February 12, 2013

Uncandled Eggs: A Painting in Nud-Heden

Mystery Painting of Nud-Heden
I recently spent a relaxing afternoon mining ore through several regions.  My 85 Lore Master, Anamikari, has been called upon several times lately to provide ore for the second Jeweler and Metalsmith crafters I have been leveling (I know, SECOND?!?).  I find it an enjoyable change of pace, particularly when I'm riding through areas where I won't aggro the landscape mobs and can just soak in the scenery.  On this afternoon I mined around Rohan, heading up toward the Great River area and then into Lothlorien for a while before entering the East Gate of Moria in the Dimrill Dale.  I passed through Nud Melek and into the Redhorn Lodes, the sweetest spot for mining all four types of Khazad ores.  I noticed things looked a bit different toward the southern end since the Moria revamp, where you can head to the Flaming Deeps.  I noticed that you are essentially now in the Chittering Hole, whereas it used to be more off to the side.

I went to explore the little building there called Nud-Heden.  I know I've quested there before, but couldn't remember what was inside other than more gredbyg.  I believe it used to be one of many libraries found in Moria, according to the quest dialogue found on LOTRO Wiki.  I would have guessed it was more like an inn/waystation or tavern, as there's a long bar, tables, and barrels.  Maybe that was just the Dwarf version of an in-house library coffeeshop?
Gate to Moria

Interestingly, in the rear room (was there supposed to be a Grodbog Queen here once?) I noticed several paintings on the walls.  I spotted the good old Above Weathertop painting, as well as the Shore Glimpse, I believe.  Then I saw a painting I'm certain I have never seen elsewhere in the game.  At least, I have no memory of this painting. (Little joke there.)

Unfortunately it is out of focus so I can't detect all of the detail.  Clearly it is a Dwarf, pointing toward something in the background.  There appear to be barricades, and off to the rear right we see some trees and mountains.  I can't for the life of me figure out what this is supposed to represent.  Is that fire in there somewhere?  Are those trees stripped/burned down?  Are there other figures in there?  Nar pointing at Thror's head being tossed out of Moria?  Dáin spotting Azog and saying, "Hey, let's go chop off HIS head!"?  It's driving me crazy trying to figure this one out.  If anyone has seen this elsewhere, or knows what this is, I would love to hear!
Path to Moria

I know Lootboxes can drop two fairly rare paintings: the Path to Moria and the Gate to Moria (thanks to LOTRO Wiki for the photos).  I have not been lucky enough to get either of these yet, and was hoping that I'd find information on this particular painting in the Lorebook, but no such luck.

Ah well, there's always Playful Children to fill my empty wall space for now.  But I hope to solve the mystery of this painting soon!

Lore in the Classes: Hunter and Captain

When I started playing LOTRO in March 2009, my very first toon was a Hunter, McFarlane.  She was my main for a long time, and I remember how very cool it was to go to my hunter trainer and find skills that had lore-based names.  My Minstrel, Gammy, was the second toon I leveled and I found even more skill names taken directly from lore, although a bit more obscure than the Hunter skills.  It led me to do a lot of reading to figure out what some of these less obvious names were referring to.

This post isn't meant to be comprehensive by any means, in fact I'm going to limit myself to the four classes that I have leveled to end-game (or what was end-game before Rohan): Hunter, Minstrel, Lore Master and Captain.  It is meant to focus only on class skills and traits.  It is also fun to come across items, such as armour pieces or weapons, that have lore-related names, but I won't cover those here.  The first installment will look at the Hunter and Captain classes.


The Hunter class was inspired by - no surprise here - Legolas Greenleaf of Mirkwood. Curiously, however, we don't see many overt references to Legolas in the names of Hunter skills and traits.  There are, of course, Find the Path ("Your skill as a tracker allows you to increase the speed with which your Fellowship can move across terrain.") and Press Onward ("When the need is high, you can move on with little rest, restoring a great deal of Power and Morale in only a few seconds.") - moves that come in handy when running across Rohan tracking a horde of Uruks.

We do see a lot about Bard the Bowman.  If anyone remains who doesn't know who Bard is, you'll find out in presumably the second Hobbit movie next year.  Bard, descendant of Girion, the last Lord of Dale at the time Smaug devastated it and sent all survivors fleeing to Laketown.  It was pretty dang neat earning the ability to trait for the Bard's Arrow skill ("You fire with the skill of Bard himself, driving fear into evil enemies.").  We also have the trait Heart of the Bard ("A successful use of Bard's Arrow will reduce the current cooldown of Heart Seeker by 20 seconds.") which ties the Bard's Arrow skill closely to another skill, Heart Seeker, by reducing its cooldown.  Just like Bard took careful aim at the one sweet spot on Smaug's body, Heart Seeker ("Taking great care and practiced aim, you prepare a shot to strike at your target's most vital weak spot.") lets Hunters do the same.  I had a kin member who could crit that thing over 13K, back in the day before Heart Seeker was nerfed!

Another Hunter skill does not tie to another well-known hunter of Middle Earth.  Instead it relates to the close relationship Hunters have to the land, a quality they share with...the Ents.  The skill Earthborn increases the effectiveness of another skill, Strength of the Earth ("You can find strength from the land. Devoting all of your attention to the task, you can recover power swiftly in the midst of conflict.").  We see the term Earthborn used in the poem Treebeard recites that categorizes the various living species of Middle Earth:  "Ent the Earthborn, old as mountains...."


The Captain class, as the LOTRO Lorebook tells us, was inspired "by Eärnur, last King of Gondor, who was revered both as a captain skilled in arms and as a lore-master."  Very interesting indeed.

My main for the last two years has been a Captain, Leeowyn, and I absolutely love playing her.  I love the way Captains contribute to groups.  I love how versatile a class we are:  I can dps, I can main tank many things, I can main heal even more things if traited properly.  But always, always I have associated the class with one character:  Aragorn!  He too does it all - tanking, damage, healing, inspiring his fellows.  But...Eärnur?  Erm, let's take a closer look here.

Eärnur was the last King of Gondor.  As I briefly mentioned in my post regarding Cirion and Eorl the Young, Eärnur disappeared after riding out to meet a challenge from the Witch King of Angmar.  No one knew what happened to him, and thus began the rule of the Stewards of Gondor, giving Boromir and Faramir's ancestors years of employment.  As we know, Turbine found Eärnur and brought him back as Mordirith, the Steward of Angmar.  Not exactly someone I want to model myself on as a Captain!

This may explain why Captains can dress like this.
What else do we know about Eärnur?  I mention more about him in my post on Arvedui, the Ghost in the Bay of Forochel.  How he took a fleet of ships north to help the kingdom of Arthedain take a last stand against Angmar.  In Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings, this story is told and Tolkien does twice refer to him as "Eärnur, Captain of Gondor."  Yet he does then go on to describe him as follows:  "Eärnur was a man like his father in valour, but not in wisdom. He was a man of strong body and hot mood; but he would take no wife, for his only pleasure was in fighting, or in the exercise of arms.  His prowess was such that none in Gondor could stand against him in those weapon-sports in which he delighted, seeming rather a champion than a captain or king, and retaining his vigour and skill to a later age than was then usual."  So why not give him to the Champs?!?  I know, I know, I'm not being fair at all.  How brave do you have to be to ride out to take on the Witch King of Angmar?  It just maybe wasn't so...prudent.  And the poor guy obviously had to have suffered horrible torture once he was captured; the Witch King carried some major resentment toward him, after all.  But I will always have a tough time accepting him as the inspiration for my favorite class.  Sorry Eärnur!

Many of the names of a Captain's skills point to a connection to Elendil and Númenor:  Blade of Elendil, Adherent of Elendil, Blood of Númenor, Shield of the Dúnedain.  These could of course apply to both Aragorn or Eärnur as both are heirs of Elendil, convoluted or not.

Two things that I feel relate exclusively to Aragorn are the trait line "Hands of Healing" and the legendary trait "Oathbreaker's Shame."  I have never seen any connection between Oathbreakers and Eärnur; it was Aragorn who went to claim what they owed the heir of Isildur.  And the Hands of Healing is a direct reference to a quote by the old woman Ioreth of Minas Tirith, in the chapter "The Houses of Healing" in The Return of the King:  "The hands of the king are the hands of a healer.  And so the rightful king could ever be known."  I'm pretty sure I have never seen any hint that Eärnur was a healer.  Certainly not after he became Mordirith in LOTRO!

We also have some names that are iconic phrases in the Lord of the Rings lore, though perhaps not attributed as some may expect!  The Now for Wrath ("Your Rallying Cry will also heal a small amount of power, in addition to its normal effects.") trait comes from a speech given by Éomer (and not Théoden, and not at dawn, as those accustomed to trusting the movies might assume!):

"Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!"

Captains also have a trait called Turn of the Tide ("Your Routing Cry now stuns your foes and inflicts more damage.").  In The Two Towers, we meet Gandalf again in the forest of Fangorn (non-book readers note this too is presented a bit differently in the  movie):  "He stepped down from the rock, and picking up his grey cloak wrapped it about him: it seemed as if the sun had been shining, but now was hid in cloud again. 'Yes, you may still call me Gandalf,' he said, and the voice was the voice of their old friend and guide. 'Get up, my good Gimli! No blame to you, and no harm done to me.  Indeed my friends, none of you have any weapon that could hurt me.  Be merry!  We meet again.  At the turn of the tide. The great storm is coming, but the tide has turned.'"

I dunno.  I do feel kind of naughty sometimes when I wear my Amarthiel/Mordirith outfit.  And here I always thought I was just a good Captain girl from Rohan....

Next time:  the Minstrel and Lore Master classes.