Points of Light

by Varda-(Valar)
March 27, 2000
Updated Oct. 5, 2008

Home > Histories > Varda's history 

    There I was, about to start my morning game of Diablo 1, Ithilien, when Manwe whispered to me. You now know him as Eru.
    He had picked out the name of my warrior, Faramir, from the mob of non-Tolkien names in the public bnet (Battle.net) channel and asked if I would like to join a Tolkien, legit, co-op guild. I told him I'd think about it and he gave me his email.
    It took a few days of mulling. Other guilds I had laughed off. I already had the unpassworded Ithilien, a game that I opened every morning to which some regulars came and frequently new people. How could I drop it and them? It was a place where I had some very close friends and personal territory. I protected it and the actual gamers who came to the best of my little bit of knowledge, using such hacks as "drop pk" and getting in the way of the daily creepazoids. It was an attempt at a haven on bnet while meeting new people, a point of light for the lights of bnet. But this place Eru described could be even better for what I wanted.
    So I figured I would check it out and, if good, would ask the regulars if they wanted to come along with me. One was the very first friend I had made on bnet, and who was the best friend I've ever had in our beloved pixel world. Luckily, he still is. You probably know him now as Namo or Mandos, although he came in as SamWise (same birthday as Faramir in the books, btw, also one of the few people who can tell Faramir what-for). He never liked the name change and had done it while in shock, and after about four years returned to the Samwise guild name. He had been playing Diablo since its earliest beginning, preferring legit co-op but learning to be a brilliant hacker in self and friend's defense. My "brother" Boromir at the time was another, now known as Tilion. And the amazing, noble purist in a world of hackers, who became Beregond and is now known as Galadriel, with his wonderful manner of speech and being an all around nice guy, simply could not be left behind.

    After a bit of emailing, I entered my very first guild game as a Diablo One, level one warrior, Faramir-(V). I had barely made it to the fountain when a stranger came in: Sauron. Major pulse rate speed-up! This guy was very high level! With that kind of name and if he felt like role-playing and me with no hacking, I was sooo toast.
    He was an absolute doll. Very funny, never ever talked down to the newbie, and was willing to go right into a game with me, this guy you now know as Manwe. He was the main recruiter for the guild and had recruited nearly all the other people; turned out I was a bit of an anomoly to be recruited by Manwe now known as Eru.  Sauron had not played in a while and needed to get back in the groove. Together we managed to die, collecting every monster for rooms around by the cave stairs and losing our ports. (Caves? So we liked to play for hours.) Unfortunately, he ran out of time and had to leave before getting his items. I managed to collect a few items of my own, spending days trying to replace his with my own efforts and enlisting everyone I could. Naturally what I could get could not compare, but other guild members took care of us. I met such great lights as Earendil, who became Ulmo and a close friend. Somehow we seem to agree on nearly everything, and what little is left is easily worked out.

    The buddies I could drag in from Ithilien who knew enough Tolkien (many were attracted by the game name) were now in a far better world than I could have ever made for them in the public world. Other people out there needed this kind of thing - bnet as it always should have been!
    So I became a recruiter. Big time. Of course those from Ithilien who I could bring came first. Then I drug in the family over time, now known as the Layton host or Laytonriim: my husband, Fangorn; our three kids Eowyn, Beorn/Sauron, and Fingon/Bilbo. My best real life friend, Elwing. My brother, Meriadoc.
    As Manwe had done, I watched the channel for Tolkien names while on the way to the guild. That was so great that I went cruising the channels. Tolkien-named people generally had some contact with the books and had a chord struck in their sense of honor or they would not have read the whole thing. Figuring that other people were out there of the same nature but not sporting a recognizable tag, I would sit in a channel and watch what was being said for a bit, then ask if anyone was a Tolkien fan. There were a lot of them! We would have a blast chatting Tolkien, then I would see if they also liked legit co-op play. If they did, they were invited the rest of the way. They could also be pointed to Manwe's (Eru's) Valar Guild web page, very helpful!

    The guild prospered. This was called the second theme of the music of creation, as an earlier guild Manwe (Eru) had started had cratered due to lack of Tolkien knowledge and communication, with only Sauron surviving. We learned from that earlier time, and stuck together. No one entered now unless they had read the basic Lord of the Rings and we all used the same channel and game name. Other members from the first theme eventually came in such as Ingwe and Ragnor. (Ragnor had computer problems later and dropped from inactivity, but is welcome to return.) Orome returned later and became a long-time member.

    Manwe gave Tolkien tests to those who asked for them to see if they could attain Maiar status, whatever that was. I flunked royally, as he asked me about places. I was pretty good at people and events, but places? Oboy. A new guy named Aragorn brilliantly passed me in zero time to become Gandalf. (You know him now as Aule.) Turned out he was also a talented Diablo player and he became a wonderful friend, dragging me out of trouble time after time.
    As far as I could tell, we had no actual difference in rank in the guild. We had a leader, Manwe (later Eru), and his second-in-command who didn't see himself that way, Sauron (later Manwe) and then there were the rest of us. The leader didn't play games, but he knew so much about Tolkien! As a member of the Tolkien Society in England, he had access to material the rest of us didn't as well as having read everything. He also remembered it.

    Then Manwe's comp conked out. During an emailed Tolkien quiz of many parts. Gak! Meanwhile, Sauron had met a girl and wandered off into that other world called "Real" for quite some time, dropping by once in a while. That left us without someone to point at as leader or web page handler. At this point, most guilds would curl up and die. No center.
    But we had more than just a leader, for ours had given us a vision. We were Tolkien fans with a Tolkien theme and the honor Tolkien had shown us in his books who played in our own passworded games in our own channel. We were not giving up our point of light to return to the ugly-talking, pk'ing, cheating part of bnet!
    So Gandalf copied Manwe's web page and kept it updated, as befits a learned one. Earendil suggested that we start meeting on Sunday and we picked 6pm EST. He also suggested to Sauron that we have a Council to run things, including them, Gandalf, Eomer (now Melkor), Samwise, and me.  I recruited. The others did what they could as well, Samwise being especially good at rescues and re-supplying the dead (often me!). Other members kept us going, having as many as five games up at once. Talk about active!
    Right before our first meeting, Manwe returned.
    Earendil was one nervous cat, as Manwe might think he overstepped his bounds by organizing. Manwe, however, liked the ideas and had it proceed as planned. At the meeting, he dropped his bomb.
    He gave everybody in the guild who had kept it going a rank. Any who had stuck by the guild earned the Maiar honor for loyalty. The insane ones who had done the organizing work he made into Valar, and those were the ones who became the Council of Mahanaxar.
    The mariner Earendil became the Lord of Waters, Ulmo. He started organizing Tourneys. Gandalf, page maker, became Aule the Crafter. The incredibly generous and capable Samwise we hit over the head with shock and made him Namo before he came out of it. He may never forgive us. Sauron had returned as well, and was made head of the Council with the name of Manwe. Our old Manwe had no name left to go to but Eru, very appropriate for the founder of the guild and let him be outside the Council. Eru held the gavel at meetings.
    At this first meeting, Eru whispered me asking which Vala name I wanted. I remembered Elbereth being used as a war cry in Lord of the Rings, very appropriate for a female warrior, and that she was associated with stars (I've been an amateur astronomer) and had not yet read the Silmarillion. (So sue me!) He said that was a feminine name, one of the Valier, and we were going to use correct gender now. I said that's right. Of all the guild, only Namo had known I was a girl Mandos knows all secrets ahead of time in the books too. (Hey! Do you know what it's like in the public channels if they think you're a girl, and I was there often as a recruiter?) So I got to drop my own bomb! That was fun, and a great way to show the guild folks that I trusted them and considered them honorable. I found out later that Varda/Elbereth is the top Valie and the most beautiful woman in the universe. Nice perks.
    This was called the third theme. If we had been in good shape before, we were a locomotive now! We grew, we played, we had a meeting every Sunday without fail. We added Tuesday/Thursday night Tolkien chats hosted by Tulkas (now retired to Beren, who has the LoreBook page), an incredible feat considering that it was very late at night in Argentina for him and he had school the next day. As if all that wasn't enough, he also added a message board! A new bright light of the Valar, Irmo, hosted Saturday 1pm EST Tolkien chats, with the Europeans in mind who had difficulty coming so late on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I went to them all rarely missing, a real trick when juggling work, school, and a family of six.

    I wanted to make a level 50 warrior, a feat most people said could not be done if only for the patience it requires. Legit 50's of any kind were nearly unheard of. So our guild came up with tevery type. Namo was first, then repeated the feat! Ulmo and Aule made 50 as well. Melkor made it too. When I finally trudged my warrior boots into the game that would bring 50, all four of them came in their 50 suits for the occasion! That may have been the only game in all of bnet history holding four legit level 50 players in a regular Diablo game, one switching out so we actually had five. Hell had no chance before us!
    Those are the kinds of joys that I still saw coming ahead, when we hit Diablo II with this incredible guild. Hmm - eight top level legits in one game? We could do it!

    This is supposed to be a history, so I'll get to the rest of it right quick before you slump over and get keyboard face from the length.
    Eru and the Council eventually got crosswise, as I'm sure anyone would expect if they had thought about it. Manwe had always been available before to sort of translate between us and keep the mood light, but he had moved from Virginia to his old home in California, not having a computer for nearly a year after. Eru had let his power go to the Council and we were used to making our own decisions, no longer able to accept simply being told what to do, even if Eru had promised confidentiality to someone. We had always needed proof before making any decision to kick anyone, not taking even our own word for it. I don't even take my own word without proof.  He had been disconnected from Council activities and understandably thought his honor was being questioned. Words led to words, none communicating accurately. Poor souls were caught in the crunch.
    At the same time, Aule was in the middle of several real life crises, on top of the pain of being looked at with fear by some members since he was Security, and became unable to behave in the channel, scary since he was head of security, and we were forced to kick him once it was proven. But we required proof for him as for the others under question at the time. When Eru managed to get under even kindly Namo's skin with that "my way or the highway" so that he quit, that proved we were truly messed up. People (amazingly large number) asked Ulmo and myself separately and on their own to start a new, different guild; this was not suggested by the Council. We considered it seriously and decided we wanted to salvage the old guild. This discussion took time and became emotional, so that parts were misreported to Eru. Eru threw out the Council and appointed Advisors. People were quitting during the mess.
    We had a confrontation, those three Valar who had kids (even grandkids) in the guild (Ulmo, Varda, and Melkor) with Eru, and that, unbeknownst to us, was the end. To our surprise, at the next meeting Eru left, dropping the Advisors and saying the Council should get back to work. Some of the Council had already quit the guild or shifted back to regular member or Maiar status. The Advisors were in the most uncomfortable position of anybody, although they had done what they could to help rebuild the guild and bore no shame, only honor. We cajoled or nagged the rest of the Council back on board, with Ulmo and Varda as co-chairs. We incorporated some of the ideas the Advisors suggested. Since both our webmasters were gone at that time - Aule and Eru - and we needed a web page to help center us and give communication, I threw one onto the web the best as I could and as fast as I could before the week was half over, using the same connections as for the Tolkien Encyclopedia guild project which I had been running. It helped. The guild never missed a meeting.
    The funniest thing about all this? Quite a few members never knew there had been a ruckus! Shows how important politics really is. If the guild members just keep on with their activities as usual, the Council only has to keep things pleasant as possible and stay out of their way to let the place function.

    Ulmo doesn't like taking the gavel at meetings and stuck me with it. I said okay, but I intended to be a good steward and return the gavel to Manwe, the King of Arda when he came back. A year later he did, but told me to keep the gavel when I tried to present it to him. Book Faramir had it easier!
    So that's how I wound up with the gavel and the web pages. Thank goodness there are tons of talented people to shove work onto! I try to coordinate the web pages and get other people to take some of them, adding in the work the members do whenever they give me the URL. Amillo did a brilliant job with the Members page, possibly the most important page we had as it allows us all to communicate and know who else is out there. I added a News page, to which anyone may send comments. (When are you sending your comment, gentle reader?) I added a Discussion Board which became one of the top Yahoo Tolkien boards rapidly, since we no longer had Tulkas's available after he left the guild. Thank goodness he came back! For a while Tulkas continued on the Council, then found he wished to pursue an rpg game more and retired to the name of Beren, although he is still with us. He is truly brilliant with Quenya, if you wish to email him after looking at his Lore Book . Aule solved his real life problems and came back to us as his old sweet self, no longer stuck with being sole security person as now everyone is involved. No one person should be stuck with that painful duty alone! He also kept up his very valuable set of pages, including the rules and free downloads. Eventually even Eru came back, to my great delight! I hope he understands now that his honor was never in question, that his system of English politics merely collided into the American type, and that his brilliance with Tolkien lore is one of the very greatest assets our guild has! He then came to meetings regularly, especially gracing the Tolkien section. He keeps his name as Eru, to show that we honor him as our founder and for his vision which we all love. He even went through the entry test under another name, so he is back with us in every way. (Now we have to figure out a way to get him into a game and play! This has been our challenge since the beginning - hehe.)
    So now we are a thriving guild once more, very much larger than at the time of the break-up even with the removal of the inactive every few months, and understanding a good deal more. We have some new Valar doing great work! We have a pool of Maiar now, some of whom will eventually be running this place. We have mods (modifications) of Diablo to play with Tolkien themes by the team of Elrohir and Fingolfin (whom the public knows as Varaya and Khan), Tolkien mods of StarCraft/BroodWar by Ulmo and Beren, and others in the works.
    Take a minute to learn by reading what we learned by hard knocks, and have it easier! This guild will only continue to be busy. We have Diablo II Expansion to beat, guys! WarCraft 3 is crying for Tolkien maps and Tourneys. We also have an increasing number of online places to go if something unlikely happens to bnet, including EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot. Never despair completely! There are always those around who can pull us out of any mess, if we but try. You're probably one of those. Notice that after every so-called crisis, we came back bigger and stronger.

    For those of you who actually stuck it out through reading this whole long history, I hope very much for a chance to play with you and to chat, especially about our common love of Tolkien and his ideas. My current favorite game is Lord of the Rings Online.

Namarie my friends, for now!

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