Adventures in Middle-Earth....Sorta.
My friends and I have started playing a Lord of the Rings inspired D&D campaign using the Adventures in Middle-earth(TM) 5E roleplaying game, well, sort of. What I really mean to say is that I manipulated my long time D&D playing friends (6 years and going strong), to play a homebrewed version of what I think a good RPG fantasy setting should be like, and I propped it up with J.R.R. Tolkien's magnificent world.
Just like most fans of fantasy, I have devoured as much of it as I can in hopes of one day creating my own fantastical world setting, and in my own personal opinion; I enjoy a darker fantasy than most. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy a high-fantasy setting just as much as the next nerd, but I want it darker. Not dark like dark ages where no-one bathed and everyone was illiterate, but dark as in gritty, quasi-realistic, but not too realistic. Where magic is dangerous and rare, and the average person is terrified or in awe of its mysterious power. Where Kings and queens are corrupt, and being a "hero" isn't a job title. Where the player characters are soldier-for-hire types just trying to survive, and they deal out vigilante justice on the side, or just maybe, they target the corrupt kings and queens and bring their monarchies down around them.
(I have begun my own venture into making just that, more on that project another time)
I was talking about the insomnia fueled, bastardization of my take on Middle-Earth. Adventures in Middle-earth was originally created by Cubicle Seven as The One Ring Roleplaying game. They later teamed up with Sophisticated Games to re-publish as a 5E compatible game. Bringing a host of setting specific rule sets that could easily be transferred to any 5E game. I enjoy the 5E system, up to a point. It's simple and effective with enough crunch to make it complex enough for most yet simple enough for newbies. I like crunch, but only crunch that adds to the flavor of combat or the thematic elements of a setting. AME does just that, the Journey's Mechanic makes travel across the vast terrain of Middle-earth more thrilling and unexpected, the Corruption rules creates the sense of dread and evil the Enemy is, as portrayed in Tolkien's works, and the new Cultural Virtues allows you to create no two characters of the same culture the same. I could go on and on about the Audience mechanic that helps determine NPC reactions in social encounters and the fantastic Fellowship phase, where players decide what their characters are doing during their off time in a safe and secure location known as a Sanctuary.
But enough advertising for AME(TM), on to my poorly fed, tortured, and misbehaved brainchild that is my Homebrew.
This campaign takes place in the fantasy universe of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, with a twist. Magic is more abundant that the main protagonists (i.e. the Player Characters) may actually run into the rare magic weapon, armor or rune stone. Though the open use of magic is a rare thing to the average folk and appear as if it was gifted from the gods, the players are the only ones (besides the bad guys and the rare ally) that can use it. Combat is bloody and dangerous, I use the Exhaustion rules and have modified them to be used during the Dying condition, and each time they are hit while at 0 hp they gain 1 level of exhaustion. This allows the players to still act while at 0 hp, but with the negative modifiers that are applied with exhaustion. With the AME's Journey's ruleset, short rests aren't often and Long rests are extremely rare. This makes players think more before they act, all while making sure they have the basic essentials to ensure they aren't overthinking and slowing down the game. Homebrewed classes that use pieces and parts from many 5E compatible systems to include Kobold publishing material, AME, and D&D. And finally, a spin on what AME does with character race, homebrewed Cultural Backgrounds that tie a specific culture to a story filled background that provides the adventure seeds for the first session and the rest of the campaign. Whew, that was a lot of work to make, and I did that just for fun.
Of course none of the homebrew work can be published or whatnot due to copyright and trademark laws and etc. I can attempt to explain some of the mechanics used, but I will not be posting any of my homebrew works (for the moment) though I will be posting all of the artworks associated with the campaign (I'm somewhat of an artist). And finally, whoever chooses to read my rants, I will be telling the story we are beginning to unfold. Something I like to call, "A knock at the Door of Night", a tale of outer-darkness and the light of hope, loosely based in the fantasy works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Next Up: I will be posting character art and backstory to begin with, stay tuned!