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""Orcs as Mutants" origin story? " Topic

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Starting a Four Enemies Campaign

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian finally starts his first Four Enemies campaign.

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1,250 hits since 2 May 2016
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Comments or corrections?

GARS190002 May 2016 5:55 p.m. PST

I kinda want orcs in a fictional world I'm developing, but I don't want them to be morally gray (like WoW), nor like the buffoonish, quasi-lovable nutcases in the dearly departed universe of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. In other words, these orcs need to be both evil/intensely creepy and reasonably competent. So, I'm trying to think of a unique identity for these guys, so as to separate them from the loads of other orcs that populate the fantasy market.
I think I may have accomplished this, by establishing that these orcs are forcibly mutated humans. The way that it would work is that orc raiders would hit villages, and then carry away as many people as possible. Once in their lairs, the prisoners would be magically mutated into orcs via potions/pool of goo/plot convenience, and then put into the ranks to add to the horde's numbers. This would explain where these things come from, and add a extra dimension of horror to this universe (the world is of the dark fantasy genre).

Some extra notes about these guys; their skin tone is albino, since they live underground and because I've seen orcs with this skin tone and I think it looks really messed up (which fits my ideal perfectly). Armament will mostly be short swords, glaives and billhooks, so perhaps a phalanx style formation? I would prefer to avoid the stereotypical visage of a horde of orcs just charging willy-nilly with no regard for tactics. I was trying to portray these guys as less reckless and more implacable (i.e Roman). Armor will be restricted to a crude brigandine and some metal bits protecting the shoulders.

So, is this a good concept? Let me know what y'all think, and if this concept is reasonably fresh or at least enjoyable and engaging. If not, what are it's flaws? Is it too stereotypical? Does it have logical gaps? I greatly desire any commentary, guidance or constructive criticism.

kallman02 May 2016 6:13 p.m. PST

Pretty much the orcs/goblins of The Lord of the Rings were said to be corrupted Elves and later the Uruk Hi (sp?) were twisted men. So the concept of orcs as mutants is not too far off the point. I too would like to see orcs that are more cunning and disciplined the what has come to be the common trope. If evil you might want to toss in twist where the orcs live by a dark honor.

Redroom02 May 2016 6:41 p.m. PST

D&D had some orcs as being castaway Shadowelf infants who were mutated by magic if I remember correctly. They were smarter and some could use wizardly magic which the normal orcs could not.

GARS190002 May 2016 9:21 p.m. PST

Honestly, I wasn't really thinking that my orcs would have any real culture or "honor" at all. I suppose they're closer to 40k's Tyranids than traditional orcs. The dark magic aspect of their, "reproduction," so to speak, is something I'd like to keep; if the orcs are too similar to the men of the story, the orcs lose some of their scariness. After all, if you got caught by a mutated orc raiding party, you could be like that lumbering, bloodthirsty monstrosity next to you by tommorow. So, perhaps the orcs of this world aren't strictly evil; they're just sort of something in between animals and organic machines, obeying the will of a dark lord because its their nature.

Eumelus Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2016 11:19 p.m. PST

The original Anglo-Saxon word Tolkien borrowed for his monsters was "orc-neas" and may have meant something like "evil corpse thing". So I like your idea very much – except for the use of the science-fiction term "mutant". Call them Cauldron-Born, and make it clear that they are fast, intelligent, pitiless returned dead. Color is corpse-white or bruise-purple.

GARS190003 May 2016 3:34 a.m. PST

Oh, I wasn't going to use the exact word "mutant." It's far too modern. I was thinking of using words like "churl" or "imp."

wminsing03 May 2016 6:15 a.m. PST

So I think the idea does make sense on a basic level. The main questions you'll probably want answers for (or least what people in-universe *think* are the answers):
1. What is the source of the magical goo pools (or whatever) that create the Orcs?
2. How were the first Orcs created? Deliberate exposure or tragic accident?
3. Does the transformation leave any of the original personality 'intact'? What about knowledge and skills?

Anyway, I think it's a cool concept and perfectly suited for an army of horrible monstrosities.


cfielitz03 May 2016 6:29 a.m. PST

Organically Replicating Combatants

wminsing03 May 2016 6:36 a.m. PST

Organically Replicating Combatants

That's *Perfect*.


GARS190003 May 2016 11:50 a.m. PST


1. Dark Magic…not really sure about that. I'm not even sure if evil goo is the best explanation yet.
2. Deliberate action by an evil, Lovecraftian entity that I haven't found a satisfactory name for yet. He can't influence the world directly, so he has cult members and these mutants to do his work for him and eventually release him..
3. Their original consciousness is mostly suppressed, but they can use weapons, obey commands and march/fight in mass formations.

Zephyr103 May 2016 2:39 p.m. PST

The problem with kidnapping people to build armies runs into the problem of running out of people to kidnap. ;-) I'd still keep the magical mutation thing (it's nice & evil), but also retain the orc stereotype of breeding like rats… ;-)

GARS190003 May 2016 2:52 p.m. PST

Oh, they don't have to restrict themselves to whole villages; Perhaps, every once and while, the orcs could hit a larger town or even an entire city, and carry off the population.

RudyNelson03 May 2016 3:15 p.m. PST

Even back in the 1970s, it was understood that Orcs were mutants. Even in one of the LotR movies of the time, it may have been the animated version, they talked about how Orcs were created. The initial Orcs were tortured elves. One magazine article talked about tortured dwarves and humans as well.
I am not sure if Orcs could produce other Orcs naturally.

GARS190003 May 2016 4:11 p.m. PST

Yeah, but these orcs are not really sentient, like Tolkein's elves; they're more like the Tyranids from 40k.

Also, what would be a good color scheme for these guys? I was going for albino skin, but what about the cloth, metals, ect? I would prefer something simple, since I have to paint a whole bunch of these guys. Black and red is out, since my good guys are using that, along with white and gold, as their color palette.

Brandlin04 May 2016 4:07 a.m. PST

If they are kidnapped citizens 'converted' but retaining little former identity and knowledge, then they won't have a viable socio-economic culture. Who farms? Bakes? Smiths? So, no new cloth, armour, weapons, foods etc. They wouldn't have a 'colour palette' they'd just be a gru bier version of whatever they were kidnapped in

wminsing04 May 2016 11:41 a.m. PST

Unless they are provided fresh gear by their fiendish overlords, of course.


GARS190004 May 2016 11:48 a.m. PST

I was thinking human slaves could be the logistical aspect. If the mutants get hungry, they can just eat a couple of people.

wminsing04 May 2016 12:05 p.m. PST

And if you suffer more losses than expected, toss a couple of slaves into the G.O.O. (Genetic Optimization Ooze) pits!


GARS190004 May 2016 12:45 p.m. PST


GARS190004 May 2016 6:16 p.m. PST

Another question: Should the orcs have shields? I know I said that the orc are armed with glaives, but the actual miniatures are technically listed as orc spearmen and are supposed to have shields. I was thinking about it, and it occurred to me that fantasy fiction is full of spear/shield combo infantry, probably because it really common in real life. Also, wouldn't a spear and shield be easier to train minions in fighting in mass formations, than a glaive or billhook?

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