The Herald's Tale

by Eonwe-(Valar)
October 4, 2008
For the 11th Anniversary of the Valar Guild

Home > Histories > Eonwe-(Valar)'s history 

      I’ve been through many versions of my guild history over the last few years. I’ve gone though different styles, different wordings, and some versions have even made it to print.  Determining what is meat and what is fluff to a historical account can be a challenge, and the passage of time only gives you more to sift through. For whatever reason, I’ve decided now is a good time to present my guild history for the last nine years. I leave it to history and the reader to draw from it and my timing any significance, other than Valar is, at this time, celebrating its eleventh anniversary.

     …I do hope the semi-Chaucerian reference for the title wasn’t lost on you though :}

      It was about nine years ago that I first came across Valar (back then it was common to hear us referred to simply as “Valar” rather than to say in its entirety “The Valar Guild.” The latter came about later mostly, at least in my usage, to distinguish ourselves from a young clan that was on bnet for a time going by the same name, and to point out that we are more than what a “clan” is typically understood to be). I was a fan of Warcraft 2 at that time, and I was looking for Tolkien-related Warcraft 2 maps and campaigns. What I came across instead was a page with a list of Tolkien names next to a list of games they played: an early Games Page for the guild, run at that time by Makar. Seeing that this was apparently a group of gamers, one of my early thoughts on this was that these people must be pretty sure of themselves to be taking the names of Valar. Nothing came of it at that time though.

      It wasn’t until early November (the 6th to be exact) that I first came into our channel on bnet (aptly named at the time “Valar”). My usually gaming partners were not on that night, so, having nothing better to do, I decided to see what these “Valar” were all about. When I came into the channel, I was greeted by one of them right off the bat. Aulë was his name. I wish I could still remember what grilling I put him through, but all I remember now is that I was apparently satisfied with his answers. It was not long afterwards that another Vala, Ulmo, came into the channel. About that time, the question was put to me: was I interested in joining Valar? For the answer, I needed some thought, and said as much. I had nothing against guilds or clans, but neither was I really interested in being in one. If gaming was all they did, I had my small group of online friends I had met over the previous few months to do that with. The Tolkien aspect was nice, and it was appealing, but what won me over was what was going on in the channel as I was thinking. Aulë and Ulmo were chatting like old friends. I knew nothing of these two people at the time. For all I knew they had never met in real life and had no other connection besides Valar. Yet, there they were, acting like friends, chatting and joking around. That’s when I decided Valar might be worth my time.

      Around the time I made my decision, another Vala came walking in: Irmo (today he goes by Dreamlord). The three of them grilled me on Tolkien in what was apparently a Maia-difficulty test (going by the News page), and after answering them (apparently :}) adequately I found myself a member of Valar. Then, as it is today, it was a tradition for each member to take a unique Tolkien name for use in the guild. That night, I became Aragorn.

      When I first joined, my primary activity was gaming. In addition to Warcraft 2, which couldn’t be played on bnet at the time, I played Starcraft.  Eventually, my brother bought Diablo, and with some nudging from Aulë, I found myself playing the VK mod, which was the standard guild game at the time. No sooner had I logged into my very first game than I found myself showered with a few items by Aulë and Ulmo to get me started. I most certainly wasn’t expecting it, and these weren’t simple early dungeon items either. These items were more than likely nothing in terms of what they were wearing, probably mere trinkets to them. To me, especially since I’d never played a dungeon crawler before, they were pretty darn nice. :} The bigger point is the generosity. A unique quality of Valar members is that we’re willing to help each other. At times, there have been those who have tried to take advantage of that, but typically to their own loss.

      Gaming wasn’t all I did, though. Then, as we do now, we held weekly Sunday meetings, though at that time it was on bnet and populated by upwards of 20 members. We always had Tolkien discussion, sometimes sparked by Tolkien Moments, at the end. (Tolkien Moments would be any passage from a Tolkien book that particularly moved a person or caught his/her eye.) I greatly enjoyed these discussions, as well as the ones we held on the old Yahoo discussion board. Some of my particularly favorite discussions involved metal fencing between me, a man named nealbmorton, and/or one Felagund (You know him today as Irmo, if you are fortunate enough to know him).

      It was somewhere in this time that Varaya and Khan brought out the Middle-Earth mod for Diablo, after a request from us :} Some fun times were had there too. For the ME mod, I went purist because I wanted to add a bit of challenge, because I wanted to see all the fancy stuff by finding it myself, and because I knew Aulë and Ulmo were going to zoom by me and just about everyone else anyway :} I made a Dunadan/Warrior and managed to get him to 43 before the 1.08 patch for Diablo killed the mod, and with Diablo 2 looming ever closer, Varaya and Khan (who had joined the guild as Elrohir and Fingolfin, and hold those names to this day) decided not to update past 1.07.
      The bnet days were good days. A lot of good people were around at that time that it’s a shame are not seen or so widely known anymore. One could come into channel Valar almost any time of day and see Aulë sitting there, or after a time, speak to him through Valarbuddy, the bot we had to guard our channel from troublemakers (yes, even back in the “good old days” there were troublemakers). Valar policy was no dueling, no pk (player killing), no pkk (player killer killing), legit, co-op. We did not allow items on guild characters from outside sources because outside sources were too risky and untrustworthy. Duping and hacking were rampant outside of Valar, as well as other forms of cheating, profanity, and obscenity. We were created to be a haven from that, and that is the ends for which Valarbuddy was utilized, in as far as it could be utilized.

      I remember fondly leaving the channel at night, saying good night to Aulë, only to greet him the next day, like he’d never got off. :} Since he ran Valarbuddy, he was probably the most visible Vala at the time to visitors and members who passed through the channel.  He wasn’t just sitting at the bot though. Usually he was also playing his Rogue/Noldo in a game. How he managed to chat with me (and others) and play his character at the same time I don’t know :} He even found the time to help my Dunadan recover his items when I’d get in a bit over my head. I wish I could’ve returned the favor, but I’m sure he knows I appreciated it. :} The closest I can come is by helping other guild members get out of sticky situations, and I’m fine with that :}

      It was April of 2000 when I became a Maia, and I was in good company. One of my discussion comrades, Felagund, was also promoted to Maia. One Sunday at a meeting, we were “invited” to test for Maia honor. I say “invited” because, back in those days (at least as far as I could tell), if you didn’t apply for Maia, and the Council considered you good Maia material, you had the chance sprung on you.:} Apparently someone thought I would make a good Maia. 

      Felagund went first, and I second. We both passed, him to become Huan, the Hound of Valinor, and I to become Valacirca, the Sickle of the Valar. At the time, it was tradition upon promotion to Maia to leave behind your old name (which typically belonged to one of the Free Peoples) and take on a new name befitting your new position (belonging to a Maia, or since there weren’t always a lot of Maia names, a constellation). It is still a tradition I encourage. In the past, it meant recreating accounts in most cases (Diablo was an exception, because you could rename your account and keep your character) and in many cases starting from scratch (which was really rarely ever “from scratch” since you could pass on your previous items if you chose, and members were always willing to help you get that character back up). Today, in MMOs at least, deleting characters to rename and remake them is more painful, so we don’t require going that far, which is why we also, to an extent, allow new members to bring in a limited number of outside characters in MMOs.
      When I first became a Maia, I didn’t really notice any change to my daily activities. Sure, I could test members now (and did), and of course with greater honor comes a greater responsibility to exemplify what Valar is about, but I didn’t get a laundry list of tasks I must complete. Another great thing about Valar: we get to choose how we contribute. :} It was June of 2000 that the ever-working Varda first introduced the Stories page, and I had the privilege of being among its first contributors. I managed to get pretty inspired that year, actually. I sent in 7 stories. :} Our stories page has grown to include more than just member stories (what we’d refer to as “full members” now as opposed to “Tolkien-only” members), but of the stories I’ve read, we have some of the best writers here, because we do have some standards. I’m sure there are other truly good sites out there with good writers, but the garbage on the internet is too thick to interest me in wading through it, and I much prefer writing mine than reading others’. Valar is the only group to whom I have given or would give permission to display my stories right now. (To non-member readers: we make our home at Accept no substitutes :})

      It was almost exactly a year from my promotion to Maia that I became a Vala (April 23, 2000 to April 22, 2001. Both were Sundays, so could be considered a full year). I somewhat wonder if that was planned, because the accuracy of the timing does amuse me. :} After a rigorous testing on the Silmarillion, I became a Vala and took the name Eonwë. It’s tradition (and has been required) for those promoted for Vala to take the name of a Vala or Valie (dependant upon gender, of course) upon promotion. At the time, all the commonly known Vala names were taken, and so I got to choose from one of the Valar from the Histories. Eonwë in the early tales was the Vala Fionwë, son of Manwë and Varda. 

      It was around September of 2001 that I first took up the Games Page. Makar and Scatha were not able to keep it up at the time, and as that was the first page that brought Valar to my attention, I was unwilling to just let it die. Thus, my long tenure of working on the Games Page began, and as time went on I drew as many of the gaming pages we had for the guild under the Games Page for unity. The annual Games Page Mass-Update began the following year, to ensure the most accurate gaming info for each member was available so all members could find someone in the games they play.

      Diablo 2 came out between my two promotions, and once again we were provided with a Middle-Earth mod by Varaya and Khan, which several of us enjoyed. However, the changes Diablo 2 brought with it (Realm characters vs Open characters) made  it a more difficult choice between the regular game and the ME mod for some. However, sometime after April, we began to see some interest expressed in another type of game: the MMO. Aulë and Ulmo were among the first to go to Everquest, and were joined by a few. Then we had some look into Dark Age of Camelot, and for a while had a guild branch there, run by Salmar (today known as Irmo).

      It was around this time that the question became “How do we stay united as a guild across the many worlds we are now moving to?” We tried many solutions, like keeping someone in the Yahoo DB’s chatroom for those coming in from other games for the meeting, which didn’t always work well.  In an effort to stay united, the Council decided to move our meetings from bnet to AIM in order to accommodate those who would join from outside of bnet.

      This brings us to the current era (current as of this writing anyway). World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online have been out for a while, and we have official guilds set up there, the former by me and the latter by Varda. 

      The trouble with MMOs first of all is that they seem to suck you in :} It seems in many cases those who go in have little interest in coming out, and that is sad. We are so much more than a guild that plays in a single game. It’d be great to see some of you who play games I’m not in or don’t play much at meetings :}  Our meetings are supposed to be a place where we unite across games to celebrate our common interests (Tolkien for one) and share and discuss guild business. Our forum is another place for members to do that. Please make use of both of these tools to expand your experience in Valar beyond merely gaming. There have been and are great people in this guild that I wish you all could’ve and could still meet.

      The other trouble with MMOs is that the point seems to be to throw upwards of 20 people (sometimes 40 and in some cases even 80) into a random dungeon, despite any interest they may have in actually being friends with anyone else in that group.  This task isn’t so easy, considering that since we’re a Tolkien group that actually has standards for our members (standards that you all have managed to live up to at least once by managing to get in Valar) we already have two limiting factors on membership.

      I suppose I’ll wrap up my history on this note. I lucked out in that I got to join at a time when some of the great people from the early history of the guild (early being the two years previous to my joining at least) were still around. We still have some of those people in the guild, and if you got a chance to meet and know them too you’re lucky as well. They’re great people to know. We haven’t always agreed, but we’ve always sought for what’s best for the guild. Sure, there have been problems in my time here, but we have overcome every challenge presented to us in the past.  The process has hardly been a smooth one, and doesn’t always succeed in the way one hopes, but we can always persevere with members of all levels who are committed to our success. We’ve never discriminated between “hardcore” and “casual.” We’ve never forced anyone to commit to more than their schedule allows. We expect honor and courtesy among members and hope camaraderie flourishes in the good soil we till. For the most part it has. For my part, I will seek to ensure it continues to do so.

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