Sunday 2 October 2011

Fantasy races- how to depict in the 18th Century

As my previous post tells you 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?I would like to perhaps raise other warbands with a 18th century feel to compete against the Tradgardlanders in diverse scenarios...

best wishes



  1. 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'.

    As for undead (skeletons, preferably -easier to explain 'rationally'- zombies...) also available as 'pirates' (and as 'Napoleonic' Russians), it's more ambiguous; the same for mermaids (loreleies in soft water).

    (Limited to 4096 characters... Grr...Continued).

  2. 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. Indeed, to merely add a tricorne to a figurine immediately 'tags' it *Lace Wars*, even for originally 'medieval' or 'napoleonic' ones; and according to the creator / ruler of Herrschaden it's NOT a difficult operation.

    Recent 'Lacepulp' threads on the 'NPU' wargaming forum, both in the 'Pulp / Horror' and the '18th C. Imagi-Nations' boards.


  3. Would 'Gullivers travels' be a inspiration ? written in the right era.

  4. About 'dungeon crawling', an 'intellectual' obstacle to the required 'willing suspension of disbelief' I always had (because of my professional background) was the fact that, the deeper you go down, the stronger the 'monsters'. Makes sense in terms of game mechanism, the upward progression of your characters' levels corresponding to the downward progression of your group of adventurers. But totally silly from an 'ecological' point of view. Without light, thus without photosynthesis, the only source of bioenergy underground is the dissolved organics having leaked from the surface: less and less as you go down. Chemosynthesis works only in water, and even around the most productive hydrothermal vents in the abysses maintain life in a radius of barely a yard. A very peculiar food pyramid, with only detritivores and carnivores.
    Bioluminescence could not exist without a supply of biological energy, so cannot be at the starting point!

    A whole underground '7th Continent' / 'Lost World' 'at the Earth Core', Pellucidar-fashion requires that the magma / lakes of lava or whatever produces enough light to maintain a very productive photosynthesis *without* producing heat that would burn all forms of life. Far-fetched to say the least, but the question is put on a different scale, is pushed 'away' and thus far less 'annoying'.

    Timurilank set his Melnibonean Elves in an (as yet undiscovered by 'western' Man) archipelago. The drawback is their isolation, so it would be difficult to explain how parties of them could come to cross the way of your Tradgarlanders.

    Unless you suppose their (volcanic) archipelago to be linked (through emptied lava tunnels -don't ask me about their ventilation) to various exits in our Continent (and maybe elsewhere, in Ultima Thule, the Kingdom of She, Agartha in the 'lost', yetis-guarded valley of Shangri-La (btw did the Jesuit from Tradgarland sent to Tibet reached it?), the caves under a Maya temple...). But then, it would be simpler to have your Elves entirely set in a 'partly Hollow Earth' chtonian continent...
    In the French (well, Belgian) comics L'enigme de l'Atlantide the 'Atlants', surrounded by related 'Barbarians', live in such an underground continent; why not your 18th C. Elves?

  5. I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss orcs or dwarves or other fantasy races. Foundry does some orcs in what could pass for landsknechts attire. And some dwarves of similar era. There's another company that does both Zulus and British-type infantry of that same era, as dwarves. And the company that does the Flintloque rules do a variety of figures, including anthropomorphic animals, as Napoleonic era troops and other types.
    I remember when fantasy fiction was almost entirely medieval in character. Use of gunpowder and other post-medieval technologies would've been tantamount to heresy. But these days fantasy has branched out quite a bit.
    You're only limited by your imagination, personal taste, and the figures you can buy, convert, sculpt, or put together in any way you can.

  6. The Flintloque rules and miniatures are very inspriring.


  7. 'Humanoids' who -not blatantly coming straight from a medieval bestiary or from medieval-like Middle Earth- would fit in an 'Age of Reason' are the degenerated humans of 'The Lurking Fear'; totally decrepit by generations of inbreeding and cannibalism, ± albinos since they live underground and come out to 'feed' only at night. Cannibalism would favor the spreading of a TSE -a 'mad man' disease- similar to the Kuru, and regressed humans shaken by bursts of hyena-like laughter would look quite 'ghoulish'. Indeed miniatures of 'generic' (almost naked, to be independent of any period costume; not too 'cartoonish' looking) ghouls would be specially appropriate (maybe 'yetis' could provide a 'big boss' sub-type).
    They could also be the 'human livestock' described in ' The Rats in the Walls' turned feral.
    In Scandinavia -not far from Tradgarland- they could be the degenerated descendants of the 'Eaters of the Dead' - and be at the origin of the persistent rumours about trolls.

  8. Most interesting gentlemen and much to think about...
    Are elves for example living in human cities as a sort of "ethnic minority" in say Tradgardstadt or are they more like the Sidhe of Scottish/Irish mythology?
    I think I will recruit some elves etc to my band of adventurers and then we shall see.Keep the good ideas coming please.

  9. Underground living humanoid races are reminding of the Irish Sidhe, turned with time roughly equivalent to the Elves and the Fays. Now, before regressing to minute, if cute, Tinkerbell-like Victorian fairies as humans believed less and less in them, the Fays -as described as Fées in France- appeared 'merely' as humans of a dazzling beauty. No need for special miniatures, theoretically! No mounds / tumuli in or close to Tradgarland?
    Btw 'fée' initially meant simply 'magical', so there were 'fay people' (male and female), 'fay horses', 'fay swords' (Stormbringer?)...
    Rather than opening to lands materially under our ground, the entrances to Faerie can well be 'portals' / 'stargates' / 'hellmouths' to a parallel universe. If its 'time vector' is not strictly parallel to ours, time will seem to flow at a different speed there (cosine effect: does it means that two time vectors at right angle will give apparent immortality?). This would explain the numerous references to humans having passed 'one year and a day' in Faerie with a Fay lover and observing that a generation, or a century, had elapsed in the meantime in our world?
    If in this parallel universe humans developed paranormal / psionic abilities (what we call 'magic'), they would have ignored the scientific / technological approach; they may even have forgotten how to light a fire 'normally'! Any 'technology' they have would be copied on ours. They may have developed a kind of 'immunity' (immediate healing of wounds) to human weapons: this would explain why in old texts iron is lethal to 'magical' creatures (they have developed only immunity against bronze weapons, by then), while this weakness is no longer mentioned in more recent texts; it would also explain their vulnerability to silver, a metal not used as a weapon often enough to trigger the development of an 'immunity'...

  10. An expedition could have as objective the retrieval of some 'Artifact of Power', "Raiders of the Lost Ark" fashion. For instance the Holy Grail (shades of Monthy Python...) or the Spear of Destiny. Some Monte-Cristan female characters are quite excited about the Witchblade only women can bear...

    Such Great Artifact can of course be an heirdom from the (extra-terrestrial?) Elohim through the Bene Elohim ["angels"], the Nephilim, the Atlanteans, the builders of the Egyptian pyramids, the masons of the Temple of Jerusalem and ultimately the Cathars and / or the Templars. Meaning that it can be coveted / guarded by several dreadful and pitiless rival secret societies / sects, 'Blood of the Templars' fashion. I like (with a smile) the neonazi - ninja - monks on amphetamines of 'Crimsom rivers 2', and Westwind has fitting 'Brotherhood' miniatures (as well as almost anything 'pulpy' one can wish for; look at the 'Headless Horseman' range for 18th C. minor NPC).

    Then, of course, 'Elves' can be other descendants of the Elohim, or be pure blood Nephilim...

    No sunken city / lost land on or close to Tradgarlander shores, still filled of air under a layer of silt, that could be reached by air-filled tunnels from the mainland?

    But be wary of *what* you can meet in such ruins...

  11. You know, your 'lamplighters' could constitute one of your 'bands' &/or double as 18th C. 'Elves' // Agarthans / Shambhalans (one of the oldest -because of their similarities with the Kennewick Man- 'Asiatic' ethnic group, the Ainu, looks 'Caucasian'...).

  12. I have a unit of flintlogue frogs in bicorne which I am fond of and agree pjotr that it is an interesting concept- played it when it first came out...
    The Foundry landsknect orcs are super figures and orc pirates too.
    Lots to think about on the train this morning!

  13. If indeed 'Elves' live in Tradgarland, they would not be identified as such: otherwise whole 'Eveurope' would have heard of them long ago, and anyway their situation would be unbearable. Either they manage to pass totally unnoticed, or at least they are seen as a component of the *normal* human population of Tradgarland, as 'Swedes' and Finns co-exist in Finland.
    And for sure they conceal their peculiarities, specially if 'abnormally' long-lived. 'Eternal' youth is a basic human dream, and if known to benefit from it periodically maddened mobs would start pogroms to show these haughty bastards they can die as everybody else; while persons of power would want to drink their blood, have their body juices extracted in a wine press to be distilled... in the hope of gaining their extended life. Not to speak of the most religiously-inclined humans, who would see them as 'devilspawns' / 'children of Lilith'...
    To keep secret any extended life, they would have semi-nomads, staying no more than a few years at the same place, and not coming back to a given place before a human generation -and pretending then to be 'the next generation' (re. the difficulties faced by long-lived sorcerers in Lovecraft's 'The case of Charles Dexter Ward'.
    Another consequence would be the extreme rarity of children among them (to keep their population roughly constant).

    This, if they are permanently 'exiled' on our world. If temporary visitors from Faerie, they would masquerade as travelers from some very distant, but vaguely known to exist, country (Georgia? Eastern Russia? Greenland? Byzantium? Languedouc? Herrschaden?).

    This necessity of 'secrecy' is another argument to avoid Dwarves and Orcs. Their minis are so *caricatural* that among 18th C. humans -Minden, Front Rank or whatever- they would stand out as hideous boils on a pretty girl face. 'Reasonable' Dwarves would appear as short, stout, hairy but *normally proportioned* humans ('Caucasian' Inuits?), NOT as circus freaks with the knees at the hips or ankles. As for Orcs they are so cartoonesque that they would look like characters from 'South Park' bursting into 'Princess Mononoke'!

  14. Jean Louis
    Loads to think about again...
    I take your point re dwarves and orcs etc- if I go down this road I may have to have this as another Tradgardland upon a different plane or perhaps Tradgardstadt is like Tanelorn and exists on all planes?
    Or maybe the orcs and gobins etc exist underground or in remote places where they have become legends,mere hints or folk memories ( btw Tradgardland does have myriad mounds ,which like the Danish one are burial mounds of bronze age days... could act as faerie portals)
    I like the Fantasylite" option with elves being little different from thier human peers and moving after periods of time.
    I am interested too in Ny tradgardland in having some intereaction betwixt European floklore denizens and those of the native peoples. So the europeans will tracvel with tomten who will seek out their counterparts over there. I am still trying to find out info as to how much folkoric ideas the european settlers would have taken with them. I am looking for accounts of the time but have not stumbled onto them yet.
    All in all this is an interesting debate/disscussion/chat but it will not take over from the more "historically grounded" aspects of the Duchy....

  15. Ah, Tanelorn... some visitors tp Monte-Cristo believe they have reached it, anchored for a moment in the 18th C....

    On 'EvE' 'freecloud' alluded to the cute Eureka 'SYW Teddybears' (so brilliantly led to battle by DAF's daughter a few time ago), and I have to confess that my prejudice against available Dwarves & Orcs minis is such that I should not find more 'visually shocking' to see the Teddybears in tricorn facing 'human' Lace Wars armies, than to see Dwarves or Orcs, even in 'piratic' clothes!

    The very concept of video trailers as teasers for newly published books is rather bizarre for a dinosaur from the Age of Mechanical Typewriters such as me, but I enjoy to watch the 'adverts' for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (the 'prequel' of the 'completed' novel) and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After.
    I specially enjoy the idea of reserved, respectable girls from the Higher Class trained SAS-fashion to Oriental Martial Arts -and the visual reference to 'The little red riding hood'.

    Of course, 'Pride and Prejudice' -and thus Pride and Prejudice and Zombies can as well be set in 'Barry Lyndon' times. Now, where to find a mini of Keira Knightley in 18th C. attire?

    As a matter of 'Gothic 18th C.' videos (and maybe another visual reference to 'The little red riding hood', though less obvious than in the 'Company of Wolves' movie): Du Riechst so gut.

  16. Indeed North America ('Lusitania' in the Pangaean Continent) by FIW times seems specially propitious to 'weird' encounters.

    Unfortunately there is no, afaik, good minis of the Wendigo
    The Crocodile Games range is imho disappointing, with their horns their 'wendigos' look like GW beastmen rather than like creatures from Amerindian tradition (200% personal, of course). If few are needed, figurines of 'yetis' could perhaps be more appropriate, though 'ordinary' ghouls would fit better -visually and by their nature- the Indian description, 'yetis' corresponding more to 'Bigfoot'?

  17. Ny Tradgarlander (or Northern Scandinavian? Remember, trolls are supposed to besmall enough to hide under bridges) post scriptum: Reaper miniatures have 2 'Sasquatch' (1 'timid' and an 'aggressive' one looking quite like CG's wendigos without horns), a handful of yetis and a 'Frost Giant Princess', as well as 2 male 'Frost Giants' ; Copplestone has 2 yetis (other references in this old TMP thread).

  18. 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.

  19. Reaper minis Female Gnome Wizard is so cute she would pass for a (18th C.) Elfish nymphet.

    Tercio Creativo Mochilero, though intended for '1650', would make a suitable bearer (dagger and sling-armed as a bonus) for your adventurers.