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Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Tolkien Discussion Group
October 6, 2010

Topic: Telepathy

AelKennyr Rhiano
Shawn Daysleeper
Lihan Taifun

We know Valar, and some elves, were able to communicate mentally, at close range. (Remember Galadriel questioning the Fellowship.) Telepathy does not seem to be a common skill among elves. We also don't know what its limits were.
Telepathy would be a can of worms in roleplay, as a dangerous invitation to god-modding.
While not exactly "telepathy", both Smaug and Saruman had the more-than-natural ability to temporarily influence other people's thinking.
There are also examples of technology-induced telepathy (and seeing and hearing at a distance) -- the palantiri, the Seats of Seeing and Hearing at Amon Hen and Amon Lhaw, Galadriel's Mirror, and to some extent the Rings of Power. These do not necessarily require a skilled user.
Galadriel's Mirror may well have used the technology FĂ«anor developed for the palantiri.

Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . anyone else coming tonight?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Looks like we are it.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I did some research --- trying to get the notecard ... Shawn, did you find anything about Smaug?
Shawn Daysleeper: . oops, no I did not
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . (now we have a break while everyone reads)

Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . it seems like a lot of instances "telepathy" is closely related to seeing or hearing at a distance. "clairvoyance"?

AelKennyr Rhiano: . . I guess a question would be did all elves possess these abilities?

Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . anyway, there are several Quenya words that relate to telepathy -- "thought sending", "thought reading", "mental closed-ness"

AelKennyr Rhiano: . . so in the rp where Olwe encounter this unseen entity...could that have been Melkor? Could that have been that he tapped into the elven ability for telepathy?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I don't think we know how widespread the talent was. I would expect it was something people studied ... but could they occasionally get flashes of it?
AelKennyr Rhiano nods
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . actually telepathy would be a can of worms for rp
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . oh yes
Shawn Daysleeper: . yes
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . dangerously close to godmodding, if not careful
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . yes
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . that was why I was so careful in that scenario to leave it open as to whether it really happened or was just Olwe's insanity
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and even if it really happened, was it the other being's power that was transmitting?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . precisely
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . Nienna hasn't used her telepathy for anything that couldn't have been communicated by words
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . But we also have the instance of where Ulmo "heard" Elwing... and is going to Alqualonde to see why she is there. as her mind was clouded.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . well, Ulmo is a powerful Vala
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Am I playing him too "weak?"
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I haven't read it yet (ooops)
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . oops lol
If telepathy is an elven ability, then why can't Nole find Olwe? or any other elf, for that matter?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . well, do we have any examples of elves using telepathy at a distance? without technology? and the technology is usually in linked sets ... a set of palantiri, the Rings of Power as a set ...
Shawn Daysleeper: . it seems to be an ability used close to the recipient. Ya I need to know if I am rp Nole correctly
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . in the canon stories, telepathy is NOT a common occurance
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . ok, so we are pretty much on target

Shawn Daysleeper: . it appears Smaug was not using telepathy. I am not sure where I got that idea
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . Jedi mind tricks?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . hahahahah
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I don't have it in front of me ... something about trying to influence Bilbo's mind
Shawn Daysleeper: . dragons are smooth talkers
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . very
Shawn Daysleeper: . it's in the language, not necessarily telepathic
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and the comment that "Bilbo was in danger of falling under a dragon spell", which sounded like more than just being cozened by the smooth talking
Shawn Daysleeper: . ya, kinda like Sauruman later on after isengard fell
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . well, he was centuries old
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I was just thinking of Saruman
Shawn Daysleeper nods. Saruman is centuries old also, maybe comes with age
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . hypnotic smooth talkers
Shawn Daysleeper: . which is why some elves may be perciebed to have telepathy

AelKennyr Rhiano: . . In common with Tolkien's other dragons, Smaug has power of hypnosis using his eyes; every time he looks towards the unseen Bilbo, he puts him "in mortal danger of falling under the dragon's spell", and makes him suddenly want to tell him everything. The eyes "rove" from side to side in search of him, however Bilbo is invisible with the help of the One Ring at the time and the impact of their power does not consume his mind completely. Smaug does, however, possess what is described as "quite an overwhelming personality", as well as a dry, if cruel, sense of humour, so that aside from coming close to making Bilbo betray his friends, he also causes him to temporarily believe that the dwarves are trying to swindle him out of his share of the treasure and that it would be impossible for them to remove it all even if they allowed him some.

Shawn Daysleeper: . wow, that sounds kinda... borderline
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . yes
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . yes
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . also like a good con artist
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . both a con artist AND having some powers of control
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . and a bipolar personality
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . huh? Smaug has a depressed side?

AelKennyr Rhiano: . . A further weakness lies with Smaug's own pride: he believes himself to be invulnerable, and is unaware of the unarmoured patch of bare skin on his breast when he goes to Esgaroth to set the town alight and hunt its people.

AelKennyr Rhiano: . . that belief in one's own grandeur...
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . hubris, a classic

AelKennyr Rhiano: . . yes oh, and btw....Many of Smaug's attributes and behavior in The Hobbit derive directly from the unnamed "old night-scather" in Beowulf: great age; winged, fiery, and reptilian form; a stolen barrow within which he lies on his hoard; disturbance by a theft; and violent airborne revenge on the lands all about. From 1925 to 1945, Tolkien was a Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, and an important critic of Beowulf — on which he gave a lecture at the British Academy in 1936.[4] In addition, similarities to the dragon Fafnir of the Nibelungenlied are obvious, especially in Smaug's ability to speak, which the Beowulf dragon notably lacks or does not exercise.

I thought I remembered he was an expert on Beowulf
Shawn Daysleeper: . yup I remember he worked with that epic a lot
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and other northern European writings
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . oh yes
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . many of the names are cribbed from other old sagas
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . nod nod nod. So, really, whether elves had telepathy as a natural ability is up for debate, isn't it?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . yes All we know for sure is that some elves can, no idea how common it is, or how many centuries it took to learn
Shawn Daysleeper: . well, the ones that did had tools, eh? Galadriel had her ring of adamant
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . Arwen can "watch over" Aragorn. We presume those two had a close bond
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . but for those elves who remained in the Undying Lands, so close to the Ainur.....could it be over time...they acquired some measure of telepathic ability? Maybe something that elves who did not live in the Shining Lands did not acquire or lost?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . since there are Quenya words, you would think someone was doing it
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . So Feamahtar could acquire telepathic abilities? If our gamemaster allowed?
Shawn Daysleeper: . hmmm, have to be real careful with that
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . ah, now we get to how to keep the abilities balanced
Shawn Daysleeper: . telepathy can be abused easily
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . yes
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . as far as authenticity is concerned, I agree that is a skill an elf could have ... as far as keeping people from abusing it in rp - that is harder
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . so best to avoid it completely.
Shawn Daysleeper: . ya, I'd rather not open that can of worms, but I will go with what you decide
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . oh, no, I agree.
Shawn Daysleeper: . it is definately not a common skill, eh? reserved for the most powerful elves
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . no evidence Legolas had it
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . I think that is the consensus.
Shawn Daysleeper: . ok
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . as far as I know, no evidence even Elrond had it. No evidence Arwen could even pass a message to Aragorn, and if she could, she probably would have
Shawn Daysleeper: . they seemed to sense feelings perhaps, but not specific facts or messages, if I am understanding it correctly
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . which would make sense between lovers
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . Galadriel's mirror - there was a big point made of how hard it was to interpret what one was seeing. After the discussion a while back about the history between Galadriel and Feanor - I wonder whether Galadriel built her mirror in imitation of the palantiri
Shawn Daysleeper: . could be, like she was trying to trump what he did
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . She would have had knowledge of the palantiri
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and possibly of the technolgy they used. I'm not sure she did "trump" the palantiri
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . that would be hard, wouldn't it?
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . but, it was a useful gadget, and she now has one of her own
Shawn Daysleeper: . ya but I am not sure I would call plantiri telepathic devices. They seem kinda like early cellphones to me, with video chat. ✦✧HaHaHa✦✧
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . lol
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . rofl no text messaging?
Shawn Daysleeper: . nope, too primitive. Or the cell phone provider didn't have the option yet.Well, palantiri provider
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . and the Ainur are the only ones we know who could do long-distance communication. Well, they could receive .... not sure they could transmit
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . lolol
Shawn Daysleeper: . hehe
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . and no email!
Shawn Daysleeper: . maybe there was no coverage. Shawn Daysleeper grins
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . the Ainur never bothered upgrading Middle Earth; it was always a sore point
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . man, and the roaming charges!
Shawn Daysleeper: . ya no 3G coverage even. Man, palantiri wireless is kinda lame. hehe

AelKennyr Rhiano: . . So....what is for next week? And do you want to post notices for these meetings in the BoA? because atm I'm not posting them...I don't know if you are or not.
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . eeep, I should have been, but I didn't
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . That is ok. If you want me to hand over the reins of the group to you, I will. It was originally an Ardan group
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . I'm not taking new responsibilities this week, thank you
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Well, let's leave it at this....if at some future point, you want me to pass off ownership to someone else, I will. No hard feelings on my part.

Shawn Daysleeper: . well, chapter 12 in the silmarillion?
AelKennyr Rhiano: . . Chapter 12 sounds fine
Lihan Taifun: . . . . . . . what is Chapter 12?
Shawn Daysleeper: . of Men, comes after sun and moon