Shadowrun: Throw Back
Orks or homo sapiens robustus metatype are the second most common metatype in the world according to recent statistics, though birthrates have plunged in industrialized countries over the past few years. Several sociologial and medical studies into the matter have proved inconclusive, but it seems safe to suggest that such a drop off is unlikely to be natural.
While numerous, orks face widespread social and structural discrimination in many parts of the world, and large numbers live in precarious conditions in industrialized nations. The prejudice and high birth rates are at least partially responsible for the development of extended family groups and insular and clannish culture in many first and second generation orks. The trend is
towards change and emancipation among younger generations, driven by cultural and social empowerment phenomena like the Or’zet movement and the Orxploitation pop culture trends.
Orks are the most metagenetically diverse of the metatypes. Robustus metavariants differ massively from the common baseline orks in appearance and nature. It bears noting that the common use nomenclature for many of these metavariants is in fact a result of bias and discrimination as much as a physical descriptor.
The common features among all ork variants are: short gestation periods of about 6 months, multiple births per gestation, accelerated maturity cycle, and short life expectancies.
Recognized ork metavariants include hobgoblins, oni, ogres, and satyrs. Two other micro-populations of robustus metavariants await phylogenetic classification and fall outside the scope of this report.
Naturally slighter and shorter than most ork variants, hobgoblins have less body mass than other robustus and usually have less body hair. The greenish tint of their skin, uncommonly sharp teeth, prominent ears, tapered chins, and dark beady eyes give them a naturally fiercesome appearance and are responsible in no small part for the prejudice that often singles out hobgoblins (an unfortunate name that only underscores such prejudice). The vast majority of hobgoblins are of Arabic or Central Asian descent and preserve relevant ethnic traits.
Hobgoblins are widely reputed to be quick-tempered and possess a strong sense of personal honor which demands that they avenge any insult or disrespect against them. Whether this latter trait is cultural or the result of some genetic predisposition or hormonal cause for asocial behavior is unknown. A recent joint study by the Charles University (Prague) and the Ataturk Polytechnic Institute (Istanbul), points to high levels of corticoid steroid hormones in biochemical blood-testing as a potential biological reason for their innate aggressiveness and asocial behavior.
Hailing from the Middle East, the Balkans, Transcaucasia, and Turkestan, contemporary hobgoblins share prevalence dominance in the region with baseline orks. The local hobgoblin population has endured decades of social marginalization, active repression, prosecution, and even death. Hobgoblins who chose to remain in these regions tend to gather in insular neighborhoods, ghettos, and villages. They often share a dislike for fundamentalist sects or hardcore Islamists. When combined with a hobgoblin’s stereotypical quick temper, this has lead to religious and familiar schisms and serves as ammunition for anti-metahuman factions and hate groups, especially on the Arabian Peninsula.
The ogre is a common and widespread ork metavariant in Europe. Like hobgoblins, ogres are not the prevalent ork type in Europe (which would be the baseline robustus) but do represent a significant portion of the population (>30%).
The European ogre is on average shorter and squatter than most orks and has smoother skin and less body hair. They possess pronounced jawlines and larger mouths, which early on fueled inflammatory claims that they might be cannibalistic—accusations with no basis whatsoever in fact. Ogres do, however, possess the extraordinary ability to metabolize a greater spectrum of edibles in their stomachs to generate energy, as several studies with volunteers have shown. Since this often generates more energy than ogres actually need, ogres have the tendency to be corpulent, often displaying large bellies and a flabby build.
Though the area of origin has been blurred due to the lack of geophysical restrictions in Central Europe (except for the Alps and the British Isles) and a lot of transnational migration in the past, genetic heritage studies indicate that ogres originate from areas of France and Germany. A female ogre is often called an ogress, despite the derogatory undertone.
The native ork metavariant of the Japanese archipelago—named oni by their compatriots, after their resemblance to demonic creatures of Japanese folklore—possesses a fearsome appearance. Oni boast bright red, blue, or orange skin colors, slightly protuberant eyes, enlarged pointed ears, curving horns, and the large builds associated with the robustus metatype. Aside from making them highly visible, these traits are also seen as naturally intimidating by many of those who come into contact with them, especially among the Japanese, who actively avoid their company which in turn has led to widespread social and workplace segregation in Japan. Portrayed as treacherous and hostile in Japanese folklore and modern media until very recently, oni have had to endure decades of ostracism and even exile quarantined on the island of Yomi.
Things have only just begun to change with Emperor Yasuhito elevating a number of oni to the Imperial Household Guard. In fact, the changing dynamics of Japanese society and the popularity of changelings in youth pop culture (worldwide), have worked in the onis’ favor.
Oni are the dominant prevalent form of robustus in Japan (>75%), with other expressions likely the effects of immigration on the insular genepool. Outside the archipelago, oni are present in many Japanese ethnic communities and in some countries as a genetic legacy of historical Japanese occupation (among them Korea, China, and Indonesia).
The occurrence of the satyr metavariant seems to be native to the Mediterranean region(particularly Greece, where they are the dominant ork metatype). A number of unusual traits distinguish satyrs from common orks: a slender physique, hairy lower bodies, goat-like legs with cloven hooves, and small horns which are often, though not always, curled. While they tend to appear smaller due to the shape of their legs, they can be quite impressive in stature. Their outward appearance aside, biologically satyrs share many of the metatype traits of robustus: short gestations, numerous children per gestation, light sensitive eyes, and a diminished life-expectancy.
Their unique traits and the obvious similarities to mythological representations have baffled scholars for decades but seem to validate the theory that goblinization events have taken place in the past in the region. While common public belief and media coverage have fallen prey to the stereotypes of satyrs as “children of Bacchus,” rabid hedonists, and artistic freewills, actual demographic studies on satyr career paths have not shown any higher affinity for artistic professions than for any other metatypes.
The Greek immigrant diaspora during the twentieth century is believed to be behind the occasional appearance of satyrs in Australia, North America, and several European nations.
Section: Choose Your Metatype
Chapter: Creating a ShadowRunner