bluebeard

Orcish Orcish Everywhere, And Not A Drop To Drink

Originally published at PeterCHayward.com/blog. You can comment here or there.

So I finished my three redrafts! I started to write a fourth, but I wasn’t feeling it, and so instead I’m honouring my promise to myself. Here are some more All-That-Is musings, for your reading pleasure (and, more relevantly, my writing pleasure.)

Orcs!

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, Orcs quickly evolved from standard brutes to into a “tribal” race. There are 10 united tribes, and 3 outcast tribes: I haven’t actually considered the social commentary of this, because this has been part of the mythos for years, but unless it really strikes me as wrong for some reason, it’ll probably stay in.

The 3 outcast tribes are Mud, Swamp and Fog Orcs. They refuse, on cultural grounds, to wear clothes – for the most part, the other Orcs don’t really mind (and would just tend to look the other way) but when it comes to stuff like “hey let’s present Orcs as a nation to get the respect of the other lands”, it suddenly becomes important that your citizens are…you know, clothed.

So they’re “outcast” tribes when kronKton (the Orcish homeland) is dealing with other nations, but internally there’s no real difference between them and the other tribes, except perhaps that they’re a little more hostile. The United Tribes have all agreed to certain Geneva Convention-esque rules; the Outcast Tribes have no reason to bother doing that, but they’re not all evil chaotic murderers or anything.

(for the sake of adapting the work into visual mediums, Mud Orcs tend to have clumps of mud at random spots: often spots that would be convenient for censorship. Ditto Swamp Orcs, and it’s rare to see a Fog Orc outside of the intense, impossible-t0-see-through fogs.)

tHe uniteD Tribes oF kRonkton, as they’re officially known (Orcish language recognises the importance of capital letters; they’ve just never really gotten their head around where to put them)  is made up of 10 tribes, for at least the first few hundred years. (I’m planning on writing this stuff for the rest of my life, so anything I write now is in the early years of ATI; if I decide to change huge chunks of it, I can do it in-universe, and have a world that changes and evolves with my own preferences, without having to retcon anything.)

  1. Diamond Orcs: Living in the mountains, these Orcs mine out diamond and use it for everything from food* to clothing, shelter and weapons. Once they’ve used up all the diamonds in an area, they move on. Fast miners, good at stripping resources, but their caves tend to be temporary (and thus a bit clumsily-made.)*inspired by Narnia, diamonds and precious stones aren’t just dead, cold things: if you catch them when they’re alive, you can eat them.
  2. Stone Orcs: Cave dwellers, who (unlike Diamond Orcs) will stay in the one area forever. Like ants, they mine out an elaborate home for themselves, extending it as the tribe grows. (they also see extremely well in the dark.) – they’re much slower miners, but extremely precise stonecrafters.
  3. Tree Orcs: Tree Orcs live either in or around the trees – they’ll hollow a tree out, or build treehouses. Think Tarzan: these big guys love swinging on vines and yodelling, and if possible, don’t visit the ground much.
  4. Lightning Orcs: These are the Orcs who live in Atmos, the world’s most dramatic city. It’s constantly in a thunderstorm, and as we all know, a thunderstorm means emotional turmoil. These are the least “tribal” of all the Orcs: they harness the electricity, tend to barter for food from the other Orcs instead of buying their own, and are heavily political creatures.
  5. Water Orcs: Water Orcs reside in houseboats, travelling up and down the rivers (or around the lakes) and fishing for food. A few of them live on the coast, but the rough currents make it difficult to sustain a lifestyle there. Rumour has it that some Water Orcs somehow live underneath the water, in bubble-like permanent residents.
  6. Wind Orcs: These are my personal favourite of all the Orcs – towards the north end of kronkTon, there are massive cliffs that lead to a desert. These Orcs have carved out homes in the cliffs, and have their own personal gliders, using the heat from the desert to travel up and down the cliffs.
  7. Fire Orcs: Incredibly resistant to fire and heat, these Orcs live inside Volcanos, and hunt the tough creatures that swim in lava.
  8. Metal Orcs: Extremely aggressive, extremely social, Metal Orcs are primarily traders and smiths: they get metal from the Diamond Orcs, get the Fire Orcs to smelt it, and create weapons that they trade with the other Orcs. They primarily exist because they travel so much, and kroNkton society relies on them. They hate non-Orcs though, and will frequently refuse to trade with them (they see it as “arming the enemy”) instead attacking on sight.
  9. Grass Orcs: These are the hunter-gatherer type Orcs; they live on the plains, make huts from woven grass, and carry them around with them as they track prey and collect plants etc. They’re great with leather, which they trade to the Metal Orcs (for binding and the like) in return for hunting weapons.
  10. Ice Orcs: The least social of all the Orcs, these guys live on top of the mountains, and are rarely seen by anyone but travelling Metal Orcs. They’re Eskimo-type “rugged up” dudes, but I haven’t really worked out what they eat yet.

I invented all the varieties of Orcs after playing a lot of Pokemon, and wanting to have a land where you could travel around and see all the extremes (fire, water, ice, etc) – when I started working on a Tower Defence game for All-That-Is (I use ATI for any stray projects I play with between my bigger creative works) it worked really nicely for me as well. It’s called “Orc Onslaught”, and you use the other 9 races to build different towers to defend you against the 13 different types of Orcs.

The Outcast Orcs are relatively underdeveloped: I haven’t really worked out the difference between Swamp Orcs and Mud Orcs (swamps, after all, consist mainly of mud) and I have absolutely nothing for Fog Orcs (maybe they could live on the coast? The coast seems pretty abandoned by the rest of the tribes) but since they’re “outsiders” I don’t really need to write too much for them. They can just be all mysterious and shit.

At some point, the Dwarves come to kronktoN after they realize how many precious stones there are: fast and efficient miners, they’ll strip the mountains of all the diamonds, and Diamond Orcs will die out. (I’m thinking that living diamonds might die out at the same time) This gives the rest of history extremely rare but extremely powerful armor and weapon artifacts: no one else is ever able to work as effectively with diamonds as the Diamond Orcs.

In the same decade or so, there’s a schism within the Tree Orcs, between those who believe that you should grow a forest, and those who believe you should just grow one massive tree, feed it so that it grows huge (there’s no practical limit to tree-size in All-That-Is…in fact, that’s the definition of a tree.)

Suddenly there are Tree Orcs and Forest Orcs, and so the number of Orc Tribes never drops below 10 united tribes (or 13 total.)

Until now, I’ve never really had a good reason for this schism. I want it to be a huge deal – not an all-out civil war, but Tree Orcs and Forest Orcs will forever more have a bone of contention between them. It’s politically interesting, and as I said in my last post, anything that gets my brain buzzing with ideas is something I want to include.

Now that I’ve got a bit of personality for the Elves, their philosophy could be a reason for the split – if they believe that hurting trees is wrong, perhaps some of the Tree Orcs really identify with that, and that’s why they split off: Forest Orcs will live much more like Elves, between the trees instead of inside them. If they consider the actions of Tree Orcs  to be really disrespectful/harmful to the trees, then suddenly you’ve got a great ideological reason for these two groups to hate each other.

Why the Elves and the Forest Orcs suddenly hobnob like this I’m not sure; I’ll have a think about this. World events are always nice, some bigger cause that this can be a side-effect of.

That’s all I wanted to talk about in this post: if anyone is reading this, I used to do a thing where I’d expand on any area of ATI that people asked for. It was fun world-building in directions that I’d not normally consider for me, and for other people it was a chance to have a few words of their choice turned into several paragraphs.

So if anything has caught your interest (either in these posts, on the wiki, or in the old posts I did a few years ago) then drop me a line by any means (comment, email, carrier pigeon) and I’ll expand on any element of my fictional world that you like.