Orcs still equal “savage peoples”May 9, 2008
So we just got the preview of 4E Orcs and they seem to be shifted a bit more towards the Norse/Celtic look, the language to describe them still mirrors the stuff they used to pull in the justification of the conquest of the Americas…
There’s nothing new here, but the descriptions I find triggering and problematic, if only because it mirrors it so closely. Bloodthirsty, lazy, savage, cannibal, tribe, despotic, etc. I suppose if they weren’t aiming for the 14 year old crowd, we might even get the “sacrifices babies to their god, Moloch, I mean, Gruumsh”. It’s also not hard to see how these ideas still float around as false judgments of us.
Edited to Add:
Naamen’s excellent post on Savagification. Context, context, context.
It’s always interesting how fantasy/sci fi has this deep obsession with manifest destiny- less technology/magically powerful races want to destroy you and take your stuff, more technologically/magically powerful races want to destroy/enslave you and take your land…
I don’t have a problem with the concept of a monster race on a certain level, after all, it is a game about fighting monsters. I think I find it more problematic that it’s drawing so much similarity to real world ugly that I have to question which is worse – the authors consciously drawing on the concepts to justify the fiction of violence (which I doubt they did), the unconscious drawing upon those concepts, which shows you how deep the conditioning runs, and, if this is a baseline archetype for “monster”, that not only throughout much of history, but even today, they can so easily dehumanize us and see us as monsters.