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Who are the Riftforged orcs?

2nd Nov 2021

Rob Burman

Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening for Pannithor! The Riftforged orcs are almost here and all this week on the blog we’re exploring this awesome new army list in more detail. You’ll be able to find out about the key units, how they play and the design philosophy behind these powerful new orcs. But first of all, let’s find out a little more about the lore of the Riftforged. Is their only motivation to smash stuff to pieces like a giant, angry toddler? Well, yes, it is… but surely there’s more to it than that?

Basically, it’s all Dravak Dalkan’s fault. When that pesky Abyssal Dwarf ironcaster opened up the rift beneath the Halpi Mountains, it caused all sorts of dangerous magic to swirl around Pannithor. At the height of the Nexus’ surge of energy, before the forces of good pushed back the armies of evil, there came a moment when the Southern Rift and the Abyss were infused with such power that the veil tore entirely, and the two pits of darkness were linked as one beneath Pannithor. At such an unholy coupling, Oskan (one of the Wicked Ones) himself saw that the time had come to herald in a new age of darkness. Oskan summoned Garkan (the original creator of the orcs and goblins), and together they formulated a plan to destroy all that was good in the world. Garkan harnessed the power of the violent, unnatural storms that raged across the world above, the flesh forges of the Fourth Circle came alive with energy hitherto unseen, and the souls of the tormented cried out in anguish.

At this sign, Garkan summoned his underlings, and set about the forges with renewed vigour. As the battle for Halpi’s Rift raged in the mortal realm, Garkan selected the prime cuts from the fallen to fuel his twisted experiments. The orcs had always been his greatest accomplishment [Edapart from the goblins, of course], but now, with this new power in his hands, Garkan strove to improve on his dark design.


Their twisted bodies animated by the power of a raging storm, their souls infused with very essence of the Nexus, the orcs that emerged from Garkan’s flesh forges were unlike any that had come before them. Their cracked skin was of a green-grey hue, and broader, more muscular, and yet possessed of a cruel cunning and impressive martial prowess, these ‘Riftforged orcs’ were truly Garkan’s finest creation [Edapart from the goblins, of course].

But there was more to these creatures than mere brute strength. Their affinity with the rift-storms brought about by the Nexus of Power manifested in crackling energy, which wreathed their bodies and lent strength to their sword-arms. The more Riftforged orcs gathered, the greater this power became, and with extraordinary swiftness the young race began to master this energy, fuelling it with their battle-rage.

For a year and a day, Garkan toiled at his forges, expanding the ranks of the Riftforged orcs, creating legions of heavily armoured warriors, all under the command of the warmongering Stormbringers. Lesser demons whipped shackled souls to work ceaselessly, forging weapons and armour for Garkan’s new horde. Each brutish warrior would go into battle protected by thick armour plates, carved with the likenesses of leering Abyssals, and crackling with coruscating energy. With their great strength, they wield heavy hammers and carry thick shields, often jagged and spiked with lightning devices. The march of their mail-shod feet shakes the ground like the thunder they summon, and though they are more adept at strategy and battle-tactics than any orc before them, their battle-fury is wild as the untamed storms.


The Abyss itself proved the most effective testing ground for these new warriors. Time works differently in its twisted depths. What seems like years in the Abyss, is only a fleeting moment in the material world of Pannithor. Gibbering demons provoked Garkan’s new creations to battle almost at once, seeing them as mortal interlopers in their realm. Garkan granted the Stormbringers permission to seek retribution as they saw fit, and so the Riftforged orcs marched to war. Over myriad campaigns spanning many years, the Riftforged orcs fought battle after battle in Garkan’s name, hunting in the second circle, braving the fires of the fourth circle, enduring the tortures of the third circle, and battling the champions of the fifth circle. In the Abyss, death is not the end, and so the orc warriors fought, and fell, and rose to fight again, each resurrection making them stronger, cannier, and more skilled.

Now, with numerous wars already under their belt, the Riftforged are ready to emerge from the Abyss and wreak havoc across Pannithor.