@Copyright E. Charles Tucker, written on behalf of Living Mask Productions all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission of the author.

STONE & BLOOD: BOOK OF THE OGIER

"The Huscarl Ogre is huge and wild,
He has devoured the infant child;
The infant child is not aware
He has been eaten by the wild Ogier"
(- Human children's nursery rhyme)

Few creatures evoke such naked fear amongst the races as do the Ogier. Their strength is legendary – few can come close to matching the raw muscle hidden under every Ogre's frame. Even their height is enough to intimidate the bravest of warriors, towering over all the other races save the four-legged Centauri. In combat an Ogre is a creature to be feared; a hoard of rampaging Ogier is the stuff of nightmares, a veritable sea of battle-enraged cannibals hungry for the flesh of their enemies.

Few, however, have dared to look beyond the aggressive behavior and ask the simplest of question – who are the Ogier people?

PHYSIOLOGY

Your typical Ogre stands anywhere from 7ft to 9ft tall, give or take a few inches. Heights of over 10ft, while not unheard of, raise questions about the Ogre's parentage (with Giant slurs following soon after). Ogres are massive, with average weights ranging from 600lbs on upwards, with 900 or even a thousand pounds not uncommon.

Most of this body weight seems to be fat – and, in fact, an Ogre's body is covered with a thick, insulating layer of heavy flesh that gives the race their obese appearance. Do not be fooled by their slothful look – underneath all that flab likes a powerful musculature system capable of lifting several times its own body weight!

Ogier skin colorations vary from grey-yellow, to grey-brown, to just shades of grey. Their flesh has a grainy, leathery texture that is rough to the touch; this hardened hide only adds to the protective properties of the skin, making it harder to cut. Their hair colorings range among oddly contrasting colors – reds, yellows, browns, white and black are typical.

The average life-span of an Ogre is estimated at 80-90 years; it is hard, however, to make such judgments as most Ogier are killed an at earlier age.

RELIGION/MYTHS

"Meez sez yooz lissun. Dis beez how de Ogre com ta beez. Da graat god Jagraz com an him seez da big rokks un da grownd. Him sez, "Meez maak gud peepolz wit dees, dem gonna beez strong peepolz.

So him doos da majik, den mash da rokks, an mash an mash an mash an…*cough* okayz, den da rokks luk liik peepolz. But dere be da shinee stuv and sparkul stuv un da rokks, and him no liik deez so him cutz deez off an trows dem away (dem sneeks uf an beez Dwarfz, but dat annuder storee).

Den Jagraz, him bloz un da rokks an sez "Breedz", and da rokks breedz fur da furst tiim! Him smiilz an sez "Now, yooz peepolz; yooz beez da Ogre", an da peepolz sez "Okayz". Dat how da Ogres com ta beez."
(- Ogier Shaman, telling the Creation Story to a group of young children)

The Ogier worship the deity known as The Butcher – Jagraz the Fierce, the God of War. It's been said that when the gods came and cleansed this world of the evil creatures that inhabited the surface, it was Jagraz the Savage leading the gods into battle, his mighty club Jormundar raising a crimson rain wherever it fell.

To honor the Great Bear (as Jagraz is also called), his priests wear a single spiked metal gauntlet. Worship of the deity is free of complicated rituals and ceremonies; such rites are generally reserved for the moments just before battle, in which each warrior swears to their god their unswerving dedication to the upcoming fight. To an Ogre, the way to honor Jagraz is to be victorious on the battlefield; losing brings disgrace to themselves, their clan, and their race.

One ritual does stand out; it involves the rite of passage for young Ogier into adulthood. The youth is sent out into the forests beyond Gorgash, charged to bring back the claw from a wild bear. The Ogre will not be allowed back amongst his people until the trophy is presented to the elders of the village, at which point a great feasting will take place to celebrate the youth's elevation to adult.

Most Ogres are distrustful of magick, considering their poor ability in casting spells and vulnerabilities against it, this is probably a wise course. The argument arises that Jagraz, as the very definition of a warrior, does not acknowledge magick as a weapon of a true fighter and will only passingly grant his priests and devotees spells. The Goddess Lune, as the Mother of Magick, does not condone the Ogier savagery and only reluctantly allows them access to the mystical weave. In either event, the Ogier spellcasting ability is far below the average when compared to other races.

The Ogier believe that at the time of Creation, it was Jagraz who stepped forward to create the Ogre race. He chose the hardest, strongest stone he could find and began shaping it, forming it and infusing it with magick until it took on the rocky appearance of the Ogre people. Within the strong, raw stone Jagraz had molded he noticed veins of precious metals banding his creation, along with scattered gemstones embedded into the stone. Angered he tore off these pieces, flinging them aside and patching his statue as best he could. Finally satisfied he breathed life into the monoliths, giving rise to the first Ogre.

An addendum to the tale hints at the birth of the Dwarven race, whom the Ogier hate with unbridled passion. It says that the cast-off leavings from the stone - the metals and gemstones - were gathered together by the "demon-god Volund" and, by copying Jagraz' methods, formed into statues. However there were only small bits to work with, so by default the statues were small; when Volund gave life to them, the diminutive Dwarves were born. It is because of this belief that the Ogier consider the entire Dwarven race as "rock-garbage", "gravel", "leftovers" - and so forth. Ogier names for the Dwarven god include Volund the Thief, Volund the Grubber, and Volund the Garbage God.

To a much lesser extent, Ogier can also be found paying homage to the gods Kosduul, Krag, and in a few cases Mog; any other belief is strongly frowned upon, with the Ogre in question outright ostracized (if not exiled, or killed).

SOCIETY

Ogier society is patriarchal in nature, broken into regional clans generally named after some great animal, mountain, or rock-type. Women are not allowed to hold positions of power or authority, although they are allowed to become warriors within the tribe. Each clan has a familial leader as chieftain who represents that clan at the village's council gatherings or war meetings.

Diplomacy is a rare event at such gatherings, with each Ogre chieftain shouting, snarling and generally making as much noise as possible to make himself heard. Decisions often come down to which Ogre presents himself as the fiercest and bravest, therefore the most resolved in his standpoint compared to the others. In the event of a standstill a fight will nearly always take place, with the combatants herded to the center of a circle and encouraged to fight to the death. The winner has, of course, made his point clear to the others of the council who will readily agree with his view. The body of the loser is immediately served up as a celebratory feast, with the heart of the former chieftain being given over to his opponent.

This brings up another aspect of the Ogier culture; their cannibalism.

The Ogier are carnivores; there are very few living creatures that an Ogre will not eat, save perhaps the Trollics, V'lalek, and various undead. They are gluttonous to the extreme, needing their meat neither prepared, skinned, nor cooked in order to enjoy it. While wild game is more than sufficient to sustain an Ogre's diet, they have discovered (through much trial and error) that the taste of Elvar flesh is a delicacy to be savored - much to the chagrin of the Elvari themselves.

The concept of an Ogre farmer is laughable, considering their carnivorous nature. They are not above eating fruit and vegetables, quite the opposite - food is, of course, food. However, they do not consider it worth their time to grow and harvest food when so much can be found roaming the woods. Food not hunted for is thought "unworthy"; an Ogre would rather spend all day hunting down a deer than spend an hour gathering corn. To their way of thinking, they allow their prey to eat the food they need, then eat the prey to get it. As an Ogre would say, "Dem eets da leeves an frootz, weez eets dem".

There is heavy debate over the longevity of an Ogre. Some argue that the lifespan of the race can extend for as long as 150 years; others contend that they live no more than 80, 90 years of age. The reason for this disparity lies in the way the Ogier deal with the elderly among them.

Should an Ogre survive to a venerable age (an unsurprisingly rare occurance, given their fierce lifestyle) he is watched, constantly, by the younger males within the clan. There are no Ogier doctors, no caregivers; survival is based on the strength of the individual, not by acts of kindness. When an elderly Ogre shows he can no longer care for himself - he cannot hunt, he cannot feed his family - he is then set upon by the younger, stronger members of the clan. Although barbaric by most standards, this allows the Ogre to provide for his clan one last time, proving that even at the moment of death he was never a burden to his people.

CULTURE

Ogier, as a whole, are not known for their intelligence. "Dumb as an Ogre" is a popular phrase amongst humans, referring to the ease with which people believe the Ogier can be fooled. Many would be surprised (and, perhaps, have been - only have not survived the experience to tell it) to learn that the Ogier have a deep respect for knowledge and learning, despite all outward appearances.

What many do not realize is that the Ogier people are not, by and large, stupid. What they are,. in fact, are incredibly slow thinkers. An Ogre will contemplate a problem for several years if necessary in order to come up with the correct solution; reading a book is a lifetime achievement. If it seems there are no Ogre philosophers, artisans or sages it is not because of a lack of intelligence - but a lack of patience. Most Ogier become so frustrated at their inability to solve problems quickly that they become angered, lashing out blindly at the cause of their angst. Various attempts have been made by the Ogier to create a library; the process of sitting down and writing such long, arduous tomes is outweighed heavily by their need for bloodshed and combat.

Fashion among the Ogier is laughable by the standards of most other races; the garish colors and hideous styles the Ogier display would put a harlequin to shame. Again, this is not because of a lack of intelligence on their part; to put it simply, bright colors fascinate these naturally drab, colorless people. While not exactly mesmerized by a swatch of bright cloth (a Gnomish researcher managed to test this theory and jot it down in his journal, just seconds before his untimely death), the squeal of delight let out by an Ogre female when presented with a spotted bright-yellow dress would have a banshee crying for mercy.

A surprising number of festivals take place within the Ogier community, most of which center around victorious battles or hunts. With various hide-covered drums beating a deep rhythm, the Ogier put on a pulse-pounding, primal dance around monstrous bonfires in celebration of events past - or victories to come.

One interesting instrument used in such celebrations is, surprisingly, unique to the Ogier - the shatterpipe. Easily the strangest musical instrument yet devised, the shatterpipe is an unwieldy woodwind device consisting of a sheep's bladder, rocks and pebbles, and stone tubing of varying lengths and widths. The bladder is filled with the loose stone, while the tubes are attached to holes in the pouch with beeswax and tree sap. By inhaling and exhaling through different tubes, the musician is able to produce the different notes. The music of a shatterpipe has been compared to "a dying pachyderm roaring in pain while being buried alive in sand"; however, the sound seems to soothe even the most temperamental of Ogier.

WARFARE

With deference to the combative nature of the Centauri, Trollics and Minotaur no other race is as well suited to melee warfare than the Ogier. With their massive strength, natural skill with weaponry and sheer love of battle, the Ogier are the most feared warriors across the land.

When the Alliances were first formed, the Ogier were more than happy to side with the power-crazed V'lalek; their thin blood and iron-deprived flesh made them, for the most part, unpalatable to the Ogier as a meal. The upcoming war promised opportunity to ravage the lands of the Elvari, Gnomes and Humans - the favored victims of the Ogier. Their shamans prophesied the battle as Jagraz' way of showering them with his favor, allowing them to emulate his rampage through the demon hordes by being at the forefront of the war, leading the V'lalek forces to victory.

Although an overwhelming victory was nearly the case, the forces of the Human Alliance proved the better, wrecking havok among the V'lalek themselves and driving back the VAR armies. The Ogier hold that day in barely repressed anger, quietly directed at both the HAR forces and their own V'lalek leaders.

There is no set hierarchy within the Ogier armies. Each clan chieftain acts as leader for his clan in battle, each Ogre listening only to his leader for direction. Fighting within ranks is not uncommon, especially when another chieftain attempts to take command over another clan's forces. Many an Ogier battle has been lost because they destroyed themselves from within.

Despite this open-ranks method of military there are two posts an Ogre can, and will aspire to that will mark him among the elite of his kind: the Huscarl and the Sentinels.

The Huscarl Ogier are the elite soldiers of the Ogier army. They, unlike the average warrior, must undergo specific training not only in warfare, but also in war strategies, combat techniques, and military drilling. Those Ogier who show proficiency with riding are also trained to mount the monstrous warpigs of the Huscarl armies, giant warthogs able to carry the massive bulk of an Ogier soldier. The Huscarl are viewed with awe for their surprising discipline, even when dealing with other races. A comparison, by human standards, would be the difference between a common foot soldier and a Royal Knight.

Unlike the Huscarl, the Sentinels do not roam far beyond the limits of the Ogier cities. They are the city militia of the Ogier, the guardsmen responsible for keeping the relative peace within the community and protecting it from outside forces. They are tasked to stand at their posts, day in and day out, ever watchful for enemies within their city walls. In a roaring monsoon, the streets of Gorgash, the great Ogre city, will be completely empty save the silent Sentinels, standing firm with stone-like resolve against any attack.

-fin-