Geek Etymology – Drow and Dark Elves

Time to have another crack at looking at the origins of geeky terminology. This time I’ll be looking at where the ‘Drow’ came from, as well as taking this as an opportunity to look at where the concept of a ‘Dark Elf’ originates and how the two terms came to be linked.

art-drou-ork-goblin-elf

First of all we should establish what the current understanding of the term ‘Drow’ is. The Drow are a fantasy race that are dark skinned, usually white-haired, and share most other characteristics with other Elves. They are generally depicted as being evil and living deep underground, and having an affinity for dark magic, stealth, and spiders. The D&D 5th Edition Player’s Handbook says of them:
“Descended from an earlier subrace of dark-skinned elves; the drow were banished from the surface world for following the goddess Lolth down the path to evil and corruption.”
As I mentioned, the Drow are also referred to as ‘Dark Elves’, a term that is used far more widely than ‘Drow’, which is mostly limited to Dungeons & Dragons and things that take inspiration directly from it. There are Dark Elves in many other fantasy settings, including The Elder Scrolls, Warhammer, Kingdoms of Amalur, and the ‘Night Elves’ of Warcraft share a resemblance.
Continue reading “Geek Etymology – Drow and Dark Elves”

Advertisements

Gandalf is Actually a Dwarf

I come here today to spread some of my utter nerdiness and knowledge acquired through my fun but painful PhD. Part of my research of course involves looking into Tolkien and his effect in medievalism; the vast majority of the time from the perspective of the Vikings. And as Alex has gone all high brow lately with his etymology, I decided; “hell, isn’t that what I do anyway?!”.

So, you probably would be thinking: “what is she going on about? How can Gandalf be a Dwarf?!”. Well, I mean he isn’t exactly a dwarf, but then, the terminology is confusing. As you may know, Tolkien took a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology whilst creating Middle-earth…In fact, the very name Middle-earth is what Midgard means in English: the land in the middle which isn’t Asgard, Nilfheim, or any of the others. Norse cosmology includes nine realms, and Midgard is just where the humans live. It gets its name from the fact that it is somewhere in the middle of Yggdrasil – The tree of life. Okay, so that was some easy trivia which you probably knew already. Same if I ask you the name of the dwarves from the Hobbit right? Okay let’s see if this list rings a bell: Continue reading “Gandalf is Actually a Dwarf”

Shadow of Mordor – Surprisingly Good Lore

I recently got around to playing Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a game that came out in 2014. What I found there pleasantly surprised me, as the story touches on some of the lore in an interesting way while also doing its own completely non-canon thing.

untitled2

As far as the game itself goes, it is a pretty decent one. It is very similar to the Assassin’s Creed games in terms of combat and movement, except thankfully the enemies don’t just wait their turn to be countered, but can end up swarming you instead. You also end up with some very powerful abilities to deal with the huge amount of orcs you may have to kill. The most interesting thing about the gameplay is the interaction with the enemies themselves. A large part of the game is focused on ‘Sauron’s Army’, and in the menu you can see the composition of the enemy captains and warchiefs. The first thing you’ll notice about the enemies is that they will be directly influenced by you in a few ways. One such way is that if one kills you they may gain a promotion, and then if they see you again they’ll react, usually with annoyance, at having to kill you again. You can also manipulate the enemies into fighting among themselves, or even dominate a lesser captain, and help him rise through the ranks. This element of the game becomes the main point of the story half way through, but I’ll leave it there for now.

untitled245
The combat in this game is slightly brutal…

The main thing I wanted to mention was the way in which the game uses Middle Earth history in its story, as well as where and when it is set. The story starts off with the main character, a Gondorian ranger named Talion, at the Black Gate of Mordor. Straight away this made me question the game a little because I’m pretty sure Gondor wasn’t able to have rangers stationed there at this point. Also the place is immediately overrun by orcs, or uruks as Talion points out. This is apparently meant to be the moment that Sauron has returned to Mordor to build his army. This also doesn’t exactly fit, as I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be such a sudden event, but rather a slow establishing of power until  Sauron reveals unveils his presence in Third Age 2951. I’ll allow the game a couple of small liberties like these however, and at least we now know roughly when the game is set; before the War of the Ring.  Continue reading “Shadow of Mordor – Surprisingly Good Lore”

The Black Sword

There is the subtle but fascinating fantasy motif I have been dwelling on for quite some time, I recently decided to put my thoughts together on the subject. As you know I am big fantasy fan. It was recently when I was re-reading the Silmarillion and playing Skyrim that I realised there was such a concept as the idea of “the Black Sword”, and that got me thinking where I could find that reference and what it meant. So that is what today’s post will be about.

It all begun with the realisation that my swords in Skyrim had a predilection to be Ebony or Daedric – and not just because they are stronger, but because they look “cool”. The black edge, the lack of shiny steel, it makes the blade look otherworldly. And as it happens, these swords I made would 99.9% of the time be enchanted in such a way that they either increase my stamina/health, or absorb my opponents power/health/soul, whatever you want to call it. I know many of you may think this seems logical – but there are many swords and materials in Skyrim and other RPGs/Action videogames, and certainly more spells than just those. Perhaps it is just a visual aesthetic thing. I noticed this was also my preference when playing Soul Calibur. I never liked Soul Calibur, it looked too neat. But Soul Edge was, once again, cool; it had a presence.

Continue reading “The Black Sword”

Geek Obsession – Tolkien (again)

You may have seen the previous post like this by Lilly, but I though I could add a few things. I too am a huge Tolkien fan, and despite not having read all his books (or doing research on them), I have a lot of random stuff that I’ve collected, and am in the process of reading the Silmarillion. I hope to read through all the books soon enough an own the full collection, but for now this is pretty much all I have; the largest collection of a single thing I own!

IMG_20160807_145328

First I suppose it should start with these two books, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. I got these two really lovely editions a few years ago for Christmas, and proceeded to finish the Hobbit in about two days. They are both full of great illustrations by Alan Lee. Continue reading “Geek Obsession – Tolkien (again)”

The One Ring Chronicles – Part Four: Into The Long Marshes

The group arrived at the Stair of Girion late in the day as the sun was just disappearing behind the tallest trees of the eastern eaves of Mirkwood. They considered making camp themselves but were soon invited to join the lake-men who lived near the shore to take seats around their fire. These porters were simple men, and most of them young. They were easily excited by the sight of adventurers daring to go south on a boat, and jumped at the chance of hearing a good story or song from them. Unfortunately the party lacked any musical individuals, but Burin was happy to entertain them with stories from the histories of the Dwarves, mostly of great battles with the Orcs in the far off Misty Mountains.

The Lake-men were pleased to have such interesting company on that night, and before it grew late they introduced the party to an ancient looking individual that supposedly lived nearby. Old Nerulf was his name, and when he spoke to the group the decrepit Northman was hardly intelligible, but when he heard that these travellers were heading south he repeated over and over again what seemed to be some words of warning, perhaps a rhyme of lore he learned as a child: ‘If you go south into the marshes take heed: tread lightly and fear the gallows-weed…’ Continue reading “The One Ring Chronicles – Part Four: Into The Long Marshes”

“Armed for Battle”: a backstory for Brunihild for the One Ring

A while back you may have seen my character creation process for Brunihild for a game of the One Ring I did not get to play – yet. As a very thorough player that I am, I cannot create a character without giving them a back story – does not feel right. How am I supposed to know who they are if I don’t tell others?! But this is no news – everyone knows I am the best bard in all of Krynn! (I will tell you about it one day). So this the background for Brunihild. I am a massive Tolkien fan, so I have tried to keep the story consistent, not only with One Ring dynamics, but so I would fit in within the general narrative sphere of Middle-earth:


Continue reading ““Armed for Battle”: a backstory for Brunihild for the One Ring”