The Werewolf of Mirkwood

The Adventures in Middle-Earth campaign that I’ve mentioned frequently on here is in full swing. Last session the group snuck into the Dwimmerhorn, lit stuff on fire, and barely escaped with their lives. Now they have to slog through the swamps of the Gladden Fields back to safety with an Orc host on their tail. Oh, and they have about a dozen slaves in tow. It’s all a lot of exciting options but I have my eye set on future sessions and a certain antagonist who’s being hinted at more and more in each session.

The toll of years outlined in Cubicle 7‘s campaign sourcebook The Darkening of Mirkwood has several different plotlines running through it. My players have already gotten excited about Ceawin the Generous and his folks, and they also have become firmly embroiled in the Woodmen’s inner politics. One of the big problems on the horizon is the Werewolf of Mirkwood and that’s what I want to pitch to you all today.

First, to get this out of the way: yes, Tolkien did write about werewolves. They don’t show up in the books because their biggest moment is during the First Age when they were destroyed by Beren in his Quest for the Silmaril, Huan the Hound of Valinor, and other heroes. The first werewolf, Draugluin, was killed by Huan and went to Sauron for help before he collapsed. Sauron turned into a wolf himself but was bested by Huan. Later, the greatest of the werewolves, Carcharoth, was killed by a band of heroes, many of whom he killed.

These werewolves are not the type that are humans transforming into wolves. They also don’t transmit their essence by a bite that turns innocents into ravening monsters. Werewolves in Tolkien’s world are spirits twisted to evil and then bound into a wolf form. This makes them somewhat like wargs (who might be descended from werewolves) but wargs are to werewolves as Keebler elves are to Galadriel. They’re the same basic format, but totally different sorts of creatures. Actually, they’re somewhat similar to C.S. Lewis’s werewolves (maybe not by accident).

There are also definitely werewolves present at the time of the Lord of the Rings, since Gandalf mentions them in his list of servants of the Enemy. In the setting of The One Ring, there is a particularly nasty werewolf still operating in Mirkwood that has been turned on the Free Peoples by Sauron.

In the timeline of The Darkening of Mirkwood, the years just after the Battle of Five Armies has the werewolf quietly wreaking havoc and it takes almost five years before someone realizes it isn’t just really hungry wolves. My players are right in the middle of the slow reveal but when they get there, I’ll be ready for them… And now you will be too!

The Werewolf of Mirkwood
for Adventures in Middle-Earth

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