Sith Lords in Middle-earth

I’ve really been enjoying the Rune-keeper (RK) class, one of the two new classes added to LotRO in the Moria expansion.  The class is a bit like a Hunter and a bit like a Minstrel in gameplay; never both at the same time through really.  The class skills are divided into two main groups: massive damage or heals over time.  The more of one sort of skill one uses in a given fight, the more options become available – thus if e.g. I use my damage skills to kill something, as the fight progresses my more powerful damage spells get unlocked, but at the same time I lose access to my more powerful healing skills.  This process is known as attunement.  It’s a delicate balance and I think is handled very well.

The class has a nice daze skill, which takes a foe out of combat for 5-10 seconds (or 10-15 seconds if traited).  There’s also a short duration stun that works more often the stronger one’s battle attunement.  Otherwise, the options are overwhelming force or strong healing.  When soloing, that’s a pretty clear choice. 😉  It is possible to throw a couple of heal-over-time skills up before a fight, then go heavy into damage, and using this approach my RK has been able to consistently solo ‘red’ mobs (~5 levels higher) when need be.  Correspondingly, my RK, whom I only started playing a couple of weeks ago, hit lvl 45 the other night.

<rant>There’s been some concern in the community that the RK violates the lore of Middle-earth by providing spell effects that are too flashy; one can shoot lightning from one’s hands (“your feeble skills are no match for the dark side!”), rain down fire upon one’s foes, or summon a hailstorm.  To those who say this violates the lore, I respond, “go read the books again!”  This is a pet peeve of mine; there’s actually rather a lot of overt, flashy magic in Tolkien’s works yet people so often forget this.  In the Silmarillion, the tale of Beren and Luthien has some of the most extreme examples of flashy magic of which I’ve read… multiple characters use illusion magic to change their appearances into vampires and werewolves, use songs to literally tear towers down and scatter stones, and charm even Morgoth into a magical sleep.  In the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf calls down fire from the heavens on the wargs who attack the Fellowship in Eregion, leaving the whole hilltop scorched (the location is of course in game: the Burnt Tor).  Later when Minas Tirith is beseiged by the Nazgul, Gandalf fires a massive bolt of light into the sky, driving them off and dispelling the magical fear they brought.  Elrond caused a river to flood, washing away the Nazgul, and Gandalf made the rushing water form the shape of horses just because he felt like it.  Hells, four of the main characters (or technically five, though Bilbo and Frodo shared the same weapon) had weapons that glowed!  Even Bilbo’s grandfather, the Old Took, had magical cufflinks that remained attached until removed, and could never be lost.  Magic in Middle-earth is neither weak nor hidden nor especially rare.  </rant>

Keep your hands off my Sith Lord wannabe!  He belongs in Middle-earth dammit.  Now excuse me a moment while I blast these orcs into cinders.

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2 comments so far

  1. unwize on

    While I’m fairly indifferent to the Rune Keeper’s existence, I think you’ve overstated the frequency of magic in the 3rd Age of Middle-Earth.

    Although overt magic seems to occur frequently during the 1st Age, by the 3rd Age there are very few that are able to use it to anywhere near the same extent. Indeed, 1st Age Elves are very thin on the ground by the 3rd Age, and those that remain – Galadriel, Glorfindel, Elrond, Cirdan – are clearly represented as having remarkable power compared to most other Elves.

    The Wizards arrived in Middle-Earth much later. There were 5 of them in total, and they are actually the equivalent of Angels in Tolkien’s mythology.

    Any ‘sorcery’ that is performed in the name of evil (e.g. The Nazgul) is power granted by Sauron’s corruption, himself being something akin to a fallen Arch-Angel. It is essentially Sauron’s magic that they are performing. Powerful evil creatures like Balrogs are also the equivalent of fallen Angels.

    So yes, overt magic does exist in Middle-Earth, but it is rare to the extent that when it does occur it is something remarkable. Common Elves and Dwarves would certainly not have the means to perform magic to the extent that Rune Keepers seem able to. They are definitely the furthest that Turbine have pushed the lore, but I tend to think they are only incrementally worse than Minstrels and Lore-masters.

  2. foolsage on

    The Istari arrived roughly around 1000 T.A., but I don’t really see that as terribly pertinent to the overall frequency or overtness of magic overall in Middle-earth. Radagast never did anything of note, and Alatar and Pallando disappeared into the East. Gandalf and Saruman both used flashy magic when it was called for. Those are the 5 “chiefs” of the Istari… Tolkien never wrote anything about the others so nothing is known except that they didn’t meaningfully impact upon the War of the Ring.

    Sauron was a Maia, precisely like the Istari, by the way, so if they’re angels, so is he (the archangels would be the Valar like Morgoth, Manwe, etc). Actually, both Sauron and Saruman were even of the same order of Maiar back in Valinor, belonging to Aule’s retinue. Entourage? Whatever, they were his peeps. Sauron invested his substance and power into his ring as his master Morgoth had done with the entirety of Arda (Middle-earth itself was Morgoth’s ring according to Tolkien), but he was not in his essence originally any more powerful than any other Maia.

    It’s true that magic became overall less common as time passed in Middle-earth, which is largely due to the rise of men and the twilight of the Eldar.

    I definitely agree that common Elves and Dwarves wouldn’t throw around, or know, or probably even ever see flashy magic. That goes just as much for Minstrels and Lore-masters as it does for Rune-keepers. My assumption is that player characters are intended to represent a miniscule portion of the population, including some of the most powerful and accomplished. In practice that’s not what we see as players of course, since most of the people we interact with are other players or very powerful NPCs, but that’s the conceit.


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