Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Oldest School

Via Doc Grognard at Crawdads and Dragons comes news of Balrogs and Bagginses, an intriguing little document that is billed by Lars Dangly, the author, as a rules supplement for playing Dungeons & Dragons in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth setting.

Truth be told, it's practically a retroclone unto itself, with a number of interesting variations on the usual theme. Classes, for example, do not appear as such but are custom-built out of Backgrounds and Abilities. One particularly noteworthy feature here is the Hit Die, which can be bought up from d6 to d12, or bought down to d4.

Another fascinating design choice surrounds the available races - while the main character creation rules support the standard human-elf-dwarf-hobbit choices, the bestiary listings for troll and the various sorts of orcs list the attribute modifiers for playing those races, making an orc-campaign (or even a mixed group!) a supported possibility while keeping the Tolkienian feel.

The rest of the work supports this feel as well - Turning Undead, to pick a rather random example, is based not on the non-existent Cleric class, but the Light of Valinor or Elvish Gift abilities. There's a few other pieces that don't  fit quite as neatly - such as the hilariously hardcore Madness rule - but it's definitely worth checking out if you have any interest in Middle-Earth as a setting.

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