Welcome back to LotRO and Lore, an article series where we take a look at a few of the stellar ways that Turbine ties Tolkien’s wonderful writings into the realm of the MMORPG. Today we’ll ride across the plains of Rohan and pay special attention to the banners of its people.
In Rohan, we are exposed to a variety of towns and villages of the Rohirrim, ruled by feudal thanes that maintain their lands as best they can in the face of many foes. An observant eye will spot the colorful banners flown proudly at the gates and mead-halls of the largest of these settlements. Each prominently displays a symbol against a monochromatic background. A few of these towns are Faldham, whose symbol is a horse bridle; Cliving, whose symbol is a helm; Harwick, whose symbol is a hauberk; and many, many others. The LotRO team drew inspiration for these emblems from an interesting place!
In The Two Towers, Aragorn recites a Rohirrim poem to the fellowship. Let’s take a look at the first two lines, for starters:
Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
As you can see, the Turbine team used this poem to discover what was important to the Rohirrim and turn these common items into heraldry for their various towns. This cleverly lets them expand upon what little information they had to go with to flesh out the entire area, and also subtley changes the meaning of the poem. No longer is it simply a mournful tiding of great days gone past; it also becomes a call to war. Imagine a great king of Rohan reciting the poem to call his thanes to his side and summon them forth. It very well fits together with the fey nature of the Rohirrim in their hour of doom. It may be interesting to compare such an interpretation with Théoden’s speech before the Pelennor fields.
The rest of the poem goes like this:
Where is the harp on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?
See if you can spot some of those symbols flying in the winds before the gates of the towns of the Horse-lords as you ride through Turbine’s imaginative version of the wide plains!
Find one of these icons used in Rohan? Let us know below, and leave any comments or questions about today’s article as well!
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