View Full Version : [LotR] [MERP] The False Peace: A Campaign Journal

2013-05-06, 01:45 PM

What is MERP?
Middle Earth Role Playing, the (I think) first roleplaying game for Lord of the Rings, that has long since been discontinued.
Though somewhat infamous for the complexity of its ruleset and its limited fidelity to the tone of Tolkien's writing, it had charm of its own and resulted in some interesting gaming experiences for yours truly.

What is The False Peace?
The False Peace refers to two different things.
First, it is the name of a campaign I played with some others back in 2001-2002 and which was quite remarkable fun.
Second, it is the name our GM gave to the ten years between 2941 TA (the year in which the Hobbit is set and during which the White Council defeats Sauron as the Necromancer of Dol Guldur) and 2951 (the year in which Sauron openly reveals his return to Mordor and his identity by making Mt Doom belch clouds of ash).

Why is this in this board?
Seems the best fit, overall. A google search shows me several older campaign journals posted in this section.

How long is this going to be?
Potentially, very.
This was a seven-eight players campaign that stretched over eleven RL months, so there is quite a lot to tell. Even if I skip non-essentials and such, there is quite a lot of story to cover.



There were seven of us at the beginning, two would leave before the end, three would join.

Román, our first GM, was a Tolkien geek through and through, who had his own website of Tolkien geekery and was a card carrying member of the STE (Spanish Tolkien Society). Though he obviously played no character as such, the NPC he used to herd us around during the first half of the campaign was an exercise in obscure Tolkien lore.

It was a centenarian hobbit rogue by the name of Hildifons Took. Now, if you google the name or have the LotR appendix handy, you can check that this is an extremely obscure canon character, a Took who left the Shire looking for adventures and never returned home. This ability to cleverly weave together obscure parts of canon and roleplaying was something that to be entirely honest I was quite envious at the time. It helped that Román was a really cool guy, though.

Javier was a MERP newb who first gained an interest in Lord of the Rings because of the Peter Jackson movies and being something of a Gimli fan decided to play a thoroughly classic dwarf warrior. His character had no meaningful backstory beyond being a dwarf and no name, so he was known to the other characters as Gruñon (this being the Spanish name for the Grumpy Dwarf).

Cristina was also new to MERP, but not new to roleplaying in general thanks to previous experience with D&D. Though the MERP mechanics weren't good for min-maxing, she still decided to play Elturion, a Noldo elf wizard (Noldor having seriously broken advantages stat-wise over those of other species). However, since MERP wizards really, really suck at low levels, as she discovered later, this character didn't last terribly long.

Haydee felt like being as un-Tolkien as she could get away with, so she rolled a female Haradrim channeler (shaman/healer) by the name of Amira. I cannot say that I much liked the 1001 nights style she tried to provide for Harad, but she really went all out with her character and particularly during the Umbar sidequest, so I was really cool with it by the end of the campaign.

Leovigildo, he of the exceedingly unfortunate name, convinced Román to let him play Haldan, a Gondorian paladin. Though the class didn't exist in any of the official MERP rulebooks, there was a remarkably well balanced homebrewed version (called Order of Rynd Aratoran) floating around the Internet and so Haldan was allowed. This allowing Internet stuff was the source of some serious hilarity a few months later.

Juan, Román's older brother, played a Rohirrim shield maiden called Leowyn, lifted straight from the corebook character examples. You could say that he wasn't too terribly invested in the game, but he was an overall cool guy who let us use the back room of the comic shop he worked at for a while.

Last and least of all, this humble narrator played a dunlending (those would be the Braveheart rejects that team up with Saruman in The Two Towers) bard, who I wrote to be the descendant of a character I had used in a previous campaign I had really liked. Initially, I had intended him to be the token evil (or hostile) party member, but soon enough Juan and myself started a running joke concerning the relationship between our characters that ended going to weird places.



THE CHARACTERS (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15188630&postcount=5)
THE WORLD (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15194487&postcount=6)

START OF CAMPAIGN BACKGROUND (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15200988&postcount=8)
PROLOGUES (I) - GAP OF ROHAN (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15225786&postcount=9)
PROLOGUES (II) - SOUTHERN GONDOR (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15245316&postcount=12)

PART 1 - GAP OF ROHAN (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15340827&postcount=13)

2013-05-06, 02:02 PM
Interesting party. I'll be interested in the log! Sounds fun.

2013-05-06, 02:12 PM
I don't usually do campaign journals, but I have some serious nostalgia for MERP and doubt I'll ever play again. So keep posting!

2013-05-07, 01:58 AM
Subscribed. Tolkienic fidelity or not this sounds like awesome.

2013-05-07, 07:06 AM

I've been asked elsewhere to give some more detail about the characters themselves, so here it goes.


Would have been a pretty standard high STR/CON build (very high CON, which combined with some good rolls and dwarf racial advantages resulted in him eventually having a ton of hit points), if it hadn't been for one extremely high roll.

In MERP, you see, appeareance (meaning how beautiful your character is) was determined by a 1-100 roll and modified by CHA. Gruñon rolled very high and even after the dwarven CHA penalty ended with an appeareance value of 94 (90-100 being more or less movie star levels of attractiveness), which is possibly the highest I ever saw playing MERP for a dwarf character. The GM, of course, found it hilarious and made a point of having female NPCs hit on him with some regularity.

Other than this, the guy started with some rather good gear (+15 mace, which would be a +3 weapon in D&D; +10 to defense chain mail) and some serious money (silver, gold and some jewels overall equivalent to 100 gold coins, which is fifty times the starting money for first level characters). Also, no provided backstory, so the GM gave the player some broad strokes and we played with that.


Have I mentioned that low level mages in MERP really, really sucked? Because they do.

They get somewhat better as they level up, but never go beyond decent (unless you happen to run with the Rolemaster expanded spell lists, since MERP lists cap at level 10). Rune reading and magic item usage skills don't really compensate and, for example, the character Elturion was restricted to two spells for the first level: Sleep V (can put to sleep five levels worth of enemies) and Projected Light (beam of light projected from hand, explicitly works as a flash-light).

Beyond the frankly limited magic, the character spoke roughly half a zillion languages from the start and in combat used a dagger that let him cast a water bolt once a day. His backstory presented him as a scholar going back home after visiting the libraries of Gondor, who was interested in the mostly lost lore of the ringsmiths of Eregion (purely intellectual reasons, honest).

Other than this, the most remarkable thing about Elturion was that a poor roll in the Appeareance score resulted in a rather ugly elf (App 37), even with the very high CHA bonus of elves in general (and Noldor in particular) accounted in. Lots of joking about this, considering the fabulously beautiful dwarf warrior and, in the end, the player decided to justify the appeareance through backstory by giving her wizard some ugly scarring as a result of getting caught in a fire as a kid.


Rolled the maximum value in the AGI roll and then burned one "background option" bonus to bump it to 102, which is as high as it gets for PCs in MERP. High INT. Combined with a +15 bow she had, the character soon turned into the go-to member of the team in terms of delivering ranged pain, sometimes in combination with spells (she started with Calm I, which allowed her to prevent a single target from taking aggressive action for a minute).

The backstory provided was pretty interesting stuff, though. Harad, in the roleplaying game, was a rather complex territory that in spite of being generally hostile towards Gondor for much of its history, was not a realm of Sauron worshipping fanatics until the very end of the Third Age (with Sauron back in Mordor and ready to crush anyone willing to step out of line).

In this context, Amira was supposed to be a former street rat, turned low rank priest of a sect of followers of a local Moon goddess who having angered the Nazgul up in Minas Morgul with their pacifism got mostly wiped out. Amira essentially decided to try her luck with Gondorians, who might kill her, over the bunch of bastards actively trying to kill her. Player used the final background bonuses to buy high skill levels in First Aid, Dancing and Legerdemain to justify the backstory.

Also, the GM took the sect stuff and used for plot later.


There was nothing remarkable about the character in terms of stats or skills, but the backstory they (player and GM) cooked up to justify playing a paladin was pretty interesting.

As previously mentioned, the Rynd Aratoran (House of the Champions) was an original homebrewed concept for Middle Earth paladins by one Victor P. Arissa that got published at one point in a fan-written magazine. They are presented as a Gondor sponsored organization created in the early Third Age and effectively dismantled during the Balchoth invasion with the death of almost all its members during the battle of the Field of Celebrant, later restored by Aragorn upon his ascension to the throne.

Despite the timeframe, the GM allowed the player to run with it, painting the order as extremely diminished from its glory days (quaint in the eyes of most who even know about its existence), but still extant and respected to some degree by the authorities of Gondor as a reminder of the glories of times long past. Thanks to being a member of the Rynd Aratoran, the Haldan character was effectively a free agent of the Steward, legally allowed to ask for anything needed from either the local authorities or populace of Gondor to complete his missions, but unable to accept monetary compensation for his deeds.

Also, though potentially capable of using some limited magic, failure in the relevant rolls resulted in him starting the game magic-less.


As noted before, this was a character provided as an example in the corebook, so there is not a whole lot to comment about. She was a somewhat unusual high STR/AGI build, with low CON (same hit points than the mage at the start, as a matter of fact), with high skill scores in Riding and some other stuff related to horses. Other than that, she had a horse and had a remarkably high appeareance value (92).

Her backstory painted her as a woman hunting the murderer of her love interest, who was supposed to be one of the escorts of the ambassador of Rohan in Minas Tirith. GM had a lot of fun with this. A lot.


Estrecca, son and grandson of Estrecca, was less lucky than his ancestor of the same name (the previous character of the same name I had played). Average to bad rolls and the jack-of-all-trades nature of the bard class resulted in my character being a less than impressive party member (weak in terms of hit points, too), although I managed to get a few good moments.

Although as a bard I got some limited spellcasting (starting with Whisper, which let me project my whispers some distance away from myself), I also got some leather armor with defensive bonuses (this removed my spellcasting ability, but was a good decision that saved my character three times early on), as well as a flute that let me cast music to stun single enemies twice a day.

My backstory painted the character as a Gondor/Rohan hating jerk who was looking for those who had sacked the tomb of his ancestor (my previous character) and stolen his relics. This was an ongoing plot thread for much of the campaign and the GM wisely ensured that I wouldn't catch up with the tomb raiders until my character was of high enough level to get only minor benefits out of the recovered family treasures.

2013-05-08, 04:48 AM

This is almost, but not quite Middle Earth as you know it from the books and movies.


Cirdan the Shipwright, eldest of the elves of Middle Earth, remains lord of the Grey Havens and Lindon, busy as ever with the construction of ships for those of his kind who finally decide to abandon Middle Earth through the Straight Road.

Lorien is jointly ruled by Celeborn and Galadriel, where things are much the same as they will be in the time of the War of the Ring, except for the fact that the Lady's grand-daughter, Arwen Undomiel, currently lives in the Golden Forest and will remain there for the better part of a decade yet.

Rivendell, the domain of Elrond Half-Elven, has been for eleven years now the home of a woman called Gilraen and a young boy who is called Estel by the elves. Some years from now, the lord of Imladris will reveal this boy that he is in truth Aragorn, son of Arathorn, who shall one day be King of Arnor and Gondor.

In Mirkwood the Great, Thranduil Oropherion had hoped that the White Council's defeat of the Necromancer in the south of the Forest and the near-annihilation of the goblin host during the Battle of Five Armies would give his people an opportunity to reclaim some of the territory they had lost over the years to the things of the Shadow. He has since been disabused of the notion and, in spite of the best efforts of the elves, many evil things still lurk under the trees of the great northern forest.


Daín II Ironfoot (not a young dwarf anymore at 177, but vigorous as a youngster half his age) is King-Under-The-Mountain of the restored dwarven realm of Erebor, as well as Lord of the Iron Hills, making him the more or less undisputed sovereign of the Longbeard tribe and the most influential dwarf in western Middle Earth. Though the Lonely Mountain has not fully recovered yet from its long occupation by the dragon Smaug, hints of future splendour can already be glimpsed.

Smaller groups of Longbeards that do not directly answer to Daín dwell in the Grey Mountains or remain in the Blue Mountains, in the same halls in which Thorin Oakenshield lived his long exile, along with petty kingdoms of Broadbeams and Firebeards whose stubborn ancestors never left their homelands to join Durin's folk in Khazad-dum.


In the Shire, Fortinbras Took has been Thain for five years now and is starting his thirtieth year of rather unhappy marriage with Lalia Clayhanger. It is noteworthy that hobbits do not feel quite as safe in their lifestyle these days as they will a generation later, seeing that the Fell Winter of thirty three years ago with its horrific food shortages and white wolf invasion happened within living memory of pretty much every adult in the territory. However, a greater awareness of the possibility of hardship does not mean that hobbits are any more inclined to seek it out. Indeed, Bilbo Baggins and his "adventure" has been the talk of the Shire for over two years now.


Eriador remains largely empty and desolate, except for the Shire and the Bree-land. Tharbad, last great city of the northern lands, was ruined and abandoned after the floods that followed the Fell Winter. The Rangers of the North live in their hidden villages in the Angle of Rhudaur, still doing their ancestral duty to protect what was Arnor from the Shadow, although they have been effectively leaderless for over ten years now, ever since their captain Arathorn was killed by a goblin arrow that hit him in the eye.

In the Barrow Downs, evil spirits still haunt tombs that absolutely nobody has visited in centuries, while in the nearby Old Forest Tom Bombadil sings and laughs, as he waits for the stars to be right. Further to the south, the Dunlending clans remain in a permanent state of conflict with each other, combined with some raids that take the braver (and dumber) among them past the borders of Rohan.

Saruman the White has lived in Isengard for several centuries now and his neighbours generally know better than to annoy the master of Nan Curunir, for all that the wizard is nominally a vassal of Gondor (and won't openly declare otherwise for some years yet). Though he is not yet an agent of the Dark Lord and currently leads the White Council, Saruman covets for himself the power of the One Ring and has devoted no small amount of effort to find it over the last decades.

Rohan is ruled by old Fengel, son of Folcwine. His has been a long reign (fourty one years and counting) and one his people would like to end as soon as possible. Unlike his much beloved father, Fengel has been a notoriously greedy ruler with little in the way of achievements that may justify the heavy taxes he has set over the years, and his relations with the Marshals of the Mark have been so stormy at points that civil war has seemed a possibility. And though Gondor will do nothing to accelerate the end of Fengel's reign, they will be glad when he goes too, since his possitively mercenary approach to the old alliance disgusts the ruling Steward.

Turgon, the current Steward, is not particularly old by the standards of his bloodline (89 years old, currently), but he is not even remotely the same vigorous man he was when he ascended to his office thirty years ago. Though there has been no expansion under his rule, Gondor has enjoyed relative prosperity and peace, and a recovery of sorts has taken place in parts of the kingdom that were ravaged by plague or invasion in times past. Moreover, the line of succession seems safe for the time being: the Steward's son, Ecthelion, is an adult of 58 with a son, Denethor, of 14 years.

Other figures of note in Gondor include Angelimir, current prince of Dol Amroth, and Thengel, exiled prince of Rohan, who just last year married beatiful Morwen of Lossarnach, after gaining a great deal of honor and wealth in the service of the Steward (service which mostly involved combat against Umbarean corsairs and Haradrim raiders). Morwen has just realized that she is pregnant for a second time.

The child she carries will be born in eight months and his name will be Theoden.

Far to the north, the lake-town of Esgaroth has been rebuilt and the by now legendary hero Bard Dragon-slayer is trying to restore the city and kingdom of Dale, under the shadow of Erebor. There have been complications, but the dwarves are amenable and the enormous wealth he was given has done much to increase the activity of old, formerly lethargic trade routes that stretch as far as Dorwinion.

The Shadow

The Dark Tower is still a ruin, but other than that the Black Land is ready for the return of its master. For centuries now, Sauron has silently readied his old fortress-kingdom through his Ringwraiths and their fortress of Minas Morgul. In a few years, the Dark Lord will feel strong enough to restore his old seat of power and openly announce his presence to the world.



In case anyone around here doesn't remember exactly what Middle Earth looks like.

2013-05-08, 11:37 AM
Sounds awesome like an awesome journal. Subscrib'd! :smallsmile:

2013-05-09, 06:38 AM
For reasons he never shared, Román really, really disliked the classic conceit of "party meets in a tavern, has adventures", so before we started he asked us whether we were willing to play with a split party for the first couple levels of the game, prior to the full party meeting and start of the main plot itself.

Though a bit unusual, we were tentatively cool with the idea and, as a result, effectively played two different adventures at the same time. In one hand, we had the dwarf, the elf and my dunlending operating around the Gap of Rohan, while the paladin, the haradrim priestess and the shield maiden had their fun in southern Gondor.




The Gap of Rohan is the term used to describe the entire territory between the southern Misty Mountains and the northernmost peaks of the White Mountains.

Isengard in Nan Curunir, the Valley of the Wizard, is nominally a Gondorian stronghold that Saruman has been holding for the Stewards for a few centuries now, although few actual Gondorians have visited the place in the same period. Though Saruman hasn't started creating orc armies yet, Isengard is also home to several hundred servants (mostly men of diverse provenance, along with a handful of dwarves). South of Saruman's domain, Rohan's western borders are marked by the line of the rivers Isen and Adorn.

To the south-west of these rivers and north of the White Mountains extends the allegedly empty land that the Gondorians call Druwaith Iaur, which was once settled by strange wild men called Woses by the Rohirrim and Druedain by the people of Gondor. In fact, there are still fairly large numbers of wild men living in the territory, but a couple centuries of being hunted for sport by the horse-lords has made them exceedingly hostile towards any and all strangers. And this is, if anything, an understatement, since they are thought legendary by now because those who intrude in their territory are generally killed from ambush using poisoned darts.

North of the Isen, south of the Gwathló, west of Rohan, is the region known as Enedwaith. For three thousand years, this territory has existed halfway between the more civilized regions of northern Eriador and the Gondorian sphere of influence, in spite of which its dominant ethnic group (the Dunlendings) has always remained stubbornly independent and clinged to their rather primitive ways of life. Dunlendings are a superstitious, boisterous and quarrelsome lot, but can also be surprisingly welcoming to strangers. Also, for all that they envy and hate the forgoil (strawheads, which is their insulting name for Rohirrim), there has been more than a bit of intermingling over the generations and whenever there is not open conflict, there is quite a bit of trade between both groups.

Rohan, kingdom of the Eorlingas, starts east of the Isen. It is a land of prairies, dotted with small towns and smaller villages, where a proud people lives. A proud people that is starting to seriously resent the tax collection efforts of the not very well liked king, and nowhere is this sentiment as obvious as it is in West-march, where the people are mostly of mixed blood and traditionally shaky loyalties towards Edoras. Hoping to prevent a rebellion, or dunlending raiders being invited in by disgruntled vassals, the Second Marshall of the Riddermark has been reinforcing the garrisons of Helm's Deep and the Isen ford forts. This, in turn, has costed some serious money and some angry letters from the king, who really wants to know why his sweet, sweet tax money is being devoted to a military build-up during peacetime.



Harondor was traditionally Gondor's southernmost province. However, Gondor's claim has been disputed for centuries by the kingdoms of Near Harad and the corsairs of Umbar, resulting in the semi-desertic plateau being lightly populated. Settlements are few and far between these days and the people universally mistrustful of strangers, with the few remaining townships of somewhat respectable size huddling close to the Poros and the Harnen.

The eastern border of this land is marked by the Ephel Duath, Mordor's Mountains of Shadow, which even during Gondor's heyday were a dangerous place and nowadays house ever-increasing numbers of the inhuman members that form the hordes of the Dark Lord. Fortunately, people have long since learned to stay well away from the border of Mordor and with orcs having orders from the highest authority to avoid tipping Gondor about the real state of things in Sauron's stronghold there have been surprisingly few problems so far.

South of the Harnen begins the territory of Harad proper, divided once again in a myriad kingdoms since the great Coalition of Amrun suffered a crushing defeat at the Crossings of Poros, while attempting to invade southern Ithilien fifty nine years ago. Unlike previous clashes with Gondor, however, the Amrun War left a lasting hatred of the northern kingdom in the hearts of the people of Harad. As a result, trade circuits have since focused on the markets of Umbar, increasing the prosperity and influence of the Corsairs among the inland nations of Near Harad. Though the Council of Umbar does not yet feel strong enough to challenge Gondor directly, the time in which they will dare to renew the conflict with their old foe is not distant anymore.

North of the Poros is southern Ithilien, which was once Gondor's wealthiest and most populous region and is now an impoverished borderland. Though the Haudh in Gwanur (the tomb of the twin princes of Rohan that came to assist the south-kingdom against the Haradrim hordes) stands proud as testimony of Gondor's victory at the Poros, the province hasn't managed to recover from the loss of twenty thousand young men during that battle. Combined with the dark things that have started to crawl out of Morgul Valley, Ithilien's population keeps shrinking as people look for safer places to live in the other side of the Anduin.

2013-05-13, 10:45 AM



Elturion started in his room in The Black Mare, sole inn of Eldburg, a small Rohirrim town some thirty miles east of the Isen fords.

The GM explained that according to chronicles that Elturion had perused in Minas Tirith during his recent visit, the town was much older than the kingdom of Rohan itself and predated even Numenorean settlement in the area. Moreover, the same chronicles also talked about the existence of ancient ruins in the area, so Elturion had decided to visit the place to investigate a bit, on his way back to the north.

After going downstairs, he had some breakfast and tried to listed to the headlines of the local rumor mill. However, since it was early in the morning and nobody felt like talking much with the queer "Gondorian" with the disfigured face around, he only got some very minor stuff totally irrelevant to the actual plot, and eventually decided to head for the obvious plot hook in the ruins.

Upon reaching the ruin, he discovered that at first glance there really wasn't much to look at. It seemed that at some point there had been a large fortification of some kind, but the stones used in its construction had seemingly been repurposed for new construction over the centuries, leaving only mounds of earth and what seemed to have been a deep moat originally. However, he discovered that there were some clearly artificial tunnels that might have served as storm drains back in the day.

After checking that the tunnel was in good condition and that it apparently wasn't trapped through use of a ten foot pole, Elturion decided to crawl in, hoping to find underground levels in better condition than the ruin's aboveground. Unsurprisingly, he found exactly that, but that's a story for later.


Estrecca woke up in a campsite near the Greenway and, first thing in the morning, rolled a rune-marked knucklebone, a talisman attuned to one of the relics stolen from the tomb of his ancestor capable of telling him the general direction of the stolen heirlooms, as well as the distance (actually, this thing allowed me to cast once a day a level eight spell that does what I describe and would have been useful at several points, but for that I'd have had to retune the talisman and I couldn't justify such a thing in-character until midway through the campaign, when the heirlooms were finally recovered).

In any case, talisman says that the relics are now one hundred and twenty miles south-east, so Estrecca realizes that there is no doubting it now that he is in the territory of clan Dobac (Dobac being the southern-most of the clans of Dunland) and that he is going to have to cross the land of the horse lords. Although he has never actually met one of the forgoils, he knows all there is to know about them thanks to the songs of the bards. So he doesn't like it one bit, but since he cannot fly and it doesn't seem likely that he will learn to in the close future, he is going to have to make his way through Rohan.

After packing up and walking for a while, Estrecca encounters three riders wearing long cloaks with hoods that hide their faces. This being not exactly normal for early summer, he tries to memorize something useful about the strangers, just in case, but fails to determine anything noteworthy about them (fumbled the Perception roll pretty bad, here). Some hours later, when about to make a stop for lunch, he hears shouting and barking from a nearby forest and goes to investigate.

A few minutes later, he is walking towards the sound when he hears something loud coming his way, fast. The loud thing turns out to be a very pissed and lightly injured boar that upon finding itself face to face with a human charges and does some damage despite my shield. My character uses a spear as his primary weapon, rolls decently and manages to do some damage to the hog in retaliation, including a small bleeding wound from a critical hit. However, with the boar having three or more times the hit points of my character, I got the worst part of the deal by far.

So I decide to play it safe, use the shield and swap my attack bonus for defensive bonus. This lets me withstand pretty well the next boar charge, but my attack is left strictly to luck, so I am a tad surprised when I do well and land a nice critical that hurts the boar pretty bad and stuns it for a round. Then, I am even more surprised when I roll badly in the next round and my fail makes me trip, leaving Estrecca stunned for two rounds, at the mercy of a pissed pile of bacon.


Seeing that Gruñon came with no backstory, the GM made the hook for him.

Essentially, he was a dwarf who had left the Blue Mountains along with three other fellows looking to find fame and fortune away from the mountain-homes (where there wasn't a whole lot of either thing to find) and who had been wandering Eriador for several months, working as mercenaries and skilled labour in different places. A month before the start of the adventure, they had been hired by the Mayor of the Shire to deal with a gang of Big Folk undesirables who had been stealing and assaulting good gentlehobbits all over the Southfarthing.

Through a combination of guile and courage, the dwarves managed to deal with the robbers with extreme prejudice, but upon seeing the magnitude of the loot the gang had collected, decided to keep it for themselves and headed for Bree at best possible speed. However, after enjoying the hospitality of the Prancing Pony for a few days, their calm was disrupted by the arrival of a Shirrif looking for them (or, more particularly, restitution of the valuables) whom they left tied in a closet after beating him up a tiny bit.

While preparing a hasty departure from Bree, the group of dwarven fugitives heard from a local merchant that in recent times a group of Dungledings (so called them the Bree man) had visited the Bree-land hoping to hire masons of skill to make repairs in their clan-hold, but returned home empty handed (after all, they were known as a brutish short that paid poorly and decent Bree folk knew better than to start dangerous travels south down the Greenway to barbarian lands). Seeing that following that direction put them farther away from the Shire, the dwarves decided to try their luck in Dunland.

As it turned out, this was the wrong decision. Gruñon started roleplaying right in the middle of a bandit ambush that had caught the dwarves not far from their destination. By the time the dust settled, several bandits were dead or dying, along with two of the dwarves. And Gruñon's last companion, despite not having taken an arrow to the knee, had lost his nerve and decided to go back to the Blue Mountains.

Gruñon, however, did not want to go back home with the tail between his legs, so after dividing the money with his last surviving companion and entrusting him with the bodies of the fallen, Gruñon walked the rest of the distance to the clan hold of clan Leonn (an old Gondorian watch-post occupied by the dunlendings a thousand years before, when Gondor abandoned definitely Eriador). Between bad influence rolls and Gruñon's very poor command of Dunael (and the poor command of Westron of the dunlendings), it might have ended in blows, if the GM hadn't felt merciful and make a Leonn rider arrive at this point bringing news of the death of several bandits, identified at this point as dunlendings from a rival clan.

After revealing his involvement in this action, Gruñon was invited to enter the clan hold.

2013-05-15, 11:16 AM
Awesome so far, keep up the good work :).

2013-05-15, 03:19 PM
I love the idea of a small squad of warrior dwarves fleeing from hobbity wrath. :smallbiggrin:

2013-05-16, 06:53 AM



Her character started near the borders of Gondor, namely the ruined town of Athrad Poros. This was a town, formerly of some importance, that had been largely destroyed and mostly abandoned after the Amrun War, except for a garrison kept there to control the southern shore of the Crossings of Poros just in case.

The character's vague plan at this point involved crossing the river and legging it north, as discretely as possible. Problem was that she was not a Gondorian citizen and wasn't there in what the Gondorian soldiers would recognize as legitimate business, so at least they rebuff her and at worst hold her for questioning as a suspected spy.

Therefore, it was time for stealth. Followed a pretty amazing infiltration sequence, during which the character crawled through sewers, killed a pair of giant rats, climbed to the top of buildings and jumped from roof to roof, while avoiding Gondorian patrols. That extremely high agility score really helped her do some borderline Matrix stunts that allowed Amira to cross most of the ruined city without being detected.

Then, with the character near the ford and beginning to consider her next step, she hears a shout and looks down. Turns out that a Gondorian soldier, apparently in an advanced state of inebriation happens to be dragging a clearly unwilling woman towards an alley where he promises that... extremely unsavory things will happen. And since Amira doesn't approve of drunk rapists, she readies her bow and shoots.

Bang, headshot.

She rolled pretty high, for starters, but then she rolled a perfect 100 critical hit. Meaning that the Gondorian soldier gets hit in the eye by the arrow, dies instantly and the victim starts shouting. Things get interesting, afterwards.


I see now that I haven't given detail about this character's backstory, just noted that it wasn't particularly remarkable.

In a nutshell, this guy was a stalwart, loyal do-gooder of a Dunadan, born and raised in Dol Amroth by a family of the minor nobility. Shortly after joining the navy, this dude managed to save prince Angelimir himself from a tight spot during battle against Umbarean corsairs. Upon being offered a reward for the deed, Haldan merely voiced a wish to become one of the champions of law and good about whom he had read so much in the old chronicles.

Although fully aware that Rynd Aratoran had ceased to exist as a coherent organization centuries earlier, Angelimir also knew that the Warden of the Keys of Minas Tirith was also the honorary Magistrate of the Order, the office of the old heads of the Rynd Aratoran. Furthermore, he also knew that certain loyal servants of the kingdom had been awarded the position of Champion as a reward for their actions in previous centuries, although the tradition had been discontinued after the death of Belecthor the Second, great grandfather of Steward Turgon.

As a result of all this, Haldan got sent to Minas Tirith with a letter from the prince for Gilmer, Warden of the Keys. This illustrious person took a liking to Haldan and decided to humour the request and after dusting off old books, inducted Haldan into the once glorious Order of Rynd Aratoran. This confers him certain rights (such as the right to demand anything he may need to carry out his missions in defense of Gondor and its interests and certain legal immunities) and a lot of very serious obligations that Gilmer made sure to drill into his head before letting him go.

In the current situation, Haldan is essentially a free agent serving the interests of Gondor (Gilmer having neither the time nor the inclination to micromanage the only active paladin around, even if he is the nominal Magister of the Order) and, while his position does not have the weight of previous centuries, he carries sealed letters signed by the Prince of Dol Amroth, the Warden of the Keys and the secretary of the Steward himself explaining exactly who he is and what he is legally allowed to do.

Roleplaying started with Haldan in one of the camp-sites of the Gondorian army in southern Ithilien, posing as an aide to the camp commander. What he was actually doing, however, was hunting for a serial killer, following Gilmer's last suggestion prior to Haldan's departure from Minas Tirith. For at least three years and perhaps longer than that, there had been a murderer operating in Pelargir who had savagely killed over twenty women, always during the night of the new moon. In spite of the best efforts of the city watch, there had been no suspects, no witnesses, only a growing pile of corpses. Halad has further confirmed that periods of apparent inactivity matched months in which the troops had been deployed and extrapolated that the killer must be a member of the military unit he has joined, since similar happenings have been reported in the places where the unit has been deployed.

The initial roleplaying for Haldan was fairly uninteresting and I am probably forgetting details. Just a pretty massive meet and greet in which he interacted with over a dozen different characters and tried to subtly get information about strange behaviours and so on.


Leowyn started in front of the gates of Pelargir, Gondor's main port and one of its biggest cities. The GM explained that the suspected murderer she was hunting down, according to her backstory, had abandoned the service of the ambassador of Rohan and left Minas Tirith about a week before Leowyn got there.

Although those with the information she needed weren't particularly collaborative, even with Leowyn trying to pose as the murderer's relative, eventually someone let slip that the man had expressed an interest in joining the household of Thengel. With this tidbit as her best lead, she asked around and learned that the exiled prince was currently one of the main commanders of Gondor's southern army, so Pelargir was the logic place to go.

The trip there had been quick and uneventful, thanks to the peace and good roads of Gondor's heartlands, but upon reaching her destination she realized that she didn't have a well defined plan in mind and that being something of a small village girl was starting to feel seriously overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the South-kingdom's cities. Cue start of roleplaying.

An early attempt to go through official channels went nowhere fast, after visiting the headquarters of Gondor's southern army. Lord Thengel was "unavailable" and they certainly weren't going to provide information about one of their soldiers. For that matter, they refused to confirm or deny whether the man she was seeking had joined Gondor's troops or not. There were some pretty bad Influence rolls here, but the GM later explained that short of some kind of epic roll they would have kept stonewalling her, since the clerks weren't about to share potentially sensitive information with the first person to walk through the door, even if that person had a pretty face.

After this failure, Leowyn found lodgings in an inn and tried to get some intel through the grapevine. She got nothing specific about the man she was looking for, but learned the location of Thengel's house in town and was told in no uncertain terms that the troops under his command had moved out of town and crossed the river, to Ithilien, three days before her arrival. Uncertain of what to do, she decided to spend the rest of the day watching Thengel's house, discretely.

A number of hours later, going back to her inn, she was jumped by three muggers who failed their Perception checks rather catastrophically and failed to spot that the "pretty lady" was wearing chain mail and a sword under her cloak. By the time a patrol of the watch showed up and arrested everyone in the crime scene, Leowyn had already killed one and another was one good hit away from the grave.

2013-05-31, 05:08 AM

Returning to our irregularly scheduled campaign journal...



The tunnels
The last time we saw him, the wizard Elturion was crawling through a small tunnel which he had previously checked for traps, hoping to gain access to what he supposed were the underground levels of the ruins near Eldburg. After crawling for a while and a couple rolls he passed easily, he reached a larger space that he started exploring with his Projected Light.

It turned out that the tunnel communicated what had been the moat with an underground cistern of no particularly great interest. In a higher level, he found two tunnels, one that seemed to head deeper into the hill and another that seemed to follow the perimeter of the hill upon which the ruins stood. He tried the first, but found it blocked by a stone slab once seemingly decorated with some kind of writing that was now too damaged by time and humidity to read.

He then tried the second tunnel and had to jump over a thirty feet pit, mostly hidden by the shadows of the tunnel. Followed an Indiana Jones sequence in which he found three more empty rooms with tunnels leading into the hill that were blocked by more stone gates, faced an unusually large badger (that was put to sleep when it tried to bite him), bypassed some more crude traps and found signs that someone else had been down there before.

The dead
Finally, the fourth chamber revealed an unblocked tunnel. Or, rather, a tunnel that someone had forced open in the past, knocking down the stone slab that had once blocked it.

Seeing that the place was giving mighty strong vibes of sealed badness, Elturion spent some time looking for clues and was able after a couple tries to read the message written in the broken gates.

It was daen coentis, a Second Age predecessor of the dunlending language and sufficiently different from the version Elturion was familiar with that he only got that it was a warning of danger ahead and something that he understood to mean "sleep deprivation".

In any case, five steps into this new tunnel, he saw that the walls were full of niches and when he approached one to examine it, the skeleton within predictably tried to grab him and dozens more started crawling out of their niches. Of course, the "sleep deprivation" message had been a warning about the restless dead.

Now, skeletons in MERP are hardly something fearsome, but Elturion was a level 1 squishy, armed with a weapon really unsuited to fighting undead and his spells were all ineffective against such enemies. Moreover, necromancy in Middle Earth is generally a sure-fire sign of big time bad juju.

The escape
In short, the player got the hint and started backtracking quick. Returning to the beginning wasn't too terribly complicated and the skeletons stopped upon reaching the first pit of doom, so he was able to leave in relative calm.

He was, however, rather surprised to find someone waiting for him outside. This person was a shifty looking human fellow who apparently had been preparing lunch, while waiting for Elturion to come out. He rather cordially introduced himself as Curt, son of Gurt, and claimed to have been sent to Eldburg to extend an invitation.

Apparently, Saruman the Wizard would be most honored to welcome the reputed loremaster Elturion in his tower of Orthanc, in the heart of the ring of Isengard.


My character was saved when a spear struck the boar in the side. It was not a killing blow, but it distracted the critter and left my character with nothing to do except to see how the fight unfolded, at least until the end of the stun.

Estrecca's rescuer had been a young dunlending warrior on horseback, wearing the colors on clan Dobac. The young man apparently didn't expect his spear throw to fail to kill the animal, because he was slow to arm himself with the second spear he carried on his back. This allowed the boar to dismount him.

Rest of the fight was not too epic. We kept rolling pretty bad and the boar kept rolling pretty well, but we eventually managed to put it down after four more rounds of frustrating fight.

Turned out that the guy who had saved my character was Angios, son of the Dobac chieftain, and Estrecca had crashed into his rite of passage. Fortunately, Angios wasn't offended about the intrusion and actually thanked him for the help with the boar.

While doing some patching up, the guys did some small talk and, after learning that my character was a bard, Angios invited him to join the celebrations in the Dobac clan-hold, in exchange for playing a song or two, or perhaps some recitation of the epics.

After meeting up with the rest of the Dobac hunting party, everyone and their many dogs made their way towards the clan-hold. This turned out to be a hill-fort about an hour away from the forest.

The main peculiarity of the place was pointed to Estrecca in their way in, a weathered statue that stood near the hilltop. This was a large hill troll (although the dunlendings insisted on calling it a giant) turned into stone by sunlight, which had plagued the area for years until a Dobac chieftain five generations earlier had tricked the monster and fought it until sunrise.

The celebration was decent fun, with lots of food and drink consumed until nightfall. Estrecca had to interrupt his attempts to flirt with the local pretty girls (to little effect) several times, in order to join other bards in entertaining the attendance (the relevant rolls were OK, but nothing remarkable). When things finally started to die down, Estrecca was offered a spot to sleep in the clan's party hall and that was that.


Now, the fact that he had killed several brigands of an enemy clan operating in Leonn territory provided the dwarf with a measure of respect and short term gratitude, enough for the dunlendings to give him a roof and food for several days.

However, the dwarf was interested in long term employment (to stay away from northern Eriador until the hobbits forgot about him and his fellows), so he soon started negotiations with the clan head, Luric. The problem was that Gruñon had no talent for masonry, which is what the clan had been interested in, and they weren't interested in hiring mercenaries. The other clans would consider poor form to bring in outsiders to settle internal matters and react accordingly.

Fortunately, Gruñon was a more than decent metal-worker and Luric accepted to keep the dwarf around in exchange for his help in the clan's smithy, after his daughter Gwenyth (who as it turned out was kind of attracted to the dwarf) spoke on Gruñon's behalf.

As the new blacksmith, the dwarf was put to work immediately, helping the clan's two surviving smiths deal with the significant backlog of work that had been built up since the clan's other blacksmith died of consumption at the end of winter.

As noted, the character had a good bonus in this skill and it was mostly simple work, so Gruñon mostly relaxed and started making plans for the future. Then, a very old hobbit entered the smithy, startling the dwarf so badly that he hit himself in the thumb with his hammer.

The old Hobbit
The old hobbit went directly for the dwarf and gave the name of Hildifons Took. He had heard about the dwarf's arrival from the clan and was interested in meeting the new face, as well as hearing any news that Gruñon could give him about the Shire, seeing that he had left very long ago and never bothered to keep in touch with his family.

In this note and telling the player to think how he wanted to deal with this situation, the GM finished with this particular section.

2013-05-31, 01:18 PM
Well, this is taking me back a couple of decades.

My copy of the MERP rulebook was "borrowed" by a local chap who was pretending to be friendly with me about my geeky interests in order to get close to my sister. He conspicuously did not succeed, and the book was never returned. All parties were in our mid-teens at the time.

As I recall (and I'm as rusty as I can get), MERP mage Spells work a little like 3.5 Cleric Domains. In that there's a lot of separate spell lists (I believe they're called "Masteries"), with one spell for each level. You get to pick two and stick to them. Except there's no central list, so it's like your domain spells are all you ever get. And you have a much more frail chassis than a D&D Cleric. And the spells themselves are underwhelming. Oh, and you can miscast and direct the spell onto yourself if you roll badly.

All the other spellcasting classes used the same system, but the others tended to be physically tougher, if with lesser choice in spells.

Sounds like your mage friend picked Spirit Mastery to get Sleep (because it's the only 1st level MERP spell that actually effects the enemy much) and the Electricity Mastery(whatever it's called) to pick up Shock Bolt at 2nd level. I seem to remember those are the only combat useful spells a Mage gets for a long time.

2013-06-01, 05:59 PM
As I recall (and I'm as rusty as I can get), MERP mage Spells work a little like 3.5 Cleric Domains. In that there's a lot of separate spell lists (I believe they're called "Masteries"), with one spell for each level. You get to pick two and stick to them. Except there's no central list, so it's like your domain spells are all you ever get. And you have a much more frail chassis than a D&D Cleric. And the spells themselves are underwhelming. Oh, and you can miscast and direct the spell onto yourself if you roll badly.

Broadly correct, with some minor inaccuracies.

No central list, but you get to pick one additional spell list per level for the pure spellcasters (not that it makes much of a difference).

Also, bad rolls do not cause the spell to backfire as such, but rather can cause any number of effects ranging from "spell fails to work" to "mental collapse, spell shoots in the opposite direction, total loss of spellcasting ability for three months".