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Ghosts of the Noman-lands

Building up the Tension Before the Campaign Climax – Silence Before the Storm

The campaign was drawing to its conclusion, the tension was building up. Some aspects of which I handled intuitively. Now I'm learning from what I d
The campaign was drawing to its conclusion. The tension was building up — some aspects of which I handled intuitively. Now I’m learning from what I did better than many times after that. See the critical points at the narrative’s conclusion. | Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash

Lately, I told you how the party of the Brown Lands decided to split up and handle various tasks at once. Bruni and Eradom were waiting by the fords on Anduin to guide Rohirrim soldiers. At the same time, the Rook and Ingolf were about to scout ahead and gather more information about the bandits’ camp in the Raven Gully. To everyone, it was clear that the campaign’s conclusion was drawing close. The proximity of the finale raised the tension tangibly, but I see it could be disrupted if not played right. Have you ever felt that all was going great for your game, but suddenly, the mood was gone? Everyone at the table was invested in the game, immersed in their characters until abruptly, they felt disconnected? A scene everybody was edging to play out passed by without almost any impression or impact? I indeed felt that a handful of times. And I think reflecting on this particular case may help me (and hopefully, you too) handle such situations better in the future. So let’s see what happened just before the final chapter of the Ghosts of the Noman-lands. Especially since I’d love to find out why and how I, unconsciously, handled building up the tension right up to the final session.

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RPG Party Splitting Up Over Anduin AgainThrough the Fogs,

Splitting up the party in RPG creates a very tricky plot to run. You'll see that when the tension could be lost just before the campaign's climax. | Photo by Joshua Brown on Unsplash
Splitting up the party in RPG creates a very tricky plot to run. You’ll see that when the tension could be lost just before the campaign’s climax. | Photo by Joshua Brown on Unsplash

When the party left Medusled with the promise of Eastfold’s help, they were lifted up. They thought that they were all alone in a forgotten corner of the Middle-earth for a long time. And, in fact, they were. But after a long journey and an uncertain council at the hall of the Riddermark king, they found, at last, a powerful ally. But at the same time, they knew that a lot was going to happen in a very short time from now on. While they were on their way to the Brown Lands, they agreed on splitting up the party – an idea that often seems like a perfect solution at many RPG tables but is nevertheless somewhat problematic to handle.

Read More »RPG Party Splitting Up Over Anduin AgainThrough the Fogs,

Councils in TOR RPG – In the Golden Hall of Rohan King

What speaks to me for Councils in TOR RPG is that they make social interaction a part of the game in its own right, like Combat or Journeys.
What speaks to me for Councils in TOR RPG is that they make social interaction a part of the game in its own right, like Combat or Journeys.
| Photo by Florian Pinkert on Unsplash

Conversely to the journey rules in AiME and TOR RPG, I didn’t quite grasp the purpose and possibilities of integrating encounters (as the councils were named in 1st ed) into my game. I have to admit – I saw them as a bit of a stretch, an unnecessary complication. BUT – while they may be so if applied to most social interaction, they have an excellent potential for adding another layer to the session and making important non-combat scenes engaging. As my party of the Brown Lands campaign approached Meduseld for seeking Rohan’s help against bandit raiders, I felt pretty nervous about how it will play out.

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Adventures in Middle-earth Journey Rules – From the Brown Lands to Rohan

 My group told me that the journey to Rohan was the most books-like episode of our Adventures in Middle-earth campaign. I hope to help you build a similar experience.
My group told me that the journey to Rohan was the most books-like episode of our Adventures in Middle-earth campaign. I hope to help you build a similar experience. | Photo by Stanislav Klimanskii on Unsplash

When I first read the journey rules included in Adventures in Middle-earth, I thought about why they are there. And what came to my mind was this: The journey in AiME is precisely what it is in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books – interaction with the rich background of the Middle-earth setting. That’s why they make the 5e edition, and the original The One Ring RPG stand out. Not many systems have the going from one point to another fleshed out like this. And most of those that do are more about exploration or survival, like in OSR sandboxes. But that’s not the case with TOR and AiME. Here, I’ll give you some more thoughts and tips on why and how to make the travel feel like in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.”

Bilbo, The Fellowship of the Ring
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RPG Handouts in My Brown Lands Campaign & How to Make Them

In various ways and in different media, I prepared engaging handouts to flesh out my Middle-earth RPG campaign. | Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash
In various ways and in different media, I prepared engaging handouts to flesh out my Middle-earth RPG campaign. | Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

What I love about running an RPG in Middle-earth is, among dozens of others, delving into its fascinating lore – and preparing handouts for sessions requires amiably a lot of that. Luckily, I had a lot of free time for both when I ran the Ghosts of the Noman-lands. Last time, the companions finally got on the trail of one of the intertwining threads. The Gondorian ruins were one piece of a puzzle. Solving it was the whole point of the campaign, so I was more than eager to drive it home. And right when I write this post, The One Ring RPG 2nd ed. Kickstarter fulfillment is taking place, so there’ll be no better time for discussing physical props in Middle-earth. See my three ways of making those – with some great tools!

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Shadow/Corruption mechanic in RPG – What is it and what it’s not? Foreshadowing in Emyn Muil

Corruption mechanic helps players role-play in RPG. Describe in just a handful of words what the characters feel as they see a terrible sight or regret a misdeed and you'll see how they flesh it out.
Corruption mechanic helps players role-play in RPG. Describe in just a handful of words what the characters feel as they see a terrible sight or regret a misdeed, and you’ll see how they flesh it out. | Photo by Claudia Ramírez on Unsplash

When I was running my first RPG in Middle-earth, I only vaguely understood the importance of the Corruption (or Shadow) mechanic. Along the way, I’ve learned how to use it and what shouldn’t I confuse it with. Though it was a bit bumpy way, the experience I gained in the session you’ll read about below helps me to GM almost every game I run now.

Read More »Shadow/Corruption mechanic in RPG – What is it and what it’s not? Foreshadowing in Emyn Muil