Adventures in Middle-earth is the product gamers have dreamed of for decades. Cubicle 7 has used the Open Gaming License to bring the D20-rolling rules of Dungeons & Dragons to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. If you’ve been waiting for a reason to get back into gaming, this may very well be it. Since the game’s release, it has been flying off the virtual shelves at DriveThruRPG.
“But wait!” you protest. “Bilbo, Frodo, and the fellowship all save the world. What could my 3rd level dwarven bard possibly have to do that would be interesting in Middle-earth?”
I’m glad you asked friend, because the fine folks at Cubicle 7 have already cracked that very nut by carefully selecting the game’s setting and timeline. The game is set in the Wilderland, the area to the east of the Misty Mountains which is dominated by the spider-infested forest of Mirkwood. It is also the land of the Lonely Mountain, where five years ago in the game’s reckoning, a rag-tag group of dwarves and one hobbit raised the ire of the dragon Smaug, who was slain by Bard the Bowman of Lake-town, precipitating the Battle of Five Armies.
The setting and time period is simply brilliant because it will be familiar to gamers everywhere, but there is much yet to explore, and the canonical events of Lord of the Rings are still 70 years in the future. With the death of the dragon Smaug, the vast ruins withing Lonely Mountain are at last open. The free peoples of Middle-earth can once again inhabit the area without fear of the dragon, or the Necromancer in southern Mirkwood. But there are many dangers still to be faced…
The rules for D&D have not merely been shellacked with a patina of Middle-earth. New rules have been created to make the game feel like you are living in J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination. For example, the new corruption rules replace alignment. Travel too long in lands that have fallen into Shadow, use cursed magical items, or just act like a standard true neutral murder-hobo, and you will find that you begin to develop serious flaws and may eventually succumb totally to the call of the darkness. The Fellowship Phase turns the structure of the gaming session on its head. Instead of the the DM (or Loremaster in the parlance of Adventures in Middle-earth) telling players the situation and the players reacting, the players tell the Loremaster what their characters are doing and the Loremaster must react.
Cubicle 7’s CEO, Dominic McDowall has been leading the company from strength to strength in recent years, racking up enough ENnie Award nominations to choke a horse. “We’re all tremendously excited to bring together the world’s favourite roleplaying game system with the greatest fantasy setting ever created,” he said of the release of Adventures in Middle-earth, “It’s been an amazing journey to this point, and it’s only just beginning. Our playtest campaign has been amazing and I can’t wait to hear about everyone else’s exploits in Wilderland!”
So strap on your sword, find some mithril chain mail, and fight the darkness that lurks in the shadow of the Lonely Mountain…
What character class would you like to play in Middle-earth? Let us know in the comments below!
All images courtesy Cubicle 7 Entertainment.