It started with the forging of Great Keyboards. Sixty-eight keys were given to the 65 percent design, the smallest and most compact of all tires. Eighty-four keys to the 75 percent designs, amazing typewriters and players in the digital halls. And 108 keys were gifted to the race of full-size keyboard users who, above all else, want power. For within these keyboards, the power and the will were bound to control any device.
But they were all deceived, for another keyboard was made. Deep in the land of Mordor, in Fire of Mount Doom, Dark Lord Jony Ive forged a master keyboard, and into this butterfly keyboard he poured his cruelty, his evil, and his will to dominate all life. – extract, Lord of the Keys
Lord of the Rings is famous for the intricate languages that Tolkien created to fill the world of Middle-earth. Now, thanks to some new keyboards from mechanical keyboard designer Matt3o, you can now equip your keyboard with some incredible-looking custom Elvish and dwarf keyboards.
Matt3o has been working on the official Lord of the Rings-inspired designs for more than a year, but he has been trying Elvish keyboards for years and goes all the way back to his low-profile DSA Granite design in 2016 (which had an optional Tengwar set available).
But unlike Matt3o’s original release, however, the new one Lord of the Rings keycaps is actually licensed by Middle-earth Enterprises (the company that owns the rights to important film and merchandise aspects of The Hobbits and Lord of the Rings novels). This means that along with complete keyboards in both Tengwar (the Alvis script) and Dwarven runes, there is also a wealth of news keys with key-iconography from Middle-earth, including Eye of Sauron escape keys, One Ring-tagged command keys and more .
An important part of this is due to the extremely complex world of Tolkien licensing, which is shared between several companies. It includes Tolkien Estate, which owns the copyright to the books, and New Line Cinema / Warner Bros., which made the iconic film adaptations and retains the rights to its visual re-creation of Tolkien’s world.
This meant that Matt3o had to design iconography from scratch, instead of drawing on previous interpretations. The translation work itself is also fun – apparently Elvish does not quite have the words for modern, technical commands that lead to some interesting approximations. (“Print Screen” becomes, for example, “teitho parf” – or literally “write a book.”)
The new sets come in “training” versions, which include both the created language legends along with traditional English characters, in addition to “hardcore” sets that are exclusively on Elvish or Dwarf. The base set contains all the keys you need for a standard thinkyless layout (meaning there are no numeric keys) at a pre-order price of $ 100. And there are plenty of extra additions to larger or niche keyboard designs as well as optional accent color sets for those looking for a little extra visual flair.
Due to the complexity of the custom characters, the new keyboards are made of PBT plastic and have color-sublime explanations instead of using double-shot ABS. They are designed in an MT3 profile and must fit standard Cherry MX switches and clones.
Unfortunately, Matt3o had to abandon their plans for a third set in Black Speech (Mordor’s dark language is spoken by orcs and used for the infamous inscription on one ring) – despite Tolkien’s picky work in his various created languages for the world of Middle-earth, which was simply not enough reference text to create an entire keyboard.
Pre-orders of the new key sets are available now and shipping will start on January 18, 2022.