Too often novelists and dungeon masters attribute little more to orcs than a hateful nature and massive numbers that make up their hordes. They don’t think about their society, their culture, their religions and occupations, how they feed their tribes and what they do in peacetime. If you had to spend some time creating an orc society, what would it be like?
First, suppose that they are based on a long chain of mountains, a divider between two human kingdoms, and that the richest and most powerful tribes are based in the foothills of the mountains, controlling the main passes and herding animals for trade. The poorer tribes would live in the mountains proper, would be smaller in number, more primitive, and ridiculed by their richer lowland cousins.
The trick to creating a believable scenario would be to visualize this mountain range accurately, imagine the number of mountain passes, expand the range in which the orcs graze with their animals on the hills, postulate the number of each, and then imagine the kingdoms and empires. humans on both sides of the mountain ranges, to imagine what the two empires are like and how they face these orc-infested mountains. They certainly dream of clearing the passes, but the large number of orcs would make the army permanently stationed there to keep the passage open, something no country can afford.
Instead, the humans hold the orcs against each other, promising wealth and favor to each major tribe in turn to turn against their neighbor, always reducing each other. The highland orcs are fierce, they mock their lowland cousins for being tame, for being tame, but their lowland cousins have far greater numbers and better weapons, forcing their more brutal cousins and powerful to remain in the highest. it reaches out, small in number and constantly on the move and allying with those below, if not raiding them in search of goods and resources.
It is through the analysis of economic models like these, basic as they are, that seemingly realistic orc societies can begin to be created.