The ondontis were a rare race of orcs living in an isolated part of the Tortured Lands of north Faerûn. They were brought up to be pacifists in the faith of Eldath, the Goddess of Peace and Quiet Places.
The ondontis had an oral history that comprised a cycle of stories called Tarek-Passar (the Way of Peace). They told that thirty of their kind were brought as children to their ancestral homeland by a group known as "the Founders" and were taught the tenets of Eldath's faith. A sage speculated that they were orphaned infant orcs brought from their homelands and taught by a reclusive Eldathyn order. This was quite correct, although the full details seem lost to history. A group of orphaned orc children were adopted by people of Myth Ondath, a city dedicated to Eldath lying in the Tortured Lands (founded 351 DR), and raised in the faith of the Green Goddess. Their ancestors were among the few survivors when that city was destroyed by the Ice Queen and the Gatekeeper's Crystal in the Year of Chasms, 633 DR. They lived on in peace in the Tortured Lands.
They were discovered unexpectedly by a scouting party out of Zhentil Keep in the Year of the Lion, 1340 DR. The rapacious Zhentish lords thought their orcish strength and Eldathyn pacifism would make superior manual-labor slaves who wouldn't need close watching. Owing to their pacifist nature, the ondontis did not expect treachery and, shortly after first meeting, fourteen of the fifteen tribes were captured by Zhentilar raiders and taken to the Citadel of the Raven to be used as slaves and breeding stock for a new army.
The final tribe left, isolated at the time, escaped into deep seclusion and avoided later raids. They employed the divine magic of their clerics to conceal themselves from the slavers. Rumor even held that Eldath herself had sent one of her planar servants to protect the free ondonti and another to liberate those enslaved by the Zhents.
By a curious coincidence, in the Year of the Turret, 1360 DR, a troop of almost a thousand Zhentish orc soldiers who'd been sent to fight the Tuigan Horde as part of the Army of the Alliance, remained behind in Thesk and eventually settled peacefully in Phsant, Phent, and Tammar.[note 1]
Ondonti culture was almost a polar opposite of traditional orcish culture. What they valued most in life were peace, family life, and living in harmony with their environment, in accordance with the pacifist philosophy of Eldath and cleaving toward lawful good behavior. They were generally peaceful, reliable, kind, contemplative, and cooperative, and hence they did not think to expect treachery in others such as the Zhents.
They were devoted to the goddess Eldath and tried to embody her teachings in their culture. Eldathyn priests were admired for their great wisdom and closeness to Eldath, and the ondonti followed their guidance.
The only time killing occurred in ondonti society was slaughtering an animal for food or as a mercy if it was incurably insane or diseased. The majority would rather die themselves than kill another sentient being. Naturally, they opposed warfare. But, in a brutal indoctrination, the Zhentarim raised some young ondontis among the mountain orc soldiers of the Citadel and trained them in battle; while the shift away from good toward evil was mostly successful by 1369 DR, they were not as abusive or violent as their peers, but it was expected that a few generations of this might yet make them lethal warriors dedicated to the Zhentarim.
Every ondonti had the ability to cast some divine spells, with sanctuary upon themselves thrice a day, purify food and drink thrice a day, barkskin once a day, and tree once a week. They were immune to charm spells and were slightly resistant to poisons.
Ondontis had the same rate of reproduction as orcs, but with almost zero mortality among infants, thanks to the Eldathyn priests' care and watchfulness of pregnant mothers and children. With their peaceful habits and healing magic, the ondontis lived a good twenty years longer than orcs, up to 60 years.
The first Zhentilar-trained ondontis were taught to use a bastard sword or a two-handed sword, as well as a shield. They preferred leather or studded leather armors or their own barkskin power over metal armors. Their combat ability was still limited.
- While an outcome for the ondonti story is unknown, and a connection between them and this troop can only be hypothesized, the coincidence of Zhentish orc soldiers choosing peaceful settlement is hard to ignore, so this is included to give context to that possibility.
- Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Monstrous Compendium). (TSR, Inc), p. 11. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
- Jon Pickens ed. (November 1996). Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 84. ISBN 0786904496.
- Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc.), p. 58. ISBN 978-0786903849.
- Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (1996). Volo's Guide to All Things Magical. (TSR, Inc), p. 107. ISBN 0-7869-0446-1.
- Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 71. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- James Lowder (January 1991). Crusade. (TSR, Inc), chap. 17, pp. 304–305. ISBN 0-8803-8908-7.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 209. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Richard Baker, Matt Forbeck, Sean K. Reynolds (May 2003). Unapproachable East. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 181–183. ISBN 0-7869-2881-6.