The Nazgûl, known in the Common Speech by various other names including Ringwraiths, Black Riders or the Nine, are enemies that appear during the course of Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Led by the Witch-king of Angmar they are the deadliest servants of the Dark Lord Sauron. After the defeat of their master in the Second Age, they dwelt in Minas Morgul until he called upon them once more during the Third Age.
The Nazgûl were known as Sauron's "most terrible servants," and often traveled on black horses or their fellbeasts, wearing black cloaks and hauberks of silver mail. They are described as being strongest when the Dark Lord has possession of the One Ring. "'The Ringwraiths are deadly enemies, but they are only shadows yet of the power and terror they would possess if the Ruling Ring was on their master's hand again.'" (Tolkien,287). The power of the Nazgûl also grows when all nine are together and when night falls upon Middle-earth.
The first Nazgûl were once the nine great Kings of Men. Given the Rings of Power by Sauron (disguised in fair form as Annatar) which they accepted without any doubt they fell to the corruption of their gifts one by one. When the Dark Lord revealed himself and forged the One Ring, they were enslaved, bound for eternity to his will. In the War of the Last Alliance they served as some of the generals of his armies, but fled after his apparent defeat.
By the time of Sauron's resurgence, some of the original Nazgûl had been replaced with other Ring-bearers who had shared their predecessors' fates. As his power grew in Dol Guldur, the "Necromancer" had the Witch-king direct the war against Gondor and Arnor, resulting in the former's destruction and the subsequent disappearance of King Eärnur. Driven out of his fortress in Mirkwood, Sauron and his Nazgûl returned to Mordor, hiding amidst the ruins of Barad-dûr, while the Black Captains oversaw the building of his legions. The opposition from Talion and Celebrimbor did not go unnoticed by either the Dark Lord or the Witch-king. To reclaim all of Mordor, the Witch-king was sent by the Dark Lord to orchestrate the assault against the city of Minas Ithil. Manipulating General Castamir into handing over the Palantír and playing his part in the siege, the Nazgûl transformed the Gondorian citadel into their abode of Minas Morgul. Soon after, Sauron dispatched the Nine to steal the New Ring from Shelob, only to be forced to retreat by the might of the Light wielded by Eltariel the Elf Assassin. Talion's interventions in the Chosen rituals and the stealing of the Haedir convinced the Witch-king he could be coerced into becoming a great servant of the Dark Lord and so he resolved to eventually make him join the Nine.
Wielding Isildur's Ring, Talion confronted the Witch-king in the inner chambers of Minas Morgul and defeated him in combat. Banishing the Nazgûl from the Dead City, he took up residence there and withstood the forces of Sauron for decades to come. In the end, Talion was corrupted and replaced Isildur as one of the Nine.
During the War of the Ring, the Nazgûl led Sauron's Hunt for the Ring and campaign against Gondor. The Witch-king was killed in the Battle of Pelennor Fields outside of Minas Tirith, while the rest of the Ringwraiths perished in the downfall of the Dark Lord when the One Ring was cast into the fires of Mount Doom, freed from his influence and able to finally rest in peace.
The Nazgûl in the games thus far have been portrayed very similarly to the Peter Jackson's versions with some minor differences. The wraiths' physical form have robes covering less of their arms and legs, which in are visibly clad in armor. Also, all Ringwraiths except the Witch-King wear sinister-looking masks covering the hollow darkness where their faces should be, with some individual Ringwraiths having masks uniquely designed to represent their origin. The Witch-King himself wears a helmet-crown akin to the live action movie, although it is also slightly different, the most obvious being the helmet only having a single cavity as opposed to having eye sockets and lower cavity.
- The Witch-king of Angmar (Lord of the Nazgûl)
- Khamûl the Easterling
- Talion (took Isildur's place among the Nazgûl)
- Isildur (freed by Talion, who eventually took his place among the Nazgûl)
- Helm Hammerhand
- The Nazgûl Sisters
The Nazgûl are similar to captains in that they are heavily damaged rather than killed by attacks that can one-shot grunts. This combined with their sizable health total means they can survive multiple executions. They are also immune to fire, poison, frost, curse, and cannot be knocked down or stunned. For their offence, they have a ranged attack they will use if Talion is climbing or riding a drake and an attack similar to Shadow Strike where they teleport to Talion's location and attack with their sword. Their attacks can be countered, but they do not take any damage when countered. When their health is low, they will be considered Broken and can be finished off with a drain or dominate. An ability unique to the Ringwraiths are that they are able to move at normal speed when Talion uses abilities that seemingly slow down in-game time like Focused aiming and Elven Rage, this is especally noticable when a Ringwraith is about to execute its attack. Thus, some exploits, like spamming arrows in Elven Rage or using activating Focus to reposition Talion in the battlefied will not work as well against them.
- Isildur and Helm Hammerhand are named as Nazgûl in Shadow of War. This is the first incarnation of any story regarding Middle-Earth where these two heroes have been identified as or Nazgûl.
- In the original stories created by J. R. R. Tolkien, only two Nazgûl are named: The Witch-king of Angmar and Khamûl the Easterling. The rest are never named.
- Alongside The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and the Lord of the Rings Online, this is the only other incarnation of the Nazgûl seen wearing armor rather than their black cloaks outside the novels.
- While the Witch-King helmet in the game is different from the one in the movie, his live action helmet seems to inspire the design of the Terror Tribe symbol.
- The Nazgûl were originally supposed to make an appearance in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor but were cancelled.