Are you a fan of Tolkien's work and a great connoisseur of the LOTR lore? Do you want the LOTR Mod for Minecraft to be really immersive? Then this guide for roleplaying in Middle Earth is for you!
Choose a Name
Before being a writer, Tolkien was a linguist. He wrote all his stories around the fictional languages he created as a hobby. You can create a name for your character using one of the many dictionaries freely available on Internet, such as Ambar Eldaron (beware though, as these dictionaries are not precise enough to be considered as references).
Languages that Tolkien created are :
- Sindarin, the language of the Sindar that stayed in Beleriand while the others followed the Valar across the ocean. This is by far the most common form of Elvish used in Middle Earth, Quenya being used for more ceremonial matters. The poem A Elbereth Gilthoniel is written in Sindarin.
- Adûnaic, the language of the Numenoreans. "Ar-Pharazôn", the name of the last king of Numenor, is an Adûnaic word. This language is used by men from Black Numenorean kingdoms in the Third Age. Haradric or Easterling names were derived from these.
- Khuzdul, the language of the Dwarves. A good example of Khuzdul is the dwarven war cry "Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!" which means "Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!". Tolkien based Khuzdul off of Adunaic.
- Westron, the most common language in western Middle-earth, it is a creole form of Adûnaic, and is used nearly everywhere in the West because the Numenoreans visited and traded with nearly all of the places in western Middle-earth. In the Lord of the Rings books, Westron is represented by English.
- Rohirric, this language is used by the Rohirrim, which are descendants of the Northmen of Rhovanion. It is a more ancient version of Westron, and many words in it are the same or very similar. In this language most likely lie the origins of the word "hobbit", holbytla, which means "hole-dwellers". In the Lord of the Rings books, Rohirric is represented by Old English.
-Orkish, the language of the fearsome Orcs is generally rough and hideous-sounding. Names are usually two ugly noises mashed together- like Gorbag, Grishnakh, or Shagrat.
Dictionaries and Name Lists
We do not intend to provide a full overview of all possibly relevant dictionaries available on the web, but here's a few sources that have proven valuable and can be considered sufficiently consistent.
- Parf Edhellen: A very extensive dictionary that registered almost any word Tolkien has created in his works. It enables understanding of the various (related) languages and helps in creating customised names.
- Eldamo: A lexicon of Tolkien's langauges.
- RealElvish.net: A extensive namelist for Quenya, Sindarin, and Adunaic names. Now with different dialects!
- The Dwarrow Scholar: A website dedicated to Dwarvish.
- Names of Middle-earth: A helpful glossary providing quick aide in finding names for roleplaying with the mod for those who don't feel like fiddling with the lingo too much to create names themselves.
Speaketh and thou shall be heard!
There are various guides on the pronunciation of the languages constructed by Tolkien. Two trusted and recommended sources on Sindarin are:
The mod uses a range of various made-up words to describe the myriad of features the mod adds. In many cases Sindarin is used for that purpose. Therefore there is also a dedicated pronunciation guide for the words introduced in the mod.
In the books, several languages related to Westron are represented by a real life one instead of the actual one used in Middle-earth. For example, Sam and his father Ham's names were actually Ran and Ban. Here is a table of name conversions.
Westron = English
Rohirric = Old English
Rovanic (the language of Rhovanion) = Gothic
Dalish = Old Norse
Choose a Faction
The main choice is: Good or Evil? After that, you can choose a more specific faction with which you can gain alignment. To learn more about alignment and its benefits, see here. You can also select a skin representing your race for a more immersive roleplay experience.
Hobbits: Even if Hobbits are not a warring faction, they have NPCs you can hire (such as bounders and farmhands) to defend their land. Hobbits-aligned players should prefer slings and daggers as weapons, and sometimes vanilla bows. Most of them don't use any armor, but if they do, it is often leather-made and/or a feathered hat. It is also known that some very rich Hobbits can have a mithril chestplate in a long forgotten chest, deeply hidden in their Hobbit hole.
Gameplay with this faction would essentially be farming, breeding, eating, drinking and smoking pipe-weed. Trading could fit into some of them as well, but as Hobbits despise travels (because they think it's a dangerous thing to leave the Shire), they won't go very far; Lindon and Bree-land would be their main destinations. Hobbits love parties and gift-giving, and as such players should participate in those activities often. Hobbits also have been known to write books and draw maps, so perhaps accumulating hobbit library would be fitting. Eloquent invitations, family genealogies, historical accounts, and adventurous tales are quite fitting.
Rangers of the North: This faction is likely the first warring one you'll meet when entering Middle Earth. Rangers use various bows, as well as daggers (sometimes poisoned), swords and spears made by men or Elves. They wear Ranger armor, some may also wear a helmet, such as the men of the Grey Company, who wore mail-coats and helmets with a grey cape.
The Rangers of the North gameplay style would be centered around the invisible defense of the fallen kingdom of Arnor, specifically the last places where the Free People live, such as the Shire and Bree-land. A general rule is that they are found across almost all of Eriador. Hunting down trolls, Wargs, and Orcs (mostly allied with Gundabad) is a common hobby for them. Rangers are discreet men, who spend most of their time wandering the wilderness. They are the descendants of the Numenoreans and most of them have nearly pure Numenorean blood. Any Ranger of the North is at home in the vast empty lands between the Shire and the Misty Mountains, and quite capable of survival through hunting game and foraging for berries.
Dwarves: Dwarves are scattered throughout Middle Earth. The current dwarvish factions in the mod are the Iron Hills the Blue Mountains and Erebor. They all live in mountainous areas, where they build mines and fortresses deep inside the mountains. They all share a love for gems, gold, mithril and other metals. Dwarves like heavy weapons and armors, such as warhammers, battleaxes, and if they want to engage the enemy at a distance, they will almost always use throwing axes; Dwarven armor sets are stronger than iron ones and have better durability, as the dwarves were master smiths and metal-workers.
Gameplay will include building underground fortresses, excavating mines seeking for ores and gems, and trying to take back their fallen mountainous forts from Orcs. They are also great smiths and traders, because they love to craft strong and beautiful things for money.
Dale: Dalishmen live around the Lonely Mountain. After the defeat of Smaug the Dragon and the restoring of the King under the Mountain they have prospered. They still do not forget the deeds of Bard, who slew Smaug with a black arrow. Dale still celebrates that deed. Dalishmen are handy craftsmen, if not so skilled as the Dwarves. They create toys that are loved as far away as the Shire. Dale is prosperous because of trade with the dwarves of Erebor and other factions.
Gameplay as a Dalishmen would be based on building fortresses, trading with other factions, and fighting Dale’s enemies. Keep in mind that Dale’s military advantage is its longbows. Dalishmen keep a faithful watch over their lands in their many watchtowers. Dalish crackers and Party hats are a must.
Players can also play as Lake-Town. While not fully implemented as a subfaction yet, Lake-Town does have its own shield and banner. Lake-Town has been rebuilt from the destruction wreaked by Smaug, and is more prosperous than ever. Lake-men live in wooden houses out on piles in the lake with thatch roofs. They spend their time fishing in the lake, or trading with the Wood-Elves. They busy themselves worrying about the weather and the prospects of fishing, and love watching the stars glimmer in the Lake at night. Less savory characters often count money, embezzle riches, and attempt to swindle their trade partners - though this habit is much more frowned upon than before the death of the Dragon.
Noldor: High Elves live in Lindon and Rivendell. They are one of the stronger "Good" factions. They use a large variety of weapons and armors, such as Galvorn armour, which deflects all kind of projectiles.
Their gameplay should be centered around building bright and beautiful towns and fortresses, holding their realms and discussing about important things for Middle Earth, as well as poetry, writing, and lore. Some are great adventurers that travel through many lands to see how humans live, such as the brothers Elladan and Elrohir, sons of Elrond. They usually use Sindarin, but most can speak Westron and Quenya as well.
When playing a High Elf, keep in mind that elves have a deep love for many beautiful things in Middle-earth. Since elves are more or less immortal, your character may have been alive for thousands of years. Many High Elves carry a sadness for the loss of fair things that they once knew in a different age of the world. Some also have a heavy regret for their actions long ago. Another effect of this long life is great wisdom.
Galadhrim Elves: Galadhrim Elves live in Lothlórien, hidden away from the surrounding world. They are more secretive than their cousins from the West. They use Sindarin, but with a strange Silvan dialect. Galadhrim Elves love the beauty and life in their forest, particularly its glorious mallorn trees.
Their gameplay should be centered on defending their homes in Lothlórien against the Orcs of Gundabad. Some places where they might visit are the Anduin, and maybe Rohan and Fangorn to hunt Orcs and help in the fight against Sauron.
Wood-Elves of Mirkwood: Wood-Elves live in the midst of the Mirkwood Forest and are even more secretive than their Galadhrim cousins, and are suspicious as well of foreigners. This is largely due to the fact that their home is completely surrounded by a corrupted forest infested with spiders. No one can enter the Woodland Realm without detection. Wood-elven armies have heavy armored warriors as well as very speedy scouts. Wood-elves love feasts and merriment.
Their gameplay is focused around defending the last remnants of their Woodland Realm, the majority of which has been corrupted by the Necromancer of Dol Guldur, which is a ruined evil fortress in the south of Mirkwood.
The Trees of Fangorn: The Trees of Fangorn mostly consist of Ents and Huorns. Here, they live in relative peace against the troubles that the rest of Middle-earth is facing. They wear no armour, but are extremely powerful against anyone that dares to defy them. Some of the things you will most likely come to Fangorn for are Ent-Draughts and Huorns for hire.
Living like an Ent in the forest is a bit difficult, as there isn't much to do if you truly would like to be an Ent. If you do, you will mostly stay around the forest and kill any orcs that come near. If you would like a more daring route, maybe enter the Misty Mountains and you can maybe travel to the Fangorn Wasteland and attack the Uruk-hai that guard. Maybe help the Rohirrim by attacking Isengard? Ents also may busy themselves planting saplings to grow trees in destroyed places.
Rohirrim: The Rohirrim, also known as the Eorlingas, are the Horse-Lords of Rohan, a land of rolling plains, with occasional forests and boulder fields, which they guard against the spawn of Isengard. They have the fastest horses in the game, and no NPC in the mod can outpace them. When Rohan was founded, it swore an allegiance with Gondor, saying that it would defend Gondor if the need arose.
To play as a true Rohirrim, it is essential that you ride a horse! Get yourself a lance, or perhaps a bow, and defend the lands of Rohan against Uruk-hai. Another option is to launch an attack on the Uruk Highlands or to defend Gondor against an attack by the Black Land. If you insist on fighting on foot instead, your options will be limited to guarding a fort, watchtower, or mead hall. Or, you could become the blacksmith's apprentice and mine for a living, or live nomadically as a horse breeder..
Gondor: Gondorians are folk that believe in valour, chivalry, and honour. They take orders from the Steward. Their infantry are fairly powerful, and they are well-trained in combat, for they have defended Western Middle-Earth from constant attacks by Mordor and the Haradrim. Gondorians do not forget the glory of Númenor, now sunk beneath the sea. They have a deep love for their homeland, and are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect it. Sauron hates Gondor for their stubborn valour that has kept him at bay.
Rangers of Ithilien: One of the sub-factions of Gondor, the Rangers of Ithilien keep the Shadow from claiming complete control over that land. They are similar to the Rangers of the North in their attack strategies, preferring to remain hidden most of the time. Like the Rangers of the North, many of them come from Numenor.
Gameplay for this faction would be fairly similar to that for the Rangers of the North; defend the lands of Ithilien and Harondor from attacks by Mordor and the Near Haradrim. Be sure to use a bow at range, and Ranger Armour.
Swan Knights: Another of Gondor's sub-factions, the Swan Knights are the warriors of Gondor that live in Dol Amroth. They are stronger than regular Gondorian soldiers, and some of them still contain Elvish blood. They usually remain in their province, but will occasionally assist Gondor when the need arises.
Swan Knight gameplay should be centered on defending Dol Amroth, and possibly Gondor at times. Ranged weapons should not be used. Mounted warriors should rely on their lance, foot-soldiers their sword.
Dorwinion: The people of Dorwinion are famous for their large vineyards and potent wine, which is strong enough to make even the Wood-Elves drowsy. They engage in much trade with several other factions, including the Wood-Elves, Dwarves, and the men of Dale. The Vintner Guard defends the land of Dorwinion, and one can occasionally find a warrior of the late King Bladorthin as well.
With Dorwinion, one has the option to roleplay either as an elf or a man. Many elves of Dorwinion were considered expert wine-brewers, while others traveled throughout Middle-Earth, marketing their wine and other wares. Either of these (or both!) could be a choice for roleplaying. One could also roleplay as a warrior of Bladorthin, using Dorwinion Elven eqiupment and armour.
The men of Dorwinion were the primary grape-growers. Thus, one could roleplay as a Vinekeeper or Vineyard-Master. You would harvest tons of grape (actually, you would make your vinehands do it!), and probably sell most of the produce to Vintner Elves. Some men, however, served as Vintner Guards; they used iron weapons and Dorwinion armour. Roleplaying as a Vintner Guard, one would use an iron crossbow at range, while no mount would be used.
Angmar: Angmar is the remnant of a once fell kingdom in the North. It keeps to itself much more than the other evil factions, but does occasionally invade wilderness lands. The lands in and around Angmar are cold and inhospitable, as well as scarred from the evil that has long lived there.
Angmar has a variety of options for gameplay. Players could build dark ruined fortresses to inhabit, and assemble armies to once again unleash on the world. Many trolls and hill-trolls are servants of Angmar, so if you want to play as a troll this is the faction for you. Finally the Rhudaur Hill-men serve Angmar as well. They are tough people who brave the cold wilderness and wastes of Western Middle-earth and the north. Rhudaur Hill-men live in wooden houses and crude forts, and hate Rangers of the North most of all.
Dol Guldur: Dol Guldur is the corruption that has defiled the once fair Greenwood. These orcs live in the evil lands where Sauron once dwelt, and though he has left the darkness and destruction have not. Dol Guldur is the worst enemy of the Wood-Elves. They bide their time in their dark hill, waiting until their master needs them once more.
Gameplay for Dol Guldur offers several options. Players could spend their time fortifying Dol Guldur, or other parts of Mirkwood in an attempt to make their way to the Woodland Realm. They defile the forest by filling it with dark things such as Mirkwood spiders. Dol Guldur players also can pillage surrounding lands.
Dunland: Dunland is a faction of men. They are not servants of the Dark Lord, but rather the White Hand. Dunlendings lost their homeland to the Rohirrim, and because of their weak crude weapons are not well-equipped enough to take it back. Saruman promised to help them defeat the Strawheads, and thus gained their help by fueling their hatred.
Gameplay as Dunland could be interesting. Dunlendings revere the savage wolf, as their banner and shield show. The player should have a furious hatred for the Rohirrim. Dunlendings currently are braving the wilderness of Dunland, which consists of forested hills near the Gap of Rohan. Dunlending players could fortify this land and colonize it with houses. For the most part they serve Isengard, raiding Rohan to steal its superior equipment. Perhaps the player could play as an exception to the rule as well - a Dunlending who, in spite of disliking the Rohirrim, sees through the lies of Saruman and wishes to convince his fellows of Saruman’s evil.
Gundabad: Gundabad orcs come from the Misty Mountains. They descend in raiding parties to ravage the surrounding lands. They are wild and controlled by no single tyrant, but pillage at will and even fight with each other. They are by far the most common evil faction, having a presence across an enormous part of Middle-earth.
Gundabad gameplay would likely be centered on traveling around and raiding the lands around the Misty Mountains, and far to the East and West. Gundabad players can also build crude fortresses and strongholds in the mountains and surrounding lands.
Isengard: Isengard is an industrial faction. While not nearly as enormous and ancient as the evil of Mordor, Isengard is power to be reckoned with in the regions surrounding the Gap of Rohan. Saruman is intent on finding the One Ring before Sauron does, and hopes to rule all of Middle-earth as a tyrant. His skill is in industry. The pits of Isengard are capable of mass-producing armour and weapons on a shocking scale.
Isengard is a good faction for evil gameplay. It has very good quality equipment. The Uruk-Hai of Isengard hate all the free lands. Raiding Rohan is a good pastime, as well as manufacturing vast stores of weapons and equipment in preparation for unleashing an army on the free world. Isengard players can build vast underground factories and forges inside the Ring of Isengard, and fortify other lands nearby. They can raid Fangorn Forest, chopping down trees and burning them in their furnaces.
If the player wishes to be a representative of Saruman, and not a mindless servant, the player can travel to surrounding lands like Dunland to ignite their rage against Rohan.
Mordor: Mordor is the most evil faction in the game. It is the realm ruled by the Dark Lord Sauron. Mordor is gathering strength to conquer all of Middle-earth and subdue its free peoples. Mordor is preparing armies to destroy Gondor, and once Gondor falls the rest of Middle-earth.
Gameplay for Mordor offers some interesting options. The obvious choice is attacking the free lands around Mordor, especially Gondor. Mordor offers some large advantages for battle such as its fearsome Olog-Hai. Mordor players can also protect their dark land behind endless battlements of black steel and stone. There are the subfactions of Black Uruks and Minas Morgul for more variety.
There is another radically different option for Mordor gameplay, however, that few players embrace. To the Free Peoples of Middle-earth Sauron is known as The Deciever. A Mordor player can travel to other lands in order to tempt them into serving the Dark Lord. Easterlings and Southrons are good candidates, but Sauron also tried to deceive other Free Peoples such as Dwarves. Mordor representatives win the aid of other factions either by promising fabulous riches or threatening and using fear and dread.
Near Harad: Near Harad offers unique variety for an evil player. The people of Near Harad join two worlds - Middle-earth and Far Harad. They are prosperous because of trade. The Dark Lord Sauron, however, has brought them into his service.
Gameplay for Near Harad could be very interesting. The player could choose a lifestyle centered around trade. They could wander the vast sands of the desert in camel caravans, traveling from one oasis to the next, to bring the riches of Harad to the North. Players can also build prosperous towns at the oases and fertile lands, or ruins of cities overtaken by the shifting sands. They could also play as levies serving the Dark Lord and attacking Gondor. There is also the option of playing a Haradric character who doesn’t like Sauron, and sees his evil or would rather not go to war for him. This could offer some depth to the player’s character.
In Public Beta 34, Corsairs of Umbar are planned to be added as a subfaction of Near Harad. They are the terror of the seas, sailing in their ships to free lands and pillaging. If you want to live the life of a pirate, Umbar is for you.
Easterlings: The Easterlings are a faction that lives in the lands of Rhúdel. They are servants of the Dark Lord. They hate the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. Easterlings sometimes march to war against the free lands directly to the west - they particularly despise Gondor, Rohan, and Dale because of their proximity.
Gameplay as an Easterling could be entertaining. Players could build exotic mansions and fortresses in the East. They could gather gold and gilded items - Easterlings love such things. It must also be mentioned that Easterlings have a slightly unsettling obsession with pyrotechnics. They throw fire-pots at their enemies to set them ablaze, but even more than their fire-pots they love Khamûl’s Fire. This sorcerous weapon eats away stone itself with a fierce blaze.
Define Your Character
Once you have chosen a faction you need to decide what specific character traits define you. While not absolutely necessary for playing as a member of a faction, this brings more realism and depth to roleplay. you should decide several things to define how your character will act in any situation.
Backstory: This is very much optional to roleplay, but it helps to define where your character came from. It can be as simple as deciding they grew up in a simple household in the green hills of Pinnath Gelin, or as elaborate as the thousands of years of adventure and battles a High Elf may have seen. You can go into as much detail as you would like. Your backstory defines your loyalties and your regrets.
Loyalties: This is fairly easy to define. Generally, your loyalty is to your faction and its leader. Most evil players serve their faction and Sauron, but some serve Saruman instead. Most good factions fight for the Free Peoples, but some really don’t care. Your character may also have loyalties depending on their history.
Love: Every one of the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth has something that they love. The Elves, for example, often love the beauty of natural features like forests, stars, and waterfalls. Dwarves love the beauty of the gold and gems they find in the earth. Men love their homeland often. Hobbits love the Shire. For Orcs, you can replace love with a desire. Most Orcs desire wanton destruction, and enjoy the beauty of bombs blowing up the stinking Elves and Men. Your character’s backstory defines what they love. Often they will share characteristics of their race, but remember your character is not bound to them.
Regrets: Regrets add some depth to your character. They remember making mistakes in the past. Not all characters have regrets, but Elves in particular, since they live for much longer times, are likely to have regrets. An example of a regret would be the remorse many of the Noldor carried for participating in the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, though many of those Elves are gone by the time of the Third Age. Elves also often lament the loss of beautiful things that once were.
Strengths: Your character has some strong features. For example, Hobbits are particularly resistant to the temptation of the Ring. Men often have a great share of valour and honour. Elves also have valour and honour, but by the time of the Third Age wisdom is more likely. Dwarves are hardy folk, and skilled at smithing. Hobbits are peacable folk, but they have fight in them. Orcs and Uruks are cunning, clever, and malicious.
Weaknesses: Every character also has weaknesses. Elves tend to be reclusive and do not always aid their allies in battle. They also can tend to think themselves superior to other races. Dwarves are often greedy for gold. Men are particularly susceptible to temptation. Hobbits are usually very weak, and unable to defend themselves. Orcs can encompass all these vices. However, it should be noted that these are just generic traits. Your character is not always subject to these exact strengths and weaknesses; they should have some unique ones.
You can also choose your character’s occupation. Your character needs to make a living somehow. Rangers, for example, live off the land and spend their time combatting evil and defending the Free Peoples. Hobbits often farm for a living. You could be a wandering adventurer looking for fame and fortune wherever you find it. You could be a knight of Gondor defending the free lands of Middle-Earth. You could also be a ruler in charge of some land. This is up to you.
Once you have defined your character’s traits, you can play that character in the world of Middle-earth. You need to keep in mind your character’s traits whenever you make a decision in the game. For example, Morgul Flowers may be the most effective defense for that awesome High Elven fortress, but would your character really even look upon such ghastly things, let alone touch them? Or would your Hobbit character really go around grinding Barrow-Wights in the Barrow-downs? Or would your Wood-Elf character really start collecting Orc Firebombs? It is much better to make the decisions your character would make than those that simply give you as a player the advantage in the game.