[Middle-Earth] When to set a campaign?

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Havard
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[Middle-Earth] When to set a campaign?

Post by Havard » Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:03 pm

The One Ring RPG suggests placing the campaign during the time between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. What do you think are the advantages of setting a ME campaign at this time? Have you run campaigns in other eras?

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Re: [Middle-Earth] When to set a campaign?

Post by agathokles » Thu Sep 17, 2015 4:14 pm

It is a generally well known era. Also, the major powers of the setting disappear after the LotR events, and LotR implies that the setting changes considerably after the demise of Sauron and Saruman, and the departure of Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, and the others. This generally discourages playing in the 4th age.

It is possible to play in earlier eras, of course. For example, the campaigns I played in were set about 40 years before the Hobbit, and the other in TA 1980 (starting before the fall of Moria). I think that playing at any time between the Long Winter and the events of LotR doesn't change things too much, anyway.
On the other hand, the more remote the age, the less the information available about it in the LotR, and also in other published books.
Thus, playing in the First, Second or early Third Age becomes more difficult because little is known about, e.g., Arnor, the Dwarves of the First Age, etc.

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Re: [Middle-Earth] When to set a campaign?

Post by Falconer » Sat Sep 19, 2015 2:34 pm

I have always run it after the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring. A big reason to use Middle-earth in the first place is to capitalize on the players’ knowledge of (and, possibly, emotional investment in) the world. So I really want that familiar setup, with plenty of baddies at my disposal, where I more or less know who’s who and I’m not reinventing the wheel. I’m also 100% okay with creating a divergent timeline in the game, so, if you’re not, that’s another factor.
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Re: [Middle-Earth] When to set a campaign?

Post by Havard » Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:37 pm

Falconer wrote:I have always run it after the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring. A big reason to use Middle-earth in the first place is to capitalize on the players’ knowledge of (and, possibly, emotional investment in) the world. So I really want that familiar setup, with plenty of baddies at my disposal, where I more or less know who’s who and I’m not reinventing the wheel. I’m also 100% okay with creating a divergent timeline in the game, so, if you’re not, that’s another factor.
Those are some good points. I remember back in the 80s, some of my friends were signing up to a MERP game at a convention which was set in the 2nd Age. As they were hard core Silmarillion buffs at the time they were excited about joining this game, but extremely disappointed as the GM apparently knew little about the 2nd age and ran it pretty much as a straight fantasy game.

Wasn't there a computer game set very early in the 4th age? I think that could be an interesting setting as you still have some elves left and various Orc forces abandoned by Sauron might be up to no good...


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Re: [Middle-Earth] When to set a campaign?

Post by Tolwen » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:18 pm

I prefer a mid-TA setting. My favorite one is TA 1400-1450. It contains two major events that provide plenty of adventuring opportunities: The Second Northern War in 1409 when Cardolan falls (and its repercussions) and then the Kin-strife in Gondor about 30 years later. Especially the latter is challenging, as this background puts the character in the midst of a civil war. In all likelihood this incorporates all the gruesome aspects of such an event, where families and friends are pitted against each other in the struggle for the "right" way. In contrast, the war in Eriador is more "standard" where the lines of good and bad are more clearly drawn (but even here you can probably can find a lot of gray).
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Re: [Middle-Earth] When to set a campaign?

Post by JamesMishler » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:08 am

I've always wanted to run a Third Age campaign that begins with the characters going tomb-robbing in the Barrow Downs the day after the hobbits are captured by the barrow-wight -- and perish.

After the PCs kill the barrow-wight, they find treasure on the four recently-deceased hobbits... including a simple gold band in the pocket of one of the hobbits...

Of course, I can see such a campaign going south very quickly... but it would be interesting to see how it goes!

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Re: [Middle-Earth] When to set a campaign?

Post by Tolwen » Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:00 am

Havard wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:03 pm
The One Ring RPG suggests placing the campaign during the time between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. What do you think are the advantages of setting a ME campaign at this time? Have you run campaigns in other eras?
IMO the biggest advantage is the well known setting very close to Tolkien's main stories (Hobbit & LotR) and you might (depending on the camapign and GM) encounter the heroes from these stories. It is also close in tone to these stories (Sauron in power again and very powerful, the Free People much weaker and on the defensive), so you can easily design campaigns that emulate the basic tone of the stories without re-tracing their steps.
These are the points that TOR (and AME) capitalise on (and very likely the licensing necessities) very well.

The disadvantage is IMO that you are relatively fixed to this type of adventuring with little way to diverge from it (both in the setting and mechanics if you use TOR).

This is OTOH the biggest advantage of campaigning in other eras (like MERP did): You are still rooted in Middle-earth with its history (as provided by Tolkien) and associated events (which are plenty) and have greater freedom to design a campaign.

IMO there is no "right" or "wrong" approach in the ones above - it depends upon the preferences of those sitting on the table. The type of campaign is something that should be discussed beforehand with all participants. Some are not happy with a campaign too strictly orientated on the LotR/Hobbit, while others do not like a game set apart temporally and perhaps thematically. Both have their specific advantages and drawbacks.

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