Adventures in Middle-earth™ brings the incredibly well-loved setting of Middle-earth to the OGL ruleset that powers the planet’s most popular gaming system. At Cubicle 7 we’re known for getting under the hood of your favourite gaming worlds and delivering an experience at the table that “feels” like the setting. So how does Adventures in Middle-earth do that? What have we done to the OGL rules to deliver that essential Middle-earth feel?
A lot of our decisions were led by the exploration of Middle-earth that we’ve undertaken with The One Ring Roleplaying Game™. Designed by Francesco Nepitello and Marco Maggi, this award-winning game answers a lot of the questions thrown up by trying to set a roleplaying game in Middle-earth. Building on that experience, we’ve carefully steered the 5e experience to reflect the source material of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
A specific focus of time and place: Wilderland, 5 years after the death of Smaug gives the game a time frame that allows for travel, a sense of growing hope, familiar locations that are great to adventure in, as well as plenty of room for the Loremaster to build their own stories. We know the War of the Ring is coming, but it is as yet an event on the distant horizon. This allows for some fantastic foreshadowing, while allowing your characters to be meaningful heroes. There’s a lot to do in Wilderland. The rebuilding of Lake-town and Dale, and the rise of King Bard and King Dáin Ironfoot present lots of opportunities for bands of brave adventurers!
New cultures and classes: These are brand new, and are designed to reflect the setting. Beornings, Bardings, Woodmen, Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, Hobbits and Elves of Mirkwood, Men of the Lake-town and more, all have their strengths and weaknesses, and importantly all have a good reason to be in Wilderland seeking adventure. Whether you chose a Warden, who lives to protect their people, a Treasure Hunter seeking the lost treasures of an age long past, or an itinerant Wanderer whose itchy feet keep them on the road, your choices in character creation will create a character who is bound to the setting. With new backgrounds and virtues, Adventures in Middle-earth empowers you to create flavourful, Middle-earth characters in no time.
Travel is really important. The vast distances travelled by the characters in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are a significant part of the world. Adventures in Middle-earth adds a new Journey system to the rules, generating thematic and meaningful events along the road, without bogging down the adventure, or requiring the Loremaster to create reams of premade material. And like so much of what we’ve implemented it is completely optional. If your group just want to skip to a given adventure location, you can! If you want to mix in events created by the Journey rules with prewritten encounters you can do that too.
Characters and places matter: Audiences, Patrons and Sanctuaries are all new additional rules which deepen the feeling of your characters being a part of Middle-earth. Meeting powerful and influential characters is structured with the Audience rules, designed to help the Loremaster create consistent and satisfying encounters with the great and the good. Patrons offer your company of adventurers the chance to impress and then build a relationship with important figures of the setting. Sanctuaries allow your company to rest and recuperate between adventures, learn new abilities, aquire new patrons, and open up future opportunities for adventure. Critically opening up a chain of sanctuaries across Middle-earth means your company don’t have to trek across the whole map every time they venture forth!
Magic is... complicated in Middle-earth – we don’t see a lot of direct spell casting in the novels outside of the Istari, and even they don’t do an awful lot of it. And yet magic is everywhere. In Adventures in Middle-earth some of the playable cultures have access to magical abilities. But not lists of spells. And there are no spell-casting classes. In the Loremaster’s Guide we offer some guidance on how to introduce more direct spell casting, if that’s your thing. And "magic items" get really interesting...
Combat is a really important part of 5th edition, so we didn’t touch the combat rules. The point of Adventures in Middle-earth is to allow you to explore the setting without needing to learn a whole new rules set. While the new material we’ve created adds a huge amount of value, we won’t make you relearn the combat system. We do offer suggested lists of weapons and armour suited to Middle-earth. But we didn’t mess with the combat rules themselves.
Atmospheric presentation – Middle-earth has its roots in Anglo Saxon literature, and we’ve gone back to those sources in our atmospheric and acclaimed artwork. With all Cubicle 7 titles you can be assured of gorgeous presentation, and Adventures in Middle-earth is no different.
The accompanying volume, the Loremaster’s Guide for Adventures in Middle-earth is available now in PDF. If you pre-order the physical supplements at our webstore you can get the PDFs for free! Or pre-order at your local game store, and if they participate in the Bits and Mortar scheme you can get the PDF free too!