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Old 10-20-2008, 02:08 PM   #1
White_Knight
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were wolves

ok- hears a question for people that are far wiser than me in the ways of LoTR... I have done some research on the topic and have found very little on it. I have an idea for an RPG character, and I was wondering if lycanthropy actually existed in the JRR tolken world. I think that it does, but perhaps not in the way I am thinking/hoping/expecting....

Can any one provide the answers that I seek??
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Old 10-20-2008, 02:25 PM   #2
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Lycanthropy as it is understood now - people shifting shape at fullmoon - did not exist in Middle-earth. However, there were great wolves inhabited by spirits that were of the same origin as the valar and maiar, only lesser. There were only a few of them, though, and they all lived in the First Age serving Melkor (and Sauron) - if you have read the Silmarillion, you probably remember Carcharoth and Draugluin and Tol-in-Gaurhoth. So, I'm afraid a werewolf would be pretty unorthodox of an RPG character.

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Old 10-20-2008, 03:10 PM   #3
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Nope, no lycanthropes, or as Aggie said, none that bear the silver bullet, howlin' at the moon, Lon Chaney Jr. hirsuteness, ah-oooo Werewolves of London-type persona.

Oh, and no Bela Lugosi-type vampirish Nosferatus either (in case you were wondering).

How about a nice undead Barrow-wight?
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Old 10-20-2008, 05:07 PM   #4
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Still, it is interesting that the theme of a sort of
"shape shifting" exists in all three ages, Sauron
in the Second Age and Beorn in The Third,
plus, of course, Luthien, Beren,
and Sauron in The First.

And exactly what is to be made of the wargs
attacking The Fellowship between Caradhras
and Moria and their bodies vanishing?
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Old 10-20-2008, 05:31 PM   #5
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well that is NOT was I was hoping to hear- tho I should have assumed that it was so- I was thinking more of a shape shifting spiritual protector type tho- I have read the similain but I was younger and prolly didn't understand the vast majority of it- it does pose the question that was just asked... I know not the answer- perhaps someone wiser than myself can answer it.....
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Old 10-21-2008, 04:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuor in Gondolin View Post
Still, it is interesting that the theme of a sort of
"shape shifting" exists in all three ages, Sauron
in the Second Age and Beorn in The Third,
plus, of course, Luthien, Beren,
and Sauron in The First.
Sauron is a bit special case when it comes to this, being a powerful Maia and all and having therefore the Ainur's ability to choose his appearance, at least in the beginning. Lúthien has Maian blood in her veins which kind of explains the "magical" things she did, but as for Lúthien and Beren's entering Thangorodrim, they hadn't actually turned into a wolf and a bat, only dressed up in their hides. Lúthien deserves some credit for making them fit, though.

Quote:
And exactly what is to be made of the wargs
attacking The Fellowship between Caradhras
and Moria and their bodies vanishing?
I have always thought the living wolves or some other creatures just cleared up the mess, and Gandalf's remark about they being no ordinary wolves pointed merely at their calculation and cunning - or, even simpler, to the fact a pack of wolves attacked a considerable number of people in the first place.
Or maybe the crebain came and ate them.
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Aganzir View Post
Sauron is a bit special case when it comes to this, being a powerful Maia and all and having therefore the Ainur's ability to choose his appearance, at least in the beginning. Lúthien has Maian blood in her veins which kind of explains the "magical" things she did, but as for Lúthien and Beren's entering Thangorodrim, they hadn't actually turned into a wolf and a bat, only dressed up in their hides. Lúthien deserves some credit for making them fit, though.
In some mythology that is exactly what a werewolf is. . . a person who wears the skin of a wolf. Not as a fur or coat of course, when they put this on they would actually "become" a wolf. This seems an awful lot like what Luthien and Beren did. . .
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:56 AM   #8
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In some mythology that is exactly what a werewolf is. . . a person who wears the skin of a wolf. Not as a fur or coat of course, when they put this on they would actually "become" a wolf. This seems an awful lot like what Luthien and Beren did. . .
Which doesn't mean that everybody else could do it as well in Middle-earth. As far as I understand it, the hides they wore were not magical but it had to do with Lúthien's powers that they "became" a wolf and a vampire. So a wolf's hide to wear wouldn't make an RPG character a werewolf.
And although that was what werewolves were in some mythologies, I wouldn't go so far as to call Beren a werewolf because of his little wolf experience, since that was clearly not the concept of werewolves in Middle-earth.
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Old 10-21-2008, 04:42 PM   #9
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White-Hand

While Tolkien almost seems at times to delight in
ambiguity (usually with excellent effect) the case of being a
werewolf/wearing a skin of one, etc. is open to
interpretations:
Quote:
Beren became in all things like a werewolf
to look upon, save that in his eyes there shone a spirit
grim indeed but clean; and horror was in his eyes as
he saw upon his flank a bat-like creature clinging with
creaqsed wings. Then howling under the moon he
leaped down the hill, and the bat wheeled and
fluttered above him.
That seems rather more then the Middle-earth equivalent
of wearing a Halloween costume and perhaps more "becoming"
a werewolf.

And for what it's worth, here's a Wikipedia article on the subject.
Quote:
Werewolf (Middle-earth)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, werewolves were servants of Morgoth, bred from wolves and inhabited by dreadful spirits (fallen lesser Maiar[citation needed] or fëa of Orcs).

They were thought of by Sauron, who was their master and took the shape of a great wolf himself at least once. The Middle-earth werewolves were not shapeshifters like the werewolves of European mythology — they were always in the form of beasts,[citation needed].or at least partially so. The name werewolf appears to have been chosen because they were in essence sentient (but evil), and thus had a status beyond that of normal wolves.

The first werewolf was Draugluin, and the greatest werewolf was Carcharoth, the guardian of Angband, a descendant of Draugluin as all other werewolves were. Huan the Hound of Valinor, while also sentient, was not a werewolf.

It is probable that the Wargs of the Third Age were descended from the werewolves, as these wolves could speak, suggesting they had fëa. Another possibility is that Sauron attempted to recreate the werewolves after his return to Middle-earth, and that the Wargs were the result. In Battle for Middle-Earth II:Rise of the Witch King, the faction of Angmar has a power called the "Shade of the Wolf" which when cast, summons a giant ghost of a Were-Wolf under the caster's control.
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:41 PM   #10
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But what is a werewolf? A person who has actually turned into a wolf via some strange metamorphosis, or just a person wearing a wolf skin? Does being a werewolf require a mischievous and bloodthirsty mind, or does just being a wolf in appearance suffice? I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, but in most mythologies lycanthropes can't control themselves and become violent on turning into wolves.

When it comes to Middle-earth, creatures called werewolves are simply wolves with wit, maybe even the ability to speak; wolves inhabited by spirits. Therefore I am against the idea of Beren becoming a werewolf. He was still a human, he was still Beren - he just looked like a wolf. When he spoke, he didn't sound like a wolf. He didn't crave for raw meat and bloodshed.
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:39 PM   #11
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When it comes to Middle-earth, creatures called werewolves are simply wolves with wit, maybe even the ability to speak; wolves inhabited by spirits. Therefore I am against the idea of Beren becoming a werewolf. He was still a human, he was still Beren - he just looked like a wolf. When he spoke, he didn't sound like a wolf. He didn't crave for raw meat and bloodshed.
I am not claiming to have the answer, but if it is as you say then why do we encounter wargs in the hobbit and not werewolfs?
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:57 PM   #12
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I am not claiming to have the answer, but if it is as you say then why do we encounter wargs in the hobbit and not werewolfs?
What made werewolves different from normal wolves, what made them special, elite troops, was the spirit which inhabited them - at Morgoth's orders. Why would a random lesser Maia in the Third Age want a wolf host? How many werewolves do we know of? Nay, I don't think they were that usual even in the First Age.

And did the wargs really speak? This is not a rhetorical question - I just don't remember.
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Old 10-24-2008, 10:07 AM   #13
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[QUOTE]And did the wargs really speak? This is not a rhetorical question - I just don't remember.QUOTE]

In the children's book, TH, they do, but that's not to
say JRRT thought so in the greater world of ME.

Quote:
He (the warg leader) spoke to them in the
dreadful language of the Wargs. Gandalf understood
it. Bilbo did not, but it sounded terrible to him...I will
tell you what Gandalf heard, though Bilbo did not
understand it. ...This was dreadful talk to listen to...
So the Wargs had no intention of going away and letting the
people up the trees escape, at any rate before morning.
And long before that, they said, goblin soldiers
would be coming down from the mointains; and goblins
can climb trees, or cut them down.
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Old 10-24-2008, 12:27 PM   #14
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Oh yes, but also animals in this world can communicate - body language, smells, such... And there are people who claim to understand "animal languages". Wargs didn't seemingly speak in any human language, which werewolves apparently could do.
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Old 10-24-2008, 12:54 PM   #15
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Since the events of The Hobbit is reffered to in LotR, I think it should be regarded as good a guide to ME as LotR. . .
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Oh yes, but also animals in this world can communicate - body language, smells, such... And there are people who claim to understand "animal languages". Wargs didn't seemingly speak in any human language, which werewolves apparently could do.
No it was not a human language. . . It was a warg language! Anyways Tolkien makes it clear that they talk and not just comunicate via body language and so on, so I think you are grasping at straws.

Anyways we are getting way off track are we not? (my fault I know)
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Old 10-24-2008, 02:59 PM   #16
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Anyways we are getting way off track are we not? (my fault I know)
Perhaps, though, it is not getting off track at all. It is a good method of philosophy to try and determine what a thing is by determining what it is not.

It is, however, also a good philosophic practice to distinguish between traits of the subject in question that are necessary to it, or essential, and what is just accidental (not in the sense of being mere chance, but in the sense of non-essential... like my eyeballs. They aren't essential to my existence, but they aren't just haphazardly associated with me. But I digress).

In this vein, I'll note that while it does seem to be a valid point to note that the Wargs speak their own tongue, speaking any sort of tongue at all is not a trait limited to lupine species, but seems to be a bit more common in Middle-earth. There is, of course, the dubious fox that passes by the sleeping Hobbits, but there's also the Eagles, and, possibly, the Mearas. The relationship between Eorl and Felaróf, if not including any speech, certainly includes communication.
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Old 10-24-2008, 03:14 PM   #17
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In this vein, I'll note that while it does seem to be a valid point to note that the Wargs speak their own tongue, speaking any sort of tongue at all is not a trait limited to lupine species, but seems to be a bit more common in Middle-earth. There is, of course, the dubious fox that passes by the sleeping Hobbits, but there's also the Eagles, and, possibly, the Mearas. The relationship between Eorl and Felaróf, if not including any speech, certainly includes communication.
In The Hobbit, if I remember correctly, the Wargs spoke a snarling, growling, guttural language that only Gandalf could understand (while he was up in the trees with Bilbo and the Dwarves).

In regards to speaking, sentient creatures in Middle-earth, one needs to add Huan the Hound, the dragons, and several bird species (the crebain reported to Saruman, the ravens to the Dwarves and even Bard had a chat with a bird who got valuable info from elsewhere).
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Old 10-24-2008, 03:32 PM   #18
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We have wolves and Wargs, and Werewolves who are actually spirits in wolf form, and traditional werewolves -- which the original poster was asking for.

It's all a bit confusing.

Considering Tolkien's affinity with northern myths, I'm sure he held the wolf in high regard. Also taking into account the etymology of 'Warg' (check the Faroese in the signature ) it seems fair to say that Wargs and wolves are not separate things.

There are no documented traditional werewolves: whether involving changing shape at the full moon or utilising a magic wolf-hide.

There are particular and generally potent spirits who are placed into the Warg form. See The Silmarillion.

So, two groups.

But, as has been pointed out by Tuor, the tale of Beorn should give anyone enough scope to write about a traditional werewolf in Middle-earth.
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Old 10-25-2008, 10:14 AM   #19
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No it was not a human language. . . It was a warg language! Anyways Tolkien makes it clear that they talk and not just comunicate via body language and so on, so I think you are grasping at straws.
I would have said that to me it doesn't really make a difference, the main point is that they communicate with one another and Gandalf can understand it. And since we are talking about The Hobbit, I wouldn't take it for granted that when Tolkien says speak he really means speaking instead of just some way of communication, but Morth's post kind of destroys my theory.

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In this vein, I'll note that while it does seem to be a valid point to note that the Wargs speak their own tongue, speaking any sort of tongue at all is not a trait limited to lupine species, but seems to be a bit more common in Middle-earth.
Yes - I recall Gandalf saying he once knew many animal languages, and so suggests also Frodo's lament for him. However, I understand it that (some? all?) werewolves could talk human languages - if a random person had approached Thangorodrim's doors, she would have understood Carcharoth's questions about what she was doing there.

Quote:
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But, as has been pointed out by Tuor, the tale of Beorn should give anyone enough scope to write about a traditional werewolf in Middle-earth.
I'm totally at a loss when it comes to Beorn. If I was a gamemaster, though, I probably wouldn't let any player take for a character a Beorning with the ability to change shape. It sounds like playing a half-elven character. Wrong.
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Old 10-25-2008, 03:31 PM   #20
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wow. that whole discussion I found was wayy beyond my understanding of tolkens world. I am happy that the enthusiasm found here is at such a high level. I am disappointed that we have determined that were wolfs did not in fact exist, though wargs are a pretty cool concept. I like them. But thanks for all the information- it was all extremely helpful.

Also you have all made it clear that if I am to take a real part in these forums I am going to need to brush up on all the books I think

;-)
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