Sunday, October 2, 2011

Re 18th century other races...

I am currently thinking about antiquarian adventurers belonging to a Antiquarian society based in Tradgardland. They will be used in dungeon/wideness adventures.Today I was pondering how other "fantasy races" such as elves,orcs and dwarves would have developed in the 18th century- any thoughts figure suggestions?
best wishes


abdul666 said...

Both Reaper Miniatures (a few cute 'Elfettes') and Black Scorpion have 'Elves pirates' in ± 18th C. dress.
Note that the Reaper Skinsaw man, maybe with greenstuff / thick paper cuffs, would make an excellent 'Lacepulp' Nosferatu or Evil (Dark) Elf Lord.
Some of the Foundry {evil} Elves, specially the women, can pass as if 18th C. dress.
For regular troops more than for characters, Alternative Armies 'Napoleonic' Elves do have a few types that can 'pass' for 18th C. troops.

A year ago Timurilank of '18th C. Sojourn' developed 18th C. 'Melnibonean ['Evil'] Elves' (initially as 'Atlanteans in the 18th C.'). In 15mm, unfortunately, but good-looking and inspirational nonetheless; their (Hawkmoon- rather than Elric-inspired) advanced technology fits well in 'our' 18th C. (from there browse for older posts).

Imho other 'tolkienesque' races -dwarves, halfling, orcs...- are too strictly associated with a medieval background, and the corresponding minis far too caricatural / cartoonesque, to fit in an 'Age of Reason' setting. 200% personal of course, and indeed figurines of Dwarves and Orcs pirates pirates do exist. In the same way I feel that 'modern' ('Horror' / 'Pulp') monsters -Lovecraftian ones..., as used by Howard for Conan's world- would be more appropriate than 'typically medieval' (dragon, griffon, manticore...) ones. Then, Tolkien's tentacled 'watcher' is very 'Lovecraftian / Pulp'.
Elves on the other hand look 'human' enough not to look 'out of character / out of place' in the century of the Encyclopedia, of the first machine-gun, balloons, steam-powered road hauler and boat, submarine... . And Elves in tricorne DO love cute.
As for undead (skeletons, preferably zombies...) also available as 'pirates' (and as 'Napoleonic' Russians), it's more ambiguous; the same for mermaids (loreleies in soft water).
Recent 'Lacepulp' threads on the 'NPU' wargaming forum, both in the 'Pulp / Horror' and the '18th C. Imagi-Nations' boards.

freecloud said...

Don't forget Teddy Bears

abdul666 said...

Yes, the Teddybears Lady Emma Cuddlestone-Smythe led so brilliantly to victory no long ago.

Could one put forward the Armored Bears of the 'Golden Compass' as a respectable enough precedent?

Then staying within Eureka miniatures in cocked hat -and how cute the Teddybears may be- I can't help but think that, against the background of a *human* society the 'Sandras' would be more fitting, more 'in character'.
Navel wargaming rather than Fantasy wargaming :)

abdul666 said...

In the same way as your Lamplighters can moonlight as daring adventurers -Tradgarlanders or, rather, 'rivals'?- minis used as nickers can turn out as 'encounters' here.

abdul666 said...

For non-human races I strongly dislike their traditional 'caricatural / cartoonish' appearance. It dates largely from pre-literate times, when story tellers and illustrators distorted / exaggerated the 'exotic'. Look at the illustration of medieval bestiaries, and how some real animals (seals, spermwhales…) and even plants (cotton tree: a sheep upside down on the top of a trunk!) are depicted and drawn! Image intended for mostly illiterate viewers use gross exaggeration to translate 'graphically' any slight 'strangeness'.
In the same way, the 'beastmen' auxiliaries of the Imperial forces mentioned and illustrated in Rogue Trader disappeared from later 'canonical' texts: a 'rationalist' interpretation is that they were no more than a very 'graphical' collective reference to all ab-humans in Imperial service (ogryns, ratlings, squats) visually 'emphasizing' their 'not really human' nature. 'Official' miniatures are simply copied on these distorted images, as if Pharaonic Egyptian miniature soldiers were done in 3D following slavishly the Egyptian perspective!

All these reserves and arguments because with my locally limited abilities of 'willing suspension of disbelief' as soon as biology is 'raped' I prefer to see all humanoid non-humans as actually variants of Homo sapiens.
Dwarves: old references are confused: the Dwarf in the Niebelungenlied is called 'King of Elves', while the 'Elves of Darkness' -skilled goldsmiths and armorers living 'in the earth like maggots'- are clearly 'our' dwarves. But there was no indication initially that they were specially shortish (nor chubby): all 'magical' humanoids shrank as people believed less and less in them.
Minis-wise I have difficulties to accept Dwarves with the knees either at the hip or at the ankle! 22mm (1/72) minis or better 'true 25mm' ones with greenstuff beards among 28mm 'human' figurines, on the other hand…

As for Orcs, as generally represented they are imho a very distorted, maligned, prejudiced rendition of Neanderthals à la 13th Warrior (or Conan's Picts) by illiterate groups translating 'graphically' their slight 'strangeness'. Tolkien did not give much detail, and wrote from a biased perspective: actually, even after being stricken with an 'evil' repute, gobelins, korrigans, brownies... were not depicted as specially ugly. As for the 'green' skin, olivâtre in French is used to depict the Lebaneses and Hindus.
Minis-wise 'normal' human figurines, but of 'Old School' (crude sculpting) style: Willie, Jacdaw (Dixon?)... would suffice to express their 'roughness' in an 'impressionist' way.

abdul666 said...

Elves don't have to be semi-immortal magical creatures (even if a few gifted individual show some paranormal abilities). They can breed true with humans (a rare event for cultural / ethical reasons) so belong to the same biological species. A subspecies of Homo sapiens having diverged probably before the individualization of the Cro-Magnon line and evolved in isolation, keeping fiercely its 'blood purity'; yet the differences with normal humans are mainly psychological -ethical, cultural. An immense certitude of their total superiority, mental and physical, leading to a deep contempt of 'semi-animal' other humans. Moorcock's Melnibonéans (and Vadhaghs) correspond to such subspecies. Tall, slim, a triangular face with high cheek bones, narrow pointed chin, slightly slanting 'cat's eyes', *so slightly* pointed ears for the purest blooded. Btw 'Elves' / Fées as understood here seem also to correspond to the (extinct?) 'giants' who build these citadels of glassy green stone Conan discovered in several parts of his world. 
Even if their hypothetical semi-divine origin ('Angels' half-breed Nephilim, or their Gibborim immediate descendants) is seen as mythical, they may indeed enjoy a significantly higher life expectancy (hence their repulsion to mate with 'short lived' humans: to them, the offsprings of such union hideously die of Progeria). They do NOT have Spock-like pointed ears (I suspect such date from Disney's 'Peter Pan'); and they don't have to be albinos.
Minis-wise 'normal', preferably tall and beautiful, figurines would fit. Black Scorpion (even 'human') ones are reportedly taller than most ranges; so are most Redoubt', but seemingly too bulky. For those wishing their minis to show their 'nature' in an exacerbated way, some Alternative Armies Elves and the Foundry 'Revenant' ones would be adequate (their ears filed down), as would be some 'subdued' vampires in period clothes.