The material below is designated as Open Game Content
Life in Skraag is a daily struggle for survival. While some orcs are able to carve out a decent life in the city, it is almost always at the expense of others. Stronger orcs tend to punish the weak or sickly, taking what they want without regard. This forces weaker orcs to band together, and often they pay protection money to the Silver Tusks or some other group of stronger orcs simply to be left alone. Bullying and thuggery are especially prevalent any time a large group of horde orcs returns from their plundering. In order to prevent this abuse from becoming widespread, the warlords have enacted strict policies of separation between the hordes and the city. This is the reason for the fenced area at the edge of the Hearth Plain where horde orcs are forced to stay when they return to the city.
Since there is no organised agriculture in Skraag (aside from the few hobgoblins, who have many small gardens to supplement their hunting), the orcs rely on captured goods and hunting for their sustenance. This creates a harsh environment in a city this large, and most orcs have found a way to scrape by even in the leanest of times. The religious Mended Ones tell the people their poverty and hunger is a sign from the god Alodai that the orcs are not being true to their nature. Orcs are made to conquer and destroy, not lazily inhabit a city where no terror can be wrought. However, no matter what the shamans say, those orcs who do live in Skraag need to live. To this end many orcs have learned the art of scavenging, or finding a way to live where little living is to be made. These scavengers generally take on two forms - those that live alone and make their way about the city on their wits and cunning, and those that are adept at living off the discards of more successful or affluent orcs.
New Feat: Scavenger (General)
You are able to live on almost nothing, finding sustenance where you can and utilising the discards and garbage of others.
Benefit: You need never spend money on food and drink. In addition, given a week, you can acquire any mundane item worth 5 gp or less for free.
The first is the archetypal impoversihed orc, clothes tattered and teeth rotting from a deprived diet and poor health. These unfortunates barely sustain themselves by begging and foraging through the discards of other orcs. They often go for days with nothing to eat but the grasses of the Hearth Plain or the occasional scrapings of moss and fungi from the cavern walls of the undercity. The true scavengers are far more cunning, however, and it is often impossible to tell they use intelligent tactics to survive. These clever orcs attempt to befriend more successful orcs and use this affiliation to their advantage. These orcs gain entrance to parties and meetings where food and drink are served, stealing excess away for later consumption. They make their away into organisations whose membership can be counted on for a meal or a helpful fist of gold in lean times. Their scam is to appear as if they do not need help, thereby making it easier to convince people to help them.
The consumption of alcoholic beverages ranks as a favourite pastime for all orcs of Skraag, especially those from the hordes visiting the city. The dwarven stores of ale and wine that were kept in the caverns beneath the Hearth Plain were one of the greatest finds for the orcs that invaded the city. Too heavy to carry with them as they retreated, the ale represented a treasure the dwarves were forced to leave behind in the wake of their defeat. Most of these stores were depleted in the days of celebration following the successful invasion, but the warlords managed to hide some of the barrels away for their private stores.
Some of these hidden caches were sold or transferred to heirs upon the deaths of the original warlords, but there are tales among the city’s elite telling of caverns full of barrels that remain intact and ownerless to this day. Cylus Groon has made it a high priority to find these lost barrels of ale and wine, as the prices they would fetch from the warlords and other city leaders would be considerable.
Unable to rely on regular shipments of alcohol from the horde, who are not quick to give up their spirits, the orcs were forced to brew their own grog using local ingredients. After years of experimentation with roots and herbs, the orcs found what they required below the earth. A dark grey mushroom grows in many of the caverns beneath the Hearth Plain and after the original dwarves were vanquished the orcs quickly found them to be inedible, causing acute abdominal pains if eaten either raw or cooked. It was for this reason that it took so long for the orcs to figure out that when properly distilled, the mushrooms would produce a strong, bitter brew. The orcs call this dark concoction grokk, and the citizens of Skraag have learned to favour this drink above all else. It certainly beats another captured consignment of disgusting elven wine.
As has already been discussed, many orcs do not worry about survival because they simply take what they need from their weaker neighbours. Individual orcs take it upon themselves to use stealth to acquire the goods of others, but for the most part thievery is left to the goblins. There is no established thieves’ guild in the city of Skraag, but there is a group of goblins who live together and co-ordinate their efforts. Whilst not officially a guild, this organisation has made them far more
successful than their more individualistic counterparts.
The goblins that live at the edge of the Hearth Plain are also frequently found on the work crews that perform most of the hard labour within the city. A Silver Tusk or other government official needs no reason or justification to throw a goblin on the work crew, and once assigned it is nearly impossible to gain release. Goblins work side-by-side with orcs on these crews, and this is the one place in Skraag where all receive equal treatment. Work crews are usually made up of between twelve and twenty individuals, all under the supervision of a brutish taskmaster. They are responsible for keeping the city free of waste and garbage, as well as making repairs to important buildings and the defensive structures along the edge of the Hearth Plain. Every few weeks, a dozen or so work crews are taken down the mountain to cut logs from the forest and retrieve plants, herbs, and peat from the swamp on the western end of the mountain base.
In the caverns beneath the Hearth Plain, the work crews haul rocks and rubble, as the orcs are continually excavating new caverns as well as those buried by the dwarves during the invasion. They are also used to collect water from Lake Craddush so other orcs can avoid the dangers of that area. The large number of goblins lost at the shores of the lake account for the many zombies controlled by the disciples of the Asphibyiex.
Life in Skraag is even tougher for the orc children of the city, who lack both the strength and cunning to defend themselves from adults who show little mercy. The harshness of their existence is reflected in a popular children’s game in Skraag known as Ackabar. Ackabar begins with a group of children climbing up to one of the numerous ridges that cover the cliff face of the mountain where they then pair off, before attempting to throw each other to the ground below. The game pauses when an orc child flies off the ledge, as the others scramble to watch the impact. Unless the loser breaks a bone, goes unconscious, or dies the game continues. Outside observers of this brutal pastime use it to justify the destruction of the orc race, citing the violence of even the children as proof that the race entire is evil to the core.