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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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:


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Creating Brunihild for The One Ring – Brunihild Creada para el One Ring

So here is a character concept I developed for One Ring game Alex was working on for an online forum, but that we didn’t really have the chance to go through with. However I very much enjoyed the proces and liked the type I came up with. Who knows, maybe I will get to play as her in the future:

Aquí os dejo un personaje para el One Ring, el juego de Cublicle 7 basado en la Tierra-media justo después del Hobbit y antes del Señor de los Anillos en la narrativa de Tolkien. Alex estaba desarrollando el juego para un foro online, aunque al final no pudo ser. Ha conseguido redirigir su campaña a esta narrativa tipo fan-ficción que escribe como si estuviese masteando la partida, pero bueno yo decidí seguir con el personaje, y bueno igual con un poco de suerte puedo usarla en un futuro próximo:

 

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I used the main books from the One Ring and the online character generator, which is extremly useful. Me limité a usar el libro de reglas original del One Ring – aunque hay expansiones, tampoco quería complicarme mucho la vida ya que solo he jugado un par de veces – y este generador de personajes online que es muy útil:

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This is really useful as well if you want to have a full discussion as a group about individual characters and how to link stories together – it saves the characters online and it allows you to chat amongst yourselves. Handy! Esta herramienta es genial si además quieres comentar una partida online o incluso jugarla si no tienes otros medios, porque te permite guardar ahí mismo los personajes de todos los jugadores e incluso sus fichas de trasfondo.

Geek Obsession #2 – Tolkien

This may not come as a surprise but, I am a super Tolkien fan – actually, I even research Tolkien. As a modern medievalist and student of cultural theory, you come across him when researching the Vikings, modern concepts of fantasy and mythologies. I gave a paper at the IMC in Leeds July 2015 based on the medievalism trends affecting both the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons, and the deep impact Tolkien had in their Imagery (the White Tree of Gondor, Gandalf being essentially Odin, and many more). This transcends simple mere geekery, be warned!

Bueno, esto no le sorprenderá ya a nadie, pero soy una superfan de Tolkien – de hecho, incluso investigo Tolkien para mi carrera universitaria. Como medievalista moderna que soy, estudiante de los Vikingos, teoría cultural, fantasía y mitología, el caballero aparece un par de veces por mis investigaciones. El verano paso mismo di una comunicación en el IMC de Leeds  (Julio 2015), sobre la influencia de Tolkien en el romanticismo impuesto sobre los Vikingos y los Anglo-Sajones y como esto es muy visible a través de imágenes y simbolismo (el árbol de Gondor, Gandalf como reinterpretación de Odín, y podemos seguir). O sea, esto trasciende el frikismo.

So what does my Tolkien collection consists on? Starting for the obvious, a few books: I don’t actually have ALL here, mostly because I haven’t needed my own copies until recently. My dad does have pretty much the entire collection, from the famous to the more obscure works. Os comento de un rápido en que consiste mi colección Tolkien hasta el momento. Empezando por lo obvio: libro. No los tengo todos, simplemente porque hasta hace relativamente poco no tuve necesidad de tener mis propias copias – Mi padre tiene todo lo que hay escrito y por haber sobre Tolkien, desde los clásicos a cosas menos conocidas.

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Then I got a few merchandise – También tengo merchandise a tutiplén, así que os dejo unas reseñas:

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