Beware of spoilers!
Introduced in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Ioreth and Dirhael
Talion's family, his wife and his son, respectively. Living a peaceful life in the Black Gates, Ioreth had joined her lover in his exile, his son had been training to become a Ranger and continue his father's legacy. The former had expressed many, many times an interest in leaving the Black Gates, a wish that unwittingly, tragically becomes true on the night of Sauron's return.
- Badass Family: Dirhael, despite his youth, slays many Uruks before his capture by the Black Captains, and Ioreth bravely faces death and assures Talion this is not the end.
- The Cameo: Ioreth — or at least a twisted version of her — appears briefly in a vision in Shadow of War's prologue, and she and Dirhael appear during the flashback of Talion's life that Eltariel sees after defeating Nazgûl Talion at the end of Blade of Galadriel.
- Human Sacrifice: Used as such to summon the Wraith.
- Military Brat:
- Dirhael, obviously. Talion was even training him as a Ranger of Gondor prior to the events of the games.
- It's also suggested that Ioreth's father Hallas was a military man, or at least had military connections.
- Noodle Incident: Audio during the loading screens indicate that in their youth Talion killed a Gondorian nobleman who assaulted Ioreth. The penalty for that was death, but when Ioreth told her father Hallas she was pregnant with Dirhael and threatened to claim she killed the nobleman in self-defense, her father pulled strings to get Talion transferred to the Black Gate instead.
- Posthumous Character: As the player quickly learns.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Killed off at the beginning of the story as a Human Sacrifice.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Due to their status as Talion's family — or, more precisely, his dead family, who were slaughtered in front of him. Celebrimbor keeps Talion alive, but (the memory of) Ioreth and Dirhael keeps him going.
- Together in Death: Ioreth tearfully assures Talion that they'll be together forever after the Black Hand kills them. Sadly, it was not to be...at least, not for much, much longer than anyone expected.
- Tragic Keepsake:
- Acharn, Talion's "dagger," is the broken hilt of Dirhael's sword, recovered immediately after Talion initially revives and used to devastating effect throughout both games. Even more tragically, after succumbing to Isildur's ring and becoming a full-blown Nazgûl, Talion even comes to forget why he's keeping it at all.
- Shadow of War reveals that Talion's cloak is also one, given to him by his wife Ioreth on their first wedding anniversary and named "Ioreth's Embrace" in her honor — and later in her memory. Talion also comes to forget the cloak's significance as he succumbs to the influence of Isildur's ring.
Ioreth's father, a nobleman of Gondor.
- Fantastic Racism: According to Talion, Hallas never let him forget that he and Ioreth had Númenórean ancestry while Talion did not. For her part, Ioreth never cared.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: It's not dwelt on within the game, but Talion evidently did not get along with his father-in-law.
- Papa Wolf: Hallas only relents from trying to get Talion executed for killing a nobleman when Ioreth reveals she's pregnant with Dirhael and threatens to claim she killed the nobleman Talion slew in self-defence.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Loading-screen audio suggests that he was apparently prone to speechifying, which Hirgon complained about to Talion.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Instead of having Talion executed, he assigned him to a post on the Black Gate, which is naturally why Talion was present during the night of Sauron's return.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Is heard in one loading-screen audio clip informing Ioreth that Talion's "life belongs to Gondor now" due to the latter's murder of a Gondorian noble. Downplayed in that, while Hallas does pull strings to spare Talion's life, he tells him to his face that he's doing it for Ioreth's sake and not Talion's.
- Uncertain Doom: As Hallas never appears in the game, it's unknown whether he was at the Black Gate and thus killed in the game's prologue, or if he was back in Gondor and may still be alive.
- The Voice: Is only ever heard in loading-screen audio and is never seen in the game.
Celebrimbor's Wife and Child
Celebrimbor's family, who were captured alongside him by Sauron and later executed after his failed coup attempt.
- Ambiguous Gender: It's not established whether Celebrimbor's child was a boy or girl. Unfortunately, it doesn't really matter, either.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: They seem to have suffered this during Celebrimbor's insurrection, as his wife is sporting a rather nasty black eye during his Final Battle with Sauron.
- Happily Married: Implied by how Celebrimbor's wife smiles fondly at him before "Annatar" shows up.
- Posthumous Character: Sauron killed them before he killed Celebrimbor, several thousand years before the events of the games.
- The Voiceless: They never speak during their appearances. Justified due to their extremely limited screentime.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Downplayed, as there's really no reason for them to appear in Shadow of War, but the game does reuse the Shadow of Mordor cutscene of Celebrimbor's fateful Final Battle against Sauron — and while Mordor's cutscene shows that Celebrimbor's wife and child were bound to a rock right behind Sauron, that bit is noticeably absent from the cutscene in Warnote . It could count as Foreshadowing that Celebrimbor is starting to forget about them.
An Outcast woman who ran into Hirgon while thieving from the Gondorian garrison at the Black Gate. Instead of arresting her, Hirgon chose to let her escape. Their paths crossed again after Hirgon deserted his post, and they eventually married. Unfortunately, she was captured by the Uruks sometime before (or during) the events of Shadow of Mordor.
- All There in the Manual: Her backstory is only found in her entry in the Appendices. Specifically, she was the daughter of the jailer, and her peaceful demeanour and beautiful singing voice had calmed more trouble and defused more tense situations than the guards ever could.
- Book Dumb: One of the collectible artifacts is an almanac, whose memory reveals Hirgon teaching Eryn to read.
- Fantastic Racism: Despises Talion for being a Man of Gondor, the nation that mistreated her people.
- Hero Antagonist: Downplayed, but while she's one of the good guys, there's no love lost between her and Talion.
- Happily Married: To Hirgon.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Doesn't protest when Hirgon — acting on advice from Talion — decides to evacuate Mordor.
- Made a Slave: Talion helps Hirgon to rescue her from Uruk custody.
- Took a Level in Badass: From a book-learning standpoint. Over the course of his adventure, Talion can recover various artifacts whose memories reveal Eryn's backstory; one such artifact is a letter that Eryn wrote while hiding from the Uruks (implied to be not long before they captured and enslaved her), and aside from the copious amounts of Nightmare Fuel surrounding the letter, it's actually quite impressive to see the extent of her vocabulary as opposed to the woman who repeatedly mispronounced "wife" earlier.
A boat captain, possibly of Corsair descent, whom Queen Marwen hires to ferry Talion and his branded warchiefs to the Ered Glamhoth for their confrontation with the Tower of Sauron.
- Boring Return Journey: So boring, in fact, that the game doesn't even bother to show it. After Talion defeats the Tower, he just somehow shows up at Núrnen's docks, and his warchiefs likewise return to their normal posts. We technically don't even know if this guy is the one who brought them back.
- Everyone Has Standards: Is less than thrilled to learn that most of his passengers are Uruks, although he quickly assures Marwen that he's ferried worse passengers before.
- No Name Given: Not even in the credits. In all fairness, his role is so limited that there's no real point in revealing his name.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Only shows up in a single cutscene to ferry Talion and his troops across the Sea of Núrnen (and presumably back as well), but he enables Talion to fight and take down the Tower of Sauron.
Saruman the White
Leader of the Istari Order, Saruman has a presence that echoes even into Mordor.
- Meat Puppet: He uses Queen Marwen as one in the same manner in which he will later use King Théoden in The Two Towers.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Despite never showing up in either game, it turns out that it was Saruman who influenced Marwen to suggest to Talion and Celebrimbor that they utilize HeelFace Brainwashing to raise an army of orcs, which has enormous ramifications across both games.
- The Bright Lord DLC contests this, as it depicts Celebrimbor utilizing branding to build an army of orcs in the Second Age, at least a thousand years before Saruman arrived on Middle-earth per the source material. Saruman's role might thus have been jogging Celebrimbor's memory of this ability.
- The Spymaster: Heavily implied to be this in the artifacts that reveal insider information about Sauron's activities within Mordor. In the sequel you can find captains named "of the Hand" who comment that there is another tower rising and implying that they are The Mole in Sauron's army.
- The Voice: Aside from dialogue, he doesn't make a physical appearance in the story.
- Villain of Another Story: His corruption is implied to have already taken place, and he is plotting to overthrow Sauron by the time of Shadow of Mordor. Having said that, he only "shows up" through Marwen in one scene to try to bind Celebrimbor's spirit to him. In Shadow of War, you can run into Uruks in his service (usually but not always bearing the title "of the Hand") who have infiltrated Sauron's army.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Significantly downplayed, but since Saruman's treachery is not revealed to the Free Peoples until the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, Saruman enjoys this status throughout the games. In Shadow of War, the Appendices entry for Rohan mentions that the kingdom is "aided" by Saruman's counsel.
- We Can Rule Together: Offers this to Celebrimbor, insisting that together they can overthrow Sauron and claim Mordor for themselves.Saruman: (speaking through Marwen) Do not resist me, Celebrimbor! Together we can be invincible! The Dark Lord Sauron is still weak. Our army can destroy him!
The Blue Istari
Two of the five Istari, the Blue Wizards travelled east long ago and have not been seen since.
- All in the Manual: According to Tolkien, their names were Alatar and Pallando.
- Face Death with Dignity: If the two are indeed dead, it seems they foresaw their doom and took it in stride, counting the days and leaving behind items that they would no longer have use for.
- The Ghost: Mentioned in the memories of various artifacts (and conversations therein), but never actually seen in-game, save for an azurite figurine representation.
- No Name Given: At the rate at which people forget their names, it's implied that they deliberately wipe it from people's minds.
- Those Two Guys: Everybody would forget their names and either refer to them as "the Istari" or "the big one and the little one."
- Uncertain Doom: Many artifacts suggest that the Istari were ultimately killed, but it isn't conclusively revealed."See, there were two of them, and they both came in from the road with a hard look in their eyes, as if they'd traveled too far and seen too much. They were Wizards, true, both of 'em caked in dust, and when one's talk he'd stop to think and there'd be the other to finish right up, like they had one brain and two mouths. It was creepy for sure, but neither seemed to notice. I heard them say they were hunting the darkness. Darned if I know if they found it. But I guess those fellows can find trouble when they're looking for it."
The first Dark Lord and Sauron's master, defeated many thousands of years ago.
- God of Evil: An idol depicting him is a collectible artifact. He's more of a Satanic Archetype, but he's depicted as a god. Though, being one of the Valar — the equivalent of gods, though weaker than Eru Ilúvatar, in Tolkien lore — this fits quite well.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The very first Dark Lord and Sauron's master back in the First Age. It's not mentioned in the game, but The Silmarillion reveals that he made Orcs in mockery of Elves and/or Men and Trolls in mockery of Ents; additionally, he also somehow created dragons, and Balrogs like Tar Goroth were his most powerful servants. Sauron merely "improved upon" Morgoth's designs to make tougher Uruk-hai, smaller but smarter Olog-hai, and smaller but more numerous Drakes.
- Present Absence: Arguably even more in Shadow of War than in Shadow of Mordor. One of the Carnán sidequests in War features the Archers of Morgoth, whom Zog the Eternal is resurrecting for his own ends. In the Blade of Galadriel DLC, Ogg Bow of Morgoth is a Morgoth loyalist who sees Sauron as a usurper.
- Predecessor Villain: Long gone by the time of the games.
- Religion of Evil: The subject of one, at any rate. Sauron influenced Ar-Pharazôn's mind to institute the worship of Morgoth as Númenor's state religion, a fact very much resented by a woman who narrates the idol's memory found by the player.
Introduced in Middle-earth: Shadow of War
The daughter of Helm Hammerhand, who is unfortunately caught up in a web of violent political intrigue.
- Accidental Murder: Is subjected to it by her own father.
- All There in the Manual: Her name is only found in Helm Hammerhand's Appendix entry. Even in the credits, she's listed as "Helm's daughter."
- Cynicism Catalyst: Her abduction is arguably Helm's Start of Darkness, as evidenced by the below quote (although the fact that Helm had been mortally wounded during said abduction didn't help matters any), and her death marks the point that Helm descends into outright villainy.Sauron (slipping a Ring of Power onto a dying Helm's hand): For your daughter's safe return...
- Posthumous Character: Long dead by the time of Shadow of War, and only seen in a flashback.
- Sacrificial Lamb: The poor girl does nothing but get manhandled by various parties until her own father accidentally kills her.
- Trauma Conga Line: Her father gets ambushed and murdered in front of her, and when he turns out to be Not Quite Dead and returns to exact revenge on his would-be murderer, she tries to talk him down only to become his (accidental) first victim.
A warlord who seeks the hand of Helm Hammerhand's daughter Bernwyn in marriage...and is not afraid to spill blood to obtain it.
- All There in the Manual: His name is only found in Helm Hammerhand's Appendix entry. Even in the credits, he's listed as "Daughter's Suitor."
- Asshole Victim: Given that he and his men ambushed Helm and his daughter, shot Helm full of arrows, and abducted his daughter as he lay dying, it's quite clear that his death at the hands of the Not Quite Dead Helm is entirely his own fault.
- Composite Character: He combines elements of both major enemies of the canonical Helm Hammerhand, Freca (a belligerent nobleman whom Helm ultimately kills) and his son Wulf (Helm's would-be son-in-law who leads men in an attempt to kill Helm).
- Hypocrite: When Helm storms his base with murder on his mind, he warns him, "If you kill me, you'll start a war." Of course, he should have thought of this before ambushing and attempting to murder the King. Helm's Shut Up, Hannibal! (quoted below) almost comes across as a Lampshade Hanging of such blatant hypocrisy.Helm Hammerhand: War has come!
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: How he dies; Helm, in a grief-fuelled rage at accidentally killing his own daughter, backhands Siric to the floor, then promptly bludgeons the Dunlending to death with his hammer.
- Posthumous Character: Long dead by the time of Shadow of War, and only seen in a flashback.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Well, he clearly meant it to be, but...Siric: You should have given me your daughter's hand when I asked.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The apparent implication of his warning, quoted below. Unfortunately for him, an enraged Helm simply responds with a very violent Shut Up, Hannibal!Siric: If you kill me, you'll start a war.
The former emperor of the Kingdom of Shen.
- All There in the Manual: His name and that of his homeland (the Kingdom of Shen) are only found in the Appendices. His involvement in the story is so minimal that he doesn't even get his own entry.
- Betrayal by Offspring: Murdered by his own daughters, although we don't see their relationship before the fateful parade.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: He's stabbed multiple times, and then his head is violently ripped off. By his own daughters.
- Gone Horribly Right: He's almost certainly the one who waged the campaign against Mordor that ended with his daughters killing two Nazgûl and confiscating their Rings of Power.
- Posthumous Character: Long dead by the time of Shadow of War, and only seen in a flashback.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Barely appears in the game at all, and only really exists to show that the Rings of Power are already corrupting his daughters into power-hungry monsters.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He's absolutely correct that his daughters' hoarding of their captured Rings of Power is a sign of defiance, and he would be right to expect that his daughters would hand him the Rings on demand, both as their father and as their emperor...but he completely miscalculates the Rings' true nature, and he pays for this oversight with his life.
The Nemesis System
Nemesis Orcs & Trolls
The officers of Orc and Troll society, from Captains all the way to the Overlord. Aside from names and fancy titles, these orcs have a number of strengths that make them much, much more dangerous than your rank-and-file grunts. However, they also have weaknesses you can exploit to great effect. Over the course of Talion's journey, he gains the ability to brand them, which forcibly converts them into his followers. As such, the Nemesis System is a potential source of not only rivalries and arch-enemies, but also allies and possibly even friends.
- Accidental Truth: Some of their taunts indicate that either they know about Talion's bond with the wraith or took a wild guess:"Back from the dead, eh? Did you learn that from your elven friend?"
(After Talion is killed) "In a hole! In the ground! Both of you!"
- Acrofatic: A pudgy Uruk can still have the "fast runner" trait.
- Affably Evil: Some Captains will run after and kill runaway slaves, and just as quickly turn around and give you a genuinely pleasant greeting before attacking.
- The Alcoholic: You might stumble across a captain who really loves his grog.
- The Anticipator: Captains who are Vigilant Against Stealth No-Sell all stealth attacks.
- Arrow Catch: While arrow-proof orcs will often just let the arrows bounce uselessly off them, there can be an introduction where they actually catch it.
- Ascended Extra: Should Talion be killed by just another nameless Uruk, then that Uruk will get a promotion to Captain, complete with a unique name, personality and traits. Given the right sequence of events, the Uruk who happened to get in the last lucky blow against the Gravewalker can end up becoming an elite Warchief or even the Overlord.
- Asshole Victim: Talion can decapitate and dismember orcs, burn them alive, poison their supplies, Mind Rape and humiliate them, pit them against each other, etc. The game's narrative, however, makes sure the player isn't sorry for any of that, given that orcs themselves gladly do all of above (and worse) to their enemies and each other.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Their combat level measures both their personal skill and the amount of sway they have over other Uruks.
- Ax-Crazy: Some Uruks are motivated by nothing more than a lust for violence and bloodshed.
- Berserk Button: A trait for Uruks is a hatred of something specific (Caragors, burning, their masters getting hurt, etc.) that, when triggered, causes them to be become stronger in battle.
- Blood Knight: Olog-hai with the title "Warborn" will do Punctuated Pounding, saying "I LIKE IT!" each time.
- Blood Upgrade: Present via the Hate of Pain and Hate of Mortal Wounds traits, which will send a Captain into a frenzy when they take certain amounts of damage.
- Body Horror:
- In Shadow of Mordor, Uruks can come in two flavors of grotesque. Either they're just naturally covered in tumors, growths, mutations or scars...or they collect new ones as Talion kills/defeats them and it doesn't quite take. Do enough damage to one enough times and he'll be almost unrecognizable from the first time you met.
- Shadow of War adds "born with two malformed faces" and "host to a Morgai fly hive" to the list.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Zig-zagged all over the place.
- Played Straight (and quite literally) by certain captains who look virtually identical to run-of-the-mill grunts, which can be a nasty shock if you're not constantly checking the Wraith World. Pro tip: if a grunt has a flaming weapon, poisoned weapon, or weapon that's dripping blood, he's not a grunt. (This is much more prevalent in Shadow of Mordor; in Shadow of War, all captains are denoted with rings under their feet, even if you haven't identified them in the Wraith World yet.)
- Inverted with other early-game captains, who are so vulnerable and/or easily shaken that there's not much separating them from grunts other than a few special abilities.
- An Uruk who gets killed by Talion repeatedly will usually come back with horrific wounds, referring to how much pain they have to constantly suffer through. An Uruk who has been killed multiple times and has an easily-exploitable fear on top of that? They suddenly become an utter joke.
- Similarly, an Uruk who's repeatedly shamed by Talion will get more and more pathetic, and whine all of the other orcs mock him. It can get subverted if the Uruk becomes "Unashamed", which grants him Iron Will and a more heroic attitude, or becomes a Maniac, meaning they're now a gibbering lunatic... who's at least 20 levels higher than Talion.
- Came Back Strong: Any Uruk that undergoes an Unexplained Recovery comes back with a few extra levels in power, meaning they're (theoretically) stronger than before. Uruks who are Shamed into becoming Maniacs will leap beyond level 80, regardless of their original level.
- Came Back Wrong: This can happen in some of the ways that Uruks cheat death, frequently in different flavors of Body Horror. For instance, an Uruk that was severely mutilated by Talion, such as losing most of their limbs, can return with the "Machine" tag, becoming the closest thing the setting has to a Hollywood Cyborg, while another is the "Poisoned" or "Blighted" tag. An Uruk you kill with poison has a chance to come back covered in leaking sores and boils, with half of their face melted. Also, see Our Zombies Are Different below.
- Captain Obvious: Quite literally — one Orc Captain is labeled "The Obvious".
- Cast of Snowflakes: All Uruks are randomly generated with different looks, personalities and traits. Also, one of captain titles is "The Snowflake".
- The Cat Came Back: Some of these captains can have skills called Tracker, Sneaky, and Ambusher. Any combination of these traits makes a captain who will appear out of nowhere, no matter the time or the place, and will never stop chasing you. Teleport to the other side of the map? They're already there. Hide on top of a tower? They're waiting for you to come down. Bonus points if the captain gets the Unkillable title and takes a lot of effort to kill permanently.
- Cloudcuckoolander: While some Uruks are Ax-Crazy, others are just... nuts, exclaiming things like "beetles don't like peoples" or referring to Talion as "Buttons!"
- Combat Sadomasochist: There are Uruks who speak in perverted innuendos, talk to Talion like they're planning to have their way with him afterwards, treat their wounds like a result of a lovers' spat, and introduce themselves while posing in suggestive flourishes. It's exactly as disturbing and wrong as you think it is.Uruk: I'm gonna hurt you! You can hurt me too, though...
- Cool Helmet: Many Uruks sport an array of headwear, ranging from ornate metal helmets to caragor heads to ninja-like masks to small head-mounted braziers.
- Cursed With Awesome: In Shadow of War, some captains are equipped with Cursed weaponry, which drains Talion's Wrath and Focus and temporarily replaces the minimap with the Eye of Sauron.
- Death Seeker: Some Captains are relieved when Talion slays them. This happens chiefly with old Uruks.
- Decapitation Required: The only reliable way to avert an Unexplained Recovery is to lop the Uruk's head off. Subverted in Shadow of War, they can come back as Frankensteins with their heads stitched back on, or as undead.
- Defiant to the End: Certain Uruks will express an I Can Still Fight! mentality when they reach the prone "brand or kill" stage.
- Degraded Boss: At the start of Shadow of Mordor, taking on an Uruk of Nominal Importance and a health bar is a bit of an intimidating prospect. By the end of the game, you're so powerful that taking on five at once — even five high-level veterans with multiple immunities and barely any weaknesses — barely registers as a challenge.
- Arguably averted and even inverted with regards to Warchiefs in Shadow of War; while they're no longer the regional top dogs due to the introduction of fortresses and their Overlords, they actually serve a story purpose now, as each Warchief is assigned to guard a specific sector of the fort should it ever come under attack. (This also serves as an In-Universe justification for Warchiefs' absence from the open world.) You're still required to play a mini-mission to draw them out, or you can encounter them all during a siege. Also, infiltrating a follower as a Warchief weakens the fort's defenses (see Mole in Charge below).
- Dirty Coward: Uruks with titles like "The Coward", "The Fearful", "Who Flees", etc. have numerous fears and will retreat at the drop of a hat.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: An Uruk Captain may mutter after killing Talion, "There. Maybe now my Uruks will do what I tell them to."
- Elite Mook: Low-level captains can feel like these, as they're not much more difficult to defeat than your average grunt. However, they can gain strengths and/or lose weaknesses as they level up, potentially turning them into true Boss Battles. Taken Up to Eleven if they manage to become a Warchief, and taken Up to Eleven again in Shadow of War if they manage to become the region's Overlord.
- In Shadow of War, captains can have Elite Gangs that are this trope played straight. Elite gang members inherit their boss's immunities, elemental weaponry, and certain other traits; for example, an Olog captain with Fire Thrower and a gang of elite Ologs gives his gang Fire Throwers as well.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Once you defeat The Tower, one of the Uruk's idle dialogue is about how much of a cruel bastard he was and that they're glad he's dead. Although, they could just be talking about how cruel he was to THEM, and not care about his cruelty to others.
- Evil Knockoff: Shadow of War has Orcs who fashion themselves "The Tower" and wear armor just like The Tower from the first game. Taken Up to Eleven with Outlaw Defenders named the Pretender, who also wear armor similar to that of the Tower but do not speak with his voice.
- Eye Scream: "Mad-Eye" and "One-Eye" orcs in Shadow of War, as well as other captains such as "Of the Maggots." Orcs don't believe in eyepatches, so captains display their deformed eyes or empty eye sockets for all the world to see. If you kill a captain by shooting him in the eye, he can come back minus the eye.
- Face Death with Dignity: A very small number of Captains and Warchiefs will take their defeat this way, one of them even thanking you for granting him "a good death".Uruk: Didn't see this coming. No matter. Just finish it.
Uruk: Good brawl in front of a cheering crowd? Can't think of a better way to go.
Uruk: A good death, in Sauron's name. Thank you, Ranger.
- Facial Horror: Orcs whom Talion has killed might come back wearing a sack or metal plating to cover this... but others don't. Captains who return from poisoning in Shadow of War can have molten faces.
- A Father to His Men: Some Uruks can somewhat be seen as this, especially those who become enraged if their bodyguards are attacked when they take the field. Though it could be down to their Blue-and-Orange Morality.
- Flaming Sword: And other weapons as well. Some Uruks wield armaments that are on fire, which increases the damage they do.
- Flunky Boss: Some Uruks have traits that cause gangs of Mooks to form around them, while others have Enemy Summoner abilities that turn them into this. This is without going into their general tendency to hang around other, unaffiliated Uruks.
- Friendly Enemy: The occasional Uruk Captain will say how happy they are to see you, give you compliments or invite you to join in on the hunt/party you found them in. It doesn't stop them from attacking you, though.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Can potentially happen if a rank-and-file orc gets a lucky kill on Talion to become a captain, and survives long enough to get promoted to be a Warchief or even the Overlord of his native region.
- And just as easily subverted if they happen to possess an easily-exploitable weakness that stays with them through the promotion(s), turning them from a nobody to a...somebody who still really isn't a nightmare.
- As with much of the Nemesis System, it's entirely possible to exploit this to create a powerful nemesis, then apply some HeelFace Brainwashing to turn them into a powerful follower. Both games offer achievements for such chessmastery.
- Gang Up on the Human: Literally. If Talion interupts a conflict between two Uruks, they'll both drop the issue until one of them (or Talion) is dead or flees. Some of them even lampshade the fact, telling Talion that he should have waited until the duel was over to strike. Amusingly, if they're far away enough from Talion, the other minions and Captains will resume attacking each other anyway.
- Genius Bruiser: Even the most brutish Uruks and Olog-hai have the chance of being quite eloquent when speaking to Talion.
- Taken Up to Eleven with the Bore, an Olog captain who's really well-versed on his history, particularly that of Númenor and Gondor. Best not to think about how he learned that information.
- Genuine Human Hide: Captains known as "The Skinner" and "The Tailor" make it very clear that they want to turn Talion's skin into clothing.
- "Get Back Here!" Boss: Terrified or outmatched Uruks will flee from the battle, mechanically becoming one of these. Uruks with Fear of the Gravewalker (Overwhelming Awe in Shadow of War) are especially strong examples, as they'll leg it the moment they see Talion.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Some Uruks have the rage trigger Enraged by Everything, which causes them to get Enraged at random.
- Uruks that have a lot of different rage triggers are arguably worse in that respect; you can easily find yourself in a situation where the Uruk in question will get enraged no matter how you choose to fight them. And then there are orcs who are Enraged by Everything and possess multiple other rage triggers as well...
- Half the Man He Used to Be: In Shadow of War, Talion can kill orcs by cutting them in two at the waist; it's possible for an orc killed in this fashion to become a legendary returnernote Hollywood Cyborg called the Machine, with his body parts crudely attached together.
- HeelFace Brainwashing: Later on in the games, the Wraith gains the ability to brand orcs, turning them and all those who follow them to his side.
- Hero Killer: In Shadow of War, rank-and-file Uruks who manage to kill Talion will sometimes declare themselves "the Tark-Slayer" and gain that as their sobriquet.
- Other orcs style themselves as the Ranger-Killer, and they back it up by using a Ranger sword as their weapon.
- Nemeses that survive multiple encounters with Talion tend to be this, since the only way to do that consistently is to beat him down every time he shows up.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: The result of shaming a captain down to the single digits, as they lose their titles and no longer have Mooks; about the only thing separating them from regular Uruks are dialogue and unique appearances. And yes, this also applies to Maniacs and the Unashamed; just keep shaming them and they'll fall, just like the rest.
- Hulk Speak: Some orcs talk like this, and it's much more common among Olog-hai.
- I Love the Dead: Some orcs mention during duels that they'll keep their enemy's corpse for play time.
- Instrument of Murder: In Shadow of War, Uruks with the title of The Minstrel or The Singer will wield lutes with axe-blades attached as weapons. And they'll play them to serenade Talion with their death threats. Even when they're holding him down with one hand and thus unable to play their instrument.
- King Mook: Each class of Uruk promoted to the nemesis lineup keeps their associated equipment. Combine this with the 'Gang Leader' trait, and you can end up with a Defender Captain surrounded by a squad of regular Defenders.
- Klingon Promotion: That's how orcs advance in their social system.
- The Klutz: Uruks with the Clumsy trait can be grabbed (or mounted, in the case of Olog-hai) without needing to be weakened first.
- Large and in Charge: Significantly downplayed. Captains are often bigger than their Mooks, but not by much, and it's entirely possible for a captain to be slightly smaller than his underlings as well.
- Played with in Shadow of War with the introduction of Olog-hai. Olog captains with a gang of Ologs play this the straightest, being noticeably larger than their flunkies, and it's taken Up to Eleven when an Olog captain has any other gang. Meanwhile, it's also possible for Uruk captains to have Olog gangs, inverting the trope.
- Laughing Mad: Some Uruk have no dialogue but a creepy laugh, even when at Talion's mercy.
- Legacy Character: One of the Uruks in Shadow of War is "The Tower". An orc who put on The Tower's armor after Talion killed him, and now fancies himself as the Tower.
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Defenders carry large shields that block frontal assaults. While grunt defenders' shields can be broken, captains' shields are unbreakable.
- Made of Iron: There are Uruks who can take a lot of punishment. Shadow of War invokes this trope with the Tank advanced class (see Orc Advanced Classes below).
- Madness Mantra: Some deranged Uruks will suffer a Cool and Unusual Punishment where they endlessly babble lines relating to — or opposite of — their shtick. Famously with Brûz, who will constantly moan, "I don't want the fort! It's his/your fort! It was always his/your fort!"The Glutton: So full! No more eating! So stuffed... SO STUFFED!
The Glutton: Cannot eat! So full. Stomach HURTS. SO FULL!
The Glutton: (after killing Talion) Would eat you, but so full... so stuffed... so full...
- The Magnificent: Every Uruk ranked captain and above has some form of sobriquet. Most pertain to a specific trait, but a few are based on profession or accomplishment.
- This is also inverted, as other orcs sport Embarrassing Nicknames like the Coward, Who Flees, the Weak, and so forth. These can become Ironic Nicknames if Talion manages to die to them a lot, as they'll gain a level up every time they beat him (or at least survive an encounter).
- In Shadow of War, orcs can gain new titles based on their deeds. For instance, an Olog who kills his pit fight opponent can gain the title Pit Fighter, while an orc who flees from a Nemesis Mission may become known as the Gutless.
- Miles Gloriosus: Goroth from the "Spirit of Mordor" mission. When you find him, he's constantly bragging about how badass he is when hunting caragors. He's actually terrified by them, and the mission requires to release the caged caragors in the surrounding area before attacking him while he's fleeing.
- The Mole: It's possible to command follower orcs to infiltrate a warchief's (or the overlord's) ranks as bodyguards, positioning them to stab their boss in the back when you encounter them in battle. In Shadow of War, dominating all of a warchief's bodyguards (the warchief must have at least two bodyguards) replaces the warchief's normal mini-mission with a Betrayal mission wherein the bodyguards bring their boss into an ambush.
- Mole in Charge: Mostly averted with warchiefs in Shadow of Mordor (and completely averted with overlords in Shadow of War), as they don't seem to make any secret of their true loyalties. However, in Shadow of War, infiltrating spy warchiefs offer significant benefits during a siege: each spy warchief will "forget" to equip his assigned defensive fortress upgrade, rig a portion of the wall to explode when Talion sounds the charge, and prime his assigned victory point for immediate capture. It's also possible for spy warchiefs to get discovered and executed, which causes the wall to remain intact; however, the warchief's victory point will still be vacant and thus much more vulnerable to capture. Spy warchiefs can also be commanded to engage in Pitched Battles against other warchiefs (the analogue to Shadow of Mordor's Riots), but doing so blows the warchief's cover and forces him to abandon his post regardless of the battle's outcome.
- Monstrous Cannibalism: You may come across an Uruk with rather... grotesque tastes in food.
- Mook Promotion: Any random grunt can become a captain by killing Talion, or sometimes through random events. The right sequence of events can even turn a grunt From Nobody to Nightmare (see that trope above).
- Moral Myopia: Orcs occasionally play the Even Evil Has Standards card with things like Mind Rape and Brutalize executions, but they have absolutely no problems with "normal" slavery and torture.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Some Orcs lack lips and/or cheeks, giving them unnaturally-wide fang-studded mouths. It's particularly graphic with The Tower, who is an Ascended Fanboy of The Tower from Shadow of Mordor and is wearing the same shrinking armor.
- My God, What Have I Done?: If you make a follower kill his blood brother in a duel, he will immediately turn on you afterwards.
- That Man Is Dead: A Captain who has been Shamed (and possibly killed) by Talion may return as "the Nameless One" or "the Unashamed", giving a What the Hell, Player?, saying he's fighting for all of the other Captains Talion has Shamed. The Captain will still keep his proper name, though.
- Name's the Same: In War, an orc can have the moniker of Gravewalker, his motivation for killing Talion amount to Clear My Name.
- Neck Lift: Uruks with the "throat grab" ability can do this.
- Nemean Skinning: The head of a caragor is the helmet of choice for certain Uruks.
- The Nose Knows: A skill for Nemesis uruks is Sniffer, which works almost like Tracker in that uruks use it to track Talion down. The difference is that captains with Sniffer can only notice Talion when he's somewhat near them, no matter if he's standing on a building or hiding in a bush. Fortunately, the sniffing is fairly loud, warning Talion he's being tracked.
- No-Sell: Different Uruks have different invulnerabilities. Three common ones are invulnerability to ranged combat (rendering any bow-related attacks useless), invulnerability to stealth takedowns (rendering a stealthy approach with the dagger useless), and Combat Master (rendering combat finishers useless).
- Shadow of War, aside from introducing other immunities (such as immunities to the game's Standard Status Effects), also introduces the Iron Will trait (the captain cannot be recruited, although he can still be dominated and possibly shamed, which carries the possibility of removing Iron Will) and the Unbreakable trait (the captain never breaks, even when Terrified, and thus can never be dominated at all).
- Interestingly, Shadow of War also introduces an inversion regarding Olog-hai that is almost certainly a concession to gameplay. Grunt Ologs can only be drained if the Olog Lord upgrade for the Consume skill is active, and the hold-the-stun-button and stealth-drain methods don't work; however, Olog captains can be dominated using those methods after being broken, just like Uruk captains.
- Not Worth Killing: Orcs with the Humiliator trait won't kill Talion, and just walk away. One would think it would be a relief for players, but oddly, it usually pisses them off. So, job well done, Humiliator.
- Old Soldier: One of the personalities these greenskins can have is that of the grizzled old veteran. They usually have a title like "the Wise" or "the Old", and call Talion a "young man", often stating that the Ranger has nothing left to teach them as the years have taught them war.
- One-Gender Race: No female orcs are ever seen or mentioned. Orcs reproduce asexually (created in the Vats, similar to Saruman's Uruk-hai in the films) and the closest thing they have to parents are Vat Keepers.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Shadow of War introduces revenants, or undead orcs. While they retain most of their old traits, they lose their personalities, tribal affiliations, and even the ability to speak (they gargle incoherently instead). They also lose the ability to gain additional levelsnote and gain the Flammable weakness; on the plus side, they gain increased resistance to poison and become Unbreakable, rendering them immune to domination. The final Carnán quest involves Zog the Eternal raising up several captains whom Talion killed previously as revenants. In Act IV, Talion himself gains the ability to resurrect fallen followers as revenants, and they never betray him.
- Pardon My Klingon: Some Uruks liberally use the term "shrakh", which appears to be their word for "shit". One particular pre-duel quote functions as a Cluster F-Bomb for this reason:"Eat shrakh and die, you shrakh-eating shrakh!"
- Poisoned Weapons: Some Uruks carry poisoned weapons that disable the button prompt for Talion to counter incoming hitsnote , deplete his Focus and render him incapable of using the bow, slow him down, and drain his health.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Or more like Abuse, Pillage and Burn. Orcs love bullying, enslaving and torturing anyone who's weaker than them — including each other.
- Relative Button: Some Uruks like to point out that Ioreth and Dirhael will stay dead no matter what Talion does.
- Depending on how literal the term is, the Blood Brother mechanic is this for the Uruks themselves. Kill one, and the other will come for your hide.
- If an Uruk comes back after being killed by Talion, he might try to avenge his own death by killing the ranger. In Shadow of War, orcs who have been Shamed by Talion will also express a desire to kill the ranger in revenge for their humiliation.
- Also in Shadow of War, Orcs can have Blood Brothers who will come after you if you take one of them down. Worse yet, if the Orc in question had been recruited, hell turn on you.
- The Silent Bob:
- Some Uruks are The Quiet One, only vocalizing maybe a few grows, snorts, or giggles instead of words. Yet they seem to be understood well enough when communicating with other Uruks, for example during a recruitment event:Nemesis: "..."Random Uruk: "I'd rather die!"
- In Shadow of War, some Orcs will call out to Talion only to silently glare at him and have a random background Orc speak on their behalf.
- Some Uruks are The Quiet One, only vocalizing maybe a few grows, snorts, or giggles instead of words. Yet they seem to be understood well enough when communicating with other Uruks, for example during a recruitment event:
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Those with the Tracker trait, naturally, will be able to follow your trail until they find you. They can keep tracking you even if you leave the ground and go over a buildingnote . They'll even boast that they've been following the Ranger's trail all over Mordor when they find him.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Some Uruks will attempt to retreat when they find themselves outmatched. If you exploit a Fear (Terror in Shadow of War), they'll start running for the hills in a blind panic.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Some Uruks adorn themselves in the bones of animals, ranging from a ribcage cuirass to using a goat-like skull as a helmet.
- Single-Issue Wonk: Ologs with the title "Dwarf-Hater" will only speak about how much they despise Dwarves. They hate Talion because he's friends with a Dwarf. They compare his fighting to a Dwarf's. Every one of their lines brings up Dwarves. Talion hits them? He hits like a dwarf. He dodges? He's a coward like a dwarf, etc. They often drop this habit after being branded, however.
- Smarter Than You Look: Ologs might look more monstrous than their Uruk allies, but they're no less intelligent. For example, you might run into an Olog Captain titled "the Bore" who drones on and on about his and Talion's motives for fighting and compares them to those of other soldiers throughout history.
- There's even a conversation between mooks where an Uruk laments that the Ologs aren't any dumber despite being huger and stronger than Uruks.
- Sophisticated as Hell: As Yahtzee pointed out, Orcs and Ologs seem to have quite the education, since they throw around terms like "metaphor" around while making grisly threats.
- Speak of the Devil: In War, sometimes Talion's actions will attract a related Captain. For example, slice off the limbs of a Captain when killing him, an Uruk named "The Mutilator" will pop up to critique Talion's work before attacking. Explode a campfire to cause spiders to erupt from it, and a Captain named "The Spider" will be upset at you for defiling Shelob before attacking. Blow up a stash of grog barrels and an Olog known as "The Grog Brewer" will angrily shout at Talion for destroying his work before attacking.
- Spikes of Villainy: Rather common attire for captains, especially higher-ranking ones.
- The Starscream: Actually, no. Uruks will sometimes challenge each other in duels, climbing through the ranks that way, but there's never a clear indication that the superior officer they've targeted is their superior.
- Bodyguards can be made to turn on their Warchiefs, but don't do so on their own. Furthermore, it's suggested that this behavior is still commonplace among the Uruk, as the Warchiefs are more annoyed than surprised by the riots.
- Played completely straight in Shadow of War, though; an Uruk or Olog whose level is close to Talion's own can break free of his control and immediately turn on him, often declaring their intent to replace him to give his army "proper" leadership. There are other ways to trigger a betrayal, but this one plays the trope the most straight.
- Steampunk: Orc technology comes pretty close to this. They have 19th century era factories, flamethrowers, grenades and landmines, as well as sappers similar to those seen in the films. This is true to the source material as even lowly goblins in The Hobbit were described as having advanced machinery, though used mostly for war and murder.
- Suddenly Voiced: In the last mission of the game, your nemesis shows up guarding the gate in a last-ditch effort to stop you. He gives a speech to his warriors and attacks. Yes, this even applies to the aforementioned mute captains.Nemesis: "Burn... Maim! Kill them all!"
- Talking Is a Free Action: Enforced. The instant a captain is aware of you, he'll launch into an unskippable monologue that can be anywhere in length from a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner to a full-blown speech, and the entire battlefield will pause to hear his spiel. Eru help you if you get noticed by multiple captains simultaneously; every last one of 'em will have words for you.
- Teleporting Keycard Squad: Captains with the Ambusher trait love to appear apropos of nothing the second you finish doing something else, no matter how mundane it is.
- Terse Talker: Uruks with the epithet "One-Word" generally only say one word at a time.
- Throw the Mook at Them: Ologs can pull this off, snatching up a hapless grunt uruk to chuck at Talion as a crude ranged attack. They're not particularly picky about whose side their improvised projectile is on, either.
- Tin Tyrant: A common form of attire for Uruk warchiefs is intimidating armor.
- Token Heroic Orc: And you can build one yourself! It's pretty cool and heartwarming to see your loyal bodyguard pulling a Big Damn Heroes moment or thanking Talion for returning the favor.
- Took a Level in Badass: Orcs that return from the dead are usually a bit more powerful. Exploiting their fears in War has a chance of improving them, as shamed orcs might take the punishment in pride and captains who ran away from Morgai flies can turn into a walking hive.
- Turns Red: Invoked by any Nemesis with the "Hate of Defeat" strength, they will become enraged on low health.
- Unexplained Recovery: Some Uruk captains can come back after being apparently killed, albeit with some form of wounds. If it happens to the same uruk more than once, their bio changes to how they fear that they have become cursed by Talion. A Justified Trope, as the canon shows that Uruk medicine is very good, albeit also Harmful Healing.
- Unfortunate Names: There are Uruks named "Dûsh" and "Kâka." To a lesser extent, "Barfa"note , "Bagga" and names that have "dûsh" as a syllable (like "Feldûsh", "Azdûsh", and "Dûshrat"). One of the many titles that an Uruk can get is "Bag-Head", which can result in a Captain being named Dûsh Bag-Head. Shadow of War also adds "Shag" and "Fûbar" to the list of names.
- Ugly Cute: When not being Body Horror, Nightmare Fuel or Uncanny Valley types, some orcs can be this. Even more prominent with Ologs, whose smiles are more of Cheshire Cat Grin than Slasher Smile.
- The Unfought: Because Uruk society is so volatile, in addition to Mordor's violent wildlife, it's not uncommon for a captain you've never fought (or even met) to be killed by a third party.
- The Unintelligible: Some Uruks "speak" in little more than growls and snarls, but other Uruks seem to understand them just fine. Shamed Uruks can lose their ability to speak when they go deranged.
- There's also Uruks with the "Inscrutable" title, who speak with a thick Scottish accent and at a breakneck pace. Certain parts of their dialogue show up in the subtitles as just "(???)".
- Villainous Breakdown: Uruk Nemeses who are Shamed in Shadow of War have a chance of becoming Deranged as a side-effect. This ranges from being driven mad to ending up outright lobotomized. Deranged Uruks and Ologs immediately counter the loss in Power Level from Shaming by instantly gaining a whole new swath of combat bonuses and rage triggers. It's also possible to have them become Maniacs instead, which boosts their level instead of decreasing it. Averted in the case of a few Uruks who become Unashamed, boasting about their shaming as a mark of pride and taunting Talion about it.
- Villainous Crush: Unfortunately, this is actually an attitude some captains can have in regards to Talion. It's a messed-up ball of lust and maybe love, where the Uruk seesaws between all but stating they'll be taking their prize from Talion's (currently) dead body, to nearly romantic last requests before they die. Uruk romance is very dysfunctional.
- In Shadow of War, Orcs with "the Obssessed" take it Up to Eleven, as their first line if they kill you is how lovely your corpse is.
- Villainous Glutton: There are captains who really love their food. They might complain about being hungry, wonder about their next meal, or even consider eating Talion after killing him.
- The Voiceless: Some Uruks don't actually speak and instead communicate with chomps, grunts, and shrieks.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Rarely, you can run into a Captain who states they're trying to protect their fellow Uruks from the Gravewalker, or calling Talion out for being a butcher with their dying breath.
- One humorous example will occur after Sauron and Celebrimbor have been fused, with the occasional Uruk complaining to Talion it's all his fault there's a gigantic eye staring down on Mordor and invading everyone's privacy.
- In a not so humorous example, sometimes if one of your Uruks bleeds out, they can betray you immediately if they end up cheating death. If this event plays out, they will call you out for leaving them to die.
- Wolfpack Boss: Getting noticed in a stronghold tends to result in multiple nemeses ganging up on Talion. Some even have special dialogue when this happens, snarking that their arrival is unfortunate for the ranger.
- Warchief fights are like this by default, as they bring their bodyguards with them wherever they go. However, the player can confront the bodyguards individually before taking on the warchief, subverting the trope. Then again, warchiefs tend to fight in strongholds, and being careless there can attract the attention of completely unrelated nemeses...
- Worthy Opponent: Some Uruks will tell Talion what a worthy opponent he is at the beginning or at the end of a fight. Best exemplified with these 3 possible quotes your Nemesis will give you in the Arena fight.Nemesis : "We've been at this for a long time, you and I, going all the way back to Udun. And in all that time I've realised two things. A Man like you deserve a proper challenge. And what you don't deserve is a quick death."Nemesis : "Here we are again. Last time we mixed it up was a good while back, and a long way from here. But this is the place you've chosen to meet your end. And me? I respect that."Nemesis : "Been a long time, Ranger. Last time I bloodied you was back in Udun, yeah? Well, this seems as good a place as any to end you good and proper. Come on, let's give the crowd a good show!"
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Some Uruks might also have a specific crippling fear, such as fire or certain animals, that will cause them to run for it and be vulnerable to grabs when triggered.
- Why Won't You Die?: A captain who manages to kill Talion repeatedly will actually start getting annoyed at the Ranger coming back. It can get to the point where they complain at having to put down an unkillable wraith every day.
Orc TribesIntroduced in Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Uruk and Olog society is divided into a number of tribes unified under the rule of Sauron the Dark Lord. Each tribe possesses its own customs, regalia and behavior, and the native tribe of an uruk officer can drastically affect his strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Additionally, overlords customize their fortresses and outposts based on their tribe's aesthetics and specialties, and even the region's sky is affected by its overlord's tribal affiliation. There are nine tribes, the latter two of which are available as DLC: the Dark Tribe, the Feral Tribe, the Machine Tribe, the Marauder Tribe, the Mystic Tribe, the Terror Tribe, the Warmonger Tribe, the Slaughter Tribe, and the Outlaw Tribe.
- Animal Motif: About half of the Feral tribe are either named after some kind of beast, or wear armor styled after or made of a beast. Examples include Orcs and Ologs with titles like "The Dragon", "Of The Beasts", "Caragor-Fang", or "The Rat Lord".
- Ax-Crazy: The Slaughter Tribe is basically the Serial Killer tribe, with a blood-and-entrails motif to their Forts.
- Badass Creed:Terror Tribe: This fort is a monument to the enemies of Sauron!
Machine Tribe: You aren't the enemy! You're grist... for the Machine!
Marauder Tribe: Grog. Guts. Glory.
Dark Tribe: We will swallow your souls!
Feral Tribe: Tear down our banners if you can! We will replace them with your head!
Mystic Tribe: Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul...
Warmonger Tribe: We bring Fury. We bring Doom. We. Bring. War.
Slaughter Tribe: Tenderize the meat!note
Outlaw Tribe: Mordor belongs to the Outlaw!
- Bling of War: The Marauder Tribe, of course. Their promotional trailer even parodies rap videos.
- Blood Is the New Black: Slaughter Tribe orcs smear blood all over their bodies, clothes, armor, and structures. In a livestream, the devs even pointed out that it was fresh human blood, since it's red (orcs bleed black).
- Bright Is Not Good: The Marauder Tribe is fond of ornate gold decorations, with pristine fortresses of white stone and even more gold under sunny blue skies. Needless to say, they're still uruks, and Word of God says all of their swag comes from invading other lands.
- Combat Sadomasochist: If you Brutalize too many grunts, you may be ambushed by a Terror tribe Olog (usually a Tank) with the title of Pain-Seeker or Pain-Lover, who is Exactly What It Says on the Tin; he constantly demands that you inflict pain on him, even as he's giving you a smackdown.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: A good chunk of the Mystic Tribe are just raving lunatic.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: The Terror Tribe are mentioned to frequently indulge in torturing their enemies, with most of the second half of their pre-fortress battle speeches mentioning how they plan on torturing the survivors once they win.
- Dead Guy on Display: Terror Tribe fortresses prominently feature the corpses of graugs strung up over the gates and towers.
- Decapitation Presentation: Slaughter Tribe Overlords decorate their forts by cutting off the heads of the Ologs, Caragors, and Graugs they butcher and tying or skewering them onto the sides of their towers and walls.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Orcs of all kinds love the slaughter, but Talion using a Brutalize seems excessive from their point of view, since orcs tend to run away terrified after witnessing a Brutalize.
- The Exile: The Outlaw Tribe have been effectively shunned by the other Tribes.
- Fantastic Racism: The Outlaw Tribe is effectively the Mordor equivalent of a US militia group.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: The two Downloadable Content tribes, the Slaughter and Outlaw tribes, are implied to be this. Upon instillation, several missions will appear that show orcs in the region rallying together to fight off a group of Slaughter/Outlaw captains. Considering the Slaughter Tribe's status as Serial Killers, and the Outlaws' Fantastic Racism, it's not too hard to believe.
- Foreign Culture Fetish: The Marauder Tribe. They love imitating other races' clothes, armor and even architecture. And no, their "elven" and "dwarven" helmets aren't actual trophies, they are orc-sized, though probably made from something they looted.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Slaughter Tribe are turning out not only to be man-eaters, but cannibals. Whether you are Man, Dwarf, or even Orc, enemy meat is meat to them.
- Industrialized Evil: A Machine Tribe Overlord peppers his territory with smokestacks and furnaces, and Machine fortresses are full of pipes, grates and other industrial decorations.
- Malevolent Masked Men: A few tribes have some intimidating helmet designs as part of their standard equipment.
- The Mystics are fond of skull-like masks.
- The Outlaws have full head helmets made from fossilized bone and rusty metal.
- Some Slaughter Tribe captains have masks made from their victims' flesh.
- National Weapon: Downplayed. Each Tribe has an associated sidearm that every Nemesis officer (except Ologs) carries on their belts that they can use as a special attack/execution option in some circumstances.
- Automatic Crossbows: Marauder Captains have a pair of repeating hand-crossbows for a rapid-fire mid-ranged attack.
- Chain Pain: Terror Captains have dual bladed-chains they swing like whips.
- Dual Wielding: Dark Captains have a pair of black-dyed, deeply curved daggers, while Slaughter Captains wield a pair of intimidating meat cleavers.
- Grappling-Hook Pistol: Machine Captains have a throwable hook on a chain, which they'll use to grab Talion and pull him close.
- Epic Flail: Outlaw Captains uses bolos with flail heads to ensnare their enemies.
- Knife Nut: Mystic Captains have large, intricately patterned sacrificial dirks, which have an enchantment that lets them blink up to opponents.
- Similarly, Slaughter Captains are armed with Meat cleavers that they will quickly hurl at their enemies to deal bleeding damage.
- Tricked-Out Gloves: Warmonger Captains have special spiked vambraces that can catch and trap Talion's sword strikes.
- Wolverine Claws: Feral Captains have retractable wrist-blades.
- Necromancer: While Captains of all tribes are capable of performing necromancy, the Mystic tribe specializes in it. Mystic Fortresses typically have several necromancy totems scattered around, raising dead orcs to fight again.
- Nightmarish Factory: The trappings of a fort controlled by the Machine Tribe.
- One-Hit Kill: A variation. As with Assassins (see Orc Advanced Classes below), certain Dark and Terror tribe membersnote possess the No Chance skill, which means they can immediately kill Talion the moment he's been downed, with no opportunity for a recovery unless something interrupts the killer (getting locked in another animation, or an allied captain swooping in for a Big Damn Heroes moment).
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Warmonger Tribe, according to Word of God. They were designed with Samurai and Vikings in mind. They're less into grog and more into weaponry and tactics.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The Mystic Tribe wear armor and masks evocative of bones and skulls, and a Mystic Overlord's territory and fortress is covered in chilling skeletal idols.
- The Feral Tribe and some Beastmasters also get in on this, with the dirtied, and in some cases partially-fossilized, remains of the quarry being outfitted by them as armor.
- Outlaw tribe armor is typically made of half fossilized bone and half metal scraps.
- Token Good Teammate: To a degree, the Marauder Tribe. They loot and plunder, but are more interested in partying and showing off wealth than killing and torturing. Their theme song has some compassion towards fellow orcs who march all day. Captains with more more comical personalities (such as The Bard or The Friendly) are often marauders. Even their trailer is a parody on rap music videos, contrasting all others which are full of violence.
- Torture Technician: All orcs love torture, but the Terror Tribe makes it their speciality. The Dark Tribe and the Slaughter Tribe are no strangers to this gruesome activity, too.
- Villain Song: The soundtrack includes a song called "Tribe Song Medley" where each tribe takes a turn singing a song about themselves. They are as follows:
- The Marauder Tribe sing about how good their plundering life is.
- The Dark Tribe sing about their way of life and being denied whatever afterlife awaits the other orcs.
- The Machine Tribe sings an anthem-like song about Mordor.
- The Terror Tribe sings about (what else?) torturing people.
- The Warmonger Tribe sing a song about an encounter with a Gondorian.
- The Mystic Tribe sing about how they plan on plunging the world into darkness.
- Finally, the Feral Tribe sing about their beasts.
- Undying Loyalty: Though all Orcs are first and foremost followers of Sauron, the members of the Dark Tribe are described as some of his most fanatical followers, constructing statues to the Dark Lord in their fortresses. They're most likely to have the Iron Will trait, making them largely unrecruitable — and also the most likely to betray Talion regardless of his treatment of them.
Orc Advanced Classes
In addition to the tribes, orcs in Shadow Of War always belong to a specific advanced class, which determines their skills. There are ten advanced classes: Assassins, Beastmasters, Berserkers, Commanders, Destroyers, Marksmen, Slayers, Tanks, Trackers, and Tricksters.
- Animal Motif: Several Beastmasters have titles based on the animals they summon or care for, like "The Dragon" or "Of The Spiders".
- Annoying Arrows: Very, very much averted when it comes to Marksmen.
- The Beastmaster: Guess who. Beastmasters often lead packs of caragors, and they can heal them or summon replacements during battle. Also, beasts don't attack Beastmasters by default. As of the Desolation of Mordor update in May 2018, all Beastmasters have the Caragor Tamer trait that converts enemy caragors to friendlies.
- Cold Sniper: As of the Blade of Galadriel update in February 2018, all Marksmen have the Sniper Shot trait, which allows them to pull off extremely accurate shots from extreme distances — they can even damage Talion mid-somersault.
- Compelling Voice: The Caragor Tamer trait possessed by Beastmasters causes them to utter a roar that turns nearby caragors to their side.
- Confusion Fu: A staple of orcs with the Agile trait, namely Assassins and Tricksters. Aside from being able to dodge any and all of Talion's sword strikes, they tend to slide all over the place and even vault over him. Tricksters take it Up to Eleven, with their smoke bombs facilitating short-range Teleport Spam and possibly even stunning the enemy as well.
- Flunky Boss: Commanders specialize in this. They are surrounded by mooks, and those mooks can plant a flag that boosts everyone's attack speed and power when it's nearby. They also tend to summon replacement mooks using a horn.
- "Get Back Here!" Boss: Tricksters, who dodge Talion's attacks like Assassins, have a chance of escaping a Quick Time Event execution, and drop bombs while fleeing. Sometimes, if you follow a retreating Trickster long enough, he might taunt Talion before disappearing with the help of a smoke bomb; alternatively, he might reveal that he lured Talion into an ambush.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Berserkers tend to have a long list of hate triggers. Sometimes, Enraged by Everything will be just one of those triggers.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- Destroyers lay mines, which are plainly visible (even when not in the Wraith World) and can be shot to manually detonate them, enabling you to turn them on the captain or his allies. You can also run over the mine and then somersault away before it explodes.
- Trackers lay traps during combat, which can similarly be shot to trap the trapper or his allies. This is especially useful for getting behind the captain to attack him from the rear, since Trackers No-Sell attempts to vault over them. Notably, the captain stands over his trap as he's laying it, so players who are quick on the draw can make him regret laying that trap almost as soon as it hits the ground.
- Taken Up to Eleven due to certain advanced class traits not playing well with certain weaknesses. The right combinations can go into Self-Disposing Villain territory:
- The Quivering Wreck weakness causes a captain to panic when a nearby orc — allied or enemy — becomes Enraged. This makes it one of the worst weaknesses for a Commander to have, since Commanders typically summon banner-carriers whose banners enrage all nearby allies...
- Captains who are Terrified of Betrayal will flee the second Talion dominates anyone — including worms and beasts. This is bad enough since Talion can stealth-dominate worms at any time, but Beastmasters really take it Up to Eleven, since they can summon caragors at will and most of them lead packs of caragors. Combined with the Caragor Breaker skill upgrade (which enables Talion to Shadow Mount unbroken caragors)...
- Destroyers tend to throw bombs all over the place, and those bombs can possess elemental traits. It's not uncommon for a destroyer to get set on fire or poisoned by one of his own bombs, which normally isn't that big of a deal — unless they're mortally vulnerable to that element.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Marksmen typically possess the Quick Shot trait (which enables them to shoot three bolts in rapid succession), and their champion epic trait is Epic Quick Shot, which enables them to shoot multiple targets at the same time. Also, see Cold Sniper above.
- Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Tricksters often possess the Decoys trait, which spawns multiple identical copies of the captain, complete with identical voices and captain circles at their feet; the Wraith World can easily distinguish the real captain (or just fight them, since the decoys are significantly more fragile than the real deal).Captain(?) 1: You wanna stare death in the face? Just look at me!
Captain(?) 2: Or me!
Captain(?) 3: Or me!
- It Only Works Once: Slayers often possess the Fast Learner trait, which causes them to rapidly adapt to attacks and become immune to them for the duration of the fight. (Tricksters and other orcs can also have Fast Learner, but it's most commonly found in Slayers.)
- Land Mine Goes "Click!": Destroyers (and a few other captains, like Blade of Galadriel's Ar-Kaius the Architect) litter the area around them with mines, and they can replace mines that detonate. If they possess an elemental weapon, their mines also contain that element. Notably, if you run into a Destroyer in the wild (or if you summon a Destroyer bodyguard), you'll suddenly become aware that the area is mined. Despite the games' medieval setting, mines do not detonate when run over by friendliesnote , obviously a concession to gameplay.
- Life Drain: Berserker attacks heal them even as they damage their enemies.
- Made of Iron: Tanks can take a lot of punishment, and they can get up and keep fighting after their health is depleted once.
- Multi-Melee Master: Slayers are better at melee than other orcs. For example, they can perform small combos and adapt to Talion's moves faster than others.
- Epic Throwing Knives, the Assassin champion epic trait, enables an Assassin to throw five daggers in a fan in front of him.
- Epic Quick Shot, the Marksman champion epic trait, enables a Marksman to shoot multiple targets simultaneously.
- Assassins and Tricksters have the Agile trait, which (among other things) enables them to dodge virtually all of Talion's sword strikes, assuming that they aren't stunned or otherwise incapacitated. It's entirely possible to no-sell this particular no-sell by setting them on fire or freezing them.
- Beastmasters are almost always immune to attacks from beasts, and typically possess the Beast Slayer trait that enables them to One-Hit Kill them.
- Commanders apparently grant nearby grunts immunity to terror (from Brutalize, Curse, Morgai fly hives, etc.). Notably, this trait does not appear in the captain's trait lists.
- Slayers with the Slayer Counter champion epic trait take this Up to Eleven, as the trait is basically an Anti-Sell; not only do they block Execution attempts from the front, the counter maneuver also injures Talion. At the higher difficulty levels, this injury can be critical.
- Tanks possess the Death Defying trait, which causes them to parry a Quick Time Event execution and return to the fray. Tricksters sometimes perform a Tricky Escape to block the killing blow and disappear. Notably, this only no-sells finishing blows involving your sword; it's fairly trivial to bypass this strength by shooting them, burning them, poisoning them, throwing them off a ledge, having allies deliver the final blow, etc.
- Trackers and Tricksters have Vault Breaker, which prevents Talion from vaulting over them. This trait also does not appear in the captain's trait lists.
- One-Hit Kill: A variation. All Assassins possess the No Chance trait, which means they can immediately kill Talion the moment he's been downed, with no opportunity for a recovery unless something interrupts the Assassin (getting locked in another animation, or an allied captain swooping in for a Big Damn Heroes moment).
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Trackers will detect Talion from a distance and rapidly zero in on his location, even if he's high above ground, in an unreachable spot or hidden in a bush. They also have a high chance of ambushing Talion, and can even follow him between zones to do this (often while complaining about how far they had to travel just to have a showdown).
- Smoke Out: A trademark of Trickster captains. Their champion epic trait is an improved version that stuns nearby enemies.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Destroyers pack tons of explosive charges to throw around, and frequently have the Final Blast trait that causes them to scatter a ton of bombs upon death. Ranged Destroyers (and some other ranged captains) can gain the Explosive Shot trait that allows them to fire exploding arrows or hurl exploding spears.
- Tanks are also often equipped with stun bombs to discourage enemies from getting too close.
- Teleport Spam: Well, dodge spam. Trickster and Assassin captains can dodge your basic melee attacks, and they are good at it. Tricksters can also pull a Smoke Out to teleport away from Talion.