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Lord of the Rings Online and Magic Always Finds a Way

This is a pretty interesting topic for my gameplay experience with Lord of the Rings Online because I chose to play as an elf, but not one who is a magic user.

My character for LOTRO

My character for LOTRO

So what does magic have to do with her? As I moved within the gamespace, I tried to think of moments in which magic occurs, when it weaves itself into the environment, and what would seem like magic to species within the fictional world. The from the first moment of contact my avatar had with Lord Elrond, I learned that my home city was under siege so that the evil dwarf king could steal ancient relics that had the power to grant him immortality. It seemed strange and yet understandable that the elves would be in possession of such an item. With their natural longevity, which makes them seem like magic incarnate to other species with shorter lifespans, elves have time aplenty to safeguard magical items that have the potential to extend the lives of creatures they deem unworthy and as enemies (though grudgingly, not as horrible as orcs). What else would have been a magical moment? Would it have been when my avatar’s guardian and teacher decided to end the siege and save the elves of Lorien by using his magic to demolish the building with the evil dwarf king and him inside? And what about the moments when elven spellcasters sent spells towards their enemies, pixelated bursts of color?

For my gameplay experience, magic was always an indirect experience for my avatar. She was an observer, waiting for action to occur in front of her so she would swing steel upon her enemies. Healing was done by someone else, as was reading from magical tomes and interpreting dreams. Six hundred years may have passed between the siege of her home city and her first exploration into the downfall of the mad king, but those six hundred years were part of her natural lifespan. The ability to not be worn down by the passage of centuries may seem like magic to humans and dwarves and hobbits, but that ability is something few elves think about. They are immortal; why would time concern those who have never truly had to feel it sink teeth into the body, make the joints ache, and slowly drag one towards death? Though elves are immortal, they are not invincible. Best for them to watch for their enemies’ magic, sword, and arrow, lest they litter the ground as corpses. But I digress. In LOTRO, magic is there as something to be cast, used for attacking, defending, or healing, but it depends on the role the player selects for the character. Wizards are not playable, but minstrels are, and in this world, a mistrel wields magic. As can lore-masters and rune-keepers, but I had chosen the path of a champion, blade in hand. Magic is to be cast around me or upon me (for good or ill), but it would not be mine to wield, even if it meant watching my teacher sacrifice himself to guard ancient secrets.

End of Semester, Anyone?


A Dash of Middle Earth Fantasy, Anyone?

All roads lead to Middle Earth, but my road began at Edhelion, city invaded by dwarves, grave of my avatar’s master, Talagan Silvertongue, and the shadowed homeland of those who survived, though they are often more broken in spirit than body. So where is the fantasy? It breathes in the ancient relics so desired by Skorgrim the “evil dwarf king,” in the magic wielded by wizards and elves alike, and in the quieter deeds and quests performed by the virtual inhabitants of the realm. Here, fantasy and reality collide. The language used by the elves, wherein the words, sentences, grammatical rules are all based on the languages spoken in the real world, the “meat space” we inhabit. It sounds beautiful, fitting for a world where great heroes can emerge, elves can live forever, where animals can take humanoid forms, and where an eye that hangs over a mountain peak can haunt the edges of the land and change the course of souls and nations, raising from the grave kings who should have stayed dead.  The fantastic backdrop of the world is strengthened by the familiarity. We have seen, even if only in pictures, the landscapes (of snowy mountains, quiet valleys, mournful stretches of grassy plains), though the cities are too whimsical to match the buildings most of us see every day. Even the simulated, looping behaviors of the NPCs are familiary. The NPCs in Edhelion are caught in a loop of destruction and aftermath, with dialouges that speak of nightmares, loss, betrayal, anguish, and fear. These are hollow beings, but the representations are there, virtually mimicking greed or selflessness, honor or domination. These characters, presented in extremes when we are used to greys, are part of the fantasy. Heroes whose moral compass may always point north, where others struggle with themselves and always come out on top or give into the madness and end up being slain. The evil plaguing the land, though, is more single-minded than that. Sauron, Saruman, Angmar, the orcs, only wish for destruction and the enslavement of others. They too play into the backdrop of fantasy. The heroes need quests and the villains provide them such places to gain honor.

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