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An In-Depth Look: Wargs

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An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Songweaver » Tue May 27, 2014 11:39 am

Icarus has asked me to post some documentation on Wargs that Wolfsong and Krelm co-wrote. And so I have!

Note: This is not information that your average character would know. Warg Riders would obviously know the most about Warg culture, and mostly in regards to the trials for Warg Riders and the general might-makes-right attitudes of the clans. Many wargs are capable of understanding the Common-Tongue and Black-Speech, but it is unlikely than many Wargs can speak it. Ancient Wargs were capable of speaking in the tongues of Man; whether or not Wargs choose not to now, or whether or not they have grown weaker and less intelligent over the Ages is not known.

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Lore: The Creation of the Wargs

The Great Pale Father, Thû was not created, but always existed, just as the world has always existed. For time he dwelt without form or shape observing the world until deciding upon a fierce and terrible continence - a Werewolf, a great and cunning wolf-beast of pale continence.

The Great Pale Father dwelled in the ancient past on an island called Tol-Guar, the fortress of the Great Shadow, whom Men and Elf hear of and tremble and cry. As his descendents, the Wargs fight with Orc to the benefit and pleasure of defeating and consuming their enemy, so did the Great Pale Father and his pack hunt the Great Shadow's lands and kill Elf and Men alike who dared encroach upon it. He relished in taking plunder of their flesh - and all fled before them like deer, a glorious time of great hunts in a time long past. The Great Shadow heaped upon the pack honors and glories in return for their fierceness, and they kept their den within the very heart of his keep, his most trusted guards against the Elves jealous of his power and magic.

The utmost of the Great Pale Father's pack was his sireling, Rís, the greatest of Wolf-kind to ever roam the land. Elves and Men had a dozen terrible names for him, amongst them the Red Maw, noting that his face always freshly dripping with the blood of his prey. Where Father was fine and pale, Rís, the Red Maw, was great and dark, and often his enemy saw only a glint of his great terrible red eyes in the darkness before he devoured them.

Besides his direct-sirelings, Thû created the Wargs as his servants, lesser in size and might than his kind, but like of mind and spirit in the shape of wolves.


Thû, The Red Maw, and the Hound

One day, a great enemy appeared in Tol-Guar, Beren, a Man who rallied Man and Elf to challenge the Great Pale Father. Yet cowardly as they are, the Elves and Men would not accompany their chieftain beyond the river that divided Thû’s territory from the rest of the world. Instead, they sent the Wolfhound, a creature of beast-kind ageless like Great Pale Father, who had turned against his own kind and become little better than the minion of Man and Elf.

The Wolfhound challenged each of Pale Father's sirelings one by one, and defeated them. Having lost his honor, rather than accept his enemy's defeat with pride, he marked the corpses with urine to desecrate them, as a common Man's dog might do. He loudly mocked Thû for remaining in his den. “If you are the greatest of all wolves, come out. Only the greatest may kill me.” So the Hound said, and so the Great Pale Father stalked forth before all his pack could be slain. It would have been impossible to ignore such a challenge. Great battle was had between the two, but in the end the Hound managed to overpower the Pale Father by chance. Thû stumbled over a slick stone in the river, and the Hound tore out his throat.

Then men swarmed across the river with knives, and hacked the pelt from Thû, and used it to cloak themselves. They snuck into the great den of the Pale Father, and found there one last warg who had not answered the challenges of the Hound. Rís, the Red Maw, had the solemn task of guarding the nest of Thû, deep in a place of honor at the throne of the Great Shadow. Knowing not his sire, his Chieftain, was slain, Red Maw hailed the Men who wore the pelt of Great Pale Father, for Werewolves of the Elder Days, sired by Great Pale Father, great in size and stature as they were, could freely walk upon four legs or two as Man does.

Red Maw bade his seeming pack-mates to take the prized bits of meat from a kill he had made, as was only right. But these Men, not knowing the ways of Wargs and Wolves, refused the meat. Seeing then he had been tricked, Red Maw leapt and would have seized them between his teeth, but foul Elven magic struck him and he fell as if dead. Even the Great Shadow fell under the terrible magic's spell, and his most prized treasure was stolen - and the skulking Men and Elves unwilling and dishonorable to refuse to face their enemies in proper combat fled into the night.

When Red Maw awoke, he saw that the Great Shadow's trophy was missing, and that the Great Pale Father’s carcass moldered in the river, and in rage pursued the Men and Elves. He cornered them when they had made camp for the night, and leapt upon them, devouring them. But as he turned last to consume Beren, who had led the rally against Great Pale Father, the Man seized a burning coal from the fire and held it up in his hands, and when Red Maw fell upon him, he devoured the man whole with the burning brand too. The coal burnt the insides of Red Maw, who fell to a dark and mindless rage, killing all Man and Elves who crossed his path.

The Hound, simpering at the death of his master, cornered Red Maw by a lake, and found the werewolf struggling to quench the coal still burning inside him, thus giving rise to his name amongst Men, the Jaws that Thirst. Following his cowardly ways, he left upon Red Maw as he drank, and a great battle was had. The Hound had assumed that Great Pale Father was the greatest beast to roam the lands, and thus was free of his own doom and challenge at his death. But Red Maw proved his greatness, and tore the belly from the Hound and feasted on his living flesh, but even the cooling blood of his greatest enemy would not quench the fire that burned deep within him. When the Hound had died, the Great Pale Father and his pack avenged, Red Maw turned back to the lake, and drowned himself in it. Even then, Red Maw’s body burned, boiling the water around it. When other wargs rallied out of the den to see what had befallen Red Maw, they found only ash at the bottom of a lake-bed boiled dry.

But of Thû, the Great Pale Father, they found his discarded pelt, torn full of holes and filled with blood, and his carcass lying in the river, nibbled by fish. They fixed his pelt to him with thorns they had torn from the low bushes near where the mountains lie, and with the knives of all the men Red Maw had killed. And Thû, when his skin was restored to him, rose up again and mourned Red Maw, who he knew to have been the best of all his sirelings, and took the ash his warg-servants had found and gave them to all his females, who rubbed themselves in it. They later gave birth to litters of puppies in Red Maw’s dark and great likeness, and these are the ancestors of all wargs.

Yet the generations of wargs that followed did not gain all of Red Maw's might, and thus will never again will they be so tricked by Men. No longer can wolf-kind walk upon two-legs or speak the languages of Men, but still are they great and powerful. Perhaps as a result of Red Maw’s downfall, and the changes to their nature, fire and its destructive power is feared and hated by all wargs, but magic is feared most of all, a weapon of cowards. All wargs now living trace their ancestry back to Red Maw, who may often be invoked when feats of strength, cunning, or greatness are required – he is the greatest of their heroes.

To this day, singers refuse to call the Hound, Huan, or his Master, Beren by name. In the retelling of the great tales, they refer only to the Hound or the Wolfhound, and only call Beren the Man or the Man of the Burning Coal. For to name something is to give it power.




Clans: Wargs of The Wild

Organization and Society

Warg packs are led by a chief, or chieftain, who typically attains this high position through intimidation or excessive violence. The chief is the ultimate authority in the pack, and the only warg allowed to breed within the pack. All bitches are his to claim if he so desires. The chief gets first share of all plunder from raids, and is also the first wolf to eat
from any kill. The chief may be challenged at any time, however, and a chief that shirks from a meaningful challenge automatically forfeits their right to be chief. These challenges are often bloody fights to submission or - in
rarer cases - to the death.

Beneath the Warg Chieftain, there is little official organization - there are no recruits, or corporals, or sergeants. Instead, there is a rigidly enforced pecking order based on each warg's individual prowess. Every warg knows their place within the pack absolutely in comparison to all other wargs in that pack. This pecking order is often enforced through frequent fighting and posturing, and new additions to the pack often spend their first few days battling other wargs rather than the enemy until order can be reasserted.

It is not shameful to be beaten by another warg, however. If a warg loses a fight with another warg, then that warg is superior to them - and they are obeyed without question, at least until the more lowly-positioned warg can defeat them and usurp their place in the pack. As a result, lowly stationed
wargs will not lead wargs above them into battle - wargs may only lead others into battle who are inferior to them. If a lowly warg were to attempt to lead superior wargs into battle, or on a raid, or during a hunt, that lowly warg would be - in essence - challenging each of those more dominant wargs, and should they assent to be led about, they would forfeit their
superior places in the pack. Were this to happen, the low warg would be positioned above them and become superior to them. Likewise, an idle warg cannot expect to maintain a high position in the pack.

As with the chief, pecking order determines when a warg eats, what part of the kill they eat, and what share of the plunder they receive.

Wargs abhor uselessness. Even if a warg can no longer fight, they are still expected to contribute to the group. These maimed, old, or imbecile wargs are given the title singer, and are expected to serve as the keepers of the history of the wargs - oral storytellers who record the deeds of the pack's
mightiest, and sing the old stories of the past.

These singers, however, are generally held in contempt in warg society. They are seen as a necessary, but weak, part of the pack, and as a result, they form the bottom rungs of the group. They eat last of all wargs, and receive little to no plunder from raids. Despite this contempt, however, a singer is protected. It is unforgiveable to kill a singer, or cripple him further, as a singer is the sacred keeper of the great, storied history of the warg-race. And this history is held in high regard, even if the singers of it are not. So while it's true that a singer often starves, they will never die because
of it.

Warg packs range in size. Some small packs have only five or ten wargs to them, while the greatest packs that range along the Edge of the Wild have been known to reach into their hundreds.


Religion

Wargs worship a god-figure they sometimes refer to as Thû, but most commonly call ‘Great Pale Father’ in their own unlovely tongue. The tales of Elves would call this figure Draugluin, the first werewolf created by Morgoth. The Pale Father was the first of all werewolves, and the creator of all wargs, but wargs credit Red Maw, known to Elves as Carcharoth or Anfauglir, as the sire of their line.

The most cherished and most often retold story for wolves is of Thû, Red Maw and the Wolfhound - a creation myth of sorts that chronicles the death and rebirth of the Great Pale Father, the fall of Red Maw, and the rise of all wargs of the Wild. It is the Wargs vision of Draugluin and Carcharoth and their great battle with Beren and Huan.

In the wargs' imagining of the story, a great enemy of the wargs attacks the ancestral home of the wargs, a place called Tol-gaur, and defeats Thû in single combat. This enemy is only called 'Hound' or 'Wolfhound' by the wargs, and never by name, though it is rumored that the singers still know their enemy's true name. To utter it would be the gravest insult and sin a warg could commit, and it would be the duty of all wargs in utterance of that name to tear the speaker of it apart.

This creation myth, in which Red Maw is ultimately destroyed by burning coals after avenging the Great Pale Father by killing the Hound in single combat, is said to be (by wargs) the source of their hatred of fire and magic. That their retelling of the story removes the magical element to the burning coals, rather than give proper breadth and power to the near mystical Silmarilli is likely further evidence of this deep-rooted fear.


Physical Traits

Though larger, faster and stronger than common wolves, wargs are essentially still just that - wolves, though with a cunning and evil intelligence. Their coats come in a number of colours - most often some variant of brown or black, but sometimes also in grey or, more rarely, white. Eye colour is more varied than pelt colour; wargs may have black eyes, yellow eyes, red eyes, or even blue or brown eyes - though blue eyes that persist into adulthood are held in contempt, as blue eyes are for puppies, and are often the mark of an idiot.

Wargs possess a strong jaw full of fangs made for tearing, and possess blunt claws on each of the digits of their paws. Their tails are often bushy and long, though it is not unusual to see a stub-tailed warg prowling about, the victim of past violence.


Warg Riding

Warg riders are considered the elite among goblin-kind, and the trials and rituals involved in becoming one are extensive and challenging. Those who do survive them to become warg riders are often treated with respect, fear, jealousy and fascination by other goblins. Their lives are harsh, short, but full of excitement, bloodshed and glory.

The rituals associated with becoming a warg rider take place over several days, though they do not need to be consecutive. In reality, sometimes a week or more might pass between each of the trials.


First Trial

The first trial a goblin attempts is relatively simple, and is more of an entrance fee than a true test of strength, courage or cunning - though it is still expected that the goblin will be tested in all these things during it. Essentially, a goblin must go out alone and hunt down a meal for the wargs. This meal may be anything - from mice or fish to bears, deer or even human or elvish flesh. Poor offerings are not usually accepted, however, and a goblin who offers the wargs a paltry meal might find themselves becoming the main course instead. But should the wargs be content with this offering, the
goblin will be allowed to proceed to other rituals in the following days.


Second Trial

After the first trial is accomplished, the goblin's testing begins in earnest. The second trial may begin at any time, and the goblin does not need to be informed of the starting of the test beforehand. All wargs of the pack are encouraged to stalk the goblin, tracking him throughout The Wild, and to attack him through a series of vicious ambushes. The whole pack will not mob the goblin, but usually prefer to let one or two wargs fight the goblin at a time, cycling through the pack. This is not play fighting. Though it is not their first intent to kill the goblin in this test, if the goblin is especially weak, or pathetic, they may do so out of spite. This test is considered passed if the goblin can survive the day, and is not permanently maimed in the process of surviving it. It is permissable for the goblin to attempt to survive in any way available to them, but hiding behind doors is considered shameful and will be considered an immediate failure. Immediate failures may result in death, if the cowardly goblin is happened upon by wargs at a later date.


Third Trial

This trial is simple. After passing the rigorous second test, the goblin must present themselves to the gathered pack in a clearing place. There, the goblin must fight the wargs en masse, with the intent of lasting as long as possible in the combat, and forcing wargs to flee from it. If a goblin is forced to flee from the fight too early, they fail. If, however, they manage to hold their own, and even put a few wargs to flight themselves, they pass, and also gain the grudging acknowledgement of those they've beaten. Once this test is complete, they are considered an honourary member of the pack.


Choosing a Warg to Ride

Once a member of the pack, the goblin must then choose a warg to ride - but, perhaps predictably, no warg will just let themselves be ridden. The goblin must fight, beat, and in doing so dominate the warg they have chosen in single
combat. Should the warg be beaten, they will submit to be ridden by the goblin that beat them. Wargs do not mind being ridden if it is by someone superior to their own abilities - but this will not stop the warg from challenging the rider periodically, either. If a warg can beat their rider, they will not let themselves be ridden. It is that simple.


Pack Law

* The chief is Law.
* All bitches belong to the chief.
* The chief eats first. All others after him eat according to their worth.
* The chief takes first from plunder. All others after him take according to their worth.
* If a pack-mate submits in a fight, that surrender must be accepted.
* If a challenge is presented, it must be accepted.
* Newcomers to the pack must be tested until their place within the pack is determined.
* Singers eat last.
* Singers may not be killed by any member of the pack.
* Any member of the pack who kills a singer must be banished, or killed.
* A singer who forgets their song may be beaten so they better remember it next time.
* When in doubt, might makes right.


Slang

Dog - used perjoratively to describe a creature or thing, suggesting incompetence, incontinence, impotence, weakness, unholiness, and proud boastfulness without the ability to back it up. Ie, "You really dogged it back there on the hunt." - Or, "You are worse than worthless, you dog." Other words, such as 'mongrel' or 'cur' may be substituted for dog.

Maggot - a semi-affectionate term for newborn wargs. Mildly offensive if used to refer to an adult warg if the adult is more highly positioned in the pack than the speaker.

Cooked - used to imply a situation has gone awry, or contrary to expectations in a negative manner. Ie, "The raid's cooked."

Sing, Singing - In some contexts, singing may be used to refer to any dialogue, spoken or internalized, that calls on, refers to, honours or disparges the dead. Ie, "One Eye sang to Red Maw last night, but I doubt he heard him over all the dogging."

Fire - in this context, madness. Ie, "He's got fire in him." / "He's on fire." - or: "He is utterly mad."
Last edited by Songweaver on Tue May 27, 2014 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby krelm » Tue May 27, 2014 11:47 am

Just as a sidenote, Wolfsong put more work into this than I did, so if you want to send praises to someone, send them to her.
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Songweaver » Tue May 27, 2014 12:09 pm

krelm wrote:Just as a sidenote, Wolfsong put more work into this than I did, so if you want to send praises to someone, send them to her.


Fixed in OP.
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Tiamat » Wed May 28, 2014 5:00 pm

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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Red » Thu May 29, 2014 4:24 pm

An age old question that's always bothered me is the true scale size of a Warg. Can someone enlighten me on this subject?

It would be interesting to use as a reference happen my poor little goblin ever stumble across a Warg in the wilderness.

Hopefully not too off topic.

We should look at implementing a unique Warg saddle versus the horse counterpart. Has anyone got any interesting ideas that they might contribute to the imagination of what this saddle might look like? I might suggest some special ankle straps to prevent the rider from being thrown off. I would expect a Warg to be a difficult ride being such a muscular, mindful animal with its own intention and idea of direction.
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Songweaver » Thu May 29, 2014 4:52 pm

We don't know much about the size of wargs, canonically. We know that they are larger than wolves, and we know that they are capable of deftly moving through heavily wooded areas. To me, this suggests that they are larger than a wolf, and smaller than a horse.

That's about the best that I can come up with, though. I've never found any information more specific than that.
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Red » Thu May 29, 2014 4:57 pm

Songweaver wrote:We don't know much about the size of wargs, canonically. We know that they are larger than wolves, and we know that they are capable of deftly moving through heavily wooded areas. To me, this suggests that they are larger than a wolf, and smaller than a horse.

That's about the best that I can come up with, though. I've never found any information more specific than that.


We will have to use our best judgement. I don’t think Shadows of Isildur has ever had a problem with an unrealistic interpretation, but it never hurts to raise the question.
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby radioactivejesus » Fri Jun 06, 2014 12:14 pm

Red wrote:An age old question that's always bothered me is the true scale size of a Warg. Can someone enlighten me on this subject?

It would be interesting to use as a reference happen my poor little goblin ever stumble across a Warg in the wilderness.

Hopefully not too off topic.

We should look at implementing a unique Warg saddle versus the horse counterpart. Has anyone got any interesting ideas that they might contribute to the imagination of what this saddle might look like? I might suggest some special ankle straps to prevent the rider from being thrown off. I would expect a Warg to be a difficult ride being such a muscular, mindful animal with its own intention and idea of direction.

I'd imagine that a lot of warg riders would have to make do with nothing but a simple saddle cloth. Although that's a good point, a saddle for a warg would be much different from a horse saddle. Not only are the mounts completely different creatures, but an orkish rider and a human rider will also be of different height, shape and weight. Orcs are reknowned for being bandy-legged too, which would affect the saddle's design. I'm not much for writing descriptions, but I agree there should be orc specific styles of saddles
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Bri » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:30 pm

Okay, so I know this isn't Tolkien, but to get at least an answer for people to get an idea I went and grabbed my (dun dun dun! I'm a dork!) Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual v3.5. And according to this: "A typical worg has grey or black fur, grows to 5 feet long and stands 3 feet tall at the shoulder. It weighs 300 pounds."
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Real » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:37 pm

3.5 ftw.

There is no greater version, before or after.
That said, Tolkien and D&D have completely different portrayals of common races.
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Hawkwind » Mon Mar 02, 2015 10:13 pm

They must be big enough to ride by goblins and orcs

Goblins and orcs are smaller than humans.

Small pony sized?

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Perhaps similar to this, leaner, tougher and not ridden in the typical manner. More akin to a jockey laid forward rather than the typical horseman?
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Re: An In-Depth Look: Wargs

Postby Bri » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:15 am

Real wrote:3.5 ftw.

There is no greater version, before or after.
That said, Tolkien and D&D have completely different portrayals of common races.



Actually, the brief description given in the book about them basically says they are huge wolves with intellect and an inherent evil nature. Sometimes used as mounts. Can understand common and Black speech and speak their own language. Sound familiar..? lol *feeling cheeky*
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