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Vader
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Re: Bicycles in The Shire??

Tue 05 Jul 2022, 23:10

I've been reading the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and apparently the thing he put into the Shire that he felt was particularly a mistake, for being too advanced, was umbrellas.

Which in that case is a bit weird, bearing in mind that folding umbrellas have been known in Europe for at least a couple of thousand years…
Before you use the word "XENOMORPH" again, you should read this article through:

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/aliens-throwaway-line-confusion
 
Dunheved
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Re: Bicycles in The Shire??

Wed 06 Jul 2022, 08:50

I dont have the Letters of JRR Tolkien materials.
I am sure they are a good read and illustrate some of the professor's thoughts. The comment about "mistakes" and umbrellas just shows that Tolkien himself accepts that a few things would have been better to leave out.

But, does Lobelia's umbrella destroy the story for you? Or do you find the anecdote amusing in any way?

I agree with Ferretz about velocipedes. They don't really fit. The reference in the Starter Set is potentially amusing, so it is certainly forgivable IF it doesn't destroy the story for you.
Originally, I completely ignored velocipedes: when I described the Mathom house contents while running that adventure, it did not get a mention. Now, if I run ever it again, I might include it as one of those parochial quirks of established (and very smug!) Hobbit society. And then move on.

Does anyone mention matches in Middle - earth? Bilbo was going to use them in the goblin tunnel, except he had lost them! After this, Tolkien seems to have learnt his lesson, and we don't get mundane details about how to start a fire in Lord of the Rings... (At this point I ought to check what Sam did in Ithielien!)
Are matches as bad as umbrellas .... or velocipedes?
 
Ferretz
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Re: Bicycles in The Shire??

Wed 06 Jul 2022, 09:15

I can forgive matches and umbrellas, but velocipedes will never appear in any campaign I run.
It feels a bit like if the Hobbits went "Oh, we have these artillery cannons here at the Mathom house, but we leave them there. They make such noise, and will probably never be useful against Orcs and goblins and potato thieves and whatnot..."
 
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Vader
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Re: Bicycles in The Shire??

Wed 06 Jul 2022, 17:23

Are matches as bad as umbrellas

Curious for a bit of clarification on this one.

As noted a couple of posts ago, folding umbrellas have been known in Europe since antiquity. Literally. Hence, they are not anachronistic in a quasi-medieval setting such as Middle-Earth. (Tolkien, as all of us well know, was Professor of Anglo-Saxon, English Language, and Literature; not of History of Technology.)

In what way are they "bad" as examples of artefacts in use in the Shire?


Self-igniting matches are invented in Europe about the same time as the earliest muscle-powered two-wheelers, so those two ought to be about equally bad...
Before you use the word "XENOMORPH" again, you should read this article through:

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/aliens-throwaway-line-confusion
 
Dunheved
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Re: Bicycles in The Shire??

Wed 06 Jul 2022, 21:52

Are matches as bad as umbrellas
Curious for a bit of clarification on this one..........
In what way are they "bad" as examples of artefacts in use in the Shire?...
I don't want to make this too serious, but what I mean here is to ask myself if matches break narrative immersion as much as umbrellas, or if anything else does, for that matter. And actually, it's all about the same amount, because I can ignore them all about as easily. So none of them are very bad.

Ferretz says he is having nothing about velocipedes. Good choice. Problem ended.


For me, there is nothing worse than the talking fox line (Three's Company, FOTR). Whenever I re-read that one, I remind myself to smile and move along.

Same philosophy for TOR1e and TOR2e. These quirks don't stop the game because it's too good.
 
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Vader
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Re: Bicycles in The Shire??

Wed 06 Jul 2022, 23:45

For me, there is nothing worse than the talking fox line (Three's Company, FOTR). Whenever I re-read that one, I remind myself to smile and move along.

You mean this one?

A fox passing through the wood on business of his own stopped several minutes and sniffed.
'Hobbits!' he thought. 'Well, what next? I have heard of strange doings in this land, but I have seldom heard of a hobbit sleeping out of doors under a tree. Three of them! There's something mighty queer behind this.' He was quite right, but he never found out any more about it.

Funny how we react to different things. To me, that paragraph has always seemed perfectly natural.

But otoh, I know canines well enough to expect them to be fully capable of that kind of abstract reflection … or some of them, at least.
Before you use the word "XENOMORPH" again, you should read this article through:

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/aliens-throwaway-line-confusion
 
Ferretz
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Re: Bicycles in The Shire??

Thu 07 Jul 2022, 01:37

I love that fox. The Hobbits' walk through the Shire might be one of my favorite parts of the first book. It is so atmospheric. :)
 
Asgo
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Re: Bicycles in The Shire??

Thu 07 Jul 2022, 02:35

When talking about "Does fit item/concept X fit the world you are playing in?", I think that has to be separated in different categories:
- does it fit in theme/flair: there is a lot of subjectivity there and even stuff that is technically mentioned somewhere in the source material doesn't necessarily needs to fit your vision of the world.
- does it fit in practical terms: this is more a question of potential technical availability as extrapolation of existing elements. there are some judgment calls involved given that fantasy worlds are usually inspired by not actual representations of real world (or other known inspirations).
- how does the frequency of occurrence play into it: a very important factor to its actual impact on theme, flair and tone of the world.

With the example of velocipedes, I think it actually works they way they are "introduced" in this context. They are basically just mentioning some exemplary oddities without going further into them, just to give a range of stuff to be found there.
Other than giving a term - that even in real world references will offer a wide variety - they don't actually define that much.
As the Mathom-house holds a lot of stuff hobbits don't have an actual day to day use for it, it basically has a distribution of zero in the population.
In practical terms, producing some two wheeled man propelled contraption should be in the skill range of a carpenter or a wheelwright and could have been created as concept or just a fun arts and crafts project easily. Also, given the freedom how this design actually should look like, there is no problem choosing it to be absolutely no competition for feet or carts, in particular in a culture with a bias for foot travel.
Flair-wise, the Shire is one of the few place where life is good and light hearted for the most part, and spending time on something fun, whimsical and utterly impractical is actually a nice touch to hint at that ,in particular if it is used mostly as scenic piece.

How much of a appearance something makes (actually anything in source books) is in the end up to the LM and the group, but having some whimsical episode with the Mathom-house that involves a short term use of the things found there wouldn't to be too out of place for a light hearted scene. On the other hand, an adventuring troupe swinging themselves on their mountain bikes to travel to Mount Doom is far less likely and I would bet few players that join to play in Middle-earth would actually try that (although that might be way better for all those horses of adventurers that usually get killed outright or just abandoned on the way ;) ).

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