RPGNet - Middle-Earth 4th age

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I am about to run a game set in the 4th age of Middle-Earth.

What would be some story hooks to use in this period ?

I am not a sti­ck­ler about details but i would like my game to at least follow the spirit of the ori­gi­nal LotR books.

For example ; there will still be a few elves around (with there power greatly dimi­ni­shed) . There will not be armies of black skin­ned elves puring out of under­ground pas­sages waving sci­mi­tars.

Ideas so far :

Other ideas ?


In my cam­paign set in the 4th age, I’ve had the fol­lo­wing.

War of Gondor versus the Eas­ter­lings and orc tribes.

To fill the power vacuum in Moria, a dragon set up show and was gathe­ring armies of orcs.

Also, not all elves have left Middle Earth, if I remem­ber, the last elf to leave was Círdan the ship­wright, the one who takes cares of Grey Havens. He left seve­ral years after Ara­gorn died.

I had a minor plot where Sauron tried to regain power. At the end of the 2nd age when Sauron lost the ring, it took many years to regain power. He was power­ful but dimin­shed since most of his power was in the One ring. When the One ring was des­troyed, most of his power was gone. If the plot wasn’t foiled by my players, I’d have Sauron come back but merely be mortal.

BTW, the Witch King of Arnor was killed as per the pro­phecy. It couldn’t be killed by a man. So a hobbit and a woman killed him. There are still his stuff and they were hea­vily tain­ted by evil. Someone could find those and become cor­rup­ted.


They cer­tainly could be more Tol­kie­nesque, yeah. I’d do all of the above — For maxi­mum danger !


I wouldn’t say return of the Witch King ; he’s gone gone gone.
But we don’t know what hap­pe­ned to the Mouth of Sauron.

Figh­ting to take back the orc stron­gholds in the Misty Moun­tains and up to Angmar. This could be tied in to the cam­paign to secure and rebuild Arnor.

There is refe­rence to bat­tles of conquest bet­ween Gondor & allies and it’s neigh­bors to the east and south.

There are still wolf-heads and owl-hoots lur­king around Ere­gion, and these will have to be brought to heel.

Dwarves may get it in their heads to explore the caverns of the Misty Moun­tains to kill the sur­vi­ving Orcs and reclaim trea­sures and bones of their long­fa­thers.

There are a great many lands that now lie empty since war and plague over­took them. A cam­paign could be as simple as a set­tlers bla­zing a new trail in the wil­der­ness.

Depen­ding on the scale you choose, you can deve­lop a cam­paign in a valley, a region, or the whole of the known world.


Quote :
Ori­gi­nally Posted by Nar­shal
BTW, the Witch King of Arnor was killed as per the pro­phecy. It couldn’t be killed by a man. So a hobbit and a woman killed him. There are still his stuff and they were hea­vily tain­ted by evil. Someone could find those and become cor­rup­ted.

i like your ideas but i am going to have to disa­gree with you about the Witch King

When he was beaten at the battle of Pelen­nor Fields the book reads

Quote :
Sha­pe­less they (his mantel and hau­berk) lay now on the ground, torn and tum­bled ; and a cry went up into the shud­de­ring air, and faded into a shrill wai­ling, pas­sing with the wind, a voice bodi­less and thin that died, and was swal­lo­wed up, and never heard again in that age of the world.

of course it is the « that age of the world » line that leads me to think that he sur­vi­ved. Plus their seems to be a pat­tern of the fol­lo­wers of the great evil of the last age being the great evils of the cur­rent age.

can’t believe i forgot, even for a moment about the Blue Wizards though, thanks.



Their is a mod to the PC stra­tegy game Rome Total War for the Fourth Age. 

They use an unpu­bli­shed Tol­kien frag­ment called The New Shadow for ins­pi­ra­tion where cen­tu­ries after the War of the Ring a secret cult of Mor­goth begins under­mi­ning the united king­dom of Gondor and Arnor. 

In the mod this cult can take control over the Gon­do­rean pro­vince esta­bli­shed in the former slave plan­ta­tions of Mordor and create a new dark lord­ship.

Their is also the mys­tery of the three other wizards — ano­ther Saru­man could arise far to the east. 

There is also no reason why orcs and trolls have to disap­pear com­ple­tely — you can still have some han­ging around Gren­del-like (orc is actually the term used for Gren­del in Beo­wulf) and even whole goblin king­doms in the more remote moun­tains.

Although the high elves will almost all be gone you’ll still have sylvan elves in Mirk­wood and Loth­lo­rien — and these are much more playable than a Noldor or Sindar would be. 

Ove­rall though it would be an even lower-magic and lower-fan­tasy world than the Third Age.

MW Tur­nage

We never learn what became of Rada­gast, the Brown Wizard save that he appa­rently went native. We know that he is still alive at the time of the War of the Ring, but consi­de­red of no impor­tance by Saur­man. There’s good reason to believe that the Great Eagles that rescue Gan­dalf from Isen­gard are direc­ted by Rada­gast in some way, and I’ve seen argu­ment that he helped Tree­beard and the Ents in subtle ways. 

Per­haps Rada­gast becomes the focus of a Fourth Age Green” move­ment oppo­sing the growth of the lands of Men ? Maybe he becomes devo­ted to the idea of kee­ping at least some por­tions of Middle-Earth wild”? More intri­guing, maybe he stayed out of the conflict with Sauron in pre­pa­ra­tion for a later conflict with a threat he consi­de­red grea­ter ? Bear in mind that we don’t really know what hap­pe­ned to Ungoliant…perhaps it has been slee­ping since the First Age ? Maybe a B5-like sce­na­rio with it being time for the end of the direct influence of the Maiar and Tom Bom­bad­bil being in the posi­tion of Lorien ?


When I plan­ned for my own 4th age game, I just went with a civil war in Gondor. There were some rust­lings of the wor­kings of Orcs and forces of shadow, But in the end the war was nothing more than the result of man’s greed. :)


Is it cano­ni­cally esta­bli­shed that Beorn and Raga­dash are two dif­ferent people, and not just two dif­ferent guises for the same Maia ?

MW Tur­nage

Quote :
Ori­gi­nally Posted by Ial­da­baoth View Post
Is it cano­ni­cally esta­bli­shed that Beorn and Raga­dash are two dif­ferent people, and not just two dif­ferent guises for the same Maia ?

Tol­kien expli­citly stated that Beorn was a Man in one of his let­ters.

As an aside, the Ency­clo­pe­dia of Arda site is inva­luable if you’re consi­de­ring a Middle-Earth game.

Ano­ther idea about what hap­pe­ned to Rada­gast is that he came to Lothló­rien during the War of the Ring. The his­tory in the LotR Appen­dices say that Dol Guldur atta­cked them three times, but that due to the power within” only Sauron him­self could have defea­ted them. While cano­ni­cally that’s attri­bu­ted to Galadriel’s pos­ses­sion and use of the elf-ring Nenya, one could argue that the pre­sence of an Istari would help cement that…


As i unders­tand it only the Elves who were fromt he undying lands left middle-earth. I could be wrong, but your stock wood elves would still be around int he fourth age.

Dra­gons and the heavy-hit­ting crea­tures are G-O-N-E. Having any of them return should be trea­ted as a MAJOR event. This goes for NAzgul and eve­ry­thing else. Don’t go re-intro­du­cing these willy-nilly.

The Blue Wizards are most defi­natly the big bad unk­nown threat I would use. they are in the mys­te­rious east,and since Sauron was obviously using eas­ter­ling war­riors, per­haps these were Sauron’s « part­ners » just as Saru­man was. Now with Saru­man and Sauron gone, they maybe the logi­cal suc­ces­sors. They need to ally with the Harad and the remai­ning Orcs in the west for a new offen­sive. A bunch of the Fel­low­ship are still around 50–60 years intot he fourst age, plus you have Aragorn’s kids.

I would start by having Orcs start being active and star­ting to get orga­ni­zed which starts to raise ques­tions. Gimli will pro­ba­bly be lea­ding the Dwarves, and Lego­las and major player with the Elves. Per­haps the PC’s could be agents of these two powers inves­ti­ga­ting this. As the inves­ti­ga­tion begins you start having reports of ano­ther Harad build-up, and the odd rai­ding party going into Gondor and Rohir, with pos­sible links to the Orcs which starts people thin­king that Sauron has retur­ned. Just when eve­ryone thinks they are in for a tough (but win­nable) fight with the Harad & Orcs, an Eas­ter­ling Army appears on the march, and things look grim. Around that time Rada­gast shows up in the Gan­dalf role of mentor (and Master of expo­si­tion) and starts put­ting some of the dots toge­ther as to what is really going on. I would also throw in one of the Blue Wizards tur­ning on the other at a cri­ti­cal moment (pos­si­bly due to PC actions). I would NOT have one become a good guy, but he would split the bad guy’s so the united west could put them down. I would consi­der the pos­si­bi­lity of the PC’s get­ting the Harad to change sides, as I believe in the canon Ara­gorn manages peace with the Harad at some point.

That’s how I would set up the « Big Conflict », with a few other small pic­ture plots inter-woven in there.


Check out the last few issues of The Hall of Fire ; I’ve been wor­king on a pretty large cam­paign for the 4th Age cen­te­red around the reco­very of the palan­tiri, travel all over wes­tern Middle-earth, and an attempt by a secret cult from the South attemp­ting to bring about the apol­ca­lypse to free Melkor from his bon­dage.



I would have Rada­gast as a stand in for Gan­dalf. He can play the same role but not appea­ring to be as com­petent, gives more free­dom to the PCs.

I would use a Blue Wizard as the oppo­si­tion but not the heavy Saru­man was. (One the things that may have passed along with the Third Age was moral abso­lu­tism)

Per­haps a quest to find where Ungo­liant Rests ? 

Maybe with the pas­sing of the age the great magic are fading and Pal­lando seeks a source of the old powers not the petty magics of this age of men.


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