Honor the Hold!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Illustration by Caio Maciel Monteiro

The treacherous Hold of Belkzen is a savage place for outsiders as well as its own residents. We've said a lot about the region, but a lot of this information is scattered throughout different books and product lines. For those who are new to Belkzen or who just can't get enough of the orc nation, here's a brief breakdown of some of the most interesting aspects of this savage region as well as links to where you can find more information on these topics.


Illustration by Roberto Pitturru

Beasts: Orc rangers and beastmasters have "domesticated" many animals and monstrous beasts native to the valleys of the Tusk and Kodar Mountains, though in most cases this simply means caging wild animals until they're to be released on the field of battle. From dire wolves to the strange and tempestuous gorthek, orc tribes rear a number of different monsters to serve as their mounts or hounds. Beyond these brutes, even fiercer beasts lurk in the hills around the Hold of Belkzen (including a number of all-new Belkzen animals detailed in the forthcoming Giantslayer Adventure Path bestiaries).

Half-Orcs: The progeny of orcs and humans are treated somewhat paradoxically among the orcs of Belkzen. On one hand, orcs treat their half-blooded brethren as weak, and bully or abuse them to prove their inferiority. On the other hand, talented half-orcs (especially spellcasters) can achieve statuses among their tribe as seers or witch doctors. Many half-orcs consider themselves prisoners in their own homelands, and wrestle with the inherent savagery that flows through their blood. Others flee the Hold as soon as they are able, becoming storied adventurers or even founders of peaceful settlements that they can fearlessly call home.

Atrocities: The horrors of war are not solely restricted to the orc side of Belkzen's borders, and the human knights and soldiers who clash with these monsters sometimes inherit more of the orcs' savagery than any would care to admit. Servants of Zon-Kuthon often go to the ravaged battlefields of Belkzen to commemorate the unfathomable acts of savagery that transpired there, and rumors persist of orcs being held prisoner and brutally interrogated in such Lastwall border strongholds as Castle Everstand.

With a slew of orc-related products coming out this winter—including Pathfinder Adventure Path #91: Battle of Bloodmarch Hill (written by yours truly), the much-anticipated Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes, and Pathfinder Module: Daughters of Fury (written by Viktoria Jaczko, winner of the 2014 RPG Superstar contest)—you can be sure we're going to be posting a lot of Belkzen banter on the blog in the coming months.

Patrick Renie
Developer

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Tags: Caio Maciel Monteiro Orcs Pathfinder Adventure Path Pathfinder Campaign Setting Pathfinder Modules Roberto Pitturru
Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Nicely done! Also, there are also some efforts to bring civilization to Belkzen, including among orc leaders. The Pathfinder Wiki article on the Hold of Belkzen is a good place to start for information as well

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Orc hordes are coming. Nothing can save us.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
The Orc hordes are coming. Nothing can save us.

...except the Pugwampi hordes! To mischief!

...or battle, I meant battle...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Master Pugwampi wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
The Orc hordes are coming. Nothing can save us.

...except the Pugwampi hordes! To mischief!

...or battle, I meant battle...

You've somehow made everything WORSE!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sweet - liking that there will be some moral greys thrown in with the Hold's neighbors being just as aggressive as the Orcs themselves.

I'm thinking Canterwall will be mentioned, maybe?

Silver Crusade

My question about Belzen is this:

Lastwall is presented as a battleground whereby the forces of civilisation have built great bastions and walls and are barely holding back the savage horde.

OK that's fine but that begs the question:

What about Ustalav?

Renchurch is roughly 100 miles from Urgir which by all rights should make it a fortified frontier town yet when it was detailed it was presented as a sleepy farming town with no mention of orcs.

I can understand the Orcs reticence to attack the Mammoth Lords or the warlike tribes of the Shoanti (even though I reckon the Orcs would smash them into goo if they felt like it) and no-one messes with Irissen but Ustalav? What's stopping them?


This is so awesome. I frigging love orcs. Great post and I hope that there's more in store for the green skins as time goes on. I can't wait to see the latest books and news about my favorite races.


Looking forward to all of this.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
FallofCamelot wrote:

My question about Belzen is this:

Lastwall is presented as a battleground whereby the forces of civilisation have built great bastions and walls and are barely holding back the savage horde.

OK that's fine but that begs the question:

What about Ustalav?

Renchurch is roughly 100 miles from Urgir which by all rights should make it a fortified frontier town yet when it was detailed it was presented as a sleepy farming town with no mention of orcs.

I can understand the Orcs reticence to attack the Mammoth Lords or the warlike tribes of the Shoanti (even though I reckon the Orcs would smash them into goo if they felt like it) and no-one messes with Irissen but Ustalav? What's stopping them?

It's creepy as hell is what.

Place is crawling with draculas and frankysteins and skellingtons...


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
FallofCamelot wrote:

My question about Belzen is this:

Lastwall is presented as a battleground whereby the forces of civilisation have built great bastions and walls and are barely holding back the savage horde.

OK that's fine but that begs the question:

What about Ustalav?

Renchurch is roughly 100 miles from Urgir which by all rights should make it a fortified frontier town yet when it was detailed it was presented as a sleepy farming town with no mention of orcs.

I can understand the Orcs reticence to attack the Mammoth Lords or the warlike tribes of the Shoanti (even though I reckon the Orcs would smash them into goo if they felt like it) and no-one messes with Irissen but Ustalav? What's stopping them?

I do believe that Lastwall was originally built as a bulwark against the Whispering Tyrant, not to keep out the orcs. Also, the location of Lastwall may have something to do with geography. Maybe there is no or only one pass from Belkzen into Ustalav but Lastwall is more open plains, necessitating the "wall" to prevent invasion from the NE.


j b 200 wrote:
FallofCamelot wrote:

My question about Belzen is this:

Lastwall is presented as a battleground whereby the forces of civilisation have built great bastions and walls and are barely holding back the savage horde.

OK that's fine but that begs the question:

What about Ustalav?

Renchurch is roughly 100 miles from Urgir which by all rights should make it a fortified frontier town yet when it was detailed it was presented as a sleepy farming town with no mention of orcs.

I can understand the Orcs reticence to attack the Mammoth Lords or the warlike tribes of the Shoanti (even though I reckon the Orcs would smash them into goo if they felt like it) and no-one messes with Irissen but Ustalav? What's stopping them?

I do believe that Lastwall was originally built as a bulwark against the Whispering Tyrant, not to keep out the orcs. Also, the location of Lastwall may have something to do with geography. Maybe there is no or only one pass from Belkzen into Ustalav but Lastwall is more open plains, necessitating the "wall" to prevent invasion from the NE.

Looking at a map right now and there is quite the large gap(in the neighborhood of 50-60 miles) between the Tusks and the Hungry Mountains and nothing (apparently) in between to separate Belkzen and Ustalav.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
FallofCamelot wrote:

My question about Belzen is this:

Lastwall is presented as a battleground whereby the forces of civilisation have built great bastions and walls and are barely holding back the savage horde.

OK that's fine but that begs the question:

What about Ustalav?

Renchurch is roughly 100 miles from Urgir which by all rights should make it a fortified frontier town yet when it was detailed it was presented as a sleepy farming town with no mention of orcs.

I can understand the Orcs reticence to attack the Mammoth Lords or the warlike tribes of the Shoanti (even though I reckon the Orcs would smash them into goo if they felt like it) and no-one messes with Irissen but Ustalav? What's stopping them?

The gap is pretty much handled by the county that encompasses it - Canterwall. Two military factions exist; the Foreguard (which guards the borders) and the Wallguard (which protects the provincial capital of Tamrivena.

Along the border is what is known as Bleakwall - several towers and fortresses - which part is used by the Foreguard, when they can effectively man it (think of it sort of like the Wall from GoT). It is mentioned that a few towers aren't used, due to some nasty things lurking in them. I'm sure those beasties/ghosts aren't picky about what ends up on the menu.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DeciusNero wrote:
FallofCamelot wrote:

My question about Belzen is this:

Lastwall is presented as a battleground whereby the forces of civilisation have built great bastions and walls and are barely holding back the savage horde.

OK that's fine but that begs the question:

What about Ustalav?

Renchurch is roughly 100 miles from Urgir which by all rights should make it a fortified frontier town yet when it was detailed it was presented as a sleepy farming town with no mention of orcs.

I can understand the Orcs reticence to attack the Mammoth Lords or the warlike tribes of the Shoanti (even though I reckon the Orcs would smash them into goo if they felt like it) and no-one messes with Irissen but Ustalav? What's stopping them?

The gap is pretty much handled by the county that encompasses it - Canterwall. Two military factions exist; the Foreguard (which guards the borders) and the Wallguard (which protects the provincial capital of Tamrivena - and is borderline paranoid).

Along the border is what is known as Bleakwall - several towers and fortresses - which part is used by the Foreguard, when they can effectively man it (think of it sort of like the Wall from GoT). It is mentioned that a few towers aren't used, due to some nasty things lurking in them. I'm sure those beasties/ghosts aren't picky about what ends up on the menu.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The trailers for "Dracula Untold" give a pretty good idea of what probably happens to any major force of orcs which ventures into Ustalav.

Silver Crusade

MMCJawa wrote:
The trailers for "Dracula Untold" give a pretty good idea of what probably happens to any major force of orcs which ventures into Ustalav.

Then again, Vlad's Golarion analogue did manage to bring (admittedly dark and terrifying) order to the orcs of Belzen for a while...

Which admittedly says a lot more about Kazavon himself than anything else. And he was from Ustalav...possibly...

I keep getting the trailers for Dracula Untold and Castlevania : Lords of Shadow 2(major spoilers for the first one) mixed up. ;)

I freely admit that Lords of Shadow is the biggest reason I'm looking forward to Dracula Untold


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I want a new mainline Castlevania. Give me the War of 1999! ;.;

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The orcs of Belkzen do raid into Ustalav quite a bit, but are kept at bay by the forces of Canterwall, as has already been mentioned upthread. Also remember that orcs are very, very superstitious, which means that Ustalav kind of freaks them out, but that's just my interpretation.

Dark Archive

Didn't the whispering tyrant also conquer the hold of Belkzen for a while?


Indeed he did. Tar Baphon took the Hold before marching into Ustalav.


can't wait


So, out of how many warlords and would be conquerors, we've gotten maybe three people in all the known history of Golarion that have managed to unite the Orcs of Belkzen under one banner.
Belkzen
Tar-Baphon
Kazavon (to a lesser extent than the other two, but for a time he was gathering Orcs under him)

It's almost like the time is ripening for another great warlord, another great Waaaagh!
One of the great things about Orcs is that only ONE of those three individuals is an Orc. The others are a human lich turned demi-god and a monstrous blue dragon. The thing the three all have in common? Ungodly power and utter ruthlessness.

You just have to imagine how powerful, cunning, charismatic, driven, and intelligent Belkzen was to unite the Orcs. He wasn't a lich or at least believed to have been a powerful spell caster, he wasn't some dragon blessed by a deity and personally recognized by said god. He was a mortal. And an Orc no less, the guys that get -2 to each of their metaphysical stats.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Wait until you hear what Grask Uldeth is up to. He's just an orc too, but one of the most forward-thinking ones in many, many generations.


Major_Blackhart wrote:

So, out of how many warlords and would be conquerors, we've gotten maybe three people in all the known history of Golarion that have managed to unite the Orcs of Belkzen under one banner.

Belkzen
Tar-Baphon
Kazavon (to a lesser extent than the other two, but for a time he was gathering Orcs under him)

It's almost like the time is ripening for another great warlord, another great Waaaagh!
One of the great things about Orcs is that only ONE of those three individuals is an Orc. The others are a human lich turned demi-god and a monstrous blue dragon. The thing the three all have in common? Ungodly power and utter ruthlessness.

You just have to imagine how powerful, cunning, charismatic, driven, and intelligent Belkzen was to unite the Orcs. He wasn't a lich or at least believed to have been a powerful spell caster, he wasn't some dragon blessed by a deity and personally recognized by said god. He was a mortal. And an Orc no less, the guys that get -2 to each of their metaphysical stats.

you also got to think Orc just don't like working together unless there is a powerful leader to force them to

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