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Orc!

Blessed be for Ava, our news person extraordinaire. I’m digging the weekly deep readings, getting the noggin rolling.

Its all got me thinking about orcs, and their role in my game. I’ve never liked the whole orcs are bad and savage and all that droll, it never made sense in any thematic way, to just have a scourge that stops at nothing, that just wants to wipe others off the map. It becomes even more hilariously out of place when we consider the racial weight the orc carries, and the modern methods of ‘western’ countries that seem rather orcy to me. Enough of that, just for context, not controversy.

I like Terry Prachett’s attack on the orc in Orc!, hence the title of the thread (raise a glass of something cool to the memory of the guy eh). Society seeks to defines us, forces us into rote roles that become parodies of themselves. So it goes.

To redefine orcs in a way that makes them something meaningful without pandering. I liked Warcraft 3’s take, though it hews a little close to “noble savage”. So this is my thinking on the matter:

Orcs are anarchists in that they live in communal non-hierarchical societies that intentionally seek to remove themselves from other civilizations, perhaps for lore reasons. Technology and other factors would be the same, so not super advanced like Wakanda. Otherwise they are normal people living life. Orcs that my players have encountered would be revealed to be outcasts from these communal villages. Effectively orcs as the brutal warlike race are revealed to be more akin to bandit leaders and warlords, scrapping together an existence outside of their society. A cataclysm brings the communal orcs into contact with the rest of the world.

Curious what folks think about the above as a means to address problematic orc assumptions.

Also, I would love to see what ideas others have to bring the orc around

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Honestly you had me at “Prachett.”

Way back when in 3e or 4e or something before 5e, we had a very tall and broad person in one of my RP groups, who was teased a lot as a kid, almost to the point of bullying. She wanted to play a half-orc scholar (great INT roll during creation), but the DM at the time allowed a full orc stats if she wanted to role-play it.

She really enjoyed it, it seemed cathartic, and was one of the most useful members of our group. She never abused the full-orc stats (except for the occasional times where it meant a Crowning Moment of Awesome), and I think it really felt empowering to her to be just as much as a nerd in-game as real-life, and occasionally get to break out with her inner strength that (both kids and adults) used to tease her about for much of her life.

She eventually got a graduate degree in plant virology or something, and has a happy family in Sonoma, California.

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That is certainly one way to get the job done. I like it. It’s funny you’re talking about Orcs, just yesterday I finished up a write up on Orcs for a homebrew D&D5e Campaign World I’m slowly building. Well I say finished, it’s not 100% done, but it’s done enough to give players the info they need. Orcs on my world were created from Humans by the God of Chaos and then adopted and marked by the God of War. Orcs fight a lot because they really love fighting.

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