Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back Again

It’s been just over a year since I last visited The Forsaken Inn and kept up my journey through Middle-earth. I’ll skip the details as they’re the usual ones that prevent regular blogging and it’s not as if this little corner of the ether possesses a large following. This is largely a place for personal reflection and creativity, as well as an on-going chronicle of my painting efforts. If you’re reading this, thank you for your patience.

The end of my long absence coincides with several recent developments in the world of Middle-earth gaming. Warhammer Fest last month brought exciting announcements regarding miniature wargaming in Middle-earth. As reported last year, the Strategy Battle Game is returning as the Middle-Earth SBG in Spring/Summer of 2018. Meanwhile, a steady stream of new models is trickling out from Forge World, and articles related to The Hobbit SBG are turning up in the revised White Dwarf magazine. If you’re a fan of the game, both of those happenings verge on the miraculous!

Games Workshop also announced that Battle Company rules are coming out in late 2017, which is something I’m looking forward to. The role-player in me enjoys the concept of the Battle Company campaign, wherein a small band of models gains experience and improves over the course of several battles. I’ve not actually played a Battle Company campaign, mind you, but the premise intrigues me.

Business is booming for Middle-earth in the tabletop RPG world as well. The Adventures in Middle-Earth line by Cubicle 7, which I reported on back in March of last year, was released during my absence from the Forsaken Inn. Created for use with the 5E rules of Dungeons & Dragons, AiME is truly impressive. I’ve read the player’s book and came away with high praise for what C7 has used 5E to their advantage, and the Loremaster’s book is sitting on my shelf waiting for some free time to show up in my life. Wilderland Adventures, the AiME adaption of The One Ring adventure book, Tales from Wilderland, is currently out (although I’ve not purchased it…yet), and the journey supplement, The Road Goes Ever On has been announced. I’m looking forward to that book with keen interest, as I’m sure there will be some interesting things to steal for my occasional 5E game.

The One Ring also had a slew of releases in the last year. Journeys and Maps, Erebor the Lonely Mountain, and The Adventurers Companion are all available for purchase, and the Bree supplement is up for pre-order. Forthcoming releases include Oaths of the Riddermark and The Laughter of Dragons, adventure anthologies set in Rohan and the Erebor regions respectively.

As if that isn’t enough Middle-earth gaming at the ready, The Lord of the Rings Online MMO is currently celebrating their ten-year anniversary. I’ve dabbled in it before, but now I’m playing somewhat regularly with friends I know from the RPG convention scene and social media. Although real life often gets in the way of our weekly game, the chance to explore Middle-earth whenever I have time and an internet connection pleases me greatly.

Speaking of conventions and role-playing, there’s an effort underway to have a Tolkien-themed room at North Texas RPG Convention for 2018. I’ve volunteered to run a session of either The One Ring or Adventures in Middle-Earth, as well as two sessions of the Middle-Earth SBG, which I’m hoping will be out by then. If not, I’ll run LotR/Hobbit rules and try to get people excited for the game. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a member of the Great Britain Hobbit League Facebook page, North America is woefully underpopulated with Middle-earth miniature gamers.

Middle-earth happenings aren’t solely confined to the game realm, however. Just a few weeks ago, what is likely to be the last of Tolkien’s works edited by Christopher Tolkien, saw release. Beren and Lúthien is the second of what J.R.R. Tolkien considered the three most important stories from the First Age (these being the tale of Túrin Turambar, as recounted in The Children of Húrin, the story of Beren and Lúthien, and the Fall of Gondolin). Like The Children of Húrin, the book contains art by Alan Lee, making it just a visually beautiful as it is literarily, and it, too, sits on my shelf awaiting free time in my life so that I might escape into its tale.

As one might imagine, it was this explosion of Middle-earth escapism that got me thinking about this blog again. While my attempt to develop a regular Lord of the Rings SBG group eventually unraveled, I am playing miniature wargames with a friend on a (mostly) weekly basis. While we’ve largely been playing X-Wing and Muskets & Tomahawks, I think he might be down with the idea of doing a once-a-month game of the SBG. If so, it will give me impetus to continue my quest of working my way through the entire Battle Games in Middle-Earth series. It’s time to take up the brush and crafting tools and get back to work on building my personal, small scale, Middle-earth. Hopefully, you’ll rejoin me on the quest!