Min/maxing the Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring is the world’s most renowned, literary adventuring party. This is the archetype which lurks in the collective unconscious of all gaming groups, from paper and pencil D&D, to byte and bitmap WoW.

An Istarii Wizard and a Dunedain Ranger lead a Dwarf Warrior, a Sindar Archer, a Gondorian Fighter and four Halfling burglars on an epic wilderness adventure and the mother of all dungeon crawls.

FotR

But anyone with an ounce of strategy has probably asked themselves…

Why take four hobbit rogues?”

Or

What about bringing some more ranged weapons and healing potions?”

Or

Elves are awesome. Why only bring one?”

These questions and more have bugged me for years. Why abandon Frodo and Sam to chase after Merry and Pippin? What was Gandalf actually planning on doing to get into Mordor?! If I was Elrond, who would I include in the Fellowship?

The strategy behind the Fellowship and some alternative possibilities are examined in the article “Min/maxing the Fellowship of the Ring

Concluding the Awakening of the Wyrms!

Awakening of the Wyrms: an alternate history of early Fourth Age Middle Earth.

Extrapolating the Queen of Shadows Campaign

To misquote Peter Jackson and the infamous Boromir meme…

“One does not simply awaken the Dragons of the Withered Heath.”

Some people just crave a resolution (I certainly did!): so please find herein the epic conclusion to the Awakening of the Wyrms.

Thrills, spills, and canon busting bitter pills are guaranteed, not to mention some brain melting coordination of armies, wizards and assorted entities into, what I hope is, a coherent timeline of possibilities.

Much fun was had in using the ideas of J.R.R Tolkien, Iron Crown Enterprises Middle Earth Role Playing game, and Anders Blixt (https://gondica.wordpress.com/) to create an alternate early history of the Fourth Age. Aligning famous names versus each other, re-using a smidge of Greek mythology, and developing (or destroying) various corners of Middle Earth proved challenging.  The incorporation of a Spy Game sub-plot with that ubiquitous fantasy trope of the ‘adventuring party’, enabled a players eye view on the action.

Feedback welcome – this story is not set in stone. I am happy to adjust to correct major errors herein.

Click here to see how it all pans out… Awakening of the Wyrms – Conclusion

Winning at Mohi, Falkirk and Poiters

Counterfactual re-fight of the battles of Mohi, Falkirk and Poiters

If you could go back in time and whisper in a general’s ear (and not get executed for impertinence or witchcraft) you could change the course of history. One could also point out their silly clothes and poor personal hygiene and casually mention that the fleas on the rats carry the plague, and that there is another continent across the western sea, and that mouldy bread can cure infections, and the formula for dynamite might come in handy too…

But sticking to counterfactual battles, apart from berating King Bela IV of Hungary on his hubris, William Wallace on his shoddy deployment, and King John II of France on the abysmal plan, you could actually help these chaps to win pivotal encounters. Mohi is a classic East vs West showdown of the Mongols vs a European (Hungarian) Army. Falkirk is probably best known as the battle in ‘Braveheart’ where William Wallace’s Scottish army is defeated. Poiters is the second major land battle of the Hundred Years War – another English versus French arse-whuppin’.

These three battles are unrelated other than that they tickled my fancy, weren’t overly complex engagements, and presented a not completely hopeless chance of reversal. So clicketty-click right here ( 20/20 Hindsight Re-fight #4 Mohi, Falkirk, Poiters) and find out how the losers screwed up and how I would unscrew ‘em!

Reversing Alesia, Crécy and the Boyne

How to win Alesia, Crécy, & the Battle of the Boyne

Turning that frown upside down for the Gauls at Alesia, the French at Crécy, and the Irish at the Battle of the Boyne.

The Armchair Corporal reverses the outcome of some of history’s famous battles by pointing out the bleeding obvious! Amazing battlefield insights are all too easy with Wikipedia, Osprey military books, BBC documentaries, fog-o-war penetrating goggles™, a dollop of arrogance, a comfy chair, common sense, and of course 20/20 Hindsight.

So sit back and marvel as I give Julius Caesar the run-around, scold yet more silly French kniggits, and rectify another Jacobite shemozzle.

Check it out at 20/20 Hindsight Re-fight #3 Alesia, Crécy, Boyne

Uthrael Beoac and the Wind Thrones

Wilderness RPG adventure in the Grey Mountains of Tolkien’s Middle Earth

Filling in one of the blanks of Middle Earth Role Playing.

Way back in the nineties Iron Crown Enterprises wrote the awesome ‘Northern Mirkwood’ campaign supplement for Middle Earth Role Playing. It detailed all sorts of places not just in Mirkwood but across northern Rhovanion. There was lots of info on cool locations from the Hobbit, as well as the Grey Mountains/Withered Heath et al. As usual the MERP maps were very detailed…

My eye was caught by a specific locale. High up in the Grey Mountains there was a large hidden valley called Uthrael Beoac. There were a couple of intriguing paragraphs about this valley in the text but nothing more. My interest was piqued.

Years passed and no details, let alone adventure books, about it emerged. Finally ICE released their Grey Mountains campaign book but alas- no further detail on Uthrael Beoac! And then ICE lost the rights to Middle Earth –Arghh!!!

Add a few years and long comes teh interwebz, and the groovy Middle Earth Role Playing wiki / the Notion Club archive (http://merp.wikia.com) with some intriguing little hints about fan modules. The Uthrael Beoac page (http://merp.wikia.com/wiki/Uthrael_Beoac) has a map that seems to indicate that at one point someone had done an adventure that TheWindThroneclosely matched the Wind Thrones illustration from Middle Earth: The Card Game. However I could find nothing else online (ok, so I failed my Spot Hidden roll) though my quest did turn up a French website with another illustration and some more ideas about what the valley could contain.

At that point I decided I would stop searching for what someone else had created and instead, detail the mysterious mountain valley the way I imagined it. Using the background hints provided by MERP, plus ideas from the Middle Earth Role Playing Wiki et al, I have outlined the history (and prehistory) of the valley, general adventuring locations, and some adventure plot-lines all in a rough imitation of the MERP format.

Check out my version of this wilderness adventure at…

Page 1:  Uthrael Beoac: Introduction, Overview & Getting There

or cut to the chase and find out where the treasure is…

Page 2: Uthrael Beoac: Valley Locations, About the Wind Thrones

and what you can kill/torment the players with…

Page 3: Uthrael Beoac: Inhabitants, Adventures, Timeline, & GM’s Notes

Reversing Agincourt, Naseby and Culloden

How the losers could have won at Agincourt, Naseby and Culloden

Bite sized historical rematches with 20/20 Hindsight

The Armchair Corporal turns the tables in another three famous battles. Talking about himself in third person hasn’t reduced AC’s amazing insights into how losers would have won, if only they were as brilliant as he!

Charles I of England, Bonnie Prince Charlie and some more ‘Medieval Dickheads’ all get a slap upside the head and some serious schooling in what they should have done if only they had 20/20 Hindsight and a dash of omniscience.

Chock full of fake retreats, superbly disciplined militia, and the obligatory flank march, check out these amateur military historian’s pipe dreams laid out in all their glory at 20/20 Hindsight Re-fight #2 Agincourt, Naseby, Culloden

Refighting Famous Battles – alt history

How to win the battles of Waterloo, Gettysburg and Hastings

Bite sized rematches: Omniscient Armchair Corporal out-generals the pros.

Any amateur history buff worth their salt has imagined re-fighting a battle and rewriting history. It just so happens that I eat famous battles for breakfast, so I’ve described my legendary skillz in the Alt History section. Napoleon, General Lee and some ‘Medieval Dickheads’ could learn a thing or two from me as I blitz Waterloo, march all over Gettysburg and rewrite 1066 in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle.

So take a step back in time and suspend all notions of the fog of war. In my world, commanders always do what they are told and have excellent cross country navigational skills. My physically exhausted troops can always keep marching, especially on the huge flank manoeuvres that are all the rage with Armchair Generals. Coordinating multiple attacks without radios or even semaphore just happens as my mind wills it.

If I wasn’t allergic to getting up early I would probably join the armed forces and get that world peace thing happening. In the meantime you should check out how to turn the tables in some classic engagements at the 20/20 Hindsight Refight page.