May 042015

What does it all mean?

So there we are, finishing Temple of Elemental Evil, again, when I note the scroll that is the real end of the quest. “Huh”, thinks I, “I wonder if that is supposed to really mean something?”.

Because it looks like it does. Specifically, it looks like Tolkien runes. Elf runes or dwarf runes or something similar. If I am remembering correctly, Tolkien (who was a renowned linguist before anyone ever heard of Frodo Baggins) created several languages specifically for his books. And some of them looked an awful lot like this scroll. Not to mention that Turbine also runs Lord of the Rings Online and has been known to share art and code between its two properties.

Before we delve too deeply into this subject, recall that the scroll is supposed to be a source of immense power, and not necessarily of the good kind. If you should figure it out, maybe it would be wisest if you don’t actually pronounce it out loud?


Gibberish? Or an easter egg?


The top of the scroll is the easiest to read, and seems like a logical starting point. But we’re going to need Tolkien’s runes too. Fear not, astute and clever readers, I shall present them forthwith:


Tolkien's cirth (according to wikipedia)


We are clearly on to something. But what? Some of the letters map quite clearly, but others not at all. I am able to make out:

_ o ch j     g  gw _    n-r _ nd/nj j nj-z

Huh. Well that is not particularly enlightening. At the very least we need to buy a vowel for that third word. Maybe the lower script translates more cleanly?


Gibberish? Or an easter egg?


Harder to read, fuzzier and poorly focused, yet …

gw ch _   _

Meh. Four letters in and I am already mapping only half. Clearly, not Tolkien’s cirth runes. Or at least not the version that Wikipedia contains. Maybe they are some other kind of runes? Tolkien based his work on historic Anglo-Saxon runes. Maybe it would benefit us to do the same:


Anglo Saxon runes. I should say allegedly, as they are not properly sourced.


Still not a great match for the first letter in the top script. Maybe a?

a e _ y    f o? j    t p m y _


Now I am starting to doubt my original hypothesis. No words begin ” tpm”. Unless it is both runic and an anagram? That would be doubly evil, but then evil is the point of the whole temple isn’t it?

But I am starting to lean towards meaning gibberish. In any case, I have reached my time and interest limits for rune-sleuthing. But I hope to encourage someone who is better at this than I to pick up the chase.

Someone out there can do this, I know it!


🙂 😀 🙂

  12 Responses to “What Does It All Mean?”

Comments (12)
  1. The letters are too distinct to simply be random. They could’ve blurred it out as they do with many other item pickups, but you may have something. Perhaps the source material from the campaign would help.

  2. Try Norse runes instead? And then assume it’s not English?

    • This. You’re assuming the runes are used in a transliteration (i.e. substituting runes for actual English letters), not a translation. Granted, not necessarily a bad assumption, as this is often how one might do something like this in a game, but an assumption nonetheless.

      Maybe it’s a recipe for Kobold soup?

  3. maybe you are reading the scroll upside down and backwards?

  4. ad if you are still stumped – post it on the forums on and they will tell you! 😛

  5. Tried Elder Futhark Yet?

  6. Pffft, it’s clearly a map. To what? To a trap, of course, and the runes translate to Hireling-ese, not English… if you stand next to your dying party member and refuse to throw him a hjeal, then toss him a Cure Light two seconds after he dies, you can see that the runes clearly spell out, “The tiny circle in the center of this map denotes an irresistible blade trap in the middle of a large safe area. Follow the lines – ALL of the lines; you *know* you want to take the longest possible path – and you will eventually get to the trap. Don’t worry about trivial things like hjealing your party. YOU MUST FIND THE TRAP. YOU MUST STAND IN THE TRAP. DO NOT MOVE FROM THE TRAP.”

    Or it could mean, “Zuggtmoy was here.” But I’m going with the hireling idea.

  7. Translation:
    Gosh, you made-it!

    Ahh… Stay tuned for the next exciting episode, same Bat-time…

    The kobold were a little unclear on a few words. Yark.

  8. At first glance it seems to be a mish-mash of different runic alphabets, and while some words make sense in English (the middle word in that top line could be read as “fang”), some do not.

    I submit it’s possible this is an invented alphabet using an invented language, rather than a historical runic alphabet and/or a real language (some of those words don’t have vowels, which doesn’t sound like anything even vaguely Indo-European).

  9. This here may be useful:

    Still, no matches, looks like mish-mash to me…

  10. After looking at this for about an hour, using several rune sets, I really think they are Celtic runes, with which, each letter has an actual meaning. And the group as a whole has touched upon the edges of this idea, but if you were to assume that the sets of letters are actually sets of words, thus making each “word” a sentence with nouns only. Primitive, but often that is the only method ancient cultures possessed with which to communicate. When I read it this way, I see the three “words” as: “Wealth Horse Cattle Bow. Wealth Mouth Year. Tyr (Norse God) Game Man Chalice.” This is still totally reaching and leaves a lot of connecting the dots, but other than coming up with a possible nonsensical word or two using differing rune sets, Those words paint a primitive picture to me.

    check it out 🙂

What do you think?

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