Rune Keeper a Lore Breaker?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This topic became a heated debate on the official forums and elsewhere the moment it was announced. Indeed, there are screen shots depicting lightning blasts from the character's hands. This seems like something more akin to StarWars than Lord of the Rings. And on the surface I would agree the Rune Keeper is a lore breaker. Not once did we ever see a character, even Gandalf the White, spew lightning from his hands.

That said, magic does exist in the world of Lord of the Rings. It's just not the same kind of magic we're familiar with in sword and sorcery novels or World of WarCraft. When Tolkien wrote about magic, it was very subtle. It's certainly possible his Catholic background instilled in him a desire to stay away from anything construed to be "witchcraft" or "sorcery". Whatever the reason, we didn't see what we see in the above screen shot. But is it still possible within the rules of the lore as set by Tolkien?

Zombie Columbus at Turbine wrote a dev diary explaining their take on the Rune Keeper. The elves and the dwarves had the power to change the world (not create) through their deeper knowledge of it and how it was created. Turbine extrapolated this into using Runes as a method of changing the world.

In my mind, the ability to wield lightning, whilst ignoring the spirit of Tolkien's intention with magic, does not technically break the rules. And the lightning fingers of the Rune Keeper isn't any more lore bending then lightning strike from Lore Masters. Both are equally unsubtle and bend Tolkien's intention. If I accept the Lore Master, which I have done, then I must accept the Rune Keeper.

Does it ruin my immersion in Tolkien's world? Not really, but not because I'm chosing to ignore it. More so because, even though I love the world of the Lord of the Rings, LOTRO isn't that. No game can ever capture it. (Peter Jackson's movies came close.) I might have once believed it were possible, with the concepts behind Middle-Earth Online, but regardless, LOTRO is still a well made game, using the IP of the Lord of the Rings. It has taken on it's own life for me.

Think of it like the parallel universe concept in Back to the Future. Both timelines existed simultaneously and parallel to each other. This is the same way as LOTRO and LOTR is for me. The books are the "correct" timeline, universe, etc, but (unlike the alternate universe in Back to the Future) LOTRO is a great universe as well - the universe of a game. And as much as the lore junkies (I hesitate to call them freaks) don't like that, this is a game, first and foremost, not a virtual recreation of Middle-Earth.

Hopefully most of them can come to appreciate both, loving both, as I have. It would be a shame to dismiss a well crafted game that you might enjoy otherwise. So, to those of you who are up in arms about the Rune Keeper - give it a chance. And to those that can't, well, perhaps this game wasn't for you in the first place... and it just took this long to figure out. Best wishes to you in the "real" Middle-Earth.

4 Responses to "Rune Keeper a Lore Breaker?"

Stephen Says:

Great insight. I think I'd have to agree with you.

Jaxom92 Says:

Glad to hear you thought my opinion accurate.

And also glad to see my first commenter. Welcome!

Anonymous Says:

I think that because the rune keeper can use lightning, it makes the LM's lightning strike a bit worthless as it used to be one of the most visually exciting skills in the game and also puts a strain on the LM's morale.

The fact that rune keepers can go around blasting lighting bolts from their hand like Darth Sidious is silly. Also, it not having any strain on rune keepers' morale which now makes it unfair on the LM's.

Jaxom92 Says:

I must say after briefly playing a Runekeeper, I'm pretty impressed with the class. I do feel empowered, and I'm still not totally sure it's within the Tolkien lore for something like this. However, it sure is awesome to be able to shoot out lightning when one of your enemies is running away and strike them down dead.