Everything We Know About the LORD OF THE RINGS Prequel So Far

By Egg Embry | September 21, 1937 | Honest!

 

Amazon has let it be known that its forthcoming Tolkien series will be a prequel to JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. While looking for information about this prequel, reporters at the Tessera Guild unearthed a treasure trove of information when they contacted the Tolkien estate, who directed us to a prequel novelization.

While we cannot be assured of the name of the Amazon series, the novel is titled, The Hobbit. Based on the book, some of the characters in the story will be familiar to fans of The Lord of the Rings as it features a younger version of Gandalf who recruits one of the minor characters from LotRs, Bilbo Baggins (Frodo Baggins’ uncle), to thieve. There are dwarves. A mountain described as “lonely”. A dragon, which sounds like they’re already desperate to capture the Game of Thrones audience. After reading the novel, it is quite an unexpected journey.

The only thing that would be more unexpected is a clickbait article purporting to know anything about a series that has yet to be screenplayed. Yet, I’ve seen a variety that do just that.

Writer’s Note: “Screenplayed” is not a word. Which is ok, because this is not an article full of affiliate links to Amazon… er… well, it is that. Speculative clickbait articles that use the term “know” in the title imply factual knowledge instead of the specious fanboy wish fulfillment that they always turn out to be. As a site, if you’re desperate to write an article about something new and Tolkien, might I recommend interviewing publisher Cubicle 7 about their tabletop roleplaying game, Adventures in Middle-earth RPG for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. It’s new and Tolkien and excellent!

 

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliated links to Amazon’s affiliate program.

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 – Preparing the Way and a Humble Reward

Since moving my “RPG Kickstarters You Should Back” column from the Guild to the Open Gaming Network, and taking over Angus Abranson’s “RPG Crowdfunding News” column on EN World, I’ve contemplated a new Friday column for the Guild. Something RPG-related, but less Kickstarter. Then, one of my two longtime DMs suggested an ongoing Adventures in Middle-Earth 5e campaign. Doing a campaign review obviously touches on tabletop roleplaying games, and it offers the broadest appeal by combining Dungeons & Dragons and JRR Tolkien’s world. Still, will writing about how my terrible dice rolls in a variant of Dungeons & Dragons 5e be compelling week-after-week? With those questions, I decided to sit on the idea for the time being.

Our first session was Saturday, December 1st, 2018 and, while it was a great start, I still had doubts about it being enough to justify a series to discuss it. Then, on Monday, December 17th, 2018, Adventures in Middle-Earth for 5e rolled out on Bundle of Holding (here) offering most of the books as PDFs. That made this campaign and article series feel more timely. The next day, Cubicle 7 opened up pre-orders for Adventures in Middle-earth – Bree-land Region Guide + PDF (here). Even as I was preparing this article, small pieces were coming together to push this forward like Humble Bundle offering LEGO® Lord of the Rings for free (through Saturday, December 22 at 10 a.m. Pacific time). But the clincher that made me decide that I need to do a play review was the month, December. For me, there is no month I associate with Tolkien’s work more, and that’s because of Peter Jackson’s adaptations:

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – U.S. release date: December 19, 2001
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – U.S. release date: December 18, 2002
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – U.S. release date: December 17, 2003
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – U.S. release date: December 12, 2012
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – U.S. release date: December 13, 2013
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – U.S. release date: December 17, 2014

All of that together makes this feel like the right column to tackle right now. It will let me talk about the books, the system, the world, the campaign we’re playing, other adaptations (from the 1966 short animation to the upcoming Amazon series) and the characters. Each article will talk about some aspect of the RPG, Tolkien’s work, the movies, or whatever is appropriate to the moment.

Even with that, this would not have seemed practical without a few more life accomplishments that made playing Adventures in Middle-Earth for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition happen:

Cubicle 7 (left to right: Walt Ciechanowski, Jon Hodgson (holding the Silver ENnie Award – Best Rules), TS Luikart, Egg [*not* a part of C7], and Dominic McDowall) at the ENnie Awards 2017.

Since our last D&D campaign wrapped over a year ago, and I put hands on Adventures in Middle-Earth for 5e, I’ve wanted to play in a Middle-Earth campaign. The circumstances to make that happen came to pass on Saturday, December 1st, 2018 as a fellowship of four of us came together to adventure and, eventually, do some great bit of heroism (maybe). The Loremaster is Mike, and the fellowship consists of Rebecca, John McGuire (Tessera Guild), Stephen, and myself.

 

 

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).

 

Let’s round out the introductory post with the variety of RPG systems that existed to bring Tolkien’s work to the tabletop:

  • Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP) from Iron Crown Enterprises (I.C.E.) was published through two editions from 1984 to 1999.
    • Lord of the Rings Adventure Game also from I.C.E. from 1991 to 1993. This game was a beginner’s version of MERP.
  • The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game by Decipher Inc. that ran from 2002 to 2006.
    • 2002 Origins Award – Best Roleplaying Game
  • The One Ring Roleplaying Game from Cubicle 7 that started in 2011 and is still going.
    • Awards and nominations:
      • 2012 Golden Geek – Best Art and Presentation
      • 2012 Gold ENnie Award – Best Free Product, Golden ENnie Award – Best Art (Interior)
      • 2012 Silver ENnie Award – Best Production Values
      • 2012 Lucca Games’ (an Italian convention) Best of Show for Best Role Play Game
      • 2012 Origins Award Nominee – Best Roleplaying Game
      • 2013 ENnie Award Nominee – Best Accessory for The Loremaster’s Screen and Laketown Book
      • 2015 ENnie Award Nominee – Best Accessory for The Darkening of MirkwoodENnie Award Nominee – Best Accessory for Hobbit Tales
      • 2017 ENnie Award Nominee – Best Supplement for Horse-Lords of RohanENnie Award Nominee – Best Writing for Horse-Lords of Rohan
    • Hobbit Tales from Cubilce 7 is a standalone storytelling card game that could be used with The One Ring Roleplaying Game.
  • Adventures in Middle-earth for Dungeons & Dragons 5e also by Cubicle 7 that began in 2016 and has the distinction of being the first time Tolkien’s works were officially adapted to D&D.
    • Awards:
      • 2017 Silver ENnie Award – Best Rules for Adventures in Middle-Earth Player’s Guide
      • 2018 Origins Award – Best RPG

As I was putting the finishing touches on this article, I received this email from Humble Bundle promoting their LEGO® Lord of the Ring giveaway (talk about nice timing):

“We’re giving away FREE copies of LEGO® Lord of the Rings for 48 hours (or while supplies last) in the Humble Store! This promotion is available from Thursday, December 20 at 10 a.m. Pacific time to Saturday, December 22 at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Below is your link to LEGO® Lord of the Rings on the Humble Store.

https://www.humblebundle.com/store/lego-the-lord-of-the-rings?partner=eggembry

 

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliated links to DriveThruRPG’s affiliate program and Humble Bundle’s Humble Partner program.