With the Hobbit coming out, I’ve been thinking about Middle-Earth a lot lately (from the movies to the books to MERP and The One Ring). I’ve also been thinking about FATE games to run, and ideas for solo games to run with Jen.
All of this culminated in an idea I’m pretty excited about, involving these two fellows:
Meet Alatar and Pallando, the lost Blue Wizards of Middle-Earth.
The two youngest (and least powerful) of the Five Wizards, Alatar and Pallando travelled to Middle-Earth with Gandalf, Saruman, and Radagast, settling instead in the Far East (Rhun) and South (Harad).
And from there… not much is known. Even Tolkien’s opinion of them seems split, arguing that EITHER they served a pivotal role in weakening and disrupting Sauron’s forces (earning the names “Darkness-slayer” and “East-Helper”, or fell, becoming “founders or beginners of secret cults and “magic” traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron.”
That’s a story I want to tell.
A few reasons, really:
- It’s a chance to let my player/players take the role of not just A hero, but two of THE heroes of Middle-Earth, without shoehorning in a prequel or sequel adventure (“Oh no! An EVEN MORE ANCIENT AND EVIL RING!”)
- The settings of Rhun and Harad are sketched in, but largely left undefined, meaning I could run wild as a GM, while still bringing in other bits of canon as I pleased (especially since Mirkwood is nearby)
- The fact that the Wizards are also undefined means the players have fairly free reign to portray them however they choose
- The enemies, from the Easterling armies of Rhun (viking-esque Variags, Lovecraftian Balchoth cults, and highly trained Wainriders) and Harad (Olifants, Black Numenorean Oligarchs, and Corsair Pirate Crews), are extremely exciting to me
- Between the occupied lands of Nurn to the South, and the humble farm folk of Dorwinion to the East, there are natural headquarters for the PCs during their long hexcrawls
- There are even built-in BBEGs, in the form of the Black Easterling, and the Three Numenorean Nazghul Lords (none of whom would bekilledof course, but suppressed, banished, and hindered, perhaps)
WHAT IF THEY DIE?
This is, of course, a concern I’ve been thinking about. What if in his first adventure, Pallando gets jumped by goblins and, due to poor rolling, dies?
Well, turns out Erik at Wampus Country already answered that one for me—It Gets Worse. It might not be the comical, tall-tale inspired version he talks about in the article, but the idea is the same. Instead of proper death, a “death” in the game would lead to a darkening of the story and world around the PC. A compromise of his ideas. A fall, however minor, that leads him away from being the East-Helper and closer to being the evil mystic cult leader.
Depends on the player count. Most likely FATE Core for a one-on-one game, and The One Ring (heavily adapted, including new cultures for the various Easterlings, Haradim, and a special culture for the Istari) for a group-based game.
What do you think?