[Tolkien]Just curious: Is there any epic Middle-Earth adventure campaigns out there?

capnzapp

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There are several Middle-Earth rpgs out there (ICE's MERP, Decipher's LotR, and now C7's TOR etc...) but to my knowledge none of them have attempted to supply us with a parallel experience to reading the trilogy:

An epic adventure campaign that allows you to role-play a band of heroes on a quest that actually transforms the history of Middle-Earth. I'm looking for adventures set in the Third Age, and placed on the standard map (not Beleriand, not Numenor, etc).

To explain what I mean, I feel I need to detail what I'm not looking for. Please don't focus on these misgivings as crapping on previous products - my question is "is there really nothing more ambitious than this?"
- MERP focused on locations, not personalities. This lead to - in my mind - very un-LotR-like adventuring, since random encounters with wildlife or bandits, looting tombs and dungeons, and killing random orcs, never was what Tolkien's trilogy was about (again, in my personal mind only). Yes, the Fellowship had random encounters. Yes, they looted barrows. Yes, random orcs were killed. But no, this was not the focus or goal of their adventures.
- Even entering goblin complexes and assassinating their chieftains doesn't feel like a proper LotR campaign. Yes, we're told the Rangers did dirty stuff like this, but that's not what Tolkien was interested in focussing on, and thus me neither.
- Tolkien himself only wrote about NPCs and places that were directly affected by the events of the trilogy. Nothing wrong with this, of course; except that it does leave you with a barren empty sense when asked to look at the rest of the world. It seems difficult if not impossible to hook existing NPCs to new plots; and introducing entirely new NPCs of great power begs the question "but why haven't we heard of these when we read the books and watched the movies?".

Still, I feel the need to ask the question.

I would very much love to gamesm... loresmaster the new The One Ring RPG.

But if the adventures are thinly veiled generic fantasy killing stuff and taking their loot, I see no reasons to use a Tolkien game. Don't get me wrong, I love me some pillaging, raping, levelling and ownage - but there are more appropriate games to do that in. In fact, a LotR game would be my last go-to game for such a campaign.

I would very much love to open my eyes to an epic Middle-Earth campaign that's hiding somewhere out there on the Intarwebz. It certainly does not need to use any particular game engine or have any mechanics at all. In fact, even a three-page synopsis for such an idea would be invaluable*.


Thanks for any thoughts on this,
Zapp


*) I myself had a rough outline of a campaign idea, featuring the necklace the dwarf stole from the royal family in the big hidden wood back in Silmarillion, the idea being that it shone with reflected Silmarillion light and thus would be immensely valuable in the later Third Age era; but I never did come up with a satisfactory adversary to use... (pardon my lack of accurate detail; when I wrote this up, I did have all the correct names, but memory is failing me now)
 
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Morningkiller

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Re: [Tolkien]Just curious: Is there any epic Middle-Earth adventure campaigns out the

I think this is a good point. In a middle-earth game I don't want to be a tomb-robbing murder-hobo.

Generating the idea for the quest could be a co-operative activity. This would help in getting players buy-in and allow them to tailor characters to get them connected and motivated as well as limiting feelings of being railroaded.

I do like your original idea. The Nauglamir would definitely be a good target for a quest. It does have a history of provoking betrayal and kinslaying. Would Elrond be the rightful owner if it was recovered? What would the dwarves and wood-elves do? Would Gondor have a claim as the successor of the kingdom of Elros?

The consequences of finding it could be even more interesting than the quest itself. Perhaps agents of the Enemy seek it to foment strife amomg the free peoples. Sounds like a job for the Mouth of Sauron and the Nazgul as antagonists. As the Nauglimir was lost at sea they will need the Corsairs of Umbar as henchmen.

The PCs get recruited by Saruman to quest for this relic, long thought lost at sea. Rumours from sailors speak of a small archipelago of islands wreathed in mist - a small portion of Beleriand that yet endures. Stories claim that the savage natives worship an ancient relic of surpassing beauty.
 

heilel

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Re: [Tolkien]Just curious: Is there any epic Middle-Earth adventure campaigns out the

MERP had loads of "High level " material, detailing Nazgul, major areas in Middle Earth etc.
You could easily build a major ME spanning campaign using the the MERP material.
Of course it's all out of print now, but I guess you could get it on ebay etc..
 

tolkienscholars

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Re: [Tolkien]Just curious: Is there any epic Middle-Earth adventure campaigns out the

MERP's "Palantir Quest" covered various issues, including the struggle between different political factions. There were a number of detailed campaign modules in MERP that covered many major conflicts in cultures between different Mannish races as well. In general, the Campaign modules (as opposed to their adventure and ready to play modules) of MERP provide the ability for GameMasters to create exactly the type of adventures you are talking about. It is unlikely any other commercial Tolkien RPG product will ever get to have the range and depth of those supplements due to the significant changes in the license enforcement since those years (at least if/until public domain release of Tolkien license in 2035 at the earliest).

I have written a few modules in other time periods as well, most around times of Numenor's reign and Fall, and shortly thereafter. These included action possibilities but could also be played without any combat for very mature gamers (political intrigue, bargaining, etc.). These were under "The Numenor Project" and such. You can download these drafts that were played at various MerpCon and Tolkien Moot conventions between 2005 and 2011.

http://earpg.com/documents/numenor-project

http://earpg.com/documents/miscellaneous-adventures

The One RIng only includes very simple, sample adventures so far. It will be up to the Loremasters for a while to create actual campaigns if and until additional content becomes available. Also, because Cubicle 7 / Sophisticated Games has to deal with the draconian restrictions of their license, they will always be much more limited in scope than ICE's MERP, or the general Tolkien gaming community. That is certainly not TOR's fault, just an unfortunate consequence of the license that is beyond their control.

Hope that helps.
Namarie!
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--Hawke
Founder, Inland Empire (USA) Tolkien Society Smial
http://www.nwtolkien.org

Founder, Tolkien Moot and MerpCon (Tolkien conventions since 2005)
http://www.tolkienmoot.org

Founder and occasional co-editor and contributor, Other Minds Magazine
http://www.omzine.org

Creator and co-host with Michael Martinez, Middle-earth Radio Talk Show
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Founder, Middle-earth Radio
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Founder and Project Lead, RPG Research Project
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RainOfSteel

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Re: [Tolkien]Just curious: Is there any epic Middle-Earth adventure campaigns out the

- MERP focused on locations, not personalities.
This is to be expected. Middle Earth's stories were about the milieu first, events second, and the characters dead last. The characters, no matter how important, were transport vehicles to show off the milieu and events.


- Even entering goblin complexes and assassinating their chieftains doesn't feel like a proper LotR campaign.
The Lord of the Rings was the central story, with the central characters, of the last 3300 years in the milieu. It dealt with the complete ending of the Third Age and the beginning of the Fourth Age. By comparison, then, anything else at all isn't going to feel like a tLotR campaign. Worse, with story as told, there is little room left behind for any similar story to be told. You can easily come up with a hundred peripheral stories, some that are even important to the actual main story, but nothing will ever be as important and significant as the main story.

In tLotR milieu, the players will never play characters as important as the Fellowship unless they're playing the Fellowship. (Even then, they're still behind the milieu and its events.)


It seems difficult if not impossible to hook existing NPCs to new plots; and introducing entirely new NPCs of great power begs the question "but why haven't we heard of these when we read the books and watched the movies?".
It's an occupational hazard of using another person's milieu. Players are going to have to give the GM some substantial artistic license when running around in a tLotR game and then cooperatively run with it.

If the players dig in their heals about the faithfulness to Tolkien's milieu of all that appears in-game, then things are going to bog down right away.


But if the adventures are thinly veiled generic fantasy killing stuff and taking their loot, I see no reasons to use a Tolkien game.
See below.


*) I myself had a rough outline of a campaign idea, featuring the necklace the dwarf stole from the royal family in the big hidden wood back in Silmarillion, the idea being that it shone with reflected Silmarillion light and thus would be immensely valuable in the later Third Age era; but I never did come up with a satisfactory adversary to use... (pardon my lack of accurate detail; when I wrote this up, I did have all the correct names, but memory is failing me now)
As you can see, it isn't so easy to come up with the truly spectacular adventures.

Some adventures, well most, just aren't going to be anything that comes anywhere near Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Gold.
 

Maxwell Luther

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Re: [Tolkien]Just curious: Is there any epic Middle-Earth adventure campaigns out the

The One Ring is going to be that sort of game, Cap. Currently, the time is five years after the Battle of the Five Armies and involves the Wilderlands, but the next two sets move the action ahead in time and to the west and then, the south.

In addition, the generational rules allow you to pass on some of your experience to your heirs (and some of your treasure and standing as well, if there is a direct relationship to the person retiring or heroically giving up their life) which means that you cold see the grandson of your first character taking part in the War of the Ring 70 years later.

And finally, there is plenty of action that will be of major importance to the upcoming conflict with Sauron and although you won't be dumping the ring into Mount Doom yourself, you can make a huge difference in keeping the ring safe until that time, indirectly as one of the many adventuring companies that keep the darkness at bay and pave the way for the Fellowship of the Ring to complete their adventure. In fact, the demo adventure from Gencon points to a plotline that involves just that premise...
 

capnzapp

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Re: [Tolkien]Just curious: Is there any epic Middle-Earth adventure campaigns out the

MERP had loads of "High level " material, detailing Nazgul, major areas in Middle Earth etc.
You could easily build a major ME spanning campaign using the the MERP material.
Of course it's all out of print now, but I guess you could get it on ebay etc..
Thanks, though I knew that already.

You probably missed my point: Is there any published campaign arcs and ready-made adventures set in LotR? It's not the place descriptions I'm after, it's the plotlines, campaign ideas...?

Middle-Earth is an exceedingly difficult place to write an original plot, since it will be held to a very high standard (=Tolkien himself) as well as mesh seamlessly with existing Lore (=Tolkien fans are very knowledgeable, and very fussy)... I'm not even asking for ready-made supplements; as I said, even a rather brief synopsis (say a page or three) would be a great start.
 

capnzapp

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Re: [Tolkien]Just curious: Is there any epic Middle-Earth adventure campaigns out the

The One Ring is going to be that sort of game, Cap.
I would very much like to share your conviction, but alas - the track record of existing LotR games is dismal indeed...*

* not in general - I'm specifically talking about epic plotlines here...

For the purposes of my thread, I put my hopes on the uncovering of some forgotten and possibly unpolished gem, written by some Tolkien-fan years ago and perhaps uploaded to a BBS... :)

I would be (pleasantly) surprised to learn that there is something interesting among published modules - I have never seen anything even close to the ambitious scope I want out of a LotR game so far... (sigh...)
 

capnzapp

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Re: [Tolkien]Just curious: Is there any epic Middle-Earth adventure campaigns out the

In general, the Campaign modules (as opposed to their adventure and ready to play modules) of MERP provide the ability for GameMasters to create exactly the type of adventures you are talking about.
Thank you. Do you know of any such Games Masters then? :)

(Again; it's the end result of a ready-made campaign I believe is the hard nut to crack, and that is what I am after. Creating background modules, on the other hand, is not significantly harder in LotR than in any other fantasy setting, and hence, that has been covered, and covered well. That is not my question - it's the lines connecting the dots I'm asking about rather than the dots themselves...)

Regards,
Zapp
 
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