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Oakminster
02-10-2009, 04:15 PM
Not to knock the guy, but he really doesn't do much in the way of spellcasting. He's got a nifty sword, had a staff until he broke it, has a lesser ring...but not a lot of firepower. Elminster would smoke him with a single "Magic Missle" spell. In WoW, my level 73 gnome mage farts for more DPS (damage per second) than Gandalf has ever done. In the original Everquest, the infamous Oakbrow Farwalker could have quadkited Balrogs and Ring Wraiths without breaking a sweat. (that version of Oakie was known to solo old world dragons and other outlandish stunts--it was good to be a druid then). Hell, even Giles from the Buffyverse has shown more magical ability than Gandalf (granted with some channeling power from other Watchers or somesuch).

Seems like I almost remember an article in Dragon magazine or somewhere claiming Gandalf was about a 5th level magic user under AD&D rules. 5th level isn't particularly powerful--1 3rd level spell, 2 second level spells, 3 first level spells not counting inteligence bonuses if any.

Bosstone
02-10-2009, 04:28 PM
The way I've heard it, and I can't remember from where precisely, is that the best wizards never need their magic. They use wisdom and reputation to accomplish their goals, and a wizard is most fearsome when you don't know exactly what he's capable of. They don't throw fireballs around, they influence things. Gandalf had magic, but he rarely needed it, and only used it when it could be exploited to best and most dramatic effect.

Of course, most readers/gameplayers are in it for the action, and a fireball-throwing wizard is inherently more interesting to them than a conniver, which Gandalf was.

Risha
02-10-2009, 04:35 PM
Well, I'm sure that the LotR masters will show up here soon, but I'll note that he's not actually human - he's actually some sort of angel-equivilent whose name I can never remember. So he presumably has a lot more power than he normally displays.

Cerowyn
02-10-2009, 04:35 PM
Wizards in Tolkein's milieu were maia, angel-like beings who were sent to Middle Earth to rally support and get the locals to implement the policies of Management back in Valinor. Gandalf's role, in particular, was to "kindle the fire" of Men and Elves, so he was more of an advisor than a doer.

Ichini Sanshigo
02-10-2009, 04:36 PM
Of course, most readers/gameplayers are in it for the action, and a fireball-throwing wizard is inherently more interesting to them than a conniver, which Gandalf was.

Ha! I came here to say just the opposite: that a wizard/witch/sorcerer who isn't ridiculously powered up with video-game abilities makes for a better character (and a better narrative) than one who is.

Oakminster
02-10-2009, 04:47 PM
Hmmm. My perspective is very much that of a reader/gamer. That whole subtle conniver thing can work...but to establish the "true power" of the character, you have to show him really kick ass at least once. I don't recall Gandalf ever really doing that. Yeah, he sorta almost soloed a balrog. Whoopee. Didn't really beat it so much as held it to a draw and sorta killed himself in the process. Showed up for the big battle somewhere...Helmsdeep maybe?...glowing like a Vorlon...but again, no real spell slinging. Dude may as well be flying a desk somewhere, and sending in a drunk dwarf to do the fighting.

Airk
02-10-2009, 04:49 PM
The whole bit about "kite balrogs and ringwraiths" seems a bit absurd. For all you know, Glamdring could have been a weapon +100,000,000 and the Balrog could have mocked your puny spells and had you for lunch. Let's not mix our apples with our shiny rocks here.

What Gandalf is, however is several things:

A) One of the few people who can do real, honest magic, in a world which, while full of 'magical' creatures, doesn't really contain much in the way of sparklie, castable magic. If I walked down main street and lit my cigarette with a snap of my fingers, I'd be the Greatest Wizard on Earth, simply because I could do ANY magic.

B) The inspiration for all those two bits comeafters. Do you sincerely think Elminster would exist without Gandalf?

C) One of the beings who helped shape the universe with his song, which means that if it weren't for...

D) Explicitly forbidden by the Powers that Be to "match Power with Power"; You really, truly, have no idea -what- Gandalf could or could not do, because he was, on some fairly fundamental level, prohibited from doing it.

... that you'd be talking about some pretty epic level destruction.

What Exit?
02-10-2009, 04:50 PM
Well, I'm sure that the LotR masters will show up here soon, but I'll note that he's not actually human - he's actually some sort of angel-equivilent whose name I can never remember. So he presumably has a lot more power than he normally displays.

Indeed, Gandalf was Olórin in the West. An angelic type collectively called Maiar. He had excellent control over fire, helped by the Elven Ring of Fire. He was fairly handy with lightning as seen at the Goblin Cave in the Hobbit and on Weathertop as he held of the Black Riders. His greatest power though was staying true to his mission that including minimizing the use of his powers and guiding others to fight Sauron. By AD&D rules he did not show many great powers but then neither did Merlin that I recalled. The arch-type wizards and Gandalf is clearly one of them, second only to Merlin I think, did not constantly use their powers. It was a pretty good trick to fight a Balrog to the death and come back with only Gods help.

He was quite exceptional in making useful friends from the Great Eagles who were natural allies as servants of Manwë who picked Olórin to go; to Beorn, Shadowfax, Fangorn, Elrond, Glorfindel and Galadriel, Aragorn and the Hobbits. He brave exploring Moria, Dol Guldor and Mordor and as pointed out we know only a very small portion of everything he did in his 2000+ years in Middle Earth as Gandalf. As Gandalf the White he was far more powerful as he no longer had to hold back.

BTW: His staff was never broken, he broke Sauruman’s.

Oakminster
02-10-2009, 04:59 PM
BTW: His staff was never broken, he broke Sauruman’s.

I thought he broke his own staff in the Balrog fight, right before taking the fall of not-quite-doom. Also thought that was the inspiration for the "retributive strike" mechanic in AD&D, that unleashed much whoopass if you're willing to break a Staff of the Magi....

Sage Rat
02-10-2009, 05:01 PM
Because in terms of the story he's a guide on the side of the road. He's not a lead character.

What Exit?
02-10-2009, 05:06 PM
I thought he broke his own staff in the Balrog fight, right before taking the fall of not-quite-doom. Also thought that was the inspiration for the "retributive strike" mechanic in AD&D, that unleashed much whoopass if you're willing to break a Staff of the Magi....

Nope. Actually he used his staff and his subtle power to shatter that ancient stone bridge* and send the Balrog plummeting. Sadly the Balrog's whip got Gandalf.

Clearly not 5th level magic.

Terrifel
02-10-2009, 05:11 PM
Gandalf was so powerful, he once blew a smoke-ring through a man's skull just for snoring too loud.

Will Repair
02-10-2009, 05:13 PM
So you finally found out that his major power was blowing smoke.

What Exit?
02-10-2009, 05:16 PM
Gandalf was so powerful, he once blew a smoke-ring through a man's skull just for snoring too loud.
But it was only Barliman Butterbur, and there was plenty of room for it to go through. No harm was done.

RiverRunner
02-10-2009, 05:35 PM
Yeah, he sorta almost soloed a balrog. Whoopee. Didn't really beat it so much as held it to a draw and sorta killed himself in the process.


It should be noted that the balrog had kicked an entire nation of dwarves out of Khazad-Dum. This wasn't some troll or something.

(Also, the Ring he bore was a Great Ring, not a lesser one, but that's neither here nor there.)


RR

The Superhero
02-10-2009, 05:49 PM
To quote the Great Red Dragon*, "Never play an ace when a two will do."

Gandalf doesn't "work" like a D&D wizard because he doesn't have to, and at times in fact, should not. When the Fellowship is attempting the Caradhras pass, Gandalf lights a fire using magic, saying (I don't remember the exact words), "I've just written, 'Gandalf is here' in giant letters for anyone who can read them." In other words, when stealth is the goal (as it is in "Fellowship," for sure), you don't go around casting Magic Missile willy-nilly.

And I'd say the stand against the Balrog is the totally kick-ass moment you seek, no matter how you look at it. Gandalf was the only member of the Fellowship who had even the slightest chance of going toe-to-toe with the Balrog - and that's a group not short on warrior-ish prowess. Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas and Gimli are all pretty bad-ass, no? And yet Gandalf says, "This foe is beyond any of you."



* from Jeff Smith's "Bone," for those who don't pick up the reference.

DocCathode
02-10-2009, 06:14 PM
I agree with those who say we never get to see how powerful Gandalf is. He uses his full power to fight a Balrog and possibly against the Nazgul at Weathertop. Both battles occur offstage.

I will note, from years of role playing, in general the more flashy a wizard is, the less powerful he is. Think Urgo The Magnificent from Krull. He is long on talk and has almost no power.

robertliguori
02-10-2009, 06:34 PM
Gandalf was fulfilling the will of Eru Ilvutar. To put it another way, he's the Tool of the DM/Devs. That's not a power you can fight.

eleanorigby
02-10-2009, 06:38 PM
And somewhere in the saga, Gandalf has to use a few words of Command--I have no clue what Command is (and I'm sure there'll be any number of Dopers here soon to tell me!). I always took that bit to mean that Gandalf was very powerful indeed because he had knowledge of this very potent vocabulary and knew how to use it appropriately.

Forgive me, but I can't help but think that these so called powers the OP refers to are essentially "immature" ones. Isn't there some legendary warrior that "fights" other contenders by allowing them to tire themselves out an/or uses logic etc to outwit them? Gandalf is like that--he uses his enemies strengths against the enemy (and their weaknesses, too). That's some powerful shit.

Gandalf serves many purposes in his world. IMO, an angel (in the conventional sense) comes closest to describing him. He is in the world, but not really of it. He advises, guides, and protects. He can harness nature and "lesser" creatures--which he would be the first to say are not lesser at all. He is wise, gentle and good, but can strike with deadly force, if needed.

Bottom line: Gandalf is a mensch. Gamer wizards et al should be so lucky.

Oakminster
02-10-2009, 06:43 PM
The consensus seems to be that Gandalf was sorta like Kosh. I was wanting more of a Duke Nukem in a pointy hat.

The Second Stone
02-10-2009, 06:44 PM
Not to knock the guy, but he really doesn't do much in the way of spellcasting. He's got a nifty sword, had a staff until he broke it, has a lesser ring...but not a lot of firepower. Elminster would smoke him with a single "Magic Missle" spell. In WoW, my level 73 gnome mage farts for more DPS (damage per second) than Gandalf has ever done. In the original Everquest, the infamous Oakbrow Farwalker could have quadkited Balrogs and Ring Wraiths without breaking a sweat. (that version of Oakie was known to solo old world dragons and other outlandish stunts--it was good to be a druid then). Hell, even Giles from the Buffyverse has shown more magical ability than Gandalf (granted with some channeling power from other Watchers or somesuch).

Seems like I almost remember an article in Dragon magazine or somewhere claiming Gandalf was about a 5th level magic user under AD&D rules. 5th level isn't particularly powerful--1 3rd level spell, 2 second level spells, 3 first level spells not counting inteligence bonuses if any.


I remember that article, but it was original D & D, AD & D had not been published yet.


And I'd say the stand against the Balrog is the totally kick-ass moment you seek, no matter how you look at it. Gandalf was the only member of the Fellowship who had even the slightest chance of going toe-to-toe with the Balrog - and that's a group not short on warrior-ish prowess. Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas and Gimli are all pretty bad-ass, no? And yet Gandalf says, "This foe is beyond any of you."


I think that Aragorn or Legolas could have defeated the Balrog but died in the effort. Neither was any slouch, but powerful lords of their people, akin to Glorfindel in the First Age who defeated a Balrog and fell to his death in the process. Gandalf had a plan: the Balrog knew who and what Gandalf was from the encounter behind the door, and Gandalf knew the Balrog would not simply jump past Gandalf, but plant himself firmly for the fight. Gandalf expected this and planned to destroy the bridge the way he did. Gandalf did not expect to be pulled down.

Oakminster
02-10-2009, 06:50 PM
Gandalf did not expect to be pulled down.

He failed a dexterity check. Happens to the best of us. Had he asked nicely, I woulda let him borrow my purple 20-sider. :D

jayjay
02-10-2009, 06:54 PM
I think that Aragorn or Legolas could have defeated the Balrog but died in the effort. Neither was any slouch, but powerful lords of their people, akin to Glorfindel in the First Age who defeated a Balrog and fell to his death in the process.

Neither of them was even CLOSE to that level of power. Aragorn was a direct descendant of the Numenoreans, yes, but the great Numenorean kings were far in the past. The Dunedain of the Third Age were diminished, though not as much as the Gondoreans.

And Legolas was a Sindarin elf. Neither he nor his father had even seen the Trees. He was NOT the equal of Glorfindel. Not even close.

What Exit?
02-10-2009, 06:57 PM
The consensus seems to be that Gandalf was sorta like Kosh. I was wanting more of a Duke Nukem in a pointy hat.
Sorry, that guy did not really exist but you would have loved Fingolfin fighting Melkor.
I think that Aragorn or Legolas could have defeated the Balrog but died in the effort. Neither was any slouch, but powerful lords of their people, akin to Glorfindel in the First Age who defeated a Balrog and fell to his death in the process. Gandalf had a plan: the Balrog knew who and what Gandalf was from the encounter behind the door, and Gandalf knew the Balrog would not simply jump past Gandalf, but plant himself firmly for the fight. Gandalf expected this and planned to destroy the bridge the way he did. Gandalf did not expect to be pulled down.
Neither Legolas or Aragorn were capable of defeating the Balrog. Glorfindel was vastly more powerful and skilled.
He failed a dexterity check. Happens to the best of us. Had he asked nicely, I woulda let him borrow my purple 20-sider. :D
Actually Gandalf was distracted by Aragorn and Boromir. They had no clue what they were up against and did not want to leave Gandalf to face it alone. Legolas knew what it was and wanted to get out fast.

Gary Robson
02-10-2009, 06:59 PM
When Gandalf whips out the sword and leaps into melee (wearing just his robes), I assume that there's magic at work, and not just incredible swordsmanship.

He clearly had "showy" magic, like the fireworks at Bilbo's birthday party. Forget the movie--just the description in the book says those weren't cardboard and gunpowder.

Nope. Actually he used his staff and his subtle power to shatter that ancient stone bridge* and send the Balrog plummeting. Sadly the Balrog's whip got Gandalf.

Clearly not 5th level magic.That was the first thing that came to mind when I read the OP. I don't remember any D&D/WoW spells that would blast a stone bridge like that. Clearly the Balrog had too much magic resistance for Gandalf to blast him directly, though...

Mr. Miskatonic
02-10-2009, 07:05 PM
Could one make the same argument about Merlin? He wasn't exactly the Magic Missile type.

DocCathode
02-10-2009, 07:12 PM
Could one make the same argument about Merlin? He wasn't exactly the Magic Missile type.

It's much harder to analyze Merlin as he's a loose conglomeration of myths from various cultures and centuries. Gandalf is the product of one author, with letters to clarify things.

Knorf
02-10-2009, 07:12 PM
Gandalf is great for his power under restraint, for his wisdom, and for his basic goodness.

What Exit?
02-10-2009, 07:14 PM
Could one make the same argument about Merlin? He wasn't exactly the Magic Missile type.

I think I did earlier though according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Merlin did raise Stonehenge with his magic. Pretty damn impressive if not to showy. But yes, the other arch-type Wizard that also did not use showy D&D type magic.

Der Trihs
02-10-2009, 07:23 PM
It should be noted that the balrog had kicked an entire nation of dwarves out of Khazad-Dum. This wasn't some troll or something. I think this needs to be emphasized. Gandalf, when finally in a situation where the rules allowed him to unleash his power, managed a mutual kill against a being capable of routing a colony of dwarves. How many D&D "5th level magic users" could do that ? Balrogs are basically the LOTR version of fallen angels, not minor monsters.

And somewhere in the saga, Gandalf has to use a few words of CommandWhen the Balrog first shows up, as I recall. Gandalf seals a door against it, and the clash collapses it. He says something like "The counterspell was terrible - I had to use a Word of Command."

Malacandra
02-10-2009, 07:24 PM
Nope. Actually he used his staff and his subtle power to shatter that ancient stone bridge* and send the Balrog plummeting. Sadly the Balrog's whip got Gandalf.

Clearly not 5th level magic.

Gandalf did break his staff upon the bridge, though. I just checked. He obviously got given a new one (or made one in Lothlorien when Gwaihir carried him there).

JohnT
02-10-2009, 07:26 PM
...By AD&D rules he did not show many great powers but then neither did Merlin that I recalled. The arch-type wizards and Gandalf is clearly one of them, second only to Merlin I think...

Could you explain this? Merlin was, IIRC, from the King Arthur tales, right? What does he have to do with Gandalf and how does one rank wizards with any level of accuracy?

The Hamster King
02-10-2009, 07:27 PM
And Legolas was a Sindarin elf. Neither he nor his father had even seen the Trees. He was NOT the equal of Glorfindel. Not even close.Yeah. It's worth remembering that Galadriel, the most powerful elf in Middle Earth during the War of the Ring, the only living being to have seen the Trees ... barely even rates a mention in the old sagas. She's just somebody's little sister.

The Lord of the Rings is all about the corrupting influence of power. Saruman, Boromir, and Denethor all succumb to it. The greatest heroes are the ones who turn away from power when offered it, or who accept it only reluctantly: Bilbo, Frodo, Aragorn, Faramir. Gandalf's mission is to inspire and guide the people of middle earth. Showing restraint while using power is part and parcel of that mission.

What Exit?
02-10-2009, 07:31 PM
When the Balrog first shows up, as I recall. Gandalf seals a door against it, and the clash collapses it. He says something like "The counterspell was terrible - I had to use a Word of Command."

'What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge.
The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me. For an instant the door
left my control and began to open! I had to speak a word of Command. That
proved too great a strain. The door burst in pieces. Something dark as a
cloud was blocking out all the light inside, and I was thrown backwards down
the stairs. All the wall gave way, and the roof of the chamber as well, I
think.

Gandalf did break his staff upon the bridge, though. I just checked. He obviously got given a new one (or made one in Lothlorien when Gwaihir carried him there).

Well crap, you are correct.
At that moment Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog's feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into emptiness.

Could you explain this? Merlin was, IIRC, from the King Arthur tales, right? What does he have to do with Gandalf and how does one rank wizards with any level of accuracy?
They are in literature and legend the two Wizards that most later Wizards are based on or inspired by. As to ranking them it is impossible, I meant in terms of impact on the Fantasy genre.

Oakminster
02-10-2009, 07:33 PM
I don't remember any D&D/WoW spells that would blast a stone bridge like that. Clearly the Balrog had too much magic resistance for Gandalf to blast him directly, though...

I actually pulled out my tattered Player's Handbook (First Edition, of course) and found three possibilities, all 5th level Magic User spells:

1. Passwall
2. Stone Shape
3. Transmute Rock to Mud

Note that it would require a 9th level Magic User to cast a 5th level spell.

WoW didn't really have any way to target objects for damage purposes until WotLK. Now, mage spells will damage vehicles and some structures in certain areas, but I haven't done much experimenting with it yet.

Bootis
02-10-2009, 07:35 PM
Eh.. I just invented a wizard named Marmaduche who can disappear the universe by waving a finger, and is the most powerful Wizard in the history of all wizards by a factor of over a million. Now that this super wizard exists to compare to, why is this infamous Oakbrow Farwalker considered a great wizard?

What Exit?
02-10-2009, 07:36 PM
Yeah. It's worth remembering that Galadriel, the most powerful elf in Middle Earth during the War of the Ring, the only living being to have seen the Trees ... barely even rates a mention in the old sagas. She's just somebody's little sister.

The Lord of the Rings is all about the corrupting influence of power. Saruman, Boromir, and Denethor all succumb to it. The greatest heroes are the ones who turn away from power when offered it, or who accept it only reluctantly: Bilbo, Frodo, Aragorn, Faramir. Gandalf's mission is to inspire and guide the people of middle earth. Showing restraint while using power is part and parcel of that mission.

While she was the most powerful Elf left in Middle Earth, she had grown over the millenium in power and craft and had an Elven Ring. However she was not the last Elf of the Light or Elf that saw the Two Trees. Glorfindel clearly was another and there was quite possible others in Rivendell and the Havens.

Your second part is dead on. Let's add Sam to those that resisted and Isildur to those that failed.

Ludovic
02-10-2009, 07:43 PM
He failed a dexterity check. Happens to the best of us. Had he asked nicely, I woulda let him borrow my purple 20-sider. :DThe only reason for existence for Formula De :)

Oakminster
02-10-2009, 07:51 PM
Eh.. I just invented a wizard named Marmaduche who can disappear the universe by waving a finger, and is the most powerful Wizard in the history of all wizards by a factor of over a million. Now that this super wizard exists to compare to, why is this infamous Oakbrow Farwalker considered a great wizard?

First of all, Oakie was/is not a wizard at all. He was/is a druid that concentrated primarily on DPS rather than healing. His name was known all across Norrath as one of the most loyal and powerful mortal servants of Karana. So great was his power that he traversed time and space to spread his teachings across this place you non-magical types call earth. His stories brought much mirth to the internet, until that dark day when Sony condoned selling in game money/equipment for real world money. Terrible was the wrath of Oakie. Well, terrible up until the point where he got banned from the official forums, got reinstated the same night, and quit the game forever shortly thereafter. The original Oakie was a half elf. For a short time he lived as a dwarf in a future version of Norrath, and was later reborn yet again as a night elf in the lands of Azzaroth.

Put another way, He is me and I am he and we are the eggman. Goo Goo Ga Joo.

smiling bandit
02-10-2009, 09:01 PM
First of all, Oakie was/is not a wizard at all. He was/is a druid that concentrated primarily on DPS rather than healing. His name was known all across Norrath as one of the most loyal and powerful mortal servants of Karana. So great was his power that he traversed time and space to spread his teachings across this place you non-magical types call earth. His stories brought much mirth to the internet, until that dark day when Sony condoned selling in game money/equipment for real world money. Terrible was the wrath of Oakie. Well, terrible up until the point where he got banned from the official forums, got reinstated the same night, and quit the game forever shortly thereafter. The original Oakie was a half elf. For a short time he lived as a dwarf in a future version of Norrath, and was later reborn yet again as a night elf in the lands of Azzaroth.

Put another way, He is me and I am he and we are the eggman. Goo Goo Ga Joo.

Mate, and I say this as a man who briefly enjoyed Everquest and EQ2, and played WoW for months, as well as DAoC, and is a pretty big nerd all around...

that's pathetic.

Maybe you're a young lad. I dunno. But judging a fantasy character by their DPS? My only response to that is: WTF?!

More to the point, who cares? Wizards are Druids, anyway. The weird modern idea of druid as some oddbal nature guardian comes straight from DnD, where, ironically, Bards are almost more like classic druids.

Blah. Anyway, Gandalf was a mighty warrior who had vast knowledge of the world, its peoples, and at least at one point knew every spell ever made by men, dwarves, elves, and probably orcs. This is a world where smiths could make blades of awesome - but subtle - power, and really "magic" in your view never existed. There was Sorcery, the ability of powerful wills to force reality to its wish (and was considered a very, very bad thing to do). Sauron, as well as some of his servants, were capable of this. Mordor, for example, was not wholly natural. What elves and men and swarves did was more like convinving the world to do something, by turning the natural resources to a different use. Sorcery is a brutal rape and beat-down, but others use persuasion and build things up.

As an example, look at the Ring. This thing screwed with everyone nearby. The Ring is Sauron. It tormented Gollum (who was broken by it but not wholly corrupted). It turned Boromir briefly before he regained his senses. Aragorn realized he and his friends had to get away from it or be destroyed by it. That is power. Who cares how much friggin DPS you can do, when you can control everyone anyway?

Then, on the other hand, we have the elven boats. They always stayed upright, were easy to guide, and flowed easily where they were meant to go. A small and handsome item, but not an item meant to corrupt or control.

Oakminster
02-10-2009, 09:40 PM
Mate, and I say this as a man who briefly enjoyed Everquest and EQ2, and played WoW for months, as well as DAoC, and is a pretty big nerd all around...

that's pathetic.



Nooo....that's self-mocking humor delivered with tongue firmly in cheek. As is the notion of casually tossing in one of my favorite characters in league with fictional characters of great reknown. I do that sometimes.

smiling bandit
02-10-2009, 09:50 PM
Nooo....that's self-mocking humor delivered with tongue firmly in cheek. As is the notion of casually tossing in one of my favorite characters in league with fictional characters of great reknown. I do that sometimes.

Ok, then you whooshed me. However, I have seen far too many fancic writers do exactly that, so forgive my apprehension. ;)

MOIDALIZE
02-10-2009, 09:53 PM
There are 9 levels of magic in D&D, correct? 5th level out of 9 would be decent powered spells, nothing great?

jayjay
02-10-2009, 10:00 PM
There are 9 levels of magic in D&D, correct? 5th level out of 9 would be decent powered spells, nothing great?

It's middling. The point is, though, that trying to evaluate Gandalf's "level" with D&D stats is pointless. Gandalf is not a D&D mage. Neither is he an Everquest mage, nor a WoW mage, nor any other kind of game mage. There were exactly five wizards in Middle-Earth. They were not human. There is no comparison.

MOIDALIZE
02-10-2009, 10:01 PM
Yeah, but did any of them know Evard's Black Tentacles?

Oakminster
02-10-2009, 10:05 PM
The point is, though, that trying to evaluate Gandalf's "level" with D&D stats is pointless.

No more pointless than wondering and/or having lengthy threads about who Batman could beat (if he was prepared). The joy is in the journey.

Love Rhombus
02-10-2009, 10:07 PM
5? Oh wait, forgot the Blue ones. Wasn't Gandalf teaching someone, though? I dimly remember that.

DocCathode
02-10-2009, 10:10 PM
It's middling. The point is, though, that trying to evaluate Gandalf's "level" with D&D stats is pointless. Gandalf is not a D&D mage. Neither is he an Everquest mage, nor a WoW mage, nor any other kind of game mage. There were exactly five wizards in Middle-Earth. They were not human. There is no comparison.

What if we use MERP stats? What then mister smartypants?

Terrifel
02-10-2009, 10:17 PM
There were exactly five wizards in Middle-Earth.Yabut there was also the Witch-King. And the Black Numenorean necromancers. And the Blue Wizards might have been responsible for founding schools of magic in the eastern lands! And what of Queen Beruthiel and her cats? And Radagast had a squirrel apprentice that he taught spells to, although that was a story that I wrote so maybe it doesn't count.




I go sit down now.

Northern Piper
02-10-2009, 10:24 PM
Yeah. It's worth remembering that Galadriel, the most powerful elf in Middle Earth during the War of the Ring, the only living being to have seen the Trees ... barely even rates a mention in the old sagas. She's just somebody's little sister.

The Lord of the Rings is all about the corrupting influence of power. Saruman, Boromir, and Denethor all succumb to it. The greatest heroes are the ones who turn away from power when offered it, or who accept it only reluctantly: Bilbo, Frodo, Aragorn, Faramir. Gandalf's mission is to inspire and guide the people of middle earth. Showing restraint while using power is part and parcel of that mission.While she was the most powerful Elf left in Middle Earth, she had grown over the millenium in power and craft and had an Elven Ring. However she was not the last Elf of the Light or Elf that saw the Two Trees. Glorfindel clearly was another and there was quite possible others in Rivendell and the Havens.

Your second part is dead on. Let's add Sam to those that resisted and Isildur to those that failed.

And shouldn't we add Galadriel herself?

'I pass the test,' Galadriel said. 'I will diminish, and go into the West and remain Galadriel.'

Northern Piper
02-10-2009, 10:26 PM
Seems like I almost remember an article in Dragon magazine or somewhere claiming Gandalf was about a 5th level magic user under AD&D rules. 5th level isn't particularly powerful--1 3rd level spell, 2 second level spells, 3 first level spells not counting inteligence bonuses if any.I believe that article came out about 1978.

MeDrewNotYou
02-10-2009, 10:43 PM
FWIW, D&D 3.5's Epic Level Handbook specifically mentions Gandalf as an 'epic' character, ie lvl20+. That means he has access to custom super-powered spells that can be cast with no one the wiser.

I have to agree with earlier posters, though, that Gandalf is so good, he doesn't even need to sling Fireballs around to get the job done. If I had to stretch the D&D analogy, Gandalf has crazy good skill modifiers and saves. (Except the Balrog's natural 20 one on the bridge. I refuse to believe that Gandalf could fail a save.)

Nametag
02-10-2009, 10:43 PM
For those who don't know, Balrogs are Maiar also, like Gandalf and Sauron, corrupted by Morgoth. They had great power, and Aragorn or Legolas would've been toys.

Sailboat
02-10-2009, 10:49 PM
Yeah, but did any of them know Evard's Black Tentacles?

In the Biblical sense?

What Exit?
02-10-2009, 10:50 PM
Yabut there was also the Witch-King. And the Black Numenorean necromancers. And the Blue Wizards might have been responsible for founding schools of magic in the eastern lands! And what of Queen Beruthiel and her cats? And Radagast had a squirrel apprentice that he taught spells to, although that was a story that I wrote so maybe it doesn't count.

I go sit down now.
Only 5 Wizards if we narrow it to the Istari, but plenty of other magic users of various sorts. Even Thranduil had some magic though his son did not seem to.

As to Radagast, if we are being silly about this, then he trained Glee's character Ghân on this very board.
And shouldn't we add Galadriel herself?
Yes!

Ludovic
02-10-2009, 10:59 PM
In the Biblical sense?Yes. Remember, Gandalf only shows us a hentai of his full powers.

Polycarp
02-10-2009, 10:59 PM
The way I've heard it, and I can't remember from where precisely, is that the best wizards never need their magic. They use wisdom and reputation to accomplish their goals, and a wizard is most fearsome when you don't know exactly what he's capable of. They don't throw fireballs around, they influence things. Gandalf had magic, but he rarely needed it, and only used it when it could be exploited to best and most dramatic effect.

I see you are also an aficionado of Moon-Tse's "The Art of Wizardry." :)

===================

Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, would have simply summoned up the Dread Dormammu and banished all RPG wizards to the Cavern of Torments.

Which is to say, there aren't any criteria for comparing the relative prowess of fictional magic users from universes with disparate "laws of magic." Maybe there can't be.

In the real, non-magical world Gandalf stands out as the premier magic-user in the single work of fiction that all but singlehandedly resurrected epic fantasy from a specialty genre read by only a few dozen enthusiasts, to a culturally significant movement in popular literature -- and an impact on the cultural awareness and motivation of its millions of readers. It would not be going overboard to say that Gandalf was an element in the ending of the Vietnam War -- the shift from the 1950s-early 60s 'fight communism'/progress ethos to the late 60s-70s antiwar/environmentalism ethos can be attributed in part to the popularity of Tolkien. Tolkien's legacy is still a little close to accurately measure, but (as was discussed in another thread recently) I believe it's safe to say that his writing stands head and shoulders above anything in the fantasy genre since in its influence on popular culture.

Some years back I cleaned out my parents' attic, and found my old Hula Hoop and my copy of "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" album. I suspect that in 40 years or so, people will feel much the same about a Gygax DM handbook and WoW printouts from Blizzard as I did then.

mutantmoose
02-11-2009, 12:01 AM
And shouldn't we add Galadriel herself?

And Tom Bombadil. Don't forget Tom.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Bombadil


Tom first appears within the story after Merry and Pippin are trapped by Old Man Willow and Frodo cries for help. Tom commands Old Man Willow to release them, singing him to sleep, and shelters the hobbits in his house for two nights. Here it is revealed that the One Ring has no power over Bombadil. Frodo wearing the Ring can be seen by him, and Tom wearing the Ring does not turn invisible. He even tosses the Ring in the air and makes it disappear, but then produces it from his other hand and returns it to Frodo. While this demonstrates he has unique and mysterious power over the Ring, the idea of giving him the Ring for safekeeping is rejected within Book Two's second chapter, "The Council of Elrond." Gandalf says, rather, that "the Ring has no power over him", and believes that Tom would simply not find the Ring to be very important and so might simply misplace it.

Ogre
02-11-2009, 12:11 AM
For those who don't know, Balrogs are Maiar also, like Gandalf and Sauron, corrupted by Morgoth. They had great power, and Aragorn or Legolas would've been toys.Speaking of, I've read somewhere that the Balrog of Khazad-Dum was Gothmog - lord high badassedness himself among the Balrogs.

Is there any canonical support for this?

MeDrewNotYou
02-11-2009, 12:18 AM
Speaking of, I've read somewhere that the Balrog of Khazad-Dum was Gothmog - lord high badassedness himself among the Balrogs.

Is there any canonical support for this?

I'm pretty sure Gothmog fought one of the Noldor and they killed each other. I want to say it was Ecthelion, but I'll have to check The Silmarillion. I don't think the Moria Balrog was anyone special.

jayjay
02-11-2009, 12:20 AM
I'm pretty sure Gothmog fought one of the Noldor and they killed each other. I want to say it was Ecthelion, but I'll have to check The Silmarillion. I don't think the Moria Balrog was anyone special.

Ecthelion it was (http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/g/gothmog.html).

Ogre
02-11-2009, 12:23 AM
Well, heck. Never mind.

MeDrewNotYou
02-11-2009, 12:26 AM
From The Silmarillion- Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin

...of the battle of Ecthelion of the Fountain with Gothmog Lord of Balrogs in the very square of the King, where each slew the other...

Ogre
02-11-2009, 12:28 AM
Arrrrrgh. Although I note that they gave the orc general in the movie (the dude with the puffy face who spit on the boulder hurled at him from Minas Tirith) the name "Gothmog".

Yikes.

jayjay
02-11-2009, 12:36 AM
Arrrrrgh. Although I note that they gave the orc general in the movie (the dude with the puffy face who spit on the boulder hurled at him from Minas Tirith) the name "Gothmog".

Yikes.

There actually IS a "Gothmog" in the War of the Ring who acts as the lieutenant of Minas Morgul and leads a portion of the armies of Mordor in the Battle of Pellenor Fields (the siege of Minas Tirith). But Tolkien doesn't really linger on him and doesn't even specify his species. Jackson interpreted him as an orc, but that's not canon.

Ogre
02-11-2009, 01:23 AM
There actually IS a "Gothmog" in the War of the Ring who acts as the lieutenant of Minas Morgul and leads a portion of the armies of Mordor in the Battle of Pellenor Fields (the siege of Minas Tirith). But Tolkien doesn't really linger on him and doesn't even specify his species. Jackson interpreted him as an orc, but that's not canon.Oh, well double dammit. Time to re-read, I suppose.

squeegee
02-11-2009, 02:04 AM
Yes. Remember, Gandalf only shows us a hentai of his full powers.

You are so going to Hell for that.

Grumman
02-11-2009, 03:34 AM
Eh.. I just invented a wizard named Marmaduche who can disappear the universe by waving a finger, and is the most powerful Wizard in the history of all wizards by a factor of over a million. Now that this super wizard exists to compare to, why is this infamous Oakbrow Farwalker considered a great wizard?
Second most powerful - Pun Pun doesn't have to wave his finger.

Qadgop the Mercotan
02-11-2009, 09:52 AM
"Word of Command" = Song of an Ainur made manifest. Pretty fundamental stuff, not seen much since the creation of the world itself. Luthien used it against Sauron when they battled over Beren. Basically they are changing fundamental reality via the same act of creation which turned Ainulindale into Arda.

What Exit?
02-11-2009, 09:58 AM
"Word of Command" = Song of an Ainur made manifest. Pretty fundamental stuff, not seen much since the creation of the world itself. Luthien used it against Sauron when they battled over Beren. Basically they are changing fundamental reality via the same act of creation which turned Ainulindale into Arda.

That makes sense. Where did you find that nugget?

MrDibble
02-11-2009, 10:26 AM
"Word of Command" = Song of an Ainur made manifest. Pretty fundamental stuff, not seen much since the creation of the world itself. Luthien used it against Sauron when they battled over Beren. Basically they are changing fundamental reality via the same act of creation which turned Ainulindale into Arda.

So, a Wish spell, then? ;)

Ludovic
02-11-2009, 10:29 AM
So, a Wish spell, then? ;)Miracle, by 3.X rules. Gets his power from a deity he does.

eleanorigby
02-11-2009, 10:41 AM
"Word of Command" = Song of an Ainur made manifest. Pretty fundamental stuff, not seen much since the creation of the world itself. Luthien used it against Sauron when they battled over Beren. Basically they are changing fundamental reality via the same act of creation which turned Ainulindale into Arda.

Truly I sit at the feet of greatness. :eek:

I hope this shows the OP that Gandalf is to D and D wizards as God is to Jim Anderson.* There can be no comparison, because there are no true similarities. But I have a question: if Gandalf knows the words of Command, why doesn't the Balrog know them as well and use them as a counter measure?









*of Father Knows Best.

jayjay
02-11-2009, 10:49 AM
Truly I sit at the feet of greatness. :eek:

I hope this shows the OP that Gandalf is to D and D wizards as God is to Jim Anderson.* There can be no comparison, because there are no true similarities. But I have a question: if Gandalf knows the words of Command, why doesn't the Balrog know them as well and use them as a counter measure?

Maiar aren't cookie-cutter clones. They're all pretty much individuals and have differing levels of power and knowledge. The balrogs were all more or less shoehorned into the same basic fiery mortal shell, but they were as much individuals as Gandalf and Saruman.

In that vein, knowing the Words of Command isn't so much a "standard" maia power, but rather something that Gandalf, as Olórin, learned in the West (possibly from Manwë or Varda, whom he served especially) before coming to Middle-Earth.

What Exit?
02-11-2009, 10:51 AM
Truly I sit at the feet of greatness. :eek:

I hope this shows the OP that Gandalf is to D and D wizards as God is to Jim Anderson.* There can be no comparison, because there are no true similarities. But I have a question: if Gandalf knows the words of Command, why doesn't the Balrog know them as well and use them as a counter measure?
Perhaps as simple as one was on a "Mission from God" (in service to Erü) and the other rebeled against Erü and the Valar long ago.

Captain Amazing
02-11-2009, 10:53 AM
I hope this shows the OP that Gandalf is to D and D wizards as God is to Jim Anderson.*

Well, when Betty broke up with her boyfriend, who did she turn to? It certainly wasn't God.

Airk
02-11-2009, 11:05 AM
Well, I have a couple of theories:

A) It's not really as simple as "knowing a word"; There's a certain intrinsic power required. Balrogs might have had that power once, but they've been corrupted and essentially "fallen" for a good long time and the fundamental nature of their power is changed. Gandalf gets words of command, Balrogs get to be really tall and on fire.

B) There's not much time to react when the fundamental fabric of reality alters around you. ;)

tdn
02-11-2009, 11:06 AM
I hope this shows the OP that Gandalf is to D and D wizards as God is to Jim Anderson

Hmm, perhaps not the best analogy. Let's see...

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::The New York Philharmonic : Some garage band

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::Johnny Chan : My niece, who can't remember if 3 of a kind beats 2 pair

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::Tiger Woods : Me

jayjay
02-11-2009, 11:09 AM
Hmm, perhaps not the best analogy. Let's see...

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::The New York Philharmonic : Some garage band


Better:

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::The New York Philharmonic : a 7-year-old playing the wood block in 1st grade music appreciation time

simster
02-11-2009, 11:19 AM
Best :


Gandalf : DnD Wizard:: Chuck Norris : Anyone

GargoyleWB
02-11-2009, 11:43 AM
If I was a DM running a high level group, and if during the epic facedown between the PC party and my uberbaddest monster encounter, the 20th level Wizard in the party said, "No, I don't think I'm going to cast 'wish' or 'time stop' or 'sphere of annihilation'. I'm going to talk first. The rest of the party can go, I'll take care of it." And then that PC left the battle victorious and rejoined the party back at the local inn, dressed in cool new flashy white robes, well, I'd hand that player my DM screen right then and there and bow down to his awesomeness.

Lord Ashtar
02-11-2009, 11:55 AM
Better:

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::The New York Philharmonic : a 7-year-old playing the wood block in 1st grade music appreciation time

Whatever. Anwar, my level 22 Sha'ir would probably have just wished Gandalf out of existence or stolen his body.

mlees
02-11-2009, 11:56 AM
In the first Age, the full magical might of the Valar host was unleashed against the Fortress of Angband, and practically sundered the continent.

It's possible that the Valar (and Gandalf) do not wish to bring forth such terrible power again.

Real world parralel: Atom bomb. A weapon used in anger, so powerfull we hope to never use it again, and indeed, the superpowers intentionally limit themselves to "alliance building", economic competition, and third party proxies, as opposed to direct confrontation.

jayjay
02-11-2009, 11:59 AM
Whatever. Anwar, my level 22 Sha'ir would probably have just wished Gandalf out of existence or stolen his body.

Sha'ir? Did you have to chisel your stats into a stone block when you made the character or did they have paper back then?

EddyTeddyFreddy
02-11-2009, 12:09 PM
And Tom Bombadil. Don't forget Tom.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Bombadil

[tangent]

I've read The Hobbit and the Ring trilogy, but nothing else in the Tolkein canon. What should I read to learn more about Tom Bombadil? He's always been a mysterious character to me, a being in some ways outside of the world of the trilogy.

jayjay
02-11-2009, 12:14 PM
[tangent]

I've read The Hobbit and the Ring trilogy, but nothing else in the Tolkein canon. What should I read to learn more about Tom Bombadil? He's always been a mysterious character to me, a being in some ways outside of the world of the trilogy.

You've already largely read everything we really know about Bombadil. Tolkien was fairly coy about him, even in the Letters. We do know that he was more or less outside the power structure of Arda, although he may have been plugged into it previously (possibly a maia "gone native"). He appears to be completely content to just exist in his little corner of the world.

He is sort of a Hobbit-ish add-on, though, deriving from a doll that Tolkien's children had and inserted into the earlier, more storyteller-type mood of the beginning of Fellowship.

Ol' Tim Benzedrine, on the other hand...

What Exit?
02-11-2009, 12:22 PM
[tangent]

I've read The Hobbit and the Ring trilogy, but nothing else in the Tolkein canon. What should I read to learn more about Tom Bombadil? He's always been a mysterious character to me, a being in some ways outside of the world of the trilogy.
Actually you have summed him up perfectly. In one of Tolkien's letters (144) he talked about how Tom was an enigma. Not everything was known and he was different. The conjecture about who Tom was beyond a children's toy is hopeless and Tolkien himself did not know.

You could pick up the Adventures of Tom Bombadil for a little bit more about him though. It has two poems on Tom and maybe 10 other poems.

Lord Ashtar
02-11-2009, 12:28 PM
Sha'ir? Did you have to chisel your stats into a stone block when you made the character or did they have paper back then?

I still have the papyrus leaf on which I kept his stats. He was quite the badass, if I do say so myself.

Finagle
02-11-2009, 12:40 PM
The Gandalf of the "The Hobbit" seemed to be a far weaker entity than the "Lord of the Rings" Gandalf. When cornered by wolves and orcs, he was pretty much reduced to throwing flaming pine cones and was, I recall, about to fling himself down and take as many with him as possible in a big fireball when the Eagles showed up. So there's a bit of retconning done by Tolkien between the two books.

Lust4Life
02-11-2009, 12:40 PM
I thought that he was supposed to be an Angel in the book.

jayjay
02-11-2009, 12:48 PM
I thought that he was supposed to be an Angel in the book.

More or less. He's a maia, which are of the same nature as the Valar (the big good guys), but of lesser stature. All of the Wizards are maiar, kind of "encased" in a mortal body and with their powers limited. They were sent to Middle-Earth to rally and aid the mortal races against Sauron, but had their powers "dialed back" because (at least in part) the Valar didn't want a reiteration of the Drowning of Beleriand (caused by the full force of the Valar against Melkor) on their hands.

Lumpy
02-11-2009, 01:02 PM
Tom Bombadil is the only character in story who knows he's a fictional character. Thus, he transcends the story itself.

tdn
02-11-2009, 01:12 PM
Whatever. Anwar, my level 22 Sha'ir would probably have just wished Gandalf out of existence or stolen his body.

Pfft. Gandalf would have smoked his ass like it ain't no thing.

I refer you to the passage in Book III, chapter XII, in which Gandalf says "Anwar, I'll smoke your ass like it ain't no thing."

smiling bandit
02-11-2009, 01:26 PM
There are 9 levels of magic in D&D, correct? 5th level out of 9 would be decent powered spells, nothing great?

Actually, it's a little more complicated.

The Theory bwas that Gandalf was a 5th level Wizard. Your spellcasting as a Wizard has a maximum SPELL LEVEL (not class level) of 1/2 your level, rounded up. Gandalf, as a fifth-level Wizard, was capable of casting 3rd level spells according to that analysis.

That's actually better than it sounds. There's vastly more difference between 1st level and 3rd level spells than between 3rd level and 9th level spells. The reason is that third level spells were originally the way upper tier stuff that you probably would never get. (They didn't realize people were actually going to play the game, apparently.) Anyway, they glommed on more spell levels after that, but apart from a few tricks like teleportation, spells past 3rd are rarely better than thse 3rd level stuff.

eleanorigby
02-11-2009, 01:41 PM
Hmm, perhaps not the best analogy. Let's see...

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::The New York Philharmonic : Some garage band

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::Johnny Chan : My niece, who can't remember if 3 of a kind beats 2 pair

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::Tiger Woods : Me

I stand by my analogy. Are you saying you consider Jim Anderson to be in any way resembling god? Kitten and Princess and Bud would disagree....



And this made me laugh out loud:
Pfft. Gandalf would have smoked his ass like it ain't no thing.

I refer you to the passage in Book III, chapter XII, in which Gandalf says "Anwar, I'll smoke your ass like it ain't no thing."

I believe that is canon, gentlemen. ;)


There is something very Zen about Gandalf, IMO. He is not less able in The Hobbit, I believe he is distracted by other issues of the day.

smiling bandit
02-11-2009, 01:42 PM
Actually, another small point:

The Word of Power Gandalf uses may have been a spell or one of his innate abilities; we don't really know. He was probably trying to ward the door, thugh, not smash the whole place up. And he wasn't entirely sure, IIRC, that the Balrog was on the other side of it were some powerful orc sorcerer or something.

What Exit?
02-11-2009, 01:45 PM
Actually, another small point:

The Word of Power Gandalf uses may have been a spell or one of his innate abilities; we don't really know. He was probably trying to ward the door, thugh, not smash the whole place up. And he wasn't entirely sure, IIRC, that the Balrog was on the other side of it were some powerful orc sorcerer or something.

At that point he did not know it was a Balrog. He just knew it was something unexpectantly powerful.

I posted this earlier in the thread:
'What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me. For an instant the door left my control and began to open! I had to speak a word of Command. That proved too great a strain. The door burst in pieces. Something dark as a cloud was blocking out all the light inside, and I was thrown backwards down the stairs. All the wall gave way, and the roof of the chamber as well, I think.

tdn
02-11-2009, 01:47 PM
Years ago I was GMing MERP using ICE's Rolemaster as the system. We routinely had wizards of 3rd or 4th level who could smoke Gandalf's ass like it ain't no thing. Not a one of them would be trapped at the top of a tower. I think that Levitate was a 2nd level spell, and Fly was maybe 4th or 5th level. And they didn't need magic rings to turn invisible.

Those are a couple of the many reasons I eventually switched over to Harn.

RiverRunner
02-11-2009, 02:17 PM
Ol' Tim Benzedrine, on the other hand...


Hash! Boo! Valvoline!
Clean, clean, clean for Gene!

RR

Shirley Ujest
02-11-2009, 02:17 PM
is that the best wizards never need their magic. They use wisdom and reputation to accomplish their goals, and a wizard is most fearsome when you don't know exactly what he's capable of

So Magic is alot like Kung Fu.

If you fight them, grasshopper, you have already lost.

Belrix
02-11-2009, 02:40 PM
Some years back I cleaned out my parents' attic, and found my old Hula Hoop and my copy of "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" album. I suspect that in 40 years or so, people will feel much the same about a Gygax DM handbook and WoW printouts from Blizzard as I did then.Dang! I just listed my old first edition books on eBay. Now you're making me second-guess that action...

cjepson
02-11-2009, 02:51 PM
In the chapter of LotR on Lothlorien, Tolkien makes a point about his conception of magic. Sam observes that Lothlorien is the most magical place one could imagine, but that the magic is "right down deep where you can't see it, if you take my meaning" (or words to that effect). In Middle-Earth, the real magic is behind the scenes.

simster
02-11-2009, 03:38 PM
In the chapter of LotR on Lothlorien, Tolkien makes a point about his conception of magic. Sam observes that Lothlorien is the most magical place one could imagine, but that the magic is "right down deep where you can't see it, if you take my meaning" (or words to that effect). In Middle-Earth, the real magic is behind the scenes.

If you do things right, they never know you did anything at all.

Gary Robson
02-11-2009, 03:47 PM
There's a lot of subtle, veiled magic in the Tolkien universe. Take Legolas running on top of the snow while the hobbits sink in it. He's not really that lightweight, and there must be magic involved or he'd have no traction and he'd slide down the mountain. Galadrial's mirror, swords that glow around orcs, the Palantir, these are all artifacts. But the most influential players in the story (Sauron, Saruman, Gandalf...) tend to accomplish their goals without turning someone into a newt.

Hmm, perhaps not the best analogy. Let's see...

Gandalf : DnD Wizard::The New York Philharmonic : Some garage bandI think it's more like...

Gandalf : DnD Wizard :: Dog : Dogwood tree

They just don't compare. It's like a Twilight vampire vs. an Ann Rice vampire, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer vampire, Dracula, or a Tanya Huff vampire. They ain't the same thing.

Pfft. Gandalf would have smoked his ass like it ain't no thing.

I refer you to the passage in Book III, chapter XII, in which Gandalf says "Anwar, I'll smoke your ass like it ain't no thing."Nicely done.

furt
02-11-2009, 04:06 PM
In Middle-Earth, the real magic is behind the scenes.Yes -- exactly as we should expect from a devout Catholic like Tolkien.

Take all the answers a Christian would give to why Jesus just didn't heal everyone, wax all the romans, and bring about heaven on earth, and I suspect it will sound quite a bit like a description of why Gandalf was the way he was.

What Exit?
02-11-2009, 04:12 PM
There's a lot of subtle, veiled magic in the Tolkien universe. Take Legolas running on top of the snow while the hobbits sink in it. He's not really that lightweight, and there must be magic involved or he'd have no traction and he'd slide down the mountain. Galadrial's mirror, swords that glow around orcs, the Palantir, these are all artifacts. But the most influential players in the story (Sauron, Saruman, Gandalf...) tend to accomplish their goals without turning someone into a newt.
Though of course Frodo did suggest that Sam would be turned into a spotted toad if he told anyone about what he heard from outside the window. A bit later Gandalf actually said (jokingly) "And see that Sam Gamgee does not talk. If he does, I really shall turn him into a toad."

eleanorigby
02-11-2009, 04:32 PM
Though of course Frodo did suggest that Sam would be turned into a spotted toad if he told anyone about what he heard from outside the window. A bit later Gandalf actually said (jokingly) "And see that Sam Gamgee does not talk. If he does, I really shall turn him into a toad."

I believe that quote should have "like it ain't no thing" attached to end of it... :D

smiling bandit
02-11-2009, 05:28 PM
Gandalf : DnD Wizard :: Dog : Dogwood tree

Yeah! Dogwood trees look pretty, but dogs get to pee all over -

They just don't compare. It's like a Twilight vampire vs. an Ann Rice vampire, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer vampire, Dracula, or a Tanya Huff vampire. They ain't the same thing.

Oh. Uh, I must not have interpreted that properly. Neverwind! :D

tim314
02-12-2009, 12:22 AM
I think that Aragorn or Legolas could have defeated the Balrog but died in the effort. Neither was any slouch, but powerful lords of their people, akin to Glorfindel in the First Age who defeated a Balrog and fell to his death in the process.I doubt it. My impression is that the greatest warriors of any age were pretty much crap compared to the greatest warriors of earlier ages.

Also, Gimli matched (and if I remember right, surpassed) Legolas's kill total at Helm's Deep, so he's presumably a comparable warrior. And yet a whole freaking nation of dwarves couldn't beat one Balrog.

Crocodiles And Boulevards
02-12-2009, 01:46 AM
who would win in a fight? Batman or Gandalf?!

Er... I mean, Gandalf or Raistlin Majere?!

MrDibble
02-12-2009, 02:32 AM
Years ago I was GMing MERP using ICE's Rolemaster as the system. We routinely had wizards of 3rd or 4th level who could smoke Gandalf's ass like it ain't no thing. Not a one of them would be trapped at the top of a tower. I think that Levitate was a 2nd level spell, and Fly was maybe 4th or 5th level. And they didn't need magic rings to turn invisible.
Yeah, but they could also get killed by a lucky housecat...

mswas
02-12-2009, 03:10 AM
What, manipulating the course of human events isn't flashy enough for you?

ToeJam
02-12-2009, 03:11 AM
who would win in a fight? Batman or Gandalf?!

Er... I mean, Gandalf or Raistlin Majere?!

Batman would barely escape the first matchup, and then the second time around he'd find a way to make Gandalf submit not by defeating him in combat, but by threatening something he loved.
Though Batman would only do that if he knew he had to do it (ie: to save HIS own world or something- he might then threaten to hold all of the Shire hostage by some sort of explosive device).

mswas
02-12-2009, 03:14 AM
A hedge wizard can snap his fingers and light his cigarette. A true wizard just happens to bump into the guy who will let him bum a smoke, EVERY time he wants one.

Malacandra
02-12-2009, 03:18 AM
There's a lot of subtle, veiled magic in the Tolkien universe. Take Legolas running on top of the snow while the hobbits sink in it. He's not really that lightweight, and there must be magic involved or he'd have no traction and he'd slide down the mountain. Galadrial's mirror, swords that glow around orcs, the Palantir, these are all artifacts. But the most influential players in the story (Sauron, Saruman, Gandalf...) tend to accomplish their goals without turning someone into a newt.


A newt?

Der Trihs
02-12-2009, 03:46 AM
What, manipulating the course of human events isn't flashy enough for you?Not to mention surviving a fall into an abyss, pursuing the Balrog underground for days, and fighting it for two days in a battle that broke chunks off the mountain.

If one of those flashy D&D magic users tried to fry him with a fireball, I suspect he'd stride unharmed out of the flames with an irritated expression and casually lop the magic user's head off.

sturmhauke
02-12-2009, 04:47 AM
At least in the movie version, Gandalf fights the Balrog while falling down into a pit, outside the mountain, up the mountain, and then back down the mountain. That's way beyond a 5th level D&D wizard. If you really want to make a stat block for Gandalf, I'd start with a Solar (a powerful type of angel) and make some modifications. For the Balrog, well, the Balor demons are essentially a direct ripoff, so there you go.

What Exit?
02-12-2009, 08:24 AM
A newt?
The problems with turning people into newts is that they tend to get better.
who would win in a fight? Batman or Gandalf?!
Batman would prepare and be ready for Gandalf but would fail to realize that Gandalf dealt in a millennial view and as Batman’s plan unfolded little things would go awry and foil him. For Gandalf deals in both a mix of Divine Intervention and a healthy dose of offstage “A Wizard Did It (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AWizardDidIt)”.

Tom Tildrum
02-12-2009, 08:51 AM
But could Gandalf beat Cthulhu?

What Exit?
02-12-2009, 08:59 AM
But could Gandalf beat Cthulhu?
Probably not but maybe he could send him back to his watery dreaming slumbers.

Wendell Wagner
02-12-2009, 09:14 AM
That the OP should even be asked just proves the following to me: If you've played D&D or any similar game before you start to read Tolkien, try to forget everything about the games in thinking about Tolkien. Even though the games sometimes take words or ideas from Tolkien, they are completely different in theme from Tolkien. Tolkien (and much other fantasy literature, both before and since the creation of D&D) is so totally different in its objectives from gaming that trying to relate the two things will merely distort both of them.

Polycarp
02-12-2009, 09:19 AM
Hmmm... by the standards set forth here, Candace Gingrich would be the most powerful wizard now alive. ;)

Has anyone observed yet that the typical wizard is a human or humanoid being possessed of unusual magical lore, skills, or powers, while G., Saruman, and Radagast*, along with Sauron and the Last Living Balrog in Moria**, are incarnated angelic powers operating either at the behest of Eru Iluvatar (=God Almighty, Tolkien-style) or in rebellion against Him.


*Alatar and Pallando took the last train for the Coast, as noted in Part IV of Unfinished Tales.
** whether or not it has wings

What Exit?
02-12-2009, 09:24 AM
Hmmm... by the standards set forth here, Candace Gingrich would be the most powerful wizard now alive. ;)

Has anyone observed yet that the typical wizard is a human or humanoid being possessed of unusual magical lore, skills, or powers, while G., Saruman, and Radagast*, along with Sauron and the Last Living Balrog in Moria**, are incarnated angelic powers operating either at the behest of Eru Iluvatar (=God Almighty, Tolkien-style) or in rebellion against Him.


*Alatar and Pallando took the last train for the Coast, as noted in Part IV of Unfinished Tales.
** whether or not it has wings

Well the Angel part has been mentioned a doazen times I think so far. Also we do not actually know if the Balrog of Moria is the last. We have no accounting for if any others escaped or even the number of Balrogs to begin with. Apparently there may have been as few as 7 but that is not confirmed and more than the Wings and "Fuzzy Slipper" argument.

Scumpup
02-12-2009, 09:45 AM
At least in the movie version, Gandalf fights the Balrog while falling down into a pit, outside the mountain, up the mountain, and then back down the mountain. That's way beyond a 5th level D&D wizard. If you really want to make a stat block for Gandalf, I'd start with a Solar (a powerful type of angel) and make some modifications. For the Balrog, well, the Balor demons are essentially a direct ripoff, so there you go.

Yes, yes, that's all well and good...but could he defeat a demonic tree armed only with a walker?

shy guy
02-12-2009, 10:04 AM
Bah! Your puny wizards are insignificant next to the power of Stardust, the Super Wizard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stardust_the_Super_Wizard). He rides around on a star and also turns into one and metes out cruel justice to evil-doers.

In blue leggings and a polka-dot belt.

RiverRunner
02-12-2009, 10:09 AM
Yes, yes, that's all well and good...but could he defeat a demonic tree armed only with a walker?

That depends: does Gandalf have the walker, or does the tree?

Quercus
02-12-2009, 10:14 AM
Most people are overlooking that the powerful magic in Middle Earth wasn’t generally flashy fireballs, but rather concerned with motivating and helping/hindering groups of other people. Sauron (and Sauruman) are formidable not because they're running around personally casting Meteor Strikes or Causing Serious Wounds or whatever, but because they have armies driven by their will to fight with murderous rage (remember what happens when Sauron goes bye-bye: his armies immediately stop fighting and scatter). The Nazgul strike not through high-damage lighting bolts, but through morale-sapping fear. When Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are chasing the hobbit-napping orcs, Aragorn notes that some opposing will is making him far more tired than he should be, just as King Theoden is far more tired and weak than just his age would cause. Gandalf generally just opposes these evil spells, but clearly also provides hope and improved fighting ability to the scatter Rohirrim and defenders of Minis Tirith.

Unfortunately, RPGs and particularly computer RPGs tend to ignore morale/leadership, as NPCs are generally mindless automatons who fight to the death. Really, Gandalf is a figure not from an RPG but from a wargame: he's a leader with a +10 morale bonus/+5 fighting bonus to the entire army on his side.

But if I had to go with an RPG character, since I don’t know WoW at all I’d make Gandalf a Paladin from Diablo II – decent fighter, but his real power is that he makes everybody around him better.

In short, Gandalf isn't a big offensive spell-caster, he's an uber-buff-er.

jayjay
02-12-2009, 10:17 AM
*Alatar and Pallando took the last train for the Coast

A long, long time ago...
I can still remember
how that magic used to make me smile.
And I knew that he would agree
to make all Free Peoples free,
and maybe just be happy for a while.

But frigid Solmath made me shudder
with every rider and some others.
Bad ring on the hearthstep,
I had to take a long schlep.

I can't remember if I cowered
when I was faced with Shadow's power.
That dark blade touched me deep inside
the day the magic died.

So bye-bye to the Istari Five,
Took my pony to the Pony
but the Pony was dry.
Old Butterbur was drinkin' whiskey and rye
singin' "It's a new age, by and by,
It's a new age, by and by."

Did you write the Book so red
and are you by faith in Eru led
if the Valar tell you so?
Do you believe in the Ainurs' Song,
can hoping hold out very long
and can you tell me why the magic's gone?

Well, I know that they all had to go
'cause their tasks were done for the end of woe.
They could kick off their shells
and with th'angelic dwell.

And I am just an average hobbit man
with a Red Book copy and a case of "Fan".
And I knew I looked pale and wan
the day magic died.

I started singin', "Bye-bye to the Istari Five,
Took my pony to the Pony
but the Pony was dry.
Old Butterbur was drinkin' whiskey and rye
singin' "It's a new age, by and by,
It's a new age, by and by."

Now for ten years we've been own
and mundanity grows on the world we own
but that's not how it used to be.
When the Wizard scolded the Steward fey
In a cloak he borrowed from Manwë
and a voice that came from stage and screen.

And when that Steward got quite fried
the Wizard stole his authorit-y.
The Houses were adjourned,
Sauron's victory was spurned.
While Saruman read an orb of sight
the uruk practiced by its light,
victory songs by the side of right
the day the magic died.

And we were singin',
""Bye-bye to the Istari Five,
Took my pony to the Pony
but the Pony was dry.
Old Butterbur was drinkin' whiskey and rye
singin' "It's a new age, by and by,
It's a new age, by and by."

I met an elf who sang the lays,
and I asked him for a cheerful day,
but he just smiled and turned away.
I went down to the sacred shore
where I'd seen the magic set sail before,
but the man there said the magic went away.

And in the roads the travelers roamed,
the lovers loved and the bard they crowed,
but not a note of eldritch,
the world was reft of that pitch.
Gandalf, Suraman, and Radagast,
Alatar and Pallando last,
they caught the flotilla to the West
the day the magic died.

And we were singin',
""Bye-bye to the Istari Five,
Took my pony to the Pony
but the Pony was dry.
Old Butterbur was drinkin' whiskey and rye
singin' "It's a new age, by and by,
It's a new age, by and by."

MeDrewNotYou
02-12-2009, 10:23 AM
jayjay wins the thread.

Think we could get Weird Al to do another American Pie parody? :)

What Exit?
02-12-2009, 10:27 AM
..

And we were singin',
""Bye-bye to the Istari Five,
Took my pony to the Pony
but the Pony was dry.
Old Butterbur was drinkin' whiskey and rye
singin' "It's a new age, by and by,
It's a new age, by and by."

::Applauds::

Well done, well done. Is this new or something you already had? Are we suppose to guess which part Strider helped with? :D

eleanorigby
02-12-2009, 10:34 AM
*Alatar and Pallando took the last train for the Coast


Was that the day the music died? :eek: A whole new take on that song awaits!


ETA: dammit, jayjay! Note to self: read ENTIRE thread prior to posting! Well done.

jayjay
02-12-2009, 10:44 AM
::Applauds::

Well done, well done. Is this new or something you already had? Are we suppose to guess which part Strider helped with? :D

Poly gets point for inspiration...I wrote that this morning* after I read the part of his post that I quoted.


*Your tax dollars at work...

MeDrewNotYou
02-12-2009, 10:48 AM
Your tax dollars at work...

I propose tacking on a couple million to the stimulus for jayjay to continue his composing. The entertainment value in such dark times is priceless!

Malacandra
02-12-2009, 11:38 AM
Poly gets point for inspiration...I wrote that this morning* after I read the part of his post that I quoted.


*Your tax dollars at work...

Holy crap.

And this is me saying it, who wrote Longfellow's Christmas Carol in an afternoon and evening, and the odd Elven ballad in Jim's ME game... that was freakin' awesome. And it wasn't even my tax dollars, what's more.

Amazing stuff. :cool:

jayjay
02-12-2009, 11:44 AM
Holy crap.

And this is me saying it, who wrote Longfellow's Christmas Carol in an afternoon and evening, and the odd Elven ballad in Jim's ME game... that was freakin' awesome. And it wasn't even my tax dollars, what's more.

Amazing stuff. :cool:

Thanks. I look over it now after it's posted and see all the places where I dropped words and an entire verse missing (besides the verses I deliberately didn't deal with) and all that crap...I need to refine it some more.

mlees
02-12-2009, 11:52 AM
Thanks. I look over it now after it's posted and see all the places where I dropped words and an entire verse missing (besides the verses I deliberately didn't deal with) and all that crap...I need to refine it some more.

Hence, the need for a stimulus, right?

What Exit?
02-12-2009, 11:57 AM
Thanks. I look over it now after it's posted and see all the places where I dropped words and an entire verse missing (besides the verses I deliberately didn't deal with) and all that crap...I need to refine it some more.
As long as you are refining it: Towards the end you spelled Saruman Suraman and Ainur is plural so Ainurs' should be Ainur's.

jayjay
02-12-2009, 12:04 PM
As long as you are refining it: Towards the end you spelled Saruman Suraman and Ainur is plural so Ainurs' should be Ainur's.

Thanks! Looking over your shoulder for your supervisor is in no way an ideal state for proofreading...

smiling bandit
02-12-2009, 12:07 PM
But could Gandalf beat Cthulhu?

Well, Cthuhlu would probably go insane and clutch his head and dive beneath the waves in an attempt to escape the overhwelming Holy power which utterly blows away Cthuhlu's petty psychic abilities.


Anyway: Gandalf versus Raistlin!

Raistlin: Haha, you puny fool, I shall now cast Meteor Swarm and utterly destroy your pathetic body!

Gandalf: *Stabbity*

Raistlin: Blarg I am ded!

Gandalf: Huh. Wonder what that was about?

Dob
02-12-2009, 12:54 PM
not much to add 'cept to say that this thread is why I love this board so much!


btw... would someone like Rand Al'Thor be able to defeat Gandalf? would rand be considered a wizard?

Ludovic
02-12-2009, 01:15 PM
Yeah, I'm hardly ever impressed by parody songs here, either, and I'm floored, too. I think this is one for the Interwebz!

Scumpup
02-12-2009, 04:48 PM
Does Tolkein ever give any better reason in his writings than the authors of the Bible did in theirs why God doesn't just unmake evil and re-set the universe? Why all the fiddling about with intermediaries and such?

What Exit?
02-12-2009, 04:56 PM
Does Tolkein ever give any better reason in his writings than the authors of the Bible did in theirs why God doesn't just unmake evil and re-set the universe? Why all the fiddling about with intermediaries and such?

Eru gave free will to Elves and Men and his adopted children the Dwarves. He set the Valar and Maiar to watch over the planet. He did interfere rarely like when he made the world round and removed Aman from the Arda.

When the Valar meddled directly, it tended to be very destructive and thus why they tried sending the 5 Wizards and the reembodied Glorfindel.

Besides in the long run the apparent evil of Melkor and those he brought over to evil where part of the over songs that created Arda. There is clearly some deeper purpose and good that will come from all the horror. To reboot would have killed all those people with free will.

Polycarp
02-12-2009, 05:52 PM
I am awed by jayjay's masterpastiche. :) And, of course, let's not forget Sauron's last words: "I'd have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling Halflings!" :D

Gorsnak
02-12-2009, 08:00 PM
I think everyone here is forgetting the most important magic Gandalf does:

What's The Pony to him, or mugs o' beer? Not but what my beer's good, Gandalf. It's been uncommon good, since you came in the autumn of last year and put a good word on it. And that's been a comfort in trouble, I will say.
All about priorities, it is.

puppygod
02-12-2009, 08:42 PM
Eru gave free will to Elves and Men and his adopted children the Dwarves. He set the Valar and Maiar to watch over the planet. He did interfere rarely like when he made the world round and removed Aman from the Arda.

When the Valar meddled directly, it tended to be very destructive and thus why they tried sending the 5 Wizards and the reembodied Glorfindel.

Besides in the long run the apparent evil of Melkor and those he brought over to evil where part of the over songs that created Arda. There is clearly some deeper purpose and good that will come from all the horror. To reboot would have killed all those people with free will.
Forget DnD wizards. Now, that you mentioned him, I'd like to see showdown between Gandalf and Glorfindel. Now, that would be something.

Lumpy
02-12-2009, 08:44 PM
Does Tolkein ever give any better reason in his writings than the authors of the Bible did in theirs why God doesn't just unmake evil and re-set the universe? Why all the fiddling about with intermediaries and such?If Eru had simply scrapped the whole thing after Melkor's corruption of the world, it would in a sense have been a victory for Melkor- it would have proven that he could nullify the will of Eru. What Eru said to Melkor was that even Melkor's rebellion and defiance would in the end be made a part of Eru's design. That Eru would produce a good that not simply didn't have evil, but had triumphed over it.

What Exit?
02-12-2009, 09:22 PM
I think everyone here is forgetting the most important magic Gandalf does:

All about priorities, it is.
Good point. Not many Wizards in fiction that are wise enough to know that a 7 year blessing on Ale is truly great magic.
Forget DnD wizards. Now, that you mentioned him, I'd like to see showdown between Gandalf and Glorfindel. Now, that would be something.
Kind of an odd fight too as both would be likely to re-incorporate at some point after a defeat. I would give the edge to Gandalf though but you never know. Glorfindel had already killed a Balrog in the fall of Gondolin.

Jenaroph
02-12-2009, 09:53 PM
"If the Lord of the Rings Were Written by Don McLean."

Elendil's Heir
02-12-2009, 10:14 PM
jayjay, that was brilliant! Well done, and thank you.

One other accomplishment of Gandalf's that your typical D&D wizard couldn't do and live: sneak into and out of Dol Goldur without being detected by the Necromancer (Sauron).