Through the movies, audiences have really come to "know" the central characters of the LOTR universe; which characters in WITN will stand out most and why?
Fans will certainly encounter a lot of familiar faces in The Lord of the Rings: War in the North and they will have a chance to interact with them to varying degrees. I don't want to give too much away, but the player can expect to see Aragorn and Elrond playing a large role in their adventures.
Devoted fans will also encounter characters they know from the literature but have yet to see portrayed in the films or past video games. Players will encounter lesser known characters such as Radagast the Brown, Halbarad the Ranger along with Elrohir and Elladan, the sons of Elrond. Hopefully fans will enjoy seeing our interpretation of these characters as much as we have enjoyed bringing them to life.
There are also a good many characters who are entirely our own creation appearing in the story. We are confident fans will find these characters both look and feel like they belong in Middle-earth.
What is the role of NPCs in the game, outside being enemies?
The player will find himself/herself allied with several NPCs sometimes very actively while other times the NPCs role will be more passive. Some are comrades in arms, others are fonts of knowledge regarding the people, places and events that comprise Middle-earth.
The heroes of The Lord of the Rings literature encounter a huge cast of characters as they strive to fulfil their quest and the heroes of our story (the players) will find it much the same in their quest.
RPGs in general tend to have more in-depth storylines than other genres, and then with the basis of The Lord of the Rings, the story becomes that much more critical. How does the genre affect the creation of NPC characters?
As I touched on above, our NPCs have to feel as if they belong in Middle-earth, generic fantasy characters have no place in this story. Each character created and each line of dialogue gets held up to the mirror of Middle-earth, as it were. I often imagine the events, characters and dialogue from our game occurring in the film adaptation and I ask myself if first-time viewers would accept it as all part of the same story. Our goal is to create characters and events that never feel out of place in Middle-earth.
Middle-earth itself is such a signature "character" of any LOTR property; how do Middle-earth, and the new locations players will explore drive the character development?
Our game will take the player to locations they may recognize from reading the books and looking at Middle-earth maps, but were never directly touched upon by the storyline of The Lord of the Rings. Who and what the player finds in these locations will form the building blocks of their character's own epic tale.
What books are you reading now?
I'm in the middle of yet another read of The Lord of the Rings. I'll never not be reading The Lord of the Rings for as long as this project continues. It lends a whole new aspect to the reading when you literally hang on every line looking for anything that does not fit with our story.
I do, however, have some interests that go beyond J.R.R. Tolkien (shocking!). I enjoy history and right now I am reading an account of the Wars of the Roses by a gentleman named John Sadler and I would really, really like to see the next book in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series (I know I'm not alone in that).
No... no you're not. If you'd like some more info on The War in the North, make sure to check out the newly re-launched official site.