Talion's life is one of perseverance through tragedy. A Ranger captain stationed at the Black Gate between Gondor and Mordor, Talion battled the servants of Sauron when they attacked the fortress. Talion fought bravely but was captured, then forced to watch as the Black Hand of Sauron slew his wife and son.
Talion was the next to fall to the Black Hand's blade, but instead of dying, he found himself banished from death and bound to an Elven wraith, Celebrimbor. The two inhabited Talion's body, and Talion found himself denied the peace of the afterlife with his family. Seeking revenge against Sauron and the three servants who murdered his family (the Hammer, the Tower, and the Black Hand), Talion and Celebrimbor fought a guerilla war against the Orcs of Mordor, avenged Talion's family, and fought Sauron to a standstill.
Now Talion seeks to end Sauron's dominion over Mordor and save the rest of Gondor from the fate of the doomed soldiers of the Black Gate. To this end, he and Celebrimbor have fashioned a new Ring of Power they hope will give them the upper hand.
"Could you really rest for all of eternity, knowing that you had the chance to stop him but did nothing? The time has come for a new Ring."
Last of the House of Fëanor, Celebrimbor (“hand of silver“ in Sindarin) was the greatest of the Elven craftsmen, responsible for crafting the Rings of Power. Working with Sauron, Celebrimbor made sixteen great rings for the Men and Dwarves. Without Sauron's knowledge he made three more rings for the Elves, yet he was deceived by Sauron, who had crafted the One Ring to dominate the other rings.
Sauron then captured Celebrimbor and directed him to further perfect the One Ring, inscribing it with Tengwar script. Realizing the scope of Sauron's ambition, Celebrimbor escaped with the One Ring.
Using the One Ring's power to raise an army of Uruks, Celebrimbor fought Sauron for dominance over Mordor. In a titanic battle against Sauron, Celebrimbor defeated the Dark Lord but lost the One Ring when it slipped off his finger and onto Sauron's before the killing blow. In revenge, Sauron murdered Celebrimbor's family before his eyes, then killed Celebrimbor with his own smithing hammer. But with Celebrimbor's fate bound to the One Ring, he was doomed to remain a wraith until the One Ring is unmade.
Celebrimbor's spirit possessed Talion's body when the Ranger died at the hands of the Black Hand of Sauron. Celebrimbor had been a wraith so long that he didn't initially remember his name or past, but with Talion's help, he has regained his memories -- including the memory of how to forge a new Ring of Power.
Few in Mordor know Celebrimbor by name, but many know him as the Bright Lord, a union of Talion and Celebrimbor. The present-day Orcs who flock to the Bright Lord's fortresses don't realize that the “Bright Lord” they've heard about in folk tales is the same historical figure: Celebrimbor himself, who took the “Bright Lord” moniker centuries ago when he first strove against Sauron.
"I shaped the history of Middle-earth. I crafted the Rings of Power…"
Second Captain Idril is a shieldmaiden and the only child of Minas Ithil's military leader, General Castamir. She is a trained soldier defending against the Witch-king's siege and is eager to prove herself in battle. Idril is strong willed, proud, and very conscious of coming from a military family that has served Minas Ithil for generations. She has trained all her life, but the Siege of Minas Ithil is her first true experience of war. She considers herself a custodian of the city and its foremost historian.
Idril's mother died during an Orc raid when Idril was only 11, so Idril has mostly had to raise herself. This has made her self-sufficient and relentless in pursuit of her goals. As an adolescent, her goal was to avenge her mother, and she repeatedly slipped into Cirith Ungol to attack Orc encampments. After growing weary of Gondorian patrols returning his daughter to safety, Castamir enrolled Idril in the military so she'd have a fighting chance when she inevitably sought Orcs to slay.
Before the Siege of Minas Ithil, she spent much of her free time cataloging the vast collection of artifacts in Minas Ithil's Great Hall. She is familiar with its treasures, though the workings of some, like the Palantír, remain mysterious to her.
"The stories of the past shape us, they damn us, they hold forth an ideal for us to live up to. Most of us fail, but we strive, and that's what matters."
Captain Baranor is the second in command to General Castamir. Originally from Harad, Baranor was raised as a Gondorian by a wealthy family in Minas Ithil. A trusted lieutenant, he was recognized early on by Castamir for his bravery and superior combat abilities. He rose through the ranks quickly to become Castamir's bodyguard and ultimately his second in command.
Baranor has devoted his life to the service of his adopted city. He is loyal, brave, grounded by a strong moral compass, and willing to give his life for his general. Captain Baranor rarely lets down his guard and lives by a strict military code.
"Minas Ithil is the only home I've ever really known, the only family I've ever known, and I will fight to defend it."
Eltariel was selected by the Elven queen Galadriel to go to Mordor and destroy the Nazgûl. She initially took to the task with relish, but over time, she has begun to doubt whether hunting unkillable enemies accomplishes anything. A patient hunter, she relies on stealth and an almost preternatural stillness -- then strikes without warning, hoping to end the battle before it begins. If necessary, Eltariel will stake out a location for days, waiting for one of the Nazgûl to arrive.
Eltariel doesn't triumph in every confrontation with the Nazgûl, but even when victory eludes her, she has always survived to hunt another day. Her many successes against them, however, are short-lived, as a fallen Nazgûl can reconstitute itself using the Ring of Power it wears. While she may wonder about her ultimate purpose, Eltariel takes grim satisfaction in knowing that even the Nazgûl aren't entirely safe in Mordor, and hopes that her efforts keep the Nine confined to the Land of Shadow.
"I strike down men corrupted by these rings."
General Castamir is the leader of Minas Ithil's military forces. A proud son of Gondor and a decorated war hero, many see him as the only thing keeping Sauron's overwhelming siege forces at bay. He is a well-respected but demanding leader with a practical and hard-nosed perspective that enables him to find unconventional solutions and take calculated risks to achieve his goals.
Castamir came from a military family, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He has a hardened exterior that doesn't falter but an affectionate relationship with his daughter Idril, whom he loves above all else. While he appears humorless, a closer look reveals an intelligent man who is deeply preoccupied with the fate of his city and is beginning to show the strains of it. Castamir is smart enough to know a hopeless situation when he sees it, yet practical enough to wrest what advantages he can from the enemy.
"Minas Ithil stands not because of its walls, but because of its people. We sit at the edge of a very dark sea, and we hold back the tide."
Shelob's presence in Mordor predates that of Sauron. She is the last child of an ancient evil named Ungoliant and many of Middle-earth's malign spiders, including those of Mirkwood, are Shelob's descendants. To most, she is known by the form of a Great Spider, which inspires fear in Orcs and men alike.
When Talion and Celebrimbor forge the New Ring, she snatches Celebrimbor away and exchanges him for the Ring. The visions of the future she grants Talion guide his path through the Siege of Minas Ithil and beyond. An uneasy alliance begins between the three, though as Celebrimbor is wont to remind Talion, while Shelob might be the enemy of Sauron, it's unclear whether she is their ally.
"I serve none but myself."
The One Ring dominates Gollum's every thought -- even though that ring is resting in Bilbo's pocket in the Shire, leagues away from Mordor. He wanders Mordor in pursuit of “Baggins” and the One Ring, staying one step ahead of the Orcs who dismiss him as a thieving pest.
Gollum's lust for the One Ring draws him to the “Bright Master” Celebrimbor -- and by extension, Talion. Exploiting Gollum's worshipful reverence for her, Shelob uses Gollum as a spy and a lure for the nearby Orcs she feeds on. When she needs to draw Talion to her, Gollum makes an effective guide.
Gollum isn't strong, wise, or brave in the conventional sense, but he possesses quick reflexes and a superior instinct for survival. He's survived thus far through preternatural trickery and a self-serving cowardice. And fate has a part left for him to play…
"My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over."
The Spirit of Carnán is a primeval force of nature that has existed in the forests of Mordor since before all reckoning. Little is known of her history and few dare enter what remains of her forest. To the Orcs of Mordor, the Forest of Carnán is a place of terror from which few return. Likewise, Carnán has a limited interest in the affairs of Men and Orcs, though she does not abide the ravenous nature of Orc industry, particularly their rapacious logging efforts.
She was roused to action during the Second Age when the Balrog known as Tar Goroth rose to menace the surface world. A creature of devastating power, Tar Goroth was responsible for the destruction of much of Carnán's ancient forest, and the creatures who lived within it. This set the stage for a battle that ultimately ended with Tar Goroth buried deep in the pits of Gorgoroth.
Like the Entwives, Carnán is a protector of life, rather than a bringer of death, though that distinction would likely be lost on her. As mercurial as nature itself, she can be destructive and serene, playful and deadly serious. Carnán's mortality is bound to the Great Tree of the forest, the only place where she is able to take human form. She extends her reach in Mordor and adapts to her nemeses by assuming the form of caragors, graugs, and drakes. Most of the time, however, she is but a voice on the wind.
"Spirit of Carnán is tree and beast. Fang and claw. Root and spear!"
Herion has the distinction of being the only soldier in Minas Ithil to achieve the rank of Sergeant three times -- because he's been demoted twice. As a recruit, Herion made a name for himself with an aggressive, can-do attitude, but his superiors found his demeanor abrasive, and he was demoted and nearly cashiered for striking a superior officer. He rose through the ranks a second time, only to find his rank reduced for dereliction of duty after an off-duty celebration grew out of control.
Now it's his third ascent through the army's ranks, and Herion is doing everything he can to keep his temper under control. Even so, Baranor must repeatedly remind him to “save it for the Orcs.“
"You trogs walk around Mordor like you own the place. Well you don't -- and you never will."
Those who knew Dagor as a child described him as a bit “off” and someone who didn't always play well with other children. Dagor never threw off this reputation as he matured, but he did develop an undeniable talent; he's a natural when it comes to killing. He discovered this talent as an adolescent when a trio of bandits mistook him for an easy target.
He soon joined the ranks of Gondor's finest and quickly established a reputation -- as a loner and as a killer. Dagor's superiors repeatedly pushed to promote him, but he declined. He insisted that he was a fighter, not a leader. He only relented when they told him he'd be given his choice of missions if he led his own men. Today, his unit draws in those who want only one thing: a chance to kill.
"I never wanted to be a leader, but killing Orcs comes naturally to me, so here we are."
Tarandor comes from a military family with a long history of service to Gondor. His forebears all served in the garrison of Minas Ithil, training for war but knowing, thanks to the long dormancy of Sauron, only peace. Throughout their service, these men, however noble their service, faced no greater enemies than boredom and routine.
For the first few years of his service, Tarandor's situation was the same, and at times he yearned for battle: to be tested, to be of real service to his kingdom and its people. With this yearning always came a pang of guilt: that he should be dissatisfied with the peace that had been so hard won. All this fell away when the siege banners came over the horizon. Since then, the only days Tarandor is not on the wall are those when he is raiding behind enemy lines.
"If the fate of Middle-earth will be decided at Minas Ithil, then that is my post."
Ioreth met Talion in Minas Tirith when he was a young soldier, then joined him in near-exile after Talion slew a nobleman who attacked her. Following Talion to his new posting among the Rangers of the Black Gate, Ioreth gave birth to their son, Dirhael, there. The family grew up amid the military encampment, accustomed to spartan conditions and life on the frontier.
Then Sauron's Orcs attacked the Black Gate, and despite Talion's efforts to keep his wife and son safe, the Black Hand of Sauron captured all three. Talion was forced to watch as the Black Hand murdered Ioreth and Dirhael. The Black Hand then slit Talion's throat as well. But Celebrimbor's spirit found a home in Talion's fallen form. The duo rose from death and eventually killed the Black Hand, avenging Talion's wife and child.
"On winds and waters may you cross / See mountains white and blue / But on your road, let's not forget / The love I have for you…"
Brûz's love of fighting is matched only by his knack for it, and even among Mordor's Ologs, Brûz's name elicits fear and respect. He is a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield and a tremendous asset in a siege, and enemies and allies alike know to keep their distance when he's on a rampage. His favorite kind of combat is the deadly contests that take place in Mordor's fight pits. It is rumored that Brûz has never lost a fight, a rumor Brûz does everything in his power to fuel, including tearing the head off anyone who claims to know otherwise.
Brûz has made a great number of enemies in his time in Mordor, not so much vanquished opponents -- who rarely survive the encounter with him -- but captains and Warchiefs who have seen their ranks depleted by Brûz's victories. As for the many death threats placed on him by these enemies, Brûz dismisses them as “just good for a giggle.”
"It's time to separate the weak… from their heads."
Sauron's chief lieutenant, the Witch-king of Angmar is the most powerful of the nine Ring-wraiths. For more than four thousand years, he has served as Sauron's most trusted servant, bound to him by the Ring of Power he accepted during the Second Age.
The Witch-king has a particular hatred for Gondor, having warred against it centuries ago. After seizing the Northern Kingdom of Angmar, the Witch-king's armies moved across Middle-earth's northern regions. An alliance of Gondorian soldiers and Elves routed them, though the Witch-king himself escaped. The Gondorian prince, Eärnur, wanted to chase the Witch-king, but the Elf Glorfindel bade him stay. Since then, he aspired to become the ruler of Minas Ithil.
Chastened by the defeat, the Witch-king employed a different strategy, one that exploited Gondorian pride. He re-emerged years later when Eärnur had become Gondor's king and challenged him to single combat. Eärnur accepted and rode eastward alone, never to be seen again. The Witch-king has been unchallenged in combat -- and Gondor has been without a king -- ever since.
If Celebrimbor is said to be the nemesis of Sauron, then Talion is certainly the nemesis of the Witch-king. It was not enough to see Talion destroyed like other men and so the Witch-king pursued him with an obsession bordering on mania. He would not kill Talion, but make him one of the Nine.
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
Shrouded in fire and shadow, Balrogs like Tar Goroth have existed since the First Age of Mordor. Corrupted Maiar from when the world was young, Balrogs rarely venture from the subterranean pits they call home, though Dwarves and Goblins who excavate too deeply may arouse their ire.
Tar Goroth was a general in the wars of the First Age, when the evil Morgoth battled the Valar. Since then he has slumbered, awaiting a final battle to settle Middle-earth's fate.
With the destructive power of a dragon and a seething anger from thousands of years in the dark, Tar Goroth is capable of rampaging across the world if given a chance. Against his might entire armies have perished, and even the greatest heroes can fall before him.
"My winds are still. You have woken Tar Goroth, cracked and creviced until now."
Originally an immortal spirit called a Maiar, Sauron is older than Middle-earth itself. From the beginning of time, Sauron wished to bring order to the world. He would do through the powers of his craft and his alliances. He joined the first Dark Lord, Morgoth, until a war with the Elves eventually cast Morgoth out beyond the world. Sauron escaped and hid in Middle-earth, but he survived, and had learned from his master. He would do what Morgoth could not.
Sauron formed an alliance with the Elven jewel smith Celebrimbor and together they created the Rings of Power. In secret, however, Sauron created the One Ring to dominate all the others. Sauron poured much of himself into the One Ring, which made him more powerful, but also more vulnerable. After the One Ring was lost, Sauron's ability to take physical form became limited. He has returned to Mordor and rules his armies from the shadows of Barad-dûr. If he is not stopped, he will assume physical form once more and his armies will not be contained within Mordor any longer.
"Sauron has armies, he has the Nazgûl, but his true power is knowing the weaknesses of his enemies."
A legend among the Orcs of Mordor, Forthog Orcslayer is an unstoppable warrior who steps from the shadows to save Mordor's mightiest heroes at their moment of greatest need.
Mike “Forthog” Forgey was our Executive Producer and our great friend here at Monolith. We lost Mike to cancer during the development of Shadow of War, and we want to remember and honor him with a little bit of immortality in Mordor. The legendary Forthog Orcslayer is our way to remember Mike as he lived: always ready to leap into the fray and save the game whenever and wherever he was most needed.
Zog began as a loyal servant of Sauron with an ambitious plan. He would go to Gorgoroth and do what no Necromancer had ever done. He would raise a Balrog -- the infamous Tar Goroth -- for the greater glory of the Dark Lord's army.
Though his effort ended in failure, Zog was undeterred and his ambitions only increased. Why settle for being the greatest Necromancer in Mordor when he could be the new Dark Lord? Supported by a vast network of acolytes, Zog's reach extends throughout Mordor. With them, he could raise an army of the Undead. With them, he could rule Mordor and lay claim to the world of Men. For Zog, true power does not come from the living, but from the dead.
A trickster and megalomaniac, Zog inspires rapt devotion from his acolytes and blind allegiance from his Revenant followers. Ever cautious, Zog leaves many dangerous ritual duties to his acolytes, and he'll always retreat to fight another day. Only when cornered will he fight to the death, though as he is fond of reminding Talion, a necromancer never truly dies.
"Look around you: the Orcs who took this city. This is our army. Not Sauron's. Not the Witch-king's. The dominion of those slave masters is at an end for today, we rise!"
One of the five wizards sent to Middle-earth to challenge Sauron, Saruman desires the power of the One Ring for himself, though he is not yet under Sauron's control. He spies upon Mordor from his tower in Isengard and is keen for any information about affairs there.
After Sauron's defeat and Isildur's death at the River Anduin, Saruman's forces searched in vain for both Isildur's body and the One Ring that he carried. Though nominally a member of the White Council along with Gandalf, Saruman has decided to study the arts of the enemy for himself, and he hopes that Sauron's return will result in the re-emergence of the One Ring -- which Saruman can claim for himself. He's aware of Celebrimbor and the New Ring as well, hoping that a struggle between Celebrimbor and Sauron will at the very least weaken both parties.
"I must see the Head of my Order. He is both wise and powerful. Trust me, Frodo. He'll know what to do."
Though she dwells beyond Mordor in Lothlórien, Galadriel is keenly interested in events relating to the One Ring. She wears a Ring of Power that Celebrimbor gave her -- though it's one of the Elven rings, so Sauron has no direct dominion over it -- and as an Elf-queen, she is long-lived enough to be considered ancient when Celebrimbor forged the rings in the first place.
Galadriel's history among the Elves stretches back to the First Age, but in the present day she is more troubled by Sauron stirring in Mordor than her peers -- and she's more willing to take action. She dispatched Eltariel, one of the Elves' most accomplished warriors, to hunt the Nazgûl in Mordor and thus keep Sauron occupied and off-balance. Galadriel knows that Eltariel cannot permanently kill the Nazgûl, but Galadriel hopes that she can frustrate and delay the Dark Lord's rise. Galadriel was able to drive Sauron out of Dol Guldur, but within Mordor, his power grows ever stronger.
"In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!"