Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls
SepLnUp Orsimer b4&d2

A female and male Orsimer in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The Orsimer (Aldmeris for Orc[1] or Pariah Folk[2]), commonly known as Orcs, are considered to be barbarian people by most of the other races on Nirn and are from the mountainous regions of western Tamriel. They are centrally located in Orsinium, laying upon the mountains between Skyrim and Hammerfell but are common in other locations in Tamriel.

Orsimer are of Elven blood,[2][3] but this heritage is either not recognized or is forgotten by many in Tamriel.[4][5] According to some sources, "Orsimer" is the "proper racial naming,"[6] whereas others state that their name means "Orc,"[1] and others state that the closest to the translation of their name is "Pariah Folk."[2] Orcish life span is similar to that of humans.[7][8]

By game[]


Orc avatar 2 (Legends)

Orsimer card art from The Elder Scrolls: Legends.

Main article: Orsinium

Orsinium, also called Nova Orsinium, is an Orcish city province located within Tamriel. While technically being under the sovereignty of the Empire, Orsinium has in the past not been readily accepted by the other provinces of Tamriel. This changed when, in 3E 399, Emperor Uriel Septim VII sought to improve relationships between the Empire and Orsinium through diplomacy, increased trade, and confederacy. Orsinium was located inside the Breton province of High Rock in the west of Tamriel, and, as such, Orcs co-inhabited the region alongside Bretons. However, the relationship between the Orcs and the Bretons would prove troublesome. Early in the 4th Era Orsinium was sacked for the second time (the exact date or by whom it was sacked is unknown). Unlike before, Orsinium was not rebuilt in the Wrothgarian mountains like the two previous incarnations of the Orc Kingdom, but re-established in the Western Reach mountains in between Skyrim and Hammerfell.[9]


With skin tones ranging from light green to dark brown, a heavily muscular frame, and considerable stature the Orsimer stand apart amongst Mer and Men. They also are the only race to display tusks. Born without the magical affinity of their Mer cousins, and following in the footsteps of their revered Trinimac, the Orcs have developed a strong warrior culture that makes them highly valuable in hand-to-hand combat. They often excel as adventurers and legionnaires in the Imperial Legion. This is not to say that they cannot wield magic, however. Certain Orsimer, such as Urag gro-Shub, have gone on to be successful mages, finding employment at such places as the College of Winterhold.[source?]


"Orcs, also known as Orsimer, are natives of Orsinium, a small mountain kingdom between Hammerfell and Skyrim. It has been sacked and rebuilt many times."
―Loading Screen[src]

In the middle of the Merethic Era, a group of Aldmer and their leader Trinimac attempted to halt the movement of the prophet Veloth and the Chimer. The Daedric Prince Boethiah devoured Trinimac, corrupting his body and spirit. From the remains of Trinimac emerged the Daedric Prince Malacath, and as a result his followers, later known as the Orsimer, or "Pariah Folk," were also changed, becoming Orcs.[2] The early Orcish people followed a tribal and independent lifestyle. Instead of claiming one area, they would instead settle in multiple provinces that suited their lives and needs, forming small, tightly knit villages. Many of these provinces were located in modern Skyrim and High Rock.[source?]

Eventually, the Orc chieftain Torug gro-Igron founded Orsinium. At first, it was merely a small collection of huts, but as word spread to the other Orcs of Tamriel about this rising civilization high in the Wrothgarian Mountains, it soon grew to house more permanent structures. In its early stages, the other races of Tamriel deemed it a place ruled by savage law which raided its neighbors along the Bjoulsae River. It was thought by the Bretons to be little more than a desolate mountain region where the Orcs scratched out a meager living off of the rocks and secretly coveted the lands and the settled livelihood of their valley-bound neighbors. Orcish historians, however, claim that this is simply Breton superstition and exaggeration. They claim Orsinium was always a peaceful land whose inhabitants made their way by simple agriculture and commerce.[10]

After the Siege of Orsinium in 1E 980, the Orsimer became little more than pests and monsters in the view of the average Tamrielic citizen, as they had no province to call their own. Many Orcs attempted to set-up new city provinces, but with no luck. These dwellings were always destroyed before they could be properly established.[10]

However, in 3E 399, an Orc visionary named Gortwog gro-Nagorm acquired the site of the former civilization of Orsinium and began reconstructing a new city for the Orsimer of Tamriel.[11] As it grew, many believed it would succumb to the same fate as its predecessors. Gortwog, though, proved to be a superb politician and diplomat and managed to make negotiations with Orsinium's neighbors, which saw Orsinium prosper. He negotiated with Uriel Septim VII in trade and social negotiations and, for the first time, the Orcs were serious political players among the other races. The Orsimer have relatively strong historical ties with the Bretons of High Rock. The reasons for this are unclear, yet the relationship most likely originated because the races are cohabiting the same region.[source?]

Religion and culture[]

Most Orcs hold Malacath as their chief deity, as he is believed to be involved in the creation of the race. As such, most Orcs uphold the "Code of Malacath," which is a religious doctrine as well as a code of law used in the Orc strongholds.[12] Orcs like to announce great events by erecting symbolic totems.[13] Many Orsimer tribes that live in Valenwood are referred to as Wood Orcs,[14] while an isolated group in the Dragontail are referred to as Iron Orcs.[15] Orcish tradition dictates for weddings to be done at midnight.[16] Besides being renowned for their smithing skills, Orcs are also make delicate and beautiful arts.[17] Vosh ball is a sport going back to the earliest days of the Orsimer people. The earliest forms of vosh ball utilized a heavy sphere made of wood or metal that was about the size of an Orc's head.[18] Orcs also celebrate an event known as Malacath's vengeance day.[19]

The Orsimer worship the Daedric Lord Malacath as their main deity. Orsinium's leader, Gortwog, claimed that Malacath is a fake, and set up a priesthood dedicated to the worship of the Aedra Trinimac, who was widely believed to have been destroyed, and his remnants reanimated to form Malacath. Gortwog's belief that Trinimac still lives as a separate entity from Malacath became the official view taken by the majority of the leading priests in Orsinium. A handful of Orcs within and the vast majority of Orcs outside of Orsinium viewed Gortwog's beliefs as heresy.[10]

Strongholds in Skyrim[]

Main article: Orc Strongholds
TESV Dushnikh Yal

Main building, or Longhouse, of the Orc Stronghold Dushnikh Yal.

Orc Strongholds are scattered throughout Skyrim. The Orcs have lived in Skyrim for centuries in tribal communities based around Strongholds.[20] Strongholds are governed by a rigid class system. Every Orc has a specific job and is obligated to perform it. Every man, woman, and child in the fort is also trained from birth to defend it.[12] The Strongholds are led by a chief, who killed the previous chief to prove his strength. Only the chiefs are allowed to have wives, and due to this, they often have several. This method is to ensure that the strongest Orc becomes chief, contributing his genes to the next generation of Orcs who, in theory, should be stronger than the last. Orcs in strongholds follow their own law called the Code of Malacath. The will of Malacath is clarified by the stronghold's resident wise woman. The rules of the Code are simple: do not kill, do not steal, and do not attack people without reason. They do not have jails; instead, offenders are forced to pay a "blood price," in which the criminal bleeds until the victim is satisfied.[12] In cases where the victim was murdered, the chief is consulted to convey an appropriate sentence.

Individuals that are not Orcs are normally viewed as untrustworthy and are turned away from the strongholds. However, it is possible for an outsider to gain entrance by becoming "blood kin."[12] This is done by performing a specific task to gain the trust of the Stronghold. This task is normally very dangerous.

Crimes committed in a stronghold are not under the jurisdiction of the province's Hold, but of the tribal orcs.[21]

Orc strongholds are well defended and are often situated around deposits of mineral wealth. Each one contains the infrastructure to support many families, surrounded by walls designed to repel anything but the strongest martial force. destroyed strongholds often return within a generation of their destruction.[22]


  • The name Vosh Rakh translates from the Orcish tongue as "Blade of Courage" and refers to Trinimac's legendary weapon, Penitent.[23]
  • The name Agra Crun translates from Orcish tongue as "Blood Shield."[24]

Ancient Orsimer language[]

The following books are found in The Elder Scrolls Online: Orsinium.

The titular Torug appears to be one Torug gro-Igron, the founder of the first Orsinium. He rode a special polar bear and built a big shrine on top of the highest Wrothgarian mountain.

Translations by Kharsthun, a character affiliated with the House of Orsimer Glories.

Ancient Orsimer Language English
Torug ag Krazak, Uhz Torug at the summit, One
Goltragga Torug ne murimush lochan sim Chief Torug will not allow the looters to find his remains
Goltragga Torug ne rohi Ornim lochan norgim krazak Chief Torug will allow no lesser Orcs to find interment above him
Torug ag Krazak, Uhg Torug at the Summit, Two
Goltragga Torug dek vorkhim lorak eb norgimin sim Chief Torug gathered up his armored bracer and his dying body
Torug dulg krazak eb Jur ugo sim ren tum beshkar He climbed to the summit and placed himself in a cairn of his own making
Torug ag Krazak, Aht Torug at the Summit, Three
Jur ugo sim ren tum Torug beshkar Then he laid Sorrow's Kiss upon his enchanted armlet
Urgalick voshu Ornim tarask Torug golzarga ubeshka Forever waiting for a worthy Orc to claim his most cherished possession


Numbers in Ancient Orsimer language:[source?]

  1. Uhz
  2. Uhg
  3. Aht
  4. Grat
  5. Rate
  6. Sate
  7. Mot
  8. Sot
  9. Cot
  10. Mote



A male Orc.

"People think we're all evil? Do I look evil to you?"
―Orcish worshipers at Daedric shrines around Cyrodiil[src]

Orcs are known to be exceptional warriors similar to Nords, although their culture is sometimes thought of as overly bestial. Despite their barbaric, tribal nature, there is much to admire in their fierce tribal loyalties and generous equality of rank and respect among the sexes. Their impressive warrior qualities stem from their sets of heavy Orcish armors and racial ability to go into a berserk rage, inflicting major damage while caring little for defense.

Traditionally, all Orsimer mothers would teach their child how to smith from a young age. If an Orc chieftain has a second wife, she is called the "Forge-wife," in honor of this.[25]

Some orcs use a scale for weighing out blood price amounts, with different gold weights labeled "chief, wife, warrior".[26] Other orcs keep a record of all of the grievances and insults their family has suffered, with dates, specifics, and planned responses.[27]

If an Orc leaves the province of Orsinium or Stronghold they are from, their surname will be the Stronghold/province they are from, prefixed with gra- (female) or gro- (male), for example, Moth gro-Bagol and Ghorza gra-Bagol (both from the same province).

Relations with other races[]

"They call us barbarians because we are brave in war and we laugh at hardship. But we have earned our citizenship by service in the legions, and we are as civilized as any race. We make the finest weapons and armor in the world, and our warriors are the bravest and toughest in Tamriel."
Optio Bologra[src]

The translation of Orsimer is "Pariah Folk," as they are considered the social outcasts of the Tamrielic races. Due to this, many other Tamrielic cultures have scorned the Orcs, and treated them as no more than callous brutes. Their only redeeming quality in the eyes of the public over the past few eras has been their venerable combat skills when serving in the Imperial Legion.

Some Mer do not consider Orcs to be their kin.[citation needed]

Notable Orsimer[]





External links[]