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An article introducing the themes and concepts behind Woodland Realm, our newest faction in development.

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Hello there! It's been a couple of months since our last article. Since then, AotR has seen the release of version 5.0 (and 5.1), which added the faction of Dol Guldur. We are very grateful for the enthusiasm with which the community received this faction - from all the kind compliments to a seemingly endless stream of community-made Youtube videos, it's been very humbling!

But now, it's time to focus our attention on what's next...


The Woodland Realm


Overview1

biggerarmy

Why Woodland Realm?


Why indeed. From the moment we announced this faction back in 2017, it's been an occasional cause for misunderstanding: Woodland Realm is the
third Elven faction in Age of the Ring - an obvious redundancy. There's not enough information about Thranduil's realm to make it distinct from Lothlórien, their roster and gameplay will necessarily be very similar, they should be some kind of 'minifaction' instead, et cetera.

On the surface, these aforementioned issues seem legit. The Elves of the Woodland Realm, like those of Lórien, were mostly Wood-elves. They were both led by Sindar lords (at least for a long time), they both lived in the trees, and they both fought against an encroaching evil. Contrast this with Rivendell: an entirely different set of Elves, with a different history and culture, and hobbits!

Obviously, we disagree with this assessment. There's a lot more to the Elves of the Woodland Realm and their allies than meets the eye. In this article, we will broadly introduce the faction as we've envisioned it, with later articles dealing with the specifics of gameplay, units, heroes, and spellbook powers. Themes aren’t just for eight-grade book reports, kids.

Less Wise, More Dangerous


The above adage, stated by Tolkien in The Hobbit (and by Beorn in Desolation of Smaug) has been key in informing the basic design of the Woodland Realm faction. This is reflected all throughout their gameplay: their basic units are Silvan Elves that receive various special abilities, such as
Skinning Knives, which causes basic attacks to deal lingering damage over time, and Thorned Barbs, which briefly stuns enemy units when struck. Silvan Elves also have the Evasion power, which temporarily increases their armor, knockback resistance, and movement speed, which allows them to escape sticky situations and make for the cover of the forest.

Beyond this, the Woodland Realm spellbook is full of ways to annoy, delay, and mess with your opponent. Hidden Sentries places 3 Silvan sentries on a targeted location. The Elves Awoke Them summons a tree that knocks back enemy units and provides stealth. Elvenking’s Road allows the player to teleport units in and out of combat. Elvenking’s Feast summons a moveable feast that provides bonuses to nearby units. Lights Go Out temporarily reduces enemy vision, experience gain, and attack damage.

All this works towards making the Woodland Realm feel very distinct. The Elves of Lothlórien and Rivendell are portrayed as serene, ethereal beings mostly concerned with the protection and preservation of their environment, while the Elves of the Woodland Realm are far more aggressive, militarized, and trickstery.

SilvanElves1

Tauriel is the Captain of the Silvan Elves

SilvanElves2

A group of Silvan Elves plans an ambush upon an outpost of Dol Guldur

Oromë and the Hunt


Tolkien’s Elves being vegetarians is a common misconception! The Elves of the Woodland Realm were known to hunt, as is evidenced by Bilbo and the Dwarves hearing the Wood-elves hunting in Mirkwood, as well as by Tolkien’s description of them: “They dwelt most often by the edges of the woods, from which they could escape at times to hunt, or to ride and run over the open lands by moonlight or starlight …”

We thought this penchant for hunting would make an interesting motif for the Woodland Realm. It’s expressed in various ways: the Hunting Shrine, one of the faction’s two primary resource structures, has the ability to recruit a Feredir - Sindarin for Hunter - a single Elf unit that can hunt for extra resources by killing and trapping creeps and enemy units.

Beyond this, we have extrapolated the idea of Wood-elves and their hunt into a special veneration of Oromë, the Huntsman of the Valar. Oromë is ever-present in the faction, from the spellbook’s Great Hunt of Oromë, a targetable power that causes enemy units to lose armor and have their ability timers reset, while granting friendly units recharged ability timers and the ability to temporarily trample enemy units, to the Fortress’ Tribute to Oromë, which unlocks the Horn of Tauron power, which when activated causes enemy units to lose armor and flee in terror.

Oromë is also part of the connective tissue between the two main cultures of the Woodland Realm faction - Wood-elves and Woodmen. The Rohirrim revered Oromë, and so it makes sense that their Woodmen cousins were also familiar with him. This familiarity is expressed by the Woodmen Hunters’ Mark of Béma power, which causes targeted units to temporarily receive more damage from Woodmen arrows.

GrimbeornWoodmen1

Woodmen gather near Grimbeorn's House


Celtic Influences


It’s no secret that Tolkien’s Elves were, in part, inspired by Celtic myths. In The Hobbit, we see a white deer as Thorin and company enter Mirkwood - which, according to Tolkien scholar Douglas A. Anderson, usually prefigure an encounter with beings from the Otherworld [in Celtic tradition]. We have expanded upon this notion and incorporated several other clear Celtic-based entities into the Woodland Realm, most notably the Druids of the Oaken Order. First taught by Radagast centuries before the War of the Ring when he detected the evil presence in Dol Guldur, these Men, learned in the hidden truths of the natural world, serve as spiritual and political leaders to the Woodmen of the Anduin Vale.

We have also extrapolated the white deer from the book, combining with the spirit-like white stag that appears in the Extended Edition of Desolation of Smaug, to create the second of Woodland Realm’s final spellbook powers - A Sign of Good Fortune - which summons an invulnerable White Stag that strengthens and supports your units.

Another small nod to both Middle-earth’s more obscure figures and Celtic tradition is Frumgar, son of Frumgar, Champion of the Anduin Vale - a descendant of a mighty Dragonslayer. Frumgar is summoned as part of the Spears of Framsburg power, and is surrounded by a small force of Éothéod Riders.

GildedGuard

The Gilded Guard of Lasgalen ride ferocious Elks into battle


Druids1

Radagast meets with a group of Druids of the Oaken Order


Frumgar1

Frumgar honors his ancestors by slaying a dragon

The Elvenking


The Elvenking has ever been a far more relatable character than most of the other Elves we’ve come to know throughout the history of Middle-earth, especially those that remain in Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age. He is wise, yet not counted amongst the Wise members of the White Council. He is just, but bears personal grudges. He likes gems and beautiful things, as well as drinking wine and feasting. In the Hobbit films, his character was embellished to be a bit more haughty, resentful, and - dare I say it - sultry than he was in the book, all beautifully portrayed by Lee Pace.

Right from the start, we knew that Thranduil the Elvenking was going to be a very central figure to the faction, possibly even more so than the Necromancer in Dol Guldur. Thranduil is the ‘faction leader’ hero, and is presented as an isolationist, wealthy warrior-king that wants to protect his people and kill his enemies. His Renowned Warrior power is amongst the greatest ‘blademaster’ type abilities in the mod, growing stronger with each level. His None May Enter ability allows him to block off a part of the map to create a chokepoint, while his Memory of Mordor power surrounds the Elvenking with a cadre of memories-taken-shape that deal damage to everything within their range.

Because Woodland Realm does not possess a standard heavy armor upgrade, we have given Thranduil a leadership that boosts armor, as well as his Love of Silver and Jewels power, which upgrades targeted units with Sindarin Armor, permanently increasing their armor.

Beyond his status as a faction leader, he is also very present in the spellbook, where a whole row of spells is dedicated to his authority as Elvenking: the previously mentioned Elvenking’s Road and Elvenking’s Feast, as well as Elvenking’s Patience, which removes enemy units’ leadership and stuns them for a short time, and Elvenking’s Decree, which causes targeted friendly units to collect resources upon kills and have increased movement speed.

Oh, and we also emphasize his fabulousness by giving him a variety of costumes!

Thranduil1

Thranduil poses with his Treasury


Thranduil2

Thranduil fights an incursion from the Misty Mountains


Thranduil4

Once upgraded with Sindarin Armor, the otherwise green and brown

Silvan Elves receive a very different look


Color Palettes, Visual Motifs, and Day Drinking


Finally, we decided upon several visual markers to easily make Woodland Realm stand out on its own, not just from the other Elven factions, but from every faction in Age of the Ring.

To this end, we decided to portray Woodland Realm in autumn - its many trees full of red leaves, and red leaves all in and around the open-spaced structures - which we decided would be made of wood, and mostly built upon ancient stone ruins from Oropher’s time, when the Woodland Realm was far larger and more cheerful, before the Elves retreated further inwards towards the underground halls of the Elvenking. These dwellings are typically not meant to be permanent, but rather temporary settlements, used on occasion when needed.

We’ve also emphasized their love of feasting and wine - there are very few structures you’ll find that don’t have a barrel or more as well as a couple of bottles of wine stashed away!

GalionWell1

A Well of Wine surrounded by Vineyards, Galion, and several battalions of drunk Elves


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The Royal Barracks and the Hunting Shrine



We’ll go more in-depth on Woodland Realm units, heroes and spellbook powers in later articles. For now, we’ve still got a lot of development to do!

Until next time,
The AotR Team

Carrock

Bonus image of the Carrock!


Comments
ComradeSquid
ComradeSquid

AOTR's quality shines like the sun! Can't wait for another great faction.

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treefoz
treefoz

Ah man, I am so excited! And that also means one faction closer to Haradwaith. haha

Reply Good karma Bad karma+14 votes
RideForRuin
RideForRuin

Thank's you team!! Are the best.
Best regards

Reply Good karma Bad karma+5 votes
Biljo
Biljo

Great Job thank you for your hard work

Reply Good karma Bad karma+5 votes
NumenoreanTalion
NumenoreanTalion

I am really enjoyed while reading this article Aotr Team! Good job!

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Rothnaric
Rothnaric

seeing the well in the image above, it now blends perfectly and fits in with the rest, way better than just seeing it on its own. (just an idea though... would it not be better to use a tree model attached to the fountain, make the fountain smaller and add benches or something to either the tree or fountain... almost similar in design to the ent wives building. where it has a tree and then the fountain next to it? most buildings have trees so it does fit in but it also stands out a lot at the moment.... but then again I am not a modder or art designer, I am just a fool typing comments hoping some of the crap I say makes sense lol)

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UncleRisech
UncleRisech

Buildings look great, as always. It's a pleasure to plan a base in this mod, pity though that dark factions lacks of walls.

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Argeomer
Argeomer

i think Age of the Ring came directly from the Valar

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Carmondai
Carmondai

I love it thank you for the news!!

Hope we will see them soon in battle!

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Kaieman
Kaieman

Aesthetic the most beautiful faction with the red leaves/autumn theme.
WR was always the faction i was looking forward to and it will definitely be worth it.

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rSlade
rSlade

Hey, guys, awesome work. Could you please share with us some news about your awesome campaign, if any? Thanks.

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MathijsRevora Author
MathijsRevora

We might do a little article sometime down the road, but we want to keep this campaign as unspoiled as possible. Its development goes well!

Reply Good karma+11 votes
rSlade
rSlade

Splendid, thanks

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Guest
Guest

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Lich_King_of_Angmar
Lich_King_of_Angmar

will mirkwood fraction be able to build walls?

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OakenShield224
OakenShield224

It will not.

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buzdi
buzdi

lol, why?

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PaladinAstro
PaladinAstro

I think it makes the most sense; Thorin's company did just stumble upon their feast, encountering no walls on their way. Their main defenses would have been tricky magics and patrolling rangers. They seem to love their mobility, and walls would get in the way of that. It'll certainly make for good, distinct feeling gameplay.

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buzdi
buzdi

then it would have made some sense to make their walls look like unpassable trees or something like that.

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Guest
Guest

It will feel very hard for me to upgrade the beautiful golden armor of the warriors

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Chewmass
Chewmass

Couple of things:

First of all I adore the design of the structures, coming from an older Age when Oropher's kingdom was larger and prosperous.
I also commend you for portraying Radagast, Beornings and the Woodsmen in a way that none has ever done before. And though imaginative, you don't break the lore.

There's only one concern. Putting the Woodsmen/Beornings in an Elven faction (we can't deny that it is indeed, an elven faction), may create games where players may spam Woodsmen, which doesn't feel quite right. It's like playing against Dwarves and your opponent spams you with Men of Dale, constantly,then why not make Dale a separate faction? It's about the feeling. And your mod delivers mostly on the feeling. Just a mild concern.

Waiting for the lore compendium.

Cheers!

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MathijsRevora Author
MathijsRevora

Thank you!

Putting the Woodmen/Beornings in the Elven faction and allowing people to try strategies using just them is something I'd love to see. Same for Men of Dale in Erebor, or Hobbits/Bree-landers in Eriador. These sorts of diverse playstyles are what we strive for.

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Guest
Guest

Cannot wait for this faction, it looks gorgeous. Quick question, are you planning to update Lothlorien on the next release to further differentiate it from the WR?
Keep up the good work!

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CaptainCorrigan
CaptainCorrigan

Great to hear you're excited for Woodland Realm! Lothlorien 2.0 is unlikely to be released with Woodland Realm as far as we know.

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Guest
Guest

such beautiful work!

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Guest
Guest

I'm a big fan of games. But I've never been excited like this before. Phenomenal work! A true embodiment of a great mod team. Wish you guys the best of luck. And always remember to stay healthy. Thank you guys for making lockdown perfect!

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Someone90
Someone90

I'm beginning to think you're running out of factions very soon, what with all this massive amount of beautiful content you put in this mod.

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CaptainCorrigan
CaptainCorrigan

Indeed, we only have one more faction planned after Woodland Realm!

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OhNoesBunnies!
OhNoesBunnies!

I have this game in the deluxe edition with the expansion and everything, but the discs are all scratched up. Does anyone know of any digital retailers selling this (that aren't over 100 bucks like Amazon)?

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MattTheLegoman
MattTheLegoman

Here's the installation guide. Forums.revora.net

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jadengomez
jadengomez

When do you think this will be released?

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CaptainCorrigan
CaptainCorrigan

We do not give release dates.

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Guest
Guest

Every day I check when the Wood Elves will be available.
I can't wait to play Legolas!

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Guest
Guest

Every day I check when the Wood Elves will be available.
I can't wait to play Legolas!

Thanks for amazing work AOTR team !

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Guest
Guest

Dear AotR Team, I'm amazed by everything you did with this game. You've given it so much depth and so many references to Tolkien's work that I'm lacking words to describe it. Your character and building designs are supreme, attention to details on highest level imaginable. And with each update you set the bar even higher! Also, I love Tolkien's elves and I love that you honored them with three distinct, beautiful factions.

Much love!

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