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  1. A few days ago I posted a thread asking people what they thought an orc was and got consistent answers in terms of them being large, green and generally aggressive in some way. This thread was inspired by another which was talking about orcs which were culturally Aztec, and a lecture I had just been on to structuralism and its examination of stories, with me, then applying it to the various fantasy races as depicted within generic fantasy, specifically the brand set somewhere in Western Europe where they have plate armour, but neither the Renaissance or gunpowder has arrived yet.

    For the purpose of this thing(, not sure what to label it, it's not formal enough to be an essay, but it's too well thought out to be a rant,) I'm going to be examining elves and dwarfs in comparison with orcs. The reasons for not using humans have a solid real-world basis in that I am pretty convinced I am one so can say that they're real and that hobbits still don't have the same cultural proliferation as the others. They're often in fantasy works, but sitting somewhere in the background.

    Now, elves and dwarfs are very consistent in their popular portrayals in terms of the appearance of the body. If you google "fantasy elf", all of them look like the same species, specifically pointed ear humans. Furthermore, they tend to have long lifespans, or have had in the past, such as in Warcraft (hereby referred to as WC), or claim to have had in (Dragon Age (hereby referred to as DA), nothing explicitly stated in this). Furthermore, they also tend to have a fading power motif, common in LOTR, DA, WC and Warhammer Fantasy Battle,(hereby referred to as WH, a lot of acronyms, but this is better for all of us). On top of this, they tend to be seen as "wiser" and more in tune with nature, though this varies massively as well. The same is true of dwarfs, for the most part, being consistent in appearance and culture across representations, that of short bearded folk who live underground and place great value in material wealth. The only franchise I can think of off the top of my head that bunks these trends is The Elder Scrolls.

    Orcs though, orcs are more of an issue, and for this, I'm going to have to work through the representation of orcs within the popular and consciousness and the niches that I know, but my experience is by no means all-encompassing, so, here goes. The first version of an orc that appears within popular consciousness is with Tolkien's Lord of the Ring, with him likely taking the word from Beowulf. Within his work, orcs are presented as corrupted elves. As we only ever hear an orc speak two times within the work, we know very little of their culture beyond what Tolkien has said on them, that being very little ins this regard. All we know is that they know they are deformed and basically hate themselves and want to take that aggression out on the rest of the world, however, it's also worth noting that goblins and Uruk-Hai are also all orcs within the text, just different names and varying strains that are more suited to living in their environments. In terms of appearance, I shall use Wikipedia's words on the matter:

    "Orcs are described as ugly and filthy fanged humanoids. The largest can reach near-human height, but they are almost always shorter, and some are as small as Hobbits (since Frodo and Sam disguise themselves as such when they enter Mordor). In contrast, crossbreeds between Men and Orcs are called "man-high, but with goblin-faces."[14] However, some Orcs are very broad, if not tall. Many Orcs have long arms, like monkeys or apes. Many of them also have crooked backs and legs.

    The next major development in my mind comes from Warhammer, which, the name of all things grim and dark, retooled the orcs to make them something different. Tolkien's orcs were sentient, aware of what they were and angry at the fact. They wanted to make the world as ugly as them and were threatened by Sauron to make them work for him. This is not the case in Warhammer. In Warhammer, an orc fights because that is what it loves to do, and what it has evolved to do. They are, while cunning, profoundly stupid, and utterly convinced that they are the best both personally and in terms of their species, and their culture is based on the football (soccer) hooliganism that existed in the eighties and nineties and still persists to this day. The only thing they have in common culturally is that both groups do a lot of fighting, and want the rest of the world to be like them. Furthermore, unlike Tolkien, they aren't a tortured offshoot of another race, but their own distinct ball of anger and "fightiness". For reference, here is an image of a Warhammer orcs face.


    Now, we're going to run it against Wikipedia's description. He looks pretty ugly, though he has tusks instead of fangs, in the lore that guy is four metres high, though the average orc is the same size of a human, though they would be taller if they didn't slouch. They are very broad, and they do have the long arms. However, there are two primary differences in terms of the face. The first being the profoundly large mouth, and the nose being two holes in the face and not a risen surface, and I'd also like to say that this is where orcs being green comes from. Now, while the Warhammer orcs never entered massively popular consciousness, I'm mentioning them to show how you can still follow the common theme, but have a variance on it, and because it provides a smooth transition into the next type.

    The Warcraft orcs are the first time that an orc has been presented in a sympathetic manner. Once again, they are their own distinct species, and in fact alien to the main world in which the games take place. In the first game in 1994, the orcs did not have much character of their own for two reasons. The first being that the game was limited to using screens of text to get its plot across, the second being that it was originally supposed to be a Warhammer game. Meaning that, it was only in the second game, did they start to develop their own personality, and for this, I'm going to have to go into a bit of story. In Warcraft, the regular orcs have brown skin and living in a tribal, shamanistic culture with a reverence for elemental spirits. They then made a deal which involved drinking demon blood which turned them green, made them stronger, and turned them into bloodthirsty conquerors. At the moment, they're still warlike and aggressive, but seeking redemption for accepting the deal, and actually fighting. And here's an image:


    While the face is the same, the nose is much more defined, and there's a lack of any sort of hunch in the posture. These orcs have a more noble bearing to typically western sensibilities, and their in-game culture reflects that. Now, due to World of Warcraft's horrific popularity, and the fact that the film came out last year, it's safe to say that it's going to be pretty influential as well.

    I was tempted to do reference The Elder Scrolls here, though this is already over a thousand words meaning quite a few people won't read it anyway. Anyway, to those who have read it, thank you, and I hope it was enjoyable.
    I.A. By the Barn and zoupskim like this.
  2. Okay, at the moment I'm growing a little bit bored with my main project, so I've decided to do something on the side, and, considering I'm more a world builder who sees what plots form, then a plotter who builds a world around their narrative, I've decided that's what I'm doing. So the question is, to any who read this, which of these settings do you prefer.

    Setting 1: A bronze age world where the local pantheon of gods take active parts in people's lives by fighting each other with mortal champions.

    Setting 2: A traditional fantasy world where the technology is equal to the nineteen twenties, but all the evil stuff has been wiped out by adventures and semi-automatic machineguns.

    Setting 3: A world with a technology equivalent to the eighteen seventies where humanity lives in a single walled city that will inevitably collapse, and let in the more traditional version of elves and fairies who killed people for looking at them wrong.

    Note: This thing is still open to more people, as I'm always interested to see what people think and prefer.
  3. A while ago I made a terrible post about world building. It was terrible, both in terms of structure and content, and didn't represent my thoughts or method of worldbuilding, hopefully, this will be better in both terms, and, if not helpful at least entertaining. Anyway, onto the show.

    What is worldbuilding?
    If you already know what world building is, feel free to skip this. Worldbuilding is the process by which the author creates their setting. Every genre apart from non-fiction does this in some form or another, from minor events that never happened in realistic genres, to creating monsters in paranormal, to making entire new worlds in fantasy, or entire universes in terms of sci-fi and science fantasy. As I'm having trouble defining it fully, I, being the shining beacon of articulation, scholarly research, and professionalism, will steal Wikipedia's explanation. "Worldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe".

    Why should I do worldbuilding?
    I don't know. I don't know what you're writing, and the reasons for world building differ from person to person. For a lot of people, me included, it's for fun. Mixing cultures to create something new is something I greatly enjoy. For others it's to provide a solid catalogue of references and cultural identities for their characters and as a means of generating conflict, as well as keeping everything consistent. For other they just do it on the fly, making it up as the go along. It's something I recommend any aspiring fantasy or sci-fi author try, both to see if they enjoy it and to see if helps keep internal consistency.

    How do I start worldbuilding?
    Once again, I don't know how you should start. There's no defined start point for creating your own fictional reality, some people start with an overarching idea of either an event, culture, species, place or organisation to start things off with. My best recommendation is to start with an idea of what you want your world to be. High fantasy, low fantasy, gritty sci-fi or a more optimistic take, it's a good idea to understand what tone you're going for. A world full of fantastic adventure probably should probably have less moral grey than dark fantasy, though mixing and matching can create some interesting takes.

    Anyway, I'll do another post either latter this week or next week
    I.A. By the Barn likes this.
  4. In May of 2008 Iron Man proved to be a surprise hit, and caused Marvel Studios, the film branch of the comic publisher, to attract a lot of eyes. They were more or less the underdog of the film industry, the new kid on the block who had sold the rights to some of their most popular characters a few years earlier. They couldn't really do anything serious. They'd hired Robert Downey Jr, who was washed up at the time, to play Ironman, a character who people might have recognised from the name and iconography, but the general public knew very little about.

    On a budget of $140 million, the film made $585.2 million.

    While we can’t tell how profitable the film is, due to marketing costs being hidden, a rule that can used is that, if a film makes twice its budget worldwide, it’s broke even, so it’s likely that Marvel doubled their money. The only film in Marvel’s first phase (Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Iron Man 1&2) that did not follow this rule is The Hulk, likely explaining why there has not been a sequel. With each of these films they proved that minor characters could be profitable, and that they could keep true to the source material. Disney also saw the talent and potential that the studio had, and purchased them in two thousand and nine. Then…


    On a budget of $220 million, the Avengers earned $1.52 billion, over five times its initial budget, and becoming the third highest grossing film of all time. Since then it has slipped to position number five, showing a good sense of longevity. It is at this point, Marvel proved crossovers could be extremely profitable, and that four years spent building a narrative can make a film successful. The only other crossovers that jump to mind from before Marvel are Freddy vs Jason and Alien vs Preadator, and neither of these were particularly profitable. Marvel was successful though. Wildly successful. Not quite James Cameron successful (Avatar and Titanic being first and second on the grossing list,) but successful none the less. Marvel went from underdog to sitting upon the throne.

    As a franchise, they’ve been going for eight years without a reboot, and with no major failings. Marvel made a film with a racoon and a talking tree as main characters profitable. They made film where a guy who talks to ants and rides them is profitable. They could release a Howard the Duck film and it would probably be profitable. And people have taken notice.

    To finish off and provide a little more proof, here are the cinematic universes that studios have planned to put into action since the Avengers:

    • Universal Studios Monsters Universe, Dracula untold being the first film to be released from it, and a reboot of “The Mummy” currently being filmed. This was announced in twenty twelve.
    • Paramount’s Transfomers Cinematic Universe, the idea being to expand the current films from a linear story to a more branching series. Announced in twenty fifteen.
    • Warner’s DC Universe, created to rival Marvel from its inception. Man of Steel began filming in 2011, 3 years after the Marvel cinematic universe began, and there’s no real way of telling when they began planning, though with Batman V Superman’s date, it’s likely after The Avengers
    • Sony’s Spiderverse: Despite only having access to one popular character, Sony thought themselves capable of creating a cinematic universe based off Spider Man and associated characters. This has now been shelved.
    • Sony’s Ghostbusters Universe: While never formally announced, the Sony hack of twenty fourteen revealed a lot of information which wasn’t meant to go public, one of which was this project. It has since been shelved with the flop of the latest Ghostbusters film.
    Oscar Leigh and malachibenbaker like this.