• Interview with Maltacus by Darkan

    Interview with Maltacus
    by Darkan

    Good day fellow Total Warriors, we are joined today by the winner of the MAARC LXXIV and second place in the MAARC LXXV, none other than Maltacus, writer of An Orcs Tale. So sit back, relax, get a cup of honeyed wine, err..., tea, I meant tea, and let's find out more about the orc behind the character and the writer behind the orc:

    First things first, I want to know, and I am sure others have wondered as well, why and how you’ve chosen Maltacus as your Total Warrior cognomen?

    When I was 16 and had just started the Swedish pre-university school level there was a history group assignment to write a probable scenario for a slave rebellion in Ancient Greece or Rome and compare the different situations. Being the only one with an off-school interest in history in my group I had the lead role and did the actual writing. I jokingly added my name and "a.k.a Maltacus", a mix of my name and an obvious hint towards Spartacus. It caused some smiles when my teacher read it out loud when wondering whose group's paper it was. I frankly didn't come up with anything more imaginative when joining TWC.

    Tell us a bit about your Total War experience and memories: which was your first TW game and how did you come to join the TWCenter?

    I got Medieval II in 2008 and found out about mods (I had never played a modded game before or modded anything) when seeing the retrofit mod in the game menu if I recall correctly. Since it worked well I started looking at other mods and thus found my way to TWC. I bought Empire when it was new wishing for gunpowder and sea battles but after all the disappointments of the game itself and dependency on Steam, I went back to Medieval II for good.

    Your first AAR, if I’m not mistaken, was Home to Midgard, the tale of two dwarven heroes in search of the famous Norse mythology realm. How did that idea start?

    It started with chapter 21, the Italicans, and the joke about Italic people speaking in Italics, followed by the parody of wide-shouldered suits and nepotistic garbage politics and some other things. The next question was who should be meeting these strange Italicans and Runar and Halvdan stepped into the story. The names are a hint to a childish but funny Swedish Viking Age comedy series about the incompetent chieftain retainers of Midgard, a suburb to the fashionable Birka (an ancient settlement from that time, today a famous archeological dig site). Runar and Halvdan are in there too as henchmen to the chieftain, sometimes helpful but more often disastrous.

    Halvdan and Runar oftenfound themselves in hilarious circumstances, often in the company of well-known characters whose behaviour was more than questionable (i.e. Tranduil the fashionista, a vicious Red Riding Hood, etc.). How did you see these characters interacting with the protagonists?

    Not sure I interpret the question correctly. Do you mean how I came up with the situations? I kept three full A4 pages with notes of ideas and people the dwarves should run into and then it was mostly a matter of going through it and pick the right plot for the right episode. I've rarely given any deeper thought to how my jokes are constituted but many things in Home to Midgard attempt to be funny by either having characters that are a complete opposite of their real namesake (like a commanding huntress Red Riding Hood) or complete overdoing of them, like the artistic elves turned into aesthete morons unconcerned with anything but style.

    The second AAR you started was The Misadventures of Diabolical Amazons. What inspired you to start a Diablo II AAR?

    I am irrationally and eternally fond of that game, my all time favourite. I have put more hours into playing it than any other game and the surviving single player community is the politest place I know on the internet. The AAR was first posted there. The Amazon class was, by the time I started the AAR, the character class I had played the least and knew the least about so I saw it partly as a way to get to know the class better. Now, I have beaten the game with more Amazons than other characters and am at my best when playing them.

    Before continuing to Malthur and his exploits, what rules do you have for writing your AAR, if any?Also, how often do you break them?

    Only one rule, and it is never to write just to get the writing done, to hurry up something so it won't be fun to create it anymore. I have broken it once. In 2014 I made a New Year's vow to finish Home to Midgard and The Misadventures of Two Untwinked Javazons (the second book of the Diablo 2 AAR). I had hoped that things in real life were about to turn around for the better by then but several things turned out very bad during the year and I had much less energy left to write than I had hoped, so the work piled up. By the end of the year things seemed to go better again. I grinded out chapter after chapter every evening and then every day during my Christmas vacation that year. I kept that vow, but finishing a dozen chapters over a dozen days is not fun. The last chapter of Home to Midgard is particularly something I always think could have been better written by me.

    Let’s talk about the orc in the room: who is Malthur? How did you envision this character and his development?

    Malthur is smarter than the average orc, absolutely ruthless, bloodthirsty but with enough self-discipline to not get too distracted, seething with anger, vengeful, calculating and exceptionally determined to have his way. He is of average height for an uruk (Mordor's taller and stronger orcs) or human, of medium build but quite strong and fit after years of marching and wearing plate armour almost constantly. He has augmented his shoddy uruk plate with a captured piece of human quality ware and wears a pair of blackened and particularly thick gauntlets, useful both for dealing out an underhanded punch in a fight and teaching insubordinate subordinates their place. Malthur has so far proven to be thoroughly evil to the core. He does however stand out among his kin as concerned with efficiency before sadistic pastimes, for example looking down on torture for fun (an immature distraction, playing with the food) or interrogation (unreliable to the point of being a waste of time) while not hesitating to murder prisoners left and right to keep the rest terrified. He also displays a malicious pleasure in tormenting the enemy and break their will with his psychological warfare, behaviour well exemplified by the battle_dread character traits descriptions of Medieval II:

    "{Winning_First_desc} His actions in battle suggest he cares about winning much more so than doing ithonourably."
    "{Cruel_and_Cunning_desc} It's not a mistake when this man unleashes death most painful upon his foes, he's taking a liking to it."
    "{Merciless_Mauler_desc} This man is not beneath mutilating a fallen foe to make his next enemy lose his nerve."
    "{Field_Tyrant_desc} He exerts his malevolent plans upon his enemies in ways that suggest he is devoid of conscience."
    "{Warlord_of_Terror_desc} Even the bravest of knights and kings would admit to fearing to face this infamous monster in battle."

    Does gameplay affect Malthur the character or do you make in-game decisions based on the character already written?

    Malthur's development certainly follows the campaign (like the less pleasant encounters with the Nazgûl early on) but like other elements of the story it is much expanded. The campaign was played a couple of years ago and I did not alter it to fit any idea of Malthur's own development.

    Another important character is Cirion. Is the Gondorian a contrasting perspective to Malthur? Is he someone the reader should root for in this story where the Dark Forces sweep everything in their path? Is Cirion the symbol of redeeming oneself?

    Cirion is the story and explanation behind Malthur acquiring the "Black Numenorian" ancillary. As I have mentioned before he is also useful as a narrator and outside perspective and storyteller. Apart from that, he is what the reader makes him to be. No more and no less than that. His motives and motivations are not always clear, as with Malthur's, so everyone will read and form a slightly different story of the two, and I would have it no other way. I myself do of course have my own very precise view of it, but it is no more true or correct than anyone else's just because I am the author of the story.

    As accomplished a general as he is, Malthur still has to answer to ones greater than he. How did you write the Ringwraiths and how does Malthur see them?

    I envision the Ringwraiths as cold, disdainfuland indifferent to the sufferings of their minions as well as their enemies. While they are much more closely controlled by Sauron than most of his other creatures, they evidently have their own thoughts and minds left, at least the dark and hateful parts of them (shown for example when an irritated Ringwraith in The Fellowship of the Ring chooses to let the hornblowing hobbits be for the moment, since they have more important things to go after). I wrote the Ringwraiths (not too many appearances yet) as less swearing and cursing than the orcs and with capital letters to underline that their voices sound un-living and otherwordly to the listeners. I picture them speaking in an old-fashioned way but since they handle the daily ruling of Mordor too, they must have kept up with the linguistic trends enough to make themselves clear to their minions at least.

    I believe it’s safe to assume TATW is your favourite mod for Medieval 2. Why TATW?

    You actually assume wrong. My favourite mod is Call of Warhammer with the Beginning of the End Times submod (gunpowder, rat men and undead...). Follow the money...hrm, unit cards, and you shall find leads to Third Age but also Call of Warhammer and Broken Crescent. Third Age is my favourite mod to write about though, and the reason is that it is complete. I have finally finished fixing unit cards, unit statistics, scripts and other things I found wrong, inconsistent, boring or illogical. The map is extremely beautiful and large enough so it doesn't feel cramped. I also know the lore behind the universe there well enough to feel confident writing about it.

    How do the mods you use, if any, affect what you write (both positively and negatively)?

    They add stuff that I take the time to explain and add to the story, for example that ancillary that spawned Cirion, and of course in general, offer the arena on which the story takes place. That said, I am familiar with almost every field of Medieval II modding except for making models and animations, so if I would want to enact a story in a particular way, I would not be restricted by the mod I chose and could change whatever things needed to suit my story.

    In November 2017, Alwyn wrote a review of your Orc’s Tale. What do you think of it? Any criticism?

    If it misses anything it is some discussion of the author's use of pictures and length of chapters. Do the sometimes very short updates work out?

    Regarding the visuals of your AARs, there’s a large difference between Home to Midgard, where you use mostly outside pictures and An Orcs Tale, exclusively in-game pics. How do you decide on which photo/s to use?

    I have decided to use almost every screenshot I took in Malthur's campaign. Those I have discarded are pictures that added nothing new or seemed particularly boring. In Home to Midgard I looked for or created pictures that were needed to illustrate the particular episode, so the other way around, in that the story decided the pictures.

    Well, dear readers, this concludes our interview; now don’t forget to hop on to the AAR fora and start reading Home to Midgaard and An Orc’s Tale, as well as countless other stories. Don’t forget about the competitions, where prizes abound (ok, ok, we mainly have medals and rep) and last but not least, send some love towards the Tale of the Week.
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Admiral Van Tromp's Avatar
      Admiral Van Tromp -
      A very interesting read! +rep to the interviewer and the interviewee if I can.
    1. ♔atthias♔'s Avatar
      ♔atthias♔ -
      very interesting to read thank you both
    1. C-Beams's Avatar
      C-Beams -
      Yes, I agree - very interesting. I have bookmarked the mentioned Diablo AAR to read also, sounds fun.
    1. Turkafinwë's Avatar
      Turkafinwë -
      An interesting read! Always nice to get that inside look of a story and it's writer!