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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Why Are Orcs Green?

    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?
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    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.

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    I think it probably started with the Warcraft games. I can't be certain though.

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    .... I was under the impression that D&D orcs were grey?

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Warhammer Fantasy had orks green.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    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. 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 (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.

  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by jqavins View Post
    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).

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    Last edited by Thrudd; 2015-02-18 at 01:35 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by jqavins View Post
    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?
    Last edited by Beta Centauri; 2015-02-18 at 01:38 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    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

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    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.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    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
    (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.
    Last edited by 137ben; 2015-02-18 at 01:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elricaltovilla View Post
    ...
    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 (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.
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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Feddlefew View Post
    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.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Feddlefew View Post
    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.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    I'm pretty certain they're actually grey or blue in D&D, since half-orcs are described as being grey skinned.

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    (Un)Inspired's Avatar

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    They're all just super-duper sea sick.
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  17. - Top - End - #17
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by (Un)Inspired View Post
    They're all just super-duper sea sick.
    But they're named after a sea creature. ..

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elricaltovilla View Post
    In 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.)
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  19. - Top - End - #19
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    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.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    But they're named after a sea creature. ..
    Probably not.

  21. - Top - End - #21
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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    (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.

  22. - Top - End - #22
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elricaltovilla View Post
    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. 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 (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.
    Last edited by Vitruviansquid; 2015-02-18 at 08:18 PM.
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  23. - Top - End - #23
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    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.
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    I figure it's from their being the motile adult form of green slime.
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elricaltovilla View Post
    *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.
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Why Are Orcs Green?

    Chlorophyll.
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    It's Warhammer and Warcraft's fault.

    By the way, as said before, orcs have grey skin in D&D.
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    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.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    Quote Originally Posted by Othniel View Post
    Why Are Orcs Green?

    Chlorophyll.
    Hey, I already said that

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    Default Re: Why Are Orcs Green?

    The real question is, why did we move away from the original depiction of orcs as pig-men?

    Last edited by Giggling Ghast; 2015-02-18 at 09:15 PM.
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