Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Speak Softly and Carry a YUGE Stick

For some reason, this really made me laugh. Now we know why the Black Riders didn't hang around Buckland very long.
"Hobbit don' play dat."

Master of Toons

Sunday, June 12, 2016

12 Years of Married Bliss

Happy 12th Anniversary to Pad and Mrs. Pad!

Pad flirts with Mrs. Pad in Michel Delving.
Master of Toons

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Bywater Obsolete and Ogygian Baubles Society Reaches Ered Luin

On Sunday night, the Dawnbreakers' low-level group ventured into Ered Luin. The group is now level 11, has completed every deed in the Shire, and will soon do the same for the Blue Mountains.
(Left to right) Nephli, Padferth, and Persafred look out over Limael's Vineyard in Ered Luin.
Nephli and Hiledh -- the newest Dawnbreaker -- dance a jig to Padhric's spritely melodies.
 Interested in joining the Dawnbreakers? Seek us out on the Arkenstone server or visit for more information.

Master of Toons

Stuart Townsend as Aragorn

And finally, Stuart Townsend was set to play Aragorn until the eleventh hour, when director Peter Jackson realized he was too young.
Stuart Townsend as Aragorn.

Master of Toons

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Nicolas Cage as Aragorn

Proving the existence of Eru's divine Providence, Nicolas Cage never accepted the role of Aragorn, which was offered to him several times.
Nicolas Cage as Aragorn.
Master of Toons

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Sean Connery as Gandalf

Everyone knows this was attempted several times. It just never felt right though...
Sean Connery as Gandalf.

Master of Toons

Friday, June 3, 2016

Liam Neesen as Boromir

Rumor has it the role of Boromir bounced between several actors before finally landing with Sean Bean.
Liam Neesen as Boromir.

Master of Toons

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Alison Doody as Eowyn

No wonder Alison Doody's "German" accent in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade always sounded a bit off to me: she's Irish! And she might have played Eowyn.
Alison Doody as Eowyn.

Master of Toons

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ethan Hawke as Faramir

Supposedly this nearly happened, but the role ended up going to Kiwi actor David Wenham instead, much to the delight of Mrs. Pad.
Ethan Hawke as Faramir.

Master of Toons

Monday, May 30, 2016

Christopher Plummer as Gandalf

Sir Ian McKellen might have been upstaged by Christopher Plummer of Sound of Music fame.
Christopher Plummer as Gandalf.

Master of Toons

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day to those of you in the U.S.

Master of Toons

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Daniel Day-Lewis as Aragorn

Fans of the Peter Jackson LOTR films know there were several changes and potential alterations in the cast before things settled down to where they ended up. Over the next few days, I shall post a few ponderings on what might have been. Apparently Lincoln actor Daniel Day-Lewis was offered the role of Aragorn multiple times and refused it multiple times.
Daniel Day-Lewis as Aragorn.

Master of Toons

The Trials of Piersyn Wyne Part 8

NOTE: The full tale of Piersyn Wyne can be found in chronological order by clicking here or by using the navigation button on the menu above.

I set out this morning at first light. I would rather not document here the manner of my parting with father. Not that we parted harshly -- far from it. It's just that it was difficult for both of us, but more so, I suspect, for him. He worries, but I'm sure I will see him again.

I managed to obtain a horse just yesterday evening. The issue of baggage and how I would manage to
carry my provender, weapons, and other necessities had been troubling me since neither father nor I have the coin usually needed for such a purchase; a good beast of burden can be worth the wages most men might make in a six-month. But fate seems to be with me and my purpose because at twilight yestereve I met at the Pony by chance a Dwarf who was headed East toward his extended family in the Iron Hills (so he told me). I had struck up a casual conversation with him for my own purposes, trying to learn what I could about his kind that inhabit Ered Luin, but those folk have ever been secretive and distrustful of others. Nothing more could I get from him than Thorin's Halls were the major Dwarvish settlement in that region (which I knew already) and that business had been poor but not bad, as only iron and very few precious metals or jewels have been unearthed there.

In any case, this particular Dwarf had several of his food-bags ruined when one of the baggage ponies bolted at nothing and ended up half-drowned in the Brandywine River. Given his situation, he was willing to sell the pony and use the money to purchase more food. The pony was getting too large to be properly considered a pony anyway, and of course Dwarves (and hobbits) prefer to travel using ponies. In the end, we agreed on a price that I could afford and the Dwarf thought appropriate. I loaded her up with my supplies this morning and we were off. I haven't yet thought of a name for the mare. I was considering "Heathstraw," but that sounds a bit too masculine.

The going today was easy. I left by the West Gate as that git Harry Goatleaf gave me his usual scowls. I'll never know what I did to make that man glower at me so, but he seems to do the same to everyone, now I think about it. Anyway, the road has been level and fairly straight heading West, and I should encounter no difficulty so long as I'm in the Bree-land -- the Town Watch has jurisdiction here, so I plan on taking it easy. It's very exciting to have started at last. The words of that strange woman still come to my mind now and then and I've re-read my journal entry from that day several times. Perhaps I will encounter her again some day... a not altogether unpleasant prospect.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Explosive Party during the LOTRO Anniversary Festival

The Dawnbreakers and several other participants put on a remarkable fireworks display at the Methel-stage during the LOTRO Anniversary Festival.
It sure was pretty and there were only minor injuries.
Interested in joining the Dawnbreakers? Learn more at!

Master of Toons

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Featured Instance Run Features the Aggro Boogie

While attempting the Tier 2 challenge for the Arkenstone weekly Featured Instance in the Forsaken Inn, the Dawnbreakers got stuck in combat for several minutes.
"You're lookin' pretty bad-ass, Brohirrim."
Captain Guthinwe (that's me) and Maedhantros took advantage of the opportunity to pose for the camera while Lesraldor (not pictured) ran off to actually do something about the problem. Several minutes later a skeleton which had taken the proverbial "road less travelled" was dispatched, and our heroes were able to continue their adventure.

Interested in joining the Dawnbreakers? Visit for more information!

Master of Toons

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hungry, Happy Hobbits Hunt for High Adventure

The Dawnbreakers have re-started the famed low-level group! This "completionist" team will travel throughout Middle-earth seeking treasure, riches, enlightenment, glory, good beer, and (of course) pie! The group has currently halted experience at level 10 while completing the Shire.
The Dawnbreakers low-level group returns! Our brave adventuring heroes pause for some tobacco and refreshment at the Ivy Bush Inn in Hobbiton. Pictured left to right: some random hobbit who really shouldn't have been in the picture, Padferth (that's me), Persafred, and Antropuck.

You are invited to join us -- yes, YOU! You can learn more about the Dawnbreakers and our leveling groups by visiting or sending a tell to an officer in-game. The current group meets every Sunday night at 8 p.m. U.S. Central time, but other groups may be added at other times depending on participation levels. Join us today!

Master of Toons

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Why Captains are an Awesome LOTRO Class

Who would want to face a horde of captains? Not I!

Everybody loves them some cappie! Let's face it, these hulking heavies and hoisters of halberds and halitosis are beloved on the battlefield, and for very good reason. Let us count the ways...
  1. Racial Homogeny. Only Men can be captains. Just sayin'.
  2. Passive Buffs. Remember the days when you had to manually apply every crit buff to every member of your raid? Don't you miss those days? Yeah, me neither.
  3. Cappie Kick! Every cappie has told that story: the time when they kicked a mob, triggered a Fellowship Maneuver, and proceeded to pound the enemy into the dirt.
  4. Death by Halitosis. We all know the tongue is "as sharp as any two-edged sword," but the captain takes this truism to the next level by actually slaying foes with his voice. "Shouting down the opposition" takes on a whole new meaning when this guy is on the field.
  5. Pets. Anyone who isn't ecstatic at the idea of having their own personal Dwarf running around displaying their heraldry has no business calling themselves a fan of the fantasy genre.
  6. Halberd Crits. Whenever I get taunted about my limited damage output, I simply console myself by remembering all of the sparring matches that ended with my opponent's severed limbs lying before me in a steaming heap of gore. <wipes away a single tear> Ah, nostalgia...
  7. Red-line Routing Cry. The reason your fellowship's collective blades suddenly sound like a circular saw churning through a bovine carcass? Yeah, that's all me. You're welcome.
  8. Command Respect. For some reason, the command "/lickmyboot" doesn't trigger this force-emote, but it should. Bow before me, worms!
  9. In Defence of Middle-earth. Just being in my general vicinity is enough to make you awesome. While everyone else has to swim across Lake Nenuial to reach the Blue Lady, we captains levitate there instead.
  10. Banners. See that? That's my own personal dude carrying my own personal flag. Back o' the line, b*tch.
Master of Toons

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Trials of Piersyn Wyne, Part 7

I am beginning to get very anxious: father has obviously been trying to delay my leaving Bree as long as possible, always devising new tasks for me or claiming the Watch cannot lose another man just now for whatever reason. I know he means well, but do not think I should delay much longer. I feel as if I am being given a choice to make which will determine the course of the rest of my life. Something tells me that if I do not set out very soon I shall never do so. Which is not to say I would be doing anything “wrong,” necessarily, if I did remain in Bree. I’m afraid I cannot explain it any better than that at present; it is just a feeling I have.

The past few days have been full of the usual business of keeping the peace and (when father is not watching) preparing for my journey to the Blue Mountains. Yesterday I was sent to investigate a “situation” at Pierson’s Farm, a short ways south of Bree-town. The landowner insists his crops are being raided by brigands, but there is nothing to show that for certain. Besides, short of setting an ambush for the robbers at his farm by night, I don’t really see what the Watch can do for him, and we simply don’t have the men for that kind of thing. I suggested he and his son learn something in the way of archery in order to better defend themselves if they do get into trouble, and had to leave it at that.

There was a very bizarre thing which happened to me just this morning that I probably ought to record here, although I have no idea whether it will prove important later or not. I was at the jail around the first hour practicing my spear- and shield-work on the training dummies there. Many other Watchmen were present as well, since the early morning is often the only opportunity we have during the day to train, and it is invigorating, besides. Anyway, I had just finished some parrying exercises (from which my wrist was becoming exceedingly sore), when I noticed a woman watching me intently. She was seated on a bench inside the small garden area just to the northwest outside the jail-yard gate. Since I needed a rest anyway, I decided to store my weapons and speak to her. She rose quickly, as soon as I had opened the iron gate and continued to watch me expectantly as I strode over.

“Good morning,” I said, loudly.

She hadn’t moved toward me at all, and appeared to be eyeing my right hand. At my greeting, she raised her eyes to mine and smiled. But it was not a kind smile. As I closed the distance between us, I began quickly assessing her appearance. Her hair and her eyes were brown with nothing notable about them. Her face was certainly fair to look upon while the simple dress she wore hid most of her features. Her arms were folded in front of her and she carried no gear. There was little else to read on her, save that her face seemed to me hard, as if she had done much travel under the sun and in the wind. She spoke no word to me.

“Can I help you?” I asked, a bit uncomfortable with the silence. I was already reproaching myself for having walked weaponless outside of the jail-yard. Bree is not a dangerous place by any means, but Watchmen have been known to be attacked by ruffians in certain spots, such as Beggar’s Alley, and especially of late. Nor would it have been the first time someone from the Watch or the Guard had been ambushed and then robbed after being lured into complacency by a pretty face. This time, however, the woman answered me.

“How’s your wrist?” she asked. Her voice was clear and pleasant to hear, but it also carried a tinge of scorn.

“Perfectly fine,” I lied. I could already feel my forearm muscles cramping painfully. Had I been asked to, I could scarcely have handled a broom with any effect at that point.

“Hm,” was all she answered at first. I had the uncomfortable feeling she knew I couldn’t so much as make a fist with my right hand by now.

“You’ll want to practice couching your spear,” she said, “rather than trying to get more range by holding it so far down the shaft. You gain range but lose flexibility.”

I admit I was speechless for a moment. She raised her eyebrows at me and I tried to recover my tongue.

“I wasn’t expecting combat advice…”

“From a woman? And why not? You’ll also find that grip makes it much harder to parry, makes it very difficult to extract the blade if you actually manage to land a blow, and also tends to tire your wrist over-quickly.”

“I was going to say: I wasn’t expecting combat advice on such a fine and quiet morning,” I finished with a smile. “I have not seen you within the hedges of Bree-town before, so perhaps you are not aware that even our womenfolk have been known to take up arms when our need is dire.”

“I know it well,” she said. “And, while you may not have seen me here before, nevertheless here before I have been. I am a Bree-lander by birth – my home was in Archet.”

“Was?” I asked. At this point I was determined to learn more about this stranger before I was required to divulge anything useful about myself.

“Was,” she repeated. “Now my home is anywhere my business takes me. Today, it takes me to Bree.”

“And what might your business be?”

“That’s no concern of yours,” she answered.

“Indeed? As a member of the Bree-town Watch, let me assure you it can become my business very quickly.”

“Oh, don’t try to get all official with me,” she replied with a scoff. “I’m here selling wares at Three Farrow. Is that enough for you?”

“I suppose so. And staying at the Pony?”

“Yes, at the Pony. Mystery solved?” she asked sarcastically.

“No,” I said, frowning, but still with a smile. “I believe this must be the first time I’ve ever met a lone woman, roaming the Bree-land selling whatever kind of wares while bearing no sign of a caravan nor any manner of defense.”

“And this isn’t your first time either. You have been less than observant.” Her eyes darted to her right. Following her look, I finally noticed a muscular horse standing beside a house; the steed had been almost completely obscured by a large bush.

“That is a magnificent animal!” I exclaimed, truly impressed. I also noted the varied gear strapped to the saddle, including a compact but very richly carved crossbow.

“Yes, she is.”

“That is no horse of Bree,” I said. “What land does she call home?”

“The land of Rohan. Now, listen…”

“You have come all the way from Rohan?”

“Yes, and I need you…”

“Are all of the steeds in that land like to this one?”

“I haven’t all day to stand about chatting with you, Watchman,” she said, placing her hands on her waist.

“Piersyn,” I said.

“Listen, Watchman,” she continued, completely ignoring me, “we’ve decided to extend to you our invitation…”

“Invitation to where?” I asked.

“Would you stop asking questions and listen to me? It’s not where, it’s what. We’ve decided to extend to you the invitation to use our trading network. You are planning on leaving Bree soon, are you not?”

“Yes, but how could you…”

“Never mind that. All you need to know is, when you need gear befitting an adventurer, you will be able to find our representatives at every major trading post in Eriador.”

I opened my mouth, then shut it again.

“What?” she asked.

“May I ask a question?”

She sighed. “Yes, ask me your question.”

“What need would I have of your people? Why would I need new equipment?”

The woman laughed aloud. “You’ll realize the need quickly enough, if you ever learn to wield that splinter of yours properly,” she said. “Also, you won’t last long enough to forge a hero’s legend in that,” she pointed at my doublet. “I doubt that leather would turn so much as a kitchen knife.”

I looked down at my clothing with no response to her observation. She moved to her horse and drew something out of the saddlebag.

“As I was saying, when you do realize the need, look for this token,” In her hand, she revealed a curious circular emblem. The circle itself was wrought of fine gold into some flowing script I could not read. Inside the circle, I saw a small sword and a red quill crossed over an anvil of jet.

“You can find us in any market throughout the northern world,” she continued, then looked to mount her horse.

“Let me…” I began, as I started to position myself to assist her onto the horse. But she swung herself atop the beast before I had hardly begun to move.

“No need,” she said, tossing her hair out of her face.

“And for whom would I look? What is the name of this organization?” I asked, trying to learn whatever I could as the conversation appeared to be rapidly drawing to a close. The woman stopped and looked down at me with a grave expression, as if deciding whether or not to trust me with whatever she was about to say. When she spoke, her voice was little more than a whisper, as if she feared someone might overhear her, even though hardly anyone was awake at that hour.

“We are The Artisans’ Circle,” she said, “And we can help you.”

“And for whom should I look? You? What is your name?”

She smiled and, in the same hushed, almost fearful voice said, “No, I think not.”

Then she spurred her horse and galloped off toward the South Gate.

The Lord of the Rings Film Performance Review Series: Galadriel

Ha HA! You thought I forgot about the LOTR film series, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?!?!

Well, you were right – I completely forgot about it for months. But now it’s back, and now it’s back-er than ever. Or something. Let’s get to it…

Galadriel: Cate Blanchett could have been born for this role. She’s a perfect fit, from her regal bearing right down to her voice which is “deeper than a woman’s wont.” Once again we see the immensely positive impact the right actor with the right training and experience can have on a role or even on an entire film. 

Like many of the screenplay’s secondary characters, Galadriel doesn’t get a ton of face-time. Therefore, the actor must use the moments available to them to convey the critical messages their role was included to convey. In Galadriel’s case, the primary message concerns the Ring and the terrible power it can wield in the hands of a mighty Bearer. So far, we have seen Bilbo’s struggle with his possession of the Ring, Frodo’s susceptibility to it when commanded by the Black Riders to wear it, and Gandalf’s abject fear when freely offered it. Each of these encounters with the Ring’s malevolent will has a different flavor, and each flavor gives us a deeper understanding of the Ring’s evil nature. It has, as Gandalf says in Chapter 2, “an unwholesome power” which can attack the mind and will of anyone aware of it, gnawing at their reason and exacerbating their sins in order to control them and bring about the will of the Ring’s master – going to any lengths to reunite the two separated energies.

Although it does not appear in the movie, Elrond (and Gandalf, for a second time) refuse to carry the Ring at the Council in Rivendell, saying, “I will fear to take the Ring to hide it. I will not take the Ring to wield it.” Returning to the film, we see Boromir begin to succumb to the Ring’s wiles on the slopes of Caradhras. Up until the Ring reaches Galadriel, however, we are left with mere hints as to what might happen were the Ring to have its way and end up in the hands of one of the Wise and Great. In the gardens of Lothlorien, however, the veil is more fully thrown back, as it were, and we get a somewhat clearer understanding of just why all of these powerful individuals are so afraid of the “trifle that Sauron fancies.” But before we dive into that pool, let us set the stage.

Peter Jackson creates a very unique environment for us in Lothlorien. For one thing, the audience is a bit fatigued at this stage of the film, having just escaped from Moria and having our hearts ripped out through our noses by the tear-jerking scenes depicting Gandalf’s sacrifice for the Quest. Suddenly, we find ourselves in this eerie forest, complete with mysterious lights, haunting music (Howard Shore’s use of tri-tonal intervals and tight harmonies is nothing short of genius here), and imposing Elven lords, ladies, and warlike marchwardens all work together to let us know we’re not in Kansas anymore. Jackson also takes a very interesting director’s liberty throughout the scenes leading up to Galadriel’s mirror: he plays much of the action in slow-motion. But not super-slow-motion – it is not slow enough to be comical or burdensome to the audience, but he slows the film down just enough to create a feeling in the viewers that something isn’t as it should be; there is something otherworldly about this place, and we’re not quite sure whether it means our heroes harm or not. Yes, these are Elves we’re visiting with, but we almost feel as if we’re being enchanted by them – as if we’re being led into a trap to be ambushed by unknown and unseen forces. If you deliberately watch the film while pretending you have no idea whether Galadriel is friend or foe, you’ll find Jackson is hinting the Elf queen might have a menacing power she is hiding from her guests. He does this on purpose to create doubt in the audience’s mind as to what will happen next.

When Frodo offers Galadriel the Ring, Blanchett’s finest acting moments of the film are revealed to us. First, she maintains her regal bearing and betrays her shock at Frodo’s offer with a mere parting of the lips. This moment is very brief, but Blanchett uses it masterfully to convey her character’s surprise. Next, a trembling hand reaches for the Ring. Then, Blanchett withdraws her hand and we see the great she-Elf with other vision. Matching Tolkien’s description of her, Jackson suddenly makes her positively radiate power using light and film techniques, turning her into the image of a “terrible and worshipful” goddess. Blanchett’s voice is altered as well and, through both musical themes and an extreme close-up of the Ring itself, Galadriel delivers one of Tolkien’s (many, many, many) superb lines, “All shall love me and despair!”

In this way, the audience sees that the Ring, even when given something so beautiful as the lovely Galadriel as its canvas, turns that beauty to sheer power and tyrannical domination. All of the hints and warnings we’ve received thus far from Gandalf and others become a very real and disquieting threat right before our eyes – and that before she so much as lays a finger on the golden thing.

The following moment is equally important: we see Blanchett’s face turn fearful as the vision passes and she shrinks back to her normal self. It is the only time we ever see Galadriel truly rattled – the horror Blanchett’s expression conveys as she realizes what she might become were she to embrace the power of the Ring is what allows her to “pass the test,” as she puts it. The deeper implications of this cannot be overstated: by refusing the Ring, Galadriel is refusing to use Sauron’s own power against him, which is the only way her people can hope to survive on this side of the Great Sea. Had she taken the Ring, she would have had the power to stop the Elves’ decline in Middle-earth. “But that is not how it would end, alas,” she rightly recognizes. Her decision condemns both her people and her beloved homeland “to forget and to be forgotten” under the constant thrumming of the centuries.

As I mentioned waaaaay back when analyzing the performance of Sir Ian Mckellen, the portrayal of non-human creatures in film is a tricky business for any actor, perhaps even more so when one is not given an excessive amount of time to explore the ins and outs of the species. In her role, Blanchett does a wonderful job in showing us how even a well-meaning person, when granted sufficient power, will inevitably become a tyrant and a monster, no matter how lovely they may appear or how well-meaning their original intentions. By accepting the Ring and setting herself in a position to challenge Sauron for control of the mortal lands, Galadriel would have been working directly at odds with the will of Eru, who had decreed that Men would rule the latter days of Arda. Even if she had succeeded in conquering the Dark Lord, she would have done little more than slow the inevitable march of time while surrendering her soul in the process. Blanchett’s fabulous Shakespearean acting lets us witness Galadriel making this horrible Sisyphean choice and, thankfully, reaching the right decision.

Master of Toons

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Padhric's Peculiar Pasta and Poultry

Padhric's Peculiar Pasta and Poultry

I dreamed up this delicious pasta dish today out of random ingredients I had laying around. I was supposed to make Sloppy Joes tonight, but I forgot to get the beef out so it could thaw. Instead, I whipped this up, and it was a big hit with Mrs. Pad!
  • You will need a 26 oz. bag of grilled frozen chicken strips. You could also go natural and cut some chicken breast into strips, as if you were going to make fajitas. Pan fry the chicken thoroughly in a bit of olive oil. Season with some freshly crushed rosemary.
  • At the same time, boil 1 pound of frozen broccoli heads. You want to smash the bag up some so the heads are smaller than usual. It's ok if you get a lot of tiny florets... They do very well for texture.
  • Also boil one pound of penne pasta al dente. Nothing special about this step.
  • Once all three ingredients are done, combine them vigorously in a large bowl or serving dish. Then, liberally blanket in a Italian salad dressing. Use as much or as little as you want, to taste. You can also use garlic Italian, zesty Italian, etc. I also added a sprinkling of oregano. Parsley or sage might be good too. Finally, you might try capers on the finished dish, if you like capers. I do, and they complemented the meal quite well.
Serve hot! This makes about six servings.
Master of Toons

Friday, March 4, 2016

Three Times the Fun on a Friday Night

Saxolf continued his quest to gather allies in his desire to one day stare down Draigoch the Red, the worm that destroyed his home many years ago. He made some progress tonight by teaming with Lesraldor and Celodus as the trio tackled trials galore in Garth Agarwen, Iobar's Peak, and Goblin-town.
Saxolf (that's me) and Ninduraldor (Les, right) survey the landscape in the Barrows of Garth Agarwen.

Saxolf (center) busts a move on Ivar's altar after he, Les (left), and Celodus complete the challenge.

The team stops for a breather as they battle their way through Goblin-town.

"Hmm... I see a beautiful butterfly!"

A perfect spot for some tea and crumpets. Too bad our host was not at home.

For more information about the Dawnbreakers, please visit

Master of Toons

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Trials of Piersyn Wyne, Part 6

Today I visited every corner of the market square trying to get an idea of the types of supplies I might need for my journey to the Blue Mountains. I picked up some traveling rations, some light tools, and several other necessities, so I am off to a good start. The problem I keep running into is money: no one who joins the Watch does so in order to get rich, I can tell you, so I am not sure if I will be able to fund my little trip. I don't have much skill as a hunter, either, so food is going to be a key consideration.

I also popped into the Three Farrow Crafting Hall and spoke with the Master of Apprentices to get his opinion on what one might need on such a journey. He was overly curious about my leaving, but that is Bree-folk for you. He did give me some ideas, but he kept trying to convince me to learn some craft or other. "All the great adventurers know at least one craft," he kept saying. "How else do you think they know how to make their own clothes to fend off the cold? Or craft a bow from a yew branch to catch game? Or properly cook that game in the midst of the Wild? Mercy me! Children, these days!" I finally agreed to let him teach me about forestry. This was a ruse, of course: I was bred in Combe, which has the finest lumber yard in all of the northern world, so he didn't end up teaching me much, but it did silence him and allow me to get on about my work.

I think I am getting close to the start of my own adventure.

The Trials of Piersyn Wyne, Part 5

After writing down everything from yesterday evening, I spent some time considering my future. The question before me seems to be: should I remain here and support my home of more than twenty years or should I try and learn more about my past? As much as I love father and the Bree-land, I cannot ignore this strange fate. I am compelled to learn more, but where to begin?

The morning dawned crisp and clear and the cool air rang with one of my favorite sounds: the clatter of hoofs and waggon-wheels on the cobblestone streets as they splash through puddles after a good rain. Home never felt like such a desirable place, and yet I had finally made up my mind to begin a journey -- a search for knowledge and truth. This journal has suddenly taken on a very different meaning and purpose: I will use it to record my adventures and document whatever I can learn about my past and my family's history.

I won't go into everything father and I said to each other at our parting -- it was not easy for either of us. But, I assured him, I won't stay away forever. In fact, he knows about my first destination quite well, even if he's never been there himself. Since I now hold the strange medallion, and since the writing on it is in a Dwarven mode, and since the Bree-land scholars were of no real use (a fact which proves true far more often than not, if you ask me), I decided I should seek out someone who might know a thing or two about Dwarven runes: the Dwarves. Specifically, the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains, who are known to travel through Bree on their trade routes. The largest settlement we know of is at Thorin's Halls in the Blue Mountains, which the Elves once called Ered Luin. I understand it is a great colony with an immense volume of trade. Surely some Dwarf there should be able to tell me more about my medallion, if anyone could.

The journey will not be a short one, however: Thorin's Halls are located in the far northwestern region of the Blue Mountains and there are any number of leagues I must cross before I ever reach that land, including the land of the hobbits, which they call the "Shire." We have hobbits here in Bree, of course, but they are mostly sensible folk who mind their own business. The local Staddle-folk (mostly hobbits) rarely have anything flattering to say about Shire-hobbits, although I'm not sure how they form their opinions since none of the Bree-hobbits I'm familiar with have been known to travel so far from home.

In any case, I at least now have a place to begin. There remains a great deal to do before I set out, however. For one thing, I will need to resign my post with the Watch and do my part to arrange for a replacement, which might not be easily accomplished. I also do not have a ready supply of provisions, tools, or other items I might need on the Road or in the Wild. I will also need weapons, since I must return mine to the Watch at the Bree-town Jail. This might not be an altogether bad turn of events, however. I would never say this openly within ten miles of Bree-town, but the Watch's weapons and armor are not necessarily of the highest quality. I think this is one of those things everyone on the Watch knows well, but they will never admit it since the stuff is all crafted right here in our little land. If I am to be an adventurer, though, I will need equipment of far higher quality. I have no idea how to solve that problem, but I will think on it over the coming days.

The Trials of Piersyn Wyne, Part 4

I confess I do not know how to write down the many things that happened to me this day. Right now I am seated by my own bedside with a single candle glowing softly. The weather cleared, but the wind turned southeast and blows terribly chill. The streets of Bree are deserted this night: it is as if all the world knows of my sorrow.

I suppose the best thing for me to do is simply recount everything here, just as it happened. Late last night, despite the driving rain and howling winds, Leecher Cartwell of Combe visited me at my room in the Comb and Wattle. He had brought me a poultice to help close the wound on my leg. I thanked him heartily, and he left me to my sleep.

I slept much longer than I had intended, not waking until well past noon, but I felt quite myself again. My leg remained stiff and is still sore to the touch, nonetheless I immediately prepared to leave. I purchased a fine breakfast (or lunch, rather) from the innkeeper (the hard cider at the Comb and Wattle is an exceptionally fine brew!) and started for home. It is not a long trek by any measure, but I found it difficult anyway. Finally, I reached the Boar Fountain and saw my home just beyond.

Father greeted me as he always does, and soon we were deep in talk over meat and ale at the table. I will spare you the trivial things of which we spoke -- the latest edicts from Mayor Tenderlarch, the banishment of criminals -- they are all so very insignificant compared with what happened when I told father of my last moments with Jagger Jack.

"And then the villain said to me, 'You will never win this war, Gondorian!' What a fool, that cannot tell a Bree-lander from... father?"

Father's face had suddenly fallen ash-white and his hands fell to his sides.

"Are you not well? What in Middle-earth is wrong?" I asked him.

"How could he know? What else did he say to you? Anything else?" I had never seen him so visibly upset about anything.

"No, nothing. He perished a moment later," I answered. He was silent for a long while.

"It was nothing but the ravings of a lunatic and a fool, you should pay it no heed," I said.

"Yes. Yes, you are right, of course."

"Father," I hesitated. "What does this mean? Is there something you are not telling me?"

He opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it again. He looked at me and, for the first time in my life, I saw tears welling in his eyes.

"I wish to the heavens you had not asked me that question, boy. I have taught you never to lie, and I will not be proven a man of no honor, to fail in following my own teachings."

Slowly, he raised himself from his chair, turned his back to me, and walked to the nearby cupboard. From far back in its darkest corner, he brought forth a small strongbox wrought of steel and blackened iron. He placed this on the table between us, then reached for his belt. He always carried all of the important keys to the town on his belt, but from among the mass on its large, heavy ring he drew a small key of artisanal design. The lock of the strongbox clacked loudly when he turned it, as if it had never been opened before. Then, father reached in, holding something I could not see in the palm of his hand. He looked at me slowly, his voice cracked with pain.

"You... are not my son," he said at last. I was speechless. He held out his hand. On it, there lay a small golden coin, or perhaps it was a medallion. It was engraved using Dwarven Cirth with the single word: WYNE.

"I wanted to tell you for many years, but it never seemed the right time. Now, I think, fate has conspired to force this moment on me at last." He sighed heavily, and sank back into his chair. "I can only hope you are not angry with me."

I did not answer at once, but it was not for uncertainty: I was merely overwhelmed at what had just been revealed to me. "No, father, and so I will always call you, for you have been my father whether by blood or by chance," I said. He smiled, but did not look directly at me yet. "Still, I would know what you know of me and ... my past."

Father breathed deeply, then told me this tale.

"First of all, you should know that I've always loved you, Piers. Always. You know I've always told you your mother died in childbirth, and that was true. But poor Lucy did not die in your birth -- it was your sister's, who passed from illness before her first winter had gone. And so I was left alone for the most miserable two years of my life.

"But, twenty-one years ago I was still a younger man and, even as you have always known me, I was a regular member of the Watch. One night, not much unlike this one, what with the wind and the rain blowing so, I was on assignment watching the Great East Road south of town. I fancied I heard a commotion out ahead of me, though it was hard to be sure in the gale. I rode forward some ways, for what seemed like hours, always fearing to stumble upon some brigand raiding party and find myself at their mercy, but I met no one.

"Suddenly, I saw a tumbled mass of carts and waggons, just off the Road. It was very dark, but I'd say it was roughly a furlong east of the Yellow Tree, somewhere south of the marshes. Anyway, there was nothing in sight save the remains of what must have been a sizable caravan heading westward, most likely toward Bree itself.

"Naturally, I began to search among the wreckage for any indication of what fate had befallen the travelers. What I found was you, underneath an overturned horsecart."

"There was nothing to show where I had come from or why I was left behind?" I asked.

"No. Nothing. Nothing save that gold piece there in front of you, which I found trod into the mud nearby."

"But the brigand I slew in the Chetwood -- he called me a Gondorian. Was there some clue in the lost caravan to show it was from Gondor?" I asked. "And how would the brigand know such information in the first place?"

"As to how this Jack knew anything about you, I have no idea. Nor had I ever heard of him before you told me how you defeated him. The thought would seem incredible that some nameless highway robber would be tracking an orphaned foreigner in the Bree-land for twenty years. But then you also mentioned those dark-skinned Men that were with him. Who knows what land they came from or what lord they serve?

"Certainly I noticed the waggons and carts in the caravan were far more opulent than anything you would see in this part of the world, so I quickly decided they must have been from a larger kingdom. Dale was the first place to come to my mind, although Gondor is certainly a possibility. It is a terribly long ways off and the paths between the stone-land and Bree-land have not been safe for many long years. Nor have I ever heard of such a large emissary to have passed through Bree in my lifetime. I focused instead on that medallion there. I figured it was my best chance of learning what had happened to those folk."

"Of course I took it straight to the Scholar's Stair Archives to ask them what it might mean, but they could tell me nothing. Well, except that the writing used the Dwarf-runes that were common among that folk, but we get enough Dwarves trafficking through Bree to know their writings well enough, even if we can't always read them aright."

"Well, whatever I am or am not, I am certainly no Dwarf!" In spite of the gravity of the situation, I could not help but find myself grimly amused by all of this intrigue. Father chuckled softly.

"No, but I really have no idea what you are, although your friend in the Chetwood seemed to know something we do not, that much is clear. In any case, since there was nothing else for it, I took you in and raised you myself. I felt you were brought into my life at just the right time and I always tried to bring you up as my own son. I somehow knew this day might come. And, while it may seem to have come too quickly, perhaps that is not so." He looked at me.

"You are a strong man, Piers. Much stronger than I ever was, even when I was your age. As I look at you now, with the eyes of a fellow man and not as a father, I can see you could be a great soldier. But I am no Elf, with orbs of crystal to see the future as the old tales tell it -- I am just an old Watchman."

We were silent for a while.

"I ... expect you'll be wanting to learn more about yourself. Your heritage. Whether your... real family ... might still be found?" He asked, sounding as though he both knew the answer and wished to not hear it.

"I'm not sure," I said, but a great desire to travel the world had often gnawed at me, and now it flamed up with a furious intensity. Even as I spoke the words, I knew that father had already guessed my heart.

"Perhaps you should sleep on it," was what he said aloud. "No doubt things will seem very different in the morning."

"Yes, father," I said reflexively, and stood to head to my room.

"You know," he said, stopping me, "you don't have to call me that if you don't feel it is right. There is no denying I'm not really your father, and I have withheld the truth from you all these years."

I shook my head. "No. I call you that because that is what you are to me. Even if I was really the son of the lord of Gondor, no man could never wish for a kinder, wiser, or more honorable father than you."

"Reckon that's taking it a bit far," he said, clearly touched but trying not to show it, "Still, it's not right, is it? I don't even know you true name."

"My name," I said, "is Piersyn Wyne."

The Trials of Piersyn Wyne, Part 3

I have been delayed again: the people of Combe very nearly begged for me to help them in the face of the rising threat of the Blackwolds and I could not walk away from them, since I was brought up as a boy here.

I succeeded in defeating the Blackwolds' leader, but I must admit I am rather shaken by the experience. I thought they were nothing more than a rag-tag bunch of ruffians. And maybe they were, but if so then they have aligned themselves with something far more powerful. I encountered some of the Blackwolds' new allies in the depths of their headquarters in the North Chetwood, and what I saw and felt there I cannot really explain. Perhaps there is something to the ravings of those Rangers after all.

One other thing I should probably record here: as I struck down Jagger Jack, the Blackwolds' wolf-master, he said to me, "You will never win this war, Gondorian." I laughed at him as he passed -- surely it was nothing but the ravings of a dying man.

A hard rain has begun falling. I returned to the Comb and Wattle to recover from my ordeal. Despite my training and the brigands' total lack of discipline, I was wounded in the leg by one of their filthy wolf half-breeds. The wound is not bad, but it will slow me down in returning to father with my reports from Archet and Combe, and I am already long away. But, with the weather turning foul and my leg in no condition to carry me back to town, I should rest a bit and not push myself too hard.

The Trials of Piersyn Wyne, Part 2

I'm happy to report the spiders have been driven off. I managed to track the spider-queen to the inside Perhaps even father will think kindly on my deeds here in Archet.

The spiders had been sighted in the cellar of a local farmer's home, which the disgusting creatures had completely overrun. I severely wounded Iornaith with a well-aimed javelin, and the rest of the fight was fairly simple. The people of Archet are quite happy with the way I've discharged my duties -- they've even begun calling me "Spider-Foe," which I think is ridiculous, though I don't doubt they mean well.

But I have loitered here long enough -- the townsfolk are safe and now need hammers and nails more than swords and spears. As soon as I am rested I will return to Bree and deliver my report.

The Trials of Piersyn Wyne, Part 1

I appealed to the local hunters for aid against the Blackwolds.
My name is Piersyn and I am the only son of the Second Watcher of Bree-town. Most everyone just calls me Piers. I am keeping this log in the hopes it may prove useful to the Watch after I complete my assignment here. There have been rumors coming out of Archet about some foreign man who has fallen badly ill, so I was dispatched to investigate and ensure he is up to no mischief. I arrived in Archet to find it turned nearly upside down. I won't go into the details -- Captain Brackenbrook's naivete, the treachery of Calder Cob, or the slaughter we faced at the hands of the Blackwolds. That tale has already been told and re-told throughout the whole length of the Bree-land, and my own part in it wildly exaggerated. My private thoughts on the matter I shall relay to father once I've compiled my official report to the Town Watch.

In the meantime, however, the people of Archet desperately require aid. I will remain here long enough to help them and, possibly, to request assistance be sent from Combe, as they have woodworkers there of some skill. But I cannot tarry overlong here: the curious matter of these brooding Rangers concerns me, and I will not be responsible for another of our villages coming under attack if this raid on Archet was somehow connected with them. Father does not trust the Rangers and neither do I.

There is a Dwarf here, Atli by name, who requested my help on behalf of Archet. It seems there is a serious infestation of spiders in the area and he believes that if we can eliminate their queen we should scatter the colony. I doubt I could be of greater use to the folk here than to succeed at this task myself, so I will attempt it. I must say all of this activity has done wonders for the strength of my arm, though I do find myself hungry more often than I used. Tomorrow I will root out this Iornaith, as Atli calls it, and see what can be done about her.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Trials of Piersyn Wyne

I have begun a new and rather ambitious project I shall call The Trials of Piersyn Wyne. This saga will chronicle the personal journey of the eponymous character, a brand new human Warden from Bree, throughout his journey in Middle-earth. My intent is to use him as a "meta toon" or "completionist" character, as opposed to a leveling character. I was always more focused in the past on reaching the level cap with my characters in order to participate in end-game material, so now I will endeavor to take it slowly and enjoy the trip.

Piersyn will, of course, experience all of the usual challenges we all faced when traveling in Middle-earth, but his tale will have several unforeseeable twists. You will see plenty of activities you will recognize from your own story, but there will be quite a bit that may surprise you. I hope you find it entertaining!

You can read The Trials of Piersyn Wyne by clicking on the appropriate button on the navigation menu. New entries will be added as the character advances through his ordeals. Enjoy!

Master of Toons

Fun With LOTRO Pics

"I told you guys it was a bad idea to open a nail salon in this ZIP code, but noooooooo..."

Master of Toons

Saturday, February 20, 2016

School, Library, and Warg Pens for Saturday Instance Night

Prabo (pictured DISTANT left, background) was busy eating a snack, so Besil (Padhric) and Svartharth (foreground) rush to meet and defeat the Enemy's forces in the School at Tham Mirdain.

It was another action-packed Random Instance Night with the Dawnbreakers! We swiftly conquered the School and Library at Tham Mirdain, then lay waste to the Warg Pens of Dol Guldur, all in record time. Fun was had by all. Except the Wargs. And the Orcs. And the goblins. Alright, basically no one had fun but the Dawnbreakers.

To learn more about the Dawnbreakers, visit

Master of Toons

Friday, February 19, 2016

Will the Dawnbreakers' Low-Level Group Return?

Padhric (right) as a lowly level 25-ish Burglar outside of Ost Guruth with the Dawnbreakers. Padhric began life as part of the Dawnbreakers' weekly low-level group, which may be starting up again soon.
The Dawnbreakers are not only recruiting, but also working to re-start our exciting and fulfilling low-level groups! We may start up one or more such groups, which typically run on Thursday and Sunday nights (depending on the number of participants) at 8 p.m. Central.

The low-level groups are special because they involve players either creating new characters or using a very low-level alt to play through the game from the beginning. We have a blast playing the game the way it was always meant to be played!

If you are interested in joining us for fun and camaraderie, be sure to apply for membership in the Dawnbreakers before the new groups begin their adventures. Learn more at

Master of Toons

Monday, February 15, 2016

Calling All Recruits!

Now that the server transfer is complete and my characters have begun to settle into their new home, I've started allowing some of them to participate in Pick Up Group (PUG) runs. These prove very useful for getting to know prospective recruits better than a random private message. In fact, I've recruited a pair of new folks in as many days: Stiletta and Celondus, by name.

The Dawnbreakers are actively recruiting! If you are on the Arkenstone server and are looking for a good kinship home, be sure to consider us. Visit for more information.

Master of Toons

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Tale of Heroism, Gallantry, and Radioactive Cheese

The Dawnbreakers ride (er... walk) again! Pictured from left to right: Angylya, Darynn (that's me in other guise), and Olliraldor (Dawnbreakers kinship leader Lesraldor on his young mini).

Lately I've been about as communicative as a deaf mute with a speech impediment who's had his tongue surgically removed and recently died. This has been largely because I have been much less active in-game than has been my wont. But, with the Dawnbreakers having completed the transfer to the Arkenstone server and with recruiting in full swing, things may be picking back up again.

The Dawnbreakers recount their adventures to the Bree-folk.
This evening, a few of us Dawnbreakers decided to re-kill a bunch of dead things on the off-chance that they might actually stay dead this time (spoiler: it didn't work). Our group consisted of one Warden and two Minstrels, so we tromped through Haudh Iarchith and the rest of the Barrow-downs like a whirlwind Simon & Garfunkel band on crack, except with much better hair and excessive hat plumage. By the time it was over, the three of us had rocketed forward at least three levels, we each flew through two levels of Bree-land reputation, and the zombie apocalypse had been averted. Again. We also managed to do a little something about the Barrow-downs' spider infestation since Angylya was foresighted enough to bring along a can of Raid. Of course, it was empty because Raid hadn't been invented yet, but it did make an excellent bludgeon after my sword was snapped in half by an especially grumpy Kergrim. He kept grunting something about us wantonly eradicating his species, but I couldn't hear him very well over the sound of my clubbing him to death with my empty can of Raid.

Anyway, when it was all said and done, I finally learned how to use shields (Lesson 1: face the opponent...) and collected some halfway decent jewellery. Oh, and of course I also found a delectable lump of cheese which I immediately scarfed down. I was surprised to learn this cheese caused my rapid and agonizing demise. Who knew? Where I'm from, 4,000-year-old cheese that's been stored in the same general vicinity as a bunch of putrid corpses that have been reanimated for the purpose of conquering the world was always a well-known delicacy. Bree-land is such an odd place.

Stay tuned for more adventures from the Dawnbreak -- hey look! Cheese!

Master of Toons

Saturday, January 2, 2016

What Does She Think I Am... An Overgrown Rodent?!

Maybe Uthi should have asked Santa for some cologne at Christmas... this poor Supplier doesn't want to be anywhere him!
"Uh... I'm down here, lady."

Master of Toons