Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Orcs are not green

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Orcs are not green

    On page 25 of the Savage RIFTS book "Arcana and Mysticism", it says that orcs are "burly green-skinned humanoids", but that isn't accurate. Orcs from both Palladium fantasy and RIFTS have NEVER been referred to as green in color. They have always had human-like skin tones, just a dark complexion.

    A tiny mistake, but it's a pet peeve of mine since I despise those goofy, green orcs from other games.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forums.

    Comment


    • #3
      What kind of Orcs do you like? I have to admit I am tired of the Green Skins myself, but it seems to be a trope. The only time I ever see green skin is after a bad bruise. Iron-based blood just does not lean toward green hues.

      Comment


      • paladin2019
        paladin2019 commented
        Editing a comment
        I think the OP speaks for itself. The preference is for Palladium's vision of orcs.

    • #4
      I dunno, it depends on what they ate.

      Comment


      • #5
        The Palladium version of Orcs sounds closer to the original Tolkien version--which might explain the reason for the change. Without getting too deep into the weeds, the 'dark-skinned savages' version of Orcs has not exactly aged well. The green tint job does a lot to undo some of those connotations.

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by Freemage View Post
          The Palladium version of Orcs sounds closer to the original Tolkien version--which might explain the reason for the change. Without getting too deep into the weeds, the 'dark-skinned savages' version of Orcs has not exactly aged well. The green tint job does a lot to undo some of those connotations.
          Tolkien described orcs as "sallow-skinned," which is more like a yellowish, sickly color. I always assumed they had a perpetually bruised and mottled appearance. Tolkien even alluded that their very existance was wracked with torment, like whatever tortures and poisons Morgoth used to twist the elves just became part of their geneform.

          Comment


          • Deskepticon
            Deskepticon commented
            Editing a comment
            Huh! Just read a bunch of essays (more like rambling thoughts) that Tolkien wrote in the late 1950s where he flipflops on the origin of orcs. Apparently he disliked the idea they were corruptions of elves, and suggested that they were originally beasts that were taught to speak, later bred with men, not elves, to give them shape (i.e., a mockery).

            The timeline is screwy, though, since orcs appear before Men even come onto the scene, so Christopher Tolkien offered this explanation:

            This then, as it may appear, was my father's final view of the question: Orcs were bred from Men, and if 'the conception in mind of the Orcs may go far back into the night of Melkor's thought' it was Sauron who, during the ages of Melkor's captivity in Aman, brought into being the black armies that were available to his Master when he returned.
            So the "orcs" that battled the elves back when Middle Earth was still dark (before the creation of the sun and birth of Men) were just intelligent beasts (not unlike the great-hound Huon, or the giant eagles) under Melkor's command, but the orcs-as-we-know-them were bred by Sauron during the centuries of Melkor's imprisonment using mostly human stock, but "regretably" elves as well. This is a rather nice touch, since it was mentioned that Sauron was the one who created the orkish language. This theory sorta ties everything together.
            ______

            Anyway.... nothing to do with the OP. I just thought it was interesting.

        • #7

          In a letter Tolkien also added to the sallow skin description that orcs were Mongol-like in appearance. Which is why D&D and some other IPs gave orcs psuedo-Mongolian equipment and aesthetics. However he also took some deliberate anti-racist positions both within and outside of his writing. The debate on JRR Tolkien's attitudes on race can be interesting, but a lot of the worse criticisms tend to lean on later interpretations of his work that bleed in other biases. Still, some of his own cultural bias seem to at least show through in places. Time also provides different connotations to some of his word choices.

          Personally I mostly agree with your position. A sickly corruption of form following the spiritual corruption. A recent essay claimed Tolkien struggled with orcs and his novel depictions having to balance being inherently evil as he established in his mythology yet possessing personality in the novels and possibly having free will. Tolkien even considered presenting orcs as mindless creatures mimicking but truly lacking humanlike behavior. His supporting/further writings were never actually finished and he also considered further revisions of the novels that never came to be. Note that the name orcs was a revision, using hobgoblin up through at least the original printing of the Hobbit.

          The green skin vs human like but different tones can definitely be tricky. Green seems to be the current fashion. I think the various Warhammer franchises have a big influence on that. I am not sure where the green skin first comes up. Modern D&D adjacent art leans that way. Green is an easy way to make orcs more alien, especially if giving them a more inhuman nature such as the fungus-orks of Warhammer 40k. Plus it is an easy visual difference from others that doesn't rely on having prominent jaws and brows to the degree that is seen in some art while maintaining readable faces. However it isn't a healthy skin tone seen in mammals as far as I am aware. It can further push them as inhuman when trying to present them as a full people. Non-green is classic to earlier fantasy literature and the Palladium source material.

          Comment


          • Deskepticon
            Deskepticon commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeah, I think the popularity of the Warhammer and Warcraft franchises is why this notion of green-skinned orcs had gained prominence. I can't really recall seeing it before that (though, admittedly, I haven't read every fantasy story out there).

            DnD has pretty consistently given their orcs grey skin throughout the years. As for Warcraft, though, I think it just came down a visual thing; players needed to quickly distinguish one unit from another on the screen. I never got into Warhammer so I won't speculate there.

          • TheColdFlamesOfEternity
            TheColdFlamesOfEternity commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, the Warhammer franchises were huge influences on Warcraft/Starcraft. You are right that Warcraft probably is more responsible for how widespread that image has become. WoW definitely seems to be the beast to push orcs so forward as a fan favorite PC race. Before it was rare for me to interact with orcs fans. They were a fun option in some groups, but not exactly popular. There is a big following now that seems to emphasize different aspects than the preWoW era. More IPs have orcs in prominent positions as something other than minion fodder. Though that has gone back a long time, it is much more common now in my experience.

            I noticed a shift in the art during D&D third edition. Most of the art had gray, with a mottled yellow brown on occasion. But green was showing up, especially in PC forward art. Forgotten Realms in that period seemed to try a few different skin tone sets for different areas of orcs, though consistency was a problem. Gray Orcs in the eastern part of Faerun were basically Warcraft orcs and being setup as an up and coming race for PCs. Half-orcs seemed to come in green quite often. With a few major areas that saw them as not uncommon.

          • paladin2019
            paladin2019 commented
            Editing a comment
            FWIW, the orcs of the D&D cartoon show (ca. 1982) are green and sort of boar-nosed, but that may have simply been to contrast with their Venger red uniforms in the cartoon medium. This is similar to the Monster Manual descriptions of brown or brownish-green with a bluish hue, setting of their pink snouts and ears, but the cartoon colors in general are much brighter than the descriptions given. Green just probably worked better for the colorists to show what was going on on-screen and this is probably the origin of green-skinned orcs in the zeitgeist.

            Zarak, the contemporaneous half-orc assassin D&D action figure was also green skinned, though his artwork is much paler with a sickly green tinge. But again, this is for a kids' toy so the color contrast may have been more important. We'll ignore the Monster Manual and Players Handbook declaring PC half-orcs, the ones who can be assassins, are explicitly the 10% of human-orc heritage that can pass for human. It's 1982, we gotta make sure ancestry is crystal clear!

            EDIT: Correction, the D&D cartoon debuted in September '83 and Return of the Jedi in May '83. I;m sure Gamorreans had no influence on the cartoon orcs.
            Last edited by paladin2019; 02-27-2021, 07:29 PM.

        • #8
          I remember an old video on YouTube where Wizards of the Coast stated that no matter how much they emphasized that D&D orcs are grey, almost all the artists they commissioned sent in pieces with green orcs.

          Comment

          Working...
          X