Would you be interested in a thread or two about reworking classic settings? Such as Middle-Earth, Space:1889, etc.?
Tolkien’s legendarium is supposed to focus on England, but it should reject racism, when it sometimes reinforces it. The Hobbits, of course, ought to reflect the diversity of English people. The Orcs ought not to be always chaotic evil. Thought it would take a lot of work to add a major Orcish character, it wouldn’t be too much to add better minor Orcish characters. I think the Numenorians should be black. Aragorn in particular, and the Corsairs and Black Numenorians too. Numenor was closer to the Girdle of Arda than Gondor and Arnor would be. Possibly closer than Umbar was and would be.
Thoughts: the notion of potential good among the people of Mordor seems like it would invite a lot of difficulties. If you didn’t want the sort of inversion you see in Eskov, I might instead try to keep them all evil, only somehow as a matter of choice rather than birth.
For instance you might have goblins of variable alignment, but where only the cruel and ambitious are willing to go through the cannibalism and militaristic life that brings them up into the Uruk caste. Elsewhere there would remain more peaceful groups, like say around Núrnen, farmed by goblins who prefer to endure tribute than join. As an easy minor character you might very naturally have one end up with the rangers in Ithilien.
It fits with the notion of Orcs as a ruined people, and makers of their own misery, at least.
Sure, but then consider the history. They were descended from the Edain, inhabitants of the very westernmost part of the northern continent. It’s only later that they sailed across the sea and settled a more equatorial island. So that doesn’t really sound like it describes black people.
I would expand on that, and say that the Numenoreans who moved to Arnor should be white (it’s the equivalent of Scotland and Scandinavia), but the ones who moved to Gondor should be the equivalent to African and middle eastern people (Numenoreans marrying the local Middle Men is canonical).
Of course, that leaves the problem of some white guy (first Elendil, then Aragorn) coming along and declaring himself the king over POC, even if they are descended from the same people.
I don’t know. Gondor is Mediterranean (Greece, Italy) in latitude. The line of Arnor might be a bit paler, but not much.
Also, remember, the Numenoreans are extremely long-lived, being of the blood of Elros. Genetic changes are going to take a while to happen, both in darkening their skin in Numenor, and then lightening it again after they leave.
So I agree with @MarjaE, the more noble the blood, the more the time spent in Numenor should be apparent.
As for the Orcs and Goblins, remember that they are elves by ancestry, twisted and tortured by Melkor. Having them develop a peaceful society while outside of the reach of Sauron and Saruman (whether during the peace between the Wars of the Ring or afterward) is a good idea.
Although I do have to say that I prefer works set in their own universe to fan-fiction.
But there’s no natural barrier like the Mediterranean near Gondor. It’s probably more like the Middle East in it’s range of skin colours.
Isn’t it mostly just the nobility who were decended from Elros? Of the 27 Ruling Stewards of Gondor (who were also descended from Elros), only four lived for as long as or longer than Jeanne Calment. They may have been long lived, but most of them were not exceptionally so.
Minas Tirith was supposed to be at the same latitude as Ravenna. The borders of Gondor at it’s peak look to have go as far south as the latitudes of Lebanon and Syria.
Simply put, I’d rather not have the Numenoreans proper look like northern Europeans, and I’d rather avoid/complicate/maybe invert the contrast between Edain and “swarthy” Easterlings in the Silmarillion.
As to why? First, because they’re there. Second, because gaming. Third, because the process of updating settings could give ideas and experience for developing new settings.
Now if I find a gaming group, then I’d like to be able to gamemaster from time to time, though I have little experience at gamemastering. If I update an existing setting, such as Space:1889, I can update adventures for that setting, which should be easier than adapting adventures from other settings, or than writing my own from scratch. And even if I were writing my own adventures, if I update an existing setting, it’s easier for players to orient themselves. Too little player knowledge can be as much of a problem as too much.
There’s Mordor to the East, and Near Harad (which is mostly desert) to the South. But South Gondor looks to have been Middle Earth’s Alsace-Lorraine, passed back-and-forth between Gondor and Harad, so there would have been some intermarriage.
The population of Númenor chiefly consisted of Men of the surviving houses of the Edain, and they were known as the Númenóreans, or rather, Kings among Men. They had been increased in body and mind by Eönwë at the end of the War of Wrath, and granted a lifespan of an average 200 years, much increased from their ancestors’ lifespan of 90 years. Those of the royal house descended from the first Half-elven king, Elros Tar-Minyatur, however, were given a lifespan of more than 300 years. These included the Lords of Andúnië and the Kings and Queens of Númenor.
I’d definitely like to see a larger gradient between human peoples in LoTR. And I agree with @nimelennar that in peace times that dividing line not really existing makes sense.
Edit: I also often have scale issues with Middle Earth and thinking about it in terms of regular Earth. I recently completed the Eowyn challenge, and that was really informative, but not with respect to absolute scale, since Frodo and Sam’s path meandered.
According to the references I have, all the first age Edain came from what is roughly equivalent to China/Korea/Japan. Also Numenor was populated by the descendants of the three houses of the Edain, of which none had skin colour mentioned, but only one, the house of Hador, could be described as looking like northern Europeans. Maybe you can work with that.
My argument that Gondor should be darker skinned should work with that
Another thought you might want to work with. If you decide to go with Aragorn being black, could Elrond also be black, cosidering their blood relation?
I figure the Hobbits should be about as diverse as modern English people. The Rohirrim should probably partly reflect northern Europe, with some from southern Europe. The Dunlendings and Gondorians should probably partly reflect southern Europe and the Mediterranean, plus the Numenorians, however you want to portray them.
I figure the Orcs should look like domesticated Elves,-- e.g. often having drooping ears-- perhaps with pale skin as an adaptation to the dungeons of Angband. Some of the older ones might have been seperated into breeds, by Morgoth and Sauron, but the younger ones would be mixed, and often closer to the general Elvish type.