is so much more lore to be discussed, and even more ingame. Make sure to check out WoW and the books that accompany it for more in depth stories!