Here's the campaign background I've put together for the Middle-earth RPG I'm running right now.
The Fourth Age of Middle-earth
"For though Sauron had passed, the hatreds and evils that he bred had not died, and the King of the West had many enemies to subdue before the White Tree could grow in peace. And wherever King Elessar went with war King Eomer went with him; and beyond the Sea of Rhun and on the far fields of the South the thunder of the cavalry of the Mark was heard, and the White Horse upon Green flew in many winds until Eomer grew old."
- The Return of the King, Apendix A, part II, The House of Eorl
The opening centuries of the Forth Age of Middle-earth are a dynamic and danger-filled time. Men are ascendant, as are Dwarves and Hobbits. The Elves are waning, but in north-western Middle-earth, strong Elven enclaves remain in Greenwood, Lorien and Rivendell, along with a new colony in Ithilien.
Gondor, under the leadership of King Elessar, re-establishes the northern Numenorean kingdom of Arnor. Elessar and Eomer also campaign in the eastern land of Rhun and the southern realms of Harad. Despite the strength of Gondor and Rohan, creatures bent on evil ways persist. The fall of Sauron has brought forth a thousand pretenders who vie for control of free realms. The lands of Eriador, Rhovanion and Mordor are still harried by orcs, goblins, bandits, wights and re-emerging sorcerous cults.
Despite their declining numbers, several very powerful Elves remain in Middle-earth during the Fourth Age. Maglor (the second son of Feanor), who cast a fabled Silmaril into the sea, still wanders Middle-earth singing laments of despair and regret. Daeron, Middle-earth’s greatest minstrel, and one time loremaster to King Thingol, still dwells in Eriador, though no one knows where. Glorfindel, the greatest Elven warrior alive, remains in Rivendell with the sons of Elrond. He is unlikely to depart for the Undying Lands until the last of the Istari are accounted for and their fates determined.
Of the Istari (the order of Wizards), Saruman is dead, Gandalf has returned to Aman and Rhadagast holds Orthanc. The two blue wizards, Alatar and Pallando, disappeared into eastern Middle-earth thousands of years ago. However, with the rise of secret cults and magic traditions that have now outlasted the fall of Sauron, it is suspected that the power of the blue wizards is expanding and is even now having an influence in the west.
Timeline of the Early Fourth Age in North-western Middle-earth
FA 1: The three Elven Rings of Power (Nenya, Vilya and Narya) have been borne across the sea by Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf to the Undying Lands. Enchantments that have spared Elf-havens from the decay of time begin to fade away. Elessar is King of Gondor.
FA 4: March-warden Faramir’s decades-long campaign against the denizens of the Morgul Vale begins.
FA 6: King Elessar declares the Shire to be a Free Land under the protection of Arnor. It is decreed that Men cannot enter the Shire.
FA 7: Gimli leads an expedition of Dwarves from Erebor to Aglarond, the Glittering Caves in Rohan. He founds a Dwarven colony. Gimli becomes the Lord of the Glittering Caves. A Rohiric trading town is founded near the Hornburg, supporting the Dwarves of Aglarond.
FA 8: East Lorien, Celeborn’s new Elven realm in southern Greenwood (near the ruins of Dol Guldor) is founded.
FA 9: Legolas brings Silvan Elves from his father’s kingdom in Greenwood to Ithilien and begins to turn that wood into the fairest land in north-western Middle-earth.
FA 10: Durin VII, son of Thorin III Stonehelm, son of Dain II Ironfoot, is born. The long-prophesized return of Durin is seen as a sign of coming prosperity for the Dwarven race.
FA 12: The Dwarves of the Glittering Caves forge the new gates of Minas Tirith.
FA13: The Thain of the Shire (Peregrin Took), Master of Buckland (Meriadoc Brandybuck) and Mayor of Michel Delving (Samwise Gamgee) are made Counsellors of Arnor.
FA 15: The rebuilding of Annuminas, capital of Arnor, begins. The Reunited Kingdom (the combined lands of Arnor and Gondor) is founded. Many Gondorians migrate up the Greenway to re-colonize the ancient lands of Arnor.
FA 16: There is much trouble caused by the Barrow-wights of Tyrn Gorthad in northwestern Cardolan (along with the necromantic cults they spawn). Hauntings persist through to the present day.
FA 19: The Orthanc key and palantir are given to Radagast the Brown, who takes up residence in Isengard’s wizard tower.
FA 20: The Nurniags found the city of Elessardil on the shores of the Nurnen Sea.
FA 22: Dunland and Rohan are united as a single country under the rule of King Eomer.
FA 26: Celeborn leaves Lorien to live with Elrond’s sons, Elladan and Elrohir, in Rivendell.
FA 31: The Shire expands to encompass the Tower Hills and Westmarch.
FA 34: Death of Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth. His son, Elphir, succeeds him. Fastred Fairbairn, Sam Gamgee’s son-in-law, becomes the first Warden of Westmarch.
FA36: The ruined city of Fornost is re-colonized, bringing renewed prosperity to Bree.
FA 38: King Elessar and King Eomer begin a series of campaigns against unruly tribes from Rhun to Harad.
FA 49: The Corsair haven of Umbar submits to King Elessar. Elessar signs a peace treaty with Emperor Dhiegas of Khand and King Esrotef of Amomag (a Haradan nation).
FA 61: Samwise Gamgee sails west to the Undying Lands.
FA 63: Eomer, King of Rohan, dies. His son, Elfwine, succeeds him.
FA 67: Prince Elphir of Dol Amroth dies. His son, Alphros, succeeds him.
FA 82: Faramir, Prince of Ithilien and Eastern March-warden of Gondor, dies. His son, Elboron, succeeds him.
FA 83: Prince Elboron’s campaign against the Orcs of the Ephel Duath (Mountains of Shadow) begins. There are many setbacks, and the conflict persists to the present day. In addition, several attempts are made to destroy Shelob…all of them fail.
FA 94: Prince Alphros of Dol Amroth dies. He leaves no successor.
FA 98: Durin VII becomes King Under the Mountain in Erebor.
FA 100: Elvish “fading” is first chronicled. This is the result of a doom put on the Elves of Middle-earth by Eonwe at the beginning of the Second Age. Middle-earth’s Elves were summoned to Aman and those who refused were doomed to fade from the world, ultimately becoming “lingerers,” haunting spirits. This process will take thousands of years to run its course.
FA 119: Durin VII leads the Longbeard Dwarves from Erebor in an expedition to reclaim Moria from the goblins and rebuild Khazad-dum. Prince Elboron leads a company of Ithilien rangers into the Vales of the Anduin to aid Durin’s purpose.
FA 120: King Elessar dies. His son, Eldarion, becomes King of the Reunited Kingdom. Legolas and Gimli sail west to the Undying Lands. Queen Arwen departs Minas Tirith for Lorien. Durin's campaign against the goblins of Moria begins.
The World Today
It is now late in the year FA 120, and many important events are in motion. Eldarion is the new monarch of the Reunited Kingdom, and while his rule seems strong, there is much unrest in the court of Gondor. Foul cults are taking root in the realms of Men.
In the meantime, Durin has undertaken the long-anticipated scouring of Moria, and he is being supported by Elboron’s rangers along with Elves from Ithilien and Lorien. The realms of Arnor are still being rebuilt, but the wraiths and Barrow-wights of Cardolan, along with Orcs from Angmar and Hillmen from Rhudaur pose constant threats to the good intentions of the Northern Kingdom.
In the east, men of Rhun, the Variags of Khand and the tribes of Nurn are restless. Many want to expel their Gondorian overlords. And in the south, the nations of Harad have never been fully subjugated. Though they continually war amongst themselves, the Haradrim threaten the peace of Gondor. However, Umbar stands as a strong ally and southern bastion for the Reunited Kingdom.
Within Gondor, the power of its strongest province, Belfalas, is sadly waning. There is no Prince in Dol Amroth. The rule of King Eldarion will be challenging!
North-western Middle-earth is more crowded with civilized realms and peoples in FA 120 than it has been for thousands of years. However, dangers lurk across the land, and travelers are well advised to stay on their guard.
Good fortune, adventurer! But beware…
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day."
- The Two Towers, Book III, Chapter V: The White Rider
Well, that's the campaign background we're using...and to keep in theme with this blog, I'll post some pics of the goblin minis that the players have been butting heads against so far. That will be in the next post.
'Til next time.