In Progress North of Mordor

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Fireinferno13

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#1
North of Mordor:
Dead Marshes, No-man Lands, Dagorlad

Project Leader:
Fireinferno13
Project Staff: Tyranystrasz, mattlego
Updated: October 24th
Introduction
Given my project has bitten off a bit more than it can chew, I wanted to lay out some future projects. I think its important to mark out where everything should be given that I have been tampering with all the layouts. Not saying I am leading them, might be interested, but just wanted to put my two cents together in a legible fashion. While originally our goal with adjusting the Mordor terrain was simply that, I think it is really important that we use this as an opportunity to incorporate the lore of this region without neglecting the space between key locations. Please do not hesitate to add your feedback to the following project post and I will do my best to incorporate suggestions into this post as we go.

Map


Projects:
The Dead Marshes Prep (orange)
Project Leader: Fireinferno and mattlego
Progress: done!
Description: A reeking wetlands that lay northwest of the Dagorlad and southeast of the Emyn Muil. They may have been an extension of the Nindalf although the two swampy areas are separately named and seem to be disconnected on maps of the region. The marshes were an endless network of pools and soft mires filled with water-courses, and in the dark waters could be seen the dead from battles of long ago. Frodo, Sam and Gollum observe candles and faint lights during the excursion through the dead marshes.
No-man Lands (light red):
Project Leader: Fireinferno13 and mattlego
Progress: wip
Description: This region is described as long shallow slopes, arid moors, and sedimentary layers of earth and rock. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum had to cross these lands on their trek toward the Black Gate. This should transition smoothly into Dagorlad.
Dagorlad (dark red):
Project Leader: none
Progress:
planned
Description: The name in Sindarin means "battle plain." A large treeless and barren wasteland devoid of both life and beauty. There were many battles that occurred here, including that between the last alliance and sauron, leaving behind sumps of poisonous pools and scorched earth. Hence, this terrain should be largely open to reflect the fact that armies chose this spot to wage war.
Notable Paths:

Frodo and Sam's Path (yellow):
After the breaking of the fellowship, Frodo and Sam continue east through the Emyn Muil. However, the steep cliffs of the Emyn Muil's southeastern border forced the two north until the slopes softened just enough for them to use their elvish rope. This is where gollum falls in pursuit (marked), and the two hobbits are able to overpower him. The three then continue through the Dead Marshes, up the slopes of the Noman Lands where they hide in a hollow just outside the Black Gates to try and figure out a way in. After that failed plan, they head south through Ithilien where they are captured by Faramir.

The Road to Mordor (brown): As noted by @Eriol_Eandur , there should be three roads that converge at the black gate. One from the east along Ered Lithui (the ash mountains), one from the north (to Dol Goldur), and one from the south through Ithilien.​
 
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Eriol_Eandur

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#2
There are three large roads meeting in front of the Black Gate. One to the east under the shadow of Ered Lithui, one to the north probably towards Dol Guldur (Gollum mentions a lot of "not nice" people using it and third of course the Ithilien road.
 

Fireinferno13

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#3
There are three large roads meeting in front of the Black Gate. One to the east under the shadow of Ered Lithui, one to the north probably towards Dol Guldur (Gollum mentions a lot of "not nice" people using it and third of course the Ithilien road.
Updated.

@Tyranystrasz (if you are out there) please note that the addition of a road along the Northern border of Mordor significantly changes the way your terrain must be shaped in order to fit it accordingly.

Again I would love another helping hand on this project if any staff are out there. @Finrod_Amandil I hope it is okay that this project has expanded to some degree, given that it didn't make sense to simply "transition" this portion of terrain when there is this much lore that needs accounting for.
 

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#4
There is a very good detail plan of Morannon in the Historical Atlas of Middle-earth:
upload_2017-9-14_22-35-0.png

The plan is based on these descriptions:
The Two Towers – The Black Gate is Closed said:
They (Frodo, Sam and Gollum) lay now peering over the edge of a rocky hollow beneath the outstretched shadow of the northmost buttress of Ephel Dúath. Winging in the heavy air in a straight flight a crow, maybe, would have flown but a furlong (200m ?) from their hiding-place to the black summit of the nearer tower.

The hollow in which they had taken refuge was delved in the side of a low hill, at some little height above a long trench-like valley that lay between it and the outer buttresses of the mountains. In the midst of the valley stood the black foundations of the western watch-tower. By morning-light the roads that converged upon the Gate of Mordor could now be clearly seen, pale and dusty; one winding back northwards; another dwindling eastwards into the mists that clung about the feet of Ered Lithui; and a third that ran towards him (Sam). As it bent sharply round the tower, it entered a narrow defile and passed not far below the hollow where he stood. Westward, to his right, it turned, skirting the the shoulders of the mountains, and went off southwards into the deep shadows that mantled all the western sides of Ephel Dúath; …
The Return of the King – The Black Gate Opens said:
Therefore Aragorn now set the host in such array as could best be contrived; and they were drawn up on two great hills of blasted stone and earth that orcs had piled in years of labour. Before them towards Mordor lay like a moat a great mire of reeking mud and foul-smelling pools. …
In the hollow at the upper left Frodo, Sam and Smeagol hid to watch the Black Gate. There were many such hollows in the No-man Lands (The Desolation) and Dagorlad. They hid in such hollows several times:
The Two Towers – The Passage of the Marshes said:
They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor: The gasping pits and poisonous mounds grew hideously clear. … they came to an almost circular pit, high-banked upon the west. It was cold and dead, and a foul sump of oily many-coloured ooze lay at its bottom …
When the army of the West attacked the Black Gate, Aragorn placed placed his banner of the Tree and Stars on one of the Slag Hills. Upon the other one there were the banners of Rohan and Dol Amroth.
 
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Tyranystrasz

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#5
When i log in for voxel i found my sections fucked up by someone (and the voxel is pretty bad too)
 

Fireinferno13

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#6
When i log in for voxel i found my sections fucked up by someone (and the voxel is pretty bad too)
Not sure where your terrain was "fucked up". The shakey craftsmanship does not reflect a final product but rather a work in progress. Apologies if I somehow damaged your voxeling but the original plan for simply adjusting the border between the new mordor terrain and the current map is not really compatible anymore. That is much of the terrain you were working on in the northwest corner is too steep compared to the slow incline described in the noman lands.

I'll stick to the southern portion for now to avoid future issues.
 
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Fireinferno13

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#7
There is a very good detail plan of Morannon in the Historical Atlas of Middle-earth:
View attachment 9899
The plan is based on these descriptions:
In the hollow at the upper left Frodo, Sam and Smeagol hid to watch the Black Gate. There were many such hollows in the No-man Lands (The Desolation) and Dagorlad. They hid in such hollows several times:

When the army of the West attacked the Black Gate, Aragorn placed placed his banner of the Tree and Stars on one of the Slag Hills. Upon the other one there were the banners of Rohan and Dol Amroth.
Something like this?

@Tyranystrasz you may want to carve out a valley for the road accordingly. This also means we have to level some of the terrain you worked on. I can mark the path with wool sometime this weekend in order to give a better picture.
 
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Finrod_Amandil

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#8
Thanks a lot, Fire and Eriol, for taking the planning seriously! It's completely fine to take this on now, we also anyway wanted to redo the Dead Marshes sind a while, and when we can settle a concept for them it'll be again some easy jobs which is always nice to have. The challenge with the dead marshes is to make it look rather empty and uniform but still make it look detailed. I think the movie depicition in regards of vegetation is a good start there... Another idea that was brought up was to use the armorstand editor to place dead bodies into the ponds, but given the lag we experience in DA we either have to scrap that or limit ourselves to only a few of them to each pond. Otherwise we could try some other RP trickery to make somthing like this possible without entities, I could imagine a way we could make it work.

A big question in this area between Emyn Muil is how to deal with the slopes caused by the height of Rauros; the current/previous area between Dead Marshes and Emyn Muil is hideous, with the ridiculously steep and wide rivers. Given the No-man's lands are described as "long shallow slopes" I would propose to place the Dead marshes a few blocks higher up than they were before and use the no man's land to cross some of that height distance.

And thus, while we are at it, it may be worth tackling this bit here as well:


Then of course the emyn muil would also be worth a recap, looking at how little realistic it ended up being...
 

Eriol_Eandur

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#9
I have in mind redoing the Valley of Anduin from Lothlorien to Emyn Muil for some time already. I had no time yet to make a project proposal. But it is something I really want to do once Gondor is finished.
There are steep cliffs at the south-eastern border of Emyn Muil in the book. They forced Frodo and Sam to walk northwards against their will for several days until the cliffs became lower and they were able to climb down using the rope of Lothlorien. When gollum tried to follow them without rope he fell and so Frodo and Sam were able to overpower and capture him.
Here is another map from the Historical Atlas which fits very well with the details in the book.
upload_2017-9-17_13-42-55.png

As the border between Emyn Muil and the lowlands is a very distinct I think it would be a good idea to stop there for now and do the Emyn Muil later.
 
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Finrod_Amandil

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#10
Hmm good input, and realising this depiction of the Emyn Muil I would suggest getting rid of the rivers that flow from the emyn muil to Nindalf althogether (maybe save a few very small 2-3 block wide streams) and really have that cliff be continously steep and uniform for a long stretch, without any larger valleys and rivers breaking through it. And then have a few smaller streams coming from the north-eastern corner of emyn muil to nourish the dead marshes (the water has to come from somewhere, right?), and then probs one stream from the (slighly higher) dead marshes into nindalf

Edit: Actually the plan matches this pretty closely already
 

Eriol_Eandur

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#11
Streams from the brown lands in the north into the Dead Marshes would be reasonable too. I would suppose the water divide between Anduin and the Sea of Rhun located north or a bit north-east of the Morannon.

EDIT:
I found another map in the atlas with the Emyn Muil continued to the north east (which is an geoglogical assumption of Karin W. Fornstad, who was Director of Cartographic Services at the University of Wisconsin before she started to make maps of fictional worlds.)
Also I would make streams comming from south-east from the mountains. The Noman-lands may be devastated and almost dead, but I don't think that's because there is no water. I don't see a reason why it should not rain there.
 
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Fireinferno13

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#12
Thanks a lot, Fire and Eriol, for taking the planning seriously! It's completely fine to take this on now, we also anyway wanted to redo the Dead Marshes sind a while, and when we can settle a concept for them it'll be again some easy jobs which is always nice to have. The challenge with the dead marshes is to make it look rather empty and uniform but still make it look detailed. I think the movie depicition in regards of vegetation is a good start there... Another idea that was brought up was to use the armorstand editor to place dead bodies into the ponds, but given the lag we experience in DA we either have to scrap that or limit ourselves to only a few of them to each pond. Otherwise we could try some other RP trickery to make somthing like this possible without entities, I could imagine a way we could make it work.

A big question in this area between Emyn Muil is how to deal with the slopes caused by the height of Rauros; the current/previous area between Dead Marshes and Emyn Muil is hideous, with the ridiculously steep and wide rivers. Given the No-man's lands are described as "long shallow slopes" I would propose to place the Dead marshes a few blocks higher up than they were before and use the no man's land to cross some of that height distance.

And thus, while we are at it, it may be worth tackling this bit here as well:


Then of course the emyn muil would also be worth a recap, looking at how little realistic it ended up being...
I can adjust that terrain slightly to create a smooth transition from the new No-man Lands terrain into the Anduin valley outside of Rauros. The river sources leading into Nindalf there could use a little love to as currently they all end in gaping holes in the mountain with 4 blocks of water pouring out from nowhere.

To be honest, I personally am not interested in redoing the Emyn Muil. I think the aims of this project are currently expansive enough where taking on that extra load would overdo it.
I have in mind redoing the Valley of Anduin from Lothlorien to Emyn Muil for some time already. I had no time yet to make a project proposal. But it is something I really want to do once Gondor is finished.
There are steep cliffs at the south-eastern border of Emyn Muil in the book. They forced Frodo and Sam to walk northwards against their will for several days until the cliffs became lower and they were able to climb down using the rope of Lothlorien. When gollum tried to follow them without rope he fell and so Frodo and Sam were able to overpower and capture him.
Here is another map from the Historical Atlas which fits very well with the details in the book.
View attachment 9901
As the border between Emyn Muil and the lowlands is a very distinct I think it would be a good idea to stop there for now and do the Emyn Muil later.
Added the path of Frodo and Sam to the map. We could possibly add their footprints along Emyn Muil in order to ensure that there is, in fact, a path through the mountains that they could take while also emphasizing the cliffs adjacent.

Streams from the brown lands in the north into the Dead Marshes would be reasonable too. I would suppose the water divide between Anduin and the Sea of Rhun located north or a bit north-east of the Morannon.

EDIT:
I found another map in the atlas with the Emyn Muil continued to the north east (which is an geoglogical assumption of Karin W. Fornstad, who was Director of Cartographic Services at the University of Wisconsin before she started to make maps of fictional worlds.)
Also I would make streams comming from south-east from the mountains. The Noman-lands may be devastated and almost dead, but I don't think that's because there is no water. I don't see a reason why it should not rain there.
Added a few more river sources to the map above. What does the red in that map represent?
 

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#13
To be honest, I personally am not interested in redoing the Emyn Muil. I think the aims of this project are currently expansive enough where taking on that extra load would overdo it.
Great, I really want to do them at some later point.

Added a few more river sources to the map above. What does the red in that map represent?
Oh, forgot to mention that: watersheds
 

Fireinferno13

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#14
So brainstorming how to map Frodo and Sam's path through Emyn Muil yesterday, I realized the task is going to be somewhat challenging for two reasons in particular:

1) They were constantly lost. So we would have to decide whether we want to wind their path through Emyn Muil, as described in the books, or create a slightly simpler version just for the ease of traversing as a player

2) The ridges of Emyn Muil are quite sharp, making it difficult to find even the resemblance of a path without forging one that looks too obvious.

@Eriol_Eandur @Finrod_Amandil thoughts?
 

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#15
Emyn Muil is on of the more important areas on the map as it's on the Path of the Ring to Mount Doom. The current terrain is quite old and compared to our more recent terrain standarts it seems very unrealistic to me. There are many depressions where water would be collected.

I really want to make a more realistic and more detailed terrain there, but I can't before Belfalas is done. So I would suggest not to put a lot of work in the path there for now. I think the places where the steep eastern cliffs of Emyn Muil will be are a good border for the current project.
 

Fireinferno13

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#16
Update! @_Luk and @mattlego have joined the project! They will be working on the Noman lands and Dead Marshes (just prepping for now, not the marshes itself) respectively. @Tyranystrasz is also continuing to work on the northern border of Mordor. I will be focusing on the eastern border of Mordor, as well as the river sources between Nindalf and the Dead Marshes.

Looking for a foreman (@BWOT ?) to run some river source jobs north of Nindalf, stemming from Emyn Muil. I have marked them out accordingly.
 

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#17
Update! @_Luk and @mattlego have joined the project! They will be working on the Noman lands and Dead Marshes (just prepping for now, not the marshes itself) respectively. @Tyranystrasz is also continuing to work on the northern border of Mordor. I will be focusing on the eastern border of Mordor, as well as the river sources between Nindalf and the Dead Marshes.

Looking for a foreman (@BWOT ?) to run some river source jobs north of Nindalf, stemming from Emyn Muil. I have marked them out accordingly.
Will do ;)
 

Fireinferno13

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#18
NEW PROJECT MAP (I realized I made the Dead Marshes too big). I realize this omits the Dagorlad at the moment, but that can be mapped separately once we turn our attention to the area directly surrounding the Black Gate.

@mattlego you are gonna need to adjust your terrain (both the river source and where the Dead Marshes start) accordingly. Sorry about that.
 

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#19
And what about that area between Emyn Muil area and Nindalf, the transitions are fairly abrupt and as we are working in the area maybe need some work?
 

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#20
The southern border of Emyn Muil is described as steep cliffs in the books. Frodo and Sam are forced to walk north a long way before they can find a way down. We already discussed this and will probably redo the Emyn Muil later to match this description.