C&C Middle Earth -- work in progress

Open Discussion on all things C&C from new product to general questions to the rules, the laws, and the chaos.
Joe Mac
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C&C Middle Earth -- work in progress

Post by Joe Mac »

Inspired by Antonio's long-running thread (and many email exchanges with him ), I have been cranking away on some rules for adapting C&C to Middle Earth, for an upcoming game I'm planning to run.

Thus far, I've done the most work on racial classes: Elf (two variants), Dwarf, and Hobbit. I'm posting these for general critique and suggestions. The tables won't post very well, but should be readable enough.

A few quick notes before laying it out there:

I think many of us are in agreement that Middle Earth is best interpreted without PC/NPC levels getting too high. With that in mind, I have tweaked all of the XP tables somewhat (not posting these yet). A significant change: the XP total for 10th level (being the last hit die gained) is also the XP required for each additional level. This reinforces my idea that 8th--10th level characters are 'high level' for the setting, and anyone beyond that is one of the most powerful characters in Middle Earth.

I'll be using C&C spells, divided as Wizardry and Sorcery (much influence from prior threads), with just a few additional ones converted from the Decipher spells. After picking up the latter book (on sale for $8 from NKG! ), I decided that although the magic system therein is quite good, there are so many C&C equivalents to those spells that it isn't worth a wholesale conversion -- just some cherry picking.

I'll be using only 7 spell levels, changing the level of some spells as I see fit. Spellcasters will be pretty rare in the game, anyway, so I'm saving much of that work for last.

I will be using Gary's CZ skill bundle system, adapted for the setting. There will be no knights or barbarians, for example, but fighters can select skill bundles to represent such character types.

Re: these racial classes: unlike BtB C&C, I will, of course, be adding level to checks for everything, because their racial abilities are their class abilities.

Lastly, I'd like to point out that little of this is my own work! I have combined the C&C PHB racial stuff with some Decipher elements, Antonio's stuff, and inspiration from Omote's excellent racial classes PDF. I'm just compiling and editing to taste, mostly..
Elf, Dwarf, and Hobbit to follow as their own posts.

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Post by Joe Mac »

THE ELF CLASS

Elf characters may select one of two paths:

Elven Warriors are deadly fighters and scouts with wilderness skills. They may be of Sindar or Silvan race.

Elven Lords combine skill at arms with spellcasting abilities. They may be of Noldor or Sindar race.

Of the three kindred of elves in Middle Earth, the Noldor are not available as starting player characters; however, they may appear in the game as NPCs (or pregenerated PCs of higher level), and their abilities are noted below. The Sindar and Silvan elves have their own unique abilities, as well.

The following abilities are common to all elves:

AGELESS: Elves do not age, nor do they die, unless wounds, grief or some artifice of the Enemy takes hold of them and ends their existence in Middle-Earth.

ENHANCED SENSES: Elves are blessed with enhanced vision and hearing. They can see farther than humans in just about every circumstance, including torchlight, and can read a road sign or spot a shield device many miles distant when outside during the day. They can also hear very well, and receive a +2 bonus to all checks involving listening.

ENVIRONMENTAL COMFORT: Elves feel no discomfort in hot or cold weather, and they suffer no ill effects from it.

GHOST-SCORN: The ghosts of Men hold no terror for the Elves, who are immune to the fear and aging effects that they create (C&C M&T p.38).

MOVE SILENTLY (Dexterity): This ability allows an elf to move silently in outdoor areas (and urban or indoor areas as well, if the elf has practiced in such places). The elf can move up to one-half normal speed at no penalty, and his light-footedness allows for faster movement with only minor penalties: -2 for more than one-half, up to the characters full speed, and -5 while running or charging.

SENSE POWER (Wisdom): Elves can sense the presence of power, evil, ancient tragedies and the subtle menace of the Shadow.

SPELL RESISTANCE: Elves are particularly resistant to spells and spell-like abilities that charm or cause unnatural sleep, receiving a +10 bonus to saving throws.

SPOT HIDDEN DOORS (Wisdom): Elvish vision and keen senses allows them to spot secret, hidden and concealed doorways. An elf merely passing within 5 feet of a secret, hidden or concealed doorway is entitled to a wisdom check to spot the door, as if the elf were actively looking for it. When an elf actively searches for such doorways, the bonus to the wisdom check is +2.

SWIFT HEALING: Elves heal their wounds at double the normal rate (C&C PH p.120). Furthermore, they are not affected by normal illnesses and diseases.

TWILIGHT VISION: Even under starlight, moonlight or torchlight, elves have exceedingly good vision. They can distinguish color and detail under these conditions for up to one mile, but only if they are outside.

WEAPON TRAINING: The long lives of elves allow them to become highly skilled in their favored weapons. Elves begin play with a +1 bonus to hit with one of the following weapons: longbow, shortbow, longsword, shortsword, dagger/knife (of any kind).

The Noldor, or High Elves, have the following abilities:

INNER LIGHT: Because he Noldor have lived among the Valar across the sea, against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power. They receive a +4 bonus on all checks to resist or oppose the power of the Shadow: resisting fear, intimidating Saurons servants, saving versus Sorcery, etc.

NOLDORIN LORE: Noldor are renowned for their love of lore and the arts of making. They receive a +2 bonus to any smithcraft (involving the work of metal and the rare art of gem crafting) and lore-based checks.

ATTRIBUTE MODIFIERS: +1 Intelligence, +1 Dexterity, -1 Constitution

LANGUAGES: Sindarin, Westron (Common). Their ancestral tongue, Quenya, is used only for preservation of lore and nostalgic expressions of longing for the West.

The Sindar, or Grey Elves, have the following abilities:

MUSICAL GIFTS (Charisma): Grey Elves are renowned for their gifts of music and song. They receive a +2 bonus for checks involving artistic performances, such as singing, playing, poetry etc.

ATTRIBUTE MODIFIERS: +1 Charisma, +1 Dexterity,

-1 Constitution

LANGUAGES: Sindarin, Silvan, Westron (Common)

The Silvan, or Wood Elves, have the following abilities:

WOODCRAFT (Wisdom or Dexterity): Silvan elves receive a +1 to all checks related to survival, tracking, or stealth in the outdoor environment(s) they are familiar with (in additional to their level bonus). Additionally, they leave so little trace of their passing that any attempt to track them is made at -10.

ATTRIBUTE MODIFIERS: +1 Wisdom, +1 Dexterity,

-1 Constitution

LANGUAGES: Silvan, Sindarin, Westron (Common)

THE ELVEN WARRIOR (Dexterity, Wisdom)

Elven warriors have the following additional abilities:

CONCEAL (Dexterity): Elves can conceal themselves extremely well in wilderness areas. With a successful dexterity check, elves can camouflage themselves so well as to be unnoticeable by most observers. Elves cannot conceal themselves and move silently at the same time until they reach 3rd level. At this level and beyond, the elf may attempt both, but must make successful checks at -3, and movement is reduced to one quarter the normal movement rate. Elves cannot conceal themselves if being observed, even casually, before the conceal check is attempted. If the observer is momentarily distracted, however, the elf can attempt to hide quickly, at a -10 penalty.

TRAPS (Wisdom): An elf is able to detect and build simple traps in a wilderness environment. When passing within 25 feet of a wilderness trap, the elf is entitled to an attribute check to spot it. When actively searching for traps, the elf receives a +2 bonus to the check. It takes one round to search each 25 square feet (an elf cannot find magical traps with this ability). An elf can set simple traps in a wilderness environment, including snares, pits, and similar devices. On a successful traps check, the elf builds and conceals a snare or pit trap. Snares can capture and hold creatures of up to medium height, and pit traps can be dug to deliver 1d4 points of damage (halved if the creature falling in it makes a successful dexterity saving throw). Elves may also disable simple wilderness traps (of any type they can build) with little effort; no traps check need be made to do this.

PRIME ATTRIBUTES: Dexterity, Wisdom

SIZE: Medium

MOVEMENT: 30 feet

ALIGNMENT: Good or Neutral

HIT DICE: D10

WEAPONS: Any (elves favor bows, swords, and knives)

ARMOR: Any (armor heavier than elven mail inhibits the use of stealth abilities)

ABILITIES: standard/racial elven abilities, conceal, traps

ELVEN WARRIOR (Dexterity, Wisdom)

Level HD BtH EPP

1 D10 0 0

2 D10 +1 2,751

3 D10 +2 5,501

4 D10 +3 11,001

5 D10 +4 22,001

6 D10 +5 44,001

7 D10 +6 85,001

8 D10 +7 170,001

9 D10 +8 340,001

10 D10 +9 680,001

11 +3 HP +10 1,360,001

12 +3 HP +11 2,040,001

13+ 680,000 per level

THE ELVEN LORD (Dexterity, Intelligence)

Elven Lords have the following additional abilities:

LORE (Intelligence): Elves are lore masters of archaic knowledge. With a successful attribute check (which might entail research or consultation with elders) the elf may interpret legends or decipher secret writings, gain or remember relevant information about noteworthy places, identify legendary or magical items, or produce other pertinent bits of obscure knowledge. The Castle Keeper will gauge challenge levels and extent of knowledge gained based on the circumstances.

MAGICAL ARTS: Elves possess magical abilities, although they think of them as simple, natural powers. Elves typically use magic for creation and joy, not domination over other beings. They can cast spells (according to the table below), often in the form of songs or poetry, and can create magic items as a wizard of the same level (C&C M&T p.87).

PRIME ATTRIBUTES: Dexterity, Intelligence

SIZE: Medium

MOVEMENT: 30 feet

ALIGNMENT: Good or Neutral

HIT DICE: D8

WEAPONS: Any (elves favor bows, swords, and knives)

ARMOR: Any (armor heavier than elven mail inhibits the use of stealth abilities)

ABILITIES: standard/racial elven abilities, lore, magical arts

ELVEN LORD (Dexterity, Intelligence)

Level HD BtH EPP

1 D8 0 0

2 D8 +1 4,501

3 D8 +2 9,001

4 D8 +3 18,001

5 D8 +4 35,001

6 D8 +5 70,001

7 D8 +6 140,001

8 D8 +7 275,001

9 D8 +8 550,001

10 D8 +9 1,100,001

11 +2 HP +10 2,200,001

12 +2 HP +11 3,300,001

13+ 1,100,000 per level

ELF SPELLS PER DAY

Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 3 1

2 4 2

3 4 3

4 4 3 1

5 4 3 2

6 5 4 2 1

7 5 4 3 2

8 5 4 3 2 1

9 5 4 3 3 2

10 5 5 4 3 2 1

11 6 5 4 3 3 2

12 6 5 4 4 3 2 1

13 6 5 4 4 3 3 2

14 6 5 5 4 4 3 2 1

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Post by Joe Mac »

THE DWARF CLASS (Strength, Constitution)

Dwarves are doughty warriors and skilled craftsmen. They have the following traits and abilities:

ANIMOSITY (Elves): The disparate personalities of dwarves and elves have resulted in eons of misunderstandings, squabbles and even wars between the two races. As a result, dwarves suffer a -2 penalty to charisma checks when dealing with elves to whom they are not personally associated.

DEEPVISION: Ages spent beneath the earth in the dark and quiet places of the world have imbued dwarves with the ability to see in darkness where a human would find it impenetrable. This vision extends up to 60 feet in even the darkest of nights and deepest of tunnels. Colors tend to erode with deepvision, and objects appear in many shades of gray. It is otherwise like normal sight, and dwarves can function well with no light at all. Bright lights, such as from a lantern or other light source, spoil deepvision. A dwarf requires one turn to adjust his or her eyes when a light source is extinguished before gaining full use of deepvision.

DEFENSIVE EXPERTISE (Giants/Ogres): When fighting giants or ogres, dwarves receive a +4 bonus to armor class.

DETERMINE DEPTH AND DIRECTION: The world beneath mountains and in the deeps of the earth is the natural home of the dwarf. Dwarves can sense their approximate depth and direction underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up.

ENMITY (Goblins/Orcs): Eternal wars against goblins and orcs have created an undying crucible of hatred for these vile creatures. When in combat against goblins or orcs, this fury and hatred allows dwarves a +1 bonus to hit these creatures. Dwarves have a similar distrust of half-orcs, finding inter-breeding with goblinoids to be the worst of all sins. Dwarves suffer a -4 to charisma checks when interacting with half-orcs, goblins and orcs.

RESISTANT TO ARCANE MAGIC: As unshakeable as granite or iron, dwarves are particularly resistant to arcane magic. They receive a +3 bonus to all saving throws against arcane spells and spell-like effects.

RESISTANT TO FEAR: Dwarven loyalty, duty, stubbornness and honor lend them courage where other races might falter. Dwarves receive a +2 bonus to all saving throws against fear.

RESISTANT TO POISONS: Dwarves are imbued with great constitutional fortitude. Poisons that might fell a normal human are less likely to affect a dwarf. Dwarves receive a +2 bonus to all poison saving throws.

SMITHCRAFT (Wisdom): Dwarves practice their crafts obsessively and possess many secrets of making that are unknown to other people. They receive a +2 to all checks relating to smithcraft (creation of swords, armor, and delicate works of beauty, and evaluation of their worth).

STONECRAFT (Wisdom): Dwarves spend much of their lives carving halls, castles and underground fortresses out of solid rock, so they possess an extensive knowledge of stoneworking and construction. Dwarves are capable of spotting unusual or unique construction or stonework features including new construction, unfamiliar architecture, sliding walls, stonework traps, unsafe stone surfaces, unstable ceilings and secret or concealed doorways. A dwarf passing within 10 feet of one of these features is entitled to a wisdom check at +2 to recognize the feature, as if actively looking for it. Should a dwarf actively search for these features, the bonus to the wisdom check is +4. Other bits of knowledge, such as which race created the feature, and its approximate age, may be revealed at the CK's discretion.

PRIME ATTRIBUTES: Strength, Constitution

ATTRIBUTE MODIFIERS: +1 Strength, +1 Constitution, -1 Dexterity, -1 Charisma (with respect to non-dwarves)

SIZE: Small

MOVEMENT: 20 feet

LANGUAGES: Khuzdul, Westron (Common)

ALIGNMENT: Any (few dwarves are evil)

HIT DICE: D10

WEAPONS: Any (subject to size limitations); dwarves prefer axes, mattocks, hammers, swords, and short bows.

ARMOR: Any (appropriately sized)

ABILITIES: Animosity (elves), deepvision, defensive expertise, determine depth and direction, enmity (goblins/orcs), resistant to arcane magic/fear/poisons, smithcraft, stonecraft

DWARF (Strength and Constitution)

Level HD BtH EPP

1 D10 0 0

2 D10 +1 2,501

3 D10 +2 5,001

4 D10 +3 10,001

5 D10 +4 20,001

6 D10 +5 40,001

7 D10 +6 80,001

8 D10 +7 155,001

9 D10 +8 310,001

10 D10 +9 625,001

11 +3 HP +10 1,250,001

12 +3 HP +11 1,875,001

13+ 625,000 per level

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Post by Joe Mac »

THE HOBBIT CLASS (Dexterity, Constitution)

Hobbit adventurers have gained renown as goblin fighters, shirriffs, and even burglars! They have the following traits and abilities:

ACCURACY: Hobbits are keen-eyed and coordinated, receiving a +1 bonus to hit with all thrown and ranged weapons.

DEFENSIVE EXPERTISE: Hobbits receive a +2 bonus to AC when being attacked by enemies of large size.

DEFT HANDS (Dexterity): Hobbits possess great manual dexterity, which allows them to perform feats of manipulation or sleight-of-hand that would be very difficult for others. Exact uses of this ability must be adjudicated by the CK, bearing in mind that actions requiring specific training, such as opening a lock or disarming a trap, will not be permissible (unless the hobbit has a related secondary skill bundle). Picking the pocket of an unsuspecting troll, however as Bilbo does in The Hobbit is well within the capabilities of an adventurous hobbit.

HIDE (Dexterity): Hobbits are practiced at avoiding the prying eyes of others in outdoor settings. A successful check allows the hobbit to hide making him or her almost invisible. If a hobbit decides to move while attempting to remain concealed, he or she can still hide, but will suffer a penalty to the check. At up to one-half their movement rate, hobbits suffer a -5 penalty to the check. At one-half their normal movement rate to full speed, they suffer a -10 to the check. It is impossible for a hobbit to move faster than normal speed while hiding. If the hobbit is being observed, even casually, the character cannot hide. If the observers are momentarily distracted, however, the hobbit can attempt to hide. This check, however, has a -10 penalty because the character has to move quickly into hiding.

Hobbits who have practiced hiding in urban, indoor, or underground settings may use this ability in such places, as well.

KEEN-EARED: Hobbits gain a +1 bonus to all listening checks.

MOVE SILENTLY (Dexterity): Hobbits, being naturally small and dexterous, can move as quietly as a breeze upon a summer morn. With a successful dexterity check, hobbits can move silently. They can move up to one-half their normal movement rate with no penalty to this check. For moving at one-half of their normal rate up to the characters full speed, the character suffers a -5 penalty to the check. Its practically impossible to move silently while running or charging, so this type of action incurs a -20 to the check.

RESISTANT: A lifetime of good food, when combined with hard work and a self-reliant spirit, makes for a healthy people. Hobbits are more resistant to the ills of life than most other races, so they receive a +1 bonus to all constitution saving throws.

STOUT-HEARTED: Hobbits, for the most part, lead sequestered lives and are often considered naive. This is not entirely accurate; hobbits are not raised with fears and trepidation imparted to them by myth and fancy, but are reared on tales of self-dependence and the overcoming of lifes many hurdles. For either or both reasons, hobbits possess stout hearts and are not easily frightened, even in dire circumstances. This trait imparts a +2 bonus on all saving throws against fear.

PRIME ATTRIBUTES: Dexterity, Constitution

ATTRIBUTE MODIFIERS: +1 Dexterity, -1 Strength

SIZE: Small

MOVEMENT: 20 feet

LANGUAGES: Westron (Common) with some hobbit words specific to themselves

ALIGNMENT: Any (very few hobbits are evil)

HIT DICE: D6

WEAPONS: Any (subject to size limitations); hobbits prefer clubs, staves, spears, short swords, daggers, and knives, as well as slings and bows

ARMOR: Any (appropriately sized)

ABILITIES: Accuracy, defensive expertise, deft hands, hide, keen-eared, move silently, resistant, stout-hearted

HOBBIT (Dexterity and Constitution)

Level HD BtH EPP

1 D6 0 0

2 D6 0 1,501

3 D6 +1 3,001

4 D6 +1 6,001

5 D6 +2 12,001

6 D6 +2 25,001

7 D6 +3 50,001

8 D6 +3 100,001

9 D6 +4 200,001

10 D6 +4 400,001

11 +2 HP +5 800,001

12 +2 HP +5 1,200,001

13+ 400,000 per level

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Post by Keolander »

Joe Mac wrote:
WEAPON TRAINING: The long lives of elves allow them to become highly skilled in their favored weapons. Elves begin play with a +1 bonus to hit with one of the following weapons: longbow, shortbow, longsword, shortsword, dagger/knife (of any kind).

Just to quibble for a moment, but this is slightly more than a bit stereotypical and decidedly unTolkien. The Grey Elves of Doriath were noted for wielding Battle Axesw when they went off to war. There is also the Spear, a weapon made famous by the soldiey of Gondolin (its said that Turgon lead an army of 10,000 Spears in the Battle of Sudden Flame) and Aiglos was the Spear of Gil-Galad. Thranduil lead an army of Spearmen to The Battle of Five Armies.
Quote:
WEAPONS: Any (elves favor bows, swords, and knives)

ARMOR: Any (armor heavier than elven mail inhibits the use of stealth abilities)

Well, Elves favoured many different types of weapons. There is also nothing, per se, called Elven Mail. There is Dwarf Mail, who made matchless armour not equaled by any others in Middle-Earth. There is also the fact that Mail is the top-end armour. There is no plate, no plate over mail or breastplate. Mail is the best. Other armours, based on the texts, would be Lamellar, Scale, 'Ring'-mail, Hardened Leather & Leather Jerkin/Coat, Padded. Dwarves of Durin's Folk have Mail Chausses (mail leggings/hose) and Prince Imrahil had what could be metal vambraces (probably splinted like those of the Dark Ages Byzantine Cataphracts).
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Joe Mac
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Post by Joe Mac »

Keolander wrote:
Just to quibble for a moment, but this is slightly more than a bit stereotypical and decidedly unTolkien. The Grey Elves of Doriath were noted for wielding Battle Axesw when they went off to war. There is also the Spear, a weapon made famous by the soldiey of Gondolin (its said that Turgon lead an army of 10,000 Spears in the Battle of Sudden Flame) and Aiglos was the Spear of Gil-Galad. Thranduil lead an army of Spearmen to The Battle of Five Armies.

I'd disagree that bows, swords, and knives are un-Tolkien, but I don't think that's what you meant. You're correct in that I took this section from the C&C PHB (being the 'stereotypical' D&D elf armament), and forgot about those other weapons! My problem is that I'm going from memory; I've read all the books many times, but most recently was 6-7 years ago, so I'm rusty...that's why I'm looking for criticism from those less rusty, and you're giving me what I wanted!
I'm going to run the game in the late Third/early Fourth age, because that's what'll make the players most happy, and I don't see much of a problem allowing them to eventually play some small part in the War, without it trampling on the story as written (sure, they'll know the Good Guys are going to win, but they won't know if their characters are going to survive...)

In light of this period, Thranduil's spear-armed elves was an important detail I'd forgotten. I'm reading the books again as I work on these rules, and am currently polishing off a chapter of The Hobbit each night, taking notes as I go. I'm sure I'll find many points I botched, along the way...

(Every time I read The Hobbit, I'm struck by what a wonderful 'D&D' book it is...of course, Gary agreed.)

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Post by Joe Mac »

Keolander wrote:
Well, Elves favoured many different types of weapons. There is also nothing, per se, called Elven Mail. There is Dwarf Mail, who made matchless armour not equaled by any others in Middle-Earth. There is also the fact that Mail is the top-end armour. There is no plate, no plate over mail or breastplate. Mail is the best. Other armours, based on the texts, would be Lamellar, Scale, 'Ring'-mail, Hardened Leather & Leather Jerkin/Coat, Padded. Dwarves of Durin's Folk have Mail Chausses (mail leggings/hose) and Prince Imrahil had what could be metal vambraces (probably splinted like those of the Dark Ages Byzantine Cataphracts).

In other threads, the armor issue has caused quite an argument, but you'll not get one from me -- I'm entirely in agreement on the Dark Age aesthetic. What I was thinking of when I wrote 'heavier' was layering scale over mail, or adding vambraces, greaves and/or chausses, etc. to a mail hauberk, all of which I'd give a better AC for.

I remembered that dwarves made the best mail, but did the elves not make their own, too? In any event, I was thinking of the D&D 'elven mail' when I wrote that, which was likely not quite on the mark...
Thanks again.

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Post by Relaxo »

just skimming, and not a Tolkein scholar, but causual reader, I'd say these are great!

I like your idea w/ XP to make 10th level characters "the max" and anyone beyond that like, crazy powerful. I agree this works for M.E.
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Post by Lord Dynel »

It's just me, but Tolkien seems hard to do with a level-based system. Don't get me wrong, Joe Mac, your efforts are very noteworthy. I've just always had too many mental hurdles in conceiving a Tolkien-esque level-based game, spellcasters being the primary concern. Keep up the good work, though, Joe - I'll be watching with much interest.
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Post by Omote »

Thnak you for the compliment Joe Mac.

I think these are quite solid and have already scribbled down some notes for my own C&C Middle-Earth games.

I think the class system, and C&C imparticular work quite well with Middle-Earth. As has been mentioned many times, Magic needs to be adjusted for the correct feel, but otherwise works grand IMO. Of course, YMMV.

Again, nice stuff Joe Mac.

-O
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Post by velvetlinedbox »

This was very intersting, I will follow this. I always loved tolkien but thought it would be too hard to set to a roleplaying game. Please keep this up.

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Post by Relaxo »

IT's true, LD, the spell casters are difficult.

Like Gandalf for example, can cast Light, and he ignites a pinecone, he breaks Grima's influence over Theoden, and can fight the balrog and is basiclally immortal until killed.... this is not the same kind of power as, say, Elminster or Bigby.
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Post by Lord Dynel »

Relaxo wrote:
IT's true, LD, the spell casters are difficult.

Like Gandalf for example, can cast Light, and he ignites a pinecone, he breaks Grima's influence over Theoden, and can fight the balrog and is basiclally immortal until killed.... this is not the same kind of power as, say, Elminster or Bigby.

It's not the same as a 6th level spellcaster in a class-based system, IMHO.
I think the wizard/caster needs to be reworked, again IMHO, if it's to be work out in a Tolkien setting. Sure, LotR rpg and even MERP had them, but - and maybe it's just me - didn't seem to be closely tied to the Tolkien spellcasters.

I just don't want to come off as poo-poo'ing the job or the task at hand. I think Joe Mac has done a super job, so far. And I'm not saying that it cannot be done. I guess one of my main concerns is that systems try to keep the wizard too close to the wizard in D&D instead of working it to be its own thing. But since there are not really any references of "wizards" outside of the Istari, it is hard to gauge. Now my understanding of them is not complete, so maybe I'm missing something. I considered working on a version resembling Decipher's version of the magician with a few tweaks that differ from both systems (this one and the LotR system) like allowing more weapon use, much less spells, and possibly even(like the Tolkien works suggest) specializations or preferences among wizards (like beasts, fire, air, etc.).

Just my musings...YMMV.
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Post by Relaxo »

Lord Dynel wrote:
It's not the same as a 6th level spellcaster in a class-based system, IMHO.

Yes, absolutely. I wasn't clear that I totally agree. I recall at the Retun of the King movie, my wife was like, "Why doesn't gandalf just blast all the bad guys to death?" and I said trying to sound wise, "he doesn't have that kind of power"

I dunno.

Maybe istari have Damage reduction? or can only be harmed by elven, or maiar-crafted weapons? or other maiar such as Balrogs? It's doesn't port directly to the D&D model of things. and also I agree, that's not to say it can't be done, it will just need to be different.
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I just don't want to come off as poo-poo'ing the job or the task at hand. I think Joe Mac has done a super job, so far.

Also agreed!
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Post by Go0gleplex »

Gandalf is older than Sauron who was nothing more than the apprentice of an apprentice of the wizards such as Gandalf and Saruman....

Gandalf, in the books (including silmarilion and lost tales) had a lot more power than is ever alluded too. And he was a lot older than most knew...
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Post by Lord Dynel »

Go0gleplex wrote:
Gandalf, in the books (including silmarilion and lost tales) had a lot more power than is ever alluded too. And he was a lot older than most knew...

Which makes it harder to transcribe, sadly. But that is a good point, Go0gle.
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Post by Go0gleplex »

[quote="Lord Dynel"][quote="Go0gleplex"]Gandalf, in the books (including silmarilion and lost tales) had a lot more power than is ever alluded too. And he was a lot older than most knew...[/quote]

Which makes it harder to transcribe, sadly. But that is a good point, Go0gle.[/quote]

Wish I could remember the text exactly, but the wizards were created directly after the Valinor...or were they the children of teh Valinor...*scratching my noggin* The Elves came after the wizards...who were there to act as guides and caretakers for the younger races. They were armed with portions of the song(?) or words of creation and empowered by the creator hisself.

Sauron didn't even have a quarter of the power the wizards did until he stole his power from the wizards apprentice he apprentice who was the original dark wizard or such before him. That portion of the tolkien's works was really informative and kinda puts things into scale.
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Post by yell0w_lantern »

From what I read in the Silmarillion, the Istari were sent to Middle Earth after Sauron forged his ring. That would be late 2nd/early 3rd age, right?

Sauron was a Maia of Aule, the smith god. Sauron was seduced by Morgoth to evil as were the Balrogs.

However, I think the wizards were forbidden from using outright force unless using it to directly counter the force of something not of Middle Earth such as Sauron. They were supposed to guide the children of Iluvatar.

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Post by Go0gleplex »

Yeah...that's it. Morgoth was of the Valinor or Istari (can't remember which for certain...sorry. all my books are packed away still) and Sauron killed him, then forged his ring...ending the first age and starting the second, or simply during the second age near the beginning.

It was the ring the Istari feared...not Sauron specifically...because it was made with the same power they wielded and Sauron had forged part of his soul into it making himself a mockery of immortality.

okay...gonna shut up now. about geekery'd out.
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Post by Lord Dynel »

Go0gleplex wrote:
okay...gonna shut up now. about geekery'd out.

No, no...thanks for the information!
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Post by Joe Mac »

Thanks for the kind words, fellows! I'll be posting more rules drafts soon.

Magic is indeed a tricky subject, but I do think it can be done without too much trouble. Tolkien was (deliberately) vague on how magic was employed -- which not only preserves our sense of wonder, it keeps us from having to depart too radically from the D&D/C&C paradigm.

The propriety of having spellcasting characters in Middle Earth, other than the Istari, has been amply debated in other threads. My take on it, in a nutshell:

Other than the Istari and the Mouth of Sauron, I don't recall any other Third Age wizards/sorcerers being mentioned in LotR or the appendices. (Can anyone remember any?) Aside from 'wizards', of course, the elves use magic in their own way, Elrond 'commanded' the flood at the Ford of Bruinen, etc.

However, I don't recall Tolkien specifically refuting the existence of other wizards, either. (Again, someone please correct me if I'm wrong.)
The Hobbit stands in contrast to LotR with regard to references to 'wizards'. Bilbo thinks to himself 'Wizards after all are wizards'. Dori and Nori say, "Just when a wizard would have been most useful". Beorn says of Radagast, "Not a bad fellow as wizards go." All of these quotes imply that Gandalf (or Radagast) is not the only wizard the speaker had ever met, or at least heard of.

Now, The Hobbit is an entirely different animal than LotR, and written much earlier, but I believe it may be considered just as much 'canon' for an RPG campaign as LotR. Considering it alongside LotR, I decided to allow wizard/sorcerer PCs/NPCs in my campaign -- but they will be RARE. So rare, in fact, that I vetoed one player's request to play a wizard in the first session, coming up next month. I'm not yet entirely sure how I want to handle it, and I want to set the 'low-magic' tone from the outset.

I'm distilling the spells that I find suitable (or potentially suitable -- still mulling them over) into just 6 spell levels, and will post these when they're a bit more ready for prime time. I'm thinking along the lines of free selection from allowable spell lists (by level), rather than Vancian memorization, but intend to use the 'spells per day' table more or less as is -- with rest required, hp of subdual damage from casting beyond the daily allotment, that sorta thing. Still taking shape, with much influence from Antonio's prior work...
Meanwhile, a side note: it seems to me that Gandalf isn't given enough credit for 'flashy' offensive spells! No, he isn't as flashy as a D&D magic-user, for the most part, but consider these:

At the goblin's Front Porch: There was a terrific flash like lightning in the cave, a smell like gunpowder, and several of them fell dead. Later one of the goblins says to the Great Goblin, "Several of our people were struck by lightning in the cave." What is this, if not a D&D 'lightning bolt' spell?

(I think the description of 'a smell like gunpowder' is for the reader's benefit, not a suggestion of how Gandalf killed the goblins...)

The spell that Gandalf used in the Great Goblin's hall, to effect their escape ('piercing white sparks' burning holes in the goblins) resembles the 'incendiary cloud' spell (more the C&C version than the AD&D one).

Consider also Gandalf's battle with the Nazgul on Weathertop. Flashes of lightning from this affair were seen by Aragorn and the hobbits from many miles away. More lightning bolts? 'Call lightning'? Potent stuff, in any event.

Just some examples that get overlooked, I think, in the eagerness to emphasize the 'subtlety' of magic use in Middle Earth. Compared to the casual bombast of D&D magic, 'subtle' it is, for the most part -- but can occasionally be dramatic...

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Post by Keolander »

Joe Mac wrote:
However, I don't recall Tolkien specifically refuting the existence of other wizards, either. (Again, someone please correct me if I'm wrong.)

The number, IIRC, is unknown but the 'Chiefs' were 5: Saruman (head of the order), Morinehtar/Alatar, Gandalf, Romenstammo/Pallando & Radagast. There is also a highly curious use of the word 'Wizardry' by one of the Sons of Feanor IIRC in The Silmarillion. Since that book is supposed to be a collection of stories written by Elendil the Tall (which explains the garbled stories of The Two Trees, The Quendi's Awakening, The Flat Earth etc) as Tolkien intended later in his life (History of Middle-Earth XII: The Peoples of Middle-Earth). How would Elendil the Tall know the Sindarin word for Wizard when neither Morinehtar nor Romenstammo stayed in the West when they arrived mid-Second Age? Elendil was born far too late for them to have met him and far too early for the actual formation of the Istari Order circa year 1000 of the Third Age.

I liked Steven Long's approach that he took with The Lord of the Rings RPG by Decipher. Magicians (as per The Hobbit), while not common, are at least are known and feared (which also plays upon the crowd in Bree that witnessed Frodo's disappearing act in The Fellowship of the Ring). Wizards, are those Quendi and Magician's that have been accepted by the Istari Order and 'elevated' to the Elite Order of Wizard (though I do not allow the Ageless Order Ability).
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Post by anonymous »

I thought the Istari were actually maiar, not elves or men?

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Post by Lord Dynel »

I also like how Decipher did magic and explained about magicians.

I am in the "pre-development" phase (I know, sounds fancy ) of a an alternate wizard inspired by the Decipher spellcasting. This wizard will have a much smaller spell list, and will actually be the only spellcasting class (thus eliminating the cleric, druid, and illusionist - I know, it's not going to be a wildly popular move). Spellcasting will work on a SIEGE check - spells will have a CB and the check must succeed in order for the spell to be cast. The spell list will be a lot smaller (maybe 60 or so spells?), but wizards will not be bound on how many spells can be cast per day (technically...there's a fatigue mechanic, but that's another story ).

I actually think this would lessen the level of magic and might even be a wizard a little bit closer to the Tolkien type.
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Post by Relaxo »

Tenser's Floating Disk wrote:
I thought the Istari were actually maiar, not elves or men?

That's my understanding, which makes having them as a playable class a little troublesome w/o some re-invention, IMO.

It's also why Galdalf can harm the Balrog, whcih is clearly not an elf or man. (also a maiar, to my knowledge, but don't go by me)
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Post by Joe Mac »

Man, I was up much too late last night, digging through my bookshelf for primary source info on Wizards....
Yes, I think the 5 'Chief' Istari were Maiar, as Tolkien repeatedly describes them as 'Emissaries of the Valar' (he also described them as 'angels' in his letters). However, other than being immortal -- only appearing to age very slowly -- they are subject to human needs: food, drink, sleep, pain, etc., and can be 'killed'...so they're very much in human form.

The chapter on the Istari in Unfinished Tales is just as Keolander described: it mentions that the exact number were unknown, but that the Chiefs of the 'Order' were 5 in number.

In Tolkien's letters, he refers to the 5 'wizards' as being distinct from 'magicians' and 'sorcerers'. Whether the metaphysical laws of magic use in Middle-earth are the same for all of them (since the Istari are in human form), is a question left for us to answer.
Also, I'd forgotten that mention in LotR (thanks, Keolander), after Frodo vanishes in the Prancing Pony: the onlookers believed they were in the presence of a 'traveling magician of unknown powers and purpose' -- so the people of Bree are familiar with traveling magicians, and turning invisible is something they might expect of one...

Also, if I recall correctly, Gandalf refers to Beorn as 'a bit of a magician'.

I have been combing the spells in the Decipher book, but I haven't paid much attention to the distinctions therein between wizards and magicians. I'm going to give that a thorough read before proceeding further.

Overall, I think we can safely insert the rare spellcasting PC/NPC without being untrue to Tolkien's Middle-earth.

(I find to my embarrassment that I have been writing 'Middle Earth' lately, when the correct form is 'Middle-earth'. My lore is dusty, indeed. )

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Post by Joe Mac »

Relaxo wrote:
It's also why Galdalf can harm the Balrog, whcih is clearly not an elf or man. (also a maiar, to my knowledge, but don't go by me)

Is it denoted somewhere that others literally could not harm the Balrog, or was it simply that Gandalf was the only one capable of (eventually) kicking his ass?

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Post by Aladar »

Gandalf was the guardian of the sacred flame, which may have had something do with his ability to harm the Balrog.
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Post by anonymous »

"A servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame of Anor" I think he says - IDHTBIFOM. The "secret fire" is a piece of occult jargon used by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Could have something to do with the Stoic school of philosophy originally. Anor is the sun. I don't think the Balrog is immune to everything except Gandalf, it's just that anyone else who tried fighting it would be toast, but Gandalf is immune to fire based attacks.

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Post by Relaxo »

I'm so not an authority on these details, that was just my understanding, that he was of roughly equal power level it the Balrog because there were (at some point) brethren-ish.

but really, go with what the others are saying, not my me.
Joe, good catch about traveling magicians! I never put that together.
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