9 thoughts on “Episode 24 – J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” with special guest Daniel J. Bishop”

  1. I have been considering that question: What would you change to make a DCC Middle Earth game? a bit more.

    Obviously, one would have to create patron/demi-patron write ups for the Valar and Sauron. Corruption results might be alignment-based, with Lawful characters being temporarily weakened, while Chaotic corruption goes full Mouth of Sauron. Cleric characters do not fit in general, although one might make an argument for them in Númenor, or in the 4th Age after the War of the Ring and the ascendancy of men. It might be worthwhile to create a unique table of Mercurial effects as well.

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  2. I love this. Here are some things. The first is if I was to do Middle-Earth in DCC, I would make Gandalf and his ilk Clerics with Valar Patrons with very specific spell lists and detailed disapproval tables. I would also allow them to have more than one patron, as Gandalf is associated with three separate valar. I would change the alignment to be Good, Neutral, Evil on a moral continuum not on an ordered continuum. I would make Wizards have to be neutral or evil as the idea of magic in Middle-earth is seen as evil. I would make more races as was mentioned. I think each age would have separate races, for example, first age elves. Second Age Men. Third Age Elves. Halfelven Elves, HalfElven Men. I would make there be three sorts of halflings. The Standard Halfling(Pippin) and the Halfling with wanderlust(Bilbo) and the Halfling Steward (Sam).

    So I will leave this here for you from Tolkien: “I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history – true or feigned– with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.

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    1. I will note that your last quote agrees with our conclusion, although not our terminology, regarding allegory in Tolkien’s work. He would have argued that we are confusing (conflating) applicability with allegory, and I wouldn’t presume to argue the point.

      The books do allow for DCC-style wizards: The Witch-King of Angmar and the Mouth of Sauron being the most obvious examples. It is also telling that the Necromancer was not immediately known as an incarnation of Sauron, further suggesting the existence of other magicians in Middle Earth who do not play directly into the War of the Ring.

      One change to the halfling may also be considered: A bonus to ranged attacks rather than dual wielding. Perhaps simply allowing the effects of dual wielding using any ranged attack, rather than melee.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I am spending way to much time doing the math and thinking about this. I am in agreement that there are DCC-style wizards in Middle-earth. Perhaps they are best thought of as corrupted Clerics. Beings who went from using the Eru-derived Valar Given form of agency within the physical realm to harmonize with the music of the Ainur to those who now are trying to share reality into their own vision of reality. Perhaps this can be the basis of a corruption mechanic. This idea also mirrors in Middle-earth in that both Sauron and Saruman are both Maia of Aulë the Smith. (And the dwarves are creations of Aulë as well) This is seen in both the movie and in the books as they all focus on building, the composition of things, and the skills needed to accomplish a task. However, the uncorrupted dwarves also inherit Aulë’s desire to be free from the obsession of mastery and possession, while Saruman is focused on mastery and possessing things. Sauron is also focused on this as well. In addition, the ring, a physical manifestation of Sauron’s will, wants people to possess it. The corruption also temps Saruman and Sauron focus on industrialization. You can see Aulë’s influence on each of these creatures in their architecture, which uses a lot of the same motifs.

        If I go with the above, you can be a wizard, but you have to pick a patron that derives initial power from Eru, and then you have to displease this patron and if you do it long enough, you switch patrons to Melkor or one of his lieutenants and now you get to be a wizard with your own defined spell list (where a cleric would have a very prescribed list of prayers and rituals) but you now have to work with spell burn and seeking amends the way that Sauron (the Mouth of Sauron) or the Balrog (the Orcs) or Saruman (Wormtongue) would want.

        As for the hobbits, I agree with you on ranged weapons. I am thinking the steward form of hobbit would not have dual wield and would have to focus on a single patron who would get their luck bonus. Their corrupt version would be like the Sackville Baggins where they can only use their powers on themselves and when they do it, they take luck from a random party member. The Wanderlust Hobbit would only be able to use his luck bonuses to get out of populated areas larger than villages or in unpopulated areas. The corrupted version of this would be they lose their character and become an NPC (they want to stay at home and do nothing). The standard hobbit would be the standard halfling but would corrupt into a Gollum like creature faster.

        I have more to say about the Aragorn and his ability to heal and to call the oath breakers to his cause. I think the High Men or Halfelven Men would have some clerical abilities. But I’ve not given it more thought than that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. According to the link below, Tolkien only read Howard after he wrote The Lord of the Rings (I’d be very interested in evidence to the contrary, or to Tolkien’s pulp reading in general beyond Burroughs). Not that that stops Aragorn from being an answer to Conan in a roundabout way. He was certainly an answer to the heroes of Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon tales, making a much more “Christian” tale (very much implicitly, not at all explicitly) instead of just giving Christian coloring to a pagan tale, as in Beowulf…or Conan.

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    1. It’s difficult to say whether or not JRRT read REH before or after writing LotR. But it is not so far-fetched to imagine it was before. There are many, many similarities between Conan and Aragorn, after all, right down to Conan’s wielding a broken sword in his first published adventure!

      Nor would this be an unusual step for JRRT. Gandalf’s letter (in Chapter X: Strider) mentions the mind being like a lumber room, echoing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. There are numerous references to Shakespeare…most notably JRRT’s answers to the prophesies in Macbeth:

      “Macbeth shall never vanquished be until/Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/Shall come against him” is answered at Helm’s Deep.

      “Laugh to scorn/The power of man, for none of woman born/Shall harm Macbeth” is answered on the Pelennor Fields.

      As far as I know, it is not possible to prove any connection (deliberate or subconscious) between Conan and Aragorn, but there are many points where the two are alike. Even the first meeting between the hobbits and Strider shows Aragorn to be a man with melancholies and mirth, although they may not have been, strictly speaking, “gigantic”.

      A simple quiz.

      Which statement refers to Conan, which to Aragorn, which to both, and which to neither?

      Original author sources only.

      1. One of the greatest travellers of his era.
      2. Became King of the greatest nation of his era.
      3. That he was the rightful king was revealed by a broken sword.
      4. Is stealthy in the wild.
      5. Travelled under different names.
      6. Was born on a battlefield.
      7. Served in armies ruled by others.
      8. Has dark hair.
      9. Comes from the north.
      10. Is descended from a smith.
      11. Is descended from people who one dwelt in a lost civilization, and who escaped its sinking.
      12. Is one of the greatest warriors of his time.
      13. Has dealings with rangers.
      14. Fights in a battle that includes oliphaunts.
      15. Is aided by a wizard who was trapped by a rival wizard.
      16. Gazes into a stone to uncover hidden knowledge.
      17. Fought against hill men.
      18. Is moved by music.
      19. Is opposed by someone whose power is linked to possession of a singular Ring.
      20. Is an able captain, both on land and on sea.
      21. Speaks many languages.
      22. Has moments of melancholy or fey moods.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Another thought, rather late in coming. In Middle Earth, treat elves like normal DCC elves (i.e., there is a reason why they use mithril rather than iron!) except that they use cleric magic rather than wizard magic with a specialized spell list. Lay on Hands is treated as a spell that not all elves know, but some certainly do. Glorfindel driving back the Nazgul is an example of Turn the Unholy.


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