Archive for May, 2016

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Dan Dillon and Schuyler Esau to discuss why the oft-maligned beast master ranger isn’t as terrible as you think. Then it’s an interview with game designer Craig Campbell about his ongoing Kickstarter for his new RPG Murders & Acquisitions. This podcast was recorded on May 23 and 26, 2016.


DMs Guild Pick of the Episode: Beasts from the Abyss


Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes. It takes 30 seconds and helps a bunch!

Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Have Spellbook, Will Travel and Gamer to Gamer, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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My Tarokka deck needs something to do.

It’s not that I don’t love the purchase. It’s a wonderful item with a lot of great art. Worth every penny. But I feel like I can make it worth more.

As I mentioned in my one-shot Strahd post, I’m not currently playing Curse of Strahd. Even if I were, I’d want to make expanded use of the Tarokka deck. It’s great for readings, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it could be used for random encounters, treasure tables, and more? It totally can.

Tarokkas and Random Tables

Whether you’re playing Curse of Strahd or not, you can draw cards from your Tarokka deck instead of rolling dice on a random table for encounters, treasure, and more. I’ve made it super easy for you and myself by writing out the numbers on a table below.

I’m aware that other than the d6 column, these cards don’t perfectly correspond to the same probability as a throw of an actual die. If this were a saving throw, ability check, attack or damage roll, I wouldn’t allow it. For a DM’s random table this is close enough. It’s as good as it’s going to get without adding extra cards to the deck!

Making players draw these cards themselves for treasure and encounters is especially fun. It adds a moment of drama at the table as you whip out the cards and ask them to draw. Psychologically it also shifts the onus of the result on the player as the others watch, hoping for a good result.

Check out the table below, or grab it in the link below as a PDF or from the Free Game Resources section of this site.

Tarokka Deck as Dice

Tarokka Deck as DiceA Little Preview

This post is actually a little preview of an upcoming DMs Guild product I’m working on. It’s a recurring encounter for Curse of Strahd that involves a magic Tarokka deck. To learn more about this side trek, you’ll have to wait for next week and watch my game with Chris Perkins during…

Roll20CON

If you haven’t heard about Roll20CON yet, the info is below!

The free, online-only celebration of the Roll20 Community will take place on June 3rd, 2016 for just 24 hours – but you can start preparing, listing, and joining games now! From 12AM – 11:59PM Pacific time, there will be games galore played on my favorite virtual table. You’ll want to join in the action and get to try some of the Plus and Pro subscription features for free. That’s right. Dynamic Lighting (and tons of other awesome features) will be free during Roll20CON.

During the convention, some of your favorite streamers, publishers, podcasters, and I will be live on Twitch helping raise money for Cybersmile, the international non-profit supporting victims of cyberbullying.

If you haven’t seen the schedule for Roll20CON check it out below. You’ll notice I’m running two games during the 24-hour live stream with some of the biggest names in Dungeons and Dragons including my good friend Rudy Basso of the Tome Show’s D&D V&G podcast and Have Spellbook, Will Travel, Nadja Otikor of Misscliks D&D Prophecy, Greg Bilsland of Wizards of the Coast and member of the Dungeons and Dragons team, and, oh yeah, Chris Freakin’ Perkins, a Wizards of the Coast D&D employee who needs no introduction.

Needless to say I am thrilled about this and nervous. I’d love your support and love on game day. So if you’re around at 5AM or 2PM Pacific time on June 3, 2016, check out Twitch and watch us play D&D!

schedule3

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new BTS episode of my podcast, Have Spellbook, Will Travel, is up on the show’s site!

It’s that time again!  Behind-the-scenes time!  This episode we talk to Ray Fallon, who plays Andar Patrone, leader of Party 13.  Listen in as  JamesRudy, and Ray discuss Ray’s thoughts on the show, Andar, and Dungeons and Dragons.

All About Hamlet

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If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Adventurers League admin, Greg Marks, to discuss the Con Created Content program, the search for more female designers, future D&D storylines, payment for AL adventure designers, and his upcoming products and projects. This podcast was recorded on May 18, 2016.




Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Have Spellbook, Will Travel and Gamer to Gamer, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I’ve been very busy lately! Wanna know why? Let’s talk about conventions! I don’t just mean IntroConso. Read about where you can see me and play adventures I’m writing below!

Roll20CON

Roll20CON is a free, online-only celebration of the Roll20 Community will take place on June 3rd, 2016 for just 24 hours – but you can start preparing, listing, and joining games now! From 12AM – 11:59PM Pacific time, there will be games galore played on my favorite virtual table. You’ll want to join in the action and get to try some of the Plus and Pro subscription features for free. That’s right. Dynamic Lighting (and tons of other awesome features) will be free during Roll20CON.

During the convention, some of your favorite streamers, publishers, podcasters, and I will be live on Twitch helping raise money for Cybersmile, the international non-profit supporting victims of cyberbullying.

If you haven’t seen the schedule for Roll20CON check it out below.

Roll20CON

You’ll notice I’m running two games during the 24-hour live stream. You’ll also notice some of the biggest names in Dungeons and Dragons including my good friend Rudy Basso of the Tome Show’s D&D V&G podcast and Have Spellbook, Will Travel, Nadja Otikor of Misscliks D&D Prophecy, Greg Bilsland of Wizards of the Coast and member of the Dungeons and Dragons team, and, oh yeah, Chris Freakin’ Perkins, a Wizards of the Coast D&D employee who needs no introduction.

Needless to say I am thrilled about this and nervous. I’d love your support and love on game day. So if you’re around at 5AM or 2PM Pacific time on June 3, 2016, check out Twitch and watch us play D&D!

Gen Con

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I’m back in Indianapolis at Gen Con for the third time in a row and there’s more opportunities than ever to see Rudy Basso, Jeff Greiner, and me.

Where Can You Find Us at Gen Con
  • Round Table Live
    • When: Friday August 5 from 5PM – 6:30PM
    • Where: Crowne Plaza: Grand Central Ballroom D
    • What: A live recording of The Round Table podcast with Rudy, Jeff, Liz Theis, me, and others TBA!
  • Round Table Live After Party
  • The Tome Show Epic 2016
    • When: Saturday August 6 from 4:00PM – 8:00PM
    • Where: TBA
    • What: The world has been decimated by a beast of colossal proportions! Now three groups of heroes are all that can stop the complete annihilation of good folk. Three parties of level 7 PCs will take on a massive doomsday beast – from the inside! It’s a dungeon crawl like never before. Over the course of the adventure party members will switch tables and all three groups must work together to bring down the largest foe ever! DMed by Tome Show podcast hosts Rudy, Jeff, and me. Written by Rudy and me.

Also if you want to play a D&D Adventurers League adventure I wrote for Baldman Games, check out this event:

  • CORE 2-1 Tales of Good & Evil
    • When: Multiple four-hour blocks throughout Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Gen Con
    • Where: Hyatt Regency Ballroom HQ
    • What: As the City of a Thousand Forges perseveres in the face of threats both internal and external, the effects of a planar portal continue to make everyone uneasy. When unusual individuals are drawn to the city because of its power, heroes are asked to keep peace and ferret out anyone intending to bring harm to Melvaunt. A D&D Adventurers League adventure for character level 1 to 4 set in Melvaunt.

Finally do you want to see a short film I made? That’s also going to be at Gen Con. The trailer for a short film I made with Jay LetchkoKnight Birds, is below. Details TBA!

There’s more to come for Gen Con! Hope to see you at one of these places.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of the podcast Rudy Basso and I make, Have Spellbook, Will Travel, is up on the show’s site!

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Please enjoy listening to episode 1-2 of Have Spellbook, Will Travel! Meet a rival adventuring party, and hear as Party 13 gets closer to solving the mystery of the missing pie children. Or, I mean, missing pies and missing children. Not pies made of children.

Please rate and review us on iTunes! It helps a bunch and takes less than a minute.

Tell your friends about the show and Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, etc. using #HSWT to let us know you love the show! Thanks so much! Your love and support has been overwhelming!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Topher KohanJoe Lastowski, and Round Table newbie Robert Maxwell to discuss rumors of the latest Dungeons and Dragons storyline and a cryptic announcement from Wizards of the Coast about a D&D announcement. Then it’s an interview with Steven Helt of the Four Horsemen to discuss their ongoing Kickstarter for The Talented Bestiary. This podcast was recorded May 10 and 12, 2016.


DMs Guild Pick of the Episode: The Beast of Graenseskov


Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes. It takes 30 seconds and helps us a bunch.

Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Have Spellbook, Will Travel and Gamer to Gamer, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Quick announcement: The meaty World Builder Blog posts will now come every Thursday, since episodes of Have Spellbook, Will Travel drop on Wednesdays and I don’t want to overload you.

Time for even more aberrations!

A few weeks ago I made the case for needing more high challenge rating aberrations than the ones in the Monster Manual for my soon-to-be-published Exploration Age campaign setting. There’s only 19 total aberration stat blocks in the book, and the highest CR is 14 (beholder in lair), so you might want some more aberrations for your world too! That’s why I’m sharing them on this blog.

In that post I showed off the Lovecraft-inspired moonbeast. Then in a later post I presented my hound of Tindalos and after that my gug. In this post I’m showing off my fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons version of the dimensional shambler!

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rich Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rich Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Dimensional Shambler

Dimensional shamblers are 5-foot tall hairless beasts of humanoid form. Tight grey and red skin binds their unnerving crouched form. Their hands sport cruel claws and their almost simian head can open terrifyingly wide to reveal rows of canine teeth. Very little is known about their motivations, but theories abound.

Hunters of Intelligent Life. Dimensional shamblers cross the multiverse using their innate plane-shifting abilities looking for prey. While no one is certain what exactly attracts shamblers to a particular prey, they seem to be drawn to intelligent humanoids who use magic to travel to and summon creatures from other planes. While such victims appear to be a shambler’s preferred target, they are known to abduct any creature with above animal intelligence. A shambler can spend years tracking a single target.

Soul-Devouring Torturers. While dimensional shamblers are powerful combatants and known to kill large groups of humanoids, they much prefer to drag off a single intelligent creature from a fight. They will carry these victims to forgotten corners of the multiverse and bathe them in a ooze-like substance called gray mire. The gray mire painfully devours and nourishes a victim over the course of weeks as the shambler watches, never resting. Eventually the victim’s body is completely destroyed by the mire, leaving only their soul which is devoured by the shambler.

Power in Numbers. While dimensional shamblers often work alone, they do cross paths in the multiverse. Sometimes these horrors agree to work together to capture prey. A strange bond forms between shamblers who agree to work together, increasing each’s power exponentially.

Dimensional Shambler

Medium aberration, chaotic evil


Armor Class 17 (natural armor)

Hit Points 171 (18d8 + 90)

Speed 30 ft.


STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
20 (+5)  16 (+3) 20 (+5) 10 (+0) 14 (+2) 20 (+5)

Saving Throws Dex +7, Int +4, Wis +6, Cha +9

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons

Damage Immunities psychic

Condition Immunities exhaustion, charmed

Skills Perception +6, Stealth +7, Survival +7

Senses truesight 120 ft. passive perception 16

Languages Deep Speech, telepathy 120 ft.

Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)


Aggressive Plane Shift. When the shambler casts plane shift any creatures it is grappling must succeed on a DC 17 Charisma saving throw or be teleported with the shambler. If the shambler is touching an unconscious creature when it casts this spell, that creature is automatically transported with the shambler.

Hypnotic Presence. Creatures who start their turns within 30 feet of the shambler and can see the creature must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or become paralyzed for 1 minute. A paralyzed creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the shambler’s Hypnotic Presence (and the hypnotice presence of all dimensional shamblers) for the next 24 hours.

Spellcasting. The shambler’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17). The shambler can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

At-will: dimension door, misty step

3/day: dominate monsterplane shift, telekinesis

Strength in Numbers. The DC of the shambler’s spells and Hypnotic Presence ability increases by 1 (to a maximum of 20) for every other dimensional shambler within 100 feet on the same plane.

Actions

Multiattack. The shambler can make three attacks: two with its claws, and one with its bite.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d10 + 5) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) slashing damage and the target is grappled (escaped DC 17). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained and the shambler can’t use its claws to attack another target.

Create Gray Mire. The shambler touches any 10-foot-square area of natural ground such as dirt, stone, grass, sand, or ice and it becomes a 5-f00t-deep pool of gray mire. Creatures who enter or start their turns in the area must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or become paralyzed for 24 hours. During this time the gray mire nourishes them, so they don’t need to eat, sleep, or breathe, but it also eats away at their flesh, dealing 1 necrotic damage which cannot be reduced in anyway. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken effect. This reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest outside of a pool of gray mire. If a creature’s hit point maximum is reduced to 0 by this effect, it is consumed by the pool and any dimensional shamblers nearby regain 171 hit points. At the end of 24 hours of being paralyzed, the creature must succeed on another DC 17 Constitution saving throw or suffer the same effect if it still in the pool.

The pool counts as difficult terrain. Creatures who start their turn in the pool or enter the pool on their turn must succeed on a DC 17 Strength saving throw or become grappled by the mire until the start of their next turn. A creature who is in the pool can be pulled out of it by another creature not in the pool who can reach the creature in the pool with a DC 17 Strength check made as an action. Being pulled from the pool ends any grappled or paralyzed condition caused by the mire.

Dimensional shamblers are immune to the effects of the gray mire.

PDF

Would you like this Lovecraftian beastie to threaten your players’ characters? Grab it now in its own PDF or alongside a lot of Exploration Age’s monsters! Like the icebreaker shark, gaping maw, morchia, and mystauk.

Dimensional Shambler

All Monsters

If you liked these creatures be sure to check out my other offerings in the Free Game Resources section of this site and my Pay What You Want products on the DMs Guild for backgrounds, magic items, optional rules, and more.

Playtest it up!

Now I ask you my readers to please go forth and test this nasty. Throw it at your players and see how they fare! If you have any feedback for my monster please leave it in the comments below or email me (james.introcaso@gmail.com). If you tell me your name and the names of your players I’ll give you credit as playtesters in the Exploration Age Campaign Guide!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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Hey everyone! On the Have Spellbook, Will Travel story episode off weeks Rudy Basso and I aren’t going to leave you high and dry. Get ready for some sweet, sweet behind-the-scenes action in our first BTS episode. In each BTS episode Rudy and I will talk about the process of making the podcast, interview cast members, share updates, and more!

In our first behind-the-scenes episode, James Introcaso and Rudy Basso introduce themselves and explain who they are and why they started this podcast. Hopefully you enjoy learning a bit more about the hosts of this journey!

Listen to the first episode now! If you love the podcast please do us a favor – go give us a killer rating on iTunes. It’s free to do and takes less than a minute of your time. Please Tweet about the show, join the Facebook group, and spread the word!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

This is a guest post from Geoffrey Winn, host of the amazing Appendix N Podcast on The Tome Show network. Geoff was on a recent episode of my podcast, The Round Table, where we chatted about what it would take to create a Middle-earth campaign setting for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. That conversation inspired this series of posts here on World Builder Blog. If you enjoy this post, check out Part I: Introduction and the Region of EriadorPart II: WilderlandPart III: Gondor, Rohan, and MordorPart IV: Other Places, Other Times, and Part V: The Lords of Middle-earth.

Part VI: The Lords of Middle-earth – The Mannish Races248px-Aragorn2

Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,

Who will fight, for the right they adore.

Throughout this blog I have talked about Men more than any other race, and so you may be wondering what there is left to say. Why an entire article? Despite J. R. R. Tolkien’s most famous novels being from the point of view of hobbits and despite The Silmarillion being mostly about the Elves, it is Men who dominate Middle-earth. From the Second Age onward, it is Men who drive history forward and define the political landscape.

Tolkien preferred to use the terms “Man,” “Men” and “Mannish” (yes, a real word in the dictionary and everything) when talking about the human race. He probably preferred to use these words because of their German roots; he disliked anything having to do with Latin. These words apply to the entire race (i.e., “mankind), not just males. When talking about female humans, it is most appropriate to simply say “Women.” Always capitalize to make it clear you are talking about the race of Mortal Men and Women, not males and females of another race.

Was Tolkien a bit sexist? Probably. He was a conservative Catholic man who lived in the early 20th Century. Most of his friends and professional colleagues were probably men, and as critics will point out, female characters are few and far between in his works. All this is to say, if you find it inappropriate to say “Men” all the time in your roleplaying group, you can say “Mortals” or “Humans” or whatever you like. You don’t have to do it the way Tolkien did.

The Secondborn Children

When Eru Ilúvatar (a.k.a., “God”) created the world, he told the Valar about two races that would appear at some point in the world’s history – Elves and Men. The Valar were fascinated about these races, primarily because Eru had told them almost nothing about them. Just like fans waiting for their favorite author’s next book to come out, they went down into the world and eagerly waited untold numbers of years to see what they believed would be their Master’s finest creations.

Elves were interesting because they talked, and nothing had ever done that before. Elves wrote poetry and songs and built amazing things. To the Valar, they were like little siblings, sometimes rebellious, but still very close to themselves in nature.

Men were interesting because they did something the Elves did not do; they died. Despite the fact that plants and animals also died – and Elves, too, if you hit them hard enough – Men did it better than anything else the Valar had seen. Over and over again. In spectacular fashion. Death was called the “Gift of Men,” a gift from Ilúvatar to his Secondborn Children. When Elves died, their souls traveled to the Halls of Mandos, from which they could be revived. However, when Men died, they left the world entirely, and even the Valar did not know what happened to them.

Death, and the fear or acceptance of it, was a major theme in all of Tolkien’s writings; and I would argue it was a major theme in his life. By the age of 12, Tolkien had lost both of his parents. He fought in the Somme during the Great War, and by the end of that conflict, all but one of his friends was dead. His writing, his art, and his poetry was, among other things, an attempt to cope with the horrors of death.

It’s also important to remember Tolkien’s Catholic faith and that Tolkien’s stories are taking place in a world that predates Abraham. The ideas presented in the Bible about Heaven, sin, redemption, etc., haven’t been revealed to anyone yet, probably not even the Valar. This gives Morgoth (and later Sauron) ample opportunity to control Men through lies about death and what it means for their souls.

To play up this angle, Men in Middle-earth should be weak against necromancy and undead. They should have penalties to saves against fear effects, death effects, and anything that reminds them of their own mortality.

Men in the First Age – The Edain and the Easterlings

The stories of the First Age in The Silmarillion pretty much exclusively take place in Beleriand. Tolkien describes Men migrating west from Hildórien, a place to the far east that does not appear on any map. Presumably the Middle-earth we know from the Third Age lies to the east of Beleriand, but none of the nations we know of exist yet. Outside of Beleriand there are simply primitive tribes of Men wandering about, running away from monsters and Elves alike.

Within Beleriand, we have two primary groups. The Edain are the first to arrive, and they eventually split into three houses – The House of Bëor, the House of Haleth, and the House of Marach. Most of the Mannish heroes of The Silmarillion come from the House of Bëor; they are your typical strong, wise hero-types. The House of Haleth are reclusive forest-folk. The House of Marach are tall, blonde and warlike. As a whole, the Edain are generally good people, loyal to Elves, and enemies of Morgoth.

“Edain” is the plural; “Adan” is the singular.

The Easterlings seem to have arrived in Beleriand later, and they were mostly (though not entirely) servants of Morgoth. Confusingly, the Easterlings of the First Age have nothing to do with the Easterlings of the Third Age, described in previous blog articles. These Easterlings are also called Swarthy Men because they had dark skin, eyes and hair. They come across as more brutish and less cultured than the Edain, typical of Tolkien’s “bad guy” races.

Because everything about the First Age is bigger, badder, more epic, Men of the First Age should start out with extra hit dice, levels, ability score bonuses, or all three. They should be less powerful than the godlike Elves, but they should still be able to stand up to giant monsters. Men of the First Age generally serve an Elf-lord, and they would go on missions for him. They may be outlaws, like Túrin Turambar; or, like the House of Haleth, they may be trying to fend for themselves in a small community in the wilderness.

Men of the West – The Númenóreans and the Dúnedain

As a reward of their service to the Elves, the Edain were blessed with longer lives, greater physical attributes, and they were given the island of Númenor to rule. Eventually, the Númenóreans built ships and explored the entire world, creating a vast empire. The fear of death was their downfall. Even with their long lives, the Númenóreans grew jealous of the immortal Elves. Sauron lied and manipulated the last King of Númenor into sailing west in an attempt to conquer the Valar. As expected, this failed; Númenor was destroyed. The survivors were either Dúnedain (good) or Black Númenóreans (evil).

Dúnedain culture was essentially a continuation of Númenórean culture. In the Third Age, they built two great kingdoms – Arnor and Gondor. As has already been covered elsewhere, the story of the Third Age is largely about how Sauron gradually ground these two kingdoms to dust, until they were almost too weak to oppose him… almost!

“Dúnedain” is the plural; “Dúnadan” is the singular.

The Black Númenóreans ruled the Havens of Umbar for a little over a thousand years into the Third Age. Although they’re not really mentioned after that time, it’s entirely possible that Black Númenórean villains were running around doing evil things right up until the War of the Ring, acting as a dark mirror to the Dúnedain. There were probably not very many of them, not enough to be whole nations unto themselves. Instead, imagine a few, small families clinging to their old, evil traditions, ruling the lesser Men of the South. The Mouth of Sauron is sometimes interpreted as being a Black Númenórean.

All three of these groups – the Númenóreans, the Dúnedain and the Black Númenoreans – should be considered their own race, separate from other Men. I will simply use “Dúnedain” to refer to all three of them. They should be given higher ability scores, extra feats and skills, bonuses to saving throws and the like. Their strengths and their lifespans seem to be partially tied to their own purity of spirit. In other words, a Dúnadan’s inner strength will manifest outwardly as physical strength, good looks, and long life. Dúnedain also seem to have a talent for magic, at least in the Second and early Third Age. Most of the colossal statues and cities in The Lord of the Rings were built by Dúnedain. Isildur was able to curse an entire civilization into 3000 years of undeath for betraying him.

Their fear of death is even more pronounced. Tolkien describes how the latter Númenórean kings and the Gondorian kings and stewards would sit and brood upon their own deaths, spending more time building elaborate tombs and monuments to themselves than ruling. Tolkien seemed to find “dotage” more appalling than death – the idea that a Man would continue to live long after losing his mental and physical abilities. To this end, Aragorn had the ability to choose the time of his own death, to simply will himself into the afterlife, to avoid this fate. It is possible that other Dúnedain had this ability, or even all of them.

Lesser Men of the Third Age

The Dúnedain used the term “Middle Men” or “Men of Twilight” to refer to other types of Men that weren’t actively trying to kill them – the Rohirrim, the Bree-folk, and the Men of Dale, to name a few. The enemies of the Dúnedain were called “Men of Darkness” or “Men of Shadow.”

Mechanically, there is no reason to differentiate between all these different peoples. Simply use the “Human” rules for your game. Add backgrounds, traits, skill bonuses, or whatever your system uses to suggest the culture they come from. The same thinking applies to the Edain and Easterlings of the First Age, although as previously mentioned they should be given extra hit dice or levels to reflect the dangerous world they live in.

The Woses, also called the Drûgs or the Drúedain, are a special category. They are ugly and brutish, which is unusual among Tolkien’s “good” races. They are present in all ages and live pretty much wherever there is a forest. Woses should be physically weak and not very adept with arcane magic, but they excel at stealth, forestry and druidic magic.

Hobbits are also possibly related to Men. They first appear in the Upper Anduin Vale in the middle of the Third Age, living very close to the fierce Northmen and the savage ancestors of Beorn. While traveling through Rohan, Merry Brandybuck notices that the language of the Rohirrim bears a striking similarity to the old language of the Hobbits – of course Tolkien would choose to make one of his heroes a language enthusiast like himself!

I hope this article has been enlightening and entertaining, and not too redundant. While I have talked about a lot of these subjects when covering the various realms inhabited by Men, I felt an article about Men as a race was still needed. My next article will be about Hobbits, Dwarves and whatever other races I can fit in!

Part I: Introduction and the Region of Eriador

Part II: Wilderland

Part III: Gondor, Rohan, & Mordor

Part IV: Other Places, Other Times

Part V: The Lords of Middle-earth

Listen to Geoffrey Winn discuss the literature that influenced the creation of D&D every month on the Appendix N Podcast on The Tome Show network!