Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Gloom Court: The House of Gellam Doron

(This is background for our Adventures in Middle-earth campaign, The Gloom Court.  Gellam Doran is the house where one of the Player-heroes is from.)

Head of the house is Russandol, a tall, thin Sindarin elf with a shining head of coppery-red hair.  His voice is lyrical, almost always laughing or ready to burst out into song.  He loves a good story, either read from book or told around a fire.

The ginger Sindar is a loremaster in the court of Thranduil, having served the Elfking's father Oropher since the birth of the Woodland Kingdom seven millennia before.  He learned his craft from Pengolodh, a loremaster of the Noldor during the First Age of the Sun.

Long has Russandol believed that mirth and good company are the true bane of the darkness that has turned Greenwood the Great into Mirkwood.  He refuses to live with his liege Thranduil underground, instead dwelling in a lofty home built in the eaves of a giant tree named Gellam Doron (the Jubilant Oak.)  There he surrounds himself with his adopted family, enjoying their company as the seasons pass.

Russandol is married to Elenwë, a healer of great renown.  Her golden hair sparkles like the sun even in low lighting, a reminder of the Noldorian grandmother that gazed upon the Trees of Valinor long ago.  Elenwë is a stern, if loving caregiver, running the house with an iron fist while repairing injured neighbors, healing sick animals, and growing an extensive garden.

It was Elenwë's idea to begin adopting children, some time after their own children were killed.  Wartime often left parentless, and sometimes even clanless, young elves who needed care.  Elenwë decided to take up the job.

Now, the House of Gellam Doron is made up of Russandol, Elenwë, their 23 children, including some of their wives, husbands, and children as well.  It is a busy, bustling, and loud place, emitting enough shouts, songs, and laughter to green the dark forest for miles around.

- Ark

(image links http://yoenai.deviantart.com/art/Red-Haired-Elf-Lord-189151886 & http://www.rakiah.fr/art-cluster/gallery/77)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Adventures in Middle-earth: The Gloom Court

So I'm starting an Adventures in Middle-earth campaign!

Years ago I ran a MERP game, which convinced me to ditch 1e D&D and move to MERP's grandpappy, Rolemaster.  I never could really get into MERP though.  Playing in Middle-earth seemed like blasphemy.  It was hallowed ground.  I liked the system, but, yeah, it just seemed wrong to walk down those roads without Tolkien holding my hand.

I was interested in the One Ring when it came out - but MERP still haunted me.  The ghost of Tolkien would surely smite me dead.  I mean, even if I could get everything right lore-wise, the thought of having the party go murder-hobo in Middle-earth was very depressing.

Then Adventures in Middle-earth came out.  They basically took the soul of The One Ring game and laid it on top of 5e D&D.  Excited, but a bit timid, I began to investigate.

I've read the Player's Guide and the Loremaster Guide and like everything that I've seen.  The game strips off the top of 5e - races, classes, feats, alignment, and then rebuilds on top of the core mechanics - giving a Tolkien flavor to - well - what had been a mouthful of Faerûn.  :)

I also set upon The Hobbit, LOTR, and The Silmarillion.  Actually, first I hit the Silmarillion.  That was a nearly impossible slog back when I was a teen.  I read it, sure, but I don't think I retained more than a vague concept that a bunch of people started singing and then Atlantis sank.

It's amazing what a few decades do to your ability to understand complicated literary forms.

Dang, the Silmarillion is a great book.  Sure, it's still a slog, but with a hardcopy of the book, the audio book playing in my headphones, Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle Earth, and the entire Internet at my fingertips, I could finally dig into the beast and understand at least some of the juicy awesomeness that Tolkien spent his lifetime fiddling with.

I think that grokking the Silmarillion has given me the hope that I can take Middle-earth and world-build right along with Tolkien.  I think - I hope - that I can add stuff that will enhance and expand on the flavor and feeling of the works, so that the players won't be able to tell very easily where J.R.R.'s world ends and my tacked on bits begin.  I think.  I hope.  :)

I'll be posting some of the background material I've developed soon, and maybe even play reports.  I'll at least let ya'll know whether our campaign is good, or turns out to be a big ball of suck.  Stay tuned!

- Ark