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The Polygamy Blog
Jim Dalrymple II and Trent Nelson
Reporter Jim Dalrymple II and photographer Trent Nelson cover polygamy for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow the Polygamy Blog on Twitter at @tribunepolygamy. Follow Jim Dalrymple II on Twitter at @jimmycdii. Follow Trent Nelson on Twitter at @trenthead.

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Orcs from the video game "Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" have been known to practice polygamy. Screen capture.
Video game polygamists are polygamists, too

We get a lot of feedback here on the blog pointing out that there are many different types of polygamists out there. Polygamy is more than just Warren Jeffs’ Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you say. So true.

There are many different groups, churches, and individuals living the plural life. And not just humans. Here’s some news for you: Orcs are polygamists, too.

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Yeah, we’re having some fun. It’s Friday.

If you don’t know, orcs are mythical creatures that frequently appear as villains in tales of fantasy, like "Lord of the Rings" or video games such as the popular "Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim." If you’re unfamiliar with orcs, picture a human-sized ogre with a bad attitude.

Like a few of you have said, the FLDS have their prairie dresses but most polygamists dress like everyone else. Orcs, however, are distinguishable by their green skin.

Contrary to the popular myth, most human polygamists do not live in guarded compounds. They live in the same cities and suburbs as everyone else. But orcs seem to prefer the compound life. Actually, they take things a step further— they live in strongholds. As we learn from The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages, "traditional Orcish society is centered around stronghold settlements, each one striving for complete independence in all matters."

And while the religious hierarchy of most polygamist groups can be categorized as one-man-rule, a priesthood leadership council, or living independently, orcs again go to the extreme:

A stronghold’s tribe is controlled by a chieftain, who is the literal alpha male: no other males are permitted to take wives or father children. The chieftain is replaced by whichever one of his sons grows strong enough to challenge and kill him.

Wow. Challenge the leader and kill him? That’s intense.

Hey, you might ask: "Do female orcs ever try to escape from the strongholds? The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages says:

"…many Orcs seek to escape traditional life in the strongholds. Orc women may want to escape being ‘just another wife’ to the chieftain. They leave to join the Imperial Legion, see the world or otherwise seek their fortune; some eventually return to the strongholds, but many do not. Orcs who do not live in strongholds are derisively called ‘city Orcs’ by those that do, and are considered soft outsiders… "

And what about lost boys, you ask? Orcs have those, too. Tons of them: Many Orcs leave the strongholds because of differences with the chief, or because of being cast out.

For some players, it’s not enough to just have polygamy in the background lore of a video game. They want to play it. A gamer going by the name MuffinPoodle (yeah, love the Internet) is currently looking for help making polygamy a playable part of Skyrim. Imagine that. In between battling dragons and searching for hidden gold you could soon be marrying multiple partners on your PC.

Looks like MuffinPoodle has put a lot of thought into it. It’s written in gamer-talk, but you get the idea:

"The first is your ‘primary’ or ‘favoured’ wife/husband, the first person you marry. The second person is your ‘forgewife’ or ‘forgehusband’, according to orcish tradition. Anyone you marry ... after that are just like, misc/other wives/husbands. And depending on where in the spouse hierarchy they fit, your spouses could perform different functions, like maybe...

"Favoured spouse: All the benefits of a vanilla spouse — homecooked meals, will set up a shop, can provide Lover’s Comfort bonus, will move in with you, you can move in with him/her, his/her belongings become your belongings.

"Forgewife/forgehusband: Will set up a shop, can provide Lover’s Comfort bonus, will move in with you, you can move in with him/her, his/her belongings become your belongings.

"Other spouses: Homecooked meals, will move in with you, his/her belongings become your belongings."

MuffinPoodle adds, "Maybe all this isn’t possible, who knows, but it would be my ideal marriage system for sure!"

Maybe so, MuffinPoodle, maybe so. But living polygamy is a lot of work. Like many polygamists have told me, the plural life is about more than just scoring the Lover’s Comfort bonus.

— Trent Nelson

Twitter: @trenthead



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