Utterly amazing

Devina and I finally got to watch “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” this past weekend (I saw the extended version for sale at the local CompUSA) and again, I am utterly blown away by the movie. We can’t wait to check out the final tale of this story which we’ll have to see very soon.

One thing bothers me though about one of the characters in the movie, Gandalf…

Now, what type of mage (sorcerer, wizard, all same thing right?) is he? I must admit I am rather new to this whole “Dungeon & Dragons” type of thing and the only real experience I have to anything of that nature are the games Diablo and Ultima Online. Granted UO and Diablo are to the RPG world as what Etch-a-Sketchs are to the modern day PDAs, you still have the different specialized characters much like the movie. All of the mages I have used in these games had cool powers like casting fireballs, earthquakes or lightning strikes or even changing into other animals and people. Gandalf really didn’t do this type of stuff (though his sorcery was definitely kick ass) and it has me a little confused as to what type of mage he is. Even the evil mage (Sauron was it?) didn’t do the “typical” mage stuff I see in the games I play. Are the mages in these tales made to adhere more strictly to the laws of physics and biology than those in modern day games?

7 replies on “Utterly amazing”

OOOOH! Thanks for the great info Craig! That definitely cleared a whole mess of stuff up. 🙂

Gandlaf is a demi-god, as is Sauron (probably explained in the link given above). His powers aren’t flashy, a la D&D; they’re more ethereal, offering courage, etc.

You’ll see it big-time in the concluding film. There’s a sequence with Faramir returning to the city of Minas Tirith with his soldiers where you’ll be blown away.

Oooo! You should go see it in IMAX! We saw RotK “normal” the first time and in IMAX last weekend. It rocks even harder in IMAX. If you can’t find it near you, New Rochelle isn’t such a long haul for you. You wanna be really blown away? See it on a several story high screen!

According to Tolkien, Gandalf is the physical state of a spirit – one of several – assigned to conserve Middle Earth and the good things there. He’s not likely to do evil or nasty things. Unlike the AD&D view of magicians, he does not seem to have a specific school or discipline of magic, but has an apparent affinity with fire, fireworks and smoke. As a conservator (and this is reinforced by his usual desire not to be noticed by the forces of great evil), he has to keep his magic to a minimum. He does not seem to work with a mana system, and never worries that he has not enough of some essence (other than sheer physical and mental strength) to rise to a challenge.

Tolkien’s pantheon has a sense of ranks, and in this gandalf has the same level as Sauron. There is a higher level (between gandalf and the one god). There was one very baddy and several good guys at that higher level.

I do not think we meet all of Middle Earth’s conservators in LoTR, but Saruman was originally the leader of this group, and Rhadagast (who essentially veg’s out) is another.

IIRC, the Balrog is actually a baddy at Gandalf’s level.

So let’s see how many Gandalf skills we can remember from the books:

– control smoke
– word of command
– explosion cantrip
– disclose true goodness/evil of people
– Converse with animals
– create fireworks
– minor prescience ability

And he has some object-study abilities too, if not object-divination.

Gandalf obviously does NOT have the following type skills or he would have used them:

– mind control
– summon creatures or monsters
– teleport

Hope that helps!
Pat RoseInBlume

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