"The Orcish Question" is a dilogy consisting of letters and speeches collected by Hamilton Demry – a so-called "solicitor, advisor, and frequent spokesman for Tarant's captains of industry." The letters contained concern the ethics of subjecting the orcish race to treatment that would possibly pacify its "violent nature," and how to approach the issue of orcs not being "civilized" enough for Arcanum's advancing societies. The situation is somewhat allegorical, referencing the "Jewish question."
There are two volumes in total, both weighing 30 stone. They can be found in the University Court Library, in Tarant, which requires membership in order to access.
Mr. M'Oran is an elf of high blood, a traditionalist, and rather outspoken against the orcs.
Mr. Radcliffe is a noble from Caladon, and representative of that region's balanced views.
Mr. Gustaav is a half-orc labor leader from Whitehall, a recognized presence in the efforts to garner better wages and working conditions for the orcs.
A speech before Tarant's captains of industry, April 1884Edit
Good evening to you all, gentlemen. I hope none of you have been adversely affected by the heavy rains of the last few days. I for one welcome the fresh air we enjoy after a good shower.
Today I wish to speak on a topic that will be of greater and greater significance in the near future, and that is orcs. Much has been made of orcish working and living conditions. I am not here to debate whether or not changes should be made. I am here to raise the question as to whether or not such things even make a difference.
Orcs are a tremendously vile, violent race. They are born and bred killers, every one. Allowing them within the city limits, even as day laborers, is asking for the worst sorts of trouble. Appeasing their appetite for violence with higher pay or better housing or less work will simply not work, as they do not lust for property or position as we might; they lust only for blood.
We are at the dawn of a new age, an enlightened age. The wonders of technology are improving the lots of every creature, bringing wealth to those who were previously but serfs. Orcs, by their very nature, are unfit for this new age. Out society is advancing rapidly. Unless orcs advance as well, their predilection for evil will cause great strife.
I hear murmurs of concern and almost alarm from you, and I understand why. Orc labor is the backbone of many industries. Without their cheap and plentiful work, our way of like would be threatened.
This, then, is the Orcish Question: what are we to do? Orcs, because of their violent nature, will not fit into existing society, and yet we require their labor. We have two options, do we not? Change society to fit the orcs, or change the orcs to fit society.
As I have stated, the societal changes that have been proposed to date do not address the root cause of the problem. Improving their lot will not satisfy them as it would any other race. We either meet their need for barbarity by turning our factories into killing grounds, or we look to the other option: changing the orcs.
We must bring orcs up to our current standard or civilization. I will be engaging in many debates and discussions over the next few months in order to determine the best way to proceed, and will address this august body again once a working proposal has been identified. Thank you for your time.
A letter to Mr. M'Oran, April 1884Edit
Mr dear Mr. M'Oran,
Your points and concerns are well taken. In response to your musings I must simply submit that it is our duty, as enlightened and right-thinking members of out progressive society, to bring civilization to all species. This does not stem from mere altruism and a deep desire to improve the situation of the less fortunate – indeed, but spreading our mores and values to the world at large we shall be enhancing the peace and prosperity of all races, ours included.
It is our duty, I say. With great power (and certainly the technological marcels of the modern age, the abundant wealth created thereby, and the flowering of rational thought, all equate to power) comes great responsibility. It is our responsibility as the most culturally and scientifically advanced people of Arcanum to ensure our own future and the future of others by elevating the whole.
Now, as to the Orcish Question in particular. I agree that you are correct and that this species may be completely intractable and unable to advance into modern society in their present state. I suggest that these differences are purely physiological. I put forth that our remarkable scientific achievements may point to the means of a solution. I propose that we begin immediate experimentation upon members of the orcish race to ascertain the cause of their violent inclinations, in the hope of finding a medical remedy. A simple operation (the removal of a malignant gland, perhaps) may be all that is needed to bring individual members of this race into an enlightened and more pacified state. A structured breeding program might even reveal that such beneficial modifications and hereditary.
Regards, Hamilton Demry, Esq.
A letter to Mr. Radcliffe, May 1884Edit
My dear Mr. Radcliffe,
You speak of the 'realm of the gods' and of 'natural selection.' Both of these terms help us to explain and comprehend our helpless past. But what, I ask you, of the boundless future?
The gods made the world and us, but we are remaking this world. Why not remake ourselves as well? The era of rational and scientific thought is upon us! Let us not go backwards to our dark, superstitious past! Let us move boldly into the future!
Natural selection, in theory, helps us to explain why dwarves are short and well-suited to mining, and why orcs are strong, vicious warriors, and why elves are well adapted to natural surroundings. It need not be a rallying point for those who are too timid to see the future! Let it explain the past, but let it not hold us in stupefied awe of nature when we have the means, the knowledge, and the wherewithal to define for ourselves what tomorrow shall bring!
I foresee the day when we shall engineer magnificent edifices that reach to the very heavens! When we shall launch fleets of unsinkable ships! When we shall live free of disease! When the vast network of out rail lines brings peace and prosperity to every corner of Arcanum!
Everyday ingenuity and necessity meet to create new and greater technological wonders. Advancements in medicine and engineering and, indeed, every branch of knowledge bring prosperity to all.
If orcs do not fit into this brace new world because of the bad hand natural selection has dealt them, then why not seek a medical or anatomical solution? Why wait for natural selection to provide us with an orc that better fits out enlightened society? For their benefit and ours, we should act now! For all we know, the course of your precious natural selection would be to wipe orcs from all existence! I ask you to explain how natural genocide could be more humane than my proposed solution!
Now as never before we not only understand our world but are capable of making great changes thereto. We have the power, the right, and the obligation to use this capability to bring peace and prosperity to Arcanum. Let us see if we can do better by the orcs than nature has! Let us solve the Orcish Question, and then move on to bigger and better things!
A new era dawns. We are no longer subject to the whims of nature and of the gods. Let us take our future into our own hands, and see what we can make of it! Let up step boldly into this brace new world!
Hamilton Demry, Esq.
A letter to Mr. M'Oran, July 1884Edit
Mr dear Mr. M'Oran,
I am not ignorant of the marvels of magecraft. I have even been witness to the miracle of a resurrection! I do not doubt the utility of powerful magicks.
I do, however, doubt the ability of magick to survive against the rising tide of technology. The common man can easily use and benefit from technology, but this is not true of magick. That is magick's restriction and will be its downfall. I would not wish all magick removed from existence. Perhaps Tulla or Qintarra will remain in more or less their current state, but such is hard to predict.
As to the Orcish Question, I shall gladly lock sabres with you in a friendly debate. You mention physiological, social, and cultural influences, and accuse me of only considering the physiological in my proposed solution. Perhaps this is true, but if so it is because the social and cultural influences impel us to this solution.
I say so because the orc's social and cultural history are at odds with the direction that Tarant's culture and society are headed. Such is exactly the cause of this ongoing debate. Perhaps there are social and cultural changes that can take place on both sides to ease the pressure, but I do not foresee these to be easy changes, either.
You question the ethics of a physiological solution. Your argument of the potential abuse of these techniques is specious; the same can be said of any form of power from magick to mere brute force. The responsibility lies with those wielding the power to use it for the common good, and always will.
To ensure that we are speaking in the same terms, let me here attempt to define the Orcish Question. We need to agree upon the following statements before we can proceed.
Orcs are, on the whole, foul-tempered and of a violent nature. The rapid technological advancement that Tarant is experiencing has created a new social order. Within this new social order, the races of Arcanum have aligned more or less to the best of their ability.
Orcs are at the bottom of this new social order, are unhappy with their lot, and, in accordance with their very nature, may resort to violence is not forestalled. The Orcish Question, then, is how to we resolve this potentially violent situation?
Some have suggested packing them all off. This does not strike me as the best solution, simply because it would deprive the orcs of the opportunity which we all enjoy in this new enlightened society of advancing to the best of our abilities. If this is debatable, so be it. I do not think the orcs would voluntarily stay in Tarant is such advancement weren't possible. Furthermore, the labor provided by the orcs is essential to Tarant's economy. This is truly a short-sighted solution.
Some suggest working with the captains of industry to bring about better working conditions and better opportunities for advancement. This is well and good, however I am extremely skeptical that the true orcish nature will be so easily mollified.
Some suggest letting natural selection have its way, leaving the orcs to their own devices to resolve the situation. I fear this could have nothing but a violent outcome. I reject this idea as being irresponsible. If we can do something, we should.
My proposal is to seek a technological solution. Medicine and anatomy may show us a way to relieve the orcs of their violent nature. This violent nature no longer benefits them or us. To engage in such a program of alteration would incur the changes that natural selection would eventually bring about, quickly and painlessly. For no doubt the violent nature of the orcs is a needless vestige from a less-civilized age. Bear in mind that I am not recommending this course of action in order that a race be molded into some image that I whimsically desire. If orcs are to survive in the modern world, such changes must take place. If technology can bring them about more rapidly, I say let us not delay!
As for the practical implementation of such a program, I would suggest, if experimentation shows it's possible, that we begin with volunteers. Surely the most intelligent orcs can be persuaded with logic and reason that they and their descendants will only benefit from pacification. If the alterations are hereditary, then within a few generations the fierce, violent orc may well be a thing only found in histories and storybooks, and the world a better and less volatile place.
Hamilton Demry, Esq.
A speech before Tarant's captains of industry, July 1884Edit
I shall come straight to the point. My debates have clarified certain issues and there is also some recent news that has a significant impact on my proposals.
Mr. John Beddoes' treatise on orcs has recently come to my attention. If orcs are, as he postulates, the result of sorcerous meddling with humans then this casts a new light on things. Let us proceed under the assumption that the famed naturalist is correct.
Many have been recently arguing the concept of 'nature vs. nurture' – whether traits and behaviors are learned or inbred. Since orcs were humans who've been modified, then I would point out that this argues strongly in favor of their behaviors being inextricably part of their being. Who or whatever did this did so for a reason. That reason was to create, we may assume from the evidence, a race of strong, virulent, violent, vicious warriors. That they succeeded admirably we can have no doubt. If any significant number of orcs could defeat this violent nature and join our enlightened society as reasonable beings, then their creator would have failed!
I say again, orcs have been created to be mean and violent! One or two, here or there, may well be capable of advancing, but as a race such a thing is to be regarded in the highest suspicion.
Not to the crux of my argument. What magick has done, that is turned humans into base creatures of violence, let technology undo! Why let these poor folk continue to be out of place in modern society because of the whim of some ancient sorcerer?
We can rebuild them! We have the technology! We have the ability to create the world's first pacified orc! We can bring these poor lost souls back into society's bosom. Let us do so.
I propose immediately beginning experimentation upon dead orcs. Plenty can be had at the morgue. Furthermore, I urge experimentation upon live orcs as well. These subjects can come as volunteers from those currently sitting condemned in the dungeons of the Court of the Executioners.
Thank you for your time.
A letter to Mr. M'Oran, August 1884Edit
My dear Mr. M'Oran,
To respond to your earlier points: You claim that technologically altering the orcs to a better disposition would be unjust. In light of Beddoes' treatise, I disagree. It would be very just to undo what has been done to them.
You also propose the possibility of altering those who hate orcs so they no longer do so. If orcs were not hated and feared for good reason, I would have no problem with this. I think the problem of hatred and even prejudice will go away over time once technology has presented us with an orc that is no longer predisposed to the behaviors that induce them. You claim that I would take away that which makes them unique and leave them defenseless. If that uniqueness is an unnatural predilection for violence, then yes. But I only seek to remove that which impels them to unnatural levels of violence, not to destroy their sense of self-preservation.
Hamilton Demry, Esq.
A letter to Mr. Gustaav, August 1884Edit
Dear Mr. Gustaav,
I fear you are in the minority in representing your race. I wish it were no so; folk of your temperament can be reasoned with. You speak of violence, and clearly not without cause. As any rational being, you understand that violence may be necessary, but only as a last resort. I beg you to consider my plea and report to the eugenics laboratories as a test subject for the medical experimentation that could loosen the chains that have held your people since they were created by foul magicks so long ago.
Hamilton Demry, Esq.
A letter to Mr. M'Oran, September 1884Edit
Mr dear Mr. M'Oran,
You claim mu proposal is unethical. How so? These poor orcs have a magickal poison coursing through their veins that makes them a threat to everyone, including themselves. As civilization expands and advances, the orc threat grows also. I merely propose an antidote! If a magickal antidote were offered, I would be in full support! I doubt any mage existing today has the power to undo what has been done. Technology, however, may hold the answer. I believe we are obligated as right-thinking persons to discover whether or not it does.
How, pray tell, is that unethical?
Hamilton Demry, Esq.
A letter to Mr. Gustaav, September 1884Edit
Dear Mr. Gustaav,
Yes, I wish to use our marvelous technological know-how to change the orcs. Let us make that abundantly clear. Let us also make it clear that I am most certainly NOT proposing we make orcs our willing slaves. I do wish people would stop making assumptions. Orcs, by design, are inordinately predisposed to violence. This predisposition makes their presence in modern, civilized society a problematic one. I propose a technological solution to the problem: remove the inordinate predisposition to violence.
Now, you claim that your hatred was learned. No doubt you have been treated poorly. But as a race, sir, the orcs deserve no less. As harsh a statement as that is, I simply point to Mr. Beddoes' treatise as justification for it. Any race that practices wholesale cannibalism deserves little in the way of compassion.
My solution is exceedingly generous. If we remove the barbaric tendencies which so separate orcs from the rest of civilized society, then we may be able to effect a peaceful end to that separation.
Pray, let us speak no more of bloodshed and wrath. It is unlike gentlemen to do so, and in so doing you only make yourself seem more brutish and in need of the alterations you would resist.
Hamilton Demry, Esq.