It’s funny how different memory and reality sometimes play out. When I created my new Hobbit warden (the third one… I just love the class that much!) I was convinced I would start my journey right in the Shire and go my way to solves the issues of a couple of Hobbits. When I found out that I was headed to Archet to save it from a band of brigands I was pretty surprised! Wasn’t that the human starting quests?! Did they change the starting experience while I was gone?? Turns out that no… it was always like that but for some reason I had simply forgotten.
But before getting into the meat of this post I want to talk rapidly about these Lotro journal posts. As well as being an actual journal of my time in Lotro, I’ll also be using it to talk about general Middle-Earth lore and other Tolkien related topics like I will be today. I hope you will like reading about these and feel free to join in with questions or comments.
Welcome to Archet
Archet is a small village close to Bree mentioned quickly in the Lord of the Rings books. As they were leaving Bree, the Fellowship made it look like they were headed to Archet to confuse pursuers and not much is know about the place except a few notes by Tolkien about it having trouble with brigands. Lotro of course had to exploit the brigand part and they decided to tie the whole thing with Sauron and the Nazguls which is not that big of a stretch since Tolkien pretty much linked anything bad with Sauron in some way or other.
Archet turns out to be your standard fantasy medieval village at first glance. A few houses and vendors, some local color with a few notable npcs, fields, forest and a few ruins around the place. Nothing especially special but its a nice setting. The local brigands are up to Evil Stuff ™ and you know that Sauron and his party buddies, the Nazgûl, are right behind it all. So, it’s up to you to save the village along with your good buddy Aragorn. As far as starter zone quest lines go, it’s a solid introduction and it does a fine job of bringing you up to speed on controls as well as giving a broad introduction to the world of Tolkien.
Cargûls (Sindarin for red wraith) are a new addition by Turbine to Middle-Earth. They are basically mini Nazgûls clad in red robes instead of black ones and at first glance they look a bit like a dumb color swap and an excuse to allow players to beat on Nazgûls without them being actual Nazgûls. However when you scratch a bit behind the surface they are actually an interesting lore extension in the sense that they answer a question Tolkiens fans had for a long time and are still debating to this day. What would actually have happened to Frodo had Elrond not healed him?
In the books and the movies, Tolkien writes that once wounded by the Morgûl blade, Frodo was destined to become a wraith like the Nazgûls. However, the lore behind the Nazgûls, makes them a bit of an exclusive club and makes it unlikely that there could ever be a true tenth Nazgûl. Tolkien never gave an answer to what would have happened and fans have been debating for a long time about this. Would Frodo have become a Nazgûl, being a ring bearer and all? What would happen if someone else was wounded by a Morgûl blade? Do they turn to wraith too? If so… what kind??
Cargûls are Lotro answer to that particular lore question. They are in essence lesser Nazgûls, still very powerful servants of Mordor but not as strong are the original nine Nazgûls. Lotor also goes on later to explain that creating a Cargûl is not simply a matter of being wounded by a Morgûl blade but you need strong-willed individuals and also rituals are involved. As with most Tolkien lore not everything is explained but still, I think it’s one of the nicer addition Lotro added to the lore and if anything it makes a fun Npc to fight with a bit more backstory than simple being evil ghost number 71.
I won’t spoil everything but in the end you do manage to do some good in Archet and my hobbit was sent back to the Shire to handle the evils of spoiled pies and missing mail. So much excitment!