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t209
2012-03-04, 09:08 PM
Before World of Warcraft and Warcraft 3, orcs are portrayed as evil barbarians.
But in Daggerfall, Orcs gained their own redcloak (more like red loincloth) who build their own homeland.
Except they gained their own kingdom by winning over a breton who was fat from his feast. Except in his ending, he destroy human kingdoms with a giant robot.
After Daggerfall (morrowind), Tamriel Empire began to accept Orcs as citizens. (Orcs are no longer xp fodder, except for bandits and sadistic PC decided to kill them for fun).
Is this the first one to portray Orcs in positive roles?

MCerberus
2012-03-04, 10:13 PM
I'd say when they softened up the Klingons (space orcs) is when this trend started.

Weezer
2012-03-04, 11:33 PM
I'm not sure about the date, but I think that it's merely a result of the 'greyification' of fantasy. Pure evil races are getting rarer and rarer across the board when compared to Tolkien and 'traditional' high fantasy.

MCerberus
2012-03-04, 11:34 PM
Well the Tolkien orcs themselves were said to be a mistake in the creation of an irredeemable race.

Grinner
2012-03-04, 11:45 PM
Well, it's not like many orcs in Middle-Earth had great childhoods. Did you see that shot of Isengard in one of the movies? :smalleek:

nooblade
2012-03-05, 12:01 AM
When Tolkien did morality, he could make orcs look bad without having them kill things. They're bad because they live in a dumpy tower and they complain or fight incessantly about chain of command. When Tolkien was writing about orcs, he was actually thinking about examples from people except taken to an extreme.

But before orcs there are examples when the antagonists are still men or include normal men, like Bill Ferny in Bree.

I like it, actually. When he makes a grey-ish area, it's not because they're so sympathetic or that they switch sides and do useful things good and bad, it's only because they're living things. They don't love Sauron either. The orcs can't help that they're born that way like people can't. But also with him it's important to remember that he lived in an era of war and that he wanted to justify parts of it without sacrificing actual morality demands.

This is a bit lost in the movies where you spend much more time on orc killing than conversation.

/derail

So no, I don't think orcs were always terrifying supernatural invaders. I think they started off as most demihumans did by representing some extreme feature you can see in humanity.

And I think the reformed, grey orcs are boring because they try to make a new fantasy race to represent culture or something instead of industry or spitefulness or poor temper or treachery.

Brother Oni
2012-03-06, 06:44 AM
I'm not sure about the date, but I think that it's merely a result of the 'greyification' of fantasy. Pure evil races are getting rarer and rarer across the board when compared to Tolkien and 'traditional' high fantasy.

Despite being the epitome of grey, most Warhammer 'evil' races are still pure evil.
Even the Empire is much whiter than its 40K equivalent, since most of their negative traits are just cultural habits that we once had and subsequently outgrew.

MLai
2012-03-06, 07:35 AM
I don't like Orc-acceptance, actually. High fantasy is that for a reason. If I want human-like cultures for all, I can go read actual history which is much more interesting and satisfying than Blizzard's MMO story.

I think Orc-acceptance began when all the loudmouth annoying 13 y/o's flocked to the Alliance to be elves (how appropriate, actually), but all the mature veteran/grognard gamers decided to be Horde (just to get away from the damn kids).

hamishspence
2012-03-06, 07:53 AM
Even R.A Salvatore, who, while the pioneer of "drow-acceptance" showed good characters being willing to torture orcs without any qualms (In his first novel, The Crystal Shard) eventually moved toward "orcs becoming accepted as part of society".

The Orc King is where it really starts. 100 years on from the events in that book (shown in that book's prologue and epilogue) the orc kingdom is a trading partner with its neighbours, orc princesses are being married off to human aristocrats, and Drizzt himself is hunting down members of an orc-hating group for their acts.

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-06, 08:00 AM
Bethesda has orcs as a playable race and has done so since Oblivion (if not Morrowind, I don't remember).

Tolkien himself shows shades of this, both in LOTR, where it turns out that they are indeed cowardly thugs, but without the Will of Sauron, they would be more like normal "people", but especially as pointed out above, after the fact, when he regretted to have made them irredeemable.

IRL folklore has often grey areas; like the trolls that can both eat naughty children, but also can both be both nice, rich, honest and occasionally (especially younger females, say <500 years old) beautiful and a good catch for the intrepid adventurer who dares propose to her father... Same goes for giants.

Yora
2012-03-06, 08:08 AM
I'm not sure about the date, but I think that it's merely a result of the 'greyification' of fantasy. Pure evil races are getting rarer and rarer across the board when compared to Tolkien and 'traditional' high fantasy.

Good and evil actions are meaningless if the individual does not have a choice in doing, or not doing them. By avoiding evil races, villains become even more darker and sinister.

Cikomyr
2012-03-06, 09:28 AM
I think the first instances of "relaxation" with ancestral ennemies occurred during the 80's and really grew into popular culture in the 90's. If i had to make a guess why, I'd say te end of the cold war and the desire to finally be at peace with our fellow Slavs motivated this subconscious shift, opening the opportunity for storyteller to finalist offer a olive branch to some orcs, drows, Klingons, etc...

Lord Raziere
2012-03-06, 09:50 AM
Good and evil actions are meaningless if the individual does not have a choice in doing, or not doing them. By avoiding evil races, villains become even more darker and sinister.

ya. that and it ramps up paranoia.

after all, there is no telling who is really evil, who the real villain is. which makes things more dramatic, more suspenseful.

that and it leaves more room for people to actually have reasons to do what they do, rather than just "X Race is all evil, kill them all." or "race attacks us because they are all evil."

Yora
2012-03-06, 10:40 AM
The cold war had a huge impact on entertainment during the 50s to 70s. In the same way I blame the war on terror for the cynicism of the 2000s. The 90s were brighter and happier than either the 80s or the 60s, and very suddenly everything became sour and grey.

Nerd-o-rama
2012-03-06, 01:10 PM
I seem to recall even Tolkien writing in one of his letters that he was disappointed in having written the orcs as "irredeemably evil", but he'd written himself into a corner with them. Even then, they're closer to fantasy mutants tortured into their nature by the Dark Lord duo and just kind of stuck there.

As for the general question, the second half of the 20th century did...a lot to change peoples' attitude about "Others" - everything from the Civil Rights Movement to post-colonialism to the Vietnam War to glasnost to globalization to television made a lot of people in at the very least American culture start to learn more about other people and cultures, and for the first time in possibly human history, global communication and interconnection made it possible for a lot of people to think of other people and cultures as people and cultures, rather than just scary/uneducated potential or current enemies. Modernism and post-modernism grew out of this lack of traditional ignorance and rigid thinking, and a small part of that was a tendency not to create Designated Enemies of Humanity, but rather to make all characters people.

Of course, there are still some exceptions, and the idea of the truly inhuman still crops up as antagonists, but the long story short is that it's become less acceptable to assume a whole culture of people is out to get only evil and destruction for evil and destruction's sake, because now people realize that doesn't exist in real life. Mostly.

Cikomyr
2012-03-06, 01:17 PM
Of course, there are still some exceptions, and the idea of the truly inhuman still crops up as antagonists, but the long story short is that it's become less acceptable to assume a whole culture of people is out to get only evil and destruction for evil and destruction's sake, because now people realize that doesn't exist in real life. Mostly.

You would be surprised, really. It's very often in the advantage of interest groups to demonize and spread lies/fear about other demographics.

It's happening now, it happened before and it will happen again. The hard part is achieve transition.

Nerd-o-rama
2012-03-06, 01:28 PM
You would be surprised, really. It's very often in the advantage of interest groups to demonize and spread lies/fear about other demographics.

It's happening now, it happened before and it will happen again. The hard part is achieve transition.

Oh, I'm fully aware of this, but now it's the very loud exception, rather than the rule. Trust me, it doesn't surprise me at all when people do this, but I am pleasantly surprised that fiction that does this is treated as notably shlocky instead of expected nowadays.

t209
2012-03-06, 02:55 PM
Here's the orcs that I saw from the media
1. Savage Barbarians (Warcraft, Elderscrolls pre-daggerfall) your old traditional stereotypes
2. Native Americans (Dominic Deegan, warcraft III)
3. Proud Warriors (Elderscrolls post-daggerfall, warcraft III)
4. Craftsman (Elderscrolls Morrowind (the starter), Oblivion, and Skyrim) and made the best armor even if they are a bunch of savages.

Daer
2012-03-06, 06:05 PM
I wouldn't be surprised if idea of multiculturalism had something to do with orcs.

Or then people just got bored that orcs were creature that just hated everything and everyone for no reason and started to make them more logical.

Bhu
2012-03-06, 08:46 PM
Good and evil actions are meaningless if the individual does not have a choice in doing, or not doing them. By avoiding evil races, villains become even more darker and sinister.

Compulsory evil can be quite creepy. Marebito is a decent example.

Weezer
2012-03-06, 08:58 PM
Compulsory evil can be quite creepy. Marebito is a decent example.

I personally get this feeling too. Someone being forced to commit some horrific act that they would never usually want to do, especially if there is some form of irresistible magical/technological compulsion, squicks me out in a way little else can do. I'm not sure why, but it really effects me a lot more than voluntary evil does.

Balain
2012-03-06, 09:01 PM
Way back in Ultima 2, 1982 or so maybe, there were good and bad orcs. You couldn't play an orc from what I recall. You could find good orcs in towns you could talk to and bad orcs outside towns that would attack. There was some back story about an orc being adopted by humans and raised in the city which lead to good orcs.

Bhu
2012-03-06, 10:18 PM
I personally get this feeling too. Someone being forced to commit some horrific act that they would never usually want to do, especially if there is some form of irresistible magical/technological compulsion, squicks me out in a way little else can do. I'm not sure why, but it really effects me a lot more than voluntary evil does.

I had something a lil more different in mind. The vampires in Marebito are called Derros after the creatures made by Richard Sharpe Shaver http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Sharpe_Shaver

Which may have also been the inspiration for the dnd race of the same name. Derro was short for 'detrimental robot', a race of humanoids which had so devolved they were incapable of committing acts that were not inherently evil, and they delighted in torture. It's not that they were forced to commit evil against their will. It's that they couldn't even perceive or understand any other option, quite literally being organic robots who couldn't go against their programming, and doomed because of it.

Weezer
2012-03-06, 11:34 PM
I had something a lil more different in mind. The vampires in Marebito are called Derros after the creatures made by Richard Sharpe Shaver http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Sharpe_Shaver

Which may have also been the inspiration for the dnd race of the same name. Derro was short for 'detrimental robot', a race of humanoids which had so devolved they were incapable of committing acts that were not inherently evil, and they delighted in torture. It's not that they were forced to commit evil against their will. It's that they couldn't even perceive or understand any other option, quite literally being organic robots who couldn't go against their programming, and doomed because of it.

Ahh, I hadn't heard of Marebito, so I misinterpreted your post, sorry 'bout that.

t209
2012-03-06, 11:51 PM
Way back in Ultima 2, 1982 or so maybe, there were good and bad orcs. You couldn't play an orc from what I recall. You could find good orcs in towns you could talk to and bad orcs outside towns that would attack. There was some back story about an orc being adopted by humans and raised in the city which lead to good orcs.

Well, Morrowind (Daggerfall but they're still XP fodders) show "good" orcs in "good" society. Not only because of Gortwog, the empire (unlike all empires portrayed in fiction) gave the orc civil rights and made them a playable "non evil" race (The only race with good armor skills).
Do you wonder if D&D stole some of the game ideas (like Orc as playable race)?

Yora
2012-03-07, 11:50 AM
With Elder Scrolls being around since 1994, they probably didn't get it from there. Not with A&D having half-orcs for 16 years by that point.

Bhu
2012-03-07, 12:45 PM
Ahh, I hadn't heard of Marebito, so I misinterpreted your post, sorry 'bout that.

Although your option is still darn creepy :smallsmile:

t209
2012-03-07, 12:56 PM
The Orc King is where it really starts. 100 years on from the events in that book (shown in that book's prologue and epilogue) the orc kingdom is a trading partner with its neighbours, orc princesses are being married off to human aristocrats, and Drizzt himself is hunting down members of an orc-hating group for their acts.
So Bethesda got this as an inspiration for Gortwog in Daggerfall except he used
Giant Robot to crush all human kingdoms and make his own "Orctopia" (jossed when empire made them a province created by an orc servant who misinformed his Breton lord about Orcish Armor).

hamishspence
2012-03-08, 02:58 AM
The Orc King was published 2007- when was the Daggerfall example you give?

Coidzor
2012-03-08, 03:10 AM
The Orc King was published 2007- when was the Daggerfall example you give?

I'm getting 1996 for the release, so 95-96ish for that decision to be made.

t209
2012-03-08, 12:43 PM
I'm getting 1996 for the release, so 95-96ish for that decision to be made.

So other way around then?
Why they didn't make Orc as playable characters (but as equivalent of Gobbotopia minus the genocide and evil lich) in Daggerfall?

Coidzor
2012-03-08, 04:21 PM
So other way around then?
Why they didn't make Orc as playable characters (but as equivalent of Gobbotopia minus the genocide and evil lich) in Daggerfall?

Or they could be completely unrelated.

Correlation does not imply causation and all that jazz.

Why not just ask Bethesda or see if they already came up with a response?

t209
2012-03-09, 10:33 AM
Or they could be completely unrelated.

Correlation does not imply causation and all that jazz.

Why not just ask Bethesda or see if they already came up with a response?

I think I know....
They already had one!
- Nords, viking version of Orcs (Both like to beat the crap out of people so much that they get along with eachother, as long as they are not raiding)

Man on Fire
2012-03-11, 08:44 AM
I always hated this fantastic racism prevalent in many books, that makes entire race into some dumb stereotype. Elves are always perfect (being basically author's Mary Sue on racial scale), dwarves are always grumpy and like fighting, Orcs are always Chaotic Evil - no one is born evil! The whole idea that you can base entire race only on standard describtion is my pet peeve. Every culture is multi-layered and complicated to the point it requires life-long studies to fully comprehend. Yet for some reason it's okay to bring all the fantasy races down into a single standard stereotype. Drows are traitors (makes you wonder why they didn't blow themselves up five times already if they cannot spend five minutes without backstabbing each other), Halflings are always jolly thieves (half of the reason why I love Belkar is because he is NOT your standard Halfling), Gnomes are always inventors and Goblins are always cowardly and greedy. No race should be defined by easy set of characteristics and doing so is sing that writers are lazy. That's why I always liked Order of the Stick and Goblins - it shows that "monster" races are no better or worse that standard races. And yes, I'm rooting for Redcloak.

What irritates me even more are people who accept and try to preserve those stereotypes. Like how Karen Traviss left Star Wars Expanded Universe after Clone Wars tV show stated that not all Mandalorians are war-loving born with gun in ther hands space batmans. If I would ever ran DnD campaing that would feature prisoner dillema and some guy would open a monster manual on an Orc entry and read "Alinment: Chaotic Evil" I would inform him that this rule does not exist in my campaing and that if he will do that ever again he may not come to the next session.

You don't even have to go far with it. Just look at Orc Stain - Orcs are still agressive, barbaric and wicked, but they also have interesting culture that obsesively revolves around penis (called Gronch by Orcs) of all things and not all of them are dumb - we see smart orcs, cowardly orcs, greedy orcs, organzied orcs, orcs who just wants to be left alone, Mexican Orcs, Vietkong-esque Orcs, entire clan of magical ninja orcs lead by guy covered completely in his giant beard - and that will always be better than "Always Chaotic Evil", because their culture is complicated and interesting, it makes you want to know more about them.

And before somebody will jump in with "Why do you want realism from story where wizards may blow entire armies?" - it's not about realism - it's about willing suspension of disbelief, as in how much you can convince me that this world makes sense. Gurren Lagann did all sort of insane things but made explanations for them that were acceptable for me, so I wasn't spending time smiling smugly and saying "Yeah, right". If magic is presented to me in a way that makes sense and writers follow their own rules, I can buy all insane stuff that happens. If writer gives me orcs and say "all of them are always evil" that breaks my suspension of disbelief, because it just doesn't make sense.

And seriously, potraying Orcs as evil and dumb is tired and cliche, why would anybody do that is beyond me.

t209
2012-03-12, 06:42 PM
I always hated this fantastic racism prevalent in many books, that makes entire race into some dumb stereotype. Elves are always perfect (being basically author's Mary Sue on racial scale), dwarves are always grumpy and like fighting, Orcs are always Chaotic Evil - no one is born evil! The whole idea that you can base entire race only on standard describtion is my pet peeve. Every culture is multi-layered and complicated to the point it requires life-long studies to fully comprehend. Yet for some reason it's okay to bring all the fantasy races down into a single standard stereotype. Drows are traitors (makes you wonder why they didn't blow themselves up five times already if they cannot spend five minutes without backstabbing each other), Halflings are always jolly thieves (half of the reason why I love Belkar is because he is NOT your standard Halfling), Gnomes are always inventors and Goblins are always cowardly and greedy. No race should be defined by easy set of characteristics and doing so is sing that writers are lazy. That's why I always liked Order of the Stick and Goblins - it shows that "monster" races are no better or worse that standard races. And yes, I'm rooting for Redcloak.

What irritates me even more are people who accept and try to preserve those stereotypes. Like how Karen Traviss left Star Wars Expanded Universe after Clone Wars tV show stated that not all Mandalorians are war-loving born with gun in ther hands space batmans. If I would ever ran DnD campaing that would feature prisoner dillema and some guy would open a monster manual on an Orc entry and read "Alinment: Chaotic Evil" I would inform him that this rule does not exist in my campaing and that if he will do that ever again he may not come to the next session.

You don't even have to go far with it. Just look at Orc Stain - Orcs are still agressive, barbaric and wicked, but they also have interesting culture that obsesively revolves around penis (called Gronch by Orcs) of all things and not all of them are dumb - we see smart orcs, cowardly orcs, greedy orcs, organzied orcs, orcs who just wants to be left alone, Mexican Orcs, Vietkong-esque Orcs, entire clan of magical ninja orcs lead by guy covered completely in his giant beard - and that will always be better than "Always Chaotic Evil", because their culture is complicated and interesting, it makes you want to know more about them.

And before somebody will jump in with "Why do you want realism from story where wizards may blow entire armies?" - it's not about realism - it's about willing suspension of disbelief, as in how much you can convince me that this world makes sense. Gurren Lagann did all sort of insane things but made explanations for them that were acceptable for me, so I wasn't spending time smiling smugly and saying "Yeah, right". If magic is presented to me in a way that makes sense and writers follow their own rules, I can buy all insane stuff that happens. If writer gives me orcs and say "all of them are always evil" that breaks my suspension of disbelief, because it just doesn't make sense.

And seriously, potraying Orcs as evil and dumb is tired and cliche, why would anybody do that is beyond me.
I agree with you and you should also hate people who believe Warlord Damaske (http://www.dominic-deegan.com/view.php?date=2006-06-03) as heroic figure.
Actually Warcraft 2 showed them as pawns of the demons (and possessed by it).
Elderscrolls Daggerfall begins to show them sympathetically.

Reverent-One
2012-03-12, 06:49 PM
What irritates me even more are people who accept and try to preserve those stereotypes. Like how Karen Traviss left Star Wars Expanded Universe after Clone Wars tV show stated that not all Mandalorians are war-loving born with gun in ther hands space batmans.

No, it just said they were all pacifists instead, with a small group of exceptions that are puppy-kicking, baby-killing evil.

Coidzor
2012-03-12, 11:22 PM
I agree with you and you should also hate people who believe Warlord Damaske (http://www.dominic-deegan.com/view.php?date=2006-06-03) as heroic figure.

If you believe that, then I have some required reading (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=12867506&postcount=1097) for you (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=231676).


I think I know....
They already had one!
- Nords, viking version of Orcs (Both like to beat the crap out of people so much that they get along with eachother, as long as they are not raiding)

No, Nords are just a flanderization of vikings. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, dude.


And before somebody will jump in with "Why do you want realism from story where wizards may blow entire armies?"

Eh, if I had to make a stab at it, I'd say that you're much more likely to get accused of missing the point rather than having something along those lines asked of you, given the rest of your post.


And seriously, potraying Orcs as evil and dumb is tired and cliche, why would anybody do that is beyond me.

If you don't have any inkling about that, then I suggest you read back through this thread or any other thread about fantasy or sci-fi monocultures and you should grok it in short order.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-12, 11:55 PM
And seriously, potraying Orcs as evil and dumb is tired and cliche, why would anybody do that is beyond me.

This entire post is full of rightness. You get a cookie.

t209
2012-03-13, 12:47 AM
No, Nords are just a flanderization of vikings. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, dude.

I know that they're vikings but they're close to orcs during Daggerfall. But Cheers and P.S- don't make it a victory cigarette.

Marnath
2012-03-13, 01:11 AM
If you believe that, then I have some required reading (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=12867506&postcount=1097) for you (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=231676).


Care to elaborate? Or should we sort through roughly 40,000 posts to find what if any point you are trying to make?:smallconfused:

On topic, it's possible to have your cake and eat it too. Orcs may have as much alignment freedom as any other sapient while still having an overwhelming cultural inclination towards CE. You can make entire tribes/nations of humans who are evil too after all.

Coidzor
2012-03-13, 01:58 AM
Care to elaborate? Or should we sort through roughly 40,000 posts to find what if any point you are trying to make?:smallconfused:

Oh, come now, Koorly's analysis (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9553092&postcount=473) isn't that long. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9565256&postcount=648) :smalltongue:

But if you want to get into the legacy of the snark threads, I suppose you could contemplate just how many of them disagree with t209's implied assertion that Mookie's orcs are for anything other than groaning at or pointedly ignoring.


I know that they're vikings but they're close to orcs during Daggerfall.

No, not really.


But Cheers and P.S- don't make it a victory cigarette.

I've tried reading that several times and it still comes off as completely incomprehensible. :smallconfused:

Nerd-o-rama
2012-03-13, 08:48 AM
I agree with you and you should also hate people who believe Warlord Damaske (http://www.dominic-deegan.com/view.php?date=2006-06-03) as heroic figure.

I don't think I've seen anyone who thought of him as anything other than a hilariously over-the-top villain (who is only enhanced by the incredibly over-the-top context in which he was introduced), which is an entirely different kind of popularity.

t209
2012-03-13, 09:08 AM
I've tried reading that several times and it still comes off as completely incomprehensible. :smallconfused:
It means I will take your compliment cigar but make sure it isn't a bad quality one (Victory Cigarette's tobacco can fall off from the cigarette).

Thinker
2012-03-13, 09:10 AM
I always hated this fantastic racism prevalent in many books, that makes entire race into some dumb stereotype. Elves are always perfect (being basically author's Mary Sue on racial scale), dwarves are always grumpy and like fighting, Orcs are always Chaotic Evil - no one is born evil! The whole idea that you can base entire race only on standard describtion is my pet peeve. Every culture is multi-layered and complicated to the point it requires life-long studies to fully comprehend. Yet for some reason it's okay to bring all the fantasy races down into a single standard stereotype. Drows are traitors (makes you wonder why they didn't blow themselves up five times already if they cannot spend five minutes without backstabbing each other), Halflings are always jolly thieves (half of the reason why I love Belkar is because he is NOT your standard Halfling), Gnomes are always inventors and Goblins are always cowardly and greedy. No race should be defined by easy set of characteristics and doing so is sing that writers are lazy. That's why I always liked Order of the Stick and Goblins - it shows that "monster" races are no better or worse that standard races. And yes, I'm rooting for Redcloak.
A lot of those fantasy stereotypes are more prevalent in game settings than they are in fantasy novels and when they are present in novels, they are from the perspective of the protagonists. I think that a truly evil race would be fairly easy to conceive. Rather than being humans in funny masks, they have completely different emotions and perspectives and seek to destroy potential rival predators.



What irritates me even more are people who accept and try to preserve those stereotypes. Like how Karen Traviss left Star Wars Expanded Universe after Clone Wars tV show stated that not all Mandalorians are war-loving born with gun in ther hands space batmans. If I would ever ran DnD campaing that would feature prisoner dillema and some guy would open a monster manual on an Orc entry and read "Alinment: Chaotic Evil" I would inform him that this rule does not exist in my campaing and that if he will do that ever again he may not come to the next session.
This is a legitimate concern. Star Wars aliens are basically just humans and so they should be treated as such. I'm not really sure what your point is about the Prisoner's Dilemma and the orc though.



You don't even have to go far with it. Just look at Orc Stain - Orcs are still agressive, barbaric and wicked, but they also have interesting culture that obsesively revolves around penis (called Gronch by Orcs) of all things and not all of them are dumb - we see smart orcs, cowardly orcs, greedy orcs, organzied orcs, orcs who just wants to be left alone, Mexican Orcs, Vietkong-esque Orcs, entire clan of magical ninja orcs lead by guy covered completely in his giant beard - and that will always be better than "Always Chaotic Evil", because their culture is complicated and interesting, it makes you want to know more about them.
This only works if you could replace "orc" with "human" in all instances. If you're truly going for something alien, having chaotic evil creatures is not a stretch. It's also not a stretch to have them as legitimate kill-on-sight targets.



And before somebody will jump in with "Why do you want realism from story where wizards may blow entire armies?" - it's not about realism - it's about willing suspension of disbelief, as in how much you can convince me that this world makes sense. Gurren Lagann did all sort of insane things but made explanations for them that were acceptable for me, so I wasn't spending time smiling smugly and saying "Yeah, right". If magic is presented to me in a way that makes sense and writers follow their own rules, I can buy all insane stuff that happens. If writer gives me orcs and say "all of them are always evil" that breaks my suspension of disbelief, because it just doesn't make sense.

And seriously, potraying Orcs as evil and dumb is tired and cliche, why would anybody do that is beyond me.

I find it stupid to employ any fantasy races that might as well be human.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-13, 09:49 AM
alienness, I can understand when the race in question is some betentacled thing with pincers and other such weirdness coming from beyond our knowledge and growing up on a completely different world from ours, in different kinds of bodies, where one has to think completely differently.

not when the race is mostly 99% human already. unless your proposing to make orcs be more similar to inhuman aliens with twenty legs and the faces of super-insects with tentacles for arms from an environment that humans cannot possibly survive in, I can't really conceive an orc as alien to humans, they grew up and evolved in the same environment, they have similar bodies and adaptations. at that point, its not portraying them as alien anymore, its just racism, since guess what we used to call "foreigners"? Aliens.

Thinker, your basically using the same argument to justify racism back when it was popular. "they look different, therefore they have completely different emotions from us therefore they aren't like us" was complete garbage, since no, just because someone looks a little different from you, doesn't mean they had completely different emotions and ways of thought or whatever.
Orcs are not alien. They are already "human" as we currently define them. Heavily stereotyped humans, but human nonetheless.

don't mistake caricatures and demonization for "alienness". If your race is mostly human anyways, at least show them respect and treat them as such.

Thinker
2012-03-13, 10:00 AM
alienness, I can understand when the race in question is some betentacled thing with pincers and other such weirdness coming from beyond our knowledge and growing up on a completely different world from ours, in different kinds of bodies, where one has to think completely differently.

not when the race is mostly 99% human already. unless your proposing to make orcs be more similar to inhuman aliens with twenty legs and the faces of super-insects with tentacles for arms from an environment that humans cannot possibly survive in, I can't really conceive an orc as alien to humans, they grew up and evolved in the same environment, they have similar bodies and adaptations. at that point, its not portraying them as alien anymore, its just racism, since guess what we used to call "foreigners"? Aliens.
If they're already basically human, why call them orcs? Why not just make another group/tribe/ethnicity/country/culture of humans? Why do aliens have to be completely inhuman in appearance? Humans don't really act much differently from other primates. What would an Entelodont with a greater capacity for knowledge and tool use act like? How about a lion or a wolf or some other predator?


Thinker, your basically using the same argument to justify racism back when it was popular. "they look different, therefore they have completely different emotions from us therefore they aren't like us" was complete garbage, since no, just because someone looks a little different from you, doesn't mean they had completely different emotions and ways of thought or whatever.
Orcs are not alien. They are already "human" as we currently define them. Heavily stereotyped humans, but human nonetheless.
Then why bother calling them orcs? Why describe them any differently?


don't mistake caricatures and demonization for "alienness". If your race is mostly human anyways, at least show them respect and treat them as such.
This is kind of my point. You don't need orcs if they're going to be human. The same thing applies to any other fantasy race.

Man on Fire
2012-03-13, 10:32 AM
About that all "if they're basically human why call them orcs" thing - I think that this argument is fundamentally flawed. Each and every race should have culture as complicated as our and it is selfish for us as a race to assume that aliens, orcs or anything else could be easily described by just one sentence - it's reasonable to expect them to have as multi-layered and complicated culture as our if not more. It can and should be alien and inhuman, but it shouldn't be just one-sentece of "always chaotic evil".

Second, it is said that man doesn't dream about stars but about himself - every fantastic thing in speculative fiction really tells us something about us and every race seen in it is really metaphor for something. I think that in Lord Of The Rings Orcs were metaphor for corruption and fall of civilization being once Elves and all that. But they may symbolize many things, and reducing your creativity to repeating theme-park version of what Tolkien did with them is just stupid for me - you won't say anything more about them, so why don't try something different?

Look again at orcs from Orc Stain - their culture is vastly different from our. Similiar in some place, but generally much stranger and obsessed about penises - or gronk, as they call it. They reshape mountains to look like gronk, their currency is made from petrified gronks, their blood vendetta is Poxa Gronka - "eye for eye, gronk for gronk", they usually don't have names, except for the bigger and nastier who have numbers or some with distinctive features like main character, One-Eye. They are distinctive from us, but the're also all metaphor for something (obsessive mansculity and freudian issues probably) and still are wild maniacs - but much more interesting than your average Orc.

Thinker
2012-03-13, 10:53 AM
About that all "if they're basically human why call them orcs" thing - I think that this argument is fundamentally flawed. Each and every race should have culture as complicated as our and it is selfish for us as a race to assume that aliens, orcs or anything else could be easily described by just one sentence - it's reasonable to expect them to have as multi-layered and complicated culture as our if not more. It can and should be alien and inhuman, but it shouldn't be just one-sentece of "always chaotic evil".
If you want each and every race to have cultures like humans, you will either have to severely limit their geographic scope or create many cultures for each one, with each culture as distinct as cultures in the real world. I also agree that using one sentence to describe anything is usually very poor. Still, in the context of a fantasy game, brief descriptions work better than essays for marginal enemies.


Second, it is said that man doesn't dream about stars but about himself - every fantastic thing in speculative fiction really tells us something about us and every race seen in it is really metaphor for something. I think that in Lord Of The Rings Orcs were metaphor for corruption and fall of civilization being once Elves and all that. But they may symbolize many things, and reducing your creativity to repeating theme-park version of what Tolkien did with them is just stupid for me - you won't say anything more about them, so why don't try something different?
I can also agree with this. Exploring humanity is a great facet of literature. In the Lord of the Rings, we really only see the orcs from the perspective of the protagonists. We have precious little perspective on any culture or psychology of the orcs. I'm not advocating simply recycling the little we see in Tolkien's work. That's very boring.

My main point in all of this is that having a race that is always evil (from the protagonists' perspective) is not necessarily a bad thing and that if you're simply using orcs as "humans, but X", there's no reason to call them anything but human.


Look again at orcs from Orc Stain - their culture is vastly different from our. Similiar in some place, but generally much stranger and obsessed about penises - or gronk, as they call it. They reshape mountains to look like gronk, their currency is made from petrified gronks, their blood vendetta is Poxa Gronka - "eye for eye, gronk for gronk", they usually don't have names, except for the bigger and nastier who have numbers or some with distinctive features like main character, One-Eye. They are distinctive from us, but the're also all metaphor for something (obsessive mansculity and freudian issues probably) and still are wild maniacs - but much more interesting than your average Orc.

Orc Stain orcs do sound interesting and I may look into it.

Eldan
2012-03-13, 10:57 AM
Look again at orcs from Orc Stain - their culture is vastly different from our. Similiar in some place, but generally much stranger and obsessed about penises - or gronk, as they call it. They reshape mountains to look like gronk, their currency is made from petrified gronks, their blood vendetta is Poxa Gronka - "eye for eye, gronk for gronk", they usually don't have names, except for the bigger and nastier who have numbers or some with distinctive features like main character, One-Eye. They are distinctive from us, but the're also all metaphor for something (obsessive mansculity and freudian issues probably) and still are wild maniacs - but much more interesting than your average Orc.

That's a bit obsessed, but still not are that different. Just look at some of the oldest known human art. And about half of all jokes the typical teenage male thinks of. The naming thing is special, though.

Eldan
2012-03-13, 10:59 AM
Look again at orcs from Orc Stain - their culture is vastly different from our. Similiar in some place, but generally much stranger and obsessed about penises - or gronk, as they call it. They reshape mountains to look like gronk, their currency is made from petrified gronks, their blood vendetta is Poxa Gronka - "eye for eye, gronk for gronk", they usually don't have names, except for the bigger and nastier who have numbers or some with distinctive features like main character, One-Eye. They are distinctive from us, but the're also all metaphor for something (obsessive mansculity and freudian issues probably) and still are wild maniacs - but much more interesting than your average Orc.

That's a bit obsessed, but still not are that different. Just look at some of the oldest known human art. And about half of all jokes the typical teenage male thinks of. The naming thing is special, though.

Still. Humans have thousands of different cultures. Why should any other race have only one?

Coidzor
2012-03-13, 04:54 PM
It means I will take your compliment cigar but make sure it isn't a bad quality one (Victory Cigarette's tobacco can fall off from the cigarette).

There was no compliment. (https://www.google.com/search?q=sometimes+a+cigar+is+just+a+cigar&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a)

To put it into the common parlance, "it is what it is," that is to say, sometimes you should really just let it go and stop trying to stretch ridiculous lengths in order to make an argument, as it makes you look like you're saying nonsense just to be seen saying something.


I don't think I've seen anyone who thought of him as anything other than a hilariously over-the-top villain (who is only enhanced by the incredibly over-the-top context in which he was introduced), which is an entirely different kind of popularity.

Well, he was at times discussed as a heroic figure. Ironically. Because Mookie failed so totally that he made his orcs, that were supposed to be all innocent and such, into detestable things.


I'm not really sure what your point is about the Prisoner's Dilemma and the orc though.

Indeed... Mostly just makes him sound like an insecure DM, really. :smallconfused:

Man on Fire
2012-03-13, 06:05 PM
I'm not really sure what your point is about the Prisoner's Dilemma and the orc though.

Watch this and you'll understand. (http://spoonyexperiment.com/2012/03/08/counter-monkey-the-prisoner-dilemma/)

Thinker
2012-03-13, 08:18 PM
Watch this and you'll understand. (http://spoonyexperiment.com/2012/03/08/counter-monkey-the-prisoner-dilemma/)

I know what the Prisoner's Dilemma is. I don't have an hour to spend watching a video of some guy on the internet. This sentence simply didn't make sense to me:

If I would ever ran DnD campaing that would feature prisoner dillema and some guy would open a monster manual on an Orc entry and read "Alinment: Chaotic Evil" I would inform him that this rule does not exist in my campaing and that if he will do that ever again he may not come to the next session.

Man on Fire
2012-03-13, 09:42 PM
I know what the Prisoner's Dilemma is. I don't have an hour to spend watching a video of some guy on the internet. This sentence simply didn't make sense to me:

Just to make sure, we're talking about the same prisoner dillema, right? Because I'm talking about the one reffered in this video - situation in DnD when you confront players with helpless babies of some evil race, say Orcs, and ask them what they do, not the one about two prisoners who have to chose between testifying against their partner and lying. If a guy would open monster manual and argue that they should kill orc babies because Orcs are Chaotic Eil, I would tell him to shut up.

Coidzor
2012-03-13, 09:49 PM
Regardless of how one feels about orcs and their general purpose as XP fodder and low level character deaths, that plot is kind of bad. :smalltongue:

Memorable villains go a lot further in making your game memorable than morality plays and misplaced ardor in calling one's players racist and then ceasing to have players.

They certainly go a lot further towards making a good game than wasting breath and words on a thousand nuanced cultures of which the players may remember only one of or even conflate several together(which would, ironically, be more in keeping with verisimilitude anyway...) or, more likely, not remember any of them.

Then again, memorable supporting characters and memorable PCs are also things that greatly contribute to a good game.

Bogging yourself down in excessive worldbuilding and then taking it personally if players argue from the base assumptions of the game when you don't replace the assumptions with anything is just going to hamper one's ability to be the best DM that they can be.

turkishproverb
2012-03-13, 09:58 PM
I know what the Prisoner's Dilemma is. I don't have an hour to spend watching a video of some guy on the internet. This sentence simply didn't make sense to me:

That sentence is based on that video. it's a different type of Prisoner's dilemma.

Mewtarthio
2012-03-13, 10:24 PM
Just to make sure, we're talking about the same prisoner dillema, right? Because I'm talking about the one reffered in this video - situation in DnD when you confront players with helpless babies of some evil race, say Orcs, and ask them what they do, not the one about two prisoners who have to chose between testifying against their partner and lying. If a guy would open monster manual and argue that they should kill orc babies because Orcs are Chaotic Eil, I would tell him to shut up.

The term "The Prisoner's Dilemma" is a well-known term referring to a specific dilemma in game theory. If you're familiar with the common usage, why would you refer to the obscure Spoony video usage? If you say "Prisoner's Dilemma," people will assume you're talking about the Prisoner's Dilemma, not some other scenario you heard from a guy on the internet.

turkishproverb
2012-03-14, 12:29 AM
If we're being technical, he said prisoner dilemma, not "prisoner's dilemma". Mind you, most people would still assume it was what he was talking about...

Man on Fire
2012-03-14, 05:22 AM
The term "The Prisoner's Dilemma" is a well-known term referring to a specific dilemma in game theory. If you're familiar with the common usage, why would you refer to the obscure Spoony video usage? If you say "Prisoner's Dilemma," people will assume you're talking about the Prisoner's Dilemma, not some other scenario you heard from a guy on the internet.

Because I thought it's an actual term used in D&D fandom.

Thinker
2012-03-14, 07:42 AM
Just to make sure, we're talking about the same prisoner dillema, right? Because I'm talking about the one reffered in this video - situation in DnD when you confront players with helpless babies of some evil race, say Orcs, and ask them what they do, not the one about two prisoners who have to chose between testifying against their partner and lying. If a guy would open monster manual and argue that they should kill orc babies because Orcs are Chaotic Eil, I would tell him to shut up.

I had only ever heard it mentioned in the context of game theory.

MLai
2012-03-14, 10:21 AM
I find it stupid to employ any fantasy races that might as well be human.
This.
Whenever someone gets on a soapbox about how fantasy monocultures are racist, I would point to this.
And no, orcs are really not "almost like humans."


What would an Entelodont with a greater capacity for knowledge and tool use act like?
OMG I just saw missing link of Orc. Thank you.


Each and every race should have culture as complicated as our and it is selfish for us as a race to assume that aliens, orcs or anything else could be easily described by just one sentence...
I have no problem with adding to orc culture beyond one sentence. That doesn't mean they can't be chaotic evil.
For example, Warhammer 40K does a good job with Orkz, IMO.

Morty
2012-03-14, 10:38 AM
It's interesting how people justify orcs being conveniently evil by saying that they're "totally unlike humans" and yet accept "good" races being basically humans in funny hats. Never mind that if a species is completely inhuman in mentality, it can't possibly be called "evil". Personally, I think the growing prevalence of orcs and other such fantasy species as more than just evil cannon fodder is a result of more people seeing just how completely absurd and disturbing the whole setup is.

MLai
2012-03-14, 11:09 AM
"Good races" are not like humans either. They look more like humans, but that's really it.
Elves = Immortal. That one attribute completely separates their culture from human culture. They are not like humans.
Dwarves = Pretty much the one monoculture which thrives in an environment that humans can never hope to live in. We can live where elves live, we can even live where orcs live. We can never live where dwarves live. Dwarves might as well live underwater. Dwarves are mostly depicted as human-like, but they really don't have to be.

Therefore, IMO, fantasy monocultures do not have to represent humanity. We don't have to call lion man-eaters evil, but we still hunt them down and kill them.

Kinslayer
2012-03-14, 11:34 AM
It's interesting how people justify orcs being conveniently evil by saying that they're "totally unlike humans" and yet accept "good" races being basically humans in funny hats. Never mind that if a species is completely inhuman in mentality, it can't possibly be called "evil".

To be fair, most of the time when declaring Orcs/goblins/sand raiders/etc evil, it's from the human subjective point of view. So, an alien culture entirely different than human culture can still be labelled evil, especially considering what your sample group would be in the most commonly depicted Fantasy era. (Ie ; Medieval)

Rulebooks (D&D, being the easiest to reference) stating "usually chaotic evil" can be seen as assuming a humancentric outlook on the world, which is fair as it's a human group writing them. The immortal view of elves writing the book might dictate it entirely differently, and the brash/martial of orcs in another way, each supporting themselves, and peoples like them, as the "good side."



Personally, I think the growing prevalence of orcs and other such fantasy species as more than just evil cannon fodder is a result of more people seeing just how completely absurd and disturbing the whole setup is.

People are growing in want for depth in setting, and shallowness in... ...Not entirely sure what to call it. Era-appropriate characterization? Anyway - The depth in that cultures shouldn't simply be "Always Evil All The Time" (because that is absurd), but shallowness in that things should always conform to the modern view, including characters in times/settings when modern morals would be rather unusual.

Man on Fire
2012-03-14, 12:12 PM
Memorable villains go a lot further in making your game memorable than morality plays and misplaced ardor in calling one's players racist and then ceasing to have players.

Really, once you do Orc babies you'll group is bound to break apart anyway. And I think that typical, stupid Orcs who are evil just because aren't memorable villains. Now, Orc version of say, Alexander The Great in his Fate/Zero incarnation - still Chaotic, but rather Neutral, charismatic, father to his men, honorable, but driven by ambition, who wants to conquest the world just because it is there but can burst into your house to invite you for a drink - now that's how I do memorable Orc villain.


They certainly go a lot further towards making a good game than wasting breath and words on a thousand nuanced cultures of which the players may remember only one of or even conflate several together(which would, ironically, be more in keeping with verisimilitude anyway...) or, more likely, not remember any of them.

But you know who will remember? Me. And I will feel better, knowing I gave my players more detailed and plausible world, even if they won't appricate or even remember it. It will make me feel that I did my best preparing the adventure.


Bogging yourself down in excessive worldbuilding and then taking it personally if players argue from the base assumptions of the game when you don't replace the assumptions with anything is just going to hamper one's ability to be the best DM that they can be.

That's why I explain the setting at very begining. I have an campaing in made-up setting in which Orcs and Goblins live peacefuly with humans and elves and I just had to explain that to my players and they're okay with it. They know that seeing Goblin in tavern is usual thing in this world and understand that.

MLai
2012-03-14, 12:51 PM
@ Man On Fire:

See, I think both philosophies in treating non-human races are correct. Don't judge the other camp as racist or ignorant. My minor in university was anthropology, and I took courses on history of racism. I even drew some comics highlighting "racism in fantasy." But, I have no problem with Orcs being Evil.


Really, once you do Orc babies you'll group is bound to break apart anyway.
See, I would kill the orc babies. Because they might as well be Rosemary's Babies. If I were DM, I'd explain that Orcs are, as a species, humanoids forever corrupted by demonic blood/taint, or something.
And if ppl ask, "Why can't you make Orcs more human-like, with some evil but some noble?" I would reply, "I have those. They're called Mongols/ Huns/ Xiongnu/ Uar/ Avar/ Khitan/ etc."

Want human-like cultures? Do human cultures. Want humanoid mooks? Do orcs/goblins.

What you shouldn't do? You shouldn't take an orc tribe, and then graft a recognizably human culture on it. For example, a nomadic steppe culture. Because that would be TRUE racism. Why should the orcs be dressed like Mongols? Why not in shiny plate armor like French knights? Are we saying Mongols are less human?

t209
2012-03-14, 12:53 PM
To Man on Fire:
In Skyrim, there are goblins expy called Falmer. who are
blinded by Dwemers and used them as slaves or soul gems (unlike D&D, it is used to recharge enchanted weapons) generator until Dwemers vanished. They became like Animals and XP fodder (or soul gem fodder).
Do you get angry with Always Chaotic evil race but have justifications to be evil?

MLai
2012-03-14, 01:02 PM
IMO, the slippery slope regarding fantasy races is this:

As long as you keep them fantastically monocultured, i.e. "they are all evil because they are all demonically tainted", you're okay. You never get into the "babies dilemma." Because you kill the babies too, like you would kill cockroach babies.

But as soon as you want to be more "progressive," and try to add human attributes to said groups, you start stepping on landmines. Because now they're more human, and you probably accomplished that by referencing ancient cultures... but what culture did you base them on?

The one thing I found most offensive ever, on an AD&D cover? Hobgoblin army that looked like dynastic Chinese soldiers with ugly faces and fangs. That's the result of trying to make Hobgoblins "more human" by grafting onto them a specific culture.

Telonius
2012-03-14, 01:25 PM
What you shouldn't do? You shouldn't take an orc tribe, and then graft a recognizably human culture on it. For example, a nomadic steppe culture. Because that would be TRUE racism. Why should the orcs be dressed like Mongols? Why not in shiny plate armor like French knights? Are we saying Mongols are less human?

If I were trying to make a race that was known for its prowess in war, I'd be much more likely to model it after Mongol horse archers, than French knights in fullplate.

H Birchgrove
2012-03-14, 01:42 PM
{{scrubbed}}

Man on Fire
2012-03-14, 02:03 PM
@ Man On Fire:See, I think both philosophies in treating non-human races are correct. Don't judge the other camp as racist or ignorant. My minor in university was anthropology, and I took courses on history of racism. I even drew some comics highlighting "racism in fantasy." But, I have no problem with Orcs being Evil.

I have problem with Orcs being always the same - dumb, born evil brutes. I want some creativity. Even if you agree that making orcs like that is not racist, it is lazy.


See, I would kill the orc babies. Because they might as well be Rosemary's Babies. If I were DM, I'd explain that Orcs are, as a species, humanoids forever corrupted by demonic blood/taint, or something.

And someone will say that you can still raise them to be good and session will desolve into "nature vs nuture" debate. I would probably forbid discussing this out of character, if I would ever do that kind of ecounter, because that's the only way to keep the players from leaving the game. Their charcters are probably going to kill each other, through.


And if ppl ask, "Why can't you make Orcs more human-like, with some evil but some noble?" I would reply, "I have those. They're called Mongols/ Huns/ Xiongnu/ Uar/ Avar/ Khitan/ etc."

Want human-like cultures? Do human cultures. Want humanoid mooks? Do orcs/goblins.

What you shouldn't do? You shouldn't take an orc tribe, and then graft a recognizably human culture on it. For example, a nomadic steppe culture. Because that would be TRUE racism. Why should the orcs be dressed like Mongols? Why not in shiny plate armor like French knights? Are we saying Mongols are less human?

Because ripping-off Tolkien is that much better. And again, every fictional race is a metaphor for something. What is "bunch of green idiots who are evil because" supposed to be a metaphor for? Maybye only writer's lazyness. Orcs can symbolize many things - our wild, primal side, strength and honor, anger, rebelious spirit, mansculity and obsession about size of the penis, that longing dreams of returning to mother nature, unlimited freedom and responsibilities coming with it - I could make interesting orcs in several flavors and all would be better than tired, used cliche that people repeat because...I don't know, maybe it's like with revealing female armors, everybody do that and people think they have too, because that's how things are done.

And taking from existing culture is not a bad thing to do. A mix of Mongols, Huns, Xiongnu, Uar, Avar, Khitan, Vikings and Kozacks will be something new and not any of those cultures. Look at Elves in The Witcher - they're mix of several cultures durign the time they were conquered, mostly Celts, and because of that they are more interesting than Elves in, say, Eragorn, who are the same as they are everywhere else. When race is the same in every book, that means it's time for a change.

@ H Birchgrove - Invoking Godwin's Law is not how you make an argument. In fact, thanks to you our side just lost.


As long as you keep them fantastically monocultured, i.e. "they are all evil because they are all demonically tainted", you're okay. You never get into the "babies dilemma." Because you kill the babies too, like you would kill cockroach babies.

If you want to have dumb and boring story, that is. Times when such thing was acceptable are long past, now fantasy requires more creativity. And this right here? That's a lazy excuse for creator to not deal with worldbuilding.


The one thing I found most offensive ever, on an AD&D cover? Hobgoblin army that looked like dynastic Chinese soldiers with ugly faces and fangs. That's the result of trying to make Hobgoblins "more human" by grafting onto them a specific culture.

Yeah, I bet that if they were beautiful Elves, everything would be okay. This is by the way other thing I hate about standard fantasy - beauty equals goodness. Humans, Elves and Dwarves are, by human standards, beautiful, so they obviously are good. But Orcs and Goblins are "ugly" so they must be evil.

MLai
2012-03-14, 02:20 PM
I have problem with Orcs being always the same - dumb, born evil brutes. I want some creativity. Even if you agree that making orcs like that is not racist, it is lazy.
It's lazy only if you feel they should be humanized. If they just remain mooks like every other monster in the manual, then it really doesn't matter. They can wear clothing/armor humans wear, and they have opposable thumbs to hold sharp things... but that doesn't make them have human-like minds.

My point is, some ppl don't feel the drive to "do something" with orcs. They want a deep human-like culture, they'll feature a human culture. There's a place for both schools of thought in fantasy. However...


Because ripping-off Tolkien is that much better. And again, every fictional race is a metaphor for something. What is "bunch of green idiots who are evil because" supposed to be a metaphor for?
If you want to use a fantasy race as a metaphor, you have to be extra careful who you're metaphoring. Making golins or whatever have any hint of Asian culture is ok I suppose, as long as you never have any Asian in your playgroup. I see this trend all the time in fantasy tropes and frankly it's offensive.
Or hey, maybe someone from Greenland will be very offended that you give your orcs viking helmets or whatever. Maybe he's sick and tired of everyone depicting vikings as beasts.

My point is if you must err, I feel it's better to err on the side of orcs being mooks (you're not offending anyone), than orcs being inspired by human cultures (you risk offending those ppl).

Jackson's LOTR did a fine job in giving orcs their own culture. It is helped by orcs having decidedly inhuman life cycles, and their costumes/weapons are quite original.


Yeah, I bet that if they were beautiful Elves, everything would be okay.
And yet, elves are always dressed in European medieval fineries. How convenient.
Maybe elves should be dressed in Asian clothing. They certainly know kung fu, and look down on everyone.

Man on Fire
2012-03-14, 02:38 PM
It's lazy only if you feel they should be humanized. If they just remain mooks like every other monster in the manual, then it really doesn't matter. They can wear clothing/armor humans wear, and they have opposable thumbs to hold sharp things... but that doesn't make them have human-like minds.

Why do I have this feeling somebody had said something similiar about every opressed minority in the history?


If you want to use a fantasy race as a metaphor, you have to be extra careful who you're metaphoring. Making golins or whatever have any hint of Asian culture is ok I suppose, as long as you never have any Asian in your playgroup. I see this trend all the time in fantasy tropes and frankly it's offensive.

Just as offesive is sayign that guy who has different skin color, say, green, must be evil. And quite frankly, if I would have Asian in my group I would sit with him and make him help me develop Asian-inspired Goblins.


Or hey, maybe someone from Greenland will be very offended that you give your orcs viking helmets or whatever. Maybe he's sick and tired of everyone depicting vikings as beasts.

Who said I will portray them as beasts? It might never occured to you, but I might actually do some research about culture I'm basing Orcs on, instead of relying on stereotypes.


My point is if you must err, I feel it's better to err on the side of orcs being mooks (you're not offending anyone), than orcs being inspired by human cultures (you risk offending those ppl).

If you don't want to take a risk and are okay with status quo, yes. I am not. And you knwo what? If I would be afraid that I may offend somebody, I wouldn't be playing RPGs or read fantasy because some people are offended by that.

hamishspence
2012-03-14, 02:40 PM
It's lazy only if you feel they should be humanized. If they just remain mooks like every other monster in the manual, then it really doesn't matter. They can wear clothing/armor humans wear, and they have opposable thumbs to hold sharp things... but that doesn't make them have human-like minds.

I think what people are disliking these days is the whole concept of "mooks". What makes something from the MM "easy XP" and what makes it "an NPC to be treated with respect until proven otherwise"?

Halflings, elves, dwarves, gnomes, lizardfolk - all are in the MM (even humans are in the MM in 4E) but all except lizardfolk tend to get assumed "innocent until proven guilty". Yet Lizardfolk are Usually Neutral.

H Birchgrove
2012-03-14, 03:41 PM
@ H Birchgrove - Invoking Godwin's Law is not how you make an argument. In fact, thanks to you our side just lost.


Godwin's law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Nazis. The law and its corollaries would not apply to discussions covering known mainstays of Nazi Germany such as genocide, eugenics or racial superiority, nor, more debatably, to a discussion of other totalitarian regimes or ideologies, since a Nazi comparison in those circumstances may be appropriate, in effect committing the fallacist's fallacy. Whether it applies to humorous use or references to oneself is open to interpretation, since this would not be a fallacious attack against a debate opponent.

While falling afoul of Godwin's law tends to cause the individual making the comparison to lose their argument or credibility, Godwin's law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent's argument as hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate.[10] Similar criticisms of the "law" (or "at least the distorted version which purports to prohibit all comparisons to German crimes") have been made by Glenn Greenwald.[11]

(My bolds.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

If someone tries to justify racism, racialism, and genocide, may it be IRL or in fiction, I'm going to call that person out, at least indirectly.

Telonius
2012-03-14, 03:53 PM
And yet, elves are always dressed in European medieval fineries. How convenient.
Maybe elves should be dressed in Asian clothing. They certainly know kung fu, and look down on everyone.

http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20071211124659/eberron/images/thumb/7/70/Eberron-Elves.jpg/300px-Eberron-Elves.jpg

There's an Elf for that!TM

Axolotl
2012-03-14, 04:18 PM
If someone tries to justify racism, racialism, and genocide, may it be IRL or in fiction, I'm going to call that person out, at least indirectly.Who's doing that? You quoted a bunch of common sayings related to the Nazi's but I really don't see how it ties into the thread at all.


To an extent I agree with MLai in that making Orcs just greenn humans is pointless but at the same time a species being irredeemably evil strikes me as complete nonsense. Choice is an important part of morality, to say a species is always something seems to remove choice which makes me question how they could be considered evil.

hamishspence
2012-03-14, 04:25 PM
To an extent I agree with MLai in that making Orcs just greenn humans is pointless but at the same time a species being irredeemably evil strikes me as complete nonsense. Choice is an important part of morality, to say a species is always something seems to remove choice which makes me question how they could be considered evil.

If a creature has certain personality traits- callousness or outright sadism toward others- it's likely to have an evil alignment in D&D even if it "had no choice about the way it is- it was born/raised that way".

However, the less choice a being has, the more sympathy and consideration it deserves.

Savage Species put it best, with its Chaotic/Accepting worldview:


With Malice Toward None
(Chaotic/Accepting)
In this campaign model, the prevailing opinion holds that monsters, no matter how foul and evil they may look, are free sentient beings with all the inalienable rights that humans, elves, and every other humanoid species are heir to. The denizens of this campaign are not foolish- they know that many monsters are evil and nefarious. Just the same, they are loath to reject monsters simply because of their origins. The philosophical leaders of this land realize that no medusa or troll really had a choice in how it came into this world, and indeed as oppressed as its upbringing may have been, it is deserving of more sympathy and consideration, not less.

In this world, evil among monsters is largely perceived to be a psychological condition rather than an absolute or genetic one. Most monsters are thought to become creatures of evil or destruction not because of any infernal or diabolic tie, but because of a fear of rejection, loneliness, or some other understandable psychological condition. Even the foulest tanar'ri may in truth be the victim of its own psychoses, and the enlightened people of this world hold out hope that with openness, respect, and even love, the darkest of souls can be redeemed. And who knows? Perhaps they are right.

Janus
2012-03-14, 04:28 PM
I gotta be honest- I find it difficult (and pointless) to get upset over "racism" towards purely fictional beings, especially when they're public domain and can be different from one writer to another.

I also wouldn't call it "lazy" for a world's orcs to all be chaotic evil. Has it been done before? Sure, but do you enjoy that kind of setting? If yes, then why fix what isn't broken?

I also think that we shouldn't be too quick to assume that if someone's cool with mindlessly evil orcs, they immediately reject any other interpretation. Sometimes I like an intricate world with deep characters and twists on common expectations, and other times I just want to hack my way through loads of mooks to rescue the beautiful princess before she's forced to marry the evil (and hideous) sorcerer.

Worira
2012-03-14, 04:31 PM
(My bolds.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

If someone tries to justify racism, racialism, and genocide, may it be IRL or in fiction, I'm going to call that person out, at least indirectly.

Which is great and all, except that Jews are not, in fact, orcs. In some fictional settings, orcs are individuals with thoughts, and emotions, and morals, who may or may not have a distinct culture. In these settings, discriminating against orcs on the basis of their orcishness is indeed comparable to racism. In other settings, orcs are mindless pawns of dark forces set upon the destruction of all mankind. The issue here is that you're confusing people's preferences for certain types of characterization with in-universe racism, and furthermore, doing it in an extremely judgmental way that also makes light of very serious matters.

Axolotl
2012-03-14, 04:50 PM
If a creature has certain personality traits- callousness or outright sadism toward others- it's likely to have an evil alignment in D&D even if it "had no choice about the way it is- it was born/raised that way".

However, the less choice a being has, the more sympathy and consideration it deserves.

Savage Species put it best, with its Chaotic/Accepting worldview:But in that quote it states that under that nothing is irredeemable, so the Orcs cease to be always evil and become at worst just an evil society, in which case you're close to just having them be green humans again and what is it that makes them Orcish beyond some stat changes?

hamishspence
2012-03-14, 04:59 PM
Has D&D orcs ever been "Always Evil"?

Certainly in 3.5 the books that discuss them tend to suggest otherwise. In MM, they're "Often CE." PHB states that orcs raised by humans are less likely to be evil than orcs raised by orcs. And MM IV tells us the most common orcish alignment after CE is CN.

"Grummsh created them as a reflection of himself- and some of Grummsh's personality traits are there from birth- but can be changed through experiences"

might be what makes them "different".

Coidzor
2012-03-14, 05:50 PM
Really, once you do Orc babies you'll group is bound to break apart anyway.

Yeah, because it's not something that most people would find fun and less would find interesting, so making it out like it's such an important thing to you makes you become vulnerable to looking like you have difficulty separating reality from the game and also, and more important, that you're not that fun to play with. Once you bring in actual play of running a game, you open yourself up to being criticized on the merits of what you're proposing from the perspective of fellow players of the game.


And I think that typical, stupid Orcs who are evil just because aren't memorable villains.

Of course not, they're XP fodder and I never said anything to the contrary. Making them happy huggy teddy bears is no better. Making Orc Germany, Orc Italy, Orc Zimbabwe, Orc Japan, ad nauseum until the players stop paying attention and just come up with their own mish-mash stereotype isn't superior either, it's just a whole lot of wasted effort.


Now, Orc version of say, Alexander The Great in his Fate/Zero incarnation - still Chaotic, but rather Neutral, charismatic, father to his men, honorable, but driven by ambition, who wants to conquest the world just because it is there but can burst into your house to invite you for a drink - now that's how I do memorable Orc villain.

Meh, I'd have to get more than a description like this, which is bland by necessity, to form an opinion one way or the other.

At the end of the day, though, it's him that will be interesting or boring and hobbling him with excessive cultural baggage and backstory runs a very real risk of derailing him. And if he's fine without cultural backstory greatly changing your orcs then that's not really what's on the table right now, but that is the superior option.


But you know who will remember? Me. And I will feel better, knowing I gave my players more detailed and plausible world, even if they won't appricate or even remember it. It will make me feel that I did my best preparing the adventure.

And I contend that you'd be much better served by spending that time actually preparing the adventure and things that are actually relevant to said adventure. And making yourself out to be an orc fetishist by having everything be all orc, all the time is more likely to just paint you as an odd duck to your players than be of benefit to either you or they.


That's why I explain the setting at very begining. I have an campaing in made-up setting in which Orcs and Goblins live peacefuly with humans and elves and I just had to explain that to my players and they're okay with it. They know that seeing Goblin in tavern is usual thing in this world and understand that.

Campaign, please. And, really, you don't have to make your campaign setting more enlightened than the real world to accomplish having Orcs and Goblins not being KOS. Indeed, as far as I can tell, they generally aren't except in the specific circumstances that adventurers most find themselves in where they're already embroiled in violence.

So, yeah, you can have usually CE orcs that are integrated into society or exist only on its fringes... or both.


Just as offesive is sayign that guy who has different skin color, say, green, must be evil. And quite frankly, if I would have Asian in my group I would sit with him and make him help me develop Asian-inspired Goblins.

I would contend that there is a very real difference between completely fictional racism against a completely fictional race and putting a racist caricature of a real life ethnic group in a game as a monster.


Why do I have this feeling somebody had said something similiar about every opressed minority in the history?


@ H Birchgrove - Invoking Godwin's Law is not how you make an argument. In fact, thanks to you our side just lost.

How on earth are you reconciling these two stances?

Man on Fire
2012-03-14, 06:38 PM
I think we should clarify something - I speak mostly from literaly perspective, rather than GM perspective, so I mostly say what kinds of Orcs I want in books I read. Orcs in campaings should be different and I understand that sometimes you just need them as connon fodder, but I still encourage people to try and do something else with them, just for diversity's sake.


And I contend that you'd be much better served by spending that time actually preparing the adventure and things that are actually relevant to said adventure. And making yourself out to be an orc fetishist by having everything be all orc, all the time is more likely to just paint you as an odd duck to your players than be of benefit to either you or they.


Who said I don't spend as much time on making relevant things? Who said that I don't make cultular orcs when that is relevant to the adventure? Who said that everything for me is all orc? You're making far assumptions about what I said.

And please, I'm Goblin fetishist.


Campaign, please.

yeah, my bad.


And, really, you don't have to make your campaign setting more enlightened than the real world to accomplish having Orcs and Goblins not being KOS.

Actually that campaing setting is made on the "I make it up as I go" principle, I try to give it Heroic Fantasy feel so I don't do too much worldbuilding irrevelant to where my players go, to not limit the number of adventures I can make, I just for starters estabilished few things about races so they'll know what they're standing on.

MLai
2012-03-14, 10:37 PM
Just as offesive is sayign that guy who has different skin color, say, green, must be evil. And quite frankly, if I would have Asian in my group I would sit with him and make him help me develop Asian-inspired Goblins.
And maybe the Asian player would tell you: "Why must goblins be Asian-inspired?"
Maybe you're unaware of the historical precedent, but look at WW2 propaganda posters and Yellow Scare propaganda posters. Asians don't like being the "inspiration for goblins/orcs."


but I might actually do some research about culture I'm basing Orcs on, instead of relying on stereotypes.
Unfortunately it won't matter no matter how deep you make the orc culture. If it too strongly resembles a particular culture(s), representatives of that culture will say "Why do orcs resemble my culture?" You might say "But they're multi-faceted, they're not automatically evil." Player will reply, "They're still fugly. Why must they resemble my culture?"


If I would be afraid that I may offend somebody, I wouldn't be playing RPGs or read fantasy because some people are offended by that.
That's the whole point. High fantasy has the inherent slippery slope of using nonhuman monocultures to act as allegories of human societies. That's what Tolkien did. Before that, elves are fairies dressed in leaves, but after Tolkien they resemble the "ideal" NW European society. Orcs used to be simply Unseelee fairies, but Tolkien made them represent rampant European industrialization, and maybe WW2 Germans (denied by Tolkien).

Tolkien did not intend for his novels to create a game genre, which uses the letter of his literary allegory but not the spirit. Ppl start basing nonhuman creatures on human cultures, in order to let them be self-sustaining societies. But who wants to be the basis for a society of monsters which traditionally are used to represent loathsome/frightening facets of human psyche?


I think what people are disliking these days is the whole concept of "mooks". What makes something from the MM "easy XP" and what makes it "an NPC to be treated with respect until proven otherwise"?
This is not a novel... it's a game genre where you gain XP by killing things...

Agree with Janus, Worira, Axolotl.


I would contend that there is a very real difference between completely fictional racism against a completely fictional race and putting a racist caricature of a real life ethnic group in a game as a monster.
Exactly. I would contend that the latter is much worse than the former.

However, it's not that "racism is ok as long as it's against a fictional ethnic group." Because racism as a worldview is not okay; it's patently unscientific. It's that orcs are fictional inhuman creatures (who happen to be humanoid in shape), not a fictional ethnic group of humans.

Man on Fire
2012-03-14, 11:23 PM
And maybe the Asian player would tell you: "Why must goblins be Asian-inspired?"

And maybye I'll tel him "I wrote down six countries from the top of my head and rolled a dice".


Maybe you're unaware of the historical precedent, but look at WW2 propaganda posters and Yellow Scare propaganda posters. Asians don't like being the "inspiration for goblins/orcs."

I'm sorry dude, but I can't respond to that on this board - this is getting into politics and where there is politics, there is religion and I don't want to get banned, I just got into two games, sorry.


Unfortunately it won't matter no matter how deep you make the orc culture. If it too strongly resembles a particular culture(s), representatives of that culture will say "Why do orcs resemble my culture?" You might say "But they're multi-faceted, they're not automatically evil." Player will reply, "They're still fugly. Why must they resemble my culture?"

To which I will respond "Well I'm offended by your apparent hate of ugly people so consider that a karma.".


That's the whole point. High fantasy has the inherent slippery slope of using nonhuman monocultures to act as allegories of human societies.

Maybe you didn't got it the first time, so I'll repeat:.
I. Don't. Care. If. Somebody. Will. Be. Offended. At. All. Got it?


That's what Tolkien did. Before that, elves are fairies dressed in leaves, but after Tolkien they resemble the "ideal" NW European society. Orcs used to be simply Unseelee fairies, but Tolkien made them represent rampant European industrialization, and maybe WW2 Germans (denied by Tolkien).

So you are saying he did something despite the fact he himself said that it's a load of bullmanure? I think you failed your logic check.


Ppl start basing nonhuman creatures on human cultures, in order to let them be self-sustaining societies.

You say this like it's a bad thing.


But who wants to be the basis for a society of monsters which traditionally are used to represent loathsome/frightening facets of human psyche?

<Raises a hand> Me! Me! Pick up me!


This is not a novel... it's a game genre where you gain XP by killing things...

Thanks for saying that story dosn't belong into the game and thanks for implying that we're all just bunch of munchkins and psychos who likes to stab fictional creatures and don't care about the storytelling and narrative in our game. I, for one, come from gaming school who does put story above XPs, thank you very much.


However, it's not that "racism is ok as long as it's against a fictional ethnic group." Because racism as a worldview is not okay; it's patently unscientific. It's that orcs are fictional inhuman creatures (who happen to be humanoid in shape), not a fictional ethnic group of humans.

In other words (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/2/18/please-check-one/).

And I just don't buy your stupid "they're not human" explanation. When I read about Orc suffering, being killed or in pain, my mirror neurons still activate, that's enough for me.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-15, 12:09 AM
I'm sorry, but if orcs are capable of sentient, sapient thought, of building societies and so on and have a human shape….then portraying them as all evil is racism.

or should I say, specieism, or whatever. point is, arbitrary prejudices and demonizing things are bad. No matter how much claim orcs to be "inhuman" or whatever, its all just a justification so that you don't feel guilty when your in the middle of roleplaying and you kill them for nothing but experience and loot, which is the very definition of evil in my book, and ignore the opportunities for actual roleplaying over treating roleplaying as nothing but a written videogame where all your actions are justified.

If I wanted inhuman mooks, I'd just have the villain send zombies or mindless magical robots/golems. Why are you so adamant upon orcs being the inhuman monsters? Programmed attack drones are as inhuman as you can get, you don't need orcs.

especially when it brings up issues of prejudice and demonization like this.

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-15, 12:10 AM
It's lazy only if you feel they should be humanized. If they just remain mooks like every other monster in the manual

Sounds like your DM isn't a very good one.

MLai
2012-03-15, 06:18 AM
@ Man on Fire:

I. Don't. Care. If. Somebody. Will. Be. Offended. At. All. Got it?
Wait so you're offended that I'm "racist" towards fictional green ppl, but you don't care if someone is offended that you based your fictional green ppl on his/her culture (presumably because in your mind it "fits best")?


So you are saying he did something despite the fact he himself said that it's a load of bullmanure? I think you failed your logic check.
So just because an author says something about his works, it's automatically true? Look up "death of author" in TV Tropes.
Besides that, the fact that I said "maybe", and specifically added that it's denied by the author, seems to not register with you because you seem angry at something.
Oh right, you're angry I'm prejudiced against fictional green ppl.


You say this like it's a bad thing.
It is a slippery slope.
You don't seem to register anything I try to explain. I think I'm done with you unless you come up with some new ideas, and present them calmly.


thanks for implying that we're all just bunch of munchkins and psychos who likes to stab fictional creatures and don't care about the storytelling and narrative in our game.
Thanks for the flamebait but I'm no longer interested.


I'm sorry, but if orcs are capable of sentient, sapient thought, of building societies and so on and have a human shape….then portraying them as all evil is racism.
Satan and his devils in Hell are sentient, sapient, capable of building a social hierarchy, and often have humanoid shapes. Racism?
Remember the part about orcs having magical origins? Specifically that they're inspired from Unseelee fairies?
Tolkien's orcs not only have magical origins, they're also intimately tied to their master's dark magic. After Sauron died, they pretty much spontaneously crumbled to dust (exaggeration), or at the very least "lost all their power and will" and scurried into the crevices of the earth, there to fade away.
Tolkien never meant for orcs/goblins to be wholly human-like, non-magical societies capable of change. Making them such is a slippery slope.


Programmed attack drones are as inhuman as you can get, you don't need orcs.
You keep thinking there's a difference. See above.


Sounds like your DM isn't a very good one.
Notice I said "monsters." Define monster for me, maybe you'll see what I mean.

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-15, 08:04 AM
You keep thinking there's a difference. See above.


Of course there is a difference. As for Tolkien... he himself thinks he wrote them wrong; they should have been more diverse.

Man on Fire
2012-03-15, 09:14 AM
Wait so you're offended that I'm "racist" towards fictional green ppl, but you don't care if someone is offended that you based your fictional green ppl on his/her culture (presumably because in your mind it "fits best")?

First, i'm not offended, but irritated, tired and annoyed.
Second, my problem is more that you are willing to defend tired, boring, predictable, used to death cliche because you don't want to feel bad about murdering people for XPs.
And quite frankly - Orcs and Goblins are awesome and I think people should feel honored somebody based them on their culture.


So just because an author says something about his works, it's automatically true? Look up "death of author" in TV Tropes.

I know this trope. And I hate it as convinient excuse for more crazy fans to still support their stupid theories, that have no basis in the actual story (see NGE, harry Potter and Avatar fans). I also have to point out that what you are doing, namely twisting author's original intent to fit your purposes is not acceptable for me as an argument. Keep your crazy theories for yourself.


Besides that, the fact that I said "maybe", and specifically added that it's denied by the author, seems to not register with you because you seem angry at something.

Yet you still used it for your own purpose despite knowing that it was wrong.


It is a slippery slope.
You don't seem to register anything I try to explain. I think I'm done with you unless you come up with some new ideas, and present them calmly.

If somebody here need to come up with new ideas it is you, my friend - your argumentation boils down to two points:
1) They are not people - this point I had already dismissed, which you ignored.

2) Somebody may be offended that you made orcs based on them. - To which I said that:
a) I don't care
b) if somebody is prejuiced against ugly people, I care even less if he is offended.
c) I suggested mixing several cultures into new one, which you ignored. Apparently you don't see other possibility than either have mindless orcs or orcs based on one culture.

If you want to convince me that this is a slippery slope, you need to use arguments I haven't already dismissed.


Thanks for the flamebait but I'm no longer interested.

Truth hurts but running away won't solve anything.


Satan and his devils in Hell are sentient, sapient, capable of building a social hierarchy, and often have humanoid shapes. Racism?

And now we're entering the waters we're not allowed to sail on again. Use an argument that is not related to religion, I really don't want to get banned, okay?


Remember the part about orcs having magical origins? Specifically that they're inspired from Unseelee fairies?

Elves and dwarves have magical origins and are inspired by Nordic mythology, but it's not okay to butcher them for XPs because they're pretty. How is that fair?


Tolkien's orcs not only have magical origins, they're also intimately tied to their master's dark magic. After Sauron died, they pretty much spontaneously crumbled to dust (exaggeration), or at the very least "lost all their power and will" and scurried into the crevices of the earth, there to fade away.

Who cares? I'm not reading or playing Lord of the Rings, I would like some difference in how things work.


Tolkien never meant for orcs/goblins to be wholly human-like, non-magical societies capable of change. Making them such is a slippery slope.

Yeah, because it's not like fantasy is about creativity and imagination, it's all about repeating things Tolkien did over and over again.

You knwo what? I hate Lord of the Rings. I like Tolkien's Sirmaillion much more. I certainly don't want to entire fantasy be exactly like Lord of the Rings. Milking Tolkien is not my appeal, I want more creativity in my books AND in my games. If you dont have enough of it to give me at least different Orcs, I don't see why I should keep reading your book.

Axolotl
2012-03-15, 09:30 AM
Yeah, because it's not like fantasy is about creativity and imagination, it's all about repeating things Tolkien did over and over again.

You knwo what? I hate Lord of the Rings. I like Tolkien's Sirmaillion much more. I certainly don't want to entire fantasy be exactly like Lord of the Rings. Milking Tolkien is not my appeal, I want more creativity in my books AND in my games. If you dont have enough of it to give me at least different Orcs, I don't see why I should keep reading your book.If you're not repeating Tolkein why use orcs at all? I'm serious here, what purpose do they serve if not as low-level footsoldiers for some evil villan?

Nerd-o-rama
2012-03-15, 09:35 AM
If you're not repeating Tolkein why use orcs at all? I'm serious here, what purpose do they serve if not as low-level footsoldiers for some evil villan?

People adapted to survive in harsh natural conditions, whether those conditions are Mordor, tundra, steppes, a desert, whatever. Tough, strong, and "uncivilized", often as a foil to elves who are typically graceful, fragile (even if undying) and so civilized they've transcended the need for cities.

That's how I've usually seen orcs, regardless of whatever their moral alignment was in the given work and how their "uncivilized" nature was played.

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-15, 09:40 AM
People adapted to survive in harsh natural conditions, whether those conditions are Mordor, tundra, steppes, a desert, whatever. Tough, strong, and "uncivilized", often as a foil to elves who are typically graceful, fragile (even if undying) and so civilized they've transcended the need for cities.

That's how I've usually seen orcs, regardless of whatever their moral alignment was in the given work and how their "uncivilized" nature was played.

Yep. For me, Krogan are my favorite Orcs. So to speak.

Axolotl
2012-03-15, 09:49 AM
People adapted to survive in harsh natural conditions, whether those conditions are Mordor, tundra, steppes, a desert, whatever. Tough, strong, and "uncivilized", often as a foil to elves who are typically graceful, fragile (even if undying) and so civilized they've transcended the need for cities.

That's how I've usually seen orcs, regardless of whatever their moral alignment was in the given work and how their "uncivilized" nature was played.But why orcs? Humans can serve that role just as well and without the connotations orcs hold. If they've lost the defining trait of Tolkein's orcs why use his name for them?

Man on Fire
2012-03-15, 10:28 AM
But why orcs? Humans can serve that role just as well and without the connotations orcs hold. If they've lost the defining trait of Tolkein's orcs why use his name for them?

I'm tired of this obsession over potraying humans as awesome and capable of everything in santafy and science-fiction. One of reasons why I hate Warhammers is that they do everything to show how amazing humanity is. Having a race of humans who can do what Orcs do is nothing more but another piece of favorsing our race. Orcs allows you to step back and talk about us by metaphor, from objective perspective. Humans with the same traits like orcs would be still potrayed as just "cool badasses", while with Orcs you can actualy have a chance to go deeper into their culture, because you aren't orc yourself, so you can analyze things without favorizing.

Morty
2012-03-15, 10:30 AM
Because fantasy, as a whole, transcended Tolkien. All over the place you see portrayals of fantasy races that differ from his versions even if they're still rooted in his works. Frankly, orcs, goblins et cetera are the only races in regards to which people use the "That's how Tolkien did it!" argument.

hamishspence
2012-03-15, 11:04 AM
Because fantasy, as a whole, transcended Tolkien. All over the place you see portrayals of fantasy races that differ from his versions even if they're still rooted in his works. Frankly, orcs, goblins et cetera are the only races in regards to which people use the "That's how Tolkien did it!" argument.

And even authors who use similar "origins" to Tolkien's (Terry Pratchett's orcs are shock troopers created from humans by an evil sorcerer) still allow a great deal of room for nuance (Mr Nutt in Unseen Academicals is decidedly cultured). And the fact that the orcs were driven into battle by whip-wielding humans is very relevant.

Axolotl
2012-03-15, 11:14 AM
I'm tired of this obsession over potraying humans as awesome and capable of everything in santafy and science-fiction. One of reasons why I hate Warhammers is that they do everything to show how amazing humanity is. Having a race of humans who can do what Orcs do is nothing more but another piece of favorsing our race. Orcs allows you to step back and talk about us by metaphor, from objective perspective. Humans with the same traits like orcs would be still potrayed as just "cool badasses", while with Orcs you can actualy have a chance to go deeper into their culture, because you aren't orc yourself, so you can analyze things without favorizing. Wouldn't having humans as primitive barbarians be more anti-human than having te barbarian be another species. And once again, why orcs? If you're making them a different race and using them for a different purpose then why keep the name?


Because fantasy, as a whole, transcended Tolkien. All over the place you see portrayals of fantasy races that differ from his versions even if they're still rooted in his works. Frankly, orcs, goblins et cetera are the only races in regards to which people use the "That's how Tolkien did it!" argument.If it had transcended Tolkein it wouldn't be useing his races. And most Elves and Dwarves are just like his with few minor changes.

MLai
2012-03-15, 11:24 AM
Of course there is a difference. As for Tolkien... he himself thinks he wrote them wrong; they should have been more diverse.
1. Death of Author.
2. I'd like to see him try. He can't do it unless he rewrites the entire trilogy.


Second, my problem is more that you are willing to defend tired, boring, predictable, used to death cliche because you don't want to feel bad about murdering people for XPs.
You forget the part where I minored in anthropology and studied history of racism, and drew college comics addressing racism in fantasy. I was in your current phase of "Hey why ppl prejudicin' on orcs?!" long before you, probably.
I've now reached the next phase of that line of thought: "Ppl prejudicin' on orcs in AD&D games, because to make them more human-like is even more racist."


I know this trope. And I hate it as convinient excuse for more crazy fans to still support their stupid theories,
Not exactly simply an internet trope. This is a legitimate literary theory:
"The Death of the Author" is a 1967 essay by the French literary critic and theorist Roland Barthes. Barthes's essay argues against traditional literary criticism's practice of incorporating the intentions and biographical context of an author in an interpretation of a text, and instead argues that writing and creator are unrelated.
Therefore there's no such thing as "knowing that it was wrong." It's not.


And now we're entering the waters we're not allowed to sail on again. Use an argument that is not related to religion, I really don't want to get banned, okay?
I can just as easily use AD&D archdevils such as Asmodius, Baal, Belzeebub, etc.


Elves and dwarves have magical origins and are inspired by Nordic mythology, but it's not okay to butcher them for XPs because they're pretty not inherently evil. How is that fair?
Fixed it for u.

Agree with Axolotl. And no, you can't say "I don't care about what Tolkien wrote." Like it or not, he invented the word ORCS. And your orcs still look pretty much like the orcs he described in his novels.


I'm tired of this obsession over potraying humans as awesome and capable of everything [snip].
That entire paragraph made no sense.


Because fantasy, as a whole, transcended Tolkien. All over the place you see portrayals of fantasy races that differ from his versions even if they're still rooted in his works. Frankly, orcs, goblins et cetera are the only races in regards to which people use the "That's how Tolkien did it!" argument.
Here's what I originally said, before I was derailed by flamebaits:

1. You *can* make orcs more human-like if you want, in your games. But you have to explain that to the players ahead of time. And you just have to be aware that there is a slippery slope in effect when you try that direction.

2. You can also make orcs inhuman. There is nothing wrong with that. It is not racist, as long as it's internally consistent in your game world. Just like you can trash robots and not feel bad, you can kill orcs and not worry about it.

So in summary, I never said you CANNOT make orcs more human. I did say that you have to be careful of the slippery slope that I described. And I did say that it's just as valid to keep them inhuman. And I did say that one shouldn't get self-righteous in preferring the former over the latter; you're not any more right than us.

Alchemistmerlin
2012-03-15, 11:39 AM
So in summary, I never said you CANNOT make orcs more human. I did say that you have to be careful of the slippery slope that I described. And I did say that it's just as valid to keep them inhuman. And I did say that one shouldn't get self-righteous in preferring the former over the latter; you're not any more right than us.

Ok.

You do know that "Slippery Slope" is the name of a fallacy right? That you are, repeatedly, using the name of a fallacious argument to describe your OWN arguments, yes?

I just, I had to get that out there.

Fictional beings can or cannot be whatever the person using them chooses for them to or not to be.

Saying X is "inherently evil" is incredibly lazy writing.

"Orcs are evil" is like saying "Vampires are weak to garlic" or "Zombies are slow" or "Kobolds are furry", these are meaningless statements because there are innumerable interpretations of the concepts due to them having NO basis in reality on which to form a solid structure.

Tiki Snakes
2012-03-15, 11:54 AM
Agree with Axolotl. And no, you can't say "I don't care about what Tolkien wrote." Like it or not, he invented the word ORCS. And your orcs still look pretty much like the orcs he described in his novels.

Well, Kind of. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orc#Etymology) I wouldn't say that's entirely the case though.

Particularly if you skim the early modern usage section.

Early modern usage

The Oxford English Dictionary refers to orke, used in 1656 in a way that is reminiscent of giants and ogres. It is presumed that 'orke'/'ogre' came into English via continental fairy-tales, especially from the 17th century French writer Charles Perrault, who borrowed most of his stories and developed his 'ogre' from the 16th century Italian writers Giambattista Basile, Giovanni Francesco Straparola (who has been credited with introducing the literary form of the fairy tale) and Basile, who wrote in the Naples dialect (though Naples was, at that time, controlled by Spain) and claimed simply to be passing on oral folktales from his region that he had collected. In at least a dozen or more tales, Basile used huorco, huerco or uerco, the Neapolitan form of orco [Italian] 'giant', 'monster', to describe a large, hairy, tusked, mannish beast who could speak, that lived away in a dark forest or garden and that might capture and eat humans, or be indifferent or even benevolent — all depending on the tale.[11]

MLai
2012-03-15, 12:01 PM
You do know that "Slippery Slope" is the name of a fallacy right? That you are, repeatedly, using the name of a fallacious argument to describe your OWN arguments, yes?
Quit it with the semantics, srsly.
Here you go:
Modern usage includes a logically valid form, in which a minor action causes a significant impact through a long chain of logical relationships. Note that establishing this chain of logical implication (or quantifying the relevant probabilities) makes this form logically valid. The slippery slope argument remains a fallacy if such a chain is not established.
Happy?


Fictional beings can or cannot be whatever the person using them chooses for them to or not to be.
And exactly how does what I just said contradict that? Sounds like you're agreeing with me.


Saying X is "inherently evil" is incredibly lazy writing.
I did not create the alignments system of AD&D. We're still talking about paper RPGs I assume?
And would you say AD&D archdevils are not always evil?


"Orcs are evil" is like saying "Vampires are weak to garlic" or "Zombies are slow" or "Kobolds are furry", these are meaningless statements because there are innumerable interpretations....
I didn't realize "weak to garlic", "slow", and "furry" are meaningless words subject to interpretation.

Thanks Tiki Snakes, I finally encountered a useful opposing post. I learned something new.

Man on Fire
2012-03-15, 12:41 PM
Wouldn't having humans as primitive barbarians be more anti-human than having te barbarian be another species. And once again, why orcs? If you're making them a different race and using them for a different purpose then why keep the name?

Human as barbarian would probably turn into an akin of "White Man: Superior Indian" movie(Dancing With Wolves or something like that), showing how much closer to the nature humanity can be than anybody else or something. And Conan was there, there is nothing more to do with human barbarian. Plus orcs don't have to be barbarians. And why call them Orcs? To play with the cliche, mock it and annoy people who deny Orcs right to be accepted as normal race. And if I would call them something different, would that change the fact they still would be Orcs? Aren't Snrotlings from 40k still Goblins but with different names?


If it had transcended Tolkein it wouldn't be useing his races. And most Elves and Dwarves are just like his with few minor changes.

There is a lot of fantasy that isn't using his races. See Book of Amber or Black Company.


1. Death of Author.
2. I'd like to see him try. He can't do it unless he rewrites the entire trilogy.[/uote]

1. see below.
2. Adding one paragraph about Orcs doing some mundane stuff like taking care of their wounded ones or praying or dancing. Not that hard.


You forget the part where I minored in anthropology and studied history of racism, and drew college comics addressing racism in fantasy. I was in your current phase of "Hey why ppl prejudicin' on orcs?!" long before you, probably.

What it has to do with whatever I said? I said you deny Orcs the right to be civilized because you don't want to feel bad about killing them. I don't care what you studied or where you were or what phase you went through - keep private stuff private, because it has nothing to do with the discussion.


I've now reached the next phase of that line of thought: "Ppl prejudicin' on orcs in AD&D games, because to make them more human-like is even more racist."

Yeah, because no other race can or ever will be like humans, except those who are pretty. Greenskins just can't feel love or be lonely, or be sad, or care about something, these traits are human and human only and greenskins are just dumb animals.

Come back when you'll grow out of your dumb phases and come to realization that humanity is not special and shouldn't get special treatment.


Not exactly simply an internet trope. This is a legitimate literary theory:
"The Death of the Author" is a 1967 essay by the French literary critic and theorist Roland Barthes. Barthes's essay argues against traditional literary criticism's practice of incorporating the intentions and biographical context of an author in an interpretation of a text, and instead argues that writing and creator are unrelated.
Therefore there's no such thing as "knowing that it was wrong." It's not.

No, sorry, not in this case. You wrote that he "made them" to be like they are. If he denied that, then he didn't - it wasn't on purpose and they come like that by accident. Even if Orcs are how they are in Tolkien's works, it wasn't intentional. And from what I see, Tolkien considers it his mistake. We honor man who gave us fantasy genre in very interesting way, by mindlessly repeating what he himself thought he did wrong.


I can just as easily use AD&D archdevils such as Asmodius, Baal, Belzeebub, etc.

And I can use number of fictional demons and devils that can still be potrayed as sympathetic - Hellboy, Neil Gaiman's and Mike Carey's Lucifer, Daimon Hellstorm, Satan from Devilman and several demons from that series, Spawn, Etrigan, Satan from "Paradise Lost", even demon-wrestler Kane sometimes goes as a face... Not to mention that even purerly evil demons can still be interesting characters, see Mephisto from Marvel Comics - evil to the bone but still interesting. Dumb barbaric orc doing waaagh is boring*.
Oh, and I can thought of another inherently evil race - Drows. After Drizzd it's just discrimination to say that Drows suddenly can have good specimens but other evil races can't.

Quote:

[QUOTE]Elves and dwarves have magical origins and are inspired by Nordic mythology, but it's not okay to butcher them for XPs because they're pretty not inherently evil. How is that fair?
Fixed it for u.

I would like to politely ask you to never, ever, ever do that again. I do not want to somebody to see this out of context and assume I think Orcs are inherently evil. And you know what? Even if they are born evil, even if evil is in ther DNA, they don't have to be evil in their lives - see Hellboy and Daimon Hellstorm, who are born to be antichrist of their respective Universes, and are pretty good guys. Orcs fighting with their inherent evil nature would make much better characters than dumb barbaric orcs who does waaagh *.
And don't deny that whole thing doesn't just boild down to the one thing - Orcs just aren't pretty. After your post about Chinesse Hobgoblins it became obvious that this is a problem.


I did not create the alignments system of AD&D. We're still talking about paper RPGs I assume?

This thread is in all-media board, I actually talk here primarly about literature and comics, and only little about RPGSs. And even in RPGs we have Earthdawn, that has good Orcs.

* - I actually like Warhammer Orcs, but only as a joke characters. Through War of Krork from the Age of Dusk are still better.


1. You *can* make orcs more human-like if you want, in your games. But you have to explain that to the players ahead of time. And you just have to be aware that there is a slippery slope in effect when you try that direction.

Quit with this slippery slope, this argument is based on the assumption that you have to base Orcs on some existing culture to give them culture. Go and read Orc Strain. Then come back and tell me which culture these Orcs are based on. I would love to know about culture that reshapes mountains to look like erected penises.

Alchemistmerlin
2012-03-15, 12:52 PM
Quit it with the semantics, srsly.
Here you go:
Modern usage includes a logically valid form, in which a minor action causes a significant impact through a long chain of logical relationships. Note that establishing this chain of logical implication (or quantifying the relevant probabilities) makes this form logically valid. The slippery slope argument remains a fallacy if such a chain is not established.
Happy?

No.


And exactly how does what I just said contradict that? Sounds like you're agreeing with me.

Only sort of, this is the part where I was addressing the ridiculousness of the thread at large, rather than merely your statements. I'm reminded of a song; Your so vain, you probably think this post is about you, don't you, don't you, don't you?

Given that I quoted you and made no indication as to a directional change, I can understand why that would be.



I did not create the alignments system of AD&D. We're still talking about paper RPGs I assume?
And would you say AD&D archdevils are not always evil?
We're talking about RPGs? You've been talking about Tolkien, biblical personifications of evil, and anything else that for the moment "supports" your argument, while assuming that the posts you are disagreeing with are talking about whichever version supports their argument the least.



I didn't realize "weak to garlic", "slow", and "furry" are meaningless words subject to interpretation.
No, but Vampire, Zombie, Kobold, and Orc are. I can see why you were confused though.

Axolotl
2012-03-15, 01:26 PM
Human as barbarian would probably turn into an akin of "White Man: Superior Indian" movie(Dancing ith Wolves or something like that), showing how much closer to the nature humanity can be than anybody else and all stupid "humanity is superior" mess.There have been countless example of human barbarians in real life. I certainly say they provide any compelling reason to think we'd be superior to anyone.



Plus orcs don't have to be barbarians. And why call them Orcs? To play with the cliche, mock it and annoy people who deny Orcs right to be accepted as normal race. And if I would call them something different, would that change the fact they still would be Orcs? Arent Snrotlings from 40k still Goblins but with different names?But they aren't orcs, orcs are evil it's a their most notable feature, once they lose that they aren't orcs any more. Calling something that's not an orc an orc isn't breaking a cliche, I mean I could call a torch a gun and say I'm breaking the cliche of guns shoting bullets but but all i'd be doing is giving it a misleading name. And snotlings have most of the features of goblins, I'd be hesitent to say they are goblins because of their radically different biology but the end result is recognisably goblinish they're small, evil and ugly, they have automatic weapons which iis in keeping with their setting.


There is a lot of fantasy that isn't using his races. See Book of Amber or Black Company.There's plenty that isn't sure, but there's plenty more that is and sadly it tends to be the more prominent.

Alchemistmerlin
2012-03-15, 01:58 PM
But they aren't orcs, orcs are evil it's a their most notable feature, once they lose that they aren't orcs any more. Calling something that's not an orc an orc isn't breaking a cliche, I mean I could call a torch a gun and say I'm breaking the cliche of guns shoting bullets but but all i'd be doing is giving it a misleading name. And snotlings have most of the features of goblins, I'd be hesitent to say they are goblins because of their radically different biology but the end result is recognisably goblinish they're small, evil and ugly, they have automatic weapons which is in keeping with their setting.

This may be true for you, but in both my world and in my mind "evil" is not the "most notable feature" of an Orc. You are stating opinions as facts, and as such this discussion can't actually proceed. In your mind "Orc = Evil" and any divergence from that is not an orc. Your mind is made up, arguing the point will go nowhere because of the nature of your definitions.

I would leave you with this: Evil is, especially in fiction, largely subjective ( I believe ). How can the objectively defining characteristic of a species be based in a subjective concept?

If we are talking the D&D morality system where you can run "Evilcheck.god" and get a yes or no answer, then that is a little more solid but even THEN it is unclear because the MM entry says "Usually" Evil on most of it's humanoid races.

t209
2012-03-15, 02:16 PM
Guys, can we list things that created equal opportunity for ORcs?
One ironic thing about OOTS verse is that even though orcs are created for XP fodder.
1. Even genocidic Azurites have no trouble talking with them. There is some intermarriage (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0555.html) too.
2. Roy even supportednegotiations between Orcs and Humans.
Maybe When world turned to 3.5, gods decided to make them not-xp-fodder.
In Elderscrolls verse, Orcs are
1. good warriors
2. good smithys
3. good soldiers (rank and files).

Man on Fire
2012-03-15, 03:12 PM
There have been countless example of human barbarians in real life. I certainly say they provide any compelling reason to think we'd be superior to anyone.

But everybody did everything there was to do with human barbarians.



But they aren't orcs, orcs are evil it's a their most notable feature, once they lose that they aren't orcs any more.

Not in my book, being evil was never a requirement to be an orc for me.

Axolotl
2012-03-15, 03:15 PM
This may be true for you, but in both my world and in my mind "evil" is not the "most notable feature" of an Orc. You are stating opinions as facts, and as such this discussion can't actually proceed. In your mind "Orc = Evil" and any divergence from that is not an orc. Your mind is made up, arguing the point will go nowhere because of the nature of your definitions.Well, it's pretty much their main trait in Tolkein, we aren't given much beyond them being stupid, ugly and evil, and even before him the word literally meant evil spirit.


I would leave you with this: Evil is, especially in fiction, largely subjective ( I believe ). How can the objectively defining characteristic of a species be based in a subjective concept?I couldn't disagree more strongly.


If we are talking the D&D morality system where you can run "Evilcheck.god" and get a yes or no answer, then that is a little more solid but even THEN it is unclear because the MM entry says "Usually" Evil on most of it's humanoid races.I rarely define things using DnD, not even fantasy concepts. Even then regardless of what the MM (which edition?) says, they were added into DnD to act as an evil mook race, they've always been used as an evil mook race and I can't see the purpose of removing them from that role.

Alchemistmerlin
2012-03-15, 03:24 PM
Well, it's pretty much their main trait in Tolkein, we aren't given much beyond them being stupid, ugly and evil, and even before him the word literally meant evil spirit.

I couldn't disagree more strongly.

I rarely define things using DnD, not even fantasy concepts. Even then regardless of what the MM (which edition?) says, they were added into DnD to act as an evil mook race, they've always been used as an evil mook race and I can't see the purpose of removing them from that role.

1) This is also the main trait of "The Enemy" in any story told from 1 side's position. That's actually what makes the subversion of this an interesting concept.

2) You couldn't disagree with the subjectivity of evil? I don't believe we can have the argument about this on this forum without both of us getting banana'd, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

3) X was Y, X has always been Y, why change X? isn't really a great way to operate in creative works.

Man on Fire
2012-03-15, 03:25 PM
Well, it's pretty much their main trait in Tolkein, we aren't given much beyond them being stupid, ugly and evil, and even before him the word literally meant evil spirit.

I couldn't disagree more strongly.

I rarely define things using DnD, not even fantasy concepts. Even then regardless of what the MM (which edition?) says, they were added into DnD to act as an evil mook race, they've always been used as an evil mook race and I can't see the purpose of removing them from that role.

Would I know more about D&D crunch I would drag you into Age of Orcs campaing.

Weirdlet
2012-03-15, 03:40 PM
If you want to make a villainous force with lots of snarling footsoldiers that's inherently vile and antithetical to human life and survival, then flavor orcs something like the Darkspawn from the Dragon Age games. There are no qualms whatsoever about destroying them, because they are literally magical-disease-driven zombie-orcs that have devolved from human flesh. They can't be redeemed (at least, not by any means available or practical to those trying to survive their onslaught) and they cannot be tolerated and still survive yourself. That's Always Chaotic Evil (as used to justify extermination with extreme prejudice) done right.

Think of things this way- orcs are those funny-looking guys on the fringe of our turf who have a conflict of interest with us, the will to kick ass and take names, and possibly a cultural clash that means they think us as unacceptable as we think them.

This has been sufficient cause for war between human peoples for time out of memory.

As such- they plainly have a culture of their own, if they aren't a literal blight on the land as illustrated above. It just may not be one that meshes with the set of morals that is idealized in the writers', players', or ingame baseline-human-civlization's culture, from which the PCs' viewpoint will stem. It is entirely possible to have enemy without having evil inherent- evil being the label that folks will put on things that are bad for them. You don't have to go all-out in designing culture you don't think your PCs will linger on, but try to give them the same versimilitude you would a human barbarian horde, militaristic warlord, gang of street thugs, or tough nomadic people encountered in passing.

Putting barbarism and aggression as the milieu of a different race is basically making them a representation of the things that humans have been doing for forever- but don't want to think of as part of themselves or their culture. Is this racist? A bit, yeah- assigning tropes based on features we don't see in ourselves always is, and particularly enhancing them with bestial or inhuman attitudes or features. One could make the argument that using orcs (or elves or halflings or dwarves or goblins) is unnecessary, and even harmful and insulting if used carelessly.

That said, I love playing orcs, tabletop and LARP. Having that tool of being just different enough helps me get into character and explore being badass dominant female with a slightly animalistic nature, and makes it fun to have a blank slate do decide what my character's culture is and come up with interesting conflicts with other PCs. Having a 'hat' makes a decent shorthand for the simplifications that any game requires, whether its choices be species, subculture, or other stratification- and having different species to make the differences more dramatic is a tool to make a setting more fantastical. Just try and make sure you're not insulting someone's taste in headwear.

Axolotl
2012-03-15, 03:54 PM
1) This is also the main trait of "The Enemy" in any story told from 1 side's position. That's actually what makes the subversion of this an interesting concept.But once you take evil away from the orc there isn't a whole lot left, you just have ugly, stupid humans a role already well served by the average feudal peasant. You could add more traits to compensate and make them interesting but then what makes them orcs anymore?


2) You couldn't disagree with the subjectivity of evil? I don't believe we can have the argument about this on this forum without both of us getting banana'd, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that point.No, I mean I do disagree with the idea of evil being subjective, very strongly. And I'll say no more on that.


3) X was Y, X has always been Y, why change X? isn't really a great way to operate in creative works.But when you've changed X so much that it ceases to perform it's primary purpose you no longer have X. As I said above it's like making a gun that doesn't shoot things, possibly creative, maybe even admirable but calling the end product a gun is misleading at best.

endoperez
2012-03-15, 05:02 PM
Thanks for taking your time, MLai (and others). It took a bit of time getting my head around the idea, since I've read so much fantasy literature and the clichès are familiar to me and literary analysis isn't. I agree with you on many points.

Man on Fire (and others) - as I understand it, one of their points is that there are mooks, XP fodder or generic enemies in many fantasy worlds. They could be monsters, vampires, zombies, soulless carnivorous lagomorphs, demons, devils, orcs, whatever.
If orcs deserve to have a human-like culture, why not do the same for all of the monsters, including the zombies? The answer is that they're there to create conflict and drive the story. To make killing them more acceptable, these literary devices are monsters with no redeeming qualities. Zombies are mindless and have to be killed. Killer robots are intelligent, but have to obey their programming and have to be destroyed. Trolls are carnivorous, stupid, and kill and eat everything, so they have to be destroyed.

Some people use the word "orc" for their irredeemable monsters. It's no more wrong than using zombies, giants, vampires, aliens, robots or trolls as monsters.

Man on Fire
2012-03-15, 05:49 PM
Man on Fire (and others) - as I understand it, one of their points is that there are mooks, XP fodder or generic enemies in many fantasy worlds. They could be monsters, vampires, zombies, soulless carnivorous lagomorphs, demons, devils, orcs, whatever.
If orcs deserve to have a human-like culture, why not do the same for all of the monsters, including the zombies? The answer is that they're there to create conflict and drive the story. To make killing them more acceptable, these literary devices are monsters with no redeeming qualities. Zombies are mindless and have to be killed. Killer robots are intelligent, but have to obey their programming and have to be destroyed. Trolls are carnivorous, stupid, and kill and eat everything, so they have to be destroyed.

Some people use the word "orc" for their irredeemable monsters. It's no more wrong than using zombies, giants, vampires, aliens, robots or trolls as monsters.

But nothing forbids you from drawing the line where you want. For somebody Orcs may be irredeemable monsters, for some not, while zombies are. I actually preffer more shades of grey, where true, bona fide evil is reserved only for single big bad evil guys, while civilized races are all diverse, mindless monsters are just animals, zombies and similair are more victims that needs to be put out of their misery and some things may exist just outside the morality at all. It gives the world more spice.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-15, 09:06 PM
I agree with Man On Fire…..on basically everything.

I also like Stan Nichols portrayal of Orcs- good, but their society is very much a like a boot camp crossed with a bunch of rowdy guys at a bar. Lots of arguments, pragmatism, punching their lights out is often their solution for everything, but there is a bunch of different personalities there and they all know what they must do to survive and win. and they only care that your competent at what you do, which is why they have a dwarf in their warband.

MLai
2012-03-16, 12:19 AM
To play with the cliche, mock it and annoy people who deny Orcs right to be accepted as normal race.
You need to tone it down, all over the place in your posts. Stop being so vehement regarding different opinions on a fictional species.
You're starting to remind me of Avatar cosplayers.
It's funny how you're so scared of running afoul of forum rules, but calling other ppl names is a-ok by you.


2. Adding one paragraph about Orcs doing some mundane stuff like taking care of their wounded ones or praying or dancing. Not that hard.
Hmm... no. Changing his orcs from completely subservient magical-origin mooks into self-determining society of individuals would have sweeping geopolitical ramifications for his world.
I believe orcs were the most numerous humanoid species in Middle Earth. Even if they were completely "brainwashed" while Sauron was alive, but "released" once he died (and so they became individuals), that would instantly change the entire course of the Fourth Age(?) after Sauron was defeated.


I don't care what you studied or where you were or what phase you went through - keep private stuff private, because it has nothing to do with the discussion.
I was letting you know where I was coming from. That I'm not just coming into this topic ignorant of it and never having thought about it before.
Also, ever since I joined Relic Forum in 200x my avatar has always been something like this:
http://www.shatteredstar.org/groups/dow/images/orksample.jpg


[snip]And from what I see, Tolkien considers it his mistake...[snip]
I'm not sure you're actually reading what I wrote about Death Of Author. So I think I'll let that end here.


And I can use number of fictional demons and devils that can still be potrayed as sympathetic - Hellboy[snip]
But, to bring this back from derailment: Does using fictional devils in fictional Hell as my fictional world's irredeemably evil society of villains count as racism on my part?
If it does not, then why would using fictional orcs as my -blah blah- count as racism?
If it does, then are you arguing against (with vehemence) the existence of all fictional irredeemable evil groups, across all media, in all situations?


I would like to politely ask you to never, ever, ever do that again. I do not want to somebody to see this out of context
The phrase "fixed it for you," is a common forum signal to highlight that I crossed out something in a quote and added something else. It is not sneak-editing.


Orcs just aren't pretty. After your post about Chinesse Hobgoblins it became obvious that this is a problem.
Since you seem unaware of the kind of discriminatory remarks Asian immigrants have to live through as children, you don't really have a right to imply that a Chinese person in this case is being oversensitive.
Look up "white privilege". And no it doesn't matter if you're Caucasian yourself, in the context of the above statement.


I actually like Warhammer Orcs, but only as a joke characters. Through War of Krork from the Age of Dusk are still better.
I love W40K Orkz. As real characters.


Quit with this slippery slope, this argument is based on the assumption that you have to base Orcs on some existing culture to give them culture.
No, it's based on you saying, unprompted, that you're thinking of basing your fictional goblin tribe on real Asian cultures.

Agree completely with the entire post by Weirdlet. Also to add that Tolkien's orcs are basically Darkspawn from DAO, in terms of level of inherent evil. Except orcs can speak Common (though they do have their own Black Speech, which is reputedly vile to human ears).

Lord Raziere
2012-03-16, 12:35 AM
It matters not that the race is fictional.

Its the principle that matters. and that principle is "racism is bad".

just because its fictional, doesn't mean the principle should stop being upheld.

and "all orcs are evil" goes against such a principle.

Coidzor
2012-03-16, 12:58 AM
^: There's another principle to counter that one, and that's to relax sometimes, mate. :smallwink:


1) This is also the main trait of "The Enemy" in any story told from 1 side's position. That's actually what makes the subversion of this an interesting concept.

You mean aside from where the subversion of it has become a cliche and a racist cliche equating them with pastiche Native Americans at that? :smallconfused:


2) You couldn't disagree with the subjectivity of evil? I don't believe we can have the argument about this on this forum without both of us getting banana'd, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

One doesn't need to have it be objective every time or subjective every time. *shrug*


3) X was Y, X has always been Y, why change X? isn't really a great way to operate in creative works.

The problem is that gaming was brought into this discussion, so there's a number of tangled threads here, and sometimes a villainous figure just needs some underlings, and for whatever reason humans from culture X don't work. Orcs are basically a shorthand way of designating mooks without running into unfortunate implications about actual real world ethnic groups or affording them more screentime than their role in the story as, essentially, scene dressing demands.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-16, 01:02 AM
^: There's another principle to counter that one, and that's to relax sometimes, mate. :smallwink:


Playing a genocidal adventurer is not my idea of relaxation.

Jayngfet
2012-03-16, 01:57 AM
You know, I really can't get into this because of forum rules, but I think what changed wasn't fantasy so much as the people doing the reading and writing in the genre.

If you check the release date of games mentioned in this thread or otherwise featuring orcs(DND 2e, Elderscrolls Daggerfall, the Warcraft games), then check them in relation to real world events and age demographics, you can pretty much get a decent idea as to the "how" the "why" and the "when". In fact, about five minutes research shows you can more or less plop the various installments of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, and DND down in relation to orcs in relation to real world things on a timeline and things become clear rather quickly.

Coidzor
2012-03-16, 01:59 AM
Playing a genocidal adventurer is not my idea of relaxation.

You can have evil orcs or even just overwhelmingly antagonistic orcs without having to play a genocidal adventurer. Don't make things into other things that they are not and you'll enjoy life more.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-16, 02:22 AM
No. I like my orcs not evil. I am not ok with what I consider an outdated attitude towards fantasy races. I'd much rather play world of warcraft than DnD. WoW actually acknowledges that such prejudices is wrong. I can't relax if something blatantly justifies racism.

and I enjoy life the way I like to enjoy it, thank you very much. You can't tell me how I enjoy my life, so stop doing it.

Weirdlet
2012-03-16, 02:50 AM
Raziere, that's fair enough. You can easily switch up which group has the fortune to be in conquering-horde mode at the time of your game, or rather, which one has a strong majority in said mode, which gains them the antagonism of those in their paths. Or mix them up, say, ally different racial groups under a common cause. There needs to be tension in order for the game to fun, but there's nothing saying that you have to play by what feels wrong to you.

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-16, 03:11 AM
But they aren't orcs, orcs are evil it's a their most notable feature, once they lose that they aren't orcs any more.

And here is where your argument breaks apart.



Hmm... no. Changing his orcs from completely subservient magical-origin mooks into self-determining society of individuals would have sweeping geopolitical ramifications for his world.

You mean like Tolkien does when he gives Gorbag and (whatshisname?) the discussion about how much better life was before Sauron came back and how they could (back then) be left to their own devices and do what they wanted?

GolemsVoice
2012-03-16, 03:53 AM
I'll not take sides one way or another, but I think we need to answer an important question: what ARE Orcs for you? Because I think there should be at least some features that really set them apart from all the other races, because otherwise, well, you'd basically just have green painted people. Not even the green paint is neccessary. So you basically have humans, which would strike me as a bit silly.

Coidzor
2012-03-16, 03:53 AM
^: Greenish. Sometimes brown or a rather ruddy red-brown, generally more of a coppery sort. Occasionally grey or even gray. Have tusks. Stock character type for antagonists or humanoids living on the fringes of society and in the badlands. Thrive on conflict. Tweakable to a certain extent, but if it goes beyond that point I find that there is a range of other creatures who one would have competing for one's choice to use in that role. Then again, that could be said of many fictional species.

Spiritual ancestors of Orks.


You can't tell me how I enjoy my life, so stop doing it.

As I said before, do not make things into other things that they are not. You'll have less misunderstandings that way, as shown here.

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-16, 04:06 AM
I'll not take sides one way or another, but I think we need to answer an important question: what ARE Orcs for you? Because I think there should be at least some features that really set them apart from all the other races, because otherwise, well, you'd basically just have green painted people. Not even the green paint is neccessary. So you basically have humans, which would strike me as a bit silly.

Dark-skinned (as in literary black or grey, not "black" as in people from Africa), sometimes with a purple or green tone to it; living in clans or small villages. Muscular, with a violent culture as well as disposition (genetic or not is unimportant) but not anarchistic. They respect a strong leader. Often doing "evil" things, like plundering, raiding or killing.
Breeds like rats.

As I have said upthread: my favorite "Orc" is the Krogan fro Mass Effect.

Jayngfet
2012-03-16, 05:07 AM
I'll not take sides one way or another, but I think we need to answer an important question: what ARE Orcs for you? Because I think there should be at least some features that really set them apart from all the other races, because otherwise, well, you'd basically just have green painted people. Not even the green paint is neccessary. So you basically have humans, which would strike me as a bit silly.

Usually green or grey-green. Muscular, but built less like a body builder and more like a lumberjack(more gained from work and genetics than exercise for the sake of it). Not much fine culture to speak of, with no real intricacies to fashion or architecture or any real science. Tusks and maybe optional matching fangs are a must. Reputation for being violent, with a precedent. Pointy, broad ears. Closer to a boar or a wolf than anything you'd call elven. They aren't that picky and will usually eat anything they have to in any condition. Most of their individualisation comes from things like body paint, tattoos, or perhaps piercings. They usually live in barely fertile areas like deserts or dry plains or rocky mountains or the like.

Lots of little optional extras that don't have solidified details and aren't mandatory, like forked or pointed tongues, black sclera and/or yellow irises. Maybe claws on the fingers or some kind of slimy or corrosive saliva.

What they do or don't do with females varies. Sometimes they're right next to the males cracking skulls(usually in video games to give the player more options), sometimes they're kept locked up at home. I don't think there's much of a hard and fast rule there.

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-16, 05:37 AM
Also, see my avatar. Orc female.

MLai
2012-03-16, 06:04 AM
It matters not that the race is fictional.
Its the principle that matters. and that principle is "racism is bad".
Which is exactly why I kept saying that giving human attributes to Orcs as a group increases the danger of supporting racism in your game/book.
As long as you keep your Orcs as irredeemable mooks, the same as killer drones, or lower undead, or Darkspawn, or rank-and-file demons, then you don't run into the racism problem. And this is possible because Orcs are fictional, so you can define their attributes any way you please.
Alchemistmerlin had touched on this in his post earlier on this page:
"Orcs are evil" is like saying "Vampires are weak to garlic" or "Zombies are slow" or "Kobolds are furry", these are meaningless statements because there are innumerable interpretations of the concepts due to them having NO basis in reality on which to form a solid structure.


You mean aside from where the subversion of it has become a cliche and a racist cliche equating them with pastiche Native Americans at that?
Yes, exactly one of the danger you run into when you try to make Orcs more human.


You mean like Tolkien does when he gives Gorbag and (whatshisname?) the discussion about how much better life was before Sauron came back and how they could (back then) be left to their own devices and do what they wanted?
Seems like a throwaway line, which basically has no impact on the story at large.
The Tolkien orcs are sentient, don't get me wrong. But they are 100% subservient to Morgoth and Sauron. Never in the history of Middle Earth had they ever considered disobeying the dark lords or revolting. I don't think they ever had official civil wars, either. They are a monolithic society serving one allegory.
This book sounds interesting, btw: http://www.salon.com/2011/02/15/last_ringbearer

I know it sounds like I'm contradicting myself by saying I want to read The Last Ringbearer. But the issue of racism in fantasy is actually pretty complex.


what ARE Orcs for you?
The #1 orcs for me are the Orkz of W40K. This is a species with a fully-realized society of their own, but which do not do disservice to any human ethnicity/culture by being based on them. They are based on a lifestyle choice which has nothing to do with ethnicity (though there is a touch of class warfare in that). Their ways are subjectively evil and objectively destructive, but it is explained by their alien biology and psyche.
While Orkz defy racism, they are not annoyingly bowdlerized like the Navi of Avatar or the orcs of Warcraft. They are still very definitely "ORCS."

I revel in annihilating humanity and their works, in Dawn Of War. I don't have to swallow that I'm some sort of tree-hugging spiritual-and-misunderstood noble savage cliche and my actions are not my fault. If I wanted that I'd play elves.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1111111111:smallbiggrin:

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-16, 06:33 AM
If I'm running "Orcs are irredeemable mooks", I basically make them like Warhammer Orcs - intelligent (ish) and very violent vaguely-fungi-like creatures. They are truly alien beings - mentally and biologically. You could try establishing trade relations with them, but you might as well try doing that with a Xenomorph, or a particularly talkative strain of flesh-eating viruses.

If I'm running "Orcs are just an ordinary humanoid race", then I make them large green humans with a history for charismatic yet overly-ambitious and warlike leaders - hence their status as pariahs to most other races, and the somewhat slower development* of their civilisation.

Two approaches for two very different flavours of campaign.

*As defined by things like building cities, or roads - their tech mostly keeps up despite inferior infrastructure.

Just tossing my .02$ in there.

Morty
2012-03-16, 06:40 AM
I think that my unwillingness to conform to "tolkienesque" portryal of orcs is that I've never seen any need for disposable mooks in the story, preferring the protagonists to fight enemies that challenge them, have actual reasons to fight them and present some moral ambiguity about slaying them. Thus, I don't need a race that is conveniently both irredeemably evil and weak.
Because when it comes down to it, that's what orcs and orc stand-ins being irredeemably evil is all about - convenience. That is why it's more resilient than many other fantasy cliches. You don't really see people defending cardboard cutouts of haughty elves or drunken Scottish dwarves and claiming that presenting them as actual people instead of walking stereotypes is wrong.

endoperez
2012-03-16, 06:40 AM
But nothing forbids you from drawing the line where you want. For somebody Orcs may be irredeemable monsters, for some not, while zombies are. I actually preffer more shades of grey, where true, bona fide evil is reserved only for single big bad evil guys, while civilized races are all diverse, mindless monsters are just animals, zombies and similair are more victims that needs to be put out of their misery and some things may exist just outside the morality at all. It gives the world more spice.

If it's all subjective, and you admit here that it's just your preference, why are you arguing so strongly against other people's preferences? That preference being orcs as mindless mooks.

Your original argument seems to have been that any sentient race should have a culture, and not be summed up as "always chaotic evil". It seems you're now arguing that orcs should be a sentient race, which is very different.

One way of making sure that all sentient races have a culture, is to make all races without a culture non-sentient. The other way of getting around this is making up cultures for all sentient beings. Both can be used to tell good stories, or play good games, or make interesting worlds.

If orcs are sentient, then they should have a culture, I agree with that. However, I see no reason for orcs to be sentient (or have free will / whatever).

hamishspence
2012-03-16, 07:34 AM
has no impact on the story at large.
The Tolkien orcs are sentient, don't get me wrong. But they are 100% subservient to Morgoth and Sauron. Never in the history of Middle Earth had they ever considered disobeying the dark lords or revolting. I don't think they ever had official civil wars, either. They are a monolithic society serving one allegory.

There's plenty of orc infighting- Saruman's orcs being prejudiced against Saurons and the Misty Mountains orcs- the orc tracker in Return of the King gloating over the fact that the Lord of the Nazgul has been reported dead "they've done in Number One, I've heard, and I hope it's true!" and killing the Uruk who reacts in outrage and tries to kill him. And so on.

In Fellowship of the Ring, the account of the Last Alliance says that everyone, even birds and beasts, fought on both sides- except the Elves who were united in opposition to Sauron. This may imply that there were orcs who fought on the other side.

MLai
2012-03-16, 08:05 AM
The Uruk-Hai infighting with the Mordor orcs have a plot reason: Uruk-Hai are created from hybridizing orcs and men. Ofc, this is Tolkien getting dangerously close to racist concepts, narrowly averted because Uruk-Hai are created magically, not by natural breeding.

Orcs gloating that the Witch-King is dead do not signify that they have free will where their true master is concerned (Morgoth/Sauron). It just means that they don't co-exist out of a sense of comaraderie.
And also as we can imagine, the Witch-King is probably not a nice boss.

I doubt we'll find any concrete record of orcs ever fighting on the side opposite Morgoth/Sauron, in any of Tolkien's works.

Alchemistmerlin
2012-03-16, 08:19 AM
If you want this discussion thread to go anywhere (It won't, but you can try) then I think people need to stop throwing the word racist around like they are.

As for the "If it is subjective then why are you arguing?" statement: Because this is the internet, it is a giant hamster wheel for the human mind.




You mean aside from where the subversion of it has become a cliche and a racist cliche equating them with pastiche Native Americans at that? :smallconfused:



Ah so using orcs as fodder = Cliche, and subverting that = cliche, therefore: Do whatever you want.

Also: I don't think I've read a story where Orcs = Native Americans, that actually sounds kind of intresting though rather ham-handed, which one was that?

Man on Fire
2012-03-16, 08:32 AM
You need to tone it down, all over the place in your posts. Stop being so vehement regarding different opinions on a fictional species.
You're starting to remind me of Avatar cosplayers.
It's funny how you're so scared of running afoul of forum rules, but calling other ppl names is a-ok by you.

Okay, I may see that somewhere I might accidentially crossed the line . But where did I call somebody names in the part you're quoting? Because it looks like you said I did it right there and I don't see it.


Hmm... no. Changing his orcs from completely subservient magical-origin mooks into self-determining society of individuals would have sweeping geopolitical ramifications for his world.
I believe orcs were the most numerous humanoid species in Middle Earth. Even if they were completely "brainwashed" while Sauron was alive, but "released" once he died (and so they became individuals), that would instantly change the entire course of the Fourth Age(?) after Sauron was defeated.

And it would make a much better story.


I was letting you know where I was coming from. That I'm not just coming into this topic ignorant of it and never having thought about it before.

So you are saying I should bow to your opinion because you have bigger experience? Sorry, that's not gonna happen.


I'm not sure you're actually reading what I wrote about Death Of Author.

But you are obviously not reading what I wrote about it being disrespectable to Tolkien to repeat what he considered to be his mistake, worse, defend that mistake on the basis that it was how he did it. Death of the Author be damned, you may hold alternative interpretation on how and why he did something and okay, good for you. But if he said he consider something a mistake, when you do this because he did it you spit at the man's grave.


But, to bring this back from derailment: Does using fictional devils in fictional Hell as my fictional world's irredeemably evil society of villains count as racism on my part?
If it does not, then why would using fictional orcs as my -blah blah- count as racism?

Why does letting drows having good guys but not orcs or demons is okay?


If it does, then are you arguing against (with vehemence) the existence of all fictional irredeemable evil groups, across all media, in all situations?

Yes. But not on the basic of racism but because redeemable races are much more interesting. Even demons as just completely evil aren't interesting - what's the point of having entire race of identical guys?


The phrase "fixed it for you," is a common forum signal to highlight that I crossed out something in a quote and added something else. It is not sneak-editing.

But I still find it to be disrespectful and would like to ask you to refrain from such actions in the future.


Since you seem unaware of the kind of discriminatory remarks Asian immigrants have to live through as children, you don't really have a right to imply that a Chinese person in this case is being oversensitive.

I'm not respondind to that, we're entering politics again, so forgive me I'll walk around this point, okay?

Your post said that what was offensive was that Hobgoblins are ugly and that's why it's wrong to base them on Chinesse. And you ignored the evidence of Asian Elves later. So again, why it's okay to base pretty race on preexisting culture, but not ugly one? What if I base everybody on Celts? Humans - Celts, Elves - Celts, Goblins- Celts, Lizardmen- Celts. WIll that be still offensive because Goblins and Lizardmen are ugly?


I love W40K Orkz. As real characters.

They don't have much of a character :smallwink:


No, it's based on you saying, unprompted, that you're thinking of basing your fictional goblin tribe on real Asian cultures.

First, I did it in response to you saying that if you give some monster race culture you are bound to offend somebody. Second, I didn't defined which one. If I mix Hindu, Chinesse, Japanesse, Pakistanish, Russian, Korean, New Zeland and Mongolian, what'll come at the other end won't be any of those cultures. No one will be offended.
On the account of the same reasoning you follow French should ban Naomi Novik's Telmeaire, because it potrays them as villains.
And you still run away from my point that completely destroys your line of thinking here - you don't have to base the culture you give fictional races on any existing culture. You can make things up!


There's another principle to counter that one, and that's to relax sometimes, mate

I can't relax when I'm reading something cliched.


You mean aside from where the subversion of it has become a cliche and a racist cliche equating them with pastiche Native Americans at that?

Could you explain what you're talking about? When did giving the conflic more gray tone become a cliche?


The problem is that gaming was brought into this discussion, so there's a number of tangled threads here, and sometimes a villainous figure just needs some underlings, and for whatever reason humans from culture X don't work. Orcs are basically a shorthand way of designating mooks without running into unfortunate implications about actual real world ethnic groups or affording them more screentime than their role in the story as, essentially, scene dressing demands.

Mixed race underlings - Orcs, Elves, Humans, Gnolls, Dwarves and Goblins. Problem solved.


Raziere, that's fair enough. You can easily switch up which group has the fortune to be in conquering-horde mode at the time of your game, or rather, which one has a strong majority in said mode, which gains them the antagonism of those in their paths. Or mix them up, say, ally different racial groups under a common cause. There needs to be tension in order for the game to fun, but there's nothing saying that you have to play by what feels wrong to you.

Agreed.


I'll not take sides one way or another, but I think we need to answer an important question: what ARE Orcs for you?

Green, in closer touch with the id and inner strength, representing absolute freedom from the bounds of rules imposed upon other races and responsibilities going with it, strong both by arm and heart, brash and aggresive, but honorable and loyal and much smarter than they looks. But really, Orcs may be many things, they may be even complete evil. But that last one is just boring.


Which is exactly why I kept saying that giving human attributes to Orcs as a group increases the danger of supporting racism in your game/book.

Because you belive you have to base them on some culture. You don't.


They are a monolithic society serving one allegory.

Except that in Two Towers you see Orcs arguing with each other, mostly on line Urk-Hai vs two different groups of Orcs who don't have to get along with each other either.


They are based on a lifestyle choice which has nothing to do with ethnicity (though there is a touch of class warfare in that)

So it's okay to insult football fans because of their hobbies? Are satanistic cults based on nerd stereotypes okay too?


If I'm running "Orcs are irredeemable mooks", I basically make them like Warhammer Orcs - intelligent (ish) and very violent vaguely-fungi-like creatures. They are truly alien beings - mentally and biologically. You could try establishing trade relations with them, but you might as well try doing that with a Xenomorph, or a particularly talkative strain of flesh-eating viruses.

If I'm running "Orcs are just an ordinary humanoid race", then I make them large green humans with a history for charismatic yet overly-ambitious and warlike leaders - hence their status as pariahs to most other races, and the somewhat slower development* of their civilisation.

Two approaches for two very different flavours of campaign.

Agreed.


I think that my unwillingness to conform to "tolkienesque" portryal of orcs is that I've never seen any need for disposable mooks in the story, preferring the protagonists to fight enemies that challenge them, have actual reasons to fight them and present some moral ambiguity about slaying them. Thus, I don't need a race that is conveniently both irredeemably evil and weak.
Because when it comes down to it, that's what orcs and orc stand-ins being irredeemably evil is all about - convenience. That is why it's more resilient than many other fantasy cliches. You don't really see people defending cardboard cutouts of haughty elves or drunken Scottish dwarves and claiming that presenting them as actual people instead of walking stereotypes is wrong.[/qiote]

And agreed with that too.

[quote]If it's all subjective, and you admit here that it's just your preference, why are you arguing so strongly against other people's preferences? That preference being orcs as mindless mooks.

I respect everybody's right to have prefferences and opinions. In this thread I just express mine - you may make Orks irredeemable, sure, if you're DM and I'm a player I will work around it and play along. I won't have as much tolerance for evil orcs in books, because from fantasy literature I'm expecting more than from an RPG game - RPG still may have story and be creative, but it can be just some simple hack & slash, books must be creative and unpredictable for me to be entertaining. But hell, if a book is good I may even swallow evil orcs, if the creativity lies somewhere else or in the way those evil orcs are served. I disagree with other people's opinions in this thread, I argue against their line of reasoning, but that's what debate is about - trying to convince other person to change their opinion, while still respecting their right to have it.


Orcs gloating that the Witch-King is dead do not signify that they have free will where their true master is concerned (Morgoth/Sauron). It just means that they don't co-exist out of a sense of comaraderie.

But that defy the point you made earlier that Orcs are monolistic and loyal to Sauron - being happy that your general died is an act disloyality, because you're happy about blow your forces took.
Oh, and before you start throwing words "free will" around, go here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will) free will may not even exist, which means that humans are different from your definition of Orc.

Deepbluediver
2012-03-16, 08:35 AM
I think writing in fantasy has evolved over time, and when cosmic forces of pure good and pure evil (angels, demons, outsiders) where introduced, most people started prefering that mortal humanoid-ish races be at least some shade of gray.

Try to remember that for much of human history, large-scale civilization was sort of a limited concept, and most people lived in constant danger from attack by other humans, wild animals, or plague, famine, drought, etc. Orcs (or any other evil-because-we-say-so army) represented a personification of those forces. They couldn't be reasoned with, bargained with, and wanted you gone just because you existed.

As technology and civilization advanced and people developed a more progressive view of other cultures (i.e. moving away from the "my race and/or society is best and everyone else is a loathsome savage" way of thinking), people started to see pieces of themselves in the formerly evil races, and so of course they wanted to humanize them.

It actually seems like a very positive world view, since it's basically saying ANYONE is capable of being or doing good, if they choose to.

The way I get around this in campaigns is to say that any racial alignments are most common attitude of that race, but since adventurours are frequently the people who don't fit into their society very well, then any individual you meet or want to play as can be virtually any alignment at all.

hamishspence
2012-03-16, 09:58 AM
Orcs gloating that the Witch-King is dead do not signify that they have free will where their true master is concerned (Morgoth/Sauron). It just means that they don't co-exist out of a sense of comaraderie.

From The Silmarillion on the creation of the orcs:

"And in their dark hearts the orcs hated Melkor, maker only of their misery, and served him only out of fear"

So, yeah, they have free will, and don't serve him out of "magically enforced loyalty" but out of fear.

Why do people keep quoting "Death of the Author" like it's an argument-winner?

All it boils down to is "My opinion is that the message of the work is X"- and the author's own opinion is not enough to overcome the evidence of the work itself."

MLai
2012-03-16, 11:18 AM
But where did I call somebody names in the part you're quoting? Because it looks like you said I did it right there and I don't see it.
When I said all over I meant all over, not exactly there in that sentence. I was trimming quotes so it wasn't a huge omnislash.


So you are saying I should bow to your opinion because you have bigger experience?
How about, I am saying exactly what I just finished saying?


But if he said he consider something a mistake, when you do this because he did it you spit at the man's grave.
You assume I disrespect a man because I interpret his books based on how it's written, in my own way (supported by literary reviews of many legitimate critics)?
So whenever I write a book report, I am disrespecting someone?
Like I said, you are incapable of absorbing what Death Of Author means.


Why does letting drows having good guys but not orcs or demons is okay?
I will counter your attempted derailment this way:
Using devils/demons as an example is to show that it is possible to have a society that is monolithic and irredeemable, because it is fictional. Because it is fictional, its constituent individuals do not need to have human attributes such as free will.


Even demons as just completely evil aren't interesting - what's the point of having entire race of identical guys?
Ohhhh I don't know, maybe literary allegory? Or XP fodder?
What else are we gonna kill, rats and bats and spiders? Or is that animal cruelty?
We better make them green rats and bats and spiders. That way ppl know we're only killing fictional animals. Gee I hope that works, and nobody starts protesting for fictional animal rights.


But I still find it to be disrespectful and would like to ask you to refrain from such actions in the future.
I will refrain if I see no disrespectful remarks from you in the future.


So again, why it's okay to base pretty race on preexisting culture, but not ugly one?
By "ugly", you're actually talking about "inhuman", i.e. tusks, strange ears, possibly animal-like nostrils, strangely color eyes, strangely colored and textured skin.
So, read your own question again, and replace the word ugly with inhuman.


They don't have much of a character
EAT DEM WORDZ, S'RRUH:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEI6IPUnNWc&feature=related
OR WE'Z FEED YA To DA SQUIGG N' HE EATS YA, UHH.. FOR YA!


First, I did it in response to you saying that if you give some monster race culture you are bound to offend somebody. Second, I didn't defined which one.
You specifically said you're thinking of basing goblin culture on Asian culture. It doesn't matter why you said it.


Except that in Two Towers you see Orcs arguing with each other[snip]
Read my last post before typing replies?


So it's okay to insult football fans because of their hobbies?
Fan is a different word from hooligan.
And now suddenly it's an insult? I thought I'm supposed to respect and praise orc "ugliness"?


But that defy the point you made earlier that Orcs are monolistic and loyal to Sauron - being happy that your general died is an act disloyality, because you're happy about blow your forces took.
Loyalty out of fear, compulsion, and magical influence is different from loyalty out of honour, idealism, and comaraderie.


From The Silmarillion on the creation of the orcs:
"And in their dark hearts the orcs hated Melkor, maker only of their misery, and served him only out of fear"
So, yeah, they have free will, and don't serve him out of "magically enforced loyalty" but out of fear.
A fear so complete, that in all the millennia of the world, the most numerous intelligent species of that world never ever rebelled against their overlord. Even when said overlord is weakened, or imprisoned and powerless, or when his successor is weakened and virtually powerless.
That may as well be magical compulsion.


Why do people keep quoting "Death of the Author" like it's an argument-winner?
All it boils down to is "My opinion is that the message of the work is X"- and the author's own opinion is not enough to overcome the evidence of the work itself."
Hmm... you answered your own question.
Perhaps you should ask why I believe in it?
Because, as a writer (by hobby), I've seen it happen to my own works. That is, emergent properties in my story/characters which I didn't intend, and only noticed much later, when my script is mostly finished. When a writer says (and many of them do this), "I let my character write himself," that creative process also contains traces of Death Of Author.

Alchemistmerlin
2012-03-16, 11:52 AM
A fear so complete, that in all the millennia of the world, the most numerous intelligent species of that world never ever rebelled against their overlord. Even when said overlord is weakened, or imprisoned and powerless, or when his successor is weakened and virtually powerless.
That may as well be magical compulsion.


Except it isn't magical compulsion, and whatever it "may as well be" doesn't support what you've been arguing.



Hmm... you answered your own question.
Perhaps you should ask why I believe in it?
Because, as a writer (by hobby), I've seen it happen to my own works. That is, emergent properties in my story/characters which I didn't intend, and only noticed much later, when my script is mostly finished. When a writer says (and many of them do this), "I let my character write himself," that creative process also contains traces of Death Of Author.

It also helps keeps of otherwise unemployable people employed if the Author is not the final authority on what his/her work means. :smallsigh:
Hamster wheel

Thinker
2012-03-16, 12:24 PM
Why does letting drows having good guys but not orcs or demons is okay?

Who ever suggested that? Having any fantasy race, whether it be dwarf or elf or orc, or anything else, that might as well be human is bad. You simply don't need to have them. You can have your allegories for an immoral/evil society with someone who breaks the rules without having to resort to a fantasy race. It doesn't add anything to the literature or to the game to call it anything but human.


Yes. But not on the basic of racism but because redeemable races are much more interesting. Even demons as just completely evil aren't interesting - what's the point of having entire race of identical guys?
Redeemable people are only more interesting if a plot or subplot is about redemption. There are cruel people in real life who many would consider beyond redemption, but turn things around and benefit society in the end (Kevin Mitnick or Barry Minkow come to mind). Agents of evil are not boring unless they're written that way. Boring also doesn't mean everyone acts the same way; it simply means that the members are destructive to society in some way.


Your post said that what was offensive was that Hobgoblins are ugly and that's why it's wrong to base them on Chinesse. And you ignored the evidence of Asian Elves later. So again, why it's okay to base pretty race on preexisting culture, but not ugly one? What if I base everybody on Celts? Humans - Celts, Elves - Celts, Goblins- Celts, Lizardmen- Celts. WIll that be still offensive because Goblins and Lizardmen are ugly?

No fantasy race should be based on a human culture. If you have Chinese elves, that suggests that you think of Chinese people as being more agile than other people, but also more prone to disease and more frail. It also suggests that whatever culture you use for humans is the one that consider to be the most "normal" ethnicity. Using a Roman-influenced culture as humans might suggest that you think of non-Western cultures as being abnormal and exotic. You should really just have Chinese-influenced humans and Roman-influenced humans.

You seem to be bent on having orcs that aren't evil and that's fine. No one has said that you can't do that. You can be "original" and have orcs as protagonists and elves as villains. You can have whole societies of cannibalistic dwarves. It's still not adding originality and it is still bigoted if you base them too closely on real-world cultures.

Evil is a subjective term. I consider it to be anything that is destructive to society or puts its own self interests ahead of others'. From this context, I don't think that an evil race (from the perspective of an outside race) is all that absurd. Orcs might be evil from a human perspective, but from an orc perspective, humans would likely be just as evil.

Coidzor
2012-03-16, 12:38 PM
Also, see my avatar. Orc female.

Heh, and here I thought it was a wild were-elf. :smallamused:

Axolotl
2012-03-16, 12:49 PM
And here is where your argument breaks apart.Why? As I noted before the word orc means "evil spirit" having them be not evil would be like having 2 foot tall giants, no matter how much else you keep the same the name no longer fits.


It matters not that the race is fictional.

Its the principle that matters. and that principle is "racism is bad".

just because its fictional, doesn't mean the principle should stop being upheld.

and "all orcs are evil" goes against such a principle.Do you mind explaining your reasoning here? I can't see how orc being evil connects to racism at all.

t209
2012-03-16, 01:23 PM
Also, see my avatar. Orc female.

And I think this is from Elderscrolls verse, which Orcs were given right and banned them as XP fodder after Warp of the West (Orsinium became Gobbotopia for orcs minus slaves,taking over other people's land and plus won from cheating in challenge with Breton with Orcish Armor that he lacked knowledge on)
Well, when redguards came to Hammerfell they did on Orsinium like Terry Prattchett says

Black and white lived in perfect harmony and ganged up on green.

Querzis
2012-03-16, 01:38 PM
You know the funny things about this thread is that Tolkien is quite litterally the only fictional world where I saw orcs being «always chaotic evil». Never played Warhammer and otherwise every books and games I played featuring them had more then enough shades of grey. And by the way, no not even D&D features «always chaotic evil» orcs they have always been only «usually» with their second most likely alignement being Chaotic Neutral. Orcs in D&D are very chaotic as a race but not all that evil, if you think otherwise you might wanna read the books again. Talking about that:


I'll not take sides one way or another, but I think we need to answer an important question: what ARE Orcs for you? Because I think there should be at least some features that really set them apart from all the other races, because otherwise, well, you'd basically just have green painted people. Not even the green paint is neccessary. So you basically have humans, which would strike me as a bit silly.

I wont describe them physically so I'll just go for their personnality: chaotic. Very, very chaotic. Seen evil and good orcs but never seen any lawful orcs. I'd even say that neutral orcs (on the chaos/order scale) are quite rare. Hell, for most orcs, you could use the D&D very definition of chaotic, slap it onto them and it would fit quite nicely.


Why? As I noted before the word orc means "evil spirit" having them be not evil would be like having 2 foot tall giants, no matter how much else you keep the same the name no longer fits.

Yes thats what the word originally meant a very long time ago. So? Just go take a few etymology class, the original meaning of a word doesnt mean a whole lot.


Do you mind explaining your reasoning here? I can't see how orc being evil connects to racism at all.

...really we have to explain that? Look if they are sentient, in other words, if they are really an intelligent race instead of mindless animals, it means they cant be all evil by definition. Thats it. If they are all evil then they arent sentient. Hell, even without getting into sentience, I have been around enough dogs in my life to know that smart animals grasp the basic concept of good and evil just fine. You want always evil monsters try mindless stuff like zombie or the tortured souls of evil people like demons and devils.

Jeraa
2012-03-16, 01:41 PM
From The Silmarillion on the creation of the orcs:

"And in their dark hearts the orcs hated Melkor, maker only of their misery, and served him only out of fear"

So, yeah, they have free will, and don't serve him out of "magically enforced loyalty" but out of fear.


I believe The Silmarillion also says that of all the races, only elves were undivided, and fought only against Melkor. If elves were the only undivided race, then some orcs would of had to have fought against Melkor as well, or at the very least stayed out of the conflict altogether.

Thinker
2012-03-16, 02:07 PM
...really we have to explain that? Look if they are sentient, it means they cant be all evil by definition. Thats it. If they are all evil then they arent sentient. Hell, even without getting into sentience, I have been around enough dogs in my life to know that smart animals grasp the basic concept of good and evil just fine. You want always evil monsters try mindless stuff like zombie or the tortured souls of evil people like demons and devils.

It is possible to have free will and to have a race as "Always Evil". Evil does not mean that every member of the race is a raving lunatic or an ax murder or anything else. It is possible for evil people to work together and to even be friends. It is possible for evil people to get along with good people and to even be friends. Being evil is about how one achieves its goals and the importance it places in those goals compared to society.

Here is an example:
A ravine separates a desolate wasteland from a lush valley. Many travelers have to cross this wasteland to get to the valley. Going around the ravine would be a 7-day march. A small group of good travelers approaches the ravine at a narrow point. They might enlist the aid of some fellow travelers with payment and good will to get the materials and the labor for the bridge. A different small group of travelers, this time as evil, gets a similar idea to build a bridge at a narrow point. This group manipulates other travelers into assisting for free and providing the required resources. Instead, a third (evil) group might rob resources and force people to build the bridge. The point is, all three groups build a bridge, only they use different approaches to do it.

If you wanted to conceptualize a race that was always evil, I think you would have to consider a race that is still cooperative with one another to achieve common goals. They simply would care little for the well being of their allies (not to be confused with friends) beyond their usefulness unless they had an especially close bond.

Querzis
2012-03-16, 02:24 PM
It is possible to have free will and to have a race as "Always Evil". Evil does not mean that every member of the race is a raving lunatic or an ax murder or anything else. It is possible for evil people to work together and to even be friends. It is possible for evil people to get along with good people and to even be friends. Being evil is about how one achieves its goals and the importance it places in those goals compared to society.

The bold part is all perfectly true. I really dont see why you apparently think it make the first sentence true though.


Here is an example:
A ravine separates a desolate wasteland from a lush valley. Many travelers have to cross this wasteland to get to the valley. Going around the ravine would be a 7-day march. A small group of good travelers approaches the ravine at a narrow point. They might enlist the aid of some fellow travelers with payment and good will to get the materials and the labor for the bridge. A different small group of travelers, this time as evil, gets a similar idea to build a bridge at a narrow point. This group manipulates other travelers into assisting for free and providing the required resources. Instead, a third (evil) group might rob resources and force people to build the bridge. The point is, all three groups build a bridge, only they use different approaches to do it.

Once again, a very good example of a good/neutral/evil approach to something (though I dunno if you made a typo cause the second approach is a neutral one, not an evil one). Once again, I do not see how this apparently means that a race that got free will can be all evil.


They simply would care little for the well being of their allies (not to be confused with friends) beyond their usefulness unless they had an especially close bond.

Thats a neutral attitude, not an evil one. Not that I really see why this is relevant.

If you have an entire race of people with sentience and free will, some of them will feel that building the bridge by paying other people to do it is the best approach. If they dont, if they all decide to take the evil approach then they arent sentient, they cant make decision for themselves, they are pre-programmed to do something from the start and are incapable of forming their own opinions. I really dont see whats hard to get about that. And mind you, if you wanna have non-sentient orcs being all evil, thats fine with me but then dont act like they are even a race, it would make them to the same level as constructs or plants (and since Warhammer orcs are apparently fungi people...yeah sure whatever). Hell, let me quote you again:


It is possible to have free will and to have a race as "Always Evil". Being evil is about how one achieves its goals and the importance it places in those goals compared to society.

Do you really not see why those two sentence totally contradict each others? Personnality traits can often be genetic, same for things like hormones and even agressivity but approach to achieve your goals? Opinions? Way of thinking? Those arent genetics and those completely determine good and evil. An entire race cant be evil cause genetic got nothing to do with it. Now a culture (which could kinda be described as a society way of thinking) can be evil but no race got only one culture (and even then, not everyone in a society agrees with their culture.)

Axolotl
2012-03-16, 02:51 PM
You know the funny things about this thread is that Tolkien is quite litterally the only fictional world where I saw orcs being «always chaotic evil». Never played Warhammer and otherwise every books and games I played featuring them had more then enough shades of grey. And by the way, no not even D&D features «always chaotic evil» orcs they have always been only «usually» with their second most likely alignement being Chaotic Neutral. Orcs in D&D are very chaotic as a race but not all that evil, if you think otherwise you might wanna read the books again. Talking about that:I'm pretty sure that in AD&D they were just listed as Lawful Evil.



Yes thats what the word originally meant a very long time ago. So? Just go take a few etymology class, the original meaning of a word doesnt mean a whole lot.So how would you feel about 2 foot-tall giants then?

Also it's not just what the word meant "a very long time ago" the word was popularised as a term for a race with very few traits other than being evil, and it's been used as a term evil mooks ever since.


...really we have to explain that? Look if they are sentient, in other words, if they are really an intelligent race instead of mindless animals, it means they cant be all evil by definition. Thats it. If they are all evil then they arent sentient. Hell, even without getting into sentience, I have been around enough dogs in my life to know that smart animals grasp the basic concept of good and evil just fine. You want always evil monsters try mindless stuff like zombie or the tortured souls of evil people like demons and devils.That doesn't answer my question at all. I've already said earlier in the thread that I think an species that is "always evil" is a contradiction. However I don't see why one wold connect that to racism.

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-16, 03:04 PM
It also helps keeps of otherwise unemployable people employed if the Author is not the final authority on what his/her work means. :smallsigh:

I don't think the notions underlying Death of the Author are much different from the notion that once someone invents an object, people are free to think up new uses for that object - without in any way undermining the object's original function.

But that's rather off-topic.

On topic:


Do you really not see why those two sentence completely contradict each others? Personnality traits can often be genetic, same for things like hormones and even agressivity but approach to achieve your goals? Opinions? Way of thinking? Those arent genetics and those completely determine good and evil. An entire race cant be evil cause genetic got nothing to do with it.

We-ell, it's quite possible the deeply-ingrained notions such as fairness and reciprocity are actually fundamentally "genetic" in nature. Is it not possible for a race to exist that regards such things in a sufficiently different way that their morality may as well be defined as "Evil"?

And I use air-quotes around the word 'genetic' because fantasy worlds do not actually require things like genes to work. And may feature intelligent design anyway.

Querzis
2012-03-16, 03:04 PM
Also it's not just what the word meant "a very long time ago" the word was popularised as a term for a race with very few traits other than being evil, and it's been used as a term evil mooks ever since.

People have been telling for 6 pages that not only havent they been 'evil mooks' all that often but even Tolkien gave them plenty of traits other then being evil and fear he made them too one-dimensional. Also, once again, etymology class, what made a word widely used is utterly irrelevant.


That doesn't answer my question at all. I've already said earlier in the thread that I think an species that is "always evil" is a contradiction. However I don't see why one wold connect that to racism.

...because thinking a species is always evil (or «always» anything) is racist? If you understand its a contradiction I really dont understand why you dont see how its racist.


We-ell, it's quite possible the deeply-ingrained notions such as fairness and reciprocity are actually fundamentally "genetic" in nature. Is it not possible for a race to exist that regards such things in a sufficiently different way that their morality may as well be defined as "Evil"?

Nope. A wolf thats been born and raised in captivity is a dog for all intent and purpose, genetic be damned. What, do you think that if you adopt a baby from another country, he'll see things the same way as the culture from the country where he was born despite never having lived there? « Is it not possible for a race to exist that regards such things in a sufficiently different way» you meant culture there. Cause a race got absolutely no pre-defined way of regardings things and really, you should get quite easely that saying that they do might get you in trouble. Just saying. Even in a few generations, the rabbit in Australia are already behaving quite differently then Europe rabbits and we're talking about relatively dumb animals here.


And I use air-quotes around the word 'genetic' because fantasy worlds do not actually require things like genes to work. And may feature intelligent design anyway.

Oh they most definitly can but, once again, we are talking about sentience here. If they are pre-programmed to act and think a certain way and all do so then they are not sentient, they are not a race, they are on the same levels as constructs only they were made by gods instead of wizards.

Thinker
2012-03-16, 03:21 PM
The bold part is all perfectly true. I really dont see why you apparently think it make the first sentence true though.
It is used to illustrate that an evil race doesn't have to be doing evil all the time. They would have a predisposition toward doing harm, but would still have things that they care about and still make choices that could be considered to be good. Always evil is not a programming that makes someone perpetrate all evil all the time. It is a disposition.


Thats a neutral attitude, not an evil one. Not that I really see why this is relevant.
I really don't think so. Being evil isn't a constant desire to perpetrate malevolence.



If you have an entire race of people with sentience and free will, some of them will feel that building the bridge by paying other people to do it is the best approach. If they dont, if they all decide to take the evil approach then they arent sentient, they cant make decision for themselves, they are pre-programmed to do something from the start and are incapable of forming their own opinions. I really dont see whats hard to get about that. And mind you, if you wanna have non-sentient orcs being all evil, thats fine with me but then dont act like they are even a race, it would make them to the same level as constructs or plants (and since Warhammer orcs are apparently fungi people...yeah sure whatever). Hell, let me quote you again:
A race of evil beings would likely not always make "the evil decision" (as though there's a single evil option). They would likely have a range of people who make many decisions, but when added up to a whole would be viewed as evil.



Do you really not see why those two sentence totally contradict each others? Personnality traits can often be genetic, same for things like hormones and even agressivity but approach to achieve your goals? Opinions? Way of thinking? Those arent genetics and those completely determine good and evil. An entire race cant be evil cause genetic got nothing to do with it. Now a culture (which could kinda be described as a society way of thinking) can be evil but no race got only one culture (and even then, not everyone in a society agrees with their culture.)

Where do you think an approach toward achieving goals comes from? They come from personality, hormones, and everything else that adds up to a being's psychology. What do you think influences a way of thinking or generates opinions?

I don't think that this discussion is going to go anywhere. There are arguments among psychologists and philosophers about whether or not humans are, by nature, evil and yet we can't even agree on whether or not it is possible for a sapient species to be evil by nature.

Man on Fire
2012-03-16, 03:23 PM
When I said all over I meant all over, not exactly there in that sentence.

In that place it sounded like that. Could you point out where I was name-caling people then? I don't want to repeat that mistake again.


You assume I disrespect a man because I interpret his books based on how it's written, in my own way (supported by literary reviews of many legitimate critics)?
So whenever I write a book report, I am disrespecting someone?
Like I said, you are incapable of absorbing what Death Of Author means.

No, I assume you disrespect the man when you say we should do thing the way he did, when he himself considered it wrong. Death of author has nothing to do with it and you should stop using it as a smokescreen.
And you know what, if Tolkien did intended Orcs to be metaphor for fascism and monolithic evil, then portraying them as bunch of trigger happy, disorganized savages who are as likely to fight themselves as other races, like in, say, Warhammers or D&D is derailing from it as much as potraying them as good guys.


I will counter your attempted derailment this way:

Because you don't have counteragument on that one, don't you?


Using devils/demons as an example is to show that it is possible to have a society that is monolithic and irredeemable, because it is fictional. Because it is fictional, its constituent individuals do not need to have human attributes such as free will.

Sorry, but I don't buy that. First, I don't belive that even in fictional world you can have monolithic, irredeemable full-evil race or society. Second, I refuse to acknowledge that point about no need of free will - it's just lazy writing.


Ohhhh I don't know, maybe literary allegory? Or XP fodder?

Then it's an allegory on a level of a strawman, who is set to be easily proven wrong, and I hate those. And XP fodder couldn't bother me less, because I'm not playing games for XPs. People like that exist, you know?


What else are we gonna kill, rats and bats and spiders? Or is that animal cruelty?
We better make them green rats and bats and spiders. That way ppl know we're only killing fictional animals. Gee I hope that works, and nobody starts protesting for fictional animal rights.

That metaphor only supports what I said - that you defend this cliché because you don't want to feel bad about all the Orcs you kill for XPs.


By "ugly", you're actually talking about "inhuman", i.e. tusks, strange ears, possibly animal-like nostrils, strangely color eyes, strangely colored and textured skin.
So, read your own question again, and replace the word ugly with inhuman.

What you described is what most people would understand as ugly. So now ugly people are inhuman.
I consider elves to be exactly as much inhuman as hogbolins and orcs. How you look shouldn't be the only quality of what makes you human or inhuman. It speaks bad of you if you claim it does.


You specifically said you're thinking of basing goblin culture on Asian culture. It doesn't matter why you said it.

But it matter what I said right after, about mixing several cultures, which you ignored. You know, Asia is a big thing, it has several different cultures, which I may blend into something new. You ignored that point again and it's second time in the same post you run away from my argument - what kind of discussion is this when you just close your eyes whenever you see something inconvenient for your standpoint? I'll have to assume that if you don't have anything to say about it, you agree with me (because that's what I would do) - if I have counter argument, I would jsut shut up), therefore I don't see why you are still beating I point I disproved.

And really, nobody should be offended that you base your Goblins on one culture, as long as you do it well and they are open-minded enough to see positive qualities of goblins. Goblins can be more than XP fodder and cowardly thieves, see Redcloak. If you judge them by how they look then you aren't much better than those who are prejudiced against you.


Read my last post before typing replies?

That post wasn't there when I was typing, writing replies so long as those takes a while.



And now suddenly it's an insult? I thought I'm supposed to respect and praise orc "ugliness"?

Your smokescreen won't work - don't act like you don't see that I used your own logic against you. So, mister "Chinesse may be offended if we base Hobgoblins on them", why hooligans aren't supposed to be offended that Games Workshop portrayed them as bunch of dumb berserkers who butcher everything for fun? And don't say that because what they are doing is wrong, because it's a subjective term - from some standpoints playing RPGs or reading Fantasy is wrong.


Loyalty out of fear, compulsion, and magical influence is different from loyalty out of honour, idealism, and comaraderie.

No. Loyalty, just as every other human feature is based on nothing more but system of subconscious strategies programmed into our mind. Altruism is based on subconscious assumption that good we give to others will return to us in some form. All our actions are really based on our genetic programming, which has only two orders - to survive and to reproduce. Loyalty is based on subconscious assumption that it will pay us back, even if we don't realize that. The only real difference is that Orcs got a stick while humans got the carrot and deluded themselves with ideals constructed so we won't realize how selfish we are. Read Desmond Morris' "Naked Monkey".


That may as well be magical compulsion.

But it's not, you are stretching things to fit your definitions. And again, somebody pointed out that everything aside Elves, was fighting on both sides, which means that some Orcs didn't stayed loyal.


Hmm... you answered your own question.
Perhaps you should ask why I believe in it?
Because, as a writer (by hobby), I've seen it happen to my own works. That is, emergent properties in my story/characters which I didn't intend, and only noticed much later, when my script is mostly finished. When a writer says (and many of them do this), "I let my character write himself," that creative process also contains traces of Death Of Author.

What you are doing is an abuse of the term, which you use as convenient excuse for forcing your interpretation down our throats as the only true interpretation, and quite frankly, you act like your interpretation is not equal but more important than all the others and what the author says.


I can't see how orc being evil connects to racism at all.

Listen to this song, but replace red with green (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvyxRGaFcg8). Pay special attention to the line "They are not like you and me/Which means they must be evil".


Who ever suggested that? Having any fantasy race, whether it be dwarf or elf or orc, or anything else, that might as well be human is bad. You simply don't need to have them. You can have your allegories for an immoral/evil society with someone who breaks the rules without having to resort to a fantasy race. It doesn't add anything to the literature or to the game to call it anything but human

As I said before, I want to have other races with believable, complicated cultures, that aren't really much different from humans to show that humans are not special in any way and that any other race, that looks like drastically different, still can have their own feelings, history and culture. I hate when story presents humans as better because they're humans.
And really, what does an Orc who is just a mindless monster adds to the story? Nothing. Better just have a bear!


Redeemable people are only more interesting if a plot or subplot is about redemption.

Popularity of Gundam characters like Ramba Ral, Norris Packard, Bernie, Olivier May and others who proved that not all soldiers fighting for evil empire are evil monsters, who didn't had plot related to redemption (most of them were loyal to the fascist empire they fought for to the very end) and are loved by many proves otherwise. People like when conflict is realistic an there are good and bad guys on both sides of the barricade.


Boring also doesn't mean everyone acts the same way; it simply means that the members are destructive to society in some way.

But if everyone acts the same way, it is boring. And destructive societies in a way presented in fantasy are idiotic - I never could buy the concept of Drows, for example - if they really betray each other all the time then why their civilization hadn't collapsed already?


There are cruel people in real life who many would consider beyond redemption, but turn things around and benefit society in the end (Kevin Mitnick or Barry Minkow come to mind).

Without going too much into politics, I must say that proves that definition of evil is subjective. And that no one sees themselves as evil.


No fantasy race should be based on a human culture.

These kinds of rules are stupid and limit your creativity. Any race could be based on human culture if you do this well - if you research that culture a lot and understand it or you make good metaphor out of the story (I recommend Mike Carey's "Face", beautiful example - we have Goblins (by other name, but still goblins) who are obviously Muslims but story does great things with it). if you will threat source culture with respect, there shouldn't be a problem. There is nothing wrong about basing race on a specific culture, it's just done to make world more colorful. Tolkien was ripping off the Nordic culture quite a lot and no one seems to be offended, why should they be offended that I rip other culture?


If you have Chinese elves, that suggests that you think of Chinese people as being more agile than other people, but also more prone to disease and more frail.

Unless my Elves aren't any of that.


It also suggests that whatever culture you use for humans is the one that consider to be the most "normal" ethnicity. Using a Roman-influenced culture as humans might suggest that you think of non-Western cultures as being abnormal and exotic.

Or it may serve to show the other races and cultures they stand for through the eyes of roman-based culture, exploring prejudices and stereotypes on save ground of metaphor. See again "Face" by Mike Carey.
And what's wrong in seeing other culture as exotic? India is exotic for me. It doesn't mean I hate it, but that it's mysterious and fascinating for me.


You should really just have Chinese-influenced humans and Roman-influenced humans.

First, it wouldn't be the same for me, as it would fall into "humans are special" thing and second, it could draw even more controversy that making Roman Elves and Chinese Hobgoblins, so, if I avoid races to not offend people, why even bother? Why should Kushans from Berserk be better and more PC than Hindu Orcs?
And again, same can be used against wild, dumb orcs - why not just use a bear? It will do exactly what an Orc like this can.


You seem to be bent on having orcs that aren't evil and that's fine. No one has said that you can't do that. You can be "original" and have orcs as protagonists and elves as villains. You can have whole societies of cannibalistic dwarves. It's still not adding originality and it is still bigoted if you base them too closely on real-world cultures.

Then I just need to not base them too closely. Which is possible, as I pointed out several times. No one is going to invent millions completely original cultures because it's impossible and not giving a race culture is lazy and stupid - humans in every part of the world, even the most primitive have a culture. it is impossible for us to live without a culture. It is selfish to assume that other races would.
And it is original if no one is doing this.


Evil is a subjective term.

I agree. And I want a story that reflects that.


I consider it to be anything that is destructive to society or puts its own self interests ahead of others'.

By that definition entire Gurren Lagann cast and everybody with Chaotic Good and Chaotic neutral alignment is evil. Just saying.


From this context, I don't think that an evil race (from the perspective of an outside race) is all that absurd.

But it's only evil from one perspective, while we often stumble upon race that is objectively evil.


Orcs might be evil from a human perspective, but from an orc perspective, humans would likely be just as evil.

I agree. In fact, I'm working on a setting that reflects that, maybe I'll post it here one day.

Axolotl
2012-03-16, 03:46 PM
People have been telling for 6 pages that not only havent they been 'evil mooks' all that often but even Tolkien gave them plenty of traits other then being evil and fear he made them too one-dimensional. Also, once again, etymology class, what made a word widely used is utterly irrelevant.Traits like what? What traits do orcs have then? Because every potrayal of them looks different (wildly different in some cases), they have no set physical charicteristics, sometimes they're muscular sometimes they're emacited, sometimes they're ugly, sometimes they aren't, they're barbarians in some setting but industrialists in others.

So we can either use the word's most literal meaning and the one where most people learnt it from or it means nothing beyond a vague term for a humanoid species.

And you haven't answered my question how would you feel if a setting had a race of 2 foot tall giants (and no other races of giant, just small ones).



...because thinking a species is always evil (or «always» anything) is racist?So it's racist to say that all humans are mortal then? Or that all ants are insects? It's perfectly possible for a species to all share traits.I don't see what's racist about it.


If you understand its a contradiction I really dont understand why you dont see how its racist.Because there's no connection between something being illogical and it be racist? I mean If my DM populated his setting with a widespread race of square triangles, I'd object that it didn't make sense but I wouldn't say they were racist for putting them in.

Querzis
2012-03-16, 03:50 PM
It is used to illustrate that an evil race doesn't have to be doing evil all the time. They would have a predisposition toward doing harm, but would still have things that they care about and still make choices that could be considered to be good. Always evil is not a programming that makes someone perpetrate all evil all the time. It is a disposition.

So for you, a farmer that lived a calm life doing nothing else then caring for his family can still be evil simply if had a disposition toward violence that never showed up because he was never angry. Make a whole lot of sense.


I really don't think so. Being evil isn't a constant desire to perpetrate malevolence.

In D&D it most definitly is. Not especially caring for anyone else then your loved one is a neutral attitude, evil is supposed to be melevolent toward those he doesnt care about. And I'm pretty damn sure we're not here to discuss real world morality here.


A race of evil beings would likely not always make "the evil decision" (as though there's a single evil option). They would likely have a range of people who make many decisions, but when added up to a whole would be viewed as evil.

...ok I'm not sure what you're saying here, are you saying that even if individuals are somewhat good the races as a whole would be evil (cause thats not what always evil mean at all) or are you saying that even if an individual orc sometimes make good decisions, he'll still make more evil decisions cause if an orc is ever able to make a single good decision then, by definition, theres at least one somewhere whos bound to have done nothing but good decisions in his entire life.


Where do you think an approach toward achieving goals comes from? They come from personality, hormones,

Not really no. Real life and fiction are full of people who are brutal and egocentric but still good guys while a polite, calm, gentle and logical man can still be utterly evil. Personnality traits dont have a whole lot to do with morality. Sure some are usually associated with evil or good person but its really kinda irrelevant, a very cruel person can still easely control his urge and absolutely never do anything with his cruelty except some BDSM stuff with a consensual partner.


and everything else that adds up to a being's psychology. What do you think influences a way of thinking or generates opinions?

Your personnal experiences, knowledge, all those stuff.


I don't think that this discussion is going to go anywhere. There are arguments among psychologists and philosophers about whether or not humans are, by nature, evil and yet we can't even agree on whether or not it is possible for a sapient species to be evil by nature.

You'll have to send me a link cause I have yet to see any psychologists or philosophers claim that all humans are evil.


Traits like what? What traits do orcs have then? Because every potrayal of them looks different (wildly different in some cases), they have no set physical charicteristics, sometimes they're muscular sometimes they're emacited, sometimes they're ugly, sometimes they aren't, they're barbarians in some setting but industrialists in others.

I have never seen them being emacited, industrialists or anything else and as I have said already, they are pretty much always described as very chaotic in every fantasy I have seen where they were portrayed but whatever really. I dont see why you are even hung up on this, just look at the portrayals of elves in mythology. Not talking about Tolkien here, no, before that there was tons of elves in tons of different mythology before Tolkiens and they were all very different. So really:


So we can either use the word's most literal meaning and the one where most people learnt it from or it means nothing beyond a vague term for a humanoid species.

And this is a problem why exactly? Its the same thing for almost every fantasy race, get over it.


And you haven't answered my question how would you feel if a setting had a race of 2 foot tall giants (and no other races of giant, just small ones).

I woudl assume that, just like the dwarves in Morrowing, their name was given by another species and it kinda stuck. Or they consider themselves giants compared to what they hunt. Either way, I'd find it kinda funny and thats about it.


So it's racist to say that all humans are mortal then? Or that all ants are insects? It's perfectly possible for a species to all share traits.I don't see what's racist about it.

Physical traits yes, personnality traits no. Once again, I really shoudnt have to explain the difference here.

pendell
2012-03-16, 04:01 PM
You'll have to send me a link cause I have yet to see any psychologists or philosophers claim that all humans are evil.


Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, et al all taught this.. Due to forum restrictions, PM for further discussion, or punch up "Original Sin" on wikipedia.

To put it in secular, board-friendly terms, humans are evil because it takes work to be kind, gentle, and cheerful but it takes no work to be a selfish, rotten person. Being good and decent requires self discipline and effort. Therefore humans are not *by nature* good and decent beings, any more than water by nature flows uphill. They are by nature evil, violent, and selfish. If humans are not these things it is because, like Right-Eye, they live above their nature rather than surrendering to it.


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Querzis
2012-03-16, 04:08 PM
At least one major religion teaches this. Due to forum restrictions, PM for further discussion, or punch up "Original Sin" on wikipedia.

To put it in secular, board-friendly terms, humans are evil because it takes work to be kind, gentle, and cheerful but it takes no work to be a selfish, rotten person. Being good and decent requires self discipline and effort. Therefore humans are not *by nature* good and decent beings, any more than water by nature flows uphill. They are by nature evil, violent, and selfish. If humans are not these things it is because, like Right-Eye, they live above their nature rather than surrendering to it.


Respectfully,

Brian P.

*blink* Thats not what being «evil by nature» or «always evil» mean. At all. So Nature gave you a bad attitude? Yeah well if nature also gave you the means to rise above it that really doesnt make you «evil by nature». Anyway, not that I actually agree with it but lets assume its true that we are all evil until we rise above it what does it have to do with the current discussion? In fact, isnt that helping my point? If humans can rise above being evil by nature why would it be impossible for orcs to do so?

pendell
2012-03-16, 04:26 PM
*blink* Thats not what being «evil by nature» or «always evil» mean. At all.


I'm not quite sure what the terminology means. But my understanding is that the concept means that every single human being, with exceptions that can be counted on one hand, from the lowliest infant to the oldest man, has committed enough crimes in their lifetime that a truly just being would execute them on the spot. That a truly just being would kill a human being on sight as we might a baby cobra, because it is only evil from birth and will only cause harm. Utterly unworthy of the company of civilized beings.

Does that, or does that not, sound pretty much exactly the way orcs are described?

At any rate ... you asked for examples of philosophers that taught that humans are always evil. St. Augustine was one. Martin Luther was another. If they were posting here, I think they would say that the fact that human beings believe themselves to be righteous is testament only to our own corruption, as a man up to his neck in excrement no longer has a sense of smell.



In fact, isnt that helping my point? If humans can rise above being evil by nature why would it be impossible for orcs to do so?

Actually, I think it makes your point exactly. If humans are an evil race that can -- not pull itself up by its bootstraps but be redeemed -- then orcs, goblins and whatever should similarly be capable of redemption.

"Redemption" in the medieval sense doesn't mean "you do good deeds to make up for the bad you do", as was expected of Miko Miyazaki. Redemption literally means "to buy back" -- for a being who has credit to spare to lay down the cash to pay for transgressions, and so restore a being to right standing when said being had no way of doing so on its own.

The closest analogy I can give is Tolkien's treatment of Gollum. Frodo had mercy and pity for Gollum not because Frodo was good while Gollum was evil. No, both Frodo and Gollum were corrupt, mortal beings who experienced the terrible call and burden of the ring. So Frodo showed pity and mercy to Gollum because Frodo believed that, if there was hope for Gollum, there was hope for him as well.

Or perhaps Lewis' sacrifice of Aslan to save Edmund. That is redemption in the original sense. There was no way Edmund could ever make right the wrong he had done by betraying his family, but Aslan literally bought him back from the power of the witch.

Actually, Narnia's talking animals are probably the best analog for the concept I'm trying to describe. If you read through to the last battle, you'll see that everything in that world, and not just humans, was capable both of falling into evil and of being redeemed into good. Which is why you had "good" talking animals collaborating with humans to enslave Narnia while "evil" humans such as Emeth nonetheless found their way to paradise.

ETA: At any rate, a person who seriously believed humans were always evil would have two alternatives, in a world which had orcs in it:

1) Show compassion and mercy to orcs in the hope of redemption, on the assumption that if evil humans could be redeemed orcs could be too

2) Kill humans and orcs indiscriminately, on the assumption that they were both equally rotten.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Tiki Snakes
2012-03-16, 04:29 PM
And you haven't answered my question how would you feel if a setting had a race of 2 foot tall giants (and no other races of giant, just small ones).


Fear the Mighty (Flemish) Giant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flemish_Giant). Look at the size of them!
I'm not sure of their exact size, though. You get the idea, nothing wrong with a 2 foot giant. The only question is a 2 foot giant what? :smallsmile:]


It strikes me, actually, that there is a simple problem with the idea that Tolkein is the ur-example, is that generally his orcs seem to be the odd ones out. No mention of tusks, their skin isn't green, they are generally small, long armed and supposedly resemble particularly unpleasant members of a certain human race. They also have no obvious link themeatically to the wilderness or wild places, and might depending on which of his possible origins you prefer, actually just be a magically cursed race of Elves.

If anything, Tolkein's Orcs are the least representitive of their general image in the public conciousness. Most of the more influential depictions seem to have more in common with the earlier depictions as mentioned in the Early Modern Usage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orc#Early_modern_usage) section of the wikipedia entry.

Frankly, I'd say they are more the exception than the rule.

Querzis
2012-03-16, 04:39 PM
Yeah I can see why you woudnt wanna get too much into it Pendell. This is getting way too close to breaking forums rules about religion so lets just say I mostly agree with you and I wont start nitpicking about those philosophers cause this really aint the forum for that.


If anything, Tolkein's Orcs are the least representitive of their general image in the public conciousness. Most of the more influential depictions seem to have more in common with the earlier depictions as mentioned in the Early Modern Usage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orc#Early_modern_usage) section of the wikipedia entry.

Frankly, I'd say they are more the exception than the rule.

And thats also a very good point.

Axolotl
2012-03-16, 04:59 PM
I have never seen them being emacited, industrialistsYou haven't seen the Lord of the Rings films?


or anything else and as I have said already, they are pretty much always described as very chaotic in every fantasy I have seen where they were portrayed but whatever really.They've been Lawful for most of DnD's history. And beyond that they're often building empire's and such.


I dont see why you are even hung up on this,Because you've said I'm racist?


just look at the portrayals of elves in mythology. Not talking about Tolkien here, no, before that there was tons of elves in tons of different mythology before Tolkiens and they were all very different. So really:And since Tolkein they've been consolidated into one concept, they're thin beautiful humanoid that's long lived and wise. I've yet to see a potrayal of them that wasn't this or a parody.




And this is a problem why exactly? Its the same thing for almost every fantasy race, get over it.But it's not the same for most fantasy races, I know exactly what say a khepri is, or a Thark, an Other, a Deodand, a Klingon, an Asari, a Krogan, a Garuda, a Melnibonéan, a Hobbit.

Even ubiquitous fantasy races such as Dwarves, Vampires, Demons, Angels and such have qualities that define them and that remain consistent.




Physical traits yes, personnality traits no. Once again, I really shoudnt have to explain the difference here.So you think it isn't racist to say all of a race share physical traits? I must say I have a very different conception of racism than you seem to have.

pendell
2012-03-16, 05:00 PM
Not a problem. My PM box is open, should you wish to do so.

Also, be advised that since you've obviously got my point I'll be considering ways to edit my posts to be more board-friendly without rendering them meaningless, so don't be surprised if the content changes without warning :)

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Man on Fire
2012-03-16, 05:27 PM
And since Tolkein they've been consolidated into one concept, they're thin beautiful humanoid that's long lived and wise. I've yet to see a potrayal of them that wasn't this or a parody.

Wheel of Time has large and ugly Elves, Witcher has Elves that are beautiful and long-lived but are also racist, hateful, organize packs of gureillas that wants only to kill humans and with each book become bigger jerks.

Gnoman
2012-03-16, 05:30 PM
Also, Salvatore's Demonwars setting's elves are small, have little advantage over humans besides extreme conditioning, and have an utterly alien mindset.

Querzis
2012-03-16, 05:42 PM
You haven't seen the Lord of the Rings films?

Ah...industrialist? Meh whatever. not worth arguing about.


They've been Lawful for most of DnD's history. And beyond that they're often building empire's and such.

Never played second edition, cant say I especially care either, theres been more then enough retcon either way.


Because you've said I'm racist?

...Ok I read all my post again just to make sure and nope. I really didnt. Mind you, I was talking about the name thing here so even if I did, that would not have been a relevant reply. Beside, werent you saying you were against the concept of an always evil species earlier? If so, why does me explaining to you why the concept of an always evil species is also racist apparently offend you? You're already against it!


And since Tolkein they've been consolidated into one concept, they're thin beautiful humanoid that's long lived and wise. I've yet to see a potrayal of them that wasn't this or a parody.

http://www.clipartof.com/portfolio/a-papantoniou/illustration/friendly-little-elf-in-a-yellow-suit-and-hat-with-a-bell-on-it-holding-his-arms-out-20591.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elf-Elf.jpg http://www.educol.net/coloriage-elf-i6886.html http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/72900/72942/72942_elf-leaf.htm http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/House-elf http://desktopwallpaper-s.com/12/-/Elf/ http://www.sci-fi-o-rama.com/2010/01/15/ian-miller-dark-elf/ http://bestclipartblog.com/25-elf-clip-art.html/elf-clip-art-1

Those are just some of the first one that came up when you research it on google.



But it's not the same for most fantasy races, I know exactly what say a khepri is, or a Thark, an Other, a Deodand, a Klingon, an Asari, a Krogan, a Garuda, a Melnibonéan,

I have no idea what most of those are except for the science-fictions ones which obviously shouldnt count. Not just because its not fantasy but mostly because there are no such things as Krogan or Klingon anywhere outside of their original work. They cant be 'inconsistent' if they only appear once.


a Hobbit.

They are pretty much just called Hobbit in LoTR but if you try halfling then yes, you can get a good diversity between them.


Even ubiquitous fantasy races such as Dwarves, Vampires, Demons, Angels and such have qualities that define them and that remain consistent.

...Ok dwarves usually are but Vampires, Demons and Angels consistent? Really? Those three are far more inconsistent then orcs are.


So you think it isn't racist to say all of a race share physical traits? I must say I have a very different conception of racism than you seem to have.

...you do realize I was replying to you and that you said: «its perfectly possible for them to share traits» right? Mind you, if you wanna go back and edit your post to say, «every individual in a race all share exactly the same traits» thats perfectly fine with me but I'll also go back to edit my posts in that case.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-16, 08:01 PM
Why? As I noted before the word orc means "evil spirit" having them be not evil would be like having 2 foot tall giants, no matter how much else you keep the same the name no longer fits.

Do you mind explaining your reasoning here? I can't see how orc being evil connects to racism at all.

Simple. You portray all orcs as evil, thats racism.

Duh.

Sure, you can have orcish antagonists, but only if they are portrayed as evil individuals and not indicative of the race.

oh and, portraying all orcs as good is racism too. favorable racism, but still racism, and therefore still wrong.

t209
2012-03-16, 09:57 PM
Wheel of Time has large and ugly Elves, Witcher has Elves that are beautiful and long-lived but are also racist, hateful, organize packs of gureillas that wants only to kill humans and with each book become bigger jerks.

Don't forget Skyrim.
The elves are nazis and the empire just bowed down to them instead of fighting them (heck, even Redguards manage to beat them after they left the Titus "The Man".)

Coidzor
2012-03-16, 10:19 PM
Don't forget Skyrim.
The elves are nazis and the empire just bowed down to them instead of fighting them (heck, even Redguards manage to beat them after they left the Titus "The Man".)

...What? You've played the game. You know that the Empire had already been fighting them and felt it needed a armistice to get some breathing room due to being out-bluffed.

MLai
2012-03-17, 12:35 AM
TOLKIEN SPECIFICS:

Except it isn't magical compulsion,
Did the orcs all "magically lose" as soon as their overlord died?
If they did, then you don't think they obeyed Sauron out of magical compulsion?

You know the funny things about this thread is that Tolkien is quite litterally the only fictional world where I saw orcs being «always chaotic evil».
Tolkien orcs are actually lawful evil, if we're to give them an AD&D alignment.

If elves were the only undivided race, then some orcs would of had to have fought against Melkor as well, or at the very least stayed out of the conflict altogether.
Orcs that fought alongside humans/elves against Morgoth, in Tolkien lit? False until proven by book page and passage.

if Tolkien did intended Orcs to be metaphor for fascism and monolithic evil, then portraying them as bunch of trigger happy, disorganized savages who are as likely to fight themselves as other races, like in, say, Warhammers or D&D is derailing from it
How's that? Even ants and bees, which are as monolithic as you can get as a species, can kill each other of the same nest, for evolutionary ends. To cull the weak, for example.

NATURE OF EVIL VS RACISM:

...really we have to explain that? If they are all evil then they arent sentient.

Once again, I do not see how this apparently means that a race that got free will can be all evil.
I just want to remind myself here, that later others showed that philosophers have debated on innate evil nature of man, therefore your above sentiment is disproven from being "unanimous fact I don't need to explain."


Actually, I think it makes your point exactly. If humans are an evil race that can -- not pull itself up by its bootstraps but be redeemed -- then orcs, goblins and whatever should similarly be capable of redemption.
See immediately below, Pendell.
Regarding your story examples (Narnia, etc) espousing a redemption philosophy... that isn't wrong, nor must it be universal. That is simply a specific philosophical viewpoint applied to fictional creatures which are humanized by the author.
I know I don't have to tell you that; I'm telling it to a certain someone else.



...because thinking a species is always evil (or «always» anything) is racist? If you understand its a contradiction I really dont understand why you dont see how its racist.
We don't see how it's racist, because we're talking about a fictional species.

Note, I'm not saying because it is fictional, we can do racist things to fictional human analogs and get away with that. As an analogy, I'm not saying I can invent a fictional human ethnicity called X, and then gleefully do horrible ethnic cleansing to it as a good thing in my story, and then say it's ok because X don't really exist.

I am saying that because it is fictional, you cannot apply human morality and human worldviews to it, unless said species is specifically made to be human-like. For example, my orcs can be iredeemably evil/ destructive/ abominations of nature, like Africanized killer bees (look them up if you're not familiar with them). That is, human attributes of culture/ ethnicity/ morality don't apply to them. In that case, "kill them on sight" is not racist.


Physical traits yes, personnality traits no. Once again, I really shoudnt have to explain the difference here.
See immediately above. Your statement is true for humans, not true for a fictional species which may or may not have the same thought/logic processes as a human.


If humans can rise above being evil by nature why would it be impossible for orcs to do so?
Because they don't have to be human-like.

RACISM:

What you described is what most people would understand as ugly. So now ugly people are inhuman.
I consider elves to be exactly as much inhuman as hogbolins and orcs.
No ugly human has tusks, claws, yellow/red pupils, and boar-like skin. That's inhuman, i.e. monstrous and demonized.
Elves ARE as inhuman as orcs and goblins.


And really, nobody should be offended that you base your Goblins on one culture, as long as you do it well and they are open-minded enough to see positive qualities of goblins.
Did you look up "white privilege"?
Never base an inhuman species' culture on one recognizeable human culture. That is racism in the true sense of the word.
At the very least, do what you said previously, and take inspiration from many different human cultures, so that there is no specifically identifiable real-world ethnic basis.
Even better, said species should have several different cultures in different regions of your world, each one not based on a single human culture.
For example, see HOMM 5 and 6. The game devs get lazy by basing their orcs on 1 human culture grouping (Mongols/Huns), but it is redeemed when in the next game, the orcs living in a different region has an entirely different culture (but unfortunately it's also based on 1 human culture grouping -- Aztecs/Incas/Mayans).


oh and, portraying all orcs as good is racism too. favorable racism, but still racism, and therefore still wrong.
But orcs aren't a race. They're a species. Therefore it's not racism. And there is no such thing as specieism, because species denotes not human. And being other than human automatically means you can have innate traits that humans may not have.
Labeling all orcs as anything, only becomes racism if you humanize them to the degree that if you suddenly replace them with a bunch of humans of a fictional culture, the story isn't affected in any way.
Which is why we KEPT saying, "So why do you need orcs?"

@ Man On Fire:
I'll respond to you more if you:
1. Make specific points rather than endlessly omnislashing my sentences, because it's starting to get confusing and derailed.
2. Tone it down. Also stop with any sanctimonious preaching.


What you are doing is an abuse of the term, which you use as convenient excuse for forcing your interpretation down our throats as the only true interpretation, and quite frankly, you act like your interpretation is not equal but more important than all the others and what the author says.
1. Quote where I specifically say that Tolkien orcs must be WW2 Germans and nothing else.
2. Refer to what I say above in the Tolkien section.
3. Are you talking about "Germans", or "monolithic"? You're confusing the 2 lines of debate regarding Tolkien.
4. Do not put words into my mouth.


we have Goblins (by other name, but still goblins) who are obviously Muslims but story does great things with it).
If this is accurate, then this is racism in fantasy literature, right here. It doesn't matter if the Muslim-goblins are the good guys in the story.
And when you say Muslim, I assume you mean Middle Eastern peoples of the Islamic faith?
Or do you mean goblins of varying cultures but who practice a religion clearly modeled on Islam?
Are they one amongst many species who practice this religion, or is this "their religion"?
And if only they practice this religion, then why? Because they're goblins? Or is it because the religion specifically says it wants only goblins?


why hooligans aren't supposed to be offended that Games Workshop portrayed them as bunch of dumb berserkers who butcher everything for fun? And don't say that because what they are doing is wrong, because it's a subjective term
1. It's not racism. Anyone can choose to be or not be a hooligan. It doesn't even have anything to do with liking football.
2. Committing criminal vandalism, disrupting civil order, and destruction of property. Not subjective.

t209
2012-03-17, 01:24 AM
...What? You've played the game. You know that the Empire had already been fighting them and felt it needed a armistice to get some breathing room due to being out-bluffed.

I know that the Empire got their ass kicked and they need to lick their own wound. Then they decided to give up Hammerfell who proceeded to kick the ass of the Aldmeri Dominion. The empire could crush the High Elf asses with multiple front.
OR
They might have deal with Aldmeri Dominion to make Redguards look like a winner.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-17, 01:27 AM
But orcs aren't a race. They're a species. Therefore it's not racism. And there is no such thing as specieism, because species denotes not human. And being other than human automatically means you can have innate traits that humans may not have.
Labeling all orcs as anything, only becomes racism if you humanize them to the degree that if you suddenly replace them with a bunch of humans of a fictional culture, the story isn't affected in any way.
Which is why we KEPT saying, "So why do you need orcs?"


Because I like orcs not evil. :smallannoyed:

t209
2012-03-17, 01:44 AM
How about Orcs that are morally ambiguous?
1. Orcs may be raiding barbarians but they need to gain food and income by any means necessary.
2. Humans are just as worse as orcs.
I mean there is never good nor evil in real life. I mean it could be more sensible if you make them in Grey Morality.
Not only I hated the clinche of Evil Orcs (along with Empire as evil), I also hated typical good and evil morality.

turkishproverb
2012-03-17, 01:52 AM
Did the orcs all "magically lose" as soon as their overlord died?
If they did, then you don't think they obeyed Sauron out of magical compulsion?

Or...you know... (p://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0115.html)

:redcloak:-XykonSauron's dead, so no one is paying threatening and paying us anymore. We SurrenderRun"

Your boss is dead, you've got no reason to serve him anymore. Really, that would explain why they went to their "better" situation while Sauron was dead, before he came back and they were so afraid they fell in line (Which is what the orc dialog implies).

Besides that, there's also a bit of orc dialog where they mention that the gondorians (at least the dialog implies it was the humans, it could have been the elves, I suppose) hate them even more than they hate them, at least that's there view on it.

So yea, the boss that is feeding you, whom is so ungodly scary and powerful it keeps you in line, is probably dead (judging from the crap going on in his kingdom) and you're surrounded by racists who hate you and want you dead more than you want them dead. They have a big scary loud leader with a nice sword who's really good at killing you.

Running might seem like a good idea.







Haven't even read the rest of your post, but this one seemed painfully obvious to me.



EDIT:


Read a little more, felt I needed to address this scrap.


Orcs that fought alongside humans/elves against Morgoth, in Tolkien lit? False until proven by book page and passage.



He found the passage.
Alongside the humans, or just for the same cause? Maybe not alongside, but the fact that the book claims ONLY elves were undivided means that the orcs, by nature of what words mean, had to be divided in the struggle for and against Morgoth Sauron.*



It's in the text. Evidence by absence applies in this case. They're not mentioned as undivided, and it mentions that only one group, the elves, was undivided. Therefore the orcs were divided.


*Edited for details
EDIT:

Heck, if you look at them closely, the goblins in Moria aren't all that "evil". they inhabited an emptied out mine, and defended their new home when the (for them alledged) former-owner came back, and again when the adventuring party stomped through.

Jeraa
2012-03-17, 02:31 AM
Orcs that fought alongside humans/elves against Morgoth, in Tolkien lit? False until proven by book page and passage. My apologies. I was wrong. It wasn't against Morgoth, it was against Sauron, during the Last Alliance of Men and Elves (when Sauron was defeated, and the ring lost.)



“All living things were divided in that day, some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only”
Found in the Silmarillion, in the section Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.

Querzis
2012-03-17, 04:16 AM
Which is why we KEPT saying, "So why do you need orcs?"

I'm getting kinda tired of this so I'll just answer this instead of answering your entire post. Firstly, theres no «we kept saying», you're alone here. But most importantly, its the other way around, why do you need orcs to be always evil when this spot can be taken much more efficiently (and logically) by mindless stuff like zombies or created construct?

I said it many times but you dont seem to get it so I'll say it again: If they are sentient, they cant be all evil. Their supposed «alien mindset» coudnt be more irrelevant, if they are sentient they can learn and adapt to their surroundings and if they can do that then they can become good. Thats it. Absolutely nothing you say will change that. The weirdest, most inhuman looking alien you can think of can and should be able to gain a humanlike morality and become good by our standard if they are sentient. If its impossible for them to do so, then its not a sentient alien, its a very dumb animal. Some can argue that evil is subjective but sentience most definitly is not, if they are sentient they can very easely become good by our standards just by having slightly different personnal experiences and mindset then the majority of the species or by being raised by humans.

Making them all evil basically means they are as dumb as insects or zombies or they were made to be that way and have absolutely no free will like construct. And if you want orcs to be like that thats cool with me even though, once again, you can find tons of monsters that could fill those two roles better then orcs. But then do not act and talk like they are a sentient species. They arent. Making them all evil basically make them either some sort of plant-people dumber then rabbits or constructs without free will.

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-17, 04:26 AM
The thinga about Orcs and Goblins is that they in no way behave more evil than humans. Even the very worst ones.
They raid? And plunder? Ask the monks in Lindisfarne if they liked my ancestors showing up there in 789...

In fact I feel that having them as always chaotic evil mooks is not only boring, but pointless since all you get is "greenskinned human". You HAVE to give them a culture to make them something different.

endoperez
2012-03-17, 05:58 AM
I'm getting kinda tired of this so I'll just answer this instead of answering your entire post. Firstly, theres no «we kept saying», you're alone here. But most importantly, its the other way around, why do you need orcs to be always evil when this spot can be taken much more efficiently (and logically) by mindless stuff like zombies or created construct?



I agree with him, and I'm not the only one.

He didn't claim that sentient orcs must be always evil. "[He thinks] both philosophies in treating non-human races are correct." (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=12895409&postcount=66) One of these philosophies being "orcs are inhuman and always evil", other being "orcs are humanized and not always evil". At least that's my interpretation of his arguments.

There's no reason non-sentient, magically compulsed, non-free-willed, created, or psychologically 100% inhuman orcs couldn't replace zombies. There are reasons for replacing zombies with orcs - like the need for evil enemies who can build traps and open doors...

One thing MLai has said is that humanizing orcs can be problematic. It's not problematic because orcs are evil. It's problematic because, when done badly, it might end up showing orcs as "always Asian", or "always Huns", or "always German", or "always Native Americans" or whatever. Showing a certain cultural or racial group as inhuman, ugly, violent and/or non-human is racistic.

pendell
2012-03-17, 06:18 AM
Did the orcs all "magically lose" as soon as their overlord died?
If they did, then you don't think they obeyed Sauron out of magical compulsion?


Actually, they did. They didn't all instantly die, but they scattered to the wilds and the edges of the world and died out, to the point that we don't encounter them any more. Remember, ME is supposed to be prehistoric earth. The transition from the third to the fourth ages was the transition from the age of fairy creatures to the age of men.

The evil creatures of Morgoth's 'creation' (actually twisting) -- orcs and trolls -- were closely tied to the power of a dark lord. When a dark lord rose, they multiplied and began to gather in power, harassing travelers and were drawn to the dark lord to serve in his armies. Just as Gollum was drawn to Mordor, as his time with the ring had left him open to the summons. It's doubtful this was a matter of their will or of a zombified people walking mindlessly. Simply an impulse at the back of the mind which could be denied only by the very strong of heart and mind, of which there were few.

When the dark lord was not around, they scattered and became little threat to anyone, dying out because the engine that fuelled their procreation was no longer active.

It's not just orcs and trolls. The mere presence of Sauron in Dol Goldur was enough to corrupt Greenwood the great into Mirkwood, with giant spiders and evil trees and moths marked with the symbol of the eye, corrupting all living things, drawing them towards evil and slavery under the eye.

To my mind, Tolkien's orcs bear the greatest fictional analog to Lucas' clones. They were not natural creatures in origin. Instead, they were deliberately genetically engineered to be the perfect mook by a being that had no use for free-willed beings. There's a statement in Fellowship of the Ring by Gandalf that Sauron, for no other reason than the fact that they shared the world with them, would want the hobbits as slaves rather than happy and free on their own, because to such a dominating mind there can be no such thing as an independent existence. All beings that fall into his clutch are changed and broken into evil slaves, of whom the prime exemplars were the ringwraiths. The most powerful of Sauron's servants, they also had the least free will, being only echoes of Sauron's own.

And ringwraiths, remember, were made from men.

Orcs were similarly corrupted, made from elves or men, depending on the source. They were not converted to wraithdom, perhaps, and total slavery because it suited the dark powers that they should continue to reproduce and function on their own when the puppet strings were cut. So they retained both a measure of their original nature, able to disobey Sauron (packs of rebel Uruk-hai are mentioned as possible in Two Towers and Return of the King) and able to reproduce on their own.

But orcs, trolls, dragons and all the rest have as little of free will as possible because the power that made them had no use for free will. The dark power truly believed that it knew best for everyone else and that everything would be better if all creatures were its slaves. Because of this, the dark power corrupted all living things that came under its sway -- elves into orcs, ents into trolls, men into ringwraiths.

But ... if it follows that the dark power ruined and twisted creatures into something evil and without free will to do anything other than the dark power's bidding, it follows that the desire of the most good in Middle Earth would be to undo that taint. To rescue them from darkness and give them back their original identities -- trolls as ents, orcs as elves.

Such a transformation and redemption may very well be beyond the power of even one such as Gandalf, but I think Gandalf would choose to hope for it and so show mercy even to orcs in the hopes that some day, somewhere down the line, all the work of the evil one could be undone and the world itself be made whole. To "destroy" orcs not by genocide, but by making them back into what they were intended to be by their true Maker, Eru beyond the circles of the world, undoing the ruining and twisting and conditioning Morgoth had used to make beings made in Eru's image into his own creatures.

Again, like the clones in Star Wars. Clones don't deserve hatred for being what they are -- any hate should be reserved for Palpatine and the Kaminoans who took ordinary human dna and from it made beings born only to be used as cannon fodder in other people's wars. The greatest thing to hope for, as with the orcs, is not with their extinction but with their rescue and their return/re-integration into the parent species.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-17, 07:27 AM
I said it many times but you dont seem to get it so I'll say it again: If they are sentient, they cant be all evil. Their supposed «alien mindset» coudnt be more irrelevant, if they are sentient they can learn and adapt to their surroundings and if they can do that then they can become good. Thats it. Absolutely nothing you say will change that. The weirdest, most inhuman looking alien you can think of can and should be able to gain a humanlike morality and become good by our standard if they are sentient. If its impossible for them to do so, then its not a sentient alien, its a very dumb animal. Some can argue that evil is subjective but sentience most definitly is not, if they are sentient they can very easely become good by our standards just by having slightly different personnal experiences and mindset then the majority of the species or by being raised by humans.

I'm not following this argument. Can you elaborate on how it is that possessing sentience inevitably leads to a being having the ability to adopt a human-like morality?

Sociopaths exist, and come in a huge variety. Genetics play a at the very least a partial part in these disorders. Can we not extrapolate from this fact and suppose a sentient race/species that are innately incapable of empathy and any number of other emotions that we associate with Good behaviour? A race that is nevertheless intelligent, capable of planning, reasoning and communicating?

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-17, 07:38 AM
I'm not following this argument. Can you elaborate on how it is that possessing sentience inevitably leads to a being having the ability to adopt a human-like morality?

See Legion dialogue in ME2. He outright states that applying your own species morality on other species is racism.

Man on Fire
2012-03-17, 08:09 AM
I'm getting kinda tired of this so I'll just answer this instead of answering your entire post. Firstly, theres no «we kept saying», you're alone here. But most importantly, its the other way around, why do you need orcs to be always evil when this spot can be taken much more efficiently (and logically) by mindless stuff like zombies or created construct?

Or a bear, there is nothing an dumb orc barbarian do that a bear can't do better. Including being XP fodder.


How's that? Even ants and bees, which are as monolithic as you can get as a species, can kill each other of the same nest, for evolutionary ends. To cull the weak, for example.
We don't see how it's racist, because we're talking about a fictional species.


Note, I'm not saying because it is fictional, we can do racist things to fictional human analogs and get away with that. As an analogy, I'm not saying I can invent a fictional human ethnicity called X, and then gleefully do horrible ethnic cleansing to it as a good thing in my story, and then say it's ok because X don't really exist.

I am saying that because it is fictional, you cannot apply human morality and human worldviews to it, unless said species is specifically made to be human-like. For example, my orcs can be iredeemably evil/ destructive/ abominations of nature, like Africanized killer bees (look them up if you're not familiar with them). That is, human attributes of culture/ ethnicity/ morality don't apply to them. In that case, "kill them on sight" is not racist.



No ugly human has tusks, claws, yellow/red pupils, and boar-like skin. That's inhuman, i.e. monstrous and demonized.
Elves ARE as inhuman as orcs and goblins.

Then why it is okay to base Elves on other cultures. Why Nords aren't offended that Dwarves, those fat, big nosed trunktards on chubby legs based on them? Why it's okay to rip off Irish with Hobbits/Halflings? Why is having boar's skin on you feet more human than having tusks.
Also, your definition of inhuman is based on what people dislike. Be so nice and try thinking outside the box sometimes.


Did you look up "white privilege"?

Yes. It has nothing to do with the fact that Goblins can have positive traits. Stop using it as a distraction, because it don't work.


Never base an inhuman species' culture on one recognizeable human culture.

If you want to limit your creativity, then it's your choice, but you will not tell me what to do. From this point I'll base all my orcs and Goblins and Ogres on pre-existing cultures, only to prove to you that there is nothign wrong with it.


That is racism in the true sense of the word.

No it's not, it's just you kneeling before political correctness gone mad.


At the very least, do what you said previously, and take inspiration from many different human cultures, so that there is no specifically identifiable real-world ethnic basis.

So you do agree with me that this is a good thing to do. So I don't understand why you were running away from it and blowing out the issue I proved can be avoided all the time.


Even better, said species should have several different cultures in different regions of your world, each one not based on a single human culture.

Different cultures - good thing and I agree with that.
Each not bassed on human cultures - impossible, creating fictional culture is quite complicated and time-consuming. Creating one completely fictional and belivable culture is a lot of hard work, making several of them will result in you burning out. An at least few of them are bound to be similiar by coincidence, so why bother?


For example, see HOMM 5 and 6. The game devs get lazy by basing their orcs on 1 human culture grouping (Mongols/Huns), but it is redeemed when in the next game, the orcs living in a different region has an entirely different culture (but unfortunately it's also based on 1 human culture grouping -- Aztecs/Incas/Mayans).

And there is nothing wrong with that.


But orcs aren't a race. They're a species. Therefore it's not racism. And there is no such thing as specieism, because species denotes not human.

For me there is. And seriously, at this point in fantasy and games race and species is equivalent of how do you spell potato.


And being other than human automatically means you can have innate traits that humans may not have.

You deny the right for other species to have traits that humans have. Which is nothing more but foolish belief that humans are special in any way. They aren't. We need inhuman races in fantasy to remind people that humans are nto special and other species could evolve the same traits as we as well.

You remind me of certain song.
They're Savages! Savages! Not really human! Savages! Savages! Drive them from our shore! They're not like you and me, which means they must be evil! We must sound the drums of war! They're Savages! Savages! Dirty greenskin devils! Now we soudn the drums of war! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvyxRGaFcg8&list=FLaeoX3CApple3apt_n02XTA&index=2&feature=plpp_video)


Labeling all orcs as anything, only becomes racism if you humanize them to the degree that if you suddenly replace them with a bunch of humans of a fictional culture, the story isn't affected in any way.

Not true, see Orcs Strain - Orcs from this world can grow incredibly large with years and under some circumstances can be petrified, which they use to slice gronk and use it as their currency. and some tribe can dispatch their own heads. And they don't seem to have women. Story would have to be change a lot to go around that if they were replaced with humans.


Which is why we KEPT saying, "So why do you need orcs?"

See above - to make humans less special. And why do you need Orcs for XP fodder when you can just replace them with any beast from bestiary, say a boar? Horde of wild boars is much cooler than a horde of wild orcs.


1. Make specific points rather than endlessly omnislashing my sentences, because it's starting to get confusing and derailed.

I can say the same about you.


2. Tone it down. Also stop with any sanctimonious preaching.

What you find to be sanctimonious preaching I find to be pointing logic holes and hypocrisy in your arguments.
And quite frankly, I use so angry tone because your posts make you sound like you're so afraid of offending somebody that you willingly limit your creativity. Which is something I cannot forgive, because I find nothing more important than creativity and think we shouldn't give it up no matter what.
You shouldn't be afraid of being accusd of racism. See here - you try to defend your stance to avoid racism and I find that racist. Even I'm not free - see my mistakes and generalizations when using word Muslim you pointed out.
Everyboy's a little bit racist sometimes! Doesn't mean we go around commiting hate crimes! Look around and you will find! No one's really color blind! Maybe it's a fact we all should face! Everyone makes judgments! Based on race! (www.youtube.com/watch?v=RovF1zsDoeM)


1. Quote where I specifically say that Tolkien orcs must be WW2 Germans and nothing else.

You are missing my point - if making Orcs good is derailing from Tolkien's vision, so is making them something different than metaphor for rampant industrialization, monolithic evil and WW2 Germans. I don't say you said they must be this, but if you deny them right to be good because of Tolkien, then you should also deny them right to be barbarians or fight among each other.


3. Are you talking about "Germans", or "monolithic"? You're confusing the 2 lines of debate regarding Tolkien.

Both.


4. Do not put words into my mouth.

I don't. I talk about what I get from your posts and what they implies.


If this is accurate, then this is racism in fantasy literature, right here.

Haven't read, don't judge. This story is actually strong anti-racism and anti-religious prejuices.


It doesn't matter if the Muslim-goblins are the good guys in the story.

Only because it derails from your vision fo fantasy, so you want to label it as racism and lock away.


And when you say Muslim, I assume you mean Middle Eastern peoples of the Islamic faith?

Both, they share traits with Arabic cultures and with Islamists.


Or do you mean goblins of varying cultures but who practice a religion clearly modeled on Islam?

We don't see many of them because that's not the point.


Are they one amongst many species who practice this religion, or is this "their religion"?
And if only they practice this religion, then why? Because they're goblins? Or is it because the religion specifically says it wants only goblins?

Story never calls them Goblins, they are treated as just another human tribe and judged based on their religious and cultural practices. I say they are goblins by other name because the describtion makes you think of goblins.


1. It's not racism. Anyone can choose to be or not be a hooligan.

It's still is discrimination.


It doesn't even have anything to do with liking football.

Orcs from Warhammers are said to represent all football fans, not only hooligans.


2. Committing criminal vandalism, disrupting civil order, and destruction of property. Not subjective.

I know some hooligans and from their point of view they are justified in what they do. Subjective right here.

Axolotl
2012-03-17, 08:26 AM
Ah...industrialist? Meh whatever. not worth arguing about.Isengard.

...Ok I read all my post again just to make sure and nope. I really didnt.You said that thinking all orcs are evil is racist, I'd established that I thought that.


Mind you, I was talking about the name thing here so even if I did, that would not have been a relevant reply. Beside, werent you saying you were against the concept of an always evil species earlier? If so, why does me explaining to you why the concept of an always evil species is also racist apparently offend you? You're already against it!I'm against it because I think it's a contradiction. So I don't use orcs, if an author or DM or game developer uses orcs then I'd like them to be always evil because then I have a clue what it is they are. I'd rather they didn't use orcs (or elves, dwarves etc) at all but if they do then they should stick to what the race is instead of slapping the name on something totally different.




http://www.clipartof.com/portfolio/a-papantoniou/illustration/friendly-little-elf-in-a-yellow-suit-and-hat-with-a-bell-on-it-holding-his-arms-out-20591.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elf-Elf.jpg http://www.educol.net/coloriage-elf-i6886.html http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/72900/72942/72942_elf-leaf.htm http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/House-elf http://desktopwallpaper-s.com/12/-/Elf/ http://www.sci-fi-o-rama.com/2010/01/15/ian-miller-dark-elf/ http://bestclipartblog.com/25-elf-clip-art.html/elf-clip-art-1

Those are just some of the first one that came up when you research it on google.Well shucks, I guess I'm wrong there.





I have no idea what most of those are except for the science-fictions ones which obviously shouldnt count. Not just because its not fantasy but mostly because there are no such things as Krogan or Klingon anywhere outside of their original work. They cant be 'inconsistent' if they only appear once.That they only appear in one work is sort of my point but whatever.



They are pretty much just called Hobbit in LoTR but if you try halfling then yes, you can get a good diversity between them.




...Ok dwarves usually are but Vampires, Demons and Angels consistent? Really? Those three are far more inconsistent then orcs are.Vampires are night-based parasites that suck blood, now their apperance and physical traits can change alot but if I see a book advertised as being about vampires I know what the core concept of the monster in the book is. Similarly demons are evil, supernatural monsters, even when they're potrayed as good or misunderstood this concept still defines them by how they differ from it. Same with angels, they're the servantsof God (or gods in rarer cases) and if they aren't good then it's done as a surprise twist.




...you do realize I was replying to you and that you said: «its perfectly possible for them to share traits» right? Mind you, if you wanna go back and edit your post to say, «every individual in a race all share exactly the same traits» thats perfectly fine with me but I'll also go back to edit my posts in that case.Yes I know what I said, my point being that it isn't racist to say a species share those traits if they do. You then said that your statements only applied to personality traits, maybe I misinterpreted your post.

My point was that i's not racist if it's true, and when dealing with a fantasy races it's up to the author if it's true or not. This applies to both personality traist and physical traits. If I want I can have my fiction race be always angry, or always arrogant or alway fans of freestyle disco if I want. And I don't think it would be racist to do so.


Simple. You portray all orcs as evil, thats racism.Why? How is that racist? As I said, what's you're reasoning behind this?

Man on Fire
2012-03-17, 08:35 AM
Why? How is that racist? As I said, what's you're reasoning behind this?

They are not like you and me, which means they must be evil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvyxRGaFcg8&list=FLaeoX3CApple3apt_n02XTA&index=2&feature=plpp_video)

willpell
2012-03-17, 08:42 AM
Sorry if someone already said this in seven pages, but here's my $0.02...We all know that a lot of gamers are not exactly supermodels. Orcs are butt-ugly and if they always have to be evil, then the message tends to come across that ugly equals evil. If orcs aren't so bad, then maybe overweight dumpy-looking gamers with bad skin who don't bathe all that often aren't so bad either, ergo such individuals are likely to rally behind the orc banner out of cameraderie for fellow "misunderstood" individuals. (And yes I know not all gamers or even most are like that anymore but that was the stereotype for a long time, and so kids who grew up in the 80s were seeing the stereotype at the same time they were seeing orcs-as-totally-evil and could have easily conflated the two.)

The same might be true for any number of similar adoptees who possess a viewed-as-negative trait that the audience possesses a lot. Sexual promiscuity, for example, hence the popularity of drow and succubi, because they come from societies (assuming the Abyss counts as a society) where it isn't stigmatized, and the players want to escape from one where it is.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-17, 08:46 AM
Isengard.
Why? How is that racist? As I said, what's you're reasoning behind this?

In the same way that if I gone and found out what race you are, then decided to portray your entire race as evil for no reason, yes it is racism.

Thats my reasoning behind it. I mean how would you feel if all of humanity was demonized by another race as evil? Portrayed humanity as nothing but savages with guns shooting each other and blasting away nations with nuclear bombs for the lulz. I think I wouldn't be fine with that.

Axolotl
2012-03-17, 09:23 AM
In the same way that if I gone and found out what race you are, then decided to portray your entire race as evil for no reason, yes it is racism.

Thats my reasoning behind it. I mean how would you feel if all of humanity was demonized by another race as evil? Portrayed humanity as nothing but savages with guns shooting each other and blasting away nations with nuclear bombs for the lulz. I think I wouldn't be fine with that.But in those cases it's racist because it's not true, not all humans are savage. But the same can't be said for orcs because they do not exist. It's not racist for the authors of AD&D to say all orcs are LE because it's true within the context of their setting.

Man on Fire
2012-03-17, 10:25 AM
But in those cases it's racist because it's not true, not all humans are savage. But the same can't be said for orcs because they do not exist. It's not racist for the authors of AD&D to say all orcs are LE because it's true within the context of their setting.

But they are the ones who enforce that setting, they are the ones who say it's okay. And I disagree with that, because it's stupid and I want a setting that's belivable. And quite frankly, Alignments in DnD are good only when taken with grain on salt, enforcing them on individual or entire race is taking them too far.


He didn't claim that sentient orcs must be always evil. "[He thinks] both philosophies in treating non-human races are correct." One of these philosophies being "orcs are inhuman and always evil", other being "orcs are humanized and not always evil". At least that's my interpretation of his arguments.

If he says that
a) There is nothing wrong with humanizing orcs
b) Humanized Orcs are waste of time and we should just use humans
c) Humanized Orcs are bound to be racist
He is contradicting himself.


There's no reason non-sentient, magically compulsed, non-free-willed, created, or psychologically 100% inhuman orcs couldn't replace zombies. There are reasons for replacing zombies with orcs - like the need for evil enemies who can build traps and open doors...

You don't need Orcs to be non-sentiens, magically compulsed, non-free-willed, created or psychologically or 100% inhuman to open doors and build traps. Most of those traits would make such feats impossible anyway. Nobody say you cannot have antagonistic orcs, but there is no need to make them all like that. if you do, you may as well replace them with bandits who build traps and open doors and a horde of wild boars.


One thing MLai has said is that humanizing orcs can be problematic. It's not problematic because orcs are evil. It's problematic because, when done badly, it might end up showing orcs as "always Asian", or "always Huns", or "always German", or "always Native Americans" or whatever. Showing a certain cultural or racial group as inhuman, ugly, violent and/or non-human is racistic.

Humans are ugly and violent. Inhuman and non-human is based on what? Why Orcs aren't inhuman but Dwarves and Halfling are okay? Again, why Norvegians and Icelanders aren't offended that we potray them as bunch of fat drunktards on chubby feets that never heard of shaving? Why Irish aren't offended that we say they're all fat, lazy, throw jokes around all the time, steal things and have feet like a razorback? Why it's racist to say "Asians are cool and Goblins are cool, Asian Goblins are 200% cool"?
I agree it has to be done well, but really, if we would ban trying viarous things because we might fail we would still be cavemen.

Axolotl
2012-03-17, 10:40 AM
But they are the ones who enforce that setting, they are the ones who say it's okay. And I disagree with that, because it's stupid and I want a setting that's belivable. And quite frankly, Alignments in DnD are good only when taken with grain on salt, enforcing them on individual or entire race is taking them too far.Something not being believable is not the same as it being racist.

Man on Fire
2012-03-17, 10:50 AM
Something not being believable is not the same as it being racist.

But it still puts me away from the story.

endoperez
2012-03-17, 10:50 AM
Disagreeing with other people's opinions on world building doesn't make them racists.


edit: I'm uncomfortable with where this discussion is going, so I decided to edit part of my reply away.

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-17, 11:17 AM
See Legion dialogue in ME2. He outright states that applying your own species morality on other species is racism.

Er, yeah. And? A sentient species could exist such that their morality maps pretty exactly on to what we call Evil. In the language of this hypothetical species I mentioned earlier, the word Evil (that is, the set of moral rules known in the fantasy world's absolute morality as "Evil") would lack any sort of negative connotation.

Also, what's with all the racism charges being tossed about? :smallconfused: It's a fantasy world - accusing anyone of racism for making orcs evil maniacs is like accusing them of being a violent individual for playing GTA. What am I missing here?

Man on Fire
2012-03-17, 11:23 AM
Disagreeing with other people's opinions on world building doesn't make them racists.

I'm sorry if I implied I think otherwise, I don't. I tried to make a point that even if we assume that okay, alignments enforced on races in DnD aren't racist, they're still stupid and make no sense, sorry for making it confusing.

Coidzor
2012-03-17, 12:48 PM
See Legion dialogue in ME2. He outright states that applying your own species morality on other species is racism.

Cool. Then having any fiction or game wherein different species interact is automatically racist so that the term gets stretched to meaninglessness. :smalltongue:

MLai
2012-03-18, 01:13 AM
TOLKIEN:

Found in the Silmarillion, in the section Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.
Sorry Jeraa but you're going to have to type a little more than that. Quote the entire paragraph. Otherwise, context is lost.
By reading only 1 sentence, it's hard to tell if Tolkien simply didn't think of mentioning orcs/goblins in that 1 sentence. Because being vague on that one would be a pretty big oversight.
Quoting the entire paragraph would make it clearer.
I really do want to know if Tolkien ever meant there were cases where orcs fought against Sauron.

Pendell on Tolkien orcs.
Well said. I think that's pretty accurate, according to my memory of the books (LOTR, Hobbit, Simar).

SENTIENCE AND EVIL:

why do you need orcs to be always evil when this spot can be taken much more efficiently (and logically) by mindless stuff like zombies or created construct?
How is an orc different from a zombie or a created construct?
I can write a story where robots gain emotion and learn to understand/accept humanity (plenty of this type of stories out there). Does this mean suddenly all stories involving irredeemable killer robots are now invalid?

If they are sentient, they cant be all evil. Their supposed «alien mindset» coudnt be more irrelevant......
I don't know where you're coming up with this, but I'd like to know. If you're referring to a specific philosophical school of thought, maybe you should list some online references (philosopher, theory name, etc).

See Legion dialogue in ME2. He outright states that applying your own species morality on other species is racism.
Well, Avilan... that's not actually the definition of racism. More like sci-fi ethnocentrism.
But, I do agree with it. It is very ethnocentric to assume that orcs are capable of human definition of good, just because humans are capable of it.

CONCEPTS IN RACISM:

Then why it is okay to base Elves on other cultures.
Strictly speaking, it's not ok. Note, I never once said it's ok.
However, I can observe that elves are most often based on NW European cultures. This is not frowned upon by NW Europeans due to white privilege.

Why Nords aren't offended that Dwarves, those fat, big nosed trunktards on chubby legs based on them?
White privilege.

Also, your definition of inhuman is based on what people dislike.
My definition of inhuman is based on what homo sapiens do not have.

Yes. It {white privilege} has nothing to do with the fact that Goblins can have positive traits. Stop using it as a distraction, because it don't work.
Umm... what...?
Look, how am I supposed to discuss concepts of racism with you, when you refuse to learn anything about concepts of racism?
Your answer to my question says to me that you have no idea why I even referred to the term "white privilege," and how it applied to the situation you described.
If you can correctly describe why I referred to white privilege in that situation, I will continue this subject with you. Otherwise I'm dropping it.

MAN ON FIRE:

No it's not {racism}, it's just you kneeling before political correctness gone mad.
You're really pushing it.
I really recommend you do some studying on history of racism, racism concepts and their errors, and modern racism, since you seem so interested in tackling it as a theme in your RPGs.
A complex topic deserves more investment than just a good heart, if you insist on touching it.

So you do agree with me that this is a good thing to do. So I don't understand why you were running away from it and blowing out the issue I proved can be avoided all the time.
Because what I say is not for just you. And I don't bother responding to the entirety of your omnislashes, just parts of it.

For me there is. And seriously, at this point in fantasy and games race and species is equivalent of how do you spell potato.
Confusion over the word "race" is a central perpetuator of racism as a valid worldview IRL.
And this is why it's an inherent danger in high fantasy.

You shouldn't be afraid of being accusd of racism. See here - you try to defend your stance to avoid racism and I find that racist.
I'm not being politically correct. All my comments in this thread should already show that I'm not afraid to rile people's preconceptions. Look at my infractions score (not proud of it, don't really want to get banned).
The problem with well-meaning people such as yourself, is that you're ignorant of what racism IRL is all about. By that, I mean history, social studies, anthropology, and genetics with regards to "human races". Ignorance of this perpetuates racism despite your good intentions, because there are so many misconceptions ingrained in our society, indoctrinated since birth.
I can't teach it to you on a forum, nor will I try. LOL, nor is it allowed. After all, I had to take college courses to get all of it straight.

It's still is discrimination {hooligans}.
To wit: I do not care about discrimination (class warfare, religious differences, gender). This is specifically about racism, which is a distinct entity from other forms of discrimination.

Orcs from Warhammers are said to represent all football fans, not only hooligans.
This is untrue. Orkz don't even play football, or have anything in their culture remotely resembling things associated with football.
What they do resemble are the merry mob behavior of hooligans.

If he says that
a) There is nothing wrong with humanizing orcs
b) Humanized Orcs are waste of time and we should just use humans
c) Humanized Orcs are bound to be racist
He is contradicting himself.
a) Provided it's done correctly. As exemplified by you, many ppl don't understand racism and so quite often do it incorrectly.
b) See A. Also, from a literary POV, IMO why bother stepping on the landmines inherent in A?
c) Done badly. History of high fantasy shows it's often done badly. Oh man you should see the Dragonlance novels.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-18, 02:40 AM
I'm curious.

Why are you so adamant upon orcs being all evil? It makes no sense. There is no prescribed definition of orc, since they are fictional, why settle for something less like "orcs are all evil" when you can something more? like "orcs are a morally ambiguous diverse race with a lot of cultures and conflicts"? The latter is richer, more detailed, allows for more interesting situations and conflicts, more potential, and furthermore there is a lot more roleplaying potential in fighting people who are just the same as you. many a good war story is about its pointlessness, about how that guy you just killed was in many ways, just like you with emotions and feelings and was just as morally right as you in defending their homeland from you as you are from them. and many questions spring from this pointlessness- were you morally right or wrong in killing that person whose only crime was to be doing the same thing as you, only on a different side?

If you make them all evil and such, all your doing is throwing away all questions of morality and drama that could possibly be gained. There is no emotional or dramatic purpose to them- you justify it so well that there is no question that You Are "Right". then it isn't interesting anymore, it is only combat, for no other reason that these guys need to be killed. So what? If they need to be killed, they die, no puzzles or moral quandaries about it, nothing interesting at all.

such de…not humanization, but desapientization, or deprotagonization of orcs only leads to something less valuable: Yet Another Endlessly Slaughtered Mook. When they can be so much more, and you refuse to allow them to be greater, to be a race with its own conflicts, its own story to tell, and its own heroes to rise up and fight alongside similar heroes. For what reason? I cannot possibly think of any value in doing such a thing, when orcs can be so much more than just another evil mook. and why should humans be the only ones with complex minds and emotions? I see no reason to keep the world revolving around them, when fantasy can do so much more than just be a bunch of paint and decoration to gravitate and revolve around humans.

So, I ask for a third time. What possible reason could you have for settling for something less like "all orcs are evil" over something better?

qbit
2012-03-18, 03:00 AM
So, I ask for a third time. What possible reason could you have for settling for something less like "all orcs are evil" over something better?

Because it might not be relevant to the story.

When I watch a movie, and the protagonist, orders a coffee in a diner. It might be completely irrelevant that the waitress that brings it over had a really hard childhood, that she was a drug addict for a while. That she was sent to prison for a stretch, and only now s getting her life back together, but that she is finding it hard to stay clean. And that tonight she will get to see her children for the first time in years.

That is all deep and well, but is the film is a romantic comedy and this is the scene where the protagonist first meets the love interest sitting across from one another. then that all just distracts from the story.

That is not to say that there isn't a story to be made about that waitress, but it's not this story.

endoperez
2012-03-18, 04:17 AM
and why should humans be the only ones with complex minds and emotions? I see no reason to keep the world revolving around them, when fantasy can do so much more than just be a bunch of paint and decoration to gravitate and revolve around humans.

So, I ask for a third time. What possible reason could you have for settling for something less like "all orcs are evil" over something better?

As far as I see it, it comes down to preference. Some people prefer the cultural conflicts, the fights with others that are your equal, the questions of morality and drama, to revolve around humans. If they prefer this, all the important characters are humans, and mooks must be something else.

I understand your preferences. I have read nice stories about a conflict between different species, and they can be interesting when done well. Stories about humans can be interesting too.


Also, earlier in this page there was a throwaway comment about Nordic people not being offended by the dwarves being based on them. I'm Scandinavian, and I don't like that comparison... I never thought dwarves were Nordic. They're inspired by vikings, true, but also other things, since they aren't sailing riders. If all of Scandinavia was replaced with dwarves in a world, I'd find that offensive. In fact, I've found even Scandinavia replaced with stereotypically stupid, raiding human vikings slightly offensive before. Monoculture is bad even when it's humans.

Madhand
2012-03-18, 04:19 AM
@qbit: That's not really a proper answer to Raziere's question. Since the scope of scope or purpose of any story would probably not include all orcs in a given world there would be no purpose for all orcs to be evil. Would it make sense for the orcs the protagonists to be evil, certainly, but saying "orcs are always evil" is about as relevant as the story of the waitress.

Certainly it could make sense for a character to say and believe "all orcs are evil", but unless your story is about killing orc civilians(which if it is the story is clearly not about heroes) that's just a speciest character.

MLai
2012-03-18, 04:26 AM
Cool, a new direction in this thread, that starts calmly.
Qbit covered 1 reason. I have a more complicated reason.
I may not be able to explain myself fully or even correctly this first try. So if you find a flaw in my mini essay, please don't try to use it against me for the earlier pages. Point it out to me and I'll clarify/revise it.

1. Sci-fi is different from fantasy. Sci-fi inherently has less chance for racism, unless the author is bad (Lucas, see Jar Jar, Watto). One, you need aliens; you can't just say "Why can't we just use Alpha Centauri humans instead of Alpha Centaurians?" Two, because it's a different planet with wildly different ecologies, you can come up with crazy stuff which won't offend anyone. W40K is a good example. It took fantasy tropes and molded them into things that are much less prone (not completely less) to sliding into racism, by taking advantage of the new genre.

2a. Fantasy has a harder time. First, the ur-example (Tolkien) was pretty racist, so that set the precedent.
I'll give you one example before you bodypile me for saying that: It is stated/implied that if Arwen marries Aragorn, she will be doomed to a mortal life, and her children would be mortal. Both are bad as far as elves are concerned.
This perpetuates a racist and scientifically invalid concept called miscegenation. And it's insidious precisely because the author didn't mean to hurt anyone when he wrote it.

2b. When authors write fantasy stories, they like to refer to old-worldview concepts so that the fantasy world feels more "medieval" or "ancient." For example, the ppl in his fantasy world may believe the world is flat, the sun revolves around the world. Fine.
But then the story's ppl would also go by concepts such as "I pass on my abilities to you thru my blood, my son." By itself it's not racist. But it perpetuates scientifically invalid beliefs which tie into race. This example is really obvious. There are other examples which are subtle, and you may not notice them, but your brain noticed them while reading.
Worse, some of the racist beliefs aren't even from the ancient world, but rather from only the 19th-20th century when racism as a worldview kicked into full gear. Ancient Greeks weren't half as racist as we are, yet in our fantasy worlds, all these ancient/medieval ppls believe in racist concepts.

2c. Sci-fi aliens may tend to be as tripped-out as authors want to make them, but fantasy tropes are much more conseratively written. As everyone knows, readers have fixed ideas what elves/dwarves/orcs are like, and that's what they want/expect. So how do authors who want to "break out" play with these concepts? They base said species of non-humans on different ancient human cultures, going all over the globe.
Pro, they have an easier time humanizing said species, playing with reader expectations, and creating multi-dimensional characters. Yet because they used old-world cultures recognizeable to the reader as "medieval/ancient", the reader won't get up in arms about "This isn't how it is! I want epic fantasy not epic sci-fi or your private acid trip!! My immersion is broken!"
Con, they perpetuate the concept that "If your culture is wildly different (from NW Europe), you're probably not human." This is compounded by #2a, #2b.
And this doesn't matter if you put the non-human society in a positive light. Tolkien loves his elves, but look at my example of miscegenation. That's when it gets really insidious: The author has no intention of being racist, but because he's grown up on scientifically invalid "common sense" concepts, his books are loaded with such misconceptions as facts. And such "facts" entice the readers because they feel "ancient" and "authentic", and these things slide under your radar and you categorize them in your head as "makes sense."

That's as much as I can write off the top of my head.

ADDENDUM: Another example. In sci-fi we're much more likely to refer to aliens as other species. But in fantasy, we tend to refer to them as races. Even though fantasy orcs are just as much another species as alien Orkz. "Race" doesn't exist scientifically, anyways. Can't get away with that in sci-fi, because SCIENCE! But you're supposed to use it in fantasy, because MEDIEVAL! Even though Middle Ages ppl have no concepts of racism as we have them today.

Madhand
2012-03-18, 04:36 AM
Your Tolkien example is incorrect. Arwen's choice to wed Aragorn was not seen as a bad thing, Elrond himself was half elf. The problem came about because all the Elves were leaving Middle Earth, it was a matter of timing not interbreeding.

hamishspence
2012-03-18, 04:42 AM
First, the ur-example (Tolkien) was pretty racist, so that set the precedent.
I'll give you one example before you bodypile me for saying that: It is stated/implied that if Arwen marries Aragorn, she will be doomed to a mortal life, and her children would be mortal. Both are bad as far as elves are concerned.
This perpetuates a racist and scientifically invalid concept called miscegenation. And it's insidious precisely because the author didn't mean to hurt anyone when he wrote it.


Tolkien loves his elves, but look at my example of miscegenation. That's when it gets really insidious: The author has no intention of being racist, but because he's grown up on scientifically invalid "common sense" concepts, his books are loaded with such misconceptions as facts.

That only becomes "miscegenation" if you're assuming the elves "correlate to a real-world race".

If you're not- then it works differently. As the "Elder Children of Iluvatar" they're tied to Arda and must live in it until the End- no matter how weary they get of the world- and when they die, they are reincarnated.

Whereas the "Younger children of Iluvatar" are mortal.

The "half-elves" (and some of their descendants) get the choice of whether to be treated as elven, or human, for where their souls go. Some choose to be human (Arwen, Elros founder of Numenor) some choose to be elven (Elrond).

Elrond's dislike of Arwen making the "human choice" isn't racism in the book- it's sadness at this separating them forever.

Now there are plenty of cases of elves being racist, especially in The Silmarillion. But their racism isn't portrayed as correct.

MLai
2012-03-18, 05:18 AM
The end result seems to be the same, doesn't it. Marriage to a lower "race" dooms her to sadness. She didn't seem very happy in the appendix, after Aragorn is dead.

As for Elrond, it was important to be either/or. No, can't be a man celebrating both ancestries and being the richer for it. Have to choose the better one and forsake the lower one. Yes, there is sound in-story reasoning for it, involving the gods and the nature of the magical world. But there you have it: the underlying concept. I did say it was insidious.

Without arguing over the fine print in Tolkien's books, look at all the elf-human interactions in the high fantasy genre afterwards. Miscegenation as I described.

(Edited for completeness.)

qbit
2012-03-18, 05:20 AM
@qbit: That's not really a proper answer to Raziere's question. Since the scope of scope or purpose of any story would probably not include all orcs in a given world there would be no purpose for all orcs to be evil. Would it make sense for the orcs the protagonists to be evil, certainly, but saying "orcs are always evil" is about as relevant as the story of the waitress.

Certainly it could make sense for a character to say and believe "all orcs are evil", but unless your story is about killing orc civilians(which if it is the story is clearly not about heroes) that's just a speciest character.
Well it is in my mind. As there has to be someone to bring the protagonist coffe. Just has there has to be something to stand in the way of the hero that can resolved with a cool fight scene.
And yes, you can also use lower undead or robots but if you feel like using a mindlessly evil hoard of orcs then that's fine with me too.

It's only when they have a little bit of culture, that then out of laziness is a copy of a stereotype of a real group of peoples that there is a problem. So it's definitely better to have them 1-dimentional then to let them have 1.5 dimensions. Because that is often racist.


But not seeing a problem with orcs being mindless/evil in one setting doesn't mean I have a problem with them having a culture in others.

But when you do give them a culture, you must be careful not to make the "ugly" race in your setting too reminiscent of a real human culture. And as long as that pitfall can be avoided too, then there is no problem.

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-18, 05:20 AM
So, I ask for a third time. What possible reason could you have for settling for something less like "all orcs are evil" over something better?


Making orcs a complex and interesting species is only better if that's the sort of story you want to tell. Sometimes the story-function of Orcs is cannon-fodder for the heroes to mow down, as per the agreed-upon genre-conventions of a campaign - heroic fantasy and high adventure, for instance. By not making Orcs a complex culture with it's own villains, heroes, tragedies and great successes one kills any chance of moral questions and most of the drama in fighting them... and that is exactly the point. In this story, I don't want that sort of drama. I don't want complex moral questions. What I want to do is to thwart the evil Evil Guy McEvilington's evil plan and save the princess.

So there you have it. The possible reason I may want orcs to be simple cannon fodder is because I may be playing a game where I don't want drama and moral higgledy-piggledy.

hamishspence
2012-03-18, 05:43 AM
The end result seems to be the same, doesn't it. Marriage to a lower "race" dooms her to sadness. She didn't seem very happy in the appendix, after Aragorn is dead.

As for Elrond, it was important to be either/or. No, can't be a man celebrating both ancestries and being the richer for it. Have to choose the better one and forsake the lower one.
When did Tolkien refer to elves as a Higher race, or elf ancestry as the better one?

MLai
2012-03-18, 06:59 AM
He didn't have to. But even if you yourself somehow don't feel Tolkien wrote in favor of "the innate nobility of elves," read any review/analysis of LOTR, and read about what the elves represent.

Keep in mind, I never said Tolkien was out to preach racism, using fantasy races as metaphors for supremacist agendas. That's NOT what he was doing.

What I said was, due to the time period in which he was raised and educated, many of those trains of thought crept into his epic without him thinking about it. The entire Known World except for the metaphor of NW Europe being corrupted by Sauron and working for him. I mean, c'mon.

hamishspence
2012-03-18, 07:21 AM
He didn't have to.
Seems to me like projecting the assumption that elves were innately noble, on what Tolkien actually wrote.


But even if you yourself somehow don't feel Tolkien wrote in favor of "the innate nobility of elves," read any review/analysis of LOTR, and read about what the elves represent.

What the analyst thinks the elves represent.

A bit of digging (especially in The Silmarillion) shows just how nasty elves can get, even without actually being corrupted into orcs.


What I said was, due to the time period in which he was raised and educated, many of those trains of thought crept into his epic without him thinking about it. The entire Known World except for the metaphor of NW Europe being corrupted by Sauron and working for him. I mean, c'mon.
There's a very good essay on this subject:

http://www.unm.edu/~tolkien/Greybook/vol1/orientalism.pdf

which makes it clear that while these trains of thought get mentioned, that doesn't mean they're being treated as "right".

Madhand
2012-03-18, 07:53 AM
The end result seems to be the same, doesn't it. Marriage to a lower "race" dooms her to sadness. She didn't seem very happy in the appendix, after Aragorn is dead.

As for Elrond, it was important to be either/or. No, can't be a man celebrating both ancestries and being the richer for it. Have to choose the better one and forsake the lower one. Yes, there is sound in-story reasoning for it, involving the gods and the nature of the magical world. But there you have it: the underlying concept. I did say it was insidious.

Without arguing over the fine print in Tolkien's books, look at all the elf-human interactions in the high fantasy genre afterwards. Miscegenation as I described.

(Edited for completeness.)

She is "doomed to sadness" not because she's an elf but because the man she loved and then her kids all died. That's not a matter of race that's a matter of long life, even a human with immortality would have the same feelings of grief (excluding sociopaths of course) if their family and friends were not also immortal.

Further Elrond could very well have celebrated both of his heritages, the choice to be immortal or not didn't mean one was better or worse overall, it is simply impossible to be both. The fact that being immortal was what everyone chose goes to prove that Tolkein didn't consider it the right or better choice. Elrond didn't treat Aragorn as someone beneath him.

And what are your other authors? Saying look at high fantasy means nothing, there is no consensus.


Well it is in my mind. As there has to be someone to bring the protagonist coffe. Just has there has to be something to stand in the way of the hero that can resolved with a cool fight scene.
And yes, you can also use lower undead or robots but if you feel like using a mindlessly evil hoard of orcs then that's fine with me too.

It's only when they have a little bit of culture, that then out of laziness is a copy of a stereotype of a real group of peoples that there is a problem. So it's definitely better to have them 1-dimentional then to let them have 1.5 dimensions. Because that is often racist.


But not seeing a problem with orcs being mindless/evil in one setting doesn't mean I have a problem with them having a culture in others.

But when you do give them a culture, you must be careful not to make the "ugly" race in your setting too reminiscent of a real human culture. And as long as that pitfall can be avoided too, then there is no problem.

You miss my point, the original question was "why would you have all orcs be evil?" Your response being that the fact that all orcs aren't evil is irrelevant to the story, but then the opposite is also true; the only thing that matters is that the orcs that the protagonists deal with are evil, or at least oppose them.

Also the point in this is that if orcs aren't mindless then making them all evil is wrong, on the other hand I'd say that if they are mindless they aren't evil, they lack that capacity.


Making orcs a complex and interesting species is only better if that's the sort of story you want to tell. Sometimes the story-function of Orcs is cannon-fodder for the heroes to mow down, as per the agreed-upon genre-conventions of a campaign - heroic fantasy and high adventure, for instance. By not making Orcs a complex culture with it's own villains, heroes, tragedies and great successes one kills any chance of moral questions and most of the drama in fighting them... and that is exactly the point. In this story, I don't want that sort of drama. I don't want complex moral questions. What I want to do is to thwart the evil Evil Guy McEvilington's evil plan and save the princess.

So there you have it. The possible reason I may want orcs to be simple cannon fodder is because I may be playing a game where I don't want drama and moral higgledy-piggledy.

Your problem seems to be the same as qbit's which to me seems to be one of scope. You need these particular orcs to be evil, that's perfectly fine, especially if they chose to work for Evil McEvil III, but that doesn't mean that all orcs are evil. If you don't want moral questions then the idea of all orcs being evil shouldn't be factoring into the story/adventure.

Put another way let's take Star Wars, chances are all the people working on the Death Star weren't evil, but that is irrelevant to the story; they were all still antagonists.


He didn't have to. But even if you yourself somehow don't feel Tolkien wrote in favor of "the innate nobility of elves," read any review/analysis of LOTR, and read about what the elves represent.

Keep in mind, I never said Tolkien was out to preach racism, using fantasy races as metaphors for supremacist agendas. That's NOT what he was doing.

What I said was, due to the time period in which he was raised and educated, many of those trains of thought crept into his epic without him thinking about it. The entire Known World except for the metaphor of NW Europe being corrupted by Sauron and working for him. I mean, c'mon.


Hamish has dealt with the supposed elven nobility, and the second half has nothing to do with what you actually said or the topic at hand. But if it did it could be pointed out that Sauron didn't really try to corrupt the Northwest, he just tried to hammer it into submission, the men of the Northwest were shown to be just as easily corrupted as any other direction (It took Isildur how long to go from "Kill Sauron" to "The Ring is MINE"?)

hamishspence
2012-03-18, 08:00 AM
and the Men of the Northwest were first the inhabitants of Numenor, which became corrupt before Sauron ever came to it- though he corrupted it further- and they were the ones that fled from his corruption before it was destroyed by Iluvator after it attacked Valinor itself.

That said, Isildur is portrayed more sympathetically in Unfinished Tales: Disaster of the Gladden Fields- he even admits that him taking charge of the Ring was a big mistake- he lacks the strength of will to command it: "My pride has fallen. It should go to the Keepers of the Three"


Put another way let's take Star Wars, chances are all the people working on the Death Star weren't evil, but that is irrelevant to the story; they were all still antagonists.

One thing I liked about the novel Death Star was that not everyone on it was "antagonistic" to the Rebellion.

Man on Fire
2012-03-18, 08:49 AM
How is an orc different from a zombie or a created construct?
I can write a story where robots gain emotion and learn to understand/accept humanity (plenty of this type of stories out there). Does this mean suddenly all stories involving irredeemable killer robots are now invalid?

No, but you aren't accusing those who wrote stories about sentient robots of being racist.
And irredeemable killer robots are done to death and boring.


But, I do agree with it. It is very ethnocentric to assume that orcs are capable of human definition of good, just because humans are capable of it.


Saying that Orcs aren't capable of good just because humans are and they aren't human is too. They are not like you and me, which means they must be evil (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvyxRGaFcg8&list=FLaeoX3CApple3apt_n02XTA&index=6&feature=plpp_video).


My definition of inhuman is based on what homo sapiens do not have.

Some albino may have red eyes, there are people with unusual ear shapes, there is genetic disorder that makes you covered in fur, not to mention that average adult male has more hair on his body that orangutan, and we all have tusks. In other words, no, you base your definition of inhuman on what isn't falling under your definition of pretty.


Strictly speaking, it's not ok. Note, I never once said it's ok.
However, I can observe that elves are most often based on NW European cultures. This is not frowned upon by NW Europeans due to white privilege.


White privilege.


Umm... what...?
Look, how am I supposed to discuss concepts of racism with you, when you refuse to learn anything about concepts of racism?
Your answer to my question says to me that you have no idea why I even referred to the term "white privilege," and how it applied to the situation you described.
If you can correctly describe why I referred to white privilege in that situation, I will continue this subject with you. Otherwise I'm dropping it.



In critical race theory, white privilege is a way of conceptualizing racial inequalities that focuses as much on the advantages that white people accrue from society as on the disadvantages that people of color experience. White privilege may be defined as the "unearned advantages of being White in a racially stratified society", and has been characterized as an expression of institutional power that is largely unacknowledged by most White individuals [1]. Most such theories focus on American and European societal condition, since inequality between whites and non-whites is a long-standing feature of these academic areas. White privilege differs from conditions of overt racism or prejudice, in which a dominant group actively seeks to oppress or suppress other racial groups for its own advantage. Instead, theories of white privilege suggest that whites view their social, cultural, and economic experiences as a norm that everyone should experience, rather than as an advantaged position that must be maintained at the expense of others. This normative assumption implicitly constrains discussions of racial inequality within the dominant discourse: such explanations are limited to factors specific to disadvantaged racial groups - who are viewed as having failed to achieve the norm - and solutions focus on what can be done to help those groups achieve the 'normal' standards experienced by whites.
In essence, theories of white privilege assert that discourses on racial inequality do not truly discuss differences between white and non-white social status, but only discuss the failure of non-white groups to achieve normal social status, effectively turning race into an issue that does not involve whites. In this sense it is similar to confirmation biases and the fundamental attribution error in social psychology.
The general claim of theories of white privilege is that racial inequity cannot be resolved solely by looking at the life conditions of disadvantaged groups.[citation needed] They suggest that solutions to problems of racial inequality can only be achieved by explicitly discussing the implicit advantages that whites as a group hold in society

Now explain to me how is this supposed to have anything to do with making Asian Goblins or Norwegian Dwarfs, because no, I don't see it.


You're really pushing it.
I really recommend you do some studying on history of racism, racism concepts and their errors, and modern racism, since you seem so interested in tackling it as a theme in your RPGs.

Oh belive me, I had courses that were related to racism, like evolutionary psychology. I don't want to dwell into it, but the most important thing I learned there is that people are so afraid of being politically incorrect they can shut down somebody's founds and destroy his reputation because results of his studies suggested that not all people are equal (too bad I forgot his name, I'll google him and send you the links on PM if you want to).


A complex topic deserves more investment than just a good heart, if you insist on touching it.

That's why I touch racism in the fantasy, about which I know more than about real life. And it's not that hard in fantasy, belive me. It's only you who makes it complicated with your convoluded and totally unrelated arguments like white privilege.


Confusion over the word "race" is a central perpetuator of racism as a valid worldview IRL.

It's not a confusion, in fantasy race has different connotations than in real life, nothing wrogn about it.


And this is why it's an inherent danger in high fantasy.

I just realized - what if Orcs in fantasy are PC stand-in for black people? I mean, in so many fantasy books all heroes are white, it just makes you wonder if Orcs aren't black people who are potrayed as allways evil and can be killed without consequences.


I'm not being politically correct. All my comments in this thread should already show that I'm not afraid to rile people's preconceptions.

But you do it in order to defend preconceptions even larger groups of people have. We're trying to defeat a stereotype here, you are defending it because you're afraid that somebody mabe offended by the alternative.


The problem with well-meaning people such as yourself, is that you're ignorant of what racism IRL is all about. By that, I mean history, social studies, anthropology, and genetics with regards to "human races". Ignorance of this perpetuates racism despite your good intentions, because there are so many misconceptions ingrained in our society, indoctrinated since birth.

Racism - discrimination based on skin color. Or more specifingly: Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. There are few more specific definitions, wikipedia has a nice article I'm digging in right now. It's not that hard.


To wit: I do not care about discrimination (class warfare, religious differences, gender). This is specifically about racism, which is a distinct entity from other forms of discrimination.

Racism is a form of discrimination, why should it be privileged discrimination, more important discrimination, the only one we care about? Oh yeah, because its convinient for you to dump discrimination of Orcs into different box.



a) Provided it's done correctly. As exemplified by you, many ppl don't understand racism and so quite often do it incorrectly.

See above, understanding what racism is is not so hard.


b) See A. Also, from a literary POV, IMO why bother stepping on the landmines inherent in A?

Because it's lazy and cowardly not to try.


c) Done badly. History of high fantasy shows it's often done badly. Oh man you should see the Dragonlance novels.

If we would always abbandon ideas because somebody else failed at them we would still be walking on the threes and calling banana "yup-yup".
You know what is the inherent problem in fantasy? That people think they are boun to do things the same way their predecessors did. If you don't try to do something differently, don't write fantasy, this genre is about being creative for Khogor's sake!


Because it might not be relevant to the story.

When I watch a movie, and the protagonist, orders a coffee in a diner. It might be completely irrelevant that the waitress that brings it over had a really hard childhood, that she was a drug addict for a while. That she was sent to prison for a stretch, and only now s getting her life back together, but that she is finding it hard to stay clean. And that tonight she will get to see her children for the first time in years.

That is all deep and well, but is the film is a romantic comedy and this is the scene where the protagonist first meets the love interest sitting across from one another. then that all just distracts from the story.

That is not to say that there isn't a story to be made about that waitress, but it's not this story.

I think that what are the motivtions of guys who you fight with is quite revelant. If you want just disposable opponent your hero may kill without feelign bad and move along, use a boar.


Also, earlier in this page there was a throwaway comment about Nordic people not being offended by the dwarves being based on them. I'm Scandinavian, and I don't like that comparison... I never thought dwarves were Nordic. They're inspired by vikings, true, but also other things, since they aren't sailing riders. If all of Scandinavia was replaced with dwarves in a world, I'd find that offensive. In fact, I've found even Scandinavia replaced with stereotypically stupid, raiding human vikings slightly offensive before. Monoculture is bad even when it's humans.

Sure it is. And I'm sorry for making comparison that was unpleasant for you. But you made a good point - Dwarves are inspired by vikings, but are also other things, which makes them not offensive. Then, if you don't mind me taking it futher, I have to ask why Goblins cannot be inspired by say Celts but also be many other things? Why you can work around Dwarves, making them not offensive, but you give goblin a celtic theme and it's automatically making them offensive?


1. Sci-fi is different from fantasy. Sci-fi inherently has less chance for racism, unless the author is bad

Bullmanure. You know, I seen those SF vs Fantasy debates before and belive me, they aren't really different and all argument it is are made up by SF fans to feel superior.


One, you need aliens; you can't just say "Why can't we just use Alpha Centauri humans instead of Alpha Centaurians?"

Every single Gundam ever*, Armored Trooper VOTOMS - pretty good SF, no aliens whatsoever.

*- except Awakening of The Stargazer


Two, because it's a different planet with wildly different ecologies, you can come up with crazy stuff which won't offend anyone.

Not all sf is set on other planets and some those who are may till not have aliens at all.


W40K is a good example. It took fantasy tropes and molded them into things that are much less prone (not completely less) to sliding into racism, by taking advantage of the new genre.

40k is one of the most racist settings out there.


When authors write fantasy stories, they like to refer to old-worldview concepts so that the fantasy world feels more "medieval" or "ancient."For example, the ppl in his fantasy world may believe the world is flat, the sun revolves around the world.

Except when they don't and there are many fantasy stories who avoid that, like Book of Amber or the Witcher, in which they discuss genetics.


But then the story's ppl would also go by concepts such as "I pass on my abilities to you thru my blood, my son." By itself it's not racist. But it perpetuates scientifically invalid beliefs which tie into race.

You heard of epigenethics, right?


Sci-fi aliens may tend to be as tripped-out as authors want to make them, but fantasy tropes are much more conseratively written.

You don't read much fantasy, don't you?


As everyone knows, readers have fixed ideas what elves/dwarves/orcs are like, and that's what they want/expect. So how do authors who want to "break out" play with these concepts? They base said species of non-humans on different ancient human cultures, going all over the globe.

Or do many other things, don't dump everybody into one bag.
And there is still nothing wrong with it.


Pro, they have an easier time humanizing said species, playing with reader expectations, and creating multi-dimensional characters. Yet because they used old-world cultures recognizeable to the reader as "medieval/ancient", the reader won't get up in arms about "This isn't how it is! I want epic fantasy not epic sci-fi or your private acid trip!! My immersion is broken!"

Now you are saying that SF is by definition more complicated than fantasy which is stupid.


Con, they perpetuate the concept that "If your culture is wildly different (from NW Europe), you're probably not human."

Also argument based on your ignorance and fact you haven't read much of fantasy.


Another example. In sci-fi we're much more likely to refer to aliens as other species. But in fantasy, we tend to refer to them as races. Even though fantasy orcs are just as much another species as alien Orkz. "Race" doesn't exist scientifically, anyways. Can't get away with that in sci-fi, because SCIENCE! But you're supposed to use it in fantasy, because MEDIEVAL! Even though Middle Ages ppl have no concepts of racism as we have them today.

Bullmanure, I see people calling aliens races all the time and noboby gets up to arms, in 40k they reffer to them as races, in Star Trek and Star Wars they do and in many other thigs they do. And you are again degrading fantasy to make your point, nothing in fantasy is set in stone and explanations you use are vaild only for most stereotypical, dumb, uncreative and boring fantasy. be so nice and read Book of Amber before you try to judge fantasy, okay?

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-18, 09:09 AM
Your problem seems to be the same as qbit's which to me seems to be one of scope. You need these particular orcs to be evil, that's perfectly fine, especially if they chose to work for Evil McEvil III, but that doesn't mean that all orcs are evil. If you don't want moral questions then the idea of all orcs being evil shouldn't be factoring into the story/adventure.

Put another way let's take Star Wars, chances are all the people working on the Death Star weren't evil, but that is irrelevant to the story; they were all still antagonists.

*shrug* Two ways of getting to exactly the same place. In one case you use the out-of-story statement "we're not going to worry about that", in another you use the in-story statement "all orcs are evil". Both are just convenient hand-waves, no?

Man on Fire
2012-03-18, 09:31 AM
The end result seems to be the same, doesn't it. Marriage to a lower "race" dooms her to sadness. She didn't seem very happy in the appendix, after Aragorn is dead.

We prove your point is wrong, we point out it's not about the race. What you do? You close your eyes and continue your rambling.


It's only when they have a little bit of culture, that then out of laziness is a copy of a stereotype of a real group of peoples that there is a problem. So it's definitely better to have them 1-dimentional then to let them have 1.5 dimensions. Because that is often racist.


Make them three dimensional and not be lazy. Problem solved.


But when you do give them a culture, you must be careful not to make the "ugly" race in your setting too reminiscent of a real human culture. And as long as that pitfall can be avoided too, then there is no problem.

Put pretty races are okay?


Making orcs a complex and interesting species is only better if that's the sort of story you want to tell. Sometimes the story-function of Orcs is cannon-fodder for the heroes to mow down, as per the agreed-upon genre-conventions of a campaign - heroic fantasy and high adventure, for instance. By not making Orcs a complex culture with it's own villains, heroes, tragedies and great successes one kills any chance of moral questions and most of the drama in fighting them... and that is exactly the point. In this story, I don't want that sort of drama. I don't want complex moral questions. What I want to do is to thwart the evil Evil Guy McEvilington's evil plan and save the princess.

So there you have it. The possible reason I may want orcs to be simple cannon fodder is because I may be playing a game where I don't want drama and moral higgledy-piggledy.

I agree with Madhand on this one.
And really - use bears. It will be much cooler and not so tired and stereotypical.


He didn't have to. But even if you yourself somehow don't feel Tolkien wrote in favor of "the innate nobility of elves," read any review/analysis of LOTR, and read about what the elves represent.

So now not only your interpretation is more important than Tolkien's, but is also more important than other people's interpretations except those that agree with you.

Madhand
2012-03-18, 09:40 AM
@Even Human Not really the same thing at all. The difference is one of motivation, and gets to why there is conflict going on in the first place. Stopping McEvil from taking over the world and orcs you have to fight/kill orcs to do so is very different from attacking orcs just because they are orcs. Further one doesn't need to say anything about non-present orcs if you avoid the "all orcs are evil" nonsense as the morality of non-present orcs has nothing to do with the story.

qbit
2012-03-18, 09:54 AM
Make them three dimensional and not be lazy. Problem solved.
It's only sometimes about laziness, sometime it's just distracting to have them 3 dimensional.


But pretty races are okay?
Maybe not okay, but still better. Because we as humans like pretty things, and by giving the culture of a group to a pretty race. Says I like that group. the only danger is that the groups that you didn't single out might be offended, but it's unlikely that they'll care enough to get angry about that.

It's one thing to not get called pretty and another to be called ugly.

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-18, 10:05 AM
@Even Human Not really the same thing at all. The difference is one of motivation, and gets to why there is conflict going on in the first place. Stopping McEvil from taking over the world and orcs you have to fight/kill orcs to do so is very different from attacking orcs just because they are orcs. Further one doesn't need to say anything about non-present orcs if you avoid the "all orcs are evil" nonsense as the morality of non-present orcs has nothing to do with the story.

Except in both cases we're attacking the orcs because we have to stop McEvil from taking over the world. In one case we're OK with this because we know for certain that the orcs are evil creatures , in another case we're OK with this because we just don't care. We're not going "look! orcs! let's go kill 'em!" in either case.

As for the difference between the two approaches regarding non-present orcs... If their morality is irrelevant to the story, why does it matter that their moral compass points Evil or to an unknown? It is irrelevant, no?

Madhand
2012-03-18, 10:29 AM
Except in both cases we're attacking the orcs because we have to stop McEvil from taking over the world. In one case we're OK with this because we know for certain that the orcs are evil creatures , in another case we're OK with this because we just don't care. We're not going "look! orcs! let's go kill 'em!" in either case.

As for the difference between the two approaches regarding non-present orcs... If their morality is irrelevant to the story, why does it matter that their moral compass points Evil or to an unknown? It is irrelevant, no?

That is actually what I was driving at. In both cases of trying to stop McEvil the motivation should be to stop McEvil. Since the orcs are trying to aid McEvil you have to fight them whether they are evil or not. Hell you'll probably fight humans too if McEvil has a fancy enough hat, and in such a case the protagonists should fight the humans with the same zeal they fight the orcs.

This naturally makes "orcs are always evil" unnecessary, so why include it?

Man on Fire
2012-03-18, 10:31 AM
It's only sometimes about laziness, sometime it's just distracting to have them 3 dimensional.


Maybe not okay, but still better. Because we as humans like pretty things, and by giving the culture of a group to a pretty race. Says I like that group. the only danger is that the groups that you didn't single out might be offended, but it's unlikely that they'll care enough to get angry about that.

It's one thing to not get called pretty and another to be called ugly.

Then there is no reason to worry, I don't want to pander to people who are shallow enough to take offense because of such petty things.

endoperez
2012-03-18, 10:39 AM
I just realized - what if Orcs in fantasy are PC stand-in for black people? I mean, in so many fantasy books all heroes are white, it just makes you wonder if Orcs aren't black people who are potrayed as allways evil and can be killed without consequences.

If orcs have a purely African culture, and they're ugly and dehumanized etc, it is indeed racist. That's one of the dangers people have been mentioning. That's why people have said it's better to base your races on multiple cultures, so that there's no single, recognizable source, and no single stereotype stamped over a whole group of RL humans.



Because it's lazy and cowardly not to try [to humanize orcs when there's landmines in that direction].

Of course it's lazy! Why should the author spend time and effort on writing stuff that isn't important to the story? It is also lazy and cowardly to not do original cultures on your own that are not based on the real world - and didn't you say you're basing the cultures in your game in real cultures to make the task easier? It's the same thing - taking an easy route so there's time left for other stuff. It's no bad, it's priorization.



That people think they are boun to do things the same way their predecessors did. If you don't try to do something differently, don't write fantasy, this genre is about being creative for Khogor's sake!

In that case, get rid of the orcs altogether. China Mieville writes superb fantasy without the traditional races. Heh, there's one book where the other beings really feel like species, instead of races.


I think that what are the motivtions of guys who you fight with is quite revelant. If you want just disposable opponent your hero may kill without feelign bad and move along, use a boar.

But it's supposed to be defending a tower... Hey, I know, let's make it a humanoid boar! A beastly pig-man called a boarc. :smallwink:


Sure it is. And I'm sorry for making comparison that was unpleasant for you. But you made a good point - Dwarves are inspired by vikings, but are also other things, which makes them not offensive. Then, if you don't mind me taking it futher, I have to ask why Goblins cannot be inspired by say Celts but also be many other things? Why you can work around Dwarves, making them not offensive, but you give goblin a celtic theme and it's automatically making them offensive?

That's one of the dangers people have been mentioning. That's why people have said it's better to base your races on multiple cultures, so that there's no single, recognizable source.

hamishspence
2012-03-18, 10:43 AM
sometimes a trait's taken, but the rest is left more open.

Warhammer hobgoblins for example- their leaders are called khans.

Morty
2012-03-18, 10:45 AM
I just recalled something - in Return of the King, when Sam and Frodo are disguised as orcs, they're forced to join a column of orcs being driven to the frontline. Those orcs are described as unwilling and that they couldn't care less about Sauron's cause. Just throwing it out there.

hamishspence
2012-03-18, 11:03 AM
It's been mentioned that Orcs generally serve Sauron only out of fear before.

The above case is more "fear of other orcs" than "fear of Sauron personally" though.

Man on Fire
2012-03-18, 11:19 AM
If orcs have a purely African culture, and they're ugly and dehumanized etc, it is indeed racist. That's one of the dangers people have been mentioning. That's why people have said it's better to base your races on multiple cultures, so that there's no single, recognizable source, and no single stereotype stamped over a whole group of RL humans.

But if bad guys are all green then somebody is going to assume they stand for black people even if they have nothing to do with them, because at the end of the day your heroes still kill guys with different skin color, so why even bother?



Of course it's lazy! Why should the author spend time and effort on writing stuff that isn't important to the story? It is also lazy and cowardly to not do original cultures on your own that are not based on the real world - and didn't you say you're basing the cultures in your game in real cultures to make the task easier? It's the same thing - taking an easy route so there's time left for other stuff. It's no bad, it's priorization.

As I said, when you have multiple races who all should have their own culture and maybe some varieties, trying to make them all original becomes impossible. It is prirization as you said, I agree with it. But not doing somethign because you're afraid you may offend somebody is limiting your creativity out of fear, that's something else altogether.


In that case, get rid of the orcs altogether. China Mieville writes superb fantasy without the traditional races. Heh, there's one book where the other beings really feel like species, instead of races.

Creativity may come in different flavors and you don't have to invent entire race to be creative. You may as well try playing with people's exceptations, twist things around, mix them, change perspective, subvert, invert, deconstruct and reconstruct. You may do many creative things even with standard races, the problem is that too many people don't even try.


But it's supposed to be defending a tower... Hey, I know, let's make it a humanoid boar! A beastly pig-man called a boarc. :smallwink:

No dude. You just put boars i nthe tower. Mind-controlled by evil wizard wild boars. Imagine it:
""You hear a wild, loud tramp like if several large creatures ran very fast. It becomes louder as it's getting closer to you. Then, from the left corner comes a pack of twenty wild..."
"Oh, it's just Orcs, for a moment I thought it's something worse."
"..boars who all charge at you!"
"Sweet Steven Segal, What The Heck?! Run for your lives!"


That's one of the dangers people have been mentioning. That's why people have said it's better to base your races on multiple cultures, so that there's no single, recognizable source.

Or you can just pick up some aspects of the culture and make up the rest. Like "I'll base my Goblin's religion on Celtic and make everything else up."


I just recalled something - in Return of the King, when Sam and Frodo are disguised as orcs, they're forced to join a column of orcs being driven to the frontline. Those orcs are described as unwilling and that they couldn't care less about Sauron's cause. Just throwing it out there.

There's even a song about it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdXQJS3Yv0Y) Look how unhappy they are.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-18, 11:50 AM
Making orcs a complex and interesting species is only better if that's the sort of story you want to tell. Sometimes the story-function of Orcs is cannon-fodder for the heroes to mow down, as per the agreed-upon genre-conventions of a campaign - heroic fantasy and high adventure, for instance. By not making Orcs a complex culture with it's own villains, heroes, tragedies and great successes one kills any chance of moral questions and most of the drama in fighting them... and that is exactly the point. In this story, I don't want that sort of drama. I don't want complex moral questions. What I want to do is to thwart the evil Evil Guy McEvilington's evil plan and save the princess.

So there you have it. The possible reason I may want orcs to be simple cannon fodder is because I may be playing a game where I don't want drama and moral higgledy-piggledy.

Then why have orcs at all? Just use zombies or mindless golems.
if you actually want your mooks to look like orcs, just make the golems be designed to look a little demonic.

Again, Why are you so adamant about orcs being evil? You didn't answer my question.

endoperez
2012-03-18, 12:34 PM
But if bad guys are all green then somebody is going to assume they stand for black people even if they have nothing to do with them, because at the end of the day your heroes still kill guys with different skin color, so why even bother?

So? In this thread, people disagree with what Tolkien's orcs are. No harm done. The problem comes if and when people mostly agree your work is racist. I wouldn't be happy realizing that's what my ideas look like, even if it was unintentional.


But not doing somethign because you're afraid you may offend somebody is limiting your creativity out of fear, that's something else altogether.

True. Doing something out of fear means fear limited you. Doing something because you think it will offend some people is trolling. Writing a book to satisfy your creativity means you are creative.
These statements don't argue for or against. They are just independent statements until linked to the issue at hand. Did you mean that the reason you think people defend the use of monstrous orcs is because they're afraid?


Creativity may come in different flavors and you don't have to invent entire race to be creative. You may as well try playing with people's exceptations, twist things around, mix them, change perspective, subvert, invert, deconstruct and reconstruct. You may do many creative things even with standard races, the problem is that too many people don't even try.

It's possible, but what people enjoy is subjective. I sometimes enjoy that too. Pratchett does it, and I love Discworld for it. Wheel of Time has trollocs as Always Evil, and it fits the story. The big bad is Satan, and his horde of demons happens to look like trolls or orcs instead of horned devils. If they were free-willed, the series would likely have taken one or two more authors to finish.


Lord Raziere - :smallsigh:.

He isn't adamant about that. He isn't saying all orcs are always evil in all works. He just gave you a perfectly good reason for why a story might need mooks, a role which (some types of) orcs can fill.

Also, killer robots (golems) aren't exactly an original idea, as someone said in this thread already.

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-18, 01:42 PM
Again, Why are you so adamant about orcs being evil? You didn't answer my question.

First, I'm not adamant about orcs being evil:


If I'm running "Orcs are irredeemable mooks", I basically make them like Warhammer Orcs - intelligent (ish) and very violent vaguely-fungi-like creatures. They are truly alien beings - mentally and biologically. You could try establishing trade relations with them, but you might as well try doing that with a Xenomorph, or a particularly talkative strain of flesh-eating viruses.

If I'm running "Orcs are just an ordinary humanoid race", then I make them large green humans with a history for charismatic yet overly-ambitious and warlike leaders - hence their status as pariahs to most other races, and the somewhat slower development* of their civilisation.

Two approaches for two very different flavours of campaign.

*As defined by things like building cities, or roads - their tech mostly keeps up despite inferior infrastructure.

Just tossing my .02$ in there.

I'm fairly certain that my position was made quite clear in that post.

Second, I do believe I answered your question. Your question was:


So, I ask for a third time. What possible reason could you have for settling for something less like "all orcs are evil" over something better?

The answer I gave was essentially "because I don't want to play the morality higgledy-piggledy game, and "all orcs are evil" is a good way of not playing that game". But see below.


That is actually what I was driving at. In both cases of trying to stop McEvil the motivation should be to stop McEvil. Since the orcs are trying to aid McEvil you have to fight them whether they are evil or not. Hell you'll probably fight humans too if McEvil has a fancy enough hat, and in such a case the protagonists should fight the humans with the same zeal they fight the orcs.

This naturally makes "orcs are always evil" unnecessary, so why include it?

Now I see what you're driving at, yes. And in fact, I cannot give an answer that I find entirely satisfactory to myself. There is little point in going out of my way to justify treating orcs as mooks if I'm going to treat humans (or any other race) the same way in identical circumstances.

I am convinced. "Always Evil Orcs" does seem largely unnecessary.

Man on Fire
2012-03-18, 01:46 PM
So? In this thread, people disagree with what Tolkien's orcs are. No harm done. The problem comes if and when people mostly agree your work is racist. I wouldn't be happy realizing that's what my ideas look like, even if it was unintentional.

I hate to do this, but see Death Of Author on tvtropes - once your work is out, it will be subjected to several multiple interpretations, many of them finding offensive things in it and/or taking what you wrote from the point you would never expect. I seen review of Coraline claiming the movie tells children it's okay to disrespect their parents. You shouldn't care about it, because it's bound to happen no matter what you'll write.


True. Doing something out of fear means fear limited you. Doing something because you think it will offend some people is trolling. Writing a book to satisfy your creativity means you are creative.

Who says I do things to piss people off? I just say that if I have cool idea, I will use it, no matter if somebody will be offended or not, because it's cool idea and PC cannot stand in the way of satifying my creativity.


It's possible, but what people enjoy is subjective. I sometimes enjoy that too. Pratchett does it, and I love Discworld for it. Wheel of Time has trollocs as Always Evil, and it fits the story. The big bad is Satan, and his horde of demons happens to look like trolls or orcs instead of horned devils. If they were free-willed, the series would likely have taken one or two more authors to finish.

Cannot comment on that, haven't read Wheel of Time.


Lord Raziere - :smallsigh:.

Em, due, I think that's a little rude, don't you think?


Also, killer robots (golems) aren't exactly an original idea, as someone said in this thread already.

Yes. Boars are!

endoperez
2012-03-18, 02:09 PM
Who says I do things to piss people off? I just say that if I have cool idea, I will use it, no matter if somebody will be offended or not, because it's cool idea and PC cannot stand in the way of satifying my creativity.

Read it again. I did NOT claim that you were trolling. I made a circular claim - people who are trying to provoke are trolling, person who wants to eat is hungry. I was trying to make a point, because you wrote a similar sentence, and I want to know what you meant by it.

Here's what you said: "But not doing somethign because you're afraid you may offend somebody is limiting your creativity out of fear, that's something else altogether."

This is how I interpret it: if you are motivated by fear, you are limited by fear.

It doesn't say who is motivated by fear. So I ask again:
Did you mean that people who defend the use of monstrous orcs, do so because they're afraid?


edit:
re:Death of Author
Yes, there will be interpretations. It seems I left out the sentence about ignoring the conspiracy theorists and extremists, but I agree - someone will always be offended. Just ignore them.
The problem is when the majority of the people think your work has racist overtones. As I said, I wouldn't be comfortable with that.

re: Wheel of Time
How dare you not have read Wheel of Time yet??!?! be so nice and read Book of Amber Wheel of Time before you try to judge fantasy, okay?

Joking, joking. Just making another point - what people have or haven't read doesn't mean their opinions are more or less valid.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-18, 02:13 PM
Lord Raziere - :smallsigh:.

He isn't adamant about that. He isn't saying all orcs are always evil in all works. He just gave you a perfectly good reason for why a story might need mooks, a role which (some types of) orcs can fill.

Also, killer robots (golems) aren't exactly an original idea, as someone said in this thread already.

well sure, orcs can serve the role of mooks…..and so can elves, dwarves, humans, gnomes, halflings, golems, zombies, demons and four-tentacled dog people from mokildanian 5. Why you are so focused on designing one race as the "mook" when any race can be the mook? in fact, wouldn't it be better for their to be variety? if you have all races NOT be evil, you can then make organizations whose beliefs are evil instead, who can then recruit evil people from all races, who can then offer a wide variety of challenges and foes for the heroes, rather than just throwing one kind of mook at everything.

Again, orcs are always singled out as the always evil mook race, while all the others can be whatever they want. seems like racism to me. in fact its worse than racism, your actively creating things just so you can kill them, for no other reason so that you feel like a hero. When really, your not a hero. Your a person toying with life and death for your own enjoyment. As a creator, I find this disrespectful, making characters that will be nothing but tools for your own enjoyment, rather than making them people in their own right. If your going to create something, give it the respect it deserves. and when you play your heroic fantasy, your not killing orcs…..your creating the orcs for you to kill, then killing them, for no other reason that you want to kill them before they even existed.

That seems monstrous to me. I'd create characters and people that die for good in story reasons, rather just arbitrarily designate them as people that always die to the player character or protagonists blade, for no other reason that they are the player character/protagonist. therefore designating an entire race to this, is racist. other races after all, aren't mooks to die to the protagonists blade for no reason that they are the protagonist.

endoperez
2012-03-18, 02:32 PM
That seems monstrous to me. I'd create characters and people that die for good in story reasons, rather just arbitrarily designate them as people that always die to the player character or protagonists blade, for no other reason that they are the player character/protagonist. therefore designating an entire race to this, is racist. other races after all, aren't mooks to die to the protagonists blade for no reason that they are the protagonist.

I'm studying video game development, and thinking like this would ensure I never get a job. :smallbiggrin:

The reason orcs are often used as the mook is the reason vampires are often portrayed as blood-drinkers, zombies are often shown as undead, and mages are usually capable of casting spells, and golems are often magical constructs made from clay. That is the default state of an orc, a vampire, a zombie, a mage and a golem. It can be changed, and that tells a different story.
It can be a good story.
However, changing it too much breaks the mold. Expecting every story to break the mold causes a counterpoint. If all vampire stories are about vampires and the teenage girls and the drama and the romance, people start missing the stories about monsters who suck blood. If all orcs are noble savages, people start missing the evil horde.

Tiki Snakes
2012-03-18, 02:45 PM
I'm studying video game development, and thinking like this would ensure I never get a job. :smallbiggrin:

I see where you are coming from, but I'd actually say quite likely the reverse. Showing that you understand why such a trope exists but also showing you can think outside of it and deliver more rich and engaging concepts could very easily be a huge advantage in such a field.

Man on Fire
2012-03-18, 03:14 PM
Read it again. I did NOT claim that you were trolling. I made a circular claim - people who are trying to provoke are trolling, person who wants to eat is hungry. I was trying to make a point, because you wrote a similar sentence, and I want to know what you meant by it.

Here's what you said: "But not doing somethign because you're afraid you may offend somebody is limiting your creativity out of fear, that's something else altogether."

This is how I interpret it: if you are motivated by fear, you are limited by fear.

It doesn't say who is motivated by fear. So I ask again:
Did you mean that people who defend the use of monstrous orcs, do so because they're afraid?

I wanted to respond to that but couldn't make it not sound rude. So I'll say it this way: Not all of them. Some may have valid reasons to and tropes are tools, I cannot exclude possibility that somebody may do something good with always chaotic evil Orcs. But if you do them because you're afraid of being accused of racism, then yes, I would call you a coward.


Yes, there will be interpretations. It seems I left out the sentence about ignoring the conspiracy theorists and extremists, but I agree - someone will always be offended. Just ignore them.
The problem is when the majority of the people think your work has racist overtones. As I said, I wouldn't be comfortable with that.

It's called cognitive dissonance - when we receive information that clashes with our perception of ourselves. It happens all the time, whenever we do something wrong. We may try to reduce it, putting blame on others factors, it's in fact what destroys most of the marriages, but the healthy reaction is to analyze the information an yourself and modify your inner image - if everybody are telling you that your book has racist undertones, maybe you should check if you are as tolerant as you believe yourself to be. Hell, it happened to me in this thread when I used word Muslim as synonymous to Arabic and Islamist at the same time. I had to accept that it was wrong for me to do. Sure I felt uncomfortable, but I looked inside me and realized that yes, making such assumption was racist on my side. I think that's why this conflict got out of hand - people who are accused of being racist, and at this point it was everybody in this thread, are experiencing cognitive dissonance and try to reduce it by fighting back.


How dare you not have read Wheel of Time yet??!?! be so nice and read Book of Amber Wheel of Time before you try to judge fantasy, okay?

Joking, joking. Just making another point - what people have or haven't read doesn't mean their opinions are more or less valid.

Hey, hey, hey, now, easy your horse. Sure that who had read what doesn't make their opinion more or less valid, but if somebody makes assumptions about entire genre like it's all the same, monocultural copy and paste of Tolkien to justify his point then he is either ignorant or twisting the facts to suit his point.


I'm studying video game development, and thinking like this would ensure I never get a job.

I don't think you're going to end as famous developer if you will always think inside the box and do things like others.


The reason orcs are often used as the mook is the reason vampires are often portrayed as blood-drinkers, zombies are often shown as undead, and mages are usually capable of casting spells, and golems are often magical constructs made from clay. That is the default state of an orc, a vampire, a zombie, a mage and a golem. It can be changed, and that tells a different story.
It can be a good story.
However, changing it too much breaks the mold. Expecting every story to break the mold causes a counterpoint. If all vampire stories are about vampires and the teenage girls and the drama and the romance, people start missing the stories about monsters who suck blood. If all orcs are noble savages, people start missing the evil horde.

Themes change all the time. Vampires were once angry wraiths with unfinished businesses (they didn’t even drank blood), then became incarnation of the fear of death and following that, a metaphor for sexual assault, later turning into suffering immortals and recently into bad boys girls can change. It's only natural that each theme evolve with time to reflect cultural values of society at this point. You cannot deny Orcs the right to evolve the same way, it's like trying to stop the river with a stick. Orc will always reflect something about us but that thing has to change, just as we change.
And there is also cycle of deconstruction and reconstruction - writers breaks themes apart, other writers put them back together, incorporating their criticism. I don't know if you watch anime, but take a look at this example. There are anime of a Super robot Genre, like Mazinger Z. Neon Genesis Evangelion is it's deconstruction, that points it's typical flaws and takes them to logical conclusion. Then there is Brave King GaoGaiGar, who plays the genre straight, but takes that criticism and keeps it in mind (so, for example, GaoGaiGar crew comes with a way to avoid destroying the city during the battle). It's only natural than when everybody will start making Noble Savages orcs for somebody to turn them back into an Evil Horde, but now they may be an Evil Horde who uses strategy and technology and doesn't follow Big Bad Evil Guy out of fear or because he magically controls them, but have better reasons (maybe they think he is the Messiah of their religion? Maybe he convinced them with his charisma? maybe he just paid them?) and not all of them must be dumb barbarians.

VanBuren
2012-03-18, 03:36 PM
The question has been asked in this thread, "why use orcs when humans can fill the role just as well?"

That's a good question, but I'd like to invert it.

"Why use humans?"

What makes humans the "default", and why do I need to justify my decision to go a different direction?

endoperez
2012-03-18, 03:53 PM
Hey hey hey, now, easy your horse. Sure that who had read what doesn't make their opinion more or less vaild, but if somebody makes assumptions about entire genre like it's all the same, monocultural copy and paste of Tolkien to justyfy his point then he is either ignorant or twisting the facts to suit his knowledge.

I don't think you're going to end as famous developer if you will always think inside the box and do things like others.

It seems we're agreeing on many points, already, or have at least reached an understanding. Thanks for telling me about cognitive dissonance, I hadn't heard about the term before, but I've seen it in action a whole lot.

Orcs mostly appear on the copy-and-paste Tolkien stories. Heroes, adventure, big bad, armies fighting, etc. They'd be out of place in a book about gentleman wizards debating, disagreeing, and then challenging each other by publishing books, for example.

You're assuming I'm thinking inside the box, just because my preference is different. It doesn't mean I can't enjoy several kinds of works.

GolemsVoice
2012-03-18, 04:10 PM
well sure, orcs can serve the role of mooks…..and so can elves, dwarves, humans, gnomes, halflings, golems, zombies, demons and four-tentacled dog people from mokildanian 5. Why you are so focused on designing one race as the "mook" when any race can be the mook? in fact, wouldn't it be better for their to be variety? if you have all races NOT be evil, you can then make organizations whose beliefs are evil instead, who can then recruit evil people from all races, who can then offer a wide variety of challenges and foes for the heroes, rather than just throwing one kind of mook at everything.

That's basically what he said, multiple times.

The way I see it: Orcs CAN be Always Evil, if I want them to be. I can justify this, or I can't, and I really don't want to have my reasoning questioned. It's my game, and if the people I'm gaming with are fine with that, that's all that matters.

Orcs don't HAVE to be Always Evil, nor even Usually Evil. They can be angelic paladins of good, or a race with morality similiar to humans, meaning all over the chart. The same could be said for any race out there. A human tribe could be Always Evil, Elves could be Always Evil, undead could be Always Good (if they're sentient), anything, really.

But any way I do it, Orcs as such don't exist, so I want the freedom to have them whichever way I like. Of course, intentionall basing them on an offensive stereotype of any real-world culture out of hate towards the culture is always bad.

So, bottom line: Orcs CAN be whatever you want them to be. But that includes Always Evil.

turkishproverb
2012-03-18, 04:11 PM
Huh. Nice to see this conversation continuing, even if my points on tolkien got missed.


There's even a song about it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdXQJS3Yv0Y) Look how unhappy they are.

I love that song.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-18, 05:08 PM
I'm studying video game development, and thinking like this would ensure I never get a job. :smallbiggrin:

The reason orcs are often used as the mook is the reason vampires are often portrayed as blood-drinkers, zombies are often shown as undead, and mages are usually capable of casting spells, and golems are often magical constructs made from clay. That is the default state of an orc, a vampire, a zombie, a mage and a golem. It can be changed, and that tells a different story.
It can be a good story.
However, changing it too much breaks the mold. Expecting every story to break the mold causes a counterpoint. If all vampire stories are about vampires and the teenage girls and the drama and the romance, people start missing the stories about monsters who suck blood. If all orcs are noble savages, people start missing the evil horde.

Its not my fault if other people have no vision beyond what they are familiar with. They are welcome to their dull blandness, I will continue to taste better fare.

endoperez
2012-03-18, 05:21 PM
Its not my fault if other people have no vision beyond what they are familiar with. They are welcome to their dull blandness, I will continue to taste better fare.

Different is not objectively better. Feel free to enjoy of your better fare, but please, do not tell others that they are wrong just because their tastes are different.

Also, as I have said several times, I've read many good books that subvert the traditional orc role. Some of them are great.

Lord Raziere
2012-03-18, 05:31 PM
Different is not objectively better.

I have yet to encounter an instance where this statement has rung true. I take it with a grain of salt.

Madhand
2012-03-18, 05:36 PM
Now I see what you're driving at, yes. And in fact, I cannot give an answer that I find entirely satisfactory to myself. There is little point in going out of my way to justify treating orcs as mooks if I'm going to treat humans (or any other race) the same way in identical circumstances.

I am convinced. "Always Evil Orcs" does seem largely unnecessary.

I...convinced someone of something on the internet!? Unpossible!


The question has been asked in this thread, "why use orcs when humans can fill the role just as well?"

That's a good question, but I'd like to invert it.

"Why use humans?"

What makes humans the "default", and why do I need to justify my decision to go a different direction?

Humans are considered the default because we are human, and humans are well known for their capacity to do evil. It's not an argument that orcs can't be antagonists, it's an argument that treating a sentient non-human race as always evil is bigoted.


That's basically what he said, multiple times.

The way I see it: Orcs CAN be Always Evil, if I want them to be. I can justify this, or I can't, and I really don't want to have my reasoning questioned. It's my game, and if the people I'm gaming with are fine with that, that's all that matters.

Orcs don't HAVE to be Always Evil, nor even Usually Evil. They can be angelic paladins of good, or a race with morality similiar to humans, meaning all over the chart. The same could be said for any race out there. A human tribe could be Always Evil, Elves could be Always Evil, undead could be Always Good (if they're sentient), anything, really.

But any way I do it, Orcs as such don't exist, so I want the freedom to have them whichever way I like. Of course, intentionall basing them on an offensive stereotype of any real-world culture out of hate towards the culture is always bad.

So, bottom line: Orcs CAN be whatever you want them to be. But that includes Always Evil.

If orcs are sentient beings (and here I feel I should clarify further, sentient being with Free Will) then they cannot be always evil. There is no logically and internally consistent/non-bigoted way to make any non-tautological group of sentient beings always evil.

However, as I've previously said, the morality of orcs as a whole is going to be irrelevant to your game/story unless you bring up a situation where there is the potential to slaughter non-combatant orcs. The only reason I can see story-wise to have always evil orcs is to try to justify performing evil acts against them

hamishspence
2012-03-18, 05:53 PM
If orcs are sentient beings (and here I feel I should clarify further, sentient being with Free Will) then they cannot be always evil. There is no logically and internally consistent/non-bigoted way to make any non-tautological group of sentient beings always evil.

It might be more in the D&D sense of "exceptions are extremely rare" - possibly with "Raised from birth by The Big Bad's rules" as a justification. Take the "child soldier" issue- then push it all the way back to infancy- and the being is sentient, has free will, yet is evil by upbringing.


However, as I've previously said, the morality of orcs as a whole is going to be irrelevant to your game/story unless you bring up a situation where there is the potential to slaughter non-combatant orcs. The only reason I can see story-wise to have always evil orcs is to try to justify performing evil acts against them

Seems plausible. Most reasons to justify violence work just fine when it's humans that are the Big Bad's soldiers- yet people balk at slaughtering a nursery full of infants even if their future is to be raised by the Big Bad.

Why shouldn't the same apply to orcs, goblins, gnolls, trolls, and so forth?

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-18, 06:14 PM
I...convinced someone of something on the internet!? Unpossible!

Shocking, I know! :smallbiggrin:





If orcs are sentient beings (and here I feel I should clarify further, sentient being with Free Will) then they cannot be always evil. There is no logically and internally consistent/non-bigoted way to make any non-tautological group of sentient beings always evil.


Why would such a thing not be possible? I ask simply as a thought excercise, mind you. Is this a case of definitions, wherein a creature with Free Will must be (at least, potentially) able to be both Evil and Good because Free Will requires such a capacity by definition? Why would the ability to think, reason and feel within the constraints of "always evil" not be Free Will, and if so, what would it be?



I have yet to encounter an instance where this statement has rung true. I take it with a grain of salt.

Strawberry icecream vs chocolate icecream? :smalltongue:

VanBuren
2012-03-18, 06:15 PM
I...convinced someone of something on the internet!? Unpossible!



Humans are considered the default because we are human, and humans are well known for their capacity to do evil. It's not an argument that orcs can't be antagonists, it's an argument that treating a sentient non-human race as always evil is bigoted.

That doesn't seem to be where the question originated. The question was originally posed in response to someone who supported making a fully fleshed out culture out of orc society, and it was asked "why use orcs for that when humans will work just as well?"

Hence my question. Just because I can create a society made up of humans doesn't mean that I should have to if I think orcs or dwarves or elves or halflings would also work. I shouldn't have to justify my decision to not use humans.

TL;DR, I'm actually on the opposite side of the argument you seem to think I am.

Madhand
2012-03-18, 06:23 PM
It might be more in the D&D sense of "exceptions are extremely rare" - possibly with "Raised from birth by The Big Bad's rules" as a justification. Take the "child soldier" issue- then push it all the way back to infancy- and the being is sentient, has free will, yet is evil by upbringing.



Ah but that implies that only nurture mattes when it comes to morality, which is something that isn't possible with (at least my definition of) free will. I imagine there are those who would accept the rules but I think there would be others who would rebel (especially once they hit their teenage angst phase!).

hamishspence
2012-03-18, 06:35 PM
Ah but that implies that only nurture mattes when it comes to morality, which is something that isn't possible with (at least my definition of) free will. I imagine there are those who would accept the rules but I think there would be others who would rebel (especially once they hit their teenage angst phase!).

The Big Bad would probably execute all those who rebel.

There'd still be room for some to, after much observation, conclude that they'd been "lied to" all their life and make secret plans to defect. But they might not get as much opportunity to "observe for themselves".

Madhand
2012-03-18, 06:48 PM
Why would such a thing not be possible? I ask simply as a thought excercise, mind you. Is this a case of definitions, wherein a creature with Free Will must be (at least, potentially) able to be both Evil and Good because Free Will requires such a capacity by definition? Why would the ability to think, reason and feel within the constraints of "always evil" not be Free Will, and if so, what would it be?

Strawberry icecream vs chocolate icecream? :smalltongue:

Because being always evil puts limits a being's ability to think, reason, and feel. Being always evil means that there would be certain ways to think that would be simply impossible.

To put another way, let us use a pair of twins of a non-aligned race, one is Good the Other is Evil. They would reach different decisions on how to act in a number of scenarios because they think in different ways. If we changed the race from non-aligned to always evil then the formerly Good twin would be incapable of thinking the way he did in his initial incarnation. If he still thought the same way, then his actions would remain the same and he would still be good.

PS: Strawberry ice cream is the Devil's Work! :smalltongue:


That doesn't seem to be where the question originated. The question was originally posed in response to someone who supported making a fully fleshed out culture out of orc society, and it was asked "why use orcs for that when humans will work just as well?"

Hence my question. Just because I can create a society made up of humans doesn't mean that I should have to if I think orcs or dwarves or elves or halflings would also work. I shouldn't have to justify my decision to not use humans.

TL;DR, I'm actually on the opposite side of the argument you seem to think I am.

My apologies I had made a similar statement and in my arrogance assumed yours was directed at me.



The Big Bad would probably execute all those who rebel.

There'd still be room for some to, after much observation, conclude that they'd been "lied to" all their life and make secret plans to defect. But they might not get as much opportunity to "observe for themselves".

Ah but that becomes a tautological society, they would be evil not because all of them were evil, but because all who were not evil (or at least not that particular brand of evil) were killed. Then it becomes not "All orcs are evil" but "Evil orcs are evil'. And when I say orc I mean "insert race here"

Man on Fire
2012-03-18, 06:55 PM
It seems we're agreeing on many points, already, or have at least reached an understanding. Thanks for telling me about cognitive dissonance, I hadn't heard about the term before, but I've seen it in action a whole lot.

Happy to hear that I didn't bored you to death.


Orcs mostly appear on the copy-and-paste Tolkien stories. Heroes, adventure, big bad, armies fighting, etc. They'd be out of place in a book about gentleman wizards debating, disagreeing, and then challenging each other by publishing books, for example.

Damn, now I want to actually see a story like this with Orcs dressed in fancy black suits and wearing glasses. it would be fun read.


You're assuming I'm thinking inside the box, just because my preference is different. It doesn't mean I can't enjoy several kinds of works.

I meant your bit about game developing. I just think that yeah, giving people what they know will let you have a job, but won't make you very sucessful, because most sucessful people gives us what we don't yet know we want.

VanBuren
2012-03-18, 07:08 PM
No apologies necessary. It was my fault for not quoting the instance I was referring to.