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Author Topic: The germ of a project: unconventional Middle-earth armies (first Uruk kitbashes)  (Read 5477 times)

Online Hobgoblin

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Did anyone mention Dunlendings yet? It's not overly unconventional, but I always saw them as Iron Age Britons or Gauls. It hits the right note for a relatively 'primitive' people burning with vengeance for being displaced by the Rohirrim.

If I get the Pelennor done, I might move onto Saruman vs Rohan after that (on the basis that I'd already have the Rohirrim!). A while back, I picked up some of the squat, undersized Warlord Roman legionaries to convert to Isengard Uruks. So then I'd need to add mail-clad, axe-armed half-orcs and Dundlendings.

For that lot, I'd probably widen the Rule 1 canon to take in 'The Battle of the Fords of the Isen', as it's got so much juicy detail (the half-orcs described above, for one thing). And it says that the Dunlendings don't have much armour (in contrast to the heavy mail of the Orcs and half-orcs). It also gives an intriguing mention of "pikemen", which makes me thing Medieval Welsh or Scots. So there's definitely a Celtic Fringe flavour - not least in the Dun- name, which recalls Dunedin, Caerfyrddin, Dungannon, etc.

Given that, it's certainly hard to look past your suggestions of Britons or Gauls. As you say, they're not hugely unconventional - but they could be 'converted by paint' to make them something a bit different.

The other thing is that the Dunlendings should look a bit like the half-orcs. So Victrix unarmored and armoured Gauls might provide a starting point for the two, respectively, with the armoured ones getting some Viking admixture for the axes along with the odd Orcish head.

Offline Robosmith

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When I first read The Lord of the Rings as a teenager my knowledge of history was non-existent and my entire knowledge of wargaming was mid to late-90s Warhammer. Everything was interpreted through the Empire, hence it was a type of renaissance setting.
There's nothing wrong with that. One of the best aspects of reading is imaging your own world and how it all comes together is unique to you. One of the big downfalls of the movie trilogy being so successful everyone has these firm images in their head and lose some of the imagination needed to read the books.

The shire is less a time period and more of a real world location which still exists today although extremely rare because of modern technology. A small quiet isolated village where everyone is semi related (but not inbred) and they're all good folk being good to each other but mistrusting of outsiders. Small villages in the outback of Scotland and Wales are very similar to the shire even today and personally that's what I see the shire as more than any period in time. It's the idea of a small quiet peaceful life in a small village where you're not trying to change the world, just farm your crops and enjoy your 3rd breakfast until it's time for your send off to the great beyond. A quiet but noble life.

Offline mithril

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the Shire having things like mantle clocks, waistcoats, and the like though means that visually many of its feature are anachronistic with the surrounding lands, which are much more medieval. this is generally the stuff that people mean when they call the shire an 18th century anachronism. yes it is an example of a rural-centric isolated community.. but is also an example of a particular geographic area and time period's version of said place.

Online Hobgoblin

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There's nothing wrong with that. One of the best aspects of reading is imaging your own world and how it all comes together is unique to you. One of the big downfalls of the movie trilogy being so successful everyone has these firm images in their head and lose some of the imagination needed to read the books.

Yes, I think Borges' story Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote very much applies to The Lord of the Rings.* The images that Tolkien's words conjured for a reader in 1954 will tend to be different from the images conjured in more recent decades.

One caveat, though, is that readers who aren't immersed in fantasy tropes may well envisage things in a very different way from those that are. That was my point about Skaven as Orcs when gaming The Hobbit; someone who's not a gaming or fantasy enthusiast might well see nothing odd about rat-like goblins in Middle-earth just as they would see nothing wrong with rat-like goblins in Christina Rosetti's Goblin Market.

*I have a very long unfinished blog post entitled 'Borges and the Orcs' on exactly this point; I really must finish it off!

Offline Hummster

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Interesting project and it's got some good discussion going.

I think that my images mentally from when I first encountered the Hobbit and LotR would be very different from now as it would have been in the 1970s before even the Bakshi movie, let alone the Peter Jackson ones. As it would be a little before I encountered D&D I'd love to really recapture that.

Offline DivisMal

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Did anyone mention Dunlendings yet? It's not overly unconventional, but I always saw them as Iron Age Britons or Gauls. It hits the right note for a relatively 'primitive' people burning with vengeance for being displaced by the Rohirrim.

Yes, that was also my impression of them. Some Celtic rest population that had been driven into the hills.


@hobgoblin: nice work with those conversions!

Online Hobgoblin

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@hobgoblin: nice work with those conversions!

Thanks! Lots (and lots) more to come with those, obviously; I think I'll probably need something like a dozen Uruk horde elements.

I'm trying to put together a rough list of what should be in each army, and what they might be in HotT/DBA/D3H2 terms.

Mordor
Uruks of Mordor: hordes
Mumakil: behemoths/elephants
Easterlings: warbands (or blades - but see below for differentiation)
Variags of Khand: blades
Haradrim foot: spears (and possibly other types too)
Haradrim cavalry: knights (they charge into the charging Rohirrim, so knights or - in DBA/D3H2 - cavalry seems a better fit than riders; though they might have riders too).
Witch-king: aerial hero
Winged Nazgul: flyers
Trolls: (perhaps - they don't seem to feature in the battle other than wielding Grond) warband
Troll-men: warband - in D3H2, possibly 'fast' warband with the Easterlings as 'solid' warband.

Gondor + allies
Riders of Rohan: knights
Swan knights of Dol Amroth (and knights of Gondor): knights
Imrahil: hero
Theoden: hero
Eowyn and Merry: sneaker
Footmen of Gondor: spears and shooters/bows
Men of Lossarnach: blades
Eomer: hero
Dismounted Rohirrim: spears
Aragorn: hero
Dunedain of the Gray Company: blades or shooters
Folk of Lebennin and Lamedon: spears or auxilia or warband ("grim hillmen").
Gandalf: magician

Any obvious omissions?

I think these lists provide a fairly good set-up for a game, as the Mordor army will be heavy on hordes and behemoths while the goodies will rely more heavily on heroes. Making Eomer, Theoden and Imrahil heroes essentially gives the Gondor side much greater punch in the cavalry - so the Rohirrim will be better knights than the Haradrim even though both forces are mainly knight elements. And, of course, all those hero elements help keep the Gondor side smaller if the points are balanced - while the Uruk hordes serve to swell the numbers of the host of Mordor.

Offline Byrthnoth

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Will you be running the battle as a straight up pitched battle or putting together a scenario to model the fairly complex sequence of events in the book? I guess you could also run some ‘what if?’ in terms of whether the orca know the Rohirrim are coming, when Aragorn and co. arrive, etc.

Offline pancakeonions

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Wow, what a really neat idea!  I'd just seen a grip of illustrations, reimagining LOTR in ancient China that your stuff makes me think of!  Even if it doesn't inspire your project, it's a cool take on an old subject:



More of her stuff can be found here: https://leiaham.com/#/new-page/

Following along, I like your orcs so far!

Online Hobgoblin

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Will you be running the battle as a straight up pitched battle or putting together a scenario to model the fairly complex sequence of events in the book? I guess you could also run some ‘what if?’ in terms of whether the orca know the Rohirrim are coming, when Aragorn and co. arrive, etc.

I think I'll be trying to model the events as far is is feasible; I'm thinking about a four-player (or even six-player) game with a lot of replayability. The HotT dragon and god rules provide a good basis for reinforcements, though I'd have to give some thought to how the starting forces are assigned (I wouldn't want one player having to hang on until someone rolls a six!).

More of her stuff can be found here: https://leiaham.com/#/new-page/

Those are great - thanks very much for posting them! The yuebing lembas is particularly inspired - I wonder if it has a salty egg in the middle! And that Gandalf is a perfect example of what I'm trying to go for when I can: something that's bang on as an illustration of the book but not what's come to be expected.

I've been thinking about the troll-men from Far Harad. When I was a kid, I thought that the description was just a Hobbit's-eye view of unfamiliar people. But if I had to bet now, I'd guess that Tolkien was suggesting that these were some sort of troll-human hybrid (he uses the same pattern to introduce the half-orcs, who really are part-orc), not least because he posits somewhere that newer trolls (probably the Olog-hai) might have been bred from 'primitive' human types. That makes me think of Neanderthals, Denisovans and Homo Heidelbergensis.

So I'm wondering if the Lucid Eye neanderthals might work, painted with blank white eyes (and perhaps tiger pelts). I'm not sure how big they are, but if they're reasonably hefty, they might do the trick. And if I do have real trolls on the field, I can paint them with the same white eyes to establish the link.



They'd certainly look the part as a HotT warband. Does anyone else make oversized Neanderthals? Reaper have some huge ape-men under the Neanderthal label, but that's not the look I want.

Offline Severian

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The Lucid Eye neanderthals are certainly hefty - here's a quick comparison shot with a Foundry bronze age guy and an Oathmark goblin. The rank and file guy (to the right of the goblin) is smaller than the boss to the left.



I have some neanderthal-ish guys from DeeZee, which are fun sculpts but notably slighter.

Online Hobgoblin

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The Lucid Eye neanderthals are certainly hefty - here's a quick comparison shot with a Foundry bronze age guy and an Oathmark goblin. The rank and file guy (to the right of the goblin) is smaller than the boss to the left.

Aha! Thanks very much! That's really useful; it confirms that they're perfect for this. It doesn't much matter whether I can get two or three on a base, and there's bit of depth to play with. I had worried that they might be (pre)historically accurate Neanderthals and a bit on the short side. But these will make great troll-men - possibly with tiger or leopard hides to point to their origins in southern lands (not that tiger skins necessarily signal that, of course ...).

Offline Blackwolf

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Actually now that Lucid Eye is mentioned some of the Book of the Elf King miniatures would be wonderful for a Rodney Matthews themed LOTR :)
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Online Hobgoblin

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Actually now that Lucid Eye is mentioned some of the Book of the Elf King miniatures would be wonderful for a Rodney Matthews themed LOTR :)

Now there's a thought! I could see the trolls working as Saruman's half-orcs ("ferocious, mail-clad, armed with axes"; "horrible: man-high but with goblin faces").

Offline Blackwolf

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Exactly my thoughts :)

 

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