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Know Your Lore > Warcraft MovieMay 23, 2016 1:00 pm CT

Know Your Lore: Orgrim Doomhammer in the Warcraft movie

You may know the story of Orgrim Doomhammer, second in command of the Blackrock, who slew his own chieftain to become Warchief of the Horde. It’s a good story. But forget it for now. Because today we’re talking about a very different Orgrim, one born in Frostfire Ridge, one who was never a member of the Blackrock clan. One who stood beside his friend and chieftain Durotan and became second in command of the Frostwolves. One who lived a completely different life.

This Know Your Lore focuses on events from the Durotan novel and is part of the Warcraft movie continuity. It is not canonical to the events of the RTS games or World of Warcraft.

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The new truth

In this story, Orgrim Doomhammer is still the son of Telkar Doomhammer, and still inherits the fiendish weapon upon his father’s death. And he is still the lifelong friend of Durotan, son of Garad and Geyah, heir to the position of chieftain of the Frostwolves. But in this story, the Doomhammer line is in the Frostwolves. Telkar served Garad and Orgrim grows to adulthood at Durotan’s side, a steadfast friend and ally more akin to a brother than a mere friend. Even Garad and Geyah allow Orgrim to ride in formation with them, seeing him as their son’s natural second. There are no conflicted loyalties, no contradictory friendship across clan lines, no long separations between clan festivals where the young Orcs can meet and share experiences. As Durotan grows, Orgrim grows with him, forever his shadow, always at his side.

We see Orgrim’s unwavering loyalty when Durotan is sent to gather sticks for the Frostwolves. The two young orcs discover a pack of outsider Orcs invading Frostwolf territory, and Orgrim is more than willing to engage a seven on two fight to drive these intruders from Frostwolf lands. That sums up this version of Orgrim — as fierce an Orc as has ever lived, but willing to defer to his friend’s judgement, to accept his friend and future chieftain’s decision when told to back down. This Orgrim never had to navigate the complicated and brutal politics of the Blackrock clan, and so never became the kind who would dissemble or use deceit to get his way. He never had to seek power or prestige, indeed, he doesn’t want those things. He merely wants the clan to have the best possible leader.

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But Orgrim is more than a loyal friend. One of the largest and most physically powerful of the Frostwolves, he’s rare among this tribe of winter and snow hardened hunters and warriors in that he shaves his head. Most Frostwolves grow their hair long to serve as added insulation, but Orgrim has a need to distinguish himself — an individuality other Orcs lack. And the  big orc is capable of great cunning and stealth, when it’s called for. Not even Durotan can hear Orgrim move when he’s trying to be silent.

When Garad dies and Durotan stands before the spirits, Orgrim Doomhammer is the first to affirm him as a fit Chieftain. When Durotan must pick one of the clan to serve as his second, there is never any question who it will be — unwavering in his loyalty yet unafraid to pop his chieftain’s sour moods when they arise with a quip or even a sarcastic gibe, Orgrim may not be the most conventional lieutenant, but he proves to be potentially the best one Durotan could have chosen. It’s Orgrim who encourages Durotan to ask Draka to be his mate, and Doomhammer is one of the first to recognize her value to the clan and to his best friend.

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As Draenor dies

Orgrim’s rise to the position of second of the Frostwolves comes as the Frostwolves themselves must endure the slow death of their world. And while Orgrim isn’t a deep thinker, he can recognize one — he knows to be suspicious of Gul’dan and both his visits to Frostwolf territory, and he knows that if any Frostwolf is the right combination of clever, pragmatic, and devoted to his people to get them through the hard times to come it’s his friend Durotan. Orgrim supports Durotan through every trial that comes to the Frostwolves: the destruction of their home when Grandfather Mountain erupts in molten rock, the long period of privation and hunger and thirst that follows, and the eventual long exodus north to find the elemental spirits of Draenor and ask them to help save the clan.

When Durotan and Drek’Thar discovered that Draenor was dying and the spirits could not save them, it was Orgrim who was holding the Frostwolves together and fighting in single combat with the leader of the Red Walkers — a tribe of Orcs who rejected all civilized behavior and descended into cannibalism, eating Draenei and Orcs alike in their mania to survive — and it was Orgrim who defeated him. When Durotan ordered his clan, after twice rejecting Gul’dan’s offer, to head south to Tanaan Jungle and join with Gul’dan’s Horde in an attempt to find a new world to settle, Orgrim supported his chieftain, and was one of the few orcs that was vouchsafed the truth — the Frostwolves would never trust Gul’dan, and would seek their own path even as they made use of the Warlock to escape destruction.

Thus Orgrim follows his people to Azeroth. Not as the second in command of Blackhand, but as the second of Durotan. He’s one of the greatest hunters and warriors of his people, a proud, sometimes cocky, always loyal and often sardonic Orc who will do whatever it takes to help preserve his people.

This isn’t the Orgrim Doomhammer we’ve always known, but it is an Orgrim Doomhammer we can recognize.

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