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RPG Superstar 2015

Where are all the Orcs?


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

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In my eyes Orcs = Mongols I kind of like the idea of the way they are portrayed in Earthdawn, give them weird mounts and use the Hold, give them a leader like Gengis Khan and off you go taking over the North sounds like a good idea for an AP to me anyway. Maybe reverse it round and have the PC's play the Orcs instead..mmm I think I have an adventure idea..

Star Voter 2013

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I must admit, heroic orcs I can take or leave. What I was hoping for when I originally posted on this thread was more of a specific flavouring to the evil of the orcs, like gobbos and ogres got in RotR.

This first AP didn't completely break the goblin/ogre mould, it just directed their evil into specific directions - goblins became crazy little freaks that hate and fear dogs and horses, while ogres went from just big, dumb and ugly to big, dumb, ugly hillbillies, with everyone that entails. They weren't reinvented, just themed a little more.

That's what I speak of when I say I hope orcs get the Paizo treatment sometime.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Another argument for more range amongst orcs is that some of the groundwork has already been laid out. There have been references to the relatively new schism between the usual Rovagug-worshipping tribes in Belkzen and the Gorumite tribes that have actually gotten some grudging respect from their Lastwall counterparts and foes. Fleshing that out further and detailing the differences in culture and values between the more monstrous, nihilistic Rovagugi tribes and the more "worthy opponent" and possibly predominantly CN Gorumite tribes could really give a lot more to GMs and players to play with.

It offers support for possible encounters with non-Always Chaotic Evil orcs in any number of roles. It provides a place for half-orc players to pull from who do want consentual unions in their background. It would also provide a non-completely-horrible culture for those half-orc characters to pull from. As it is, half-orc characters are forced to either pull from their human half's culture entirely or they're stuck with the narrowly defined, over-the-top evil culture defined in Orcs of Golarion. Some nuance there would be great to have, like a harsh sense of personal honor that you wouldn't find amongst the stereotypical Rovagugi tribes.

It could also make the Lastwall/Belkzen conflict much more interesting, and also offers angles to Lastwall players that don't want their heroic characters to be forced into "kill all the X" mode.

I mean hey, Sarenrae exists in this setting. There's a Redeemer archetype for half-orcs. There's a feat for aasimar of certain heritages made specifically to make them redemptive figures for a number of specific races, including orcs. Surely there has to be a tribe somewhere that isn't completely rotten to the core.

It wouldn't make hideously evil orcs disappear for those that want them. It would just expand the range of possible stories and character concepts.

Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Man now I just really want to do a whole campaign around a ravening horde of mongol like orcs riding out to stamp out the soft pink-skinned cities.


And yeah, all the mongols in real life were evil green-skinned monsters.

What are you, ancient Romans? :D

Next thing you tell me is that the world is flat, slavery is okay and that a gentleman wears a toga, not a tuxedo.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Gorbacz wrote:
Sometimes, you want something familiar. Remember how Eberron set out to re-imagine *everything* and make sure that no stone is left unturned among tropes employed by D&D? Well, where's Eberron now?

Eberron's in a coma, along with the rest of the 4e settings, I guess. It's still my group's main campaign setting, because most of us were tired of the same old stuff (the rest don't care much). It's not that there are no evil barbaric orcs there, or tree-hugging elves, or grumpy dwarves. In fact, there are plenty.

The people of Eberron are just a bit more diverse. You know, like in the real world. It'd be nice to get something along that line for Golarion orcs.

Also, dwarves. Don't dismiss the dwarves.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Golarion Orcs aren't all chaotic Evil Shamanists. The Hold of Belkzen has a huge trading post where non-orcs are freely allowed. Orc slavers also regularly visit Kaer Maga. If they are Always Chaotic Evil, they're at least Always Chaotic Evil Mercantilists.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

I removed some real world politics.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think the wildlings from ASOIAF would be a good influence for portraying orcs.

Of course, now I'm imagining an Orc version of Ygritte.

Also on the procreation of half-orcs, I like to think humans can sink to just as low levels as orcs if you get my drift. (In fact, that's my personal idea for Imrijka's backstory until canon says otherwise.)

Dedicated Voter 2013

I treat the orc like the Orcs in Skyrim. They can be raiders and violent as hell, they follow an evil god (daedric prince...god...same thing.) and yet they can be noble in a way, even honor thier word.

And you always have dissenters against the nature. Both Oblivion and Skyrim had Orc bookkeepers. Just because the orc isn't evil, doesn't mean he has to be a noble savage. He could just as well be the PCs third grade school teacher.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Voltron64 wrote:

I think the wildlings from ASOIAF would be a good influence for portraying orcs.

Of course, now I'm imagining an Orc version of Ygritte.

...YES.

Especially if Lastwall has its own Jon Snow.

Dark Archive

I always liked LE orcs with a slave society. Where slaves could have slaves sorta like the red wizards in fr. Man I miss that place.....


Insert "yo dawg" joke here in regards to slaves.

Dark Archive

No more like since everyone was a slave to someone you didn't really abuse them and you respected them to some degree I mean they have to serve your purposes so why be overly cruel also this means that anyone that owned you owned them so don't mess up others property... To have value to them you had to own something or be owned


I recall there was an Evil-only prestige class for Thayan Slavemasters. Trust me, they were quite abusive.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
The whole Skeletons are evil thing is rather ridiculous in my opinion, considering the fact that mindless creatures are usually assumed to be Neutral.

Spoken like someone who has never had the joyous experience of being able to use Smite Evil for truly hilarious overkill.

As far as Orcs go? Aside for the reasons already mentioned (too much like WoW or LotR, early yet), the most damning thing to be said about Orcs?

There's not much left to give 'em.

1. They're not cunning delvers and trapmakers- that seems to be a kobold thing.

2. They're not Gremlins-style insanity- Goblins got that one (Note, by the by, that nobody seems to mind goblin culture being a bunch of pyromaniacal lunatics whose survival to date seems to depend solely upon the fact that they have a lot of kids- kids they don't even take terribly good care of, by the way)

3. They're not an orderly military force bent on unified conquest- that'd be Hobgoblins.

4. They're not even the best at psychotic and pointless cruelty, because ogres crank that up to 11.

5. Noble savages? Oh, you mean the Shoanti?

6. Savage slave-takers who eat their slaves when they're done with 'em? Gnolls.

Why are Orcs portrayed as psychotic disorganized brutes whose vices are legion and whose virtues seem to begin and end with some courage and stoicism? 'Cause nobody's come up with something for them to do that hasn't already been handed to somebody else.

Classic Monsters Revisited tried to spin Orcs as the menace just outside the fringes of civilization. For my money? It failed, because they offer nothing a few gangs of human barbarians don't.

They need a gimmick, and since I hate retcons, they need a gimmick that doesn't invalidate what little information we've got on them to date- So a bunch of insanely aggressive creatures who rape, pillage, plunder and otherwise trash things need a way to get some depth. And until someone comes up with a good answer, I'm just as happy not seeing orcs take center stage.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Cole Deschain wrote:

5. Noble savages? Oh, you mean the Shoanti?

The Shoanti actually have almost exactly the kind of culture I've always wanted for orcs. Making it so difficult to have Shoanti-raised half-orcs is just more salt in that wound.

The presence of the Shoanti doesn't make the Kellids redundant, or any of the other cultures that could fall under the "noble savage" trope. There's plenty of range and options under that umbrella term for more than one culture. Just like there's plenty of room for there to be more than one culture for orcs.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

I think this thread illustrates pretty well my own hunch on why orcs play a very minor role in the published material: They are very much a hot topic. Warcraft orc, Tolkien orc, Warcraft orc Pre-WoW Retcon, every one of these variations has an ardent fanbase which will decry the other views. You can't write material that by a rule will be well-received.

Much easier to focus on monsters that are not as controversial and have material that is well-received by most of the fans. Franky, I was surprised Orcs of Golarion even was made.


TerraNova wrote:

I think this thread illustrates pretty well my own hunch on why orcs play a very minor role in the published material: They are very much a hot topic. Warcraft orc, Tolkien orc, Warcraft orc Pre-WoW Retcon, every one of these variations has an ardent fanbase which will decry the other views. You can't write material that by a rule will be well-received.

Much easier to focus on monsters that are not as controversial and have material that is well-received by most of the fans. Franky, I was surprised Orcs of Golarion even was made.

I'm surprised by how one-sided the content was in Orcs of Golarion. Even Goblins of Golarion had a little section for people wanting to play one, and the rules for such, with an example of needing Diplomacy rolls by allies or by the Goblin itself to avoid getting guards after you. I'd say the same rules apply to Kobolds and maybe Orcs.

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Some species come with heavy cultural weight from outside Pathfinder.

Elves, Dwarves and Orcs are almost identical to Tolkein Elves, Dwarves and Orcs. The only significant change is species back-story (and elf eyes) and those things will be passed over in most games.

I don't really see the point of using the word 'orc' for something that isn't an orc in the eyes of new players. Why not just come up with a new species. Why can't we have a creature which fills the typcial-fantasy-orc niche? And why can't we call it an orc?

I really like classic orcs, they represent the terrible Lord-Of-The-Flies fear at the heart of all civilisation: that underneath the veneer life is nasty, brutish and short and that for all the wonder and beauty of nature it is (and we are) red in tooth and claw.

Orcs are what we could have become.

And that's far cooler than 'green-skinned humans from a brutal society'.

Just my humble...


Why can't we have actual Humans filling that role like Lord of the Flies did?

I am misanthropic enough to see even racist Elves and Dwarves in a better light than my own kind.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:

Why can't we have actual Humans filling that role like Lord of the Flies did?

I am misanthropic enough to see even racist Elves and Dwarves in a better light than my own kind.

In Lord of the Flies you have an isolated subset who were once decent-ish and might be redeemed.

Orcs are an entire species that has fallen low, that is missing the fluke of evolution/genetics/history/context which makes humans bearable.

They're a warning.


What does that make Half-Orcs, then?

Sczarni

Belkzen and Brimstone Haruspex are more than enough for orcs, I'm glad they're not all over the world

Star Voter 2013

Icyshadow wrote:
What does that make Half-Orcs, then?

My guess? A compromise. "Orcs are plain evil, but people wanna play them. Let's make half-orcs so folks can play orcy PCs without having to be evil."

Unlike half-elves, who (I assume) were based on the idea of Elrond and Elros.


I meant in the context Elberion presented.

Those who think Half-Orcs are a compromise make me sick.
The notion of "I can't let you play an Orc, so you can play Not-Quite-But-Close-Enough" is just plain mockery.

"Dude, stop putting mustard on my fries when I asked for ketchup! You and I both know they're not the same thing!!"

Star Voter 2013

Icyshadow wrote:

I meant in the context Elberion presented.

Those who think Half-Orcs are a compromise make me sick.
The notion of "I can't let you play an Orc, so you can play Not-Quite-But-Close-Enough" is just plain mockery.

"Stop putting mustard on my fries when I asked for ketchup already! You and I both know they're not the same thing!!"

What I sort of meant was, that half-orcs in my opinion don't have any kind of mythological or literary "meaning", they were just created as a "cool game idea". As opposed to elves, half-elves and orcs, who come from Tolkien as part of a literary mythology, which of course somewhat represented and reflected the centuries of mythology that predated him.


I fail to see how "I was most likely born out of rape" was seen, or ever will be seen, as something cool.

Though I doubt the guy who had the idea even thought of the disturbing implication when making them.

Then again, I can imagine the guy didn't do much thinking in general, whoever it was that got the idea in the first place.

Star Voter 2013

Actually now that I think about it, wasn't there some "swarthy southerner" at the Prancing Pony that turned out to be a half-orc..?

Not a very iconic or symbolic role though I suppose.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Next game I play in where GM let's me play an orc, I am going to play an orc bard that sings showtunes.

The Exchange

Orcz is best! Grom will become warlord and lead orcz against the puny humies! Grom will smash and conkr... conqe... take humie world! Then orcz be everywhere!


Icyshadow wrote:

I fail to see how "I was most likely born out of rape" was seen, or ever will be seen, as something cool.

Though I doubt the guy who had the idea even thought of the disturbing implication when making them.

Then again, I can imagine the guy didn't do much thinking in general, whoever it was that got the idea in the first place.

Obligatory OotS Half-Orc reference


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
I fail to see how "I was most likely born out of rape" was seen, or ever will be seen, as something cool.

It's been used for more than one post-Tolkien half-elf, in point of fact.

And if half-elves can be born of violence, what's not to say that half-orcs need to be? Assuming a broad enough aesthetic on either side, I can easily see an Orcish woman preferring the less-abusive company of a human...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
Next thing you tell me is that . . . slavery is okay . . .

My friend, slavery is okay, and even perfectly legal in the world today.

It's just been renamed for the times! We call it "student loans" now. ;)


Hmm, so I guess my orc rage mage that specialized in enchantment magic is a bit beyond the norm? Orcs can be as fun to play as any other PC capable race. Case in point, orcish priests of Gorum who lead their hordes in glorious victory through the pursuit of strategy and orc ferocity. Or, as another example, this

http://www.amazon.com/Grunts-Mary-Gentle/dp/0451454537

Or this

http://www.amazon.com/Orcs-Omnibus-GollanczF-Stan-Nicholls/dp/0575074876/re f=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349750730&sr=1-6&keywords=Orc s

And this

http://www.amazon.com/Goblin-Corps-Ari-Marmell/dp/1616143770/ref=sr_1_6?s=b ooks&ie=UTF8&qid=1349751053&sr=1-6&keywords=ari+marmell

Orcs as conquerors, orcs as an elite squad allowing a lich to win, and orcs as a merc company trying to get home.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Cole Deschain wrote:
And if half-elves can be born of violence, what's not to say that half-orcs need to be? Assuming a broad enough aesthetic on either side, I can easily see an Orcish woman preferring the less-abusive company of a human...

That's another cultural schism waiting to happen, just like Gorumites vs. Rovagugi tribes: Orc women finding or making a better way for themselves. Personally I like to think female orc warriors being equals with their male kin are more prevalent in the Gorumite tribes, though I'm not sure if they'd drop the "Crossed Soul" bit for them.

When I had to make up a whole culture for my half-orc PC to pull from, one of the things that kicked it off was one orc woman looking at the state of things for females of her race and going "to hell with this". Things snowballed from there.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CapeCodRPGer wrote:
Next game I play in where GM let's me play an orc, I am going to play an orc bard that sings showtunes.

You have a standing invitation to my table.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmnnn.

I'm a half-orc. Does that make me a "rape-baby"? Hmnn. Well, let me tell you, son. My father and mother loved each other very much.

Me, I'm a "rape-great-grandbaby." I have a lot of hope for a future family. After all my mother found one. So did her father, and her father's mother. Not saying what happened to great-great grandma was in any way right, but we've managed to find our way thanks to her bravery and unshakeable love for her child. So you'll understand why you have to pick up those teeth after calling me "rape-baby."


All orcs are raiding Lastwall currently. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Reckless wrote:

Hmnnn.

I'm a half-orc. Does that make me a "rape-baby"? Hmnn. Well, let me tell you, son. My father and mother loved each other very much.

Me, I'm a "rape-great-grandbaby." I have a lot of hope for a future family. After all my mother found one. So did her father, and her father's mother. Not saying what happened to great-great grandma was in any way right, but we've managed to find our way thanks to her bravery and unshakeable love for her child. So you'll understand why you have to pick up those teeth after calling me "rape-baby."

I like this and am forwarding it on to one of the players in our Shattered Star campaign. He's playing a half-orc urban ranger, the son of two loving half-orc parents who spent their lives in the city of Magnimar. An intro story he wrote had me smiling as I pictured a half-orc June Cleaver - you can read it hereif you're curious.

I too wish there was more out there for orcs, however as can be seen by the creativity of a few people, they are getting some love (pun intended).


A child of rape is another piece to add to your background. While rape is a horrible crime, as a roleplaying aspect it can add flavor for groups mature enough to accept and use it. Tieflings are no more less prone to being fathered (or mothered) by rape, and even aasimar can be sired by angels who fall prey to temptation, let alone the normal races. Not all half-elves are happily or unhappily fathered through acts of love or casual flings, I'm sure.

Another good example of orcs that are very, VERY different, are the sailing orken from the Guardians of the Sovereign Stone. They're all sailors who follow the Great Captain of the fleet, and see omens in all things. They wield water magic, and sell Greek fire to the brutish humans that prey upon each other in glorious idiocy. I think a lot of the issues that come with orc or half-orc characters are the same issues that some groups and DMs have with non "pretty" or "stoic" PCs. When was the last time you chose a race based on its background, not the stat or inherent powers? Besides, playing humans and elves are boring. Or half-elves for that matter. Witness the glory of orc skalds leading a charge against the evils of the Abyss, or a djinn conjuring a whirlwind to snuff out the fires of a efreet bent on conquering the desert, or a mongrelman hiding in the bowels of the lich's lair, striking him down with the stealth mastered over 10,000 lifetimes of his ancestors hiding from the pretty races. Far more inspiring then I have pointy ears and can shoot a bow, or I'm a quick learner chosen to be a hero with sharp hair and outrageous last names.


stormcrow27 wrote:
A child of rape is another piece to add to your background. While rape is a horrible crime, as a roleplaying aspect it can add flavor for groups mature enough to accept and use it. Tieflings are no more less prone to being fathered (or mothered) by rape, and even aasimar can be sired by angels who fall prey to temptation, let alone the normal races. Not all half-elves are happily or unhappily fathered through acts of love or casual flings, I'm sure.

Bear in mind that it's not exclusively a maturity issue. Some people have lots of mental scars over their own experiences with rape, and bringing them up on the table would be harmful for such a person. They sure as hell wouldn't just up and tell you about it (unless you are the single most trustworthy person in the world), either.

I agree with the rest of your post, though. When I play D&D, I make a character for a story, not for a video game. I want both a story and the stats because of that.


Stepping away from the half-orc issue and back to orcs:

I think the most distinctive thing about Orcs in Golarion is their history. Unlike the other humanoids, they were pushed up from the Darklands by the dwarves Quest for Sky and they even ruled much of the surface. Now they're just a sad remnant of what they once were. As in many ways are the dwarves.

There's got to be a way to tie an interesting AP into that history. Maybe as part of a Dwarven/megadungeon/Darklands AP? Are there still pockets of Orcs down there? How have they changed? Or how have the surface ones changed? Why did the dwarves start the Quest for Sky in the first place? Do they even know anymore?

Liberty's Edge

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thejeff wrote:
Are there still pockets of Orcs down there?

There's an idea that I really liked, that I saw on the boards many months ago.

What if the orcs are not an innately evil race? What if the dwarves, in their mad crusade to reach the surface, drove them from their lands in an act of prideful genocide? What if the displacement of the Darkland orc tribes devastated their shamanistic civilization, and gave rise to cults of the Destroyer? What if they're a civilization in decline, forced into barbarism and never given a chance to regain their former standing due to the influence of the constantly expanding and highly territorial humans?

There's some meat to this idea. Even in a highly-stylized setting like Pathfinder, there's no mortal race that is "born" evil. The earlier revised books show this for goblins (raised in cages), hobgoblins (raised in a militaristic society), and bugbears (ok, they're pretty evil, but they get a physiological high out of other's fear - they're fear junkies).


brreitz wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Are there still pockets of Orcs down there?

There's an idea that I really liked, that I saw on the boards many months ago.

What if the orcs are not an innately evil race? What if the dwarves, in their mad crusade to reach the surface, drove them from their lands in an act of prideful genocide? What if the displacement of the Darkland orc tribes devastated their shamanistic civilization, and gave rise to cults of the Destroyer? What if they're a civilization in decline, forced into barbarism and never given a chance to regain their former standing due to the influence of the constantly expanding and highly territorial humans?

Yeah, I suspect in Golarion the only version of that history anyone knows is the Dwarves version and even that is probably little more than legend at this point. The orcs are too disorganized and have been devastated too many times to keep anything but oral tradition and that's easily vulnerable to manipulation by the cults.

Maybe there are pockets of the original more peaceful shamistic orcs hidden in the Darklands who can be brought up to begin healing their lost cousins.

Liberty's Edge

thejeff wrote:
Maybe there are pockets of the original more peaceful shamistic orcs hidden in the Darklands who can be brought up to begin healing their lost cousins.

Could be why the orcs organize and attack the dwarven Sky Citadels. If there are pockets of true orc civilization down there, they Sky Citadels' Darkland entrances might be the only way back. Of course, surface orc civilization being what it is, they may wish to exterminate their Darkland cousins as soon as they realize how different they are.


I forgot about that idea. I wonder who presented it in the first place.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

http://paizo.com/forums/dmtz55b7?Fear-Fist-and-Flame#1

My merc company dominated by half-orcs, but having an extended family of humans and orcs. Basically, there's three bloodliines...the half orcs with an Orc bloodline...half-orcs with 'human' bloodline (arcane), and half-orcs with the Demon bloodline. Bloodline skews appearence to half-orc, human adn orc respectively.

And yes, they take outside mates, and no, they didn't start via rape.

==Aelryinth

Shadow Lodge

I thought the orcs were just a legend, mythical beasts told by parents to PCs that had green skin and racial bonuses to intimidation?

Silver Crusade

A friend of mine from Friday group is running one of his groups through an Orc-heavy campaign. I'm not 100% on the details, but has "nailed it" as far as I'm concerned with his description of the culture.

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