Editorial: We are not alone

I was thinking about entitling this our first globalization” issue, but that sounded too cheesy. Nevertheless, that would have been an apt description of recent events since OH 8 last January. With the aid of a new, computerized database of Tolkien groups and publications, my friend Gary Hunnewell has helped me to establish contact with Middle-earth gamers in the former Soviet Union (many of whom have never heard of MERP, much less OH). This new contact with our fellow enthusiasts around the world has encouraged me to feel that perhaps there is a future for Middle-earth gaming, despite its (apparent) invisibility in the US.

In addition to these unexpected new contacts, OH has itself been gaining in public visibility, and will most likely continue to do so through the end of this year. Already, we have been receiving inquiries about our journal from people who saw our plug in the back of The Kin-strife module. Many more will know of us a EasterCon in London and WorldCon in Glasgow, where our friends Chris Pheby and Michael Saunders (see OH 6/7) have agreed to sell copies. Finally, OH has recently joined the ranks of the Small Game Publishers Association (SGPA), an association of small press publishers in the roleplaying industry, created for the purpose of providing a forum for members to exchange ideas, provide mutual support and assistance, and to promote small press and the roleplaying hobby.” Taken together, we hope that these developments will lead to a wider readership for OH and a true globalization” of our efforts to build a world-wide network of Middle-earth gamers.

And now to the introductions for this issue. We begin with the promised sequel to Michael Hickman’s article on Dúnadan religious ritual (OH 8: 6 – 13). In this issue, Hickman turns his investigation upon the Elves at the close of the Third Age. Once again, he has produced an excellent piece of analysis of great value to role-players, and we must once again thank the Tolkien Society for kindly giving us permission to reprint Hickman’s work in our journal.

Our next offering is a short piece on healers in Gondor by Nadine Salim, who will be making a contribution to the Southern Gondor module on this topic. Nadine has come up with some very original ideas about this ill-described group, and she and I would both be grateful if anyone has anything further to suggest or add to this essay. Who knows, maybe you’ll get your idea included in the module.

Bernie Roessler, a new subscriber to OH, has also given us a highly intriguing and original piece on the dynamics of Dwarvish population. Since neither Dwarves nor demography are my forte, I cannot comment on the logical or technical points of Bernie’s article, but as a gamemaster I am always appreciative when someone else has done the arduous paperwork. Many thanks!

I am pleased to announce that we will be able to maintain our quota” of two adventure scenarios per issue for at least the next three issues. The circumstances of this are worth explaining. The existing Southern Gondor manuscript was unfortunately found to contain far too much adventure material for ICE’s comfort (a realm module is supposed to have about 10% adventure material and 90% realm description — as it stood, however, our manuscript had a 50/50 ratio). I have invited the authors of these adventures to have them published in OH. Although this solution is less than ideal (particularly since we cannot pay our authors), it seemed to me eminently preferable to consigning the bulk of this material (all of which is quite good) to the dustbin.

The first of these adventures which we are offering is by Martin Rundqvist, an anthropologist by training, who has designed a scenario to illuminate his ethnography of local Gondorian culture (in this case, that of the Daen-folk of Lamedon). Our second offering this issue is an independent adventure (not connected to the Southern Gondor project) written by Deena McKinney, editor of the role-playing magazine MOTiVE (see OH 8: 4). Like Martin’s piece, this scenario operates on a local level, dealing with Guild politics and the criminal elements of Minas Tirith during the later Third Age.

Well, I hope that you’ve all done your part to support The Kin-strife module by purchasing a copy at your local gaming store. We have been delighted to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback on it thus far. However, it is a rare occasion when a published text of this size is grammatically and conceptually without error, and The Kin-strife is no exception. Hence, I have included, as a guide to the perplexed, an errata list for the module. These and other corrections have been sent off to ICE and will hopefully be incorporated into the module’s second printing (if and when that happens).

We hope you enjoy this issue and the many that are to follow, and we hope that you will all continue to support us with your subscriptions and submissions. We are, as always, at your service…

Chris Seeman — April 25,1995

Contributors: Gary Hunnewell, Michael R. Hickman, Nadine Salim, Bernie Roessler, Martin Rundqvist, Deena McKinney-Martin, Chris Seeman, Mark Merrell, James Owen.

Editing: Chris Seeman, Frances Poon.

Layout and design: Lisa Disterheft.

Artwork: Sophia Caramagno, Patrick Wynne.

OH #8 Errata

p. 4
Deena McKinney’s phone number was incorrectly recorded. The correct number is: (706) 369‑9373.
p. 27
There are two incorrect numbers on the map entitled The Lower Caves.” Room 8 between Rooms 4 and 6 should actually be Room 5, and the other room listed as 8 in the lower, right-hand corner of the map should be Room 1.

Fine print

Other Hands is an international gaming journal devoted to fantasy role-playing set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s secondary world of Middle-earth. It is a quarterly, nonprofit publication welcoming submissions dealing with any aspect of gaming in the context of Tolkien’s world: scenario ideas, rule suggestions, gaming product reviews, gamemastering aids, bibliographic resources, essays on Middle-earth, and whatever else our readership would like to see in print. In a word, Other Hands aims to be the definitive Tolkien-related gaming journal for a worldwide role-playing community. Within the pages of Other Hands, the interested gamer may publish materials with reference to any game mechanics he or she chooses (including Rolemaster and Middle-earth Role Playing). Such gaming material may deal with any time period of Tolkien’s world, and need not be bound to what has already seen print in Iron Crown’s modules. Other Hands provides this freedom because it is a nonprofit publication. 

Subscription rates are as follows: 

Payment should be made to Chris Seeman: PO Box 1213, Novato, CA 94948, USA. No Eurochecks, please!

Submissions are welcome in any form (preferably legible), but are easiest to edit when received on a floppy disk. Word for Windows is the editing software currently in use, so if there is any question as to the readability of your disk, please save your document in ASCII or text-only format and include a hard copy. All submitted materials remain the copyright of the author unless we are otherwise informed. All submissions must be sent to Chris Seeman: PO Box 1213, Novato, CA 94948 (USA). Please write me or call if you encounter any difficulties, my phone number is (415) 892‑9066. Please also note that I may be reached over Internet: chris1​2​2​4​@​aol.​com


Dear Chris,
Thanks for the issues of Other Hands (brilliant title, the significance of which wasn’t lost on me). Before I go any further, let me congratulate you on your magazine. On presentation and content it knocks Mallorn for six — and you manage to produce it quarterly! I’m not a gamer (although I irregularly purchase mags such as Dragon for the artwork and reviews), so I can’t comment on the specifically RPG sections, but your more general articles, editorials &comments are of immense interest to me.
Martin Baker 37 Marlborough Court Newcastle upon Tyne Tyne & Wear NE3 2YY England

Dear Chris,
With reference to The Kin-strife module, I was very impressed. I consider it an interesting break from the usual time setting (c. 1640), which I have always considered rather restrictive. I accept that in order to build up a series of modules it must be easier to choose one time period and stick to it, but I believe that a great many opportunities to develop interesting scenarios are being missed.
I personally am eager to see the areas of Middle-earth south and east of the traditional” settings developed, and also more modules set at other crucial or interesting points in history. I perhaps underestimate the difficulty and problems in developing a series of modules that are generally so consistent and high in the quality of detail. However considering that MERP has been going on for over 10 years I find it hard to believe that so few forays have been made outside of NW Middle-earth.
Brian Carlton John Forty’s Court 34 Forthvale Court Cornton Stirling FK9 SAL Scotland

Dear Chris,
The matters with which your magazine deals are of great interest to me and other Tolkienists here in the Far East (or Far-earth, as we call it).
Actually, the way you treat Middle-earth gaming is almost unknown here. Our Tolkien groups organize outdoor games based on various periods of the history of Middle-earth. In most cases, it is impossible to follow the events described in J.R.R.T.’s books exactly, and usually we have no definite scenarios, so our games tend to run amok. Nevertheless, people seem to like it, but sometimes decide not to offend Tolkien’s memory with different distortions of his ideas in historical games. (Once, the Ring was destroyed by Elrond, while the Fellowship was utterly destroyed by the Enemy.) Last year, Robin Hood games took place (not quite successfully) in Vladivostok. So we are in great need of people experienced in gaming matters and, frankly speaking, I couldn’t even have imagined the existence of organizations like ICE. (No offense is meant. Here I must admit my ignorance.) The fact is that I have had no way of finding out any traces of such an organization.
I would have remained in this ignorance had it not been for a friend of mine, who asked me a while ago if I could get any kind of Middle-earth boardgame or something like that through my American friend, Gary Hunnewell. So it was a real surprise to discover a whole world of Middle-earth gaming.
Our fans have never tried to write those episodes of Middle-earth history which were not written by Tolkien himself. That is why the materials sent by you and those produced by ICE are of great interest to our fans here, who are (for the most part) quite ignorant in these matters.
I will study the magazines you sent with great care one more time, and will tell about all this to others interested. We will appreciate any explanations or examples. I am looking forward to receiving your Kin-strife module. I think it will explain a lot and will show exactly what your job is like. Who knows? Maybe after that there will be people here who will decide to continue this work or to join an organization like yours. I myself am very much interested in everything concerned with Middle-earth and will be happy to give you any information of our activities. You may ask any questions, and we will try to find answers to them. Any of your advice and explanations will be appreciated. I hope for a continual correspondence.
Vyacheslav Kozlov p. Pervostroiteley, 19 – 85 Komsomolsk-on-Amur G 81024 Russia

Dear Chris,
Thanks for sending me the three issues of Other Hands. It’s great! I’ve read them and found them to be informative and useful. People who’re fond of the games like Dungeons & Dragons will enjoy OH, but the magazine’ll be welcome also in another branch of role-playing to which my friends and I belong. I think I must say a few words about it. Let it be my little contribution to the Other Hands.
The specific kind of RPG we’re going in for can be called Field Games.” I’ve already written about them to Gary Hunnewell, and he published my brief account in Ravenhill; but, you being a specialist in RPG, I feel I must explain the situation in more detail. As far as I can judge from Hunnewell’s Tolkien Review, our role-playing experience is almost unique in the world.
There are Tolkien fans here who are, so to say, purely theoretical and even somewhat religious in their attitude to Tolkien’s works. They usually don’t approve of our activities, and we have very little in common with them. We are the playing Tolkienists.” Within this circle there are theoretically minded people too, who differ to some extent from those who prefer practice, but the Games unite all of us.
For you better to understand what we’re doing, you should have some idea of our geography. Have a look at the map, and keep in mind that it takes a traveler about 10 days to cross this country (we still consider it to be one country, though it was divided politically) from extreme West to extreme East. And throughout these vast spaces there are Tolkien groups and clubs which at the same time participate in the role-playing movement. By moderate estimates, there are about 2,000 active players, and almost all these people are acquainted with each other (personally or by correspondence). There are very renowned clubs in the Far East, in Siberia, in the Ural Mountains region, on the Volga River and in the European part of the country, including Ukraine and Belarus (now independent republics). They organize series of games during the year, and everybody from other clubs can come and take part (if they have enough time and money, of course). Additionally, there’s a number of so-called convents,” which are traditionally gathered each year in different places: Nordcon” in Kotlas (North), Sibcon” in Tomsk (Siberia, East), Glipcon” in Ivanovo (Central Russia), and Zilantcon” in Kazan on the Volga. At these convents, former games are discussed, new games planned, papers are read, competitions of singers and fighters are held. We also have masquerades, friendly talks, etc. This allows us to get all necessary information and to coordinate our plans for the next year.
The local clubs usually make 2 games a year, in May and in September, for 2 or 3 days. The number of players varies from 40 to 200, and they come for the most part from one club, although guests are always invited too. Such games are called small” or regional.” They are considered as training before the main event of the year: the Big” summer game. People wishing to organize such games usually make a claim for it in November at Zilantcon.” They must work out the initial layout, the rules, distribute them among the players and rent a convenient patch of land (the polygon”). The preparations begin immediately after the claim has been made, and in July or August, all teams meet in the chosen place. Here the number of players is from 200 to 500, and the Game lasts for 4 or 5 days.
Oh, I wanted to give you only an outline of what is going on here but, after having written such a lot, I see that essential things remain unexplained. So, if you’re still not bored, I’ll try to describe what our games are like.
They have no scenarios, only certain initial conditions. Besides Tolkien, the themes of the regional games can be historical events, folklore or fantasy books. The Big Game is always dedicated to Tolkien. The first was held in 1990 near Krasnoyarsk (Siberia), the 2nd in 1991 near Moscow (both based on Third Age events), the 3rd (1992, Ufa) was based on The Silmarillion, the 4th and 5th (1993 and 1994), in Ural Mountains and again near Moscow were based on the Second Age.
The only likeness between the indoor RPG and our field ones is that we also have written rules, gamemasters, and some typical characters (fighter, healer, wizard, minstrel, etc.). Game time is not real time (e.g., one real hour equal one game month), and such things as death and birth are, of course, only imagined, but everything else is quite real.
The polygon is about 2 to 4 km long and wide. There are woods, a river or lake, hills, etc. You walk and work, prepare food and sleep (very little indeed!), and the fights and flights, rituals and treaties are real! In fact, each game is a serious psychological experiment with unpredictable results. One must often have strong nerves to endure it, but it has been already proven that these impressions generally are beneficial for body and soul. People return home very tired, but happy, and begin to wait impatiently for the next summer.
The participants range from 12 to 60 years of age (mainly 17 – 28), among whom are school and university students, computer specialists, engineers, teachers, mathematicians, biologists, historians, economists, and so on. Because of hard economic conditions, all these highly qualified people are paid rather scarcely for their work, and to attend a Big Game (in our measure) costs a considerable sum of money. The games are nonprofit events and we have almost no sponsors. But people do everything they can to arrive at the polygon and to live another life in Middle-earth. The pleasure is great and worth any effort!
Alina Nemirova Pobedy Avenue, 66A-110 Kharkov 310204 Ukraine

Dear Chris,
I will be doing the Small Press” review section for Amon Hen and will be sure to start reviewing EVERYTHING that I get for the column. AH has been looking scanty lately, so hopefully I’ll be able to provide a consistent 2 – 4 pages per issue. So, perhaps you’ll get a little more publicity for OH. Speaking of which, I am (finally) getting around to reading OH.
I find some of it really annoying — not anything you’ve done in particular, but just the ideas behind some of the articles. I know that some of you folks want to fill in the empty blanks, but Sauron’s daughter (!?!). There seems to be an overdependence on magic as well, which looks like it is being countered by Tolkien fans who realize that magic” played a small part in the grand scheme of things. I enjoy the critical reviews — I like when you are on top of the ball, and I particularly liked your article on religion in Middle-earth.
I think that someone else did a survey of Middle-earth population in a TS publication. Also, did you catch Jason Finch’s article about the condition of Gondor during the Third Age. It originally appeared in Gondtengwen and then Amon Hen (123: 6 – 7).
On Queen Berúthiel (OH 3: 13 – 18), I think that you overlook the most obvious reason why she could have been feared/​why she found out things about other people. It is a good way to keep certain people under your thumb (whether it is the butcher who cheats on the meat scales, or the treasurer who has a loose purse). Such knowledge is power. And, being the queen, one would have to have great proof against her to confront her without pain of death. Could her marriage have been one of reconciliation or reunification between the King’s Men and the Faithful? One last thing: her communication with cats is very possible. (After all, the men of Dale could understand the language of birds.)
Gary Hunnewell 2030 San Pedro Arnold, MO 63010 USA


As we speak, the Elves people supplement and the revised Creatures of Middle-earth should be arriving at your local game store. The Kin-strife is out (at last!) and appears to be doing fairly well (though it is still dwarfed by the success of the Dol Guldur citadel module, which is also out). Finally, a Northwestern Middle-earth Map Set has been released which contains the great majority of Pete Fenlon’s work (including hitherto unseen maps of Anfalas and Lindon). Regrettably, these maps do not all fit together (perhaps this will be remedied in a future edition).

On its cover, The Kin-strife is described as a Sourcebook.” This category of product was not mentioned in ICE’s original announcement of their MERP revision project, but subsequently came into being as an anomaly” rubric, for use with publications that did not quite fit the purer description of Realm, Citadel, People, or Adventure module. This accommodation promises some interesting possibilities for future MERP projects that could be devoted to other specific eras of Middle-earth history. Palantír Quest, for example, offers some tantalizing ideas for an early Fourth Age sourcebook that might detail northwestern Middle-earth during the reign of King Elessar and his son.

As for up-and-coming publications for 1995, here is the latest timetable. The Shire realm module has been pushed forward to a June release date, a recently announced Angmar realm module (a revision of Empire of the Witch-King) is scheduled for August, and a Northmen people supplement (including material from Riders of Rohan) should be appearing sometime in September. At the moment, we are hoping (perhaps optimistically) for an October or November release date for the Southern Gondor realm module.

Finally, there has been a recent turn of events with the Northern Gondor realm module. The current revision authors have decided to abandon the project, and have turned it over to yours truly. Given my current work on Southern Gondor, work will not be able to proceed on the sister module until the Spring of 1996. The completion of the Gondor modules is of high priority to both ICE and to myself, so Northern Gondor will be taking precedence over the Dúnedain people book I was to begin following my work on Southern Gondor. But fear not! I remain committed to the Dúnedain project, and it will appear eventually.

Reporter: Chris Seeman

A global directory of Middle-Earth gaming

Extracted from the Tolkien Fannish and Scholarly Activities and Publications directory for 1992 and 1993, compiled by Gary Hunnewell: 2030 San Pedro, Arnold, MO 63010, USA.

For those of you who have not yet crossed paths with him, Gary Hunnewell is the über-Tolkien completist par excellence on this planet. For many long aeons he has gathered unto himself all things Tolkien, and now at last he has initiated a project to bring order out of primordial chaos, by creating an annually updated database of the sea of extant information pertaining to Tolkien fandom around the globe. Beginning with the year 1992, Gary has been compiling a directory and bibliography of all Tolkien-related groups.

This includes groups and publications devoted to fantasy role-playing, and with the magic of computerized word-searching, I have been able to pull together all such references appearing in Gary’s database for the years 1992 and 1993. (Supplements to this will be presented in future issues of Other Hands as soon as Gary releases new volumes of his work.) It was encouraging to discover so diverse an array of interests in Middle-earth gaming (of both the lire and indoor varieties), and I hope that all of us will make an effort to alert Gary to any additions that may have eluded his all but omniscient gaze.

Role-playing Groups Within Tolkien Societies

Pohjoisneljännys (Suomen Tolkien — Seurary Smial)

(Eppu Errasti, Neilikkatic 13 B 10, 98580 Oulu, Finland)

Pohjoisneljännys produced a library display of Tolkien in addition to an introductory lecture of the Finnish Tolkien Society which was presented at a role-playing convention organized by the Oulu Town Library, the Oulu SF Society Polaris” and the Northern Ostrobothnia Summer University, in Oulu, Finland, from 27 – 28 March, 1993.

Hautakero (Suomen Tolkien — Seurary Smial)

(Sampsa Sihvola, Laivurinkatu 33 C 66, 00150 Helsinki, Finland)

Activities include role-playing, strategy games, etc.

Telcontar (Suomen Tolkien — Seurary Smial)

(Inari Kylänen, Airoparintie 5 – 7 c17, 00980 Helsinki, Finland)

The smial held weekly meetings and had many activities, including organizing two live action role-playing games (and attended three others).

Tirion (Suomen Tolkien — Seurary Smial)

(Kaisa Mäki-Petäjä, Koutosentie 36, 69100 Kannus, Finland)

Live action role-playing meetings took place in Kannus, Finland, on 19 – 20 July, and 17 – 19 September, and in Nivala, Finland, on 12 – 14 November, 1993. Tirion took part in one live action role-playing meeting arranged by the Telcontar smial in Helsinki. Contact is mainly by mail and telephone. A local newspaper, Kaleva, had an article about Tirion and live action role-playing.

Chaire d’Études Ludiques (La Faculté des Études Elfiques)

(Sylvain Fontannaud, 3, square Louis Braille, 94700 Maison-Alfort, France)

The chaire’s purpose is the adaptation of Tolkien’s imaginary background to role-playing games, wargames and other boardgames; but they advocate a more rigorous (and so more fantastic) adaptation than Iron Crown Enterprises’ adaptations. Publication: Les jeux sont F.E.E. (French, irregular). Each issue is available for two International Reply Coupons.

Wanderers of Rhudaur (Tolkien Society Smial)

(Richard Crawshaw, 69 Kirkstall Close, Toothill, Swindon, Wilts., SN5 8EF, England)

Role-playing within the scope of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Meeting held at Easter in Swindon, Wilts., England.

Rivendell (Unquendor Inn)

(Jerry Nieukoop, Beugelskamp 26, Deventer, The Netherlands)

From the beginning, Rivendell has been a meeting-place for role-players. Though we have had many a discussion about Tolkien, the topic has even more often to do with role-playing. On the even months a subject is chosen by one of the founders or guests. This subject has something to do with role-playing and, more often than not, Tolkien. Subjects vary from Do you like role-playing for the same reasons as you like Middle-earth?” or Is MERP suited to Middle-earth?” or How would you play an elf from Mirkwood?” On the odd months we try to deal with the subject of the month before in a role-playing game. Rivendell is still very much alive after four years, more than forty smial evenings and more than sixty different visitors!

Elen Feanaro (Mellon Sub-Group)

(Vyacheslav Kozlov, p. Pervostroiteley, 1985, Komsomolsk-on-Amur 681024, Russia)

Role-playing is one of their activities (see COMMUNICATIONS).

Doriath (Sociedad Tolkien Española)

(Pablo Gines Rodriguez, c/​Florencia, 7, 3°D, 08026 Barcelona, Spain)

Organized role-playing games related to Middle-earth for the Casal de Sarria from 1 –3 July, 1992. From 23 – 25 April, 1993 in the Centro Cívico de San Ildefonso in Cornellè activities included debate about role-playing in Middle-earth.

Rivendell — Imladris (Sociedad Tolkien — Española Smial)

(Luis Gonzalez Baixauli, C/​Pisuerga 4, 4° A, 47009, Valladolid, Spain)

The first Tolkien Conference in Valladolid was held from 4 – 5 January, 1993. During the conference a debate was held on Tolkien and role-playing; role-playing games were run. Also, there was an exposition on the art and mistakes in MERP modules.

Mellonath Galabargian (Forodrim Game Guild)

(address unknown)

Mellonath Seregon (Forodrim Fighting Guild)

(Ewiz Ehrsson, Becksjudarvägen 41, 1 tr, 131 36 Nacka, Sweden)

Activities include live role-playing and fighting with padded weapons.

Meanwhile, in Turkey…

(Emre Tuncer, Pk. 27 81072, Suadiye/​Istanbul, Turkey)

A new group (1993) based loosely around Tolkien, fantasy role-playing, and fantasy/​science fiction literature. Gaming competitions are included as one of their activities.


(Alina Nemirova, Pobedy-avenue, 66A110, Kharkov 3 10204, Ukraine)

A role-playing club that participated in the 1992 Tolkien Games in Russia. Also participated in two Tolkien Games in the Ural Mountains and on the River Volga in August of 1993 (see Communications).

Donetzk University, Ukraine

This group was organized in 1993. They write verses, songs and play role-playing games.

Gaming-related publications


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