Miniature of the Month: Grak, Warlord of the Clan

by Allen Stroud

Miniature of the Month: Grak, Warlord of the Clan
February 4, 2020 Allen Stroud

This place is ours!

I was born in the dark, in a place of stone and dank, dripping water. I was strong — stronger than the weak who died to feed us. The first food I tasted was the flesh of my dead brothers and sisters.

After a while, the best of us emerged from that place. We found others and waged war against anything that stood in our way. 

We live in the tunnels, in the old places where the Dwarves once lived. They came here looking for gold, but burrowed too far into the mud and rock, waking up the evils of the deep. The old tellers say we were part of that waking, that we are kin to the shadows, the demons and the dark dwellers who live far below us all. But we cannot be sure. There are no writings, nothing beyond what stories we tell each other, whispering between sleep and war.

I became the strongest and now I lead. Razak stands at my left shoulder with his axe; his brother, Vaakran with his club, at my right. After bloodying them both, they swore themselves to me, above and beyond the loyalties of clan. When the old warlord, Thulla, died at the hands of stinking elves from the surface, all the warriors fought — and I won. Any may yet challenge me, but they will have to reckon with the three of us now. 

Now we hunt in the tunnels, and we will feast! 

Back in 1995, I went to Gen Con, a convention held in Rye in Sussex. I was a college student on a great adventure with a couple of friends. I arrived with an empty rucksack and came away with boxes and boxes of lead miniatures for my roleplaying game campaign. 

Grak is part of a set of Grenadier miniatures and was the leader orc in a box I bought. He was a regular unpainted feature in my roleplaying game campaign as I battle-boarded skirmishes between orc gangs and intrepid player character adventurers. This summer, after 24 years, I finally found the right shade of green — a mixed paint for him and the rest of his comrades. A pleasant few weeks of painting ensued until I had 31 members of Grak’s orc clan all painted up and placed in the display cabinet.

Grak himself was a live roleplaying character I played at a Lorien Trust event. He was a bar-orc, supplying liquor to the drow as they hunted enemies in the Underdark. When writing his little story (above) I struggled a bit with the accent. The way orcish dialogue is written in several games, including Warhammer, is quite phonetic, with lots of “slaaaggggzzz” and other abbreviations. There’s a little of that in Tolkien, along with different orcish languages — twisted versions of elvish. I decided to go with something a little less brash.

Since I finished painting Warlord Grak and his clan, I’ve been hunting eBay for a few extra orcs to join them. I’m always on the lookout for new poses from the Grenadier castings of the 1990s. They have such great all-action stances.

The pictures taken here are with my new camera lens. The depth of field is tiny, making the scenes these miniatures are posed in look quite cinematic. At times, even the weapons look a little out of focus when the faces are sharp, giving a sense of motion blur as if they really are moving.