I want to figure out what kind of effects following physical attributes and in-universe conditions would have on Orc populations, society and warfare in a realistic low-fantasy setting:
- Height ~190-200cm for males
- Weight ~150kg for males
- Roughly twice stronger than an average human
- Sexual dimorphism is simmilar to humans(although a female Orc can still overpower an average male Human)
- Senses(sight/smell/hearing etc) are more or less equal to Human or slightly superior(easily countered by watch dogs).
- They used to populate the fertile central plains of in-universe notEurope and local Donau valley but were gradually driven away, exterminated or enslaved by humans during the past millenia(not long enough for tribal mythos to forget the fact). Those lands now a part of the notRoman Empire.
- Tribal/Clan societies ranging from hunter-gatherers to non-sophisticated agricultures. Most populations inhabit fantasy counterparts of Alps(like Picts), Northern Europe(Saxons), less fertile plains of Eastern Europe(southern regions are dominated by the cavalry-heavy human nomads).
- On the overall the world is around our Earth's Antiquity(300BC-100AD), Orcish societies can produce little iron and steel products compared to neighboring Human civilization but it's mostly because of population sizes and overal development rather than mental inability(fastforward a thousand years - Orcish civilizations cut the gap in technological progress and even dominate in certain areas).
- Story-wise there are two periods: one is an analogue of our classical Antiquity(think Alexander the Great/Ceasar in Gaul), the other is an analogue of Migration Period/Viking Age caused by the Little Ice Age.
1. What would be the average food requirement for these Orcs?
Sub questions would be: a) what would be an average population density in low to mid fertility regions? Gallo-Germanic plains and Donau valley had an average of ~8 people per km2 during antiquity - I'd assume that because of higher food requirements there'd be even less Orcs to go around.
b) in-universe these Orcs make the best gladiators, but would they be good as slaves for physically intensive labour? Would it be worth fielding Orcs over regular Humans or the strength vs food costs would favor more of latter?
2. Would physical attributes affect society structures compared to humans?
a) How fertility and maturity rates would be affected and thus affect society? I'd assume that lower population levels on their own do not allow for higher social structures.
b) Violent resolution of internal conflicts seems to be undesirable because at such strength levels wounds are going to be more severe, lower populations and higher dependancy on healthy individuals push it even more.
c) How physical superiorty would translate on the Orcs' worldview(including mythos and religion) and their attitude(diplomacy?) towards other intelegent species?
3. How the above ultimately affects warfare?
As was mentioned Orcs make for great gladiators in melee combat because of their physical characteristics, but would that translate to their free kin? Or they'd be more oriented towards skirmishing assuming much lower numbers compared to other fantasy species?
Primary enemy(neighbour) is the human notRoman Empire that makes extensive use of noble heavy cavalry(think medieval knights and their men-at-arms), professional heavy infantry(extra troops outfited and paid for by the nobles) and with local levies as expendable frontline.
Also what about the second time period, when literally whole tribes/clans would have to migrate and fight for their very survival?
One in-universe condition is that Orcs don't have cavalry: neither equestrian nor chariots. The Humans' ability to ride the horses and greater numbers is the primal reason why Orcs were pushed from their homelands in the first place.
Note: the magic in the setting is very obscure and indirect like "12 Imperial Mages chanted for three days straight using the rarest ingridients gathered from all the corners of the Empire to cause the storm that scattered Hannibexes' fleet", "Lakonian Warlock knows things he has no access to, like what the Emperor had for breakfast and such.." or "Avernii shamans that can bring people from the brink of death!"
Edit: The questions might look like three separate entities but I want you to view them as intertwined and based around the fundamental limitation that such great physical attributes(typical for modern fantasy) would entail - higher calorie/dietary requirements over other humanoid species. Bigger is not always better, I believe it's the reason why Megafauna died out in our world - smaller and more cost effective species spred faster and took all the ecological niches once the resources became more scarce.
The setting takes inspiration from that process: Orcs took the most fertile and climate friendly regions by the virtue of strength in pre-history, then got pushed back once the technological progress kicked in - Humans exploded in numbers due to agriculture and cavalry sealed the gap in strength.