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of goblins and orcs..

orcs goblins halflings

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#61
anameforobsidian

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There's a lot of orcs and goblins in Baldur's Gate.  There's a metric ****ton of Hobgoblin bandits in BG I; the first inn you get to has a ton waiting outside.  They're a general filler trashmob in the area between Beregost and Baldur's Gate.  In BG II, Firekraag's dungeon is full of orcs.  Irenicus has goblin slaves and goblin workshops.

 

 

 

Orcs and Goblins are two great examples of elements that virtually always encourage lazy, derivative and just plain bad writing.

 

This is equally true - I would argue more true - of elves and dwarves. But Obsidian is including those, and we trust them to do a good job.

 

There rest of your post doesn't make sense to me. You seem to praise Obsidian for doing new, creative things with the races they've chosen to include, but assume that if Obsidian were to include orcs they would not be able to do similar creative things. There's nothing inherent to orcs and goblins that would suddenly make Obsidian incapable of creativity. You're arguing from a double standard.

 

 

On the other hand, you say that Obsidian seems to have done well with their creative decisions, but proceed to second guess their creative decision to not include orcs.  

Anyways, Orcs carry a lot more baggage than elves; elves have been written as xenophobic and decadent with fair regularity, although not as often as they are written as perfect and flawless.  Orcs are almost always pure evil invaders.  They're so boring that even Dragonlance stopped relying on them so heavily, switching to Minotaurs instead.  The only time they were written well was Arcanum, and that was because it was a criticism of the racist undertones of Orcs.


Edited by anameforobsidian, 04 August 2014 - 07:16 AM.


#62
Sarog

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On the other hand, you say that Obsidian seems to have done well with their creative decisions, but proceed to second guess their creative decision to not include orcs.  

Anyways, Orcs carry a lot more baggage than elves; elves have been written as xenophobic and decadent with fair regularity, although not as often as they are written as perfect and flawless.  Orcs are almost always pure evil invaders.  They're so boring that even Dragonlance stopped relying on them so heavily, switching to Minotaurs instead.  The only time they were written well was Arcanum, and that was because it was a criticism of the racist undertones of Orcs.

 

I'm contributing to a forum thread where we're tossing around ideas. Liking Obsidian's world building doesn't preclude me from constructive discussion. It isn't even like I'm criticizing Obsidian for not including orcs. Hardly the double standard which you see in my other respondent, who praises what Obsidian has done so far but nevertheless claims that if Obsidian included orcs they would just be "knockoffs".

 

I'd disagree with orcs having baggage. In most settings, their civilization and culture is paper thin. That's not baggage, that's freedom from it.

 

Anything you can imagine with elves has already been done. Every new twist, every flavour of subvert-your-genre-expectations, it has already been done by someone. And if you deviate from Tolkien, you find yourself in Bioware's boat where you get complaint after complaint about your elves being too different. That's baggage. That's a weight of genre-expectation that you see in franchise after franchise with clockwork predictability.

 

To be honest, your own post contains the seeds of its rebuttal. "Orcs are almost always pure evil invaders." "They only time they were well written was Arcanum". Do you see that as reasons not to go near them? Because I see those as reasons to do something new that outclasses other franchises - provided your setting is already using standard high-fantasy races, which this one is. What if Obsidian gave us a solitary example of where those statements aren't true?

 

Imagine Obsidian included orcs in their next game in this setting. Imagine they defied your genre expectations; giving orcs an intelligently written culture that does not paint them as evil invaders, but rather takes an entirely new approach following the same quality of world building that Obsdian has displayed so far? Wouldn't that be at least as worth while as another incarnation of celtic elves?

 

So many of the posts in this thread are discussing orcs as we have always seen them. I seem to be the only person talking about what orcs could be if Obsidian reimagined them in future games, which I think is the more interesting subject.


Edited by Sarog, 04 August 2014 - 07:35 AM.

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#63
Macrae

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 I'd be favour of including orcs if they were intelligently done. I've no expectation that they be added to Eora, but you never know. The setting hopefully has a long future ahead of it, which means a lot of room to grow.

 

Elves and dwarves have been pretty well developed in fantasy. Just about every blend of fantasy has three or four varieties of elf, and possibly multiple varities of dwarf. That element of Tolien's legacy has been thoroughly tapped. Orcs haven't. In most settings, particularly D&D settings, they are just a monstruous race with a poorly-conceptualized barbaric culture. If you're already accepting Tolkien's legacy into your work - which Obsidian has done with elves and dwarves - you have the opportunity to do something new with a traditional high fantasy race that is left underdeveloped by most franchises.

 

Warcraft of course puts a fair amount of emphasis on them, but while Warcraft may have had some good ideas it is pretty terribly written and could easily be outclassed. Elder Scrolls also does an interesting take and makes orcs playable and gives them a culture that is significantly different from the stereotype, though it is a fairly under developed part of the franchise lore.

 

Obsidian is putting its own spin on elves and dwarves. And what I appreciate about Josh's world building is the emphasis he puts on history. If Obsidian were to decide to include orcs in the setting at a later date, I'd be excited to see what Obsidian would do with them. Orcs in fantasy have yet to receive an intelligent, well-considered civilization and an interesting, serious history. Warcraft is too childish and dudebro, and Elder Scrolls comes close but does orcish civilization in very small scale and with very little attention.

 

So far in Eora humans seem to cover germanic, latin, and mesoamerican cultures, elves have a strong celtic influence, and aumaua seem influenced by the Far East. That still leaves a fair amount of historical inspiration that could be used to put a new twist on other races. Orcs could be injected with Turkic flavour, to take inspiration from the likes of the cumans, pechenegs, or early turks. Or they could take on an Armenian/Persian element and embrace a Middle Eastern aesthetic, which I think would be immensely interesting. Or, heck, you could even look to Greece for inspiration.

 

My point is that just about any direction that Obsidian would pick for orcs if they chose to explore them would be dramatically new development for a race that has received precious little inteligent consideration in the high fantasy genre, and that would be a lot of fun. I see plenty of room in the current status quo for orcs to be included at a later date without stepping on the aumaua's conceptual toes.

 

Completely agree...Obsidian had an opportunity to give a different spin to orcs which have been until now very under-developed in terms of lore in fantasy games.

 

And I completely agree they could embrace a Hunnic, Turkic, "people of the plains" nomadic or, also maybe as a sub-race, a stationary culture more like the Russian, Finnic (hell even viking!! think of Viking orcs!! that's sounds badass... xD) not so much barbaric but rather the invader/predator type of civilization that others fear...

 

Again, as a Turk myself I am pretty sure the whole orkish lore of wolf-riding invader nomadic culture thing is coming from the collective consciousness of the fear western Europeans had of Turks in the middle-ages..

 

Anyway, again, not necessarily a criticizm of design choices, as it is also cool to have new races, lore etc, but SINCE you include elves and dwarves I think something could have been done with orcs too...


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#64
drake heath

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I know Tolkien orcs were based on the Roman (Late Imperial) perspective of the Huns.

 

No one really knows where the Huns came from or if they were even a singular group.

 

The image of vicious inhuman barbarian invaders that seemingly popped into existence out of holes from the ground is pretty much the Roman view of Huns.

I think the rest of the DnD/Fantasy image of orcs comes from the extrapolations of that and other barbarian tribes the Romans (Byzantines) dealt with, like the Bulgars, or they base them on the European/American accounts of the Zulus or Native Americans.


Edited by drake heath, 04 August 2014 - 07:55 AM.


#65
Sarog

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And I completely agree they could embrace a Hunnic, Turkic, "people of the plains" nomadic or, also maybe as a sub-race, a stationary culture more like the Russian, Finnic (hell even viking!! think of Viking orcs!! that's sounds badass... xD) not so much barbaric but rather the invader/predator type of civilization that others fear...

 

Yeah. Or if those don't work, here are some more. It is absurd how easy it is to think of new ideas for orcs which would be groundbreaking for the genre.

 

Persian-inspired orcs, who build great cities and temples. With a despotic government and rigidly formal court culture with lots of prostrations. With a monotheistic religion and a powerful, organised priesthood. Never been done before.

 

Carthaginian-inspired orcs, with an aggressive trading culture. Government is a mix of theocraty and plutocracy, with a powerful priesthood being forced to delegate authority to powerful trading families who are a mix between tribal chieftain and trade baron. Never been done before.

 

Arab-inspired orcs, with a Caliphate-like state that is part monarchy, part theocracy. Militaristic, but with great intellectual and artistic achievements. Perhaps with a Ptolemaic influence where the ruler tries to convince his/her subjects of his/her divinity with extensive public works projects. Internal tension and conflict between the more traditionalist tribes and the centralized state that has to negotiate with them to get warm bodies in its armies and keep the roads clear. Never been done before.

 

This isn't even hard. Pick a historical civilization that isn't already spoken for in the franchise, add orcs, and boom you've got something no one has done before, that you can take in all sorts of interesting directions. You keep the core of what makes orcs essentially orcs - being big and muscular and having a certain militarism - but overhaul the rest in a way no one has done before. Plus, with Eternity taking this culture-is-bigger-than-race approach, we could see how orcs would live alongside other races in these societies. Arcanum showed us a vision of what orcs would look like as a downtrodden working class. What would they look like as the dominant race in a civilization instead? We're used to seeing orcs as brutish, genocidal conquerors. What would they look like as more benign rulers?

 

There is a stupid amount of potential, the surface of which hasn't even been scratched while franchise after franchise gives us every imaginable flavour of elves.

 

 

 

Anyway, again, not necessarily a criticizm of design choices, as it is also cool to have new races, lore etc, but SINCE you include elves and dwarves I think something could have been done with orcs too...

 

 

Yeah it is still early days for this setting. I'm sure that we'll eventually seem the roster of playable *cultures* padded out a bit for future Eternity games, and this could certainly include new races. It isn't criticism to toss around some ideas of what those future franchise developments might be.


Edited by Sarog, 04 August 2014 - 08:13 AM.

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#66
Elerond

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In my understanding Obsidian tries to make it so with PoE that race != culture, but that you can find members of every race from all, at least major, of the cultures in the game, which means that orcs as race from singular culture wouldn't fit very well in the game. 

 

And Hun inspired orcs aren't very original idea as Warhammer's orcs are quite heavily inspired by huns. 


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#67
BrokenMask

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I'm tired of way of thinking that if game is fantasy, it should have every common fantasy related creature in it <_< Would be just more interesting for once to see a setting without anything safe and familiar thing people can latch on from their previous experiences.


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#68
Sarog

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In my understanding Obsidian tries to make it so with PoE that race != culture, but that you can find members of every race from all, at least major, of the cultures in the game, which means that orcs as race from singular culture wouldn't fit very well in the game. 

 

 

Obsidian has broken from race being directly equivalent to culture, but that doesn't mean that race is entirely decoupled from country. Thyrtan are more associated with Aedyr, calbranda more with the Vailian Republics, etc. Minorities in each country will be there on account of generations of interactation between peoples. Likewise a future game could have orcs, give them an "origin" civilization where they are dominant in the same way that calbranda are probably dominant in the Vailian Republics, and then have other orcs in other countries whose ancestors will still have come from this civilization. Then you put this country somewhere far from the Eastern Reach, say on the other side of Aedyr, to justify that we didn't encounter any in this game on account of orc populations not having penetrated this far.

 

 

And Hun inspired orcs aren't very original idea as Warhammer's orcs are quite heavily inspired by huns.

 

 

Good thing there are plenty of other options than just huns then.

 

Obsidian has drawn strongly on real world civilizations in building Eora, and there are plenty of real world civilizations that could still be used for inspiration to flesh out the setting. Particularly I see a lack of anything with a Middle Eastern vibe, and that just so happens to be a perfect opportunity to be a put a fresh spin on orcs.

 

 

I'm tired of way of thinking that if game is fantasy, it should have every common fantasy related creature in it <_< Would be just more interesting for once to see a setting without anything safe and familiar thing people can latch on from their previous experiences.

 

I sympathize. In the early days of the kickstarter, the general vibe here was pretty much one of "no Tolkien please", or at least so I remember. I was in that camp. Obsidian went a different way, so we have to save our hopes for something entirely original for a different franchise. Better accept Eora for what it is - a fresh take on traditional D&D high fantasy, not something that aims to break from of it. With that understanding, adding intelligently written orcs or goblins (and I would say or , because both would be overkill) to a setting that already has elves and dwarves is hardly a failure of creativity or the beginning of slippery slope.


Edited by Sarog, 04 August 2014 - 09:56 AM.

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#69
Elerond

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Thyrtan and Calbandra are ethnic groups inside of human race, not 'full' races themselves. And they aren't dominant ethic groups in any culture, but dominant human ethic groups in said cultures. So they don't work as example why there should be culture where orcs as race are dominant. But I could see that in expansion/new game could lead us in new continent where there could be some new culture that has people from some race and ethnicities  (like for example orcs, with several ethnicities and new ethnicities for other races) in their ranks that aren't seen anywhere else in Eora, although that would make it, but offering it as playable would probably need story with new protagonist instead of continuing story of PoE's protagonist.



#70
Sarog

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Thyrtan and Calbandra are ethnic groups inside of human race, not 'full' races themselves. And they aren't dominant ethic groups in any culture, but dominant human ethic groups in said cultures. So they don't work as example why there should be culture where orcs as race are dominant.

 

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.



#71
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Thyrtan and Calbandra are ethnic groups inside of human race, not 'full' races themselves. And they aren't dominant ethic groups in any culture, but dominant human ethic groups in said cultures. So they don't work as example why there should be culture where orcs as race are dominant.

 

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.

 

 

You misunderstood my point, which was that there isn't currently any major cultures that is dominated by any one race, but only some cultures have dominant ethnicities in all/some of its races, but all over all major cultures are mix of all or most of the races. So adding major culture in game that is dominated by one race is against this world building ideology. 

 

Making orcs belonging in primitive culture that hasn't mixed with other races is just too generic fantasy cliché that I think that Eora would do much better without it. 


Edited by Elerond, 04 August 2014 - 10:50 AM.


#72
Sarog

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Making orcs belonging in primitive culture that hasn't mixed with other races is just too generic fantasy cliché that I think that Eora would do much better without it. 

 

 

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.



#73
Malekith

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And I completely agree they could embrace a Hunnic, Turkic, "people of the plains" nomadic or, also maybe as a sub-race, a stationary culture more like the Russian, Finnic (hell even viking!! think of Viking orcs!! that's sounds badass... xD) not so much barbaric but rather the invader/predator type of civilization that others fear...

 

Yeah. Or if those don't work, here are some more. It is absurd how easy it is to think of new ideas for orcs which would be groundbreaking for the genre.

 

Persian-inspired orcs, who build great cities and temples. With a despotic government and rigidly formal court culture with lots of prostrations. With a monotheistic religion and a powerful, organised priesthood. Never been done before.

 

Carthaginian-inspired orcs, with an aggressive trading culture. Government is a mix of theocraty and plutocracy, with a powerful priesthood being forced to delegate authority to powerful trading families who are a mix between tribal chieftain and trade baron. Never been done before.

 

Arab-inspired orcs, with a Caliphate-like state that is part monarchy, part theocracy. Militaristic, but with great intellectual and artistic achievements. Perhaps with a Ptolemaic influence where the ruler tries to convince his/her subjects of his/her divinity with extensive public works projects. Internal tension and conflict between the more traditionalist tribes and the centralized state that has to negotiate with them to get warm bodies in its armies and keep the roads clear. Never been done before.

 

This isn't even hard. Pick a historical civilization that isn't already spoken for in the franchise, add orcs, and boom you've got something no one has done before, that you can take in all sorts of interesting directions. You keep the core of what makes orcs essentially orcs - being big and muscular and having a certain militarism - but overhaul the rest in a way no one has done before. Plus, with Eternity taking this culture-is-bigger-than-race approach, we could see how orcs would live alongside other races in these societies. Arcanum showed us a vision of what orcs would look like as a downtrodden working class. What would they look like as the dominant race in a civilization instead? We're used to seeing orcs as brutish, genocidal conquerors. What would they look like as more benign rulers?

 

There is a stupid amount of potential, the surface of which hasn't even been scratched while franchise after franchise gives us every imaginable flavour of elves.

 

 

 

Anyway, again, not necessarily a criticizm of design choices, as it is also cool to have new races, lore etc, but SINCE you include elves and dwarves I think something could have been done with orcs too...

 

 

Yeah it is still early days for this setting. I'm sure that we'll eventually seem the roster of playable *cultures* padded out a bit for future Eternity games, and this could certainly include new races. It isn't criticism to toss around some ideas of what those future franchise developments might be.

 

Good ideas. Now tell me. If you remove orcs from the equation, and have another, completely new race, preferably not even humanoid in nature, but still go with your ideas. Is there something of value that would have been lost by the replacement?


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#74
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Orcs and Goblins are two great examples of elements that virtually always encourage lazy, derivative and just plain bad writing.

 

This is equally true - I would argue more true - of elves and dwarves. But Obsidian is including those, and we trust them to do a good job.

 

There rest of your post doesn't make sense to me. You seem to praise Obsidian for doing new, creative things with the races they've chosen to include, but assume that if Obsidian were to include orcs they would not be able to do similar creative things. There's nothing inherent to orcs and goblins that would suddenly make Obsidian incapable of creativity. You're arguing from a double standard.

 

 

 

I've never seen anyone do anything interesting with Orcs or Goblins(the ONLY exception for Goblins is, funny as it sounds, Harry Potter) , but I HAVE seen them do interesting things with elves and dwarves, repeatedly.  The Witcher is a good example.  The fact that it pulls from a deep cultural wealth of Polish/Baltic mythology that is LOADED with elves and dwarves is what gives it substance, whereas Orcs and Goblins as we think of them effectively date from, as others have said, Tolkien's works.

 

The PoE world is being built in a renaissance period.  The powerhouses of the time in reality were states like the Dutch Republic, The Hanseatic League, the Italian states, France and the wealthier parts of the H.R.E.  The nomadic steppe peoples had been pushed out of the Russias and their time was O-V-E-R.  The arab world was FAR past it's prime(it's widely held to have peaked around 1100-1300.  This isn't to say that everything in the PoE world must derive from the Earth at that time, but rather that it's not the eternal middle ages seen in pretty much every other fantasy setting.

 

If you cast Orcs as any of those types of civilizations, they'll just be what they always are:  low-tech, low-rent tribal militarists with some goofy priest-driven theocratic structure bolted to their seat of gov't.  Want to cast them as the monolithic empire with a higher level of development but retaining the same silly themes? Maybe ripping off the Ottomans/Fatimid Egypt and some far eastern culture? Congratulations, you just made the Qunari!

 

Tolkien's Orcs are no better than demons.  They're animals.  They're inspired by a version of the nomadic steppe peoples that never existed except in the imaginations of historical revisionists of the romantic period who saw those events not as the mass, gradual migrations that they were but rather wholesale demonic invasions by monster people.  They are not fertile material for creating an interesting, intelligent, high-performing, thought-provoking race of people.  They're always going to be a fantasy re-fit of the Arab, the Hun, the Mongol, the Turk, or the Oriental.

 

Make me a well-written nation of Orcs based on 1600's Holland/Venice and I'll accept that they might be useful for something other than providing guilt-free cannon fodder and a vehicle for bad writing.



#75
Darkpriest

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Orcs and Goblins are two great examples of elements that virtually always encourage lazy, derivative and just plain bad writing.

 

This is equally true - I would argue more true - of elves and dwarves. But Obsidian is including those, and we trust them to do a good job.

 

There rest of your post doesn't make sense to me. You seem to praise Obsidian for doing new, creative things with the races they've chosen to include, but assume that if Obsidian were to include orcs they would not be able to do similar creative things. There's nothing inherent to orcs and goblins that would suddenly make Obsidian incapable of creativity. You're arguing from a double standard.

 

 

 

I've never seen anyone do anything interesting with Orcs or Goblins(the ONLY exception for Goblins is, funny as it sounds, Harry Potter) , but I HAVE seen them do interesting things with elves and dwarves, repeatedly.  The Witcher is a good example.  The fact that it pulls from a deep cultural wealth of Polish/Baltic mythology that is LOADED with elves and dwarves is what gives it substance, whereas Orcs and Goblins as we think of them effectively date from, as others have said, Tolkien's works.

 

The PoE world is being built in a renaissance period.  The powerhouses of the time in reality were states like the Dutch Republic, The Hanseatic League, the Italian states, France and the wealthier parts of the H.R.E.  The nomadic steppe peoples had been pushed out of the Russias and their time was O-V-E-R.  The arab world was FAR past it's prime(it's widely held to have peaked around 1100-1300.  This isn't to say that everything in the PoE world must derive from the Earth at that time, but rather that it's not the eternal middle ages seen in pretty much every other fantasy setting.

 

If you cast Orcs as any of those types of civilizations, they'll just be what they always are:  low-tech, low-rent tribal militarists with some goofy priest-driven theocratic structure bolted to their seat of gov't.  Want to cast them as the monolithic empire with a higher level of development but retaining the same silly themes? Maybe ripping off the Ottomans/Fatimid Egypt and some far eastern culture? Congratulations, you just made the Qunari!

 

Tolkien's Orcs are no better than demons.  They're animals.  They're inspired by a version of the nomadic steppe peoples that never existed except in the imaginations of historical revisionists of the romantic period who saw those events not as the mass, gradual migrations that they were but rather wholesale demonic invasions by monster people.  They are not fertile material for creating an interesting, intelligent, high-performing, thought-provoking race of people.  They're always going to be a fantasy re-fit of the Arab, the Hun, the Mongol, the Turk, or the Oriental.

 

Make me a well-written nation of Orcs based on 1600's Holland/Venice and I'll accept that they might be useful for something other than providing guilt-free cannon fodder and a vehicle for bad writing.

 

 

2 words - colonization era

 

The clash of cultures on various technological development level.. anyone remembers the story of Spanish meeting Aztecs? or how Australia got colonized? What about far east cultures of that time?

 

Orcs can be your Aztec culture for example or others. It's perfectly viable for fantasy setting that you can have various development of tech among cultures, because "magic" and "active deities", hence you can get even nomadic tribes or even literally cavemen... It is a colonization and exploration era in Eora, right? And the setting is still wide open for tweaks and additions, right?


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#76
Malekith

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Orcs and Goblins are two great examples of elements that virtually always encourage lazy, derivative and just plain bad writing.

 

This is equally true - I would argue more true - of elves and dwarves. But Obsidian is including those, and we trust them to do a good job.

 

There rest of your post doesn't make sense to me. You seem to praise Obsidian for doing new, creative things with the races they've chosen to include, but assume that if Obsidian were to include orcs they would not be able to do similar creative things. There's nothing inherent to orcs and goblins that would suddenly make Obsidian incapable of creativity. You're arguing from a double standard.

 

 

 

I've never seen anyone do anything interesting with Orcs or Goblins(the ONLY exception for Goblins is, funny as it sounds, Harry Potter) , but I HAVE seen them do interesting things with elves and dwarves, repeatedly.  The Witcher is a good example. 

 

Sorry but no. Elves and dwarvs sucked in Witcher as well. It doesn't matter if the elves are an ancient civilazation in the magical woods who hold humans in contempt, or an ancient civilazation oppressed by the racist humans, they are still a separate race, that lives propably longer and hasn't good relations with humans. And Witcher dwarfs are as by the book as it comes. To have them be bankers and merchants in addition to miners isn't revolutionary.

 

As for the orc arguement, i have seen them be used in a very good way, in the aforementioned Malazan series. But apart from the physical description (green skin, tusked, slightly bigger than humans), they have absolutely nothing in common with any orc depicted elsewhere, nor are they named orcs.


Edited by Malekith, 04 August 2014 - 12:08 PM.


#77
Malekith

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Orcs and Goblins are two great examples of elements that virtually always encourage lazy, derivative and just plain bad writing.

 

This is equally true - I would argue more true - of elves and dwarves. But Obsidian is including those, and we trust them to do a good job.

 

There rest of your post doesn't make sense to me. You seem to praise Obsidian for doing new, creative things with the races they've chosen to include, but assume that if Obsidian were to include orcs they would not be able to do similar creative things. There's nothing inherent to orcs and goblins that would suddenly make Obsidian incapable of creativity. You're arguing from a double standard.

 

 

 

I've never seen anyone do anything interesting with Orcs or Goblins(the ONLY exception for Goblins is, funny as it sounds, Harry Potter) , but I HAVE seen them do interesting things with elves and dwarves, repeatedly.  The Witcher is a good example.  The fact that it pulls from a deep cultural wealth of Polish/Baltic mythology that is LOADED with elves and dwarves is what gives it substance, whereas Orcs and Goblins as we think of them effectively date from, as others have said, Tolkien's works.

 

The PoE world is being built in a renaissance period.  The powerhouses of the time in reality were states like the Dutch Republic, The Hanseatic League, the Italian states, France and the wealthier parts of the H.R.E.  The nomadic steppe peoples had been pushed out of the Russias and their time was O-V-E-R.  The arab world was FAR past it's prime(it's widely held to have peaked around 1100-1300.  This isn't to say that everything in the PoE world must derive from the Earth at that time, but rather that it's not the eternal middle ages seen in pretty much every other fantasy setting.

 

If you cast Orcs as any of those types of civilizations, they'll just be what they always are:  low-tech, low-rent tribal militarists with some goofy priest-driven theocratic structure bolted to their seat of gov't.  Want to cast them as the monolithic empire with a higher level of development but retaining the same silly themes? Maybe ripping off the Ottomans/Fatimid Egypt and some far eastern culture? Congratulations, you just made the Qunari!

 

Tolkien's Orcs are no better than demons.  They're animals.  They're inspired by a version of the nomadic steppe peoples that never existed except in the imaginations of historical revisionists of the romantic period who saw those events not as the mass, gradual migrations that they were but rather wholesale demonic invasions by monster people.  They are not fertile material for creating an interesting, intelligent, high-performing, thought-provoking race of people.  They're always going to be a fantasy re-fit of the Arab, the Hun, the Mongol, the Turk, or the Oriental.

 

Make me a well-written nation of Orcs based on 1600's Holland/Venice and I'll accept that they might be useful for something other than providing guilt-free cannon fodder and a vehicle for bad writing.

 

 

2 words - colonization era

 

The clash of cultures on various technological development level.. anyone remembers the story of Spanish meeting Aztecs? or how Australia got colonized? What about far east cultures of that time?

 

Orcs can be your Aztec culture for example or others. It's perfectly viable for fantasy setting that you can have various development of tech among cultures, because "magic" and "active deities", hence you can get even nomadic tribes or even literally cavemen... It is a colonization and exploration era in Eora, right? And the setting is still wide open for tweaks and additions, right?

 

So we have yet another reprecentation of the orcs as bloodthirsty, low tech  at odds with the humans. No thanks.

I would love an Aztec inspired civilization, but no orcs. There is nothing inherently interesting with orcs,elves,dwarves. Every interesting thing you can do with them, you could do just as well( in fact better since there would be no expectations) with another, original race.


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#78
Panteleimon

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Orcs and Goblins are two great examples of elements that virtually always encourage lazy, derivative and just plain bad writing.

 

This is equally true - I would argue more true - of elves and dwarves. But Obsidian is including those, and we trust them to do a good job.

 

There rest of your post doesn't make sense to me. You seem to praise Obsidian for doing new, creative things with the races they've chosen to include, but assume that if Obsidian were to include orcs they would not be able to do similar creative things. There's nothing inherent to orcs and goblins that would suddenly make Obsidian incapable of creativity. You're arguing from a double standard.

 

 

 

I've never seen anyone do anything interesting with Orcs or Goblins(the ONLY exception for Goblins is, funny as it sounds, Harry Potter) , but I HAVE seen them do interesting things with elves and dwarves, repeatedly.  The Witcher is a good example. 

 

Sorry but no. Elves and dwarvs sucked in Witcher as well. It doesn't matter if the elves are an ancient civilazation in the magical woods who hold humans in contempt, or an ancient civilazation oppressed by the racist humans, they are still a separate race, that lives propably longer and hasn't good relations with humans. And Witcher dwarfs are as by the book as it comes. To have them be bankers and merchants in addition to miners isn't revolutionary.

 

As for the orc arguement, i have seen them be used in a very good way, in the aforementioned Malazan series. But apart from the physical description (green skin, tusked, slightly bigger than humans), they have absolutely nothing in common with any orc depicted elsewhere, nor are they named orcs.

 

 

 

I respect that the Elves and Dwarves in The Witcher are stereotypical, pulled right from the pages of the fairytales that I grew up with(and thus culturally significant to people who share that heritage) and yet depicted VERY seriously and with a straight face.  For what it is, which is Grimms Elfenmärchen in a video game, it is well done.  Original it is not, but that's not CD Projekt's mission.

 

I can't speak to the Malazan series' depiction of Orcs, but it sounds like they aren't Orcs any more than Aumaua are.

 

I agree wholeheartedly that there is nothing inherently interesting in those fantasy races, but I think when viewed through a lens of cultural richness, some are certainly better than others.  The direction PoE has taken Dwarves, for example, towards what seems to be a fair representation of the wandering Nordic colonials and frontiersmen, is genuinely interesting.

 

I don't believe that Orcs, however, will ever escape samurai armor, grunts, stone spears, idol worship or emulation of the Turks, Persians, Mongols or any Oriental culture.  And as long as anologues(which shouldn't be direct anyway) of those cultures are populated with Orcs, they'll never be depicted intelligently.


Edited by Panteleimon, 04 August 2014 - 12:32 PM.


#79
Darkpriest

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Orcs and Goblins are two great examples of elements that virtually always encourage lazy, derivative and just plain bad writing.

 

This is equally true - I would argue more true - of elves and dwarves. But Obsidian is including those, and we trust them to do a good job.

 

There rest of your post doesn't make sense to me. You seem to praise Obsidian for doing new, creative things with the races they've chosen to include, but assume that if Obsidian were to include orcs they would not be able to do similar creative things. There's nothing inherent to orcs and goblins that would suddenly make Obsidian incapable of creativity. You're arguing from a double standard.

 

 

 

I've never seen anyone do anything interesting with Orcs or Goblins(the ONLY exception for Goblins is, funny as it sounds, Harry Potter) , but I HAVE seen them do interesting things with elves and dwarves, repeatedly.  The Witcher is a good example.  The fact that it pulls from a deep cultural wealth of Polish/Baltic mythology that is LOADED with elves and dwarves is what gives it substance, whereas Orcs and Goblins as we think of them effectively date from, as others have said, Tolkien's works.

 

The PoE world is being built in a renaissance period.  The powerhouses of the time in reality were states like the Dutch Republic, The Hanseatic League, the Italian states, France and the wealthier parts of the H.R.E.  The nomadic steppe peoples had been pushed out of the Russias and their time was O-V-E-R.  The arab world was FAR past it's prime(it's widely held to have peaked around 1100-1300.  This isn't to say that everything in the PoE world must derive from the Earth at that time, but rather that it's not the eternal middle ages seen in pretty much every other fantasy setting.

 

If you cast Orcs as any of those types of civilizations, they'll just be what they always are:  low-tech, low-rent tribal militarists with some goofy priest-driven theocratic structure bolted to their seat of gov't.  Want to cast them as the monolithic empire with a higher level of development but retaining the same silly themes? Maybe ripping off the Ottomans/Fatimid Egypt and some far eastern culture? Congratulations, you just made the Qunari!

 

Tolkien's Orcs are no better than demons.  They're animals.  They're inspired by a version of the nomadic steppe peoples that never existed except in the imaginations of historical revisionists of the romantic period who saw those events not as the mass, gradual migrations that they were but rather wholesale demonic invasions by monster people.  They are not fertile material for creating an interesting, intelligent, high-performing, thought-provoking race of people.  They're always going to be a fantasy re-fit of the Arab, the Hun, the Mongol, the Turk, or the Oriental.

 

Make me a well-written nation of Orcs based on 1600's Holland/Venice and I'll accept that they might be useful for something other than providing guilt-free cannon fodder and a vehicle for bad writing.

 

 

2 words - colonization era

 

The clash of cultures on various technological development level.. anyone remembers the story of Spanish meeting Aztecs? or how Australia got colonized? What about far east cultures of that time?

 

Orcs can be your Aztec culture for example or others. It's perfectly viable for fantasy setting that you can have various development of tech among cultures, because "magic" and "active deities", hence you can get even nomadic tribes or even literally cavemen... It is a colonization and exploration era in Eora, right? And the setting is still wide open for tweaks and additions, right?

 

So we have yet another reprecentation of the orcs as bloodthirsty, low tech  at odds with the humans. No thanks.

I would love an Aztec inspired civilization, but no orcs. There is nothing inherently interesting with orcs,elves,dwarves. Every interesting thing you can do with them, you could do just as well( in fact better since there would be no expectations) with another, original race.

 

 

Who said that they have to be at odds? If I recall history right, it was the greedy Europeans wiping native american cultures on both continents. Heck, I could even take the idea of orcs from the latest Might & Magic series by Ubisoft (HoM&M5 / 6 and M&M X)



#80
Sarog

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Good ideas. Now tell me. If you remove orcs from the equation, and have another, completely new race, preferably not even humanoid in nature, but still go with your ideas. Is there something of value that would have been lost by the replacement?

 

 

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.

 

I've never seen anyone do anything interesting with Orcs or Goblins(the ONLY exception for Goblins is, funny as it sounds, Harry Potter) , but I HAVE seen them do interesting things with elves and dwarves, repeatedly.

 

 

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 PoE world is being built in a renaissance period.  The powerhouses of the time in reality were states like the Dutch Republic, The Hanseatic League, the Italian states, France and the wealthier parts of the H.R.E.  The nomadic steppe peoples had been pushed out of the Russias and their time was O-V-E-R.  The arab world was FAR past it's prime(it's widely held to have peaked around 1100-1300.  This isn't to say that everything in the PoE world must derive from the Earth at that time, but rather that it's not the eternal middle ages seen in pretty much every other fantasy setting.

 

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.

 

 

If you cast Orcs as any of those types of civilizations, they'll just be what they always are:  low-tech, low-rent tribal militarists with some goofy priest-driven theocratic structure bolted to their seat of gov't.  Want to cast them as the monolithic empire with a higher level of development but retaining the same silly themes? Maybe ripping off the Ottomans/Fatimid Egypt and some far eastern culture? Congratulations, you just made the Qunari!

 

 

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.

 


Tolkien's Orcs are no better than demons.  They're animals.  They're inspired by a version of the nomadic steppe peoples that never existed except in the imaginations of historical revisionists of the romantic period who saw those events not as the mass, gradual migrations that they were but rather wholesale demonic invasions by monster people.  They are not fertile material for creating an interesting, intelligent, high-performing, thought-provoking race of people.  They're always going to be a fantasy re-fit of the Arab, the Hun, the Mongol, the Turk, or the Oriental.
Make me a well-written nation of Orcs based on 1600's Holland/Venice and I'll accept that they might be useful for something other than providing guilt-free cannon fodder and a vehicle for bad writing.

 

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.


Edited by Sarog, 04 August 2014 - 01:13 PM.

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