The mysterious wraith character in Monolith Productions' Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was revealed today to be Celebrimbor, an elf who originally helped Sauron forged the Rings of Power, according to the game's director of design Michael de Plater.
The action adventure role-playing game, which will launch on Sept. 30, is set in the 60-year period between the events of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Players will take on the role of Talion, a slain ranger who has been resurrected by a mysterious Wraith, and now seeks retribution against the evil Sauron. Players will be able to switch between Talion's ranger skills and the Wraith's powers. Speaking to Polygon, de Plater said the developers chose Celebrimbor to be the Wraith because of what his history and character could lend to the game's story.
"We wanted somebody who could be extremely powerful; someone who could legitimately and authentically challenge Sauron," de Plater said. "I think a big early inspiration was when Frodo [from The Lord of the Rings] had the ring and he was going to give it to Galadriel, and it was really clear that if she took the ring, it was obviously a very different proposition if Gollum or any other hobbit took the ring.
"The Ring of Power absolutely does represent what it says — this enormous power — and [Galadriel] could have brought down Sauron. So we wanted somebody at that level."
Celebrimbor is fundamental to the lore of The Lord of the Rings, having forged the rings of power himself. He is not very well-known outside of the books' appendices and Tolkien's The Silmarillion, though and, for many people who play Shadow of Mordor, it will be their first time hearing about the character. De Plater told Polygon that this allows players to be surprised, and it also feels like a twist or a revelation.
When players are first introduced to Celebrimbor in the game, he doesn't remember who he is. He's an angry spirit trapped in Mordor. Sauron's return reawakens him, and as he journeys with Talion deeper into Mordor, he unravels his own identity. Much of his story will be told through flashbacks so players will be able to see his history with Sauron.
"He's a character trying to achieve redemption, who is trying to make up for the crimes of his past and recover who he is," de Plater said. "We also wanted to get away from the over-simplistic perception that The Lord of the Rings is this simple kind of black and white story of good guys and bad guys.
"Celebrimbor is such an interesting character because he's an Elf, but he's so obviously not purely good. Elves aren't purely good, and in working with Sauron as well, that's interesting because Sauron himself isn't purely evil. So I think in terms of the twist it gave us within the story, the authenticity of it within the canon and the idea of the theme of power, he was a really good fit."