There’s a new book of adventures for The One Ring and it’s all about Rohan! A companion book to Horse-lords of Rohan, this set of six adventures is a great way to change things up for an established Wilderland-based group or a set of adventures for an all southern campaign.
In previous books of adventures the focus was squarely on Rhovanion: the intro adventure The Marsh-bell, Tales from Wilderland (or Wilderland Adventures for the AME crowd), The Darkening of Mirkwood, and most recently the Adventures in Middle-earth introductory book The Eaves of Mirkwood.
The setting for the adventures is the early years of Thengel King’s reign, starting around 2959 and going for two to ten years after that (depending on your designs). Those early years were sort of a mess for poor Thengel, and these adventures are all about your characters helping him deal with the damage done by his father’s rule. The previous king of Rohan Fengel is described in Appendix A of Lord of the Rings in a concise but digging way:
He is not remembered with praise. He was greedy of food and of gold, and at strife with his marshals, and with his children. Thengel, his third child and only son, left Rohan when he came to manhood and lived long in Gondor, and won honour in the service of Turgon.
The history in Horse-lords of Rohan takes it a little farther with a burgeoning fracture that might derail Thengel King’s reign.
King Fengel was voracious, notoriously avaricious and quarrelsome, and he spent his long reign in strife with his marshals and his people. Rohan faced no invasion from East or West in those years but suffered under a feckless king. In his days, Rohan was a kingdom ruled by caprice and greed.
In summary, things are a mess, and you’re the only ones who can help!
There are six adventures in Oaths of the Riddermark and all of them are interlaced with the same plot points. I don’t want to get into too much detail and spoil it but I’ll summarize each one in a few sentences.
- Blood on Snow: This earliest adventure sets the stage for why the rest are important, highlighting the threats to the Realm of Rohan that will descend if the Rohirrim don’t get their act together. It’s a good transitionary adventure: it starts with standard adventuring fare and ends firmly in the political world.
- Red Days Rising: Straight to the heart of things with the player characters helping Thengel King intercede between his Second and Third Marshals. This shows both Fengel King’s screw-ups and how Thengel is handling it differently.
- Wrath of the Riders: The players meet with the Dunlendings to try and establish peace between them and the Rohirrim after Fengel King’s vicious policies. This is the opposite of the first: starting in politics and endeing with old-fashioned adventuring.
- Black Horses, Black Deeds: Could you have a campaign in Rohan without horse-rustlers? Apparently not but this one does get a bit complicated and supernatural.
- Below the Last Mountain: If the last adventure made you forget that you were in Middle-earth, this one will bring you back to your Tolkien senses: Orcish slavers are pillaging the West-march!
- The Woes of Winter: Things come full-circle as Thengel King asks the player characters to be present at a meeting that will hopefully end the feud between his marshals. Like all Men of Middle-earth, though, there’s only one thing that will really bring them together: invasion.
The Loremaster resources for these adventures are really excellent too, not just the map but the appendices organizing all the characters (a Tolkien-esque cast of dozens) is great. It even gives page reference numbers whether from Oaths of the Riddermark or Horse-lords of Rohan. There are pregenerated characters (more on those below) but for me the best thing the authors did here is the timing of things.
The default start for The One Ring is five years after the Battle of Five Armies, i.e. 2946 of the Third Age. You probably spread out all the adventures in Tales from Wilderland (or Wilderland Adventures) and, if your campaign was like mine, there are other stories that come up because of player actions and backstories. The adventures in Oaths of the Riddermark start around 2960 so once you wrap up all those threads and then head south for more stories. Seems like a familiar story in Tolkien’s works…
The last part of this book is are six Rohirrim characters to quickly use in a campaign based around Oaths of the Riddermark. One of them, Herubrand, is repeated from Horse-lords of Rohan and is the quintessential Rider of Rohan. This actually brings up an important function of the pregens here: a party that is all Éomer-clones would be boring and even a bunch of warrior types can result in stepping on each others toes. Consider Herubrand, then, the classic image of a Rider of Rohan and these other five as new takes on who lives among the Rohirrim.
- Aelfilda: This is a classic Shield maiden but a different sort of warrior woman than Éowyn. She’s a hunter of both animals and secrets, more like Aragorn than any in Edoras.
- Dúnhere: As a culture inspired by German and Celtic cultures there’s always talk in Rohan about “the singers”and “the stories of old.” Dúnhere is one of those singers, a minstrel who can ride with the warriors but also holds secrets of lore.
- Saewara of Starkhorn: Now here is your Éowyn-inspired character, a spear-wielding noble Eorlingas. It’s a slightly different take on a warrior but, honestly, it’s not interesting enough for me.
- Thuna: There are no Dunlendings in this list but Thuna is a foundling of the hill-folk raised by the Rohirrim. You only get a small snippet of background but I think she sounds awesome and this is definitely what I would pick.
- Wulf: A veteran rider, more staid and realistic than in his youth, Wulf makes for an interesting character. Rohirrim are brave and are seen charging into battle but Wulf knows when not to fight.
These adventures are an excellent way to introduce your gaming group to Rohan or to move your Wilderland-based group someplace new. It’s get a great mix of fighting monsters and navigating politics, with plenty of action that will influence the setting we all know and love. I think any fans of The One Ring should snatch it up and any fans of Adventures in Middle-earth should either get it and convert or start emailing Cubicle 7 daily to come out with an AME version.