Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Age of Copper

The Age of Copper

The copper age was brief. The luster of
that metal led the eye to stare, the hand to grasp.
So glowing and resilient, what smith could handle
It but covet not? And so I did.

Some men think copper stern and hard. A mace
Head they would make it, or nails. But I
Did revel in its softness, its slender neck.
For it is green shelter in December snow.

So quick are copper's hot, electric limbs
That, parted though it be from me, I feel
It still in hair and fingers both. Arsenic
Is a slow and body-wracking death.

Say not that I did shun this noble metal
But rather, say that copper shunneth me.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Man-Elf Love

With the Spring festival in the air, it seems a good time to address a particular roleplaying issue that can cause a lot of arguments among lorehouds. As most Tolkien enthusiasts know, romantic relations between Elves and Men are very rare in Middle-earth. Indeed, each is a legendary pairing. The first, Beren and Luthien, was so personal to Tolkien himself that he had these names inscribed on the tombstones of he and his wife. Elendil and his wife sired Elros (first King of Numenor) and Elrond (first king of the Superior Study). The most famous example of Man-Elf love, of course, is that of Arwen and Aragorn; this love affair, betrothal, and marriage is the archetype for most romantic roleplay in Lord of the Rings. Purists will note that there is one other example of inter-racial love in the setting; Imrazor the Numenorean, who despite his name was the lord of Dol Amroth in Belfalas, rescued a handmaid of the elf-maid Mithrellas and had two children with her before she disappeared without a trace. The son went on to found the line of the Princes; we are told nothing of the daughter.

That’s it. To be completely loyal to the setting, there should be no other marriages between Men and Elves. But players are players, and they want to have fun. Surely, there must be a way to make that possible? Is abstinence the only lore-appropriate solution? Where can we find wiggle room, in a way that honours Tolkien’s design yet still gives players room to, well, play?

There are some obvious routes to take. First, is anonymity. The Lord of the Rings is a manuscript written by people who lived in Middle-earth. They didn’t know everything, and did not record everything they did know. There might be marriages between Men and Elves which they knew nothing about, or for whatever reason decided weren’t important enough to be collected with those of Luthien, Ellendil, and Arwen. The example of Imrazor is a good one for inspiration here: the note about a strain of Elvish in that family line is actually from unpublished sources like Unfinished Tales and the People of Middle-earth; it was slated for inclusion in the Appendix to Return of the King but cut for reasons of space. Surely there could have been other examples like it, which were also cut? To answer yes, we have to acknowledge what makes Imrazor’s romance inferior to the others: Mithrellas’ handmaid was not an Elf of any particularly legendary stature. She did not have Luthien as an ancestor (as Arwen does) and she’s not descended from Noldor or anything fancy like that. She’s just a plain old Sindarin Elf. For his part, Imrazor was a great Man, but not one of the Dunedain. His two children were not Elves. They were counted among the people of Men. (Please don’t use the word “Human” while you are in Middle-earth. No one in Tolkien’s writings ever refers to a man or a woman as “Human.” Dwarves and Elves do not refer to “humans.” Every time you say “Human” in LotRO, you make meta-Strider cry.)

Another easy way out of this is to play the Avari card; the Avari are what Tolkien and some in the setting refer to as “dark elves.” They’re not black skinned, they don’t use poison, and they don’t worship spiders. Instead, they are “dark” because they never saw the light of Aman, the Eden-like paradise across the sea. They have always, and will always, remain in Middle-earth until the end of the world. And this means that, since they don’t know the Valar, their culture and ways could be quite different than what we expect. Indeed, Tolkien tells us almost nothing about them. Frankly, they didn’t interest him very much. But they can be very useful to us, since it is somewhat easy to imagine a Dark Elf who did not realize that marrying a Man was wrong. Odd, perhaps. Remarkable, even. But not wrong. And since the deeds of the Avari are not included in the Lord of the Rings, it makes sense that this marriage is not included there either.

These two methods have a common drawback: they have little interaction with the setting. They both rely on sketching in details around the hard facts. You can’t make an Avari if you select a homeland from one of the Elf options in the LotRO menu. Imrazor’s coupling with an Elf will never be mentioned in LotRO because it exists only in texts which Turbine does not have the rights to use. We’re carrying our flashlights into the darkness here, and while that can be rewarding and fun, it doesn’t give us the frission of interacting directly with the things that Tolkien did actually write, and which can actually appear in the game.

And that, of course, means Aragorn and Arwen. This relationship, between a Man and an Elf, is happening right in front of us while we play. The War of the Ring is followed by the wedding of these two illustrious individuals. It’s only natural to want to follow suit. Indeed, let’s see if we can get out of our dilemma by asking, “What Would Arwen Do?”

Arwen has loved Aragorn for decades. She met him when he was a young man; he was pretty innocent and na├»ve, despite the death of his father and some adventures with Elladan and Elrohir. He loved her instantly, but this does not seem all that unusual. Everyone who sees Arwen falls a little bit in love with her; she’s just that beautiful and good. Aragorn’s love was of a different kind, but he had a hard time persuading Elrond of this. All Elrond could see was a young kid, and he certainly was not about to allow his daughter to marry just anyone, even if she wanted to (and it is not at all clear at this point that Arwen did want to marry Aragorn.) So Elrond laid down the law: if Arwen was going to marry a Man, then that Man would be no ordinary Man. He would be the Elessar, the king of restored Arnor and Gondor. If Aragorn could become that, then – and only then – would Elrond give his permission for Arwen to wed.

Clearly, Aragorn was not very good at meeting his girlfriend’s parents. He should have worked a bit more on that “Good to meet you, sir” handshake.

Tolkien’s characters live by a code of honour that is full of absolutes. If Elrond had created these conditions, then the only thing Aragorn could do was fulfill these conditions. The alternatives – running off together, carrying on a secret affair under Elrond’s nose – would be dishonourable and therefore unthinkable. Elrond had a gold ring above his head, and Aragorn clicked on it. Now he had a quest chain. Maybe he would rather be rolling off for Putrid Slime, I don’t know, but he didn’t stand around. He got right on it. He rode off to Rohan and served the King there as a warrior and counselor. He went on to Gondor and led an invasion of Umbar which extended Gondor’s power to the farthest it had been in centuries. He traveled with Gandalf, and learned much of the world from this Wizard. He went even to the far East and South, off any map Tolkien ever drew, where “the stars are strange.” Maybe he met Cthulhu. Well, okay, maybe not.

Eventually, he returned. And when he did, he was no longer the wet-behind-the-ears noob he had been before. He had leveled up. He was now a great man. But he was not yet great enough. He was not yet the King, and so Elrond’s approval had not yet been gained. He and Arwen could walk through Lorien, holding hands and exchanging sweet words, but not much more than that. By now, Aragorn was impressive enough that Arwen had a new respect for him, and she truly loved him in return. With a little help from Galadriel, they became engaged.

That’s pretty much where our story picks up, and the end is yet to be seen in the game. Aragorn has a lot to do: he’s Gandalf’s right hand man up through Moria, then leader of the Fellowship all the way to the Falls of Rauros and Boromir’s death. Then it’s off to rescue Merry and Pippin, find Gandalf along the way, help Theoden fight off the army of Saruman at Helm’s Deep, use the palantir to challenge Sauron (!), go through the Paths of the Dead, summon an army of Oathbreakers to the Stone of Erech, take over an entire fleet of Corsairs out of Umbar, and lead that fleet of black-sailed ships to a last minute rescue of Minas Tirith. Last on his to-do list: March to Mordor and call out Sauron. But what does Arwen do? She eventually comes to Minas Tirith, of course, but for the entirety of the War she seems to be sitting out in Rivendell, sewing Aragorn’s banner and … what?

I suggest she’s talking up Man-Elf love, that’s what.

Back in the late Middle Ages there was a thing called the “Court of Love.” It grew up in France around Eleanor of Aquitane, her daughters, and courtiers. Chretien de Troyes was one of these courtiers, and the romance “the Knight of the Cart,” which introduced Lancelot to the world, was written in this environment. The Court of Love was about encouraging romance and putting women in charge of the relationship. To do this, women assigned tests to their lovers, and only granted increasingly intimate favours to those lovers as each test was successfully completed. This was a marathon, not a sprint; men who lost patience with waiting had no sympathy from the ladies involved and were fit only for ridicule and contempt.

It’s easy to picture Arwen as a kind of Eleanor of Aquitane figure. She’s the most famous female of her age, related by blood to some of the most important and influential individuals in history. Her home, Imladris, is the destination for the world’s powerful elite. And like Eleanor, she has a lot of time on her hands with little to do. How does she pass that time? She gets some of the smartest, cleverest, most beautiful and interesting people in Rivendell and she becomes the leader of their social circle. While she sews Aragorn’s Pristine Master Standard of Hope, she and her close companions tell stories of love to one another and, in the process, define a new kind of romance – a romance between Men and Elves. A romance which will strengthen the Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor Restored. A romance which will last for not one lifetime, but for centuries. A romance which will bring new light and power into the bloodlines of the West. Tolkien almost tells us about Arwen’s court when he writes in the Tale of Years that Sam’s daughter went to Minas Tirith to become a handmaid of Arwen. And what was the name of this little hobbit-lass? Eleanor. (No, really.)

In Arwen’s Court of Love, marriage is far more important than it was in Eleanor of Aquitaine’s. Indeed, marriage and child-rearing is the ultimate goal, to be awarded only after the lover has proven his quality in test after test. Go kill that elite goblin over there and then you can walk the gardens with me. Go kill a hundred trolls and then you can hold my hand. Go learn how to play the harp and then you can touch my hair. Go get me a trophy from Carn Dum and then we can kiss. After each challenge is met, the intimacy between the two lovers goes up one incremental step. (You should read the manuals on courtly love that were actually written in the period, detailing exactly what part of your lover you could and could not touch at each stage of courtship. Hilarious.)

While all the Man-Elf loves we see in the setting are always between a Man and an Elf-maid, there’s no reason to limit Arwen’s encouragement in this way. Her Court of Love can include Elf-lords and ladies, Men and Women, all sharing their tales and between them constructing a new social order. How should Men and Elves love one another, from here on out? You see, the Lord of the Rings really only tells us how things have been up to the War. It has very little to say about what happened after. Arwen is the trend-setter in Middle-earth. She has all the style, the grace, the influence. She wears the most beautiful clothes and has the bravest husband. She’s the future Queen of the West, the Jackie Kennedy of Middle-earth. Everyone wants to be like her. And if she’s marrying a Man, well … then marrying is suddenly in. Marriage is trendy. And marrying across your race is even more trendy.

Which is all according to her plan. Sure, Aragorn will be wearing the crown and mopping up all the Orcs left over after Sauron is defeated, and he’ll be heroic and all that. But Arwen’s contribution is more long-term. If her Court of Love is successful, she will have created a whole new social class of Half-elven families who are fanatically loyal to her and Aragorn. And their lifespan is measured in centuries. Most of the Elves are leaving Middle-earth, but Arwen’s Court of Love will persuade some to stay, and their children will be mortal, part of the aristocracy of Gondor. If the new Kingdom is to last beyond Aragorn’s life, it will be in no small part due to Arwen, her influence, and the existence of these Half-elven Gondorian families.

So cheer up, all you would be lovers. There may not be a lot in the novel that encourages your romance between Man and Elf, but you have a role model to work from and she has plenty of reasons to encourage you. Find Arwen in Rivendell and pull up a spot on the floor. Start telling your tales and setting your challenges. Put your love to the test, as Arwen’s father has for her. Make sure your lover is really worth your affection. You want a love that will stand the test of time, a love for the centuries, not just for the moment. And when this War is done, and Arwen’s champion has proven himself to be a true lover, and become King, you and your love will join him and Arwen in Minas Tirith, there to bring new light and luster to the White City.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Separating the Men from the Dorfs

Back when I first started to write columns for the LotRO RP Haven one of my fellow Red Arrows suggested I write a bit on the problem of "dorfs," which is a particular form of Dwarf player character who seems to be common in LotRO. We are talking here about Dwarves who talk in a Scottish accent, who carry beer mugs into Carn Dum, and who fly into berserker rages at the sight of an Orc. They are laughable comic relief characters or, if we're lucky, gruff mentors to younger heroes. Inspiration for these depraved and sad excuses for Dwarvenkind are perhaps inspired as much by Warhammer and World of Warcraft as by Peter Jackson's trilogy and the Gimli presented by John Rhys-Davies. Sadly, they have little in common with the Dwarves of Tolkien's world, but we have been conditioned by other media so that we think we know how to roleplay a Dwarf. All of the races in Middle-earth have this issue (Elves too) but for now let's focus on the Khazad and, as Yoda would say, unlearn what we have learned.

Much of the problem with playing a Dwarf is that we have all these memorable scenes from the film that simply didn't happen in the novel. Gimli belching in Theoden's hall, then drying the beer off his mouth with his beard? Didn't happen. Gimli calling Galadriel an "Elf-witch" as they enter Lorien? Didn't happen (there's a similar exchange, but the suspicious hero is Boromir, not Gimli.) The infamous "Game Over" drinking contest from the Extended Version of Return of the King? Not in the novel. "Never trust an Elf!" No. "Not the beard!" No. "Nobody tosses a dwarf!" No. That business about the Dwarf being so loud "we coud shoot him in the dark"? No, that was Boromir too.

Of Lads and Laddies
Rule #1 (accent): No Dwarf in Middle-earth ever uses a Scottish accent, nor do they use words we associate with Scottish dialects.

Gimli may have called Legolas "lad" in the film, but neither Gimli nor any other Dwarf in the novel actually uses that word. Ever. Some players love their accents; but the truth is that they are much harder to read than they would be to listen to. Some Dwarf player characters spell their words so bizarrely that they are impossible for new roleplayers to play with. Look at it this way: when you intentionally mis-spell your text, you are imposing a demand upon those playing with you. "Decode my bizarre accent!" you say. Well, yes, I could do that. But why should I have to? Are you just that damn special? Answer: No. You're not.

And accents are not lore-appropriate. As I mentioned, they are very scarce in the novel. We do see a Cockney accent in a spot or two -- but it is not spoken by Men. It is spoken by Orcs! That's right, all of you players of Men: talking Cockney makes you sound like an Orc. Bree-landers don't have a Cockney accent.

If Dwarves don't talk with an accent, and they don't use vocabulary stolen from the Cheif Engineer of the USS Enterprise, how do they talk? Well, let's tune our palantir to Rivendell and we'll see. This is when Frodo meets an elderly and much respected Dwarf whom we can find at his camp in the south-west Misty Mountains:

'Welcome and well met!' said the dwarf, turning towards him. Then he actually rose from his seat and bowed. 'Gloin at your service,' he said, and bowed still lower.
'Frodo Baggins at your service and your family's,' said Frodo correctly.

Rule #2 (Greetings): The first person says, 'At your service.' The second person must surpass the first speaker, and offer more. 'At your service and your family's.'

This exchange is repeated several times in The Hobbit, when Thorin and his company all show up at Bag End. Bilbo is too flustered to respond properly, but all the Dwarves do their part with the sole exception of Thorin. Oakenshield, who Tolkien calls 'haughty', is far too important to offer his service to Bilbo. But Gloin is not too proud to say this to a Hobbit he has never met, the nephew of an old friend.

What do we learn here? The importance of courtesy. The Dwarves are an ancient and proud race, and they value courtesy. They expect other people to be polite to them, and they are naturally polite in return. Now, Dwarves can be rude. But their definition of "rude" does not involve direct insults. We can find an example a few pages later, in the Council of Rivendell. Legolas is telling the tale of Gollum's imprisonment by the Elves.

'... we had not the heart to keep him ever in dungeons under the earth, where he would fall back into his old black thoughts.'
'You were less tender to me,' said Gloin with a flash of his eyes, as old memories were stirred of his imprisonment in the deep places of the Elven-king's halls.
'Now come!' said Gandalf. 'Pray do not interrupt, my good Gloin. That was a regrettable misunderstanding, long set right. If all grievances that stand between Elves and Dwarves are to be brought up here, we may as well abandon this Council.'
Gloin rose and bowed, and Legolas continued...


Think about how restrained this is. Gloin and his fellow dwarves were kept prisoners for weeks in the dungeons of King Thranduil, who is Legolas' father. Chances are very good that when Gloin and the rest were brought before Thranduil, Legolas was there. In other words, Gloin and Legolas both have personal memories of this incident. And yet Gloin sat down at the table with Legolas, saying nothing about the incident until it was brought up. When he did mention it, he only alluded to it, because both he and Legolas knew full well what was being talked about. There was no angry challenge, not even a direct insult. Gloin does not insult all Elf-kind. When Gandalf asks for peace, does Gloin forgive and forget? Nothing says he does! Bowing is an apology, but the apology is not directed to Legolas. Gloin is pretty mad! Instead, the dwarf apologizes to Gandalf, and keeps his mouth shut out of respect for the others present.

This teaches us rule three:

Rule #3 (courtesy): Dwarf problems are not for others to get involved in.

If Gloin has an issue with Legolas, he'll take it up with Legolas. The rest of the Council of Elrond does not need to be bothered by it.

Now, one of the things we think we know about Dwarves and Elves is that they don't get along. The root of this quarrel is long but basically has two strands. The oldest reason is related to the Silmarils and can be found in the Silmarillion. Without going into long detail, King Thingol Greycloak hired Dwarves to put one of the Silmarils into an ancient golden necklace of Dwarven make which Thingol happened to have been given as a gift. But once the necklace got the stone, the resulting treasure was so greed-inspiring that Thingol and the Dwarves fought over it and the King was murdered. The Dwarves were later hunted down and killed by Beren, but each side thinks the other did them wrong. Now this was a long time ago and most Elves don't remember this or have any personal grudge, but there's a more recent reason for Dwarf/Elf friction: the Elves blame Dwarves for the appearance of the Balrog of Moria, which forced many Elves that lived near the Misty Mountains to flee western Lorien. Some loss of life was involved, though for Elves the sudden appearance of such a powerful evil is a crime in and of itself. Gimli and Legolas get into this issue on the outskirts of Lorien, when Legolas sings the Lay of Nimrodel.

'It is long and sad, for it tells how sorrow came upon Lothlorien, Lorien of the Blossom, when the Dwarves awakened evil in the mountains.'
'But the Dwarves did not make the evil,' said Gimli.
'I said not so; yet evil came,' answered Legolas sadly.


And that's the end of it. Gimli doesn't bring it up again, or further try to defend himself. He knows he's right, he isn't going to change Legolas' mind, best just keep quiet for the good of the Fellowship.

Gloin may be the ideal Dwarf -- respected but not conceited, wise and yet vigorous, the sort of individual which younger Dwarves would idolize. Here he is again, with a suggestion for Elrond at the Council:

'Still it might be well for all,' said Gloin the Dwarf, 'if all these strengths were joined, and the powers of each were used in league.'


That's right, an old Dwarf, who spent a spell in an Elvish prison, just suggested to the most famous Elf in the world that the Dwarves and the Elves should work together. Why? Because he knows our next rule:

Rule #4 (practicality): Give in when it makes sense to. Working with other people means you have to set your personal issues aside.

Let's look at that scene in the Hobbit when Thorin is brought before Thranduil. It is useful because it shows how a Dwarf and an Elf in a hostile situation might talk to one another. Where do they draw the line, and does their fight break out into violence or even death?

The king looked sternly on Thorin, when he was brought before him, and asked him many questions. But Thorin would say only that he was starving.
'Why did you and your folk three times try to attack my people at their merrymaking?' asked the king.
'We did not attack them,' answered Thorin; 'we came to beg, because we were starving.'
'Where are your friends now, and what are they doing?'
'I don't know, but I expect starving in the forest.'
'What were you doing in the forest?'
'Looking for food and drink, because we were starving.'
'But what brought you into the forest at all?' asked the king angrily.
At that Thorin shut his mouth and would not say another word.


Thorin never stoops so low as to insult Thranduil or assault him. That would be lowering himself to the level of his poor host. He answers truthfully when he can and shuts up when he can't. But he is certainly stubborn, and he has a dark sense of humour you have to love.

The most famous example of Dwarvish stubborness happens in Lorien, when Gimli arrives with the rest of the Fellowship and Haldir only allows him into the woods on the condition that he be blindfolded.

This was not to the liking of Gimli. 'The agreement was made without my consent,' he said. 'I will not walk blindfold, like a beggar or a prisoner. And I am no spy. My folk have never had dealings with any servants of the Enemy. Neither have we done harm to the Elves. I am no more likely to betray you than Legolas, or any other of my companions.'


Note that Gimli does not insult Haldir, or the Elves. Instead, he defends himself. And that defense -- his own word -- should be good enough for anyone. Why is he so insulted anyway? Because to be blindfolded would be to be treated "like a beggar or a prisoner" or "a spy." Gimli is proud.

Rule #5 (pride): Show some self-respect, will you? No drunken, belching, swearing please.

Lets continue to follow this scene. It teaches us a lot.

'I do not doubt you,' said Haldir. 'Yet this is our law. I am not the master of the law, and cannot set it aside. I have done much in letting you set foot over the Celebrant.'
Gimli was obstinate. He planted his feet firmly apart, and laid his hand upon the haft of his axe. 'I will go forward free,' he said, 'or I will go back and seek my own land, where I am known to be true to my word, though I perish alone in the wilderness.'
... Gimli drew his axe from his belt. Haldir and his companion bent their bow, 'A plague on Dwarves and their stiff necks!' said Legolas.

Gimli is willing to draw his axe and die here on the edge of Lorien to defend his good name, that's how serious he is about being honest and truthful. Note that Haldir believes him ('I do not doubt you.') but is shackled by the laws of Lorien. We have the classic irrestistible force vs. immovable object. So how does it resolve? Aragorn, the Captain and fellowship leader, knows the answer: if we all share the Dwarf's cause, he'll let it go.

'It is hard upon the Dwarf to be thus singled out. We will all be blindfolded, even Legolas. That will be best, though it make the journey slow and dull.'
Gimli laughed suddenly. 'A merry troop of fools we shall look! Will Haldir lead us all on a string, like many blind beggars with one dog? But I will be content, if only Legolas here shares my blindness.'


Gimli gives a little here, but he expects Legolas to give the rest of the way. That is enough for him.

'I am an Elf and a kinsman here,' said Legolas, becoming angry in his turn.
'Now let us cry: "a plague on the stiff necks of Elves!"' said Aragorn. 'But the Company shall all fare alike. Come, bind our eyes, Haldir.'

And that's the end of the story: everyone's eyes and blindfolded until they reach Caras Galadhon, and Gimli is content because everyone shared his fate. Even Legolas cooperates, though he whines a little. (I know. Elves. Sheesh.)

Between all of these scenes, you have been able to see the language that Tolkien uses when Dwarves like Gimli and Gloin talk. It is not accented, crude, or simple. Indeed, it is usually quite elevated. They uses words like "perish" instead of "die," and "tender" for "nice." Look at the sentence structure used by Gimli and Gloin in the lines above; it's not simple stuff. Let's look at a moment when Gimli has a lot to say. This will help us answer the question, "How does he say it?" The Fellowship can see Caradhras for the first time, and the two mountains next to it.
'I need no map,' said Gimli, who had come up with Legolas, and was gazing out before him with a strange light in his deep eyes. 'There is the land where our fathers worked of old, and we have wrought the image of those mountains into many works of metal and of stone, and into many songs and tales. They stand tall in our dreams: Baraz, Zirak, Shathur.
'Only once before have I seen them from afar in waking life, but I know them and their names, for under them lies Khazad-dum, the Dwarrowdelf, that is now called the Black Pit, Moria in the Elvish tongue. Yonder stands Barazinbar, the Redhorn, cruel Caradhras; and beyond him are Silvertine and Cloudyhead; Celebdil the White, and Fanuidhol the Grey, that we call Zirakzigil and Bundushathur.
'There the Misty Mountains divide, and between their arms lies the deep-shadowed valley which we cannot forget: Azanulbizar, the Dimrill Dale, which the Elves call Nanduhirion.'
'It is for the Dimrill Dale that we are making,' said Gandalf. ... 'There lies the Mirrormere, and there the River Silverlode rises in its icy springs.'
'Dark is the water of Kheled-zaram,' said Gimli, 'and cold are the springs of Khibil-nala. My heart trembles at the thought that I may see them again soon.'


Wow. Where to start. First, we can see some of the things we have already talked about working here as well: Gimli uses words like "Yonder" for "Over there," and "of old" for "a long time ago". He doesn't say "I can't wait", he says, "My heart trembles at the thought". But what else can we learn?

Rule #6 (long-winded): Something that's really important deserves a lot of words said about it.

Gimli isn't the only one with this issue. Thorin is remarkable for his long speeches. (The Hobbit: 'If he had been allowed, he would probably have gone on like this until he was out of breath, without telling any one there anything that was not known already.') But you can see that the more important a thing is, the more names it has, and Gimli is going to tell you every single one of those names, in every language he knows (including Elvish, note). Those mountains have at least two names; Caradhras has three. Moria is so important it has four names! Pay attention to them. Gimli is liable to quiz you on them later.

We'll finish with one last exchange which is notable even among Tolkien scholars for the way it shows the author's grasp of dialogue. You may think, 'You have shown us all these Dwarves talking with fancy words and elaborate sentences. But everyone in Tolkien's world talks like this. I want my Dwarf to be different!' But not everyone in Middle-earth does talk like this. This is how Dwarves talk and its different than other races. This is illustrated in The Hobbit, when the Dwarves and Bilbo say farewell to each other.

Then the dwarves bowed low before their Gate, but words stuck in their throats. 'Good-bye and good luck, wherever you fare!' said Balin at last. 'If ever you visit us again, when our halls are made fair once more, then the feast shall indeed be splendid!'
'If ever you are passing my way,' said Bilbo, 'don't wait to knock! Tea is at four; but any of you are welcome at any time!'


In The Road to Middle-earth, Tom Shippey wrote that, in this scene, the two speakers are using very different language and speech, but are basically saying the same thing: "You are welcome in my home."

Or, in ancient dorf-speak: "Urr, laddie, c'mon over to me Hall, and we'll toast ye a barrel a'mead!'