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Author Topic: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?  (Read 189 times)

Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« on: August 24, 2018, 09:31:48 PM »
I just wrote the following fluff piece in the T9A forum, for consideration. I thought I would share it here too.

Also: Ding! 3000th post!  :happy:


Transcript of lecture held at the University of Alfhaven in 973 A.S. by Gerhard Diamantberg, Professor of Orcology


Orcs. Savage, brutish and relentless in destruction. Despoilers of civilized lands, the Scourge of the Gods upon the sinful. What makes the Orcs into what they are? Most are content to say that that is simply the nature of the Orc, perhaps because that is all they think they need to know, or because viewing the world in simple absolutes and dichotomies of good and evil provides existential certainty and comfort for the soul. It thus falls on us academics to view past such notions, and attempt to discern fundamental causes.

Myself, I have concluded that the Orc can be understood to a remarkable degree by consideration of the implications of a simple biological fact: The Orc is fully carnivorous, uniquely among socially organized sentient creatures.

As a thought experiment, imagine what would become of mankind if we were fully carnivorous. We would be unable to feed ourselves on crops obtained by working the land. Nor could we raise livestock on fodder produced through agriculture, the achievable production levels would not even be sufficient to feed the population employed in food production. All that would be left to us would be herding of livestock, which can be done in a highly labour-efficient way. Herding is, however, a highly area-inefficient method of food production. Thus, we would be unable to have anywhere close to the population density of present-day Sonnstahl. Large population centres would be all but impossible to maintain, and consequently, there would be scant possibility for the specialization and social organization required for an advanced civilization to develop.

That is essentially the situation the Orcs are in. At this point, it should be mentioned that an advanced Orcish civilization did exist in ancient times, during the Second Age, disproving any notion of the Orc being intellectually or ethically incapable of such. While the exact nature and development level of this civilization is hard to determine accurately, its historical existence is beyond doubt. Contemporary Elven and Dwarven societies recognized it as an advanced civilization and treated with it on fairly equal terms, a courtesy they did not extend to our own barbaric ancestors. It is however likely that due to the problems caused by carnivority, the Orcish civilization was always precarious and only made possible by the exceptional peace and prosperity of the Second Age. No mentions of any Orcish civilization are found in primary sources from the Third or further Ages. It is likely that the sudden and violent emergence of the Beast Herds that ushered in the Third Age destroyed the precarious economical basis of the Orcish civilization, causing Orcs to devolve into what we know them as nowadays.

The main food source of the Orcs is the boar, which they keep large herds of that roam the land and devour all vegetation in their path. The need for large areas for pasture drives the Orcs to be belligerently territorial, as the growth of the population of an Orcish tribe creates a direct proportionate need for more territory. This population pressure acts as a catalyst for conflict with neighbouring tribes. While the Orc is no doubt belligerent by nature, I believe this belligerence is a consequence of and an adaptation following from the demographic pressure they are under more often than not. An Orcish tribe that fails to obtain sufficient land will find its boar herd shrinking, pressing it to take ever-greater risks. The most extreme outcome is a full-scale Orcish migration, where an entire tribe takes up arms in a desperate gamble to win or die. When a critical number of proximate Orcish tribes feel simultaneous demographic pressure, a strong and charismatic warlord might succeed in uniting the tribes into a horde for the purpose of conquest of civilized lands. If sucessful, such a horde will not only obtain critically needed new lands, but further get to victoriously gorge itself on the inhabitants of the conquered lands and their livestock. Contrary to popular belief, such hordes seldom continue rampaging until defeated. More often than not, sated for the moment by their victory, they settle in the conquered land. Often, the horde turns into a tribal confederacy, held together by common abundance, goodwill created by their common victory, and the prestige and standing of the warlord.

Simply put, the Orcs do what they do out of necessity caused by their biology. They are a species dependent on an ecosystem of their own creation, and on expanding it to feed their growing numbers. Are they, however, so different from us in that regard? Do we not also cut forests and drain swamps to obtain more farmland, destroying ecosystems and displacing species in order to expand our own? If we fight back against Orcs invading our lands, is that really so different from when the Sylvan Elves or the Beast Herds resist our efforts to expand our farmlands at the expense of their native forests?



Rector's Note: Shortly after holding this lecture, Professor Diamantberg was detained by the Inquisition, on suspicion of sedition. While this does not per se render the lecture or any of his works proscribed, it does make the matter highly sensitive. Proper discretion is advised in the dissemination of this lecture.



edit: typos
« Last Edit: August 24, 2018, 10:00:15 PM by Konrad von Richtmark »
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Offline Gankom

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2018, 09:49:11 PM »
Ha I love it. Very fluffy and fitting.

Also woot to 3000 posts!

Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2018, 11:11:19 PM »
Good read!👆
That’s a good thought problem. What if we were fully carnivorous?
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

Offline Warlord

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2018, 12:08:18 AM »
I think a lot of this, as well as Orcs in general are derived from Mongols before, and under Ghengis. Their livestock and grazing pastures, ‘tribe’ interactions could be based on a lot of this. Mongols ate a lot of meat, cheese and milk, with the odd root vege etc. thrown in from their grazing lands and any imports they could get of tea or other items they could not produce themselves. Arguably the reason why they were so warlike was because of the amount of meat they ate, but obviously also political interferance from China was also a factor in getting them on the warpath under Ghengis.
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Offline Rowsdower

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2018, 02:53:12 AM »
Loved every bit of that.
I'd heard from somewhere that the word 'Orc' has its origins at a British university as an acronym for Oxford Rugby Club. I'd also heard that the greenskins are sort of a parody of British soccer hooligans

Offline Castozor

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2018, 07:15:34 PM »
That was a nice piece of fluff you wrote, I enjoyed it very much. Any chance of you writing more Orc pieces?


I'd also heard that the greenskins are sort of a parody of British soccer hooligans
I heard this about 40k Orks but it would not surprise me if the same was true for the fantasy version.

Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2018, 07:15:08 PM »
Good read!👆
That’s a good thought problem. What if we were fully carnivorous?

I suppose current first world society would be able to handle it, since almost all grain that's produced goes to feed animals bred for meat anyway. However, I don't think current first world society could ever have developed in such a case. Farmable plants as staple food just allows such a higher population density.
The only good thing about 7th ed heads is that they look particularly inbred and superstitious which is perfect for Stirlanders

Offline Realjuan

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2018, 07:20:15 PM »
Nice read, gj. Looking forward for more.
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Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2018, 07:26:08 PM »
I think a lot of this, as well as Orcs in general are derived from Mongols before, and under Ghengis. Their livestock and grazing pastures, ‘tribe’ interactions could be based on a lot of this. Mongols ate a lot of meat, cheese and milk, with the odd root vege etc. thrown in from their grazing lands and any imports they could get of tea or other items they could not produce themselves. Arguably the reason why they were so warlike was because of the amount of meat they ate, but obviously also political interferance from China was also a factor in getting them on the warpath under Ghengis.

I actually didn't consciously use the Mongols for inspiration, it's just that there are inevitable similarities there because of the economic basis for the existence of both. That's one of the objectives of T9A fluff, to be at least approximately economically and demographically plausible. That is, blasted wastelands at the edge of the world aren't supposed to be able to produce a constant stream of world-threatening Chaos armies.

Thinking of Mongols and other such steppe nomads did though create a bit of a quandary for me. If orcs live on herding boars, shouldn't orcs be mounted themselves to a much larger degree than usually portrayed as, just like steppe nomads are? It might be that the steppe is the key difference there. Orcs live in all kinds of biomes, and being fully mounted might not be so useful elsewhere than on steppes. Or it might be that much of day-to-day boar herding is indeed done by boar riders, but that the typical orc army on the tabletop might instead represent a migratory horde where every able-bodied orc is a fighter and there's nowhere near enough boar mounts for everyone.
The only good thing about 7th ed heads is that they look particularly inbred and superstitious which is perfect for Stirlanders

Offline Konrad von Richtmark

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2018, 07:26:48 PM »
I actually have some ideas for a sequel, stay tuned  :happy:
The only good thing about 7th ed heads is that they look particularly inbred and superstitious which is perfect for Stirlanders

Offline Gankom

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2018, 08:51:38 PM »
All about the hype train! Waagh! Waagh! Choo Choo!

Offline GamesPoet

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2018, 11:16:25 PM »
Worth the read! :icon_biggrin: :::cheers:::
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Offline Warlord

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Re: T9A Lecture on Orcology - why does the Orc fight?
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2018, 02:51:11 PM »
Thinking of Mongols and other such steppe nomads did though create a bit of a quandary for me. If orcs live on herding boars, shouldn't orcs be mounted themselves to a much larger degree than usually portrayed as, just like steppe nomads are? It might be that the steppe is the key difference there. Orcs live in all kinds of biomes, and being fully mounted might not be so useful elsewhere than on steppes. Or it might be that much of day-to-day boar herding is indeed done by boar riders, but that the typical orc army on the tabletop might instead represent a migratory horde where every able-bodied orc is a fighter and there's nowhere near enough boar mounts for everyone.

That is an interesting point. There would be enough for everyone to ride, almost without a doubt. I think its more finding a reason that makes sense to an orc why not to ride and to fight on foot. Maybe they are not naturally talented riders? Or only those with a specific physical attribute can ride?
Quote from: Gneisenau
I hate people who don't paint their armies, hate them with all my guts. Beats me how they value other things over painting, like eating or brushing teeth.