Besides saying "so bright as to turn day to night" when I think you meant the opposite, there are some points that can be debated here.
In the 3.5 rules, there are no particular penalties for fighting endlessly; battle-fatigue doesn't exist in D&D. You might extrapolate something out of the rules for requiring a full night of rest (though that's usually to regain spells), but that's iffy.
Surviving a fall down a chasm is as easy as casting feather fall a few hundred feet from the bottom.
When it's night (or really dark, like when you're underground), any burst of fire or lightning larger than a spark or a candle will make it seem as bright as day.
Likewise, the balrogs are expressly magical in that they are spirits, and have some clearly non-biological supernatural abilities, but the author doesn't seem to be saying otherwise that I can tell. In the article I cited above, which also links to this one, he's pretty methodical in his points.
But what would they say in song? Those that looked up from afar thought the mountain was crowned with storm. Thunder they heard, and lightning, they said, smote upon Celebdil, and leaped back broken into tongues of fire. Is not that enough? A great smoke rose about us, vapor and steam. Ice fell like rain. I threw down my enemy, and he fell from that high place and broke the mountain where he smote it in his ruin. The darkness took me and I strayed out of thought and time...
"What it was, I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me. For an instant the door left my control and began to open! I had to speak a word of Command. That proved too great a strain. The door burst into pieces.
Belzamus said:(btw, does it sound like I'm annoyed at all? I hope not. I just love debating this stuff.)
I suppose we could infer something like a featherfall, I was just assuming, absent any mention of Gandalf using a spell to avoid the impact, he just straight-up tanked it.
Anyway, it's described as
What I take from this is that this was a prolonged battle, not just a couple spells hurled back and forth, otherwise it wouldn't look like a "storm" to the on-lookers. From that, I conclude that not only are both combatants capable of casting the likes of fireball and chain lightning repeatedly, but that they are capable of surviving multiple such spells.
So, are we to conclude that both have high resistance or immunity to such attacks? If so, why are they not pursuing more effective means of attack?
Also, is a simple fireball spell capable of flashing ice to steam like that? /isn't so good with physics and DnD.
I'll leave whatever "breaking the mountain" means, since that's pretty ambiguous.
I also find it kind of... disheartening that a feat of endurance like fighting for 8 days straight while climbing however many miles nearly straight vertically counts for almost nothing simply because DnD has no system for emulating why those things should be special.
And about magical Balrogs, quoth Gandalf after the situation in the chamber of Mazarbul,
So, from this we can glean that the Balrog is at least as skilled in magic as Gandalf. At the very least, he has a Dispel Magic SLA and a caster level sufficient to overcome Gandalf's Hold Portal.
But, that's all discounting something else I feel is rather significant. Both Gandalf and the Balrog are Maiar, lesser Ainur. We see in the Silmarillion that the Valar, the greater Ainur, are continent-busters. So, extrapolating down, a powerful Maiar might be in mountain-buster territory -- and we do see Huan causing widespread destruction simply from his roar.
Where I'm going with this is, the Balrog is a Maiar aspected to fire and destruction. I.e., one of the stronger Maiar in terms of combat abilities, so... should he not be higher than 8th level? That seems really low to me, no matter which way you approach it from.
For more scaling, Fingolfin was able to contend with Morgoth for... a week straight, was it? Who, even in his weakened form was causing tremendous geographic devastation with his strikes. And yet, his brother Feanor is explicitly stated to be the strongest of them all. And yet, Feanor is killed by a swarm of Balrogs.
If Balrogs are 8th level, and let's say a "swarm" means... 8, which seems to me about as many as could effectively coordinate against a single target... that would be... rusty here... a CR 14 encounter? So, Feanor is apparently level 13 ish, meaning Fingolfin would have to be... 11ish, at most? Meaning Morgoth could be no more than maybe level 15? Does this honestly sound right?
If it does, then I want to hear, what does an epic level character in fluff look like?
You make some very strong points. Going to have to think about this for a bit (need to be off to class soon).
But I'll just mentioned that in the Tale of Years in Appendix B (I believe) of LotR, it outlines both Gandalf's fall and the battle on the peak, and there's an 8-day gap between them, and from his description, it sounds like they were alternatively fighting and chasing each other up through the tunnels the entire time.
And I'll see if I can dig up a quote from the Silm about Fingolfin's battle. He fought Morgoth is his weakened state, and even still, Morgoth was raising fissures and bursts of lava with his strikes, but... that could also be an effect of his weapon, I suppose.
Now, one thing I simply will not budge on is that Ancalagon the Black is most certainly epic. Not only did he stop the entire host of the Ainur and the Noldor during the War of Wrath, but his wingspan was enough to blot out the sun, and his fall shattered Thangorodrim which was, IIRC, a fortress somewhat taller than Mount Everest. :O
I wonder if he'd get up into the Mega- size categories... probably not, but that's solidly Macro.
That was the last time in those wars that he passed the doors of his stronghold, and it is said that he took the challenge willingly; for though his might was greatest of all things in the world, alone of the Valar he knew fear. But he could not deny the challenge before the face of his captains; for the rocks rang with the shrill music of Fingolfin's horn, and his voice came keen and clear down into the depths of Angband; and Fingolfin named Morgoth craven, and lord of slaves. Therefore Morgoth came, climbing slowly from his subterranean throne, and the rumour of his feet was like thunder underground. And he issued forth clad in black armour; and he stood before the King like a tower, iron-crowned, and his vast shield, sable unblazoned, cast a shadow over him like a stormcloud. But Fingolfin gleamed beneath it as a star; for his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals; and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice.
Then Morgoth hurled aloft Grond, the Hammer of the Underworld, and swung it down like a bolt of thunder. But Fingolfin sprang aside, and Grond rent a mighty pit in the earth, whence smoke and fire darted. Many times Morgoth essayed to smite him, and each time Fingolfin leaped away, as a lightening shoots from under a dark cloud; and he wounded Morgoth with seven wounds, and seven times Morgoth gave a cry of anguish, whereat the hosts of Angband fell upon their faces in dismay, and the cries echoed in the Northlands.
But at the last the King grew weary, and Morgoth bore down his shield upon him. Thrice he was crushed to his knees, and thrice arose again and bore up his broken shield and stricken helm. But the earth was all rent and pitted about him, and he stumbled and fell backward before the feet of Morgoth; and Morgoth set his left foot upon his neck, and the weight of it was like a fallen hill. Yet with his last and desperate stroke Fingolfin hewed the foot with Ringil, and the blood gushed forth black and smoking and filled the pits of Grond.
Thus died Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor, most proud and valiant of the Elven-kings of old. The Orcs made no boast of that duel at the gate; neither do the Elves sing of it, for their sorrow is too deep. Yet the tale of it is remembered still, for Thorondor King of Eagles brought the tidings to Gondolin, and to Hithlum afar off. And Morgoth took the body of the Elven-king and broke it, and would cast it to his wolves; but Thorondor came hasting from his eyrie amoung the peaks of Crissaegrim, and he stooped upon Morgoth and marred his face. The rushing of the wings of Thorondor was lie the noise of the winds of Manwë, and he seized the body in his mighty talons, and soaring suddenly above the darts of the Orcs he bore the King away. And he laid him upon a mountain-top that looked from the north upon the hidden valley of Gondolin; and Turgon coming built a high cairn over his father. No Orc dared ever after to pass over the mount of Fingolfin or draw nigh his tomb, until the doom of Gondolin was come and treachery was born among his kin. Morgoth went ever halt of one foot after that day, and the pain of his wounds could not be healed; and in his face was the scar that Thorondor made.
Great was the lamentation in Hithlum when the fall of Fingolfin became known, and Fingon in sorrow took the lordship of the house of Fingolfin and the kingdom of the Noldor; but his young son Ereinion (who was after named Gil-galad) he sent to the Havens."