The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

!!!!This is NOT a forum. Comments are to be informative and generally helpful. Clean humor is acceptable, but NOT if it detracts from the entry. This site is to help people find out more about fantastical creatures!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Balrogs are tall, menacing humanoid beings, with the ability to shroud themselves in fire, darkness, and shadow. They frequently appeared armed with fiery whips of many thongs. They could not be casually destroyed: significant power was required. Only dragons rivalled their capacity for ferocity and destruction, and during the First Age, they were among the most feared of Morgoth's forces.

Tolkien's conception of Balrogs changed over time, due to the evolution of the Balrog. In his early writing, they are numerous (hosts of them number in the hundreds), roughly of human shape and size, and are frequently killed in battle with Elves and Men. They were always fierce demons, associated with fire, armed with fiery whips of many thongs and claws like steel, and Morgoth delighted to use them to torture his captives.

Perhaps because so many were killed, only the strongest survived. The balrogs have become altogether more sinister: powerful, larger, and less common. By this time they have ceased to be creatures, but are instead Maiar (lesser Valar, like Gandalf or Sauron), spirits of fire whom Melkor had corrupted before the creation of the World. It requires power on the order of Gandalf's to destroy them; and as Maiar, only their physical forms could be destroyed.

Tolkien says of the Valar (including the Maiar) that they can change their shape at will, and move unclad in the raiment of the world, meaning invisible and without form. But it seems that Morgoth, Sauron, and their associated Maiar could lose this ability: Morgoth, for example, was unable to heal his burns from the Silmarils or wounds from Fingolfin and Thorondor; and Sauron lost his ability to assume a fair-seeming form after his physical body was destroyed in the downfall of Numenor.

Tolkien does not address this specifically for Balrogs. In "the Bridge of Khazad-dûm", the Balrog appears "like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater". Though previously the Balrog had entered the "large square chamber" of Mazarbul (through a doorway with a stone door on hinges, which cannot have been very large), at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm it "drew itself to a great height, and its wings spread from wall to wall" in what was a vast hall.The Balrog's size and shape, therefore, are not given precisely. It is easy to conclude that it could change both; and some conclude that this spirit of flame and shadow may not be very corporeal — though when Gandalf threw it from the peak of Zirakzigal, the Balrog "broke the mountain-side where he smote it in his ruin".

The Balrogs were originally Maiar, of the same order as Sauron, Saruman, and Gandalf, but they were seduced by Melkor, who corrupted them to his service in the days of his splendour before the making of Arda. Gandalf said of the Balrogs that they were older than Sauron, meaning perhaps that they were corrupted to his purpose even earlier than Sauron.

At the dawn of the First Age, upon the waking of the Elves, the Valar captured Melkor and destroyed his fortresses Utumno and Angband . But the deepest pits were overlooked, and the Balrogs fled into hiding along with Melkor's other allies. Many years later, Melkor, now named Morgoth, returning to Middle-earth from Valinor, was attacked by Ungoliant, and his piercing scream drew the Balrogs out of hiding to his rescue.

When the Noldor arrived in Beleriand in pursuit of Morgoth, they won a swift victory over his Orcs in the Dagor-nuin-Giliath. Feanor pressed on towards Angband; but the Balrogs came against him, and Fëanor was mortally wounded by Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs. His sons fought off the Balrogs, but Fëanor died of his wounds shortly afterward.

During the assault on the Gondolin city, Ecthelion of the Fountain fought Gothmog in the square of the king where "each slew the other." Glorfindel fought a Balrog who waylaid an escape party from the fallen city; both fell off the mountainside in the struggle and perished.

In the War of Wrath that ended the First Age, most of the Balrogs were destroyed, though some managed to escape and hide in "caverns at the roots of the earth".

In the year 1980 of the Third Age, the Dwarves of Khazad-dum delved so deeply that they disturbed or released one of the hidden Balrogs. The Balrog killed Durin VI and his son Nain I, and was subsequently known as Durin's Bane. The Balrog forced the Dwarves to abandon Moria. In T.A. 3019, the Fellowship of the Ring also ventured through Moria and were attacked in the Chamber of Mazarbul by Orcs and the Balrog. Gandalf faced the Balrog at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. He slew the Balrog but perished himself at the same time — only to be sent back as the more powerful Gandalf the White.

The name, but not the meaning, is relatively early: it appears in the Fall of Gondolin, one of the earliest texts Tolkien wrote (ca. 1918). At the time the name is described as "an Orc-word with no pure Quenya equivalent: 'borrowed Malaroko-'". Its meaning at the time was Cruel demon.
In the Gnomish (=early Sindarin) wordlist from the same period Balrog is given as balc 'cruel' + graug 'demon', with a Quenya equivalent Malkarauke. Variant forms of the latter include Nalkarauke and Valkarauke.

By the 1940s, when the writing of The Lord of the Rings had begun, Tolkien had come to think of Balrog as Noldorin (Sindarin) balch (cruel) + rhaug (demon), with a Quenya equivalent Malarauko (from nwalya- (to torture) + rauko (demon). The last etymology given for Balrog, written as part of Quendi and Eldar, gives the Quenya form Valarauko (Demon of Might), defining Balrog as the Sindarin translation.

The Sindarin plural form for Balrog is not clear. Tolkien consistently used Balrogs, but this is generally considered an anglicization because Sindarin does not form plurals in that way. In one case Tolkien used Balrogath, similar to Periannath for 'Halflings', Dagorath for 'battles'. However, the '-ath' suffix was often used as a 'class plural' (cf. giliath for 'all stars of the firmament'), and thus 'Balrogath' might mean 'Balrogkind' rather than simply 'Balrogs'. Linguists disagree on how a simple Sindarin plural would be formed, but most often suggest either *Balroeg or *Belryg.
The plural form for Quenya Valarauko is attested as Valaraukar.

Individual Balrogs
He is physically massive and strong, and he is some 12 feet tall. He wields a black axe and whip of flame as his weapons. As the chief of the Balrogs, Gothmog is perhaps the single most physically powerful of Morgoth's servants. He holds the titles of the Lord of the Balrogs, the High Captain of Angband, and Marshal of the Hosts. While Sauron is widely considered to be Morgoth's second in command, Gothmog is clearly Morgoth's champion at arms as his armies deal the Noldor their most crushing defeats on the battlefields of Beleriand. As High Captain of Angband he is particularly visible in several of the six great battles fought by Melkor's evil forces against the Elves.

In the Second Battle, Dagor-nuin-Giliath, he leads a force that ambushes Feanor and wounds him mortally. He leads Balrogs, Orc-hosts, and Dragons as Morgoth's commander in the field in the Fifth Battle, Nirnaeth Arnoediad, and slays Fingon, High King of the Noldor. In that same battle, he captures Hurin of Dor-lomin, who had slain his personal guard of Battle-trolls, and brings him to Angband. As Marshall of the Hosts he is in command of the Storming of Gondolin. He is near to killing Tuor when Ecthelion of the Fountain, Noldorin Elf-lord, intervenes, slays and is slain by Gothmog in single combat.

Lungorthin appears in Tolkien's early Lay of the Children of Hurin as "Lungorthin, Lord of Balrogs". This might be another name for Gothmog, though Christopher Tolkien thought it more likely that Lungorthin was simply "a Balrog lord".

Balrog of Moria
Durin's Bane is the Balrog encountered by the Fellowship of the Ring in the Mines of Moria. Gandalf dies in the struggle to defeat it. This Balrog survived the defeat of Morgoth in the War of Wrath and escaped to hide beneath the Misty Mountains. For more than five millennia, the Balrog remained in its deep hiding place at the roots of the mountains in Khazad-dum, until in the Third Age the mithril-miners of Dwarf-King Durin VI disturbed it. Durin was killed by the Balrog, whence it was called Durin's Bane.

The Dwarves attempted to fight the Balrog, but its power was far too great. Despite their efforts to hold Khazad-dum against it, King Nain and many other Dwarves were killed and the survivors were forced to flee. This disaster also reached the Sylvan Elves of Lorien, many of whom also fled the "Nameless Terror". (It was not recognized as a Balrog at the time.) The Elves called the place Moria, the "Black Pit" or "Black Chasm" (though the name Moria also appears on the West Gate of Moria, constructed thousands of years earlier in the Second Age).

For another 500 years, Moria was left to the Balrog. Then around T.A. 2480 Sauron began to put his plans for war into effect, and he sent Orcs and Trolls to the Misty Mountains to bar all of the passes. Some of these creatures came to Moria, and the Balrog allowed them to remain.
The Battle of Azanulbizar was the climax of the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. It took place before the eastern gate of Moria in T.A. 2799 and was a victory for the Dwarves. However, the victors did not conquer Moria because Dain Ironfoot, having slain the Orc Azog, felt the terror of the Balrog at the gate. Despite an attempt to recolonize Moria by Balin in T.A. 2989, Durin's Bane remained there a menace whose nature was hidden to the outside world.

In January, T.A. 3019, the Fellowship of the Ring travelled through Moria on the way to Mount Doom. They were attacked in the Chamber of Mazarbul by Orcs. The Fellowship fled through a side door, but when the wizard Gandalf the Grey tried to place a "shutting spell" on the door to block the pursuit behind them, the Balrog entered the chamber on the other side and cast a counterspell. Gandalf spoke a word of command to stay the door, but the door shattered and the chamber collapsed. Gandalf was severely weakened by this encounter. The company fled with him, but the Orcs and the Balrog, taking a different route, caught up with them at the bridge of Khazad-dûm. The Elf Legolas instantly recognized the Balrog and Gandalf challenged it. Since Gandalf and the Balrog were both Maiar, they were beings of the same order. As they faced each other, Gandalf broke the Bridge beneath the Balrog, but as the Balrog fell it wrapped its whip around Gandalf's knees, dragging him to the brink. As the Fellowship looked in horror, Gandalf cried "Fly, you fools!" and fell.

After the long fall, the two landed in a subterranean lake, which extinguished the flames of the Balrog's body, greatly weakening it. The Balrog fled, and Gandalf pursued the creature for eight days until they climbed to the peak of Zirakzigil, at which point the Balrog's body burst into flames again. Here they fought for two days and nights. In the end, the Balrog was defeated and cast down, breaking the mountainside where it fell. Gandalf himself died following this ordeal, but was later sent back to Middle-earth with even greater powers as Gandalf the White. Tolkien does not discuss the ultimate fate of the Balrog.

A special thanks to Wikipedia, J.R.R. Tolkien, and to the makers of Lord of the Rings films...and to kikaassassin of for this slightly stolen image :D