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Old 08-06-2018, 10:31 AM   #1
Halgar
 
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Default Orcs as player characters

The description of Orcs in In the Labyrinth says that they "get along well with men," but it describes them as surly, vicious, lying, sneaky, and rotten, which is not something that people would get along well with. It says that "an orc character (if he's a normal one) would get experience points for obnoxious words and deeds, and lose for noble actions." I hope that the new version of In the Labyrinth will describe Orcs as a race that's fun to play as a character and fun for the other players in the party if someone is playing one.
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:05 AM   #2
Chris Rice
 
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Default Re: Orcs as player characters

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Originally Posted by Halgar View Post
The description of Orcs in In the Labyrinth says that they "get along well with men," but it describes them as surly, vicious, lying, sneaky, and rotten, which is not something that people would get along well with. It says that "an orc character (if he's a normal one) would get experience points for obnoxious words and deeds, and lose for noble actions." I hope that the new version of In the Labyrinth will describe Orcs as a race that's fun to play as a character and fun for the other players in the party if someone is playing one.
That already sounds like fun! Actually it describes a fair subset of men so I see how they could get along with one another. I've played an Orc and had players who ran them and can say it's fun to play a surly, vicious, treacherous character. Sometimes people are reluctant to play humans like that, but playing an Orc, it's almost required and somewhat freeing. I would say it's usually a recipe for a short career though.
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:29 AM   #3
Jim Kane
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Default Re: Orcs as player characters

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Originally Posted by Chris Rice View Post
That already sounds like fun! Actually it describes a fair subset of men so I see how they could get along with one another. I've played an Orc and had players who ran them and can say it's fun to play a surly, vicious, treacherous character. Sometimes people are reluctant to play humans like that, but playing an Orc, it's almost required and somewhat freeing. I would say it's usually a recipe for a short career though.
Hear, hear! Well said. And let us not forget the beautifully succinct description of an Orc found in 1st Edition Melee, page 19, under: Nonhuman Figures: "An ORC is just like a human figure - except evil."

I played an Orc after my cousin beat me in about our first 6 combats in a row on the first day he introduced me to Melee. I was so irritated, and wanted to destroy his figures so badly, so declared I was going to try an Orc against him, to which he responded: "But they're Evil..", and to which I responded: "Yeeeaaaaah!"

JK

Last edited by Jim Kane; 08-06-2018 at 11:30 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-06-2018, 12:01 PM   #4
JLV
 
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Default Re: Orcs as player characters

You know, one of the things that greatly appealed to me about TFT back in the day is that it not only allowed, but positively encouraged you to play something besides a Human, Elf, Dwarf, or Halfling! You could be an Orc, Goblin, Gargoyle, Gnome, LOTS of different things. Heck, you could even be a Dragon (at one extreme) or a Prootwaddle (at the other).

The only game really on the market at that time that encouraged such characters was Monsters, Monsters (and maybe T&T; I've never owned or played that one, so I can't say), so TFT was quite unusual in that regard. D&D really wasn't set up for it, though they tried to do something with the idea eventually. And it was FUN to play those kinds of characters from time to time. And yes, often their career was relatively short, but one time a group of us decided to play an Orc mercenary band who got hired to go and do various things, and while the campaign didn't last long (our GM went away) it was really amazingly fun.
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:52 PM   #5
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"Surly, vicious, lying, sneaky, and rotten" is probably the prevailing opinion about orcs among the majority of the humans on Cidri. But then the majority of humans on Cidri have probably not known an orc well, if at all. What orcs think about humans is likely to put humanity all in a basket of similarity and distrust as well. When you define someone as "other", you immediately make it difficult to avoid such categorizations.

(There are areas of Cidri with just about any population mix you could imagine, including some where humans are semi-mythical beings, unknown to the locals for generations. There are parts of the world where orcs are unknown, too. It's a big place.)

But even where orcs are known, the tendency is for people of all types to mostly settle among their own kind. There are probably places on Cidri -- many in fact -- where orcs, humans, elves, reptile men, dwarves, etc. live in harmony and cooperation together and there is little difference in the lifestyles of any of them. (Unlike Earth, where there are almost NO such places where everyone gets along and accepts each other, alas...)

In general, though, the likelihood is that if you are human, most of the people you know are human, orcs mostly interact with orcs, etc. Adventurers are not the average members of society, however, and an adventurer is more likely to have had interaction with many different people and their varying beliefs, societies, etc. Not always, of course. There are narrow-minded, insulated individuals and families who have managed to make a lot of noise with spells and swords without having much truck with those of different species. In most places, though, they'd have to work at it.

It is the nature of most humanoids to create arbitrary walls of difference between their tribe and others. Even races as old as the dwarves and elves haven't managed to overcome this entirely.

So if orcs are seen as sneaky and vicious, elves as haughty and annoyingly snobbish, dwarves as crude and easy to anger, etc. -- well, any such categorization of a large group is likely to be colored by prejudice at the very least and just flat out wrong as applied to individuals.

This sort of description is going to be common within the game world, but if a GM decides that "all _____ are _____", yeah, that's a real fantasy. The only thing you can be sure of about people who have different looks, views, and cultures and experiences is that they probably are not going to see everything the same way you do, and that you are probably going to have to make an effort if you want to understand their thoughts and actions.

Unlike our own world, the GM can directly shape the behaviors of everyone but the player characters. Even so, I have always preferred to play in worlds where you don't assume you know how someone feels or thinks just by looking at them.

Come to think of it, I prefer to LIVE in a world like that, too.
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Old 08-06-2018, 04:15 PM   #6
Jim Kane
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Default Re: Orcs as player characters

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Originally Posted by guymc View Post
...Adventurers are not the average members of society, however, and an adventurer is more likely to have had interaction with many different people and their varying beliefs, societies, etc. Not always, of course...
I see this as the difference between a Sailor of the 1920s who has sailed across the equator, experienced the wonders of the "mysterious orient", visited with the aboriginal people in the jungles of "deepest, darkest Africa", and has seen the weird and wonderful animals of the island continent of Australia; and those who never left the Kansas farm of their kindly aunt and uncle.

So true, "Adventures are not the average members of society."

JK

Last edited by Jim Kane; 08-06-2018 at 05:43 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-06-2018, 05:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: Orcs as player characters

The cover art of ITL and the internal art of all the books really shaped my views of Orcs. The concept of "Orcs are closely related to men; their prehistoric ancestor Orcanthropus, dominated many alternate worlds during Neanderthal days."

Wow, what a very different view from the other RPGs of the time with pig-faced orcs. I also like that Orcs weren't Monster-Types (as in the other games) and that you could make friends with them OR be one.

When I would play D&D and other RPGs, I had the image of TFT Orcs in the back of my mind.

So, since Orcs are so closely related to Man, it would seem that an offspring might be fertile and produce ... Human Half-Orcs?

But I gather that is not a direction that SJ wants to go. So House Rules it is!
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Old 08-06-2018, 06:07 PM   #8
Halgar
 
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Default Re: Orcs as player characters

There are rules for Halfbreeds in In the Labyrinth. Under the old rules set, you could play one.

It says that Orcanthropus is known on Earth as Piltdown Man. Piltdown Man was a hominid fossil that turned out to be a fake. If Orcs are a real race in the game, that implies that Piltodown man was a real fossil. The story I thought of is that Piltdown Man was a real fossil, but agents of the Mnoren took it and replaced it with a fake, because they don't want the people of our Earth to know about Orcs for some reason.

Last edited by Halgar; 08-06-2018 at 06:11 PM. Reason: I wanted to add a second paragraph.
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Old 08-06-2018, 06:29 PM   #9
Jim Kane
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Default Re: Orcs as player characters

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Originally Posted by JohnPaulB View Post
So, since Orcs are so closely related to Man, it would seem that an offspring might be fertile and produce ... Human Half-Orcs?

But I gather that is not a direction that SJ wants to go. So House Rules it is!
I am sorry I cannot provide the citation off the top of my head, but I think we did go there 38 years ago in TFT:ITL or maybe a TSG article, or...

Anyway, yes, we did use the Half-Orc. As we played it - and I cannot recall where we got all this from - but mostly this was an NPC hireling, normally found in one of the more cosmopolitan and trade-heavy cities of Cidri (think Star Wars Cantina scene here) where nearly every race, and half-race is present and interacting; as opposed to more isolated dominant-race cities in areas further away from the epicenter of bulk trade and commerce. Of course the further out you go, the less and less you see of certain races, and more and more of one race, until you end up deep in _____ country.

The Half-Orc was a wonderful NPC hireling and while shunned by both *real* Orcs and their society, as well as most humans who lived by the motto: "the only good Orc is a dead Orc", as he could interact with both, speak both languages, and knew the customs of both cultures.

Also, in a pinch, depending on his specific continence and coloring, the half-Orc could often pass for an enemy Orc guard, especially with a captured uniform on, or in the torchlight of the underground - many fun plot-lines here!

Often the half-Orc was a real bonus for an Adventure Party.

As a PC, the Half-Orc was played within the group dynamic almost the same as a Mr Spock character from Star Trek (though without the logic and mysticism background) within the Adventure Party - part of the group, but somehow always separate - in this case due to the generally surly attitude and more aggressive nature (but then again, Mr Spock was often viewed as stand-offish and ill-mannered due to his excessive stoicism). Perhaps the better example would be the half-Klingon on the later Star Trek. Yes, Klingons... Orcs with warp-drive technology.

Anyway, yes! Half-Orcs are very cool to use and play indeed.

JK

Last edited by Jim Kane; 08-06-2018 at 09:08 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:45 PM   #10
JLV
 
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Default Re: Orcs as player characters

ITL, p. 52 "HALF BREEDS."

(It will probably be renamed, in today's culture.)
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