Adventures In Middle-Earth 5e

AiME Rules vs. By-The-Book D&D5e Rules

Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle-Earth converts The One Ring role-playing game of fantasy stories set in Tolkien’s world to fit with the fifth edition of Wizard of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons rules (which themselves were originally inspired from Tolkien’s works back in the 1970s). For those familiar with D&D5e, here are some important differences…

No Spellcaster Characters. No clerics to cast cure wounds on allies, no wizards to throw fireballs at enemies. What magic is available is small and rare, and sometime dangerous to use. (Yes, there are a handful of wizards around – Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, others – but these figures are more like busy angelic immortals than smart people who learn to work magical spells. These “wizards” can sway the hearts of mortals simply by speaking, but greater acts of sorcery require empowered tools such as attuned staves. Regardless, such abilities are not available to player characters.)

No Long Rests While Adventuring. Characters may only gain benefits from short rests when on the road, in wilderness, exploring dungeons or so forth. Effective long rests are only possible at Sanctuaries – safe settlements like Lake-town in the northeast or the House of Elrond in Rivendell.

No Alignment. Heroes are assumed to be generally good, or at least neutral. Evil acts and traumatic experiences risk earning Shadow points toward Corruption, which works somewhat like the Sanity loss rules from “Call of Cthulhu” games.

Updated Skill List. Arcana is basically replaced with Shadow-lore, and Religion is replaced with Traditions. In addition, the skills Riddle and Lore have been added.

No Gods. While Middle-Earth has its share of fantastic mythology, the “divine powers” active in many D&D worlds are not found here. The Valar “gods” exist under one supreme god, Eru Il├║vatar, but most such powers are distant and working through lesser agents by the time of the Third Age. One major exception to this pattern is a servant “demigod” who learned twisted enchantments from his evil former master and repeatedly tries manifest his body and mind on the mortal world. This entity is known to most as The Shadow – or named by the wise as Sauron – and, ultimately, is revealed to be the Lord of the Rings.

Alternate Character Options. Culture takes the place of Race, with elves, dwarves and hobbits very close to their wood elf, dwarf and halfling counterparts in D&D5e. Virtues replace Feats and are considers core rules, not optional additions. Backgrounds have more options and are themed around attitudes and destiny rather than secondary occupations. Core classes are as follows:
* Scholar (healers and sages: a bit like druids in flavor but no spells or shapechanging)
* Slayer (akin to D&D5e barbarians: lots of hit points, rage abilities)
* Treasure Hunter (akin to D&D5e rogues: sneak attack, cunning action, uncanny dodge, etc.)
* Wanderer (akin to D&D5e rangers: wilderness knowledge but no spellcasting)
* Warden (akin to D&D5e bards: inspiring allies but no spellcasting)
* Warrior (akin to D&D5e fighters: fighting style, second wind, extra attacks, etc.)

Inspiration and Exhaustion. Both of these rules feature more prominently in AiME than standard D&D. For example, characters may automatically gain inspiration or a level of exhaustion from a random journey table before adventuring is really underway.

Journey Rules. There is a set of tables for rolling what happens getting from point A to B that work similarly to the Skill Challenge system found in D&D4e rules. The idea is to get the flavor and consequences of a trip out of the way before confronting more direct role-playing challenges with NPCs, monsters or puzzles.

Money. Silver pennies are the standard currency rather than gold, which is more rare and valuable.

Minor differences…

Nations. If set in the Third Age, there are no great empires left in this part of the mortal world. What kingdoms exist tend to be insular and relatively small, surrounded by hazardous wilderness and/or suspicious rivals. There were great empires during the Second Age into the Third Age, but they have all long since fallen into ruin.

Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Uruks/Uruk-hai. These are variant breeds of the same creature that originated long ago when an evil deity-like power either shaped them from dirt or mutated a bloodline of elves (or possibly humans). They are always evil; there are no “good” orcs.

Trolls. These creatures come in many types and are more like ogres or hill giants than their D&D namesake equivalents.

Other Planes. The three main cosmic planes of existence include…
* Arda, the mortal/prime material world that includes Middle-Earth.
* Vaiya, a sort of cross between the Elemental Plane of Water and the Astral Plane.
* Aman, a former earth-bound continent which seperated into its own plane, now home to the reclusive Valar “gods” and elves that left the mortal world. (The heavenly realm of Valinor is found in Aman.)

There are other worlds and may be pocket dimensions, such as the limbo in which The Shadow is occasionally imprisoned, but these realms are not places mortals can enter and then return.

Previous AiME Notes

TIME PERIOD

Campaign takes place five years after the Battle of the Five Armies (end of “The Hobbit”) and 72 years before the Council of Elrond and the War of the Ring (start of “Fellowship of the Ring”).

At the time of this campaign setting, the great dragon Smaug is dead, the Necromancer has been driven from Mirkwood and a new era of peace is at hand. However, kings across Middle-Earth grow greedy and crave to expand their own lands amid the opportunity offered by new wealth. The Shadow in the East fosters such ambitions through its agents.

NEW SKILLS

Intelligence (Riddle)
Intelligence (Lore) … replaces Arcana skill for mysterious things
Intelligence (Shadow-lore) … replaces Arcana skill for evil/demonic things
Intelligence (Traditions) … replaces Religion skill

LANGUAGES

Westron (Common Tongue)
Dalish (archaic Common)
Vale of Anduin Tongue
Sindarin (High Elvish)
Dwarfish
Woodland Tongue (Wood Elven)
Rohan Tongue

CULTURES (replaces Races)

Barding
Beorning
Dunedain
Dwarf of Erabor
Dwarf of the Iron Hills
Elf of Mirkwood
Hobbit (Harfoot)
Hobbit (Stoor)
Hobbit (Fallowhide)
Man of Bree
Man of the Lake
Man of Minus Tirith
Rider of Rohan
Woodman of Wilderland

CLASSES

Scholar (healers and sages, sorta replaces clerics)
Slayer (like Barbarian)
Treasure Hunter (like Rogue)
Wanderer (like Ranger)
Warden (like Bard)
Warrior (like Fighter)

Scholar (Master Healer)
Scholar (Master Scholar)
Slayer (Rider)
Slayer (Foe-Hammer)
Treasure Hunter (Agent)
Treasure Hunter (Burglar)
Wanderer (Hunter Of Beasts)
Wanderer (Hunter Of Shadows)
Warden (Counsellor)
Warden (Herald)
Warden (Bounder)
Warrior (Knight)
Warrior (Weaponmaster)

VIRTUES

replace Feats; alternative to ability score improvements, lots of options

BACKGROUNDS (FEATURE)

Loyal Servant (Inseparable)
Doomed To Die (Dark Foreboding)
Driven From Home (Infamous)
Emissary Of Your People (Sigil of Your Master)
Fallen Scion (Noble Bearing)
The Harrowed (Foreknowledge)
Hunted By The Shadow (Troubling to the Wise)
Lure Of The Road (Weather-lore)
The Magician (Air of Magic)
Oathsworn (Mighty Oath)
Reluctant Advevnturer (Pathetic and Bedraggled)
Seeker Of The Lost (Lore of the Lost)
World Weary (Seasoned Connections)
Call Of The Sea (Sea Dreams) (elf only)

NEW RULES

Journeys (expanded overland travel system)
Corruption (replaces Alignment)
Audiences (expanded social interactions)
Fellowship (replaces Downtime Activities)