donderdag 29 november 2012

Constellations in Lotro

The nights in Lotro's Middle Earth are wonderful. Sometimes thousands of stars can be seen during a crisp and cloudless sky. Have you ever stand still a moment and behold the splendor of the Heavens?

I did, and when you look carefully you can find a white face and three distinct star-patterns in the sky, which have a special meaning in the world of Middle Earth.

Ithil or Isil, the Moon

The most striking light in the night is Ithil, or Isil, the Moon. In the human world she is seen as a lady, and if you look carefully you can see her face.

The Moon could be a lady or a flowerlamp, carried by Tilion

If you look closely to the Moon you will see here move between the stars. If you follow here day by day, you will see that the moon always follows more or less the same path in the sky. The elves believed that the movement of the moon was caused by a vessel which carried the Moon. According to the old verses the moon was created by Aulë, a Valar (Valars are a kind of Power, like a deity). Aulë has chosen Tilion, a Maia (Maias are spirits who help the Valars), to guide the vessel along her path.

The creation of the moon is connected to the legend of the Two Trees, a silver one called Telperion and a golden one, called Laurelin.These trees were created by the Valar after the destruction of the first two lights in Arda, which were two enormous lamps. These lamps, a silver one in the North and a golden one in the south, were cast down by Melkor. After the destruction the Valar went to Valinor (a place in the west) and Yavanna (a female Valar comparable to the earth goddess Gaia) sang into existence a silver tree Telperion and a golden tree Laurelin. The Two Trees existed at a time when the only other source of light were the stars. These stars, in turn, were created for the Elves' benefit by Varda (a Valar) from the dews collected from the Two Trees.

Sadly enough, the Two Trees were doomed by the jealousy of Melkor. With the help of the giant spider-creature Ungoliant (an ancestress of Shelob) Melkor destroyed both trees. Concealed in a cloud of darkness, Melkor struck each tree and Ungoliant devoured whatever life and light remained in them. But Telperion, the White Tree, bore one last flower of silver before its end. According to the lore of the Elder Days, Aulë (a Valar) and his people made a vessel to carry the silver flower into the sky and it became the Moon. The vessel was guided in the sky by one of the hunters of Oromë, called Tilion.
According to the legends of the Elves, Tilion was an unsteady steersman, sometimes dwelling overlong beneath the Earth, or appearing in the sky at the same time as the Sun. He was also drawn to the bright new Sun, launched from Valinor shortly after his own vessel. One one day he came too close to the fiery Sun, which caused a darkening of the Moon's face.

The Elves called the moon Isil, and later Ithil. A poetic name for the Moon was The Silver Flower and Gollem called the moon just The White Face.

The Moon was valued as higher than the Sun by the Elves, because it came from the Elder Tree and because it rose first in the sky, before the Sun was created. They believed that the moon was made in memory of the Elves and that the Sun was made in memory of Men.

The Constellations

The Constellations in the sky were made by Varda (a Valar, a Power comparable to a deity) to signal the Elves to Valinor. Thus were formed the constellations Wilwarin, Telumendil, Soronúmë, Anarríma, and as the most important ones, Menelmacar and Valacirca.

Soronúmë: the name means "Eagle of the West" in Quenya. This translation suggests a connection with the constellation we know today as Aquila, but this was never confirmed by Tolkien.
Wilwarin: Tolkien gave no description of this constellation, nor any counterpart in our modern-day constellations. Wilwarin means "Butterfly" in Quenya. Christopher Tolkien suggested that it could be the constellation Cassiopeia, because of its "W"-shape and a reasonable match of this constellation to that of a butterfly.
The modern counterparts of Anarríma and Telumendil  are unknown.

Menelmacar - The Swordsman of the Sky

Menelmacar is Quenyan (the tongue of the High Elves) for the 'swordsman of the sky' or 'swordsman of the heavens'. It is one of the star constellations in the heavens of Middle Earth. On a clear night you can see it low above the horizon, with three stars in the middle and four bright ones in a rectangle around it.

Menelmacar, the Swordsman of the Sky (to the left)

Menelmacar was created by Varda, just before the Awakening of the Elves, as a symbol of light and hope. It also forebodes the Last Battle prophesied at the End of Days. If you take a moment you can see three bright stars close together, which is the belt of the swordsman. That belt is also know as a separate constellation in Middle Earth, called Eksiqilta or Ektaqilta. To the right of the 3 belt-stars you see 6 small stars in a shallow crescent, which is the starsword of the swordsman.

Menelmacar was originally called Telumehtar in Quenya (language of the High Elves). Later the Swordsman in the Sky was more usually called Menelvagor in the Sindarin (Middle-earth language of the Grey Elves and Dunedain). Menelmacar was characterized by his sword of stars, his shining belt, and the red star Borgil that sat on his shoulder. Borgil is known in modern times as the red star Betelgeuse and its the bright star directly left above the three belt-stars (the right shoulder of the Swordsman).

Together with Valacirca, Menelmacar was one of the brilliant constellations placed in the sky by Varda to bring light to the World in defiance of Melkor. These stars were profoundly significant in Elvish legend. It was said that when Menelmacar first rose in the sky, the first Elves had awoken at Cuiviénen. What's more, the swordsman was said to be a sign of the Last Battle foretold by Mandos, and was even said to represent Túrin Turambar, who was prophesied to return and join the final war against Melkor.

Orion the Giant Hunter

In the human world, the most likely modern counterpart of Menelmacar is the constellation of Orion.
According to human legend, Orion was a huge hunter, with a belt which hold his sword. The three belt-stars were also known as a separate asterism (star-group): the three kings. In his right hand Orion has a club to strike his foes. In his left hand he has a curious shield made of a very tough hide of a giant lion.

Valacirca - The Sickle of the Valar

Valacirca, which is Quenyan for 'Sickle of the Valar' is another very famous star constellation in the heavens of Middle Earth. It was created by Varda just before the Awakening of the Elves as a warning to Melkor of his eventual downfall.

Valacirca, just above my head!

Valacirca was also known as the Seven Stars, the Sickle and the Wain by the Hobbits. The Dwarves called it (probably) Durin’s Crown. If you watch closely in Lotro's Middle Earth, you can see this seven stars on the elven ruins. It is also believed that these seven stars are the symbol of Durin, which can be seen on the secret entrance door of Moria when it opens. In Esteldin, the ranger refuge in the North-Downs, the seven stars can be seen above some doors . If you want to see it for yourself, just visit the Craft Hall in Esteldin or look above one of the doors of the Crafting Guilds inside.

According to man, Valacirca is Ursa Major

Valacirca inspired also a song of defiance from Beren:

"... And in answer he sang a song of challenge 
     that he had made in praise of the Seven Stars, 
     the Sickle of the Valar that Varda hung above the North
     as a sign for the fall of Morgoth. ..."
     Quenta Silmarillion 19, Of Beren and Lúthien

According to the Silmarillion, Valacirca was set in the Northern Sky as a sign of doom for Melkor and a sign of hope for the Elves. Together with Menelmacar and Remmirath, Valacirca is one of the few constellations which is mentions in the books of Tolkien.

According to Man, the constellation of Valacirca is comparable to a section of Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The seven stars forms a so called asterism (star-group) which is known as the Big Dipper and can be seen at every clear night in the northern sky. Some people regarded the Big Dipper as a plough, sickle or saucepan.
The seven stars above the door of the Jeweller's Guild in Esteldin

Remmirath - the Netted Stars

Remmirath, the netted stars, is a very fine cluster of seven stars, close together. It can be found above and to the right of Menelmacar, the Swordsman in the Sky.

Remmirath, the Netted Stars, right above my head.

According to Man this dazzling tiny star cluster is called the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. Each star is a Sister and has a name. There names are Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Taygete, Asterope, Celaeno and Merope. These Six sisters are very easy to find in the sky, especially during a crisp and clear winter night. The seventh sister, Merope, is a pain for the naked eye. According to legend this sister is so shy, that she always tries to hide from your eyes.

Man called Remmirath the Seven Sisters, or the Pleiades

This is their story.
On an unlucky day, the seven sisters - the Pleiades - met the great hunter Orion, just by chance. The hunter fell in love with all of them and the sisters became the object of his pursuit. He pursued them all over the face of the Earth and the girls couldn’t get rid of this horny hunter. The sisters called for Zeus, ruler of all Gods. Zeus changed them into a flock of doves, which he set in the heavens.
Of course the sisters where shocked by the pursuit of Orion and their fate, and cried a lot. When you see them low in the eastern evening sky, it will be autumn. Because of their weeping, the rainy season will start soon after their yearly first appearance in the eastern evening sky (after sunset).

Another story tells us that once seven maidens camped near the river in a region known to have many bears. One of the bears began to chase the maidens and they knelt to pray for help, calling upon the gods. Suddenly, the ground was raised into the sky to protect the maidens from the chasing bear. A Great Spirit had placed them in the sky as the seven sisters, the Pleiades. Did you now that the Japanese called these sisters Subaru and that you can find these 7 stars on vehicles with the same name?

The Crown of Durin

Then hidden entrance to Moria, note the 7 stars above the Crown

"...He stooped and looked in Mirrormere
    And saw a crown of stars appear,
    As gems upon a silver thread,

    Above the shadow of his head. ..." 
 From Gimli's chant in Moria - The Fellowship of the Ring II 4, A Journey in the Dark

A group of seven stars mysteriously reflected from the surface of the Mirrormere), even when the Sun was shining in the sky above the lake.

In the ancient days of the First Age, a group of seven stars were glimpsed by Durin the Deathless. He saw them as a reflection above his head when looking in the Mirrormere. Durin took them as a good omen, since the sun was shining in the sky above the lake. After this revelation he decided to build the dwarven city Khazad-dûm (Moria) in the Misty Mountains adjacent to that mystical lake (now called the Dark Pool ...). The seven-starred crown became an emblem of the House of Durin and can be seen when opening the secret gate to Moria.

The Northern Crown is a good candidate for the Crown of Durin
This small constellation can be seen at Northern latitudes.
Note the bright star Gemma, which is Latin for gem.

It's unclear whether the stars of the Crown of Durin represented a real constellation. Some sources suggest a link with the seven stars of Valacirca, although there's is no direct evidence to support this hypothesis. Another good candidate would be the constellation of the Northern Crown, Corona Borealis. This constellation is also made up of seven stars (one is a bit small), but in a curving crown-like chain. The middle star of the Northern Crown is the brightest and called Gemma, which means gem. Personally, I think that this constellation fits Gimli's description of 'gems upon a silver thread' very good. Furthermore, the shape of the Northern Crown matches the crescent shape of stars on the Doors of Durin.
But ... it is also possible that Durin's Crown wasn't connected to any real stars at all. Maybe the crown reflected in the Mirrormere was just an unique meteorological effect, unrelated to the actual stars in the sky.

woensdag 28 november 2012

Resistance is futile

The Borg Cube in the Shire

Today something curious happened. On my voyages in the Shire I discovered a strange green landscape. Although the Shire should be green, this particular spot was a mesmerising shade of green.

 I decided to investigate the spot more thoroughly. It was a very curious place. No birds singing, no animals wandering around. Even no brown bears or goblins, creatures you find a lot in this particular spot.

 The investigation took some hours and before I knew it, the sky was dark.

Thousands of stars twinkled in the sky. I started to daydream a bit. A vast place, the sky and the heavens. Who will live near these stars I wondered. Then I did a shocking discovery....

Near the root of a curious green valley I found a strange square hill. At first a couldn't believe my eyes. After some moments I decided to investigate this weird green enigma.

When a came to the foot of this strange hill, it was square indeed. Something was nagging my memory. A big square... Maybe a....

No that can't be possible in Middele Earth... A cube???

The Cube - awesome

Well it definitely was a cube. A huge one! When I came near, something terrible happened. I got nauseous and dizzy. Immediately I was forced to my knees. The world changed to a dull grey.

After some moments I heard a strange voice in my head:

"We are the Borg...."

"We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own...."

"Resistance is futile....."

NOOoooo!!! That cannot be true! Or ... can it?

The Forlorn Hobbitvillage in Breetown

Although not very big, Breetown is the biggest settlement in Lotro's Middle Earth. And you can be there at a very low level. Breetown is perfectly safe, you can't get molested by bears, wolves or other nasty creatures.

Hobbits in Breetown

As you enter the town from the westside, at the road to the Shire, you probably have noticed some hobbit houses within the city. You find them on a hill between the westgate and the northgate. I was always very curious about hobbits living in Breetown, so today i decided to pay them a visit.

The excursion of today goes to the grassy field and the remote hobbit houses marked with the red arrows, 

Unfortunately the houses of the most secluded hobbits who live in Bree, are hard to visit. If you have a standard horse you may try a house. Jump on a house and try to enter the grassy plateau with some nice and cosy hobbit houses. But I have a problem. I can't jump very well with my horse. At least not on houses. I tried it a lot, but I didn't get on the roof. But, honestly, I have seen people doing this and they succeeded.

I am just a horsegirl who loves racing with a horse. Some are very fast and can jump high and long distances. These kind of horses are prefectly for visiting the hobbit houses in Bree. And behold, you can climb a certain rocky wall with a fast horse. But, you must be at least lvl 75 to learn it. Lower levels have to use the repetitive roofjumping method, which I hate to do.

The remote hobbit houses in Breetown seemed to be occupied, since there is a well used tiny path going from house to house. Curiously, the houses are nearly inaccessable, so these hobbits surely don't want to be seen, or visited. But if you try hard, you will find them, eventually.

These hobbit houses, with their typical grassy roofs, have a great view. In fact, from this spot you may see one of the most stunning views of Breetown.

The hobbits who are living in the upper houses in Bree, are the most lucky ones in Breetown. Watch the view, how spectacular!

The houses were build upon a big and flat grassy plateau. Here the eastern site, whre you can see the village square and the famous fountain.

Despite there was light in the windows, i couldn't find any hobbit to talk to. The doors were closed and the inhabitants seem te be very shy.

The Combe Gate from above. Isn't it a beauty?

A lovely view of Combe

This must by Ellie Cutleaf's house, isn't it?

Or this? Well its for you to find out. Anyway, its late and time to go. I feel hungry and wanna eat something. In the Prancing Pony of course.

I recently returned to the secluded hobbithouses, high above Bree. To pay them a visit and drink a cup of tea. To my utter astonishment they were gone. There was simply no sign of any hobbithouse high on the hill. Like they never where here, on the spot I visited. Curiously there was one old elven-ruin now on the place where the hobbit-houses once stood. Maybe the Bree-town folk have rebuild something on all these vacant spots. Without the hobbit houses it is a boring place now. The only thing I can say about it, is that the place can be easily reached these days. But the hobbits are gone, and with them the small wonder in Bree-town. Maybe they where afraid about all these new visitors peeking through their windows.

6 February 2013 - The hobbit-houses uphill are all gone, replaces by a kitsch elven ruin.

dinsdag 27 november 2012

Peeking behind the gate of Michel Delving

To the east and west of Michel Delving there are two gates. When I started to play LOTRO I always wondered what kind of strange lands were behind these gates. I never found out, alas. Even 5 years later, these gates are still closed.

According to Sweet Cherry, you can find in those lands a secret and abandoned Hobbit Village. I show you a picture from Cherry.
For details, see:

 A hidden hobbit village in the south of the Shire, south of Michel Delving.

Recently there was a rumour that the village was now inaccesable. Well, was that really true?
I travelled to Michel Delving and found the gate to the secret village, as described by Cherry.

Here I stand wondering if I could still go beyond this gate. If you go near the gate you will notice two huge trees and a road going to the gate..

Behind the hedge you see a tree and a rocky wall.

If you stand to the right, you see a road, going south.
I peeked at the door and I noticed a tiny slit of light. Eventually I managed to slip through the door and emerged as by magic on the other side. I saw the road going south and the tree I described above. I was thrilled! Could I go by horse to the secret village, finally? Was it still there, or was it vanished?

Behind the hedgegate at Michel Delving....Finally.

In the distance you can notice the trees of Michal Delving, behind the hedge and the wooden gate.

Behind the gate, and to the south. Go, go, go! 

Alas.... my friends. There was an invisible wall at the road. I couldnt go past, so my voyage ended here, just 100 meters behind the gate (sob) ....

I managed to climb the rock and what I found there, I will show you now.

Behind Michel Delving there is a vast grassy landscape with some mountains at the horizon. There are many birch trees, indicating non fertilized ground and a poor soil. Maybe some Hobbits ventured in these grasslands with their sheepflocks. At least it seems deserted now.

I also noticed a strange unnamed river in a green valley. All what you see is heavely shield walled. You cannot go further, because of an invisible wall. Well, maybe at another time, with another expansion, we may go to this place. My conclusion - for now - is that the Secret Hobbit Village cannot be reached anymore.

The dangers of off-map travelling in LOTRO

Unfortunately, but understandable, all the off-map lands in LOTRO are nowadays heavely shieldwalled.
Why? Because the developers discouraged it because you can push your character of the map.
At the outer limits you can go into “nirvana”, where the GM tools cannot recover you from it anymore. Brrrrr. I left here as soon as possible.

Climbing the waterfall of Woodhall

Do you remember the early times before you reached the magical level 20 ceiling?
Maybe you have visited the Marish or Woodhall in the Shire.

Today i decided to go back to my early days and to enjoy the Shire again. Its a cosy place, even for high level players. There are many small waterfalls, and one I remembered pretty good.

Just south of Woodhall, in Green Hill Country,  is a pretty high and scenic waterfall. Its to the west of a place full of huge brown bears. Yes, I think you will remember it now! Its the dangerous bear den, west of a hideout with lots of very nasty villains.

In a field of flowers i watched the high waterfall south of Woodhall in the Shire. And I started to dream. To the right you can see a grassfield and a single birch. Would it be possible to reach that place and climb the steep rocks? And after that, to take an excursion to that impressing high waterfall?

I tried many days to find a good spot to climb. I found a huge bear den, would that be the right place to climb higher into the mountains?

A gloomy bear den, somewhere southwest of Woodhall and at the end of Narrowcleeve, a notorious Thieves Hideout.

Near the waterfall there is a bear den with some round boulders to climb. If you manage to climb upon the rocky ridge, you will have a beautiful view above the bear den. Glad these brown monsterous bears didn't noticed me, although they seemed pretty docile! Maybe they are highly sought by hobbits for their fairs near Bilbo's Hill? Dancing bears are such a delight to see, especially when they try to eat a hobbit...

If you climb somewhat higher you can see another waterfall, right near the road to the Marish and Breeland. These hights are pretty scare, so don't get vertigo. Otherwise you will find yourself lying in the river beneath this granite rocks. Incapacitated of course!

The waterfall is a real marvel and you can see its foam from a great distance. Its like an eternal fog cloud, just above the rocks. Beneath you see the river which floats to the Marish. The sound of all that water is spectacular!

I managed to climb near the waterfall and i noticed a strange curve at the origin of the waterfall. You can see it just to the lower right corner. Strange, I cannot explain that curve by gravity alone. Would it be that beneath the curve lives a benign being? Who knows...

How I learned to fly in LOTRO's Middle Earth

Ever wondered why you can't fly a beast in LOTRO. Yes? Maybe the answer to this silly question is, that you never really tried it. So, if you think you cannot fly, you will surely never learn to fly!


The first step to learn to fly is to watch out for every opportunity in the game to see yourself flying or to find strange floating objects. Of course its impossible to really fly in the game, but - at least - you can imagine it. And thats fine, since the whole game is designed for your own imagination.

Now and then you find yourself in a strange stance. Some really weird glitch can give you the imagination of floating. For example if you just left the stable for a fast trip from Michel Delving to Breetown.

Be very quick if you catch such a scene, and take a screenshot! *

So where to begin? First, start to monitor your environment very thoroughly. For example, when i traveled to Eregion - a lvl 50 region - a noticed a bush of blackberry floating in the air. Very curious indeed!

A stange floating bush of blackberries as noticed in southwestern Eregion. Is this a Middle Earth satellite point for blackberry owners? Who knows? Sadly i forgot my communication device, so i never found out. But search for them in Eregion, maybe you find these strange blackberries too!
*) a screenscot can be taken by pressing the Prt Scr (Print Screen) button. You will find your pictures in My Documents,in the Map: The Lord of the Rings Online.



The next step in your flying lessons is to hover in the sky, just imagine that your horse is gone. I experienced this at the stables near Michel Delving several times. Be quick and capture these strange scenes. You never know when it will occur again! It seems to occur always when you are travelling by horse. So the secret to learn to fly is: get a horse and watch out!

 Wow i can fly at Michel Delving!

I never believed in flying in LOTRO, but it occured to me in Nan Amlug West too! Thrilling!


So after reading all this stuff, you thought I was boosting about some strange glitches? Who knows, but if you get a grip of this, you will finally find yourself high in the air. Like the horse of Sleipnir from the Old Norse Gods. Of course Lotro did not designed flying as a skill, but its a game about imagination. And at some weird places you can really fly, free as an angel, like the gods of old time! Try it yourself! Start to be a believer!

Flying? Yes you can!

Higher and higher, Up you Go!
The pictures are real and not Photoshopped and taken at a certain spot in eastern Rohan.


Flying in the sky in The Shire, 17 oct 2013

Today, 17 October 2013, was an absolutely brilliant day for flying in the Shire. It happened when I entered the Shire from the Brandy Hills in Breeland, and crossed the Brandywine river into Greenfields (south of Scary). When I walked on the grass I heard a strange splashing sound and had the impression I was lagging. Then I jumped and jumped and jumped, and I thought .... lets take a picture a picture of myself flying between the stars and the moon. It was bit fake, since I jumped so high in the sky. Or ... was it not? After a moment I realized that I was constantly hopping in the sky, like a clumsy bird, some meters above the ground. I decided to fly further, and lo and behold: I was flying in the sky.

Here some pictures of my first solo-flight above the Shire, from the Bridgefields to Stock, a detour to the Brandywine Bridge, then to Hobbiton-Bywater, a peek above the Party Tree near The Hill, a short hovering above Rushock Bog and finally a soft landing at Sandson's Farm.

Below you will see some pictures from my first solo-flight in the Shire. Other pictures can be found on my wonderful lotro page (click here)

Towards the Brandywine Bridge near Stock

Above Hobbiton-Bywater

The famous watermill at Hobbiton-Bywater

Sandson's Farm
Above the Rushock Bog
Towards the Party Tree

Above Stock
At the ruins of Bridgefields Wall near Stock
The ruins of Bridgefields Wall near Stock

Maybe some of you don't believe that you can fly in Lotro's Middle Earth. Those are the non-believers, apparently worshiping the god of Photoshop. But luckily I had a witness. In Michel delving I met a kind caprain, Sir Tileon, and he agreed to take some pictures when I was doing my solo-flight above the Party tree near the Hill. Just watch the pictures kind Sir Tileon took, and be amazed!

Sir Tilion, a kind Captain in Michel Delving, agreed to be an official witness of my solo-flight in the Shire

Flying towards the Party Tree. Photo taken by Sir Tilion
Flying above the Party Tree. Photo taken by Sir Tilion

secret: died falling down the waterfall, when you do, just retreat