Cardolan in Lore and LOTRO
Unearth the Ruined Kingdom

LOTRO Cardolan - Lore, History, Geography, Deeds, Rewards and tons more! →

Cardolan in The Lord of the Rings Online is one of the two region introduced in its mini-expansion “Before the Shadow”. Alongside Swanfleet, these regions became a new way to begin adventuring in LOTRO from Level 1 through to Level 30-ish. As the “base pack” is called Shadows of Angmar, the story is designed to begin to draw you in as that Shadow rises.

But Cardolan is in itself also a major part of LOTR lore in its own right, having been one of the three great Dúnedain Kingdoms in the Third Age. I wanted to dive into the lore here in more depth, but also keep it in context of what you LOTRO players expect when you venture here.

Let’s go.

Geography of Cardolan

Borders

The actual borders of Cardolan actually reach beyond the official region in LOTRO. The Fandom Wiki points out that the following areas actually fell into the kingdom’s territory:
  • The Old Forest (all of it, that is)
  • Part of the southern Lone-lands, including Amon Sûl (Weathertop) as Cardolan claimed the Palantír there.
  • The portion of Bree-land which lies South of Bree itself.

Corrections Spotted?

While I have loved diving into the history of this area, I am one person. Sometimes I miss things. If you spot anything, message me over Socials (Twitter or Facebook). Thanks!

Landscape

For one region, Cardolan is exceedingly varied in the types of landscape features to be found here.

Rivers

In a way, the rivers form much of the border of Cardolan:

History of Cardolan

But it is the history and lore of this region that makes it what it is. Firstly in official lore, being a former Dúnedan kingdom and secondly in LOTRO’s Shadows of Angmar story.

A Realm Divided

After the death of Eärendur, king of Arnor, his sons divided the realm into three separate kindoms: Rhudaur, Arthedain and Cardolan. The first king of Cardolan was the second son of Eärendur2. But it wasn’t that simple – things never are, are they? Although there were borders, certain areas were in near-constant dispute, especially the Weather-hills and the fortress of Amon Sûl, where the northern Palantír had been kept3.

But these realms were not divided merely over borders, but strife between the three continued for years, diminishing the Dúnedain as a result. War and division would ultimately be its destroyers.

The Shadow of Angmar

It was during the time of King Malvegil of Arthedain that Angmar’s strength began to grow under the leadership of the Witch-King4. Orcs had already been harrying the land of Cardolan even before Angmar’s founding in TA1300.

Cardolan Allies with Arthedain

Because the line of Kings had failed in Cardolan and Rhudaur, the latter kingdom had ended up being ruled by hillmen who were allied with Angmar. Thus, in one of the three Dúnedain kingdoms, the enemy had already gained a foothold.

When Argeleb I claimed lordship over all of Arnor, Rhudaur naturally resisted this claim, with Cardolan likely accepting it. This led to battles against the joint forces of Rhudaur and Angmar, resulting in the death of the Prince of Cardolan in TA13565.

Linking History with LOTRO

Lore of the Cardolan Prince

The fact that this region had princes rather than kings at that time is what gives rise to the LOTRO Deed, Lore of the Cardolan Prince. The tooltips on the items you gather refer to the fall of the kingdom, the Dark Plague and the arrival of Wights and evil spirits of Angmar at the Barrow-Downs.

Cardolan Trinkets

The Men of Bree Reputation items in LOTRO, such as Cardolan Trinkets are often found after defeating Wights and spirits in the Barrow-Downs. As this area was claimed by Cardolan and many Dúnedain buried here, it is not surprising that such treasures may be found. That they are reputation items means the historians and archeologists are probably grateful you’ve salvaged a thread of history even many years later.

The Great Plague

As if having their nation ravaged and destroyed were insufficient, much of the remnant of Cardolan’s people were wiped out by the Great Plague of c. TA1636. LOTRO-Wiki has an excellent summary of this event and I have no wish to recreate it. That said, you do find it referred to in LOTRO.

References to the Plague in LOTRO

The Great Plague was so widespread that even the Lost Lore of Gorgoroth (in this case Agarnaith) speaks of it.

How LOTRO Reflects LOTR Lore Here

From the moment you start playing The Lord of the Rings Online, it is clear the team at SSG love their lore. From Hobbit culture, to the nameless horrors of Moria, to the scene at Mount Doom, LOTRO do not alter what the lore says. The same is true in Cardolan which, given its rich history, is really important.

Here are a few examples of how they achieved it:

Take Your Time to Soak it In

In terms of its history, LOTRO have done an amazing job of making this feel so lore-rich. I don’t think I could rush this region if I tried. There is a lot to take in. But that’s a good thing! Don’t see Cardolan, or any other region for that matter, as “just another region to complete”. Enjoy the Tolkien-researched and Tolkien-inspired quests, locations and items.

People of Cardolan

As I mentioned, there are only a few pockets of folks, except for the town of Herne. The Inhabitants of the Vanished Realm is exactly there to connect you with them.
  • Stonecrop Encampment: folks from Bree-land who thought to travel to Cardolan to start a settlement.
  • Herne: is the only actual town in the whole region. You can find all your main services and vendors here, but you will find trust in short supply.
  • Sírlond: a camp on the edge of Caranost. A small group of Dúnedain and Elves are working in an attempt to deal with the Orcs who have made Caranost their stronghold.
  • Scurloc Farm: still being held by its owners, but also providing refuge for the family and workers of the nearby Hove Farm, currently overrun by Goblins.
  • Gerwyn’s Convoy: These caravans were transporting a group from Bree-land who wanted to settle in Cardolan. But they were attacked en route, and now they’ve realised the Dead lurk near too.
  • Sarn Ford: It is at Sarn Ford that the Nazgûl cross into the Shire. The nearby Ranger Rothavron has quests relating to that event.

Meet the People Through Deeds

LOTRO Inhabitants of the Vanished Realm Deed Guide and Maps

How They’re Impacted by History

Those that have attempted to make a home or permanent camp here know they live in a difficult and sometimes dangerous region.

The folk of Gerwyn’s Convoy are camped near to where the Dead roam, which instills fear.

Enemies such as Orcs and Goblins were those that appeared prior to Angmar’s destruction of Cardolan. That they occupy Caranost, Tharbad and Haudh Nírui means they are dealing with not only aggressive enemies, but uncertainty about the future.

Unity Between Peoples

Yet, despite this, Dúnedain and those of the Race of Man, Elves and others can be found working towards common purposes here. It’s a reminder to them that it was division that led to downfall.

I wish I could remember the quest, but I believe it was an Elf that mentions trying to stop history repeating itself. We could all use a bit of the wisdom that comes from learning from the mistakes of others.

Regional Currency

In LOTRO, quests and deeds grant Iron Coin of Cardolan Iron Coins of Cardolan. These can then be used to barter from the Cardolan Reputation Vendor for a range of rewards.

Cardolan Deeds

Speaking more practically, what Cardolan deeds are available in LOTRO? Well, it’s the usual assortment of quests, exploration and slayer – as well as any deeds relating to increases in reputation.

Tales of Cardolan

As I’ve spoken (at length) about, there is a deep history in this region. But the great thing is you can learn it in bite-sized chunks through quests.

The Tales of Cardolan invites you to undertake a lot of quests in the area – but don’t just “accept and complete” when there’s so much care and attention to detail in each quest and dialogue!

How Many Quests?

The numbers here are the total number of regional quests, not the number for that stage!
  • First Stage: 20
  • Advanced: 40
  • Final: 70

Slayer of Cardolan

LOTRO Slayer of Cardolan Deed Guide and Map by FibroJedi

Stand with the remnant population and help deal with some of the ongoing threats they face.

In the Slayer of Cardolan Deed, you’ll take on Orcs, Goblins, Half-Orcs and the Dead.

See your efforts as a way of telling the Enemy that their threats will be resisted by the Free Peoples.

Read Now →

Explorer of Cardolan

LOTRO Trophy-Hunter of Cardolan Deed Guide by FibroJedi The exploration deed is broken down into various parts. The most interesting one is the Ravaging deed, which you can only complete by finishing a questline. Only once you’re through that can you acquire the Scroll of Luilloth item.

LOTRO Points for Deeds

As with regions that LOTRO have introduced over the last couple of years, not every deed grants LOTRO Points LOTRO Points. The second stage deeds (such as the Advanced Slayer of Cardolan Deed) usually do, however.

Challenging Content

I can only provide a small note about the challenging content in Cardolan. I’m not at endgame level and, because my main character is a Guardian, there’s no way I’m going to suddenly tank instances when I never have!

However, if challenge is your thing, you have:

  • Sarch Vorn:
    The Black Grave instance is scalable and, from what I’ve seen in World Chat, regularly grouped for. It also has a Solo/Duo option.
  • Delvings and Missions:
    There are Delving Rewards vendors at Stonecrop Encampment, Herne and Gerwyn’s Convoy. If you are L140 and enjoy making missions harder for greater rewards, then stop by Cardolan from time-to-time.

Gear/Cosmetics

While I cannot comment on gear or cosmetics from Sarch Vorn, I can say that some of the quest rewards in Before the Shadow are new and look really good.

This makes it different to the other starter regions, where it’s all…how to say… “not yet brought up to LOTRO’s current standards”. Admittedly, some items are still in that group, but not all.

Now I have pictures for as many as I remembered to screenshot, I’ve grouped them by their set name. Enjoy.

Engraved Plated Set


Salvaged Elven-Made Set


Elven-Etched/Stitched Set


Cloaks


Note: the chestpieces come from the Doom of Sarch Vorn. This is the quest chain that also leads to the Scroll of Luilloth, part of The Ravaging of Cardolan Deed.

It took me a while to screenshot these – mostly because I’ve been writing guides for you folk! And I get distracted by LOTRO events – which is a good thing.


Cosmetics Like Sarch Vorn

When I shared a recent find for quest cosmetics in Cardolan, @MinstrelbyNight caught my attention. She has produced an easy-to-follow post on getting Before the Shadow cosmetics that are similar to those from the Sarch Vorn instance. Read It Now →

Cardolan Reputation Vendor

The Reputation Faction here is/are the Dúnedain of Cardolan, which should come as no surprise given all we’ve covered! You can exchange your Iron Coin of Cardolan Iron Coins for various reputation rewards.

Where is the Cardolan Rep Vendor?

You can find them at Sírlond, which is the eastern portion of Caranost(deed link).

Types of Rewards

Probably the only disappointment I had with Cardolan and Before the Shadow in general is the lack of “pure” outfit cosmetics. The same was true of Yondershire.

But, remember to do all the side-quests as there are some Gear Cosmetics from quest rewards.

You can also pick up a variety of Level 140 Gear. However, note that these are in exchange for Embers of Enchantment Embers of Enchantment, rather than Iron Coin of Cardolan Iron Coins.

Crafting and Gathering

While crafting facilities are mostly in Herne (Farmland and a Workbench can be found at Scurloc Farm), you can still gather plenty materials in the Cardolan Region.The tiers provided for are Journeyman and Expert.

Crafting is Optional

While you can learn crafting in Before the Shadow, in terms of getting through the content, your quest rewards are more than sufficient. Just make sure to save any items you like the appearance of for your wardrobe.

Further Reading

So much good can be said about the LOTRO community and the wider Tolkien community too. I wanted to dive deeper into the lore of Cardolan. So I ended up on a variety of sites to help with this, while also doing my best to provide something new and useful.But my thanks go to these sites (in no particular order):

Conclusion: Dive into Cardolan in LOTRO – You Won’t Be Disappointed!

The Cardolan region of Before the Shadow is a wide landscape of hills, ponds and ruins. With friendly people being few, and threats being many, LOTRO have captured the legacy of Angmar’s decimation of this former kingdom.Cardolan offers a rich experience – firstly in terms of the visuals LOTRO have crafted for us, and secondly in the detailed, yet accessible way it presents lore and history. There are many interesting characters to speak to, ruins to explore and things to do – even if you’re here as an endgamer. So start Before the Shadow, or, if you’re a higher level, pick up the sidequests. Whatever your approach, enjoy it and remember to “Stop and Stare”. Have fun!

Footnotes/References

  1. https://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Cardolan#Description (Return ↑)
  2. I could not tie down, for sure which son it was. One site even says “history does not record” it. LOTRO-Wiki says it was Tarondor II, though I’m struggling to find an external source to back that up. (Return ↑)
  3. https://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Cardolan#History (Return ↑)
  4. https://lotrojournal.wordpress.com/a-history-of-the-kingdom-of-arnor/ (Return ↑)
  5. While the site this was referenced was TolkienGateway, their reference was:
    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, “The Third Age”, entry for the year 1356, p. 1086 (Return ↑)
  6. Fandom Wiki says it was for “over fifty years”. (Return ↑)
  7. This is taken from the deed’s tooltip, quoted over on LOTRO-Wiki (emphasis mine)
  8. https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Cardolan#Etymology, with another possible translation from Noldorin, as well as Sindarin ones at https://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Cardolan#Etymology (Return ↑)
  9. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attrition_warfare (Return ↑)

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