Cindy - Column for 9/6

Mein Orc

I'm sure many of you have questions you'd like to ask me. Questions you're probably too timid to ask, or you feel would be rude.

But I'll go ahead and save you the trouble and answer the one you really want to know.

"Just how many Orcs HAVE you killed in your lifetime?"

It's a sad tale, not to mention a little embarrassing. If I were a sane person, I'd just hang my head in shame and say "oh, a lot" or "my fair share", but...

I began playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was in fifth grade. That winter of 1979, my parents bought me the basic D&D set for Christmas, and sitting inconspicuously on page 30 (yes, motherfucker, I checked) was a description of the simple Orc. Burly, smelly, pig-faced bastards just itching for an axe in their forehead. Little did I know I was on my way to a lifetime of Genocide.

I played a few games with my Dad in the evenings, and on camping trips the following summer. Probably killed only 15-20 Orcs. Then my classmates started getting into the game, and we started to play more seriously. The body count probably reached 60 or so by the time I went off to Junior High.

Estimated count: 77 dead Orcs.

Then my parents came home one Christmas with an Apple II+. It took roughly 45 seconds before I'd successfully pirated a copy of "Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord". Using Locksmith 4.1 to overcome the copy protection of my friend Kenny Yee's store-bought disk, I modified the parameters of tracks 0A-0E to 36=1, and using an odd manual adjustment technique called "nibble counting", I had my very own copy for the price of a floppy disk. (Purchased as a single sided disk, but transformed to double sided with the help of a hole punch.) This paved my way for killing off Orcs in serious numbers. Beginning characters had to wade through at least 200 Orcs to get the experience necessary for the harder levels, and, conservatively speaking, I've gone through the game twenty times from the first level to the end. Adding in the Orcs you have to kill in the advanced levels just making your way from town to the bottom levels, that's 5500 Orcs.

Total estimate: 5,571 Orcs. And I was but a wee lad of twelve.

Somewhere about this time, though, I ended up playing Dungeon Master more often, running the game instead of killing Orcs myself, and I really shouldn't count the Orcs I fed to bloodthirsty players just because they needed something to kill. Which is too bad, because they defeated an Orc army of 30,000 once, and I'd like to include that as part of my total. But that would be cheating, because I just led those orcs to their deaths, and I didn't kill them myself.

Also, I don't want to start counting orc "armies" here. Moving a single counter representing 1000 men to kill another counter representing 1000 orcs is good fun, sure, but that's not what I'm interested in tallying. I'm counting individual orcs that I've killed one by one. Yes, it's personal.

In Jr. High I also played a boardgame called "Wizard's Quest", which is a risk-like game that I still think is great fun, even if it's hard to get a game going these days. The stock bad guys, who the players must defeat to conquer their opponents' land? Orcs, of course. I probably played this game about 30 times with friends and family, at roughly 40 orcs per game, adding 1200 orcs to my tally.

Through high school, I played less D&D, but a fair number of computer games. Mostly space combat simulators and text adventures, which sport relatively few orcs. But I did play Ultima I, II, and IV, which together easily add 600 orcs.

My college years saw Ultima V (requiring the slaughter of at least 300 orcs), text adventures such as Moria, Rogue, Ularn, and Nethack - which were a little light on the orc, but I played enough of to add another easy 200 dead orcs to my karmic burden. I have nightmares of showing up at the pearly gates, and St. Peter is there sporting a piglike snout and tusks. The regular St. Peter with his catalogue of impure thoughts and blasphemies would be bad enough, thank you. An Orc St. Peter would be on the phone to Lucifer offering him amnesty in exchange for a special 10th level in Hell.

Snapshot at this point in history: Age 22. Dual Bachelor of arts in Ancient History and Comparative Literature. Dead end job as a telephone customer service representative. 7,871 individual Orcs killed.

And this is BEFORE Blizzard released Warcraft for the PC, which I bought right away. 10 levels of Orc slaughtering goodness. Playing for the Human side, this ranged from 12-15 dead orcs on level 1 to 75-100 by level 10. Minus the one level where you're playing humans slaughtering other humans, but including the level where you're leading the orc army slaughtering other orcs, it comes to an average of 360 dead orcs per campaign, which I ran through at least 10 times before Warcraft II came out. Warcraft II brought nearly unthinkable levels of orc slaughter. To even contemplate the number of dead orcs in this game, I had to replay it start to finish last week. Purely in the interests of science, mind you. A solid 900 per campaign, and I played this game incessantly for about 3 years.

Add in the recently released Warcraft III (which sported more Warcraft I-like orc numbers, being more focused on squad-level combat) and the 30 or so I've encountered through other gaming pursuits recently, I have a grand total estimate of 42,111 dead orcs under my belt.

The Orc Nuremberg trials will not be kind to me, of this I'm sure.

Columns by Cindy