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An Orc Ninja?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Queshire, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    So the three main characters I have now are an unfazed everyman type guy from our world resurected as a zombie that feeds off magic living in a magical world, a sweet, bubbly slightly-cloudcuckoolander Necromancer Girl, and a psycho White Mage who will KICK YOUR ASS with healing magic.

    Now I need a fourth main character at least, a guy to balance out the guy-girl ratio, and preferibly a rogue-type character to fill out the classic fantasy team roster. So I thought, what about a ninja? Not one of those generic black PJ wearing ninjas either, the type of Ninja that might actually have actually been around in feudal Japan, you know, peasents using farming tools as weapons to secretly fight back against their Samurai overlords, that don't LOOK like ninjas, often infiltrating the enemy compound over weeks or months disguised as gardners or other types of people that others just ignore.

    Then there's the question of what race to make him, at first I thought about having him be a generic fox-person, a kitsune, but that's too generic.

    So I asked myself, what race would make the worst ninja? Naturally I thought of Orcs.

    Now Orcs in my story are slightly different. They were magically created as by the Elves as labourers and foot soldiers. After gaining their independence in the chaos following The Great War they set up their own civilization that's a combination of ancient rome and samurai Japan. They are still big, strong, green, and have a warrior culture, though it's more refined then the general tribal berserker type of Orc.

    On one level, a ninja orcs could work, any warrior nation needs special operatives, though there would be few of them, and considered "not real orcs" by more classical orcs, on another level though, I'm afraid it'll stretch the reader's suspension of disbelief, and I'm afraid I'm just trying to create cheap humor by simply messing with expectations.

    I don't want to be the type of writer where the readers can say "Oh hey, he's describing this big, horrible monster, just wait, the monster's gonna end up being a real nice guy that invites the heros to tea" and end up being right.

    So, any thoughts?
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Muqtada

    Muqtada Scribe

    On the one hand, you do want to keep from being too unbelievable. On the other hand, if you're going for a more realistic incarnation of ninjas, you could probably make it work. You would definitely have to get the reader to understand that ninja doesn't mean "God-like creature who can kill you with a thought". Based on the definition of orcs you gave, I can't really think of a better ninja. Your character would have to be a rather middle-level ninja as far as talent goes, but for infiltrating compounds, who would expect the orc is the one who's coming to assassinate you?

    I guess in the end, it's possible to do it but you do have to be careful not to push it over the top.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  3. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

    To me the orc is more ordinary than the kisune but that is your call. The orc doesn't have to be a nice guy but he doesn't have to be a psychopath either.
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I wouldn't do it. I think sashamerideth is right, a Kitsune is a lot more rare in modern fantasy and much more appropriate for a ninja. An orc ninja strikes me as a cheap D&D character, a completely random mixing of race and class. It doesn't strike me as compelling.

    But to be clear, this is one of those things where you tell someone what you're doing, and they respond, "Won't work." You show them what you're doing, and suddenly that might turn into, "Ohh, cool!" But I'm skeptical that it's a concept that should work, but if it does, it would be because of an execution which is exactly right for the concept.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  5. Just a heads up: D&D parody webcomic Order of the Stick actually already did this.

    Well, female half-orc ninja, anyway.

    Though, why should we equate race with profession? Isn't that kinda exactly not how it's actually supposed to work? Shouldn't we be talking about cultures and social structure instead?

    I mean, we can't simply conclude that orcs are naturally unsuited for such things because "everyone knows all orcs are big, burly and brutal." If we reason like that, we're not writing about people anymore.

    Is it concievable that an orc may have a talent for espionage and covert ops? Well, of course it is. To begin with, "an orc" is whatever the author needs it to be.

    More importantly, Queshire aims to take a realistic approach to how a ninja might actually have operated, which bring up more interesting questions like: Is there a reason orcs would go unnoticed or be ignored by the people they are spying on or trying to assassinate? Is this orc capable of hiding in plain sight, posing as a lowly servant or a simple garderner or any other background character nobody pays attention to? If so, what does that say about the orcs in Queshires story? What role must they play in a society for that to be possible?
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  6. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I'm assuming your story is going to have comedic elements because your characters sound pretty funny. At least that's what I'm getting from your ideas. If your goal is to have quirky and interesting characters then I think an orc ninja would be fine, if you are sort of painting him as an inept ninja. He can't sneak. He's too loud. He just gives up and bashes people hence ruining his ninja mystique. He's a crappy ninja basically.

    Now it doesn't have to be an orc, of course, but I think picking something like a kitsune makes it more "cool," so I think that works against what you're trying to do. Which I am assuming is make a silly or bizarre character. Even if he's a human ninja you could do something with him to make him interesting, so it doesn't necessarily have to be driven by race. But if I pick up a book that has your types of characters, I would expect the story to be funny. If it's serious, then I'd be disappointed.

    So sometimes I think it's good to play with fantasy races and "classes" so to speak and see what comes of it. Sometimes it may suck, but sometimes it may turn out even better than anyone imagined it would.

    If you make these concepts into round characters with motivations, desires, whatever (even if it's a comedy) then they'll pop out more. If it's just making an orc ninja just to make one, it doesn't really do anything. But if he "his story to tell" then anything can work.
  7. urcool91

    urcool91 Acolyte

    An orc ninja could work, but you'd have to somehow explain the whole "orcs won freedom and created their own Sameri-type class of orcs" thing really well, and also make it clear that these aren't your go in and kill people randomly type orcs.

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