Big flashy CGI, huge explosions, powerful wind and lightning and hyper realistic stallions coming out of a river to douse what are clearly ghosts: Tolkien would have hated it. When master wordsmith and jolly British pipe smoker J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings he had a very specific type of magic in mind. He actually had a pretty specific everything in mind when it comes to his life’s work, the world building of Middle-Earth. A guy who had thought about the gestation length for elf babies, knew exactly how he wanted the magic in his world to appear, i.e. barely.

The magic in Tolkien is intended to be incredibly subtle, more about the beholders’ perception than about flashing lights or weird, negative-image, floating Galadriel. Even Gandalf decries any “conjurer of cheap tricks” in the Peter Jackson movies. The table-top roleplaying experts at Free League Publishing are forging a new game module set in Middle-Earth. The studio crafting this game also brought us The One Ring RPG and the most badass TTRPG of all time, Mork Borg

Free League Publishing

Now this is realistic adventuring.

If you want to make papa Tolkien proud, this is how you should be consuming your LotR. Using the 5E D&D rules (the most current version of the rules of Dungeons & Dragons), the game makes its own additions and tweaks to the classic RPG. The magic and humble beginnings of the heroes you play are much closer to Tolkien’s vision than any studio film with a Balrog sized budget.

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game is due out in early 2023 and we should expect, like Gandalf cresting a hill at dawn with an army of magical trees behind him, for this to be an epic game. But the magnitude of the adventure actually comes from the players using their wits, playing to their strengths, and carefully considering the paths they might take instead of just blasting some orcs with a fireball right out of the gate. Players will adventure in Eriador, a region of Middle-Earth where Hobbits, Elves, and stranger beasts, forgotten by the ages, still roam. We’re getting very subtle chills just thinking about it. 

Free League Publishing

The greatest magic of all: a big ass tree.

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