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  • Savage Middle Earth

    So I'm almost done listening to the Lord of the Rings series on audible, unabridged version. It really is a fantastic story especially read out loud but it got me thinking, how would I go about making a middle earth conversion for LotR. So far the biggest hurdle is how to make elves a playable race considering they are much different than your D&D elves. Ageless, Immune to disease and poison, eyesight is exceptional and then some manifest certain gifts.

    As well as other setting rules to make it feel more like middle earth perhaps even as a second age or "what if Sauron won" scenario

  • #2
    Either don't allow elves or build them like an Iconic Framework so they start about even with a Seasoned character. If the latter, also consider not awarding them any advances until they would normally get their 5th advance if they weren't an elf.

    Comment


    • dentris
      dentris commented
      Editing a comment
      This. Most human protagnists in the series are already established ''heroes''. Boromir is the son of the steward of Gondor, Eomer is a military veteran and Eowyn is just as equally badass in her own way. Aragorn and Gandalf are also not really humans.


      You could create races balanced at +10 and just assume all humans start at Seasoned rank to compensate. Elves, Dwarves and even Hobbits are ''better'' than humans at the start, but the heroes have more experience in the real world.

  • #3
    I should probably clarify I want to base it mostly on the books and less of the cinematic liberties that they took in the movies. And like Dentris mentioned the fellowship of the ring would be already heroic characters at least (at least the non hobbits).

    So far for elves I was thinking

    Ageless: Immune to aging effects
    Immunity to Poison and Disease
    Low Light Vision

    This seems to be the basics, i'm not sure but it appears that they have vision more akin to some kind of bird of prey and can see clearly up for 3.5 miles i forgot where I read that. They are also extremely attractive, but unreliable allies and seem to have difficulty getting attached.

    Elf age should be around 50 for a novice.

    Im thinking attractive might be better off as just fluff, maybe. Drawbacks seem to be that they can lose their will to live, and trouble relating to non immortal races. Also thinking they might benefit from elf only edges that allow unique abilities that they can develop

    Comment


    • ValhallaGH
      ValhallaGH commented
      Editing a comment
      Elves are purely magical. They can see for miles, walk on the surface of loose snow, walk across dry leaves without breaking them, see clearly in near-total darkness, are virtually immune to the passage of time, can hear rain drops striking leaves but still get surprised by giant spiders or barefoot hobbits, can forge magical weapons that passively warn of nearby foes, and never get ill.

    • Ocule
      Ocule commented
      Editing a comment
      So you think they shouldnt be player characters then?

    • paladin2019
      paladin2019 commented
      Editing a comment
      Possibly. The "light step" abilities would all under the aegis of wall walker via AB (Gifted). Additionally, most of their "heightened art" should likewise be manifestations of Gifted. Magic and Miracles should be limited to agents of the enemy and his ilk, respectively. Middle Earth is about subtle magic and that is better conveyed through Gifted.

  • #4
    As a practical matter, Tolkien elves are probably something like the following
    • Ageless: no aging, immune to aging effects (variable, depending on whether this is an issue)
    • Agile: d6 Agility (+2)
    • Comfort: Environmental Resistance to heat and cold (+2)
    • Farsightedness: +2 to Notice for sight (+2, reduced to +1 for limited applicability)
    • Heroic (-2)
    • Lightfootedness: AB (Gifted) and wall walker with the appropriate restrictions (+2) Alternately, this could be treated as Pace 6 Flight (+2) or priced as the Wall Walker racial ability (+1)
    • Low Light Vision (+1)
    • Racial Enemy: orcs (-1)
    • Swift Healing: Regeneration and Immunity to Disease (+3)
    That's +8, definitely worth something along the lines of no advances until Seasoned or something.

    I'm not sure All Thumbs is actually a Hindrance in this setting. They may be worthy of another appropriate Hindrance, too. As for other abilities, special skill with animals and sensing great evil and the like could be additional Powers later selected via Gifted or they could be additional skills or skill bonuses to Occult and Riding or the like. You could also add other racial enemies for other minions of the enemy.
    Last edited by paladin2019; 08-26-2021, 11:10 PM.

    Comment


    • paladin2019
      paladin2019 commented
      Editing a comment
      Dwarves and Hobbits probably work fine as presented in SWADE.

  • #5
    Ocule I think Middle Earth Elves can be player characters but you have to be willing to ignore some of their stated, but not demonstrated, abilities. For example, Tolkien states that an Elf is faster and stronger than Men, implying that a normal "Joe Schmoe" elf is on the level of an elite human athlete; but we never see that in the stories. The elves, no matter how graceful and elegant, are no more physically powerful than the humans. Heck, Gimli defeats Legolas in all of their "most kills" contests (only by one kill, but it is consistent).

    It should be possible to make playable ME Elves. Just don't get sucked up by the hype - J.R.R. loved his elves; I mean he loved them - they were the first language and cultures he created (in that order), and they were the backbone of the lore he created his world around. As such, they got a lot of description devoted to how amazing they were - descriptions that their actions didn't measure up to.
    Look at the elves with a skeptical eye, and limit their benefits to things they actually do. That will get you a realistic list of benefits, especially if you limit each benefit to one game mechanic. They'll still be pretty impressive but they'll be tame enough that you can actually balance them.
    Also, unless your campaign is actually going to span centuries or have time-based attack magic, being ageless is a cool narrative ability with no game mechanic benefit.
    Personally, I treat lifespan as a +0 ability.
    If a race has an extremely short life span then I may give them a thematically linked drawback (like removing the Common Knowledge core skill, because no time for traditional education). Similarly, if a race has an extremely long childhood then I may give them some additional core skills that fit the culture and education of that long period.
    Either way, the life span itself is a foot note, only applicable if the campaign has large time jumps or time-based attacks.
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

    Comment


    • paladin2019
      paladin2019 commented
      Editing a comment
      (Pssst. Edges are a +2 ability.)

    • ValhallaGH
      ValhallaGH commented
      Editing a comment
      paladin2019 Yep, so half of an Edge should be about +1.

    • paladin2019
      paladin2019 commented
      Editing a comment
      Ah, I see what you were saying, now.

  • #6
    I agree that "Ageless" without any other benefit (like instant healing, or impervious to injury) is a fluff ability, and shouldn't be factored into build cost. They have exceptional hearing and vision, which can be represented by Low-Light Vision and Alertness. Their lightfootedness can be either a bonus to Stealth, or a limited form of wall walker. AB: Gifted can work; personally, for ease of use and convenience, I would present it as an innate power with limitations (can't run up walls or along ceilings, etc).

    You may also wish to refer to existing Middle-Earth RPG sources, like MERP or The One Ring, for guidance on developing the various ancestries for your campaign.

    Comment


    • #7
      Tolkien Elves can balance easily at +4 (or +2 if you really scrimp and "off-load" their numerous abilities to Edges). There's no need to give them the kitchen sink right from the start; just concentrate on what "makes" an elf an elf and blissfully wave away the rest.

      Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
      For example, Tolkien states that an Elf is faster and stronger than Men, implying that a normal "Joe Schmoe" elf is on the level of an elite human athlete; but we never see that in the stories.
      Fingolfin would like a word with you.

      But generally, Valhalla's point stands. Although Fingolfin was able to go toe-to-toe with a literal god (Morgoth), it's been well established that the power of elves had waned considerably since the First Age. With very few exceptions, only Elrond and Galadriel demonstrated what we'd call "magic", and that was mainly because their Rings preserved their strength. All other elves were basically on par with fit humans.

      So what "makes" an elf during the time of LOTR?
      • Well, they are essentially relics. A race who's lived their prime and are now waiting out the inevitable. I don't think there should be any "young" elves, so their agelessness should come with a Common Knowledge bonus... probably starting at d6 (d12+1 max) or with a flat +2 bonus, depending on whether you want it to be a +1 or +2 ability, respectfully.
      • They have superb vision and hearing, meaning Low Light and bonus to Notice is appropriate.
      • They are aloof and often mistrusted, even by men that should know better (Boromir, Denethor, Théoden).
      • Their "magic" can often be represented as extreme skill. Moving through dry leaves without sound or crushing them is just a very high Stealth roll; walking on top of snow (i.e., not being hampered by it) is a high Athletics roll. These don't necessarily need to formulated in racial abilities, they just need to be described as "elf tricks" when the roll is made.
      • It's also remarked that elves who hear the ocean are beset by a deep longing for the shores of Valinor. This can become a negative ability of some sort, such as a perpetual Distraction within earshot of the ocean, or something similar.
      That should be enough to form a playable version of Tolkien elves. For anything else, just give the race access to AB (Gifted).

      Comment


      • #8
        Originally posted by Deskepticon View Post
        Their "magic" can often be represented as extreme skill. Moving through dry leaves without sound or crushing them is just a very high Stealth roll; walking on top of snow (i.e., not being hampered by it) is a high Athletics roll. These don't necessarily need to formulated in racial abilities, they just need to be described as "elf tricks" when the roll is made.
        Unfortunately, this can have have mechanical effects. Being unhampered by loose snow or really good at stealth does not equal walking atop loose snow or leaves without disturbing them. Traps or other hidden hazards beneath them would be avoided, for example. If this won't be a factor in the games played, Trappings are fine. Otherwise, there are additional effects in play that might be worth mechanics.

        All said, AB (Gifted) is probably the primary route for all feats of elfiness (including the skills of Elrond, Galadriel, et al), whether frontloaded as a racial ability or freely available with advancement.

        Comment


        • Deskepticon
          Deskepticon commented
          Editing a comment
          Well this is where the conceits of the setting come into question. What "traps" are going to be hidden under leaves or snow in a LOTR setting? Are you just playing DnD by a different name? I always imagined a LOTR setting to be more stoic and weighty, as opposed to the "campiness" of a generic swords & sorcery.

          I understand you point, but at the same time the races should reflect the themes of the setting. If there isn't much concern for hidden traps, it's not worth anything to give a character the means to avoid them.

        • paladin2019
          paladin2019 commented
          Editing a comment
          Agreed, and that's the point. "Traps" are appropriate to LotR, just not the usual definition; more things like deadfalls or snow collapsing over the side of a mountain from too much weight, etc. But this all depends on what the OP is going to do in their game; if their is going to be a mechanical consequence for stepping somewhere, it probably needs a rule. Otherwise, not so much.

        • Deskepticon
          Deskepticon commented
          Editing a comment
          At the risk of arguing symantics, I wouldn't classify those as "traps" per se, but I see your point. The takeaway here is defining a mechanic to go with the ability. Nothing about walking silently through leaves precludes triggering a beartrap; nothing about walking atop snow (e.g. ignoring Difficult Ground) prevents the snow from slipping. The base mechanics are essentially Trappings on skills, but as I alluded to above, ignoring conventional traps and hazards can easily be an Edge.

          The entire point here (or at least I thought) was to bring Tolkien elves down to a manageable point value so they don't over-shadow the other races.

      • #9
        I think Ageless is a zero point feature. I would consider a Veteran of Middle Earth option for older characters (maybe an option for Dunedain as well as elves0

        Comment


        • ValhallaGH
          ValhallaGH commented
          Editing a comment
          Hobbits and dwarfs would be eligible if they had a storied career in their backgrounds. Aragorn was about 100 when he joined the Fellowship; dwarfs can live a few centuries and even hobbits can reliably get over 100 without being unnaturally preserved by magic.
          Being a Veteran of middle earth is "not the years, it's the mileage".
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