Campaign Setting

Setting

Leaf and Land is set in the period between the conclusion of the events narrated in The Hobbit and the culmination of the terrible struggle described in the pages of The Lord of the Rings – the Twilight of the Third Age.

Encompassing more than seventy years, this time is ushered in when Bilbo the Hobbit finds the Ruling Ring, and finds its end many decades later with the final confrontation between the Free Peoples and the Dark Lord Sauron, and the destruction of the Ring.  It is an exciting time, offering plenty of opportunities for adventuring in a land witnessing the end of an era.

In this wiki, the game introduces the dangerous lands known collectively as Wilderland and covers the years immediately following the adventures of Bilbo the Hobbit and his companions.  This region provides an excellent starting point for players entering Middle-Earth for the first time, and recent events have brought the area to the forefront of history.

Far Over The Misty Mountains Old

"…he knew how evil and danger had grown and thriven in the Wild, since the dragons had driven men from the lands, and the Goblins had spread in secret after the battle of the Mines of Moria."

The lands extending from the Misty Mountains as far as the Running River are known as Wilderland.  There are many good reasons for such an ominous name.  Not only did the region once host a Dragon's lair, but its greater part is occupied by the forest of Mirkwood, home to giant spiders, Orcs, and other dangerous creatures.

Nevertheless, Wilderland has changed significantly in the recent years.  Smaug, the Dragon of Erebor, bane of the Northern world, has been killed, and the Necromancer has been driven from his fastness in Southern Mirkwood.  Many proud folk are reclaiming their lost dominions: to the north rises the Lonely Mountain, a solitary peak that houses an underground stronghold of Dwarves of the line of Durin; on the valley below stands Dale, a city of Northmen newly rebuilt from its ruins, close to the trading town of Esgaroth on the Long Lake; from hidden halls dug under the northern eaves of Mirkwood issue again the hosts of King Thranduil, ruler of the Wood-elves; near the Ford of Carrock on the river Anduin, the Beornings, a folk of Men following the lead of Beorn the Skin-changer, keep their watch; while to the south the settlements of the Woodmen are multiplying along the vale of the Great River.

Lands Beyond

West of Wilderland, between the Misty Mountains and the Sea, is the region of Eriador.  Desolate and mostly abandoned, Eriador was the land of great kingdoms, but they are long gone, destroyed by the Enemy long ago.  There are still a few hidden refuges, like the valley of Rivendell and the Grey Havens on the shore, where the Elves remember the vanished glories of the north.  Of course, the memories of mortals are far shorter – the Hobbits and few Men who still dwell in this land rarely recall the lost kingdoms, and do not know that the mysterious Dúnedain who guard them against wights and trolls are in fact the descendants of those Númenórean kings.

To the South, the Great River flows through the lands of Rohan and Gondor.  The ancestors of the Horse-lords of Rohan dwelt in Wilderland long ago, and are distant kin to the folk of the North, but they now dwell in the rolling grasslands of the south.  They are close allies to the folk of Gondor, greatest of the surviving kingdoms of Men in the waning years of the Third Age.

And Gondor is ever-watchful, for on its border is the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie…

Year 2946 of the Third Age

Five years ago, in the year 2941 of the Third Age in the reckoning of the Elves and the Men of the West, a fierce battle shook the roots of Erebor, the Lonely Mountain.  Orcs, Wild Wolves, Men, Dwarves, and Elves clashed under a sky darkened by giant bats, their hatred fuelled by ancient quarrels.  Many deeds of renown were done that day, and some heroes prevailed while others fell, in the end delivering a sweeping victory for the Free Peoples of the North.

A new alliance was born from the aftermath of that battle, now remembered as the Battle of Five Armies.  In fact, if it hadn't been for the threat of Bolg's invading host, rallying the Free Peoples under a single banner, the long years of petty misunderstandings would have flared into open warfare.  The spirits of Elves, Men, and Dwarves were embittered and made miserable by the growing darkness of Mirkwood and the ever-present menace of the great Dragon of Erebor.

Each community had become suspicious of its neighbors and limited their dealings to meagre trades.  When the din of battle subsided, the surviving Free Peoples looked upon each other with an open heart once again.

The Free Folks of the North

Once freed from the threat of Smaug the Dragon, and with two thirds of the Goblin warriors of the North eradicated, the inhabitants of the northern regions of Wilderland have the opportunity to finally look forward to a prosperous future.  But five years after the Dragon's demise, peace is still a fragile thing over the edge of the Wild, to be cared for and looked after, especially for those who dwell in its darkest corners.

Bardings

Bard the Bowman, of the line of Girion – slayer of the Dragon, shooter of the Black Arrow – has been crowned King of Dale after successfully reclaiming his kingdom.

Five years ago, he led those who chose to follow him north, leaving behind the ruins of Lake-town.  Warriors and craftsmen from the Long Lake came to rebuild Dale, and farmers from the lands to the south and west tilled the fields.  Trees soon started to bear fruit and birds sang again where the desolation of Smaug once extended in ominous silence.  Much sought-after help arrived from King Dáin of Erebor, and from King Thraduil of the Woodland Realm.  Both rulers remember and honour Bard's role in their present fortunes, and his generosity after the Battle of Five Armies.

The number of Bard's followers has steadily increased as ever more people gather in the valley under the Mountain to recognise his valour and rightful kingship.  The Bardings, as the inhabitants of Dale are now known, are becoming a powerful folk.  They finally feel safe from direct threats and are prosperous and well-armed, with a king whose daring might soon prompt him to unite the scattered settlements found along the River Running into a wider kingdom of Men.

Beornings

In the years following the liberation of the Lonely Mountain, Beorn the Skin-changer became a great chief, gathering many men from far and wide under his command, starting with solitary hunters and fighters used to the harsh life of the wild.

Now, under Beorn's leadership, the Beornings are recognised by all to be a valiant and trusty people, sworn to fight the Shadow and its minions (when they are not following Beorn's footsteps and acting as beekeepers and bakers of honey-cakes!).

Nobody knows why Beorn, a lonely hunter of Orcs and Wild Wolves, decided to welcome outsiders to his hall.  He did so all of a sudden, after the Battle of FIve Armies and the death of Thorin Oakenshield.

Today the Beornings rule a domain comprising the Carrock, the Old Ford and High Pass, and the land around them.  They have made it their duty to watch over these passes and river crossings of their land, exacting tolls from all who ask to pass under their escort, and forbidding passage to all sorts of malevolent creatures.

The Land of the Beornings

Beorn's domain extends along both sides of the RIver Anduin near the Carrock.  His followers tend to live close to their leader in homesteads and small fortified settlements along the edge of Mirkwood from the Old Forest Road up to the Forest Gate.  A visit to the hall of the skinchanger is not always a pleasant experience however, and the majority of visitors are turned away without an audience.  Beorn requires that his followers keep the paths and roads open and safe, including the High Pass – one of the few relatively safe routes across the Misty Mountains.

The Carrock

This great rock rises from the upper reaches of the River Anduin, to the north of the Old Ford.  The Carrock is a useful and majestic landmark, but not an easy crossign place.  Although a stony ford joins the Carrock to the easter shore of the Great River, there is no such assistance in reaching the western shore.

Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain

When Thorin Oakenshield died during the Battle of Five Armies, his close kinsman Dáin Ironfoot from the Iron Hills stepped in to lead the people of Durin.  Dáin, a battle-hardened warrior, proved to be a wise King from the very beginning when he dealt out treasure from the Dragon's hoard with an open hand to those who could rightfully claim a share of it.

Under his reign, Erebor has thrived, enjoying good relations with the neighboring realms, and the magnificence of the Kingdom under the Mountain itself has exceeded Thorin's dreams: the vast underground stronghold, dug after the fashion of the Dwarves since they first awakened in Middle-earth, is now the most prosperous dwarf-colony active in the Northern world.

Dwarf clansmen labour in the city of Dale, Barding apprentices work the bellows in the forges under the mountain, and traders come and go from the Front Gate of Erebor to bring the products of the Dwarves' cunning handiwork to distant lands.

Innumerable treasures of worth far surpassing anything made by modern hands are said to grace the deep chambers of the Dwarven city.  The few envoys who have been granted access to the halls of the King speak of the wonders of the subterranean palace, foremost among them that which now sits on the unmoving breast of Thorin Oakenshield: the fabled Arkenstone, Heart of the Mountain.

Erebor

The Lonely Mountain has reverted from Dragon-lair back to Dwarf-hold under the steady rule of King Dáin.  Travellers admitted to Erebor are soon amazed by the magnificent scale of its halls and fabulous wealth of its delvings.  It is a token of respect to bring a small piece of marble as a gift when visiting Erebor – tribute to the reconstruction following the death of Smaug.

Elves of Mirkwood

Thranduil the Elvenking sits on his throne of carven wood, the ruler of his realm since the end of the previous age of the world.  A prince of lofty lineage, he is a survivor of cruel wars that have had an enormous effect on his personality and outlook.  Obeying his own foreboding heart's counsel, he long ago resolved to forsake the light of the stars and build a strong fastness under the earth to guard his people.

The great hall of Thranduil lies underground, dug within the northern borders of the Forest of Mirkwood.  This choice, odd as it may seem for a lord reigning over a people so fond of the rustling of leaves, is in truth not so unusual for one who has fought the forces of darkness for countless centuries, and could often only find refuge from the Enemy in secrecy and remoteness.

Though under seige, the Wood-elves were still able to find solace above ground; some live in houses and huts deep in the forest, or high among the branches of the tallest beech trees, unseen to mortal eyes who cannot distinguish their obodes from their surroundings.  The few guests who enter the gates of Thranduil's Palace on aninvitation from the Elvenking, thinking to descend into a cold dungeon of stone, will be surprised, for this stronghold is unlike any fortress built by Men or even Dwarves.  Its passages are twisting and echoing; its halls are airy, with pillars hewn out of the living stone and darkness chased away by bright lamps and red torchlight.  Its inhabitants are ready to sing and take up the harp, as soon as their hands have let their bows and spears rest along the tapestried walls.  But let any trespassers beware: for the Elves of Mirkwood are as cruel with foes as they are gracious to friends.

Mirkwood

Described by many as "the greatest of the forests of the Northern world", Mirkwood is a sea of woodland measuring more than 400 miles from north to south and 200 miles from east to west, at the point where the Old Forest Road crosses its width.  It extends across the very middle of Wilderland, and its presence has shaped the history of the region for centuries.  Nobody knows exactly what lies within its borders, as no one has thoroughly explored it.

Men of the Lake

The town of Esgaroth lies on the Long Lake.  Its predecessor was mostly destroyed by the dragon Smaug in his death throes.  Esgaroth is a town of traders and thieves, of merchants and mercenaries.  They are close allies of the Elves of Mirkwood, and kin to the Bardings.  Ambitious and cunning, the Men of the Lake are always on the look-out for opportunity.  As trade grows in Wilderland, Esgaroth is set to be the cross-roads and market-place of the north.

The folk of Esgaroth are a practical, suspicious folk.  Let others be swayed by songs, by prophecies, or by dreams of glory – the Lake-folk know that chance and dragon-fire can bring ruin to the loftiest of plans, and that there are few safe places in the Wild.  Good times can turn bad quickly, so they are eager to take full advantage of the North's brief season of hope and light before the darkness closes in again.

Many adventures begin in the quayside taverns and hiring halls of Lake-town; for that matter, many end in the alleyways of the town, or floating face own in the canals.

Lake-town

Esgaroth is a free city governed by a Master elected from among the old and wise.  Constructed just off the western shore of the Long Lake on pilings made from sturdy tree-trunks, Lake-town is a bustling center of trade.  Following King Bard's proclamation seeking aid in rebuilding the north, many courageous individuals have gathered.  Some come to play their part for the wider good, some come for treasure, and some come for glory.  Whatever their motivation, all will have a part to play as the age of Men draws nearer.

Woodmen of Wilderland

The Woodmen of Wilderland are Northmen dwelling in the lands south of the Old Ford as far as the Gladden Fields, between the Misty Mountains and the southwestern eaves of Mirkwood.  They are a hardy folk, composed of many families and greater clans, but much diminished by the many wars that have wracked Middle-earth.  It is a testament to their tenacity that they have overcome every difficulty they have faced, even learning how to survive in the shadow of a fortress of the Enemy itself: the dreaded tower of the Necromancer.

The strength of the Woodmen is in their unity.  They all feel an unshakable bond of kinship with each other, scattered as they may be in their homesteads and small towns, inside the western borders of the forest or on the other side of the Great River, at the roots of the mountains, and gather often, to celebrate seasonal festivals, marriages and funerals, to form hunting parties to gather food, or to assemble a host in time of need.

For many years the Woodmen have been assisted by the Wizard, Radagast the Brown.  A tender of beasts, Radagast has instructed the birds and other creatures to watch over the Woodmen's homes, to warn them in case of danger.  Often, Woodmen go to his abode to seek the Wizard's advice, looking for him inside the fenced girth oh Rhosgobel.

The Free Folks of Eriador

War and plague has already laid waste to Eriador, and now it is a desolate ruin where few folk remain.  Those who still dwell here, though, live under the protection of the Dúnedain, the Rangers of the North, and that protection means that the Shire and Bree-land are blessedly safe and peaceful.  Stories about Bilbo's adventure over the edge of the wild, together with the growing number of dwarves travelling east to return to their homeland in Eriador, means there is more traffic between Eriador and Wilderland than there has been in many a long year.

Hobbits of the Shire

The slaying of the Dragon Smaug and the diminishing power of the Goblins and Orcs have had a profound effect even beyond the Misty Mountains.  Rumours have reached the West of a new prosperity for all folks living in the Northern world.  But even if the mountain passes are not as dangerous as before, the Wild is still the Wild and, for Hobbits living in their distant and comfortable holes, every hint of inconvenience or danger is a good reason to stay home and to forget about dwarf-gold and dragon-hoards!

But buried inside many young Hobbits is an adventurous side, a hunger to see the world and meet other folks.  Stories of brave deeds and adventure can sometimes overwhelm certain Hobbits' natural resistance to impulsive behaviour and send them out on the Road to see mountains and Elves.

But who knows where these unfortunate fellows have actually gone?  Did they even cross the Shire boundaries before Hobbit common sense turned them back, or did they succeed in following the East-West Road to the mountain passes?

The Shire

The Shire is a rarefied, peaceful land, unwitttingly protected from the outside world.  Its inhabitants do not suffer change, and on the whole avoid excitement.  They enjoy their quiet, rural existance, and the rolling fields and gentle green hills of the Shire are the perfect place to out such a rural idyll.  Very little happens in the Shire: outsiders are not welcome, and any of the big folk who do make their way there are always treated with suspicion.  Adventurers are certainly not knowingly tolerated within its borders.

Men of Bree

Bree stands on the crossroads of the East-West and North-South Roads, so news of the wide world comes swiftly to the taproom of the Prancing Pony.  While most Bree-folk are stay-at-home sorts, sensible and solid and not given to running off on adventure, there are a few who go to seek their fortune.  Dwarves often pass through Bree, on their way from their halls in Ered Luin to their new kingdom at Erebor, and these dwarves bring word of new opportunity in Wilderland.  Now that the Beornings have secured the High Pass, the avaricious gaze of Bree's merchants and traders looks east, over the Misty Mountains.

Bree-landers put little stock in tales of wights or trolls, in dragons and orcs.  They do not know how sheltered they are – but there is old strength and courage in their bones.  Bree is old as the hills, and the ancestors of the Bree-folk have endured wars and catastrophes beyond count.  Who can say what their future holds?

Inns, Fair and Foul

At the heart of Bree stands The Prancing Pony, the original inn where paths cross and adventure can be found.  All manner of folk, both fair and foul, cross its threshold.  While Bree-folk are wise enough not to trouble themselves with the business of strangers, they're happy enough to profit from it.  The Prancing Pony is the lively, thriving embodiment of the Bree-landers' outlook, prividing refreshment and lodging for all.  Just a day's journey from Bree lies the Forsaken Inn – an abandoned and ruined tavern that stands as testament to the utter wildness of the countryside that surrounds Bree in all directions.

Dúnedain

The Rangers are the Dúnedain, the Men of the West – the descendants of the folk of Númenor.  Their ancestors founded the kingdoms of Arnor in the North and Gondor in the South, and defeated Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance, taking from him the Ruling Ring.  In time, Sauron's chief lieutenant, the Witch-King of Angmar, brought about the destruction of the North-Kingdom and tried to annihilate the Dúnedain, but they survived.  They became the Rangers, a secretive folk, wanderers and wardens.  They guard lands like Bree and the Shire from danger, thanklessly fulfilling ancient oaths.  Rangers travel far and wide.  In the years to come, the chieftain of the Rangers, Aragorn son of Arathorn, will begin his great errantry.  He will cross the Misty Mountains into Wilderland, and explore the length and breadth of those lands before going south to serve in the armies of Rohan and Gondor.  He will go in disguise, and he will not go alone.

The Free Folks of the South

If Wilderland has entered a time of renewal with the defeat of the Dragon, and Eriador has long fallen into ruin, then the southland is on the knife's edge between the two.  The two kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor are both proud and strong, although both are in decline at present.  In Rohan, a cruel and greedy king sows dissent among his marshals.  As for Gondor, the last kingdom of vanished Númenor has spent the last thousand years fighting a long defeat against the Enemy, and while the Necromancer may have been defeated in Wilderland, scouts on the borders of Mordor report growing strength in that dark land.  In such troubled times, many heroes and adventurers fo the South look to Wilderland for hope and allies.

The Riders of Rohan

The Rohirrim are distant kin to the Beornings and the other folk of the North, but they followed Eorl the Young to war in the south long ago.  They are the horse-lords, born to the saddle, and no orc-host can endure the charge of the Riders.  Their land lies on the west bank of the Anduin, in the grassy plains that stretch from the river to the forest of Fangorn.  They guard the Gap of Rohan that leads past the mountains into Eriador.

While it has been many years since any of the Riders returned to their ancestral lands in the Vales of Anduin, the passing of the Dragon – not to mention the troubles in the Riddermark – may prompt some of the Horsefolk to try their luck in the north once more.

The Men of Gondor

The warriors and knights of Gondor have held fast against the Shadow in Mordor for many centuries.  They have suffered much; of their three great cities, Osgiliath is ruined and Minis Ithil has become Minas Morgul, a city of the dead.  Only Minas Tirith, the Tower of the Guard, endures.  The Gondorians are great builders and stone-masons, and were once the equal of the Dwarves, although much of their ancient craft has been lost.  They are also great warriors and soldiers, holding the crossings of the River against Orcs and other servants of the Shadow.  The death of the Dragon and the defeat of the Necromancer have raised hopes in Gondor that the Shadow is weakening, but the older captains and sages know better.  The great war against the Enemy is yet to come, and Gondor will be at the forefront of the conflict.  Now is the time for the young warriors of Gondor to sharpen both their swords and their skills, in preparation for that last battle.

Minas Tirith

Minas Tirith has stood for thousands of years as a beacon to the Free Peoples of Middle-earth.  A great walled, tiered city built upon the living rock of Mount Mindolluin, at the edge of the White Mountains.  Known for its great gates, Minas Tirith has kept a long watch over the lands of Mordor.

These days the gleam of the White City is only caught in the brightest light of a summer's day.  The Tower of the Sun has become the Tower of the Guard.  The White Tree blossoms no more.  The streets are half empty, and many of its rich buildings are falling into disrepair.  The Stewards rule the kingdom, for a king has not sat on the throne of Gondor for nearly nine hundred years.  These are the twilight years of Gondor.

The Shadow

The darkest legends of all folks living in the Northwest of Middle-earth speak of an evil power, an age-old Enemy whose greatest desire is to cover all the lands in darkness.  Ancient beyond reckoning, this Shadow has taken many shapes, always in the attempt to conquer and consume all who opposed it.  It suffered many defeats at the hands of valiant kings and the Powers of the world themselves, only to rise again in a new guise.

Amost two-thousand years ago, this Shadow entered Greenwood the Great, the forest of Wilderland.  It secretly crept around a naked hill in the south, and built Dol Guldur, the Hill of Sorcery.  From there, the darkness spread under the eaves of the forest, slowly turning it into a place of horror and dread.  Many animals fled, leaving behind them an eerie silence, while other creatures crept in, as though heeding the call of a dark master: Orcs and giant spiders began to multiply, threatening all who entered or lived near the Forest.

The folks who called the wild wood their home suffered greatly, and soon forgot the beauty of Greenwood the Great, renaming it Mirkwood.  Among them, the Silvan Elves and the Woodmen living along its western borders endured to this day, but not without much strife.  The Elves retreated to their fortress underground beyond the mountain range that crosses the forest in the north, while the Woodmen learnt to survive in small groups to escape the Shadow's notice.  They started to refer to the dark presence occupying Dol Guldur as the Necromancer, failing to recognise it as the ancient Enemy.

Some years ago, a council of the Wise resolved to chase away the Shadow in the Forest once and for all.  Powerful lords gathered their strength, and the Shadow fled to the East.  The Forest finally knew a moment of respite, but the darkness of Mirkwood is now centuries old, and its hold on the forest's deepest recesses is still strong.  It will take many years for the Free Folks of the North to reclaim and cleanse the wood in its entirety, and only if the Shadow is kept away.

 

 

Campaign Setting

Leaf and Land MichaelPerry