Leaf and Land
There were many paths that led up into those
mountains, and many passes over them. But
most of the paths were cheats and deceptions
and led nowhere or to bad ends…
A company will often roam across Wilderland and beyond during the course of their adventures. But travelling is not simply a means of getting to a destination, nor something to be undertaken lightly. A great part of the life of a hero is spent on the road. Often, what distinguishes an adventurer from a common villager is the skills they possess to help them survive while on a journey.
Travelling shows a hero the world outside the boundaries of their native lands, and lets them seek out and confront threats to their people. In short, a journey in Adventures in Middle-earth is synonymous with adventuring.
The Loremaster knows where an adventure starts and likely has an idea where it may go, but the companions have to reach that destination by crossing the Wild. Heroes make various ability checks along the way, to deal with the various perils that may occur, as well as to determine how the rigors of travel may have affected them when they face their next challenge.
Once a company decides to undertake a significant journey from one place to another, the journey rules outlined in this chapter should be used. A Loremaster may decide that a journey is either short enough, or familiar enough, that the journey rules need not be used, and they can happily be ignored to serve the pace of the game.
The journey rules break down a journey into three distinct stages, each one influencing the one that follows it in some way. The first stage represents the company embarking on the journey: plans are made, supplies gathered, maps studied and routes agreed upon. The company decides between them who will undertake which tasks on the road. But there is more to this stage than simply preparations. It also represents the company’s ability to stay to the course, to keep their spirits high and may take into account the fickle nature of weather. In broad strokes, it gives a feeling of the overall tone of the journey from its outset. It may be influenced to a greater or lesser degree by the attentions of the Enemy.
The second stage represents events arising, and the tasks carried out by members of the company during the course of the main part of the journey. Depending on the length of the journey, the company will make one or more rolls that represent the challenges or opportunities that they find placed in their way. These rolls will determine both the nature and the magnitude of the encounters they will face and may require several of the company to work together to overcome any challenges.
The third stage of the journey is representative of the company’s arrival at its destination. The Guide makes a roll, often modified by the outcomes of the tasks undertaken by other members of the company during the main part of the journey.
The result of this final roll will determine whether the company arrive in high spirits, full of tales of bold deeds, beautiful sunsets and delicious meals cooked over open fires, or if they trudge the final miles, footsore and dispirited, backs bent under the weight of packs, silently brooding upon empty bellies, wrong turns and poor choices.
Journey Rules Summary
- Players assign tasks and plan route.
- Loremaster determines Peril Rating of the journey.
- The Guide makes an Embarkation Roll: 1d12 modifier by the Guide's Survival proficiency bonus plus half his Wisdom bonus minus the Peril Rating.
- The Loremaster either relays the result, or optionally hints at it.
- Determine the number of Journey Events.
- Events are created by rolling a d12, potentially modified by the Embarkation result.
- Events are played through, noting down the result for reference.
- The Arrival roll (d8) is made, and results are applied.
Step One: Embarkation
When the players have decided on a destination, they need to choose the best route to get there. Using the Player’s Map, they indicate the general route that they intend to follow, and the Loremaster consults the hexed Loremaster’s Map to determine the Peril Rating of the journey.
The difficulty and danger of the journey is based on its length, on the area and terrain traversed, and on the season in which the journey is taking place (journeys in the cold months of the year are more strenuous than those in the warm ones). Middle-earth is a perilous place, so the shortest route may not always be the safest. The company must choose wisely what paths to follow.
While the Loremaster consults the Loremaster’s Map, players assign their Player-heroes a task for the journey, roughly summarizing what they will be doing for the length of the trip.
An experienced company differs from a novice group of adventurers in the capability of its members to collaborate effectively. When they are travelling, the companions usually divide up some of the duties according to ability.
The tasks divided between the company are as follows:
Guide – In charge of all decisions concerning route, rest, and supplies. Guides rely on Wisdom and Survival proficiency.
Scout – In charge of setting up camp, opening new trails. Scouts rely on Stealth and Investigation.
Hunter – In charge of finding food in the wild. Hunters rely on success with Survival checks.
Look-out – In charge of keeping watch. Look-outs rely on their abilities in Perception.
With the exception of the company’s Guide, more than one Player-hero may be assigned the same task (in other words, there may be more than one character acting as Look-outs, or more heroes going hunting regularly), but normally no character may assume more than one role at the same time (posing as the group’s Hunter AND Scout, for example). If there’s more than one person assigned to a task then nominate a lead Scout, Hunter or Look-out. That character is the one who makes the test and gains advantage from the assistance of the other Player-heroes performing the Help action on that task.
If a task goes unfilled, any relevant tests for that task which come up are taken at a disadvantage.
Determining the Peril Rating of a Journey
The Loremaster should consult the Loremaster’s Map to determine the difficulty of the terrain through which the journey passes. Whichever type of terrain forms the majority of hexes passed through by the proposed route determines the overall terrain type:
Easy Terrain: 1
Mild/familiar terrain, extensively mapped with well travelled roads and/or frequent settlements.
Moderate Terrain: 2
Areas that the company may have some knowledge of, that they may have travelled through once or twice. Broken terrain, scattered paths and trails.
Hard terrain: 3
Unfamiliar areas, deep forest, trackless wilderness.
Severe Terrain: 4
High Mountains and treacherous swamps.
Daunting Terrain: 5
Areas tainted by the Shadow. Angmar, Mordor, Southern Mirkwood.
Increase level of terrain by one when traveling in winter conditions to a maximum of 5.
Optionally, the Loremaster does not have to inform the players of the Peril Rating of their journey and thus keeps the final outcome of the Embarkation roll secret from them, instead paraphrasing to perhaps give some hints of what may lie ahead of them on their Journey.
Once the route is decided upon, and the Loremaster has determined the Peril rating of the journey, the Guide must make an Embarkation roll using a single d12. This roll is modified as follows: the Guide’s Survival proficiency bonus plus half their Wisdom bonus, minus the Peril Rating of the journey, as determined by the Loremaster. The result of the roll is used on the Embarkation Table below. The Guide should make a note of both the numbered result and its effects. The result may be referred to during the following parts of the journey.
Step Two : Journey Events
and Task Rolls
‘What’s the matter?’ asked Merry. ‘Are you lying on an ant-hill?’ ‘No,’ said Pippin, ‘but I’m not comfortable. I wonder how long it is since I slept in a bed?’ Merry yawned.
During the journey, members of the company may be called upon to use their wit and talents to ensure that the journey does not fall to ruin.
There are times when a single member of the company may have to overcome a challenge alone whereas at other times several companions may need to work together to be successful.
On a short journey, the company will typically be faced with 1-2 events, on a medium journey, 2-3 and on a long journey 3-5. The number of events is influenced by the Peril Rating of the journey, with more dangerous journeys leading to a higher number of challenges.
The number of challenges to be faced is determined as follows:
• Short Journey (1-15 hexes on the Loremaster’s Map): 1d2 for number of challenges.
• Medium Journey (16-40 hexes on the Loremaster’s Map): 1d2+1 for number of challenges.
• Long Journey (41+ hexes on the Loremaster’s Map): 1d3 + 2 for number of challenges.
Note that Long Journeys are extremely hazardous to low-to-mid level Player-heroes, and likely to put Play-heroes in extreme danger. A wiser company will break their journey into shorter, more manageable legs, with long rests at safe places in between.
Journeys through predominantly Easy terrain result in a -1 modifier to this roll, to a minimum of 1.
Journeys through predominantly Hard or Severe terrain result in a + 1 modifier to this roll.
Journeys through predominantly Daunting Terrain result in a + 2 modifier to this roll.
The Loremaster should make this roll in secret and should not disclose to the players the number of challenges they will face.
The following table gives a range of possible events. The lower numbers represent minor events whilst the higher numbers indicate some important or momentous occurrence.
In all cases, the DC of checks made during a journey is determined by adding the Peril Rating of the journey to a base of 12.
Therefore, on a journey with a Peril Rating of 3 (unfamiliar areas, deep forest and so on) the DC of all checks would be (12 + 3) 15, whilst on a journey through Angmar in the depths of winter, all DCs would be (12 + 5 + 1) for a total of 18.
To determine what happens in each event of the journey, the Loremaster rolls a single 12 sided dice. The result may be modified by the Embarkation roll, or previous events on this or prior journeys. The Loremaster consults the following chart, and narrates the event to the company.
The Loremaster can optionally require additional checks to see if the company gain Shadow Points in areas of Middle-earth that are deemed "Blighted Places." See Sources of Corruption in The Shadow wiki for more information.
Step Three: The Arrival Phase
As the company completes its journey they make a roll to determine their overall mood and demeanor. Dependent upon the exhortations of the Guide, the difficulty of the terrain they have travelled and the company’s successes or failures upon the road, they may be in high spirits or despondent; full of vigor or footsore and weary. They may have fine tales to tell, or they may be gritting their teeth and silently scowling at any folk with whom they must interact.
This roll is additionally modified depending on the difficulty of the majority of the terrain that the company crossed, as follows:
• Easy Terrain: + 1 to the Arrival roll
• Moderate Terrain: No modifier to the Arrival roll
• Hard or Severe Terrain: -1 to the Arrival roll
• Daunting Terrain: -2 to the Arrival roll
The Guide rolls a d8, applies any modifiers from the Embarkation roll and the terrain of the journey, and then compares the result with the table below: