Saturday, February 10, 2007

Are the Horde evil?

(above, if Alachia were horde)

As I've said before, I like that I haven't gotten to know much about the other faction. It's kind of a nice mystique for me to not ever need to empathize with the horde. It makes the dynamic between the two factions that much more exciting for me.

But I have to wonder, are the horde really evil? Is that the design of the story? I don't follow much of the lore but my understanding was that the horde are an axis of evil races...except for maybe the tauren.

So I went straight to Blizzard for the answer:
Draenei: "Dedicated to preserving life and upholding the tenets of the Holy Light, the draenei hope to gather a new coalition of warriors to battle the Burning Legion and put a halt to its horrific Burning Crusade. Armed only with courage and their unshakeable faith in the Light, the draenei look forward to finding the alliance and ushering them towards the destiny that awaits beyond the skies of Azeroth"

Dwarves: "In past ages, the Dwarves rarely left the safety of their mountain fortresses. However, whenever the call to battle sounded, they rose up to defend their friends and allies with unmatched courage and valor."

Humans: "Following the heroic examples of the legendary Sir Lothar and King Llane, the defenders of Stormwind are considered to be among the fiercest warriors in the land. They stand resolute in their charge to maintain the honor and might of humanity in an ever-darkening world."

Gnomes: "Nearly half of the Gnomish race was wiped out during the fall of Gnomeregan. The ragged Gnomes that survived fled to the safety of the Dwarves' stronghold of Ironforge. Committed once again to the Alliance's cause, the Gnomes spend their time devising strategies and weapons that will help them retake their ravaged city and build a brighter future for their people."

Night Elves: "They now have renewed interest in shaping the world, and for the first time are allying themselves with other races to insure the continued survival of Azeroth. As a race, Night Elves are typically honorable and just, but they are very distrusting of the 'lesser races' of the world. They are nocturnal by nature and their shadowy powers often elicit the same distrust that they have for their mortal neighbors."

Orcs: "They are commonly believed to be brutal and mindless, possessing no humanity or empathy for other races. Born on the hellish world of Draenor, the Orcs were brought into the kingdom of Stormwind through the dimensional gateway known as the Dark Portal and forced to wage war on the Humans. Although few are aware of their history, the Orcs once cultivated a noble, Shamanistic society on the world of Draenor. Tragically, the proud Orc clans were corrupted by the Burning Legion and used as pawns in the Legion's invasion of Azeroth. The Orcs managed to rebel, however, and they were ultimately able to help turn the tide against their demon masters."

Undead: "These dark warriors have established a secret stronghold beneath the ruins of Lordaeron's former capital city. Situated deep beneath the cursed Tirisfal Glades, the labyrinthine Undercity is a sprawling bastion of evil. Within its shadowy confines, Sylvanas' royal apothecaries scramble to develop a devastating new plague - one which will not only eradicate their hated Scourge rivals, but the rest of humanity as well."

Tauren: "They live to serve nature and maintain the balance between the wild things of the land and the restless spirit of the elements. Despite their enormous size and brute strength, the remarkably peaceful Tauren cultivate a quiet, tribal society. However, when roused by conflict, Tauren are implacable enemies who will use every ounce of their strength to smash their enemies under hoof."

Trolls: "The vicious Jungle Trolls, who populate the numerous islands of the South Seas, are renowned for their cruelty and dark mysticism. Barbarous and superstitious, the wily Trolls carry a seething hatred for all other races.

One tribe, however, was forced to overcome its prejudices when it encountered the Orc Warchief, Thrall, and his mighty Horde. The Trolls of the Darkspear tribe, long since exiled from their ancestral lands in Stranglethorn Vale, were nearly destroyed by a band of aquatic Murlocs, but Thrall and the Horde managed to save them. In return the grateful Trolls swore an oath of eternal allegiance to the Horde."

Blood Elves: "Though the scars of that conflict are evident, the remaining elves have banded together and retaken much of their homeland. Calling themselves "blood elves", these grim survivors are committed to regaining the vast powers they once commanded. Inspired by the leadership of their beloved prince, Kael'thas Sunstrider, the blood elves now seek out new sources of arcane magic and the means of defending their land against the undying horrors of the Scourge."

First, you can't ignore some pretty obvious classical terms used in the short descriptions provided by Blizzard. Conflict, scars, cruelty, dark mysticism, prejudices, implacable enemies, cursed, crawling bastion of evil, brutal, mindless, and corrupted to describe the horde. Dedicated, courage, faith, light, committed, resolute, honor, and heroic to describe the alliance. I also make vast assumption, probably true as well, that the writers of the World of Warcraft Lore borrowed greatly from historical references to the ideas of good and evil. They would not be the first to exploit the classic theme of good and evil to propel a story line... Just look at some of the best selling pop culture movies and fantasy books out there, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordon, Terry Goodkind, CS. Lewis, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Chronicles of Narnia, Beowulf. It makes sense that someone wanting to sell a game to millions of sci-fi, fantasy junkies would borrow heavily from themes that have worked succesfully in the past.

Then there is the unmistakable Pre-TBC release of the World of Warcraft aesthetic selection. The alliance have a selection of smooth skin, elegant posture, bright large eyes, and perfectly posed hair styles. The horde have a selection of green, grey, and partial skin, slumping postures, piercing eyes-some without, and punk hairdos which belong to the subculture of popular america and none that look like they've been washed. And the question you have to ask when presented with this is: Does Beauty represent good and Ugly represent wickedness? Long and short without me having to write a HUGE paper on the anthology of "beauty" as representation for "good" as an accepted theme, just look at our average societal views. Beautiful music, art, building, behavior, posture, graciousness, conduct, action are all representative of the "good" in life. While "ugly" actions, conduct, posture, behavior, music, and art are not favored or respected by common society.

This of course, is all based on pereception. I'm making no claim as to what is truly "right" in life. I'm just trying to build a good frame of reference here. Good and evil, dark and light have accepted perceptions.

I believe the intention of Blizzard was to create a good and evil side to the game. A sect of people who were far more interested in playing the role of the "good" and another sect of people who wanted to play the game from the flip side of social norms....evil.

Interestingly enough, something happened over the course of the last two years.... Perhaps something Blizzard game designers had not intended, or maybe they did. Something very "real life" occured in how we play the game. The exploitation of the social roles of the game morphed the meaning of many of the players. The dynamics of real life players interacting in their avatars shifted the perception of evil and good. Alliance took it upon themselves to play the "role" of the "right" and used that assumption to devestate the horde territories. In defense, the horde bonded together more tightly and formed far more social bonds than the alliance faction (assumptions based only on talking to my horde friends). The horde's "behavior" in servers are far more "good" to each other than the alliance. I have noticed among my alliance players, there is not a lot of comroderie. We mostly devide ourselves into cliques and only band together when we need something from each, 40 man raid groups, world bosses...etc.

I came across this article which kind of shows what I mean.
Check out the chart towards the bottom of "Collapsed attacked zones by attacked Faction." I think it's fascinating!! Reverse psychology at work! hahaha.

If you were to ask me if Alliance were good and Horde were evil, I'd say yes that may have been the broad intent of Blizzard for purposese of story telling and setting up the premise of the game. However, in actuality, I have this sneaking suspicion that there are far more classical themes of evil in the actual Alliance players and themes of good in the actual Horde players.



StreetChief said...

what's interesting is that the alliance has had a somewhat stable lifestyle, and when evil did rear it's head in the form of the burning legion, there were few who fell to the legion's corruption... members of the alliance. why were the orcs enslaved? because medivh/sargeras had convinced gul'dan that he could help them, but it was a human who physically did the work. the eredar? sargeras had convinced two of three leaders that he could make them powerful. the night elves lived in a utopian society until sargeras had split them into social groups ie. the highborne, which in turn led to the fall of the kaldorei society. undead are just remnants of the plague and scourge. which was spread by a cult of humans... however the blood elves were the highborne that betrayed the night elves and imo they are evil, yet they are now crippled with their addiction to magic. i don't think the horde is evil, i think they're a group of misfits who slipped up in the past and are now coming round to fight for a greater good... FOR THE HORDE!

Jemimus said...

I think you summed it up nicely Alachia.

I think though, that the whole good/evil thing is far more ambigious still.

Especially the Orcs, have a remarkably deep and well developed backstory. If you delve into it, and read the various Horde novels by Christy Golden (Lord of the Clans and Rise of the Horde), you will feel incredibly sympathetic toward the Orcs and their long struggle.

Especially if you have played through the Warcraft 3 single player campaigns, and the Expansion, you cannot really come to any other conclusion that the Orcs, though a Warrior race, are basicly good.

And yes, the Tauren too have much to appreciate about them, for similair reason.

Humans on the other hand, seem to be portrayed more often that not, both in the novels and in the gamees as generally Xenophobic, arrogant, short-sighed and highly agressive. In the War 3 expansion Blood elf campaign where you play Kael'Thas Sunstrider, you cannot help but share his hatred of how the humans regard him and his race, and the humans there are portrayed almost exclusively as 'evil' in their mannerisms and regard for others.
The same theme reappears during the human campaign where Jaina Proudmoore is eventually forced to take up arms against her own father, who cannot see beyond his old hatred of the Orcs.

With the Forsaken, again, you feel sympathetic to their cause for the reason that they have 'redeemed' themselves from a greater evil than themselves. Broken free from the Scourge, they view Arthas, the Burning legion and the 'evil' undead scourge as their greater foes.

This raises an interesting point.
While one could very well considder the Undead race "evil", they are still better than the -more- evil forces in the game, Arthas )The Lich King) and the Burning Legion.

And even amung the main 'badguys' in the game, there are varying decrees of 'evilness'.

In Warcraft 3, while you cannot dispute that by our usual standards, the Naga en Bloodelves, and Illidan himself are 'evil', they have a serious beef against the Burning Legion, and only grudgingly cooperate with them because of Kil'Jaedens power position over Illidan.

One can identify with the Blood Elves for the simple reason they where 'forced' into their position through no real fault of their own. Their magical addiction is all too often portrayed as an unfortunate afliction rather than a lifestyle choice.

And how many of us developed a hatred of Maiev Shadowsong. Here was a Night Elf, a race who is definately portrayed on the side of 'good', as a key counterproint in the Illidan saga. The way she is presented in the War3 story is as overzealos, highly ambitious and highly arrogant. And even playing her, you didn't actually 'like' her. Blizzard clearly intended this, as is evident in the lines she is given in the game, the way she is portrayed in the "War of the Anchients" novel trilogy", and the very humorous and sly way Blizzard shows her chained and bound in Outland (The wardens cage).

Anyhow, when compared to the Burning Legion and Sargaras, who for all intent and purpose are evil incarnate, (and Sargaras as the 'Satan', if you will), every singe other 'evil' race in the game seems positively good, and each seem to have redeeming characters and charactaristics. So my conclusions is that, just like in real life, there is no good or evil. There is simply point of view, and the side you choose to stand on.

Anonymous said...

You have a good perspective, however, I have to disagree. I'm not saying either one is right, I just simply have a different idea on it all.

It always seemed to me that the biggest difference between the Alliance and the Horde (with exceptions, of course) is that Alliance is a collection of races banded together to help prevent their kingdoms from falling to the many evils around the world and that the Horde is a collection of races seeking aid to help begin their kingdoms after they have fallen apart.

If you look deep into the history you'll see that the Alliance is really on the defensive about a lot of things, Humans used to have many kingdoms all over the place, but after the plague and orcs they're basically left with Stormwind, so now they're trying to keep that up while the dwarves try to root out the Dark Irons and keep Ironforge standing. Like I said, there are some exceptions, Night Elves are trying to rebuild their lost civilization as well as the Gnomes and now the Dranei (with were mostly retconn'ed into lore, so I"m not up to date with them).

However, all of the Horde races are just taking their training wheels off so to speak, and just beginning to build their civilizations, hell, the Horde are even wary of their own side at times. This is best displayed as a split between the Blood Elves and Forsaken, which share a common event that destroyed their lives, and the Orcs, Tauren, and Trolls, which have been working together for at least a good couple of years now.

I can banter on for a long time about this, and I haven't even touched on what the developers intended, which could be anything. I don't consider any opinion wrong, I haven't seen any developers come out and say, "This is the way its meant to be interpreted", besides, that would take all the fun out of it.

- Neil

Jarael said...


You need to leave those alliance Care Bears and come join the Horde!! I can see you being a very powerful Blood Elf.

jason said...

I guess it all depends on what side of the fence you're sitting on.


Draxin said...

The lore presented in game for the Horde (over the course of WarCraft 3, Expansion and WoW) depicts the current "Horde" as shamanistic, loyal, and noble group. There are exceptions, but these exceptions also exist on the side of alliance.

A good example is the apothecaries group within the Forsaken. There is a huge misconception that the entire Forsaken race is seeking to duplicate a form of the plague that originally helped form the Scourge. This is not true. The only group within the Forsaken engineering this plague is the apothecary group itself and their reasoning is not what one might originally consider. Many of the apoethecaries even agree that it is a last resort weapon against the human factions that have no purpose other than to exterminate the Forsaken. The Forsaken are not mindless killers, they have banded together to create an empire that accepts their tragic fate. Even Sylvanas would prefer not release the same fate she had even upon their greatest enemies. Sylvanas, and the other Forsaken, consider their fate a cruel one. But with all things, you have to adept and accept it. Which is worse, being turned into a monster and wanting to carve out a niche for your existence or being a human under the guise of crusader attempting to inhiliate an entire civilization that has already been forced into a cruel fate and seek only continue to exist? The plague itself, why dubious, was intended a last resort weapon to keep their new civilization alive and diminish the numbers of those that would seek to destroy them - not to convert the entire world.

I'm at work, so if I can remember I'll go into some more detail about my personal experiences within WoW as a horde player and what lore I have seen. I am sure there is much I don't know, but from what I have seen each race within the Horde is far from evil. I will admit, the horde and the alliance both have groups within them that are DOING evil, but both have groups that are doing good. I would not put one above the other, honestly. Most of the leaders of both factions are actually very honorable and good. Even Sylvanas just wants to carve out a place for her people and ensure they, and her friends, survive. She is also greatly concerned for her former empire, the High (Blood) Elves, and want to help them continue to exist as well - since what caused the Forsaken to exist in their cruel fate was the same thing that nearly destroyed an entire race... the scourge.

Anywho, I don't find the Horde to be evil at all as a whole. Both factions have some crazy people in them and some really, honest, noble people. I consider the Alliance the Horde to be on the same level for the most part. Alot of Alliance lore seems almost fanatical to me though. The Forsaken seem heavily targeted. Any evils they would commit are almost justified to me by the numerous groups that seek to exterminate their entire existence. If they had to retaliate against those groups with something like that plague, it's argueably justified. Most Forsaken don't want anything to do with it though, so I doubt in any future WC lore that it would ever happen.

wowcast said...

in the popular sense of how we view evil in our society, "forsaken, undead, orcs, and trolls" are generally viewed as "evil".

My thoughts stem from the idea that most horde players I know don't view themselves as playing on the "evil side".

In fact, most horde point to the alliance and say that is where the true evil rests.

And in the actuality of how we as the RL counterparts of our avatars play...of course there is hope, respect, decency, honor is us as well as greed, decadence, selfishness, and ignorance.

You could basically take the horde and alliance and apply layers to them and use that to guage the evil.

For example: Horde Undead, apply a scale of 1-10 for the following "nortorius 7 sins"...greed, gluttony, sloth, vanity, lust, wrath, jealousy...

you would see varying degrees on all races...except for maybe lust because there's not much integrated lust in any of the characters. hahaha.

I almost would like to believe that there is a good and evil side to WoW. That you could choose to play out the darker side of humanity...I mean...the undead eat the flesh of dead corpses...okay, it's not 'evil' per say but come's evil in the hannibal lector kind of way...and even though you might like his character and even sympathize with him...he's still..vastly dark.

In other words, isn't it okay that there's an evil side?...or let's not call it evil.. let's just least in the game's original intent.

I don't think that's so bad.

Healmonkey said...

Try having an RP view through an Undeads eyes (assuming they still have theirs).

You've just woken up as an undead (not by choice of course) after falling in battle. Your family fears you. Your friends want nothing to do with you. Your hometown will kill you on site. You're now trapped in limbo between life and death.

Where do you go? What do you do now that you're an outcast? Does this now make you an evil person? Does your past have meaning anymore?

Maclort said...

You like Tery Goodkind I love you!
Sorry but no one knows Terry :(

Sorry im too tired to comment on the real topic lol, i just agree with Jason


Draxin said...

As for undead, I have two comparisons for you.

Firstly, eating the corpses. Yes, that act is frightening and dubious. But do we frown when a wolf eats a bunny? Do we call a wolf evil because it fed on its prey? Undead are not mindless and cultureless, they don't scour the countryside slaying things to eat them. But it is part of there genetic makeup, so if eating their fallen enemies sustains their life and repairs the damage that was done to them - I don't think its an act of evil so much as an act of self preservation.

As for the plague, I don't want to get into too much of a debate here (mainly because most of the undead don't want to use it even if they had it) but I compare that to "the bomb". The United States built it and used it. Are we evil for doing so? I'd like to think not. It was a desperate act of self defense. If the Undead used it on the crusades against them, I think it'd be hard not to compare the two.

In any case, I agree - Both sides have a level of "good and evil". But I do not think the Horde in general represents this evil.

I have a link or two I'd like to share if you haven't played through the WarCraft games.

Link one: This represents the orcs perfectly. The younger orc with the hammer is Thrall before he became the chief of the horde. The orc with him is Grom Hellscream. As you probably know, back in WarCraft and WarCraft 2 the orcs were infected by the demon blood. It gave them a blood lust and blinded them to what they were doing. Their entire race had lived on Draenor and were VERY peaceful. But the Burning Legion came and corrupted their race. As time went on, some of the orcs became aware of the demon blood inside them and started fighting it. They realized they were not living a life they wanted. Thrall was captured by humans when he was young and did not have the fel energies the orcs had. Hellscream had the demon blood, though. This cinematic shows a side of the orcs you may not have experienced unless you played through WarCraft 3 as them or played one in WoW:

In any case, I agree that there are evils within all people and both sides, but for the most part I find the factions themselves are inherently good and if you play them and see the entire story through their eyes you'll quickly start to feel for them and understand their cause, even if from another characters standpoint you'll see the opposition (or even your allies) as dubious. Bliz did a great job on that, I think, in that there is even a discussion on the intent and good and evil within WarCraft. :)

Whens the next PodCast???? I neeeeeed mah wowcaaaaaast! :P

KaizeN said...

In my opinion, evil is a point of view. Much like in Episode 3 of Starwars, it is very hard to point the finger of who'm is evil and who isn't, as when it boils down to it both have a reason to destroy the other. But what got me is both done it for a cause, that in one way or another was to bring stability to the Galaxy.

Much like World of Warcraft. The Orc's were not by choice brought into Kalimdor, nor by choice did they fight for Burning Legion. The Tauren and Orcs made a blood pact, bound by the honour to protect one another.

The Undead, while their existence is an abomination to the natural laws of life and death, they are no more in control of that as Nightelves are over their pointy ears.

And when it comes to sheer life stability the Bleackspear Trolls, are the most buggered, as they don't just have to worry about the Alliance, but a large amount of their own kind.

The Blood Elves... well what can yah say really. If your civilisation was on the brink of destruction, wouldn't you turn to even the most evil force, to find aid?

The Horde, are the Dark side if you were, but evil? They do not just seek aid from each other, they depend upon on each other for their very survival. Desperation is the source of disregard for morality. Whether that makes them evil or not is down to you.

Maclort said...

I gotta say I always thought Blizzard were slightly Biased, so obviously all their class descriptions were a little racist in my opinion -
There is nothing evil about trolls at all, no matter what way it is spinned.
Undead were only evil when they were being controlled - if you are mind controlled and made to hit your party member, are you evil? Nope

The orcs, sure they have been a bit naughty before. But some of that was due to demons controlling them, again with the control. And going by the current storyling just before WoW (during warc3 expansion) Thrall had made a peace treaty with humans and just guess who broke it and made plans to attack the horde. Yep it was the humans. Actually part of the horde newbie quests is stopping that attack.

Case rests :D


nawcom said...

Just to make sure we have the info on the the breaking of the peace treaty between Thrall and the Aliiance right; This was a situation between Jaina Proudmoore's father and the Horde. Jaina had the choice to either support her father or support the horde. She decided to help Thrall, but in the end Admiral Proudmoore - her father - died in battle before she could reconcile with him. For her loyalty, the orcs allowed Jaina's forces to return home safely to Theramore without punishment.

So as far as its recorded on, The Orcs are clean and are at peace with the Alliance. However, it is quite different if you include all of the races of the Horde - the undead for example. :-P We shall have to wait until Arthas is taken off the throne for there to be total peace.
But when there is peace there is an end to the story. And who wants that yet? hehe

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