Nazgul and water

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Kurt
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Kurt » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:21 am

Stormcrow wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:40 am
Yes, there is no doubt that Tolkien was thinking of myths and legends like that. The point is that when push comes to shove, the Black Riders do enter water, and it's the power of Elrond in the water that defeats them, not the water itself.
Was this the power of Elrond in the water? Or the power of Ulmo protecting Elronds domain? If it was the latter then I would expect that the Black Riders would be cautious crossing most rivers and streams, particularly if the water connects to, and flows into the ocean - Ulmo's domain.

With the ring so close and being in reach of completing their masters quest, the Black Riders took a risk crossing the river - a risk that proved to be quite costly for them.

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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:04 am

Stormcrow wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:40 am
Yes, there is no doubt that Tolkien was thinking of myths and legends like that. The point is that when push comes to shove, the Black Riders do enter water, and it's the power of Elrond in the water that defeats them, not the water itself.
Is it the power of Ulmo, though? We see Elrond's power referenced, and Gandalf adds his own. Plus we can include the power of the Elven Ring Vilya. It might be that, if Ulmo's power was invoked, that Gandalf was responsible for doing so as an emissary of the Valar.
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

Halbarad
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Halbarad » Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:45 am

While we can debate the reasons for why water might, or might not, affect Nazgul and other creatures of the Shadow, it appears that the subject has already been touched upon in Tales from Wilderland. In 'The Crossings of Celduin' there is a paragraph on the reaction between the waters of the River Running and the Chief Villain. To my mind, that tells me that the OP's suggestion has merit 'in game', regardless of whether we can agree on what exactly happens from a more scholarly approach. :)

Dunheved
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Dunheved » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:22 am

Halbarad wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:45 am
While we can debate the reasons for why water might, or might not, affect Nazgul and other creatures of the Shadow, it appears that the subject has already been touched upon in Tales from Wilderland. In 'The Crossings of Celduin' there is a paragraph on the reaction between the waters of the River Running and the Chief Villain. To my mind, that tells me that the OP's suggestion has merit 'in game', regardless of whether we can agree on what exactly happens from a more scholarly approach. :)
Well remembered Halbarad, and thanks to all who have been thinking about this. It's been a great response.

I spent a lot of time on the origin of the effect of water on Shadow creatures but felt it was too vague and subject to different people having their own POV. [That's what an LM is for!]

As Halbarad says, I was looking at what in-game rules or guidelines might be a good idea. In the Crossings of Celduin [small SPOILER] the reaction is described very quickly. I'd like to see opinions or advice on what others seem to be reasonable events when Shadow or other 'evil' creatures are confronted with adverse environments. The PCs can enter Blighted areas and risk being corrupted: are there parallel effects which LMs think are fair and correct which affect the creatures of Shadow? If there are then it would seem suitable that players can exploit these advantages if they learn of them [some sort of Lore or connection with the right sort of patron perhaps]. In my OP I threw out some random ideas and better people than me can comment on how strong or weak these ideas are.
Improvements anyone?

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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Stormcrow » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:47 pm

‘Who made the flood?’ asked Frodo.

‘Elrond commanded it,’ answered Gandalf. ‘The river of this valley is under his power, and it will rise in anger when he has great need to bar the Ford. As soon as the captain of the Ringwraiths rode into the water the flood was released. If I may say so, I added a few touches of my own: you may not have noticed, but some of the waves took the form of great white horses with shining white riders; and there were many rolling and grinding boulders. For a moment I was afraid that we had let loose too fierce a wrath, and the flood would get out of hand and wash you all away. There is great vigour in the waters that come down from the snows of the Misty Mountains.’
So:
  • Elrond commanded the flood.
  • The river is under Elrond's power.
  • It will flood when Elrond has great need to bar the Ford.
  • Gandalf added white horses with shining white riders and rolling and grinding boulders.
  • Gandalf was afraid that "we" had let loose too great a wrath.
  • The waters from the mountains contain "great vigour."
This seems pretty clear that Elrond is in charge here, and isn't just invoking Ulmo. If Gandalf saying the river is under Elrond's power means Elrond's power to call upon Ulmo, the text doesn't imply that anywhere. The river does have vigor of its own, but Elrond is not passively counting on that. He commands the river.

How this works is important to answer the original question: how to represent, with game mechanics, servants of the Shadow trying to cross water. If the difficulty is in whose power is in the water, then this turns into a roll involving the Attribute of whoever puts forth that power. If the difficulty is inherent to water itself, then it's a static difficulty, possibly set per body of water. Furthermore, not all servants of the Shadow are affected by water in the same way. Orcs don't want to cross Anduin, but that seems to have more of a strategic reason than a water-fearing one.

If Nazgul were driven by players, I'd expect a Fear test against the power-wielder's Attribute + something. But players don't play Nazgul, and neither do they play people who put power into water. That turns it into an NPC vs. NPC kind of thing, which you usually don't need to roll for—just decide what happens. If, somehow, the event involves the actions of player-heroes, then just let them roll whatever appropriate task they call for.

Halbarad
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Halbarad » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:34 pm

From Unfinished Tales:The Hunt from the Ring, we have references about the Nazgul and their fear of water.

“…All except the Witch-king were apt to stray when alone by daylight; and all, again save the Witch-King, feared water, and were unwilling, except in dire need, to enter it or to cross streams unless dryshod by a bridge.”

We also know the following from the same source.

“My father nowhere explained the Ringwraiths’ fear of water. It is made a chief motive in Sauron’s assault on Osgilliath, and it reappears in detailed notes on the movements of the Black Riders in the Shire: thus, of the Rider seen on the far side of Bucklebury Ferry just after the Hobbits had crossed, it is said that he was well aware that the ring had crossed the river; but the river was a barrier to his sense of its movement, and that the Nazgûl would not touch the elvish waters of Baranduin. My father did indeed note that the idea was difficult to sustain.”

So, we know that they feared water and especially Elvish Water.

It is generally accepted that Tolkien abandoned this notion as there were several rivers to be crossed before the Nazgul would reach the Shire, causing difficulties in the tale as written.

I would suggest that just because an idea was ‘difficult to sustain’ does not mean that it was impossible to sustain. Nor can we take for granted that lack of any further mention means that we need to regard the idea as having been wholly abandoned. I would propose that the acquisition of the One Ring could be described as precisely the sort of ‘dire need’ (as referenced in the first quotation) that might force the Nine Riders over the Isen, the Greyflood and Sarn Ford on the Brandywine. Can you imagine the exchange between the Nazgul and their master had they allowed such a trifling thing as a body of fast flowing water to come between him and his property?



I would suggest that Hate reduction is the order of the day, if attempting to show the reticence of certain entities to cross running water. These entities might be Nazgul, or not, depending on the needs of the individual LM.

I would suggest that a new Shadow Ability: Fear of Water might be applied to the templates of such entities. A creature with this Shadow Ability loses a point of Hate at the end of the first combat round that they are in contact with running water.

Furthermore, based on the LM’s own needs for their campaign, running water might be assigned a Warding/Barrier number against these same entities. What I mean by this is that the entity with a Fear of Water is required to spend a certain number of Hate points, equal to the Warding/Barrier number to cross the running water. If the entity does not have enough Hate to equal this number then it simply cannot overcome the obstacle.

As an example, a small fast flowing brook that could be jumped across with little chance of getting your feet wet has a Warding/Barrier Number of 1 against a Ringwraith mounted on a Black Steed, but a Warding/Barrier Number of 2 against the same Wraith on foot. The Wraith has to make a Movement Test vs TN14 to get across without getting his feet wet. A Failure might indicate that the Wraith balked at the obstacle and cannot cross in this round. Failure with a Gandalf Rune would indicate that the Wraith has ended up in the stream and suffers from the ill effects of it’s Shadow Ability:Fear of Water.

Otaku-sempai
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Otaku-sempai » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:54 pm

Halbarad wrote:
Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:34 pm
From Unfinished Tales:The Hunt from the Ring, we have references about the Nazgul and their fear of water.

“…All except the Witch-king were apt to stray when alone by daylight; and all, again save the Witch-King, feared water, and were unwilling, except in dire need, to enter it or to cross streams unless dryshod by a bridge.”

We also know the following from the same source.

“My father nowhere explained the Ringwraiths’ fear of water. It is made a chief motive in Sauron’s assault on Osgilliath, and it reappears in detailed notes on the movements of the Black Riders in the Shire: thus, of the Rider seen on the far side of Bucklebury Ferry just after the Hobbits had crossed, it is said that he was well aware that the ring had crossed the river; but the river was a barrier to his sense of its movement, and that the Nazgûl would not touch the elvish waters of Baranduin. My father did indeed note that the idea was difficult to sustain.”

So, we know that they feared water and especially Elvish Water.
Thanks for that. Question: What is so particularly Elvish about the Baranduin? It seems, also from Unfinished Tales, that Galadriel and Celeborn came to Nenuial after the War of Wrath and dwelt by the side of the lake until SA 700 when they departed for Eregion. Did Elves continue to inhabit the area up until the founding of the Kingdom of Arnor and the construction of Annúminas (SA 3320)? I suppose that they might have done so; Elves dwelt in the region between the Blue Mountains and the River Lune from the time of the War of Wrath until the rise of Angmar caused them to retreat to the the Grey Havens and Lindon.
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

Halbarad
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Halbarad » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:37 pm

Indeed OS. I have been wondering myself as to why the Brandywine would be particularly Elvish. The Celduin is a bit Elvish after the Forest River empties into it, the Anduin after it is joined by the Silverlode. The Greyflood of course had waters from Imladris joining it but, apart from Galadriel having lived nearby, I'm not finding any thing for the Brandywine.

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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Otaku-sempai » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:51 pm

Well, besides being sourced in Lake Evendim (and I am going to assume that Elves inhabited the region right up to the Fall of Númenor), we can also speculate that the Brandywine gains some power from streams flowing out of the Old Forest.
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

Dunheved
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Dunheved » Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:34 am

As I said in my OP, this does all seem vague: and Halbarad's quotes from Unfinished Tales reinforce that the professor himself was not 100% happy with his own use of this plot-device.
However, I think that it is a small but integral part of the LOTR and I appreciate the idea of Hate points being affected when confronting bodies of water. This is what I am looking for, so thanks again H.

I wonder how much about this power of running water characters like Elrond or Gandalf would know, and for that matter 'ordinary' High Elves (say Gildor Inglorion). If there is some Lore about this which might be given by NPCs to members of a company then if I were LM I would be prepared to allow advice about these effects.
Imagine that a company are being pursued by forces that include Shadow creatures from Dol Guldur, Angmar or Morgul Vale. They should get some benefit from retreating across rivers where possible surely?

On Elvish Waters:
I can imagine that - to servants of the Shadow - any running water is potentially connected to the Sea. Since this whole idea is vague already I am prepared to allow that the Brandywine is not actually as Elvish as other rivers: just that no Ringwraith would be prepared to take that risk unnecessarily if there is another route instead. So in effect The Brandywine is elvish enough to block a Nazgul. It does lead to the sea at least. What do you guys think? Is this reasonable?

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