Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

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

Post by taptap »

@vikings:
Pretty much the whole of Europe was in continuous war in these times and still you are hard pressed to find your warrior societies. Raiding is not warfare and aims for loot with as little casualties of your own as possible, and of course is repeated when successful. But what did they do when they could: they settled bringing in livestock and doing agriculture and mixed with the local population - how typical of a warrior society that pursues war for wars sake. And look at the performance of vikings when they met organised resistance and couldn't play out their mobility advantage, often enough they were defeated.

@orcs:
If you add cannibalism and animal-likeness you don't make the argument stronger. Big predators usually have the smallest populations even among animals. Cannibalism as established practice would likely lead to a much stricter population control by ecological limits than anything else, the argument of demographic pressure really collapses then.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

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Taptap wrote:Cannibalism as established practice would likely lead to a much stricter population control by ecological limits than anything else, the argument of demographic pressure really collapses then.
They don't necessarily have to intentionally kill one another for the cooking pot - maybe they eat their own dead who happen to fall in battle? Ignoring for a moment the argument about 'warrior societies', orcs are clearly highly belligerent (regardless of whether or not this is an essential aspect of their culture), and if the way they are represented within the game is accurate, presumably they are used to taking heavy losses often (sometimes even when they win). By the looks of them, there's quite a lot of meat (=muscle) on an orc, and they don't strike me as squeamish.

Given that (as repeatedly stated) they are not human and hence have a different morality and world-view, I can easily imagine orcs eating their comrades who didn't survive the battle. This could be interpreted either as an insult ("he was weak enough to get killed by squishy humans, he's inferior to us so let's eat him like any other animal"), or possibly as a mark of respect ("he fought well and deserves better than to be eaten by worms - feed him to the whelps, maybe his strength and courage will pass into them").

Either way, the food-shortage issue is somewhat alleviated (either they win, and seize enough food to live on, or they lose, and the reduced surviving population gets extra food anyway when they take their dead home), but it doesn't completely go away - orcs aren't known for vast intelligence (though doubtless there are exceptions), they surely know not to eat diseased meat, and those who die of old age are probably a bit stringy...
So if you assume that they don't actually kill each other for food, the extra meat supply is itself dependent on them going to war now and then - in times of peace, they have to either farm and trade like everybody else, or steal from a neighbour.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by pyrophorus »

Hi !
I'm think this (interesting) discussion ignore some important points.
In LotR, elves and orcs are clearly supernatural beings: angels and devils if you want. Not only they have not to worry about food and clothes (they have always all what they need), but more of it, they're totally aligned on good or evil. Humans and hobbits only are moral beings, being able to behave for both good and evil. Elves and orcs are symbols of what struggle in human minds. So you need not to explain why elves are orcs enemies: they are, as good is evil contrary.

Then going to Wesnoth, one can consider them just as two factions like others, and want to play them only because here are their favorite units. There's no morals here, just playing a game, a wargame to be precise, where structurally all stories must be a list of conflicts, where you absolutely need enemies to defeat. To those who play Wesnoth like chess, i.e. seeing there only tactical challenges to solve, it's not a problem.
But, IMHO, trying to introduce moral considerations (orcs are not evil in themselves, and so on), about the story parts of Wesnoth is very dubious, because it leads in any case to justify real war as the only conflict resolution mode (because Wesnoth is a wargame). If you struggle against symbols of evil, it's not a problem: it's a symbolic transposition of the moral struggle we all live IRL. If you break the symbolic link between evil and some factions, there's a side effect IMO: you'll need then to explain why your heroes must fight other guys who have the same right to exist and search for a better life. And use there, all the (bad) reasons we know in real life to go to war (which are too the cliches you complained about).

That's why I'm not uneasy with orcs being evil, and all unlikelyhood about their race. As undeads, they are symbols of evil, totally unrealistic, and that's why they have to be ugly, vulgar and aggressive. If not, the marks would not be clear enough. IMO, you need at least a faction like that to make a good story. If not the orcs or the undeads, you must create a new one, like in BMR.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

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pyrophorus wrote:Hi !
I'm think this (interesting) discussion ignore some important points.
In LotR, elves and orcs are clearly supernatural beings: angels and devils if you want. Not only they have not to worry about food and clothes (they have always all what they need), but more of it, they're totally aligned on good or evil. Humans and hobbits only are moral beings, being able to behave for both good and evil. Elves and orcs are symbols of what struggle in human minds. So you need not to explain why elves are orcs enemies: they are, as good is evil contrary.
This is not entirely true. First of all, I would call neither elves nor orcs supernatural, but superhumanly. Both are races which could exist, even though they do and did not in our real world. Then, they definitely have to worry about food and clothes. Did you ever hear about "Lembas", the bread of the elves? Also, it was often said about the orcs that they love fresh meat, which I understand as that they do need it to survive.
And then you say that "they're totally aligned on good or evil". While this might seem so a bit in LotR, there are some places where you see that this is not the whole truth: Take for example Galadriel's reaction when Frodo offers her the Ring: She definitely thinks about taking it and becoming a fearsome queen before refusing. But that she thinks so shows that the elves were able to think about bad actions; thus, they were also able to perform them. If you do not only consider LotR, but also the Silmarillion in which the first two ages of Middle Earth are described, you find many examples of bad-acting elves, a major example being the Kinslaying at Alqualondë.
What Tolkien did was not to evaluate each action, but rather set up a gray scale: Almost every character except for Eru Illúvatar, most (but not all!) of the Valar, Melkor, and very few men/elves (such as Beren and Lúthien Tinúviel) are not clearly either good or evil, but "rather good" or "rather evil".
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

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Personally I can imagine a campaign which even portrays undead sympathetic. E.g. the ancestor spirits (they exist already as an add-on unit) are angry on the living who started to ignore them for some reasons, not giving offerings etc. and now they are going to teach the living respect of the dead again the aim of which might be a figure who convinced the living to ignore the dead and / or strive for immortality (the thought of which likely causes resentment among those who are already dead or anyway in the context of ancestor cults the ancestors are somewhat naturally resentful of those alive). Of course like all campaigns feat. undead this isn't realistic, but I believe such a story could be emotionally convincing. In comparison it is easy to make a emotionally convincing orc story that doesn't portray orcs as inherently evil (and as we know there are such Wesnoth campaigns already).

What I am not happy about is a fantasy figure using a very modern (and logically flawed as I tried to show) demographic reasoning to convince his fellows in the story (but supposedly also the player) that preventive genocide is good, when your classic morality considers the killing of non-combatants clearly as not good. In fact, I wouldn't object that much if it were more clear that this is an in-character argument (even if I don't imagine elves engaged in demographic discourse), but when I see this in-character argument (talking about Fires of Pride) defended as a valid argument here and Joram objecting to "evil elves" (when they already plot the extermination of orcs in his campaign, this obviously doesn't qualify as bad, but killing a single elf probably would), this distinction seems very much blurred. It is in my opinion a lack of imagination to believe orcs have to be always chaotic evil to be convincing.

Maybe my point isn't very clear: Especially because I am playing a wargame I am not asking to be morally convinced that my side is right, I am perfectly happy to play the morally wrong side (just look at the start of Fate of a Princess, it is really good), but I am asking to be emotionally convinced that the side I play believes its own reasoning. I wouldn't stand playing DiD if the author would try to convince me that Malin Keshar is doing the right thing, but as is it is ok.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by pyrophorus »

Crendgrim wrote:This is not entirely true. First of all, I would call neither elves nor orcs supernatural, but superhumanly. Both are races which could exist, even though they do and did not in our real world.
Really ?
Crendgrim wrote:Then, they definitely have to worry about food and clothes. Did you ever hear about "Lembas", the bread of the elves?
Did you ever hear from what it is made ? In LotR, humans and hobbits have farms and fields but elves and orcs have none. Forests and caves are definitely not places where one can grow food and breed cattle. More of it, Mordor is described to be a wrecked land. How this waste could feed the huge armies who dwell here ?
Crendgrim wrote:She definitely thinks about taking it and becoming a fearsome queen before refusing. But that she thinks so shows that the elves were able to think about bad actions; thus, they were also able to perform them..
Both choices are for good: she wouldn't take the ring out of power lust but to save the world defeating Sauron. And the point is not in what elves can think or not, but how they actually behave in the story.
I think you understand not my point: it is to say elves and orcs are very close to more usual types: angels and devils. Tolkien gave them some kind of biological existence, but it matters little in the story structure. They play exactly the same role angels and devils in other stories: incarnate good and evil.
taptap wrote:What I am not happy about is a fantasy figure using a very modern (and logically flawed as I tried to show) demographic reasoning to convince his fellows in the story (but supposedly also the player) that preventive genocide is good, when your classic morality considers the killing of non-combatants clearly as not good.
I agree with this. If you don't show orcs (or any other faction) as evil personification, trying to justify their extermination is extremely questionable.
taptap wrote:Maybe my point isn't very clear: Especially because I am playing a wargame I am not asking to be morally convinced that my side is right, I am perfectly happy to play the morally wrong side (just look at the start of Fate of a Princess, it is really good), but I am asking to be emotionally convinced that the side I play believes its own reasoning. I wouldn't stand playing DiD if the author would try to convince me that Malin Keshar is doing the right thing, but as is it is ok.
BTW, would you be perfectly happy with 'Fate of a princess' if the story ended with Baldres enjoying peacefully his conquested town and the kidnapped elvish queen ?

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

Post by Boldek »

taptap wrote:@vikings:
Pretty much the whole of Europe was in continuous war in these times and still you are hard pressed to find your warrior societies. Raiding is not warfare and aims for loot with as little casualties of your own as possible, and of course is repeated when successful. But what did they do when they could: they settled bringing in livestock and doing agriculture and mixed with the local population - how typical of a warrior society that pursues war for wars sake. And look at the performance of vikings when they met organised resistance and couldn't play out their mobility advantage, often enough they were defeated.
Raiders can't be warriors? What do you want, every guy with an ax out there to sign up at a recruitment office and ask for a dog tag? Maybe the foreign embassy in Lindisfarn should have messaged the monks about impending warships? the Parthians (I think) were recorded to be vicious raiders who sacrificed their captives to a giant blade, a true sign as literal war worship, or war-ship. But calling the vikings not a warrior society and their raids as not a key factor in the dark ages is not quite right. If you examine the timelines of early Britain, you may notice that a series of kings around the time of Alfred the great (mid 800's) had this weird habit of paying thousands of pounds of silver and gold called 'danegeld' to the vikings, hoping to buy peace. That is because the viking raiders that invaded Britain was a huge threat, bigger than the orcs that threatened Wesnoth. By the time of Alfred the vikings had landed and not only defeated the many kingdoms in england, but also settled and began to live on the land as well. that does not mean they became any more peaceful. And guess how they got the land: conquest. When Alfred defeated the Danes at Ethandune, there was almost no resistance left, and finally England did fall two hundred years later to the Normans, simply vikings with some varnish from their stay in France.
The vikings had a hierarchical society based on warfare and warriors. If you took away every single blunt and sharp object from the last viking on earth, you may note that their society would fall apart. It was made by war, for war, and worked through war. To say that the vikings were not a warrior society is untrue. They were probably one of the best examples out there. That is why the orcs are somewhat modeled off them (death in battle a prize, prominent raiders, lead by the warlords, come from the frozen north, periodically ravage the land, etc etc.)
taptap wrote: If you add cannibalism and animal-likeness you don't make the argument stronger. Big predators usually have the smallest populations even among animals. Cannibalism as established practice would likely lead to a much stricter population control by ecological limits than anything else, the argument of demographic pressure really collapses then.
Take trolls. They resemble stone. They regenerate. They do not require very much food, but are still very strong. How do they work? Why do frail little elves that spend their life in forests live to be four hundred? I am not copping out with a quick WINR, but I am pointing out that orcs may resemble humans, but there is a lot about them that is tougher, outdoorsier, much more adapted to small food amounts, colder temperatures, worse elemental protection, soforth.
Think the difference between a Golden Retreiver and a Grey Wolf. Both will do fine the woods, but throw them into the tundra, and see which one comes out.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by Crendgrim »

pyrophorus wrote:
Crendgrim wrote:Then, they definitely have to worry about food and clothes. Did you ever hear about "Lembas", the bread of the elves?
Did you ever hear from what it is made ? In LotR, humans and hobbits have farms and fields but elves and orcs have none. Forests and caves are definitely not places where one can grow food and breed cattle. More of it, Mordor is described to be a wrecked land. How this waste could feed the huge armies who dwell here ?
Regarding the elves, it is not known, as much about the elves' culture indeed was not told by Tolkien. But that it is not described does not mean that it does not exist in the first place.
About the orcs, yes, that's true; but that's a problem much bigger, as during the Third Age there also dwelled men (from Harad and Rhûn) in Mordor, especially when Sauron got all his armies. However, this is a subject unrelated to the general problem whether orcs eat; and I understood the books as if they ate raw meat, and even that of their own kindred.
pyrophorus wrote:Both choices are for good: she wouldn't take the ring out of power lust but to save the world defeating Sauron. And the point is not in what elves can think or not, but how they actually behave in the story.
I think you understand not my point: it is to say elves and orcs are very close to more usual types: angels and devils. Tolkien gave them some kind of biological existence, but it matters little in the story structure. They play exactly the same role angels and devils in other stories: incarnate good and evil.
Right, both decisions seem to be right – and that's exactly my point: You cannot say whether the people in Tolkien's work are either good or evil, but they always are a bit of both – some have more of the good side, some more of the bad one. Take for example the Maia (so, also a super-humanly creature) Saruman, who first was more good and later became more evil. However, even as he was evil, he could still be understood in his doings; and he even was still pitied by the fellowship.
Also, IIRC, Tolkien never said that the orcs were really evil, but that they were only used (as they have been "created" for), first by Melkor, and then later by Sauron. This might be wrong, though.
I still would like to hear your opinion on the part of my post you disregarded – the stories about the time before LotR took place. One just cannot say that the three Kinslayings of the Noldor were good in any way, which somehow defeats your point...
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

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Boldek wrote:Raiders can't be warriors? What do you want, every guy with an ax out there to sign up at a recruitment office and ask for a dog tag? Maybe the foreign embassy in Lindisfarn should have messaged the monks about impending warships? the Parthians (I think) were recorded to be vicious raiders who sacrificed their captives to a giant blade, a true sign as literal war worship, or war-ship. But calling the vikings not a warrior society and their raids as not a key factor in the dark ages is not quite right. If you examine the timelines of early Britain, you may notice that a series of kings around the time of Alfred the great (mid 800's) had this weird habit of paying thousands of pounds of silver and gold called 'danegeld' to the vikings, hoping to buy peace. That is because the viking raiders that invaded Britain was a huge threat, bigger than the orcs that threatened Wesnoth. By the time of Alfred the vikings had landed and not only defeated the many kingdoms in england, but also settled and began to live on the land as well. that does not mean they became any more peaceful. And guess how they got the land: conquest. When Alfred defeated the Danes at Ethandune, there was almost no resistance left, and finally England did fall two hundred years later to the Normans, simply vikings with some varnish from their stay in France.
The vikings had a hierarchical society based on warfare and warriors. If you took away every single blunt and sharp object from the last viking on earth, you may note that their society would fall apart. It was made by war, for war, and worked through war. To say that the vikings were not a warrior society is untrue. They were probably one of the best examples out there. That is why the orcs are somewhat modeled off them (death in battle a prize, prominent raiders, lead by the warlords, come from the frozen north, periodically ravage the land, etc etc.)
Of course raiders can be warriors, but still raiding doesn't necessarily mean much open battle (and the development of the according skills, experience). The fact remains that for a long time they were able to raid but not to outright conquer. Why? Because raiding aims for loot while conquest requires overcoming the opposing forces. Consider the other side of the 'danegeld' - obviously taking it was safer than trying to get the whole farm by the risky endeavour called war in which success was far from assured. Even the creation of the Normandy was not mainly the result of force but a cooptation by the French king (if you give up your religion and accept being a vassal of the French king as a price it isn't plain conquest, is it). And putting 800 and 1066 next to each other as if 10 generations mean nothing, when the conquerors of 1066 spoke a different language, believed in a different god, intermingled with the inhabitants of the Normandy for generations etc. etc. is a severe case of a continuity illusion. (The distance is bigger than that between Prussia's Fredrick the Great and Germany's Angela Merkel.) Even in 1066 the Norman success probably owed more to the fact that they were the second invasion in a row to challenge the incumbent than to any inherent viking / normannic martial prowess. (Although the Normandy undoubtedly featured a significant martial feudal class - but this was only possible because there were people laboring the fields, tending the flocks etc.) If orcs are modelled after vikings they are modelled rather badly, because everything which makes the historical impact of the vikings is impossible with orcs, they don't trade, they don't become christians, they don't mix, they don't bring cultural impulses. And look how the vikings fared when they met a better organized polity as say in Andalusia or Asturias. They had a some success, but were often utterly defeated in the end. (And in your typical fantasy setting unlike vikings orcs never take the lesson, they are unlike vikings defeated every time but keep trying nonetheless where vikings often settled for trading where violence didn't look as promising.)
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

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Crendgrim wrote: I understood the books as if they ate raw meat, and even that of their own kindred.
I don't think so...IIRC, in the chapter near the woods of Fangorn, Grishnak says to his fellow orcs describing the Uruk Hai as "It's orc flesh they eat, I'll warrant." As if eating orc flesh was something unusual. :eng:
taptap wrote:Of course raiders can be warriors, but still raiding doesn't necessarily mean much open battle (and the development of the according skills, experience). The fact remains that for a long time they were able to raid but not to outright conquer. Why? Because raiding aims for loot while conquest requires overcoming the opposing forces. Consider the other side of the 'danegeld' - obviously taking it was safer than trying to get the whole farm by the risky endeavour called war in which success was far from assured.
The raids were lead by village boats that were aimed to scoop up loot and head home, but when the vikings gathered together in large warbands, they cut huge swathes in england, and almost never left without their danegeld or some bloody defeat. True, the vikings avoided enemy armies when they could, but they were no strangers to the art of war, though their wars were usually tribute based.
taptap wrote:Even the creation of the Normandy was not mainly the result of force but a cooptation by the French king (if you give up your religion and accept being a vassal of the French king as a price it isn't plain conquest, is it). And putting 800 and 1066 next to each other as if 10 generations mean nothing, when the conquerors of 1066 spoke a different language, believed in a different god, intermingled with the inhabitants of the Normandy for generations etc. etc. is a severe case of a continuity illusion. (The distance is bigger than that between Prussia's Fredrick the Great and Germany's Angela Merkel.)
My most sincere apologies for my offensive religion, I admit using the term vikings for the Normans may be much much different than the raiders that terrorized Killdare, I was just trying to point out that the bloodlines were from viking heritage.
taptap wrote:Even in 1066 the Norman success probably owed more to the fact that they were the second invasion in a row to challenge the incumbent than to any inherent viking / normannic martial prowess. (Although the Normandy undoubtedly featured a significant martial feudal class - but this was only possible because there were people laboring the fields, tending the flocks etc.)
Just to point out that the first invasion was by Harold Hadraada, a..viking...and yes, he was defeated heavily the saxons, but I would contribute the loss to be the fact King Harold disbanded his feudal armies and was left with nothing but his huskarls to stave off the Normans. And the second factor I would contribute to the vikings as well, their excellent tactic of faked retreat that threw the poorly trained huskarls out of formation and resulted in a rout.
taptap wrote: If orcs are modelled after vikings they are modelled rather badly, because everything which makes the historical impact of the vikings is impossible with orcs, they don't trade, they don't become christians, they don't mix, they don't bring cultural impulses. And look how the vikings fared when they met a better organized polity as say in Andalusia or Asturias. They had a some success, but were often utterly defeated in the end. (And in your typical fantasy setting unlike vikings orcs never take the lesson, they are unlike vikings defeated every time but keep trying nonetheless where vikings often settled for trading where violence didn't look as promising.)
Yes, the orcs are a very cliche steryotype of the pagan vikings that fail to capture any of the culture and magic of the vikings, only the brutal warriors and pillagers, but still note that the orcs aren't 100% viking clones, they are actually much flatter, but then their only purpose is to give the hero something to kill when he's sick of undead. (yes, the main discussion of this thread.)
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by Crendgrim »

Boldek wrote:
Crendgrim wrote: I understood the books as if they ate raw meat, and even that of their own kindred.
I don't think so...IIRC, in the chapter near the woods of Fangorn, Grishnak says to his fellow orcs describing the Uruk Hai as "It's orc flesh they eat, I'll warrant." As if eating orc flesh was something unusual. :eng:
Ah, right, I forgot about that.

Euh. And I see I'm slowly taking the discussion away from its topic. Please don't mind and ignore me. :oops:
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

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On how Sauron got his food: There is a very big lake in Mordor, the sea of Nurn I think, you can see how big it is on one of the maps. I remember reading that the land around there is very fertile and a lot of slaves are used to provide food for his armies.

It's only the region around Orodruin and Gorgoroth that is a wasteland, there's actually a lot more of Mordor away from the volcano, no need to assume that that is wrecked too.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by Telchin »

@taptap
Personally I can imagine a campaign which even portrays undead sympathetic.
but I am asking to be emotionally convinced that the side I play believes its own reasoning. I wouldn't stand playing DiD if the author would try to convince me that Malin Keshar is doing the right thing, but as is it is ok.
Nice post, something I was trrying to express previously in this thread. Non-evil undead aren't uhneard of in some franchises (I believe World of Warcraft has undead as playable race), so I found it jarring that the only mainline undead-centric capaign is the only that has a crazy vengeful maniac as its protagonists, while all other campaigns (including the orcish one) present their heroes as good and their actions as justified.

Some idea I got about orcs in HttT. HttT has a reason why the Orcs are bad guys - they work for Asheviere, who is clearly evil. However, this brings question why other Wesnoth rulers don't use orcish mercenaries too. These orcs work for money (as seen in Liberty), they are rather reliable (e.g. reporting after a battle) and their usage isn't secret, as some scenarios has you fighting both orcs and loyalist humans, allied to each other. So why other Wesnoth monarchs risk lives of their subjects in battle rather than hiring Orcs? There seem to be two possible reasons: 1) Those supposedly good kings are racist towards orcs and Asheviere is suprisingly open-minded for someone who orders murders of babies. 2) Orcs are racist towards humans and only work for Ashevier because of her feminine charms :P

EDIT:
There is a very big lake in Mordor, the sea of Nurn I think, you can see how big it is on one of the maps. I remember reading that the land around there is very fertile and a lot of slaves are used to provide food for his armies.
Yes, I was going to write it , but you were faster. For those who want to find it, it's in Return of the King, book 6, chapter 2.
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

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Some idea I got about orcs in HttT. HttT has a reason why the Orcs are bad guys - they work for Asheviere, who is clearly evil. However, this brings question why other Wesnoth rulers don't use orcish mercenaries too. These orcs work for money (as seen in Liberty), they are rather reliable (e.g. reporting after a battle) and their usage isn't secret, as some scenarios has you fighting both orcs and loyalist humans, allied to each other. So why other Wesnoth monarchs risk lives of their subjects in battle rather than hiring Orcs? There seem to be two possible reasons: 1) Those supposedly good kings are racist towards orcs and Asheviere is suprisingly open-minded for someone who orders murders of babies. 2) Orcs are racist towards humans and only work for Ashevier because of her feminine charms
Not hiring foreigner mercenaries is not equal to racism. In fact, I would say it's rather normal for a ruler to rely on an army recruited exclusively from his/her nation. Surrounding yourself with warriors from faraway lands who have no emotional connection to the people of your country and would lightheartedly do anything you order them usually indicates that you're a tyrann :wink:
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Re: Too many campaingns have you fighting orcs/undead.

Post by taptap »

Come on, in HttT it is the other way round. It is not the orcs who are bad because they work for the queen, but the queen is bad because she hires orcs or at least her badness finds its natural expression in her hiring orcs. I am not complaining about the HttT story, but basically it is the campaign most true to the standard fantasy tropes, which is no surprise considering that originally Wesnoth was designed to play elves against orcs and, well, the source of inspiration. In LotR I reckon evil orcs as the tools of the very evil Sauron are necessary as a foil to highlight the moral conflicts of all those in the grey morality range (mainly humans, hobbits, dwarves) who struggle to maintain their humanity/hobbitity/dwarvity, but Wesnoth has no Sauron-equivalent so there is no compelling reason to portrait orcs as plain evil. On the other hand you could say (un)dead aren't portrayed as simply evil in LotR and in fact end up fighting with the goodies, I guess an undead campaign that would feature undead in a different role needs some "natural-magical" reasons for them being around instead of being raised by a necromancer (which is pretty hard to describe sympathetically).
I am a Saurian Skirmisher: I'm a real pest, especially at night.
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