Session 5-04: The Season 5 Frame

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Agreed, but it’s beyond that, they’ve been choosing Sauron again and again. Why?
Ar-Pharazon's numerous wars and Numenor's human sacrifices, I think. Because of Ar-Pharazon, they mostly pick to be on Sauron's team (never mind that Sauron was responsible for a lot of that due to Ar-Pharazon being his puppet).
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
Could be outside influence - Mr. Mouth of Sauron, if we go with that, could be the latest in a long line of agents of Mordor stirring things up in the south.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I think we have a fantastic opportunity, given the history of Numenorean imperialism/colonialism, to make it clear that the Haradrim do not follow Sauron because they are inherently more evil than the Gondoreans.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Could it also be because of the affiliation with Elves, with lies that the Numenoreans were working with the Elves in colonization? Elves don't like anyone except for the Edain since the Nirnaeth, and possibly vice versa since the days of Ar-Pharazon because the Numenoreans are affiliated with the Elves.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
Good ideas, lets keep them in mind and see if they can be used.

The Black Numenoreans are of course a different matter altogether, much more ‘fallen’, right? They were seduced by Sauron as Annatar if I’m not mistaken, and none of them had the power or wisdom to react as the Elves did when Sauron made the One. They also have a history of kinstrife with the people of Gondor, of course. Some of them also went to Angmar to fight against Arnor. All in all, they are more solid supporters of Sauron. I think we can avoid portraying them as inherently evil by showing their clinging to the historically established power system of the region.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Good ideas, lets keep them in mind and see if they can be used.

The Black Numenoreans are of course a different matter altogether, much more ‘fallen’, right? They were seduced by Sauron as Annatar if I’m not mistaken, and none of them had the power or wisdom to react as the Elves did when Sauron made the One. They also have a history of kinstrife with the people of Gondor, of course. Some of them also went to Angmar to fight against Arnor. All in all, they are more solid supporters of Sauron. I think we can avoid portraying them as inherently evil by showing their clinging to the historically established power system of the region.
Perhaps the Black Numenoreans see themselves as the resistance against Gondor, as an extension of Sauron's lie of Melkor being the "Giver of Freedom", because a lot of people who have beefs with Gondor find their way to Umbar.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
So, as far as the vague and mysterious "south" goes...

We have Khand, Umbar, and the Harads, Near and Far. All of them formerly firmly under the influence of Sauron, and all of them eventually returning to the fold with his return. But in the millennia between....

There could be some sort of shifting dynamic or power struggle here, with alliances forming and breaking, and one faction or the other rising to the top before plummeting to the bottom. Think of the way Arnor split and struggled, and then imagine if all of the factions started out from a "bad guy" place rather than a "good guy" place at the beginning.

Hardly any of this would be shown in the frame for this season (other than maybe a passing comment that would be a reverse easter egg when we get to Thorongil's adventures in the south). But it would be fun to work it out, and like the Hildorien story* we agonized over for months it colours the way things happen even if it never gets shown.



*That reminds me, someone with time to kill should flip through that thread (those threads?) and see if there is anything we decided on way back then that we haven't considered now. I know almost all of it was off-screen, but there might be something in there to work into the earliest Finrod/Beor meeting.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
So, as far as the vague and mysterious "south" goes...

We have Khand, Umbar, and the Harads, Near and Far. All of them formerly firmly under the influence of Sauron, and all of them eventually returning to the fold with his return. But in the millennia between....

There could be some sort of shifting dynamic or power struggle here, with alliances forming and breaking, and one faction or the other rising to the top before plummeting to the bottom. Think of the way Arnor split and struggled, and then imagine if all of the factions started out from a "bad guy" place rather than a "good guy" place at the beginning.

Hardly any of this would be shown in the frame for this season (other than maybe a passing comment that would be a reverse easter egg when we get to Thorongil's adventures in the south). But it would be fun to work it out, and like the Hildorien story* we agonized over for months it colours the way things happen even if it never gets shown.



*That reminds me, someone with time to kill should flip through that thread (those threads?) and see if there is anything we decided on way back then that we haven't considered now. I know almost all of it was off-screen, but there might be something in there to work into the earliest Finrod/Beor meeting.
Well, Umbar seems to have been the dominant power in the region, having had a hand in much of Gondor’s troubles for a good portion of the Third Age.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Well, Umbar seems to have been the dominant power in the region, having had a hand in much of Gondor’s troubles for a good portion of the Third Age.
That may be up for interpretation. Umbar is a coastal power, and as such able to harry Gondor along it's long coast. Harad may in fact be the greater power (it certainly controls more territory) but it is only able to bring its power to bear against Ithilien. Also, if Umbar is a vassal state to Harad, it need not place much importance on its only border, whereas Harad may actually have to assert itself against bordering states. Harad also has to feed a pretty large inland economy, whereas Umbar may be able to keep its economy going with an influx of goods obtained through raiding the wealthy provinces of Gondor.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Perhaps the Black Numenoreans see themselves as the resistance against Gondor, as an extension of Sauron's lie of Melkor being the "Giver of Freedom", because a lot of people who have beefs with Gondor find their way to Umbar.
I might also add that it also might be a religious war, the King's Men against the Faithful, and the Black Numenoreans hate the Elf-affiliated Faithful. Either one really.
 

Brian Dimmick

Active Member
I think of Harad (both near and far) as made up of different peoples/tribes that may share a common religion and a lot of common traditions but are not necessarily politically united. Without a strong central authority, different groups will tend to focus on their own affairs, and probably attack/raid their neighbors from time to time. More rural/farming communities will probably mistrust and resent the wealthier cities. The Corsairs and other raiders from Umbar probably raid along the Harad coast as well, not just in Gondor. Periodically strong leaders (perhaps backed by magic) will unite most or all of them, and they will at that point become a major threat to Gondor, but I think much of the time they will be fragmented. The fact that Gondor has apparently been enjoying long decades of general peace by 2951 suggests that Harad is not a large united military force right now. (If it were, given Gondor’s decline over the centuries, it would probably already have made major inroads).



Sauron’s goal, upon returning to Mordor, is to reunite the Haradrim and turn them into a military machine for him. Whether he does that through military conquest, a religious reawakening, or using the Nazgul to frighten them into submission is one question we have to decide, but that probably only begins in this season’s frame and isn’t completed until later.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
I think of Harad (both near and far) as made up of different peoples/tribes that may share a common religion and a lot of common traditions but are not necessarily politically united. Without a strong central authority, different groups will tend to focus on their own affairs, and probably attack/raid their neighbors from time to time. More rural/farming communities will probably mistrust and resent the wealthier cities. The Corsairs and other raiders from Umbar probably raid along the Harad coast as well, not just in Gondor. Periodically strong leaders (perhaps backed by magic) will unite most or all of them, and they will at that point become a major threat to Gondor, but I think much of the time they will be fragmented. The fact that Gondor has apparently been enjoying long decades of general peace by 2951 suggests that Harad is not a large united military force right now. (If it were, given Gondor’s decline over the centuries, it would probably already have made major inroads).



Sauron’s goal, upon returning to Mordor, is to reunite the Haradrim and turn them into a military machine for him. Whether he does that through military conquest, a religious reawakening, or using the Nazgul to frighten them into submission is one question we have to decide, but that probably only begins in this season’s frame and isn’t completed until later.
I agree with your theory about unification. If we go with it, we would probably also need to decide how far along in the unification of Harad Sauron is. Presumably, the more tribes that have united, the easier it will be to unite the others.

Perhaps, to keep the frame small in scale, we could focus on Gandalf's interactions with one tribe that he is trying to convince not to unify with the growing conglomeration of tribes that are going to serve Sauron. The ultimate outcome would be this tribe joining in the unification despite Gandalf's efforts.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Sauron's main appeal is his appearance of power. Uniting with Sauron means being more powerful, and winning against one's enemies, aka Sauron's enemies, aka Gondor.

The Men who appear in Sauron's armies in LotR are not necessarily totally cool with fighting alongside orcs. They are, apparently, cool with letting Sauron use his orc armies to attack Gondor, and helping to do so themselves. Meaning - the orcs are slaves, who fight under Sauron because they must. What of the Men? How many of them are enslaved?

And the leaders who choose Sauron...are they choosing him over oblivion? What do you think would happen to the tribes of Haradrim who don't fall in line - won't they be annihilated by their neighbors?
 

Brian Dimmick

Active Member
Sauron's main appeal is his appearance of power. Uniting with Sauron means being more powerful, and winning against one's enemies, aka Sauron's enemies, aka Gondor.
Agreed, but using power to persuade that way gets easier the more power you amass. The most interesting story to tell in 2951, I think, woudl be where Suaron is just getting a foothold among the Haradrim and is beginning to consolidate that power, but isn't obviously the dominant force yet. It doesn't even need to be obvious to everyone, as it will become, that Sauron is the one calling the shots and pulling the strings.

The Men who appear in Sauron's armies in LotR are not necessarily totally cool with fighting alongside orcs. They are, apparently, cool with letting Sauron use his orc armies to attack Gondor, and helping to do so themselves. Meaning - the orcs are slaves, who fight under Sauron because they must. What of the Men? How many of them are enslaved?
I think there is a difference between the men of 2951 and the men of LotR. In LotR, the Haradrim follow Sauron because they have to. He has been dominating the region for decades, all the leaders are in thrall to him, and when he/they orders people into battle they have to go, even if they do it grudgingly. And by that time they might not be grudging; they have had 70 years (~ 3generations) to get used to the idea of beign led by Sauron's lieutenants and fighting with Orcs, and there are lots of inducements (tales of glory in battle, promises of plunder in the rich treasuries of Gondor) that will motivate some of them. They don't have to buy into or even understand Sauron's vision of world domination to fight willingly for him. And those who are visibly unwilling probably won't last too long.

In 2951, on the other hand, we can (if we choose) portray a society that, while traditionally hostile to Gondor, is not thoroughly dominated by Sauron. Different people may have different motivations for which side they choose, but I don't think any of the Haradrim at this point could be considered enslaved (int hat they have no choice but to obey). That will come in time.
And the leaders who choose Sauron...are they choosing him over oblivion? What do you think would happen to the tribes of Haradrim who don't fall in line - won't they be annihilated by their neighbors?
Yes, as we move toward LotR time and more and more of teh Haradrim unite under Sauron they will be able to annihilate anyone who doesn't go along with them. But I don't think that should be the situation in our frame story. If Sauron just takes over and immediately wields crushing military force in Harad our story won't be that interesting.
 

Brian Dimmick

Active Member
Perhaps, to keep the frame small in scale, we could focus on Gandalf's interactions with one tribe that he is trying to convince not to unify with the growing conglomeration of tribes that are going to serve Sauron. The ultimate outcome would be this tribe joining in the unification despite Gandalf's efforts.
I think that makes sense. We could allude to the fact that he has visited others, but only show his interactions with the one tribe he is spending the most time with.

I think we should be early enough in the unification process that the outcome is in doubt and a lot of people still remain uncommitted, at least at the start. Maybe there is a charismatic leader (in thrall to Sauron) who is working to unite the tribes (by friendly persuasion if possible, by a little black magic or a visit from a Nazgul if necessary). Not everyone is on board, and some may be actively opposed. We don't want to turn this into Game of Thrones by getting too specific about the political maneuverings (which we don't need to show), but it should be a fluid situation.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Sauron's main appeal is his appearance of power. Uniting with Sauron means being more powerful, and winning against one's enemies, aka Sauron's enemies, aka Gondor.

The Men who appear in Sauron's armies in LotR are not necessarily totally cool with fighting alongside orcs. They are, apparently, cool with letting Sauron use his orc armies to attack Gondor, and helping to do so themselves. Meaning - the orcs are slaves, who fight under Sauron because they must. What of the Men? How many of them are enslaved?

And the leaders who choose Sauron...are they choosing him over oblivion? What do you think would happen to the tribes of Haradrim who don't fall in line - won't they be annihilated by their neighbors?
I would think that once the united tribes have amassed a large enough force, the other tribes would be given the choice to join and serve Sauron voluntarily or be attacked and either destroyed or forced to serve Sauron. I guess another way for the season to end could be the tribe that Gandalf has been trying to help being attacked by the united tribes. Perhaps, we could show Gandalf going from persuading leaders of a tribe to ignore the efforts at unification to persuading them to actively resist the unification, which would ultimately be unsuccessful.

Agreed, but using power to persuade that way gets easier the more power you amass. The most interesting story to tell in 2951, I think, woudl be where Suaron is just getting a foothold among the Haradrim and is beginning to consolidate that power, but isn't obviously the dominant force yet. It doesn't even need to be obvious to everyone, as it will become, that Sauron is the one calling the shots and pulling the strings.


I think there is a difference between the men of 2951 and the men of LotR. In LotR, the Haradrim follow Sauron because they have to. He has been dominating the region for decades, all the leaders are in thrall to him, and when he/they orders people into battle they have to go, even if they do it grudgingly. And by that time they might not be grudging; they have had 70 years (~ 3generations) to get used to the idea of beign led by Sauron's lieutenants and fighting with Orcs, and there are lots of inducements (tales of glory in battle, promises of plunder in the rich treasuries of Gondor) that will motivate some of them. They don't have to buy into or even understand Sauron's vision of world domination to fight willingly for him. And those who are visibly unwilling probably won't last too long.

In 2951, on the other hand, we can (if we choose) portray a society that, while traditionally hostile to Gondor, is not thoroughly dominated by Sauron. Different people may have different motivations for which side they choose, but I don't think any of the Haradrim at this point could be considered enslaved (int hat they have no choice but to obey). That will come in time.

Yes, as we move toward LotR time and more and more of teh Haradrim unite under Sauron they will be able to annihilate anyone who doesn't go along with them. But I don't think that should be the situation in our frame story. If Sauron just takes over and immediately wields crushing military force in Harad our story won't be that interesting.
If we go with this angle in the frame, we could show Sauron's appeals to one tribe, probably the largest and strongest, to get that tribe's loyalty and begin the process of unification. If Gandalf is making counter appeals to this tribe, we would be able to show Gandalf in more direct conflict with Sauron's servants.

We then come back to the question: how exactly is Sauron trying to appeal to the Haradrim? The appeal can involve several facets, such as intimidation, religious appeal, playing on existing rivalries with Gondor and other tribes, etc. These appeal(s) should probably deal with the themes in the main story.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
Just a brainstorming. I suggest that Gandalf could visit three settings during the season:
1) A tribe in Near Harad, which he has had dome contact with before. He could know some people of the oldest generation, or they could have died recently. He has traveled through Harondor and managed to avoid the patrolling troops there, maybe we want to show a little bit of that. The leaders of the tribe he is visiting aren't hostile or see him as an enemy, but they are proud and suspicious, they wonder about his motives, and don't necessarily listen to his advice. Gandalf learns that, as always, there is a power struggle going on among the tribes, but some of the leaders are arguing that they should unite. The united tribes would pose a great threat to Gondor, and the Haradrim could easily take over Ithilien, perhaps even pose a threat to Minas Tirith itself. This would give them glory. The tribe leader Gandalf visits isn't sure it is worth it though. Many men would lose their lives, and he wonders if someone has a hidden agenda. Perhaps there is a rumor that Sauron is about to return, which the tribe leader could have some interesting opinions about. Some people would want to see this leader as the leader of the union. If this is suggested, Gandalf will probably try to make him turn the offer down, or, should he accept becoming the leader of all of the tribes, that he should go for a peaceful policy, saying that establishing trade with the North would be a far better idea than war. Everything could be looking rather bright, actually, so far.

2) Another tribe, or Umbar. This is when everything goes wrong. A setting where Gandalf has to sneak around more, and risks being taken prisoner. He overhears conversations and learns of a rising force, a young Black Numenorean leader (future Mouth), and it is hinted that this young man is backed by a Nazgul. There's some kind of coup, the Black Numenorean takes over Umbar or a number of tribes. We understand that this new force will attack the tribe Gandalf has met earlier, and they will beat that tribe or force them to join the new union. If Gandalf has been able to convince the tribe leader to choose peace and trade, the Black Numenorean will send an assassin and have the leader killed, and take over the leadership of the Haradrim.

3) Gondor, Minas Tirith. Gandalf reports.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
So how would the Haradrim frame connect to plots like Aredhel's storyline? I've been puzzling that for a few days, and my puzzler's sore (Grinch reference).
 
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Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
So how would the Haradrim frame connect to plots like Aredhel's storyline? I've been puzzling that for a few days, and my puzzler's sore.
Maybe we don’t have to find corresponding story elements to everything... In fact, I’d rather have a thematic connection. Like, someone feels stuck in a situation that they don’t like, and yet their effort to break out or leave results in an ironically worse situation.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Since the main story for the first episode of Season 5 is going to be about Finrod meeting the House of Beor, I think the frame for this episode should be Gandalf arriving in Harad. Even if he has visited before, the particular people he meets would not know him and would be amazed by his wisdom and possibly magic. These people would probably have some kind of cultural memory of the time they were dominated by Sauron, so Gandalf learning about that could be parallel to Finrod trying to find out about the dark secret in Men's past.

The last two episodes we know will be about the Dagor Bragollach, so the frame story for those should be the point where all of Gandalf's efforts in Harad fall apart.

Since we want Gandalf to return to Minas Tirith for an episode, what event from the main story should that parallel? I could see a few possibilities:
  • The return of Aredhel to Gondolin
    • There would be the same kind of sense of returning to a place then things go downhill after that.
  • The Athrabeth
    • Looking at things from a meta perspective. Gandalf and his friends would be analyzing his efforts with the Haradrim; Andreth and Finrod would be analyzing the relationships between Elves and Men.
  • Fingolfin trying to get support to attack Angband
    • Gandalf could be trying to get Gondor to send emissaries to Harad to help him and ultimately be denied.
  • The episode before the Dagor Bragollach
    • I've suggested having one episode between Fingolfin's proposal to attack Angband and the Dagor Bragollach to tie up storylines and show that things are peaceful. Gandalf's visit to Minas Tirith could be a report that things are going well in Harad. Then, when he returns to Harad in the next episode, the equivalent to the Dagor Bragollach is happening.
 
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