It has been a week since the party left Khazad-dum, now outfitted with mithril vests. Following the Silverlode River through the deserted forest of Lothlorien, the party crosses the Anduin. From there, they pass through the vale and enter the new elf ream of East Lorien, the southernmost region of Greenwood. Greenwood (or Eryn Lasgalen) was the original name for Mirkwood, until the shadow of Sauron fell upon it and Men coined a new term for the region.
After the defeat of Sauron, his taint was cleansed from the forest by the power of the elves. The forest was named Greenwood once again and the two most powerful elf-lords of the region divided up the wood amongst the victors. King Thuranduil of the Woodland Realm took the northern lands, from the forest boundaries to the mountains. The Beornings and woodmen were given the territory from the mountains to the forest narrows in the south, where Greenwood was at its shortest east to west. Everything south of the narrows to the Brown Lands was granted to Lord Celeborn, who named his new realm East Lorien.
Celeborn’s wife, Galadriel, sailed into the west a few years after Sauron’s defeat. While Celeborn remained in this wood for a time, he eventually grew weary and went to Rivendell to live with his grandsons (the sons of Elrond). To rule over the new land in his stead, Celeborn appointed Lord Seron. Who better to rule over the land than the elf who personally led the defense of Lothlorien against the forces of Sauron?
[This is some strange overlap between what Tolkien writes in the appendices and previous role-plays. Seron is based on one of my friend’s characters.]
Under the rule of Seron, the elves of Lothlorien moved east to the new realm. New Lorien, as it came to be called, grew in power at the expense of the old. Over a century after the founding of New Lorien, Queen Arwen of Gondor entered Lothlorien after the death of her husband. She entered a dead land, silent of song and the golden mallorn trees were in a state of eternal autumn. It was in this desolate but still hauntingly beautiful place that she passed away.
The trees of New Lorien stand tall under the night sky as the party enters, arched over the road and stream that run beneath the spreading boughs. A slight breeze, and the endless rustle of leaves that it brings, accompanies them. Another day’s travel brings the party to Amon Galadhon, the capital of New Lorien. Upon the hill that was once the foundation of Sauron’s fortress of Dol Guldur, the elves of New Lorien have constructed a city of trees. It is here that the recovery from Sauron can best be seen in Middle-earth.
The party rests in the tranquil woods for a day before setting out once more. The multitude of Men in the settlement catch the eyes of Bacon and Chipotle. Even the most powerful of elf realms is not immune to the ever-increasing dominion of Men. However, the woodmen and Beornings of Greenwood pose no threat. In fact, their numbers are quite useful in containing the evils of the forest that continue to persist.
Chipotle’s party rests here for a few days before venturing deeper into the woods. While the evil that polluted this wood and gave its cursed name of Mirkwood has long since been vanquished, Greenwood is still a foreboding place. Spiders of all sizes still spin webs in the darker, inner region of the wood. Orcs and other evils dwell in the Emyn-nu-Fuin, the mountain range in the middle of the forest overlooking the road. These creatures occasionally venture out to prey on the traveling trader, ventures that have started to increase…
So why venture through such a dark and dank place? Because the alternative route is not much safer. Heading east out of the forest and into the Rhovanion plains would have swapped out the orcs and spiders for the more formidable Easterling tribes. Word has reached the West of the Easterlings’ appetite for war, which has only be whetted by the sacking of Dorwinion. The land of fine wines and the source of Chipotle’s income has come under control of the Easterling tribes. Their warlord now turns his eye west but where will he strike next? Greenwood? Esgaroth? Rohan? Gondor? The rebellious king of Adunabar? Easterlings have been seen in all of these areas, not pillaging but scouting…
Not willing to take their chances with armor-plated Easterlings, Chipotle and his band head north towards the Old Forest Road. His father, Bacon, is quiet during the trip but no one pays this any heed. In fact, they may even appreciate his silence. Bacon bucks many of the elven stereotypes. Notably, he does not care for nature but rather wishes to tame it for himself, as if he was a Man. He’s wished more than once to have encountered a bear so that he may have a suitable mount (because horses are too conventional).
He was so quiet, in fact, that a look into his eyes would have seen him in a sort of trance. Bacon was not under hypnosis or anything but he was definitely, as the common tongue would say, “out of it.” So out of it that when Chipotle spotted a giant spider web blocking their path on the fifth day out of East Lorien, Bacon ignored his son’s cries and walked straight into the web! Eight spiders, each about the size of a domesticated house cat, swarm from the trees and towards the party as if on cue! The spiders bite into some of the party, prompting fears of poison among Ser Lyndon and the barbaric Poe.
While the trio deal with the spiders, a larger one wraps Bacon in its strong, webbed bonds. The remaining three party members deal with the spiders in time to see the large spider fleeing. Ser Lyndon and Chipotle climb trees while Poe fires arrows at the spider. This hampers its progress, as does a struggling Bacon. Bacon finally snaps out of his coma, as well as his bonds! However, he did not realize he was 30 feet above the ground and crashes to the forest floor with a thud, breaking some branches along the way.
[Justin was running late because he was playing the Munchkin card game. I was originally content to DM his character until he got here but the players came up with the more colorful “coma” solution. Once he arrived, he snapped out of not only his coma but also his webbed entanglement. Of course, when he did so, he was quite a few floors above the forest ground and took some fall damage. The point of this side story? Never be late to a D&D session, as even your fellow players may decide to mess with you!]
With Bacon free of the spider’s grip, it does not take long for the beast to be felled by arrows. Poe alone delivers most of the shots. Ser Lyndon does not have a ranged weapon and the spider maneuvers from tree to tree, using the bark as cover. Chipotle could help out but he refuses to fire. His attempts to sneak attack the spider are thwarted as the spider is good at keeping itself out of range. Eventually, though, Poe’s arrows penetrate the spider’s thick hide and it falls to the forest’s floor.
[Steve was having some really bad rolls this session. At one point, he was so frustrated he decided not to attack. When the players asked him why not, he told them, “Because no damage is better than crap damage.”]
Surprisingly enough, it is the only encounter the party has as they maneuver through the leaf-coated forest floor. Another week’s worth of wary traveling and the party reaches the Old Forest Road. The road is perhaps the longest in all of Middle-earth, being a continuation of the Great East-West Road. It is possible to take follow this road from Greenwood all the way to Hobbiton.
However, the road does not prove to be any safer than the forest wilderness. After a few days of travel, the party encounters a raiding party of orcs! How orcs came to be nested in the mountains is unknown to the party. They can not be possibly be descendents of those who survived the Battle of Five Armies, as all of those orcs were annihilated to the last.
Learning from their previous episode with the orcs of Gundabad, the party fights together and effectively dispatch the orcs with minimal difficulty. Of the original group of ten, only one orc is alive. He lies on the ground in a pool of his own foul blood, the wounds inflicted upon him by Po not severe enough to slay him. Remembering his own near-death encounter with the orcs, Po rolls the orc over and goes to lift up his tunic…
…only to be stopped by the two elves of the party! Although orcs are a long racial enemy of all the Free Peoples, the elves see to it that a foul act such as sexual assault should not be inflicted upon even the most foul of beings. Or, at least, that’s what they should have said. Bacon and Chipotle restrain Po and instead, insist that it would be a wonderful idea to have the orc enslaved as a pack mule instead! An argument ensues and is only ended when Ser Lindon takes matters into his own hand. He grips his sword and with a single stroke, swiftly mercy-kills the orc.
[Now you know why I’m billing this as the worst Lord of the Rings role-play ever. As a DM, I don’t mind the players having certain creative latitude but I had to really draw the line at attempted rape on a orc that was bleeding out. Steve and Justin were more than OK with this, either out of boredom or amusement, until I pressed them on the fact that they are elves! Needless to say, this session didn’t end too well… Gabe eventually stepping in actually started a running gag for this group. If John wanted to do something to a prisoner, the prisoner would usually be killed before he could do anything to them…much to his consternation.]
There is a lot of conflict brewing amongst the party as they reach Laketown and prepare for their next adventure…
[I don’t have the notes for the next session but I do remember Gabe GM’d and I got to play…and the party nearly got killed by a troll, which is a fitting end to this campaign. John was the only survivor and he played a session with Dustin that I GM’d. The recollection of that is fuzzy but I do remember Po picking a fight with Rohirrim and finding out his army of Pokemon wouldn’t be so great.]