PRESS RELEASE – Light-hearted adventures for 5th edition fantasy on Kickstarter

Light-hearted adventures for 5th edition fantasy on Kickstarter

Game designers John Scott and Terry Herc launch their Kickstarter for Professor Humbert Drumsley: 5e Adventure Codex

January 29, 2019​ – Game designers John Scott and Terry Herc have launched their first Kickstarter campaign for Professor Humbert Drumsley: 5e Adventure Codex, a collection of short adventures for the 5th edition of the world’s oldest fantasy roleplaying system.

Since first publishing in 2017, Terry Herc has been producing supplements for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons on the DMs Guild. With a number of best selling products, Terry is bringing this experience to Kickstarter, along with John Scott as co-writer on their new book.

Professor Humbert Drumsley is filled with lore and short side treks, perfect for when characters are between major adventures and need something a bit lighter. Heavily influenced by Rincewind from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and the Ice King in Adventuretime, you’ll find Humbert a humorous addition to any campaign.

“Our playtesters have really enjoyed Humbert,” said John. “They really caught on with the premise of him as a menace to the town. They’re not so much “questing” as they are in “damage control” mode.”

Some of the adventures in the Codex include Magic Items on the Loose, Ogre for Mayor, and Bats, Braziers, and Bugbears. One of the adventures, Oh, I Hate Spiders!, has already been released as a freebie on DriveThruRPG to help promote the campaign.

“We really wanted to get some great art in the book,” said Terry. “That’s why we’re using some amazing pieces by Rick Hershey of Fat Goblin Games and Jeremy Hart of Jeremy Hart Illos. Not only that, we’ve got Travis Legge of Aegis Studios lined up to do the layout, which is truly fantastic.”

The pledge options on the Kickstarter include the PDF, as well as print-on-demand softcover and hardcover options. There’s also an exclusive signed Collectors Editions, which includes a personalized message and free shipping to anywhere in the world. “We’re really excited to deliver our first printed book to backers,” said Terry. “Using DriveThruRPG’s print-on-demand service will help us get books out to our backers quickly.”

“We’ve got some really great stretch goals planned,” said John. “Not just Funding stretch goals, we’ve also got Social and Backer goals too. We’re also looking forward to engaging with our backers, some of our stretch goals will need their input.”

“We’re very excited to bring this to Kickstarter. With a little help from the roleplaying community, we can bring this book to life. And with some luck, we can smash through our stretch goals and make the finished book even bigger,” added Terry.

Professor Humbert Drumsley: 5e Adventure Codex is accepting pledges on Kickstarter through March 1st.

 

Project link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/terryherc/professor-humbert-drumsley-5e-rpg-adventure-codex

Adventures in Middle-Earth 5e Play Review – The Second Journey, An Unexpected TPK

Last week, I reviewed our first Journey of the game. It went stupidly well. This week, I’ll continue the story of the first session and our second Journey. It goes stupidly. Again, I’ll discuss the mechanics of the system a bit and this time some battle numbers.

At the end I mention Cubicle 7’s January sale – 25% off Adventures in Middle-earth™ Player’s Guide and Loremaster’s Guide Bundle.

[Trigger Warning: Violence against D&D wolves. Not real animals, but in-game violence.]

 

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In case you want to catch up on my prior Adventures in Middle-earth 5e Play Review articles:

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Our Loremaster is Mike and our fellowship consists of:

 

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Gwynnestri’s elven friend, Adabeuond, takes the fellowship to meet with King Thranduil of the Mirkwood Elves. Our goal is to gain his permission to travel north through his woods. After our great rolls for the first Journey, Gwynnestri obtains permission for all of us, even the dwarf, to pass through his kingdom and, in exchange, she agrees to report back what she learns.

The fellowship gets to stay the night at the King’s Hall and partake in their merrymaking. That night, Kort plays an ocarina (a haunting melody).

“Why an ocarina, cousin? Why not an oboe?”

“Because it doesn’t require a tongue, you twit, it’ll hurt more!”

(You see, Kort doesn’t have a tongue and it’s a whole thing.)

Our Loremaster, Mike, declares that a new Journey begins. We keep the same Journey roles as the first time around:

  • Kort, the Hushed, a Slayer, was assigned the Hunter position.
  • Gwynnestri of Mirkwood, Treasure Hunter, ended up as our Scout.
  • Robgud Clarfield, a Hobbit Scholar, ended up as the Guide.
  • Finn of Gondor, a 17-year-old human, took the Look-out assignment.

We lead with a roll for the Embarkation Table. The guide (me) rolls a d12 plus modifiers and the result was a 7: Feasts Fit for the Kings of Ancient Times. This was not a bad result as it gave the entire fellowship a +1 to all Skill Checks for the duration of this Journey.

Next, it’s the Journey Events Table and, I mean, how bad could that be? A second d12 roll (plus bonuses) for 12. Journey Events Table = Many Meetings? Fly you Fools! That led to a call for the Look-out to make a WIS (Perception) roll, which John failed.

Bookkeeping complete, the next morning (in-game) we continue walking along the side of the river. That night, the Many Meetings? Fly you Fools! and that failed Perception roll… ay, gawd… Yeah, that resulted in Finn spotting a 12’ wolf across the river, as you do in Mirkwood. His Nature check (17) confirmed it’s not a worg or a natural wolf of any kind. Finn, the 17-year-old human, points out the monstrosity and Gwynnestri, the elven Treasure Hunter, does a Shadow-lore check (13) to realize it’s The Werewolf of Mirkwood, an agent of The Necromancer, a spirit in wolf form, a foe far greater than the party could handle (as 1st level characters).

[NOTE: For Many Meetings? Fly you Fools!, the rulebook states that low-level parties should encounter enemies equal to their station… The Werewolf of Mirkwood is *not* equal to our station since it’s CR 6… but that is how Mike runs games sometimes.]

By now, the whole fellowship has an idea of what we’re facing so Kort, the Hushed, the dwarven Slayer, decides to wade across the river and confront it. Gwynnestri runs after Kort and talks him down from chasing down the werewolf.

From its position across the water, the werewolf summons 12 wolves (each CR 1/2). They split into two groups of 6 each with one group fording the river in front of us to attack while the other heads down river to cross. To get Robgud out of danger and let him use his bow, Kort tosses the Hobbit Scholar up a tree. Following suit, the human and elf climb trees as well. There is a campfire on the ground. This leaves Kort on the ground so he charges at the half dozen wolves that crossed the ford as we shoot.

The setup is: Trees with Robgud, Gwynnestri, and Finn in them, the campfire (for light), Kort, the 6 wolves, the river, and then the Werewolf of Mirkwood on the far side.

From above, we have Advantage on shooting so it’s a round of hits with damage like: Gwynnestri (11 damage to slay a wolf), Finn (6 damage), and Robgud (5 damage). The wolves lock with Kort. He strikes one with his mattock for 9 damage (killing the wolf). Many of the wolves miss Kort, but one hits. As a Bonus Action, Kort activates his Battle-fury (think Barbarian Rage).

From the trees, we continue to shoot the wolves that are not engaged with Kort. Gywnn does 15 damage (another death), Robgud does 8 damage, but Finn misses. Kort attacks doing 17 damage killing that wolf.

Throughout the fight, the Werewolf of Mirkwood has observed without becoming involved. This has been critical to our success since, you know, he’d tear through us like Hobbits at a buffet if he joined in.

For thematic purposes, the Loremaster gives Kort another combat action as Kort throws (NAT 20 + 5) the freshly killed wolf carcass at the giant werewolf. It hits the beast to no effect (because if he dove in, that’d end us) and combat continues. Gwynnestri shots the last wolf for 7 (Finn and Robgud miss). The last wolf attacks Kort for 4 damage but Kort kills it (15 damage).

Combat over, we survived and really didn’t take a terrible beating. From across the river, the Werewolf of Mirkwood glares at Kort. Kort flings the corpses of the wolves at the Werewolf of Mirkwood leading to a growl-off at each other. Intimidation checks of 16 to 14 leaves Kort slightly ahead. Everything seems good though there was not enough time for a Short Rest. Instead, Finn looks to the south to see more wolves coming (6 more). Only this time, the wolves were coming up our backside so the setup changed:

The 6 wolves, the trees with Robgud, Gwynnestri, and Finn in them, the campfire (which is too far from the wolves to provide light ending our Advantage), Kort, the river, and then the Werewolf of Mirkwood on the far side.

Add to that, Kort is so involved with the Werewolf of Mirkwood that he has Disadvantage on his Perception to even realize the wolves are coming up behind him. He rolls a 1 and a 1 because of the Disadvantage, so he takes a 1, totally oblivious.

We go with the same strategy. Between Finn and Robgud, they kill an incoming wolf. Gwynn kills one on her own (14 damage). Kort, completely distracted, gets hit by the incoming wolves (for 9 damage and 12 damage). Despite the Battle-fury reducing his damage and having some high starting Hit Points, he’s down to 3 HP. Still, he counterattacks and does 14 damage, killing another wolf.

With Kort on his last leg, Finn and Gwynnestri decide to climb down from the tree and attempt to distract the wolves and aid Kort. However, neither is successful in attacking or distracting the wolves. Instead, the wolves knock Kort below 0 HP, another hits Finn for 9 damage (so he’s just barely standing), and yet another hits Gwynn for 9 damage knocking her below 0 HP. There are 4 wolves left (2 fine, 2 wounded) versus Robgud and Finn. Finn flees for a tree while Robgud shoots a wounded one for 8 damage, slaying it. The last 3 wolves fail a homebrew morale check and flee.

On the ground, Robgud instructs Finn on how to save Kort with the Athelas while Robgud uses his one application of Hands of the Healer to restore Gwynn to 6 HP. Kort, just barely up after this encounter, glares at the Werewolf across the river. In a small bit of deference over a well-fought battle, the Werewolf of Mirkwood leaves back into the night.

For those keeping track at home, the Werewolf of Mirkwood (CR 6) and 12 wolves (CR 1/2 each) gave a CR total of 12, or 6, depending on how you count. Any encounter calculator will rank that encounter as “Deadly”. Had those wolves not retreated, we would have had at least two party members die during the first session. Had the Werewolf of Mirkwood joined in directly, I’d be telling you about rolling up a new character. However, it didn’t and the fellowship survived.

As well, this encounter should have resulted in 2 Shadow Points and a level of Exhaustion for each character, and a -1 to the Arrival Roll for the fellowship. However, since the encounter itself was so brutal, Mike let us skip all of the additional negatives. Instead, we got 200 XP each and could call it a night… [Until next Friday.]

 

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Cubicle 7 is taking pre-orders for Adventures in Middle-earth – Bree-land Region Guide + PDF on there site (here). As soon as you order, you get the PDF.

Logo taken from Bundle of Holding’s Adventures in Middle-Earth for D&D 5e offering.

 

On Cubicle 7’s website, they have their “January Sale Offer!

25% off Adventures in Middle-earth™ Player’s Guide and Loremaster’s Guide Bundle for a limited time only. This bundle gets you both the Player’s Guide and the Loremaster’s Guide, with free PDFs of both.”

 

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliated links to DriveThruRPG’s affiliate program and/or Humble Bundle’s Humble Partner program. 

Adventures in Middle-Earth 5e Play Review – The First Journey

The point of this series – a play review for Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle-earth for 5e – has been covered here, making my character, a Hobbit Scholar, has been discussed here, the character backstories ran here, and John McGuire shares the backstory for his character, Finn of Gondor, here, so with this column let’s get into the first meeting, the first job, and the first Journey where I discuss some of the Journey mechanics that AiME adds to the existing Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition system (labeled “FIRST JOURNEY” if you wish to skip ahead).

Our Loremaster is Mike and our fellowship consists of:

  • Gwynnestri of Mirkwood (often shortened to Gwynn). An elven Treasure Hunter (read, Rogue). Player: Rebecca
  • Kort, the Hushed, son of Korith, son of Hoin. A mute dwarven Slayer (read, Barbarian). Player: Stephen
  • Finn of Gondor. A 17-year-old human Wanderer (read, Ranger) with several possible backstories. Player: John McGuire (Tessera Guild)
  • Robgud Clarfield (often shortened to Rob). A Hobbit Scholar (read, Cleric). Player: Egg Embry (Tessera Guild)

Despite using this image, the journey we’re on is from the mind of our Loremaster, Mike, and not taken from Cubicle 7’s work.

 

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FIRST MEETING

The story opens five years after the Battle of the Five Armies with our characters, largely unknown to each other, arrived in Esgaroth (Lake-town) for various reasons when Mike (Loremaster/DM) has Gwynn enter the inn. The cliche start to any campaign.

To understand the dynamic of this scene let me share that we’re playing online via Google Hangouts. Upon entering the busy serving room, Gwynnestri spots Kort, the mute dwarf that saved her life. She goes over to “speak” to him when the challenge of playing a mute character online comes up. If you’ve ever had a speech delayed, or mute, individual in your life, you know that communication is paying attention to subtle, and not so subtle, body language. To Stephen’s credit, he worked to create Kort in that space. However, what would be easy to bounce off of and react to if we were playing around a table becomes a concentration challenge online. Until you click on his window at the bottom of the screen, Hangouts cycles around to whoever is talking, which is not the mute character. If you don’t have his screen up, you lose the nuance of his performance and small moments when his character is “speaking”. However, keeping his window up all of the time means you lose out on the visuals of the other players and, especially, the Loremaster who screen shares maps to help with visualizing the settings. It’s a minor issue, but an impact to our play.

If you’ve roleplayed or written a novel/script before, you know that first scene, that first interaction, really sets the tone of your character. Rebecca decided to play Gwynnestri like no elf in Tolkien’s world, instead playing a take-no-guff heavy in the vain of a non-evil version of Marton Csokas’ Quinn from Into the Badlands (a show she’s never seen), or Stephen Amell’s season one Green Arrow from Arrow (not the Oliver character, but the violence-is-solution Arrow). Why did she go that route? Stick with me on this, my dice rolls for D&D combat can be summed up in the term, “apocalyptic”. As I’ve hinted, if my character had an oar, he’d miss water in the ocean. Prior to this campaign, every time Rebecca played a D&D character, it was a butcher. Lowest result? 19 with max damage. You know that player, they don’t participate in group combat, instead they lead the slaughter of wings of great wyrms while the rest of the party stays out of their way. My rolls are bad, but her rolls are the counter, they’re amazing. As such, she can play the violent hero because the dice let her stand tall.

Jolly Blackburn (Kenzer & Co) and Kevin Siembieda (Palladium Books) have *the* character talk. Used with permission from Jolly.

 

INTERLUDE

Rebecca and I played a D&D Adventure League game at Momo Con 2018. We were both 1st level but half of the group (8ish players) were 4th level and the encounters were a bit heavier for us. I, of course, missed everything. Rebecca was playing a 1st level halfling rogue. Her rogue killed… half or three-quarters of the monsters we encountered by herself. The 4th level characters had to defer to her. My session was: “Hey, this is my third CRIT failure in a row… I’m out of weapons to break or drop…” Her session was: “… and you rolled *another* NAT 20! With max damage! That’s another dead lizardfolk! There’s only a dozen left, do you want to charge by yourself or wait for the other players to join the fight? You’ll charge on ahead? Ok. Oh, another NAT 20. Should we just roll damage for fun?”

END INTERLUDE (Hopefully the relevance of the above Jolly/Kevin meme is clear.)

 

Back to surly Gwynnestri meeting mute Kort. It was the first scene of the campaign and one character is meant to be angry, the other quiet, and the scene was dying like casting Tyler Mane’s Sabertooth as Hamlet talking to Teller (of Penn &…) as Yorick. To save it, Mike interjected Robgud Clarfield, Hobbit, who I’d decided to assign a terrible English drawl. The accent I’m affecting is like someone based their English-English on the early punk singing voice of Billie Joe Armstrong when he was influenced by Brit punk but still from California. Shortest individual in the room, I play Rob as the sun rising in the morning on a world of good possibilities. While my counterparts… do not. So there’s a third Shakespearean character and it’s like English Pee Wee Herman. It turns out, that combination of characters was not meant to have deep philosophical talks so the deus ex machina… er, nobleman’s agent enters to offer us a chance to apply for a job.

 

NOTE: I should have stated this earlier, this is an original campaign and NOT a pre-made module. This is all from the head of our Loremaster, Mike. So, despite using the Mirkwood Campaign image above, this is not taken from that (so far as I know. I haven’t read the campaign book so I can approach this fresh).

 

FIRST JOB

We arrive at the noble home of Lord Haldeer. During the job offer we meet, and are paired with, Finn of Gondor, John’s character, a quiet 17-year-old done up in armor. The lord asks us to travel to Sadaphsan to search his ancestral family castle for heirlooms so he might learn more of his family’s history and why they moved from there to Lake-town hundreds of years gone by. We’re offered 1,000 silver pennies (is that a lot in AiME? I cannot say… yet) each for a trek of 150 to 175 miles. In terms of hooks, it’s not as hokey as finding a map leading to a dungeon and treasure, but it’s close. We pack a month-and-a-half’s worth of supplies and head out from Esgaroth along the river into Mirkwood.

FIRST JOURNEY

Our first Journey is from Lake-town to the Hall of the Elven King of Mirkwood to gain said King’s permission to travel through the whole of said realm to the foothills to the north. If you’ve read the Adventures in Middle-earth rules, you’ll know that a big difference between Dungeons & Dragons 5e and AiME is the Journey System. Unlike 5e, AiME has a specific set of phases for travel. These phases, and a change to the Long Rest system that we’ll cover in another post, create a palatable difference between 5e and AiME. In a Journey, there are four jobs that must be done during travel – Guide, Hunter, Look-out, and Scout – that have to be filled and rolled for at different points during the trip. We assigned the roles as follows:

  • Kort, the Hushed, a Slayer, was assigned the Hunter position.
  • Gwynnestri of Mirkwood, Treasure Hunter, ended up as our Scout.
  • Robgud Clarfield, a Hobbit Scholar, ended up as the Guide.
  • Finn of Gondor, a 17-year-old human, took the Look-out assignment.

Thus begins the first Journey. The Loremaster determines the Journey’s Peril Rating based on how difficult the terrain should be. Then the Guide (my character) rolls a d12 plus modifiers against the Embarkation Table. I rolled the maximum, which was a red letter day for me! We got Auspicious Beginnings, which made the journey easy. As well, we received a bonus on our next roll for the Journey Events Table, and Advantage on our first roll once we encountered something related to said table.

For the Journey Events Table, the Loremaster rolls a d12 and adds modifiers. In this case, we reached the middle result, The Wonders of Middle-earth, which gave us a chance to remove a level or Exhaustion or gain one. However, since the journey had been light, this had no impact on us. That said, we rolled well and gained a +1 to our Guide’s Arrival Roll.

For our encounter, we ran into an elven guard. Gwynn, being the elf, was put forward to talk to him. She did and then rolled her Persuasion with Advantage. The result was high and the elven guard turned out to be Adabeuond, who was Gwynnestri’s friend, and he guided us right in where we saw the majesty of the elven realm. No exhaustion, no problems.

For the Arrival Roll… well, we did not get to the Arrival Roll. Why did we skip the Arrival Roll? Learning a new system can cause that kind of challenge, you just miss certain rules.

Regardless, our first Journey was complete. Using AiME’s Journey rules was a smashing success to the point that we had no idea what we were in for with the second Journey. Just none at all… [Next Friday]

 

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Cubicle 7 is taking pre-orders for Adventures in Middle-earth – Bree-land Region Guide + PDF on there site (here). As soon as you order, you get the PDF.

Logo taken from Bundle of Holding’s Adventures in Middle-Earth for D&D 5e offering.

 

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Read my anti-clickbait clickbait article: “Everything We Know About the LORD OF THE RINGS Prequel So Far“! Guaranteed to be clickbait-tastic!

 

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliated links to DriveThruRPG’s affiliate program and/or Humble Bundle’s Humble Partner program. 

Adventures in Middle-Earth 5E Play Review – Character Backstory – Finn of Gondor

Egg Embry has been writing about the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign set in Middle Earth (by Cubicle 7) here and here and here. However, he hit a bit of a snag as either he wasn’t paying attention during the character introductions portion of the first adventure, or I made such a boring character that it has left no discernable impression on his aging mind. To spare my own ego, I’ll assume it was the latter. As such, he’s requested that I provide a backstory for my character Finn of Gondor.

But that would be too easy.

You see, I’m of the firm belief that you don’t really know your character until a few sessions into the game. Oh, you have an idea on what you want to play. Maybe it is why you picked the Race and/or Class. Or maybe you had a backstory already made up and wanted to use it to inform your characters actions. Or you might have a whole idea for a character arc in your mind and this is just step one out of twenty to get you to where you want to be.

With Finn, I’m still figuring certain things out about him. The things we know about him are that he is a 17-year-old human. The chain armor shirt he wears appears a little big on him (as does his clothes, his cloak, and probably his shoes as well). He’s quiet. Unsure of his place in the world and with the group. A group where being a human alongside a Hobbit, an Elf, and a Dwarf sorta makes him the odd one.

In game terms, he is a Wanderer (which for those who have ever played D&D would recognize as a Ranger). But this is someone who hasn’t learned everything he needs to know. The abilities that one gains as they rise in levels must feel earned (in my mind), so I’ve tried to have Finn make sure to study the other characters, whether it is in battle or hunting or tracking or anything else. His eyes are open, ready to soak in as much knowledge as possible. My hope is that since Adventures in Middle Earth is set up to have downtime between adventures (a Fellowship Phase), that I can grow with him as I learn more about the world through his eyes.

As to his backstory itself… well, I’m keeping parts of it close to the vest. So instead, I present 3 possible backstories:

Backstory 1

Finn of Gondor is the fourth son of a low level noble just outside of Palanir (the capital of Gondor). Two of his older brothers, upon coming of adulthood, have taken their place to watch for the Enemy along the border. While things had been somewhat quiet prior to the Battle of Five Armies (5 years ago), there has been more and more activity from the humanoid races.

Finn had a year to go before it was his turn to join them on the border when word had come back that his third brother, Colin, had died from a bandit attack while travelling to Lake Town. Finn’s father, Dervorin, unable to leave himself, was forced to send Finn to help establish connections and handle family business within Lake Town… which is what Finn was doing when he encounters the others.

Backstory 2

Finn of Gondor is not the fourth son of a low level noble just outside of Palanir (the capital of Gondor). He has no older brother. In fact, he has no siblings at all. His father is not Dervorin.

Finn of Gondor is the only son of a servant woman named Morwen, who works in the kitchens of Dervorin’s House. She has served the family as best she could over the years, and they have treated her well enough. Finn, when he wasn’t busy with his daily chores, spent his free time watching the sons of Dervorin learn the way of the sword and the bow. He watched them ride horses and was part of the hunting parties when such things were called for (where his duties consisted of trying to ensure no one’s thirst became too great).

He, like many others not born into wealth, dreams of something more than four gray stone walls and the livestock surrounding it. Finn wants to see the world. He doesn’t know what his purpose might be out there, but it has to be better than the one he was currently tied to.

His clothing, weapons, armor… all stolen from Dervorin’s House.

His mission in Lake Town… white lies to try and get him a leg up in the world… which is what Finn was doing when he encounters the others.

Backstory 3

Finn of Gondor is not the fourth son of a low level noble just outside of Palanir (the capital of Gondor). He has no older brother. In fact, he has no siblings at all. His father is not Dervorin.

Finn of Gondor is not the only son of a servant woman named Morwen, who works in the kitchens of Dervorin’s House.

Finn of Gondor is neither rich nor poor. He’s had no family and had a family of dozens.

Indeed, Finn is not even his real name…

A son of Gondor was killed by bandits, though whether he had three brothers or whether his father was named Dervorin… Finn of Gondor does not know. The bandits took Finn in a long time ago, took pity on him, and allowed him to stay with them for protection. They did things that he did not participate in, but he was as guilty since he didn’t leave. He didn’t know how he could.

And then the son of Gondor was killed by bandits. His armor and weapons and clothes just lying there… waiting for someone to claim them.

So Finn did.

He made his way to Lake Town in order to lose himself in the real world. Make something better than he had before… which is what Finn was doing when he encounters the others.

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So there you go… the backstories of Finn of Gondor. One of them is likely correct and the others falsehoods.

I’m not even sure which one is the true one just yet…

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Adventures in Middle-Earth 5e Play Review – Character Backstories

Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle-Earth for 5e Bundle of Holding (here) ends January 4th, 2019 at 10PM EST! This article is going up during its final hours. If you have not joined in, now’s the time!

Ends January 4th, 2019 at 10PM EST

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NOTE: This is my third article and my goal was to get through the character backstories and to the first journey. However, I’m over my word limit for this week so the first journey will be next week. Sorry about my poor planning.

TRIGGER WARNING: Discussions of torture and mutilation.

 

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I’ve given my initial reasons for writing a play review of Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle-Earth (for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition), I’ve touched on my character creation for the campaign, that leaves the character backstories to wrap up setup (at least, I hope so).

Our fellowship consists of:

  • Gwynnestri of Mirkwood (often shortened to Gwynn). An elven Treasure Hunter (read, Rogue). Player: Rebecca
  • Kort, the Hushed, son of Korith, son of Hoin. A dwarven Slayer (read, Barbarian). Player: Stephen
  • Finn of Gondor. His class has not been revealed yet, but he’s a 17-year-old human. Player: John McGuire (Tessera Guild)
  • Robgud Clarfield (often shortened to Rob). A Hobbit Scholar (read, Cleric). Player: Egg Embry (Tessera Guild)

 

BACKSTORIES

Thanks to Jolly Blackburn of Kenzer & Co for the picture.

Finn of Gondor’s backstory is… well, John hasn’t shared it yet. His character is young and human. [Sharing some website information, the first two Adventures in Middle-Earth articles (here and here) are the highest viewed pieces for the Tessera Guild for the past few weeks. As such, I think I’m going to pressure John to write his character’s backstory for his column next week. Wish me luck!]

[UPDATE: John wrote up the backstory for Finn of Gondor here.]

For the backstories of Gwynnestri of Mirkwood and Kort, son of Korith, son of Hoin, both were present at the Battle of the Five Armies (end of The Hobbit), and share lightly linked backstories.

Gwynnestri was a soldier in the elven army sent to help the humans of Dale to siege the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain.

Kort’s purpose for being there was meant to be in opposition. When word arrived from Thorin II Oakenshield of his desperate situation, his relative, Dáin II Ironfoot of the Iron Hill Dwarves, prepared an army to intervene. In our campaign, before he set out he sent a small group of dwarven scouts to get the lay of the land and make contact with Thorin II. Included in this group was Kort, son of Korith, son of Hoin. As the scouts came ready for the elves and humans, they did not expect the army of goblins and wargs. Most of the scouts were killed while Kort and a few others were captured. The orcs tortured the dwarves to learn what was coming. None broke. As the goblin army was being routed, Kort’s torturer cut out Kort’s tongue, leaving the dwarf to bleed out. But Kort did not. Instead, he freed himself, killed some retreating orcs, including some that were surrounding Gwynnestri, which resulted in saving her, the original enemy’s, life. In the aftermath of the battle, he learned that Thorin II perished. Kort, horribly mutilated, took the news to heart feeling that his failure to reach the Lonely Mountain and serve with Thorin’s company in the battle led to his death. After that, Kort has not been seen in the civilized world until Gwynn encounters him at the inn.

NOTE: Like many 1st-level D&D character backstories, Kort’s would have left him at a level greater than 1st, but he, I guess, learned nothing from all of that so he’s still 1st-level. Such is D&D.

Robgud Clarfield, an offshoot of the Byhills, Hobbit Scholar. Instead of being given to the right fine Hobbit calling of farming and communal interests, Robgud cultivated a particular trade in herbs and curatives and the lore of nature, yet without formal education. Naturally, that left his kin having to defend him against gossip accusing him of being a snake oil peddler, that there was more of Mordor than medicine to his ministrations. True, his doctorings might avail a mischievous stomach, a limb broken in twine, or some of the worst of the gout, but his poultices could smell less of the dung of the big folk’s world and more of the pleasant fragrances of the Shire. Right, now, he could be neater about it, and not offer to help the big folk or, worse, talk of them moving into the Shire. Of course, the Clarfields are from the very limits of the East Farthing and known to conduct a bit of business among the big folk of Bree. The Clarfield family reputation give them to be an unsavory lot for their mingling, and so a son that knows their ways is but to be expected. Rumors have it that Robgud spent time among the Eregionians and learned their particular methods from several of their kind or, possibly, from the elves. Regardless of the facts, either story makes him an embarrassment to the Clarfields, and even more so to all decent Hobbit folk. Robgud’s father and family patriarch, Cefil Clarfield, determined to remove the stain his son’s affairs place on the Clarfield name, and apprenticed him into a most unsavory profession, traveling agent, a mesh mash bit of business entailing travel beyond the Shire’s borders to conduct any number of transactions that no self-respecting, simple Hobbit would willing take up. Cefil Clarfield is only too happy to put his son to backpack and road so the family, and the Shire, might reap some benefit from a starry-eyed Hobbit scholar.

Why is a Hobbit of the Shire like Rodgud Clarfield so far from home, having taken up at Esgaroth? In the aftermath of the resurrection of Bilbo Baggins and the litigation therein (ending of The Hobbit), some here-to-fore unrecovered funds from Biblo’s adventures needed to be secured and returned to Bag End for disbursement. To be clear, Robgud is employed as a temporary agent of the estate, and was assigned this job via messenger never having met either party involved in order to act in a neutral capacity. Upon execution of his duties, his contract is complete and, as the campaign opens, Robgud has dispatched said sums for home and is, at the moment, without employ in Lake-town.

Background: Emissary of Your People

 

Next week… The characters meet up, get their first adventure, and do their first journey…

 

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Interested in trying out Adventures in Middle-Earth for 5e? You can get most of the books as PDFs through Bundle of Holding (here) until January 4th, 2019 at 10PM EST. The price for Adventures in Middle-earth Player’s Guide, Rhovanion Region Guide, The Road Goes Ever On, Loremaster’s Guide, Wilderland Adventures, and the Eaves of Mirkwood & Loremaster Screen is not likely to get cheaper than what BoH and Cubicle 7 have it for there.

As well, Cubicle 7 has started taking pre-orders for Adventures in Middle-earth – Bree-land Region Guide + PDF on there site (here). As soon as you order, you get the PDF.

Logo taken from Bundle of Holding’s Adventures in Middle-Earth for D&D 5e offering.

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliated links to DriveThruRPG’s affiliate program and/or Humble Bundle’s Humble Partner program. 

Adventures in Middle-Earth 5e Play Review – Preparations and Character Creation and Warden to Scholar

Last week, I rolled out the idea behind this column, doing a play review of Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle-Earth for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Our first session occurred on December 1st, 2018. However, before that session there was a deal of work to be done, standard prep for an extended campaign. As it stood, one of our longtime players, Leland, had to step away for real world reasons. Down a regular, we started out our fellowship with Rebecca, Stephen, John McGuire (Tessera Guild), and myself, while Mike ran the game as the Loremaster. For characters, we each picked what we wanted to play without worrying what the other characters would choose:

  • Rebecca: Gwynnestri of Mirkwood. An elven Treasure Hunter (read, Rogue). Once the game gets rolling, Rebecca will find Gwynn’s voice early, which helps set the tone for the campaign.
  • Stephen: Kort, the Hushed, son of Korith son of Hoin. A dwarven Slayer (read, Barbarian) with a tragic backstory that I’ll share in the coming columns.
  • John McGuire (Tessera Guild): Finn of Gondor. His class has not been revealed yet, but he’s a 17-year-old human, and John is building him as just a pup, new to the wider world.
  • Egg Embry (Tessera Guild): Robgud Clarfield, a Hobbit Scholar (read, Cleric). I knew going in that I did not want to be a “spotlight” character, that I wanted to play a supporting role and that brought Robgud to mind.

[NOTE: In the interest of players enjoying the maximum freedom at the gaming table, I did not ask for their character sheets so stats will only be shared as I learn them in-game.]

Let’s talk about the character creation process for my character, Robgud Clarfield. Why a Hobbit Scholar? Well, that was my second choice. My first choice was a Hobbit Warden. When I envisioned the character, I knew two things:

  1. My dice rolls tend to be so bad that I cannot hit the broadside of a kobold. Decades ago, my 5th or 6th level Ranger, at full HP with a bastard sword, went one-on-one with a single 1e kobold. My Ranger just barely survived. The kobold escaped. That’s what my dice rolls look like in D&D.
  2. I wanted to play something outside of my norm.

Addressing those in reverse order, let’s start with my usual type of characters, which tend to be the whisper-growl of Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer from 24, or the “comic” relief character (without the hindrance of actually being, you know, funny). In other words, murder hobo down the line. For this game, I didn’t want to do that since, obviously, murder hoboing would be off by just a smidge in Tolkien’s world. Instead, I wanted to play my own version of Sean Astin’s Samwise Gamgee, or, for those that know him in life, my Tessera mate, John “Hope Springs Eternal” McGuire. I wanted to play the uplifting character that believes tomorrow will be a bright sunny day.

For my poor rolls… well, if nothing can be done to improve my dice rolls, maybe there was a class that would lessen my poor luck’s impact. To that end, I read the Warden class and really liked the first level ability, Warden’s Gift. As a bonus action that could be used a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier, you grant an ally a d6 to be added to any attack, ability check, or saving throw in the next 10 minutes. Replenish uses on a Long Rest. With that power, I would benefit the fellowship from jump while letting my allies make up for my poor rolls. I also felt that class had some basis in Sam Gamgee making it all the better to choose. As the class says, “Many Hobbit-heroes, for example, are Wardens (when they are not Treasure Hunters!)”

Yet, I’m a Scholar in the game, why’s that? As we got closer to the date, I got the news that ruined that character class for the min-maxer part of me: Stats would be the Standard Array. If you don’t know, the Standard Array in D&D 5e are a predetermined set of base stats (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8). These numbers are modified by Cultural attribute enhancements. In the case of Hobbits of the Shire, that’s +2 to DEX, and then Family Ties elevate them:

  • Harfoot: +1 to WIS
  • Stoor: +2 to CON
  • Fallowhide: +1 to INT

The Warden’s primary ability is Charisma. Using the Standard Array with a Hobbit of any Family Tie meant my maximum starting Charisma would be a 15 without exceeding the rules. That score meant my Warden’s Gift power would have 2 uses per Long Rest. In AiME, Long Rests are rarer than in standard 5e (more on that another time) meaning there’s a fair chance that I’d go several sessions only able to pass out two d6s to help the fellowship, which made the min-maxer in me balk.

Was that a fair assessment of the class? Absolutely not. The Warden has a list of excellent powers and would be a compelling addition to any fellowship, even if your Charisma is not 18. The choice to not pursue this class was is all about my personal hangups. Thus, back to the class options I went and there I discovered the Scholar (read, Cleric).

In hindsight, that hangup would prove to be providence. To learn about that providence, let’s turn to Lake-town and our first session… [Next Friday]

 

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Interested in trying out Adventures in Middle-Earth for 5e? You can get most of the books as PDFs through Bundle of Holding (here) until January 4th, 2019. The price for Adventures in Middle-earth Player’s Guide, Rhovanion Region Guide, The Road Goes Ever On, Loremaster’s Guide, Wilderland Adventures, and the Eaves of Mirkwood & Loremaster Screen is not likely to get cheaper than what BoH and Cubicle 7 have it for there.

As well, Cubicle 7 has started taking pre-orders for Adventures in Middle-earth – Bree-land Region Guide + PDF on there site (here). As soon as you order, you get the PDF.

 

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliated links to DriveThruRPG’s affiliate program and/or Humble Bundle’s Humble Partner program.