Favorite humanoid

Are you kidding me? Orcs.

orcarmyThose are just the minis I was willing to “sacrifice” for wargaming (gluing them to unit bases rather than individual bases for RPGs).

I have never tried to count just my orcs, but I’m going to guess it is in the hundreds.  I have, easily, more than 100 plastic orcs, and at least as many metal ones; if I added goblins and other goblinoids I would embarrass myself.    I actually got into wargaming when I realized I had more orcs than I would probably ever need for RPGs.  The upside is that the different makes and styles of orcs can be used as different tribes of orcs or kinds of goblinoids.  For example I usually use Citadel/Warhammer orcs as hobgoblins, GW uruk-hai as half-orcs, old Grenadier orcs as true orcs, Nick Lund Grenadier orcs as greater orcs, and Ral Partha orcs as greater goblins…

Anyway I got into orcs because my earliest influences in fantasy were the animated movies  the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, the Return of the king, and the Yellow Submarine.

The Rankin-Bass movies (the Hobbit and Return of the King) had super-creepy-but-also-comical orcs/goblins, and the very memorable song “Where there’s a whip, there’s a way.”  You (or at least I) couldn’t help feeling a little sympathy for the downtrodden buggers.

The Bakshi Lord of the Rings was much scarier and the orcs were pretty freaky.  I was only six when my parents took us to see it at the movies, and had not really seen a lot of movies in the theaters; certainly nothing so psychedelic and dark.  The narration was hard for me to follow, and somehow I thought the Nazgul, when defeated at the river, came back as the orcs.  I think some offhand comment about the Nazgul returning stronger or in greater numbers must have made me think they literally came back in greater numbers every time they died.  I might have confounded this with something from the Prydain chroncicles/Black Cualdron which I had certainly not read at that time (and the Disney movie was 8 years away) but perhaps I’d heard about.

Probably the oddest influence though would be the Yellow Submarine, which was on TV a fair amount when I was young.  The Blue Meanies seemed very orc-like to me (and the very first orc I ever painted, I painted blue!)

Actually reading the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings later on — after I’d gotten into D&D — I enjoyed the orc characters, even though I knew I was not “supposed” to.  For a while I hated the pig-faced orcs of AD&D, as they seemed so cartoonish, although they’ve grown on me.

As a DM I haven’t used many orcs at all, though.  As much as I like the concepts of orcs as either ignoble savages or ruthless soldiers with a weird sense of honor, they never quite fit into my setting.  So Telengard has been populated with morlocks, kobolds, “moon goons” (hobgoblins in gas masks and trenchcoats who ride in hot air balloons, mostly a rip-off of Trey’s idea), and assorted other monsters.  Overall I haven’t used too many humanoids at all — if I need minions in an encounter they are just as likely to be undead or evil humans.

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Published in: on September 20, 2013 at 9:03 am  Comments (9)  
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  1. Those tall dudes who went around pounding people with giant apples from Yellow Submarine freaked the hell out of me when I was a kid.

    • The “Snapping Turks” — those guys with fezzes and a big mouth on their big bellies (as well as crab claw hands, I think) freaked me out. Must model a few…

  2. What you might have been thinking of from Prydain were the huntsmen. They’d been cursed/blessed to share a common life-force between them, so the more you killed, the more the others had of their common essence and the stronger they became. Sort of a precursor to the Law of the Conservation of Ninjutsu.

    • Oh, thanks! I really need to read that some day.

      • I just reread it for the first time in years. It holds up decently re-reading it as an adult, even if the 1st book has a few annoying fantasy trope cliches. Book 4 & 5 were just as amazing as when I was a kid, so I recommend it.

  3. Well I am GMing soon so you will certainly see lots of orcs. (my favorite humaniod as well). In D&D next they get 2HD!

    • Excellent. I only have about 100 orcs left to paint, so I should have enough.

  4. “… So Telengard has been populated with morlocks, kobolds, “moon goons” (hobgoblins in gas masks and trenchcoats who ride in hot air balloons, mostly a rip-off of Trey’s idea)…”

    Hell yes to the hot air balloon goblins.

    I really enjoy playing orcs or half-orcs as PCs myself.

  5. Cool. Glad the Moon Goons provided a bit of inspiration.


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