Happy New Year Readers! I hope that everyone had a fun and safe time celebrating the turning of the calendar. I wish everyone many happy adventures, and no trouble with Trolls in the coming year.
There are certain beautiful symmetries in The Lord of the Rings that I have always appreciated. One such example is the way that Merry and Pippin swear fealty to the leaders of Rohan and Gondor respectively. Indeed, that folk of such small stature would be willing to fight and die for these strange men endears the Hobbits to their newly-sworn lords.
In our most recent episode of The Grey Company Podcast, we discussed the development (or lack thereof) of Gondor in the Against the Shadow cycle. One thing that I would have loved to see in this cycle would have been a version of Pippin from his time on the walls of the Citadel with Beregond and Bergil. His quick thinking saved Faramir’s life and leads to one of the more dramatic moments in what is already a very tense battle.
Likewise, Merry riding to ruin with Dernhelm (aka Eowyn) is no less epic. With a timely stab of his Dagger of Westernesse, Merry helps Eowyn do what no man could do – destroy the dreaded Witch-king of Angmar. These are such wonderful parts of the story, that I have always wanted to see them recreated in the game.
The first crucual step is having versions of these characters with their respective traits, so that they can take advantage of corresponding Rohan and Gondor synergies. You will notice that I went one step further and really tried to create abilities that I felt matched these characters at this point in the story. Over the course of the Lord of the Rings, both Merry and Pippin grow from simple country folk into savvy warriors and rightfully earn the respect of those around them.
Merry and Eowyn’s desperate attack on the Witch-king is so dramatic, but the current version of Eowyn just does not facilitate such a feat. Make no mistake, I really like design of Eowyn and she helps establish one of Rohan’s core strengths in the game. Even so, this version of Merry is all about turning himself and Eowyn, for that one fateful moment, into mighty warriors. For in that second, they are far more dangerous than any man or elf that has ever faced the captain of The Nine. It is there love and loyalty to Theoden that gives them this supernatural strength.
In a similar way, Pippin’s heroic efforts, with support from Gandalf, save Faramir from destruction at his father’s hands. It is the same sense of loyalty that Merry shows to Theoden which leads Pippin to aid Faramir. In this case, the lord to which Pippin swore allegiance has fallen into madness, so Pippin instead shows loyalty to a higher ideal.
These themes are the meat and potatoes of a good mythology, and they are what made the story resonate with me so strongly when I first read it as a child. Just as the story is filled with deeper meaning than just the swords and sorcery epic on its surface, so too the game has less trivial themes – for those who care to delve. These cards are my attempt to capture some of the more noble and heroic ideals of the game and its source material and I hope that you enjoy them.