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  1. #1
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    Middle Earth domains?

    Has anyone ever tried to adapt the Birthright domain system to Middle Earth (any time period)?

    I've been getting back into Tolkien since starting to read the Hobbit to my young boys, and it has me wanting to explore the North and the dwarven kingdoms, perhaps during the time with the dwarven Rings of Power. The Rings seem to me to lend themselves to domain-level powers, and I think it would be neat to have that reflected, along with the various dwarf vs orc wars and the other sagas that involve dwarves fighting, founding, losing, and regaining kingdoms.

    That, and there are more dragons in the North... (some of which are the cause of lost Rings...)

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    Site Moderator Sorontar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Has anyone ever tried to adapt the Birthright domain system to Middle Earth (any time period)?
    No, but this is certainly an interesting proposal. Let's look at the standard Br domains.

    Law - plenty of those, commanded by elves, dwarves, humans and other humanoids like goblins/orcs and hobbits. You can also place various major creatures as controlling an area through force, like Smaug, Shelob and Balrogs.

    Source - The examples of a magic wielding entity controlling an area include Sauron, any other of Morgoth's lieutenants, Saruman, the main elves like Galadriel and Thingol. This could also probably include places like the caverns of the Dead Men of Dunharrow and the Barrow-downs. Some of these may be strong connections to the ME equivalent of the the Shadow World.

    Guild - There are many references to races or towns trading with each other but little was said of major trading entities. This may require a little imagination. It is hard to imagine the Guilders being major powers without other non-guild holdings being their foundation.

    Temples - Middle Earth does have its equivalent of gods but little was said about individuals worshiping them. I am not sure where you would go here. You could probably map Br deities to ME deities, though they would not be perfect matches and may require a change in alignments, e.g. Erik -> Yavanna, Nesirie -> Ulmo, Sera -> Aule? Haelyn -> Manwe? Cuiraécen -> Tulkas???

    Sorontar

  3. #3
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    There would be a lot to have to make up, yes.

    I was planning to focus first (as an experiment) on the North and the Dwarven kingdoms because it lends itself to a smaller scope with less in the way of established politics and to the idea of the adventurer-king approach (reclaiming lost kingdoms, or forging settlements on the frontiers, etc). Probably some time between the Wars of Dwarves and Dragons (leading up to when Smaug flew south to sack Erebor), or the time periods between that and The Hobbit. The War of the Ring is too much to bite off

    Would you or anyone else be interested in gradually working some of these things out together?

    I'd have three aims (and three commitment levels) in mind:

    1. Just do it for the fun of it, working together to build something for Middle Earth.

    2. Possibly run this as a PBEM with the community here, if we can have a small DM team and get far enough to feel comfortable with it -- and to let players build out story and past.

    3. Build a playable setting for personal tabletop games -- for me, something that I can use with my boys in a couple of years, when they're ready for it. As much as they're getting into it (and were into Narnia), I think entry into gaming with Middle Earth would really resonate with them.




    Regarding some of the challenges...
    Temples could either be dropped or possibly be replaced with various culturally-appropriate niches, like some have made of the Taelinri for the Sidhelien. Councils of the Wise or of Elders, shamans of the Druedain, reinterpret them as ritual spellcasters and artificers (there's much magic of the subtle kind in Middle Earth).

    Middle Earth is pretty low-magic as far as the flashy stuff. Lots could be culled in those areas, but would need to be offset to maintain holding balance.

    I think it could become like a "lite" version of BR, just by dropping a lot of the magic, possibly the temples, and realizing that holding/province densities are pretty low in the Third Age. Of course, 1st-2nd Age would be a different story.

    Tolkien's focus on lines of royalty and heroes lends itself to bloodlines, though perhaps with fewer powers and not tied to gods.

    The Rings of Power could easily be both personal and domain-level artifacts, boosting regency and domain and military stats and actions.

    For a start in the North, I'd want to flesh out dwarves and orcs, perhaps some of the Men of the North, maybe sorcerers (where were all the other Nazgul aside from the Witch-King of Angmar before the War of the Ring...?), have dragon depredations and other monsters (trolls, giants, "nameless things in the deep places of the earth," ruins and relics of ages past and the conflicts with Morgoth and Sauron and Angmar).
    Last edited by Rowan; 02-01-2018 at 03:33 AM.

  4. #4
    Member nickgreyden's Avatar
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    Late to the party and don't know Toliken in depth (as I could never really power my way through his writing style), but have an idea you could use.

    As far as I know, most of the "wizard's" had areas where they worked as Gandalf was the only one that roamed around. Two blue wizards went far to the east and possibly set up magic worshiping cults. They hunted the darkness (whatever that means. The brown hung out and Mirkwood and dealt with animals and plants. Saruman was wise and respected living in his stereotypical wizard tower and giving advice to the free peoples of the realm, while Gandalf was the iterireit wizard wandering from place to place sticking his crooked nose in all manner of business.

    Your "temples" could just be influence of those wizards. And the temples themselves could just be repositories of knowledge. Great libraries and dedicated community centers would have the influence of Saruman and his diplomatic baring. Big museums, clever workshops of blacksmiths and whitesmiths, even martial training grounds, and libraries of history could be the hallmarks of the adventurous Gandalf. Apothecaries, taxidermy/hunting lodges, and greenhouses/nurseries could be "temples" for Radagast. We don't really know much about the blue wizards and their sway didn't hold for much for the west as far as I know, so you could make "temples" to them out of anything that you wanted in sparse populations around.

    Anyway, this is just a thought on how to put "temples" into the game if you wanted to. They aren't places of worship, they are tools that help watch over and guard the population of Middle-Earth against Sauron.
    --Give me ambiguity or give me something else!--

  5. #5
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    That's interesting, but I think it makes a better case for traditional Sources.

    Regardless, realm spells will need to be revised. Realm magic may be limited among Men (they largely have advantages in numbers). Temple magic and Source magic would simply be different types of magic -- not explicitly divine or arcane.

    Rather, for elves, it may be the more every-day magic of communities. Circles of the Wise, or just representing the unity and organization of the elven community in general to work magic together.

    For dwarves, well, "the dwarves of yore/made mighty spells;" their Mastersmiths or Elders might represent something similar, able to work great boons to prosperity or great protections.

    Men have magic, but we don't see much used; things like weapon enchantments and perhaps some divination and protection. Sorcerers are mentioned, but seem quite rare.

    _______________________________

    I'm a little more pressed to create complex interactions among peoples, lords, kingdoms, etc. There are major ones invented in the books, and you can imagine the usual range of things for Men, but there are challenges for the other races. Keeping in mind the Third Age (and the latter part at that; I'm thinking of the time from the Wars of Dwarves and Dragons to The Hobbit, for its referential integrity to the time period people are most familiar with, without delving into the War of the Ring).

    Elves: On the whole, while they have some interactions, fairly reclusive, and very unified, and non-belligerent or interventionist. Not easy to make realm-level interactions; more of a background element.

    Dwarves: active in their areas, and this is the focus I would want, but they don't seem to have major conflicts among themselves. Mercantile squabbles and jealousies, maybe rising to skirmishes or contests, but nothing like usual Mannish wars and intrigues. This could be limiting.

    Orcs/Goblins: always a good source of hostilities, but with few other motives or productive pursuits. Raiding, slaving, conquering, squabbling among each other, building war machines.

    Dragons and sorcerers, giants, trolls, wargs/white wolves/werewolves and other fell beasts can make for lots of adventure material and major events, but not much back and forth intrigue and machinations at the realm level, unless really elevated to such (giant tribes or chieftains/kings, powerful sorcerers, etc).

    Might just have to go ahead and make more of those than what canon even hints at.

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