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Discussing: Info on Orcish culture and society

Info on Orcish culture and society

I'm blaming Werecat's story "Full Circle" for getting my muse all set upon writing an Orcish story all of a sudden. And of course I know just a little more than zip about Orcs... After finishing a first, very rough draft, I did some research (yes, not the correct order, I know ) and came up with a document that is supposedly derived from Tolkien's. Some of it fits with my writings (coincidence? providence?) but it does not state any source material. I'm wondering if I'm safe to use the information in the document, if I should simply continue making things up, or if there is a better source on everyday Orcish life out there. The document in question can be found here. Help much appreciated! Amanda.



Re: Info on Orcish culture and society

Hi Amanda, I glanced at the information, and found that I *personally* would not trust anything that's said there. It is perfectly fine for the environment of that specific role-playing game, but RPGs are not in the least bit bound by canon, only their creator's imagination. (Because you posted here, I assume that you wish to stay within canon, as far as possible?) Now, unfortunately, Tolkien did not give us much information about everyday Orc life, so your imagination has a wide leaveway. I'm just suggesting that you not accept that RPG creator's imagination as being Tolkien canon. Hope this helps, even a little! I have a few notes that I'm saving for adding to the Orcs entry in the Resource Library, but unfortunately nothing that sheds light upon their everyday lives -- except that if you were an Orc working for Sauron in Mordor, he didn't particularly care if you ended up being a snack for Shelob... apparently, employers weren't too concerned about employee safety in those days. - Barbara



Re: Info on Orcish culture and society

In HoME there is an article on Orcs that I can dig out sometime if no one else jumps to it, but it says nothing too detailed of Orc culture or mating practices and stuff like that. It is mostly concerned with Tolkien's ad hoc explanations for the origins of Orcs, which are actually pretty interesting (and when Saruman in movie!FOTR says "they were once Elves, you think, ummmm..."). Tolkien at first said they were once Elves that had been corrupted by Melkor, but then he realized that that statement contradicted some other things he said about the power of Melkor: that Melkor could corrupt and distort Eru's creations, but he could not make such corruption hereditary. He had not the power to create a new race of beings or fundamentally change an existing race and make that hereditary (of course, this was Finrod's problem with Andreth's implication that Men were not meant to die and Morgoth did something to change their fate, and Finrod's -- or Tolkien's -- subsequent explanation that if this were true, it must have been Eru who changed the fate of Men on account of their worship of Melkor... I digress). Then Tolkien tried to find a way around that postulate that explained Orcs within the logic of his universe, and he could never really find a satisfactory explanation that did not shake Arda's logical and philosophical foundations. Anyway, I don't think anything in that website is canon. As far as I know there is very little canon information on Orcs. In canon -- which is pretty much from a Mannish/Elvish perspective -- they are brutal and vile and not very bright. Somewhere in the Silm it is suggested that they live in disorganized bands when not under control of someone like Melkor or Sauron and don't do that much damage. Only in large numbers and when they are serving a greater evil are they floridly problematic. They were probably pretty good cannon fodder since many died but Morgoth and Sauron never seemed to have a shortage of soldiers. They are greedy -- they like treasure.. cf Lay of Leithian in which Beren shoots the Orcs oggling over Felagund's ring. I cannot think of much more than that right now.



Re: Info on Orcish culture and society

Ooh, I agree with Barbara and Gypsum - I would not take anything on that site as Tolkien canon. If there is canon there, it's buried under a lot of blatantly made-up stuff, like the info on orc 'women' and child-bearing, etc. Tolkien never does get into that. Role-play sites do lots of invention anyhow, so I'd strongly suspect anything there as intristic to their Universe and gaming. Everyday orc life really doesn't get much play in Tolkien. At one point in LOTR a couple orcs are grumbling about being in service to Sauron, and dreaming about the "good old days" of being able to raid and pillage at their own whim. So that suggests they once lived in loose predatory bands. Plus there is clearly a division of status and outlook between the Mordor Orcs and Saruman's Uruk-hai, each snarling at the other. But more than that can only be picked out in tiny pieces. If one reads and pores over every bit of Orc dialogue in LOTR, particularly when Sam and Frodo are in Mordor, maybe you could get some ideas, but certainly nothing as detailed as that RPG site. Best of luck with your writing, Amanda! :-) Cheers ~ Erin



Re: Info on Orcish culture and society

Isn't HASA a wonderful place? You ask a question, go to bed, and in the morning you'll find lots of helpful answers! Thanks, Barbara, Gypsum and Erin, for your help! I did suspect that the article I mentioned (and the site) was mostly made-up, if only because its lack of source-quotations. And, although I've only scratched the surface of Tolkien's world, I was thinking that if there was so much knowledge on orcs as mentioned there, I would have heard about it already somehow! But thanks for confirming it to me. *adds big grain of salt to said article* (Because you posted here, I assume that you wish to stay within canon, as far as possible?) Yes, I do, as far as canon exists. And since there doesn't seem to be that much (so it's not just me not being able to find it ) I should be safe extrapolating from what we do know. But I do want my Orcs to be credible within Middle-earth. Thanks also for pointing out to me a few of the things that we do know. Those thoughts will be very helpful in said extrapolating. Tolkien tried to find a way around that postulate that explained Orcs within the logic of his universe, and he could never really find a satisfactory explanation that did not shake Arda's logical and philosophical foundations. That's always a relief to remember when I've written myself into a corner again. If even Tolkien did it, I don't have to feel so bad Thanks again, guys. Have I said how much I love this place? Amanda (off to let imagination run wild)



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