The Shadow of Sauron has once again spread from the East. For this session report, I indicate the number of dice placed into the Hunt Pool on purpose with the HD number, then the dice rolled by each player with the following codes:
M = muster A = army C = character W = Will of the West P = palantir B= army/muster E = eye of Sauron
With determination and due caution, the Fellowship sets out from Rivendell, successfully avoiding the dark lord’s gaze. Subtlety cast aside, Isengard goes to war, the Uruks collecting around Orthanc. Sensing the threat at his nation’s borders, Theodred pulls his men from the Fords of Isen to the safety of Helm’s Deep as Eomer rides into Edoras. Shadows stir in Mordor, armies shifting from Morannon to Minas Morgul. Lulled into a false sense of safety, the Fellowship continues onward, only to run afoul of a minion of the Shadow. Frodo uses the ring to hide (3 corruption) and goes on his way. The Shadow continues to move, armies passing out of Barad Dur to Gorgoroth. Though the South is not yet at war, its armies assemble as well, leaving Near Harad for West Harondar. The host collected as Minas Morgul rumbles across the fields of North Ithilien, followed close behind by an army from Gorgoroth. Listening to his son and nephew instead of his pallid advisor, Theoden rallies Rohan closer to war. Sauron replies by sending out his own call to battle, preparing to unleash the rabid hordes.
Shaken, the Fellowship presses onward, only to be discovered again. Gandalf the Grey falls defending the companions. Distraught, they continue. The armies of Sauron pass into Osgiliath, forcing Faramir and his men back yet again. Perhaps dogged by evil spies, the Fellowship is revealed in Old Ford, and Frodo slips a little bit farther into shadow (4 corruption). Alerted by his servants, Sauron dispatches a Nazgul to Old Ford to continue the hunt, and another Ringwraith to Osgiliath. With Strider’s expert guidance, the companions give the Nazgul the slip, hiding once again. Sauron’s legions march into North Ithilien, and Easterlings gather in East Rhun, then move onto North Rhun as a company of trolls bolsters the armies waiting on Gondor’s border. Eomer’s army files into Helm’s Deep, wondering when the Uruks will strike. It will be soon, perhaps, following Saruman’s declaration for the Shadow. Fearing a concerted strike on Minas Tirith, the Gondorian armies leave Dol Amroth for Lamedon.
The skies darken over Osgiliath as the Witch King appears, then leads his army to attack, driving the men of Gondor back behind the walls of the white city. Perhaps spurred by this foul awakening, A Power Too Great blankets the Elven lands, much to Sauron’s dismay. He vents his anger by unleashing Grond, Hammer of the Underworld on the gates of Minas Tirith, as a Swarm of Bats flaps around the battlements. The Nazgul, Cruel as Death, press the attack, but Daylight drives them back, and even their Black Breath isn’t enough to take the walls. Hoping to relieve the besieged city, an elite battalion musters in Pelargir. Sauron bides his time, reinforcing his positions in Osgiliath and Gorgoroth. The armies of Gondor continue to grow in Pelargir even as Uruks are spawned in the foul pits of Orthanc. Gondorian troops move from Lamedon to Pelargir, as Cirdan’s elves leave the Grey Havens to protect the gentle folk of the Shire. Though still not at war, Southron armies cross over to Osgiliath, reinforcing a master they do not yet claim to serve.
Calling on shadowy alliances and promises of power and fortune, Sauron cajoles the Southrons and Easterlings to war. In this time of need, Gandalf the White reappears in the Woodland Realm, where he is given white robes and a new staff, and the hope of saving Middle Earth. The Southrons choose this time to strike at the underbelly of Gondor, sailing into Dol Amroth’s undefended bay and sacking the city. Sensing a threat from the Easterling armies around North Rhun, Gandalf takes the Book of Mazarbul to Erebor to wake the Dwarves. Armies arrayed for leagues at his back, the Witch King drives on Minas Tirith one more time. They commit in Desperate Battle, but Confusion tears through their ranks. Even so, Minas Tirith’s defenders are all but spent, so as the Desperate Battle continues, they can do very little and are wiped out. The white city falls. Too late to save their brethren, more companies of Gondor mass in Pelargir. Meanwhile, an Orc Patrol hunts for the Fellowship, coming close enough to force Frodo to don the Ring briefly to escape (5 corruption). The collected ranks of Gondor move from Pelargir to Lamedon, on the road to retake Dol Amroth, as Gandalf leads the Dwarves from Erebor to the Iron Hills. Nipping at the heals of Gondor’s last hope, Southron armies sweep into Pelargir and Lassarnach.
Though Minas Tirith is lost, the armies of Gondor refuse to let the shadow rest easy, moving toward the city of Dol Amroth, much to the horror of the small contingent of Southron pirates within its walls. Help is at hand, however, and a massive Southron horde continues on the Gondorian’s trail even as Uruks collect in distant Moria. Calling on the power of an elven ring sent as a secret gift ahead of the shadow’s advance, the armies of Gondor ride on Dol Amroth. The craven defenders hide behind Dol Amroth’s walls, praying to dark gods for succor. But that can’t stand against the Valour of Gondor, and after a brief conflict, Dol Amroth is retaken. There is little joy in the victory, for Nazgul light in Lamedon, among the waiting Southron horde. In these dark times, leaders of Men and Dwarves take command, appearing in Dol Amroth and the Iron Hills. This happens none too soon as a wave of Oliphaunts and armored Southrons moves into Dol Amroth, and the remaining men of Gondor retreat behind its scarred walls. The Orcs Multiplying Again prompt the mustering of mighty Dwarven warriors in the Iron HIlls. At Dol Amroth, the Witch King personally leads the charge, a Swarm of Bats proving sufficient distraction to let the city be taken in short order. The last hope of Gondor is snuffed out, and as if in sympathy, the Fellowship is revealed. In Isengard, Saruman speaks and Wargs circle, baying for blood.
Strider leads the Fellowship away from evil yet again, as Hill Trolls join Sauron’s ranks in far off Gundabad. Sauron’s Eye is unerring, spotting the Fellowship once more, his icy fingers clawing at Frodo’s heart (6 corruption). Saruman consults his Palantir, perhaps spying Legolas as he goes There And Back Again, journeying to his home in the Woodland Realm. Displeased, Saruman takes another look at the Palantir, then musters more Uruks and Wargs, prompting the Elves to finally go to war. With his army ready, Saruman puts his plan into action, sending two Uruk armies forth, one across the Fords of Isen and another toward Moria. With so much evil moving in Middle Earth, Sauron is distracted, letting the Fellowship slip ever closer to the gates of Mordor. The Uruks continue their march to Moria, heedless of fatigue and hunger.
FP: (forgot to record FP dice this turn)
The peace and beauty of Lorien is a blessed respite for the Fellowship, at least for the time being (5 corruption).
The Mirror of Galadriel heals Frodo’s wounds, of flesh and spirit both (4 corruption). Wargs and vile Uruks collect near the tower of Orthanc, waiting for the order to crush hated Rohan once and for all. The peace of Lorien proves short-lived, indeed, and the Fellowship is caught in the open in Parth Celebrant. Boromir sells his life dearly, letting the Fellowship escape, though they are revealed to the all-seeing eye. Under this pressure, there is a Breaking of the Fellowship, but after a brief argument, none of the companions leave. The Ringbearer needs them, especially with Shelob’s Lair awaiting him. Elite legions with Oliphaunt auxiliaries gather, and again, and yet again in North Rhun, prompting Dain Ironfoot’s Guard to arm up in Erebor. Strider hides the Fellowship again, only to be discovered and cruelly struck down by the forces of the shadow, leaving Gimli to guide the companions through unfamiliar terrain. Thinking bloody thoughts against the Dwarves, the Witch King and his Nazgul fly to North Rhun.
More Easterlings collect in North Rhun and, offering a glimmer of hope, the Fellowship moves without detection. The Witch King’s army enters the Vale of the Carnen and Uruks continue to cross the Fords of Isen. Preparing for a mighty confrontation, Gandalf and his Dwarven allies march into the Dale, meeting up with the Elves of the Woodland Realm. More Nazgul take to the saddle in Moria and Dol Guldur, waiting to do their dark lord’s bidding. The Fellowship moves again…was Sauron’s eye drawn to the heir of Isuldur this entire time? Whatever the reason, the Fellowship is safe, for a moment. It is a brief respite. The Nazgul Strike! , catching the Fellowship in the open. On a lonely hilltop, Gimli dies with his axe in his hands, and Frodo and the others slip away in the darkness (4 corruption). The Nazgul are far from done, casting Dreadful Spells on the army in the Dale, though Gandalf’s presence wards off the worst of it. Give It To Usss! Gollum hisses, lurking and biding his time. Frodo comforts himself with the Phial of Galadriel, wondering when he will face his darkest hour. The collected armies in the Dale watch in wonder as the Nazgul, including the Witch King, abandon the Easterling army, departing for the Fords of Isen. Gandalf never wastes an opportunity, and the army of the Dale attacks the bewildered Easterlings. Even surprised as they are, they mount a Relentless Assault, but are driven back by the Servant of the Secret Fire. Though Deadly Strife is the rule of the day, A Mighty Attack crushes the Easterlings, and their ragged remnants flee to North Rhun. Unconcerned, the Witch King leads the army of Isengard against Helm’s Deep. The men of Rohan retreat inside, wondering what the coming days will bring.
Galadriel looks into a Palantir, and is pleased to see that the four hobbits still have their Elven Cloaks. With Helm’s Deep encircled, Uruks move into Edoras as the Orcs of Mordor march through the Druaden Forest. Following a secret plan, Gandalf travels with Legolas, riding hard through the Eastern Brown Lands. More Nazgul take flight from Minas Morgul and Morannon. In nearby Emyn Muil, Candles of Corpses fail to lure Frodo away from his one, burning goal. Spurred on by Gandalf, Treebeard leads the Ents against Orthanc. Undefended, the tower falls, and Saruman is plunged into the furnaces of his foul factories. Five dark riders descend on the Northern lands bordering Mordor, hunting with all their will for the Ring. The hammer falls at Helm’s Deep, and the Witch King whispers, We Come to Kill. The men of Rohan put up a Shield Wall, but it is not enough to prevent grievous casualties. The battle continues as a bloody slugfest, but in the end, the Witch King will not be denied, and Helm’s Deep falls.
Dark riders overhead make discovery a near certainty. The Fellowship is found, but then saved, as Pippin bravely distracts a Wraith, leading it astray across the swamp (6 corruption). Trolls climb from the depths in Moria, and elves muster in Lorien. The Witch King’s army, freshly blooded, moves into Westemnet, while the legions of Dol Guldur advance on Lorien. Three bedraggled hobbits try once more to move and are revealed in Morannon. Merry leaves the pair, leading evil away one last time. Gollum, constant lurking companion, reveals himself to the Master of the Precious, offering his aid. Sam is suspicious. The Lure of the Ring calls to Frodo, and his grip on sanity grows ever weaker (7 corruption). But Sam reminds him of Bilbo’s Song, and for a while, things seem better (5 corruption). Five Nazgul descend on the army from Dol Guldur, now nearing the edges of Lorien. Following Gollum’s lead, Sam and Frodo hide. The Shadow moves as close to Lorien as it can, but can draw no closer.
Tired but not yet beaten, the Fellowship starts the long walk to Orodruin. Gandalf, Legolas and Merry move to Lorien, hoping to bolster the last bastion of freedom in Middle Earth. Pippin is nearby, in Parth Celebrant. The Lidless Eye sweeps over the rocky plains of Mordor, making the hunt more intense than it has ever been before (adding two dice to the hunt pool, for a total of five). Sauron senses that the Ring is near. More elves prepare for war in Lorien, which is all well and good, as Sauron stretchs out his hand and A Power Too Great is brushed aside. More elves muster in Lorien, and more men in the Dale. One way or another, the end is near, and The Mouth of Sauron arrives in Moria, ready to lead a final strike, somewhere. The Dwarves of Erebor move into the Dale, while Cirdan’s elves walk into the Shire. Sauron’s gaze is too intense, and Frodo can only hide and wait for now, though his spirit fades with each passing moment (6 corruption).
Sauron’s gaze diminishes, and stealing himself, Frodo follows Gollum into utter darkness. In the blackness, Shelob takes Sam, and for Frodo, this is the end. He dons the Ring, racing away through the caverns. Gollum knocks him down and takes the Precious (12 corruption, reduced to 11 by Gollum), but The Lure of the Ring is too much for the hobbit. Frodo brings an end to Smeagol’s sad journey. It is time to remake the world in his own image (12 corruption).
This was a Shadow win by Ringbearer corruption. My friend was intensely unlucky, as I succeeded on most of my Hunt rolls, even when I had only two dice to roll. The six on Shelob was par for the course. Even so, the Fellowship did make it to Mordor. That said, I was on the cusp of a military victory, as I had two armies within easy reach of an undefended Woodland Realm, an underdefended Rivendell, or Lorien, and needed only two points for the win. An early lack of muster dice forced me to move shadow armies, which led, in turn, to the early fall of Minas Tirith, about which he could do very little. The only big lack of experience issue in this game related to the taking of Dol Amroth, as the FP player was unaware that leaving it undefended posed a risk of losing it to the Corsairs.
This is Kyoshi, our adopted Shiba Inu.
Among the best written of War of the Ring session reports. Well done.
Nitpick: At turn 1 Saruman is brought out but apparently his (and the WK's) dice aren't added to the Shadow dice pool until turn 5. You're just missing 4 total results, so no biggie.
Anyway, great post.