The Lost Realm of Myr
Deena McKinney — 410 Rustwood Drive, Athens GA 30606, USA
When I concluded a long and successful campaign in which my players took part on the downfall of Arthedain, I was dismayed despite my enjoyment of the games I had rum. The players had performed admirably, but we had all known, despite the fact that I had not set history in stone, that the odds were against them. And that history rewritten would seem strange.
When the campaign had been concluded for a few months and we were all getting the urge to play once more, I decided to go out on a limb and give them the chance to explore a part of Middle-earth unknown to anyone. Hence the realm of Myr. It was my first attempt at building a new society within a world already in place. This article contains the frameworks I used when my players visited Myr and includes some ideas for how you might use Myr in your own campaign.
The realm of Myr, located in north-central Middle-earth, was founded by an Elven woman named Myronimair many years ago. Her kindred were Avari Elves who woke in the far east at the beginning of the First Age who never journeyed to see the light of the Trees nor gained the wisdom of the other Eldar. The particular group that became the Myric Elves were actually traveling westward when beset by a blizzard like none ever seen before. Myronimair saved them and the survivors founded Myr in the large taiga valley in the far north.
Myronimair at first dealt fairly with her people, but she was passionately xenophobic, and for a long time the realm was hidden away from the outside world by her powers. But with the arrival of a band of Númenóreans in the Second Age, things began to change subtly. Angered that Oromë still lived (see below), she became more and more twisted. She ceased to call herself Myronimair and demanded to be called just Myr or the Empress Myr. Either wanting her favor or too fearful to protest, the people of the realm did as they were told. Needless to say, her formerly benevolent rule became far more despotic.
Around T.A. 1300, emissaries of the Witch-king stole into Myr and bargained for her aid of magic and training of certain of their number. This she granted, in hopes they would eventually give her the ability to seek out and destroy Oromë. The Witch-king, bidden by his master, increased Myr’s knowledge of the black arts. Times became more evil for Myr and her realm. For now, the forces of the Necromancer and the Witch-king have let her be, but they have not forgotten about the Empress of Myr.
Religion is a very personal and private thing for the Myric Elves that usually does not have an impact on everyday life. There are stories and legends of how their people were lost and wandering, seeking a realm to the far west that was nigh unapproachable. A blinding storm struck them, and all would have perished if their leader Myr had not found the haven that eventually became a realm that took her name.
The Myric Elves revere Myronimair as a mythic figure, almost a female Gilgamesh-type hero, who led her people from certain death to found the realm they live in today. They know that Myr is the same woman who led them from the east long ago, but they have a great deal of trouble reconciling the dark woman she is today with the great leader she was thousands of years ago. So they tend to speak of Myronimair more in the past, and make no connections to her also being the Myr of the present.
The great mythical enemy is Oromë, the Vala who attempted to lead all the Elves from the far east to Valinor in the west. He is also called the Lord Betrayer because he did not aid the Elves in their need (when the Myric Elves were separated, he could not find them). The religion involves simple ceremonies recalling the exodus of the Elves, and later many tales are invented about how Myr and Oromë fought for the right to rule the Elves in exile (purely myth).
The Myric Elves do not know of Varda or Eru or any of the other Valar, but they do revere a “spirit” they call Yevane (Yavanna), who is seen as the embodiment of the land of Myr. Ceremonies to her involve the burning of scented leaves from the woods and meditation.
The Elves of Myr are extremely different from (and perhaps seem even bizarre to) the other Free Peoples who are used to the traditions of the West. These Elves know nothing of Eru and his works save the following:
- They came from a lakeside valley called Cuiviénen in the far east, where there were many of their kind.
- A person called Oromë came to them from the west and said he was to lead them to Paradise, where those who had made them now dwelt. He spoke of many deities there.
- They set out for Paradise but were lost in a great storm. Oromë did not come to save them, but their leader Myronimair led them to safety. She told them it must be a land made by Yevane (Yavanna) for them to dwell (Oromë did not teach the Elves of the creation cycle in Cuiviénen, though he did mention Yavanna). They mourned their separation from their brethren and the loss of paradise, but decided to make the best of their lot
The Myric Elves are different most notably in the following respects:
- They do not have the “light of the Eldar” about them, though they otherwise appear as graceful and lovely as the other Elves in Endor. The Empress herself is stately, beautiful, and very tall. She has dark hair, dark eyes, and fair skin.
- Their memories, though not as ephemeral as those of humans, do fade. This is partially why they often overlook the fact that Myronimair and Myr are the same person.
- They use Númenórean technology (see below), and are great craftsmen (in the manner of Celebrimbor).
- They generally lack the wisdom of the Eldar, though they are an intelligent and highly inquisitive people.
The Myric Elves are superb craftsmen, among other things excelling in smithing, textile arts, and agriculture. They have made the following notable technological advances:
- Simple machines with working parts: clocks, mills, potters and sharpening wheels.
- Advanced glasswork and lenses.
- VERY rudimentary gunpowder, used more at this point as a curiosity than anything else.
- Very advanced medicine.
- Excellent techniques of sailing and farming: lateen sails, astrolabes, compasses, sextants, multi-field systems, irrigation, horse and reindeer-drawn implements. The growing season is very short.
- Advanced architecture, with flying buttresses, curved archways, towers, domes and spires.
Among the great library at the palace is a collection of technical drawings from Númenor (mostly nautical works) whose worth to the Dúnedain is unimaginable. Many of the works inspired by the Númenóreans have the number five included in the workmanship (e.g., five pointed designs).
Physical and political geography
Myr is very similar to the Scandinavian countries in climate and form. The forests are of thick evergreens, and the ground remains frozen much of the year, with a growing season lasting from June to August. The farmers have learned to take great advantage of this by having intensive, hardy crops.
Lake Myr in the southwest is very deep and cold, though there is some good fishing there. The northern sea provides fish and kelp most of the year, and those who live on its shores are generally prosperous. One river, the Cuivene, runs south from the northern sea to Lake Myr.
The entire population of the realm is only about twenty-five hundred, scattered throughout the realm across seventeen compact villages and four larger cities — Inzilad, Tanamir, Rerir, and Gorthal. Major roads connect the cities, with smaller trails linking the villages.
The cities are beautifully laid out and generally very clean. All structures are basically wood, with stone serving as accents and foundations. Common occupations are craftsman, farmer, woodsman, merchant, healer, and fisherman. Each city and village has an elder appointed by Myr, and they are all answerable to her. Although the Empress Myr maintains a personal guard and each settlement possesses a militia (comprised mostly of bowmen), there is no standing army in the realm, save for the hundred odd men Umarth is training in secret at a hidden base at Lake Myr.
The Empress Myr lives with her consort Umarth in Inzilad in the southeast, though Umarth actually has his main stronghold in Tanamir beside the Lake of Myr in the southwest. Dorlas and Ulgarin (see below) dwell mainly at Inzilad, visiting Anguirel at the village of Meres in the north on occasion.
Language and the arts
The Myr use a very old form of Quenya (2 level penalty for speakers) but most of them also speak and write Adûnaic as well. The influence of Númenor is very notable in many everyday things, such as clothing, buildings, etc. In the palace are many fascinating works of art depicting the realm’s past (which players may find both interesting and useful).
The second consort of the Empress. He defeated Tuirel in a challenge of combat in T.A. 1420. At first, he was completely loyal to the Empress, but as the years have gone by, he has himself become ambitious and desirous of ruling the realm. Around 1800, he entreated with the Witch-king himself for certain magical training, and right at her back door the Empress suddenly discovered a competitor for her throne. An uneasy truce exists between the two at this time. Umarth is unnaturally handsome, with long, dark gold tresses and blue eyes, and fair skin. He is tall and well-muscled for an Elf.
The half-sister of the Empress. Politically, she was a moderate and unfortunately for her, a rallying point for those in the realm who desired change. The Empress never dismissed her as a threat, but as she held the secret of Lasarla’s affair with an Arnorian named Memkos in trust (as well as the life of Ulgarin, their child), Lasarla never opposed the Empress openly. Only after Memkos was long dead and Ulgarin approaching adulthood (and certainly more influenced by the Empress than her mother) did the Empress have Lasarla put to death for treason to the realm (for daring to love Tuirel, whom the Empress had chosen to be her consort). Lasarla was fair-haired, unlike her sister, with brown eyes and light-colored skin.
Memkos Myanar (B. TA. 250)
Born to a minor noble family, he was a contemporary of King Valandil of Arnor. Memkos was trained as a ranger and was the second-in-command of a small reconnaissance force sent north to Angmar. His unit was captured and many of the men, including the knight commander, were killed in T.A. 294. The rest were sent north and east to be sold into slavery among the Easterlings. Memkos and a few of the others managed to overpower their captors in a snowstorm near Myr, but he alone managed to survive and arrive in the realm, albeit barely alive and half-frozen.
The Empress was informed of his arrival, and she dispatched Lasarla to “befriend” (read interrogate) him, suspecting that he was no ordinary prisoner. Lasarla proceeded with her duty to the best of her ability, but she did not count on failing in love with Memkos. They managed to conceal most of his background from the Empress, claiming that he had suffered a dire memory loss during his travail. The Empress was always suspicious, but as Memkos was never particularly ambitious, she could find no obvious fault with him or no means to be rid of him.
The Myric Elves, so long exiled from other cultures, were for the most part fascinated by Memkos, and he became a popular scholar. He died in T.A. 362 at the relatively young age of 92 (Lasarla suspected either the Empress’s hand or injuries he never quite recovered from in his youth). Memkos was tall, with green eyes and black hair.
Ulgarin (B. TA. 351)
Ulgarin has few memories of her father, but while she was still rather young, the girl was forced to watch her mother’s execution at the hands of the Empress. This act confused her terribly; while she had learned so much from the Empress and certainly reveled in her dark tutelage, she still held affection for Lasarla and her tutor Dorlas, who was dedicated to Lasarla. This was the point when Ulgarin began to have small doubts. For the next hundred years, though, she continued to work for the Empress, and eventually the Witch-king of Angmar.
In her twisted thoughts, she held the humans to blame for her mother’s death, for was it not the fact that her father was human and an outsider that incited Lasarla to have rebellious thoughts in the first place? And she had really not known her father that well — wasn’t it entirely possible that he forced Lasarla to have an affair with him? And that he raped her? These were thoughts the Empress encouraged, for the gold from the Witch-king paid for Ulgarin’s services as well as the exchange of knowledge and mercenaries pleased her. To Ulgarin, Lasarla is merely a sad remembrance by this time, and as she died a traitor’s death, no one dares to speak of her memory.
Dorlas awoke at Cuiviénen and has been a close companion of both the Empress and Lasarla. It broke his heart when he saw the change in Myronimair, and though he is still loyal to what she was, he now pins his hope on Anguirel to set things to rights. He is unsure about Ulgarin, though sympathetic to her cause (having cared for her in her childhood). He and Umarth are sworn enemies, though subtle ones. The Empress does not listen to Umarth’s claims that Dorlas is a traitor. Dorlas appears more elderly than some of the other Elves, with silver white hair and blue eyes. He is slender and fair of skin.
Anguirel was raised as a simple fisherman’s son, and it was not until 1650 that he knew of his true heritage. He pities Myronimair, but is determined to unseat her and defeat Umarth as well. He does not know what to do about Ulgarin, for he loves her as his sister but does not trust her as an ally. Like his father Tuirel, Anguirel has light brown hair and blue eyes. Tanned and well-muscled from his years of work, he is an imposing and charismatic figure.
- Emissaries from Númenor make a brief visit to Myr. Myronimair receives them warmly at first, but she is shocked by their vanity and air of superiority. They part on peaceful terms, but Myronimair is fearful of their return. She uses a great deal of her own personal power to erect a barrier around her realm.
- Myronimair is beginning to show the strain of maintaining the barrier. She calls for her people to give of their own power to her so that the barrier might be maintained. They do so willingly, but the barrier weakens nonetheless; its maintenance is simply beyond her skill.
- Sauron taken to Númenor.
- Shortly before the fall of Númenor, another group of emissaries travels to Myr, proving the ineffectiveness of the barrier. Influenced by Sauron (who is very curious about this northern Elven realm), they warn Myronimair of the Elves in the west, who not only revere Oromë, but others of his ilk as well. They bring many gifts to her, including some of the technological wonders of Númenor. Though Myronimair does not care for the humans, the thought that Oromë still lives sends her into a blind rage. She demands that armies be readied for the march westward, which delights the Númenóreans influenced by Sauron, since they are anxious to sow seeds of dissent among the Eldar.
- The army sets out, traveling through the Iron Hills and west towards Mirkwood. Before they can meet any other Elves, they are destroyed by Easterling tribesmen. In her rage, Myronimair kills the Númenóreans, much to the shock and dismay of her subjects. She disassembles the barrier, but keeps all of the energies for the spell donated by her people for herself.
- Númenor falls; Sauron returns to Mordor.
- Myronimair demands to be called the Empress Myr. Her only goal becomes learning the dark arts in order to destroy Oromë and his followers. Sauron keeps tabs on her throughout this time.
- Sauron is overthrown by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men; he and his followers fall into shadow.
- Memkos Myanar, knight of Valandil of Arnor, crosses the barrier into Myr. He is given to Lasarla for interrogation.
- Ulgarin, daughter of Memkos and Lasarla, born (cf. Empire of the Witch-king). She is first cared for by Dorlas, who was also one of the first to awaken at Cuiviénen.
- Memkos dies young. The Empress Myr seizes upon Lasarla’s time of grief to begin tutelage of Ulgarin. Her heart becomes bitter towards her mother, despite the influence of Dorlas.
- Lasarla and Tuirel begin a relationship (further alienating Ulgarin). In secret, Lasarla bears him a son, Anguirel. She hides him away with a fisher family in the north of the realm, intending him to be the downfall of her sister (and his own, if necessary). They use Dorlas as a confessor and he keeps their secret safe, mourning the turning of Ulgarin to the Empress’s will.
- Tuirel becomes consort of the Empress Myr against his will, though he hides it well. He and Lasarla continue to meet in secret.
- Lasarla killed for treason; the real reason is that the Empress suspects (but has not proven) her involvement with Tuirel.
- Sauron begins work from Dol Guldur. He sends spies to see what is happening in Myr.
- Witch-king seizes Angmar. At Sauron’s behest, he sends emissaries to Myr. The Empress increases her knowledge of the dark arts greatly, and agrees to give them her niece Ulgarin to be a go-between. She despises the Witch-king but is glad to learn of newfound abilities. She trains to eventually serve as an agent in Arthedain.
- Umarth fights Tuirel in combat for the hand of the Empress. Tuirel is slain; Umarth becomes consort He is subtle and clever and wields more power over the Empress than she realizes, and this increases gradually over the years.
- The barrier around Myr falls altogether.
- In secret, Dorlas visits Anguirel and tells him of his birthright At first he refuses to believe it; but gradually he begins gathering allies about him, all the while still maintaining his identity as a sailor and fisherman. He waits for an opportunity.
- Umarth approaches the Witch-king in order to acquire magical training. The Empress tries in vain to check his power. The realm more or less splits into two camps, with Dorlas and Anguirel leading an unknown third faction. Peace remains but plots increase.
- Ulgarin sent to Arthedain to be pupil of Malbeth. She proves to be an excellent spy.
- Fall of Arthedain in the winter. Journey of exiles to Imladris. Ulgarin stricken mute as punishment for her attempt to communicate with Thalion.
- Elrond learns of the realm of Myr and sends a group of player-characters there to investigate. This could be a simple scouting mission or it may allow the players to become involved in the intrigues of the realm.
- Dorlas decides that it is time for Anguirel to stage a coup and claim the throne for himself. He could use the PCs to contact Anguirel or somehow serve as a decoy to keep Empress Myr occupied while he and Anguirel lay their plans.
- Any players involved in the downfall of Arthedain might recognize Ulgarin as an Angmar spy and seek to follow her back to Myr to
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