1. Meteor
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    Meteor Active Member

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    Lesser races in fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Meteor, Nov 21, 2015.

    Hello and thank you for taking the time to look over this thread.

    So I've done a decent digging on what I'm going to ask and came up fairly empty handed, just putting that out there. I want to know your initial reactions to lesser races being given higher intelligence and from eye sores to real lookers. Take orcs for example, sure there are several examples where they've got great intelligence but, they're often portrayed as well...hideous. What if they weren't all that bad looking? Do you guys think things of that nature would be something readers would find unusual and attractive in stories? I've seen similar stufff in other works but, they don't seem super well received.

    Thanks for any responses!
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Doesn't seem like a problem, but at that point why call them orcs? They're dissimilar enough from the standard fantasy orc that I think I'd just give them a new name.
     
  3. Meteor
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    Meteor Active Member

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    Hm, I'll have to give that some thought. I do want some generic races in my story but, I also want a little uniqueness as well. Think I could get away with orcs but, not calling them orcs? An off shoot race maybe?
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I think that would work. On the other hand, if part of the point of the story is to comment in standard fantasy depictions of orcs, then it makes sense to leave the name in my view
     
  5. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    The biggest issue I have with common fantasy depictions of orcs? Lack of depth in culture and history. Then the next big issue would be their physical appearances. The jaws and the ridiculous body builds that you get in World of Warcraft and other such games. The LOTR movies had more gray sleek orcs, but these are closer to "kobolds" in nature by most standards.

    I have two "orc-like" races in my setting and both are far against the norm that labeling them "orcs" is something I only do when I do not want to describe in detail. Keep the name separate unless your intention is to help fix the imbalance caused by D&D.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My answer depends on how much you are personally investing in this concept of them not being physically hideous. Are you just trying to "mix it up", or do you have something to say with this? As regards time-tested tropes, physical beauty is sometimes employed as a facet of evil in the form of temptation. Now, this clearly has a rather western, abrahamic flavor to it. Mermaids, for example, lure sailors to their death with their unrivaled beauty, but the message of the mermaid in myth is one of giving in to lust. There is a message there; it's not random. If you make evil hideous, well, that's pretty plain and on the nose. If you make it look just like us, unassuming, then you speak about evil being ubiquitous and part of us, not them. If you make evil beautiful, then you speak of temptation and jealousy, covetousness. Even if you yourself never mean to add these directions into your work, the reader may easily read these messages into what you write because, as the saying goes, you, the writer, are dead once the piece is finished and you don't get to direct us after the fact.
     
  7. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am a bit curious what is a lesser race? I think of something like porpoises as beautiful creatures and very intelligent but since they don't build things etc. they could be considered a lesser race but I am not sure if this is what you mean.
     
  8. Meteor
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    Meteor Active Member

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    I typically refer to creatures such as orcs as lesser races because of two factors. The first being a lack of higher intelligence and the second being the over all dissolute culture said races tend to have. Take D&D for example, their orcs(with a few exceptions)are generally vile, evil critters who can't grasp the concept of magic, architecture or other such ideas as a whole. Certain individuals can like their shamans, to an extent. In the case of goblins and goblinoids the concept of magic, building, craftsmanship etc. are all but lost to them in virtually every case. Lets not forget that goblins tend to feel the need to kill everything if they think they have the superior numbers. I actually divided this up into three primary categories but, later decided to do away with that since I want to mix things up a tad.

    I actually want to mix things up more than anything. Just like in my science fiction writing where I basically tell the laws of physics to pound sand at most turns. The Elder Scrolls series and Blizzard have slightly broken this thinking of pure evil orcs but, stick to them being somewhat less sophisticated than other races. Primarily that dissolute culture I was talking about. Now don't get me wrong I actually like Blizzard's version of the orcs quite a lot. I'm just sick of seeing super tribal war based death marchers hell bent on seeing nothing other than the complete annihilation of others. Granted in WoW this is based on the current leader more than anything. As for Elder scrolls it just boils down to they're depicted as warmongering no good brutes whose society doesn't let them live past a certain age because they are seen as 'worthless'. This in turn drives them to constantly seek a death in battle. I mean they're almost always bandits and the few that aren't are asking you to give them an honorable death or some such and a fight ensues.

    I want my orcs to have a tribal like society with a moral code followed by the common individual rather than just one or two here and there. I want them to have an actual history and I want my readers to relate to them through more than just violence. I actually thought about it last night after I had asked the question. I took a few ideas from other works and sort of mish-mashed them together. An off shoot race created from your typical orcs when a few tribes were altered by some powerful magical event(s). While they acknowledge their tie to their cousins they fully identify as another race and even have permanent settlements. I have them in a fairly tribal state of constant moving until the tribe becomes to large to move regularly, forcing them to settle or separate. The different tribes do war with one another but, not over frivolous things like whose leader is better or who has the bigger swinging schlong between their knees. I want to gradually move them into a particular territory and have it centered around city states with eventual unification(maybe). The idea I had was a highly modified version of Native Americans before Western settlers.
     
  9. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think orcs look cool, and I would love to read about orcs who are not arbitrarily designated as "primitive" and/or "evil" but who still look like you would expect them to.

    Does anybody here know specifically of any orcs like this?
     
  10. The-Crow-Goddess
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    The-Crow-Goddess Member

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    World of Warcraft has these troll like monsters that look like orcs, but they are a tribal race that are just as intelligent as the human characters. They're making a movie about the orc-like creatures and the humans (or elves, I couldn't really tell) trying to work together to defeat some imminent threat, I saw the trailer on YouTube a while ago.

    **SPOILERS (If you haven't read the Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini)***

    And then there are the Urgals in the Inheritance Series, of course. They are very similar to orcs, in that they seem dumb and evil, but in the last book we get to know them more intimately as the Urgals join forces with the good side and they fight the evil king together. The Urgals are revealed to be intelligent, but they have an inherent bloodlust that drives them to violence. The Urgal chief (or maybe it was a great Urgal warrior) told Eragon in the last book, after they had defeated the evil king, that the Urgal tribes couldn't promise that they would be friendly with their neighbors because of their ingrained urge to fight and win glory in battle.

    To solve this Eragon does some Deep Magic stuff (Chronicles of Narnia reference, hehehe) and lets Urgals become Dragonriders and also sets up an Olympic Games type thing where the Urgals can fight in tournaments with other races to prove their badassness instead of killing people.
     
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  11. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @The-Crow-Goddess Wow, thank you. I actually loved Paolini's stories (if not his atrocious writing of which), and I actually remember loving when he established the Urgals as being people instead of as cannon-fodder, and I cannot believe that I had forgotten that so completely before you reminded me.

    Well played :cool:
     
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  12. The-Crow-Goddess
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    The-Crow-Goddess Member

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    No probs, that's what I'm here for. Swooping down to talk about books and also to steal shiny things when no one is looking.
     
  13. Tom13
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    I find it very interesting how fantasy races have developed. Tolkien did a *lot* of research on European folk lore, he took the name orc, which in Old English was more akin to a daemon. He actually made little or no differentiation between orcs and goblins, the terms are used pretty interchangeably in the LotR. The along came D&D and they took Tolkien's world and built on it (with of course other influences). Then Games Worshop further altered it for their Warhammer setting, which Blizzard altered slightly again for their WoW setting.

    I've been doing a bit of world building for my WiP and I decided to ignore all the literary developments and go back to the source material, ie folk tales. I have dozens of books on myths and legends, and I have used these as a basis for my races. This fits my setting quite well, as (at the begining of the book, at least) there is no physical realm of the elves, they are otherworldly, more akin to mythic creatures. I made the decision to change the names simply because your average fantasy reader has a lot of assumptions about the accepted races.

    So my elves are Alvar, goblins (or goblin type things) are Kobaldi, I do use the term Trolls because I wanted to keep a fairy tale type connection with these creatures, but at other times I call them Etins. All these terms are derived from real words but (I hope) are different enough to make it clear that they are not your standard fantasy races.
     
  14. Lazzamore
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    Lazzamore New Member

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    I myself like taking common popular fantasy creatures and giving them a unique spin. But I have to agree with Steerpike, at some point you have to wonder when using an all-too-common name is just gonna do you a disservice, via preconceptions.

    My opinion on the matter is that you can never go wrong with orcs. Seemingly no matter how they are portrayed, I find myself psychologically trying to empathize with them. This is probably because I played warhammer 40k as a kid and collected Orks (and still do!). So particularly the humorously caricatured green orcs hearkens back fond memories to me, and now I find myself siding with orcs just because of their name. (*SPOILER* That doesn't mean I applaud at the scene where Boromir is tragically cut down, mind you, I just find myself siding with them when I can.)
     
  15. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    What I dislike about fantasy is the absurdity of some of the races. A human with an animal head and a tail requires too much hand-waving for my liking... how the hell did a human end up with a cat head? Why? What evolutionary purpose would that serve? It is just irritatingly silly. It goes beyond suspension of disbelief into the realm of bollox.

    But if we are looking at something orc-like for example, basically humanoid for all intents and purposes, a social, intelligent, humanoid species, who probably split from our tree at a late stage... then why should they not be attractive and have comparable intelligence? I mean, we all contain neanderthal DNA... some of us more than others.
     
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  16. Tom13
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    In fantasy did the races evolve at all? Also, even if they did and orcs and humans share an ancestor, it doesn't follow they will find each of mutually attractive. Otherwise real world humans would find chimps attractive.
     
  17. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    True, but Cro-Magnon humans and Neanderthals found each other attractive enough that anyone who isn't 100% Subsaharan African has some amount of Neanderthal in them. Some Europeans are about 8% Neanderthal.
     
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  18. Inks
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    Lucy the chimpanzee developed and became attracted to humans because of identification that she was human. Normal biological predispositions can be overwritten or outright ignored under certain circumstances.

    This might sound terrible, but interracial marriages often have bigger differences in mates than many relationships in fantasy. White graceful elf/white human male. *cough*Tolkien*cough* Would green skin matter? Besides, "mutually attractive" is a relative term when "sexual gratification" is the end result. This also overlooks other aspects.

    I find (certain depictions) of orcs to be attractive. So yeah... I am sure a world with orcs will have their human lovers. Besides, there are enough people playing with "vampires" which are supposed to be undead, pale skinned, blood-drinking horrors. Orcs seem more human than a creep like Dracula.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015
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