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Old 06-20-2006, 02:50 AM   #1
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
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Leaf The Fellowship of the Fourth Age (Part 1): A New Beginning Discussion Thread

Child of the 7th Age and Durelin invite you to play in their game:

The Fellowship of the Fourth Age: A New Beginning

Historical Background -- Mordor

The destruction of the One Ring and the subsequent coronation of Elessar ushered in an era of relative peace for the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. Yet, as Tolkien reiterated many times in his Letters, any victory against evil that happened in Arda before the end of time could only be fleeting and partial because of Man's "quick satiety with good".

While Gondor, Rohan, the Shire, and other lands lying towards the West enjoyed an immediate interlude of justice and prosperity, the same could not be said for Mordor. These lands had been under Sauron's governance for thousands of years, and the resulting devastation, from both a human and ecological perspective, would have been considerable. Tolkien did not leave us a detailed account of what happened in Mordor during this period, but the reader does have an inkling how bad conditions were by the difficulties that Sam and Frodo faced in their journey to Mount Doom.

Mordor faced enormous problems at the end of the War of the Ring: massive slave plantations bordering the Sea of Núrnen, marauding Orcs that could no longer be restrained by Sauron's hand, a shortage of food and water because of problems with pollution and a general breakdown in order, and the curtain of soot and ash that descended after the eruption of Mount Doom. None of these problems magically disappeared with the crowning of Aragorn. Most likely, with the vacuum created by Sauron's departure, rival gangs of Orcs and Men would have fiercely contended for power and land, much like feudal lords in the early middle ages. All of this posed a potential threat to Gondor that Aragorn could not ignore.


Historical Background -- Nature and Origin of Orcs

Few topics in Middle-earth (or for that matter on the Barrowdowns) have engendered as much controversy as the nature and origin of Orcs. For one of the most recent discussions on this topic, see this thread on Orcs from just a few weeks ago. If we are going to do a story involving Orcs, we probably need to agree on a few main points.

Tolkien's early writings state that Orcs were originally Elves who had been corrupted and defiled by Morgoth in his fortress at Angband. Some later writings reject this idea and instead state that Orcs were descendents of Men who had been corrupted. It's possible to find other places in Tolkien's writings that suggest some Orcs were akin to robots without souls and were literally created out of nothing by Sauron, that the earliest Orcs were descendents of earth and stone, or that some Maia took the form of Orcs.

For the purposes of this story, we will assume that the first Orcs were Elves corrupted by Morgoth but that later Men were also corrupted and turned into Orcs. It seems likely that both Morgoth and Sauron would have taken any edge they could get. We will also assume that Orcs of Mannish descent were definitely mortal, but that the original Elvish Orcs (of which presumably only a few remain) were bound to Arda until the world ends in the same manner as Elves. Elvish Orcs could have been killed in battle and would then have gone to Mandos. Their eventual fate is unknown.

A second controversy centers on how Orcs breed. Are there female Orcs? This story assumes that female Orcs exist. We would guess that, under Sauron and Saruman, female Orcs were confined to breeding colonies. Now, however, with the demise of the former, female Orcs are free to live in the same communities with male Orcs. However, it is likely that the family, as Man or Elf would definite it, simply does not exist among Orcs, at least at the beginning of this story.

A final problem centers on the nature of Orcs. Are Orcs irredeemably bad? Even Tolkien indicated he was unsure about this. This is one of the questions this story raises. No one can say what the answer is for sure, but it would be nice to think that this possibility exists.
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