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  1. #1

    Newbie RP question on the Men of Dale

    Hi everyone, I'm going to give the game a try for the first time in the next few days (on Landroval, I've heard it's RP-friendly). I've read The Hobbit and LOTR and seen the movies, but it's been a while and my grasp of the lore is not as great as it could be. I had planned to make a Man from Dale as my first character (Champion probably, I hear they're good for newcomers). Because I'm not as great on the lore I had planned on RPing a human who hasn't traveled beyond Dale before and is fairly ignorant of the world. I had two main questions on that point:

    1) How much do average people in Dale see the non-human races? I know they have regular interaction with the Dwarves of Lonely Mountain, but since the Battle of Five Armies is long past, is it likely that a person in Dale has even seen an Elf before? Would a man from Dale even know Hobbits exist, and is Bilbo's role in the area common knowledge? Right before the War of the Ring is there much conflict with orcs and such?

    2) What do average citizens of Dale know about Bree, Rohan, and Gondor? Would they know much of what is happening in these areas, they seem pretty far away?

    Sorry if that's a bit verbose and thanks in advance for any information.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    1) I don't think the Men of Dale saw any Elves or Hobbits but Dwarves they did see. After the War of the Ring, Easterlings besieged Dale and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain helped the Men.

    2) They might not know much of what Bree, Gondor, and Rohan are doing but I don't exactly know.
    Riddermark Freeps and Creeps: Morgunith, LM/Hadellost, Burglar/Nukzat, Reaver Rank 6
    Meneldor Freeps and Creeps: Cambanod, Cpt

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Nightgaunt09 View Post
    2) What do average citizens of Dale know about Bree, Rohan, and Gondor? Would they know much of what is happening in these areas, they seem pretty far away?
    In any case, welcome! It's definitely best to start with a race of man character, at least in my experience. There is much less lore to deal with.
    As for your question above, you'll have to consider where you'll be RPing. Most open RP takes place in Bree, in the Prancing Pony and other places in the town, which is a little limiting for non-Bree-lander characters because they have to have gotten to Bree somehow and for some reason! This can be a really good opportunity for backstory to come in and help shape your character. She or he can't be totally naive, since they must have travelled to Bree in some way and seen some of the lands in between on the way, even if it was with a caravan or from a horse. I recommend pulling out a map of Middle-earth and plotting an approximate path, if you have the time and want to have set in your mind where your character has been.

    Hope that helps and I haven't seemed to just ramble on!

  4. #4
    1. Since the happy resolution that followed the Battle of Five Armies, the Men of Dale (formerly of Laketown) would still maintain a friendly relationship with Thranduil's kingdom, even though there would not be much active interaction: trade would still be anchored at the Long Lake. Nevertheless, any Dale-man could still expect to encounter a Mirkwood-elf with unsurprising infrequency.

    2. The average Dale-man would know next to nothing of any of these places. However, bear in mind that the fireworks for Bilbo's party had been manufactured (at least in part) in Dale: a lot of the commerce of Dale would be tied to the traffic of the Dwarves at Erebor; also, remember that there are Dwarves that like pipe-weed, and Shire leaf would be acquired (by whomever) in Bree. I am supplying reasons as to why certain Dale-folk might have greater knowledge of the lands between Dale and Bree than most of their brethren. Stick to the road, mind: central Mirkwood and the Forest Road, yes; Carrock, yes; Rhosgobel, yes; Bree, yes; Shire, probably not; Rivendell, probably not (or extremely, severely, limited); North Downs, no; Ered Luin, no; Moria, no; Lothlorien, no; Fangorn, no; Isengard, no; Rohan, no; Gondor, no ...

    I hope I've offered some helpful hints.


    EDIT: Acch, ssss, no! Dale-folk made the toys, not the fireworks; Gandalf, of course, made the fireworks ...

    Last edited by Harper_of_Gondolin; Dec 09 2013 at 12:27 PM.

  5. #5
    I would guess trade was more limited, with each trading clan/family working a segment of the road.

    Dale would be more to the south towards Gondor... Trade from the Shire thru to the Last Bridge
    Having them regularly network means finding a way past the wild lands of Eregion, or leaving the caravans trying to tempt Moria etc.

    So one trader might work the Shire to Bree, the next Bree to Ost Guroth... perhaps a tougher clan the Bree to Trestlebridge or Shire to Oakbarton runs.
    The more difficult the run the higher the mark-up...

    The rangers would resupply Tinnudir themselves with guarded caravan runs.

    As for how Gandalf got the Dale toys to Bilbo's party, as a wide wanderer he would have brought them himself...
    Maruaders who would think o nothing to raiding a caravan would fear to interfere with Mithrandir...

    (/ooc) That is pretty much how trade worked in the Dark Ages & Renaissance also... There was a Silk Road from China to Venice, yes, but few were the travelers who journeyed the entire length (Marco Polo anyone?).
    Each worked his section and the cumulative mark-ups could be quite astonishing.


  6. #6
    By my reckoning, contact between races is by necessity *much* more prevalent in LotRO than it ever is in Tolkien. For example, it seems to me that in the books (and in the movies as well), while many folks in Bree would be aware that Hobbits exist, few men of Bree would have actually ever seen one. (Several internet sources say otherwise. Staddle, for instance, is a whole town of Hobbits living within sight of Bree's city walls. It's clearly time that I re-read the books again.) Even less likely would they encounter first-hand evidence that dwarves and elves ever really existed or still exist.

    [I kinda worked that into the backstory of my Guardian, who grew up on farms in Bree-lands (Eastern Bree Fields and, later, Everclear Lakes). Before coming of age and getting tied up in the War, he always thought that Dwarves and Elves were just fairy-tale constructs -- fictitious beings like dragons, wizards, and kings. He had possibly even *seen* Hobbits during his rare trips to Bree-town, but never paid them enough notice to realize that they were of another race.]

    The Bree-lands border the Shire. The two are connected by the Great East Road -- one of the few ancient highways that still in good repair. And the Brandywine is slow and forgiving; it's not enough of a barrier to prevent hungry hunters and needy foresters from venturing to see what (or who) is on the other side. So, awareness of Hobbits was to be expected in Bree and is attested in the lore.

    However, Men living *beyond* Bree would not have heard of Hobbits at *all* -- not even in histories and tales. (A peculiarity of Hobbits is that, before the Fourth Age, they always managed to escape the notice and memory of Men and other beings.) The regions surrounding Bree-land (such as the ancient kingdoms of Cardolan, Andrath, Rhudaur, and Angmar, etc.) are nearly vacant of Men, and have been since even before the Last King of Arthedain fell. It's not until one journeys far south to the lands of the Dunlendings and Rohirrim that one would again encounter significant populations of Men. Knowledge of a race as insignificant as Hobbits did not travel beyond Bree-land. (Before the War, possibly the only ones in all of Erda outside of Bree who knew of the existence of Hobbits and the Shire were secretive folk like Gandalf, Saruman, the Rangers, and Elrond's clan. Even Bilbo had a tendency to vanish from the memories of most who had encountered him on his adventure decades before the War. . .excepting, of course, Thorin's company, Gollum, Thranduil, and the like.)

    By contrast, Bree in *LotRO* is the major hub of commerce in northern Eriador and not the medium-sized frontier town found in Tolkien. It is much more cosmopolitan. Everybody is aware of all the races of Free Peoples. There are many Hobbits, Elves, and Dwarves living and working in Bree-town. That awareness of other races seems to be pretty standard for all settlements throughout the game.

    Thus, I don't believe it unfitting to expect that Elves and others would be at all unfamiliar to the Men of Dale in LotRO. Our characters are certainly more mobile than heroes of Tolkien, being able to zip across Erda with the press of a finger.

    Even so, I was a little bothered by the idea that Scrolliki, my Champion, could be from way over in Dale but somehow begins his adventuring by fighting alongside Strider near Bree. A while back, I developed a bit of backstory to explain that seemingly unlikely situation. (Only a few paragraphs. . .not the 30+ pages of background I came up with for my Guardian.)

    - - - - - -

    I came to Eriador from Dale with my father about ten years ago. We were in one of the last regular caravans to cross the Misty Mountains via the High Pass before the increasing goblin, orc, and troll activity made that route too dangerous. My guess now is that the Enemy was already well entrenched there at that time, but had not yet become bold enough to cause much trouble so close to Lord Elrond's domain. The caravan followed the trade route into the Trollshaws. As we descended Loudwater Gorge, my father slipped off a cliff and suffered a compound fracture of his femur. He survived, but lost the leg. His wound festered and he became very ill.

    Slowed by my father's injury, we could not keep pace with the caravan and were eventually on our own. Nevertheless, I managed to find our way along the Great East Road, crossing the Hoarwell at the Last Bridge. We then made it all the way to Bree without further incident.

    In Bree, I met a girl who was learning the healing arts from her mother. They then put us up at their family home in Archet, a short ride north of the city. Under the mother's skilled care, my father's condition improved considerably, but by the next spring, he was still not recovered well enough to embark on a long journey, so our return trip to Dale would have to wait another year. In return for our host family's kind hospitality, I spent what little coin I had to apprentice myself to the girl's father, who was a master tailor.

    The following year, though, my father again took ill and passed away. When I later learned that the winter in the High Pass had subsided early, I made preparations to bring the sad news to my mother in Dale. But, while waiting for a caravan to assemble, I received a letter from a childhood friend. A scribe read it and informed me that my mother had also passed on. My desire to ever return home died with her.

    I had grown quite fond of the Bree-land girl. And she had similar feelings toward me. Her parents gave us permission to court. Tailoring jobs, selling our wares, and buying leather and other supplies frequently took me away from her over the next several years, but I had eventually saved up enough that I could buy a home and ask the girl to marry me. She eagerly gave her consent.

    Fate, though, was again unkind. This summer just passed, and only a week before we were to wed, brigands and orcs attacked Archet -- burning much of it to the ground. While we were fighting off the invaders, my girl saw the infirmary catch fire and ran to rescue her mother. But they were never to return. My would-be father-in-law and I found their bodies riddled with orc arrows.

    That day there in Archet is when my crusade against the Enemy began.

    - - - - - -

    The joke of it now is that I can't even *use* that backstory as it is, because I just noticed a couple days ago that the toon is actually from *Gondor*, not Dale. Crud! It was my *Minstrel* (not my Champion) who is the Dalesman. I guess I'll have to modify the story so that he crossed the Misty Mountains via the Redhorn Pass or perhaps through the Gap of Rohan. Then maybe the father's accident or illness occurred in Minhiriath on the Old South Road while crossing the Greyflood, after which, Scrolliki's first test of manhood was guiding them alone up the Greenway to Bree. (I suppose that maybe they could have followed the Anduin north from Gondor to meet the Great East/Old Dwarf Road. That way, I could leave the story mostly unchanged, but such a travel route seems kinda unlikely. Besides, I don't want him to have seen the Argonath until the quests take him there. Similarly, I would rather that he not see Isengard or Rohan or meet Dunlendings in advance of the epic. . .but how the heck can you get *anywhere* from Gondor without running into cool stuff? Maybe I'll just keep pretending he's from Dale, but I doubt that I would be able to come up with an explanation for his Gondorian complexion without it sounding really contrived.)

    Halgoreth (Windfola)
    Scrolliki (Imladris)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by Halgoreth View Post
    By my reckoning, contact between races is by necessity *much* more prevalent in LotRO than it ever is in Tolkien. For example, it seems to me that in the books (and in the movies as well), while many folks in Bree would be aware that Hobbits exist, few men of Bree would have actually ever seen one. (Several internet sources say otherwise. Staddle, for instance, is a whole town of Hobbits living within sight of Bree's city walls. It's clearly time that I re-read the books again.) Even less likely would they encounter first-hand evidence that dwarves and elves ever really existed or still exist.
    You do need to read the books again. There is a thriving hobbit-community in Bree-land. There have been hobbits living there since even before they started colonizing the Shire. The villages in Bree-land (Bree, Combe, Staddle, Archet) are just about the only places where Hobbits and Men live side by side. Anybody living in Bree would be quite familiar with the Bree-land hobbits. When Frodo&co visited the Prancing Pony there were several other hobbits there.
    At the time of the books there does seem to be only limited contact between the hobbits in the Shire and the hobbits in Bree - mostly due to the Shire-hobbits having become highly insular.

    Dwarves would probably pass through every now and then. Keep in mind that when the dwarves first visited Bilbo he recognized them immediately as dwarves, and there were dwarves delivering stuff to Bilbo's birthday party, so dwarves were not unknown even in the Shire.
    Elves would probably be much rarer - they would be more likely to just pass by during the night.

    Keep in mind that Bree is located the intersection of not only the major East-West road, but also at the major North-South road (even though there is very little traffic north-wards at the time of the books.) This means that traders and other people would pass through every now and then.



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