So close to J.R.R. you can smell the pipeweed!
This is a lecture about Ronald Dwale, given by Pycella Woodberry during the annual Bards Day celebration on September 2nd this year. Ronald Dwale is J.R.R. Tolkien’s alter ego in Lord of the Rings Online. This is an attempt to talk about Tolkien on a roleplaying server, which means trying to avoid obvious references to things outside of the game world.
On September 2nd, hobbits, dwarves, elves and men gather to celebrate our great Bard, master Ronald Dwale. You might have met him in Dwaling or at the Frostbluff theatre and know his stories. He is an interesting character whose work has inspired many folks to write their own stories, and to make music, paintings, among other things. But who is Ronald Dwale? How was this grand Bard of ours born?
In this lecture, I try to cover a few things about Ronald. I heard he gave a few lectures as well, so I try to do my best here…
Ronald’s Life as a Hobbit
First, a few words about Ronald’s life as a hobbit. He was born in the village of Bloomfountain, to a vault keeper Arthur and his wife Mabel. Ronald’s childhood wasn’t probably the happiest one. He was only a young hobbit child when he lost both his parents. Luckily, young Ronald had an old family friend, Master Franco, who took him under his wing and supported him, so that he got his daily dosage of pies and other necessities. Ronald’s ma had taught him languages, and fascinated by them, he wanted to become a scholar. He started as a scholar apprentice at the Great Smials library, studying ancient texts. He loved how the words sounded like, how they were formed. For him, the words and language were music. This love for words encouraged him to develop his own language, with own letters and all that.
But this hobby wasn’t the only thing that distracted Ronald from his studies. He fell in love with a pretty lass Edith, who was also an orphan. They formed a bond like no other. Master Franco wasn’t happy about this romance though. “You just concentrate on your studies, lad, or I won’t send you any money nor pies, not even a slice!” he said sternly. “You can’t see the lass nor write to her while you’re still studying to become a scholar!” Those conditions were quite hard: Ronald still had almost three years of apprenticeship ahead! And as Edith had to move to another neighborhood, it got even worse. But Ronald’s heart would not be defeated.
Three years he studied hard and waited for the day he would see his love again. Then, the day came, and he wrote a letter to Edith, to propose to her. But her answer was a bit shocking… she had already promised to marry another lad! You know, she had thought that Ronald wouldn’t come back to him, and she didn’t want to be left alone forever. But as Edith heard from Ronald, she canceled that other proposal, for Ronald was her true love. And as nothing stood in their way now, they got married.
But then, something horrible happened: Ronald got struck by mysterious illness with high fever. For months, he just lay in bed, having nightmares. In those horrid dreams, he found himself in the midst of a horrible, bleak war. He found himself hiding in trenches, trying to look out for the faceless enemies that lurked in the shadows and smoke. Merciless war machines trampled the earth and destroyed all beauty from the world. He saw many of his friends fall.
After a while, Ronald started to recover, but those dreams had had a permanent impact on him. You remember that language he created during his scholarly studies? Now, he wanted to breathe life into his language by creating a whole world for it. A world where the light would beat the forces of darkness. A world where friendship and love would prove stronger than any machinery or dark magic. This would be a world where any hobbit, elf, dwarf and man would feel like they belong to.
But most of all: it was a world for himself. For Ronald thought that no other person would ever be interested in this work. Little did he knew! His friends at the Writing Society saw his potential though, and encouraged him to share his tales with others.
The Things Behind the Stories
So, many things have been source of inspiration for Ronald’s work. Things he loved, things he feared, experiences that had made him happy or sad. But then, there was this other thing without which many of his stories wouldn’t have been born at all: his family. As we know, many of his tales began as stories he told his own children. Also, Edith supported him with her love and understanding. These things provided the soil for Ronald’s stories to grow.
A Whole New World
One thing about Ronald’s approach to story writing fascinates me: he treated many of his stories as “real history”, like some lost lore. All of a sudden, a sentence or a word would pop into his mind and he would think: “What is the story behind this? I need to find out!” So, Ronald started exploring his story, letting it unfold on paper, like a hobbit who steps out from his door and lets the road lead him into the unknown. He simply loved his stories and kept working on them. It was very hard to get him publish anything: he would always tinker his work. It was like he was painting a tree, leaf by leaf, always adding something into it.
It seems that he didn’t want to let go of those stories, trying to keep them and their characters alive for himself, or keeping the door open to their world which he loved to explore. It’s like having an adventure, but in a safe way. With a piece of pie on your lap, a pint beside you, the fireplace keeping your feet warm. Thankfully, he also opened that door to others, so that we can explore too. His stories have provided inspiration for other stories and artwork, but it has also led to new, long lasting friendships between people. This way, his work helps fight the forces of darkness.
Now, this lecture is different, because it doesn’t end with a test, but a toast. Let us raise our pints to the Bard!