2019-07-01 Orcs

So... Hex Describe has plenty of orcs. I like orcs. I really like the Skyrim orcs. They’re good at making weapon. They have villages, families, run mines, you can friends with them. I played as an orc and always enjoyed visiting them.

When I run a game, orcs are sometimes evil, sometimes they’re not. I try to avoid simple good vs. evil morality questions because they’re so easy to answer. If the players are good, the answer is obvious. If the players are evil, I don’t want to play with them. Therefore, moral questions are always in the grey area where the decisions made at the table matter. With regards to orcs, in one campaign I remember orc tribes moving through the wilderness, threatening the construction site of the party’s castle. The players had to fight them off. Later in the game, there was an orc tribe living in a cave near some thieves. The players were expecting trouble, but the reaction roll went well and their leader had an evil, magic Orcus mace that kept insulting everybody and trying to incite violence – just like one of the players! They both had a silly Orcus weapon. Soon the players talked about setting up a trading post and more. Many sessions later, when they met again, some evil elves they had met before and some beholder-worshipping dwarves with their beholder showed up as well and there was a big fight. I think the thieves also showed up. In any case the party remained loyal to the orcs and so the orcs upheld their side of the bargain as well. Good times all around.

Right, so where am I going with this? I recently read two excellent essays by James Mendez Hodes:

  1. Orcs, Britons, and the Martial Race Myth, Part I: A Species Built for Racial Terror
  2. Orcs, Britons, and the Martial Race Myth, Part II: They're Not Human

And I guess it’s white fragility time, haha. OK, but I also want to do better. So I think what I need to do is look through the entries generating orc settlements in Hex Describe to see whether the orcs (and other societies) it generates are treated with respect.

“Since we cannot reliably extricate orcs from racial associations, we must characterize them with the same compassion, respect, and attention to stereotype we extend to people of color.” – James Mendez Hodes

Currently, the entries generated for mountain orcs are not so bad. I like the mountain orc product table, and the orc feature resulting in their leader being a famous sword smith in some sort of orcish tradition. I need more of these!

I was surprised to find that White Fragility is not just a book by Robin DiAngelo but also a paper with full text available. Very cool! Click on the link above.

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