Author Archive

Weekly Lore #10 — On The Prancing Pony

The Prancing Pony was the main Inn of the town of Bree. In addition to providing beds and meals for travellers, the Inn also served as a meeting place for the local townsfolk. While most rooms at The Pony were used by Rangers and dwarves, there was also a wing with rooms specifically designed with hobbits in mind.

Weekly Lore #9 — On Pipe-weed

Pipe-weed is an herb popular with many of the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. It is also known as leaf, westmansweed, sweet galenas, and Nicotiana. It is referred to as tobacco in The Hobbit, and is also described as such in the text of the Lord of the Rings, though it is never referred to as such by characters in the latter book. The first true pipe-weed was said to have been grown by Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom in the Southfarthing, in around the year 1070 Shire-reckoning (roughly 350 years before the primary events of the Lord of the Rings).

While Tobold (or Old Toby) is considered the first to have grown proper pipe-weed, it is considered that the first variety of leaf originally came from across the Sea and was discovered by the Númenoreans. However, it was the Hobbits of Bree who first thought to smoke it in pipes. Aside from Hobbits and the Men of Bree, the smoking of pipe-weed was said to be popular amongst Dwarves, Rangers, and Wizards. It is not known if any elves smoked pipe-weed, however, the elf Legolas was known to be uninterested in pipe-weed and consider those who smoked it to be “strange folk,” implying that it was at least uncommon amongst the elves.

In LotRO:

Several varieties of pipe-weed may be grown by farmers, across all crafting tiers. For the most part, pipe-weed merely makes amusing smoke shapes, although Shire Sweet-leaf is used by Loremasters for the skill “Back from the Brink.” While most pipe-weed is consumed upon use, one can also obtain a pipe with infinite uses and a one-hour cooldown from the quest “Missing the Meeting,” given by Ronald Dwale. There are also numerous quests involving pipe-weed. Most take place around the Shire or Bree, although one involves a barrel which has managed to make its way to the Trollshaws.

[Spoilers Follow]

In the Lord of the Rings, aside from being smoked by several main characters, pipe-weed also functions as foreshadowing of the Scouring of the Shire, indicating that Saruman had dealings with the Shire. Merry Brandybuck would also later go on to write a book called “Herblore of the Shire,” which covered most of the history of the smoking of pipe-weed.

Weekly Lore #8 — On Bill Ferny

Bill Ferny was a resident of the town of Bree, described as a “swarthy, sneering fellow” with “heavy black brows, and dark scornful eyes.” He did not have a very good reputation, being described as the sort of person who would “sell anything to anybody; or make mischief for amusement.” He was known acquaintances with Harry, one of Bree’s gatekeepers, as well as a man from the south who was said to look “more than half like a goblin.”

Weekly Lore #7 — On Farmer Maggot

Farmer Maggot was the owner of Bamfurlong, in The Marish in The Shire. His farm was renowned for its mushrooms, which led to much trespassing by young hobbits, Frodo Baggins included. He was also known for Grip, Fang, and Wolf, the three fierce dogs he kept to discourage said young hobbits from stealing his mushrooms. Those who were familiar with him knew him to be very shrewd, and to have regularly gone into the Old Forest. He also a friend to Tom Bombadil, who said of him: “There’s earth under his old feet, and clay on his fingers; wisdom in his bones, and both his eyes are open.” Farmer Maggot provided much of Tom’s knowledge of recent events in the Shire. Maggot had three daughters, at least two sons, and at least two other hobbits working on his farm.

In LotRO:

Farmer Maggot is found at Bamfurlong, and bears the title of “Respected Farmer.” He is involved in a few quests, mostly involving either nearby bandits or early visits to the Old Forest. He also functions as a grocer, but does not sell the mushrooms his farm is known for.

Bamfurlong is also the subject of an early Burglar class quest, in which the player must prevent brigands from stealing Farmer Maggot’s mushrooms… and, naturally, pilfer some for him or herself.

[Spoilers Follow]

At the time of the Lord of the Rings, Farmer Maggot received two strange visitations in short succession. The first was a Black Rider, seeking news of Baggins. The second was Frodo Baggins himself, along with Samwise Gamgee and Peregrin (Pippin) Took. Maggot managed to successfully guess that the Rider’s errand had something to do with Bilbo’s adventure long ago, but he did not recognise that the Rider came from Mordor, nor that it concerned anything more important than simple treasure (or if he did, he did not say as much). He then provided transportation to the Bucklebury Ferry for Frodo & Co., along with a basket of mushrooms from Mrs. Maggot.

Weekly Lore #6 — On Bandobras (Bullroarer) Took

Bandobras Took, known as the Bullroarer, was a hobbit famous for his size and skill in combat. He was 4’5″ tall (or roughly 1.35 meters). Due to his height he was able to ride a horse, unlike most hobbits who could only manage ponies. During his life, he was the tallest hobbit in history, but would eventually be passed by two other hobbits during the War of the Ring.