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jqavins
2015-02-18, 01:20 PM
I don't have my books to search, so I'm relying on Wikipedia. According to the Orc article:
While the overall concept of orcs draws on a variety of pre-existing mythology, the main conception of the creatures stems from the fantasy writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, in particular The Lord of the Rings...

In Tolkien's writings, Orcs are of human shape, of varying size but always smaller than Men. They are depicted as ugly and filthy, with a taste for human flesh. They are fanged, bow-legged and long-armed and some have dark skin as if burned.

(I added the underline.) As I recall, the 1E AD&D Monster Manual has no mention of skin color at all. What is certain about orcish biology is that they are mammals and they are almost certainly primates. Unless I am seriously mistaken, there is no such thing in nature as a green mammal.

So why did the popular, nearly universal image of orcs turn green? When did this happen? Is it all WoW's fault?

M Placeholder
2015-02-18, 01:27 PM
Orginally, Orcs were one of the Goblinoid races, along with Kobolds, Bugbears, Goblins and Hobgoblins. Goblins and Orcs were more or less the same in Tolkien, but D&D split the Orcs off from the Goblins, then in the third edition, Kobolds were reclassed as Draconic creatures, rather than Goblinoid (or Canine, as in Mystara), tying into lore relating to Drakes and fire from German folklore.

As for the Green colour, it orginally came from Games Workshop I think. Players started painting Orks green, and the colour stuck.

YossarianLives
2015-02-18, 01:28 PM
I think it probably started with the Warcraft games. I can't be certain though.

Feddlefew
2015-02-18, 01:29 PM
.... I was under the impression that D&D orcs were grey? :smallconfused:

ArqArturo
2015-02-18, 01:29 PM
Warhammer Fantasy had orks green.

Elricaltovilla
2015-02-18, 01:32 PM
Its actually Warhammer and Warhammer 40k's fault, which started way back in 1983. The apocryphal story is that someone at Games Workshop accidentally painted their ork models green, the dev team decided they liked it and it rolled from there. Certainly the popularity of World of Warcraft helped bring the idea of green orcs to the forefront

In actuality, orcs come in a variety of colors depending on their universe of origin as seen here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orc#Other_fantasy_works). Some are green, some brown, some black, and even orange and blue Orcs are present.

What makes you so certain that orcs are mammals, much less primates? I don't recall any sourcebooks identifying them as such, and depending on your particular universe that may be entirely untrue. In Warhammer 40k, for example, Orks are a type of fungus and their green skin comes from a symbiotic algae growing in their dermis that uses photosynthesis to help fuel the orks so that they can continue fighting at peak efficiency indefinitely. In Orcs: First Blood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orcs:_First_Blood) (which I recommend if you like fantasy), orcs are more like reptiles or amphibians in terms of reproductive organs. Its not very clear, but they do explicitly lay eggs and they don't find humans to be at all attractive.

Thrudd
2015-02-18, 01:34 PM
I don't have my books to search, so I'm relying on Wikipedia. According to the Orc article:
While the overall concept of orcs draws on a variety of pre-existing mythology, the main conception of the creatures stems from the fantasy writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, in particular The Lord of the Rings...

In Tolkien's writings, Orcs are of human shape, of varying size but always smaller than Men. They are depicted as ugly and filthy, with a taste for human flesh. They are fanged, bow-legged and long-armed and some have dark skin as if burned.

(I added the underline.) As I recall, the 1E AD&D Monster Manual has no mention of skin color at all. What is certain about orcish biology is that they are mammals and they are almost certainly primates. Unless I am seriously mistaken, there is no such thing in nature as a green mammal.

So why did the popular, nearly universal image of orcs turn green? When did this happen? Is it all WoW's fault?

I think at some early point, someone in games workshop must have painted their warhammer orcs and goblins green, and it stuck. Warcraft came well after that, and probably drew on it to some extent in its design. War hammer and 40k then came up with an elaborate origin of species for the green skins, where that is now an established part of their lore and not just a cosmetic choice ( they are actually fungus based beings, not mammals at all).

Ninja'd

Beta Centauri
2015-02-18, 01:37 PM
What is certain about orcish biology is that they are mammals and they are almost certainly primates. Unless I am seriously mistaken, there is no such thing in nature as a green mammal. Which means what to a fictional world?

M Placeholder
2015-02-18, 01:39 PM
they are actually fungus based beings, not mammals at all.

In Warhammer 40000, da orkz are a race that was constructed for war, a result of an unknown race combining fungus DNA with that of a humanoid. Their DNA consists of a strand of fungal DNA entwined around the base creatures DNA. This explains why an Orkz ar ded'ard :smallsmile:

Feddlefew
2015-02-18, 01:41 PM
D&D orcs are explicitly stated to be able to make fertile hybrids with humans in 3.5 and 5e, and I believe I've seen references to groups of half-orcs that have formed there own stable, multi-generation communities, like half-elves do. So we can safely say they're very closely related to humans. Whatever that means in D&D.

137ben
2015-02-18, 01:45 PM
In my campaign world orcs, in addition to eating like other humanoids, practice a limited form of photosynthesis. The reason they seem to have light sensitivity is that they are adapted to low-light environments, and being in bright light gives them an overdose. I house ruled that orcs in bright light take longer to go hungry than other humanoids.
Hence, they are green:smallsmile:
(Also, I don't have humans, and the default race is gnome, so I haven't thought about the implications of humans being closely related to a photosynthesizing animal).
I'm pretty sure that's not why they were made green in actual published D&D books, though.

The Random NPC
2015-02-18, 01:48 PM
...
What makes you so certain that orcs are mammals, much less primates? I don't recall any sourcebooks identifying them as such, and depending on your particular universe that may be entirely untrue. In Warhammer 40k, for example, Orks are a type of fungus and their green skin comes from a symbiotic algae growing in their dermis that uses photosynthesis to help fuel the orks so that they can continue fighting at peak efficiency indefinitely. In Orcs: First Blood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orcs:_First_Blood) (which I recommend if you like fantasy), orcs are more like reptiles or amphibians in terms of reproductive organs. Its not very clear, but they do explicitly lay eggs and they don't find humans to be at all attractive.

If I recall, there was a webcomic I read a while back that had orcs descended from pigs, and elves descended from rabbits.

Elricaltovilla
2015-02-18, 01:49 PM
D&D orcs are explicitly stated to be able to make fertile hybrids with humans in 3.5 and 5e, and I believe I've seen references to groups of half-orcs that have formed there own stable, multi-generation communities, like half-elves do. So we can safely say they're very closely related to humans. Whatever that means in D&D.

Considering the incredible variety of appearance in breeds of dogs, cats, horses and other animals, I really don't think its much of a stretch of the imaginiation to assume that there are different subspecies of homo sapiens with wildly different appearances that can still interbreed. Also... magic.

Thrudd
2015-02-18, 01:51 PM
D&D orcs are explicitly stated to be able to make fertile hybrids with humans in 3.5 and 5e, and I believe I've seen references to groups of half-orcs that have formed there own stable, multi-generation communities, like half-elves do. So we can safely say they're very closely related to humans. Whatever that means in D&D.

Yes. 1e AD&D orcs were described and pictured with pig/boar-like features with pinkish skin where it was visible and bristly coarse hair in various dark colors. Definitely mammalian.

Goblins had yellow into rust reddish skin, usually hairless bodies.

Greenness creeping in was a product of games workshop minis and Warcraft games becoming more popular representations than the early monster manual and D&D minis, I would guess, and people equating the two versions of the monsters across games.

Feddlefew
2015-02-18, 01:51 PM
I'm pretty certain they're actually grey or blue in D&D, since half-orcs are described as being grey skinned.

(Un)Inspired
2015-02-18, 02:33 PM
They're all just super-duper sea sick.

Xuc Xac
2015-02-18, 02:38 PM
They're all just super-duper sea sick.

But they're named after a sea creature. ..

Mark Hall
2015-02-18, 02:47 PM
In Orcs: First Blood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orcs:_First_Blood) (which I recommend if you like fantasy), orcs are more like reptiles or amphibians in terms of reproductive organs. Its not very clear, but they do explicitly lay eggs and they don't find humans to be at all attractive.

(I'd dis-suggest it, myself; I thought it was terribly poorly written and juvenile; I ended after one scene with the queen and an elf maiden.)

TheThan
2015-02-18, 05:20 PM
My first exposure to orcs in media was Warcraft: orcs and humans. I played that long before I even heard of Tolkien or warhammer, so to me orcs had always been green.

BWR
2015-02-18, 05:21 PM
But they're named after a sea creature. ..

Probably not. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orc#Old_English)

Elricaltovilla
2015-02-18, 05:23 PM
(I'd dis-suggest it, myself; I thought it was terribly poorly written and juvenile; I ended after one scene with the queen and an elf maiden.)

*readies fisticuffs*

I wouldn't call it the best book ever written, but I found it enjoyable and I thought the characters were interesting, with an actually decent portrayal of what a truly evil villain is like. The rest of the series got worse, I'll grant, but the first book was pretty good.

Vitruviansquid
2015-02-18, 06:40 PM
Its actually Warhammer and Warhammer 40k's fault, which started way back in 1983. The apocryphal story is that someone at Games Workshop accidentally painted their ork models green, the dev team decided they liked it and it rolled from there. Certainly the popularity of World of Warcraft helped bring the idea of green orcs to the forefront

In actuality, orcs come in a variety of colors depending on their universe of origin as seen here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orc#Other_fantasy_works). Some are green, some brown, some black, and even orange and blue Orcs are present.

What makes you so certain that orcs are mammals, much less primates? I don't recall any sourcebooks identifying them as such, and depending on your particular universe that may be entirely untrue. In Warhammer 40k, for example, Orks are a type of fungus and their green skin comes from a symbiotic algae growing in their dermis that uses photosynthesis to help fuel the orks so that they can continue fighting at peak efficiency indefinitely. In Orcs: First Blood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orcs:_First_Blood) (which I recommend if you like fantasy), orcs are more like reptiles or amphibians in terms of reproductive organs. Its not very clear, but they do explicitly lay eggs and they don't find humans to be at all attractive.

World of Warcraft was actually the game that revealed Blizzard's orcs were brown by default.

In the first Warcraft game, Orcs and Humans, Blizzard's orcs were as green as the ones in Warhammer Fantasy Battles, which the computer game was based off of.

Erik Vale
2015-02-18, 06:50 PM
If I remember rightly, Warhammer orcs were originally purple before someone screwed up with green which everyone liked, so even in Warhammer them becoming green is a weird thing that just happened.

Of course, there are black orcs as well.

Solaris
2015-02-18, 08:05 PM
I figure it's from their being the motile adult form of green slime.

Lord Raziere
2015-02-18, 08:27 PM
*readies fisticuffs*

I wouldn't call it the best book ever written, but I found it enjoyable and I thought the characters were interesting, with an actually decent portrayal of what a truly evil villain is like. The rest of the series got worse, I'll grant, but the first book was pretty good.

Oi, I liked the entire series. real good read in my opinion. much better than the usual "human hero from a destroyed village gets a sword to the save the world and become a king" trash.

Othniel
2015-02-18, 08:37 PM
Why Are Orcs Green?

Chlorophyll. :smallbiggrin:

BootStrapTommy
2015-02-18, 08:53 PM
It's Warhammer and Warcraft's fault.

By the way, as said before, orcs have grey skin in D&D.

Blackhawk748
2015-02-18, 09:03 PM
Orkz iz Green, and Green iz da best!!

Orcs are usually grey, occasionally white and (if your in KoK) black. I have seen brown orcs on occasion, but that is by no means common.

137ben
2015-02-18, 09:04 PM
Why Are Orcs Green?

Chlorophyll. :smallbiggrin:

Hey, I already said that:smalltongue:

Giggling Ghast
2015-02-18, 09:14 PM
The real question is, why did we move away from the original depiction of orcs as pig-men?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/86/D%26DOrc.JPG

BootStrapTommy
2015-02-18, 09:46 PM
The real question is, why did we move away from the original depiction of orcs as pig-men?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/86/D%26DOrc.JPG
It's still around, but residual. That's why they now all have tusks or big teeth.

Karl Aegis
2015-02-18, 10:04 PM
Very few orcs in World of Warcraft are actually green. They have a weird physiology that changes their skin color for some reason. That and they are an alien race. Don't forget they are aliens from another planet (maybe plane of existence).

neonchameleon
2015-02-18, 10:40 PM
I think it probably started with the Warcraft games. I can't be certain though.

Nah. Warcraft was ripping off Games Workshop. And those orcs are green. Also Games Workshop were an excellent source for orc minatures and that's where it got into D&D AFAIK.

xBlackWolfx
2015-02-18, 11:11 PM
I read it was a consequence of racism. Tolkien actually described his orcs in a letter as resembling Mongolians, whom he also said were hideous to Caucasian peoples. People of color didn't like the 'evil race' being depicted with dark skin, so people started showing them with green skin instead, since obviously there are no green humans on this planet. Same thing happened with goblins, who were originally dark brown. Note btw that goblins, though popular in European folklore, were originally creatures that appeared in hindu scripture. Remember those statues of Shiva dancing? If you look closely, you can see he's dancing on top of miniature monster of some kind (in some statues its more obvious than others). That's a hindu goblin. As for why he's dancing on top of a goblin, there's a story as to the reason for that. It mostly exists to explain the iconography associated with Shiva, such as why he wears a cobra around his neck, and why he has a tiger skin with him all the time.

I think this may also be the reason why the races of talislanta are such a wide variety of unusual colors: it was to avoid being accused of racism. Though I don't think it really helps. Its still pretty damned obvious that the Jhangarans are based off of Africans, even though they're fairly bright in color and look like something out of star wars.

Othniel
2015-02-18, 11:25 PM
Hey, I already said that:smalltongue:

Great minds think alike!

Technetium
2015-02-19, 04:35 AM
I read it was a consequence of racism. Tolkien actually described his orcs in a letter as resembling Mongolians, whom he also said were hideous to Caucasian peoples. People of color didn't like the 'evil race' being depicted with dark skin, so people started showing them with green skin instead, since obviously there are no green humans on this planet.

The exact wording used was 'the least lovely Mongol-types.' He wasn't saying explicitly that Mongolians were hideous; he was merely saying that the most hideous of the Mongolians did resemble Orcs; for note that beforehand he points out that he is talking specifically about 'the degraded and repulsive versions', not all 'Mongol-types.' Obviously, nowadays it sounds pretty damn insensitive by our standards.
Many people believe that Tolkien's Orcs were in fact derived from demonic armies (in accordance with his Roman Catholicism) rather than foreign ones.

Obak
2015-02-19, 04:48 AM
Perhapse refering to Gog and Magog, (or Gog from Magog, the bible is not very consistent on the subject). Some kind of evil demon/ruler/goblin that lived in the east and day and night hammered out new barbarians to invade urope and the levant.

Cazero
2015-02-19, 05:28 AM
The exact wording used was 'the least lovely Mongol-types.' He wasn't saying explicitly that Mongolians were hideous; he was merely saying that the most hideous of the Mongolians did resemble Orcs; for note that beforehand he points out that he is talking specifically about 'the degraded and repulsive versions', not all 'Mongol-types.' Obviously, nowadays it sounds pretty damn insensitive by our standards.

For me, 'the least lovely Mongol-types' refers to the invading horde kind and has nothing to do with physical assets. If nowadays standards find it insentitive, it's because we see racism issues everywhere.

GungHo
2015-02-19, 09:36 AM
It's Warhammer and Warcraft's fault.

By the way, as said before, orcs have grey skin in D&D.

I kind of resent that Warcraft is getting credit for something they took from Warhammer.

mikeejimbo
2015-02-19, 10:02 AM
You know what bothers me more than Orcs being green? Drow being extremely dark-skinned. They live underground; if anything they should be paler than elves.

Joe the Rat
2015-02-19, 10:46 AM
I've got my own pet theories there. You're assuming it's about melanin and blocking UV.
You live in a dark, creepy underworld where everybody and their dog can see in the dark. You want to be stealthy, you have to be able to overcome that see-in-the-dark thing.

Old-school darkvision was called infravision, and relied on heat - somewhere between infrared light detection and thermal imaging, depending on the particular author. If you want to be stealthy, you need to be room temperature. The specific pigments in Drow skin absorb more of the IR range radiation, making them look "cooler" and easier to blend in with the walls. This also gives a rationale to why they highlight blue in the art (besides the comic art standard that when you apply highlights to black objects, you use blue. This is why Batman ended up with a blue cape & cowl by the silver age). The blending in shadows better is a side benefit. The lack of melanin is why their hair is white.

New-school darkvision is handwavey black-and-white see-in-the-dark vision. Light amplification, sans the need of actual light. Colors fade to shades of grey, so you want to have a tone close to the... brightness? of your surrounds. Hence dark skin.

Or you know, being cursed by elvish deities, because they're jackwagons like that.

Raimun
2015-02-19, 10:59 AM
Games Workshop gets the sole credit for the origin of green orcs. Warhammer has been published since the 80's, after all.

First Warcraft game was published at 1994 and some of them even wanted to make it a Warhammer-game.

It's pretty obvious which one was first.

Segev
2015-02-19, 11:56 AM
Orcs are green so we can tell them apart from orange hobgoblins in OotS comics, of course!

Solaris
2015-02-19, 01:03 PM
I've got my own pet theories there. You're assuming it's about melanin and blocking UV.
You live in a dark, creepy underworld where everybody and their dog can see in the dark. You want to be stealthy, you have to be able to overcome that see-in-the-dark thing.

Old-school darkvision was called infravision, and relied on heat - somewhere between infrared light detection and thermal imaging, depending on the particular author. If you want to be stealthy, you need to be room temperature. The specific pigments in Drow skin absorb more of the IR range radiation, making them look "cooler" and easier to blend in with the walls. This also gives a rationale to why they highlight blue in the art (besides the comic art standard that when you apply highlights to black objects, you use blue. This is why Batman ended up with a blue cape & cowl by the silver age). The blending in shadows better is a side benefit.

Black objects absorb more light and thus radiate more infrared light than do white objects. If the drow's skin pigments absorbs more infrared light, they're going to become warmer and thus radiate more infrared light. There's also the problem of drow being (presumably) endothermic. People positively glow under infrared imaging.

Black is also a bad color for camouflage, being as it appears so very rarely in nature. You'd want browns and greys if you wanted to blend in with your environment.

Old-school infravision became low-light vision. Old-school darkvision was ultravision - the ability to see in the ultraviolet spectrum. Melanin may well act to keep something less visible when viewed by ultravision.

Cazero
2015-02-19, 01:14 PM
Black objects absorb more light and thus radiate more infrared light than do white objects. If the drow's skin pigments absorbs more infrared light, they're going to become warmer and thus radiate more infrared light. There's also the problem of drow being (presumably) endothermic. People positively glow under infrared imaging.

That would be true for a dark night, but not in the Underdark, where there is little to no sunlight in the first place. Other natural sources of light don't carry enough energy to heat up lighted objects significantly.
What you want is a color skin with a low contrast with the environment to blend in. Wich is why the white hair/dark skin is stupid anyway.

Beleriphon
2015-02-19, 01:35 PM
That would be true for a dark night, but not in the Underdark, where there is little to no sunlight in the first place. Other natural sources of light don't carry enough energy to heat up lighted objects significantly.
What you want is a color skin with a low contrast with the environment to blend in. Wich is why the white hair/dark skin is stupid anyway.

That really only true to poorly lit environments, like shadows or night. In absolute dark contract is largely irrelevent. That's without taking into account the whole drow are elves by the gods.

Coidzor
2015-02-19, 03:31 PM
Considering the incredible variety of appearance in breeds of dogs, cats, horses and other animals, I really don't think its much of a stretch of the imaginiation to assume that there are different subspecies of homo sapiens with wildly different appearances that can still interbreed. Also... magic.

That's my go-to explanation for the various humanoids when I need to explain it at all in a fantasy kitchen sink like D&D, a combination of divine intervention/meddling, mundane evolution, random magically induced mutation, and (un)intentional transhumanistish rituals.

And then in D&D 3.5 it also conveniently explains why they were so freaked out by Zarus, since they'd *thought* they'd snapped up all of the proto-humans.

mikeejimbo
2015-02-19, 03:45 PM
Black objects absorb more light and thus radiate more infrared light than do white objects. If the drow's skin pigments absorbs more infrared light, they're going to become warmer and thus radiate more infrared light. There's also the problem of drow being (presumably) endothermic. People positively glow under infrared imaging.

Black is also a bad color for camouflage, being as it appears so very rarely in nature. You'd want browns and greys if you wanted to blend in with your environment.

Old-school infravision became low-light vision. Old-school darkvision was ultravision - the ability to see in the ultraviolet spectrum. Melanin may well act to keep something less visible when viewed by ultravision.

So you think that they have such dark skin in order to fool ultravision? I can kind of buy that, actually. In real life cave albinism is a thing, but real life also doesn't have everyone and his mother with ultravision. (Just a few things! ) Then again, seeing into the ultraviolet spectrum isn't impossible in real life (bees do), so why hasn't that occurred in cave ecosystems?

I ran a game where my drow were a cultural offshoot of High Elves and moved underground. While they didn't develop true cave albinism, they did become much paler.

Solaris
2015-02-19, 03:57 PM
So you think that they have such dark skin in order to fool ultravision? I can kind of buy that, actually. In real life cave albinism is a thing, but real life also doesn't have everyone and his mother with ultravision. (Just a few things! ) Then again, seeing into the ultraviolet spectrum isn't impossible in real life (bees do), so why hasn't that occurred in cave ecosystems?

I ran a game where my drow were a cultural offshoot of High Elves and moved underground. While they didn't develop true cave albinism, they did become much paler.

That's the best I can come up with trying to explain it using something approximating real-world science.

I much prefer the "LOLth" explanation.

Mark Hall
2015-02-19, 04:51 PM
That's the best I can come up with trying to explain it using something approximating real-world science.

I much prefer the "LOLth" explanation.

I'll also add that earlier editions explained drow special abilities and the impermanence of their items by extrapolating an Underdark radiation; while not visible, that could be part of what lead to the darkening of their skin.

Coidzor
2015-02-19, 05:48 PM
That's the best I can come up with trying to explain it using something approximating real-world science.

I much prefer the "LOLth" explanation.

I use a combination of Pharess(farhesze? parcheesi?), the plane of shadow tainting various parts of the underdark, LOLth, and that Drow are not actually generally pure black unless they're marked in some way, generally they're just a very, very, very dark grey.

So they're said to be black the same way that very, very, very dark brown people are said to be black today. Except when they're actually black because of something supernatural more than the baseline about them.

Ravian
2015-02-19, 05:58 PM
In most universes its usually a curse from a god of some sort. I recall in Eberron (where Drow live in jungles and the Gods don't take a direct interest in things (if they exist)) Drow are elves specially bred by Giants to serve as slave-hunters. I assume the coloration was intentional to blend in with the dark foliage like a black panther.

Angel Bob
2015-02-19, 06:11 PM
My assumption is that someone eventually realized that having the Poster-Child-for-Evil race be, essentially, dark-skinned humans had some really negative connotations.

The Random NPC
2015-02-19, 07:15 PM
...Then again, seeing into the ultraviolet spectrum isn't impossible in real life (bees do), so why hasn't that occurred in cave ecosystems?...

If you're asking why more cave dwellers don't develop ultravision, ultraviolet light doesn't penetrate that far into rock. There'd be no light for them to use.

Blackhawk748
2015-02-19, 08:03 PM
Honestly only in DnD are Drow Black (like charcoal black) otherwise they are grey or a weird blue black, which still doesnt make a lot of sense form a scientific view, cuz you know, douchy elven gods

Thrudd
2015-02-19, 11:15 PM
Honestly only in DnD are Drow Black (like charcoal black) otherwise they are grey or a weird blue black, which still doesnt make a lot of sense form a scientific view, cuz you know, douchy elven gods

Uhh, only in D&D do Drow exist at all. Tiny variance in their skin color is sometimes found in different D&D settings.

xBlackWolfx
2015-02-19, 11:29 PM
Uhh, only in D&D do Drow exist at all. Tiny variance in their skin color is sometimes found in different D&D settings.

What about the dunmer of the elder scrolls series? They're obviously inspired by the drow. Also there's the dark elves of warhammer.

Marlowe
2015-02-19, 11:47 PM
LoTR Orcs seem to be based on post-classical/Early medieval descriptions of Huns. In particular, the description Jordanes provides of Attila.

Interestingly, the parts of the novel where the Orcs are seen close-up show them to be living under a hellish industrial bureaucracy with ID numbers and barrack-style accommodation. A much more modernist (and unpleasant) idea than the savage barbarians that most game fiction turns them into.

I honestly couldn't care less whether GW or Blizzard were responsible for making them green. But the idea of green as a colour signifying alienness is much older than 1983.

Blackhawk748
2015-02-19, 11:48 PM
Uhh, only in D&D do Drow exist at all. Tiny variance in their skin color is sometimes found in different D&D settings.

Ok, your technically correct, but Dark Elves (read Drow by another name) exist in many settings, such as has been mentioned TES.

Thrudd
2015-02-20, 12:23 AM
What about the dunmer of the elder scrolls series? They're obviously inspired by the drow. Also there's the dark elves of warhammer.

Evil Elves with dark skin exist because of D&D. Different settings and derivatives change the shade slightly from black, blue, purple, grey to distinguish themselves. See! Our dark elves aren't exactly the same thing as the ones from D&D!

endur
2015-02-20, 12:39 AM
The real question is, why did we move away from the original depiction of orcs as pig-men?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/86/D%26DOrc.JPG

They were pinkish pig men on the cover of B2.

Karl Aegis
2015-02-20, 12:48 AM
Evil elves with dark skin evolved into the orcs we know from J.R.R. Tolkien novels. D&D is hardly the first to come up with the idea.

Thrudd
2015-02-20, 12:49 AM
They were pinkish pig men on the cover of B2.

Pretty sure those were hobgoblins, with the blue noses and orangish skin.

Solaris
2015-02-20, 01:28 AM
Evil elves with dark skin evolved into the orcs we know from J.R.R. Tolkien novels. D&D is hardly the first to come up with the idea.

I'd say they evolved from dokkalfar or svartalfar, and that D&D orcs came from Tolkien's orcs. Uruk-hai are why we have half-orcs and hobgoblins.

Raimun
2015-02-20, 05:27 AM
Warhammer Dark Elves look just like High Elves. The only difference is that they are evil bastards, so they grimace a lot. Some are unnaturally pale.

Ashtagon
2015-02-20, 05:42 AM
It's Warhammer and Warcraft's fault.

By the way, as said before, orcs have grey skin in D&D.

http://www.cartoonscrapbook.com/01pics-L/dungeons-dragons_L29.jpg

Looks green to me.

Marlowe
2015-02-20, 07:28 AM
Excellent. We can blame Toei Animation.

Blackhawk748
2015-02-20, 09:42 AM
http://www.cartoonscrapbook.com/01pics-L/dungeons-dragons_L29.jpg

Looks green to me.

LIES!!! You saw nothing, nooothing!!!


Evil Elves with dark skin exist because of D&D. Different settings and derivatives change the shade slightly from black, blue, purple, grey to distinguish themselves. See! Our dark elves aren't exactly the same thing as the ones from D&D!

I feel the need to point out that the Dunmer in TES arent evil, a bit insular perhaps and you could probably make an argument for them being a bit snotty, but definitely not Evil. That honor falls to the Thalmor, which happens to be a High Elf faction.

Actually now that i think about it, only in DnD are the Dark Skinned Elves "Always Evil", everywhere else its either that one faction or "that guy". And has been said the "Dark" Elves in WH Fantasy are just a bunch of crazy murder happy High Elves, and honestly neither group is a lot of fun at parties, which is why i hang out with Wood Elves.

Thrudd
2015-02-20, 10:11 AM
I'd say they evolved from dokkalfar or svartalfar, and that D&D orcs came from Tolkien's orcs. Uruk-hai are why we have half-orcs and hobgoblins.

Yes, I would say D&D dark elves/drow definitely were inspired, at least in name, by svartalfar. They were invented for the "against the giants" modules, which features frost giants and fire giants, other creatures inspired by Norse mythology.

I considered also that marvel comics' dark elves may have possibly predated their use in D&D. I don't recall reading anything from Gygax and his peers implying they read comics. Looking into it, I found that the first dark elf stories with malekith didn't appear until 1984, well into D&D's heyday and post creation of the Drow.

Psyren
2015-02-20, 12:04 PM
Aside from the Warhammer thing, green lets you avoid all kinds of uncomfortable ethnic parallels. Gray and brown are just a little too on-the-nose for your setting's savages.

Talakeal
2015-02-20, 02:35 PM
When I was a kid I pictured goblins as blue or purple because of the rankin bass animated hobbit movies and orcs as green because i associated then with the grimorean pig guards in return of the jedi. Of course now after decades of warhammer and warcraft I cant help but see both as various shades of green.

As far as dark elves, the original svartafles of norse myth are obviously the original inspiration, but most modern dark elves are infouenced by either D&D drow or Thor comics.

In Everquest the drow are clearly evil and have bright blue skin. In elder scrolls they have grey or violet skin and are neutralish. In warcraft they have purple, blue, or pink skin and are good. So color and alignment seems to very a bit but all obviously have the same source material.

mikeejimbo
2015-02-20, 04:50 PM
If you're asking why more cave dwellers don't develop ultravision, ultraviolet light doesn't penetrate that far into rock. There'd be no light for them to use.

I didn't think so, but dark vision being associated with ultravision was brought up...

BootStrapTommy
2015-02-20, 06:02 PM
Games Workshop gets the sole credit for the origin of green orcs. Warhammer has been published since the 80's, after all.

First Warcraft game was published at 1994 and some of them even wanted to make it a Warhammer-game.

It's pretty obvious which one was first.

It's also obvious which of the two has greater cultural clout.

While Warhammer remains purely in the realms of deep geekdom, Warcraft has emerged as a phenomena of mainstream culture.

So which came first doesn't mean squat. Which more people are acquanted with determines the where and how concepts take traction.

Games Workshop might have come up with green orks, but it was Warhammer fans working at Blizzard in the early '90s who spread that idea to the extent it has reached.

Why has no one consider that orcs became green because it's kinda an ugly colour and orcs are supposed to be ugly?

Ashtagon
2015-02-20, 07:40 PM
wrt Games Workshop, I recall one of their magazine issues in the late 80s had in the letters page a question about why their orcs were green, when everyone knows Tolkein's orcs were brown-black. The GW answer was that Tolkein orcs are brown-black, and GW orcs are green. I'm guessing that would be the earliest official GW answer to the question.

WFB 2nd edition (1984; cover image (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UopdHPGu6nw/T6chWhE_2vI/AAAAAAAABVw/Cq6zTXv8Bn0/s1600/IMG_0280.jpg)) had some green orcs on the front cover. The 1st edition rules (1983) were black and white. The D&D cartoon series began in 1983 (until 1985), which means D&D green orcs pre-date WH green orcs. White Dwarf magazine did not yet have a colour painted miniatures section to indicate their official orc colours before this point.

So yeah. D&D green orcs inspired Warhammer.

1983 - D&D Cartoon begins
1984 - Warhammer Fantasy Battle 2nd edition; first GW green orc illustration
1994 - Warcraft video game released

Solaris
2015-02-20, 09:54 PM
Return of the Jedi (which had the Gammorreans), also came out in 1983. There's a possibility that played a role, too; I know they helped shape my impressions of orcs, and I was born in '87.

Beleriphon
2015-02-21, 10:57 AM
Why has no one consider that orcs became green because it's kinda an ugly colour and orcs are supposed to be ugly?

Hey man, I look good in green. And I like red cars.... wait.... dammit. :smallannoyed:

YossarianLives
2015-02-21, 12:15 PM
Why has no one consider that orcs became green because it's kinda an ugly colour and orcs are supposed to be ugly?

But green is my favorite colour...

Blackhawk748
2015-02-21, 01:30 PM
Hey man, I look good in green. And I like red cars.... wait.... dammit. :smallannoyed:

Welcome Brother!!

https://rv.wkcdn.net/http://rigvedawiki.net/r1/pds/e0003064_4b8876a62a94f.jpg

Beleriphon
2015-02-21, 02:18 PM
Welcome Brother!!

Well, I did have a Night Goblin army at one point, with three (or four?) fanatics at one point. Killed my own giant in three different games.... that was so much fun. :smallbiggrin:

Coidzor
2015-02-21, 02:29 PM
But green is my favorite colour...

Well, you know, Green-Skinned Orion-Slave-Girls aren't for everyone.

Solaris
2015-02-21, 05:43 PM
Hey man, I look good in green. And I like red cars.... wait.... dammit. :smallannoyed:

The red unz go fasta.
It's true. My pickup's red, I beat some twerp's yellow Mustang GT when he decided he didn't want to let me pass him.

Wardog
2015-02-22, 07:58 PM
LoTR Orcs seem to be based on post-classical/Early medieval descriptions of Huns. In particular, the description Jordanes provides of Attila.

Courtesy of Wikipedia:
Jordanes, a Goth writing in Italy in 551, a century after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire, describes the Huns as a "savage race, which dwelt at first in the swamps, a stunted, foul and puny tribe, scarcely human and having no language save one which bore but slight resemblance to human speech."

"They made their foes flee in horror because their swarthy aspect was fearful, and they had, if I may call it so, a sort of shapeless lump, not a head, with pin-holes rather than eyes. Their hardihood is evident in their wild appearance, and they are beings who are cruel to their children on the very day they are born. For they cut the cheeks of the males with a sword, so that before they receive the nourishment of milk they must learn to endure wounds. Hence they grow old beardless and their young men are without comeliness, because a face furrowed by the sword spoils by its scars the natural beauty of a beard. They are short in stature, quick in bodily movement, alert horsemen, broad shouldered, ready in the use of bow and arrow, and have firm-set necks which are ever erect in pride. Though they live in the form of men, they have the cruelty of wild beasts."



Interestingly, the parts of the novel where the Orcs are seen close-up show them to be living under a hellish industrial bureaucracy with ID numbers and barrack-style accommodation. A much more modernist (and unpleasant) idea than the savage barbarians that most game fiction turns them into.

I honestly couldn't care less whether GW or Blizzard were responsible for making them green. But the idea of green as a colour signifying alienness is much older than 1983.
Possibly more interesting that "why green?" is "why did that conception of orcs never really take off?" (Although I suppose that's just one aspect of a more generally "pretty much everything people think came from Tolkien is really nothing like what Tolkien actually did").

snowblizz
2015-02-23, 07:09 AM
Possibly more interesting that "why green?" is "why did that conception of orcs never really take off?" (Although I suppose that's just one aspect of a more generally "pretty much everything people think came from Tolkien is really nothing like what Tolkien actually did").
Because of how Orcs are often used in settings as "random encounters". A small group attacking, X inhabiting location Y and needing to be destroyed for the local safety. Tolkien's version of Mordor Orc is an orc nation of sorts rules by the evil overlord. The tends to be a bit out of scope for most applications. Besides most people I figure remember less of this part of the last book(s) when cheering on Sam and Frodo. Thus the Orc more generally borrows more from the Tolkien goblin in the random raider guise.

Jay R
2015-02-23, 02:43 PM
A great many D&D monsters were pretty generic, with lots of versions, until the game came out and we needed actual rules. Before then, there were lots of descriptions of elves, dwarves, ogres, goblins, etc. But the writers had to choose.

But since orc color wasn't a big deal in the 1970s, it stayed open until Warcraft convinced everyone.

[If the first rpg had come out in the 2000s, would D&D vampires sparkle?]

Psyren
2015-02-23, 02:55 PM
[If the first rpg had come out in the 2000s, would D&D vampires sparkle?]

I think if Twilight were rewritten with Seelie and Unseelie Fey, it would go over much better with your average D&D crowd.

Solaris
2015-02-23, 03:08 PM
I think if Twilight were rewritten with Seelie and Unseelie Fey, it would go over much better with your average D&D crowd.

Sparkling vampires are the least of that series' problems.

Psyren
2015-02-23, 03:22 PM
Sparkling vampires are the least of that series' problems.

Oh I definitely agree - but it's not as if that aspect helped either :smallbiggrin:

Blackhawk748
2015-02-23, 08:25 PM
*sees mention of Twilight, grabs flamer*

http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs32/f/2008/234/b/8/Purge_in_the_holy_flame_by_defcombeta.jpg

http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs46/i/2009/212/e/6/Sister_Yandere_by_Karooz.jpg

And yes, i do think the Sisters of Battle are awesome, and yes i am aware that im a dirty heretic. :smalltongue:

mikeejimbo
2015-02-24, 10:32 AM
Sparkling vampires are the least of that series' problems.

Though the creepy relationship dynamics and hallow character also fit with fey.

Jayabalard
2015-02-24, 01:31 PM
Evil Elves with dark skin exist because of D&D. Tolkein had the Moriquendi, which were based off of the Dökkálfar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%B6kk%C3%A1lfar_and_Lj%C3%B3s%C3%A1lfar).

Thrudd
2015-02-24, 02:16 PM
Tolkein had the Moriquendi, which were based off of the Dökkálfar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%B6kk%C3%A1lfar_and_Lj%C3%B3s%C3%A1lfar).

Moriquendi does not refer to the color of their skin nor that they live below ground. They are those that never undertook the journey to the undying lands, so they never saw the light of the trees. Presumably they would look exactly like all other elves, and live in the same sorts of environments in middle earth.

Wardog
2015-02-24, 06:48 PM
Because of how Orcs are often used in settings as "random encounters". A small group attacking, X inhabiting location Y and needing to be destroyed for the local safety. Tolkien's version of Mordor Orc is an orc nation of sorts rules by the evil overlord. The tends to be a bit out of scope for most applications. Besides most people I figure remember less of this part of the last book(s) when cheering on Sam and Frodo. Thus the Orc more generally borrows more from the Tolkien goblin in the random raider guise.

Another possible explanation (that I thought of right after posing the question) is that D&D (and other games/stories to a lesser extent) have a tendency to create highly detailed monster taxonomies, with lots and lots of different specific kinds of monsters.

Tolkien's orcs were pretty diverse. Variable in size, stature, culture, habitat, regimentation, natural abilities, etc, and sometimes refered to by different names (orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, uruks, etc) accordingly, but not consistently. But all fundamentally orcs. DnD on the other hand has split all these different styles of orcs between orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, orogs, orgrillions, bugbears, etc, treating them as as distinct "species". Tolkien orcs are probably better represented in D&D by hobgoblins rather than D&D orcs.

(On a related note, I expect this is part of the reason why dwarves tend to be so similar across different settings. Because all the concepts for "short races" have been standardised among several specific named races, you can't deviate from a standard concept much without it becoming a different standard concept. If your dwarves are rural farmers rather than miners/smiths, they're basically hobbits halflings. Other changes, and they're probably gnomes, or goblins, or some sorf of fae. Etc).

Aedilred
2015-02-25, 07:01 AM
It's also obvious which of the two has greater cultural clout.

While Warhammer remains purely in the realms of deep geekdom, Warcraft has emerged as a phenomena of mainstream culture.

So which came first doesn't mean squat. Which more people are acquanted with determines the where and how concepts take traction.

Games Workshop might have come up with green orks, but it was Warhammer fans working at Blizzard in the early '90s who spread that idea to the extent it has reached.

I think this is overstating the case in both directions. World of Warcraft has made a lot more money than Warhammer but I don't think its cultural penetration has been any deeper, not in the mainstream and certainly not in geek circles, where GW provided a gateway into fantasy/sci-fi gaming and geek culture for twenty-odd years (precise period debatable depending what level of grognard has been attained). At the point Warcraft decided to make its orcs green, GW's relative influence in geek circles was rather greater than it is now, too.

People don't have to go too deep into the rabbit-hole to be influenced by something on a memetic level. On a superficial visual level Warhammer (and particularly 40K) has likely had at least as much impact on the geek-cultural mainstream as Warcraft has, especially since it appears to have provided much of the visual inspiration for Warcraft in the first place.

Trying to argue that orcs are green because of Warcraft since Warcraft has been their most successful iteration, when Warcraft piggybacked GW's visuals and popularity in the first place, seems a bit like suggesting The Lord of the Rings is the definitive fantasy story because of the New Line movies.

It might be that green orcs as a standard predate GW too, of course (and given that they nicked a lot of their stuff from elsewhere, it wouldn't surprise me).

hamishspence
2015-02-25, 07:16 AM
Given that orcs are basically big goblins, maybe "Green Goblins" are what we should be looking for.

Don't know how much influence the Spiderman villain would have had on the concept, or if there were lots of media green goblins before him and that's why he took the name.

toapat
2015-02-25, 09:17 AM
Very few orcs in World of Warcraft are actually green. They have a weird physiology that changes their skin color for some reason. That and they are an alien race. Don't forget they are aliens from another planet (maybe plane of existence).

No, thats just standard for demonic magic. The Felblood in SWP are every color for the same reason in the lore, but just affected more: Demonic magic burns the soul and corrupts those around it.


First Warcraft game was published at 1994 and some of them even wanted to make it a Warhammer-game.

No, Orcs and Humans was a Warhammer Fantasy Battle game until the licsencing deal fell through. And back then the tiny Blizzard Entertainment was working off of weekly withdrawls at a supermarket on Discover Cards. They didnt have the money or the economic armor to simply dump a project that was nearly so complete. So they edited the assets and got it to a point where Copyright Law wouldnt come down on them. The result is the scion of the father of the greatest RTS games ever programmed.


the dark elves of warhammer.

Are white from cave albinism


I feel the need to point out that the Dunmer in TES arent evil, a bit insular perhaps and you could probably make an argument for them being a bit snotty, but definitely not Evil. That honor falls to the Thalmor, which happens to be a High Elf faction.

Dunmer in TES are the primary slavers. The Thalmor are just blade-eared Nazis so its easy to just call them evil.


Sparkling vampires are the least of that series' problems.

I prefer to imagine that the vampires are actually burning alive in sunlight and only not dieing because of extreme localized regeneration Ala the mechanism explained for why a Zergling is so hard to kill in Wings of Liberty (localized reincarnation of cells). And that Belle is too stupid and self obsessed to realize or see that that is what is actually happening.

However and thankfully, Vampires are still primarily based off of Dracula


Trying to argue that orcs are green because of Warcraft since Warcraft has been their most successful iteration, when Warcraft piggybacked GW's visuals and popularity in the first place, seems a bit like suggesting The Lord of the Rings is the definitive fantasy story because of the New Line movies.

Id never claim that blizzard took inspiration for character design from WHFB beyond what survived the long transformation that took place from Orcs and Humans to Vanilla. And once we got to Vanilla basically everything WH styled with gear that wasnt the Steam Tonk (which we only ever see ruined) and the Orcish Grunt's armor survived to WoW. ANd honestly the barbaric gear takes alot of inspiration from television and Conan

Blackhawk748
2015-02-25, 09:37 AM
Dunmer in TES are the primary slavers. The Thalmor are just blade-eared Nazis so its easy to just call them evil.

See, i didnt know that. Then again i have most of my knowledge from Oblivion and Skyrim, and i dont recall either game mentioning that. And honestly i just REALLY want to punch the Thalmor.

Thalmor-We are obviously better than you. We live longer and are better at magic.
Nord- *slams greataxe into Thalmor's face* I disagree.
Thalmor- *gurgle*

Solaris
2015-02-25, 03:54 PM
Thalmor-We are obviously better than you. We live longer and are better at magic.
Nord- *slams greataxe into Thalmor's face* I disagree.
Thalmor- *gurgle*

That one gave me a good laugh.

hamishspence
2015-02-25, 04:04 PM
Are white from cave albinism


Warhammer Dark Elves don't live in caves. They live in big cities on the surface, normally.

Jayabalard
2015-02-25, 05:28 PM
Moriquendi does not refer to the color of their skin nor that they live below ground. They are those that never undertook the journey to the undying lands, so they never saw the light of the trees. Presumably they would look exactly like all other elves, and live in the same sorts of environments in middle earth.Shippey is considered pretty much the top authority on Tolkein, and he suggests that they're inspired by the Dökkálfar... which were described as black (not just brown or dark skinned) back in the early 13th century.

I'm pretty sure that the 13th century predates D&D.

Blackhawk748
2015-02-25, 05:33 PM
That one gave me a good laugh.

Then my work here is done. Good day citizen. *flies off in ridiculous looking costume*

Illogictree
2015-02-25, 05:52 PM
Shippey is considered pretty much the top authority on Tolkein, and he suggests that they're inspired by the Dökkálfar... which were described as black (not just brown or dark skinned) back in the early 13th century.

I'm pretty sure that the 13th century predates D&D.

...You are aware that the wood elves are one of the groups of Moriquendi, right? 'Inspired by' doesn't mean 'exactly equivalent to'.

Does this mean... Legolas is the LotR equivalent of Drizz't?

Thrudd
2015-02-25, 10:18 PM
Shippey is considered pretty much the top authority on Tolkein, and he suggests that they're inspired by the Dökkálfar... which were described as black (not just brown or dark skinned) back in the early 13th century.

I'm pretty sure that the 13th century predates D&D.

The only inspiration that Tolkien seems to have drawn is the fact that there are two general groupings of elves, and one group calls the others "dark". Otherwise, his "dark elves" have no commonality with the mythology. Legolas and his people are Moriquendi.
Drow in D&D do appear to be more directly inspired by the myths, at least in their physical description and living environment. Which means drow are not inspired by Tolkien, at all.

Subsequent representations of dark elves may or may not be influenced by D&D's depiction of them, in place of or in addition to the mythology. It is hard to say. Though my feeling is that they probably are more likely than not, in most cases.

tarlison2k1
2019-06-11, 03:55 AM
I think it's green to make them look sleazy

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-11, 04:58 AM
Well - the real answer is: So no one can claim that orcs are racist. So they're a color humans are not. Conversely with elves, of course.

Mordaedil
2019-06-11, 05:14 AM
I am reminded of the story of the Incredible Hulk and how printing comics caused the character to go from being grey to being printed green.

DeTess
2019-06-11, 05:29 AM
Orcs are green so that undead orcs can be easily distinguished from living orcs. Likewise, undead threads can be easily distinguished from living threads by checking the dates of some of the earlier posts.

Malphegor
2019-06-11, 05:39 AM
Heck, for all anyone knows it could have started with Spider-Man in the 1960s reinforcing a connection between Green+Goblin...

There's also this 1970s picture of LOTR orcs by Tim Kirk...

https://i.stack.imgur.com/97glL.jpg

and then D&D called them as greenish in the Monster Manual, 1977


Description: Orcs appear particularly disgusting because their coloration — brown or brownish green with a bluish sheen — highlights their pinkish snouts and ears. Their bristly hair is dark brown or black,

There's probably a lot of other sources, but they're the oldest I know of thanks to this stackexchange answer: (https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/170556/when-and-why-did-orcs-go-green)

I suppose the Hulk is orc-adjacent enough what with barbarians raging, and he's been green for a while. 1962 creation, though I believe he was originally grey. So probably a 1970s change without doing more googling.

What's always surprised me about orcs is that in asian media, like Japanese manga, they've somehow retained for years the pig faces of 70s-80s D&D. So many doujins I can't link here due to, um, being elf/orc porn, have pig headed orcs being terrified of elves being worse than the orcs- the orcs will just hurt you, the elves will make you love them for hurting you.

Segev
2019-06-11, 09:10 AM
It's the Fell. It turns them green.

Imbalance
2019-06-11, 09:27 AM
Compound ancestral jealousy.

Mark Hall
2019-06-11, 12:20 PM
The Mod Wonder: They are green because they are covered with moss from lack of movement... like this thread.