The strictures of the Hamurabash were promulgated by the great orc warlord Hamur during his conquests, which gave rise to the largest and wealthiest empire the world had ever known. They largely supplanted traditional Orcish codes that had preceded them, codes like the Shamashabash or the Ajilabash, though older codes as well as newer ones are followed by minorities of Orcs even today.

In the process of uniting disparate nations (and races) under the banner of the Hamurataal (known as the Hamurid Empire or Hamurid Dynasty in many human texts), Hamur sought a careful balance between order, unity, and tolerance that stood in stark contrast to the xenophobic and violent states that predominated at the time. Passed down along with traditions and interpretations to the present, the Hamurabash forms the core of orcish life to this day, though many of its provisions are misunderstood:

Every man and unmarried woman must be prepared to defend themselves and their community at a moment’s notice, and must therefore have their axe and shield nearby.

Orcish mamihamurs, or experts on jurisprudence, have debated this provision extensively, disagreeing on how far “nearby” constitutes, as well as what may count as an “axe” or a “shield.” Liberal interpretations allow for the weapons to be kept at home, and extremely conservative ones insist that they must be within an arm’s reach. Many orcs carry small and ceremonial (often blunt) hatchet and targes at all times to obey the letter of the Hamurabash if not the spirit. There is also considerable disagreement on women bearing arms after marriage, with many traditionalists arguing that married women irrevocably surrender their weapons to their husband’s control.

Men and unmarried women may worship gods or goddesses of their choosing, but proselytizing and religious violence are prohibited and punishable by death.

Mamihamurs disagree on this provision as well. At issue is whether the act of worship in any sort of public manner counts as proselytizing, and to what extent the preeminent cultural position of Hamur can be interpreted as worship thereof. It has led to outbreaks of violence against public edifices of worship by orcs, mirrored by the growth of padihamurahs, or places where the Hamurabash is publicly displayed and read.

There is no afterlife but the memory of others. Every man and unmarried woman must seek to enshrine their memory to the ages though good and selfless deeds.

Padihamurahs often contain “memory halls” dedicated to the deceased and their deeds. There is considerable disagreement over the extent to which this sort of memory can be bought, with the tradition of wealthy or successful orcs building private memory halls or elaborate shrines in local padihamurahs being alternately tolerated, encouraged, or denigrates.

Modesty is a virtue, as it preserves money and effort for good deeds and prevents violence. Men and women of childbearing age or older must dress modestly.

This provision is similar to those found in many human and dwarven religions, codes of etiquette, and so on, and it engenders the same levels of controversy. Critically, orcish ideas of modesty tend to be culturally focused toward covering the fingers but not the torso; as such, conservative orcish gangs have been known to beat orcs, humans, and others who are not wearing gloves, while at the same time orcish women wearing gloves but no shirt or hat (acceptably modest by orcish standards) have been the targets of violence and sexual harrassment.

Non-orcs are sheep to be protected, not lambs to be slaughtered: the enlightened shepherd shears his sheep; only the unenlightened flays them.

Hamur intended this to prevent the exploitation of physically weaker subjects by orcish conquerors; on that point, virtually all mamihamurs are agreed. The misunderstanding and disagreement stems from the claim by some traditionalists that orcs must seek to subjugate (and “protect”) others even today; vehement disagreements also stem from what might constitute protection or shearing. Can it be economic, or must it be political? What of areas in which orcs are a minority or oppressed? Mamihamurs debate this–and anti-orc xenophobes emphasize it–to an unrivaled extent.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!