February 26, 2012

The Tombs of Evendim

My apologies for the long time since my last post; my pesky profession outside Middle Earth got the better of me for a while.  I like it much better here!

My Captain, Leeowyn, has been finishing quests and deeds in Evendim.  I really enjoy playing in that area, particularly since the update last year.  Admittedly it helps to get things done in Annúminas if you are 75!  It allows plenty of opportunity to linger and take in the sights.

Just outside of Annúminas is Men Erain, the "Way of the Kings," where the tombs of many of the Kings of Arnor can be found.  The deed, "The Tombs of Evendim," will take you here to explore the location of each tomb.  LOTRO has it right, these were indeed the rulers of Arnor, but let's look a bit more at the history of each king of who lies here, as well as those who do not.

Names with Bold/Underline are part of the Tombs of Evendim exploration deed (+1 Fidelity and 5 Turbine  Points!). The dates reflect the start and end of rule for each king.  The description for some of the kings indicate a "premature death," which is defined in Appendix A as follows:  "premature death, in battle or otherwise, though an annal of the event is not always included."

Haudh Elendil
1. Elendil - 3320-3441 Second Age (premature death).  Elendil was born in 3119 of the Second Age, in Númenor.  His father was named Valandil, and was the chief of the party of Elf-friends.  After the fall of Númenor in 3319, Elendil established the "realms in exile" in Middle Earth - Arnor in the north, with the ruling seat located at Annúminas, and Gondor in the South, with the ruling seat at Osgiliath.  His rule lasted over 100 years, until the time of the Last Alliance.  What many do not realize is the Siege of Barad-dûr took 7 long years, starting in 3434 and ending with the overthrow of Sauron in 3441.  Both Elendil and Gil-galad were slain.  Elendil's remains were never brought back north to Annúminas. Instead he was buried secretly in a spot known to the Rohirrim as Halifirien, and in Sindarin as Amon Anwar - a beacon hill in the White Mountains in Gondor, which at that time was the center of the kingdom of Gondor.  When Rohan was granted to Eorl in 2510 of the Third Age, the remains of Elendil were then reinterred in the Hallows of Minas Tirith.  Hence the Tomb that gives us an incredible 6-man instance around level 40, was always an empty one.  Doesn't matter, do the instance anyway!  It is one of the longest quest chains in the game, with a LOT of running back and forth, but well worth it in the end.  You will be doing a great service to Aragorn, Heir of Elendil, if you do!

2. Isildur - 3441 Second Age-2 Third Age (premature death).  Isildur was the eldest son of Elendil, and like his father, was born in Númenor before it fell.  His brother was Anárion, and after their exile to the west of Middle Earth, the brothers were given rule of Gondor by their father.  It was Isildur who planted a seed from the White Tree of Avallon in Minas Ithil (the Tower of the Moon), which later became known as Minas Morgul after Minas Ithil was conquered by Sauron in 3429 of the Second Age.  Isildur and his family escaped and fled north to Elendil, bearing a seedling of the White Tree that he had planted in Minas Ithil.  After the overthrow of Sauron in 3441, and the death of his brother Anárion the year before, Isildur gives Gondor to Anárion's son Meneldil, and replants this last seedling of the White Tree in Minas Anor (Tower of the Setting Sun, renamed Minas Tirith).  Intending to return north to assume the rule of Arnor, Isildur and his three oldest sons are slain by orcs in the Gladden Fields, and the Ring is lost.  Before being overrun, Isildur commanded one of his squires, Ohtar, to flee with the shards of Narsil to Rivendell so the heirlooms of the house of Elendil would survive.

But hold on - if you search Annúminas, you will eventually discover - there is no tomb for Isildur. He is the only one of the Kings of Arnor who has no tomb here in LOTRO.  Why is this?  Elendil got one - and a nice big one, too - even though his remains were never brought here.  Possibly because the remains of Isildur were never recovered?  Possibly because his heirs were extremely cheezed about him losing the One Ring?  Your guess here is as good as mine!

Haudh Valandil
3. Valandil - 10-249 Third Age - Valandil was born in year 3430 of the Second Age in Imladris, the fourth and youngest son of Isildur.  His father and three older brothers were killed in the Gladden Fields when Valandil was 11 years of age.  He did not, however, assume the kingship until the year 10 of the Third Age (his father died in either Year 1 or Year 2; The Peoples of Middle Earth vs. Appendix A of the Lord of the Rings give contradictory dates).  After his death in 249 of the Third Age, Valandil was buried in Annúminas.  His tomb is actually in the center of the city, instead of being out east of town in Men Erain.  I do not know the reason for this - possibly the dwindling people of Annúminas were happy to finally have the physical remains of a king to bury?  It is a lavish tomb, and also the setting of what is an extremely challenging instance for level 50 characters.  His history of losing his father and brothers at such a young age may make you feel a bit guilty that, due to some nasty sorcerers who bring him back from the dead as a Wight, you have to go smack him down in this instance.  I'm sure he would have wanted it that way.

4. Eldacar - 249-339 Third Age

5. Arantar - 339-435 Third Age

6. Tarcil - 435-515 Third Age

7. Tarondor - 515-602 Third Age
Haudh Valandur

8. Valandur - 602-652 Third Age (premature death) - Like several of his predecessors, we know virtually nothing about Valandur, except that he was slain at the relatively young age of 190, after ruling Arnor for only 50 years.  Players who had been around both before and after the Evendim revamp know that the tomb of this short-reigning king was turned into kergrim central.  Two quests take us into the tomb to kill a number of kergrim and to recover what would have been Valandur's sceptre from the chief kergrim, Bone Eater.  It is also a wonderful place to grind out the kergrim slayer deeds in Evendim, due to the very fast respawn rate - by the time you get to the bottom and kill the last kergrim, the first ones are ready to pop right back up.

9. Elendur - 652-777 Third Age

Haudh Eärendur
10. Eärendur - 777-861   Eärendur has the dubious distinction to be the last king of Arnor.   Upon his death Arnor was divided into the three smaller independent kingdoms of Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan, which I have discussed in other articles elsewhere.

What strikes me is how much smaller and considerably less lavish the tombs of the later kings became.  Possibly that may be due in part to them not taking part in such great deeds as their earlier sires.  But it more likely reflects that even as soon as the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, the Men of Westernesse began to dwindle, as stated by Elrond in The Fellowship of the Ring.  Eventually the heirs of Valandil abandoned Annúminas and shifted the ruling seat to Fornost, leaving behind a glorious city that would fall into ruin.

Sources:  The Fellowship of the Ring, Appendix A, The Lord of the Rings; The History of Middle Earth (Volume XII:  The Peoples of Middle Earth, The Heirs of Elendil); Unfinished Tales

February 13, 2012

Valentine's in Lorien - Cerin Amroth

Woe to the Elf in LOTRO who told his beloved he'd meet her at Cerin Amroth - possibly the most romantic spot in all of Lothlórien if not all of Middle Earth - on Valentine's Day February 14, but who is doomed to arrive a day late.  For every day on Cerin Amroth is February 15.

Visitors to Cerin Amroth are even reminded of this fact each time they run up the hill - large white text appears to tell you, "Cerin Amroth - February 15th."  So what is so significant about that date?  What is the history of Cerin Amroth?

Cerin Amroth, February 15th
In the Lord of the Rings, it is the day before the company, now led by Aragorn, takes leave of Lórien.  It is also the day after Frodo and Sam look into the Mirror of Galadriel, and the day after Gandalf "returns to life."  If you climb to the top of the flet on Cerin Amroth, you find Gimli and Legolas are there;we encounter other members of the Fellowship scattered throughout Lórien.  This is the game's way of giving us a reference point in the storyline of the Fellowship, explaining why things are the way they are at this point in time when we as LOTRO time travellers visit Lórien.

Cerin Amroth is named after Amroth, a ruler of Lothlórien.  We hear mention of the ill-fated tale of Amroth and Nimrodel in the Fellowship of the Ring, when Legolas sings of them soon after they arrive in Lothlórien. Amroth is represented as a son of Celeborn and Galadriel in some of Tolkien's writings (Unfinished Tales), but this was ultimately rejected and in other writings is shown as the son of a prior ruler of Lothlórien named Amdír (Familiar name, huh? But of course a totally different character!).  This version states that Amdír perished in the war of the Last Alliance and Amroth then took over rule of Lórien after him.  At any rate, Amroth, though King of Lothlórien (Silvan Elves), was Sindar (not an uncommon practice, referred to as "Sindarizing," such as Thranduil, who is also Sindar, being King of the Woodland Realm and ruling over a bunch of Silvan elves and likewise Celeborn, also Sindar; Galadriel was of the Noldor)

Amroth fell in love with the Silvan maiden Nimrodel (just like the river she sat beside).  Accounts of Nimrodel make her sound rather like a Xenophobe to me - she was not open to outsiders coming to Lórien, such as the Sindar, because they were all trouble makers. She insisted on speaking only her own Silvan language even after it was fallen into disuse in Lórien.  And once those dirty Dwarves stirred up trouble in Moria - well, there wasn't a suburb of Lórien remote enough for her.  So she ran away to Fangorn, but wouldn't enter because the trees there seemed just a little tooooo...well, you know how trees like THOSE are.  So Amroth had to go save her superior self, at which point she promised to marry him if he would take her away from all the ragtag beginning to clutter Middle Earth.  They agreed to head south to the refuge of Edhellond, south of Gondor on the Bay of Belfalas.  Somehow they managed to get separated, and Amroth and his company got there but Nimrodel did not.  The remaining Sindar Elves that Amroth had hoped to sail with did grudgingly cooperate a bit and waited a while (only Eru knows why) until nature took the matter out of their hands and blew the ship out to sea during a spectacular storm.  Amroth couldn't bear it, jumped ship, and was never seen again.  You would expect an Elf, so wise and valiant a ruler as he is described and who has been around a few thousand years, would have a bit more sense.  As for Nimrodel, no one ever saw her again either.
A day late, but don't jump!

But wait, I'm getting away from the "romance" of Cerin Amroth. Cerin Amroth is also a very important place in the lore of Aragorn and Arwen.  When Aragorn was 49, he passed through Lothlórien on the way back to Rivendell, not knowing Arwen was there.  This was after any romance between the two of them had been strongly discouraged by Elrond.  When Arwen saw Aragorn in Caras Galadhon, "her choice was made and her doom appointed."

"Then for a season they wandered together in the glades of Lothlórien, until it was time for him to depart.  And on the evening of Midsummer, Aragorn Arathorn's son, and Arwen daughter of Elrond went to the fair hill, Cerin Amroth, in the midst of the land, and they walked about unshod on the undying grass with elandor and niphredil about their feet.  And there upon that hill they looked east to the Shadow and west to the Twilight, and they plighted their troth and were glad."

Elrond, though he loved Aragorn, was not fond of her decision, and refused to let them marry until and unless Aragorn assumed his right to the throne of Arnor and Gondor, saying that he would not permit Arwen to abandon her immortality for anything less.  When we see Aragorn and the Fellowship spending time on Cerin Amorth during their brief stay in Lothlórien, we see him reliving the memories of their betrothal and undoubtedly wondering what the future holds, if he will be able to win that to which he is rightful heir and win Arwen as a result.

In the Lord of the Rings, we see that Aragorn never returned to Cerin Amroth.  In LOTRO, you will see a quest in Lórien that hints at his refusal to go back to Cerin Amroth until his "long road is ended."  And as a neat addition, we see Issuriel in one of the Volume II, Book 9 Epilogues sending you off to Bróin in Moria with a blossom of elanor.

So maybe Cerin Amroth is not the most romantic spot in all of Middle Earth.  Maybe it is sort of a depressing spot good only for remembering past moments and worrying about the future - just like anyone doomed to always arrive there on February 15 in LOTRO!

Sources:  The Fellowship of the Ring; Appendix B, Appendix F of the Lord of the Rings; Unfinished Tales

February 5, 2012

Bearded Hobbits in Enedwaith - The Stoors

Questers in Enedwaith may choose to wander around the Gloomglens, coming across various points of interest such as a Hobbit-bow, Hobbit-arrow, even a Hobbit-skeleton - all are part of the location quest called Little Wonders, and once completed will grant 10 Turbine Points as well as a small furniture housing item, Stoor Boots.  They're tiny and certainly don't take up much room, but are a great addition to any household.

Stoor Boots in a Dwarf Home
Wait a minute - Hobbit boots?!?!

Precisely.  Because the Hobbits we encounter in Enedwaith are Stoors, and that means many of our typical Hobbit stereotypes go out the window.

I already discussed a bit about the three varieties of Hobbits in A Hobbit Boating Adventure, particularly what qualities are exemplified by the Fallohides. The Stoors are a bit different.

The wearing of boots is a quality shared by many of the Hobbits in the Eastfarthing, back in The Shire, particularly around the area of the Marish (where Farmer Maggot lives).  The prologue Concerning Hobbits tells us these Hobbits wore boots in muddy weather, and that many had "down" growing on their chins, unlike any Fallohide or Harfoot.  Many of the residents of this area indeed have Stoor blood, and their ancestors came into The Shire and Buckland later than other Hobbits, arriving "from south-away," bringing some strange customs, names, and words.  The building of farmhouses and barns was said to originate with these Hobbits as well.  Physically, Stoors are described as being "broader, heavier in build; their feet and hands were larger, and they preferred flat lands and riversides."

Hobbit legends tell of the time preceding their Wandering Days, long before they came west to Bree-land and The Shire, when they dwelt along the upper Anduin "between the eaves of Greenwood the Great and the Misty Mountains."  After many other Hobbits chose to cross the Misty Mountains, when Men began to increase in numbers and a darkness descended on Mirkwood, the Stoors lingered behind along the banks of the Anduin.  When they finally began to move west, they followed the course of the River Loudwater (the Bruinen), with some settling in the Angle - the triangle in the southwestern Trollshaws formed by the meeting of the Bruinen and the River Hoarwell.  Still others continued south, settling between the deserted city of Tharbad and the borders of Dunland.
Boots and a beard - gotta be a Stoor.

Linguistically, Hobbits seem to have adopted the languages of Men near where they happened to be settled at a given point.  This was seen in the Hobbits who moved into Bree-land adopting the Common Speech.  Before coming west, however, it appears that the Hobbits who lived along the Anduin spoke another variation of a Mannish language that was said to be akin to the language of the Rohirrim.  The southernmost Stoors were said to have adopted a language related to Dunlendish.  Interestingly, the Stoors who lived in the Angle in the Trollshaws before returning to Wilderland "had already adopted the Common Speech, but Déagol and Sméagol are names in the Mannish language of the region near the Gladden."  Even the word "Hobbit" is believed to be derived from a word of the Rohirrim, "holbytla," meaning hole-dweller.

Talk about two infamous Stoors.  But all peoples have some they'd like to disown, right?

At any rate, after hearing a lot of surprise from individuals when Enedwaith first came out and they would stumble upon these curious bearded and booted Hobbits who would make them do strange things like pick up pig poo, it became apparent that possibly many players were not aware of the rich history that this little remnant of Hobbits who had stayed behind in Enedwaith were based on.  Next time you are in Enedwaith, stop by and give 'em a hand with their fertilizer endeavours.  They'll give you a special reward if you help often enough!

Sources:  Concerning Hobbits, The Fellowship of the Ring; Appendix B & Appendix F, The Lord of the Rings

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