Posted by: Jess Riley | November 10, 2008

Theme Week Orcs: It Takes A Village

WoW Wiki informs me that the orcs have a strong ‘it takes a village’ mentality when it comes to raising their children. To me, this makes a lot of sense – in a warrior people, where both parents are frequently away fighting for their people, there will be extended times when they won’t be around the children, and those who are left behind will have to do that instead. It’s not unreasonable to see an extension of this, where children are raised under the influence of many.

This is something that may not be essential to roleplay, but which certainly impacts it. I’d note that, most notably, this adds weight to the idea that the orcs, as a society, are more collectivist than individualist; we can see this idea in other ways, particularly related to the warrior culture (in past years, the weak were exiled and left to fend for themselves, lest they weaken the tribe as a whole), but this adds weight to that. The sense of strength in allegiances and community is repeatedly emphasized in the society.

That’s not to say at all that individual achievements are overlooked – they’re certainly not. However, the overall goal for a lot of orcs seems to be the strengthening of the orcs as a whole, rather than in individual achievements that benefit only one.

Communal raising of children, therefore, makes a lot of sense (and the fact that orcs do raise their children more communally adds weight to this idea; it is a bit circular, I admit). Apart from the points I’ve already noted, in a culture which values the whole over the individuals, there’s no reason why something as important as child-rearing would be an exclusive concern of one or two individuals, is there?

So, what does this mean for roleplay? Keeping in mind the collectivism of the culture would be a start; this kind of attitude has a considerable effect on the individuals within the culture. Even under Thrall’s influence, which deviates from this history of collectivism somewhat, a lot of orcs will be conditioned to think about things in terms of how they affect the society as a whole. Keeping this in mind, to greater or lesser extent depending on the character, will assist your roleplay greatly.

Further, and on a much more personal level – the increased role of people other than the parents in child-rearing will mean that when it comes to childhood memories, there’ll be a much greater number of people featuring in these memories. When the mood strikes you to mention what mother always said about going into battle with animate corpses, it might be worth chiming in on what the next door neighbour said, and what your uncle Freddick said. The upside is that it means you can be more creative in your memories – the downside is that there’s more to keep track of.

The final point that occurs to me is that there’s less chance of the standard ‘apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ occuring with people raised by a greater variety of people; while the values of society as a whole are likely to more homogenous than in, say, our modern society, the variance within the society will be more impressed upon the children, as different people are teaching them different things. Keep this in mind, as well, when deciding on details about your character – who taught them what? Who did they believe? Why?



  1. Well, don’t that make an orcs background a bit more complicated. But like you said, the upside is that it offers much more creativity & depth to your character’s upbringing. And makes your orc character(s) a bit more cautious in deciding his or her actions, as they consider the affects on their race as a whole.

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