It is the year 1640 of the Third Age of Middle-earth, and the kingdom of Rhudaur, like all other lands, is still reeling from the depredations of the Plague (T.A. 1636). While Arthedain finds herself weak from the loss of military manpower, Cardolan is virtually extinct as an entity, and Rhudaur is an Angmarian subject state. Only in the Angle and along the Coldfells in southern and southeastern Rhudaur do Edain settlements remain, struggling to hold out against the Hillmen and Dunlendings. All the armies of Middle-earth, including the forces of the Witch-king of Angmar, find themselves short of recruits. Acting on the general lull in martial activity, the governor of the eastern borderlands — Elasander — is attempting to boost the border defenses in this last frontier of Rhudaur. Hampered by a scarcity of funds, Governor Elasander plans to strengthen the existing defensive works in the region rather than build new fortifications.

In his great wisdom, Elasander has chosen to ignore the normal prejudices of the world’s races, and is recruiting scouts from all backgrounds and races from nearby kingdoms to augment his meager forces. A trickle of Men, Elves, Dwarves, and even Hobbits have trickled in to answer the call to aid and fortify these eastern provinces of Arthedain.

Whether motivated by heroism, the chance for gold, or some other motive, you are among the recent recruits to offer service as scouts to Elasander, who dispatches orders from his citadel at Elnost.

Pregen Characters

You can use the pregens in the book (except for the Beorning).

Custom Characters

If you create your own custom character:

Abilities: Use the stat array method from the D&D Player’s Handbook.

Cultures: All cultures are allowed except Beornings (Beornings don’t exist in T.A. 1640). Note the following modifications or additions to cultures.

  • Bardings — Bardings at this time are simply known as Men of Dale or Dale Folk.
  • Dwarves — Use background as-is, but your place of origin is from Moria (or Khazad-dûm), which at this time is still alive and well with Dwarves. Only in T.A. 1980 do they dig too deep and encounter the Balrog. Erebor won’t be founded until the year 1999. The colony in the Iron Hills won’t be established until 2590.
  • Men of Arnor — This is a new culture which is simply a renamed Dúnedain, Man of Minas Tirith, or Riders of Rohan cultures.
  • NPC Races — Hillmen, Elves of Rivendell and Elves of Lindon, and Noldor Elves are not in the Adventures in Middle-earth book nor are they playable races (although you’ll be seeing them as NPCs).

Starting Equipment: Use the standard starting equipment and money appropriate to your class and culture, and standard of living (I’m still deciphering these rules).

Character Names: Names are an amazingly important part of keeping the tone of Middle-earth. Don’t make up a name; rather, select a name from the Adventures in Middle-earth book appropriate to your race and culture. Alternatively, select a name from this page: I would ideally like all characters to have unique first letters to their names to avoid confusion. Lastly, please review all character names past the GM for approval (to make sure you selected the right culture, etc.). 🙂

House Rules

  • This is a ‘B’ campaign where Stan runs games opportunistically, usually on Thursdays or Saturdays when our normal crew can’t meet or when I need to sub as a GM.
  • After odd numbered game sessions, you level up. After even numbered game sessions you have a Fellowship Phase which has its own rewards. Examples:
    • End of Game 1 — Level up to Level 2
    • End of Game 2 —Fellowship Phase
    • End of Game 3 —Level up to Level 3
    • End of Game 4 —Fellowship Phase
    • etc.
  • Anyone who does a blog post summarizing the game starts the next game session with Inspiration.

Differences from Generic D&D 5e

  • Adventures in Middle-earth (AiME) uses the standard D&D 5e rules but swaps in six classes, and replaces races with ‘cultures’ which are race/background combinations.
    AiME also has special rules for Journeys, Corruption, Audiences, & Fellowship Phases
  • AiME also adds these skills:
    • Riddle — An accepted custom among many creatures, speaking in riddles is usually allowed among strangers meeting for the first time who want to speak guardedly. Use Intelligence (Riddle) checks to discuss a subject while concealing part of what you know, such as when explaining something about yourself without revealing your true identity. This skill is also used to gain helpful insight into spoken or written riddles.
    • Lore — Your Intelligence (Lore) check measures your ability to recall unusual and obscure information about old legends, ancient war gear, bits of song, rare artifacts, and the reading of runes. Lore replaces the Arcana skill; magic is an imprecise term, for folk use it to describe both the blessings of the Elves and the deceits of the Enemy.
    • Shadow-lore — A dark branch of knowledge, Intelligence (Shadow-lore) checks allow you to share what you’ve learned about the ways of the Enemy and the various creatures that stalk through the shadows of Middle-earth. Where Lore deals with the past, Shadow-lore deals with the present and the rising threat of the Enemy’s many minions.
    • Traditions — Your Intelligence (Traditions) check measures your ability to recall the proper courtesies and etiquette expected by the various Free Folk cultures, along with some of their stories about their people and their respective histories. An Intelligence (Traditions) ability check is used whenever you wish to gain an audience with someone of influence. Traditions also covers the knowledge of such religion as exists in Middle-earth.

A Brief History of Middle-earth & Arnor

In twelve minutes, you can learn just about all you need to know! Watch these two videos if you have time:

Middle-earth in TA 1640

These adventures are set in Arnor, over a thousand years before the events of The Hobbit. Here is some background on Middle-earth in that region at the time of Third Age 1640:

  • Durin’s Folk still inhabit Moria; Erebor won’t be founded until the year 1999. The colony in the Iron Hills won’t be established until 2590.
  • In Mirkwood, around TA 1,000, a dark sorcerer known as the Necromancer took residence at the stronghold of Dol Guldur, though none will know until nearly a millennium later that this is the spirit of Sauron.
  • Also around TA 1,000, the Valar sent the five Wizards, or Istari, including Gandalf, to oppose Sauron and rally the free peoples of Middle-Earth against him.
  • The Ringwraiths reappeared in the year TA 1300, and began steadily assaulting Arnor (the Numenorian kingdoms in exile). Whether the Witch King (the head Ringwraith, or Nazgul) was acting on his own, or was being guided by Sauron, is not known.
  • The Beorning culture won’t come into existence until after the year 2941.
  • Arthedain is the only remaining North-kingdom; the current ruler is Argeleb II, tenth King of Arthedain (1589-1670).
  • Rhudaur is controlled by Hill-men allied with Angmar.
  • The Shire was ceded to the Hobbits less than forty years ago; the Stoors arrived only ten years ago.
  • The Great Plague swept through Middle-earth in 1636 to 1637. Hobbits wandering back east should be very rare (if at all).
  • Dale would be thriving, but the inhabitants would not be known as Bardings, but simply as ‘men of Dale’ or ‘Dale folk’.
  • The current Esgaroth would be the old town that had fallen into ruin long before the coming of Thorin and Company.
  • The present ruler of Gondor is Tarondor, twenty-seventh King of Gondor (1636-1798).His predecessor Telemnar (who ruled 1634-1636) died in the Great Plague with all his children. The capital is Minas Anor, Osgiliath having burned during the Kin-strife (1432-1448) and then having been abandoned following the Great Plague. Minas Anor will be renamed Minas Tirith after the fall of Minas Ithil in 2002.