Introduction to the First Race

Ogres. That ancient race that saw its dawn and rise in the ages before the unruly hoards of stone-chippers called men left the wilderlands and organized themselves into Clans and nations. They called themselves the First Race, though the truth was much more complicated. At best they could be called the First Civilization, for they were consumed with their own politics, and with the affairs of the Houses within the Four Clans.

The Ways of Ogrekind in the Days of Their Strength

To an ogre, status, power, and rank mean everything. Obsessed by these desires, they are endlessly conspiring and scheming and fighting to claim superiority in any way, and most importantly, to be recognized by any and all. From the lowest tradesogre to the highest noble, all that matters is their position in their Clan. But for those of high birth, there is the possibility of real power. The possibility to become an ogreLord, the head of a House that will then bear his name for as many centuries as he may live. This is the highest achievement within the Four Clans—the ultimate rank. But there is more still for an ogreLord to gain when the Clans meet at the Gathering of the Years every eighth summer.

Most ogres enjoy combat and rarely decline a challenge—the shame of not accepting far outweighing the possibility of defeat. But, sensibly, they have developed alternatives to bloodletting since the Clans are relatively small in number. Their challenges usually come as contests of strength, endurance or pain. If bloodletting is required to secure a position or settle a matter of honor, the challenge becomes a duel, the weapons being agreed upon beforehand. In matters of blood, the ogre who is victorious will record the event upon his hide with an ogremarking—a glyph depicting his victory and increase in status. Death is always a risk in any duel, but not considered a necessity. Ogres like their defeated opponents to live so they can lord it over them for years to come.

Because an ogre will never steal from his own clansogres (an admission that he is the lessor of the two) they are expert deal-makers and obsessive gamblers. They will wager anything of value…including humiliation. Ogres never give praise to any but those whose rank is clearly superior, and then only to gain advantage. An ogre who has nothing left to gamble can wager a public compliment, admitting to all that he has been bested by a rival. This is a habit of only the lowest of the low.

No matter how little standing an ogre has within his Clan, there is yet one fate worse—that of the castoff. An ogre comes to this most horrible end when he is driven away from his Clan for crimes that cannot be made right by any contest or duel. Stripped of the chance to pursue the status and position he so craves—none to contend with, to best, or to take note—the ogre in this lone state is most often driven mad. These are the ogres of the legends of men; solitary, fearsome and wild, terrorizing the lands without reason and without satisfaction. Fortunately for most, this is a rare occurrence. Ogres do not like to have their ranks lessened since they covet all eyes upon them when they contend for status.

The Habits of Ogrekind that Distinguish Them from the Other Races

Ogres can, and often do, eat anything. They can stomach all the combined diets of men and animals: from acorns and vegetables to slugs and roaches to meat—rancid or fresh. They prefer heavier fare however, and eat the lighter sort only as a matter of convenience, or poverty. An ogre of low standing may dine on acorn and insect stew several times a week because he cannot afford richer meals, or because he is a poor hunter or scavenger. He is easily recognized for this because of his odor. Breath and other bodily humors convey to fellow clansogres information about eating habits and consequently status, both low and high.

Ogres have poorer vision than men, and rely more heavily on their sense of smell. In fact, odor accounts for at least a third of their “language” which is why men cannot speak it. The smell and flavor of their environment tells an ogre who is near, their status, where they have been, even their trade.

Ogrekind has two written forms of speech. The first illustrative—glyphs representing concepts, beliefs or historical events, sometimes accompanied by an odor. They can be used to post warnings, invite combat, or express other general messages; they form the basis of ogremarkings.

The second form of writing is more complex and can be used for recording histories and lineages; or recipes for potions; or for making public proclamations. But since ogres are impatient and their symbols are surprisingly complex, there are only a few who master these writings to become scribes. This is something of a useful but under-appreciated art. OgreLords all need at least one scribe to record their own history, but since ogres who choose this craft are usually less fit for combat, and smarter than most, they are held in some suspicion, even thinly veiled contempt, by the Primes and other nobles of the House. Occasionally a scribe will work as a tradesogre, like a smythie or weaponeer, but only in larger shires.

Ogre shires are communities within the larger clan. They are loosely arranged, but well structured socially, each knowing its standing compared to the others. Every form of dwelling is found throughout these shires: huts, caves, earthen houses, even fortified keeps. Housing is almost entirely an symbol of status among ogres since they can easily live in the most extreme elements.

The Features and Characteristics of Ogrekind

Ogres stand two arm’s lengths, whereas men (and ogresses) stand only one. A stout warrior among mankind may weigh ten stones; an average ogre is ten times ten stones, though not without the variety of proportions and shapes that men themselves display. Tall, fat, thick, angular—all these are found among ogrekind.

Ogres have a hide that is thick, deeply creased and ashen grey, armor-like in appearance and strength and almost entirely weatherproof. It is too thick to be pierced by stone weapons and so men wisely avoid encounters with ogres.

The powerful sense of smell that gives ogres a way of “seeing” that men do not have, comes from their four nostrils. Likewise their hear is as keen as any beast. If man has any advantage physically, it is in his manual dexterity, ogres having only four fingers—a thumb and three opposing digits. This explains ogres lack of interest in finely detailed work and their occasional interest in the objects and crafts of men.

A female in ogrekind is known as ogress. When they are young, before bearing an ogreling, they are closer in size to mankind. Because they are far more clever and mischievous than ogres, they will sometimes disguise themselves and travel among the lands of men pilfering food, tools or small trophies to show in the Lodges of the Ogresses. Because of their natural odor and greyish hide, they are sometimes mistaken for lepers, which suits them well since it insures their disguise. Ogresses achieve complete equality with males only after they bear offspring. It is during this time that they grow in size nearly equivalent to ogres, retaining that size for their lifetime. Their strength increases as does their status and are referred to then as ogreMatrons.

Young, male and female, are independent not long after birth. Female ogrelings are raised entirely by their matron. Males rely on their matron until about 24 stones, (age means nothing), when their sire takes them to train in his craft, or trade him to the service of a House or weaponeer. Ogres will gladly position their offspring for their own benefit, the way men trade livestock.

The Four Clans of Ogrekind and Their Leading Houses

The Clan of the Great Isles:

The House of Kells

The House of Bone

The House of Aug

The House of Ooglet

The Clan of the Sun:

The House of Yeltug

The House of Bludlick

The House of Raaw

The House of Sleem

The Clan of the Plains:

The House of Vrunig

The House of Beltch

The House of Kruel

The House of Spittit

The Clan of the Ranges:

The House of Kronos

The House of Flunneq

The House of Haavoc

The House of Daer

The Lore of Ogrekind