By Oskavus Tiratus, Scholar of Orkthropology
Mount Doom Shamanic Studies Program: Cultural Studies
Orc social structure is often quite confusing to outsiders. At the highest level it is relatively straightforward. However, at the daily level it all comes down to interpersonal bonds of family, friends and allies. From a scholarly point of view, it comes down to trust networks. The social structure all comes down to who can one trust.
One thing that makes things difficult for travelers is that in different places, in particular upon different worlds, not all levels of the social structure are in place. Typically for historical reasons.
The principal social units are described below, the larger the organization, the lower level of trust between groups:
· Nation: A nation is the largest social structure and it represents a collection of Hordes that have sworn to work together under an agreed upon command structure. Binding agreements are usually formal.
· Horde: A horde is a collection of tribes that are sworn to work together under an agreed upon command structure. Binding agreements are often formal, at least initially. Over time, on some worlds, large, long surviving hordes behave more like giant tribes.
· Tribe: A tribe is a collection of families that are closely joined by where they live, and their joint history. There is a well-established command structures under the Tribal Chief and a Council of Elders.
· Clan: A clan is a family of orcs with well-known/established genealogical inks.
· Family: An orc's family consists of his or hir immediate family members out to one degree. Beyond this they are clan mates.
o First Cousins
· Band: A band is not so much a social group as a physical group of orcs that travel and live together.
o Technically/traditionally it is a subdivision of a tribe, or in some cases a horde.
o Bands are defined by geographical location, and or traveling and living together.
o Band members may change as individuals may choose (or be ordered) to travel with another band within the same tribe/clan/family. A band may be of a single clan or multiple clans. In the case of a horde band, there may be members of multiple tribes.
o There will be a designated band leader, often a band Chief and his/her elders/commanders.
o Band loyalty is perhaps the most intense trust connection because the survival of the group depends on trusting each other.
o The loyalty of the band or more importantly, the lack thereof, as one would expect, tends to be the place of greatest drama as it is susceptible to treachery, particularly when loyalty to one's other social groups conflicts with loyalty to the band.
· Shield-Mate: A shield-mate is a person, mutually chosen and sworn upon in front of others, that represents the most intimate bond of trust on a military/combat level.
o Shield-Mates are optional. When agreed upon, formal bonds of friendship and loyalty are sworn.
o Shield-Mate agreements may be terminated.
o Shield-Mates during combat, come before spouse and children
o Shield-Mates are expected to defend each other to the death if need be
o Shield-Mates can be of the same or opposite genders
o Shield-Mates may or may not share physical intimacy, and doing so is not considered a breach of marriage vows.