You design a Lord of the Rings Role-playing video game. Have you thought about this before? Almost every video game fan who enjoys Tolkien's work has. Why? Because of a success. After decades without anything at all being added to the work, J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium has inspired, captivated people, made its readers feel emotion in an unprecedented way, changed the way that they have viewed the world, and lived up to the title Legendarium, for indeed there is nothing about Tolkien's work that is beneath legendary. It is because of this success that for decades people have imagined what it would be like to travel to Rivendell, to scale the Blue Mountains, to fight orcs, resist dragons' fire, observe the fading the elves, bleed alongside the dwarves in the wars against the vile goblins, talk to the Great Eagles, ride with the Rohirrim, and walk the long, lonely, beautiful roads of Middle-earth. Haven't we all had this dream, this same dream? Here is the place to tell of them. If you could be in charge of a role playing video game set in Tolkien's universe, what would it be? Can be as elaborate and planned out or simplistic as you want!
Aye, I have had my own for some time. I cannot call it a Lord of the Rings game because Sauron is long since destroyed (at least until Dagor Dagorath, that is); it is set near the end of the Fourth Age. Gandalf said that though Sauron was destroyed, evil would persist in Middle-earth, just not as strong as Sauron. The idea is far from complete, but we are spit-balling here, so why does it matter? I've just recently read through Fellowship, Two Towers, and Return of the King and have thought on the pages of Tolkien's abandoned sequel to Lord of the Rings and tried to come up with story that is epic, but follows the lore.
Does anyone remember that old game Gauntlet: Dark Legacies? Fantastic game! It was just a fun, co-op romp through the world, and it was a heck of a lot of fun with four players. Was it a good game, though? No, maybe not. Nevertheless, since I played that game so many years ago, I have wanted to re-capture the great co-op rpg experience. As for my idea for the LoTR game (I know that I said I wouldn't call it that; bear with me), I imagine it as a co-operative experience where players can each choose one of five different origin stories for their characters - Human, House of Gondor; Human, House of Rohan; Dwarf, House of Hegnar; Hobbit, House of Thainlin; and Elven exile - then design them in from there; i.e. facial features and class.
Anyhoo, it is the Fourth Age and the Kingdom of Gondor has grown considerably - the Age of Men has come indeed, as Gandalf foretold. The hill-folk of Dunland are part of Gondor now; the Corsairs, Easternlings and Haradrim are at peace with the Reunited Kingdom and Rohan is the western arm of Gondor. Hobbits and dwarves have been adopted into the society of mankind and are regarded as little different from Man. Above it all are reigning the heirs of Aragorn II Elessar's throne in Minas Tirith, and the current reigning ruler is Yraebryn, Stormlight of the Reunited Kingdom. Unbeknownst to the Peoples of Middle-earth, heirs of King Aragorn Elessar's bloodline are being captured and executed in the Durb-burzum, a malevolent spire taken from the peoples of Nurn, built near to the remains of Orodruin, in Mordor.
The Antagonist is Melduin (name still undecided); he is Master of the keep of Durb-burzum and was raised by the Black Numenorians of Lethurion, an estranged city along the coast of Umbar. While the rest of the world has seemingly forgotten the history and magic of Middle-earth, he is a trained lore master who is studied in the old arts and sorceries, but he is not part or leader of the Cult to Sauron of Morgoth.
The main plot begins when King Yraebryn and the rest of his kindred, all of whom attend his birthday celebration in an old dwarven hold in the Blue Mountains, are ambushed and killed by an organized band of orcs - orcs that have grown cowardly and are near to the brink of extinction. The Antagonist, Melduin, has coerced the last of the orcs and goblins and trolls to serve him and declares war, not on Gondor, but upon all the Peoples of Middle-earth for a mysterious, unknown purpose. The players all have their place in the world, but against the threat of fire from Orodruin, the peoples must struggle to lead a land now kingless and fight the evil of Man that has mustered against them. Here are some "word pictures" that I would like to paint for you, scenes that are important in the game:
Beneath the Shadow of Durb-burzum: There is darkness, and shadow. A wheel rolls through a mud puddle and the camera pans back and up. Men with unshaved bears and long, curly hair - descendants of the House of Elessar, no less - are fettered in chains, being rolled down the black, twisting way through the Land of Shadow. Gulls cry over head, and they raise their eyes and grimace. Stark against the black-gray of the heavens and the ruin of Orodruin stands tall and proud the citadel of knives, Durb-burzum, and all around its feet are the slaves of the Taskmaster, men and women fettered and filthy; dirty, grimy, gritty - miserable. The orcs crack their whips and the prisoners take it, but there is no hope here. Only despair. "End of the line," says one of the shaking, vile orcs, prodding through the bars of the prison carriage. The doors are opened and the prisoners, sons of Aragorn II Elessar, step to the earth and come towards the headsmen's block in the city square, where all others look on. They hold their heads high and proud, the light of kings and of brilliant hope shining in their eyes. He is kicked to his knees, this prisoner, and lowered over the stump. His eyes gaze up to the terrace of the tower, where a dark figure watches. Steel shimmers - the life of a Dunedain flashes before his very eyes in a second - then a splash of blood. His head hits the ground, then we return to the shadowy figure, cloaked ever in black. He turns away and steps inside, paces the room and comes to the second terrace, this one facing west. The land is burning. Carriages are fighting their way down the descent toward the tower. Dozens of them.
The Kinslaying at Dezad-belarum: The city once known as Erebor has a great city sprawling outside of its main gates, down the descent of the Lonely Mountain, like a hand splayed and outstretched this direction and that. Now it is ablaze, and a great battle has engulfed it. Dwarves and Men are pitted against the worst filth of Mordor, those who once served the Lidless Eye and who now serve the endless ire of the Silver Wolf. The battle wages on and on both sides heavy losses have been taken. Upon the rampart stand two of elven-kind, the last of their kind in Middle-earth, both exiles. Arafinwe, Iophlas, cousins long parted. Iophlas, poised with the despair of Melduin's cause, vows against the Peoples of Middle-earth, and they fight. They battle until they are upon the edge of breaking, until their spirit fails, but finally Arafinwe prevails. As if he was stabbing himself through his own heart with the thrust, Arafinwe impales Iophlas through the gut. He recoils, and the battle is over. Despair engulfs Iophlas' heart, and Arafinwe is shocked and simply stares at his once beloved cousin, and the murderous hatred falls from his eyes. He despairs one final time, and bids his cousin farewell before throwing himself off the rampart to his death. Arafinwe stands still as stone, the battle swelling around and beneath him, and weeps for the end of his kind. He is the last.
Honestly, I thoroughly enjoy the gameplay of War in the North and I don't see why it couldn't be implimented into a larger game. Moving is easy, battles are a blast; the only thing that I would seek to change is to make the skills and special powers your characters can use more extensive, as well as a deeper character creation and conversation mechanic. The game is free roaming - as in there are no pathways that you must follow - but there is not as much freedom as you would find in a game like Skyrim or Oblivion. I cannot see this as an open-ended game. If a threat is looming and a city is getting ready to be attacked, it ruins the immersion if you decide to go and take care of a few side quests for five hours. I imagine that there are regions, almost like War in the North, that you can travel to and explore in as much detail as you want, finding caves and dungeons and enemies that are not required of you to discover. There may be times, however, where it would be integral to the plot to force players on to a next point, and penalize them if they refuse. For example, if they decide to take care of some side quests while a city is about to be sieged, when finally they arrive the city is on the verge of being overrun and some side-characters are dead.
Much of the tone for the game has to do with things that have been lost with each age, so it would be great if there was exploration of old cities and ruins of the elves, men, and dwarves, now long forgotten and abandoned. And loot, of course. There will have to be a lot of loot. What do you guys think of War in the North's combat? While I would want to focus a lot of time on making big, beautiful cities and engaging conversations for you to have outside of combat, do you think that fighting like it is found in War in the North could work in a role playing game, or do you think that it might be a little bit too shallow?
Anyways, this is just a little bit about my idea for a role playing game set in Middle-earth. It isn't very good, I know, but there have been worse stories, I am sure. What do all of you think - not just on my idea, but just about the idea of the LoTR rpg in general?