The southern lands collectively known as Haradwaith were vast. Seemingly endless dry plains, scorching deserts, and dark jungles surrounded the many settlements, city-states, tribal territories and forgotten ruins that dotted its landscape.
The Men that inhabited this unforgiving landscape differed greatly from one place to the next, though all have been conquered to become part of the Golden King's army in service of Sauron, known in Haradwaith as Zigûr. This article explores the variety of Haradrim the player will encounter in Haradwaith, starting north and moving down southward.
Harondor: A Land in Turmoil
Centuries of war and conflict between Gondorians and Haradrim have long left the lands of Harondor, bordering Gondor in the north and Near Harad in the south, deserted. In recent years, however, whispers have reached the Tower of Ecthelion of the rise of a fearsome warlord. Sûladan, they call him; the Serpent Lord. Sûladan has worked hard at brokering peace between the many warring Haradrim city-states of Near Harad, uniting them in common purpose: to resettle the lands of Harondor and exact vengeance upon the northern oppressor for the many transgressions committed against their ancestors - even at the cost of subjugating lesser tribes into his service, and pledging his sword to Zigûr...
Umbar: Glory Unforgotten
When Thorongil sailed into the bay of Umbar and slew the Captain of the Havens and burned the Corsair fleet, he also dealt a grievous blow to the pride of the wavering Black Númenóreans of this once-great port city. Few true Black Númenóreans still remain in Umbar, but their race has not withered entirely: Câssimir, Lord of Umbar, and his brother, Corsair-lord Bûrodâpan, heirs to Herumor himself, still exert great power over the Haradrim living in Umbar and the lands beyond. Honoring the ways of their ancestors, both brothers renewed their dark allegiance to Zigûr upon learning of his return.
Near Harad: Tribal Subjugation
A multitude of tribes dot the arid desert landscapes of Near Harad. For centuries, these people have been at war: either led by chieftains seeking to expand their power, or by greater forces pressing them into their service to field armies of conquest. The time of the War of the Ring is no different: warlords from Harondor, empowered by Zigûr himself, come bearing the Threat of Mordor to subjugate tribal Men and send them marching north - to a war they did not start, fighting an enemy they do not know.
Mahûddin: Warriors of the Savanna
The Mahûddin tribes of Far Harad live north of the Nâfarat river, upon the endless savanna. For millennia they have honed their connection to the land, in particular to the greatest creature that roams it: the Mûmak. Their connection to this majestic animal runs deep: they rely upon them for sustenance, building materials, and ensuring dominance - those that can raise the greatest Mûmak host reign supreme without dispute. Recognizing their usefulness in the war to come, the Golden King sent forth Syar-Rhûl, the Black Vizier, to win influence over the greatest Mahûd warchiefs, poisoning their ancient culture into Zigûr’s service.
Nafârati: Conquered Greatness
The lands traditionally known as Far Harad are bordered in the south by the course of the Nâfarat River, a long, deep river running from mysterious Eastern mountain ranges to the white beaches of the Western coast. Deep jungles crowd its shores on sides, amongst which has flourished the Nafârati culture. Caran-Lambar, the young warrior-chief of a prominent Nâfarati tribe, heard rumors of the return of an ancient menace amongst the ruins of Abrakhân, a haunted place in the Southern Reaches, far to the south of the Nâfarat. Brave and willing, he set out with a group of loyal companions... and would have been heralded as a great hero upon his glorious return, had he managed to best his dark foe.
However, the evil he went to investigate was that of the Golden King, and no amount of warrior-prowess could avail him when he walked into the whispering ruins of Abrakhân. His quest cut short, he and his brave companions were ensnared, tortured, and mutilated into great Troll-like brutes that had forgotten themselves and only served their dark lord. Then they were unleashed upon the Nâfarati and soon brought the former greatness of their people low, paving the way for the Golden King’s slow march north, subjugating all in the name of Zigûr, reminding them of whom they truly served.
Southern Reaches: Ruins of Evil
Sauron began rebuilding his fortress of Barad-dûr in T.A. 2951. It was at this time that he first sent forth Hoarmurath, Third of the Nine, to the lands south of Mordor. The Haradrim owed him allegiance, Sauron felt, but he feared that his influence had lessened over the years. The Men of Harad needed to be reminded of their master and his dark will, and of the consequences of denying him his due tribute and veneration.
Hoarmurath had long ago been known as the Golden King - a monarch that had managed to attain great power over the many tribes and free-cities that lay scattered over the vast lands of Haradwaith, and whose cruelty had become a thing of ancient legend, amplified by his receiving of a Ring of Power. The center of Hoarmurath's kingdom had been the Golden City of Abrakhân: a vast metropolis of golden splendor, built on foundations of blood and suffering, located in the southernmost regions of Haradwaith - the Southern Reaches.
It is to Abrakhân that Hoarmurath first went. The city was a ruin: abandoned and forgotten, its precious stones and golden seams stripped from their bearings, then left alone for many centuries, slowly succumbing to the harsh winds and sands of the desert, which had grown fell and inhospitable over time. It was around this time that a mysterious Black Númenorean sorcerer known as Syâr-Rhul began to rise through Hoarmurath's dark ranks to become his chief personal advisor.
It is true that the Witch-king was the greatest of the Nine, the most capable in the dark arts, but Hoarmurath had spent long years studying in Sauron's scholomance, and had become fascinated with the art of corruption. To this end, he gathered about him both Men and beasts and set them captive in his dark pavilion. There he used fell Morgul magics to twist their natures, growing them into fell creatures that would serve him well in the wars to come.
That’s it for this article. We will be going into further detail in later articles, exploring heroes, spells, and gameplay concepts. For now, we go back to work!
The Age of the Ring Team