Realism in Middle-earth

Adventure in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Learn more at our website: http://www.cubicle7.co.uk/our-games/the-one-ring/
Otaku-sempai
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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by Otaku-sempai » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:26 am

Glorelendil wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:54 am
I don't think there are brothels in Faerie.
Nope. But there's this wizard in Chicago who insists that some pretty wild parties take place in the Nevernever (#jim butcher)!
"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."

Enevhar Aldarion
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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by Enevhar Aldarion » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:45 am

Kurt wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:34 am
cuthalion wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:00 pm
... to be clear, it isn't really ok to jump into somebody else's thread and then label them pompous or whatever.
Yes, you are correct. I apologise Glorelendil, I should have been less of an ass about it.
Well, no one really owns any thread on a message board, unless they are also the owner of the message board. :)

but I was going to ask you if someone drank your Fosters and kissed your sheila to get you so upset. ;)

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Kurt
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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by Kurt » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:22 am

Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:45 am
but I was going to ask you if someone drank your Fosters and kissed your sheila to get you so upset. ;)
That wasn’t me being upset or “having kittens”, it was me being a smart ass. I was hoping that the winky face and the Happy New Year would give that away. It seems that was lost in translation. I don’t really get upset and it’s very difficult to offend me, particularly on matters related to games I play in my past time. I was just making a point and being a smart ass in doing so (admittedly probably also being a bit of an a-hole as well). The things that are more likely to upset me and cause me to have kittens are human rights issues, politics (locally and internationally) and some cultural issues in the US. But, lets not go there ;)

Regarding the topic ... I think Stormcrow’s post was the best.
Stormcrow wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:08 pm
What you're describing, Glorelendil, is addressed by Tolkien in his essay "On Fairy Stories." If one is suspending one's disbelief, then the artist has already failed. The author's job is to subcreate (because only God can "create") a secondary world in which the reader can invest his secondary belief. You know it's not the primary world, but you willingly enter the secondary world, and if the author has done a good job, you believe in it while you're there--you are in an enchanted state. When the author has NOT done a good job, you cannot invest secondary belief in the secondary world, and while you're there you must consciously suspend your disbelief.
Cheers,
Kurt

feld
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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by feld » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:48 pm

Glorelendil wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:22 am
Stormcrow wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:45 am
Glorelendil wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:45 pm
I will have to track that down, but based on your summary I think I agree.
You'll find "On Fairy Stories" in Tales from the Perilous Realm, The Tolkien Reader, The Monsters and Critics, and Other Essays, and Tree and Leaf. A stand-alone version was published in 2008 called Tolkien On Fairy-Stories.

Do read it. It's a brilliant explanation of why anyone would bother with fairy stories in the first place, and really is all about the topic of this thread. How better to answer your questions than by hearing Tolkien's own answer?
Um...because he's not necessarily the final arbiter of the answer? But I'm willing to bet he has some great insight.
Glor, your original question was explicitly about the work of another person (Tolkien). I don' understand why you would not consider the author of a work an authority on their own work.

Obviously nothing says that his answer or answers need to change anything you or your players do in your game which is your own (obviously highly derivative and dependent) work.

Are you getting the conversation that you wanted out of this thread? I'm confused because it sounds like we're trying to place Middle Earth on a scale of "realism vs myth" that seems highly subjective. Is that what you wanted to accomplish? Based on our first interaction, you seemed to dislike what you labelled "subjective" activity but this seems to qualify...

Please forgive me if this sounds critical. I normally would try to ask these sorts of things privately. I tried to PM you and the system told me I could not.

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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by Glorelendil » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:03 pm

feld wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:48 pm
Glor, your original question was explicitly about the work of another person (Tolkien). I don' understand why you would not consider the author of a work an authority on their own work.
Really? We're not talking about 'his work' we're talking about playing an RPG (which I don't believe he ever did) in a world he created.

So certainly he will (and does...I'm reading it) have a ton of insight, I just don't think it's possible that anything he wrote about storytelling and realism can be a final answer as applied to a roleplaying game.

In other words, I don't think it's very interesting to say, "Tolkien answered this so there's nothing to discuss, unless it's quoting/interpreting/explaining exactly what he said."

(The other answer is that, based on history, it's possible I sometimes read intent into Stormcrow's posts that isn't actually there.)

Are you getting the conversation that you wanted out of this thread? I'm confused because it sounds like we're trying to place Middle Earth on a scale of "realism vs myth" that seems highly subjective. Is that what you wanted to accomplish? Based on our first interaction, you seemed to dislike what you labelled "subjective" activity but this seems to qualify...

Please forgive me if this sounds critical. I normally would try to ask these sorts of things privately. I tried to PM you and the system told me I could not.
Not at all; totally fair questions. I am getting (to varying degrees) the conversation I wanted. There's been some great insight, and a great reference to a Tolkien essay (which now that I'm reading it seems familiar...I think I read this a long time ago, before I played MERP even).

And I'm fine with subjective opinions. I just don't like when they are wrapped in terminology and presented as objective.

Here's an example of something I've been pondering as a result of this thread: in creating his world, it would be easy for JRRT to say, "Well, humans have always figured out ways to send messages, so I guess there will be a mail system and a pony express." Instead, he invented (or, probably, adapted) alternatives: ravens, bonfires, Palantiri. So rather than adopt the solution from the real world, he only assumed the same need.

So I started thinking about gambling halls, which still don't feel Tolkien-esque to me. What need do they serve? How would those needs be the same and different in M-e? What other solution might meet those needs, and also be more evocative of M-e (and thus more 'immersive'?).

I don't have an answer to that yet, but I suspect it's a fruitful way to go about these sorts of questions.
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feld
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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by feld » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:00 pm

Glorelendil wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:03 pm
Here's an example of something I've been pondering as a result of this thread: in creating his world, it would be easy for JRRT to say, "Well, humans have always figured out ways to send messages, so I guess there will be a mail system and a pony express." Instead, he invented (or, probably, adapted) alternatives: ravens, bonfires, Palantiri. So rather than adopt the solution from the real world, he only assumed the same need.

So I started thinking about gambling halls, which still don't feel Tolkien-esque to me. What need do they serve? How would those needs be the same and different in M-e? What other solution might meet those needs, and also be more evocative of M-e (and thus more 'immersive'?).

I don't have an answer to that yet, but I suspect it's a fruitful way to go about these sorts of questions.
Glorelendil,

Alright. I'm tracking with you now. Don't have any new ideas for you but I know what to think on. Thanks!

Glorelendil
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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by Glorelendil » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:09 pm

feld wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:00 pm

Glorelendil,

Alright. I'm tracking with you now. Don't have any new ideas for you but I know what to think on. Thanks!
Cool. I get the sense that I may have been misunderstood to mean, "Tolkien didn't write about gambling halls, and therefore they don't exist in Middle-earth." And that's not at all what I'm saying. Hopefully the above example clarifies my intent.
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cuthalion
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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by cuthalion » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:32 pm

Glorelendil wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:03 pm
Here's an example of something I've been pondering as a result of this thread: in creating his world, it would be easy for JRRT to say, "Well, humans have always figured out ways to send messages, so I guess there will be a mail system and a pony express." Instead, he invented (or, probably, adapted) alternatives: ravens, bonfires, Palantiri. So rather than adopt the solution from the real world, he only assumed the same need.

So I started thinking about gambling halls, which still don't feel Tolkien-esque to me. What need do they serve? How would those needs be the same and different in M-e? What other solution might meet those needs, and also be more evocative of M-e (and thus more 'immersive'?).

I don't have an answer to that yet, but I suspect it's a fruitful way to go about these sorts of questions.
There's a famous historian, who I cannot name, who said "The past is a foreign country." It's incredibly easy to look back and to map our values and ways of thinking onto other times and places and say, 'Oh well, they obviously would do this' or what have you.

What's fantastic is Tolkien's ability to literally tread the reader further and further away from that (more) current, (more) familiar world of the Shire, into a greater world that feels genuine, vast, legendary, but still make the whole thing hang together as one.

So yes--I totally agree with your thinking. Tolkien was, of course, very very adept at it.

It's such a great lesson in getting outside of yourself too (which I am no expert at). It's so telling that no matter where our culture looks, they only see themselves.

Stormcrow
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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by Stormcrow » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:50 pm

Glorelendil wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:03 pm
In other words, I don't think it's very interesting to say, "Tolkien answered this so there's nothing to discuss, unless it's quoting/interpreting/explaining exactly what he said."

(The other answer is that, based on history, it's possible I sometimes read intent into Stormcrow's posts that isn't actually there.)
I think you're doing that here, because I didn't say Tolkien has the absolute answer. I said "How better to answer your questions than by hearing Tolkien's own answer?" I still say that. When the author upon whose work is based everything you do wrote what is probably his most influential essay about the very question you ask, it behooves you to pay attention.

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Re: Realism in Middle-earth

Post by Halbarad » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:14 pm

There are a number of oblique/discreet references to gambling in LotR. Perhaps not by way of gambling houses, but it is safe to assume that games of chance using Dice exist and that betting on outcomes(wagers) are in existence. The very fact that the word ‘wager’ is used on a number of occasions is, for me, proof positive that the winning of coin on games of chance is not unknown. It is not a big step for me to accept that in large settlements, especially where working men and soldiers congregate, gambling houses might possibly exist. For me then, this would not break my immersion in Middle Earth.

Just my tuppence worth.

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