Playing an Eorling of Rohan isn’t very difficult. It’s got several interesting quirks though. But be aware that this guide has no elitist intentions, I cannot nor will I tell you how to role-play a character hailing from Rohan, but should you desire to know the basics involving characters from Rohan; then do enjoy the read. At all times do remember that though perception tends to be a common and mutual thing among certain folk, it does tend to differ per character/person, and in that way making your character unique. And of course that is encouraged! I do hope that you enjoy this guide and the work that I have put into it. It is written to be a resource to any one who should seek need of it. I have left a few quotations from Tolkien’s work to prove some of the information that I have put into this guide; these can be found at the bottom of the post, thank you!
Interestingly, Rohirrim themselves would call Rohan the Riddermark, or the Mærc in their tongue because Rohan/Rohirrim is Sindarin if I recall rightly and is the name used primarily by outsiders. The name which they have for themselves is the Eorlingas.
Proof: “Roch: ‘Horse’ (Quenya rokko) in Rochallor, Rohan (from Rochand ‘Land of horses’), Rohirrim; also in Roheryn ‘Horse of the lady’ (cf. heru), Aragorn’s horse, which was so called because given to him by Arwen (The Return of the King V 2)”
And ‘Rim’, According to Silma(Silmarillion – yes, she’s my girl): ” ‘Great number, host’ (Quenya rumbe) was commonly used to form collective plurals, as Golodhrim, Mithrim (see the index), Naugrim, Thangorodrim.”
– J.R.R Tolkien
((Could not find quotes from Silma, but as most roleplayers will tell you that Hir is Sindarin for ‘Lord’))
-Taken from the Silmarillion appendix
The Rohirrim do not have last names or family names. Instead they go by ‘(Name of character here) son of (name of father here)’. Example: ‘Redwick son of Ceobrand.’ But I would imagine that their family tree would be referred to as their house, though very seldom. And even still they would not have specific names save for those who choose to remember the names of the older ancestors. I.E ‘The House of Eorl’, that is referring to the kings of Rohan and all related by blood to the lineage of Eorl(The first king of Rohan. Import: Research Rohan history/ can be found in the appendices of the LoTR books). The house of Eorl is the only house that is considered Noble(By name/blood) in Rohan, there are no other nobles except those born into the line of Eorl.
Now where perception is somewhat critical is how the Rohirrim would see the other races in Middle-earth. I’m not going to give you any direct references to exactly where I get my information of these things but most of it is to be found in the books of course and this was based on what how I perceive several facts involving the Rohirrim(Not very reliable, I know).
Hobbits: What are hobbits to a man of Rohan? They are a legend known as ‘Holbytlan’ to the Rohirrim and are spoken of them in tales. It wouldn’t be so simple for them to easily understand the existence of these creatures but if they’ve been in the company of them they would eventually understand that what they thought to be legend is indeed reality. So basically the average Eorling would doubt the existence of a Hobbit at first until they are more learned about it.
Elves: They don’t trust the elves, nor have any dealings with them. This shadow is cast onto them from Dwimordene(Lothlorien) and they believe that a witch lies therein. An Eorling might be fearful of an elf because they are believed to have uncanny powers(use imagination). An example there could be ensnarement, to take control of someone and make them do their bidding. There are very few folk who are on well terms with the Elves of Lothlorien because they keep to themselves and they do not like outsiders in their woods because they fear harm should come to it. That being said; the Eorlingas being men who build with wood live right on their door-step and if ever they tried to chop down a tree the elves wouldn’t be very pleased at them.(Refer to the bottom of this post for some ‘food for thought’ concerning the Eorlingas and Elves.)
Dwarves: How everyone else sees a dwarf! A stout alcoholic who delights in valuables and often might haggle for them! But there is some suspicion and hostility between the Dwarves and the Eorlingas. In the days of the Eotheod, the king Fram, slew a dragon but the Dwarves deemed that they had claims to the treasure. But instead Fram sent the Dragon’s teeth to them and ever since it was rumoured that the Dwarves killed Fram.
Dunlendings: The ‘Wildmen'(As they know them) of Dunland and the Rohirrim have been foes for a very long time, and though the Rohirrim are not fond of them they are merciful and would rather have no war. Over the years of the Rohirrim’s rule of Rohan their kings drove out the Dunlandings from Rohan, for the Dunlandings had homes their before they.
There are also some other quirks, let’s say greetings? Well wishes that Tolkien describes in his book is ‘Westu (name of person) Hal’ when greeting hello and ‘Ferthu (name of person) hal’ when greeting fare well. Example: ‘Westu Redwick hal!’
Simple as that! 🙂
There’s also an Eorling’s education. How much would he or she know? Well. Tolkien says that they’re not keen on books, they don’t read, but they are wise and their history is brought down to them by tales and things of the sort. So it’s usual for an Eorling to be unable to read or write, but of course there are exceptions as there are exceptions for everything.
They also refer to Minas Tirith as ‘Mundburg’ which is another quirk that might be interesting. There are several other words that one might use to spice up their RP as I tend to do with my Eorling characters, mostly terms adapted from Anglo-Saxon Old English as that is what Rohirrim culture was based on.
Diety? The Great Huntsman that is known to the Rohirrim as Béma, but unknown to them is called Orome by Elves. If ever an Eorling is to refer to a diety of some sort it is most likely to be Béma, but there isn’t really any evidence as to how they worship Béma and I don’t think that they practice things such as prayer or anything of the likings.
Of their appearance. The Rohirrim were most naturally fair haired and blue eyed with fair skin. Their hair colour alike to that of straw. Of course as always in these matters blood comes into concern and genes often get pushed around by outsiders who have come together with the Rohirrim. Hence exceptions are very plausible.
Rohan is a vast and wide land of green plains, their lands are rich with farms, cattle and horses. Meaning that a vast number of their folk are also farmers and herders. Farming is the base of the land and the people live widely on it. The clothing of an Eorling would be quite simple, very seldom something fancy and for the most part they would more likely wear what they work in. Other than farming there are obviously other occupations that the Rohirrim folk enjoyed: Smithing, crafting, cooking, hunting, foraging. And all of these trades are based on the survival of their own folk so that they may survive. So more likely what ever work an Eorling is to choose will be beneficial and necessary for everyone else in their towns and villages.
A trade very much loved by the Eorlingas would be horse breeding. As most of us may know the Rohirrim love and delight horses and what else could make living in such a vast land more convenient? Speaking of which: Black horses were a rare thing in Rohan at that time because the servants of the Dark lord kept stealing them for his army.
But so far I have only covered the more casual occupations for the folk. There almost always use for another soldier in Rohan as lands such as theirs are very vulnerable to assailants, especially when the Dunlendings live right across the River Isen. Though the base military of Rohan are all mounted there are those kinds of soldiers who would simply be stationed as guardsman, and for those more fortunate and trustworthy: The King’s guard.
Lastly, bear in mind that the time between the current roleplaying(Lotro time) wasn’t very far about from when the time of the Eotheod, roughly five hundred(500) years have passed since Eorl was given the land of Rohan, hence several happenings in the Eotheod likely being still remembered and spoken down by tale.
I think that that’s it? Not sure!
The Founding of Rohan
Note: this is a tale that I strongly suggest you read up on yourself, including the names and deeds of former kings of Rohan – these can be found in the Appendices of the Lord of the Rings books. The additional “lore-spice” can contribute significantly to roleplay.
The lands of the Eotheod once laid in the far north in the Vales of Anduin; between the furthest walls of the Misty Mountains and the furthest eaves of Mirkwood. In 2510 TA, the land formerly known as Calenardhon(which was owned by Gondor) came under seige by Easterlings and Orcs. Cirion, who was the Stewart of Gondor at the time, sent for aid to his allies in the Vales of Anduin, but there were very few who heard the call and were unable to come to Gondor’s aid.
The news eventually reached the Eotheod and Eorl rode south with a host of his riders to Gondors aid. The battle turned in their favour and the riders of the Eotheod brought victory for the allies.
In return for his aid, Cirion gave to Eorl the land of Calenardhon, which was then renamed as we know it now.
Where is the Riddermark?
When confronted with strangers who are naive of foreign lands, it’s quite likely that your character will be pressed with the question “Where is Rohan?” It may seem very difficult to put into words at first, even for a character who may well know how to answer the question, but here it is in mine:
Rohan is north of the White Mountains which lays in the distance from the southern shores of Middle-Earth in Gondor. It is bordered by the White Moutains in the south, the fords of Isen in the west, the limlight river in the north, and the Great River(Langflood in their tongue) in the east, and the Mering Stream which feeds Anduin(the Great River) in the south-east.
‘Their golden hair was braided on their shoulders; the sun was blazoned upon their green shields, their long corslets were burnished bright, and when they rose taller they seemed than mortal men.’
‘They are proud and wilful, but they are true-hearted, generous in thought and deed; bold but not cruel; wise but unlearned, writing no books but singing many songs, after the manner of the children of Men before the Dark Years.’
”The Riders laughed. ‘It cannot be doubted that we witness the meeting of dear friends,’ said Theoden. ‘So these are the lost ones of your company, Gandalf? The days are fated to be filled with many marvels. Already I have seen many since I left my house; and now here before my eyes stand yet another of the folk of legend. Are not these the Halfings, that some among us call the Holbytlan?”
”Halflings!’ laughed the Rider that stood beside Eomer. ‘Halflings! But they are only a little people in old songs and children’s tales out of the North. Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?”
”Though it comes to my ears that that lie has been told. some years ago the Lord of the Black Land wished to purchase horses of us at a great price, but we refused him, for he puts beasts to evil use. Then he sent plundering Orcs, and they carry off what they can, choosing always the black horses: few of these are now left. For that reason our feud with the Orcs is bitter.”
”Then it is true, as Eomer reported, that you are in league with the sorceress of the Golden Wood?’ said Wormtongue. ‘It is not to be wondered at: webs of deceit were ever woven in Dwimordene.”
‘The Rider looked at them with renewed wonder, but his eyes hardened. ‘Then there is a Lady in the Golden Wood, as old tales tell!’ he said. ‘Few escape her nets, they say. These are strange days! But if you have her favour, then you also are net-weavers and sorcerers, maybe.’ He turned a cold glance suddenly upon Legolas and Gimli. ‘Why do you not speak, silent ones?’ he demanded.’
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Constructive criticism quite welcome. Help me improve!
Worthy of Note:
‘There’s only one thing those maggots can do: they can see like gimlets in the dark. But these Whiteskins have better night-eyes than most Men, from all I’ve heard; and don’t forget their horses!’ – Uglúk the Uruk [The Two Towers – Chapter: The Uruk-Hai]
So, there’s something that I thought would be necessary, perhaps food for thought. In all of the quotations that I have presented concerning Dwimordene and the Lady of the Woods; there is no mention of any Elves, nor do they claim that “The Lady” is an Elf. Where ever I sought, I merely saw that the Rohirrim always referred to her as “The Lady in the Woods” or something to the likes. This however, is more or less a matter that is open for debate to me. What they do mention about the Elves is that they can come and go unseen, which is how Eomer turned to explaining as to why Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli were not first seen by the Eored of the Riders of the Mark until Aragorn stood up to greet them.
Now, the Eorlingas were tall and mighty among the folk of Men in Middle-Earth, but it is somewhat of import to keep in mind that the Dunedain are the greatest among men-folk, tallest and most likely the mightiest. Such has been obtained to them from their gifts from the Valar that were long received before they came Numenor sank. Now, I assume that there may likely be some objections where folk may insist that their Eorling characters, by chance, or by some story are greater and mightier than the Dunedain, and this will indeed be frequent in any community. As a reference to this:
‘Stout men and lordly they are, and the Riders of Rohan look almost as boys beside them; for they are grim men of face, worn like weathered rocks for the most part, even as Aragorn himself; and they are silent.’ – Gimli [The Return of the King – Chapter: The Passing of they Grey Company]