D & D on the Straight Dope setup thread. (In Middle Earth FA63)

  1. Please let me know how much of Middle Earth you know. (Book Knowledge, Movie knowledge or both)
  2. If you know 1st edition rules.
  3. Let me know what type of character you would like to play. You should already have some idea reading this thread what I allow and don’t.

The turns will be 2 days or when all are in. I think with two day turns I can handle up to 8 players. I’ll see how it goes.
We will be dice free.

It will be mostly 1st edition D&D game in ME. The game would lean to the heroic rather than the mundane. Magic Items will rarely match up to the rulebooks and monsters are different; heavy on Undead, Orc types, Trolls and evil humans.

Character Races would come from Humans, Dunedain, Woses (Drúadan, Pukel Men), Beornings, Noldorians, Sindarin or Silvan Elves, Khazad and other Dwarves and of course the Hobbits.

It looks like the early consensus is to start at 3rd level. This will also allow for very variable ages of characters.
Fighters get 4 and 1/3 so start with 5 in this case. May specialize in one weapon, gaining a +1 to hit and +2 dam and +1 on initiative.
Rangers get 3 and 1/3 so start with 3. They may toss the extras into Tracking and Herbology.
Wizards only get one and rarely add. No restrictions in this world on type, but Staff are the traditional weapon as Wizards also work towards building a powerful magic staff. This gets complicated, but won’t matter until 11th level.
Thieves get 2 to start. They may also specialize, but specialization must be in a back-stabbing weapon.
*Clerics get 2 I think, I need to check, but weapons vary by Valar Patron. *

As a compromise for game play, alchemy is flourishing and potions are available. Wizards are training up in Minas Tirith, Dol
Amroth, Ithilien, Fornost and Umbar.
Rangers always do well in my games as do Hobbit treasure finders. Dwarves make great front line fighters, I try to start them with better armor than average.
Elves have a huge advantage in life span and resistances.
As I have a lot of Undead roaming around, I generally don’t have automatic life drains. I usually give characters a saving throw against paralysis, possibly with a +/- depending on the creature. Expect to see a lot of Orcs, Uruk Hai and Wargs.

I don’t allow Assassins at all. I actually cannot (will not) ref evil characters. I should have mentioned that in the thread and I will. Believe me, playing evil in my worlds, leads to a short unhappy character life. I have not allowed an evil PC in nearly 20 years now.

I do allow odd things like Hobbit & Elven Bards that start as F/TH multi-class and then become a Bard sometime between 6th to 9th level. I have allowed Ranger/Bards where the character goes to 10th as a Ranger and then switches to Bard. This is restricted to the long lived Dunedain.

Dwarves could be clerics of Aüle. They may still use axes as a weapon choice but prefer large war hammers and war shields.

Elves cannot be Clerics or Druids at all.

Did I mention that there are no Gnomes? If you really want a Gnome, we can make you some stunted off family of Dwarves I suppose.

I think I will rely on PMs, Posts and Email for game play, I am very uncomfortable with IM and I don’t want the extra headache. Just me being me, I understand this is odd these days.

I need to work up a system for combat where players give general directives so more than a round could be resolved at a time.

My rough early idea is along the lines of:

Bowyers: I will endeavor to keep the orcs at medium bow range providing cover for those in melee and moving forward or back at a steady pace as needed. If I am rushed, I will turn and run, I will look for already injured orcs and try to finish them off where possible.

Or Melee guys, I will strive to find the leader, but at all times seek to work as a unit protecting each others flanks. If the numbers appear too bad or our injuries mount I will attempt to disengage long enough to quaff my potion of speed.

Or Spellcasters: I will seek an optimal time and grouping of the enemy to use my sleep spell. In the meantime, if I see enemy spell casters, I am prepared to magic missile them to attempt to disrupt their spells. When and if I run out of spells, I will cautiously approach the battle and look for safe opportunities to hit an orc from the blind side with my weapon.

Or Hobbits: I’ll hide until it is really inconvenient, attempt to take on the biggest orc on the battle field and then have to be rescued by the wizard :wink:

**Note on time: ** I am looking at FA 63 for the starting time.
In this year: • 63 - Meriadoc Brandybuck, aged 102, and Pippin leave the Shire to live in Gondor; death of Éomer, aged 93, whose son Elfwine ascends the throne of Rohan.
Sam went over the see in 61, Eldarion is 20 born in 43FA. There are also 3 younger daughters.
Notes: this means that Aragorn, Faramir, Arwen, Merry, Pippin & Sam, Gimli & Legolas are all around. Elrohir & Elladan keep Rivendell going with Glorfindel among the Lords still in residence. Radagast is maintaining his residence in Southern Mirkwood and is currently training up a small group of specialized spell casters that we will call Druids. I won’t encourage Clerics, but I can accommodate one if truly desired. The Cleric would pick a Patron from among the Valar. The abilities of the Clerics would be less generalized than in the players handbook.
**Some other background: **
It is safe to assume a post-war baby boom and rapid population growth throughout Gondor and Arnor, Timing it is 63 FA which interestingly is about as far as we are from WWII. The difference being that Gondor and Arnor are being rebuilt under the sure and steady hand of Aragorn and Arwen with help from the Elves and the Dwarves. The Glittering Caves is a going concern and Legolas had led a small number of his folk to reside in Ithilien and aid Faramir & Aragorn in War & Peace. Osgiliath is rebuilding quickly and Minas Tirith now has Mithril Steel Gates.

The Orthanc is under the Stewardship of Fangorn, but a small colony of humans live in harmony with nature in Isengard. The Tower was cleaned out by Gandalf, Radagast & Arwen with some help from her brothers.

Probable Characters so far:
CatInASuit: Hobbit rogue (a Took Treasure Finder)
appleciders: Elven wizard or maybe Human.
Elendil’s Heir: Human fighter (Gondorian)
NAF1138: Dwarven fighter for Aglarond but born at Erebor and fought at Battle of Dale in the War.
d_odds: Human ranger (Dale) Descendant of People that fought at the Battle of Dale
Koldanar: No character idea yet.

Just so you understand, the War Shield is actually a weapon and shield. It is spiked with sharp hardened edges and the entire thing is made out of strong steel.

You could fight Battle Axe and War Shield and the same time. It can be handy to have that extra attack and defense at the same time.

To put things in perspective.

A basic orc gets a D8 hit points. Lets say an average of 6HP.

The Dwarven Axe (both hands) does 2-12 versus Orc sized creatures and 1-10 versus large.

The Battle Axe does 1-8 vs. any creature.
The War Shield does 2-7 vs Orc size and 1-6 vs large.

There is also something called penetration. This is where the Dwarven Axe (Dwaxe) shines and the Battle Axe and War Shield are not as good.

Basically the Dwarven Axe is excellent at cutting through heavy armor and other too and not great.

Against Orcs this rarely matters as they tend to crappy armor, but against well armored humans, the Dwaxe would be a better choice. The War Hammer is also excellent for penetration.

You might want to specialize in Axes and take War Shield and switch of on weapons depending on the foe. Go with Baxe and Was Shield vs. Orcs and lightly armored weak foes and go with the Dwaxe vs. well armored.

**I will send my Penetration and weapons chart via Email to anyone that wants to see it. It is in Excel. **

Quick errata, Jim. If Sam sailed from the Grey Havens in 61 (actually, I think it was in 62, but that is getting really nit-picky ;)), then he won’t be around in 63. Faramir will be quite old and telling PC’s to get off his lawn.

I think I will take that. Email is in my profile.

And since you asked at the top of the thread:

  1. I have read the hobbit a half dozen times, and have watched the animated verison more times then I can count while I was growing up. I have read LOTR only once. But have seen all three live action movies in original and extended editions, as well as the Bakshi animated movie. I know the big stuff, but know where to look to find out the rest.

  2. I know almost nothing about D&D let alone any specific edition rules. All I know about D&D I learned from Order of the Stick, which (it is turning out) isn’t that bad a start.

  3. Dwarf fighter. I like axes. :smiley:

Good Point. That is what I get for pulling parts of too many posts, PMs and Emails into one.

Faramir will be old, but remember he is from a high house of the Dunedain and was young for the war. he was born in 2983 and so was only 38. It is Eowyn who will be very aged. She was born in 2995 and was 26 for the war. In 63 she will be 89 already. Ancient for her people. Faramir still has 19 more year and will remain fairly hale until nearer the end.

Samwise did leave in 62, another mistake. I should not have done that from memory.


Thanks to a timely QtM post in another thread, we have a handt reference for the Seven houses of the Dwarves.

Longbeards (Durin Folk or Khazad), Firebeards, Broadbeams, Ironfists, Stiffbeards, Blacklocks, & Stonefoots (Stonefeet?)

I’d like to join. I’m pretty familiar with Tolkien as well as D&D 1st Edition.

How about a Rohirrim fighter, maybe a fellow on horseback with spear, sword and, in a pinch, bow?

Just keeping you honest! I’ll assume the first 100 orcs we face are all aiming for me as payback.

Brin of Dale has served as a scout, mostly on border patrol, in the lands surrounding twice re-built Dale. Most of his service has been tracking goblin raiding parties and marking their lairs and camps for the stronger patrols. He is known for his bow skills, something he has practiced since the first time his mother told him the story of Bard, former King of Dale and Slayer of Smaug the Magnificent.

Damn burrahobbits ate my post. Here’s the retyped version:

What’s a proficiency? I know nothing. If I’m right in assuming that it’s a learned skill with a weapon, then as a wizard I’ll take the staff, naturally, with a personal preference for a slightly smaller, lighter, and quicker weapon than Gandalf or Saruman.

Deor, named for the seventh King of Rohan, a distant relation, is a seventh son of a seventh son of a poor Rohirrim family of Edoras and has been sent off to Minas Tirith for his initiation into the arcane arts by the masters there. Growing up in Rohan, he’s quite skilled with horses but has no natural talent, only experience. Slighter and smaller than his brothers, he’s an intellectual with an interest in both the natural world and magic, leading his family to send him off to Minas Tirith after being identified by Radagast as a potentially skilled wizard. He’s also got a natural interest in alchemy but has never been given a chance to learn anything about it. And, if OneCentStamp is ok with it, Deor is OneCentStamp’s youngest brother.

Sounds good, Wizards only get one proficiency to start anyway.

It would not be Radagast, he only trains the Druids and occasionally helps the Bards and Spell using Rangers.

Minas Tirith has several Wizards and perhaps you show some high wild aptitude as a youngin’ like turning your older bossy sister bright blue. That would get your family to send you off to a Wizards as an apprentice (drudge and bond servant).

I think we could even play up the alchemy as your secondary skill if you like. You won’t be great at it or have a lab, but you should gain skill as you advance in identifying potions.


OK, so it’s a human wizard of some kind that spots me. That’s find.

I figured on playing up alchemy a bit after a while.

Picking a staff as a weapon (besides being in character) will allow me some better options in the end as a spellcaster, right? That’s what I’m sort of understanding.

As long as I’m allowed to be quietly envious of his arcane talents, and quietly resentful of my job as the [del]humanshield[/del] [del]arrowcushion[/del] front line warrior. :wink:

ETA: Whoo-hoo! 6000 posts!!

That’s ok, I’ll be openly whiny, snarky, and generally little-brother-y in return :wink:

Greetings all,

Say hello to Mulligan Took, more commonly known as Mal. A nephew of the noble Gondor Knight Peregrin Took, he has come to Minas Tirith to help in the rebuilding of Gondor.

Not a warrior, just here to help out in any way he can.

Oh, and he can cook better than you as well. :wink:


  1. Yup. Book. Seen the movie but book is canon and you know my reputation already.
  2. Yup, since 1979.
  3. I’ll try out one of these modified bards of yours, then. Male Mirkwood elf, answers to “Starharp”, can’t find my Silmarillion at the moment to try to translate that into Elvish. Put me down for a pair of shortswords and elf bow.

I’ll work up some backstory as we go along.

  1. Read Hobbit, LoTR, Silmarilion, Bombadil poetry (heck, all of 'em!); seen Bakshi and own Jackson’s Extended Edition

  2. Been playing 1st edition constantly since 1979 (plus running school roleplaying club for 17 years)

  3. Happy to play a Druid (can Woses* be Druids? otherwise Human**)


Are your proficiencies in weapons (or are you briniging in non-weapon ones)?

Silven or Sindarin is the next question, it is minor, but important.

This should help…
harp(play a)/gann(ad)o-


**Quenyan **
harp(play a)/nganda-


Actually Woses make great Druids. It also helps counter that fact that they are the shortest lived of the player races. The have a “natural” affinity with Druidic arts. All Druids get a herbology skill that progresses as they do. You might want to take one of your proficiencies in the traditional blowgun or small bow at least. Natural Poisons are definitely in your usage and culturally considered normal.
You can apply your second prof. to better herbology if you like or some other major secondary ability.

Sonds like we started playing around the same time. I started with D&D the 3 book set in 1976. We switched to AD&D when the DMs Guide came out. Many in my early got the first printing. I still have mine, but of course it is well worn.


CatInASuit: Hobbit rogue (a Took Treasure Finder)
appleciders: Human Wizard from Rohan.
Elendil’s Heir: Human fighter (Gondorian) Sailor & probably Horseman and Navigator. Awaiting more info.
NAF1138: Dwarven fighter for Aglarond but born at Erebor and fought at Battle of Dale in the War. Armourer
d_odds: Human Ranger (Dale) Descendant of People that fought at the Battle of Dale. Archer, Tracker and lesser Herbologist
Koldanar: No character idea yet. (need more feedback)
Malacandra: Elvish Bard (Fighter/Thief to start) Bowyer and swords.
glee: Wose Druid and therefore our primary healer at this point. Trained/Training under Radagast himself.
OneCentStamp: Rohirrim fighter, maybe a fellow on horseback with spear, sword and, in a pinch, bow?

We have a good diverse party, minimizing my need to fill in with NPC’s. This is a good thing.

**I think that fills what I can handle. In case someone drops out early, someone could still sign up as 1st alternate. **

So I’m not in, after all? That’s fine; I’m happy to stand by as an alternate in case someone drops out before the campagin starts.

So, we’ve got two jealous brothers, a ranger with an inferiority complex, a dwarf and a Took. This Fellowship for the Fourth Age is going to look more like the cast to Spamalot than Camelot. :cool: