February 1, 2012

The History of Rhudaur in LOTRO

One of the reasons Middle Earth feels so very real is because Professor Tolkien created a rich and expansive history that spans eons from the time of creation until the War of the Rings and even after.  One can study the history of Middle Earth like studying the history of a country or region or people in real life.

Turbine could have chosen to take a much easier and simplistic path when designing LOTRO - after all, many (if not the majority of)  players only know Middle Earth through the Lord of the Rings, or have only seen the movies, or may just have decided to check out the game with no prior exposure to Middle Earth.  The history and much of the Lore that isn't directly related to the War of the Ring and the paths of the members of the Fellowship is often lost or overlooked, and the game can technically be played just fine without knowing any of it.

But what a dull and bland place the Middle Earth of LOTRO would have been.  And this blog would probably have had no reason to exist.

Even working within the constraints of the current licensing agreements that exist, and which dictate what Turbine can and cannot incorporate into the game, Turbine has been able to weave much of that expansive history throughout the Middle Earth we all play in.

You have already seen me touch on some of the history of Arnor, one of the realms of the exiled Numenoreans, in my blogs on Ost Barandor as well as Weathertop and the Weather Hills.

Arnor was divided into three separate kingdoms - Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur - in year 861 of the Third Age when dissent arose among the three sons of King Eärendur.

Rhudaur was the easternmost kingdom and "lay between the Ettenmoors, the Weather Hills, and the Misty Mountains, but included also the Angle between the Hoarwell and the Loudwater."  In LOTRO, this would include the Trollshaws as well as much of the Lone Lands.

Hillmen of Rhudaur
Appendix A tells us that the line of Isildur ended relatively soon in Rhudaur and that the numbers of Dúnedain there were few.  Because of this, power was eventually seized by a leader of Hillmen of Rhudaur, who was secretly allied with the Witch King and Angmar.  In 1409 of the Third Age, the forces of Cardolan and Arthedain were besieged by Angmar and Rhudaur at Weathertop, and Amon Sûl was burned.  The few Dúnedain who had remained in Rhudaur fled or were killed, and the realm came entirely under the sway of Angmar.  Later the Witch King is driven back to the north out of Fornost in 1975, and presumably severed direct ties with Rhudaur.  Rhudaur can also be believed to have suffered many casualties in the Great Plague of 1636, leaving much of the Lone Lands desolate and the Trollshaws abandoned to trolls and any remaining nasties left behind by Angmar, along with a handful of Hillmen.

In LOTRO, the history of Rhudaur can be found throughout the Lone Lands and Trollshaws, even in the Misty Mountains.  You see it in the names of items, such as the Signets of Rhudaur, or in the names of some quests like "Rhudaur's Traitors."  You can even earn a title, "Sage of Rhudaur," from doing a quest in Angmar.

A particularly good example is the area around Agamaur and the Red Swamp , filled to the brim with Hillmen of Rhudaur, some remaining Angmarim, and gaunt-men and wights that were introduced to the area long ago by the Witch King.  This is a great example of how Turbine can pick up threads of Middle Earth lore and create their own tapestries of story within LOTRO.

Here we have a remnant of the legions of Rhudaur who are still very active, faithfully protecting and serving the center of all of the evil in this part of the Lone Lands - the Red Maid.  As it so happens, the Red Maid is Naruhel - in LOTRO, the sister of Goldberry, mate of Tom Bombadil.

Naruhel - The Red Maid
If you travel into Garth Agarwen, you meet the shade of an Arthedain oathbreaker, Dannasen.  He mentions the wars between Rhudaur and Arthedain when Rhudaur had fallen under the sway of the Witch King.  He describes how the Hillmen of Rhudaur "made sacrifices to him and defiled the land until the waters themselves seemed as blood."  (Quest:  Long Overdue Justice)  Dannasen and his fellow shades were warriors of the Arthedain who had been tasked to deal with Rhudaur and particularly to keep the Red Maid from becoming too powerful.  These warriors of Arthedain were cursed by Iarwain Ben-adar (none other than Tom Bombadil) for not doing enough to keep matters under control.  (Quest:  Arthedain's Lost Brethren)  Volume I, Book 2 as well as several quests picked up within Garth Agarwen will permit you to help resolve this pesky remnant of the evil of Rhudaur, and bring redemption to some heroes of Arthedain.

Sources:  Appendix A, The Lord of the Rings


  1. I take it for granted that the game includes so much backstory of Tolkien's writings - after all, that's what makes it Middle-earth! But it's true that the developers did not have to go to all that effort when the game was first created, and I'm glad they did!