Meet the man responsible for Mozû the Blight.
Best-sᴇʟʟɪɴg 40K ɴᴏvelɪst Dᴀɴ Abnett hᴀs ʙᴇen ᴀɴɴᴏunced ᴀs co-wrɪᴛer ᴏꜰ Fᴀᴛshark's ꜰᴏʀthcomɪɴg co-op ɢᴀᴍᴇ Warhamᴍᴇr 40,000: Darktide. It's ɴᴏt tʜᴇ authᴏʀ's ꜰɪʀsᴛ tiᴍᴇ wrɪᴛɪɴg a videoɢᴀᴍᴇ, ʜᴏᴡᴇᴠᴇʀ. He co-ᴡʀᴏᴛᴇ Aʟɪᴇn: Isᴏlᴀᴛiᴏɴ, ᴀɴd wᴀs respᴏɴsible ꜰᴏʀ wrɪᴛɪɴg tʜᴇ ᴏʀcs, ᴀɴd ᴊᴜsᴛ tʜᴇ ᴏʀcs, ᴏɴ ʙᴏᴛʜ Middle-Eᴀʀᴛh: Shaᴅᴏw ᴏꜰ Mᴏʀᴅᴏr ᴀɴd ɪᴛs sequel Shaᴅᴏw ᴏꜰ War.
"Both games I was recruited specifically to write that dialogue and create those characters," he recalls. "I can't remember, I think the first time around it was 60 [orcs], there was more the second time." Thanks to the Nemesis system, each orc would remember what happened in your previous encounter with them and have bespoke responses that suited their personality, which Abnett created from scratch. "I have to say, once you get past about 30 orcs you're really struggling to think about, 'What can a different orc be? How can I do this in a different way?' But it was fun."
I have fond memories of the orc who sarcastically pretended to care about my health when we met, saying things like, "You look sickly! Need a cup of broth before I slit your throat?" And the one who began a battle by saying, "Your threats have no feathers! They do not fly." That's a hell of a thing to hear before a fight to the death. I had to think about it for a while and it threw me right off my game. The fact they say all these things in Cockney accents only makes them more memorable.
"The decision was made, not by me, but the decision was made to make them all sound like Cockney gangsters from a Ray Winston film," Abnett says. "So I ended up saying all the lines to myself in that kind of Bob Hoskins voice, which is great, because it made the whole process very efficient. I was very good at doing it. I could turn out a surprising number of lines a day. But I get to the end of the day, and I wouldn't be able to stop TALKIN' LIKE THA', WOULD I?" he says, sounding like Michael Caine in The Italian Job. "My wife would come in and say what do you want for dinner? 'I DUNNO, LUV!'"
You'd think someone who has spent a couple of decades writing books for the grim Warhammer 40,000 universe would be immune to having his work rub off on him, but as Abnett's ability to slip into fluent Cockney bellowing to this day shows, writing Mordor's orcs had a lasting effect.
"It was weird," he says. "I usually try and spread jobs out and mix them up so that you don't stay somewhere too long. But that was almost like some kind of bizarre indoctrination that I've never recovered from."