Contained herein are some resources for conducting a game in the Fourth Age of Middle Earth, Awakening of the Wyrms campaign. Apologies if you have been directed here expecting more generic information – however you may find some useful bits and bobs if you have a quick browse. Additional information can be found in the conclusion to the Awakening of the Wyrms (beware spoilers) Guide to the Awakening of the Wyrms.
Note that this campaign takes place some 30 years after the fall of Barad-Dur. The events of the LoTR will still be fresh in most minds. The free folk will be barely stretching their wings at this point, still recovering from the millennia of Sauronic cultural oppression. Young races like Humans and Hobbits will be the most flexible to embrace the changed times whereas Dwarfs and Elves are slower and warier to adapt.
Emphasis should be placed upon (slightly) easier travel conditions and the vast under-populated areas of Middle Earth available for exploration/settlement. New powers and dangers can now arise.
4th Age Ideas to explore:
Forbidden Shire: The Shire is declared by Elessar to be off limits to non hobbits. This causes ire amongst traders and dwarfs! How does one get to Lindon or Ered Luin?!! Has Elessar made a mistake? Elves certainly ignore the edict. Will Dwarfs? New laws may have to be drafted in the next few years to free up the great east road to the coast. Hobbits may even object as they lose out on potential trade on the road. Will ring roads be built around the shire?
Rebuilding the North: The rebuilding of Arnor will see many travellers coming up the Greenway. The Shire also may do well exporting food +leaf. Perhaps there will be a Dunnish migration – up towards Bree or beyond? Inns may be built. The Barrow Downs will take its toll of the inquisitive. Will Fornost also be settled?
Breeland Boom – this area is fertile and close to the Shire and Annuminas, and on a crossroads.
Dunmen on the South Road – How will Elessar and Eomer deal with the less than helpful Dunmen dwelling on the main arterial road between the Arnor and Gondor. The potential severing of the road linking Gondor and Arnor may lead to road forts in Enedwaith? War? The Incorporation of Dunland into Arnor?
Ghost Ranger Town – stripped of population who have moved to Gondor or Annuminas, what now for the few Rangers who live in the Angle? And what of the dangers they previously guarded against? Are trolls gathering in Rhudaur? Banditry (or some other foul folk) around Bree?
Angmar Reignited? With Mordor devastated will the new axis of evil move north? Goblin Town, Gundabad and Mt Gram are three known goblin lairs that are relatively unscathed by the War of the Ring. With other dodgy places like Carn Dum and the troll infested Ettenmoors nearby this is an entire region of baddies waiting for a leader to unite them.
Lorien Depopulated – Many of the Galadrim have departed and Celeborn will soon move to Rivendell. What will become of the Golden Wood?
The Rise of Gunpowder? – has Saruman has let the technological cat out of the bag? Will industrialisation and vast levee armies of musketeers emerge?
The Rise of the Uruk Hai and Olog Hai. Sauron and Saruman recently created sunlight resistant Orcs and Trolls. They seem to be a larger, superior breed. Infused with the blood of men, and without megalomaniac leaders sending them on doomed wars, will these powerful new species take their destinies into their own hands? Imagine a few generations of not being scared to death and warped by demon/undead overlords, and following their own instincts and common sense. “A few good lads striking out on their own, like the good old days.” With intelligent warg steeds, innate survival ability, cunning weapon-smithing, and their hardy constitution, new Uruk Hai kingdoms may rapidly emerge deep in the mountains and forests. Perhaps not so inimical to the free folk but certainly not overly friendly either! In some ways these foul folk have many admirable qualities. They may be intrinsically evil but still make for an interesting culture, that must now fight against the odds to survive.
Isostatic Rebound – with the termination of the preservative effect of the 3 rings perhaps there are magical repercussions in the areas around Rivendell, Lorien and Mordor. Wormholes into the past? Wight infestations? Geologic upheavals? Whirlwinds with ageing damage? Time distortions?
Return of the Entwives? Are they lurking in the Northfarthing or will they return out of Rhun on a cool magic land-ark…see the classic G. Stapleton adventure from White Dwarf 87 Taurefanto or Other Hands Issue 27 Taurinafanto.
Longevity Cults: Tolkien proposed a sequel idea about Gondorians making the same mistake as the Numenoreans and desiring Elven immortality. The secret corruption in the shadows.
Ruin Mining I: Entrepreneurial souls may realise the vast wealth that ruins of evil may hold. Barad Dur contains a palantir and probably numerous rings of power, gold and jewels. Tomb raiders mioght sneak in, or vast mining works could be set up to sift the rubble. Either is dangerous work in the wilds of Mordor…who knows what still lurks deep down? Places like Dol Guldur, Minas Morgul et al are other likely targets.
Ruin Mining II: Dwarfs might embark on this practice at Barad Dur claiming to be searching for what remains of the 7 rings. Conflict might arise with Gondor. Or Elessar himself may order the search for the Barad Dur palantir as factions from Nurn, Rhun and Goblin tribes vie for control of the area.
New relics emerge. What lost items will be uncovered? Durin’s Axe? Rings? The Silmaril thrown into the sea may be recovered and lead to a new age of jealousy. Relics of Sauron or Morgoth may be recovered.
The Vacuum of Mordor I – With the powerful realm of Sauron gone suddenly NW Middle Earth is an area to be expanded into. Mordor was the linchpin holding back the vast numbers of men in Haradwaith and Far Rhun. Nurn may be the first to cry for assistance as Easterlings move into the open plains of Mordor. Imagine Mordor suddenly colonised by Southrons and the Morgul Vale and Udun again becoming crucial contested passes. Or Easterlings just swarm through the Brown Lands into the Anduin Vales and begin crossing into Eriador?
The Vacuum of Mordor II – With Sauron and the Nazgul gone perhaps other evils may now safely arise knowing that they cannot be enslaved to the Dark Lord’s will. Otherworldly beings like Balrogs, Shelob-lings, Werewolves, Vampires, Giants, Watchers in the Water etc may now seek dominions of their own. The Dragons of the Withered Heath may even have been wary of Sauron perhaps knowing he could ensnare them? Other Istarii may return, and there may have been more than just the 5. Tom Bombadil’s evil twin? The spirit of Caradhras may be an entity? What lurks in the ruins of Thangorodrim or Angband in the uttermost north?
Havens for PCs to gather/recuperate:
Free folk havens
Grey Havens/Lindon, The Shire (hobbits only), Breeland, Annuminas, Rivendell, Thranduil’s Halls, Erebor, Dale, Laketown, Iron Hills, Edoras, Helm’s Deep +Aglarond, Lorien, Gondor including Minas Tirith, Dol Amroth, Linhir, Pelargir.
Non canon havens: Rangertown (somewhere in the Angle), Tharbad (new bridge community), Fornost, Sarn Ford (trading station for the shire?), Maethelburg, Midmirk, Celduinford, Beorning town at the old ford, Woodmen town in southern mirkwood, road forts along the great east road, Villages of lake nurnen and the country of Free Nurn, East Bight.
Non-aligned or Foul Folk havens
Goblin town, Carn Dum, Mount Gram, Gundiabad, Sarn Goriwing, Moria, Caverns of Pain, Mordor: specifically Durthang, Morgai Hold, Ash Mountain holds. Also the Dunnish clan lands, Umbar, Harad, Khand.
Timeline for the Awakening of the Wyrms Campaign
- Aelindur’s henchmen intercept a Gondorian recovery mission and steal the Forochel Palantiri.
- Aelindur receives the Palantiri – she and her children learn to use them.
- She dispatches her Half Orc son Fytaris as an emissary to Gundabad with the smaller Palantir.
- Fytaris enters Gundabad and gains acceptance.
- Aelindur advises Gundabad on likely raid targets – the Goblins begin uncanny strikes at settlements and caravans in the Anduin Vales +Arthedain.
- An informant from Celebannon in the Woodland Realm reveals that the Wind Thrones high in the Grey Mountains project a Dragon repelling aura.
- Aelindur sends a team to Uthrael Beoac to investigate the Wind Thrones.
- Goblin attacks in the North continue. Warg riders raid Dale+ Celebannon.
- Aelindur uses the Palantir to investigate Dragons in the Withered Heath.
- Visiting Northern emissaries report Goblin attacks to Gondor.
- Using the Palantir to coordinate with Gundabad’s rulers, Aelindur reads their minds, and discovers that the Ulûkai of Morgoth, resides in Gundabad.
- More Goblins raids: the Firing of Lorien, Rivendell is probed and precise raiding on the Great East road. The Council of Rivendell is called.
- Aelindur guides teams to treat with the Dragons Throkmaw, Bairinax and Itangast, but to no avail.
- Aelindur’s team working at Uthrael Beoac unlock the secret of the Wind Thrones.
- Council of Rivendell – Small forts are to be built along the Great east road and Gundabad to be cleansed by united forces from Eriador and Rhovanion.
- The Uthrael Beoac team reach Framsburg and communicate with Aelindur.
- Small way-station forts are constructed along the Great East Road.
- Aelindur journeys to Gundabad – hoping to steal Morgoth’s gem and rouse the Dragons.
- Gondor marches north to Edoras where the army is joined by the Eorlingas. The Western force, led by Elessar, marches towards Fornost. The Eastern force led by Éomer marches up the Anduin to Maethelburg.
- Aelindur meets her team in Framsburg and sends them back up to the Wind Thrones to prepare for her coming.
- At Fornost, contingents of Bree & Shire folk and Ered Luin Dwarfs join the march. In Angmar they are joined by cavalry from Imladris to complete the Army of Eriador.
- The Eastern force joins Beorning+ Woodmen contingents at Maethelburg. A large force from Dale & Laketown, Erebor and the Woodland Realm meet in the Grey Mountain Narrows. They plan to meet Éomer near Gundabad to form the Army of the Anduin.
- Allied forces sweep Angmar & the Upper Anduin, approaching Gundabad in a pincer movement.
- Aelindur enters Gundabad and steals Morgoth’s Gem. She activates it’s power: the summons of Morgoth rouses the Dragons.
- The Wise are alerted. Radagast journeys to meet Elessar.
- Aelindur journeys to Uthrael Beoac and manipulates the Wind Thrones – the repulsion ward is moved to sweep the Dragons out of the Withered Heath.
- The Army of Eriador crushes goblin forces from Mount Gram then approaches the Gundabad passes, destroying a force of Hill Trolls.
- The Army of the Anduin is now drawing up before Gundabad after scouring outlying towers and caves.
- The Army of Eregion enters the mountain pass to Gundabad and slays a lesser Cold-drake. Radagast joins Elessar.
- The Dragons Bairanax and Angurth attack the Army of the Anduin. Bairanax rips through the Gondorian infantry and Beornings until he is torn apart by Great Bears. Angurth kills Thorin III, burns the men of Esgaroth and savages the Elves but is finally slain by Thranduil. Allied casualties are horrendous. Goblins and Wolves rout the shattered allied army.
- The Dwarfs and Bardings are cut off and fight their way east.
- Eomer, Thranduil, the Beorning chieftains, and 1000 Elves and Men conduct fighting withdrawal south.
- The Army of Eregion exits the Gundabad pass. Orcs attack the Gondorians at the mouth of the pass but soon fall back towards Gundabad. The Goblins are ravaged by the newly arrived Throkmaw, a winged Fire-Drake. Throkmaw turns and enters Gundabad while Elessar retreats west back across Angmar.
- Dwarfs and Bardings escape only to be annihilated by Culgor, a wingless Cold Drake.
- Éomer & Thranduil’s force escape when the Goblin pursuit is scattered by the Eagles.
- Erebor is assailed by the Cold-drake Agburanar. The Dragon is slain by bolt throwers.
- Werewolves slay Aelindur’s exhausted Uthrael Beoac team. The Shadow Queen flees.
- The Army of the Anduin are ambushed by Goblins along the Langwell. Eagles assist and allow the survivors to make it to Framsburg.
- Army of the Anduin departs Framsburg. Lomaw soon takes the town as its home.
- Itangast attacks Erebor but the main gate holds. The Wyrm burns Dale to the ground and heads west.
- Army of the Anduin reaches Maethelburg on the Anduin.
- Laketown is attacked by a Cold-drake that swims out to the town. A shield-maiden of Dorwinion slays the beast.
- Aelindur’s son infiltrates the retreat to Fornost but quickly departs to the south.
- Itangast destroys Celebannon then captures Thranduil’s Halls.
- The Army of the Eregion traps Wolf-rider pursuit in a cavalry envelopment/ambush.
- The Fire-drake, Ruingurth, captures Barak-Shathur, an Iron Hills dwarf settlement.
- The Werewolves start trying to use the Wind Thrones.
- Aelindur reaches Sarn Goriwing in the Mountains of Mirkwood.
- Dragons settle into new lairs across the North from the Ettenmoors to the Iron Hills.
- Throkmaw inhabits Mount Gundabad – the Orcs flee to the High Pass, Gram and Carn Dûm.
- Erebor enters into a state of siege. Itangast and Ruingurth terrorise the Long-lake region and bring fire and famine to the land.
- Aelindur reaches her home on the Gwathlo.
- Barding refugees found a village at Celduin ford on the edge of the forest.
- The Army of Eregion makes it back to Fornost and prepares to redeploy.
- Much of eastern Greenwood is burnt – Thranduil’s Elvish refugees resettle their old capital of Caras Amarth in north-west Mirkwood. Many Eldar flee to Lorien or beyond.
- Dragons raid at will from their new lairs.
- Laketown torched by Itangast – the land of the Bardings faces ruin.
- Some Dwarfs depart to the Ered Luin. Many continue dangerous supply runs to Erebor and Azanulinbar-dûm in the Iron Hills.
- Barding refugees establish a village in Eryn Lasgalen on the Forest Road.
- Rhudaur and the High Pass become thick with Orcs.
- The forts along the Great East Road are reinforced. Regular patrols out of Fornost, Amon Sul and Imladris.
- Maethelburg is bolstered by Rohan – the fishing hamlet becomes a frontier fortress. Northmen and Beorning patrols battle with Orcs in the High Pass.
- Beorning settlements retract south of Maethelburg.
- Lorien patrols the Redhorn and Gladden passes and sends probing missions into the north Anduin basin (the Wyrm Vale).
- Barding refugees build a village in the East Bight of Eryn Lasgalen.
- Lomaw is slain by Celeborn in Framsburg.
- King Elessar bases more troops in Arnor and northern Gondor.
- Hyarleuca occupies the ruins of Framsburg.
- Barrow Downs opened for exploration. Search for Dragon-slaying weaponry and heroes.
- Aelindur recovers and prepares for the next phase…
Ideas for adventures in the Dragon ravaged Fourth Age
The following are intended as adventure idea prompts for GMs for use in the Awakening of the Wyrms 4th age campaign setting.
Free Folk scenarios...
- Players are scouts/ minor commanders in various actions during the Awakening.
- Players take the role of major commanders on a strategic level!
- Defend a road fort from goblins/trolls/lesser drakes until relief arrives.
- Players receive permission to enter the Barrow Downs in search of useful weapons.
- Survive the retreat from Gundalok back through the Narrows to Erebor and Dale.
- Escort a caravan along the Great East Road from Bree to Maethelburg.
- Players are recruited to scout a possible Dragons lair: stealth is a priority.
- Players are recruited to slay a Dragon! Non heroes need not apply.
- Rumours spur the player to seek out Uthrael Beoac and explore/report.
- Clear out Mount Gram/ or the newly reinhabited Carn Dum.
- Resupply Erebor whilst avoiding winter, Wargs, bandits, Orcs and Wyrms.
- Guide refugees from Laketown to Erebor or along the forest road through Mirkwood!
- Spiders become active again. Explore East Lorien with the Woodmen. Is Shelob here?!
- Defend Barding villages on the edge of Mirkwood from bandits, spiders, orcs, etc
- Retrieve items+treasure from “abandoned” Dragon lairs in the Withered Heath.
- Track down the Shadow Queen via her agents/ clues/ using the Palantir of Orthanc.
- Foil assassination attempts on Aragorn and Arwen as they travel to Rivendell.
- A lesser Drake alights in the shire, can Hobbits alone bring it down?
- The Battle of Breeland: refight the wolf rider attack on Archet.
- The lesser drake Klyaxar and Wold Orcs sever trade at Rauros: investigate & fix it!
- Defend Amon Sul from the magical mind-bending assault of Khuzudrepa.
- Return to Cameth Brin. The old capital of Rhudaur is now an Orc nest threatening the Trollshaws.
- Retake Rhudaur: participate in a united effort to kill Khuzudrepa at Penmorva.
- Radagast needs volunteers to ascend Amon Thyryn to talk to the Great Eagles.
- Escaped slaves from Gundabad speak of an Uruk wearing a helm that controls wyrms… where is it now?
- The long winter: White Wolves and Ice Drakes invade Arnor.
- Battle of the Carrock: Trapped by Orcs you must defend against overwhelming numbers.
- Beorning hunter killer pack – join the Bear Lords in a concerted effort vs a Dragon.
- Passes are cut. A Misty Mountain patrol is trapped by a Cold Drake and Orcs.
- Who roused the Dragons? Elessar uses his Palantir to glimpse what Aelindur is up to. Catch her spies and track her down.
- Thranduil wants his hall back. Scout Aradhrynd and see what Itangast is up to.
- Strategic move 1: kill Itangast and free the North East. Assassins or bring an army?
- Strategic move 2: Break Goblin Gate – The High Pass must be cleansed.
Foul Folk scenarios…
- Capture a road fort.
- Defend the high pass for a month/ defend Cameth Brin/ Goblin Gate.
- Escape Gundabad and make it to Gram/ High Pass.
- Raid along the Forest Road and make it back to Sarn Goriwing.
- Lorien and Rivendell are no longer hidden/protected realms…investigate+report!
- The cave drake has taken the orc tower. Boss sez “Get it out, now!”
- Bounty on elves is now huge. And double if alive. Off to Riven-smell we go!
- Climb the mountain and steal the eagle egg.
- Rescue the Orc princess trapped in Gundabad – beware the Dragon Throkmaw!
- Talk to the Dragon and tell it about all the money in the man town.
- Trek through Mirkwood (it isn’t any easier for Orcs!) with a secret message.
- Burn the Elf forest of Lorien to lure the white fiends into an ambush.
- Aelindur’s agent in Edoras is missing. Sneak in and investigate.
- Find out who killed the High Priest before Throkmaw wrecks Gundabad.
- Track down the Elf woman who took the Ulukai.
- Stop Gondorian agents from investigating Uthrael Beoac.
- The commander of the Drake Gate had a Dragon charming helm – where is it now?
- Ice-orc lord of Forochel wants Uthrael Beoac investigated – get in and out in one piece.
- Journey into Moria, find the Orcs and inspire them to raid Lorien.
- Rescue Aelindur’s daughter from the Werewolves of Uthrael Beoac.
- Seek out the Giants of Hithaeglir and bribe them to smash the Northmen/Imladris.
- Aelindur wants to know why Urial the Dragon can’t be moved – lead a team to talk to the Drake at Steel Fall in Cirith Himminond.
- Strategic move 1: destroy Maethelburg and sever the Great East Road.
- Strategic move 2: counter the siege of Goblin Gate.