30 June, 2013

Hobbiton to Crickhollow

Hopefully the title didn't suggest a new episode was up! I thought the reference was appropriate, because Beneath Your Feet has a new home. Both the old podcast episodes and the current article series are now hosted by LOTROPlayers.com! Starting tomorrow (1 July) each episode will be re-released and these feeds will be updated accordingly. To kick things off, an article on the Wizard's Vale will also be released tomorrow. Have a look-see at these updated links:

Extra special thanks to Andang and Branwick for all their help and hard work in creating this wonderful new LOTRO site. Be sure to check it out and take part and enjoy each new article.

06 January, 2013

The Long Defeat

Surely this post is not wholly unexpected. The last year has been one long explanation of why each episode of Beneath Your Feet has been delayed. I won't go into lengthy explanations of why: those of you with families, social lives, full-time jobs, and other interests can put the pieces together. Perhaps the polestar of this whole thing has been my own expectations. The thought of releasing episodes haphazardly and/or at compromised quality really bugs me. Certainly there is nothing wrong when podcasts do this; there are no rules about how you do your podcast. I, however, am apparently too much of an all-or-nothing person, which has its own merits and defects. Additionally, my LOTRO time has been limited since Rohan came out and that great Ferris wheel of interest has taken a bit of a dip.

All of this is to say the BYF will be taking a permanent vacation. Certainly there is the chance that the bug will bite me again and my schedule will clear and the gears will get moving at full-speed but, for now, I must prioritize. That means the podcast gets shelved.

It is not the end, though! Beneath Your Feet will live on in written form. Merric and Goldenstar of A Casual Stroll to Mordor have graciously agreed to host Beneath Your Feet as a column on their ubiquitous blog. So all of you wonderful people who have listened and supported this endeavor will still be able to get the same information on your favorite places in Middle-earth. I just won't be reading it to you anymore.

Obviously this is not the same, but I hope you will continue to follow and enjoy learning about our favorite fantasy world together.

If you have any suggestions for places you would like covered, do email me! I'd also love some input on whether or not I should publish the scripts from previous episodes as blogs.

So, thank you! Thank you for listening and providing kind words. Thank you for subscribing and keeping up with this little podcast. Novaer! Savo 'lass a lalaith!

By way of housekeeping: the Facebook and Google+ pages will stay up for a bit longer, but will eventually be taken down. I will keep the CyberEars hosting up for a good long while as well, for later access. 

21 November, 2012

Episode 23 - Old Forest

[Direct Download]

I am joined once again by the inimitable Alberos for a trek through the oldest of forests! We talk about the various locales and its connexion with Fangorn.

29 October, 2012

Geographical Terms in The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien was uniquely placed to influence the vocabulary of modern English. In one sense, he was the last of the Victorians; he did not really live in the Victorian era, but was born at the tail end of it and carried along some of those traditions. Amongst those is a certain sense of propriety and conservatism and, I think, a love for being English; something that seemed to wane after the trauma of the World Wars. He had a deep passion for antiquity and ancient European languages, a love for the aesthetics of language (philology), and care for the natural world. As such, he included many older words we now rarely use to describe geographical features, at least in modern American English, and many plants we may not be familiar with.

With an interest in those words, I've compiled here a list of geographical terms we see in the Lord of the Rings. Enjoy!

23 October, 2012

Episode 22 - Lone-lands

[Direct Download]

Oh, loneliest of lands. Whither would we be without you to carry us from level 20 to 30? Tomeoric (which I sadly mispronounced on the show; it's "toe-MAYO-rick") joins me in a discussion of the high points of the zone, from Weathertop to Agamaur, newbie experiences with the zone, and a few things you may have missed along the way.

11 October, 2012


It's a pet peeve of mine when bloggers/podcasters slip away into the quiet night without communicating. So, this is just a quick update to say that I have great interviews recorded for the next two episodes, but I have fallen behind on editing and writing and recording. You know, life stuff. So expect the Lone-lands episode soon, to be followed by an episode on the Old Forest with the great Alberos of LOTROCast.

Thanks! And I shall try to heed the words of Ron Swanson in the future.

26 September, 2012

Episode 21 - Bag End

[Direct Download]

Bag End! Most desirable of hobbit holes. The home of the Bagginses is a symbol or entry point into Middle-earth. In this episode we look at the history of the place, its meaning and its layout. Not a bad thing to have to all of you fall festivalers.

06 September, 2012

Episode 20: Anduin

[Direct Download]

One year of Beneath Your Feet! Who woulda thunkit? There have been ups and down but I'm glad all of you have stuck with BYF and are still enjoying the episodes, no matter how regularly they are released. I appreciate it! This special episode looks not at a region but the Great River Anduin that flows from the far north, all the way to the sea. It's the great vein of the West of Middle-earth and something we'll be seeing a lot of with the coming Rohan expansion.

04 September, 2012

Why Guardians of Middle-earth is an abomination

Christopher Tolkien was interviewed recently and made some depressing remarks about the state of his father's intellectual property in the last decade or two.
"Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time," Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. "The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has gone too far for me. Such commercialisation has reduced the esthetic and philosophical impact of this creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: turning my head away."
Is this a dramatic response to the extraneous popularity, and subsequent commercialization, of a prominent literary work by its grouchy old benefactor? Why, yes. Yes it is. Does he have a point? Yes and no.

29 August, 2012

Card-based Delays

Back to work and things are flying by at ludicrous speed since the summer break. I even missed the anniversary of my first post! No worries, though. We'll celebrate the anniversary of the first actual episode next week. But what has been keeping me occupied, away from BYF, besides the Summer Festival and the general insanity of life? Cards, of course! And not just any cards, but fancy cards with lovely illustrations of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, and Men, and in-depth rules and impossibly hard quests.

I'm talking, of course, about The Lord of the Rings the living card game.

So, to preface, I've been chipping away at the task of minimizing video games in my life for probably the last year or so. Having a baby helps expedite things. The reason for this is because I wanted to be more productive and try some new things, rather than just crack on the same grind of game after game. The former was sacrificed to the latter, as the 'new things' I've been getting heavily into are tabletop games. Still, it does feel nice to not have to keep up with proverbial Jones' as every new, flashy game gets released.

Anyways, since my resolution, I'd been looking for a deep cooperative game to take part in. Board games like Catan and Ticket to Ride are great, but I wanted something a little more extensive that I could enjoy collecting and (possibly) play with my wife in a non-competitive way. Lo, I recalled that a Lord of the Rings card game had been released last year and that it was cooperative. I started my search.

Long story short, reviews were mixed but largely positive. LOTR LCG also has a thriving internet community, so there were plenty of play-through videos and reviews to give a rough idea of the game and how it plays.; Fantasy Flight also put out a well-produced instructional video to help with the rules. But you never really know what a game is like or how you will receive it before you actually try it. Luckily, the aforementioned community has developed a set for the Octgn engine. I will leave that link there for you to discover what that's about.

To keep things brief, I am a little crazy over this game. As a game system, it's a bit convoluted and complicated. Then again, the only point of comparison I have is Magic: The Gathering fifteen years ago when I played it, so other card games could be just as complex these days. All of that is easily overcome with a few play throughs. The true joy of the game, not unlike LOTRO, is enjoying  what the game designers have done with the intellectual property. Rule Number 1 for any good Tolkien-based product is that it is Tolkien-based, not Peter Jackson-based. The card game is just that; the designers interpretation of the text.

Also like LOTRO, they have mined the books (both The Hobbit and Rings) for great card ideas. One of my favorites, if only nominally is We Do Not Sleep, which is a card affecting Rohirrim characters and drawn from a quote by Gandalf about the Horse-lords. There is a tonne of great stuff like that and FFG have been largely successful in capturing the "feel" of most of the cards.

The quests are made the same way; locales or events otherwise just mentioned in the books have, again like LOTRO, been drilled into and some fun scenarios have been created such as The Hunt for Gollum. In this your heroes must go into Mirkwood and along the Anduin and, of course, hunt for Gollum. The encounter deck (the bad guys) is cleverly done because it represents the random nature of the adventure and so shuffled into it, in this example, are Clue cards that you must collect to progress the quest. Likewise, the Enemy is looking for the little blighter as well and so there are enemies specifically designed to intercept clues and disrupt your quest.

To try and keep this little review short I'll only use one example, but there are many more quest packs with lots of clever play mechanics to showcase. The art is great, the heroes we all love have card abilities that (mostly) make sense, the release schedule is consistant in both timing and quality, and, again, the community is great. There are a number of well made sites for you to have a look at if you're interested, or just track me down on Octgn and play a game with me some time.

It will help you while the time before episode 20! Stay tuned and thanks for sticking with Beneath Your Feet.