Could the Eagles fly the Ring-bearer to Mount Doom? YES, but they’d have to be very sneaky…
The biggest plot hole in The Lord of the Rings is arguably “why not use the Eagles to get to Mordor?”
But imagine an alternate universe where Tolkien wrote LotR, with the same internal consistency, except the Fellowship of the Ring ride the Eagles to Mount Doom…
Could they get there? You bet! But it’s not as simple as it sounds. How do the Fellowship get in touch with the Eagles? Which way would they go? Who would go? How long would it take? What precautions would they take? How would they get over the mountains and past the winged Nazgûl?
All these questions and more are answered at Flying the Eagles to Mordor – A ‘How-To’ Guide.
Seriously, “Fly You Fools!!”
Tolkien’s contour map reveals some clues.
One does not simply walk into Mordor – One looks at a map first!
What-the-Uruk was Gandalf planning on doing if he survived Moria and guided the Fellowship beyond Lorien? Specifically, how was he going to get into Mordor?!!
Tolkien may not have written Mithrandir’s plan down, but he seems to have left some subtle cartographic clues. Check out the analysis ( Gandalf’s Plan to Enter Mordor ) of the contour map of Gondor & Mordor in the front of The Return of the King.
Tweaking a classic Traveller game
Broadsword was a cool adventure for Traveller, a sci-fi role playing game by GDW. The booklet had fabulous detail on the mercenary Broadsword class starship, but sheesh did the scenarios need some work or what?!
The 800 tonne mercenary cruiser was the bomb! The ugly lil flying pumpkin was kitted out with beam lasers, missile racks, two modular cutters with potentially a squadron or two of star-fighters! AND it had three squads of marines armed to the teeth with hi-tech gear: ATVs, gauss rifles, fusion guns, pointy sticks- yeah baby!! All this was detailed with floorplans, a pecking order for the entire crew, SOPs etc. But as for the provided adventure…yikes!
Rather than just a game of Traveller, the Broadsword adventure had vague mass combat scenarios more intended for Striker and High Guard: GDW’s dense ground and space combat rule systems. The overall campaign was a great idea, loaded with possibilities: The players conduct ground and space operations to prop up the regime of Garda Vilis during a rebellion. But the 4 scenarios are missing something. Namely crucial details, skulduggery of any kind, plot twists, and GM’s advice for when the players do the unexpected.
Click on Sharpening Broadsword: Adventure 7 to check out my expansion of the Garda Vilis campaign back into the realms of a RPG with added zing for the crew of the Broadsword.
Rip-snorting fantasy adventure wherein players lead the defence of an isolated Inn against the attack of a cannibalistic horde.
Couldn’t be bothered with a long wilderness trek to reach a dungeon? Need to satisfy your players with a bit of gratuitous violence that doesn’t involve random monsters waiting in rooms? Want a quick, ready to go scenario for players in between dungeon crawls? Fancy a small scale siege where it makes sense for the Player Characters to be in charge?
Well look no further. Whilst many an RPG adventure starts at a tavern, this adventure is AT THE TAVERN. The standard gaming trope of a colourful Inn (with numerous squabbling patrons) is smashed together with the “hold your ground” cliche (shades of Rorke’s Drift) in “Defend the Coaching Inn.”
The players meet one evening at a lonely tavern on a forested back-road: normally they’d be rolling for rumours, buying iron rats, harassing the bar-staff with 10′ poles, and picking fights. This time the PCs skip the ‘information’ and ‘wilderness trek’ phases and jump straight into the action as they help defend the inn from a horde of cannibalistic humanoids.
This stand-alone adventure can easily be slotted into a long standing campaign as a one off, ding dong battle. Or the scenario can be expanded into several sessions as the action dictates and the players follow up different plot threads. The inventive GM can also weave a murder mystery sub-plot into the narrative for added flavour.
Whilst designed for the World of Warhammer, this adventure is written in the style of no stat gaming and can easily be used with Dungeons & Dragons, GURPS, Fate and many other fantasy rules & settings.
So clickety-click on Defend the Coaching Inn and see if you can hold your ground; shield the womenfolk; slay the invaders; defend the Inn and most importantly… protect the beer!
Optimising the Fellowship of the Ring: the Nine Walkers – a strategic revision.
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.
But anyone with an ounce of cunning and a desire to maximise the chances of success has probably asked themselves…
“Why take four hobbits?”
“What about bringing some more ranged weapons and healing potions?”
“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?! Most importantly, 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”
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: so please find herein the epic conclusion to the Awakening of the Wyrms, an alt history of the 4th Age of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
Thrills, spills, and canon busting bitter pills are guaranteed, not to mention some brain melting coordination of armies, wizards and assorted entities into a coherent timeline of 4th age possibilities.
The ideas of J.R.R Tolkien, Iron Crown Enterprises’ Middle Earth Role Playing game, and Anders Blixt (https://gondica.wordpress.com/) have been smashed together to re-invent the early history of the Fourth Age. Aligning famous names versus each other, whilst riffing-off Greek mythology and recent world events, and developing (or destroying) various corners of Middle Earth proved challenging and a little inhuman. Hence the incorporation of a Spy Game sub-plot, using the ubiquitous fantasy trope of the ‘adventuring party’, enabling a more on-the -ground view and a role-players perspective 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
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!