DESIGNER’S DIARY 2: ORCS OF CONFLICT
DESIGNER’S DIARY 2: ORCS OF CONFLICT
Our principles in the design of all races were the same: to come up with something original, and not to stray too far from the theme of well-known settings like Greyhawk, Eberron, or Forgotten Realms. Because many people were playing the game in these settings or in their homebrew settings that were very close to those games.
Nevertheless, the main problem we faced when designing the details of the Orc race was avoiding some obvious similarities. Because while improving the content about orcs and making it a more playable race for players, the biggest problem we faced was the Warcraft Franchise and the situation of the orcs there.
It can be said that D&D orcs have more detail, although it references Lord of the Rings just like the game itself. When it becomes more playable and reveals differences in alignment, culture, and religion, it inevitably starts to get closer to that genre. So much so that in the feedback we wanted for our first ideas, some returns pushed us to that side persistently.
Understandably, anyone with an average consumption of D&D and Warcraft should have internalized Warcraft orcs more. There are so many races and creatures in D&D that for the average player or the Dungeon Master, orcs are just one of the hundreds of options. It is not surprising, then, that the reference points for the “orc theme” have shifted to the other franchise, which in itself has a much greater weight of orcs.
Another thing we didn’t want at this point was to get too close to the Warhammer Franchise’s orcs. The dumber, more collective, and lacking individual flavor yet fun orc stereotype there, wasn’t quite what we wanted either. Also, our similarity to the orc approach of these two franchises would naturally take away the originality of the content we produced.
After we identified the points we didn’t want, we extracted some basic concepts that we wanted in the orcs. Aggression, ferocity, fondness for food and mating, as well as a propensity for war and conflict. In addition to these, we also tried to find the stretching points of the orcs that we can expand and add a more modern understanding of the era. For example, there could be orcs with good alignment, but we were more sympathetic to them being chaotic good instead of lawful good as a result of the basic orc approach. That is, like most races or characters, the sudden reversal of both the ethical and moral parts of the alignment was a greater departure from the original. That’s why we decided to stretch the orcs to the limits of the most chaotic good and lawful evil. Surely there is no such limit for players and the general culture of subraces is only there to give an idea of them and to add detail to the settings.
At this point, it was our priority to design orc deities, as we will mention under the deity titles in the future. The orc theme, which is very religious and easily manipulated by the deities, would also form the basis of the orc subraces.
We have identified orcs worshiping Shazvor, the mightiest god of the orcs, as the most populous and default orc subrace. We designed this sub-race, which we call Pureblood, to be strong, fanatical, and offensive. Similar to Purebloods at first glance, but different in both culture and traits, the Thunderborn orcs became a far more savage and uncivilized people, if not as evil as the others. These more mystical people, with the Birth Sign they received when they were born, would have both resistance to different elementals and the physical characteristics associated with them. While they, like the Pureblood orcs, emphasize physicality and combat, we have made sure that both their abilities and cultures are quite different from each other.
The next step was to create the subraces that stretched to the boundaries of the basic orc theme, as we mentioned above. Sanctuary orcs under the protection of Lemertel, a benevolent goddess, were designed to be somewhat pacifist as well as mechanically close to the ranger and druid theme. One of the other orc subraces, responsible for the creation of half-orc variants, and experts in occult spells, became the Branded Orcs, the people of Repetnuk, whose aim is to transform the orc race into something completely different. Moreover, these orcs, accustomed to living in Civilized places, with different peoples among their ancestors, were the opposite of Pureblood in every sense. Mechanically, it had the potential to adapt to many classes, especially charisma-based classes.
Again, another subrace that fell out of the general orc theme was the Golden Orcs. Although they are known as the people of the demigod known as Golden Boy Vortenn their relationship with this god was not built to be as conservative as most orcs. As a subrace suitable for its flexible and adventurous theme, and even for spellcaster classes, it will meet many needs as well as provide a folk background that is worth researching in itself.
For the last orc subrace, we decided to go completely beyond the design logic. Unlike all other subraces, Faithless Orcs were conceived as isolated people not dedicated to any orc god. The features they gained were also put into a very mystical and fantastic form even for D&D in general. It will inevitably give very good ideas to those who want to play something different.