Idraen

While our heroes are questing through the Fords of Isen, the mountain of Methedras, and Fangorn Forest at Saruman’s bidding, Fantasy Flight continues to drop previews of our upcoming adventures in the Ring-maker cycle.

The cover art of the second pack titled “The Three Trials”, caught the attention of Cardboard of the Rings co-host Jared, who is running a contest on their Facebook page for players to guess the card type, sphere, keywords and stats of this new character.

Those still wanting to enter can find an answer to at least one of those questions on artist Jake Murray’s DeviantArt page where he has posted a high resolution version of this artwork.  We’ve featured Mr. Murray’s work at Master of Lore twice before, both in The Eagles Are Coming! and Dori and he’s outdone himself again here, presenting a bold portrait of who he calls “a hardened female ranger of the Dúnedain”.  Her name appears to be Idraen, which means she will be joining the ranks of FFG-created characters intended to round out the gender balance in Middle-earth.

“Idraen” by Jake Murray

Mr. Murray says that he rather enjoys illustrating these non-canonical characters as he gets more artistic license to create his own vision of their persona.  In the case of Idraen, his goal was to portray “someone who seems much older and more jaded on the inside than she really looks on the outside.”  I’d say he’s done an impressive job!

“Gilraen and Sleeping Estel” by AlasseaEarello

Many have noted that this portrait would be fitting for Aragorn’s mother, Gilraen, who passed away in 3007 just 11 years before the War of the Ring.  With such a similar name, I’d say there’s little doubt that Gilraen was an inspiration for Idraen.  Gilraen is quite a tragic character in Tolkien’s legendarium, overwhelmed with “foreboding” at Aragorn’s love for Arwen and spending her final years living “alone” and out of touch with her son while Aragorn is gone for “years in far countries”.  She had named her son Estel, which means “hope”.  But she dies hopeless, as is told in the “Tale of Aragorn and Arwen” from Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings:

“This is our last parting, Estel, my son.  I am aged by care, even as one of lesser Men; and now that it draws near I cannot face the darkness of our time that gathers upon Middle-earth.  I shall leave it soon.”

‘Aragorn tried to comfort her, saying: “Yet there may be a light beyond the darkness; and if so, I would have you see it and be glad.”

‘But she answered only with this linnod:

Onen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim,

(‘I gave Hope to the Dúnedain, I have kept no hope for myself’)

and Aragorn went away heavy of heart.  Gilraen died before the next spring.

In Peter Jackson’s Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, these final words of Gilraen are engraved on her tombstone in a touching scene of Aragorn visiting her memorial before the Company departs following the Council of Elrond.  Of course, unlike Tolkien’s Aragorn who encourages his mother that “there may be a light beyond the darkness”, Jackson’s Aragorn initially wants nothing to do with his destiny and is a much more reluctant king.

Gilraen’s character is also fleshed out in the brilliant feature length fan film Born of Hope which “follows the lives of Arathorn and Gilraen, the parents of Aragorn, from their first meeting through a turbulent time in their people’s history.”  Anyone interested in the Rangers of the North will love this film.

Idraen-Custom-CardAssuming some relation to Gilraen, maybe our new character Idraen can be imagined as an aunt or perhaps a cousin to Aragorn.  Aragorn’s final meeting with his mother takes place within the time period of our game (the 17 years between the Long Expected Party and Frodo’s departure from the Shire) and so Idraen may be “hardened” and “jaded” by the despair of her relative Gilraen, yet she is still fighting for a chance to see Aragorn’s “light beyond the darkness”.  At least, that’s the story I have in my mind for the character!

In terms of gameplay, I’m hoping that the Idraen card will make a Dúnedain deck a more viable archetype.  As FFG’s preview article says this pack will support “a wide range of player themes and mechanics that include the Noldor, Dúnedain, and Scout traits”.  For me, I’d love to see Idraen as an ally that allows players to use the Signal attachments more readily and move them to allies as well as heroes.  Take a look at my custom Idraen and let me know what you think.  What other abilities would you like to see on a Dúnedain card in order to give the trait more synergy and theme?

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5 comments

  1. Tonskillitis · · Reply

    I really like your idea for synergy with the Dunedain attachments which I think are pretty awesome cards in their own right. I like the flexibility of Dunedain characters who can be either ranged/sentinels and can contribute to all aspects of a quest. I actually think the card art has some similarities to the core set Aragorn card so I think this gives credence to your idea that they are blood-related. I would personally prefer to see Idraen as a low threat Leadership hero who had some effect which interacted with the secrecy mechanic. Either way, looking forward to seeing more mysterious rangers uncloaked as they develop the Dunedain trait throughout the cycle…

    1. I didn’t think that she might be a hero, but I love the idea. Have we seen hero card’s art on any previous AP cycles? It would be awesome to have a low-threat Dúnedain hero or a Mirlonde-type threat reducing hero that gives a deduction if, say, all your heroes are Rangers. That said, I think that if/when we finally get our Ranger hero, it’ll have to be Halbarad, the leader of the Grey Company who came with Elladan and Elrohir to Aragorn in Dunharrow. Thanks for your thoughts and here’s hoping for many cool Rangers on the horizon!

  2. Tonskillitis · · Reply

    Agreed- looking forward to seeing Halbarad also. Yes, it is a bit ironic that all the rangers we have so far are on the higher end of the starting threat (10 or more) and not particularly secretive so some sort of ranger synergy that gave them lower threat would make a lot of sense. I guess they could also do something with the Sentinel keyword seen as it’s such a crucial part of what the rangers represent. In response to your question about the cover art, I believe Elladan was shown on the cover of the Road to Rivendell expansion but I think he’s the only one so far…

    1. The threat thing is tricky because (1) they are meant to be very stealthy, but (2) they are also kind of high on the Enemy’s hit list. They’re ‘threatened’ as such.

      1. Thematically, threat is a tough concept to wrap my head around. Is it how much I threaten Sauron? If so, why do I die when I become to much of a threat to him? So is it how much Sauron threatens me? That makes more sense for the encounter card engagement and so on, but then why is Glorfindel’s threat so low when he’s the only hero that’s fought off a Balrog and lived to tell the tale? I think that’s why a high threat Ranger who gets the starting discount only when all heroes are Rangers makes the most sense.

        Yes, you’re right about Elladan! Well, now I’m really hopeful that Idraen may be a threat-reducing Ranger hero!

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