The latest supplement for Adventures in Middle-earth is here and just in time. Don’t tell my players but I’ve been looking for some extra treasure and threats to throw at them in my AME campaign. Let’s take a look at what awaits in this book and what makes it different from other supplements in this line.
The Kingdom Under the Mountain
Things start with Erebor itself, the Lonely Mountain reclaimed by Thorin Oakenshield during the Hobbit. There’s plenty on Dwarves in here, including a history of the Dwarf kingdom from it’s founding almost a thousand years before the Battle of Five Armies. It’s been rebuilt since Thorin and his company ousted the dragon Smaug and the book features a detailed map, as well as the laws for who can enter the mountain, details for each section of the underground realm, and plenty of different plot hooks.
Stat blocks for various Dwarf NPCs are pretty useful and they make for pretty vicious opponents. There are short biographies for King Dáin Ironfoot and Roäc the Raven, including reasons for PCs to talk to them and (most importantly) get missions from them. There are similar write-ups for the surviving members of Thorin’s Company (Glóin, Óin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Balin, Dori, Dwalin, Ori, and Nori) with some stat blocks (not all). It wraps up with some Fellowship Phase Undertakings which have a richness you can tell just from the names: Visit Thorin’s Tomb and Pay Homage to the Ravens of Ravenhill.
Treasure of the Dwarves
This section offers some additional information on Dwarven crafting, including how to connect your treasures to such famous sites as Nogrod, Belegost, and Khazad-dûm. There are some new Enchanted Qualities to complement the ones in the Loremaster’s Guide: Fierce (still damage people when you roll a 1), Fireproof (perfect armor for fightin’ dragons), Masterpiece (provides advantage on Audience rolls), Runes of Resilience (provides advantage on death saves), and Venomed (Poison your opponents).
The book also provides some ready-to-go items from the Dwarves of Erebor but the more exciting part of this is the section on Dwarven smithing. Now your Dwarf heroes can use their Fellowship Phase Undertaking to create amazing and wondrous items just like the Elves of Rivendell. It’s different from the Elves’ works, though, as Dwarves can create some truly amazing stuff but they also get obsessed with things and might end up accruing Shadow if they have to spend a Fellowship Phase away from their creations.
Dale and the Lands About the Mountain
The land of Dale gets some much-needed expansion here with a short history (stretching back to before Smaug), the court of King Bard, and a detailed map of the city with areas and places-of-interest marked. There’s even a sidebar for getting your pocket picked in this large city without it becoming a whole thing, something that I really love as a GM option. There are some stat blocks for common residents and such but really it’s the descriptions of King Bard and his close allies (including his wife Una the Fair who features prominently in the Mirkwood Campaign. There are some Fellowship Phase Undertakings as well (including commissioning a Dwarven item or apprenticing with a Dwarven smith) to keep you busy in during downtime as well.
Technically “The Lands About the Mountain” is a new chapter but I’m hoping to skim through it rather quickly for reasons that will become apparent. Some different areas and Barding nobles (not all of them great people). The northern Waste, the Iron Hills, the Long Marshes, and other areas around the Lonely Mountain should give your players plenty of room to explore from a Dale-based campaign. There’s even a 5e adaptation of the Marsh-bell adventure (or you can use my conversion) and plenty of colorful characters to pit your PCs against.
If you get this book for only one reason, it’s likely to be this. In this chapter is a modular system for making dragons to throw your heroes against. These things are… well, they’re just as devastating as you might expect. There are three types of dragons (Cold-drakes, Fire-drakes, and Long-worms) and five different age categories (dragonet to ancient) which combine to give you most of your dragon’s stats including CR (which ranges from 3 to 21). You can create a low-end dragon that could challenge a starting group but my group of PCs right now is 15th level and the upper age groups of dragons I think could make a TPK.
Once you have the base stat blocks for the dragon, you get to assign them Features like the adversaries in the Loremaster’s Guide. These are some serious features here including Lair Actions and regional effects that make dragons killing machines. There are also motivations, notes on how to interact with dragons, and several example dragons of the Third Age including the Forest Dragon (from the Mirkwood Campaign) and a nasty Cold-drake named Raenar. With this chapter, you can bring the worst that Middle-earth has to offer against your party of heroes, potentially as their last adventure.
The War of the Dwarves and Orcs
This chapter gives you some context for the other parts of the book, detailing the wars between the Dwarves, the Orcs, and some dragons. These fights resulted, among other things, in the loss of Moria and the death of Thror (grandfather of Thorin Oakenshield). There are detailed events of the war and ways to connect your Dwarf PCs to those events, as well as artifacts from the war that you can use in your campaign.
Exploring the Restored Kingdoms
This chapter is all about Journeys in this area, including urban journeys, which is an interesting idea. There are Journey Event tables to make your journeys region-specific, and I’m not talking about a few notes. For every entry (1-12) on the Journey Results you get a full-page encounter to give your players. Examples include running into Bombur the Fat, encountering an Orc hunting-party from the Waste, or running into the Marsh-dwellers that pull Men down to their deaths in the waters of the Long-marsh.
Folk of Stone
The book ends with two new player options: Dwarves of the Grey Mountains and Dwarves of the Iron Hills. The former are the northwestern mountains that the Dwarves of Moria fled to after there mines were lost while the latter are the rugged hills Dáin and his folk are from. Both are frontier-like, rough lands of the Dwarves that are a pretty different option than the opulent halls of Erebor.
Both of these are similar to the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, though they’re more than just subraces. They’ve got full stats and lots of unique abilities to make them play and feel different from their cousins in Erebor, and they each have a unique Virtue and Heirloom as well as some from the main core rulebook.
This book has a lot of different options in it, a lot of exciting ways to expand your Adventures in Middle-earth campaign. Only a small part of it is about expanding the area around the Lonely Mountain, the rest is important NPCs, interesting journey events that can be repurposed and adapted, and expanded. The rules for dragons by themselves are worth the price in my opinion, plus the two new Cultures make Dwarves a lot more varied and interesting. Not to mention the smithing rules and the treasures… This is a really good supplement and I recommend it to all the other AME GMs out there. Now they need to get to work on adapting Laughter of Dragons!