On What to do With the Orc Children?!

For the edification of all players throughout time everywhere, I have written the definitive alignment document on what to do when you find the children of evil humanoids. Simply find your alignment on the following chart and follow the directions when you find evil non-combatants.

What to do with the Orc Children?
Lawful Good: Kill Them!
Neutral Good: *Hangs head*, kill them!
Chaotic Good: Kill them!
Chaotic Neutral: Uh, maybe we shou-nahh Kill 'em!
True Neutral: Look at what you did to my garden! DIE!
Lawful Neutral: Eliminate them!
Lawful Evil: ENSLAVE THEM!
Neutral Evil: Run free to die in the wild!
Chaotic Evil: KILL THEM!

 Go shake your head here.


  1. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is by no means anything but Lawful and Good. Prisoners guilty of murder or similar capital crimes can be executed without violating any precept of the alignment. Hanging is likely the usual method of such execution, although it might be beheading, strangulation, etc. A paladin is likely a figure that would be considered a fair judge of criminal conduct.

    The Anglo-Saxon punishment for rape and/or murder of a woman was as follows: tearing off of the scalp, cutting off of the ears and nose, blinding, chopping off of the feet and hands, and leaving the criminal beside the road for all bypassers to see. I don't know if they cauterized the limb stumps or not before doing that. It was said that a woman and child could walk the length and breadth of England without fear of molestation then...
    " - Gary Gygax, Dragon's Foot

  2. Gygax is talking about rapists, not the children of rapists.

    That being said, what do you think the Arapaho did when they encountered Comanche women and children? Death, "marriage", "adoption" and all around enslavement. (To bad for the orc women that nobody wants to marry them.) In European war, the peasants get a pass because the conqueror can make them his own peasants. Unfortunately for the orc women and children, the Caves of Chaos appear to have no productive industries, aside from a little hunting. The Keep doesn't have any slave markets, unlike say, Dublin Ireland did during the Viking era.

    1. I wonder if you're just ignorant about the text of the module, or if you don't understand what an Orc is.

      First, the humanoids at the caves are the first wave - and they already have agents in the keep you're the last hope to destabilize the front of the invasion. If the keep falls, all of humanity will soon follow. They are an active organized force with the goal of the downfall of all human races.

      They are openly hostile and malicious and mean the death of all men. They is every monstrous man, woman, and child.

      As far as your comment about 'rapists' and the 'children of rapists' you're right - he's not talking about orcs.

      Orcs are the literal manifestation of evil. It is not human. It does not respect your life. It will kill you, screw then kill your women, and breed till your kind no longer exist. Comparing them to a human rapist is a kindness, being that they are the very stuff of evil.

      Here's another quote from Gygax. . .
      "Mercy is to be displayed for the lawbreaker that does so by accident. Benevolence is for the harmless. Pacifism in the fantasy milieu is for those who would be slaves." -Gary Gygax, Dragonsfoot

    2. It has been twenty years or so since I read the module, so I'm not making claims about that. I just remember the keep and the caves.

      I don't remember any "literal manifestation of evil" business in my copy of Moldvay D&D, unless you mean "AL: C". At any rate, they could still be put to work.

      My point is the answer to the question "Why not kill them all?" in real life is "It's bad for business." And it's bad for business, because defeated human subjects are worth more alive than dead. Throughout history, slavery and serfdom have been the reason to keep your defeated enemies alive. In times and places where they have not been available, typically ones enemies are killed outright. Most D&D campaigns with which I am familiar do not make inflicting slavery or serfdom options for the PCs. (ACKS may be different with the domain rules.) Ergo, most D&D campaigns are in times and places where genocide is the best/only option.

    3. Except they aren't human - they are hideous slavering monsters with no redeeming qualities.

    4. Orcs are the literal manifestation of evil. It is not human. It does not respect your life. It will kill you, screw then kill your women, and breed till your kind no longer exist. Comparing them to a human rapist is a kindness, being that they are the very stuff of evil.

      Traditional fantasy orcs like this are parasites which pose an existential threat to all humanoid life. Thus it would only make sense to treat them as such. Slaying them would be akin to using anti-biotics to kill dangerous bacteria. Letting them live would be suicidally stupid.

      The question of what to do with Orc non-combatants would be more complex in a non-traditional fantasy setting where the Orcs are either non-monsterous or only semi-monsterous.

    5. This did stem from a conversation about the traditional fantasy module.

  3. Alignment is highly problematic, and the "orc baby" thing just makes it even worse.

    Personally, I'd take the orc kids and train them to be my mamluks.

  4. I think people think too much.

  5. I got the solution to your ethical dilema right here, in my scabbard ...


  6. I don't like th "manifestation of evil" origin for any creature which evolved. Or at least none which call the material plane home, since evolution may not have occurred in a fantasy world.

    I much prefer to reserve it for creatures like demons and devils.

    1. That's because you play pathfinder which has the same rules for monsters and players.

      There is a bit of philosophy in that.

    2. I don't play 3.5, but I tend to agree. I find the idea that creatures like orcs are "innately evil" to be both specious and unnecessary. The orcs can simply be evil without needing that evil to be innate.

    3. Then you should ignore that text in the rulebook.

      This isn't about the innateness of the evil in orcs. This is about the fact that B/X defines them that way.

  7. So what do I do with my white/black/green/blue/red dragon egg?

    1. I hear that they are excellent with a hollandaise sauce.

  8. Reposted with grammar & spelling added. :(

    The humanoids are bringing their women and children as part of the vanguard of an invasion ... I always thought that was pretty stupid. It's not like they're setting up a colony on a foreign shore. Including orc babies in the scenario is kind of bizarre, and seems like a mind-*uck, but I guess that's just me.
    The nature of orcs (& evil, humanoids, etc.) is kind of campaign-specific in my experience. Tolkien, who invented orcs as a kind of humanoid soldier, went so far as to write, in one of his letters, they are not in principle 'irredeemable', so if you are coming at D&D with a lot of Tolkien baggage, you might not assume orcs are a kind of demon or whatever. Gygax is welcome to his views on the matter, and might have had his reasons for the KotB key, but I'm not sure you have to play it his way. I mean the text of the module provides a reasonable justification for 'humanoid genocide,' but if you did not read that to the players, I'm not sure why you'd assume they know the context/motives of the humanoid tribes or necessarily assume that 'the only good orc is a dead orc' including women and children. The presence of half-orcs etc in the game might make people think humanoids have free will and all.
    I think you probably need to spell out how you're running things so players *can tell* if they should give a second thought to killing humanoid babies. People may come with different assumptions about the nature of evil, humanoids, etc. I think in 3e or 4e, orcs are depicted as not inherently evil, just barbarians or something. Muddies the water.
    Having said that, my players & I don't really want baby-killing in the game, and if I were running KotB I'd just leave the women & children out of the equation. There is something that strikes me as a little sick about putting humanoid infants of any kind in the scenario as things you have to kill. Baby dragons, owlbears, etc are a different story.

    1. A) Right, he says in B2 to modify the module for your group.

      B) It in implicit in the B/X/1st edition alignment rules that chaotic/evil is literally that - aligned with chaos.

  9. "Imagine it: a player has succeeded in winning against impossible odds, and then the GM marches the victims of his ambition through his character's newly-built castle's yard, where he can see the widows and crying children of his enemies being forced off into prison camps. The player futilely demands for fair treatment of the vanquished, but the GM brings in a parade of vapid and cruel underlings tied down by their medieval mores, refusing and incapable of understanding his wish to not be tarred as a monster. It is clear that the GM is now driven to prove that the player's struggle for victory was inconceived to begin with, and he's the real monster of the story. This is certainly great drama, but the GM who is doing this in a D&D game (as we play it here) would be stepping outside his purview: the GM has no right to moral provocation in this game, it's not the subject matter and it's not for him to be the accuser. It's as if the Banker in Monopoly refused to shut up about the poor tenants who're going to be left homeless when I build my hotel."

    This really resonated with me. I used to do this to my players when I was younger, until I realized what kind of dickery it really is to punish your buddies for sitting down with you to play your nerdy game about orc-slaying in the first place. And wouldn't we all rather spend our precious game time dropping those players into pits filled with acid sharks?

    1. As Zak notes in the linked article, that is part of the responsibility of being a DM. Not punishing your players but molding the game to be what they want it to be about.

  10. Courtney, I've never appreciated the genius of Gygax like I have thanks to your blog.

    Gary, you brilliant bastard. May your legacy live long.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...