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Author Topic: 'Realistic' Orcs (was Heads Up)  (Read 3750 times)
Mike Holmes
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« on: December 19, 2001, 12:23:00 PM »

Since nobody can seem to get off that thread, I'll just try and continue it here (a great deal of the hi-jacking was my fault).

Anyhow, what this thread should address is what makes for a realistic religion or culture in terms of morality. I believe that Gareth had some really good points, all of which lead me back to my original request which was for a supplement on orcs that dealt with them as morally reprehensible creatures, while not just glossing over the details for the sake of ease. Not a misunderstood culture with differing viepoint or customs, but one that genuinely values such things as torture, violence, destruction, etc, or, perhaps more importantly rarely if ever places value on love, honesty, or beauty.

Mike
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Uncle Dark
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2001, 03:42:00 PM »

Hurm.

In one D&D game I ran, I had the Orcs be the creations of an ancient sorcerer.  Not particularly original, but it was my first fantasy campaign, and one of the goals was to make a "generic" setting easily accessible to all players.  Anyway, the basis for their culture was that they were created as this guy's shock troops.  Of course combat, the death of one's enemies, xenophobia, and so on were important.  Further, they were creatied by an evil demigod, and that creator designed their religion to reinforce loaylty to him and brutality to everyone else.

Having had ten years or so to rethink it (and possibly retool it as a Sorcerer and Sword setting), this is what I'd do with them:

The Unmen are a race of men whose blood has been corrupted by admixture of animal and demon strains.    They have been bred with the instincts of pack predators.

Further, there are no female Unmen.  Their creator fixed them so that any offspring they sire are male.  The idea was to somehow control their population.  As a result, they can only continue their race by kidnapping human women and forcing them to breed new generations of Unmen.   Some few human males have been taken as breeders, to generate new human females without raiding.  Male children are killed or castrated.

Only leaders have slave-harems, and the size of a leader's harem is a sign of his status.

So there we have a lot of evil behaviors (kidnapping, rape, slavery, mutilation, infanticide) which are adaptive responses that serve the preservation of the species.

Just a thought.

Lon
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contracycle
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2001, 09:16:00 AM »

As a note, I have just been doing some webscavation trying to find historico-mythical Orc equivalents, with little success.

However, I did find this: http://hotcakencyclopedia.com/
Which is an EXTREMELY comprehensive database of Hotcak indian myths, and which I strongly recommend to players of HeroWars - it has a very good structure to the myths, cross-referencing them and organising by theme and type.  Very good.

Now, in these myths there is "relentless enemy", called the Giants, AKA "man-eaters".  Now here is an outline of something vaguely orc-equivalent: there is a clear, permanent and explicit state of war between the Hotcak ("Holy Voice People", roughly) and the Giants.  Little quarter appears given or asked.

However, the Giants are not stupid or uncivilised*; they talk to the Hotcak easily enough, and there appears to be competitive gaming going on.  The Giants are clearly evil because of their man-eating habits, but by no means intellectually inferior (apart from by comparison to Hotcak heroes).

What got me digging in this line was that I seem to recall reading some N.American myths (Hopi?) which detailed two groups of people made from clay; one which was imperfe t and destroyed and the other which was good and thus human.  I was trying to find examples of the "flawed creation" motif that might be exploitable for the orc idea; this would be based on a monocultural structure in which the RPG itself would include orcs within a singular world view and NO moral or cultural realtivism would be introduced.  This, it appears to me, would be the best way to do "orcs as orcs"; like the Goblins in LOT5R, they are foul warped creations of the evil god(s) - the idea of mercy and seeing the other guys point of view is thoroughly invalidated by such an internally consistent model of the world.  What I think LOT5R did better with Goblins than D&D did with orcs was to give them a proper place in the order of things; a low place, yes, but their OWN place.  Goblins qua goblins rather than orcs as a funny tribe over the hill.

* strangely enough, some circumstantial evidence in the myth texts might suggest that the man-eaters (which might be a more accurate term than giants) might correspond to Aztechs.  Although there is no evidence, to my knowledge, of Aztechs as far north as the Great Lakes, the circumstantial similarities in the accounts are quite striking.  And there is some possible/probable evidence of an Aztech tenure in the Anasazi desert...
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2001, 11:54:00 AM »

Wow, great responses, all.

Lon, that's a pretty good idea of how to do it. It would seem that the most likely way to make an "evil" species seem legitamate is to explain how they were bred that way by some force powerful enough to do so. Having just seen LotR I am reminded of Saruman's creation of the Uruk-Hai, and how that it as the perfect example of this. And in fantasy worlds of Gods and Magic it makes perfect sense; most of the time races are created by these entities. Still, I'd like to see what sort of culture may have developed independently, and how it deals with these value systems.

Gareth, that's some really cool stuff.

Interestingly, there are archaeological remains here in Wisconsin at a state park named Aztalan. The name comes from the fact that the remains are of a Native American town that is laid out using Aztec-like city planning design. Turns out that the builders were actually probably related to a a different culture (making the name sort of a misnomer), but apparently these cultures all had some slight contact with each other.

http://www.lakemills.org/webpages/aztalanpark.htm

I wonder if John Wick also had a hand in the Lot5R goblins? They do sound cool, though I must admit I haven't read anything about them.

Mike
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John Wick
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« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2001, 01:24:00 PM »

Quote

a supplement... that dealt with them as morally reprehensible creatures, while not just glossing over the details for the sake of ease. Not a misunderstood culture with differing viepoint or customs, but one that genuinely values such things as torture, violence, destruction, etc, or, perhaps more importantly rarely if ever places value on love, honesty, or beauty.


Elfworld.

Getting back to work,
John
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John
hardcoremoose
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2001, 04:29:00 PM »

Contra,

In regards to historical "orc" archetypes...lately I've been relating orcs to picts.  There isn't a helluva alot out there about picts, but the mythological notion of the savage painted warrior is pretty cool.  As I get ready to (possibly) run Orkworld, these are the things I'm thinking of.

- Moose

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contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2001, 02:11:00 AM »

Quote

Interestingly, there are archaeological remains here in Wisconsin at a state park named Aztalan. The name comes


Aha!  Thank you very much.  I started investigating the Aztechs for a notional Conspiracy X campaign... I had this vision of the PC's boxing up a psycho who kept mumbling "zippy... zippy... zippy."  He's really saying "Xipe" as in Xipe Totec, the god of corn/rebirth etc and with whom there are associated some mighty nasty rituals.

I've been seriously considering giving up the day job and going to Uni to do Anthropology/Archeology.  My research seems to suggest to me that an argument could at least be made for a hitherto unrecognised expansion of the Aztech (or proto-Aztech) state into big chunks of North America; it would be good to explore this formally.  I wonder what the rumoured ruins off Cuba will turn out to be.

[Frex, the Toltec Quetzalcoatl sets off to the east in a "sea-going raft", thought to be heading to the Yucatan peninsula.  What if he really went north?]

So: given this supposition, I have nearly enough information to conceptualise an RPG based on the Americas, about 1100 - 1500, featuring plains indians, aztechs, mound-builders, tribal culture vs city state conflicts, etc etc.

Anyone think it would fly?
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2001, 09:37:00 AM »

Super-sonic.

I've often thought about doing a conspiracy RPG where you play via the internet, and the premise is that the characters are actually internet surfers who have met to discuss conspiracy theory. So, the GM as NPCs would link players to actual conspracy theory sites during the course of play. These would form the backdrop of the conspiracy. The GM would also make up a site on Geocities or somewhere else annonymously that had important game data. Since it was annonymous, there'd be no way to tell that it was the GMs site. So the immersion level could be fantastic. (Should be another thread's worth there).

OK, so Revisionist Wick's Elfs are going to be somewhat like I'd want the Orcs to be. Simple enough to just change certain trappings and use it as I'd like to, probably. That's something that I like about stuff like Orcworld. Even if I don't want to use it for Orcs per se in my world, I can create another race (barbarian humans, perhaps) and just change a few Orc trappings (like appearance) and, voila, I get all the nifty cultural stuff included in my game.

Mike
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