Magic and the Machine
The History of the World
According to Orcish legend, in the beginning there were Orcs. They were a mighty people, conquering the vast forests, beating back the wilderness. They ranged across the whole continent, and even sailed across the quiet Smiling Sea. When Gruumsh saw how powerful and brave his people were, he created for them a gift – a whole race of weak and loyal servants, Humans.
Some intellectuals know that according to old Dwarven myth the first longboat of Dwarves arrived on Terra from Oron. The story says they plunged their hands into the soft dirt and marveled at it’s texture. It was so different from the land of glass and stone they had left.
According to the old Gruumshian texts, 5 fiends from hell came to Terra for a holiday. They were so entertained by torturing the Orcs and their servants, they decided to stay. They live on the insides of trees in the misty forests of the tall mountain range, known today as the Krajovay mountains. These fiends were called elves and the wielded control over the elements. They called it magic.
Orcs believe that their legendary hero, Gul Tajuva stole magic ability from the Elves for her people. However, because magic use is life draining, they were never as powerful as any Elvish wizards. Magi only lived about 5 years after they started practicing in earnest. But Orc Magi were fearsome their enemies; Orcish magic focuses on enhancing combat ability. They used their magic to whip themselves and their fighters into blind, unstoppable, battlerage.
In Dwarven legend, the Stonemages lead their people as a council. Seven stonemages, one from each of the major Dwarven cities, met as equals. They needed no haddock or chisel to shape the earth, they could move rock as easily as sand. No Dwarves needed to toil. They built deep into the earth and lined their Great Halls with red hot gems, squeezed from the hearts of mountains.
Humans and Orcs have had a tumultuous past. In 500 BC (before campaign) there was an incredibly bloody uprising. A band of humans – led by the mythic hero Hawise, a paragon of the God Terr, overthrew Foka – the largest Orcish city on the coast and successfully held it against future raids for hundreds of years, they called it Hawish. It was once a great and industrious city.
Elves have made it their purpose to understand and control magic. With their unnaturally long lifespan, Elven wizards could study and practice magic and still live past 90. The Elves are led by a council of Elders, who have chosen to live a life without magic. These elders give up the access to magic, but in return they live nearly three times as long as their fellow countrymen.
The University of Stability and the University of Growth were founded in year 212BC by Coucilers Mei Lin and Yaozu. The two universities have formally separated the two major Elven philosophies of magic, both study all kinds of magic but they have different developmental philosophies – the University of Growth is focused on new frontiers and discoveries and the University of Stability is focused on deep understanding and control. There are also numerous smaller vocational colleges where students can get a deeper understanding of specific types of magic.
In year 75 BC, Orcish industryman, Gul Ouchek, and owner of the Minowac State Mining Operation discovered a mineral, Orichalcum. When harnessed correctly, Orichalcum can be used to supplant life-force while casting spells. With this new resource, Orcish Magi were no longer limited. Within a few years, the Orcs had a truly fearsome army.
The last Dwarven empire, lead by Emperor Wotan, was magnificent. Although the ways of stonemagic had been lost generations ago, the cities of the Wotani empire were fabulous and vast. Besides, the modern Dwarf knows that the Stonemages are just silly stories for children. Emperor Wotan was close with the Human leaders from Hawish and Silflay. Human farmers in the prairies nearby provided his people with food and in return they traded stonework, metals and precious stones mined by his people.
Working Dwarven mines was never easy, but during the last years of the Wotani Empire, mining work became more dangerous than ever. All dwarves were required to work for at least five years in pit mines to provide for their country. But the richest families were allowed to pay into the government coffers to defer their involvement. Only the poorest worked in the bottom of the mines.
In 60BC, The New Orcish Army threat united Dwarves and Humans. But they weren’t strong enough to face the magically-enhanced Orcish battalions. The Human-Dwarf alliance sent representatives to the council of Elves to ask for their aid. Elves had never stepped in to protect another race in any other Orcish conflict (the long lived Elves never thought they were important enough to warrant their attention) But the Elves were fascinated and disturbed by the Orc’s new enhanced magical abilities. They joined the fight, and with their advanced magicks – the Human and Dwarf fighters were able to easily overcome the Orcish ragers. This conflict is known as the Foul War amongst Orcs, who feel they were unfairly ganged up on by the other inhabitants of Terra. The fighting ended approximately 50 years ago, and shortly after the four nations agreed to peacefully coexist.
After the conflict (known to the Elves as the Great Intervention) Elven scholars from the Universities gained access to orichalcum and it’s benefits. Scholars from both universities were ecstatic about the possibilities.
Many Humans and Dwarves felt that the Orcs should pay for their warring. But the Elves weren’t interested in punishing the Orcs. They only wanted access to the new mineral. In the peace treaty, the orcish fighters were pardoned for their fighting, but they were forced to share their knowledge about orichalcum and how to obtain and harness it with everyone.
Scholars from the University of Growth had a breakthrough approximately 10 years in the past – they discovered a method of ensorcelling metal and stone golems and “programming” them to complete simple tasks. The (often irritatingly so) benevolent elves called another meeting of the four colonized races with a gift – they wanted to bring automated golems to the other races and end menial labor.
Elvish missionaries from the University of Growth have been travelling from town to town. In these towns they construct a dormitory for themselves, then they begin building a local workshop for fabricating the necessary production golems. They bring surveyors and representatives from the orcish mining company, the Minowac Mining Organization to attempt to find nearby veins of orichalcum.
In the present campaign setting, the Univeristy of Growth has nearly completed its mission to end labor, there are a few remote towns where the transition is in progress, but all the core cities have been upgraded and connected.
Most Orcs no longer believe the old legends although some zealots still exist in dense Orcish cities. At present, Orcs are much less interested in continuing to fight and much more interested in pursuing an extremely profitable relationship with the Elves to provide them with Orichalcum from their extensive and fast-growing mining business.