Orcs have always been an interesting race. Though the Orcs originally came from Draenor, they've been on Azeroth long enough to consider the planet home -- and they've made their fair share of enemies along the way. Even though the Orcs had little to do with the Scourge portion of the Third War, focusing instead on the Burning Legion's assault on Hyjal, the Orcs (and in turn, the Horde) had a large presence in Northrend during Wrath of the Lich King. With Cataclysm, their influence is larger than ever.
And then there's the simple fact that Orcs are the backbone of the Horde itself. When once-Warchief Thrall formed the Horde, it was simply the Orcs of the Eastern Kingdoms. But as soon, as Thrall decided to follow the advice of the mysterious Prophet and head west over the oceans, that all changed. First, he picked up the Darkspear along the way; then the Tauren were added after landing on Durotar. Somewhere between Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft, the Forsaken were also added. These days, the Horde is a motley mix of races, united together under one banner -- but the Orcs were the ones who started it all.
So what does an Orc in today's Azeroth have to consider from a story standpoint?
Goodbye Thrall, hello Hellscream
What happened In the novel The Shattering, Warchief Thrall decided he needed to get in touch with his shaman roots and try to calm the enraged elements of Azeroth. In order to do this properly, he needed to step down as Warchief. He appointed Garrosh Hellscream as temporary Warchief, and after the cataclysm, Thrall continues to try and heal the world, while Garrosh leads the Horde on a mission of global domination over the Alliance.
How this affects your character It depends on how you play your character. Thrall and Garrosh represent two different ways of thinking. While Thrall is more concerned with peace, diplomacy, and getting along with the rest of Azeroth's citizens, Garrosh is single-minded in his determination to get his hands on everything the Horde needs to survive at whatever cost necessary. Under Thrall's watch, the Horde simply had to make do with what meager supplies and resources they could find in the deserts of Durotar and The Barrens in the name of diplomacy. But Warchief Hellscream doesn't make do, he takes -- after all, the mighty Horde deserves everything they can conquer.
What to consider So it comes down to this -- is your Orc a supporter of Thrall or a supporter of Garrosh? Is he a warrior who is fed up with simply making do and trying to play nice? Does his heart lie with Hellscream's way of thinking -- that the Horde should take, rather than lying back and letting the rest of the world walk all over them? Or does he think that diplomacy is the only way to truly coexist with the natives of Azeroth? Does he believe Garrosh's actions as Warchief have been foolish, reckless and fueled by too little thinking and too much violence? Or does he follow Garrosh with all his heart?
War -- what is it good for?
What happened As a result of Garrosh's intent to just take everything the Horde needs instead of politely asking for it, the Horde has been embroiled in war -- in Ashenvale, in The Barrens, in Stonetalon Peaks. Here, the Horde struggles to take whatever supplies and resources they need, but the Alliance fights back every step of the way. Able-bodied Orcs are expected to take up arms and help out with the war efforts ... and woe betide anyone who happens to cross Hellscream's path.
How this affects your character If your character is leveling through Cataclysm, you've been witness to this. From the warfront in Ashenvale, The Barrens and Stonetalon, to the conflicts up in the Twilight Highlands, it's clear that the Horde is on the offensive now. Even though the Horde appears to have the upper hand, it's clear that the violence isn't really going to stop any time soon -- not with Garrosh at the helm.
What to consider How does your character feel about going into battle? Is he excited for the chance to fight for the Horde? Is he at his best when he's in the thick of combat? Or is he more concerned with the damage that's been done to the world and how to stop it? Garrosh doesn't seem to be terribly concerned with repairing the world -- in fact, his philosophy is that the Horde needs to change with the world around them. Azeroth has certainly gotten a lot more brutal with Cataclysm, and according to Garrosh, the Horde needs to embrace that brutality. Orc shaman in particular will be more concerned with this than most, considering their ties to the elements -- they'd be able to understand what exactly has happened to the world.
For the Orcs!
What happened Garrosh has been pretty blatant about his treatment of the other races of the Horde. While he understands that the Horde is a united front of several different races, his disapproval for non-Orc races is evident. He views the Forsaken as atrocities, the Blood Elves as weak, the Trolls as dead weight, and the Goblins as nothing more than an endless source of supplies. In Garrosh's mind, the Tauren are strong enough to fight alongside the Orcs, but none of the other races of the Horde live up to that image.
How this affects your character As an Orc of the Horde, your Warchief is the leader that you look to for guidance in all things. The Warchief in charge right now seems to be implying that your Horde brethren are lesser than you, that they are weaker. On the flip side, as an Orc, you're one of Garrosh's favorites -- unless you get on his bad side, in which case you're meat to be wasted.
What to consider How does your Orc feel about Garrosh's line of thinking? More importantly, how does your Orc feel about the other races of the Horde? Does he believe Garrosh's sentiment that the rest of the Horde is nowhere near as deserving as the Orcs are for glory? Does he think the other Horde races aren't deserving of their place in the Horde? Or does he think Garrosh is perhaps too impetuous, that his thoughts on the other Horde races are wholly misplaced? Keep in mind whether your Orc has fought through Outland and Northrend -- whether he's fought alongside those other Horde races and seen what they can do. Does he follow what he's seen with his eyes, or does he follow the eyes of the Warchief?
Dragonmaw, in my Horde?
What happened Throughout Warcraft history, the Dragonmaw clan of Orcs has never been ... kindly viewed. When Orgrim Doomhammer rose to power, the Dragomaws remained loyal to the Blackrock Clan and, later, the Dark Horde that populated Blackrock Spire. In Cataclysm, Garrosh decides to take the Dragonmaw Orcs that are left in the Twilight Highlands in under the Horde banner.
How this affects your character Depending on how far back your Orc's history goes, he may remember the days of the Old Horde and the split between Doomhammer and the rest of the Horde. Doomhammer was the leader of the Old Horde, and those who opposed him were automatically the enemy. Obviously Garrosh Hellscream doesn't have this kind of history -- he's simply creating new allies, Orc allies, for the Horde -- but there are those that may not view his actions as lightly as others.
What to consider Is your Orc old enough to remember the Old Horde? Does he remember the actions of the Dragonmaw, of the Blackrock clan? In vanilla WoW, players were sent after the head of Rend Blackhand, who dared proclaim himself the "true" Warchief -- and this is the Orc that the Dragonmaw allied themselves with. How does your Orc feel about the Dragonmaw's sudden induction to the Horde? Does he view it as a reckless move that will cost the Horde at some point in the future, or does he view it as a daring move by Garrosh to strengthen Horde forces?
Hyjal and beyond
What happened The war effort these days has moved away from the terrors of Blackwing Descent and the Bastion of Twilight, where the Twilight Cult and Deathwing's children sought to gain the upper hand, to Mount Hyjal. In the Third War, the Orcs stood alongside the Alliance forces and fought for Hyjal, but that tentative alliance quickly vanished before World of Warcraft's launch. Now the Orcs are returning to once again defend the peaks -- not against the Burning Legion but against Ragnaros.
How this affects your character Again, it's a matter of how old your Orc happens to be. Does he remember the Third War? Did he fight in it? Did he experience the fallout after the battle was over, that point between Warcraft 3 and vanilla WoW? If so, returning to the peaks of Hyjal may bring back memories of the first time he strode Hyjal's peaks, whether they be good or bad.
What to consider If your Orc fought in the Third War, how does he feel about making a return? The Horde and Alliance are obviously fighting tooth and nail with each other, particularly the Orcs and the Night Elves of the Ashenvale forests and surrounding areas. How does your Orc feel about helping out the Night Elves, even if those Night Elves happen to be in the Cenarion Circle? Does he feel that defending Hyjal is a good idea, or is he inwardly cringing at the thought of helping the Night Elves? Does he have memories of the Third War? Is fighting in Hyjal bringing those old memories back to the surface in either a good or bad way? Considering the Horde and Alliance fallout after the end of the Third War, does your Orc think this is a second chance for some kind of alliance, or is he simply rolling his eyes and waiting for the next major fallout?
These are just a few plot points Orc roleplayers can explore while roleplaying their characters. In Cataclysm, the Orcs in particular got a lot of new lore and story development to work with. Though most of that lore is tied up in the Warchief switch from Thrall to Garrosh, that switch in leadership also represents a switch in thinking -- one that your Orc may agree with or one that he may silently resent. Regardless of which side your Orc agrees with, it definitely gives Orc roleplayers a lot to ponder.
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