Gauntlet Inspired: Gaming and Tolkien

The Gauntlet podcast is one of my regular listens during my commute to work and in a recent episode they were talking about gaming, Lord of the Rings and gaming in a canonical setting.

Inspired by this I put together a links to old blog posts all musing about gaming and Tolkien.

The New Shadow

Descendants of Agaron and Arwen, struggling to live up to their ancestors’ legends, punk noble kids in Gondor who have taken their grand-parents’ artifacts from Mordor, dusted it off and made Sauron as suddenly hip.  Yeah, cool kids taking out their eyes, replacing it with dwarf-wrought clockwork glass so their parents do not know that they are worshiping the long dead Lord of the Rings, putting on tusked masks and going out orcing during moonless nights.

Ring Dreams

The first thing we get is the Hobbit RPG. It is an adorable boxed set. You can’t help but pick it up and want to take it home and open it.

When you open it, a Dwarf knocks on your door and another and another until finally there are a passle of dwarves and Gandalf, russling you out the door into a grand adventure.

Ring Worlds

It is fun to think about the various characters who cam into contact with the ring and what a Middle-earth would look like with the One Ring in their clutches:

  • Bilbo
  • Gandalf
  • Elrond
  • The Beast Outside Moriah
  • Bill the Pony
  • The Balrog
  • Galadriel
  • Boromir
  • Faramir
  • Shelob

What wonderful villains each of them could be (all except Bill the Pony; we know that Bill is above the Ring’s lure).

Based on the conversation on G+ I’m adding a few more posts about gaming in Westeros:

How we got to Westeros via Burning Wheel

I was pretty sure it was going to be a good night when I explained the situation over dinner and my dad turned to Charles and said, “Brother, I need some dragons; go get me some dragons.”

“I can’t get you dragons…”

“I’m your liege lord and if I say get me dragons, get some some damned dragons.”

And they started bickering over dinner.

“Save it for the game, guys. This is good stuff.”

Our Dances with Dragons

In which the Warden of the North quickly musters banner-men who can answer quickly and sets up camp in Moat Callin. He didn’t have the numbers he could have had but he had speed, aggression and a little bit of surprise at this point.

Visiting Westeros with my Dad

My dad was the Warden of the North, The Lord of Winterfell. His buddy was his bastard brother, the one who was willing to do the bloody deeds his Lord wasn’t willing to do.

I have so many favorite moments that I don’t know where to begin.

Elsa and Dark Phoenix

elsa gif

A friend posted an adorable video of his daughter singing Let it Go and it reminded me that I wanted to write this since I saw Frozen. When I saw the iconic scene it immediately reminded me of the Dark Phoenix Saga.

dark phoenix

Elsa subverts a common trope in super-powered young ladies: young girl gets power, can’t handle it and you know where this is going:

dark willow

Hell, Zander even refers to the Dark Phoenix Saga during the Dark Willow Season 6 arc in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Elsa is an antidote to Dark Phoenix. She let’s teaches little girls that power is dangerous but dammit, with sisterly love and support, they can marshal their ice powers, Cosmic Phoenix Force entity and/or witchcraft and control it. Elsa’s narrative allows her to be a powerful young lady.

Situation Mining: House Mormont

Lady Mormont Inspired by tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones, I thought I’d do a quick and easy Situation Mining post. Naturally, you don’t have to make this set in Westeros if that squicks you out. It is easy enough to file off the serial numbers.

I like the idea of a young, 2 lifepath character, learning how to lead and getting counsel from a few 4 and 5 LP characters.

Lady Mormont (Lady Mormont Character Sheet)

Write a belief about what kind of great Lady you’d like to grow up to become.

Write a belief about something you’d like to learn.

Write a belief about something childish, something you keep even though you must lead House Mormont.

Notes: You have so much to learn and will do so quickly. Read over the rules on learning new skills and improving stats and skills on pages 40 to 52 in the BWG.

Man-at-arms (Manatarms Character Sheet)

Write a belief about changing yourself from a soldier to a leader of Mormont’s armed forces.

Write a belief about teaching Lady Mormont about war, battle or combat.

Write a belief about getting something you need to conduct war (warhorse or maybe better armor).

Notes: You are a decent warrior but not a good leader and you know it. House Mormont has lost so much following the King in the North and you are all that’s left to lead the Bear Guard. Learn the Command Skill, improve your Strategy and Tactics. Offer to help others in war when you can. Become the general House Mormont needs.

Maester (Maester Character Sheet)

Write a belief about teaching Lady Mormont a skill.

Write a belief about what kind of great leader you’d like to see Lady Mormont become.

Write a belief about creating a treaty or a betrothal to a great northern house to ensure House Mormont’s security.

Notes: Offering helping dice, use your reputations and affiliations to make amazing circles rolls. Send out ravens and teach Lady Mormont. Read over the Instruction rules on pages 50 and 51 of the BWG. Keep track of how much time goes by and make those Instruction tests.

You are the power-house of this group and if House Mormont is to survive, they need you. You don’t have a weapon, nor a weapon skill. Be careful out there. The night is dark and full of terrors…and winter is coming and so on…

bear map

Slack-jawed Wonder

What am I asking from my fantasy media?


I want the slack-jawed wonder Peter Dinklage captures when Tyrion sees dragons. I want to be sitting in my bed, on my couch, in the subway while I’m either reading, watching or playing and:



Wonder Examples

For me, wonder is brought about not only when the media shows us wonderful and imaginative stuff but when something amazing and wondrous is implied and I have to read on and find bits of it in the text for more glimpses.

Fury Road had this for me. The way it showed glimpses of these things (the V8 religion and the whole warboy mythology, the green place, etc) without ever really stopping to explaining had me leaning forward, looking for more.

The Expanse had moments of wonder for me too but they were too brief – the magnetic boots, the Martian tech.

The Sorcerer of Wildeeps had it from beginning to end. I just re-read The Wizard of Earthsea and yeah, so full of wonder

 The recent Prophet comic book had so much wonder for me. It filled the universe with so many amazing things, even if they were all a mess from war.

I’m not a huge Dr. Who fan but the way Eccleston’s incarnation had this wonder at what he was seeing all around him had this kind of thing for me. His sense of wonder and joy brought me along for the ride.



Sansa Stark, Queen in the North, Season 6 GoT Fanfic

“No, we aren’t going to Castle Black. I’m tired of running to other people, asking them to save me.

“We’re going to rally the Mormonts, the Umbers and the Manderly’s and the other great houses of the North and we’re going to turn the Flayed Man into a dead banner with no family left to fly it. And after that, we’re looking south towards the Frey’s. And after we have their castle at the crossing, we’ll start thinking about King’s Landing.

“I can tell you one thing, I’m going to look each one of those bastards in the eyes when Brienne ties them down and takes their heads – just like dad taught me.

“And if you don’t like it, Theon or Reek or whoever-the-fuck, go back to the Iron Islands or if you have the stones, go take the Black.”

Traditions of the Swordlords: the Murk

To the west of the Riverlands is another Swordlord with his own charter to worry about. Swordlord Grahl has been a peripheral NPC, father of Squire Irenka, first mentioned in this blog post. He has two other daughters with him. He married a matriarch of a local swamp clan to strengthen his ties.

Now his daughter is a knight who has given birth to a demi-goddess, her home has been sacked by orc and he has rallied the Murk-folk to support his neighbor. He will join the effort to take back Spearpointe after its fall. It was time to think about where he is coming from and who he is bringing with him.


The Murk-folk are a group of quasi-feudal swamp tribes. They pray to their own fickle swamp gods, a few sword saints and sometimes they are known to call on the Dragon Gods. In the troll-haunted swamps, you call on whatever works.

Once they prayed to one of Erastil’s siblings but he died centuries ago during a war with the Brevosi that ended in blood and dragon-fire (oddly, I made that up BEFORE Erastil died). That sibling was said to have given them the gifts of slingstones, axes and druidic magic in the same way that Erastil gave the Riverlanders the bow, spear and hunting.

A few tribes claim to be “descended from the Sword-Crowns” and some worship that descendant as Rostlanders would pray to a Sword Saints. Swordlord Grahl has married into one such tribe and they see his sword as a holy relic, a tether to their proud, lost heritage.

Their highland tribes in the nearby mountains are their constant rivals with feuds often nearly becoming wars until cooler heads prevail.


Note: The above image is from NYPL’s Digital Image Collection.

Misspent Youth on Tabletop Season 4

Misspent Youth is a game where you get together with friends and create a dystopian antagonist so repugnant you want to take a pipe to its teeth. Players take the part of YO’s, Youthful Offenders and the GM is the Authority. The Authority ravages the world while dice sitting in the middle of the table, daring the players to pick them up and start shit and they will start shit. There might be consequences. It might go on the YO’s permanent record. They might die or worse – sell out.


When we used to demo this game at Gen Con, we’d play Blade Runner from the replicant’s POV.


To paraphrase the Misspent Youth text, Wil Wheaton and friends are going to play a fucking awesome science fiction game about friendship and rebellion; it is so much fun they might wonder why it isn’t illegal.