Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tolkien Bestiary (Part 1)

I am in Book 2 / Chapter 1 (Many Meetings) of the Lord of the Rings, and today we will be starting our bestiary for my take on D&D in Middle Earth. In this chapter, Gandalf is reviewing the events at the Ford of Bruinen with Frodo (where he was nearly overtaken by the Black Riders and faded into a wraith himself).

Frodo asks:  But why could we all see their horses?'
     'Because they are real horses; just as the black robes are real robes that they wear to give shape to their nothingness when they have dealings with the living.'
     `Then why do these black horses endure such riders? All other animals are terrified when they draw near, even the elf-horse of Glorfindel. The dogs howl and the geese scream at them.'
     `Because these horses are born and bred to the service of the Dark Lord in Mordor. Not all his servants and chattels are wraiths! There are orcs and trolls, there are wargs and werewolves; and there have been and still are many Men, warriors and kings, that walk alive under the Sun, and yet are under his sway. And their number is growing daily.'
So, our running tally of monsters for the bestiary so far (outside of the normal races of "law" - Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits, and some Men) are:

  • Old Man Willow (evil Ent?)
  • Barrow Wights
  • Orcs
  • Trolls
  • Wargs
  • Werewolves
  • Ring Wraiths
  • Men (of course)

I am only listing what has been mentioned so far - or has been encountered. Needless to say there may be some missed but I don't want to go from what I already KNOW of Middle Earth. Just what I am reading.

I have decided to use the Holmes blue book version of basic D&D for this. I want a low power base - and I can expand classes as needed if I actually run the game. That and Holmes mentions Tolkien in his bestiary which I love. Also these rules seem like they just want to be tinkered with.

Most of the above are already defined in Holmes D&D (or any version really) - so no need for monster creation. Though I would create some Orc tribes and place them around my starting area.


  1. Farmer Maggot's war hounds are sad. :)

  2. Dang it! But those were "lawful" animals. :) I will make a list of lawful creatures (like in OD&D) for a future post.

  3. Be interested to see your stats for Shelob. Is there anything in the Hobbit that doesn't appear or is mentioned in LotR? Not read either for awhile so can't remember. I used to own the Tolkien Bestiary back in the day. (I thought that's what this post was about). I think I still have a version on one of my bookshelves (along with a great book of maps that cover Frodo's journey), but the new version isn't as comprehensive as the old one which was ruined when I spilled coffee on it.

  4. I can't think of any that are only in the Hobbit - not off the top of my head. I haven't re-read the Hobbit lately though.

  5. I used goblins and orcs as two different-sized orcs (the former in Moria.) For Uruk-hai, I used hobgoblins. For Trolls I used ogres (but they must save vs. petrification in daylight or they turn to stone.) Ring Wraiths are just wraiths; but they are all above average in terms of hit points, and the Sorcerer King has maximum hit points.

  6. I will most likely use Ogres for Trolls and Hill Giants for War Trolls. My ringwraiths will be spectres as in Holmes edition. Orcs will be as you described with goblins in the misty mountains, orcs in mordor, and hobgoblins in Isengard. Or something like that. I will post on that later.

    1. Oh right, I meant spectres and I wrote wraiths.

  7. I would add: Giant Spiders, Huorns, Dragons (Fire-drakes and Cold-drakes), Balrogs, Dead Men (as the Dead Men of Dunharrow and Stone Giants.

  8. Zack - getting there as I read the books. Just taking it as I go back through the books now. :)

  9. I always had the impression that Old Man Willow was just a bad tree. Evil ents are trolls, the way evil elves are orcs.

  10. Old Man Willow is assumed to be a Huorn without any Ents around to sooth its anger, which is why it lashes out at anything not of the forest around it be it Man, Hobbit, Orc or what have you.