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Role Play > WoWJun 25, 2016 2:00 pm CT

Role Play: Orc lore and character development

Orc lore

Orcs have had one of the rockiest roads in terms of story in World of Warcraft. Not necessarily bad guys, but often perceived as such, Orcs had a taste of total dominance in the Mists expansion — or at least, those that sided with Garrosh Hellscream certainly did. And those that didn’t had to deal with the repercussions of his actions regardless. After the Siege of Orgrimmar, supporters of Hellscream’s regime had to side with the new Warchief or face some harsh consequences.

But that’s a broader look at the Orcs as a whole. What goes on in the mind of the Orcs? What do they think about on a day to day basis? What is their life really like, especially in the wake of Garrosh’s vision for the Horde, which somehow went horribly wrong?

Orc history

The answers to these questions depend on where your Orc came from and how old they are. If they’re part of the new generation of Orcs they were either born in internment camps or after.  If this is the case, they don’t know the Old Horde: all they remember is that life was horrible, and then Thrall set them free. An older Orc with a deeper knowledge of history may remember the days of the Old Horde and either misses those days or deeply regrets them. If they miss that period of history, they likely sided with Garrosh Hellscream. If they didn’t … well, that’s a little more complicated.

The Orcish race was certainly thankful to Thrall for freeing them all from internment camps, but that gratitude turned to bitterness for some. Durotar isn’t the friendliest of places to establish a home. It’s hot, the sun is relentless, and crops aren’t easily grown. It’s a tough place to live, and out of all of Kalimdor — which is teeming with life and lush greenery in some areas — Thrall chose… the dirt pile.

That left two choices. Either suck it up and get tougher or silently put up with it and get angry. Some Orcs were perfectly fine with the situation — it was better than an internment camp — but some wondered what Thrall was thinking. When Hellscream became Warchief suddenly there was an Orc in charge who wanted to take action. He didn’t want to ally with the Humans that put Orcs in camps in the first place: he wanted to claim valuable land and resources for the Horde.

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Hellscream’s Horde

Though Hellscream’s vision for the future appeared to have the best intentions for the Horde, that vision didn’t always include the Horde as a whole. How your character felt about Hellscream’s rule reflects on how they feel about the allies that make up the Horde. Do they respect the other races or look down on them? Do they view them as valuable allies and friends? Or are they hiding behind Orcish strength to better their own position in the world?

Beyond that, Hellscream’s rule changed the perception of Orcs in the eyes of the rest of the Horde. Hellscream was brutal and made it incredibly clear which races he favored and which were expendable. Because so many Orcs were standing behind him, many saw other Orcs in the same way they saw Hellscream. Now Orcs may be viewed with suspicion by both the Alliance and people within the Horde as well.

Orcs on Draenor

The latest expansion only reinforced the Horde’s brutal roots: the Old Horde was bloodthirsty as all get out, and so was the Iron Horde. If you didn’t join it, you could be crushed beneath it for all those old warlords cared. The situation of Frostwolves vs. Iron Horde bore an almost eerie similarity to the Horde rebels vs. Garrosh scenario. An Orc in that situation suddenly has a lot to think about.

First there’s a blatant reminder of what the old Horde was and what Garrosh intended his Horde to be. Second, once again the rest of the Horde sees just what the Orcs are capable of doing. And once again the Horde makes it very clear that they aren’t going to stand for it. Draenor wasn’t just a return “home” — it was a haunting reminder of what could have happened on Azeroth.

So what’s the future of Orcs in the Horde? Today Vol’jin is the Warchief, a role that has only ever been filled by Orcs before. Thankfully, he doesn’t seem to hold any grudge against the Orcs that follow him. He’s confident in the abilities of everyone sent to Draenor — certainly enough to allow them to lead their own campaigns, whether Orc or not.

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The mind of an Orc

This leaves Orcs with a very confusing world where been struggling to just survive. It’s a world that might not seem very fair, regardless of whether or not they supported Hellscream. If they supported Hellscream, it’s clear that the rest of the Horde doesn’t feel the same way — but if they didn’t support Hellscream, they’re not necessarily trusted by their Horde allies.

Again, Orcs are trying to find some kind of redemption for crimes that they never committed in the first place. Your Orc may not have been part of the Old Horde. They weren’t a member of the Iron Horde. They might have actually fought against Hellscream — but it doesn’t matter. They’re still an Orc and the entire race has been marred by the actions of Garrosh and the Iron Horde. That kind of thing weighs heavily on anyone, even more so on someone who’s never known anything but fighting for survival and acceptance.

Beyond that, there’s constant self-examination. Nothing the Orcs have done has been quite right, so what exactly is the right way? Is it the way of the Orcs of old? Or is it a new way, a path that has yet to be forged? Do you fight for the world you live in because you want to conquer it or because you believe it’s the right thing to do? Are you bitter about the hand you’ve been dealt or do you simply take the cards and try to make the best of what you’ve been given?

Orcs place a lot of value on strength, but there’s different kinds of strength in the world. There’s brute physical force and there’s strength of character — strength of mind. On an Azeroth that doesn’t necessarily embrace Orcs with open arms, it’s up to your character to choose whether they shrink away from that battle, or simply stand taller in the face of it.

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