I’ve always had a special place in my heart for orcs. I think that some of it grew from my love of Tolkein as a wee lad. I think a lot of it also had to do with my very first campaign, wherein my older brother played a Half-Orc cleric/assassin. In preparing for that campaign, I spent a lot of time figuring out how orcs worked in that world, what kind of society they had, etc.
Orcs ended up becoming much more than your typical evil humanoid race. There was a loosely-organized, continent-spanning Church of Gruumsh. The highest echelons of the priesthood to Gruumsh were based at the Temple of the All-Seeing Eye on the Isle of the Orc, located in the Sea of Cortan at the center of powerful protective magics. The cleric/assassin, by the name of Chark, eventually made a pilgrimage to the Isle of the Orc where he participated in a mystic orcish rite. There were two possible outcomes to that ceremony: You were found to be unworthy in the Eye of Gruumsh and died, as a result of failing any one of five (!) consecutive saving throws vs. death magic, or you were found to be worthy (ultimately as a result of my brother's greatest string of d20 roles EVER) and given increased powers within the orcish religion. In game terms, that meant that the clerical level limit on Chark was raised several levels higher. Chark then returned to the mainland where he recruited an army (of anyone who would swear allegiance to Gruumsh) and began his journey of pillage and destruction into the underworld. (The term 'Underdark' did not exist at that point.) Ah, well. Some good memories there…
So whenever someone writes about orcs, I always take an interest, if only to see what other people have done with them. (At some point when time is more available, I also plan on purchasing and reading Orcs to see what author Stan Nicholls has done with them--despite the mostly negative reviews located on Amazon.) Ken, the owner of a rusty piece of weaponry, had this to say about orcs recently. He sees orcs and goblins as similar in many ways. He then provides a nice list of attributes to differentiate them in his world.
I have to say that, overall, I agree with his depiction of orcs. What I disagree with, however, is his depiction of goblins. In my worlds, goblins have always been short, weak, cowardly, and stupid. But the best part of his post is the list of attributes he used to compare the two:
REAL WORLD COMPARISON
RELATION TO WORLD
I don't know if he came up with this list or not, but it is succinct, to-the-point, and IMHO does a very nice job of listing everything that you need to know about those, and any, race. Perhaps he should compile a Rusty Battle Axe Compendium of Sentient Creatures, describing every intelligent creature using that list of attributes. I would find it very useful.
Perhaps I'll do it myself. Mmmmm...