Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Half-Stork Brings Half-Orcs

Ah yes, the eternal conversation on the sexual background of Half-Orcs.

The sexual background of Halford is a far better topic.
Why is this even an issue? Why was it seen as such an inevitability, that 2nd edition D&D purged half-orcs altogether from the core game? Why does Pathfinder leave this one aspect of sexuality in canon, rather than take the much wiser approach that the individual group should be free to turn the dial on this particular topic?

To reduce it to absurdity ...

DM: All right, this setting is a fantasy version of medieval Europe. You can choose your national background, or roll.
Player 1: I'll roll ... hey, I'm Irish ... and with Viking ancestry! The blood of the Lochlannach flows in my veins!
Player 2: Yeah, you know that means a Viking raped your mom, right?
Player 1: Excuse me?
Player 2: What do you think, they asked for her hand in marriage? I'm sorry, but it's just a fact of medieval life. Your character is a bastard conceived by force.
DM: That's not necessarily true. The Viking blood could have come from an earlier generation ...
Player 2: Who still got raped. I don't know why you're acting so shocked at these natural facts that are necessarily part of the setting.
Player 1: I dunno. Do I have to ...
Player 2: Yes. It's historical canon!
DM: Player 2, what kind of GM did you play under before that gave you the impression it was OK to act this way?
Player 2: Someone who didn't knuckle under to the political correctness brigade. Hey, my own character was a product of rape due to the setting and I handled it all right.
DM: Do tell ...
Player 2: You see, logic demands that evil creatures can only reproduce through the most evil kind of sex there is. My backstory called for my father to be a necromancer and my mother an anti-paladin. They had no alternative but to rape each other.
All: They what?
Player 2: It happens. Charm spells were involved in this case. You see ...
DM: Okay, okay, let's move on.

For those completely bereft of imagination, and who don't want to make a stand on a dubious setting detail that's about as productive as random ass-boils, here are six other ways half-orcs can come into being while keeping orcs evil.

1. Humans sometimes seek out orcish partners out of decadence and perversity.
2. The orc is the most evil race there is. Those who actively promote evil willingly breed with orcs on ideological grounds.
3. Humans are not born orcs, but become that way through mutation or evil deeds. A half-orc is one who has willingly or otherwise arrested his or her orcish development.
4. Half-orcs are artificially bred by test-tube wizards.
5. Inbreeding leads to half-orcism. Inbred half-orcs in the past produced full-orcs.
6. Half-orcs are part of the normal genetic variation of orcs - they happen  to look sufficiently human, if ugly, to "pass" in human communities. Likewise, there are very ugly humans who can "pass" as half-orcs.


  1. I like #6 merely because it reminds me of some of the gyrations done to explain the difference between Star Trek Original Klingons and Star Trek:TNG Klingons.

  2. Relevant: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0555.html

  3. Hi there! Thanks for reading my blog post! I love your alternate suggestions! I am going to share this post with my G+ followers. If you're interested in being part of the discussion, feel free to look me up on G+!

    -Brie (from Gaming as Women)

  4. If orcs are elves gone wrong (like in the Silmarillion), could half-orcs be half-elves gone wrong?

    1. That's one thing I didn't consider - half-orcs could be an interbreeding race unto themselves.

  5. What if Orcs are magically mutated humans who, once coupled, have (IIRC) a 1/4 chance of having a near, or passable, human child. Why they wouldn't "dispose" of it is yet another touchy subject I will leave up to ROGER THE GS to address...

    1. Well, orcs always seek to maximize the suffering in the world because they are Utterly Evil, so keeping the kid around to suffer some more is consistent with that! (Also a good excuse why they capture rather than TPK).

  6. I was working on a character last night, a half-orc. One of the quotes I ascribed to him (to develop his character & background) was "My momma was an orc. It was the best dad could do."

    Maybe Half-orcs should just be civilized orcs. That is to say orcs raised by other races. They are only halfway orcs because they weren't exposed to the societal & cultural aspects of orcdom. They might (probably) be raised to be kind & considerate of others or other 'weak' philosophies.

  7. How about a seventh option?

    7. Half-orcs are born like everyone else. Maybe Uggluk is just so big and strong, or Ugglina is rich, and she can cook the best horse brain in the land, or both parents were outrageously drunk, or it was a conventional arranged marriage for land and money.

    Why doesn't that occur to the people participating in these debates, or the people writing these supplements?

  8. Don't you know ... they prefer to be referred to as "alloyed beings" now, not "humanoids" or "demihumans". Certainly not "half-human".

  9. Also:
    #8: Human and Orc met on CL and met at a bar, and the lights were really low and they already had a few drinks before they got there. One thing led to another and a roving band of Halfling bandits raped them. Next morning they wake up in each others' arms all beat up and can't remember out who raped whom. Nine months later a few Halflings in the gang give birth to half-orc half-halfling babies.