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  1. #226
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    Quote Originally Posted by gripply View Post
    Let's do a thought experiment.
    Imagine an Asian woman, lesbian, who speaks with an Ebonix dialect of English, writes using Rovas Runes (those are Hungarian runes, less well known), she has curly red hair though, and dresses in the manner of the Balinese.
    I personally would be fascinated to know how this came to be since I endeavor to delight in diversity (that's a reference to Gene Roddenberry).
    However, not all of what she is is universal to humanity. Her femaleness is universal, as is her lesbianism. These features may be shared by any humans.
    The other features are either learned, or expressive. Only the curly hair is potentially nature, potentially nurture. If the curly red hair is chemical, then it's also an expression of something that is a part of her chosen identity. Just think about, can you really mix and match cultural elements with abandon? At what point is it not believable? At what point is it offensive or loses its meaning?
    I think the real question is, can you take Tolkien elves out of their context and not rob them of their expressive content?
    Maybe.
    If as has been said, they are "light elves" and beings of light, then maybe. On their own terms, dark skinned elves might exist in LOTRO.
    I really couldn't stomach yet another duregar / drow / dark skin means evil theme in fantasy. It's cruel to the people reading it. That's not what I'm suggesting.
    However, if there were to be a dark skin option in elves in LOTRO, I'd want that to have its own backstory. Just like red hair, or Ebonix, or Balinese or etc, these all have their own context, their own flavor and their own meaning, so should the elves who glow from within, and through their dark skin.
    Maybe they could be freed from Mordor.
    Maybe they could be night elves, dark, yet glowing with light, partly translucent.
    Maybe in this new age without Gandalf and with the Eldar going West, they will be the guardians of Middle Earth, allied with Men, the hidden protectors, few in number.
    I'm pretty quick to come up with excuses for anything in fantasy. But it's not my story to write. I suggest you find some prominent African Americans and talk to them about it. Maybe I'm making too much out of it, but it seems to me that it's not a small thing to add "black elves" to Tolkien.
    If I were lord of the universe, I'd want to include Sade, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, and Spike Lee. It seems reckless to just switch on the skin color without any context. Also seems like a missed opportunity. Look at the talent we have in the world right now. We could make it into something wonderful.
    mate i agree with many things you say but not everything can be done
    this is not "any fantasy", that a dev team may use what ever pass through their mind and looks good and profitable.....
    it is lotro! it is based on a specific lore.
    some things cannot be done!
    i Personally want to stay as it is. that is to continue on the same lore!
    lotr enthousiast since 1996, over 12 years lotro player, lifetimer, Loyal member of the Spartans Kinship and Subleader, now in Evernight imigrants from Eldar

  2. #227
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    Quote Originally Posted by DKenny View Post
    Actually she gave the light to Frodo. Sam was given a small box containing earth from Galadriel's orchard.
    Oops, must have been more tired than i thought. Thanks,, that's helpful as of course she's giving him a gift that can bless things that grow with fertility. Tolkien laid the mythic stuff on with a trowel in that scene...

  3. #228
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunhut View Post
    Couple of things. First, duh it's a fantasy so is Lord of the Rings. We're discussing the popular imagination of the time, a popular imagination you claim cannot envision things beyond the familiar. Parzifal is a great example of those people doing exactly that. Second, the middle ages is defined as about 476 AD – 1492 so The Lady Moor just makes the cut off. Third, elves are also fictitious It doesn't exactly matter that Maurice is also believed to be fictitious he's still a figure of popular myth and culture. See it's like I said earlier The presence of non-white people in stories and art of the day is not difficult to find. The popular imagination of the day is more complicated because it is a historical construct that we are constantly studying and reevaluating. The cultures in question were also constantly reexamining and reconstructing their own myths and who they apply to. The popular imagination is far from monolithic. Also in order to paint the full picture of ancient world diversity you need to move beyond the literature. To build an "authentic middle ages" you need to examine trade networks, pilgrimage routes, land use permits, and travelogues. Simply saying we should keep it white because it was the popular imagination of the day is a very reductive generalization that does not hold up upon closer scrutiny. To quote this great article 'Why I Teach About Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World': "A narrative of a monoethnic and monochromatic Classical world is demonstrably false and, frankly, boring." The same can be said of the medieval era and art inspired by it.
    The time we are talking about isn't late medieval either in any way, shape or form. You keep pushing references as late as you can, knowing full well that the later things get, the more trade and movement of people there was and hence both more diversity and more knowledge of far-off places and peoples. That's the same nonsense as before where you pick something favourable to your argument and generalise it not only across the span of centuries but across the whole of Europe too as if everywhere was the same the whole time.

    The first Crusade starts around 1096 you know after a period of uninterrupted pilgrimage from Europe to Jerusalem. That's only about 86 years removed from Beowulf and about 200 years before the Prose Edda (13th century). The Prose Edda that Jacob Grimm would write about in 1835 that would go on to inspire J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1930-40s. Seems like it's relevant to the time period. I would also add that I don't really care about the popular imagination of the time because it's irrelevant to why we can't have non-Caucasian elves today. It's just an excuse to keep going with what we assume is the "traditional depiction" of the myth. In reality though the "traditional depiction" of a myth is less authentic, more nuanced, complicated, and varied than it's often presented to us. As people living today we can exercise some creative liberty without losing the mythological essence which is not particularly tied to race.
    Beowulf is reckoned to be an older tale that was only written down then, with the Christian elements in it (like Grendel and his mother supposedly being descended from Cain) being tacked on so that's bogus for a start. The Eddas reflect much, much older stores from an oral tradition so trying to pretend that the concepts are medieval is crazy - the root concept of beings like Elves is an ancient one.

    The popular imagination of medieval times in northern Europe in particular evidently had a common habit of portraying all manner of subjects as white Europeans out of familiarity. That's the point, people extrapolate based on what's familiar to them and have difficulty picturing the wholly unfamiliar, and so artists can be seen to render exotic subjects in familiar terms (implying that they simply didn't know any better, having no other visual reference than their own surroundings). And given the topic, we're not even talking about anything or anyone from far-off places - there's no apparent reason for them to have imagined their own home-grown native mythical figures as a diverse bunch in the first place, even in terms of their own time (and never mind the all-encompassing modern perspective you're trying to foist on them).

    Edit: And the Byzantine princess thing - Greeks again, and we've been through that already. The Byzantine empire was part of Christendom, although of course following the Eastern tradition, exotic through physical and cultural distance from western Europe but less so than the Moors or Saracens who were seen as outsiders.
    Last edited by Radhruin_EU; Aug 25 2019 at 06:35 AM.

  4. #229
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    Edit: And the Byzantine princess thing - Greeks again, and we've been through that already. The Byzantine empire was part of Christendom, although of course following the Eastern tradition, exotic through physical and cultural distance from western Europe but less so than the Moors or Saracens who were seen as outsiders.
    There was not big distance between eastern and western Europe. As i ve written in post225 the mariages between roayl families of the Vizntine empire and royal families of European kingdoms was quite often!
    Never with the islamic world of moors, saracens, arabs, or persians! poems do exist, but they are poems of the borders folk, where trade routes between states were always a part of the local economy and not only even when in war!
    An other example of relationship with the northern Europe was the Emperors guard of the Varyags(were called Varaggoi in post roman Hellenic language or Avaryagoi=means from Varyags).
    edit : in year 839 AC the guard of the Varyags was established by emperor Theofilos and many never lefted!
    lotr enthousiast since 1996, over 12 years lotro player, lifetimer, Loyal member of the Spartans Kinship and Subleader, now in Evernight imigrants from Eldar

  5. #230
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    Quote Originally Posted by gripply View Post
    Just think about, can you really mix and match cultural elements with abandon? At what point is it not believable? At what point is it offensive or loses its meaning?
    Not if you're trying to evoke a particular culture or part of the world. Mixing cultural elements with abandon is what generic fantasy does instead, grabbing stuff from all over and gleefully mashing it all together. (Typically with lots of mixing but a lot less matching).

    I think the real question is, can you take Tolkien elves out of their context and not rob them of their expressive content?
    Elves in general, sure. They can be just one of those things that gets mixed in with abandon into a typically eclectic modern fantasy and changed significantly in the process. But these Elves, prototypical in modern fantasy, exist in a specific context. Tolkien's hobbits are in much the same boat, other people's idea of halflings often differs, sometimes radically. Orcs, too (they certainly didn't start off big and green). And Trolls, like how D&D's rubbery regenerating variety is a far cry from the traditional turned-to-stone-by-daylight Tolkien ran with. There's a temptation to take popular memes from elsewhere in fantasy and bury LOTR under them because they're familiar and fun. Not terribly evocative or expressive, though.

    If as has been said, they are "light elves" and beings of light, then maybe. On their own terms, dark skinned elves might exist in LOTRO.
    I think people are downplaying how supernatural Elves are meant to be and thinking of them as just more people, due to over-familiarity and how they may be portrayed in other fantasy if nothing else. In contemporary fantasy, dark-skinned Elves come with a mythologically-derived association with literal rather than just metaphorically spiritual darkness, irrespective of whether or not they're so 'dark' they're evil. I don't think you could so readily dissociate them from the baggage of popular fantasy. They also tend to come with inhuman skin tones (grey or bluish grey for Drow, purplish tones for WoW's Night Elves, etc.) to emphasise that they're not human (and that the darkness is intended to be symbolic) and I don't recall seeing many Elves portrayed with naturalistic dark human skin tones outside of fan art and some comic books (e.g. ElfQuest).

    I really couldn't stomach yet another duregar / drow / dark skin means evil theme in fantasy. It's cruel to the people reading it.
    Not when it's symbolic and artists overwhelmingly strive to keep that distance, by giving their version of Dark Elves inhuman skin tones, longer pointed ears etc. plus not all dark-skinned Elves are shown as evil even as it is, e.g. WarCraft's Night Elves aren't bad guys. And I could as easily complain about Hollywood's habit of making villains English

  6. #231
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady_Lethargy View Post
    Asking out of genuine curiosity as it isn't something I've really noticed until now — why are Tolkien orcs often depicted with a variety of skin tones from dark to pale (even in LOTRO) when elves are not? Is there a lore reason for that?
    I gave up not too far past this point in this hellthread, but I did notice you weren't given the correct answer to this question by Radhruin_EU. They maintained it was for game variety, but that isn't the case.

    Tolkien's Orcs are depicted with several different skin tones because Tolkien described them with several different skin tones. They are variously described in the books as sallow, swart, and black-skinned, colors which range from pale and sickly to very dark. Tolkien also described them with several different shapes and sizes, with some being specially bred to track scent and others bred for combat, some being hulking and large, and some running in a way closer to quadrupeds. Given that Orcs have been bred for different purposes by Morgoth and Sauron (and later Saurman with his Uruk-Hai as well as cross-bred with Men to make half-orcs), it stands to reason that there would be far more variety in them that wouldn't be seen in Elves, despite (probably) coming from the same stock. Compare wolves and dogs.

    On the subject of the post...ehhh...I really do wish more things got Hobbit colors right. They wouldn't have a strain called Fallohides (literally paleskins) if Harfoots and Stoors were ALSO "fallohides". Most NPC Hobbits should have some noticeable melanin; PC Hobbits fortunately have the option. Leave the Elves alone. More variety for some (not all) Mannish backgrounds would be nice--Gondor background especially should have, because of how much trade with all sorts of lands must have occurred before the end of the Second Age. I note that the Gondorian landscape NPCs have some of this expected variety.

  7. #232
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starsmith View Post
    I gave up not too far past this point in this hellthread, but I did notice you weren't given the correct answer to this question by Radhruin_EU. They maintained it was for game variety, but that isn't the case.
    There's more variety to the game's Orcs than there is in the books. Not just in skin tone, either, as some of them are great big hulking brutes and none of them are really meant to be that big. It's for effect (outsized Orcs look more threatening) as well as visual variety.

    Tolkien's Orcs are depicted with several different skin tones because Tolkien described them with several different skin tones. They are variously described in the books as sallow, swart, and black-skinned, colors which range from pale and sickly to very dark. Tolkien also described them with several different shapes and sizes, with some being specially bred to track scent and others bred for combat, some being hulking and large, and some running in a way closer to quadrupeds. Given that Orcs have been bred for different purposes by Morgoth and Sauron (and later Saurman with his Uruk-Hai as well as cross-bred with Men to make half-orcs), it stands to reason that there would be far more variety in them that wouldn't be seen in Elves, despite (probably) coming from the same stock. Compare wolves and dogs.
    True but the 'classic' Orc skin tone was sallow and it's the Uruks who are described as 'black' or 'swart'. Again, there's less variety implied that you'll see in the game.

    On the subject of the post...ehhh...I really do wish more things got Hobbit colors right. They wouldn't have a strain called Fallohides (literally paleskins) if Harfoots and Stoors were ALSO "fallohides". Most NPC Hobbits should have some noticeable melanin; PC Hobbits fortunately have the option.
    Hobbits are meant to be 'English' (specifically, English country-folk made small to reflect how they think parochially) - on the whole some English people have more Northern European ancestry and are paler and tend to get sunburned easily, some have more Southern European ancestry and are a bit browner and readily get a tan. It's all relative, though - you shouldn't be expecting most hobbit NPCs to look noticeably brown-skinned, just tanned or weather-beaten if they work outdoors all the time.
    Last edited by Radhruin_EU; Aug 27 2019 at 07:10 PM.

  8. #233
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starsmith View Post
    More variety for some (not all) Mannish backgrounds would be nice--Gondor background especially should have, because of how much trade with all sorts of lands must have occurred before the end of the Second Age. I note that the Gondorian landscape NPCs have some of this expected variety.
    already having dark skins for man race if that is what you asking......
    agian, having in mind that the area of the lotr taking place is north or no more souther than mediteranean sea on our earth its not right to have african blacks .....
    but we do have this choise for anyone that want it, still i see in game only a few taking advantage of this, cant believe that only europeans and north americans playing this game!
    lotr enthousiast since 1996, over 12 years lotro player, lifetimer, Loyal member of the Spartans Kinship and Subleader, now in Evernight imigrants from Eldar

  9. #234
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    There's more variety to the game's Orcs than there is in the books. Not just in skin tone, either, as some of them are great big hulking brutes and none of them are really meant to be that big. It's for effect (outsized Orcs look more threatening) as well as visual variety.
    My impression in the game was the big ones were Uruks, the small ones were Orcs, and the bitty ones were Goblins (which are essentially Orcs.) My impression, having read the books many times over many years, was that Orcs were of great variety, in size, shape, and hue.

    But sure, some things are bigger than they ought to be in the game--plenty of times I've seen Mannish NPCs in various places that really ate their Wheaties, and I am sure it's so they stood out, not because Horn is canonically as tall as Elendil

    It's all relative, though - you shouldn't be expecting most hobbit NPCs to look noticeably brown-skinned, just tanned or weather-beaten if they work outdoors all the time.
    I don't expect the difference to be huge, just noticeable; Tolkien would have picked something else as a name if it weren't a noticeable difference. I 100% expect some variety in hobbit coloration. NPC hobbits don't even have tans! They're all the same! *Sam* isn't brown in this game. He wasn't in the movies either. It drives me up a wall for *lore* reasons that everyone seems to get this wrong!

    (See also: Cirdan's beard, lack of, in tangential lore details no one ever gets right.)

    (If the fidelity was high enough, yes, I would expect Harfoots to have noticeably hairier feet, too :P)

    One way or another, at least there is the option to make brown hobbits for player characters, and that's the important part, for the subject of this whole thread.

  10. #235
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starsmith View Post
    My impression in the game was the big ones were Uruks, the small ones were Orcs, and the bitty ones were Goblins (which are essentially Orcs.) My impression, having read the books many times over many years, was that Orcs were of great variety, in size, shape, and hue.
    There's certainly meant to be variety, just not as much as the game shows as being a visual medium it needs to do that so the Orcs don't look quite so samey as they otherwise would.

    But sure, some things are bigger than they ought to be in the game--plenty of times I've seen Mannish NPCs in various places that really ate their Wheaties, and I am sure it's so they stood out, not because Horn is canonically as tall as Elendil
    That's something MMOs tend to do with named NPCs and bosses, yes, but we also have some Orcs who are simply shown as really big and beefy like their counterparts in Warhammer and WarCraft. There should also be considerably more of the shorter 'Goblin' Orcs than Uruks, bit in SoA you very quickly get to see lots of taller Orcs. It's very much a game thing.

    I don't expect the difference to be huge, just noticeable; Tolkien would have picked something else as a name if it weren't a noticeable difference. I 100% expect some variety in hobbit coloration. NPC hobbits don't even have tans! They're all the same! *Sam* isn't brown in this game. He wasn't in the movies either. It drives me up a wall for *lore* reasons that everyone seems to get this wrong!
    They'd probably have had to exaggerate it if they wanted it to be all that noticeable, and I can't blame them for focusing on other things.

  11. #236
    But for real, Tolkein portrayed the "good people" as having white skin and the "evil people" including Orcs and Haradrim as having dark skin. Maybe we can just acknowledge Tolkein was a product of his time and society and keep the things we like about the story (99.9%) without keeping the unconscious racism?

  12. #237
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rinlul View Post
    But for real, Tolkein portrayed the "good people" as having white skin and the "evil people" including Orcs and Haradrim as having dark skin. Maybe we can just acknowledge Tolkein was a product of his time and society and keep the things we like about the story (99.9%) without keeping the unconscious racism?
    /necro this thread is old being raised from dead...
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  13. #238
    Quote Originally Posted by Pontin_Finnberry View Post
    /necro this thread is old being raised from dead...
    lol I mean I brought it up with developers like 5+ years ago and wanted to see if attitudes had changed at all. Figured I would support an existing thread rather than start a whole new post.

  14. #239
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rinlul View Post
    But for real, Tolkein portrayed the "good people" as having white skin and the "evil people" including Orcs and Haradrim as having dark skin. Maybe we can just acknowledge Tolkein was a product of his time and society and keep the things we like about the story (99.9%) without keeping the unconscious racism?
    Oh bull, don't even go there. There is no racism in character creation so don't pull the race card.


    I just logged on and used the character creation on every race. With the exception of the 2 elf classes, all the good guys have darker skin options. Elves are just pale skinned, that's all it is.

    It's ok to make a suggestion, but leave the race card out of it.


    Pulling the race card over a fictional race...........
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  15. #240
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    The LotR project was intended to be a mythology for England, of course the 'heroes' are going to be fair-skinned. That means that the 'enemies' in the project will often be represented as dark-skinned since the 'enemies' are going to be portrayed as different from the 'heroes'. That doesn't make the project racist by the current interpretation of the word.
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