Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

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Random221B
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Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Random221B » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:05 am

So, I'm about to introduce Frár the Beardless in my TOR campaign very shortly (quite possibly as early as tomorrow night) and something has been nagging at me for a while. I've looked through the TOR books he appears in, and haven't found an answer, yet.

It seems as though it has been at least a little while since Frár had his beard shorn by the elves. So...why is he still beardless? In the adventuring phase for the year 2961 in DoM, it says "If the companions met Frár before, they find the years have mellowed him somewhat; his beard too has regrown, and he seems less bitter and angry..." So, this suggests he was beardless for some time. So, why does it take so long for him to grow his beard back? I can think of three possibilities:
  • Shame: Either cultural (among the Dwarves it is shameful/a sign of weakness/etc. to have one's beard shorn, and one is expected not to grow it back until one has somehow redeemed oneself) or personal (Frár felt personally humiliated by being shaved by the elves, and has chosen not to regrow his beard until he gets some measure of revenge/compensation/etc.) If this option, then what occurs that allows Frár to regrow his beard by 2961?
  • Physiology: Dwaven beards just grow that slowly, and although he may have stubble when the Characters first meet him in the 2940s, the beard has not fully grown back until they see him again in 2961.
  • Magic: The elves used some sort of elven magic on him after shaving him, to prevent his beard from regrowing, and thus prolong his humiliation. If this option, then what occurs between when the characters first meet him and 2961, to remove the magic, and allow the whiskers to grow back?
Is there an official explanation for why Frár is beardless for so long, that I have just failed to locate? And if not, what reason have others used to explain it? Any thoughts/ideas/comments on the options I laid out? Are there other possibilities that I haven't thought of?

Thanks for your time.

~~~~Random

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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Falenthal » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:05 am

I'd go with the "physiology" reason. Whenever I can find a "real world" reason that explains something, instead of a "it's magic!" reason, I usually go for the first.
It all depends in the drama that is added because of the causes, but in this case I think the physiological reason is even more dramatic. A spell can be broken, a promise can be fulfilled,... but physiology and nature cannot be speed up. This makes the punishment to Frár even more cruel. Even more if the elves did it out of mockery.

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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Elroval » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:11 am

I also prefer the physiology reason. It seems like the most natural explanation, whereas the others seem a bit contrived, in my opinion. We know that dwarves value their beards; the fact that they might take so long to grow seems to play into this idea.

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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Stormcrow » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:38 pm

I would not find it at all strange for someone's cognomen to stick around long after the characteristic it describes no longer exists. Frár the Beardless would have gotten that nickname while beardless, but as his beard grew back—at a normal rate—people would have continued to call him that, at first as ridicule, later through habit.

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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Earendil » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:53 pm

Stormcrow wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:38 pm
I would not find it at all strange for someone's cognomen to stick around long after the characteristic it describes no longer exists. Frár the Beardless would have gotten that nickname while beardless, but as his beard grew back—at a normal rate—people would have continued to call him that, at first as ridicule, later through habit.
He's not just called "The Beardless" though, he is actually beardless.

I'd go with the "physiology" option too; one of the History of Middle-Earth volumes contains a quote from Tolkien (but of course Cubicle 7 can't use that) that Dwarves are born bearded, so I'd assume that if one lost his/her beard in adulthood it might indeed take a long time to grow back.

But the "shame" option does suggest some interesting ideas...
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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Stormcrow » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:52 pm

Earendil wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:53 pm
He's not just called "The Beardless" though, he is actually beardless.
He is actually beardless when Guilin, commander of the guardians of the elf-path, cut it off, but we don't have any idea how long ago that was. His character description in The Heart of the Wild assumes the year 2946, and it includes a picture of him clean-shaven. In The Darkening of Mirkwood it is said that in the year 2961 his beard is regrown, but there the text still calls him the Beardless.

Given that dwarf-babies are apparently born with beards already starting to grow, I don't see any reason to believe that they grow slower than the beards of men. The dwarves of Thorin's company could tuck their beards into their belts. And Frar is of the Longbeards, since his people come from the Greydelve, so a "regrown" beard would have to be a long one. He has fifteen years to do so by the timeline given. That should be no problem.

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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Mytholder » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:14 pm

Authorial intent: Frar got shaved shortly before 2946, so if he's met within a few years after that, he's either stubbly or has a sufficiently short beard that he qualifies as Beardless (for a dwarf). After that, it's just his title. If you pushed me on it, I'd probably hand-wave something about stress-induced dwarven depilatory syndrome, but I do like the the idea that Guilin is enough of a jerk to have a magical beard-bane blade.
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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Random221B » Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:09 am

Well, when I introduced him last night, the players/PCs didn't even inquire why he was still beardless, they just assumed it was a shame/pride thing, that he was choosing not to regrow his beard until he does something to redeem himself. So, I'm just going with that. :-) (Right now, they still believe the story that he was ambushed and shaved by goblins, and they theorize that he has chosen not to regrow until he reclaims the Greydelve from them.)

Thanks for your thoughts and input, all!

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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Stormcrow » Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:52 pm

Remember, a dwarf who chooses not to grow a beard is a dwarf who shaves.

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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Butterfingers » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:40 pm

You have to EARN that beard, man. :)

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