It occurred to me the other night that I have started several orc projects over the years. Many of which have been quite developed. What else occurred to me is that, in almost every instance, the orcs are slightly different than in the others. If I were to try to place all of them in the same world, it would require me to a) decide on which one was standard, and b) heavily edit the ones that don’t quite fit.
Physically, my orcs are pretty universal. They are somewhere between the hulking green brutes of WarCraft fame, and the black-skinned savages of Tolkien’s creation. My orcs are always larger and more muscular than humans, have brutish facial features with tusks, and generally green skin. The only exception has been the “gray men” from the second Ryvor story. These were meant to invoke the imagery of Tolkien-esque orcs, without calling them orcs. My orcs generally wear crude or simple armor, and rely more on brute strength and tenacity in a fight, rather than fancy skill or finesse. Socially speaking, they are universally aggressive, with many of their laws and customs being based on the idea that might makes right, and only the strongest may lead.
However, in some instances, the orcs seem inherently evil, bent on destruction and cruelty. In others, they are misunderstood savages, chained to the iron will of their overlord through fear and intimidation. In some instances they are stupid brutes who think more with their loins and stomachs than anything else. And other times they are contemplative, noble and deeply spiritual and traditional. So, the question is, where is my true orc represented?
I’m thinking that the answer is: All of the above. Since it is obvious that humans can range the entire spectrum of good and evil, is it so hard to imagine orcs being very different?