Nazgul and water

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Dunheved
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Nazgul and water

Post by Dunheved » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:07 am

The influence of water on Shadow

I did a quick search across the forum for Nazgul and water and nothing specific really came up.

It appears to be one of those vague things. Now I know Unfinished Tales is outside licence so I guess I don’t want to suggest anything from that as a direct quote: however, there is clear LOTR evidence that the Nazgul (and most Mordor influenced beings) were really averse to water.
Since (imho) the rules for the Black Riders (and several other beings) make them incredibly powerful (TPK animals) I’d like to see what people think about using water as escape routes for LMs or for PCs that come across high attribute Shadow beings.
Now I am not advocating that the forces of darkness are stopped by every puddle or pond, just as a PC doesn’t need to run a Fear or Corruption test at sunset or when entering an ordinary cave. Instead I think that it is important that since LOTR and the Hobbit reveal strong background effects around water that it would be correct to have rules/guidelines so that many bodies of water do to the forces of Shadow and Flame what darkness and gloom does to the forces of ‘good’.
I even think that these can be two distinct categories to consider i.e.
Creatures of Shadow – Nazgul and similar Mordor Undead; creatures highly driven or influenced by the will of Sauron (e.g. wights)
Creatures with a strong link to Flame or burning: dragons; possibly orcs and goblins;

My first suggestions could be any of the following (of course these penalties might apply to some creatures rather than all creatures) and only to some locations. I don't suggest ALL of these apply they are alternatives.

1. Direct exclusion of Shadow/ Undead creatures from designated areas (probably only Lothlorien, Rivendell and the Grey Havens).
2. No creature can spend Hate points while in such locations
3. Creatures have their Hate point totals halved (FRD) AND become Craven
4. Creatures spend a Hate point per night to stay in the location and 2 Hate points to stay during a day
5. Creatures have no Attribute bonus to any roll (as if they were Weary)
6. Sorcerers cannot use any Spells

Now I recognise that adopting any of these would have an enormous impact: but can we consider the fact that a Nazgul within a few yards of the Ring was totally confused just by the presence of the waters of the Brandywine? Equally as potent (to me) Sauron had a to launch a full-scale assault on Osgiliath to enable the Witch King and his Ringwraiths to get across the Anduin in summer 3018. These creatures seemed unable to be ‘ferried across’ like the Black Horses arranged for them near to the Field of Celebrant when they started on their Hunt for the Ring. [I concede that it may appear in Unfinished Tales that the 2 or 3 Ringwraiths already in Dol Guldur got across the Undeeps somehow, but is that off-license?]
My most powerful point for some sort of “anti-Shadow water power” is that when all 9 Nazgul were in front of a wounded, transparent Frodo with the One Ring in front of them, only the WKA himself and two others managed to start to cross into the flow. [All 9 were swept away by the flooding waters, so seven of them had not dared to follow into the normal river bed.] There is an afterthought as well to the floodwater at Rivendell. The Unhorsed Black Riders were forced to return to Mordor to regroup. I suspect that the long delay in their activity was made worse by the fact that they would somehow have had to get back across the Anduin.
Of course, soon after this Sauron had to allow his Ringwraiths to use flying steeds to avoid the limitation of not even crossing on the surface of rivers. [ Legolas did a ‘great feat’ by shooting down one of those to the dismay of the evil forces.]
It occurs to me that these waters were all so deep that if you tried to ford them with a horse you probably would get significantly wet. Are creatures of Shadow terrified of getting soaked through? Does heavy rain even drive them under cover? :D

(This difficulty to enter the water is matched by the fear of Gimli going underground in Dunharrow onto the Paths of the Dead and the fact that the horses of the Grey Company had to be led into the entrance of those caves.)
In the Hobbit Smaug is well aware that ‘the Lake was mightier than him’ and it is only in great rage that he decided to attack Laketown – looking for bridges first. Smaug’s heat and fire would be overcome if he were immersed.
The fact that ordinary Orcs and Goblins can move through the Elven waters of the Nimrodel by Lorien suggests to me that they are corrupted creatures rather than the created creatures of Morgoth (dragons) or of Sauron (his Undead). They don’t like it, but they get through it. The WORST I would put on such creatures (Orcs, Goblins and Wargs) is to make them as if they were Weary.

I find Trolls are difficult to categorise, some (e.g. the Hobbit) seem immune to water effects but others (the Trolls of Sauron) might have some difficulties.

Final bit (!)


I am thinking that e.g. Rivendell should have some “Magic of Location” beyond being a Free area. The place itself should be sufficient to ensure that ‘evil things did not come to that valley’ (barring the arrival of all of the forces of the Dark Lord and Sauron himself). Equally, Lorien and perhaps the Grey Havens should have this inherent repulsion of Shadow creatures.
There should also be the down side of corrupted water: the Long Marshes are Blighted, the pool outside the doors of Moria is ‘gloomy’ and the worst of all is the evil corrupted waters of the Morgul Vale. With the (fingers crossed) approach of a Gondor and/or Mordor supplement can we look at some of these issues?

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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Otaku-sempai » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:06 pm

I will note that the waters that the Nine have a particular difficulty with are often associated with other powerful forces for good: the Bruinen with Rivendell, under the protection of Elrond and Vilya, the Ring of Air; The Brandywine with its source in Nenuial (Lake Evendim) where the capitol of Arnor was established; and the lower Anduin after coming under the influence of Lothlórien where Galadriel wears Nenya, the Ring of Water. The Grey Havens has another concentration of Eldar led by Círdan who is counted as a High Elf and is thought to be the oldest Elf in Middle-earth.

Tolkien must have been perfectly aware that evil things having an aversion to running water has been an element of folk-lore for centuries, if not thousands of years. It is not surprising that he incorporated this into the lore of Middle-earth. I also notice that still (especially stagnant) waters often do not have a similar effect.
"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."

Stormcrow
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Stormcrow » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:13 pm

I think the apparent fear of water is not so much a fear of water as a fear of the power that might be in the water. At the Ford of Bruinen Elrond and Gandalf put their power in the water. In the Silmarillion we hear a lot about Ulmo's power in water.

I don't think you can say the water of the Brandywine prevented the Nazgul from sensing the Ring from a few yards away; when the Nazgul stopped a few feet from Frodo in the woods of the Shire, it was sniffing but not certain. When Frodo is in Morgul Vale, the Ring is exerting its power and the Witch-king merely stops and is uncertain. The ability of the Nazgul to sense the Ring is limited.

I would think instead about whose power may be in the water and how strong it is. Perhaps there is some kind of opposed test that could be applied when someone's water-power directly opposes someone in the water.

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Kurt
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Kurt » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:53 pm

Stormcrow wrote:I think the apparent fear of water is not so much a fear of water as a fear of the power that might be in the water. At the Ford of Bruinen Elrond and Gandalf put their power in the water. In the Silmarillion we hear a lot about Ulmo's power in water.
I agree with this sentiment. Ulmo and Ossë (a vassal of Ulmo) are mentioned in The Silmarillion and they cared deeply for the firstborn. I'd imagine that the Nazgul would be quite concerned about crossing any rivers or tributaries that had a connection to the ocean.

Cheers,
Kurt

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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Otaku-sempai » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:04 pm

Stormcrow wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:13 pm
I don't think you can say the water of the Brandywine prevented the Nazgul from sensing the Ring from a few yards away; when the Nazgul stopped a few feet from Frodo in the woods of the Shire, it was sniffing but not certain. When Frodo is in Morgul Vale, the Ring is exerting its power and the Witch-king merely stops and is uncertain. The ability of the Nazgul to sense the Ring is limited.
No, but the Wraith was foiled in its ability to pursue Frodo and the others at the Bucklebury Ferry, having to go around all the way to the Brandywine Bridge.
"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."

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cuthalion
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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by cuthalion » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:57 pm

Otaku-sempai wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:04 pm
No, but the Wraith was foiled in its ability to pursue Frodo and the others at the Bucklebury Ferry, having to go around all the way to the Brandywine Bridge.
Mmm---because they had brought the ferry across tho right? So it's option would have been to physically/bodily enter the waters with its horse. Even bar the ulmo/spirit of the waters thing, I think the Brandywine is pretty wide and strong at Buckland. My ME geography isn't strong. Sure somebody can correct.

Anyway, I think the general aversion to running water is totally upheld in the books. And the comment about the ties to fairytales/literature spot on. Burns' Tam O'Shanter anyone?

If you can tie it to some older lore as to the source, even better!

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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Stormcrow » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:42 am

Neglecting the idea of a fear or aversion to water, to follow the hobbits across the Brandywine would have required the Black Riders and their horses to swim. The horses could have done it (though Merry says he's never heard of any horse doing it), but the Black Riders are described as being physically very weak. I don't think they could have managed it. The river at this point is described as "slow and broad." When they look back across the river from the far side, the lamps are "distant."

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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Enevhar Aldarion » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:24 am

cuthalion wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:57 pm
Otaku-sempai wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:04 pm
No, but the Wraith was foiled in its ability to pursue Frodo and the others at the Bucklebury Ferry, having to go around all the way to the Brandywine Bridge.
Mmm---because they had brought the ferry across tho right? So it's option would have been to physically/bodily enter the waters with its horse. Even bar the ulmo/spirit of the waters thing, I think the Brandywine is pretty wide and strong at Buckland. My ME geography isn't strong. Sure somebody can correct.

Anyway, I think the general aversion to running water is totally upheld in the books. And the comment about the ties to fairytales/literature spot on. Burns' Tam O'Shanter anyone?

If you can tie it to some older lore as to the source, even better!
Like Stormcrow posted, the river is slow there. Besides, you do not put a ford or ferry where the water moves swiftly or you lose a lot of people/cargo/boats to the current.

As for lore, vampires cannot cross moving water, though I am not sure where in the history of vampire lore that was created and added into their mythology. Though I guess this does not count for riding ships across the ocean, as Dracula does in some of his stories.

I am also not even sure by Tolkien's lore if the Nazgul would have tried to cross over the river if they had only been in their spirit form and had not taken a physical form in order to ride their mounts.

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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:31 am

I can come up with at least one more literary reference to an evil thing not being able to cross moving water--even using a bridge: "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" with the Headless Horseman.
"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."

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Re: Nazgul and water

Post by Stormcrow » Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:40 am

Otaku-sempai wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:31 am
I can come up with at least one more literary reference to an evil thing not being able to cross moving water--even using a bridge: "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" with the Headless Horseman.
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.

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