Signs and portents
A race of malevolent, small, intelligent humanoids, also known as Foulspawn, orcs, or goblins. The ancestral gargun originated beyond Kethira and first appeared on Harn in Elkall-Anuz around 110. It has been speculated that Lothrim The Foulspawner brought them to Harn by means of great enchantment to serve as warriors for his burgeoning empire. In any event, they outlived their creator and by 250 had spread throughout the island. Their bodies are covered with coarse fur and, for numerous reasons, gargun are vastly different from Harn’s other culture-forming races.
The gargun have a reproductive system resembling that of some insects. In each tribe there will be, at most, one fertile female (the queen) and generally only one fertile male (the king). Both sexes become fertile only through continued social exposure to the opposite sex. All such contact leads to fertility, but most male gargun have no sexual contact with females. This is not to say that gargun males are impotent; they are fully capable of rape, an ability which they happily demonstrate from time to time on females (and sometimes males) of human and other species.
Approximately one month after fertilization, the queen will lay up to 80 gelatinous eggs, depending on her age and health. Queens are most fertile between the ages of eight and 12. If the eggs are stored in a dark, humid environment and given a good supply of decomposing organic material (offal), they hatch in three to six months. Newborn gargun have an extensive racial memory, permitting almost immediate social interaction with others in the tribe. This racial memory also has the effect of preserving the customs of the gargun from one generation to the next. Hence, gargun society is almost totally unchanging.
Only one percent of the eggs will hatch as females. If exposed to males for about six consecutive hours, these princesses will become fertile queens. Since only one queen is generally tolerated, the princesses are segregated on hatching to form a Queen’s Guard; they are reckoned among the most vicious fighters of the tribe. Occasionally, a princess will escape with, or be abducted by, a group of males from the same tribe with the intention of starting a new colony. Tribes that are queenless will strive to kidnap a princess or else face certain extinction. Since the queens become bloated and somewhat immobile, few princesses actually desire the role.
There are few, if any, social injunctions restricting the competition among the tribe’s strongest and most intelligent males to become king, thereby gaining access to the queen. Methods chosen by the candidates range from mortal combat with the community watching to a knife in the back while sleeping. The only requirement from the point of view of the would-be king is that, once the kingship is achieved, he must survive long enough to enjoy it. Few survive more than a few months.
Gargun have short life spans. Fully grown within a year of hatching, they rarely live past the age of 25, although most die violently long before that. They constantly squabble and maim and kill each other. Only when there is an exceptionally strong king, or an external power manages to enslave them, is there any hope of (relative) tranquility within a gargun tribe or settlement.
All gargun have an abiding hatred for the Khuzdul and will, if there is any chance of victory, attack any dwarves they happen upon. The two races have a long history of mutual animosity dating from the gargun’s appearance on Harn and the subsequent Battle Of Sirion.
By choice, gargun eat only meat and sometimes keep food animals. They will not hesitate at cannibalism and very much enjoy eating human or Khuzan flesh; sometimes they kill their food before dining. As a rule, gargun are nocturnal, hunting and raiding only at night; sunlight seems to demoralize them.
When the population pressure in any gargun settlement grows beyond the ability of the community to support, there will occur either a bloody civil war or a swarming. Civil wars can kill up to 80% of the male population in an uncontrollable orgy of bloodletting, perhaps lasting a mere hour. A swarm occurs when a significant number of males, perhaps 40%, seizes the queen or a princess and fight their way out to freedom. Having escaped, the swarm will attempt to establish a new community. A swarm can be extremely unpleasant for any settlements or wandering parties in its path.
The gargun are divided into five distinct sub-species: Gargu-araki (small or streaked orc), Gargu-hyeka (common or brown orc), Gargu-khanu (black orc), Gargu-kyani (white orc), and Gargu-viasal (red orc). Contrary to widely held belief, the gargun cannot interbreed among their own sub-species, at least not without the intervention of magic or alchemy. Each sub-species has unique social and racial traits.