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27 January 2013 @ 05:37 pm
The Kin-Strife  
I think I may have mentioned once or twice that I've been running a (more or less) Warhammer game based on Oxrandir's Kin-Strife MERP module. I've been running it once a month (in good months) since just after we moved into this house and it finally came to an end last weekend.

`Ragnor' has kindly been keeping a campaign diary of the whole thing, though I'm not sure if he will ever post the final 64th part.

The game ended up being a mixture of the adventures suggested in the Kin-Strife module and Oxrandir's "Eyes of the Blind Night" module that he published in Other Hands (though I've no notion off-hand which issue it was in). I felt the Kin-strife module itself didn't have an obvious conclusion and though there were tight links and a fairly clear narrative thread between the Lond Ernil and Osgiliath sections, the other sections (Minas Ithil, Minas Arnor, Umbar and Pelargir) were less well tied together. Eyes of the Blind Night had a much stronger narrative drive and a good climax but was placed after the actual Kin-strife and didn't really engage much with the Gondorian politics.

My basic idea was to take the characters on a leisurely tour around Southern Gondor (Pelargir -> Minas Ithil -> Umbar - I skipped Minas Arnor because I couldn't think of anything interesting for them to do there!). During these wanderings they would gradually learn about the background threat posed by the Cult of Benish Armon, and Neithan's back story. Some of this involved sections from Eyes of the Blind Night (where there were particular clues to be had) though I usually sent them to the relevant places under some alternative pretext. In true Amulet of Zarg fashion the party also got to inherit, steal or otherwise stumble upon the five vital components of the key to Fuinur's Well. The game then moved into the fairly well integrated Lond Ernil and Osgiliath sections and finally joined up with the Eyes of the Blind Night module where it headed south of Gondor to the Raj, the Mirror of Fire and Fuinur's Well. I linked various party members into the story either by ancestral links to players in the back story, or via loyalty or friendship with Neithan - though in general it was as "friends of friends" - for instance one PC was Ilvirin, a lieutenant of Rastarin (firin's original character) who plays a prominent role in the kin-strife module. Ilvirin got to take on much of Rastarin's role without such close ties to Neithan as Rastarin would have had (probably just as well in the event)!

I had to provide several detours for "tombs" because B. picked "Tomb Robber" as one of his early careers and so required tombs to rob. This immediately forced us into the conundrum that nice Numenoreans don't have tombs and so, in the end, they explored a lot of vaults.

I've already chronicled how the party rather efficiently got rid of Neithan, the module's tragic hero (or unrepentant trouble-maker depending upon your point of view) - there may have been cheering when, in the penultimate game, some time after the party had introduced Neithan to an unmarked grave, I read out the fateful words "This is the moment that Neithan will choose to betray the characters".

Lastly, around Easter this year, I realised the game needed an entirely different ending. At the point of Neithan's death the party naturally acquired the Kuilëondo (his magical jewel with an evil cat maia trapped inside). They very quickly decided that a) this was probably a bad thing and b) should be destroyed if at all possible. At this point they had already decided to go to the Mirror of Fire where the great lamp Ormal fell to earth and scorched the ground, in order to seek out Fuinur's Well. Obviously it instantly occurred to the party that it might be quite hot and fiery around there and it therefore might be a good place to offload their evil jewel. I thought this was a terribly good idea and so the final confrontation was among the dying fires of Ormal, fighting the now released cat spirit Tevildo.

Of course they now want a follow up. I'm thinking about it. If I do one then I'll be ditching the Warhammer system, though I'll be keeping Fate points which I think are an excellent idea (always assuming you aren't that interested in actually killing the characters). I don't know what they'll do - Ragnor appears to be strangely keen on the idea of some kind of fact-finding camping trip into Mordor, and there's always Angmar as well I suppose, not to mention, I believe, a rather good MERP module set in Tharbad.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/87719.html.
fredbassettfredbassett on January 27th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
An expedition into Mordor or Angmar would be very appealing!

I have a long and very Mary Sue Tolkien fanfic in notebooks that I started when I was about 14. I still return to it with great fondness even now.
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on January 27th, 2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
I'm not 100% convinced Mordor is a good idea. They only got rid of Tevildo because Ragnor had borrowed an extremely pointy sword (with a scary fondness for blood) from a senile elf he met along the way.

I'm also actually sure there's anything all that interesting in Mordor at this particular moment in time... though I suppose there are rumoured to be great fields of grain if you go far enough east.
fredbassettfredbassett on January 27th, 2013 07:51 pm (UTC)
The fields of grain would be more south than east, I think, as they'd be around the Sea of Nurnen.

There might be orcs in Mordor. I love orcs!
louisedennislouisedennis on January 27th, 2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
Well waves of Orcs is definitely an option - I'm not sure it constitutes much by way of a plot though...
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on January 27th, 2013 07:54 pm (UTC)
And south might take them into the purview of Adûnaphel, who in the MERP modules is the only female Nazgul and is definitely active in Southern Gondor around this time. Besides which they have already tangled with some of Adûnaphel's minions.
fredbassettfredbassett on January 27th, 2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
My best friend and I had huge gun making up characters for the nazghul but we didn't bhave a female one . We did however have an awful lot of orc captains. I fear I had a misspent youth.
I was sorry that JRRT only named one ringwraith.
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on January 27th, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
MERP did a good job fleshing out alot of the background so it could be used for roleplaying games. I do tend to get a bit confused by it all though, unless I'm keeping track very carefully.
fredbassettfredbassett on January 27th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
My friend and I famously slashes most of the inhabitents of Barad-dur in about 1974. Except we didn't know what slash was in those days.
louisedennislouisedennis on January 28th, 2013 09:44 am (UTC)
I imagine you were an irritatingly precocious child *g*
fredbassettfredbassett on January 28th, 2013 10:08 am (UTC)
It's a fair cop, guv'nor. *g*
wellinghallwellinghall on January 27th, 2013 09:02 pm (UTC)
As I recall, Peter Roe Booklet number 1, "Some Light on Middle-earth" by Edward Crawford, has something about this. When I have the requisite spoons, I will dig it out.
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on January 27th, 2013 09:08 pm (UTC)
That would be very kind of you, at the moment I really have no idea what the next phase will entail, so any possible inspiration will be of help!
wellinghallwellinghall on January 27th, 2013 09:17 pm (UTC)
Well, I've got it off the shelf, at least! I will look at it soon (tomorrow?)
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on January 28th, 2013 09:45 am (UTC)
There's no rush. I'm definitely not planning on running anything for at least six months.
wellinghallwellinghall on January 29th, 2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
Ah, but if I don't do it soon, I might not do it for years ...
wellinghallwellinghall on March 16th, 2013 10:53 am (UTC)
It went into the post yesterday.
louisedennislouisedennis on March 17th, 2013 08:52 am (UTC)
Thanks! Thanks also for the wedding pictures you sent!!
wellinghallwellinghall on March 17th, 2013 09:27 am (UTC)
You are very welcome! I look forward to hearing how the MERP campaign goes.
Claire StevensClaire Stevens on January 27th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
And thanks from all of us!
And much fun has been had, lands visited and unfriendlies clobbered.

Thanks and looking forward to the next installment in time

Aerin x
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on January 27th, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
Re: And thanks from all of us!
I couldn't have done it without the players!
philmophlegm: How did it come to this?philmophlegm on January 27th, 2013 11:02 pm (UTC)
You could always do the Numenorean Prester John campaign I thought of running:
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on January 28th, 2013 10:00 am (UTC)
Ooh! Now that's not a bad idea at all!!
Pollyjane_somebody on February 10th, 2013 04:42 pm (UTC)
64 installments? Gosh. For how much of G's life did this campaign run?
louisedennislouisedennis on February 10th, 2013 04:59 pm (UTC)
Since she was three when it stated - fortunately game nights come with two other little girls (one her age) and a little boy, with the girls staying for a sleepover so, in short, much fun is had by all.
Pollyjane_somebody on February 10th, 2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
So about 6 yrs then (if I've remembered G's age correctly)? That's some going! And that sounds like a most excellent arrangement all round :-)
louisedennis: roleplayinglouisedennis on February 10th, 2013 06:18 pm (UTC)
6 years, pretty much. It's basically become a regular social event, with reciprocal visits to the girls' house to play Cthulhu. At the moment B is searching for something to run to keep the meet ups going. And the two oldest children are interested now, so I'm vaguely looking into running something for them on the mornings after.