THE FARSEER DEVICE ("NEARSCOPE", "TORANTUBE")

DESCRIPTION -
USAGES - MYTH/LORE

The Farseer is a cleverly-designed optical instrument of hobbit manufacture (although credit for its original invention goes to either the gnomes or the dwarves, depending on whose version of history one chooses) and may be found through most of central Sarvonia. The Farseer device is also often referred to as "Nearscope", "Distance Viewer", "Torantube" or "VoholPrawie".

A Farseer Device
View picture in full size Image description. The Farseer Device ("Nearscope"), a device invented either by gnomes or dwarves, and often fabricated by hobbits. Drawn by Seeker.

Description. A metal and/or leather tube between one and two fores long, enclosing two carefully-ground glass or crystal lenses set at a predetermined distance. The smaller scopes may be made of stiff leather with metal strapping to hold the lenses firmly, while larger ones are often completely encased in metal (allowing the leather to cushion the lens and prevent chipping or misalignment). Simple Farseers are composed of two separate overlapping cuffs of leather, each holding a lens at the exterior end. Focus can be achieved by carefully twisting and either pulling or pushing the cuffs so that the lenses are at just the right distance from each other. Some of the more sophisticated larger designs have the lenses set in metal rims held apart by an adjustable 'track', which allows the user to actually fine-tune the focus to a pre-set distance.

Decorative designs are usually burnt into the leather or incised on the metal cover. Hobbits favour botanicals and whimsical stylized animals, but swords, eagles, and the like sell better to the military, so the decorations are tailored to the hoped-for client.
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Usages. The Farseer allows its user to see things in the distance as though they were close by. Depending upon the strength of the lenses and the care taken in the manufacture of the scope, one can even distinguish a man's features half-a-stral off. Many of these viewers are purchased for various military applications. Usually, because of their relative fragility and expense, they are set in some sort of permanent installation, such as a watchtower or guard post.

Though the common sailor or fisherman cannot afford such a device, wealthier shipowners sometimes buy these for their captains; they have proven very useful aboard sailing vessels. In fact, their nickname of 'Torantubes' comes from this provenance, as sailors familiar with the sharp-eyed Toran eagles along the coasts of Sarvonia quickly saw the association.

The device is more usually known as a 'Farseer' after the famous Ciosan astronomer, Mowi Farseer. It is still a common belief among humanfolk that Mowi was responsible for its actual invention, though all our research suggests otherwise. To the best of our knowledge, Mowi gained his epithet of 'Farseer' from his preternaturally sharp eyesight - unassisted by mechanical devices. The actual origin of the device is still a controversy (see Lore and Legend, below).

A Farseer Device
Image description. Closeup of a Farseer Device. Picture drawn by Quellion.

Recently, hobbits have been making for themselves half-size, or more properly, hobbit-size, versions of these which they call 'field glasses'. They take two of the smallest tubes, about a human hand in length, fasten them together so that one crystal is directly in front of each eye, and add a simple worm gear between to move them closer or farther apart for the purpose of focusing. These 'field glasses' are used primarily for bird-watching out in the hedge-lined, warm fields of the hobbit shires - or at least their presence around a hobbit's neck gives him a wonderful excuse to spend a lazy afternoon contemplating the inside of his eyelids under a quiet tree somewhere...  Return to the top

Myth/Lore. The Gnorian gnomes claim that a gnomish inventor by the name of Chon Giin designed the first distance viewer about seventy years ago, while he was experimenting with combinations of crystals cut to focus the sun's light into heat. Indeed, Chon Giin's research notes and even a few rough mock-ups of Farseeing tubes (unfortunately the lenses have not survived unbroken) are still preserved in his workshop in Yorick to this day.

The Boltgrummerim, or Boltgrumm dwarven clan, will snort dismissively if you tell them this. According to their mining engineers and jewelcutters, they have been using ground and polished quartz lenses for the last two centuries in various applications. When shown a hobbit-made distance viewer, they immediately identify it as a “VoholPrawie” (‘far-brought-near’), with amused head-nodding over the workmanship. However, as they are reluctant to specify their applications, far less to demonstrate the devices to human Compendium researchers, we have not been able to verify their claims.

At this point Chon Giin has the best documented claim; at the very least he was responsible for popularizing the Farseer and making it available to the general public.

"Why the manufacture of the device so swiftly passed from the gnomish race into the hands of the hobbits is still a mystery to scholars of our kingdom's technological prowess - possibly shortsighted (no pun is intended) gnomish leaders in the community could see no potential in Chon Giin's invention, or possibly the hobbit watchmakers' tools and resources which were already going towards producing protective covers for their timepieces ('watch crystals') were so admirably suited to the development of the Farseer lenses that they easily monopolized further production..."

-- Quote from a small treatise by Sir Artheos Federkiel, "On the Manufacture of Farseers"

The Farseer is the 'hero' of at least one tale of history: almost fifty years ago, when the instruments were even rarer, the Duke of the Northern Marks[1] was gifted with a large Farseer by the then-regnant king to assist him in protecting the Warg's Tooth Fortress, which overlooked one of the main passes in the Marks. A huge warband of raiding orcs chose the day after the instrument had been installed to attempt a surprise attack - which, obviously, failed due to the advantage the observers in the watchtower now had. The orcs were routed handily, with only two humans wounded and no fatalities. In gratitude, the Duke sacrificed to Armeros, and renamed his fortress "Eagle's Watch".
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Footnotes.
[1] The Northern Marks. - A mountain range just below Nyermersys whose name comes from the historical attempt to create a chain of fortresses across the continent's northern 'neck' as defence against orcish tribes - see the Nyermersys entry for details. The main cities are still there; the ruins of the fortresses still may be found in these rough-edged, uninhabited hills. They are heavily forested and rich in fauna, though only the half-wild pelt hunters and rangers know the full, strange beauty of the Northern Marks... [Return]
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