I took Seolferwulf up to Bullroarer’s Sward in Evendim to complete a quest and, needing a few xp to gain a level, I decided to do a quick spot of random killing. I had never really bothered with this area on previous characters, preferring to head straight to Tinnudir. So it came as a nice surprise to find a Tolkien reference close by. Let’s quickly run through the quest first and then discuss the lore.
Near a brigand-occupied town is a lone Hobbit house, a glassblower’s hut, where a few NPCs are standing outside. The location is at the top of “D” in “Sward” on the map. Here you encounter Ronald Dwale who gives you a quest:
“It must have been the beginning of fall; I was with my son on the banks of the Brandywine enjoying the sun, a fine meal, and a full pipe, while he sat and played with his favourite toy – a piece of lead fashioned into a small dog — by the side of the river.
My boy was very fond of this toy, but when it came time to leave, it wasn’t anywhere to be found. I tried to console him with one of my stories. I created quite a wonderful tale about the toy’s whereabouts, but if you are heading that way, perhaps you could search for it?
The toy has to be somewhere in the Barandalf, the sand marshes north and east of Dwaling. I have heard that strange burrowing creatures have since inhabited the area. There is a good chance one of them could have swallowed it up, thinking it to be food.”
Head down to the dunes and start killing the Sand-norbogs; eventually you will find the dog.
When you return to Ronald, he tells you
“If my last task was not too taxing, I am in great need of some assistance from a fellow lover of the written word. I would hope that a Hobbit of your reputation would be interested in assisting me.
Not long ago, I seemed to have misplaced a very important leaf of paper while I was walking with my notes. This paper contains the beginning lines of a story I plan on writing for my children that has been conjuring in my head for some time now. Now that most of the town has been sold off, I have not been able to search for my paper. The last time I tried to have a look around, I was chased off by a group of those ruffians.
I would rewrite it, but I cannot seem to recall the exact wording. If you could find it, I would be deeply in your debt. I think I dropped it somewhere in town.”
The paper can be found in the nearby village. Quite a few brigands here and I did have to run once from a bad pull. But no real problems and you then return the paper to Ronald.
“Well now, you have been helpful haven’t you? If you could, I do have one last task for you to assist me with. Among the Hobbits of the Shire, a love of languages and written works is quite uncommon. A few of my fellow colleagues and I have formed a small informal gathering of sorts for those of us who revel in such art as the writing and listening of fictional stories.
We usually meet in the evenings, down at the Bird — that is,Inn in Michel Delving. With the return of my lost paper, I really should get started on my new book, but I haven’t an inkling how I should reach my friends in time to tell them of my absence.
If you would, go quickly and visit Jack Lewisdown at The Bird and Baby before the meeting starts and let him know that I will not be making it tonight.”
Off to Michel Delving to pass on the message and then return to Ronald. He rewards you with a nice pipe that blows smoke-rings. By the way, Devs, why on earth does this pipe have a 1 hour cooldown??? It’s just a cosmetic.
Anyway, that’s the quest. Now what about the background to all this.
Let’s start with Ronald Dwale. He is intended to represent Tolkien (whose name was Ronald, that is the first R of his initials. His family called him Ronald). Dwale also appears in the Yule Festival in the Frostbluff Theatre.
The quest Lost Dog asks the player’s character to retrieve a Small Lead Dog that his son lost by the Brandywine River. This is a reference to the story Roverandom which Tolkien created to appease his son Michael Tolkien when Michael lost his favourite toy, a lead dog. The quest dialogue relates the story of Ronald Dwale’s son losing the favourite toy, and the description of the Small Lead Dog item makes reference story elements of Roverandom.
In the quest Recovering the Lost Leaf, Ronald Dwale asks you to find and return a leaf of paper which contains the beginnings of a story he plans to write for his children. This most likely is a reference to The Hobbit which Tolkien wrote for his children. The Hobbit began as a single line on a leaf of paper: “On a blank leaf I scrawled: ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”
The final quest, Missing the Meeting, tells you that Dwale is part of a writer’s club, but his rekindled excitement for his story means that he’s going to miss an upcoming meeting – and he wants you to deliver the message.
Tolkien was part of a literary discussion group club called the Inklings who met in the Eagle and Child Pub near the University of Oxford. For the better part of two decades, the Inklings got together on Tuesdays to drink beer in a sitting room and discuss what they’d been reading and writing. Fantasy was a common theme, and it’s here that Tolkien shared The Lord of the Rings while he was writing it.
Other than Tolkien, the Inklings was a who’s-who of accomplished authors: C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia), Owen Barfield (Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry) and Charles Williams (All Hallows’ Eve) were just a few of the members who went on to be well-known in academic and literary circles. The quest even works in the use of the word “inkling” into the bestowal dialogue.
When you visit the Bird and Baby Inn (which was the informal name for the Eagle and Child Pub) you will meet 3 hobbits located behind the bar in a small side room decorated with loads of books and a roaring fireplace. Three Hobbits are attending: Jack Lewisdown (C.S. Lewis), Carlo Williams (Charles Williams) and Owen Farfield (Owen Barfield).
Jack Lewisdown says, “You have a message from Ronald?”
Carlo Williams says, “That is a shame, I was hoping Ronald had finished
his discourse on my book, ‘The Place of the Boar.”
Carlo Williams says, “Did you hear that Owen, Ronald isn’t making the meeting today.”
Owen Farfield says, “Hmmm? Oh, that is too bad. I was going to read from ‘The Silvered Horn’ tonight. Pity he won’t hear it.”
Jack Lewisdown says, “Well, you have our thanks for coming all this way to tell us about his absence.”
Jack Lewisdown says, “I hope this book is as good as he claims.”
Jack Lewisdown says, “It is not like Ronald to miss our meetings, I trust that he is working hard on his story and is not caught up in any silly games.”
The real world titles referenced above are The Place of the Lion and The Silver Trumpet.
I love it when you discover references like this in the game; it shows the care and attention that the original Lotro Devs brought to their work. I don’t think it was ever just a game to them!