Session 4.02 - Season 4 Episode Outlines

Ok let’s just think this through and consider our options. Also, let’s make a few things a little clearer. Someone has to spread the rumours about the Noldor. If this is going to be interesting at all, we should try to use a named character or someone who matters. There is an obvious risk that this changes the story arc of that character. So we have to do it in a way that is as close to the written story as possible.
In yesterday’s session, Corey suggested (as a possible option, not as a definitive decision) that Orodreth could be used as a tool to some degree. He wouldn’t be a traitor. He could also be cured at some point. Going as far as making him responsible for the fall of Nargothrond before the Dagor Bragollach is way beyond anything that was discussed.
Orodreth betraying Nargothrond would necessarily cause it to be discovered and destroyed before the Dagor Bragollach. That's what using Orodreth as a mole requires. Likewise, using Ecthelion as a mole requires that Gondolin be discovered and destroyed before the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.

It would make much more sense that during the Siege, a soldier under the Spell wanders away from their post and is re-captured. Under torture they reveal the movements and positions of troops, which gets a large army unit surrounded and slaughtered. I don't agree that this person needs to be a canon-named person. What matters is the effect of the Spell and how people react to it, not who it happens to.

About the rumors about the Noldor and Kinslaying, why is it unacceptable for Morgoth's demons to spread the rumor, like they do in the books? I don't understand the reason that option has been rejected. I don't understand why Morogth having doppleganger-like demons, which are described in the books, is off the table, not allowed. I'm having trouble following all the Final Decisions that have been made because I'm not able to find the time to watch all the videos.
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Then what is intended by the suggestions on this thread that Orodreth and Ecthelion should be collaborators with Morgoth? If they aren't moles who betray Gondolin and Nargothrond, what are they supposed to do that does not drastically change the plot and their character arcs? What is a collaborator, other than a mole and traitor?

If they don't help Morgoth find the locations of Gondolin and Nargothrond, and destroy them, what are they helping Morgoth do? How do they continue helping Morgoth for decades or centuries, without being found out and executed or exiled?
I do like the idea of using doppelgangers. I’m not sure it has been rejected, actually. What was discussed was that a few elves should be captured, the different possible outcomes (in what way escapees would be changed by the experience), and a few possible names.
Then what is intended by the suggestions on this thread that Orodreth and Ecthelion should be collaborators with Morgoth? If they aren't moles who betray Gondolin and Nargothrond, what are they supposed to do that does not drastically change the plot and their character arcs? What is a collaborator, other than a mole and traitor?
The suggestion was not that anyone was going to be a collaborator. Someone was going to be used. There’s a great difference between those two.
Yeah, the premise is that both are captured, both escape, and both are changed by their captivity. Ecthelion gets a bit Rambo/more dedicated to the fight, whereas Orodreth gets a bit... confounded. More Orodreth-ish than he was before. It introduces a weakness into him, that is the cause of his failures in Nargothrond. The premise is not "E and O are captured and are now thralls of Morgoth", that would be madness.

I recommend listening to the session (it goes up on Twitch instantly after it's over, where it takes a while longer for YouTube or podcast); most of what we're talking about is in the context of "given that we've all heard what Corey had to say, here is what I'd like to add", not "here is all of the information required to understand what I mean".
OK. What are they used to accomplish, then?

I simply haven't have the time to watch the videos yet. I haven't even found the time to watch all of the Season 3 videos yet. I've been sick nonstop for 3 months.
Well, E doesn't help at all. He legit escapes and, while he has a tough time maybe, remains free.

O eventually loses Nargothrond. That's pretty helpful for the big guy.
The main thrust of this angle was: it is established in the text that there are many Noldor captured by Morgoth (and/or Sauron, since we're choosing not to have Sauron be invisible/inactive when he goes unmentioned by name in the text, and a lot of this seems to fit Sauron's 1st Age style).

Some of these escape and remain true.
Some of these escape but are... damaged in the long term, and may unwittingly aid the bad guys, or at least become less effective good guys.
Some of these are corrupted and released to actively further bad guy plans.

It was discussed in the session that we absolutely need to have some characters that we already know be involved in this. Not a parade of nameless "red shirts", not a character that we create a backstory for just for them to be used here.

We went through the current roster of Noldor, and came up with some who could be used here without really changing the story.

E is one of the first category - I don't think we even hear about him outside the context of Gondolin, do we? It doesn't alter his story if we use him here.

O is one of the second. He is clearly unfit to lead by the time Turin/Glaurung/Feanorian C brothers come together. Why? Here is something to explain it. He's broken. Haunted by visions/nightmares in a way that Elves typically aren't. That sort of thing.

Neither of them are of the third. There aren't any named/known characters that we can change into active collaborators, we need "red shirts" for this. Caranthir is the closest, and we very briefly flirted with the idea, but it was rejected pretty quickly as ludicrous.
OK, thanks so much amysrevenge.
There aren't any named/known characters that we can change into active collaborators
That was mostly all I was trying to say.

So the goal isn't for Orodreth or Ecthelion to be in the collaborator category, #3. I'm not necessarily against Orodreth being an example of category #2, if he's not in any way sending intel to Morgoth, nor knowingly sabotaging Nargothrond when he builds the bridge and refuses Ulmo's warning. It could be a way to explain him becoming less assertive and brave without being inherently that way from the start. If the only effect is that he's less assertive and brave, that isn't so bad. Um, but it would clash with my hope of him recklessly rescuing Aegnor's sword from the near-boiling lake.

Still, the Spell of Bottomless Dread had the category 3 effect (actual collaborators/moles) and the Noldor and Sindar already knew about that by the Dagor Bragollach. So we would still have to introduce an additional character in Season 4 or 5 for that purpose, a 'red shirt' if you prefer. The advantage of a beSpelled collaborator betraying a unit of the army is that it can happen well before the Bragollach, without compromising any Noldorin fortress. Or it can happen during the Bragollach, and maybe the unit that's destroyed contains Angrod and/or Aegnor. If people want the mole to be connected to known characters, they could be a relative of somebody we know -- perhaps an uncle of Gwindor, or brother of Meril or Eldalote. I suppose it could actually be Eldalote herself, since she has no canon storyline -- all the more tragic if her "betrayal" costs the life of her own husband. It could potentially work without her being a soldier.

In Gondolin, about Ecthelion... I just remembered there's already a canon (Lost Tales) character who escapes from thralldom in Angband and comes back scarier and more dedicated to the war. And his name is.... Rog (lol). He does need a name change, and he needs to escape Angband earlier than he does in the Lost Tales to get into Gondolin at all, but the character is otherwise available, separate from Ecthelion. He has his own House, the House of the Hammer of Wrath. It's kinda implied that he renamed his house from something more cheerful, to express how much more he hates Morgoth.
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There was resistance to the idea of having Círdan meet the Noldor in Episode 1, but more in the sense of it looked like the episode was getting pretty full, and there wouldn't be room for everything.

So, we should probably trim some things from that episode so we can really focus on the first contact meeting. Círdan dispatching a messenger quickly (probably Celeborn, as he is practically Doriath's secretary of state) wouldn't take up much screen time...unless we showed Thingol hearing the news. But if we send Celeborn, and then he's back in the next episode, we'll know time has passed. And then we can show Thingol's meeting with Angrod.
Yes, there are multiple methods of intel-gathering. One method is to capture people, torture and question them, and learn something new that way. The other method is to send spies.

The first method has some major disadvantages - people will say anything when they are in pain, including things that are obviously not true. So, sure, someone might confess to their part in the Kinslaying...but how would you even know that there really was a kinslaying at all? It might be all made up. Some of the 'confessions' torture has historically wrung out of people are clearly nonsense. I'm saying that the Noldor are as likely to confess to witchcraft or child rape as to the kinslaying, and presumably those first two aren't really happening, so...the questioners need to know what questions to ask.

The issue with spying is that you have to be around people who will talk about the secrets. The Noldor all know about the Kinslaying and have little reason to discuss it. They may make some oblique references to it, but it's not like they're going to sit down and start reminiscing about it in any detail. So, a spy would have to actively prod someone into talking about it, by pretending to already know what is being discussed. And...well, that's difficult to do. The doppleganger/shapeshifter effect can help, as Sauron could go sit down with Caranthir while looking like one of his brothers and just ask him things.'s not like Celegorm would have any reason to say, 'so, brother, tell me about what happened when we left Valinor' so it's still a challenge to write a spy scene that gains any knowledge of the kinslaying. You need to know what you're fishing for....

Here's what the Villains already know:
1) Morgoth knows about the Darkening of Valinor and the Death of Finwë and the theft of the silmarils....because he did all of that himself :p
2) They know that the Noldor came to Middle Earth in two 'batches' - that some came in Teleri ships (which they burned) and some crossed the Helcaraxë.
3) They know that it's *just* the Noldor, no other elves and not the Valar....but....Thorondor is around, so maybe hold the phone on the 'not the Valar' bit. Maybe the Valar are just being sneaky or delaying for some reason? Hard to say.
4) They know about the unrest of the Noldor, and the feud between Fëanor and Fingolfin. (Again, because Morgoth directly caused that himself.)

So...the villains know that there is a story in why the Noldor came to Middle Earth separately (some following Fëanor, some following Fingolfin), but they *don't* know about what happened at Alqualondë.

I think we should have some Sindar question the gaps in the Noldor story, and that would be a good way for the Villains to figure out that there are questions to be asked here. Through some combination of questioning captives and spying, Sauron learns of the Kinslaying. It's, exactly?
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I think that mind-reading is a big advantage for the bad guys. Morgoth also has the ability to scry and could even have watched the whole Kinslaying and ship-burning from Angband. Morgoth was rebuilding Angband and Thangorodrim at the time, but Valar can probably multitask really well, and he would have loved to watch the Noldor defile Valinor and ruin their own future. If he could watch.

I also suspect that, when torturing somebody, mind-reading works as a lie-detection. No, not even Morgoth can read the mind of somebody who's actively resisting as long as they keep their mouth shut. The moment they say anything related to the question, a powerful telepathic Ainu can probably tell if it was a lie or truth. The lie-detection is probably necessary because yes, MithLuin has a very good point: torture is useless for interrogation in real life. But it works for Morgoth and Sauron, when the captive is broken. It does get easier if you can bribe the captive (Maeglin or Gorlim), or remind them that you'll send a scout to check if Gondolin is in the spot they said, and punish them even more if they lied...

And... the Noldor all know about Alqualonde and the ship-burning. There won't be any silly "let me tell you about what we both already know" exposition scenes like a bad movie. But they will refer to it sometimes while talking about guilt and forgiveness, and a canny spy can eventually pick up a lot. For example, people will refer to Feanorians as "ship-lords," "ship-thieves," "kinslayers," "murderers," or "arsonists" in their absense (or to their faces?) and some ships were burned... Somebody probably will refer to Alqualonde, if only to ask each other "What do we do if the Sindar find out about Alqualonde?" or "I am not sure I can stomach forgiving the sons of Feanor for the blood at Alqualonde. Many of the mariners were my friends." People will talk about the Grinding Ice because some people who shared a trauma will want to work through it by talking about it, and the same might go for people who witnessed the Kinslaying, or feel terrible because they participated. Little kids will go to mommy and say "I had another nightmare about the Helkaraxe." They may whisper behind closed doors... but an unclad demon spy is even worse than a doppleganger, it's invisible. Being a visible doppleganger is just to make it easier to plant rumors, not to steal intel.

This should be enough to learn about the Kinslaying, the burning of the ships, the feud between the houses, and that Feanor and one of his sons are dead. It may not reveal the Oath, but I don't think that was part of the initial rumors.

And this is another thing that makes more sense if we give Morgoth's spies a longer span of time.

Also mind-reading: when Elf is talking to Elf, they may automatically project the thoughts they were talking about, including what went implied but unsead, and any nearby telepath can pick up on the unsaid parts. That's how Finrod learned to speak Beorian (and probably Sindarin) so absurdly fast. And even the most minor Ainu is at least as good at this as Finrod.

But we can't make the spies too potent, or nobody will be able to make war plans without immediately being given away. Unless we have the Noldor learn to be better at blocking mind-readers while talking about secret plans. I suspect that to make it consistent, we have to assume dopplegangers can fool Men and Sindar, but not Calaquendi who can see the Unseen. (and yet Nerdanel's inanimate, soulless statues can fool Calaquendi... lol)

If the dopplegangers can fool Noldorin eyes, they can start arguments with rants like "I will never forgive the Feanorians for what they did. How can anyone even consider it? This is unthinkable! Their crimes are too vile, utterly unforgiveable!" (but better worded). Then people will start arguing and are sure to reference what the Feanorians did.
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Would it work to end Episode 1 with Morgoth laughing at the division of his enemies and preparing for war, and start Episode 2 with Fingon rescuing Maedhros?

If that won't work, I suggest that the messenger leaves and returns in Episode 1, Ep 1 still ends with Fingon rescuing Maedhros, and we don't show Thingol's thoughts about all of this until the Episode 2 meeting with Angrod (the messenger can report anything that's super-essential to know before Angrod's trip). Time can be shown passing with seasonal changes, buildings and fortifications getting bigger and more elaborate, Helkaraxe survivors getting less gaunt, maybe we can even shift Idril's make-up to make her a bit more grown up (5-7 years is like, 2-2.5 "Elf-years").

The trouble with "the messenger returns in episode 2" is that then Episode 1 + Episode 2 still total only 2-3 weeks long, total. That's 2-3 weeks for the Noldorin scouts to map all of Beleriand and Ard-galen and Lothland, 2-3 weeks for Maedhros to be back to about 80-90%, 2-3 weeks for the Noldor to rearrange all their armies, and set up a system of watch-posts over Dor-Daedeloth. That's just too implausible. If the messenger has already returned by the start of Ep 2 it's less implausible, but still too fast compared to the book timeline.

Did the Hosts forbid Annael from being the messenger? It's essential to introduce him ASAP as a character who exists and is significant. Besides, if Celeborn leaves, then we lose an opportunity to depict him bonding with Galadriel.
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About Rog's name, I found this in Lost Tales:
Rog GL [Gnomish Lexicon] gives an adjective rog, rog 'doughty, strong'. But with the Orcs' name for Egnor Beren's father, Rog the Fleet, cf. arog 'swift, rushing', and raug of the same meaning; Qenya arauka.

So in LotR-style Quenya > Sindarin he could be named...
Arauca > ? (swift/rushing) this would come closest to his canon name, it might even come out as Araug or Arog. But "arauca" is only in the Lost Tales; Tolkien probably replaced it with "rauko" (demon/monster) when he changed the etymology of "Balrog".

? > Alag or Alagon (rushing)
Larca/Alarca > Lagor (swift/rapid) not sure if these are really cognates
? > Legrin (rapid)
Tyelca > Celeg (hasty/agile)
Linta > Lint (swift)
? > Thalion (steadfast, daughtless) but that could get confusing
Tuo/Tuor > Tû/Tui (physically strong) but potentially confusing
M-something > Bell (physically strong)
M-something > Bellas (physical strength)
Norna > Dorn (tough) but might be confusing
Poldo > ? (strong, burly)
Nórima > ? ("strong/swift at running")

...and I just realized, the House of the Mole is headed by the 'mole' Maeglin... ha ha, JRRT.
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I still think rog,rhog,rhogrin is goldogrin or early noldorin for "doughty, strong".not related to rog, ruk, , demon,balrog etc.

Early Quenya version of rog was Róka according to parf edhellen,... sounds like "rocker" though... Rhogrin one could use i think as a hypothetic noldrian-Sindarin name.
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