Sunday, July 10, 2016

The differences between elves and orcs - the details

So in my last post, I mentioned several different culture “starters” but not really why they were appropriate. The point was that different races should have different cultures, not that Earth cultures can work for different races, so here are the “whys” of the last post.

The dwarves rebelled against their nobles, why? Dwarves are by their nature builders - craftsmen. In their culture, great craftsmen were highly praised, but the nobles, who were administrators and not craftsmen, were more important. This didn’t work for their moral code, so when led by the right people, the dwarves were ready to rebel. Socialism appealed to them, because there, everyone would be working. But they did not foresee the issues of Socialism. The two most important are that art and religion don’t really work in a Socialistic society. While many of the “everyday” dwarves were willing to go along with the nation’s new social ideals, the true artists and the faithful left the country to live under the remaining noble dwarven clans. Of course, the Socialists tried to stop them, and there were (and still are today) some fantastic adventures in order to “rescue” dwarves from their own government.

The elven one was a bit better explained. But the peasant elves were raised under the assumption that the nobles were “high elves” and the commoners were “low elves” and they were of similar but different races - like goblins are different from orcs. Not only this, but the high elven lords promised that their magic could overcome anything. To have these two core beliefs shaken - magic could be learned by low elves and high elves could be beaten in a war - ended the nearly godlike status of the high elves. Not every elven fiefdom was as extreme in the beliefs as we’ve laid out here, but these were fundamental aspects of their culture. To have their fundamental beliefs proven to be $#!+ caused resentment, depression, and a level of fear and uncertainty not seen in the past few centuries.

At one point, the Goblin Empire controlled about a third of the continent, and probably controlled the best farming lands on the continent. The ogres ruled the Goblin Empire with orcs as their military and goblins as their workforce. Under this caste system, things worked. The Empire was properly fed and defended. But as with most empires, decadence at the top led to abuses, and the goblins and the orcs started a civil war. Now the ogres control a much smaller portion of land and they have never adapted to farming (at least very few of them have). They are not the world’s greatest raiders, and in sufficient numbers and formations, the humans and dwarves that live near the ogres have managed to repel raids or punish the tribal villages that executed them. Every time an ogre tribe is defeated, the humans and dwarves take a little more land; further shrinking “Ogre Country”. At this point, the ogre tribes would not be able to sustain themselves on their current land even if they were to switch to agriculture. On top of that, most of their lands are mountainous and forested, so turning these lands to fields or pastures will require an enormous amount of work. Don’t worry - there is a tribe of ogres who has a plan and is putting it into action. The ogres of Thumb Rock just may be able to turn things around for their whole nation.

Dragons are individualistic, so there isn’t intended to be a consistent culture for them. In fact, they all treat their slaves differently, some use them as workers (most often in mines or as shepherds) before they eat them. This often gives the dragons either a trade good they can trade for slaves or something to feed to the slaves (and sometimes the dragons too). Plus, many dragons are incredibly skilled slave masters. They know exactly how to fatten up their human livestock just as humans know how to over feed their steers with corn just before they go to auction. Remember foie gras? Just think about it.

Hope that helps!

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