Today's post, as you may guess, is one of those crazily intricate walls of text where I try to explain the complex creative process behind a new sculpt. Please be gentle: I know that my potato English might be challenging for you and I'm aware that seeing your mother language brutally spoiled like that is like, for an Italian, seeing a foreigner explain how to make a proper carbonara using heavy cream (gosh!), onion (double gosh!), ham (nooo!) and parsley (*falls to the ground unconscious*).
The big guy you see above is the first Orc character designed for my Peoples of Inneath project.
I know, we already made an Orc, Urghor, but I consider him a kind of prototype: at that time I hadn't in mind a precise idea about the main theme and style of the Orcs of Inneath, I just tried to make a cool character.
This doesn't mean that Urghor has no place in Inneath, instead: we can consider him one of the main characters of the story, and you will soon see his comeback in a new and towering incarnation!
But let's go back to the main theme.
If you are a veteran of DPF story, at this point you surely have understood that my intention with the peoples of Inneath is to elaborate on the classic fantasy tropes and archetypes in a fresher and more personal way, like a tightrope walker who tries to balance old and new styles, avoiding to fall in the land of nonsense or boredom.
It's not easy and, in hindsight, there are many things that I would change and slightly modify, but I'm overall happy to see that Inneath is taking its own shape and I like how the creative process is going spontaneously, almost as the peoples of Inneath themselves are deciding their shape and story, and I'm just the intermediary who turns their willingness into our reality.
When I began to work on Orcs (to, ehm, worc? *badum tss*), I knew that it would have been a challenging task, because I love classic Orcs (savage, barbarians, crude and warmongers), but I wanted to make something different, something that could find a place in a fictional world where there is NOT only war. When I think about Inneath, I prefer to think about a realistic environment: of course, there are (many) frictions between nations and kins, and often these "different opinions" might lead to quarrels or wars, but I didn't want bi-dimensional Orcs, I didn't need a "villain" whose characterization separated him from all the other factions.
I wanted to keep at least a glimpse of the classic Orcs, but I wanted to insert them in the main narration in a different way than "we want to destroy everything because we like to destroy everything". I want them to be able to interact with the other peoples not only on the battlefield but also in daily life. They should be able to trade with others, work with others, live with others.
As I said: not an easy task. The main risk was to dilute too much their archetype, leading to a kind of taller and stronger version of humans, but I didn't want bear-size tsundere men, I wanted Orcs. To shape their nature I started from a drastic (and a bit cruel) theme: Orcs of Inneath have a very short life span.
Their life expectancy is so short that a 45 y.o Orc is considered an incredibly old and lucky individual, like a 100 y.o human!
This peculiarity is the cornerstone of their nature and, consequently, their society and culture: with such a short life span is difficult for them to look to the longer term and it's always been very difficult for them to create a durable and stable nation. Politically speaking, I imagine the Orc dominions as some South-American/African states, which are highly unstable and often lead by an oligarchy of wealthy individuals belonging to a military environment. Orcs are fascinated by strong and bold personalities because they grant them to really take the best from their short life span: they are more into the "carpe diem" side of life, because they simply don't have enough time to build and, above all enjoy, things that require time to be built. They want to travel the world, they want to burn bright and, if possible, leave a trace of their time to posterity, in the form of personal sagas that everybody will remember and exalt after their death.
They need to live their life "aggressively" because they think that a life not worthy to be remembered is way worse than a short life.
Quoting Thoreau, the Orcs of Inneath just want "to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life" and this is the reason why they are so different from the other kins and, above all, why it might be difficult and dangerous to deal with them!
So, how do they interact with the other peoples of Inneath?
First of all, they are excellent fighters and soldiers and their daring attitude makes them priceless mercs: today's post's Orc, in fact, is a mercenary vet!
Many Orcs decide to become mercenaries because it's the easiest way to travel a lot, have adventures and glory and earn enough money to pay a big and fancy statue for their grave so that everybody would know how interesting and glorious life they had!
This leads us to the next topic: doubloons!
Orcs love gold and treasures almost as much as Dwarves, but their purpose is diametrically opposite: while Dwarves collect money and treasure them for the sake of having money, Orcs love to enjoy as much as possible the benefit of having a vast amount of doubloons. They love to buy fancy and expensive equips and weapons, liquors, food and everything that can appeal to their pulse: imagine them as a brutal version of the "rich kids of Instagram".
Being able to spend a lot of money is a badge of honour, in Orc society, because it means that you're having a successful life: it is still nowadays narrated the legendary saga of Bezorc, the golden emperor, who once bought three galleons in a single week!
As you may imagine, the endless thirst for gold and a short life span is not a good mix at all, and here is when the real problems begin: as you may guess, Orcs tend to have a very personal opinion, concerning private property and they see it as a very fluid concept. Orcs want to make money fast, so it's common that they choose the easiest way: piracy, frauds, smuggling and loan-sharking are house specialities and they are the main reasons why interactions between them and the other peoples of Inneath are often...troubled.
Not that Humans and Dwarves are blameless saints: the black market of Sargozza, the biggest of the whole world, is highly attended by visitors arriving from the 4 corners of Inneath, happy to trade with Orcs in a place where the law, or simply the Aerarium, can't see.
For their part, Orcs don't really care about all the moral implications of their lifestyle: they firmly believe in the law of the strongest so if someone is so stupid or weak to be fooled, robbed or slain by them, it is his loss!
Being aware of their short life doesn't mean that Orcs simply accept it as philosophers. Instead, what they crave almost more than money is a way to extend their lives and they are willing to do anything to achieve this goal. Orc culture is full of superstitions about death and life, and what they fear the most is bad luck. For this reason, they have an encyclopedic knowledge (let's say so) for what concerns the ways to attract good luck and cast out bad luck and they believe that there is no more powerful lucky charm than...cats!
Cats are considered blessed by good luck and Orcs really respect and envy them, because of their 7 lives!
It is really common, for an Orc, to adopt as many cats as possible because they think that as long as they are close to a cat, a part of their innate good luck would affect also him/her!
Of course, not all cats are equal: it is said, for example, that the rare Carthusian cats are the luckiest of all, and only an extremely wealthy Orc could afford to buy one!
So, at this point, you should have a good smattering concerning the Orcs of Inneath, and you can see that the Orc Mercenary I designed for our big-scales range already shows many typical Orkish features.
I wanted a distinctive style for my Orcs, and after many tries, I came out with a crazy idea: SPAGHETTI WESTERN CONQUISTADORS!
It may sound weird or silly, but the more I think about it, the more I like it.
Moreover, it's a perfect excuse to binge-watch again Sergio Leone/Corbucci's filmography!
Indeed, this first Orc is just a glimpse of what I've in mind, I want to really enhance this style when I'll design the main 32mm scale range: I think that the classic tropes of Wild West/Spaghetti Western really suit the nature of the Orcs of Inneath, because they visually incarnate (at least in my mind) the idea of a controversial hero, an individual that represents more the shades of grey, full of different facets. Moreover, the boldness charisma of wild west characters will help me to make a colourful and interesting range, mixing humour (which is always important, when dealing with orcs) and epic attitude.
The Spaghetti Western accents will be toned-down, or better, will be "fantasized" using here and there some spots taken from a more historical theme ( I always like to put some historical references in my characters): I thought that Spanish Conquistadors match really well with Wild West and Orcs (Conquistadorcs!), it's a style that immediately gives us an intimidating and aggressive vibe, and I love the puffed sleeves of those uniforms!
I think that in this first Orc the result is already visible, and all the parts interact together in an elegant way: the armour plates and puffed sleeves of Conquistadors, the Spaghetti Western worn poncho and the double-barrel shotgun.
Oh, and the grumpy cat of course!
I think that I'll have so much fun with the Orcs!