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Everything posted by Sarog

  1. If you accept that there are no gods, you must necessarily accept that gods are not the source of morality. If morality is thus independent of gods, there is no reason to believe that you need gods to prevent the world from sliding into chaos and immorality.
  2. I think you are confused about the point, as you're not making much of one. Might I ask you to rephrase? (edit for clarity) In reality, the people who think that faith in a deity is necessary for people to live morally are not the same people who believe that no deities ever really existed. The two schools of thought are very much at odds with each other, which is why Engwithans don't make sense, because they believed both things simultaneously.
  3. Some thoughts in reply, and to clarify my criticism. - Whether the conclusions reached by the Engwithans are actually true or just something of which they've convinced themselves is irrelevant, since their "truth" is the only truth that the narrative presents. The ending does not allow one to really challenge any of Iovara's claims and assumptions, and Thaos gleefully twirls his mustache and vindicates her. After the big reveal, the narrative seems to assume that it has convinced you, and you passively become the champion of its message. - The Engwithans must have had hard certainty in their conclusions in order to abandon whatever belief systems they had previously held and to dedicate themselves towards the establishment and propagation of their manufactured gods. But there is no credible way for the Engwithans to have reached such certainty. Whatever the means by which they observed the universe, observation of the universe cannot disprove god(s) to people who believe in them, because god(s) can always be put outside the univese, outside mortal perception, etc. - The Engwithan progression of logic from 1) looking for gods, to 2) accepting that there are no gods and probably have never been gods (thus the implied realization that gods are not necessary), to 3) believing absolutely that gods are necessary and thus being willing to make fake ones, is absurd. It isn't how the religious mind works; the kind of civilization which would accept that gods are so necessary is not the kind of civilization that would, upon learning that the sun is not in fact drawn across the sky by Apollo's chariot, decide to accept that there had never been gods in the first place. It isn't how the irreligious mind works; the kind of civilization that would believe that it had proved that there had never been gods is not the kind of civilization that believes gods are necessary for people to behave morally. - The Engwithans therefore don't feel like a real, credible civilization. They feel like a plot device. Whether they are supposed to be religious fanatics, or scientific free-thinkers, or a hybrid of both, they reacted to their discovery by scooting by every sensible philosophical conclusion in order to arrive at a bizarro non-solution for everyone. Do not pass go, do not collect two-hundred dollars. Everything about the Engwithans, technologically or culturally, seems to be led by the nose to this subject. They inexplicably have the technological/reasoning powers to disprove god(s) while at the same time being so weak-minded and philosophically unsophisticated as to believe that the threat of divine lightning bolts is the only thing keeping society from falling apart. - Things only start making actual sense when I accept that I'm dealing with allegorical message-fiction. The Engwithans don't hold up to scrutiny because their purpose is not to be authentic or internally consistent, nor to get me to invest my interest in the franchise. Their purpose is to unambiguously settle the question of the validity of religion in this setting, and thus to support all the edgy edgy subtext that underlines Thaos' villany. At which point yes, the subtext is clear and consistent and makes sense in a way that the setting at-face-value does not... but it just isn't particularly compelling.
  4. I see my comment about proving a negative got people talking. I could have been more clear about my meaning, but I stand by it. I'll explain and relate it back to my criticism of the writing so as to stay on point. Firstly, when people talk about not being able to prove a negative, we are not saying "something is true because there is no proof that it is false", we are saying "there is no proof that something is false, therefore it is not necessarily false". That is an important distinction. Someone mentioned "you can prove there is no milk in my glass". Yes, you can do that. But that's not really "proving a negative" in the way that people mean it in contexts like this. If you want to rigorously prove that there is no milk in your glass, you use positive proof. Milk is a measurable substance which we can observe, with known properties (or properties that can be known through observation even if you've never encountered milk before). Therefore you prove that there is no milk in your glass by proving that your glass is full of other measurable substances (air, water, whatever) with their own known properties. You demonstrate that the possibility of the glass containing milk is not compatible with the measurable contents of the glass, therefore the glass contains no milk. You arrive at a negative conclusion via positive proof, and this is enabled by the fact that you are dealing with substances which can be observed and measured, and which have known properties. It becomes a different matter when you're talking about disproving god(s), because you are dealing with things which cannot be observed, cannot be measured, and do not have known (material) properties. So disproving a god is not as simple as using positive proof which can overrule a positive assertion. Here you have to absolutely, explicitly prove a negative; prove that something does not exist without being able to observe it, and do so in a vacuum. That's what I meant by "logical impossibility". This can't be done. That's why the burden of proof is a thing - some claims just can't be disproven, but that doesn't mean they should be accepted. Now I have a few issues with the Engwithans proving that there are no gods before deciding to create some. For one thing, it seems an incongruous thing to arise from their level of technological sophistication. This is a civilization that was less technologically developed than the Dyrwood in all ways except animancy (which is an odd catchall science-of-supersitition), so their quest to scientifically prove/disprove the gods feels forced and out of place to me (like Aztecs debating whether or not there is anything smaller than an atom, or Hitites developing evolution theory). The fact that Obsidian created a dead civilization which just so happens to have been inexplicably advanced in the one area that permits them to solve and discredit religion is inelegant writing. The needs of allegory lead this world by the nose. Moving on from their technological inconsistency, the culture and values of the Engwithans are also problematic. This is a civilization that clearly placed a great value on gods and organised religion. Therefore they must have already had established religion(s) before their great discovery. They must have had very dearly-held religious commitments in order to be so convinced that a world without gods would be so awful. So this god-loving civilization somehow disproves the very gods which made them value religion so highly (I don't know if they built a really tall tower and failed to find heaven in the clouds, or sent a drone to the top of Mount Olympus and couldn't find a man chucking lightning bolts, or whatever) and then proceeds to accept that its beliefs were based on falsehoods.... before deciding to start a new religious tradition based on other falsehoods. Part of why no one has ever been able to point to a new scientific discovery and discredit the concept of deity once and far all is because the concept of deity is flexible. People can and will move the goalposts. If something is deeply important to you (as religion must have been to the Engwithans), you can do all sorts of mental gymnastics in order to preserve your faith in it. On failing to find any positive evidence to support their gods or anyone's else's gods, a religion-loving society like the engwithans could have processed this in several ways. They could have responded to the revelation that "the wheel" doesn't need gods to operate by developing a divine watchmaker theory. They could have placed their gods outside the universe, excusing their inability to locate and observe them. They could have started deifying "the wheel" itself, or gone in a gnostic direction of demonizing the wheel and reincarnation as things that come between them and their increasingly-abstract gods. In any scenario there would be a lot of division and disagreement, and the mere inability to find a god hiding behind the dark side of the moon would not have settled the manner. But instead we're asked to believe that the Engwithans, having dug a really deep hole and not finding Hades, accepted that were really no gods. That's a remarkable concession from a civilization that places so much value on religion. But because they can't handle the truth (despite being wholeheartedly willing to accept it, apparently, because otherwise their goalposts for the gods would have moved) and can't bear the thought of a world without deities (despite having made it their national obsession to somehow disprove them) they decide they're going to start a new world order based on lies. None of this is organic. This is not a natural progression of ideas and values. It is just a shoddy construct built to relieve the whole question of any ambiguity. Engwithan culture and their role in the world, like their inexplicable technological eccentricites, has been dictated by the needs of the brute-force allegory that has us ride the plot-rails on the religious atrocity roller-coaster all the way to the end where we beat the stuffing out of Thaos the Straw-Pope.
  5. Atheists generally believe that all religions are man-made and manufactured in a very obvious fashion. The allegory here is not subtle. The religious establishment that Thaos represents is 1) a system of lies created for the purpose of control and domination, 2) relies on the premise that people are too weak-minded to bear the truth, 3) obscurantist to the extreme and hostile to "science", 4) entirely willing to commit atrocities in order to preserve the status quo, and 5) not only unnessecary for the world's peace and prosperity, but an active impediment thereto. These are the same arguments and criticisms pitted against real world religion by atheist polemists. Add the fact that Thaos' organisation has many similarities to the Spanish Inquisition, and that Thaos himself is the ultimate religious boogeyman, and the ending feels like a preachy progressive morality play wherein an atheist protagonist is beating the stuffing out of a strawman that wears a papal mitre. It is within Obsidian's creative freedom to make whatever points it wants, but personally I found the ending's heavy-handed allegory to be a swing and a miss. Despite the early association of Thaos with Woedica, it wasn't clear throughout most of the game that the narrative was building to a smash-the-church climax. Iovara is too under-defined and introduced too late in the narrative for me to care about her person or her valiant undying stand against the establishment, and it doesn't help that much of her dialogue feels like it jumped straight out of an argumentative youtube comment (the "my reality is true whether you believe it or not" or somesuch line caused an involuntary eye-roll). The big revelation was a surprising twist, sure, in that I certainly didn't predict it, but it wasn't an effective one. The motivation behind the engwithan manufacture of their counterfeit gods falls flat for me; a civilization that was (with the exception of its skill at animancy) less advanced than modern Eoran civilization proved the nonexistance of god(s) with such certainty that it altered the course of their civilization and the world... so we're dealing with a civilization that learned how to prove a negative (a logical impossibility) before it mastered metallargy, or chemistry, or invented the printing press. Not particularly convincing. But, okay, I can put up with dodgy logic. The larger issue for me here is that this twist about the truth of this setting was delivered in the very same game that first introduced us to it. I've only just started learning about these gods, I'm not yet remotely invested in them, and therefore I'm not emotionally affected when they are discredited by a sudden revelation that comes with all the theatrical power of sitting on a half-inflated whoopie-cushion. If Obsidian had made Baldur's Gate 3 and written an ending which revelaed Ao the Overfather as some super computer responsible for generating the multiverse, or as the eventual apotheosis of a time-travelling Tiax or something, I might have been impacted. As it is, exposing these gods as fake really meant nothing to me in the context of the narrative. It only becomes meaningful if I consider that Obsidian is not just imparting information about the gods of their new setting, but rather is making a statement about religion in general. Which again is their point to make if they want. I just find it dissapointing to get to the end of the road and find nothing waiting for me but one-sided allegory.
  6. Same issue. Hirelings all become listed as unpaid whenever I launch the game and load a savegame.
  7. After preloading the game on Steam and waiting for it to unlock, Steam attempted to download an update and promptly got stuck on 99%. I restarted my pc, turned off my firewall, and launched steam again... this time for it to get stuck on 100%. Again, I tried rebooting. This time, after downloading a small amount of patch data and trying to finalize the installation, Steam promptly forget what it was doing, and Pillars of Eternity was greyed out as if uninstalled. All my game data from the preload was lost. I'm not going to make another attempt at redownloading/reinstalling everything for a while, but I figured I'd mention the issue.
  8. We need to more dwarf and aumaua options. But I'm satisfied with Mr. Heroic-Chin-Holding-Man for my starting human paladin,
  9. There is an idea. I've just finished describing the paramaters of this idea to you. There is a general idea of what an orc is *physically*. A D&D orc and an Elder Scrolls orc and a Warcraft orc and a Might & Magic orc all have physical differences, but they fall within that general idea of an orc. Whereas an aumaua or a qunari do not. There are paramaters. Those parameters just happen to be wider than Tolkien. Your argument in this post is a fallacy of the excluded middle. You only see the familiar cliche and the unfamiliar innovation. But something can be familiar and innovative at the same time. PoE is already doing this with elves and dwarves and you accept this as positive. I'm forced to once again conclude that you are arguing according to arbitrary double standards. Eora is not an "original or die" setting. Eora is not a "cliche" setting. It is a middle road that blends the familiar with the novel. I've been arguing in favour of an orc that is *neither* a cliche *nor* a "full revamp without any familiarity". I've argued a blend of innovation and familiarity. That you replied to me like this suggests that you are just skimming my posts without considering them, or that there is otherwise a very serious defficiency in our ability to communicate. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but if you continue to just reword your objections without properly engaging with my answers to them, I'm not going to keep repeating myself in turn. I feel like I'm arguing with a talking head on my TV screen, and that's not worthwhile conversation to have. This reply completely misses the point to which it is responding.
  10. They did put their version of orcs in, they're called the Aaumua. Why should they be discounted just because the word "orc" isn't used? Aumaua aren't orcs any more than orlans are dwarves. Size is not the beginning and end of the subject. Obsidian's inclusion of elves and dwarves was an appeal to that which is familiar from the D&D world of the Infinity Engine games. Aumaua are not. They come with no such aesthetic familiarty. That's not criticism of the aumaua. I'm not "discounting" them because they are not orcs. I do however reject the notion that there is no room for orcs to exist alongside aumaua. There is such room, just as there is room for dwarves to exist alongside orlans.
  11. Probably true. We've danced back and forth on the point and I'm sorry to say that you aren't articulating it well. I feel like I've out-argued the point and you're just going on full-steam ahead. I said; You replied. So you have no problem with this particular example. So I must ask again, "why is it a problem if the exact same thing is done with a new race?" At this point it is like you are objecting for the sake of objecting. I've said again and again that a new race needn't be monocultural. I've suggested again and again that Obsidian would obviously treat any new races like they have treated existing races. But you keep arguing against something I'm not advocating. I don't want to strawman you, but what I feel that you are communicating to me is that if members of a new race have not been present in every civilization since the dawn of time, you will contrive a reason to object to that race existing. So what? The fact that orcs have previously been poorly written throwaway villains does not mean Obsidian would write them like that. It actually creates an opportunity to write them well, which has largely not been done. Because something has not interested you in the past, nothing that can be done with it can be worth doing in the future? Thing is... I haven't been arguing for any specific version of orcs. I haven't been arguing for "my vision" of orcs. I have been arguing generally that "some" vision of orcs can certainly be new and interesting and well written. I've also been arguing that Obsidian's version of orcs - if they chose to include them - wouldn't automatically be worthless just because the word "orc" would be used. As Lephys says, and as I have said before in the thread, you need a bare minimum in common with the popular image of orcs in high fantasy for something to count as an orc. Something like Malakith's example of frail scholar orcs would alienate people with an inclination towards orcs in the same way that a hunchbacked giant who lives in a cave and eats children being called an "elf" would alienate elf players. But the genre-standard for orcs is *not* Tolkien. There is a basic aesthetic commonality between orcs in most franchises. If you take an orc from each setting of Dungeons and Dragons that has them, a Warhammer orc, a Warcraft orc, and an Elder Scrolls Orc, you will find a great deal of visual differences between them. Some are porcine, some are simian, some are primitive, some are martial. Between all of them there is a general commonality - in that they tend to be green, muscular, and have tusks - that is nowhere to be seen in Tolkien. Because PoE is a direct successor to Infinity Engine D&D rather than Tolkien, any physical conception of orcs that is vaguely similar to these other ones that define the modern genre default is an acceptable approach. You can change the skin colour, cut the tusks, but ultimately they all have this hulking physique underneath and that is the only essential component. If you want to know my ideal preference for orcs... it would be something green and/or reddish and/or yellowish, with a neanderthall-like physique and being more simian than porcine. My ideal preference for orcs in a D&D overhaul setting like Eora would be to roll the aesthetic qualities of D&D 3.5 hobgoblins and bugbears into the concept, and achieve something that is an aesthetic middle-ground of the three. But honestly I can take anything that is recognisably an orc, and which comes with a well-written concept Let me add how weird it is for me to go from arguing against the "Tolkien influence = creative death!" camp to your "Tolkien or bust!" stance in the same thread. I think it is clear that Obsidian has gone a middle road; owning their D&D inheritence but breathing fresh life into it. I don't think that pushing against that in rejection of Tolkien, or pushing against D&D influences for the sake of prefering Tolkien's originals, is harmonious with the creative core of the setting.
  12. Still don't see the problem. So we've established that countries are racially diverse because of population movements. Therefore there must have been a history of population movements, and before that history happened countries must necessarily have been less diverse. Eora's countries are diverse, but that doesn't mean that one race/subrace isn't dominant from country to country. We know that in Rauatai the aumaua are culturally dominant. Does that ruin your conception of the setting? If not, why is there a problem with the exact same thing being done with any potential new races? I get that you like the idea of a cosmopolitan world. I don't get the insistance that the world must always have been cosmopolitan, right back to its earliest pre-history. Your use of the word "archetype" here is problematic, because that word can mean different things in different contexts. I assume based on how you have used the word, you mean it in the general sense of "character archetype". Archetypes are a good way to come to grips with characters. Not a good way to build races, cultures, or civilizations. Any culture that is based largely on a single archetype is shallow and therefore bad. This is equally true whether you're talking about an entire civilization of "victory or death!" macho-warrior-race guys or an entire race of wise, sagely mages and scholars. Two-dimensional societies are bad as a rule. I like the general aesthetic (not archetype) of the different incarnations of post-Tolkien orcs. As I've said, even though we keep coming back to orcs, elves, and dwarves being "Tolkien", the truth is that PoE is a direct successor to the D&D settings of the Infinity Engine games, and Middle-Earth is only its great grandparent. So I treat the D&D version of a race as genre default for the purposes of juxtaposing new directions to take. When I think of an "orc", I think of a heavier, neanderthal-like people with green or reddish skin and possibly tusks. The same way when you think of "elf" you probably think of a lithe humanoid with pointed ears rather than a hulking brute with a hump who lives in a cave. But aside from these basic commonalities from world to world, all the other particulars of culture and language and history can be changed. The result is something that is both familiar but also novel. Obsidian has already done this with elves and dwarves. You cannot say it is intrinsicly bad to do the same thing with another D&D race without saying it was intrinsicly bad to do it for elves and dwarves. I think Warhammer orcs are terrible, by the way. This is a strongly held opinion. Warcraft orcs are better, but not great. Blizzard has good ideas from time to time, but those ideas are let down by the fact that Blizzard's writing is just so bad that you end up with just a new orc who is just as two-dimensional as the old orc. What I would like to see is the familiar orc aesthetic to be brought into Eora in a new, well-written, three-dimensional way. My vision of this is no more or less than what Obsidian has already done with elves and dwarves. (And while I would like this, it isn't a HUGE deal for me not to get it. I know it is unlikely. But the topic is here and I'm exploring it, plus I think I've made a good case for it.) By this logic, do you disagree with Obsidian calling boreal dwarves "dwarves"? If you don't, you are exercising a double-standard.
  13. Nothing in what I've said "closes" races off from one another. No idea how you'd get that from "racing being intermingled now". Deliberate misreading? Where do you imagine that races and ethnicities came from? Did elves in Country A spring fully formed out of the ground, completely independent from the elves in Country B who did the same, without the two having any shared history? I don't think Eora works the way you think it does. When I see Josh speak in interviews, I keep getting that the setting is built around a sense of history - that the world is cosmopolitan because civilizations have had time to interact and populations have been able to travel between them. The racially intermingled nature of the setting exists because people have moved around a lot during its history, not because conveniently-diverse populations came into being from country to country at the dawn of time and remained static. I'm not even trying to argue with you at this point, just understand your objections. I don't think you're articulating your point well, because I just see you taking a confusing stand on something that isn't even an issue. It isn't like Obsidian choosing to add orcs would somehow prevent them from doing the same thing with orcs that they've done with every other race and subraces. You're imposing aritificial restrictions on the limits of creativity. I discussesd this with Malekith. The subject of why there is value in using orcs rather than a brand new race. You're free to read what I've said. I've already put a lot of words into this thread, so you'll understand if I don't repeat myself unnecessarily.
  14. I don't get your fixation on this point. Are you suggesting that it isn't good enough for races to be intermingled now, but that they must always have been intermingled? All I'm saying is that you need a point of origin. That (sub)races were presumably divided into their own civilizations, but then interacted and intermingled to the point that it is no longer true. That seems to be the case with Eora already. Are you insisting that Aedyr thyrtans and Vailian thyrtans sprang fully formed from the earth completely independently of one another, without any common history? Unless that is your argument, there is no issue here. Read the thread more closely. Alternatives have been suggested. Besides, this is obviously just a subjective issue on your part. "Appaling" is a very strong word to use to describe such such vague, general cultural attributes as "praising physical prowess". If something like that were to be completely excluded from a world because you do not appreciate it, the result is a much less authentic and interesting world, because you've just disqualified something that is ubiquitous throughout many civilizations and most of human history. All you are doing is describing why you as an individual would not play an orc even if it were novel and well-written. You're not making any case at all for why orcs such as we've suggested would be bad for the setting or creatively unworthy. Which is fine, we all have our subjective preferences. We just can't expect those preferences to be treated like objective truth.
  15. You keep coming back to this "race shouldn't be culture" thing, but it is a non-issue. The reason why race/ethnicity and culture are distinct in this setting is because it is fairly cosmopolitan. Civilization did not start as racially diverse, but grew to be diverse because of population movements. When dealing with any prospective race, unless you want them to magically spring out of the ground without a point of origin, you need to define a civilization from which they originate. Conceptually once you have run through this and established a "racial civilization" as a starting point, only then can you move to figure out how movements into and out of other countries would make sense. If it looks like we're equating orc race with orc culture, it is only because it is necessary to do so in the initial stages of conceptualization. Honestly though telling us that any ideas regarding orcs are automatically "appaling" and not telling us why isn't terribly good conversation. Preferences are subjective, and if your answer to something is always "no" because of ironclad aesthetic preferences rather than any tangible point with which we can engage, then you can't fault the subject or our suggestions for not being able to change your mind.
  16. I don't really see anything here that I haven't already dealt with in all my posts thus far. At this point I'm going to avoid writing another long post that would just rehash things I've already said multiple times. Are you actually willing to engage with the topic and consider our point of view? Because I feel that I've made a very good case here that is being largely ignored and dismissed with a simplistic "but Tolkien!" argument that would have me play-whack-a-mole.
  17. And if orcs were written to Obsidian's standards, they would also fit in and not make the setting seem Tolkieny. My point about elves and dwarves sticking out isn't to say that I expect Obsidian's writing of them to be a let down - quite the opposite, as I normally hate dwarves but am excited to see what Obsidian do with them. It is just that we know as players that they are the two isolated survivors of a D&D legacy that has otherwise been rejected. Giving them one more reimagined D&D race as company would, I think, be more balanced and not Tolkien overkill. Which is on top of the fact that I'd eventually like one more large race in the setting, new or old. But yeah I can certainly understand the desire to take a stand against more Tolkien influences, even if some are already present. I think that it is something you are projecting onto Eora rather than something that belongs to it, but I can hardly deny my own biases either. I think a big part of why this project was so successful and is so hyped is because so many of us are fed up with the state of RPGs, and all come to the table projecting our own ideals onto it so that it might be a saviour of the genre. That leaves a lot of room for incompatible subjective preferences and expectations. I'm happy to cordially agree to disagree. You can't blame me for exploring the subject, yeah? I hope my offerings have at least being entertaining to consider.
  18. I think orcs can fit quite comfortably in that middle ground. As for representation, true I don't think gnomes are warranted. My preferred concept of gnomes is very close to what orlans are, whereas I don't think aumaua are so near to orcs as to preclude them. We have humans, who are the default and will be in every high fantasy game anyway. We then have two medium-sized races. One old (elf), one new (godlike). I'd argue that godlike are significantly differentiated from tieflings and genasi to be counted as such. We have two diminutive races. One old, with a very new spin (dwarves), one new (orlans). We have one large race (aumaua). I think Eora needs precisely one more race from familiar fantasy to balance out the familiar and the new. Regardless of whether that race is orcs or not. I'd prefer orcs to goblins, or halflings, or draconians/whatever. But if not orcs, then something else. I reckon that this balance is important. If all future inclusions are entirely new, elves and dwarves will forever stick out as something that doesn't belong; the most popular, common fantasy races shoehorned into the setting as a concession to what Infinity Engine game fans were expecting of a successor to BG2. That might be exactly what they are, but letting them remain so is not, I think, good for the setting. If we're taking on the baggage of what is familiar to D&D (and though we keep coming back to Tolkien, it is really D&D's shadow that is more relevant, as Tolkien orcs are very dissimilar to orcs in mainstream modern fantasy) my thinking is that this role of repurposing tired fantasy should be embraced (even if we wouldn't have picked it as our first choice when the project started). Orcs seem like the best candidate; they are more niche than dwarves and elves, and less thoroughly tapped. Their presence would make elves and dwarves seem less out of place, less of an obligatory concession. And I certainly don't see orcs - certainly not the kind of orcs Obsidian might write, or what I have imagined in my concept - making aumaua and orlan "seem out of place in a world straight from Lord of the Rings." Eora isn't straight from Lord of the Rings anyway, and the kind of orcs I'm advocating would make it less so, not more so. You could go that way. Or if you wanted to avoid slavery, you could play up the Zoroastrian connection. Zoroastrianism prohibited slavery, so there weren't typically slaves in the Persian Empire. But the Persians had serfs instead, which to the Greeks seemed as though *everyone* was a slave in the Persian Empire. Two very different directions for orcs, and both could be interesting.
  19. Haha, that's why I said "Let's leave Carthaginian religion be." Don't want to go near that mess.
  20. I would say that it wouldn't tick my "orc button". As I've said, a basic martial nature and muscly aesthetic is as much a part of orcs as magic and archery is for elves. You need a certain minimum to ground the race in the familiar, but so long as that minimum is maintained there is a great deal of freedom. I get that you want all-new stuff. But that's not really this setting, is it? Wouldn't intelligently written orcs make elves and dwarves seem less out of place in a world with aumaua and orlans? I think my concept at least proves that something can be new and innovative and still retain the basic martial appeal of orcs, while adding new dimensions to it.
  21. Apologies for the double post, but this is going to be fairly big and is separate from the rebuttal above. Just as a creative excercise, I'm going to try to put together a concept -just as an example of something Obsidian might chose to do - and see if people still insist that orcs can't add anything of value if they were reimagined like dwarves have been. Say I start with Carthage. It was a trading nation, and althought it didn't survive nearly into the Renaissance or age of colonisation, it isn't terribly out of place. Carthage was a great explorer and coloniser in her day. It isn't terribly difficult to imagine it existing in a Renaissance-equivalent era. When I think of Carthage I think of its unique blend of democracy and plutocracy. Major offices and military commands being given to the sons of the great families. For there to be the equivalent of great Carthaginian families, there needs to be wealth that puts those families at the top of the social ladder. So let's consider their primitive history and development. Here I'm thinking of hunter-herder groups like those of southern Africa. Wealth was measured in livestock, the chiefs and great men owned large herds of livestock. Smallfolk were employed to tend these livestock, being payed with livestock in return which they would use to grow their own herds and support their own families. Say this is what the orcs looked like when primative, and fast forward a thousand years. The orcs have grown into a civilization that builds cities and temples, and has technology on par with the late middle ages. Whereas the nobility of western Europe largely sprang from germanic warrior traditions and Roman offices, orcish nobility traces its roots back to the herd-owning chieftains of their primitive, semi-nomadic days. Therefore orc culture values wealth; not money, mere coins in a vault somewhere, but tangible wealth. Orcs are impressed by people who own tangible things like beasts and land and ships, and who can employ many people in their service just like the headmen of days gone by did. Thus the orcs are a culture with an emphasis on trade, lending, and contract service. Warriors and militarism are however as much a part of the orc's appeal as magic and archery are of the elf's, and we don't want to negate that entirely. So as the orcs developed, they came into contact with more groups and developed trade networks - first on land, and then eventually at sea. This required military force to protect the trade interests of the great headmen, and armies and navies were developed as another way for people to serve their betters and receive assets as payment. Now that the orcs are in the late middle ages, I imagine that their armies are built around a core of mail-clad pikemen. This is reminiscent of both the Hellenistic Age to which Carthage belongs, and of how warfare shifted back to pike tactics in the late middle ages. Depending on where in the world you put them, you could even give the orcs Carthaginian/Seleucid/Indian-style war elephants - which would give them a more exotic feel, making them less Uruk-hai and more Haradrim. On top of this they could crossbows, ballistae, and other weapons that distance them further from their primitive origins - without going all aboard and giving them gunpowder, which might be a step too close to qunari. We then want to give orcs a religion. Let's leave Carthaginian religion be, and look elsewhere. We don't want our orcs to be seen as qunari, so that means avoiding Islam, Buddhism, or any combination of the two. We also want to avoid shamanism, animism, or anything that keeps orcs stuck with one foot in "noble savage". So I think of zoroastrianism. Organised religion, monotheistic or semi-monotheistic, perhaps a little prone to hedonism. You can take or leave the fire worship - though it might be a good way to include an orcish version of Magran into the mix. Zoroastrian-style towers of silence are perhaps an interesting dungeon candidate if you wanted to take that as well. To develop this religion further, what would these orcs I've imagined value? Since they value assets and service, I imagine them placing a heavy emphasis on property law and contract law. What if the priesthood developed along a legalistic approach where law and religion where intertwined? This can tie in well with a Zoroastrian approach, as to my knowledge that religion is more concerned with order vs. disorder than with individualistic virtue, placing a high value on law and honesty. This seems like a good place to tie the orcs to Woedica. We can ditch the idea of semi-monotheism, or put the gods in some hierarchy where only orc-Woedica is seen as "the" god and the others are seen as lesser-but-important spiritual entities (that seems like an ideal situation for Woedica and her priesthood). But all this emphasis on law might seem a little too "the Qun demands!", so we want to temper it with less severity. So make the orcs prone to decadence. Zoroastrianism rejects monasticism and abstinance, believing that people should fully participate in their physical reality. And the African tribal patronage systems from which we derive some of the orcs' culture were rife with decadence. So it seems likely that our orcs - or their aristocracy, at least - would be prone to being self-indulgent and corrupt. Which ties in perfectly with our nepotistic Carthaginian political system. To return to the political system; we've now worked out a powerful aristocracy, a prominent and legalistic clergy, and a significant military that exists to protect trade interests. Someone has to keep these groups together and prevent one from simply dominating the others. Say that the priesthood, being vested with the legal powers of the state, appoint something like a Carthaginian Suffete (chief magistrate) who is effectively their king. This head of state is appointed from among the great trade families, meaning that they have to jostle for the favour of the priesthood. But the priesthood in turn is wary of giving power to a figure who is too powerful, prefering that the head of state be a puppet ruler. Thus our king/chief magistrate/whatever has to contend with the scheming of the clergy to undermine his power, while at the same time contending with the ambitions of the other family headmen - who, on account of the nepotism that puts their sons in command of the orcish armies, might try to force a regime change. That seems like a solid basic outline for a civilization. Now you mostly need to put this civilization into the world, work out its interactions with the other civilizations, and consider how people might have migrated between this realm and the others. So we have something that... Has a political settlement that we haven't seen in orcs before? Check. Has a religion and value system unlike what we've seen in orcs before? Check. Isn't primitive, and can reasonably fit into the time period? Check. Retains the basic level of militarism that is part of the appeal of orcs? Check. Isn't mindlessly dedicated to evil and bound to perpetual war with humanity? Check. Draws from multiple real-world civilizations without being a carbon copy of any one? Check. Brings real-world cultural/historical influences that aren't already present in the setting? Check. Could coexist alongside Obsidian's elves and dwarves, make them seem less out of place in the world, but still stand on its own merits as unique? Check. This concept isn't something that I've put any thought into before this evening (my previous concepts for a new spin on orcs have been more fully Armenian/Persian), and I won't claim that it is mindblowing. But isn't there worth in something like this? Couldn't this coexist alongside Obsidian's elves and dwarves and not seem like a failure of creativity? How much better would a similar concept actualy written by Obsidian be? Or is it still inherently bad because it has orcs in it?
  22. Yes I'd say there is. On a more shallow level, you lose the body type. At the moment we have two diminutive races, two medium races, and one large race. That means if you prefer the larger physique, it is go aumaua or bust. You might reply that a brand new race could still offer an alternative large humanoid physique, but creating a large humanoid that will be truly distinct from orcs, aumaua, qunari etc. is significantly more of an artistic challenge. I would also say that the familiarity of orcs can be a conceptual strength. For the same reason why Obsidian chose to have elves and dwarves; familiarity coupled with innovation is a strong mix. You could contrive an original race that is reminiscent of, say, Persia. Then you can put that wonderful original creation in a room next to an elf and a dwarf, and hit your audience with a brain-full of thematic dissonance. For some it will seem great, for others it will just seem foreign. Or you can take that inspiration and attached it to orcs, using two familiar ingredients that no one expects to be combined, and create something that is simulataneously familiar but also entirely novel. They key point here is that Obsidian aren't trying to completely break free of familiar high fantasy. They chose familiarity with a new spin on it. If you are going to take that route, I would say it is better to own and embrace it. Get more familiar races in there, and do a better job of reimagining them than your competitors. Expecting Obsidian to leave it at elves and dwarves and then do everything else as entirely new is to accept that elves and dwarves will forever stick out like a sore thumb. That's rather my point. Elves and dwarves have been thoroughly explored. Obsidian might be breaking new ground on dwarves, but celtic and/or native american elves are not remotely original, and their worth in the setting will derive entirely from the quality of Obsidian's writing rather than their own innate originality. The fact that you've never seen anyone do anything interesting with orcs means everything imaginable is still there to be done. As I said in the post you quoted, I don't understand why think Obsidian would be bound to repeat the poor writing of other worldbuilders. The setting is taking its inspiration from the Renaissance. That doesn't mean that the world has to correspond state-by-state to the Renaissance's political landscape. Aumaua for example are quite a departure from the "powerhouses" you identify. This setting could have a Renaissance equivalent of a nation that wasn't prevalent during the actual Renaissance, couple that nation with the familiarity of orcs, and produce something new to the genre. Except Qunari are not the only possible outcome. A failure of imagination on your part is not a rigid restriction that binds the very subject matter. So you're disqualifying arabic, turkic, and oriental civilization all in one fell swoop? Any mix of those influences is automatically tired and without value? Have I missed a slew of games where the evil, stupid, conceptually-useless orcs came in arabic and chinese packaging? You're just dismissing any potential reimagining of the race that isn't European as being inherently without value. You're projectingyour own failures of imagination, and I guess your own aesthetic biases, onto the genre as though they are some universal law. They're not. Potential is there, simply no one has tapped it yet. I get the feeling that both my respondants here are quietly resentful of elves and dwarves being in the setting, and taking a stand against orcs as a "no more!" gesture. I sympathize, I do, I was in the same boat when the project launched. By this "original or bust" stance you are bringing to the discussion is the projection of something that is not Eora and never will be. Obsidian has accepted the baggage of genre familiarity, so the fact that something has been done before and done badly is not a difficulty.
  23. Primitive orcs are best avoided, yes. Both for that reason and for the fact that it is stale. But they hardly need to be primitive.
  24. Now you're just nit picking. If Obsidian included orcs, they'd obviously give them ethnic groups. They'd just need an origin civilization so that they wouldn't just jump fully formed into already existing nations without a context for it. If the intermingled nature of Eora's cultures is because of population movements, orcs just need a point of origin.
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