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If any of you are well-versed with LOTR lore, especially in the Silmarillion, you will know that Elves awoke in the moonlight of the world in a wooded area in the farthest Eastern extremes of Middle Earth. Their love of the starlight comes from this genesis. Their beginnings pre-date the creation of the Sun and Moon in the universe Tolkien created. They also predated humans awaking by eons.
Now, my question involves the fact that Elves became splintered and sundered from one another. Some followed the Vala Orome to the Undying Lands in Aman across the sea to live amongst the Valar and Maiar (the angelic hosts who, with power from Eru Iluvatar, created Middle Earth according to the melodies of the Creation song they heard from Eru in the beginning). Other Elves were fearful of the great figure of Orome and decided to stay in the great forest in the far East. These were referred to as the Moriquendi, meaning basically 'dark Elves', but more accurately, Elves who have not gone to Aman to see the light of the 2 great Trees, which lit the Western Undying lands. There were other splinters as well, but I will concentrate on these 2 main groups. Other Elves who decided to go along with Orome became fearful along the way to the West and fell out of the great march to Aman. I believe these are known as the Avari Elves (feel free to correct me, anyone).
Even before this great trek, some Elves wandered off from their forest origins and were captured by Melkor, the greatest of the Vala and most seduced by the darkness of the void. He always sought to usurp Eru's creation and bring out his own melody, and thereby seduced himself into evil. Melkor's elvish prisoners were corrupted, distorted, and transformed into hideous new beings intended to copy Eru's Firstborn race of elves; this is the origin of Orcs. Orcs are basically perferted elves. They may not qualify as dark elves for the sake of this discussion. They become a radically different race effectively.
Now, the Avari elves, those who 'fell out' of the long march to the shores of Middle Earth and settled in the wide lands of Middle Earth are known to have had greater 'art' than those Moriquendi that refused the trip to Aman with Orome, but neither are they known to have the development of those elves that went on to see the light of the 2 trees, with the possible exception of Thingol who became enchanted and married a Maia who was growing gardens and forests in Middle Earth. All will recognize these details if they have ever read the Silmarillion.
Basically, the most highly developed, powerful, or 'evolved' (if you will) of the elves were those that agreed to go with Orome to the Undying lands in the beginning of the Elder days. The Avari who stayed in Middle Earth were less powerful and less artful in their creations. Lastly were those 'dark elves' known as the Moriquendi (which was an umbrella term that included the Avari) who refused the trip in the first place. It was not that these Moriquendi and Avari were not powerful, it was simply that compared to those who saw the light of the Trees, they were as a lower form of creation. They did not fullfill their potentials, whereas the others did.
Now, all of the elves in the LOTR are of the group of elves who 'saw the light of the Trees.' None include the Avari or Moriquendi who were long destroyed or perverted in the service of Melkor/Morgoth. In point of fact, even some of the elves who 'saw the light of the Trees' were also seduced by darkness of both Melkor/Morgoth and Sauron later. The difference is the firstborn remaining in the LOTR had remained true to the side of goodness and light (ex. Galadriel, Elrond, Legolas).
My final point: How will the game MEO manage the fact that elves who are dark in nature be compared to those of the 'light'? They are not equal in power and strength according to Tolkien lore, the side of light will always be a higher form and more powerful. Some have stated they believe elves will not be able to be evil, but the new subclass known as assassin would strongly indicate otherwise. Also, the roleplaying possibilities would be greatly reduced. Perhaps in power and accuracy 'dark elves' WOULD (hopefully) BE REDUCED compared to elves of light, but they would have other abilities that would bring some balance (for example, an increased ability for thievery or lockpicking, etc). In military power, they SHOULD NOT be equal to elves of light. They may have lower forms of magic, etc.
The same is true for SOME type of humans according to Tolkien's lore. Some humans that are dark are strengthened in sheer power when operating from evil motives, but some humans are debased and become relatively weaker and of less pure blood. How to incorporate these elements of Tolkien lore into a MMORPG? Some of the humans who fought for good in the Silmarillion had combat abilities and weapons specializations that outclassed even some of the Firstborn elves (ex. Beren One-Handed) and dared to challenge Morgoth himself, the greatest of the Vala.
How is MEO to incorporate the UNIQUENESSES of Tolkien's fantasy so that it will NOT become just another fantasy-based MMORPG? Tolkien's story is unique and is VASTLY deeper and more complex than anything other D&D-based RPGs have come up with. I don't wish to flame the developers because their job has GOT to be inconceivably difficult because of Tolkien's scope and complexity.
I'm NOT saying that goodness should be more powerful than evil EVERY time. If you read Tolkien for long you will know that evil characters are often more powerful than their opposite numbers on the side of light. Which races of the 4 playable ones (humans, dwarves, elves, and hobbits) need to have a purposeful IMBALANCE in sheer military strength? According to my reading of Tolkien, I would respectfully submit that in sheer military power elves should have such an IMBALANCE in military strength/power/accuracy in favor of elves of light, but with elvish assassins having other skills non-military in nature that help shore up these inequities, though perhaps not completely. I don't see that dwarves, humans, or hobbits deserve such an imbalance according to Tolkien lore. There certainly could be some randomization of imbalances in each of these, but it would have to be without a design/purpose and random. Elves are simply different in their evolution than other races.
The only thing I can think of that would enable a play balance would be if 'elves of light' would be seduced by a powerful talisman toward evil (such as the One Ring in Galadriel's temptation or Feanor with the Silmarills he created for the Valar). If elves would be seduced to darkness, they would NOT act out of a desire FOR evil, but for a desire to do GOOD. This form of dark elven power might in fact be just as strong as elven goodness or even GREATER. One cannot conceive of a purposely demonic elven group to be on par with elves of light in sheer military power and even art; it's simply not Tolkien-esque, it is play balance not congruent with Tolkien's world. If, however, dark elvish assassin types were operating out of a DESIRE to do GOOD, but being perverted by some talisman-like quality towards evil, then I can conceive of how there should be a BALANCE in military power with the elves of light and (possibly) occasional superiority.
Responses and thoughts. This thread is for discussion purposes. Thoughtful responses encouraged. Other topics involving potential problems with LOTR lore vs. play balance issues in a MMORPG, in general?
Me262 (in ww2ol)