The red-skinned fel orcs of Outland are the remnants of orc clans who were left behind on their dying world and transformed by an overdose of demon blood and fel magic. This demonic transformation greatly altered their appearance and personalities, warping their minds with blood haze and uncontrollable bloodlust, regardless of whether they accepted the transformation willingly or not. They are also compelled to obey the supplier of the blood. The fel orcs of Outland have red skin, a ridge of long sharp spines coming out of their backs, bony horns growing from their arms and hands, glowing red eyes, and six long fangs growing out of their mouths.

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The fel orc army, known as the Fel Horde, consisted mainly of orcs from six known preexisting clans: the Bleeding Hollow clan, the Bonechewer clan, the Dragonmaw clan, the Laughing Skull clan, the Shattered Hand clan, and the Shadowmoon clan. Fragments of other clans and outliers were also forcibly recruited, but these clans maintained the leadership and majority population.

Bleeding Hollow and Bonechewer

The Bonechewer clan is actually a smaller offshoot of the Bleeding Hollow clan, both living in Tanaan Jungle, which would later be destroyed and known as Hellfire Peninsula. Living in the dangerous jungle had driven the orcs to seek power from shadowy powers that emanated from various dark caves and hollows in the area. Some who sought this power retained their sanity and formed the Bleeding Hollow clan, while those who lost themselves to the dark impulses and madness of the shadows were exiled and became the Bonechewer clan, who were named after their willingness to resort to cannibalism. While the two clans never got along, they also didn’t war with each other, as the jungle was dangerous enough for them without making unnecessary enemies.

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Members of the Bonechewer clan after they became fel orcs.


This clan developed in the region of Gorgrond, a wild place filled with beasts and monstrous creatures made of living stones and plants. The term “Dragonmaw” is a loose translation from the orcish term, “Nelghor-shomash, or "Cry of the Beasts". There were no dragons on Draenor, but there were winged beasts called rylaks, which the Dragonmaw orc clan learned to tame and ride as mounts. They fondly referred to them as “nelghor”, or "loyal beasts". When the clan would later encounter dragons on Azeroth and Outland, they would apply the same term of “nelghor” to them, eventually making it the official word for “dragon” in the orcish language. 

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Not all of the Dragonmaw would end up becoming fel orcs. Those who did would end up specializing in taming the Nether Drakes of Outland.

Laughing Skull

The Laughing Skull clan dwelled in southeastern Gorgrond, and had a reputation for being maniacal and bloodthirsty by other clans, as well as treachery and deceit. They were known to be extremely brutal and were largely avoided by other orcs. Their name was derived from their custom of wearing distinctive skull-like masks that symbolized their pride in laughing in the face of death, rather than flinching or dreading it. This violent mindset stemmed from their environment as they struggled to maintain their ancestral territory against the constant assaults of powerful enemies in Gorgrond, giving them the mentality that they had to "match savagery with savagery".

Laughing Skull orc (source).

Shattered Hand

The Shattered Hand clan hailed from a region known as the Spires of Arak in Draenor. Formed from outcasts and liberated gladiator slaves, the clan was named after its gruesome self-mutilation practices that were also a part of its founding. The orcs had many enemies on Draenor, and one of the most powerful was the Gorian Empire of Ogres, who, among other things, had a long history of enslaving orcs and forcing them to fight each other in brutal arenas for entertainment. It was in these gladiatorial tournaments that a young orc named Kargath rose to prominence, motivated by the promise that any fighter who killed one-hundred orcish lives in the arena would have their freedom. However, the promise was a lie, and Kargath was re-imprisoned beneath the city of Highmaul, held in place by a single shackled hand. In desperation, he severed his own chained hand to claim his freedom, his fellow prisoners and slaves being inspired to do the same. They followed Kargath in an uprising against the ogres and helped him slay the emperor, whose head Kargath held up in front of them. Cheering, they raised their severed hands, now armed with blades, and made him their leader, marking the birth of the Shattered Hand clan.

Slavery had left them a twisted and embittered people who knew only pain and torment, so much so that they became both sadistic and masochistic lovers of pain. Warriors maimed their own bodies in a tribal show of solidarity, ritualistically smashing their own left hand before cutting it off as a way to demonstrate their loyalty to the clan, which they claimed made them stronger. The stump would be cauterized and replaced with some sort of tool or weapon.

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Kargath Bladefist, leader of the Shattered Hand clan, and eventually the leader of the entire Fel Horde.


Unlike the previously-listed clans, the Shadowmoon clan began as a relatively peaceful and highly spiritual and shamanistic clan that dwelled in Shadowmoon Valley. Their culture revolved around mysticism and tradition centered around astrology and ancestor worship. They came to have much influence among the orc clans due to their understanding of the stars and their omens. Consultation with the spirits of previous generations was considered essential to Shadowmoon shaman whenever an important decision was to be made. The clan's shaman frequently journeyed to the Throne of the Elements to commune with the elemental spirits. However, this wise and peaceful clan would be corrupted when their last chieftain, Ner'zhul, was deceived by the Burning Legion into forming the first Horde due to the manipulations of the warlock Gul'dan and his master, the demon lord Kil'jaeden.

Ner'zhul, leader of the Shadowmoon Clan (source).

Formation of the Horde

These six clans, among others, would be united into forming the first Horde through Gul’dan’s trickery, united under the puppet Warchief, Blackhand. Gul’dan’s mission from the Burning Legion was to transform the orcs into a super-strong, bloodthirsty army that the Legion could unleash on Azeroth to weaken it for a full-scale demonic invasion. The first stage of this plan was to trick the orcs into believing that the peaceful Draenei were secretly plotting against them. After successfully deceiving the clans and convincing them to form the united Horde, the orcs launched a destructive campaign to conquer the entire world of Draenor. However, although they succeeded in defeating all who opposed them, their path of destruction, along with magical corruption caused by the fel magic of Gul’dan and his new warlocks, brought devastation to their world, causing starvation and driving the orcs to desperation. This was exactly what the Legion wanted, because now the orcs would be willing to cross over to another world, Azeroth, to conquer it and survive. To accomplish this, the orcs were convinced to drink the blood of the pit lord, Mannoroth, binding their souls to the Legion’s will, and The Dark Portal was constructed to bridge the worlds.

The orc chief, Grommash Hellscream is the first to accept the demon blood that will shackle the Horde to the demon's will.

This is why orcs have green skin. Also, demon blood tastes really bad. Don't try it. (Source)

However, many of the more violent clans, such as the Laughing Skull and Bonechewers, were considered too risky to bring over in the invasion. Blackhand ordered these troublesome clans to remain on Draenor, since he believed that they would become liabilities if allowed to join. Left behind, the clans grew restless on their dying world, which Blackhand hoped would force them to be on their best behavior when the time came for them to participate, but if they were still uncontrollable, he figured they could stay on Draenor and rot.

After the conquest of the human city of Stormwind in The First War, the new Warchief, Orgrim Doomhammer, sent messengers to Draenor to call up the remaining clans in order to replenish the Horde's numbers, but while the Horde on Azeroth had been working on conquering their “new home”, the clans on Draenor had only descended deeper into bloodlust and had begun fighting with one another, allowing only a few orcs and ogres to bolster the Horde.

A map of Draenor before its destruction, as well as the homelands of each orcish clan. (Source)

By the end of the second war, the Horde had been pushed back by the united forces of the newly-formed Alliance, and were forced to retreat back to Draenor through the Dark Portal. However, some of the clans were scattered across the Eastern Kingdoms at the time and were stranded on Azeroth. The Dragonmaw Clan ended up being split, with some staying on Azeroth, where they had succeeded in allying with Deathwing, who showed them the Dragon Soul and allowed them to enslave Alexstrasza and the entire Red Dragonflight for a time. Other members of the Dragonmaw ended up back on Draenor, safe from the perusing armies, but once again stranded on a dying world.

Shattering into Outland

Desperation once again set in for the orcs on Draenor as fel energies choked out all life, and the orc’s own fel corruption and demonic bloodlust caused them to turn on each other to the extent that they were on the verge of causing their own extinction. The only fragment of leadership left was the old Shadowmoon chieften, Ner’zhul, but he had fallen into despair and had no desire to lead his people to another failure like he had when he let Gul’dan trick him into helping found the Horde in the first place. However, there was another strong voice who refused to remain stranded on this world: Teron Gorefiend, a former warlock and follower of Gul’dan who had been transformed, along with his own followers, into the first death knights during the Second War back on Azeroth. Gorefiend didn’t care about the Horde, but he and his death knights desired to find another world to conquer and needed the strength of the Horde to obtain three magical artifacts from Azeroth that could open portals to other such worlds.

Slowly, Gorefiend won Ner’zhul over to his idea and used the Skull of Gul'dan to channel enough magic to reopen the Dark Portal. Once they were through, the Horde pretended to struggle against the Alliance forces in battles to distract them while Gorefiend and the death knights searched Azeroth for the three artifacts. These were the Book of Medivh, the Eye of Dalaran, and the Scepter of Sargeras. They also ordered the Bleeding Hollow clan, who had been left on Azeroth, to return to Draenor for a well-deserved rest.

Once the artifacts had been retrieved, Ner’zhul attempted to use them at the Black Temple to open rifts to other worlds. However, an Alliance force known as the Sons of Lothar had pursued the Horde back through the Dark Portal and was on their tail. With time running out, Ner’zhul used the artifacts to tap into the magic ley lines of the temple, but his desperation and recklessness caused him to lose control of the magical energies he had summoned. The arcane power blasted holes through the fabric of reality, so much so that the ley lines of the entire planet destabilized and began to break apart. Ner’zhul and his closest followers escaped through one of the portals, but they would be caught and tortured by the Burning Legion. Ner’zhul would be transformed into the first Lich King, and his followers would be twisted into the first liches on Azeroth.

Ner'Zhul conducts his uncontrolled ritual that led to the utter destruction of his world into Outland (source).

Battleground on a Broken World

Draenor was no more. Now, the barriers that separated its physical world from the Twisting Nether had collapsed, leaving reality itself shredded in the area now called Outland. So many of Ner’zhul’s portals were still open that Outland had become a new crossroads for any force that wished to travel quickly from one end of the universe to the other. The Burning Legion saw this as an opportunity to create a staging ground from which to launch assaults against even more worlds and sent the pit lord Magtheridon to claim it.

The shattered and corrupted remains of  Dreanor, now called Outland, adrift between the physical reality and the Twisting Nether. (Source)

Magtheridon and his demons quickly hunted down and enslaved the remnants of the orcs who had survived, forcing them to drink his blood. Unlike the first time the orcs had been made to drink demon blood, Magtheridon didn’t simply wish to bend them to his will, but to completely shatter their minds. This complete subjection to the fel power of demon blood transformed the orcs into the savage, red-skinned fel orcs who would make up the pit lord’s new “Fel Horde”, which would be based in the stronghold of Hellfire Citadel, with Kargath Bladefist as warchief of all fel orcs.

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Serving Illidan

The fate of the fel orcs would next fall into the hands of the demon hunter, Illidan Stormrage. Illidan had absorbed the full power of the Skull of Gul’dan and had been offered even more power by Kil’jaeden if he destroyed The Lich King, who had now openly rebelled against the Legion. Realizing that this would be a perfect opportunity to learn more information about the Legion that could lead to their destruction, Illidan pretended to swear allegiance to the demon lord and launched a magical assault from the ruins of Dalaran. However, he was stopped by a combined force of night and high elves who didn’t understand what he was trying to do and only saw that he was causing a ton of collateral damage from the sheer force of magic being unleashed. Knowing that Kil’jaeden would not respond well to failure, the demon hunter searched the memories of Gul’dan that he had absorbed from the skull and learned about the existence of Draenor, which he decided would make the perfect sanctuary to hide from the demon’s wrath.

Using his absorbed knowledge and the residual magic of a rift that Kel'Thuzad had used to summon the demon Archimonde sometime earlier, Illidan opened his own portal to Draenor, only to be sorely disappointed that the world he arrives on did not match what he had seen from the skull’s memories. Still, the brokenness of Outland could be a useful staging ground for him if he could conquer it and dispose of the Legion forces stationed there. With his new allies, Lady Vashj, Kael'thas Sunstrider, and Akama, he overthrew and captured Magtheridon in the Black Temple, carting the pit lord to Hellfire Citadel as his prisoner. Having seen the power the fel orcs under Magtheridon’s command, Illidan decided that he needed such single-minded soldiers for his own army. To this end, he used the pit lord’s blood to create even more fel orcs, and subjected the existing Fel Horde to serve him.

Illidan and his allies overwhelm Magtheridon, both to unseat him from power and to use him as a source of demon blood. (Source)

After Illidan attempted, and failed, a second assault on the Lich King, he abandoned his feigning of allegiance to the Legion, infuriating Kil’jaeden. Now seeing Illidan’s plan for what it was, destroying the Burning Legion completely, Kil’jaeden decided to lure the forces of Azeroth to Outland and turn them against Illidan. He knew that the sight of Illidan’s savage fel orcs, as well as the demons and other fel-infused warriors in the demon hunter’s service, would disgust the people of Azeroth and make them think that Illidan was an evil member of the Legion himself.

The ruse worked, and both the Alliance and Horde joined in the invasion of Outland, travelling through the rebuilt Dark Portal to Hellfire Peninsula. For many of the orcs in the Horde, the mindless savage fel orcs were grim reminders of their former slavery to the Legion, making their extermination a personal matter. Horde forces stormed Hellfire Cititel and disposed of Kargath before fighting their way to Magtheridon and his jailer, Keli'dan the Breaker. With the pit lord and his guards destroyed, the source of demon blood to make more fel orcs was removed.

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Keli'dan, jailer of Magtheridon.

The Aftermath

In spite of the brutal campaign against them, and the loss of their leadership, the fel orcs were not fully exterminated and survived beyond the Invasion of Outland. During the Cataclysm on Azeroth, a group of Dragonmaw fel orcs, led by the former Illidari lieutenant Mor'ghor, travelled from Outland to the Twilight Highlands to enslave the Dragonmaws who had remained on Azeroth. However, Mor'ghor and his fel orcs were defeated by the forces of Garrosh Hellscream, the warchief of the Horde at the time, and Warlord Zaela of the Azerothian Dragonmaw.

In the Hearthstone Tavern, many stories are told and tall tales spun, inspired by the events on Azeroth. One such tale the patrons tell is of a mysterious Rusted Legion that arose on Outland. This demonic army is said to be led by the tyrannical Mecha-Jaraxxus, formally known as Lord Jaraxxus, a demon of the Burning legion who was accidentally summoned by Wilfred Fizzlebang during the Trial of the Crusader, which would later inspire the Grand Tournament. While the demon lord was defeated, the tavern stories claim that he was rebuilt in a failed experiment by the maniacal goblin, Dr. Boom. The mad scientist never bothered decommissioning the project and Mecha-Jaraxxus was left to his own devices to assimilate every living being in Outland into destructive machines. Among his assimilated recruits were fel orcs. The Rusted Legion was eventually disrupted and Mecha-Jaraxxus was slain by the young demon hunter, Aranna Starseeker.

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Fel orc members of the Rusted Legion

Beyond these whispered events, little to nothing is known about the fate of the remaining fel orcs, but it is likely that there are still many out there in the savage and desolate wilds of Outland.