good orcs ?

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Midnight_Carnival
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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Midnight_Carnival » October 12th, 2015, 8:54 am

I respectfully disagree (if I understand the last 2 comments correctly that is :roll: )
Crushmaster wrote:Great post, Telchin. I think the problem we're discussing is a sign of lazy writing, which you pointed out well. At times, universal evil makes sense (a necromancer controlling lifeless skeletons, for instance), but it, and all in story telling, must be done logically, and not "just because."
Do I correctly assume that you are saying that for a story to be "good" everything in the story has to make sense?
Telchin wrote: ...
Of course, the real reason for the existence of the "always evil" stereotype isn't that the authors would adhere to Nazi beliefs, but to provide simple reason for the protagonists to fight the bad guys without asking each orc about his personal moral code. Wesnoth is a blatant example as combat isn't just the default, but also usually the only way of resolving disputes (unlike, say, Civilization series which also allows diplomatic victory). You can see that when elves or dwarves appear as enemies, there is usually story explanation, but when you fight "designated bad guys" it's often like "the protagonist was walking down th road and there were orcs on the road. Kill those orcs!"
Aah, morality and whether the protagonist has to be the "good guy" or not...

For me it isn't about good and evil but chaos and order, the one is not good and the other not evil since good and evil are judgements humans apply to things.
We can assume that in most cases the storyline will go as follows:
1) somebody tries to create a sense of order which harms others and so the 'good guys' use chaos to disrupt this in order to create a more inclusive sense of order
Spoiler:
2) the land is in a state of chaos and the good guys try to create a sense of order
Spoiler:
3) a state of order has persisted for too long and chaos has crept in, before 'the good guys' realise it they are in danger of loosing everything their ancestors/predecessors worked/fought to give them and a small group of chaotics threaten to plunge the fragile sense of order in the world into one of chaos...

Humans are only capable of so much order and so much chaos, we are limited by our natures.
Orcs are very good examples of "evil" chaotic creatures who go beyond what can reasonably be expected
Undead or Elves who wish to remove the living or return the world to the state of a huge primeaval forest can be "evil" orderly creatures.

I argue that for a storyline to work well and be interesting/entertaining there must be at least 2 forces in opposition, but that will be boring and predictable. We can assume that in most cases the 'good guys' are always going to try and move towards order since it's hard for them to be 'good' if they want total chaos. We can also assume that whoever opposes this doesn't need to be chaotic, it could be a dictator or an undead lich trying to bring about a not so nice form of order.
The main conflict should be one between reason and the unreasonable - unreasonable order is bad for humans :hmm: In such a conflict, humans with reason on their side may think that they can plan a perfect counter to the unreasonable order, but what we must remember is that nature is chaotic and for that reason, plans which are aimed at overthrowing opressive regimes, building a city/kingdom somewhere in the wilderness, etc can be tested or thwarted by the unexpected, that which we can not prepare for, it could be a flash-flood, a disease epidemic or it could be a huge band of Orcs who want to come and smash everything up "just because". These things have nothing to do with the unreasonable form of order and everything to do with the brute facts of nature being unreasonable and no plan made by man being able to cover all possiblities. For that reason I think that Orcs being "just beasue" in their lack of reasonable motivations can be excused in many instances as long as they don't become a cliche'd placeholder.
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Telchin » October 13th, 2015, 4:31 pm

@Midnight_Carnival - You seem to frame your post as being in disagreement with me (and/or Crushmaster), but I don't think that your and my views are in conflict. I didn't claim that all protagonists must be pure good or that villains can't represent order. The mainline campaigns alone have at least one example of people rising against "lawful", but oppresive goverment (Liberty) and of a protagpnist who descends into villainy (Descend into Darkness). Neither I demand that all campaigns should have a token good orc (or a token evil elf etc.).
I was refering to how various species are portrayed in general - note that the game's help (which is campaign-neutral, but written in in-universe perspective) exalts virtues of elves (e.g. how they choose their leaders based on their skills rather than bloodlines), but scolds orcs as being half beasts (sure, they're more ape-like than humans, but this is a setting with freaking fish people, lizardmen, snake folk and draconic humanoids, who all make orcs human-like by comparison).
Undead or Elves who wish to remove the living or return the world to the state of a huge primeaval forest can be "evil" orderly creatures.
This actually sounds like a good idea for a campaign. Mainline campaigns usually have villains whose motivation is pure selfishness ("take over Wesnoth", "steal the Ruby of Fire", "enslave [protagonist's home town]") rather than some high concept. I also commend that you chose return to "a primeveaol forest" as a possible motivation for antagonistic elves. Speculative fiction too often portraits nature as "good" and science/technology as bad/evil (J.R.R. Tolkien is a pretty blatant example, but you can find many others, e.g. James Camerons's Avatar), while in real life nature is full of poisons, disasters, predators and other horrible things, while science/technology is what keeps people from dying of "natural" causes in their 30s.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Midnight_Carnival » October 15th, 2015, 10:40 am

:lol: Sorry, I've found that if you want people to take notice it is often helpful to seem to (respectfully) disagree with them. You are free to use my idea if you see merit, it's not like I'm copyrighting it or anything - in the terms I used I would normally describe Elves as "reasonable chaotic" beings, that is to say that they see the established order as being destructive and detrimental and oppose it but not unreasonably so, they don't really offer an alternative order, just shout "Oi! leave the bloody trees alone ye blackgards!" I thought that an Elf who was proposing an alternative form of order would have to do one which excluded Humans and Dwarves so would probalby come across as "the bad guy" however great a global primeaval forest would be (I'm seceretly siding with the Elf and I've already started planting!)
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Zap-Zarap » October 24th, 2015, 3:52 am

Great discussion, thank you all for those very interesting thoughts.
But :
the real reason for the existence of the "always evil" stereotype isn't that the authors would adhere to Nazi beliefs
Aren't the german Nazis the prototype of "always evil" themselves?
I don't mean to turn this into a discussion on the "Third Reich", please don't.
I'm just referring to, well, something like "logical reasoning".
So, no offense, Telchin, but now that you mencioned "Nazis", you somehow prove the existence of the "always evil", don't you?
I like beavers.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Telchin » October 24th, 2015, 12:57 pm

Aren't the german Nazis the prototype of "always evil" themselves?
I don't mean to turn this into a discussion on the "Third Reich", please don't.
I'm just referring to, well, something like "logical reasoning".
So, no offense, Telchin, but now that you mencioned "Nazis", you somehow prove the existence of the "always evil", don't you?
Wait, do you want me to prove how Nazi weren't evil? :shock: I should mention that here in the Czech republic propagation of movements that supress human rights is a crime (1-5 years of prison), as is showing sympathy to them (6 months - 3 years) or denying or justifying a genocide (6 months - 3 years). Nazi ideology is such movement (being based on racial hatred) and the stuff they did makes Sauron of Mordor look like a reasonable guy by a comparison, so I don't want to look like a Nazi apologist for both moral and legal reasons.
I know I invoked the Nazis myself (but that's just a matter of time in Internet threads before someone does), but I didn't mention them as an example of being always evil, but rather as an example of a group that thought that you can rank people based on their "race", which isn't far removed from the fantasy cliche of a whole species sharing some moral or cultural quality. It doesn't help that Wesnoth elves (who are mostly exalted in the game's lore) are close to the Nazi "Aryan" ideal (though LordBob's new art for UtBS is going to depict dark-skinned, yet good elves).
As for the actual Nazi Germany, whether they were "always evil" depends on who you count. The top echelons (A. Hitler, H. Himmler, R. Heydrich, etc.) were pretty much evil (and/or crazy). Many of the not-so-top officers were also horrible (J. Mengele, A Göth, etc.). However, there were also people who were members of the Nazi party, yet actually helped people whom the Nazis persecuted (O. Schindler, J. Rabe) or at least didn't commit war crimes (E. Rommel). W. von Braun used to make V-2 missiles for the Nazis, but after the 2WW became a key figure in American space project, so he couldn't be that bad (or at least was brilliant enought for the USA to ignore his past). And then there are rank-and-file soldier, where their "evilness" might depend on whether you buy Nuremberg defense and whether you judge them by today standarts or by comparison to other armies at that era. So, yes, even in a group as immoral as Nazis you could find a "token good orc".
One another (and hopefully last, as I didn't expect to wrote so much about Nazis today) is a related phenomenon of reductio ad Hitlerum, where people try to demonize something by showing that Nazis or similiar horrible people also did it. Those people are considered evil, because they did horrible stuff that would be considered evil regardless of their other qualities. That doesn't mean at all things they did are automatically evil. (H. Himmler wore glasses, but that doesn't mean that all people with glasses orchestrate genocide.) This should be obvious, but it's related to the issue of "always evil". In real life evil people aren't evil 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They might look like nice people, with "normal" hobbies and families... and then they commit genocide (terrorism, etc.) :augh: . This is rather scary (both because of "Could my neighbours be seriál killers?" and "Would I also commit such crimes if I was in his place?") and might be the reason (or one of reasons) why escapist fiction simply makes the bad guys evil for evil's sake and/or evil for some supernatural reason.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Midnight_Carnival » October 26th, 2015, 9:49 am

:whistle:
I will not troll battle for wesnoth forum.
I will not troll battle for wesnoth forum.
I will not troll battle for wesnoth forum.
I will not troll battle for wesnoth forum.
I will not troll battle for wesnoth forum.
I will not troll battle for wesnoth forum.
I will not troll battle for wesnoth forum.
I will not troll battle for wesnoth forum.

Firstly, mentioning regretable parts of our history does not always lead to a flamewar. I don't think there is anyone here who supports the holocaust and if there is they would be wise to keep such opinions to themselves.
Secondly, there have been many horriffic violations of human rights, to avoid getting myself or others into trouble, I'm going to talk about the Rawandan genocide which for some reason is perfectly ok to talk about and won't result in any flamewars :augh:

During the genocide (look up details on wikipedia) a whole bunch of one ethnic group murderd (very brutally in many cases, it wasn't as :augh: "clean" as other genocides) people from another group as well as anyone from a mixed family of the two or moderates from their own group.
The theory that anyone surving from the one group being "always evil" could easilly be supported - certainly, if you have a strong stomach go and read survivors accounts or look at evidence.
But this is not the view of survivors I've spoken to, my boss and good friend left (neighbouring) Burundi as a teenager and emigrated to my country because of what was going on then, he is from a mixed family and even in a nearby country was right to fear for his life. There is another guy my mother goes to church with from Rawanda who likewise is from a mixed family and now living as far away as possible. These peopel have lived through things many of us can't imagine and if anyone has the right to lable people "always evil" it would be them. They don't, they claim that the propaganda and ideology which led to the genocide was evil but the people were just ordainary people trying to do what they judged to be best in the circumstances.
I think that is the scariest thing about genocides, that they are committed by people like you and I and in the circumstances, who says we wouldn't be up to our elbows in blood with a notched machete in one and and a severed head in the other?
That is why I like badass "always evil" Orcs and Undead, they provide a momentary distraction from ture human horror.
Thanks.
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by name » October 28th, 2015, 2:17 pm

I can't help but find it amusing that you folks opened this big can of worms and then ultimately ended up a full 360º back around to where it began. ;)

I believe the issue is you are trying to fit the situation of Orcs interacting with other "races" into the assumption that Orcs are merely a group of Humans interacting with other groups of Humans.

It works a lot more realistically if you take the approach of them being another species altogether. Specifically a largely carnivorous species that predates on other species to survive (and sometimes merely for sport.) This would be easier for people to get if they were not drawn as anthropomorphically as they currently have been by portrait and sprite artists but it works just the same. Chimpanzees eat Monkeys, Humans eat Chimpanzees (that are 99% Human genetically), Orcas eat seemingly all other kinds of Cetaceans, etc. Highly intelligent and emotionally/socially complex species eat other closely related species for food or kill them simply for sport and dump the carcass.

And that is all the Orcs have to be and do to be seen as pure evil by both the player and the in-game Human NPCs. We Humans instinctively hate and love to kill species that try to eat us. And Orcs, being another intelligent and potentially emotionally/socially complex species, that is also highly carnivorous, instinctively want to eat us.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Telchin » October 28th, 2015, 8:57 pm

I can't help but find it amusing that you folks opened this big can of worms and then ultimately ended up a full 360º back around to where it began. ;)
I dare say that by standarts of Internet discussion it's still a decent result. :D Sure we brought up Nazis and the genocide in Rwanda, but we do it in a civilised manner.
I believe the issue is you are trying to fit the situation of Orcs interacting with other "races" into the assumption that Orcs are merely a group of Humans interacting with other groups of Humans.
This is true and the solution you propose surely is a viable alternative for portrayal of different species in speculative fiction. However, the curreent campaign portrayal of orcs (elves, dwarves,etc.) in mainline campaigns does portay them as stand-in for another group of humans. :hmm: Not in the biological sense (e.g. orcs give birth in litters, with some children becoming goblins), but they use similiar technology and even speak the same language! It also should be noted that orcs tend to keep humans as slaves rather than eat them. (Trolls and ogres seem less picky eaters...)
Chimpanzees eat Monkeys, Humans eat Chimpanzees (that are 99% Human genetically), Orcas eat seemingly all other kinds of Cetaceans, etc. Highly intelligent and emotionally/socially complex species eat other closely related species for food or kill them simply for sport and dump the carcass.
AFAIK, dolphins sometimes kill smaller Cetaceans (or even young of their own species) seemingly for fun.
We Humans instinctively hate and love to kill species that try to eat us.
The funny (or rather horrible) thing is that humans have no problem hating and killing other humans too. (They usually don't eat them, but even such cases sadly exist.) Therefore orcs being treated as human-analogue and being hated by humans isn't mutualy exclusive. :hmm:

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Midnight_Carnival » October 29th, 2015, 11:05 am

:lol:
glad we are all mature here
:lol:

Again, I'm coming back to the notion of evil (including such things as 'sin' and 'redemption') in non-humans. As I said before, humans are social creatures and what we judge to be "evil" is often putting the needs of the individual above that of the group (be in a real group or an imaginary one - eg: "the free world", "civilisation", "the good guys"), a cat would have a different set of values since if solitary hunters were to put the needs of the group ahead of the individuals they'd go extinct.

So, let us look at Orcs and try to work out where their vlaues lie :hmm:
They are predatory but they operate in groups.
I'd reccomend looking at pack hunters like dogs and wolves but they are too close to humans.
I think Orc reproduction is important, I presume they have no notion of marriage or the family unit as we do, last time I checked one of the more popular theories was that Orcs had breeding warrens and the females threw the babies into a pit once they had stopped suckling (and started bititng!), they threw down meat but never enough for all the little Orcs, so if the little buggers wanted to survive they had to fight like hell or be very good at stealing.
There were metal rungs set into the wall but too high for the little ones to reach, the only ways they could get up was to fight and or steal like hell until they grew tall enough to reach the rungs, or they could persuade starving Orc kids who would rather eat them to help them up, if they pass that test they are considered 'worthy to join Orc society' - I doubt this is the case in Wesnoth since Goblins are considered a type of Orc and ti would be very unlikely they'd make it out of the pit, let alone be more neumerous than the bigger sorts.
What would Orcs consider "evil"? how do they see themselves in relations to other Orcs?
What are their ideas about 'loyalty' like?
Humans view other races as competitors, Orcs apparently view them as food this means that to Orcs, we are cows and chickens?
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by johndh » October 31st, 2015, 4:37 pm

Just to clarify, all of the orcs in this post are Irdyan.
Midnight_Carnival wrote: Again, I'm coming back to the notion of evil (including such things as 'sin' and 'redemption') in non-humans. As I said before, humans are social creatures and what we judge to be "evil" is often putting the needs of the individual above that of the group (be in a real group or an imaginary one - eg: "the free world", "civilisation", "the good guys"), a cat would have a different set of values since if solitary hunters were to put the needs of the group ahead of the individuals they'd go extinct.
Indeed, even among different human cultures the morals and ethics can be very different. People in my country see things that are commonplace in other cultures (infanticide, pederasty, public executions for petty crimes) as ghastly and inexcusable, and I'm sure it goes vice-versa as well.
So, let us look at Orcs and try to work out where their vlaues lie :hmm:
They are predatory but they operate in groups.
I'd reccomend looking at pack hunters like dogs and wolves but they are too close to humans.
It seems that many social animals develop similar morals. I'm not aware of orcs having a pack hierarchy like wolves do, and only seem to follow an "alpha" when a warlord comes to power, nor of them having a strong sense of group identity (tribal patriotism) or loyalty. I think they may be more like orcas, who have small families who then form larger associations that are less permanent and less close-knit on an as-needed basis. Orcs seem kinda like this -- living as nomadic hunters in small clans, then getting together with other local clans when a warlord comes to power and it's time to go wreck some things.
What would Orcs consider "evil"? how do they see themselves in relations to other Orcs?
Good question! They're still a functioning social organization that needs to promote positive behaviors, but I think they might not have a concept of "evil" so much as a sense of consequences. It's the difference between explaining to a child that stealing is wrong because it hurts people (and you wouldn't want them to steal from you, would you?), and telling the child that [getting caught] stealing results in a backhand to the face and going to bed hungry.
What are their ideas about 'loyalty' like?
I'm not sure that orcs have much concept of loyalty. They might understand the concept and what it means, but I imagine that they follow out of a more shallow fear of punishment and desire for rewards. They have commanders, rulers, bullies, etc., but rarely any figureheads. Follow the leader and you'll have a full stomach and all that's best in life. Disobey and you'd better have a bunch of strong friends on your side or a swift wolf beneath you.
this means that to Orcs, we are cows and chickens?
I think we're more like oceanic fish to them. We're an exploitable resource for the orcs to come "harvest" periodically, rather than something that they actively cultivate as livestock.
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Midnight_Carnival » November 2nd, 2015, 8:31 am

good point about the fish.

as for the group/pack identiy thing, what I was getting at is that when you encoutner Orcs and they come and give you a hard time, it won't be 1 orc jumping out of the bushes to eat you or rob you of your gold, it would be 70 of them! Ogres could probably be solitary and may not have a sense of gropu identity, joining armies (Orc or Human - I don't think other races would have them) for reward or because they have been made or became dependent. Even there, I imagine that Ogres would see themselves as fighters in that army and treat the other Ogres with as much loyalty as they would Human/Orc soliders (however much you can expect from an Ogre) - you wouldn't have to worry about the Ogre mercenaries banning together to overthrow the command structure and establishing an Ogre state somewhere in your country's interior because each Ogre is in it for their own gain and views other Ogres mainly as competition but sometiems they have been trained to see them as ...well, allies is a strong term, "people who have parrallel interests" might be closer.

I don't think it is natural for Ogres to band together, Orcs seem to though.
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Wesnother » November 3rd, 2015, 1:00 pm

Midnight_Carnival wrote:good point about the fish.

as for the group/pack identiy thing, what I was getting at is that when you encoutner Orcs and they come and give you a hard time, it won't be 1 orc jumping out of the bushes to eat you or rob you of your gold, it would be 70 of them! Ogres could probably be solitary and may not have a sense of gropu identity, joining armies (Orc or Human - I don't think other races would have them) for reward or because they have been made or became dependent. Even there, I imagine that Ogres would see themselves as fighters in that army and treat the other Ogres with as much loyalty as they would Human/Orc soliders (however much you can expect from an Ogre) - you wouldn't have to worry about the Ogre mercenaries banning together to overthrow the command structure and establishing an Ogre state somewhere in your country's interior because each Ogre is in it for their own gain and views other Ogres mainly as competition but sometiems they have been trained to see them as ...well, allies is a strong term, "people who have parrallel interests" might be closer.

I don't think it is natural for Ogres to band together, Orcs seem to though.
Yes, I agree.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by GL_Network » November 4th, 2015, 12:52 am

Zap-Zarap wrote:So, if the plot mencioned above would be for a BfW campaign, how could the concept of "being good" be implemented ?
I mean, the most easy thing would be just writing it in the storyline ("Some orcs once decided to be good and change their lifes, but they were constantly attacked by loyalitst, who had prejudices and didn't believe them...."), then have the usual fightings... but that would be just too easy.
Isn't that the whole plot of the Son of the Black Eye campaign? Except the orcs didn't decide to be "good", just to sign a permanent peace agreement with Wesnoth, which was later broken by warmongering Wesnothians.

Meanwhile, Eastern Invasion (and, to a point, DiD) implies that orcs do not always attack other races for the sake of it, but sometimes do so as a desperate move to escape a larger threat. This seems to fit the lore from Son of the Black Eye.

As a more general answer to the OP, you may also encounter morally neutral, ambiguous, or even heroic orcs in Warcraft or D&D. Even the W40k orks aren't really "evil" (they just happen to be at war with everyone. Which doesn't mean much, considering all W40k factions are). So I guess you don't have to look that far after all.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by Midnight_Carnival » November 4th, 2015, 9:23 am

:lol: just to throw a spanner in the works:
I believe it was Tolkien who came up with the name "Orc" - as a linguist he derived the name from the Latin "Orci" - as with Hades, this was the name of both a god of the netherworld and of his realm - unlike with the Greek Hades, Orcus seems to have been beastial and inhuman and his realm seems to reflect that (you can find the whole story or wikipedia or something) - so the Orci -"those of Orcus" were either the spirits of the dead or the fiends who inhabitied the realm Orcus, or they were the children of Orcus - a good contemporary translation would be "hellspawn" - do you get good Orcs?
Do you get good hellspawn?

I'm not prepared to offer my theological opinion on that but I'll suggest that it is probably quite unlikely.
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: good orcs ?

Post by johndh » November 4th, 2015, 5:50 pm

Tolkien was very black-and-white in his thinking, and he drew on a lot of theological background and symbolism. He believed in absolute good and absolute evil. This differs from many modern fantasy authors and their tendency toward subversion, which has reached almost to the point that the subversion becomes the expectation, making it no longer a subversion. Nowadays it's weird if the witch, goblin, vampire, or whatever isn't portrayed sympathetically in some way.
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.

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