Just wait until I get to the Massalian Elves . . .
All the attention I've been giving to the orcs means that they are pretty much like the klingons in Star Trek; probably. I haven't touched the Massalian Elves yet, so you just have to wait. The purpose? To show that orcs are more than just pc slaying fodder. I want to show them as a real race, and not just a monster to stick your sword in.
So, what do we do about the orcs in the Known Lands? I already described their marriage ceremonies. I still have to get to Shaman initiation rites, Mythology, and all that happy stuff (I already established that the orcs came from the First Ones, or the Precursors, or the Ancients in an earlier post).
Lets talk about Coming of Age rites next, since Coming of Age stories are often a source of drama. Lets talk about rites where an orc child becomes a man. I chosen that the Orcs had some rites that would represent their culture: circumcision and the journey.
Orcs and Circumcision
One of the important differences in cultures that rely on war over cultures that work toward peace is circumcision. In boys, this is the cutting of the foreskin. In Judaism and Ancient Hebrewism, circumcision of the penis was a token of the covenant between God and Father Abraham.
When Jesus Christ had performed the Atonement, the covenant between God and Abraham was fulfilled, and now circumcision is not required in the Christian faith. Circumcision, however, was performed by idolatrous and non-Hebrew and Christian cultures. It's a practice found all over the Middle East and South Central Asia. Even the Egyptians practiced circumcision. Other Ancient Cultures did not.
So what does this have to do about the orcs in the Known Lands?
Orcs of most tribes of the Horde circumcise their male children when they are twelve years of age. This is part of an orc boy growing into manhood. The idea of circumcision is built around the idea that a boy is ready to leave his parents and become a man. After circumcision, the boy chooses his profession: usually between being a shaman, scout, hunter, or a warrior (barbarian or fighter) of some sort.
As for warlocks, they usually kidnap their apprentices. Hence, there is a strong undercurrent of pedophilia and pedorasty among the members of the Tribe of the Burning Sword, but that will come in a discussion of Warlocks among the Orcs.
Ahem . . .
Orcs and the Journey
When an orc male is sixteen years of age, his formal training in hunting, war, scouting, or shamanism is complete. Then comes the Journey. The Journey is a time of separation of a young orc's life from his parents to complete a coming of age quest. Some orcs don't grow out of this stage and take up Adventuring as a full time profession.
For the young warrior, his quest is to slay a beast and bathe in its blood. The quest is often the slaying of a powerful predator, or the slaying of an enemy human or elf man in single combat. The orc warrior often comes back with a scar to prove his mettle as a warrior.
For the young hunter, his quest is often to hunt a questing beast -- such as a mighty roe stag or hart stag, and slay the beast using what he knows. He then must bring back the meat to be served in a Coming of Age feast.
The young scout must be able to do something truly noteworthy. He must either infiltrate a human city and get something valuable without being recognized; or he must traverse the Orc nation in order to show he understands where the landmarks are and how he can use the knowledge to his and the tribe's advantage.
The young shaman must partake in a vision quest, in which he learns of his place and the orcs' place among the spirits of the land. The shaman must go into the wilderness of the Orc nation, seeking communion with the spirits after a period of fasting. Then a guardian animal would appear to the shaman and give him the direction he should go. Sometimes, however, some orc shamans see elemental spirits (an Earth, Air, Water, or Fire spirit) and find them called to follow the elements rather than an animal spirit. Most orc shamans, however, see the vision of a wolf, eagle, panther, tiger, or lion.
For orc warlocks, they must be able to show that they won't succumb to demonic corruption; that the can control true power. Usually this means investigating some demonic presence in the land and defeating it; then the warlock learns how to summon a demon. Usually an imp or quasit. Then they must show that they can control the demon. Once they have it successfully under their control, they proved that they can control the power they are given and are considered to be full warlocks.
For young orcs of other professions -- such as boat building, tent making, leather working, and so forth; the vision quest is often all that is needed. They don't need to prove anything, so they often go on a vision quest to find out their place in the world.