Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by lipk » May 7th, 2012, 5:41 pm

A little late to the discussion, but my $0.02 is that fighting orcs and undead a lot isn't too big a deal. Worse is when you have a scenario fighting elves/dwarves who are just "Don't step on my land! Because you walked too far to the left, I'm going to kill you now!". It's pointless carnage.
Plus one for this. I believe that the problem is rather that most of the conflict situations in the campaigns are clicheic. It wouldn't really help to just put the player on the other side of the same old story.

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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by taptap » May 7th, 2012, 6:07 pm

A good orc isn't necessarily an orc that befriends an elf. It probably needs more campaigns that expose elves as the villains they really are. IftU and AtS are really pioneering in this regard, even if you play the elves there :) Legend of Wesmere: wholesale slaughter of saurians. Kalenz tiptoes around the issue but in fact participates. The Rise of Wesnoth: The Kalian orders mass killings of poor, cute saurians because they trade with metals (WTF? Trading with metals?). With the orcs the campaigns usually pretend there is a reason to fight them, saurians are just attacked because they are available. Obviously there is really an irrational hatred of those mammals towards the egg-laying species. (Thanks to The Roar of the Woses for working on this premise.).

In general Wesnoth strikes are rather different tone despite the somewhat Tolkien-esque fantasy setting. Orcs are a tribal society with families, traditions and a mode of production etc. not some elves degenerated by dark magic (as in LotR) without any settlements and always ready to war for no apparent reason at the call of some dark mind. Trolls are portrayed rather sympathetic in Wesnoth, who would ever join the dwarves in UtBS after the appeal of the troll shaman, while they are the dark brainless magic anti-ents in LotR. Drakes and saurians are completely out of the Tolkien-esque setting and let the High Fantasy black/white morals collapse (saurians are obviously cute green). Looking at UMC, Wesnoth seems more like the triumph of relativism than the endless repetition of high fantasy clichés: there are 2+ full orc campaigns + several campaigns featuring goblins or an hero goblin, a saurian campaign, a huge and very heroic troll campaign, IftU+AtS show rather different elves as well and cross-species alliances in pretty surprising fashion all over the place. In the eras it goes even further: Imperial Era has one campaign per faction with no obvious preference for one.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by Joram » May 7th, 2012, 7:17 pm

I certainly don't think the answer to making the orcs sympathetic is to start bashing the elves. Flipping the compass and saying that the poor saurians are the good guys doesn't change the issue, it just changes who is sitting on which side of it.

Personally, I am against campaigns which make elves the bad guys. But I would actually welcome a campaign that makes an elf the villain. Subtle difference, but it's essentially the difference between "We are the elves and we are evil" and "I am Lentharogonrid the elf, and I am a villain". One indicts an entire species which is, on the whole, good (and I'd prefer to keep it that way). The other recognizes that even from a generally good country/species, you get villains.

You are correct that a good orc isn't necessarily one that befriends an elf. I wasn't actually meaning that at all; they don't exactly become 'friends', more just 'huh, you're not really bad, just different; well, thanks for the help and so long'. The real point is just getting orcs out there as characters so that players can see their more 'human' side. At the moment, we only see orcs either a) as villains or b) amongst their own kind.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by The Great Rings » May 7th, 2012, 8:04 pm

taptap wrote:A good orc isn't necessarily an orc that befriends an elf. It probably needs more campaigns that expose elves as the villains they really are. IftU and AtS are really pioneering in this regard, even if you play the elves there :) Legend of Wesmere: wholesale slaughter of saurians. Kalenz tiptoes around the issue but in fact participates. The Rise of Wesnoth: The Kalian orders mass killings of poor, cute saurians because they trade with metals (WTF? Trading with metals?). With the orcs the campaigns usually pretend there is a reason to fight them, saurians are just attacked because they are available. Obviously there is really an irrational hatred of those mammals towards the egg-laying species. (Thanks to The Roar of the Woses for working on this premise.).

In general Wesnoth strikes are rather different tone despite the somewhat Tolkien-esque fantasy setting. Orcs are a tribal society with families, traditions and a mode of production etc. not some elves degenerated by dark magic (as in LotR) without any settlements and always ready to war for no apparent reason at the call of some dark mind. Trolls are portrayed rather sympathetic in Wesnoth, who would ever join the dwarves in UtBS after the appeal of the troll shaman, while they are the dark brainless magic anti-ents in LotR. Drakes and saurians are completely out of the Tolkien-esque setting and let the High Fantasy black/white morals collapse (saurians are obviously cute green). Looking at UMC, Wesnoth seems more like the triumph of relativism than the endless repetition of high fantasy clichés: there are 2+ full orc campaigns + several campaigns featuring goblins or an hero goblin, a saurian campaign, a huge and very heroic troll campaign, IftU+AtS show rather different elves as well and cross-species alliances in pretty surprising fashion all over the place. In the eras it goes even further: Imperial Era has one campaign per faction with no obvious preference for one.
First of all, you are misrepresenting Tolkien. Tolkien's orcs do have their own settlements, and Tolkien at least considered the idea of non-evil orcs. Moreover, he avoided using the colors black and white to represent good and evil on a number of occassions (for example, the evil wizard Saruman uses the white hand as his symbol, while the heroic soldiers of Gondor wear black).

Secondly, I may disagree with your implication that relativism is a good thing, depending on what you mean by relativism. If you mean relativism in the sense of good and evil being relative, I would disagree. If you mean in the sense of no race being all good or all evil, that's another thing entirely. Of course, simply making elves evil doesn't correct that.

Of course, evil elves exist in Battle for Wesnoth already, as do sympathetic orcs, so good and evil are not just based on race.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by shadowm » May 7th, 2012, 8:20 pm

Joram wrote:Personally, I am against campaigns which make elves the bad guys. But I would actually welcome a campaign that makes an elf the villain. Subtle difference, but it's essentially the difference between "We are the elves and we are evil" and "I am Lentharogonrid the elf, and I am a villain".
In Sceptre of Fire in mainline (the campaign, not the HttT scenario) you get to fight enemy elves on several occasions since the very beginning.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by Joram » May 7th, 2012, 8:43 pm

Yes indeed. I wasn't meaning to imply that we don't currently have a campaign with elves as the villains, as there's another couple campaigns that have villainous elves as well.

I wasn't a huge fan of SoF's villains back when I first played it several years ago because the elves were just nameless, generic elves that for some reason were 'evil'; it felt like they were evil merely for the sake of having an enemy that wasn't orcs (and to play on the 'elves and dwarves hate each other' trope). However, the story has grown, and after several iterations, the elves specifically identify themselves as of the faction of... whatever that one elf in LoW was. It is now, in my opinion, a very nice example of villainous elves; villains with reason and motivation independent of species.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by taptap » May 7th, 2012, 8:59 pm

Black/White morality isn't meant as a color code but a morality setup. To be fair in Tolkien's world there is a lot of grey morality too + wonderful characters, story etc. etc. still orcs are always on the side of literally "the enemy". I have not read the whole Tolkien canon and this isn't really about Tolkien, but afair orcs are magically degraded elves and in the standard variety not very capable at day. This is easily the inspiration for ToD alignment in Wesnoth. But Wesnoth has travelled a long way since, and I guess an orc as hero of a story would be something utterly unimaginable (probably as unlikely as a nazi hero in an american superhero comic) in any truly Tolkien-esque setting and in fact is in most indirectly Tolkien inspired fantasy novels, RPGs, games, while it is not that much surprising in Wesnoth (with several orc campaigns in UMC and one in mainline). Obviously a significant portion of players is fed up with "always chaotic evil" cliché of orcs (thus this thread) and produces and consumes different content.

I am not sure that relativism is good or bad, but it is reality in Wesnoth. There are orc heroes, there are threads about "misunderstood trolls" etc. And indeed I am opposed to make other species sympathetic by means of "exceptional individuals that are different" and befriend a good elf, which is reinforcing the cliché instead of breaking it, a better way may be to take sth. which is obviously considered ok (killing some orcs, killing some saurians, killing a dragon, building a dam to drain the swamp, robbing gryphon eggs etc.) and tell the story from the other side, but all this is done already. (You don't even have to change elves to show them as evil from say a saurian perspective, take TRoW or LoW.) Wesnoth is already far less generic cliché fantasy than is claimed in this thread.

The main problem is that most species may end up too much alike with many generic (bad done to us by x now let us take revenge) stories.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by Joram » May 7th, 2012, 10:03 pm

To be fair, I don't think anyone has asked for exceptional individuals who are different. I apologize if I left that impression (my comment was more open ended than I intended). Basically, the story will involve a massive rescue attempt for a kidnapped elf; the orc will end up joining up with them (and actually, it's more than one, but in the interests of keeping the cast limited, only one gets screen time). The orc is frankly a little amused at all this trouble over one individual; in orcish society, individuals are sacrificed and slaughtered in enormous numbers in either infighting or outfighting. Which is actually a good thing, as they reproduce at extraordinarily rapid rates. After all, while you or I would go to great lengths to rescue one of our siblings, an orc probably has on the order of 50 or so brothers/sisters as a very conservative estimate (the wiki implies that orcs are born in groups of six or more).

In the end, the elves and orcs will end up bleeding into each other a bit; the elves won't necessarily regard the orcs as these evil creatures (due largely to their supposed disregard for life) and the orcs will begin to understand notions such as kinship that bind the other races together. I haven't played it all the way through, but I don't believe that the protagonist in SotBE is supposed to be 'exceptional' (other than in his military prowess). So in general, I think people making orc characters are trying to be true to orcishness.


For my part, I don't like the "tell it from the other side" approach. Rather than making me be interested in everyone, it generally makes me interested in no one.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by taptap » May 8th, 2012, 12:31 pm

But Joram your elves already are truly evil when they plot to kill every orc to the last one all over the continent "preventively". I mean how much further can you go? At least for me such a story doesn't work when it still is presented as the morally right side. (In Fires of Pride.) I do enjoy playing baddies (Malin Keshar, who has the same aim) as well, but baddies presented as nice guys (the elves in your campaign) really doesn't go well with me.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by The Great Rings » May 8th, 2012, 6:01 pm

taptap wrote:Black/White morality isn't meant as a color code but a morality setup. To be fair in Tolkien's world there is a lot of grey morality too + wonderful characters, story etc. etc. still orcs are always on the side of literally "the enemy". I have not read the whole Tolkien canon and this isn't really about Tolkien, but afair orcs are magically degraded elves and in the standard variety not very capable at day. This is easily the inspiration for ToD alignment in Wesnoth. But Wesnoth has travelled a long way since, and I guess an orc as hero of a story would be something utterly unimaginable (probably as unlikely as a nazi hero in an american superhero comic) in any truly Tolkien-esque setting and in fact is in most indirectly Tolkien inspired fantasy novels, RPGs, games, while it is not that much surprising in Wesnoth (with several orc campaigns in UMC and one in mainline). Obviously a significant portion of players is fed up with "always chaotic evil" cliché of orcs (thus this thread) and produces and consumes different content.

I am not sure that relativism is good or bad, but it is reality in Wesnoth. There are orc heroes, there are threads about "misunderstood trolls" etc. And indeed I am opposed to make other species sympathetic by means of "exceptional individuals that are different" and befriend a good elf, which is reinforcing the cliché instead of breaking it, a better way may be to take sth. which is obviously considered ok (killing some orcs, killing some saurians, killing a dragon, building a dam to drain the swamp, robbing gryphon eggs etc.) and tell the story from the other side, but all this is done already. (You don't even have to change elves to show them as evil from say a saurian perspective, take TRoW or LoW.) Wesnoth is already far less generic cliché fantasy than is claimed in this thread.

The main problem is that most species may end up too much alike with many generic (bad done to us by x now let us take revenge) stories.
I'm not sure you're applying the term relativism correctly. Doesn't it normally refer to the idea that good and evil are relative, which is an entirely different issue from weather being good or evil is determined by one's race?

You can have very clear, unambiguous good and evil without it being based on race. I mean, let's look at the real world: I can believe that Hitler was absolutely, unquestionably evil without believing that he was evil because he was a white man. Just as I can believe Osama Bin Laden was evil without believing that he was evil because he was an Arab.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by Joram » May 8th, 2012, 9:19 pm

But Joram your elves already are truly evil when they plot to kill every orc to the last one all over the continent "preventively". I mean how much further can you go? At least for me such a story doesn't work when it still is presented as the morally right side. (In Fires of Pride.) I do enjoy playing baddies (Malin Keshar, who has the same aim) as well, but baddies presented as nice guys (the elves in your campaign) really doesn't go well with me.
You're actually misrepresenting things when you say they're doing it 'preventively'. This is a situation where there has been constant conflict for a hundred years, and the elves have finally decided they just have to end it. No, I didn't say that explicitly in the campaign, but that's what I was thinking at the time (it was still in early draft stages). Furthermore, just by our knowledge of orcs, you should have assumed something along those lines. If you didn't, it betrays a misunderstanding of how orcs are. The reason orcs are often the villains is because frankly, orcs are often the villains. We know that the orcs fight almost incessantly for little reason other than because they can, and because if they don't, they're going to multiply so quickly that they'll soon be unable to sustain themselves.

To bring in an example, consider the Daleks in the Dr. Who TV series. There is no way, shape, or form that the Daleks can get along with other species in the universe. Their whole outlook is that if you're not a Dalek, you're not fit to live; it's not a cultural opinion that they have, it is ingrained in Dalek DNA; it's how they are, and nothing changes it. What is the solution? There isn't one, short of exterminating them. Yet no one (except David Tennent :x ) gets mad at the thought of exterminating the Dalek or cries 'evil genocide!' when it happens.

Orcs aren't Daleks, but that is a more extreme example of the situation. The elves have decided that they simply can't leave an entity loose on the continent that results in conflict and death nine years out of ten. If they try and just prune it back, then what happens? Five years later, the orcs are almost as numerous as before.

(I will say that you're point is well taken, and I'm going to be paying particular attention to that facet of things when I pick the campaign up in a couple of weeks :wink: )


Happily, there are possible solutions to the orc problem. Why? Because orcs aren't inherently evil. It's just the way their society is set up and operates. They simply don't understand the notion of the value of life. However, if you add that, then you suddenly would have 'good' orcs sprouting up faster than rabbits. That's the thing with orcs; because of their seemingly blatant disregard for life, it is easy to assume that they're evil through and through, since we sort of have a society where that's considered the ultimate wrong. However, it is quite possible to have an orc that is honest, diligent, fair-minded and honorable (sure, their society sort of discourages that stuff as well, but you get the point).


So to collect all my opinions expressed thus far and summarize, we have the following:

1) Problem: Orcs are regarded as cliche villains; they're villains all day, every day

2) Solution #1: Give the story 'from the other side' and start apportioning blame to elves
- My thoughts: I don't like this method at all; in fact, I'd paraphrase this whole thought process as 'make excuses for the orcs'. Difficult, particularly when orcish society is, as a whole, a society of brutality, murder, and warfare.

3) Solution #2: Start pointing out that orcs can be as good as any other race
- My thoughts: My preferred approach. We had a couple people say they didn't like this because it reinforces the cliche. I disagree. First of all, because I don't see this as 'certain exceptional individuals'. I see this as 'average Joe orc that happens to fall into this situation'. In my campaign idea, the orc that joins up with the elf isn't going to be anything remarkable; he's going to be more of a 'this could have been almost any orc and it would have turned out this way'. If handled properly, I think that this could be the best way to do things; it preserves villain status for orcs where they are needed to be villains, but allows them to be absolutely as heroic as you want them to be; all without being at all inconsistent with anything that's ever been written about Wesnoth orcs.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by taptap » May 8th, 2012, 11:51 pm

This is really the point with black/white morality, after the roles are decided the good guys can do the same or even more outrageous acts but they still remain the good guys, who happen to plot the extermination of a species just for ecological reasons and out of love for life.
The combination of 1) bad 2) fast breeding 3) warrior society is a bundle of misunderstood clichés. In fact the combination of fast breeding and warrior society is rather unlikely - because a true warrior society would constantly lose a tremendous amount of members to internal and external strife (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrrIaJCr2X8). As Wesnoth orcs are seen as hunting tribes their population must be miniscule in comparison to people engaged in agriculture, on the other hand you have permanent large settlements of orcs which indicates they do agriculture contrary to the description, either way there are no warrior societies. If you think it through you end up with the somewhat realistic notion that societies constantly at war are usually not fast growing and even there the number of professional fighters is but a small percentage of the population. As I said elsewhere there are even anthropologists who see the origin of warfare as side effect to primitive population control (via female infanticide which was very common in human populations) - which is like 100% the opposite to the fast breeding cliché that is so dear to you.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by Joram » May 9th, 2012, 3:40 am

I will address your post in two parts; the first regarding your second paragraph and the second regarding your first.

Orcs as a Warrior Society
You state that the combination of fast breeding and warrior society is unlikely, citing a video that makes a good many valid points. However, the first flaw is that orcs are not humans. Trying to apply the exact same reasoning is fallacious, yet you don't make any attempt to bridge the gap; you simply say 'this applies to humans' then turn around and apply it to orcs with no attempt to show how the differences don't matter. It would be like me citing my experience with domestic horses in a conversation about zebras. I will counter your argument by a real world example. I will then extrapolate it to Wesnoth, accounting for the differences between the two worlds.

Example: The Vikings. The vikings are probably the closes thing we had in the real world to a 'warrior society'. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were a warrior society. By that, I don't mean that every viking was a battle-hardened warrior, or even that most of them were; however, their society did spread a dark veil across most of western Europe and there were unquestionably a good many pillagers that came from them.

The question is, why? The answer is that Scandanavia couldn't support them. They needed other outlets and methods of sustaining themselves. So they took from other people. This included taking land; vikings settled all over the place, conquering and taking land from whoever happened to be there before (if anyone).

If we take a real world example and apply it to Wesnoth, what do we get? The exact same problem except far, far worse. Orcs reproduce at about eight times the rate of humans, assuming they have the same maturity rate (if anything, orcs are lower, meaning even faster reproduction). Thus, you have eight times the number of viking raiders. Land: Orcs are generally represented as coming from the more barren/wilderness type areas in the northlands; thus justifying a comparison to the vikings (who had similar origins). Infighting: The vikings had a number of wars between themselves; certainly not to the level implied in wesnoth orcs or characterized in modern cliches of the viking culture, but the fact remains that the vikings fought among themselves and established blood feuds with one another. The comparison thus seems to me to be perfectly reasonable, and we are left with 4X the viking problem as a conservative estimate.


You essentially argue that warrior society => slow growth. I am arguing that fast growth => warrior society. You've done nothing except say that being warlike will slow your growth; a fact that I don't think anyone in their right mind would argue with. Orcs grow at least 8 times faster than humans, yet the number of orcs on the continent is certainly not 8 times the number of humans. So obviously there is something holding them back. And everyone agrees that it is the fact that a number get killed off.

On the other hand, you haven't provided any evidence that a super-human growth rate would not cause a warlike society. Based on a real-world example of population outstripping resources, I think we can safely say that it would.


The equation is not warrior society => slow growth, the equation is fast growth => warrior society.


Morals
This is really the point with black/white morality, after the roles are decided the good guys can do the same or even more outrageous acts but they still remain the good guys, who happen to plot the extermination of a species just for ecological reasons and out of love for life.
You don't even try to present any reasoning here; you must assume that it is self-obvious. However, I will demonstrate that it isn't by showing a completely logical extension to your reasoning.

Killing someone is bad. But if they come in and try and kill you, then suddenly it's okay to kill them? That's the problem with black/white morality, after the roles are decided, the good guys can do the same or even more outrageous acts, but they still remain the good guys. I take it you are a pacifist, taptap, because otherwise, you're indulging in precisely what you accuse me of: having something wrong suddenly become 'okay' when you do it to bad people. Just as I said 'killing is bad', you said 'exterminating a species is bad' (which is really just lots of killing; is there any difference between killing 100 people and killing 100 people who are the last of their species? Not really). You didn't allow for any exceptions to it, and neither did I. I take it you are unfamiliar with the Dr. Who TV series, since my mention of the Daleks didn't cause a blip on the radar. Let me just say that David Tennant used the exact same reasoning you are doing; the result? Well, the Daleks got exterminated anyway by someone with more sense, but assuming they hadn't, every being in the entire universe probably would have died (since it's a tv series and the daleks are recurring villains, a few obviously managed to survive to threaten trillions of beings another day, which just shows how silly it would be to stop the job halfway).

Now, you'll no doubt be rushing to refute the above, but whether or not you can do that isn't the point. The point is that you presented an argument with no backing. I don't agree that once the bad guys are established you can do what you want to them. In fact, in my experience it is usually the grey morality people who justify things like murder, robbery, and wholesale slaughter while still remaining 'good guys' (and the black/white people who go to ridiculously chivalrous/honorable lengths to give the bad guys another opportunity to stab them in the back).

Well what we have here is a race that lives for a couple hundred years giving the orcs chance after chance to quit pillaging and murdering, and they don't do it. So they're finally taking the only real step available. You could say "you don't have to eliminate the entire race". Quite true. But what's the alternative? Let them grow back and repeat the process in another hundred years or so? Is it really that much worse killing 100% of the population now as opposed to 60% of it every 100 years for the next millennium? If you want to go by body count, the latter option is far worse from a moral standpoint than the former.

And for the record, the elves aren't even killing all the orcs; they're simply forcing them to leave. A number of orcs will go west with ships and whatnot. Once they're gone, the elves don't care about them, and they can live their lives free from interference.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by taptap » May 9th, 2012, 9:34 am

The vikings are actually a great example why the cliché of a warrior society is rubbish, please read an historical, evidence-based book about them and of course the same is true of most other clichés about them.

@orcs:
A population which sustains itself by hunting has some very strict ecological limits. Orcs would be starved to death very soon if they were anything like what you imagine them. Populations grow fast with abundance of food not when they are already near starvation. And of course male death in war does not necessarily constrict population growth in the long run because the number of females is far more important for that so imagining that the deaths during raids are reducing demographic pressure simply doesn't work.

@dr.who:
I thought people love it because the story is such hilarious nonsense and never thought it would be presented to me in an argument.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by Boldek » May 9th, 2012, 2:17 pm

taptap wrote: The vikings are actually a great example why the cliché of a warrior society is rubbish, please read an historical, evidence-based book about them and of course the same is true of most other clichés about them.
Joram's is right, good sir. If you happen to read a history of England during the dark ages, there was several factors that greatly kept Britain under pressure, and one of the main ones was the viking raids that exhorted 'danegeld' from the saxon kings, or simply pillaged and devastated the countryside every ten years or so.

the vikings had a 'summer raids' that was expected to fill them up on whatever supplies and gold they needed to make it through the year. If you didn't come back with a boat full of loot and a few missing warriors, something was wrong with you. If you check out their religion before the conversion to Christianity, you will note that the way to get into Valhalla was..drumroll..death in battle. Their entire society, anything from economy to disputing to religion, was about fighting and killing. And there was huge settlements all along the northern coast of Europe. They settled in France, they settled in Ireland, Britain, Scotland, Iceland and even North America. They required either settling new lands or axing your neighbor to survive, and it worked for hundreds of years.
taptap wrote: A population which sustains itself by hunting has some very strict ecological limits. Orcs would be starved to death very soon if they were anything like what you imagine them. Populations grow fast with abundance of food not when they are already near starvation. And of course male death in war does not necessarily constrict population growth in the long run because the number of females is far more important for that so imagining that the deaths during raids are reducing demographic pressure simply doesn't work.
Bear in mind that once again humans and orcs are much different. Orcs are said to be more animal like, and probably can go without food much longer than a human can, not to mention constantly described ready to eat anything, from humans to other orcs. And not every single orc was a big brawny warlord, it's just that all your drudges and goblins don't make it into the script as much.

Ps. Just because the Daleks look like broken food processors doesn't mean that their storyline should be refuted on sight.
Guys I never thought I'd come back to this forum after 8 years this is wild

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