Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Darkening of Mirkwood - A Review

Heya folks!

I'm back with a review of another The One Ring RPG product; The Darkening of Mirkwood campaign.  Lets start off by saying this is another wonderful TOR accessory.  It's a hard cover, full color campaign that clocks in at 142 pages long.  This book has enough material in it to keep your fellowship playing for months if not years depending on how frequently you get to play!  More after the break!

Before you go any further there are SPOILERS ahead!  Do not proceed if you plan on playing through this book as a player!  You have been warned!

Darkening covers a period from 2947 (six years after the fall of Smaug) to 2977 (the death of King Bard), that's THIRTY years of adventure ideas and hooks!  Both the timeline and book are broken up into the following era's; The Last Good Years 2947-2950, The Return of the Shadow 2951-2960, The Gathering of Gloom 2961-2966, The Years of the Plague 2967-2974 and The Darkening of Mirkwood 2975-2977.  The campaign tells the story of the slow progression of Mirkwood into darkness with Dol Guldur coming back to power and the Shadow returning to the forest.  Heroes will not be able to stop this progression (if your campaign follows canon), but they can stave off the worst of the effects of the shadow and help to save some of the Free Peoples.  Overall its a pretty dark campaign but one worth playing.  

Dol Guldur
The first chapter includes an overview of how to use the book as well as new rules for personal holdings for the heroes.  This can give your PC's a bit of skin in the game and create some situations where they have to choose between looking after their holdings or helping out others.  Good stuff and nice simple rules.

Each year is broken down into several sections, the first describes the events that take place that year.  The second is call the Adventuring Phase, this includes adventure hooks and ideas for adventures during that year.  Non-player character stat's, new weapons and adventure specific mechanics are all included.  The final section of each year is called the Fellowship Phase: Years End, this includes new options for the fellowship phase as well as other rules like heroes holdings having positive or negative modifiers to year-end roles depending on what took place during the previous year.

The Nazgul
The Appendix includes some new baddies.  The Nazgul of Dol Guldur get several pages of treatment including The Lieutenant of Dol Guldur.  Spoiler alert, he not a nice guy!  The rest of the enemies were all originally listed in The Heart of the Wild, but its nice to have them reprinted here.  There's also a list of non-player characters with stats and a full color, two page map of the region.

This is a long term, epic campaign.  There are so many ideas and so much information in this book, its worth every penny.  Some of the adventures jump around the different regions from year to year and there is no reason to play each and every one of them.  There's plenty of room to insert your own adventures but still have the main story moving along in the background.  There's not an extensive amount of detail for each adventure, they are more like the bones of an adventure, most will need some fleshing out.  In my opinion that's a great thing as it allows a Loremaster to tailor the adventure to his players.

Overall this is an outstanding book.  Full of fantastic art by Jon Hodgson, not only is it packed with information but its beautiful as well!  Thirty years of adventures will keep any fellowship going for quite some time.  Its an epic battle between light and dark and one you should not miss out on!  

I'll leave you with Jon Hodgson's full cover art for The Darkening of Mirkwood which shows some heroes spying on the Nazgul of Mirkwood.  Enjoy!

Jon Hodgson is my art hero!  Love this piece!

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